Protests, shrinking lake
New protests in Iran. This time in Tabriz over the drying out of lake Urmia. Last month, Iran’s parliament refused to fast-track a rescue plan for the lake, which is what has trigged the series of protests. Per BBC, the rejected proposal envisaged feeding the lake with water from the River Araz, about 70km (45 miles) to the north.
From Scott Lucas’ blog:
“There is something different about these protests. The demonstrations that started after the elections in 2009 were driven by a desire for real democracy; freedom of speech, expression, religion, and assembly; and a general discontent at the state of life in Iran, especially among the youth.
This spate of dissent and anger has been propelled by a specific environmental issue that is growing in its economic impact. As Lake Urmia dries, the ecological disaster is disrupting trade and industries that relied on the lake, and it is affecting the health of the residents. These issues are more urgent, more immediate, and as a result, the protest over them may catch on faster and spread further.
In Arab Spring, the catalysts for unrest were economic, though the goals of the protesters always include democratic ends. These protests are coming from a similar place, as government policies result in real economic hardship in the cities and towns affected by the lake. Economic drivers, plus political drivers, led to the fall of three governments. This is ultimately the largest threat to the Iranian regime.”