Wednesday, November 25, 2009

IRAN, ITS ETHNICITIES AND THE WORLD: Briefing by Azerbaijan Diplomatic Commission
دکتر علیرضا نظمی افشار -کمیسیون دیپلوماتیک آذربایجان جنوبی – کالیفرنیا , +1(209)606-2947
Iran today represents a clear and eminent danger to the world in general and United States and Europe, in particular. This is supported by three facts:

1. The Islamic Republic of Iran is a totalitarian militarist regime, actively looking to flex its militaristic muscle throughout the region. It represents the most serious obstacle in the Middle East for peace and democracy. More importantly, it is an actual military threat to the region’s secular and democratic countries like Turkey, Azerbaijan, Central Asian States, Israel and even Europe (including Albania, Kosovo, Bosnia-Herzegovina …).

2. Iran has created the Shi’ite Crescent – expanding its reach and influence far beyond its borders. As such, it is the most dangerous, planner, promoter, advocate and exporter of Fundamental Islam and Shi’ism to the Gulf countries, Iraq, Lebanon, Azerbaijan, Central Asia, other Islamic countries, and even Europe (including Albania, Kosovo, Bosnia-Herzegovina …) and United States.

3. Iran’s political structure has long promoted “Persian Aggression and Imperialism” and Arian chauvinism. The result is the deep desire and readiness to invade neighboring countries like Bahrain, Gulf Islands, and Azerbaijan.

The only feasible way of neutralizing the aforementioned threat is to assist this country’s transition to a decentralized country based on ethnic borders in order to minimize future ethnic conflicts and potential civil wars. A decentralized Iran would be a potential ally of the USA and no threat to the world for the following reasons:

1. In a decentralized Iran, the most militaristic and Fundamentalist ethnic group i.e. Persians (a minority) that is currently in power will be isolated and rendered harmless. It is critical to understand the cultural dynamics within the religious context. The non-Persian Shi’ite ethnicities of Iran, such as Azerbaijani Turks, Gashghi Turks, and Khorasan Turks are historically and culturally secular – and have often been at odds with the Persian Shi’ites. In addition, other ethnicities such as Sunnis are also opponents of fundamentalist Persian Shi’ism. The Shi’ite Turks of Iran’s Azerbaijan Provinces are and have been the main force against Persian fundamental Shi’ism in Iran.

Examples of this cultural divide within Shi’ism are: 1) the Ayatollah Shriatmedar and his party’s (Hezb e Khalqe Mosalman) opposition to the Islamic Republic’s totalitarian constitution and Supreme Leader Khomeini, 2) the Tabriz riot in the first year of the revolution, and 3) the recent Azerbaijani movements against Tehran.

2. A decentralized Iran will have minimal border conflicts. All non-Persian ethnic groups of Iran live on the border with their own ethnicity on the other side of Iran, such as the Azeri Turks with the Republic of Azerbaijan and Turkey, the Kurds with the Autonomous region of Northern Iraq, the Arabs with Iraqi Arabs and other Gulf countries, the Balouchs with Pakistani Balouchs, the Persians with Northwest Pakistan and Western Afghanistan, and Turkmens with the Republic of Turkmenistan. Therefore, future border conflicts are less likely, which will contribute to creating a more stable and peaceful region in a politically troublesome and economically crucial part of the world between the Arabian Gulf and the Caspian Region.

3. End to exporting of ideology and an end to nuclear ambition. With Fundamentalist Persian Shi’ites isolated, other ethnicities within Iran can divorce themselves from Persian Shi’ites’ rhetoric. Most non-Persian ethnicities of Iran are tired of “the Persian dream” of old imperialism and its aggressive ambitions. They do not believe and do not support making the country a militant state, a world enemy, a nuclear power and a base for exporting anti-Western, anti-Israeli and anti-American ideology.

There is a clear road map to resolution. Transition from a “Persian-centric, militant, Shi’ite, totalitarian, terrorist dictatorship” Iran to a more settled, peace-loving, neighbor-friendly and democratic Western ally federal nation is not as difficult as it may appear:

a. 3000 years of autonomous regions. From the dawn of the history to the Pahlavi coup (only 75 years ago), Iran was ruled in harmony by several autonomous regional ethnicities. Historically, Federalism was the natural system of governance among these regions.

b. Desire and support of 70% of population. Persian Shi’ites in Iran are a 30% minority and non-Persians are the majority of the country. A transition to a Federal system is actually supported by all other ethnicities like Azeri Turks, Turkmens, Kurds, Arabs, Balouchs, and Lors.

c. A regional trend. The neighboring countries of Iran, Pakistan; Iraq; UAE; etc, all are governed by some kind of Federal system.

The path to resolution can be a painless, bloodless, and easy process, if the ethnicity’s struggle is supported for peaceful transformation, or it can turn into a bloody, dangerous Balkanization if neglected.

The main specific challenges include the following three issues:

1. Lack of realistic vision or support. The Western world’s political, cultural and moral support, especially from the US, has not been directed to the pro-Western, secular ethnicities to take the country back from Persian Shi’ite fundamentalists and share it with secular, non-aggressive, friendly Federal ethnicities.

2. Continued support to the Persian Shi’ites’ propaganda machine. Taking back the VOA-Persian section and Radio Farda from the monopoly of Persians who are directly and indirectly coordinating to use United States taxpayer money and American Voice in exactly the opposite direction to assist the Islamic Republic in keeping Persian chauvinist mentality and monopoly in power.

3. Choosing a dependable ally rather than working with a uncooperative regime. The US should be assisting Azerbaijani Turks who are 40% of the nation. As per the Islamic Republic’s recent admission that Azerbaijanis hold 13.5 million votes, and they are the real determining factor in Iran’s destiny.

Alireza Nazmi Afshar




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