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The Balkanization of Iran

 

Iran has always presented a thorn in the eye of Western policy makers since the Pahlavi dynasty and its resurgent nationalism. Being strategically located in a position that affords it to patrol and play a significant part in monitoring and controlling the flux of forty percent of the world's oil flows, the foreign policies of superpower governments teetered between soliciting Iranian support and stability through backing and the focused undermining of Iranian regional power. Throughout modern history, we have seen both policy aims carried out with effect. The crux of the issue is Iran's power to blockade the Strait of Hormuz and its military capability to do so. Looming over this immediate outcome is Iran's power as a multiethnic nation state with vast oil, mineral, and gas resources. Its large coastline with the Persian Gulf and the Caspian Sea also affords it power that it is able to project within the spheres of the Gulf States, the Caucasus, and Central Asia. One of the aims of Iran's nuclear program is to solidify its hold on regional power and prevent any foreign intrigue from upsetting this influence.

 

This is why the response to Iran's nuclear program won't just be surgical strikes. In the short term, a surgical strike or any other military action aimed at destabilizing Iran and setting back its atomic aims will do exactly that, but it will not curb Iran's two main resources- human capital in the form of knowledge and raw material wealth. This is where separatism comes into play. The majority of Iran's oil and gas resources are located in the Khuzestan and Hormozgan provinces, home to many ethnic Arabs. Another large chunk of oil and gas is located near and within the Caspian Sea; areas inhabited by ethnic Azeris. Any policy of providing a mortal blow to Iran will factor in ethnic tensions and the creation of new nation-states from the mammoth corpse of what used to be known as Iran. The establishment of a Kurdish Republic of Mahabad was one of the efforts put into separatism, and while unsuccessful, it demonstrated that with enough foreign funding and support, an independent republic carved out of one of Iran's minority-held provinces is feasible and beneficial for multiple parties. A resourceless Iran poses no threat to Arab states, the increasing regional power of Azerbaijan, nor the struggling states of Pakistan and Afghanistan. And without such resources, Iran doesn't stand a chance at mobilizing its human capital in nation-strengthening efforts that could potentially pose a threat.

 

The policy does, however, pose some risks. For one, a Kurdistan carved out of Iran will destabilize and effectively plunge Turkey into ethnic war. Already, an autonomous Kurdish republic is in effect in the state of Iraq, and has also gone into effect in Syria. The next steps are Iran and Turkey- Iran being the weaker and more unstable holder of Kurd-inhabited territories. A war with Iran will provide the instability and resource sapping necessary for the formation of an autonomous Kurdistan in western Iran. The trouble starts when the Kurds of Turkey begin to demand their own autonomy. Perhaps it is a worthwhile deal for Turkish inclusion into Europe, and for the promotion of stability in a region haunted by war and sectarianism. What remains to be seen is whether the Kurds, given autonomy in Iraq, Syria, Iran, and Turkey, will opt to secede and form a resource-rich nation-state. However, it seems the Kurdistan dilemma is an inevitability; preventing 13 million people from forming a nation-state is an uphill battle for all parties involved.

 

Any formation of an Arab state from Southwestern Iran would serve the goal of limiting Iran's coastline in the Gulf and resource wealth. It would be eagerly supported by Saudi Arabia and the Gulf Kingdoms, and with enough repression from Iran, will evoke international support. This will effectively cripple Iran as a nation and plunge it into Afghanistan-grade poverty within several generations. The question of Azerbaijan remains. While separatists and pan-Turkists declare that Iranian Azeris suffer discrimination, facts on the ground hold otherwise. Azeris serve high positions in Iranian society and politics, and enjoy lifestyles similar to ethnic Persians. Furthermore, the historical link of the land of Azerbaijan (northern and southern) is part and parcel of Iranian history. The Land of Fire was the hub of Zoroastrianism and Persian culture for eons. It is unclear whether separatism will take hold as a popular sentiment in Iranian Azerbaijan. It is greatly dependent on how well the Republic of Azerbaijan in the north does in the coming years, as it fosters greater relations with the United States and Europe. If standard of living and economic mobility in the country rise simultaneously as quality of life, political and social repression, and economic rot plague Iran, the desire to join their brothers in the north will increase.

 

And why would international players be apprehensive about this option in the long run? The momentary instability that will rise from carving new states out of Iranian territory is a tradeoff that pales in comparison the the benefits of stronger trading partners in the area, the goodwill of neighboring countries, and the loss of the threat to oil flow in the Gulf and the Caucasus. An Iran without Kurdistan, Azerbaijan, and Khuzestan will be an immobile and poverty-stricken land. The secession of barren Baluchistan will also rob Iran of its rich mineral resources. The goal is to ensure Iran will never pose a threat to international interests in the Middle East- without the resources and strategic advantages it holds, it will never be able to pose such a threat again. Minority groups may be apprehensive- they may hold the belief that they have greater opportunities as Iranians in socioeconomic mobility, yet a concerted support and funding effort from the international community can dissolve such apprehension at the prospect of separation.

 

Iran is "The Land of the Aryans" much as Yugoslavia was the land of the Slavs. It does not have a consistent national identity that rests on three pillars- language, ethnicity, and religion. Thus far, religion is the tie that binds many Iranians, and to an extent, language. This is why Iran is adamant on excluding Azeri and Kurdish as national tongues, as such moves may dissolve Iranian national unity. A state without a national identity resting on the aforementioned pillars provides a tempting opportunity for more powerful players to play the ethnic tension card. In this sense, whatever Iranian government in power must learn to adeptly play at identity politics and mitigate the forces of separatism and ethnic division. Thus far, all of Iran's governments have done poorly in mitigating these differences, often resulting in crises and near-losses for the nation state of Iran. As Iran's tension with the international community grows, a dismembered Land of the Aryans continues to become a very real possibility in our lifetime.

Balatarin

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AshkanJahani

AshkanJahani Nietzche summed it best.

Very well written, but I disagree with the central notion of the post. I think America has enough on its plate right now and no matter how much the conservatives try to push for a war with Iran, it just won't happen. The most likely outcome, as bahmani has stated, is a gradual liberalization of Iran's government as hardliners die off and the youth start clamouring for basic freedoms. Also, Kurds are Iranian. There's a difference in attitude between Iranian Kurds and Turkish Kurds for example. Kurds and Persians share much more in common than they do with Turks and Arabs. As much as anyone would like to spread the fearmongering, Iran won't be split up into pieces any time soon.

sayyad.shaer

Sayyad Sha'er visit: www.sayyadshaer.com

I think the events of the past two centuries prove you wrong re: the Kurds. Sure they share Persian culture, but so do Iraqis, Afghans, Pakistanis, Azerbaijanis, etc. That doesn't stop them from forming their own national identities apart from Iran. Thanks for your comment.

Rea2527

Rea

Well written blog, excellent reading, thx.
(so well written that it makes me think of NP. ;o)

PS. any resemblance btwn the 2 maps, ex-Yu and Iran, is coincidental, of kors.

Shirzadegan

Siavash

Thanks for blog,
It becomes more and more clear that our nation need to be united under one flag which is flag of shir-o-khorsheed and under one leadership which is the leadership of crown Reza Pahlavi to save Iran from disintegration. Padeshah has been symbol of unity, integrity and strength of our nation throughout history. Need to restore monarchy to avoide separation and disintegration of our country.
Payandeh IRAN,
Siavash

mousa67

mousa67 offering free psychotherapy sessions to those suffering from potentialy suicidal mental condition known as "islamism"

al_dayus joon this is a great article! although I have not read it and will not!, but siince such heavy weight intellectual minds as al_suzi and bahmani have put their seals of approval on it, it must be quite something!
LOL

sayyad.shaer

Sayyad Sha'er visit: www.sayyadshaer.com

Fadat besham Mousa jan. Mesinke hanuz saret to kunet gir hast.

Kyle6

Doctor Mohandes Beware. BS detector onboard!

aldayus

for a some person that never come toiran your farsi is so good. are you rubbing our heads with cream or serious serious you been not to iran?:))

sayyad.shaer

Sayyad Sha'er visit: www.sayyadshaer.com

I haven't been to Iran even once! My grandmother was a teacher in Iran, though, and doesn't speak English. She basically taught me everything I know and Farsi is spoken inside our house. I also Skype with my father's family in Iran. But I have a very hard time reading Farsi, I have to read something two or three times to understand what it says.

mousa67

mousa67 offering free psychotherapy sessions to those suffering from potentialy suicidal mental condition known as "islamism"

eva laat baaz ham baladi dayoos joon? in aadat sar bekoon kardan ro maloomeh az haji khanoom hamsar abavit to ostralia yaad gerefti!
LOL
hast saresh jaa

mousa67

mousa67 offering free psychotherapy sessions to those suffering from potentialy suicidal mental condition known as "islamism"

This comment was removed by the Iranian.com Staff for violating our Commenting Standards

sayyad.shaer

Sayyad Sha'er visit: www.sayyadshaer.com

Kheyli tokhsi, mikham baghalet konamo on lopato gaz begiram!

amirparvizforsecularmonarchy

amirparvizforsecularmonarchy I Love Waterfalls and Find One of the most humorous things in the world; is the notion that Americans are a greater force for good & more civilized than Nazi's, Mullahs and Communists.

@sayyad.shaer who's the baldy on your icon?

MonkeyAndOrganGrinder

Monkey And Organ Grinder

Mr. aldayus, you have a very interesting name! In Hungarian version of Hebrew, aldayus means, "I love to hug you!" At any rate, I think, if Iran is going to dodge the faith you have very accurately articulated here must do the following. It must immediately halt its efforts in instigating the Palestinians in demanding lands from the state of Israel. On the contrary, it should encourage the Palestinians to integrate into the Israeli society once and for all. Israel will reciprocate this gesture of friendship by using all its power to support Iran in its maintaining and protecting its sovereignty. How do like that quid pro quo (bedeh bestoon!) Happy Hanukkah and I love to hug you!

amirparvizforsecularmonarchy

amirparvizforsecularmonarchy I Love Waterfalls and Find One of the most humorous things in the world; is the notion that Americans are a greater force for good & more civilized than Nazi's, Mullahs and Communists.

When I say IRI has to go, I mean the entire policy of USA/uk/france/israel supporting extremists and helping groups that bring chaos and regression like the mek needs to stop. Iranians suffered so much at the hands of anti-monarchists from within, its time Iran prospered again and the monarchy was restored.

sayyad.shaer

Sayyad Sha'er visit: www.sayyadshaer.com

What incentive would that provide the US? The US doesn't want a powerful Iran that is run by its people and in the interests of its people.

amirparvizforsecularmonarchy

amirparvizforsecularmonarchy I Love Waterfalls and Find One of the most humorous things in the world; is the notion that Americans are a greater force for good & more civilized than Nazi's, Mullahs and Communists.

I know in practice that is what is happening, that is why they portrayed the most democratic acting leader in the last century the shah as a despotic, authoritarian dictator to thwart iran's slow rise towards democracy. Because they opposed democracy and freedom for iran, but it was a mistake.

sayyad.shaer

Sayyad Sha'er visit: www.sayyadshaer.com

Well they had a reason to; during the Cold War they labeled any movement that sought a state economic model and the nationalization of resources as "communist", hence Mossadegh. This was because it threatened the power balance vis-a-vis the USSR. But with the USSR gone, what benefit does the US have in overthrowing the IRI for Reza Pahlavi? Believe me I think Reza is much better than any of the other choices (but it seems the US is favoring the MEK). They would rather have an authoritarian and repressive regime in power- it limits the capabilities of the Iranian people and allows international backing of acts against Iran.

amirparvizforsecularmonarchy

amirparvizforsecularmonarchy I Love Waterfalls and Find One of the most humorous things in the world; is the notion that Americans are a greater force for good & more civilized than Nazi's, Mullahs and Communists.

Actually that is not true. The USA is in a decline as a direct result of its own policies and alliances/ The USA top policy makers admit they made a big mistake in removing the late shah and not recognizing how much he was doing in his alliance with the USA (alliance is very different than nowkar), they don't say so publicly as it would be stupid to admit a mistake one can not go back and fix it as their current alliances oppose this and alone the USA is not strong enough to fix their own mistake. From Iran's point of view, it can't really ever form an alliance with a nation so filthy as the USA who betrayed the shah the way it did do. More to do with loyalty and national honor, than Iranian pride.

france and uk are a different issue, they will never trust a free and independent Iran and will never want to see this as a result of their thinking, but the UK and France are not everything. A free Iran can handle both of them together as the late shah proved. If the USA wises up to the UK/France they still have a chance to get out of their current decline, caused by their poorly thought out, destructive and imbalanced alliances.

amirparvizforsecularmonarchy

amirparvizforsecularmonarchy I Love Waterfalls and Find One of the most humorous things in the world; is the notion that Americans are a greater force for good & more civilized than Nazi's, Mullahs and Communists.

ON THE DEAL. That is not what Israel or the USA wants. What Israel wants is to support what the US wants, which is to on the one hand help extremists like the IRI come to power and on the other hand have theses extremists only spread tyranny, suppression, poverty and turmoil in their own country which the USA and Israel are helping to regress and exploit more easily control/exploit. It's called having your cake and being able to eat it. So the error is in this idiotic thinking, that is attainable but not sustainable for the USA or Israel. Just look at the way the Russians are treating the USA, hard bitch slapping 24/7 from putin to the entire russian team. Of course the USA is in a visible decline on this path, though to be fair the real burden of the pain and punishment will be paid for by the inferior allies of the USA not only the USA.

IRI has to go and then the issues of IRI interference will obviously disappear. So really the USA need to change, no one else. What the USA is doing today in supporting terrorists and extremists in Libya, Egypt and Syria is not how America became the number one power, though unfortunately for America it doesn't know that it is causing blows to its own power and future and it can't see how.

ayatoilet17

ayatoilet1 B.S. from Argooz U., M.S. from Massachosetts I.T. PhD from Oxfed U; Post Doc @ Kharvard U; Big Shot @ Sheikh Mir Hassan Bank. Plays for a band: Ayatoilet & the Shits. The Supreme Dr. Ayatoilet Kh Kh Kh! www.ayatoilet.com

Question: How can we stop this balkanization process? ( I agree that this is the plan, but how do we stop it?) ...by the way, I have some ideas ...but I am wondering if anyone else has any?

NasirKhosrow

Nasir Khosrow Poet, scientist, philosopher, mystic and traveler

Very straightforward. By not aligning with agendas whose interests are the balkanization of Iran.

faraway

faraway

That means not aligning with the IRI. Are you willing to go that far??

sayyad.shaer

Sayyad Sha'er visit: www.sayyadshaer.com

The IR is part of the whole Balkanization plan. Put into power a government so repressive and disorganized, and people will want to separate.

faraway

faraway

I have a feeling our friend Nasser Khosrow does not share our sentiment...;)

NasirKhosrow

Nasir Khosrow Poet, scientist, philosopher, mystic and traveler

Unless you are infallibly prescient, do not assume anything.

amirparvizforsecularmonarchy

amirparvizforsecularmonarchy I Love Waterfalls and Find One of the most humorous things in the world; is the notion that Americans are a greater force for good & more civilized than Nazi's, Mullahs and Communists.

restore the shah is the most obvious way to restore peace, progress and human rights.

sayyad.shaer

Sayyad Sha'er visit: www.sayyadshaer.com

What do you think can stop it? I for one have no ideas.

ayatoilet17

ayatoilet1 B.S. from Argooz U., M.S. from Massachosetts I.T. PhD from Oxfed U; Post Doc @ Kharvard U; Big Shot @ Sheikh Mir Hassan Bank. Plays for a band: Ayatoilet & the Shits. The Supreme Dr. Ayatoilet Kh Kh Kh! www.ayatoilet.com

You have to go after the 'forces' that will benefit from balkanization. For example and easy one is a company like BP that is currently benefiting from Caspian Sea reserves, they control the pipeline ALL the companies use to transport the oil to Ceyhan in the Mediteranean. BP also is the largest player in Azerbaijan's fields with platforms in the Caspian. If Iran is splintered, companies like BP stand to benefit by grabbing even more of Iran's Caspian reserves. And BP is on their knees in the U.S. with record fines against them recently, but I think we (Iranian-Americans) can go after them in the U.S. in an even stronger way, by riling up the American public especially after the disaster in the Mexican Gulf. We can organize boycotts, we can promote greater fines, Iranian-American lawyers can represent those damaged by BP's events here, and basically we can go after them to a point where their losses in the U.S. will outdo any potential gains through the break up of Iran and even their current theft of Iranian oil in the Caspian. This is just one example - I have many more. But joining the boycott and attack on BP is a good move, and it has widespread American support - but in the end benefits Iran even more.

My basic point though is lets identify who is behind the balkanization - life for example Netenyahu - and we (Iranians everywhere) can systematically go after them...here in the U.S. and Europe where the net impact could be orders of magnitude greater then their gain by breaking up Iran. Everyone of those entities that stand to gain from the Balkanization have competitors and enemies. Iranians abroad can make a critical difference - until they stop supporting Iran's balkanization. We are NOT powerless. Really we aren't. There are Iranians in every sphere - every government department, every professional field. The key is to now coordinate the effort to attack those that wish Iran and Iranians harm. This is a something they started - not us. They put the Mullahs in power, and they are the ones financing and arming Iranian enemies to break up of Iran. And my examples are illustrative. But for example BP just agreed to a 2.5 Billion dollar settlment on the class action suit, this was on top of 4.5 Billion in fines, and a ban on participation in government contracts in the U.S.; and BP just got another fine in Alaska for a few hundred million for oil spills from its pipeline there. I mean BP is an easy target - and could be literally put out of business. Without its operations in the North America - nothing in Iran or Azerbaijan will matter - because they will be out of business as they exist today. And Iranians really do have a bone to pick with BP, they were behind the Mossadegh coup, they were behind the rise of the Mullahs, they were behind the toppling of Iran's constitutional system in 1922 ... BP just can not play clean, and play fair with Iranians or Iran. They want to steal everything. Even today, they are behind the dictatorship in Azerbaijan with their puppet Aliev in power there. And with the Deepwater Horizon disaster - BP is an easy bird for shooting. And I am just saying this as an illustration. I can think of 15 other targets ...that could really suffer in North America ...if they push for balkanizing Iran.

choghok

choghok Your enemie's enemy is necessarily not a friend.

Interesting article. Americans and Israelis are trying hard and push for a Balkanization. They are pushing hard in Azerbaijan and Kurdistan. It is an effective weapon that is less costly for them. I do not think that the map is fully correct though, the Kurdish area in Khorasan is close to Afghan border.

sayyad.shaer

Sayyad Sha'er visit: www.sayyadshaer.com

Wow, I didn't know this would get so many comments!

SoosanKhanoom

akaDarya With life as short as a half-taken breath, don't plant anything but love. - Rumi

Aldays,

You are a good addition to this site ... Welcome !

We can of course agree or disagree on many things and learn in the process.. That's what maks a discussion live and fruitful ... so thanks for your thought provoking blogs .

: )

SoosanKhanoom

akaDarya With life as short as a half-taken breath, don't plant anything but love. - Rumi

This comment was removed by the Iranian.com Staff for violating our Commenting Standards

BB

Mr. B

Great Article. Very good timing.

My own personal test of country is in the written language. Namely, if you have one, you are a country. Or at least have the right to be one.

Religion? Not so much. especially Islam which is traditionally quite coercive, I doubt that the 90% of Iranians (or Egyptians) who call themselves moslems, do so freely, and are what I would suggest is another test, devout.

Out of 90% Iranians who call themselves Moslem, how many are devout? And really believe that you cannot eat pork or that women are inferior beings through no fault of their own? I would say 90% of the 90% don't believe in the myth and folklore that is the great Islamic joke.

However I do agree that the 90% will never admit this, so long as they are being fed, and paid by the Marxist arm of the Islamic Republic, which has successfully channeled the oil revenues to buy favor, loyalty, and apparently a 90% statistic with which to adorn itself.

This also proves why NO opposition (internal or external) can ever succeed, and that slow and steady reform as hardliners die of old age, and are replaced by younger and more easily corruptible ones who agree to less and less totalitarianism, and more and more moderation.

As the song goes, "Freedom's just another word for, nothing left to lose"

When the power realizes there is nothing to lose by giving Iranians freedom, they will.

Great piece, well done.

SoosanKhanoom

akaDarya With life as short as a half-taken breath, don't plant anything but love. - Rumi

bahmani,

You brought up an interesting point here on the subject of sharing one common written language ... that reminded me of the movie " Bushu " ! Try to watch it if you have not yet ! You will then diffidently love it !

" Bashu, the Little Stranger (Persian: باشو غریبه کوچک‎), This multi-ethnic film was the first Iranian film to make use of the northern dialect of Gilaki, in a serious context rather than comic relief. "

SoosanKhanoom

akaDarya With life as short as a half-taken breath, don't plant anything but love. - Rumi

This comment was removed by the Iranian.com Staff for violating our Commenting Standards