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Iran: Mass executions of Ahwazis threaten Middle East security


Militant groups are engaging in a recruitment drive among disillusioned Ahwazi Arab youth and have pledged a wave of attacks on oil installations in revenge for planned mass executions in Ahwaz City this week.

The separatist Arab Struggle Movement for the Liberation of Arabistan's armed wing has issued a statement warned of "consequences" for the Iranian regime, which it described as a brutal racist system. It claimed that if executions of 10 Ahwazi Arabs go ahead this week, it would attack cities across Iran. Click here to view a call to war by the Mohieldain Al-Naser Martyrs Brigade.

Another separatist group, the Ahwazi Arab Renaissance Party, has claimed that two bomb attacks in commercial areas of Ahwaz over the weekend were the work of the "Ahwazi resistance", although the party itself has not claimed responsibility. A party spokesman, Kazem Hamed Alvarhani, said that if the executions are carried out, the Iranian authorities will "pay dearly." He indicated that ethnic Persians living in the Ahwaz region "will not be able to live in safety." (click here to download the statement)

The Iranian regime has effectively quashed all moderate Ahwazi movements by banning Ahwazi NGOs and jailing cultural and human rights activists. This month, the government outlawed the Lejnat Al-Wefaq, an Arab reformist group led by former parliamentarian Jasem Shahdidzadeh Al-Tamimi that supported legal and constitutional means to campaign for human rights for Ahwazi Arabs (click here for details). Wefaq had been condemned by Arab separatist groups who claimed it was set up by the regime to distract Ahwazis from seeking the recreation of an independent Arabistan, the name for the Ahwazi homeland before its invasion by Persian monarch Reza Pahlavi in 1925.

Nasser Bani Assad, spokesman for the British Ahwazi Friendship Society (BAFS), said: "We will be calling on Ahwazis to ignore calls for communal violence, for this will give the regime reasons for more violent action against peaceful, freedom-loving Ahwazi Arab civilians. President Ahmadinejad will use any call to arms for his own benefit. We also call on all Iranians to show solidarity with Ahwazi Arabs, so that they do not feel isolated and abandoned by democratic forces in Iran.

"However, with Wefaq banned, moderates facing execution and the international community failing to respond to the ethnic cleansing of Ahwazi Arabs from their traditional lands, militant groups will attempt to step up their campaign, which has so far been limited to arson attacks and sabotage. There is a very real prospect that these militias will look for alliances and arms supplies from other groups in the Middle East.

"Failure to address the plight of the Ahwazi Arabs could broaden the conflict in Iraq and sideline the Ahwazi Arab majority who favour peace and human rights. The extremists will attempt to succeed where the moderates fail and this is entirely due to the violent aggression of the Iranian state and the indifference of the international community.

"The world cannot continue to ignore the unrest as militants will target oil installations in the Ahwaz region, which supplies 90 per cent of Iranian oil. This will have a major impact on oil markets, which are already experiencing sustained high prices."