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Iran: Military Commander Appointed Provincial Governor

The government of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has appointed army commander Brigadeer General Amir Hayat-Moghaddam as governor of Khuzestan, a province where indigenous Ahwazi Arabs are in the majority.

Ahmadinejad, himself a former senior commander of the Qods Force of the Islamic Revolutionary Guards, is in the process of appointing IRGC and intelligence officials to key government positions. The decision to appoint Hayat-Moghaddam as Khuzestan's governor indicates the regime's desire to militarise the province, crush local anti-government opposition and intensify ethnic cleansing of the Ahwazi Arabs.

The Ahwazi homeland is strategically important to the regime, bordering Iraq's Basra province, where local militias and their sympathisers in the provincial administration are attempting to create a mini-theocracy. It contains 80-90 per cent of Iran's oil resources, extracted from lands confiscated from the indigenous Arabs

Hayat-Moghaddam was a navy commander and has also served as the IRGC's Ground Forces' Karbala Garrison. He was been responsible for scud missile attacks on Iraqi bases belonging to the armed Iranian opposition group, the Mujahideen-e-Khalq, in 2001. The Mujahideen claims the attacks also hit residential areas.