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Iran Democracy Monitor - No. 169

Edited by Ilan Berman
October 4, 2016

The Islamic Republic has long been an active - and prominent - participant in Syria's civil war, providing both arms and manpower to the embattled regime of Bashar al-Assad, a key strategic ally. But now Tehran is advancing its interests in the country in another way as well: by changing its demographic composition. Arabic news sources report that Iranian-supported militias active in Syria have begin resettling Iraqi Shi'a families into Syria's majority-Shi'ite areas - including Daraya, Maadamiyat al-Sham and al-Midan. 

The plan, which is reportedly being carried out in coordination with the Syrian regime, has already facilitated the influx of some 300 families, with each being provided a stipend of $2,000 and a new home in Syria. The initiative, observers say, appears to be an effort to tilt Syria's demography in favor of the country’s Shi'a minority and its adjacent ethnic groups (including the ruling Alawite faction). (London
Asharq al-Awsat, September 6, 2016) 

The Islamic Republic's worsening hydrological conditions are adversely impacting one of the country's staple crops. Pistachio farms in the country's southern regions - once major producers of Iran's second-largest export - are reporting declining production and worsening agricultural conditions. 

The problem is compounded by a lack of awareness. Despite regime efforts at conservation and better management, there is still little regulation in Iran's regions of water preservation, a lack of education regarding self-sufficiency in food production, increased desertification and uncontrolled water pumping - factors that have cumulatively pushed Iran's "water stress" into to full-blown "water scarcity." (
France24, September 4, 2016) 


So much for Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's presidential aspirations, it seems. Iran's Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, has told the firebrand former president not to stand in next year's presidential elections, thereby eliminating the major challenger to current President Hassan Rouhani bid for reelection. Khamenei's pronouncement comes after several months of speeches and public outings by Ahmadinejad, which prompted much speculation about his possible political return. Now, however, Ahmadinejad's comeback has been curtailed. 

"He (Ahmadinejad) came to me and I told him not to stand as I think it is not in his interest and that of the country... It will create bipolar opposites and divisions in the country which I believe is harmful," Khamenei told reporters by way of explanation. The move, coupled with IRGC Quds Force Commander Qassem Soleimani's announcement last month that he will not pursue a presidential candidacy, leaves the road to reelection open for the incumbent Rouhani. (
Jerusalem Post, September 27, 2016)

Related Categories: Terrorism; Radical Islam; Iran Freedom Initiative; Iran

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