Counter-Terrorism: Iran Battles Arab Terrorists


September 15, 2007: There is a growing anti-government terrorist movement in southwest Iran. The government blames it on the U.S. and British, but the local rebels, nearly all local Arabs, blame the non-Arab Iranians. Although Arabs comprise only about three percent of Irans population, they constitute much of the population an area that produces 70 percent of the nations oil. Arabs used to be the majority in this area, but in the last 80 years, more ethnic Iranians (linguistic cousins of Indians and Europeans) have moved into the oil territories, and are now the majority. While the Iranian Arabs fought bravely against the Iraqis in the 1980s, suffering, per capita, four times as many casualties as the rest of Iran, they did this because they despised Saddam more than they disliked the ethnic Iranians that ruled them. This hatred is well deserved, as the government has responded to the Arab unrest with heavy handed police state tactics.

The Arabs never saw any rewards for their bravery in fighting Saddam, just the same old discrimination and abuse Arabs have long received from ethnic Iranians (who see themselves as racially and culturally superior to the Arabs.) Then Saddam was overthrown in 2003, and soon the Shia Arabs were in charge. OK, the Sunni Arab minority that propped up Saddam were still killing people, particularly Shia Arabs. But the Iraqi Shia Arabs were fighting back, and the Iranian Arabs (who were also Shia) noticed. Suddenly the fact that most Iraqis were Arab, Shia and in charge meant a whole lot to Iranian Arabs. New political parties and pressure groups began to form among the Iranian Arabs. But asking the Iranian government for better treatment only unleashed the secret police, and thousands of Iranian Arabs were arrested, many never to be seen again. Thus for the last two years, there's been a growing rebellion in southwest Iran. All the rebels down there have been Arabs, and the Iranian government is in no mood to talk with the local Arabs, much less negotiate anything. The government blames America, and keeps arresting and killing Arabs.

It's believed that U.S. Army Special Forces are providing some assistance to the Iranian Arab rebels. But the Iranians have provided no proof, and the U.S. is not saying anything specific. Iraqi Arabs are apparently providing some aid, if only because several Shia tribes still have branches on both sides of the border. The Iranian Arab rebels are not numerous, but they aren't going away.


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