An ethnic war in Iran is only a matter of time

Imagine the Islamic Republic falling apart like Syria, Iraq, Libya or Yemen in a civil war with armed militias – and nuclear facilities all over the area.

Painting of Saddam Hussein (© Eric Doeringer)
Painting of Saddam Hussein (© Eric Doeringer)

In Independence Day, I received a message on Facebook from a man who lives in Iraq and wanted to congratulate the State of Israel on its independence and thank it for destroying Saddam Hussein’s nuclear reactor in 1981.

If it were not for that, he wrote, Iraq would have been filled with nuclear facilities, and imagine what would happen now, with the all-out war taking place there, where there are no rules and no limits and everything is permitted. Israel saved the Iraqi people, he wrote and thanked us. Indeed, Saddam Hussein’s Osirak reactor, had it remained, would now be in the area occupied by the Islamic State in the al-Anbar province. What would the world do then?

His messages raises a lot of interest not just about what happened and what was prevented, but also about what will happen. Iran is an ethnically, religiously and tribally torn country, just like Iraq and Syria, and maybe even more. It has no majority ethnic group, and the Persians, because of the negative birthrate, have already become a minority, although they are the largest minority among all other minorities, 24%. The others are Azeris, Balochs (Sunnis), Tajiks (Sunni), Lurs, Turkmens (Sunnis), Kurds (mostly Sunnis), Arabs (Sunnis) and others.

Some of these minorities want to split from Iran and connect their territory to other countries. The Azeris want to join Azerbaijan; the Balochs want to join Pakistan; the Kurds want to establish the “Great Kurdistan,” which will extend over parts of Iraq, Turkey, Syria and Iran; and the Arabs want to establish their own independent state which will be called Ahwaz in Arabic or Khuzestan in Persian.

In other words, a breakup and a Sunni-Shiite ethnic war and a war between different ethnic minorities is only a matter of time in Iran. The ground is already on fire, and there are constant conflicts between the Balochs and Ahwazi Arabs and the regime, which is oppressing them with an iron fist.

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