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The New Middle East and breakdown of Iran - Unification: North and South Azerbaijan

Umud Duzgun

The Arab Spring has brought some significant changes to parts of the Middle East and North Africa, however, the biggest challenge yet for US & the West in toppling Tehran's autocratic regime has remained untouched. For decades the American approach in dealing with Iran as a country was to treat her as a unitary nation. This view has recently changed.

In the first phase of the New Middle East Doctrine which started with the US toppling the Taliban hold in Afghanistan and Saddam in Iraq, Iran benefited from the removal of her enemies. America unwittingly paved the way for Iran to increase its influence in the region. In respect to nuclear issues, the Iranian regime managed to by-pass US and UN sanctions by using the oil card. It also defied American and Israeli military threats by supporting terrorist groups such as Hamas and Hezbollah and plotting against US troops inside Iraq and Afghanistan.

When the question the significance of Iran’s rise and its place in the new Middle East, the think tank and policy makers in Washington appeared clueless as to what is really Iran. Their view is based on the 70’s antiquated Carter era version of handling Iran’s back draft against American cold war policies. This approach is totally inapplicable in today’s Iran. They have little knowledge about Iran's complex population structure. There is no reliable statistical data in regards to ethnic population inside Iran by the Mullah regime. However, the ethnic demography indicates that today's IRAN IS “NOT PERSIA.” The largest ethnic groups are the Azeri Turks which make up 33% to 44% of Iran’s population. In 2003 the United Nations human rights report on Iran notes that "there may be as many as 30 million" * ethnic Azeris in Iran.  Persians are second minority at 22% to 33%, Kurds 7%, Arabs 6%, Lurs 5%, Baluchis 3%,Gilak-Mazandarani 4%, Turkmen 3%, Qashqai 2% and others.

In the previous Sunni regime in Iraq or the current Alawite regime in Syria, both are minority’s rules. The ethnic Persian minority in Iran are wielding power and discriminating against other ethnic groups. Their social, political and cultural rights have been repressed. The use of native languages in education is prohibited as have their regions have been economically neglected, resulting in entrenched poverty. In part they face systematic eviction and relocation from their rich area.

Recently some think tank in Washington such as Michael Ledeen**, acknowledged Iran as an artificial state that is held together only by coercion from Tehran. In addition it is not a Persian solo nation. ”The fact that although Iran is made up of various ethnic groups few realize that Persians likely constitute a minority of the Iranian population.” It is believed the none-Persian majority of Iran’s population includes Azeris, Kurds, Arabs and Baluchis, will not rally behind the Iranian flag in the event of an American military attack.

On September 12, 2012 Congressman Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA 46th) introduced House Concurrent Resolution 137, which expresses the sense of Congress that the Azeri people, although currently divided between Azerbaijan and Iran, have the right to self-determination and to their own sovereign country if they so choose.” “The Azeri people have an innate right to choose their own political structure and chose their country", said Rohrabacher. "It’s not up to bureaucrats in Washington or the mullah dictatorship in Iran. The ethnic Azeris in Republic of Azerbaijan enjoy sovereignty and independence; there is no reason why her Azeri population in Iran should not be able to make that same choice."**

Earlier, on July 30, 2012 D. Rohrabacher wrote in his letter to Secretary of State Hillary R. Clinton recommending that the United States support the joining of Iranian Azerbaijanis with the Republic of Azerbaijan. “My resolution puts the US on the side of the Azeri people and with the people within Iran,” said Rohrabacher in a press release. “If the people on the ground don’t want to be ruled by the mullah dictatorship in Iran, then we should support their right to determine their future through a referendum.”

Moreover, this development did not come over night and has a history behind it. A greater Azerbaijan was divided by Russia and Persia in 1828 without their consent. The South Azerbaijan issue was one of the first cold war era case brought to the UN chamber in 1946. Back then, due to USA and Soviet Union competition, America refused to recognize a short lived secular and democratic government in South Azerbaijan. All this came to an end by the dissolution of the Soviet Union. Once again in the eve of 1991 people from North and South Azerbaijan unofficially unified by tearing down the walls and fences that divided their historic homeland. In 1992, A. ElchibeyAzerbaijan’s first democratically elected president called for the freedom of South Azeris and the creation of “United Azerbaijan”. In March 2006, at the World Azerbaijanis Convention in Baku, a number of participants addressed a concept of “unified Azerbaijan”. Current president of Azerbaijan, Ilham Aliyev called upon all Azeri people including Azeris in south for unity. He said: “there are more than 50 million Azerbaijanis who live around the world, and about 30 million of them live in Iran, their destiny for us are very important.” In February, 2012 a resolution was introduced to Azeri parliament by some members of the opposition and the ruling party calling for changing the officially naming of their country to North Azerbaijan, which is an implicit indication (emphasize) that there is in existence a South Azerbaijan under the colony of Iran.

All this, angers not only the Persian minority regime in Iran, but the Pan Iranian opposition inside and in exile alike. On the ground, however, what really worries the Persian minority regime in Tehran is not a foreign recognition of the issue, but a rapid growing resistant movement by non-Persians like the Baluchis, Kurds, Arabs and especially the Azeris in South Azerbaijan. This has become the biggest hurdle for Tehran in enforcing its unpopular policy of a unitary nation as a means to avoid an Iranian breakdown as what had happened in the Soviet Union. The evidence shows that the Azeri independent movement deepened since the May 22, 2006 uprising and is only looking for a perfect momentum of weakening, in the mullah regime to pursue its mission of choosing its own destiny.

Finally, the highlighting of Iran’s ethnic Azeris issue on US Congress floor and US Congressman  D, Rohrabacher stating that: “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.”  With the White House welcoming reaction to that, it shows policymakers in Washington have shifted their views on Iran from old one Persia state to a new multi nation states concept. For that reason in folding another chapter of the New Middle East, America will find the Azeri population inside Iran as a potential allies in toppling down the Tehran regime, knowing this could be result in a Soviet style breakdown of Iran and the creation of the new countries in that region. END.1180 Words.

Umud Duzgun

Thank you for your time and effort,

My contact :

funaz213@gmail.com     

*http://www.eurasianet.org/departments/culture/articles/eav041503.shtml

** http://www.aei.org/events/2005/10/26/the-unknown-iran-event/

 ***http://rohrabacher.house.gov/news/documentsingle.aspx?DocumentID=308332

**** http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4m-09r-Yy0c