Iran

The ecopolitics beneath the world’s hottest conflict.

Morteza Nikoubazl

Iran is the perfect example of what on the surface looks like a political battle about nukes, sanctions, sovereign rights—about Israel having a nuclear monopoly in the Middle East and Iran not being able to stomach it.

But if you look a bit closer and try to imagine what Rouhani & Co. are really fretting about in their private brainstorming sessions, then you realize they also have some serious ecological concerns on the table.

In 2013, the remaining drops in the famous Zayandeh Rood river in Isfahan province were diverted to feed the fields and factories of Yazd, sparking an outbreak of political anger, protest and riots across the country.

What if the recent conciliatory gestures from Tehran to the world, comparisons of Rouhani to Gorbachev, have less to do with a newly installed progressive leadership and more to do with the waterways drying up across the country, and the sudden realization that if the water disappears from the ground Iran will be at the mercy of the West like never before?