RFE/RL IRAN REPORT, Vol. 3, No. 42, 6 November 2000

"The war in Abadan and Khorramshahr has not ended,"
Abadan Friday Prayer leader Hojatoleslam Qolam Hussein Jami
said, adding that "we say there is still a state of
emergency in Abadan and Khorramshahr." Jami was discussing
problems with the drinking water in Khuzestan Province
(which led to riots in late-July and early-August), but
other reports suggest that security in the province is
problematic, too. What these reports indicate, furthermore,
is that government officials are both corrupt and
inattentive. Local dailies hope that Khuzestan's new
parliamentary representatives will help the province
overcome its current difficulties.
Ayatollah Musavi-Jazayeri, the Ahvaz Friday prayer
leader, said that crime in the city includes robberies of
homes, drug distribution, and even the theft of high
tension wires. The bazaar has become a "center of
immorality and sedition," and Imam Khomeini Avenue and
Ayatollah Taleqani Avenues "have become symbols of anarchy
and illegality." Musavi-Jazayeri said that women are in
danger, fights and scuffles are a daily occurrence, and
trash is not collected. The Friday Imam wanted to know
where the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps, the Basij, and
the Headquarters for the Propagation of Virtue and
Prohibition of Vice are when they should be eliminating
such problems, "Nur-i Khuzestan" reported in August.
The July riots in Abadan over poor water quality
should have been foreseen, according to Hojatoleslam Jami,
because the locals had been complaining for quite a while
that the water was salty. He added that Khuzestan Province
officials, from the governor-general down, were
unresponsive to public complaints, and he said that if they
did not know how to do their jobs, they should "go abroad
and bring people from there," "Bahar" reported in July.
Contractors used oil tankers to transport drinking water,
and Jami suggested that the contractors who were hired to
provide water were corrupt. Jami also complained that a
sugar beet project, in which the state-run banks are the
biggest shareholders, is using up much of the water in
Abadan and Khorramshahr and is also polluting the water
Ayatollah Shafii, who represents Khuzestan in the
Assembly of Experts, pointed out in a meeting organized by
the provincial governor-general that the local
administration is not efficient, "Nur-i Khuzestan" reported
in May. The provincial agricultural chief said that not
only is the drought causing problems, but growers of onions
and wheat are facing other (unspecified) difficulties. The
demands of local workers are not being met, according to
the province's Labor Ministry representative, and there is
not enough housing. Governor-General Moqtadai suggested
that "if everyone minded his own business...there would be
good order in the country. If we do not accept this, any
remarks made amount to mere sloganeering."
An August editorial in "Nur-i Khuzestan" said that the
province's current difficulties and misperceptions about
the province can be traced to its representatives in the
first and second parliaments. Factionalism, furthermore,
meant that constituents' problems took second place to
politics. The publication expressed the hope that the new
deputies would not repeat these mistakes, so that Khuzestan
Province could achieve its full potential. (Bill Samii)

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