White Balloon

Daily Journal of Mahaan, an Iranian-American student residing in USA.

Tuesday, April 15, 2003

I wrote these lines in response to a posting which was claiming that there is a high potential for independence in Azerbaijan part of Iran:

Except the wealthy Khuzestan, none of the Iranian provinces have the potential of being independent and offering a better economy to its people. It's simple math, 85-90% of the current Iranian economy is oil and the remaining 10-15% is the industry (mostly populated in Tehran, Isfahan, Shiraz) and agriculture. So independence should definitely come from outside help.

Looking into Iran's northern neighbors, we have Azerbaijan, Armenia, and Turkmenistan. The economy and the prosperity in all these states is still quite bad. The GDP per capia for Iran is $7000 while for all these three countries it's still bellow $4000. Kazakhstan has the best Central Asian economy which is something $5000 per capita. Their oil industry is still far from competing with OPEC members. Dictators are running all these countries and all of them are quite far from democracy even at the level of Iran, so similar corruption measures and social justice issues exists in these countries. Actually Islamic Republic has been quite smart in the Azerbaijan issue: They introduced the Ardabil province (which forced more government spending in the area) about the same time that these central Asian republics were freed of soviet ruling. while we talk about Azeris in Iran, we are talking about at least half of the Iranian economy and market. Turks are completely integrated into Fars population all around Iran. Is there a single groccery store in Iran who is not Turk or at least doesn't have a Turk assistant? And Islamic Republic has given a lot of attention (TV program, government position, etc) comparing to other ethnic groups like Kurds or Lors.
If we talk about our eastern neighbors, Afghanistan and Pakistan are still in deep shit, so forget the independence for Khorasan and Sistan.
if a new republic of Kurdistan comes out of this Iraq invasion, then that will be a real challenge both for Iran and Turkey and some how for Syria and that's the reason that both Iran and Turkey are trying hard to stop any serious Kurdish foundation there and fortunately or unfortunately it looks like that Kurds are not going to get it this time either.

Khuzestan is the only wealthy state of Iran which can be real independence threat. The history of Iran-Iraq war shows that people of khuzestan fought quite hard against an Arab's invasion. But I agree that if a real democratic and prosper Iraq comes out of this war (maybe in 5-10 years), then Iran will face some real problem with its Arab inhabitants of Khuzestan and actually that's good because at least they will be forced to spend something for the region which is feeding the whole country and is getting almost nothing from that money.
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