The defense minister says that Iran will not invade Iraq if Iraq is attacked by the United States. Shia Iran has long protested the persecution of Shia Moslem Arabs in southern Iraq, and made threats regarding damage done to Shia religious shrines in southern Iraq. Iran has a large Shia Arab population right across the Iraqi province in a region called Arabistan. Sunni Arabs have long feared that Iran would try to "liberate" Shia Arabs in southern Iraq and along the west coast of the Persian Gulf. Shia Arabs are the majority population in most of the Persian Gulf oil fields.