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Iran’s Water Crisis Is an Underappreciated Global Hot Spot
Iran’s rapid groundwater depletion and inexorable slide toward a serious water and food security crisis is an issue of regional—and arguably, global—importance. Iran’s current water stress is partly a product of hydrology and climate. But perhaps most of all, it stems from decades of sanctions and compounding political mismanagement that is likely to make it very difficult to alleviate the emerging crisis before it wreaks lasting damage upon the country.
Water shortages often exacerbate existing political and social instability and heighten governments’ focus on food security. This matters because Iran is a Middle East power player and key global energy supplier home to more than 80 million people, many of whom could be displaced by a worsening water supply situation. Iran’s internal problems could ripple far beyond its borders, an important issue given substantial Iranian involvement in multiple regional conflicts. As such, policymakers in the Gulf region and in Washington should pay closer attention to this unfolding situation.
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