Myths of Separatism

The most recent case of state separation has been that of Kosovo. I saw Serbs come to the streets and protest. It was quite interesting. Serbs were badly humbled and humiliated. They protested, burnt this and that, threw some cocktail molotovs at the US embassy, did a few other things expressing their frustration, cooled down, went home, end of story! They were like football fans, really devoted ones, who were very angry that their team had been humiliated. Then again, they poured some anger, caused damage to some property, cooled down, went home, and, end of story. Just like in football.

Many of our fellow Iranians ALSO fear separatism. They truly fear it and they act just like football fans, though their activities have so far been limited to talks and writings. An anonymous commentator in my previous article made a link to a video, and I clicked to watch it. I am sorry that I cannot call the guy on the video an idiot because (beside being also sorry for having used the word) I would be insulting idiots. Anyway, watching that video, and also many writings and talks on the Internet, I started to think that actually many Iranians have genuine fear that Iranian regions may some day separate from the rest (whatever would remain) of Iran. So, let’s analyse the realities and see what is at stake beside football-like hooliganism and emotional wasteland.

Let’s actually watch this guy’s video! He receives a phone call and the two of them almost have virtual orgasm as they so much agree with each other that all of Iran’s current and past problems is because of the same Turks who now say that they are unhappy and they feel “oppressed”. I don’t know this person. His interpretations are not just insensitive, hateful and divisive, but also terribly one-sided, and wrong from all points of view for any reasonable person. I wish not to go into detail on this as it would become too long, and too far from the scope of this article.

What is all the fuss about separatism and so much ‘fear’ or maybe ‘joy’ about its prospects! Let’s look at the realities today! Do you really feel that any country would want to separate Iran’s Azerbaijan, Kurdistan, or Baluchistan from the rest? This is nothing but a primary type of mass paranoia inflicted upon us because of our school-era education based on pure prejudice and propaganda. First of all, all Iranian regions except for the south-east, especially Khuzestan, are worthless. You think they have industry? The whole of Iran lacks any beneficial, serious, or productive industry. Iran is a bankrupt country run on crude oil, PERIOD.

Tell me this, would Iran ever take over Afghanistan? Iran would not want to annex Afghanistan even if the Americans paid the Iranian regime $100 billion! Would Republic of Azerbaijan want Iranian Azerbaijan? Or would Turkey? They wouldn’t take it if it was made a gift. They wouldn’t take it if you begged them, believe me! Why would they want to unite with Iranian Azerbaijan? I am sure there are naive football-fan-like nationalists on all sides of borders, but their rulers are more concerned about their own affairs rather than hot air and empty dreams.

The days when peoples constituted subjects, and the more subjects you had the better, are long gone. Nowadays even a semi-tyrannic regime like that of Iran does not view its citizens as subjects who can go hungry. Even Iran’s mullahs know that they need to feed their citizens so they do not revolt. And the more citizens you have in a backward and oil-dependant country like Iran the worse! And of course the rulers know it. They keep the checks-and-balances. They don’t just talk. It would have been another matter in case the situation was different and everything was rosy and people were employed and rich. But no, the only precious Iranian land worth having some fight over is Khuzestan. And we have already had the fight over it where almost one million people died. The rest of Iran? Not worth a penny for any foreigner! Not only that Iran’s neighbouring countries, or even other countries, would not wish to take over any of Iran’s regions, they wouldn’t even really be interested in seeing any of those regions separated on their own.

Any Iranian region, again except for Khuzestan, which would separate from Iran would run a very high risk of starvation, pretty much similar to the case of Afghanistan and Tajikistan. The only relatively acceptable and functional sectors of industry, commerce or any sort of other activities making significant revenues for Iranians are based on state subsidy. All these subsidies rely on the oil revenue and the oil revenue comes from the south-east. Iranian regions would undergo real catastrophe if they were cut off various state subsidies. Gasoline is subsidised. Bread is subsidised. A huge proportion of Iranians work for the government and all their incomes are directly linked to the oil revenue. Most infrustructure activites depend on the oil revenue. Electricity, heating, and many other important sectors run on state subsidies. All these subsidies are decided in Tehran. Any Iranian region that would be cut off those subsidies (resulted from the oil sold to foreigners) would face a terrible and immediate crisis. The situation would improve in time, but that ‘time’ may be too late. And Iran’s neighbouring countries would not really want to be surrounded by small states full of starving people. That would reduce commerce and increase instability.

What would happen to what would remain of Iran if we separated Azerbaijan, Kurdistan, and let’s say, Baluchistan? At least theoretically speaking, more prosperity for the remaining part! Practically speaking it would mean humanitarian catastrophe for all Iranians because families would be separated for no real reason. In case such a scenario took place and the Iranian central government would no longer need to spend the oil money to subsidise various public matters in Azerbaijan, Kurdistan and Baluchistan, there would be more money left to be spent for the rest of Iran, right? Yes! So, Tehran, Isfahan, Mashhad, Shiraz, Kerman and so on would be much better off, theoretically.

National pride is not exactly my favourite subject, but I can assure all our ‘concerned’ Iranians that nobody wants any piece, or inch, of Iran because they are not stupid enough for that! And if there are people inside Iran who ARE stupid enough to want separation from the central reservoir, in case you are an Iranian from more central areas of Iran, you may as well pray that their numbers would rise and they would get what they want! Just kidding! No, Iran needs unity because we all care for each other and because we ought to stride toward freedom and human rights rather than empty dreams.

Which is actually the most oppressed area of Iran? I think it is Khuzestan. Because Khuzestan is where most of the revenue comes from, and it is later spent according to the wishes and desires of the central authority. No Iranian region is run well because the whole system is in shambles and most of the revenue is wasted. And this indeed antagonises Iranians of various backgrounds, especially those who feel they are not treated like equals. And please folks, don’t confuse legitimate rights and desires with stupid and ridiculous ideas!

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