Warming, Water Crisis, Then Unrest: How Iran Fits an Alarming Pattern By SOMINI SENGUPTA, JAN. 18, 2018, New York Times - 01/19/18

UNITED NATIONS — Nigeria. Syria. Somalia. And now Iran.  In each country, in different ways, a water crisis has triggered some combination of civil unrest, mass migration, insurgency or even full-scale war.
In the era of climate change, their experiences hold lessons for a great many other countries. The World Resources Institute warned this month of the rise of water stress globally, “with 33 countries projected to face extremely high stress in 2040.”
A water shortage can spark street protests: Access to water has been a common source of unrest in India. It can be exploited by terrorist groups: The Shabab has sought to take advantage of the most vulnerable drought-stricken communities in Somalia. Water shortages can prompt an exodus from the countryside to crowded cities: Across the arid Sahel, young men unable to live off the land are on the move. And it can feed into insurgencies: Boko Haram stepped into this breach in Nigeria, Chad and Niger.
Iran is the latest example of a country where a water crisis, long in the making, has fed popular discontent. That is particularly true in small towns and cities in what is already one of the most parched regions of the world. Farms turned barren, lakes became dust bowls. Millions moved to provincial towns and cities, and joblessness led to mounting discontent among the young. Then came a crippling drought, lasting roughly 14 years.

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Water is a geopolitical Issue...

China-India: Revisiting the ‘Water Wars’ Narrative By June 30, 2015, The Diplomat.  

With China’s late-2014 completion of the Zangmu dam, the largest hydropower dam on the Brahmaputra River (known in Tibet as the Yarlung Tsangpo River), many Indian and international security experts have been warning of the coming of “water wars” between the two countries.

Those who worry about this scenario have three major arguments. First, China will face serious water shortages in the future and so will begin to divert water flow from the Brahmaputra River to its dry north. Second, this would be catastrophic for downstream countries. Third, China’s unwillingness to sign any binding agreement with downstream countries over trans-boundary rivers is evidence of Beijing’s insistence on absolute sovereignty over water, to the significant detriment of downstream countries.

While water issues could well emerge as one of the major threats to Sino-India relations given rapidly rising demand, competing water usage, and threats from climate change, the water wars narrative still seems to be premature. Read More