Farah Province, Afghanistan: Iran extended support to the Taliban to prevent the construction of dams in western Afghanistan. Tehran is opposed to the erection of the Bakhshabad Dam in Farah Province. The hydroelectric plant would restrict the flow of the Farah River into Iran’s Sistan and Baluchestan Province, an insurgent hotbed.
Khuzestan Province, Iran: Ahvaz, the capital of Iran’s oil-rich Khuzestan Province, is plagued by severe water shortages. Crippling water scarcity has resulted in rising poverty and a decline in agricultural productivity. In July 2018, disgruntled citizens staged demonstrations demanding a solution to the region’s water shortages.
The province’s Ahvaz Arabs decry an alleged government sponsored scheme to appropriate the water resources of minority regions. Iranian authorities have redirected local rivers to flow into other provinces.
Ahvaz was the attack site on a military parade in August 2018, resulting in 29 fatalities. Several Arab separatist organizations and ISIS claimed responsibility for the shooting. High unemployment and perceived discrimination may induce locals to sympathize with secessionists and extremist groups.
Kurdistan Province, Iran: A resurgence of Kurdish militant activity has swept northwestern Iran. This summer, water shortages sparked small-scale demonstrations in Iran’s Kurdish provinces. Locals accuse Tehran of siphoning off the region’s water resources to supply water to the Iranian interior. Mounting grievances may broaden the appeal of secessionist organizations, such as the Democratic Party of Iranian Kurdistan, and expand the recruitment capacity of Kurdish insurgents.