Partition Iran?

Another Misguided Plan by Southern California Congressman Rohrabacher


Partition Iran?
by Touraj Daryaee

From time to time it is important that one provide a teach-in to nonacademics and educate those who promote wrong and harmful ideas. As a history professor I would like to teach a history lesson to Mr. Dana Rohrabacher, the honorable Congressional Representative of California’s 46th District in Orange County where I live and work. On July 26, 2012 Mr. Rohrabacher wrote a letter to the US Secretary of the State, Hillary Clinton, informing her that since the “people of Azerbaijan are geographically divided and many are calling for the reunification of their homeland after nearly two centuries of foreign rule,” the United States should help them reach that goal. He then goes on to say that: Russia and Persia divided the homeland of Azeris homeland in 1828, without their consent. “The Azerbaijan Republic won its independence in 1991 when the Soviet Union collapsed,” continues the letter “Now it is time for the Azeris in Iran to win their freedom too.” Finally, Rohrabacher states: “Aiding the legitimate aspirations of the Azeri people for independence is a worthy cause in and of itself…yet, it also poses a greater danger to the Iranian tyrants than the threat of bombing its underground nuclear research bunkers.”

Obviously Mr. Rohrabacher is concerned with the immediate issues at hand in the Middle East and the interests of the US and Israel in a very twisted way, because he calls the MEK (Mojahedin Khalq Organization, an Iranian exile group on the US terrorist

list), “Israel’s Friends.” This obviously demonstrates Mr. Rohrabacher’s political stance and the influence of its supporters which is detrimental to the US policy in the Middle East. This short sightedness and lack of knowledge about the region and its history is indeed exactly the reason for which the US has gotten involved in the Middle East (Iraq and Afghanistan), which has bankrupted us. The question is how this kind of interference in different countries and plan of dismantling nation-states, recognized by the UN would help the US? Or does it simply just help other countries in the region? Well, the short answer is that it doesn’t help a bit! Last time I checked, it was the work of colonial powers in the nineteenth century which created and divided countries in Middle East. Even in Orange County it is taught that such ideas and actions were evil and has caused problems in the world for the past two centuries. It has been a long time since any country has thought of such colonial plans.

Mr. Rohrabacher states that the Azeri people have been divided for the past two centuries by Russia and Persia in 1828 (I wonder how much travel he has had in the Republic of Azerbijan and Iran’s province of Azarbijan to make such a claim). Just a short glance in any preparatory college world history book will make it clear that the territory he is discussing was part of Iran (known as Persia then), which was invaded by Russians in 1828 and annexed through a peace treaty. But what is important is that the territory that Imperial Russia took as part of her victory over the Persians was never called Azarbijan. It was the Soviet strongman, Stalin who in order to meddle in Iran’s affairs renamed the region of Arran (historical ancient Albania) as Azerbijan as a thorn on the side of Iran and those allies who disagreed with the USSR, namely US and the UK. It seems Mr. Rohrabacher is following Stalin’s footsteps!

As an ancient historian I am also tempted to give Mr. Rohrabacher a history lesson about the very ancient past. The name Azarbijan (Turkified as Azerbijan), comes from the name of the last Satrap (Persian word now existing in English, check it in any good dictionary) of the Achaemenid Persian Empire, named Aturpat, in the 4th Century BCE. His family stayed on as local rulers even after Alexander the Great’s conquest and hence the region became known as Azarbijan (Old Persian Aturpatakan). The Old Persian terms mean “Protector of Fire.” This, however, is only the region south of the Aras River (Iranian Azarbijan), while to the north; Arran was named Azerbijan by Stalin. The Republic of Azerbijan is a twentieth century creation. Hence, there was never historically a unity or connection between the two. The region was turkified in the medieval period and that is just one more ethnic group among many others in the modern nation-state of Iran and beyond.

But Mr. Rohrabacher should also be told that it was the Azaris of Iran and Arran who in fact invented modern ideas of Iranian nationalism. Akhundzadeh, known in the Republic of Azerbijan as Akhundof, a national hero is the man who perpetuated the intellectual movement behind the idea of the greatness of Iran. Since then, many if not most Iranian statesmen and intellectuals have been of Azai background (Ayatollah Khamenei and the previous presidential candidate Mir-Hossein Mousavi are both from Iranian Azarbijan). Many of the most famous Iranian historians, linguists and scholars in modern times have also been ethnically Azari, but none have called for such a separation. I don’t know why Mr. Rohrabacher and his handful of friends (Mojahedin Khalgh in Washington who are spending money trying to buy congressmen and congresswomen, along with Israel), are making such nonsensical statements. They are both incorrect and historically inaccurate.

Furthermore, the Iranian Azarbijan is not only inhabited by Turkic speaking, but also Kurdish people as well as the Christian Assyrian and few remaining Armenians. Mr. Rohrabacher should read a bit on the consequence of promoting a single ethnicity in a multi-ethnic areas and nation-state such as Iran. Lessons from Kosovo and Serbia-Bosnia Herzegovina, as well as Armenia-Azerbijan wars among other, places have shown that such ethnic divisions leads to ethnic cleansing and horrific acts of violence. Iran has been a multi-ethnic civilization for the past 2500 years. It is people like Mr. Rohrabacher who have fallen into the trap of Israel and the Mojahedin Khalgh who seek such divisions for their own opportunistic aims.

US involvement in the Middle East, particularly in Iran in the twentieth century, with a highlight of US backed coup in 1953 which dethroned the only democratically elected prime minister in that nation’s history has made the modern Iran as it is today. I am sure the congressman has heard of the term “blowback,” meaning any shortsighted action could lead to long-term problems in the Middle East and for the US. It should be a lesson to Mr. Rohrabacher to stay out of Iranian affairs and concentrate on unemployment, the broken educational system and poverty in his own county. He is needed more here in Orange County where things are falling apart. His similar ideas about partitioning Afghanistan have made him persona non grata in that country. Let’s save California, before others begin to call for its secession from the US!

First published in

Touraj Daryaee is Professor of History at University of California, Irvine. He can be reached at


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Freedom and Independence for the Rest of Iran

by Faramarz on



North Azarbaijan should join the rest of Iran and bring freedom and independence as well as European membership to Iran.

Anonymous Observer

Dear Dr. Daryaee

by Anonymous Observer on

First, allow me to say that I am a big fan of your work and that I appreciate your tireless research and exploration of Iran's ancient history.  Hats off to you and others like you.

Second, while I agree that Rohrabacher is an opportunist ignoramus, the fault with creating so many enemies who advocate for the disintegration of Iran lies squarely with the IR.  For 33 years the Islamic Republic has spewed belligerence across the world and has given ammunition to every single Tom, Dick and Harry to want to harm Iran and the Iranian people. Rohrabacher's letter is a symptom of the bigger disease that ails Iran: the IR. I wrote a blog on the issue recently:



Freedom and independence for South Azerbaijan

by Savalan on



According to the UN anti-racism panel statement “Azeri communities were notably subjected to "stereotyped and demeaning" portrayals in the media, while ethnic or religious minorities faced "limited enjoyment of political, economic, social and cultural rights."  

For over 80 years, all non-Persian minorities in Iran have been victims of serious human rights violations. They have endured racial discrimination, forced assimilation, suppression of their language and culture under both the Pahlavi and Islamic governments.

South Azerbaijanis in Iran well might be a numerical majority but is kept in a minority situation in terms of access to power and resources.

Since early childhood, I have been exposed to the racial discrimination against the ethnic group into which I was born. As a school boy, I was not allowed to speak my mother tongue, Azerbaijani Turkic. I never saw text books written in my language. I was not taught to read and write my language or learn about my culture and history. As Iran’s only official language Farsi, the Persian language was imposed on us. We were forced to learn Persian language, Persian history, and Persian culture as the common identity of all Iranians.

I have experienced my ethnic group routinely and openly insulted on radio, television and in the state run national press. Even now, my people are depicted as intellectually challenged and are dehumanized as “donkeys” and cockroaches”. Racial discrimination is still with us. Banning of all non-Farsi languages continues, ethnic groups, particularly Turks and Semites are dehumanized.

Iranian regimes have been the biggest threat to the realization of human rights for Azerbaijanis in Iran. Paralleling the internal repression by the government, the Azerbaijani struggle is ignored by the international community and remains invisible to western media such as the BBC, and European broadcasts in Persian. Even Iranian human rights activists, often fail to mention Azerbaijanis and other minorities when they speak of human right violations in Iran.



Nader Vanaki

Congressional Representative from Orange County

by Nader Vanaki on

شاید از یک ایرانی دلخور شده، همون روز هم یکنفر وارد ستاد آقا شده، دویست دلار کمک کرده به شرطی که یک نامه بنویسه.  به همین راحتی!  خیلی سابقه پارس کردن نداره، الان هم بزارین یه خورده وَق وَق کنه، خسته که شد، میزاره بخوابین.

درورد بر شما هموطنان غیور آرنج و نارنج! 


Not a good history lesson

by aziz on

Unfortunately, Mr. daryaee's article lacks proper academic reasoning to make his point (in response to the congressman quotes) and mixed with emotions confusing the reader. People living in Azerbaijan Iran call themselves Turk not Azeri that you have invented and mentioned so many times. You say “There was never historically a unity or connection between the two”. You may want to clarify if we have had one Azerbaijan from time to time and from anthropology point of view, how is it possible not to have connection between groups of people with the same language living in the same area (two sides of Aras River) not having any connection!!As far as "separation" concerned, historically as a matter of principle, it is the people who eventually should make decision how to run their lives. Many individuals who physically separated themselves from their homeland and have become the citizen of another country may as well be defined as "separatist". By the way, rest assured CA is safe and your job is secured and won’t be history, because historically, people won’t have any secessionist idea where they are treated equally with dignity.

Darius Kadivar

But No hard Feelings DR we Can still agree at Least on One Issue

by Darius Kadivar on

Darius Kadivar

Rea Jan Interesting Observation

by Darius Kadivar on

Rea Writes: "But to name Khamenei as one of the Iranian intelectuals - far fetched, I'd say, pifft." 

But it's true that Khamenei is said to enjoy Poetry and can recite Hafez quite well ... Does that qualify him as an intellectual for that matter ? I don't know ... 


But then I guess claiming otherwise would undermine Dr; Daryaee's own academic efforts in revising the history of the Sassanian Dynasty - in order to fit a more Jomhurykhah Reading of Iran's Royal Past  ... 

Sasanian Persia: The Rise and Fall of an Empire (IB Tauris)


All the more that the Sassanian Dynasty is often seen as having been a Role Model to Pahlavi Kings in ressurecting Iranian Nationalism and Pre Islamic Past ... With which Mr. Daryaee seems to have a problem with … Not surprising that he concludes his article with the same obsolete Jomhurykhah claim that what happened in Iran was a "Coup" against the deemed "First democratically elected" Iranian PM …

But then I guess 'Selecitive Observations' seem to be Mr Daryaee's  strong suite ... a "quality" he seems to share with his other eminent jomhurykhah likeminds ...


BBC Persian Selects the Most Eminent Iranians with a jury composed of Only Jomhurykhah likeminds ( Ramin Jahanbegloo,Ramin Jahanbegloo, Ali Ansari, Dariush Ashoori, Touraj Atabaki, Masoud Behnoud, Touraj Daryaee, Vesta Sarkhosh Curtis)


But To Daryaee's Credit however he offers a new and Fresh reading into the Sassanian Era and does it with Talent I should Add ... and probably with a Pat on the Shoulder from Pro Khatami era Academic circles, as was the case some years ago for French Academic Pierre Briant, of the College de France, whose acknowledged works and interests on Iran's Aechamenid History owe much to his own initial admiration for the Macedonian Conqueror Alexander, or more recently Bernard Hourcade for his own work on Iran's contemporary history largely encouraged by then President Khatami who facilitated his access to Iran's University circles and archives and who has tried to offer a "French Reading" of Iran's century old Struggle for Democracy by drawing far fetched parrallels with the French Revolution of 1789 ...

But Rest assured Rea Jan that Iran will never Die, despite efforts by a Clueless or ill intentioned American Congressman, whose activities seem to outrage Mr. Daryaee Far More than those of an equally dubious IRI Lobby on Capitol Hill ...


So allow me to conclude Not with Khamenei's thoughts but rather with yet another Far more eminent Iranian and definitively a GENUINE Intellectual's Famous Quote:


"Iran Harguez Nakhahad Mord" - Shapur Bakhtiar




RESTORATION: Shapour Bakhtiar advocates Restoring the Monarchy (Newsweek Interview, July 30th,1984 ) 


ROYAL FORUM: Explaining the Concept of a Constitutional Monarchy to a Staunch Republican 

SEPARATIST TEMPTATIONS: Don't Let It Fool You ... Treason Exists ...


Darius Kadivar

Coup ? Democratically Elected PM ? I beg to Differ ...

by Darius Kadivar on


An old hat

by kujirasan on

This been around long ago, wonder why there is so much fuss about?


Lewis first unveiled his project in the Bilderberg Meeting in Baden,
Austria, on
April 27-29, 1979
[i] [ii] (see the only photo available
of a Bilderberg Conference – 1954 photo). He formally proposed the
fragmentation and balkanization of
Iran along regional, ethnic and linguistic lines especially among
the Arabs of Khuzestan (the Al-Ahwaz project), the Baluchis
(the Pakhtunistan project), the Kurds (the Greater Kurdistan
project) and the Azerbaijanis (the Greater Azerbaijan Project)[iii].


Darius Kadivar

By the Way Where's Our Friend Choghok to Protest ? ;0)

by Darius Kadivar on

By the Way Where's Our Ever Moralist choghok  to Protest ? ( i.e: in reference to comments in following threads ) ... 

"Iranian Soldiers Torturing, Killing, Dismembering Syrian Detainees ...


Happy Diamond Jubilee |



Or does he dismiss similar Legitimate concerns as 'Biaised' only when expressed by Non NIAC'er Monarchists like me ?  ... 


SPECTER OF PARTITION : Kurds' ambitions add explosive element to Syria equation


SPECTER OF PARTITION: Jordan’s King Suggests a Separate State for Syria’s Alawis


à Bon Entendeur Salut ... 


Rohrbacher is a Republican Ignoramus

by ayatoilet1 on

If the Iranian expat community had real balls (like AIPAC does in the U.S.), we would run radio ads in his district calling him out as an ignoramus. Just like AIPAC does, anyone who is against Israel - they spend lavishly to defeat. And we Iranian-Americans can do the very same....anyone who decries Iranian territorial integrity - we can go after. You know the cost would be something like $2000 ....almost nothing.

The problem is there isn't a single organization that is willing to do that. That is the shame and embarrassment of all these Iranian-American organizations.

We really need to call out - idiots - with negative policies vis-a-vis Iran. We must simultaneously demand change in Iran, while protecting Iranian territorial integrity.

Darius Kadivar

Mr. Daryaee conveniently "forgets" another eminent Azeri ...

by Darius Kadivar on

Mr. Daryayee conveniently forgets to mention Iran's Shahbanou Farah's very own Azeri Roots ...



Shahbanou Speaks in Azeri to Fellow Compatriot during a visit to Europe 


Shahbanou Farah On importance of Azerbaijan as Part of Iran (Manoto TV Documentary From Tehran to Cairo)


Related Blog:

MONARCHY MATTERS: Khosro Fravahar say’s Iranian Jomhurykahs live in denial



desperate act to create more chaos

by Kooshan on

It  is so funny what he likes to do......Yea for sure he is so concerned about the Azaris divided against their will!!!


probably he received some zirmizi from AIPAC to tickle Azaris.


I would say Azaris are the most politically aware ethnics in Iran. I'm not saying this because I'm one of them but really take a look at the contemporary history and see their involvement in driving Iran's politics.


Also, they are the most loyal ethnics to Iran's unity as the other ethnic minorities are. The reason, they have more literature and culture in persian than they have in Turkish. We identify ourselves as Irani first then Turkish.


Due to influence of USRR on North Azarbaijan, they have very poor culture and look at Iran as a superior cultural center. I do not think Iran is ready to annex them since it will generate major international headache for them. This is why it did not happen when USRR was dsintegrated. 



The Azarbayjan Republic does not want our Azarbayjan

by JavoonDeerooz on

It is simple maths. Here they are , 5 million people sharing the oil revenue windfall. Why would they want to share it with 25 million more consumers?  And all the Azari iranians with houses and noonvaies and farsh frooshis, all over iran, would they leave them behind and go live in bakoo? And does Azarbayjan have such an exemplary government and rulers?



by Rea on

oouups, repeat ... delete


I doubt Clinton has read it

by Rea on

..... she's got other things to read. Maybe her 3rd secretary did.

Do agree with the line about ethnic cleansing following division along ethnic and religious lines - and do not wish that even to my worst enemy.

But to name Khamenei as one of the Iranian intelectuals - far fetched, I'd say, pifft.


I appreciate your lesson to this Representative….

by Bavafa on

But I beg to differ as there isn’t anything honorable about a Representative who believes in creating an empire and wanting to rule the world. 

The colonial practices are still being carried out where and when it is allowed.  Nations are being created often times just to support the ambitious goals of the big powers, we have seen it in recent years in Africa and being proposed in ME.


It is a shameful act and it needs to be confronted head on.

  Thanks again for your work and advocacy.

'Hambastegi' is the main key to victory