Tehran's Biggest Fear
New York Times / SELIG S. HARRISON
28-Dec-2009 (10 comments)

The biggest threat to the ruling ayatollahs and generals in multi-ethnic Iran does not come from the embattled democratic opposition movement struggling to reform the Islamic Republic. It comes from increasingly aggressive separatist groups in Kurdish, Baluch, Azeri and Arab ethnic minority regions that collectively make up some 44 percent of Persian-dominated Iran’s population.

Working together, the democratic reform movement and the ethnic insurgents could seriously undermine the republic. But the reform movement, like most of the clerical, military and business establishment, is dominated by an entrenched Persian elite and has so far refused to support minority demands.

What the minorities want is greatly increased economic development spending in the non-Persian regions, a bigger share of the profits from oil and other natural resources in their areas, the unfettered use of non-Persian languages in education and politics and freedom from religious persecution. Some minority leaders believe these goals can be achieved through regional autonomy under the existing Constitution, but most of them want to reconstitute Iran as a loose confederation or to declare independence.

Should the United States give money and weapons aid to the ethnic insurgents?

During the Bush administration, a debate raged between White House advocates of “regime change” in Tehran, who favored large-scale covert action to break up the country, and State Department m... >>>

Majid Zahrai

Separatism, the real conspiracy against Iran

by Majid Zahrai on

In his closing remark, the author says: "For the present, the Obama administration should tread with the utmost care in dealing with this sensitive issue, guided by a recognition that support for separatism and engagement with the present regime are completely incompatible." 

I would like to share my own opinion with him:  "If US' help to separatist groups causes internal struggles and an eventual crack in Iran's contiguity and sovereignty, in future, US will never be forgiven by Iranian people.  Paying money to separatist groups and supporting them to cause difficulties and challenges to the central government completely misses the mark with what Iranians want.  It is preposterous to think that the protesters in Iran would join the assinine ideas of those who want Iran torn up and in turmoil by its ethnic groups.  Last time I checked, US was admitting left and right to its role in the coup against Mossadegh, acknowledging the pain and disappointment the interference caused the Iranian people.  Does US want another wound to put another five or six decades of mistrust between Iranians and itself?



ethnic divide in Iran is real

by MM on

As I recall, Monarchy more like suppressed the ethnic divide rather than glued it together.  The ethnic divide in Iran is real.  Take a look at:

Jundallah in Sistan/Baluchestan

Arabs revolting in Khoozestan

Kurds screaming in Kurdestan

Some turks wanting to unite with Azerbaijan

I also agree that the self-serving policies of this un-Islamic Republic have intensified the ethnic divide in Iran.  Right now, the focus is to de-manbar-ize this unjust regime, but when Iran moves towards an Iranian Republic, this ethnic diversity needs to be addressed via a unified policy that is acceptable to all.

میرزا چغندر

Iran's forced unity

by میرزا چغندر on

There is a new world order creeping out of the old shell; keeping an Iranian central government over a vast geographical spectrum with meagre cultural bond is very costly and, will be much "bloody".


Forced unity

by MRX1 on

Well sir with an exception of Japan and very few other smaller northern europen counrties out there, vast majority of the countries on the face of the earth are all mosaic of various nations as you call them! So you either advocating seperation at a global scale which will cause millions upon millions to to die and econmic disruptions that you have never seen or experienced it in your life, or you are just advocating it for Iran? in any case even if you don't care for an entity that is Iran, millions care for it, so the seperation will be bloody. May be that does not affect you directly, but it will surley have devastating affect on millions of people over there......

میرزا چغندر

Forced unity

by میرزا چغندر on

Sepratism is not that bad an idea in and out of itself. Iran, after all, is only a mosaic of various "nations".


I agree the Monarchy cemented us together

by mahmoudg on

Now we are at the behest of a corrupt regime and a powerful world power that rightfully looks to its own interests.  Even a surgical attack would mean that the iranians of all ethnic groups would have to bind together to save Iran from a breakup.


DK is quite right on this issue

by MRX1 on

There are two things that kept Iran (or what ever is left of it) together for the past thousend years:

1) Monarchy - like it or not accpet it or not Monarchy has played pivotal role through the history  of Iran. The country had some great monarchs and some bad ones. Monarchy has always been symbol of unity with king representing all the citizenry regardless of ethnic, religous and social differences.Our history as a people and even our greatest book shahnameh is intertwined with Monarchy.

2) Iranian culture - Unique Iranian culture and language is another factor. Islamo facists declaring war on Iranian culture and language at the time that ethno centerism is at all time high is just adding more fuel to the fire.

My personal believe is that any kind of republicanism in Iran will sadly  not have any better results that this one, regardless of good intentions. Republacinsm in Iran will simply open the door to the disintegeration of Iran under the banners of federalism, self right, authonomey and so on.


Darius Kadivar

Marge Responds Well to The Pavlov Effect ...;0)

by Darius Kadivar on

I Have a Crush on Alex Trebek

Like Buddha, monarchy will save us all.... haha!

by I Have a Crush on Alex Trebek on

Central government is the opposite of what monarchy is. There is no governing with monarchy PERIOD. It's a modern day version of high class squatting. Only the most useless people aspire to be such figureheads as this these days. 

Darius: is there anything you don't claim is caused by lack of monarchy? It's never caused by any say, CIA incitement and backing, right? They are just naturally wishing to "separate" because their dear lord king is in a coffin. 

Darius Kadivar

Unfortunately This is one of the consenquences of having abolish

by Darius Kadivar on

The Monarchy an Ancient Institution that maintained Iran united like a Cement.

One can be against the Monarchy and yet acknowledge it's importance and utility nevertheless. For good or Bad It was respected as such in the collective psyche of our compatriots minds regardless of whether we were Kurds, Balutch, Jew, Christian etc ...

The People who started the Revolution back in 1979 without thinking of the consenquences despite the fact that the Shah recognized the Revolution unlike Khamanei today would have been well advised to support a Constitutional Monarchy like  Bakhtiar was suggesting ...


Now with the abscence of a central government that respects minorities and the diversity of the Iranian nation, we may well see Iran turn into parcels like Ex Yougoslavia.

What a Shame ! ...