Shariati has proposed subdividing Khuzestan province, which forms the largest part of the historical region of Arabistan that stretched along the north coast of the Arabian Gulf towards the Strait of Hormuz. He claimed the creation of new provinces would enable the better management of the region's problems, such as the adverse impact of river diversion on agriculture, high unemployment and the environmental crisis.
Nasser Bani Assad, spokesman for the British Ahwazi Friendship Society (BAFS), said: "The further political fragmentation of the Ahwazi Arab homeland will not resolve the region's problems, but rather exacerbate them. Creating new provinces will make it easier for the regime to exploit the region's resources.
"The heart of the problem is the disempowerment and persecution of the region's indigenous Arabs who are demanding more self-determination over their affairs. Self-determination would enable the indigenous population to identify and resolve the multitude of problems arising from Tehran's destructive rape and pillage of this land. The creation of new provinces is intended to undermine their historical claims and further alienate them in ever smaller administrative zones. This process would set barriers between Arabs as a community.
|A map of historical Arab-populated areas,|
once known in Farsi as 'Arabistan',
situated along the north of the Arabian Gulf
"Already, the historical Arab population is divided between Khuzestan, Bushehr, Hormuzgan and parts of Fars and other provinces with provincial borders that have little respect for historical and cultural ties and purposefully weaken the collective Arab voice.
"Alongside forced displacement, regime-enforced demographic change to make Arabs a minority in their own land and the eradication of Arabic as the mother tongue of ethnic Arabs, the political division of historical Arabistan is part of the regime's policy of ethnic cleansing.
"Without free and fair elections, without freedom of speech and without self-determination for Ahwazi Arabs, such administrative sub-division is meaningless and will only heighten the aggressive policy of Persianisation and economic exploitation that Shariati upholds."