The recent installment of Habibollah Bitaraf as the Minister of Energy and Water in the new cabinet of President Rouhani of Iran has become the focus of vast protests and opposition by environmental and cultural activists.
Mr. Bitaraf was one of the leaders of the Muslim Student Followers of the Imam’s Line, who occupied the US Embassy in Iran and took its staff as hostage in 1979. He has continuously enjoyed the support of the Revolutionary Guard and the leaders of the Iranian Islamic State, as well as held high offices such as governor and minister. He has also had a major role in economic decisions taken by the Revolutionary Guard.
He was the Minister of Energy and Water in President Khatami’s administration (the first reformist cabinet in the IRI) and held a major role in the demise of springs and rivers, as well as the catastrophic drying of Lake Urmia.
In such positions, and by supporting projects such as the erection of Gotvand, Sivand, Karkheh, and many other dams, he is responsible for the resulting scarcity of water in Iran, as well as other environmental and cultural catastrophes in that country.