New Political Unrest in the Oil-Rich Fields of Iran

While Iran and the United States are still rattling sabers at one another, there's an emerging disruptive potential inside Iran in its main oil field province, Khuzestan, which has shocked the country. Thirty-eight years ago, what are known as "The Strikes" in this province, by tens of thousands of oil workers, paralyzed the state, and paved the way for the Shah’s downfall. They are now happening again

Historically Iran’s oil supplies are the regime’s jugular vein. To cut these supplies is to cut the Regime’s throat

Khuzestan province, located in the southwest of Iran, borders Iraq and the Persian Gulf. Its capital is Ahvaz. It's the country's oldest province.

This province produces 35 percent of the Iran’s water and electricity. And more importantly, its black gold fields of oil and gas supply the lion's share of its energy wealth, which provides 90% of Iran’s national revenue.

Despite residing amid incredible oil and gas as well as agricultural wealth, the people in Khuzestan suffer from severe poverty, underdevelopment and environmental deprivation. They are Arabic in origin, and also suffer from social, political and cultural subjugation (Human Rights Watch, April 29). This is a fact of life throughout Iran for all of its ethnic groups.

Recently, the Iranian regime has carried out an array of treacherous plans in Khuzestan which have led to a disastrous air pollution and frequent water and power cut-offs. Those actions have jeopardized the people's health and quality of life. Tehran's central planners have taken actions as drastic as the diversion of the Karun and Karkheh rivers' water, an excessive building of dams, and the oil ministry's use of quick and cheap methods of oil extraction, drying up the ponds and lakes in the area, including the famous Hoor al-Azim wetland, and Shadegan lagoon, according to a women.ncr.Iran report.

The ongoing shortages have led to the closure of schools, universities, banks and government offices in no less than 11 cities in Khuzestan, Iranian media reported on Feb 14.  A local official of the oil ministry has said that power blackouts in Khuzestan province have hit oil production, causing a 770,000-barrel  decline in crude production.

The blackout mainly hit the oil-producing platforms of the National Iranian South Oil Company. Currently, Iran’s oil production totals 3.9 million barrels per day, 2.9 million barrels of which are produced by National Iranian South Oil Company.

One resident of Ahvaz tweeted: “We get nothing from the oil and gas fields except smoke, power blackouts, and polluted air.”

Women of Ahvaz took to the streets on Wednesday, Feb. 15, 2017, for the third consecutive day to demonstrate, protesting the water and power cut-offs, and the severe air pollution in the capital of Khuzestan.

The protesters chanted, "Death to tyranny," "death to repression," We, the people of Ahwaz, won't accept oppression," "incompetent officials must be expelled," "clean air is our right, Ahvaz is our city," and "Shame on the State Security Force."

Clashes broke out on the Friday night of Feb. 11th after the police forces shot two motorcyclists in a chase occurring in the vicinity of Shadegan Dates Bazaar.

During the police operation, a young man named Abu-Qabish was killed while he was shopping, and the two motorcyclists were injured. Apparently, there were other casualties as well.

The regime's intelligence agents told the families of the victims that they would not be allowed to hold funeral ceremonies for their loved ones. The bodies were delivered to the families on the condition that they be buried in Qom, located in the south of Tehran Province.

The Iranian Resistance's president-elect, Maryam Rajavi, said the mullahs' regime is the source of all of the acute problems that have caused frequent water and power cut-offs which have led to unemployment and even various diseases for the people.

She pointed out: "One cannot expect the mullahs and the regime's leaders and officials provide any solutions." She called on the nation to help decrease the pressure on the deprived people of this area, especially the sick and vulnerable.

The solution, she said, lies in the people's escalation of protests in an uprising to drive back the regime and its officials who have created so many problems in their daily life.

Mrs. Rajavi hailed the people of Ahwaz and Khuzestan, particularly the women and youths, and urged them to unite ranks to continue their protests and demonstrations in solidarity.

There's a good likelihood this won't be the last we hear of this.

Hassan Mahmoudi is a human rights advocate and social media journalist seeking democracy for Iran and peace for the region.

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