Much has been said about the issue of separatism in Iran. And while--in true Iranian xenophobic fashion--much of the blame has been placed on the “foreign influence” and “foreign incitement” of separatism in Iran, not much attention has been paid to the eight hundred pound gorilla cause of the problem: the Islamic Republic. For the reasons listed below, the IR is the main instigator and the main derive behind separatist movements and separatist ideologies in Iran.
I. Stateless ideology & the destruction of Iranian identity
A. Stateless ideology
The Islamic Republic’s ideology is by definition a stateless ideology. The idea of a stateless “ommat islam” is inherently contradictory to the idea of a nation state with proper national borders. The Islamic Republic has been advocating this ideology through a vast, organized and systemic educational and propaganda apparatus for more than three decades. In light of the fact that more than 50% of the Iranian population is below the age of 30, the effect of what would be lifelong propaganda cannot be understated.
Ideology has never been a vehicle by which a nation’s identity can be defined and maintained. How can you possibly convince an ethnically diverse population to maintain its cohesiveness while you declare that the idea by which you seek to create cohesiveness within your borders is really not limited to your borders?
There are many examples of this phenomenon. Take the USSR and its stateless communist ideology. The country fell apart when the ideology fell part. The effect was almost instantaneous. I am afraid that various Iranian ethnicities--a good chunk of which have not seen anything else but IR’s ideology throughout their lifetimes—will act the same way when the IR’s ideology and its existence come to their inevitable end.
B. Destruction of Iranian identity
The Islamic Republic has made no secret of its desire and intent to destroy any and all vestiges of Iranian heritage and national identity. It has enlisted the help of characters like Nasser Pourpirar, a believer in "Jewish Conspiracies," a pan Turkist, a former Toudeh Party official and later an Islamic Revolutionary Guard interrogator and torturer. In an Iran where book publishing is heavily censored and controlled by the government, and where the slightest negative reference to any Shia religious figure could cost one his/her life, Pourpirar has been allowed to freely publish several books calling the entire pre-Safavid Iranian history a Jewish fabrication (no surprise that he picked a Turkish dynasty that founded the modern Shia political ideology). Also, IR’s own person in charge of its cultural heritage organization, Saleemi Nameen, is a follower of Pourpirar and is another Iran history denier. He claims that Persepolis is really an Elamite structure.
Aside from its support of people like Pourpirar and Saleemi Nameen, the IR has eliminated references to Iran’s ancient history in textbooks. All of this anti-Iranianism by the IR has provided much needed ammunition to those who question to whole idea of Iran as a nation, and has allowed those characters to label Persians as recent invaders of independent and sovereign nations, denying –per Poupirar and Saleemi Nammed—the fact that this territory has been called “Iran” for the past 2500 years.
II. Antagonization of minorities
Many ethnic minorities in Iran are also religious minorities. Examples are the Baluch and the Kurd minorities. A good percentage of those minorities are Sunnis. The Islamic Republic was founded, and it functions, as a supremacist Shia theocracy. Shia religious and political doctrine dominates Iran. High offices, along with officer military ranks, in the Islamic Republic are reserved for male Shias only. This, of course, creates resentment in the marginalized minority population, and marginalization leads to revolt and cause for seeking distance from the oppressor—in this case, the state apparatus, or the perceived state itself: Iran.
III. Belligerence, antagonization and resulting incentives for foreign powers’ meddling.
There is no denying that the IR has been, and still is, one of the most belligerent regimes that have come to power in the 20th and 21st centuries. Since its inception, the IR has called for the destruction of Israel. The same call was repeated less than a month ago by its joint chiefs of staff, Firouzabadi. And it has made good on its promise to assist those who seek to achieve that end. It has funded and armed groups such as Hamas and Hezbollah. And mind you, this is over the Palestine / Israel conflict, which has nothing whatsoever to do with Iran. Once again, the IR is putting its ideology ahead of Iran’s interests. The IR has also called for revolution in the Arab states in the Persian Gulf. Lastly, the IR has made anti-Americanism one of the tenets of its existence and has helped and has funded terrorism against the U.S. around the globe. Naturally, and in return, all of those entities have responded by funding and supporting separatist movements in Iran. And why shouldn’t they, really? They are looking for their own interests after all. Causing annoyance for the IR is one way of keeping it busy and occupied with domestic matters. Again, the Soviet Union can be a good example here. The former USSR tried to cause havoc and create communist regimes in South America. In exchange the United States and its allies helped “develop the identities” of various Soviet Republics and other nations within the Soviet sphere of influence, contributing to the destruction of the that empire.
In the face of all of the above, the Islamic Republic tries to maintain the country in one piece—mainly for political as opposed to national reasons—through force, intimidation, executions and imprisonment. This will have the exact opposite effect in the long run, and will contribute to separatist causes by creating martyrs. Iran is really on a dangerous path toward disintegration, and with IR’s warmongering and its efforts to create an armed conflict with the West as a means for continued survival, the disintegration through foreign intervention and support may take place much sooner than we think.
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