The Happy Arab News Service

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

In the Footsteps of the Soviets

The militants struck twice at Iran in the troubled province of Baluchistan. Eleven Revolutionary Guards are dead. The land of Baluchis is never quiet though until now Iran had been largely spared its share of wrath of the famous warrior tribes. Pakistan was much less lucky. A full scale uprising is raging across the border in the Pakistani part of Baluchistan.

Eleven elite Revolutionary Guards died when their bus was attacked in Baluchistan. Here the Persians are removing the wreckage of the bus.

The British were once so impressed by the Baluchis' militancy that they designated them as a warrior race and were actively seeking them out to serve in the colonial army on a par with the Nepali Gurkhas.

Iran executes a Baluchi insurgent accused of involvement in the attack on the Revolutionary Guards.

Even without the Baluchis the president of Pakistan Pervez Musharraf has its hands full with separatism as he is also fighting another war in Waziristan where hundreds of Pakistani soldiers died only last year. There is much talk recently about Talibanization of Pakistan. Probably Musharraf casts here and there envious looks across the border. If he does he is wrong.

This is because neither Ahmadinejad has any rest from his own separatists. While Baluchistan is going slowly through its own low scale insurgency, on the other side of Iran dozens of police and soldiers died lately in ambushes set up by Kurdish guerrillas. As the referendum on the future of Kirkuk is approaching both Turkey and Iran are growing tense. Turkey is reported to be considering a limited invasion of Iraqi Kurdistan. But the Turks are plainly deluding themselves if they think that the Kurds have been wasting all these years for nothing. And the Persians would do wisely to avoid having illusions too.

Iran has even more ethnic problems. Its biggest minority, the Azeris, who constitute close to 1/4 of the population, have been caught lately massively gazing to the North where the recently independent Azerbaijan is enjoying its own oil boom. There are reports that the mutual interest between the two communities separated by the Iran Azerbaijan border keeps growing. While Iran is trying to export its version of Shia fundamentalism into Azerbaijan, the Azeri nationalism is slowly but steadily trickling over into Iran from Azerbaijan. The Azeris of Azerbaijan are predominantly secular after decades spent under the Soviets. The Azeris in Iran are extremely well integrated and quite religious with Ali Khamenei being an ethnic Azeri himself. Technically speaking the Iranian Azeris are a bit out of step with their homeland and in some ways have more in common with the Persians than with their brethren in Azerbaijan. Yet, as the Soviet Union and Yugoslavia taught us, when it comes to the ethnic shit you'd better proceed on the assumption that you never know.

Ahmalalah lately took to comparing Israel to the former Soviet Union predicting our similarly speedy demise. The Israelis should not feel offended. It's a compliment. It's really nice that to some people this tiny country of six millions reminds of the empire that was once the biggest country on Earth. Another nice thing to think about is that this region has other and far more likely candidates to follow the former Soviet Union into the abyss of multiple ethnic conflicts and eventual break-up.

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