By Nir Boms and Roee Nahmias, Henry Jackson Society,
6th September 2007
- Over a million Arabs have been deported from the district of Al-Ahwaz, home to some eight million Arabs, in Southern-East Iran, near the Iraqi border. They have been replaced with Persian Iranians.
- Human rights activists in this area have been arrested and placed in detention centres. Detainees have been subject to torture and at times execution.
- As part of a broader Iranization policy, the teaching of Arabic is forbidden in Ahwaz while it is compulsory for students to learn Farsi.
- This process is leading to greater Arab discontent in the region along with the Arabs associating Iran’s “imperialism” with that of Israel and the United States.
- There are regional repercussions to the Farsi-Arab tensions. Clashes recently erupted between Iranian military forces and ethnic Arab Iranians who are calling for an independent state in southern Iran. Hussain Shariatmadari, presidential aide to president Ahmadinejad suggested uniting neighboring Bahrain with its “motherland” Iran. The Baharenis, on their part responded in furious demonstrations demanding the “liberation of Ahwaz” from Iranian occupation.
- Iran’s belligerent posture towards its neighbors and Arab population echoes a dark European past of WWII. It is natural that an autocratic regime, lacking human rights values will manifest the same approach in its foreign policy vis a vis neighboring states.