Iran is a state of the variety of nationalities and religions and this diversity is a historical phenomenon inherent of the political and social shape of the Iranian state. It is one of the most diverse countries in the World , ethnically and religiously, and that the Persian group that is dominant on the Iranian affairs does not exceed the rate of forty percent, and that the majority includes ten human groups include: Ahwaz Arabs, Kurds, Turkmen and Azeris ( related to Azerbaijan in central Asia) and Baloch (related to the Baluchistan ), Armenians, and Alazardashtan (who revere the fire), and Alrachtan (ethnic Russians, and live on the northern shores of the Caspian Sea ), and Christians (of the three denominations Orthodox, Catholic and Protestant). There are even additional minority who were grown and consolidated in the last three decades and they are , “Afghan minority “, or consisted of Afghans who fled from Afghanistan in the seventies of the twentieth century, as a result of the Soviet invasion, in support of the communist coup against the ruling monarchy system (King Tahir Shah), at that time, and that (King) was welcomed by the government of Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi, Emperor of Iran at the time, and who was himself an anti-communist and supporter of the monarchy in neighboring Afghanistan. The prevailing belief, then, is that the stay of Afghan refugees in Iran will be temporary. But the witness is that this residence has almost half a century, equivalent to two generations. Which involved the consolidation of the roots of these new expatriate minority, which was added to the ethnic, linguistic and sectarian diversity (as the majority of these Afghans are Muslims of the Sunni sect, and now live amid the Shiite majority).
On the fifteenth of current June , the “National Press Club in ” the US capital Washington hosted a conference under the title of “pluralism challenges in Iran,” to discuss national and religious situation of minorities and non-Persian people who suffered from the persecution at the hands of the Iranian regime. And the conference organized “Ahwaz Human Rights Organization” , in collaboration with “Ibn Khaldun Center for Development Studies,” and was attended by Iranian and Arab and American experts, as well as politicians, academics and jurists of nationalities and ethnic and religious minorities in Iran to discuss the Ahwazi issue in the era of the Iranian revolution. conference was opened by Dr. Karim Abdian Bani Said, chairman of Ahwaz Human Rights Organization delivering a speech outlined through About the problem of pluralism in Iran and the structure of the Iranian state, which does not allow the participation of the components of society with the State Administration, in addition to the persecution and ethnic and religious discrimination practiced by successive Iranian regimes against non-Persian peoples and religious minorities. Bani Said stressed that “the Ahwazi Arab people who suffered from double discrimination, wants the right to self-determination, but peacefully through putting forward the oppression and the Iranian government plans for the extermination of them to the international community.”
So where is the territory of Ahwaz? What are the real area? And why was the Iranian greed on it? And how it was ended? How Iran to deal the people of the region ?What is the Arab and international stance on this issue? What are the visions of the future of this region?
Ahvaz County is located in south-eastern of Iraq, southwest of Iran, and is bounded on the west by thecountry of Iraq, and the Shatt al-Arab and the Arabian Gulf, and on the south by the province of Balochistan and the North Mountains of the Kurdistan region, and on the east and south-east Zagros Mountains that it is a natural boundary between Ahvaz and Iran .
This area is called in the Sassanian era by the name: Khuzestan (ie the country’s castles and forts), attributed to what was built by Arab Muslims in this region of castles and forts in the Battle of Qadisiyah “15 AH / 636 AD.” It has been mentioned – Al-ahwaz- in the book under the title Lisan al-Arab Ibn Manzur( the tongue of the Arabs), meaning “the spaces are seven hawzs between Basra and Persia, each with a name, and all of it is called by Ahwaz and also” also means “owned land with known border “, and this name was continued to call on the Arab regions until the reign of Ismail Al-safawi in 1501 AD. Persians named the Ahwaz by the designation “Arabistan”: means Arab country. With a small percentage of the Persians came to inhabit the spaces within persian campaign carried out by the Iranian nation through different historical stages.
Today, Arab nationalism in the Iranian state accounts for 4% of all the citizens of the Iranian nation and the Islamic faith, and they were sectarian distinguished from each other noting that the Shiites who are the majority live in the south-western parts, while the least number of the Sunni inhabit the coast of the Arabian Gulf. The Ahwaz area, before Iran truncated portions of it and annex it to some Iranian cities were 0.375 thousand square kilometers, and a population of over 8 million people, 99% of whom are Arabs, and frequent stories that the proportion of Arabs fell to 95% after the resettlement numbers of the Persians and other nationalities .
History records that the Arab presence in Ahwaz began with the appearance of this spot of land on the map of the world, since the third millennium BC, in the form of a future human groups from Yemen and the Arabian Peninsula, and that this Arab presence there was before any human presence, never ceased since that time, to be established in this region Arab tribes coming from Iraq and the Arabian Peninsula , the most important of it are : “Bani taraf” and “Bani kaab” and “Bani Tamim” and “Al-katheer” and “al said niaama” and muteer and Dawaser and Shammar and inza, dhaffer and Subaie and utaiba and many other tribes and the whole Arab tribes have a its extension from the Arabian peninsula and their princes, sheikhs who govern them.
Since the victory of the Muslims to the Persian Empire at the Battle of Qadisiyah, the province of Ahwaz was under Muslim rule, and continued to follow the mandate of Basra until the Mongol invasion of Baghdad, the capital of the Abbasid state in the year 1258. After the end of the occupation phase. Ahvaz County was subject to the two Arab states before the submission to the Persian occupation, namely: musha’sha’iyyah state “1436 m / 1724” and recognized by the Safavid and the Ottoman Empire as an independent state, and the kuaabiya state which has managed to preserve its independence until the date of April 25 in 1925.
Those who are interested in public affairs heared and studied the colonial powers agreements to share the Arab provinces of the Ottoman Empire after World War I (1914-1918). So that Britain promised the Western Jews, representatives of the Zionist Organization, facilitating the establishment of a national home for them on the land of Palestine, while leaving Syria and Lebanon to the dominance of the French, Iraq, Jordan and the Gulf emirates to theBritish hegemony. In addition, the UK was already occupies Egypt, Sudan and Aden, since the late nineteenth century. As for what we did not learn from our Arabic schools and universities is that one of the deals after the First World War was to separate a balcony from Iraqi territory, which was under British protection, and give it to the Shah of Iran, Reza Pahlavi. In reciprocal that Britain is gaining the privilege for oil exploration and extraction, refining, on the eastern side of the Gulf, around the city of Abadan, which is the heart of Ahvaz County or Arabistan, or Khuzestan, all the names of Arab land and the one, which was inhabited by Arab tribes since the tenth century AD . Britain was afraid of growing Russian influence in the region, thus granting it the land of Ahwaz in return for non-alliance with Moscow, and to stop the growing Russian influence on its soil. Perhaps the motive of Shah of Iran, Reza Pahlavi to the occupation of Ahwaz is his desire to reach the shores of the Arabian Gulf taking in to consideration that Iran was not having any scope of views on the coastline due to the extension of the limits of kaabian state on it.
Because the armed resistance of a people against the occupier is a form of cultural practice to express the comprehensive identity , which does not appear only in the time of adversity such as occupation, for example, noting that the Ahwazi resistance was varied between carrying weapons and political action, which started late for armed action. After nearly three months after the annexation of the Iranian authorities forcibly for the region, Sheikh Khazaal soldiers and private bodyguards, who were called the young men (ghulman) started a revolution that has been marked by their name in July 221 925 led by both Shalash and Sultan , and this revolution forced the Iranian army to flee to Kuwait, who controlled the rebels on the Muhamara city(khorramshahr) , capital of the region for several days, then the Iranian authorities bombarded the city from all sides until it was able to quell this revolution and kill its leaders.
The uprisings and revolutions were going on like Hovaiza revolution of 1928 and uprising of Haider bin Talal (1930 m), and the revolution Bani taraf in 1936, and revolution of the clan of kaab Aldbes in 1940, and the uprising of Gaspe bin Sheikh Khazaal (1943 m), and the Battle of Sheikh Abdullah bin Sheikh Khazaal 1944, the revolution Bani taraf 1945 and revolution Sheikh Mzkhor Kaabi in 1946, and the revolution clan of Nassar 1946, and many others, and the uprising Sheikh Younis Assi (1949 m). but the most famous of these uprisings is the uprising of April 15 2005, in which all theArab forces in the Ahwaz involved. although the strength of some of these former uprisings , and the multiplicity of its operations, it did not make a difference, as a result of the lack of kit and number, compared to the Iranian forces. The political action began to create the first orderly political party expresses Ahwaz in 1946 known as the Saada Party and primary goal of the party is to spread awareness among Arab youth, and inform them of their rights and duties. However , the Iranian authorities have been able to contain this party, and its secretary general ,Hussein Fatemi has become as foreign minister during the reign of Dr. Mohammed Mossadegh prime minister, in the early fifties of the twentieth century. After the decline of this party, a revolutionary political and other organizations were formed , tried to complete what it was started by saada Party.
So when the revolution was broken out in Iran , Alohawwazion took part in , where they took control of the oil and economic installations in their region which hastened the fall of the rule of Mohammad Reza Pahlavi, in the February 11, 1979. With the success of the revolution , Alahwazian people thought that the injustices that occurred on them in the two eras will be gone from them, especially since the revolution taken from the principles of Islamic law! As a starting point for its ruling, so they rushed to establish institutions of civil society, including, for example, they set up cultural centers in various cities of Ahwaz, but the reaction of the new Iranian regime led by Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini had been marked to attack all these centers and murder those who were present in it.
But the suffering of Ahwaz was increased by the racist policies of successive governments followed by the Iranian revolution against this nationality and at different levels, the annexation of parts of the region to the Persian provinces such as Faris , Isfahan and others, claiming the administrative organization of the state. and depriving people of Ahwaz from the clean drinking water and agriculture through rivers diversions and their tributaries, as the region suffered from basic services and prejudice against their children, in important jobs and salaries, and even educational opportunities, and health care. And the Iranian authorities sought continuasly to eliminate the Arabic language, and the establishment of Persian language in stead of it, and change several cities from Arabic names to the Persian language, such as the alfalahya town to Shadegan, and the historical city of Lashkar- Makram to band- Kir , and al-salihya to andimeshk, but to change the name of the region from Arabstan (Arab countries) to Khuzestan (the land of forts), despite the fact that the name of Arabstan is named by the former Shah of Iran, Reza Pahlavi. The slowdown in the restoration and the reconstruction of what was destroyed by previous wars in the region like the Iran-Iraq war, and what was left of it as a result of the mines and the demolition of some houses of Ahwaz, which represent the old Arab Ahwaz heritage, rather than re-restoring it as the ruins that it tell the origins of the Arab history of the region.
As for the Iranian regime’s position on the Ahwaz al Sunni , it was characterized by tightening on Sunni Islam and it is the main feature in the deal of the Iranian authorities with it in Iran in general, and in Ahwaz in particular, noting that the Iranian authorities have imposed on the high school departments and medium in the region to report about any Ahwazi Arab student who shows transformation, or belonging to the Sunni sect. And the storming of some mosques and arresting its owners without clear reasons, according to the succession of the reports of Ahwazi organizations .the position of its intellectuals of Iran was not better than their authorities . In the 5-October 2011 AD, Iranian scholar Dr., a professor at Tehran University, Sadeq Ziba said : “.. A Persians viewpoint is the inferiority of others, especially Arabs, also said:” I think a lot of us, either religious or secular hates Arabs .. The many Arabs also hate us “, claiming that is for historical reasons despite that Tehran always denies this trend, and to insist that what is doing does not exceed not allow any minority to exceed the strategic view of the state, so to avoid falling into a spiral of conflict with other ethnicities , such as the Kurds, Baluchis, Turks, Azeris, and others, noting the spread of unemployment, lack of or lack of services in minority areas, particularly the Sunnis
The two poles of Iranian policy “Reformist and conservatives movement ” may vary with respect to internal and external state policy, but they agree to the persecution and harassment of Arab nationalism in Ahwaz, noting that the nationalities non- persian including Arabic were optimistic for the coming of the “reformist president” Mohammad Khatami for the position of President of the Republic in the hope to lift injustice inflicted on Ahwazi people, but he works to dedicate this injustice, when a leaked secret document issued by his office, called for the displacement of Ahwaz Arabs from their towns and replace them with hundreds of thousands of Iranians Persians. This matter pushed Ahwazi people in the April 15, 2005 m, to rise up again against racism and discrimination policies practiced by the Iranian state through the government of President who called for dialogue of civilizations, and the impact of the uprising were many dead and wounded as the Iranian government has arrested at least three thousand Ahwazi people. conditions of Ahwazi Arab nationalism conditions were worsened more under former President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and the current President Hassan Rohani , and Dr. Karim Abdian Bani Said , head of the Ahwazi Human Rights Organization pointed out in a speech in which he said that “the Ahwaz region have suffered from the political, cultural and economic persecution by both systems of Shah and the Islamic Republic of Iran, and original people suffer from racial discrimination and violations of human rights to the extent that the Iranian government made them as a second-class citizens or third. ”
The Arab and regional positions for the most part are characterized by negative and ignorance except for the position of former Egyptian President Gamal Abdel Nasser, when he asked the Arab League in December 1964 to form a committee to manage and discuss the Arab Gulf situation, and including Ahvaz County, this committee has changed the name of the province (Khuzestan) to Arabstan of “Ahvaz”, the Commission focused on the inclusion of Arabstan to the Arab world. However, the matter was ended up at this point, and neglect covered the issue of Ahwaz again. It is noticeable here that the Arabs did not improve the use of paper of pressure in Ahwaz on Iran, which plays all of its papers against them. To improve the use of this paper by Arabs, there are several steps can be taken , which begins to extend ways to communicate with the Arab region, either socially or culturally, or politically in order to encourage them to steadfastness and adherence to their identity, and the definition of this issue in the curricula of the various Arab country, with the work of scholarships for students of Ahwaz to Arab countries that are interested in it, like the students of occupied Palestine. This is what can be offered now, in light of international circumstances and tense regional scene, but may be available in the future, other ways of more effective support.
The national and religious diversity in Iran, it could have been a source of strength and creativity, if those in charge of affairs of that country were more just and equitable to manage public affairs. But the practice of the Iranian regime against ethnic groups, including Arab nationalism emphasizes the transcendent discriminatory treatment of the Persian group dominant on the reins of power. The Iranian regime is based on the both elements of Persian nationality and Shiite doctrine , and the abolition of the current ethnic, cultural and religious pluralism and thus a violation of the rights of ethnic groups and other non-Persian ethnic and religious minorities that make up the mosaic of Iranian society . And that this structure dates back to centuries, despite a change of the ruling elite; from Safavid Iran,to Ahahnstnahih Iran and to Khomeini Iran, and that is what explains the tendency of the ruling regime in penetrating the neighboring countries, and try to control them. Here is the reality of the situation in the atheist and the twentieth century, Iran has already penetrated the four Arab countries, namely Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, and Yemen. Also trying to penetrate both Bahrain and Saudi Arabia, and other Arab Gulf countries .so it is important to work on containing the Iranian regime ,and trim its sectarian expansionist tendency. In sum, the Iranian regime lives as a result of its discriminatory policies and the practice of violence against national and religious diversity –Ahwaz as a model- , socially anxious may lead to a state of instability which enhances the internal disintegration. Iran is strong regionally which took from the sectarian proxy wars as a way to stretch in the Arab region, it is weak internally. The strength of Iran, especially in the Arab Mashreq based on the employment of the sectarian dimension in Iraq, Lebanon, Syria, Yemen and some Arab Gulf states, and not because they are able to exploit it optimally, but assisted by the state of Arab weakness. It is not on the level of internally coherent to waging sectarian wars on us, but we have enabled it to do so.
Rawabet Center for Research and Strategic Studies