Keywords: Geography and history, Energy in Al-Ahwaz, security and Energy in Iran and Al-Ahwaz, Energy and violation of human rights, Energy and poverty, politics and economy in Al-Ahwaz.
Al-Ahwaz is currently called Khuzestan, Bushehr, Elam and Hormozgan, populated by ethnic Arabs, not Persians. Al-Ahwaz is located in the South and south-west of Iran and is bounded on the west by the Iraqi territory and the south by Arabian Gulf and from the north by the Zagros Mountains. The name of Al-Ahwaz was changed by the Iranian authorities during Reza Pahlavi era to Khuzestan, Bushehr, Elam and Hormozgan in 1935. The natural resources of Al-Ahwaz are petrol, Gas and its soil has a high potential for agriculture and Al-Ahwaz has three major rivers such as KAROON, JARAHI and KARKHE that play a vital role in irrigating of arable lands.
The Iranian authorities claimed that the Arab population in Iran made 2-3% of whole Iranian population, but the authorities percentage is entirely wrong because the regime does not want to give the correct population of Arabs that definitely make over 10% of whole Iranian population, so there is no doubt about that the population of Arabs in their territory Al-Ahwaz is between 10-12 million people.
Sheikh Khazal was the last leader of Al-Ahwaz where was run the country in Sheikhdom system. Sheikh Khazal was also the last leader of Al-Ahwaz that assassinated by the government of IRAN when they invaded this territory in 1925 and occupied it by military action and massacred many people who resisted in tackling with the occupied Iranian troops.
In addition, the Iranian both regimes such as Shah regime and current regime have been using critical policy and treatment against Ahwazi Arab people since the occupation of Al-Ahwaz in 1925 such as changing the Arab name of the places to Persian name, changing the demographics of the land, ethnic cleansing, outlawing indigenous Arab to study in their language, banning Arab of using their language as an official language in offices, destroying the history, arresting and executing considerable number of Ahwazi Arabs, and damaging the environment in Al-Ahwaz(Because of Energy).
Energy in Al-Ahwaz
Iran’s energy comes from oil and gas and partially comes from agriculture and trade. Oil in Al-Ahwaz is the world’s fifth-largest crude exporter. As a matter of fact, over 90% of Iranian oil emanates from Al-Ahwaz; Al-Ahwaz also reserves the second country in the world by gas, which almost 100% of Iranian gas come from Al-Ahwaz; nearly 1/3 of Iranian agriculture and 50% of Iranian rivers come from Al-Ahwaz; Al-Ahwaz has 1,400 km borders with the Arabian Gulf and Oman sea, which promote Iranian economy to focus on trade.
Security and Energy in Iran and Al-Ahwaz
As earlier mentioned, the vast majority of the Iranian economy is heavily dependent on oil and gas. It means Energy has an impact on Iranian security and protection. However, the Energy has an adverse effect of the neighbourhood nations and effect on Ahwazi security, protection and development.
Iran has been suffering from sanction from 2003 to 2016. Therefore, lifting of sanctions will lead Iran to sell its Energy to the world to improve its own economy. However, selling the energy after the lifting of sanctions will lead the Middle East to face insecurity and difficulties through supporting and arming terrorist groups in the region such as Hezb Allah in Lebanon, Al-Houthi in Yemen, and Militia groups in Iraq. Besides, the lifting of sanction has an impact on Ahwazi Arabs, such as pollution, confiscation of the land, geopolitics, violation of human rights, demographical change and so on.
Human Rights issue in Al-Ahwaz
Energy in Al-Ahwaz always has an impact on human rights and political rights in Al-Ahwaz. It means the Iranian regime usually confiscate the Ahwazi land without offering any benefit or compensation to local Arabs. Therefore, this situation led Ahwazi to upraise against the Iranian regime’s policy, which led the regime to violate human rights and political issue in Al-Ahwaz. For example, the increasing of the death penalty, arrest and detention in Al-Ahwaz, environment has affected due to changing the way of the rivers. Hence, poverty and pollution have led the internal displacement, forced migration and land confiscation to be increased.
Economy and Poverty
The Iranian economy is heavily dependent on oil and gas that all came from Al-Ahwaz. Oil played a significant role in the Iranian economy since the occupation of Al-Ahwaz in 1925 during Reza Pahlavi era. The oil also played a role in the Iranian annual budgets, whether in the era of the Shah or in the era of the Islamic Republic (The economist, 5th May 2009). Therefore, it is apparent to approve that the majority of the Iranian economy, such as oil, gas, agriculture and other resources came from Al-Ahwaz. However, a massive number of Ahwazi people live under $1 or $2 per day.
Nearly 90% of Iran’s economy came from Al-Ahwaz, due to its location at the tip of the Arabian Gulf and the Shat Al-Arab waterway. The Karoun River, Iran’s largest river, flows through Al-Ahwaz into the Arabian Gulf and is a major of transportation through Iran. The Al-Ahwaz land is one of the most lucrative lands inside Iran because of its natural resources and shipping ability. However, despite this wealth the Ahwazi Arabs receive very little of the profits and many are forced to relocate due to Iranian oil and relocate dam develop, many Ahwazis live in poverty, live under the regime discrimination, demographical change and facing other ill-treatments.
In addition “some sectors of society- including non-Persian ethnic groups like Ahwazi Arabs- continue to face widespread discrimination, while the situation for other groups- notably some religious minorities- have significantly worsened. Moreover, World Bank figures in 2014 show that the poverty rate in Iran reached 20% in 2003, in comparison with 40% of absolute poverty in Al-Ahwaz.
The report wants to expand on the subject by saying that al-Ahwaz owns 11 percent of the world’s oil reserves and the second largest gas reserves. It means, these resources can make Ahwazi people one of the wealthiest people in the world, but despite all this economy, the vast majority of people live under poverty line.
As a result of high inflation, rising prices, food shortages, and long lines at gas stations made the Ahwazi household economy is unstable, especially as Ahmadinejad took the administration in Iran in 2005 (The New York Sun, 2007). Moreover, Iran’s rapidly depleted natural resources, such as water, and the country’s growing reliance on imported grains and rice, as well as they deterioration of its farms and ranches. In March 2009, the Iranian regime in AhmadiNejad period also proposed cuts in government subsidies on oil, gas and electricity which affected Ahwazi people, particularly poor family (Middle East Research and Information, 2009).
Despite all the economy in Al-Ahwaz, such as oil wealth, life is hard for Ahwazi people. A majority of Ahwazi average monthly income is around $150-200 per month ($1,800-2,400 per year). The Iranian regime is mostly spending money on spreading war rather than helping its needy, A Saudi columnist, Ahmed Al-Rabei, wrote on 29 January 2007 issue of Asharq Al-Awsat. He added “Iran is actively involved in Lebanon, Iraq, Palestine, Yemen and elsewhere in the Middle East”. “Iran is using energy to help its economy to increase war and chaos in the region through its terrorist groups”. However, the energy has not given any benefit for its citizens, especially Ahwazi Arabs, for instance, unemployment and poverty have both increased and frightened the security for each households in Iran in general and for Ahwazis in particular”.
Political situation in Al-Ahwaz
The Iranian regime practices dreadful policy against the Arab people of Al-Ahwaz through the revolutionary courts. The Iranian regime has another ideology against Ahwazi Arabs like ethnic cleansing through forced displacement, starvation, cut water and drying rivers and also the denial of the resources inside Al-Ahwaz. Denial of the resources have affected Ahwazis and made many of them live in segregation, ghetto and poverty.
According to the UN’s Special Rapporteur on Adequate Housing, Miloon Kothari in 2005, the Iranian government’s are confiscating the Ahwazi land. Miloon Kothari during his visit to Al-Ahwaz realized that the Iranian regime is using political ideology of Persinsing Al-Ahwaz through forced displacement, such as confiscating Ahwazi land and property and transfer it to the settlers in Al-Ahwaz who moved to work at the oil, gas and sugar industries, and at the same time helping to change the demographic of the land.
The death penalty in Al-Ahwaz by the Iranian regime is another policy that Ahwazi Arabs always face in Iran. People in Al-Ahwaz often upraised against the Iranian policies, which Iran caused them to live in poverty through confiscating Ahwazi resources. Therefore, the Iranian regime in such situation would always accuse people of having connection with drag trafficking and danger for security. However, the Iranian regime denies that the majority of people in Al-Ahwaz who sentenced to the death penalty are political and cultural activists. In countries like Iran, the death penalty is often used in public to frighten people into not activating against the regime. For example, 4 Ahwazi were executed in June 2012, and others were executed in 2013 to the current time, but the regime has not given the bodies to their families in order to intimidate people and their family members (UK Foreign office, August 2012 and 2013).
Energy and environment
Although Al-Ahwaz has enormous water resources, the region is suffering from an acute water crisis. The water crisis has caused by ecological mismanagements of Karoon River; the largest river flows through Ahwazi lands. Since1979, the karoon has faced more than 400 incidents of severe contamination. Beside the policy of land confiscation, a parallel policy against Ahwazi is being practiced that is diverting water of main river course in Al-Ahwaz such as Karoon, Al-karkha, and Al-Jarrahi and pumping it to central Persian areas such as Isfahan, Yazd and Kerman for the purpose of irrigation (Rahim Hamid, Minority voices, 2015).
Security and Energy
The political situation in Al-Ahwaz, which has an impact on Ahwazi economy and land ownership, is a major political issue for Ahwazi Arabs. Land confiscation and ethnic restructuring have resulted in a series of demonstrations by Ahwazi Arabs, including an uprising in April 2005 which led to the death of over 160 Arabs during the first week of the protest. The April uprising has a linked with the anniversary of Ahwazi occupation after funding oil industry and following the leaking of a letter from President Khatami’s office to change the Arab population from their lands to other lands within 10 years from 1999.
In addition, BBC news on 13 June 2005 published a report about insecurity in Al-Ahwaz, and how armed groups had targeted oil companies. For instance, four blasts targeted the oil companies in Al-Ahwaz. BBC also showed that Al-Ahwaz was facing violence clash between Arabs and Persians in April, when several people were reportedly killed. BBC also showed that one of the bombs targeted the head governmental buildings in the city of Ahwaz. Two bombs targeted other government offices and a fourth targeted a local state television that belongs to the Iranian regime in Al-Ahwaz. The Iranian regime later blamed Britain and the USA of supporting extremist groups in Al-Ahwaz (BBC, 13 June 2005).
I would like to conclude that energy in such situation like oil and gas has a negative impact on the life of Ahwazi Arab people. Hence, their security is on the danger situation. The Iranian both regimes such as Shah era and the Islamic Republic era marginalised Ahwazis and put them to live in poverty and segregation just because of oil. It means economy inside Al-Ahwaz play a role in increasing insecurity and poverty for its indigenous people, but on the other hand played a role in enhancing security for the Iranian regime and led it to support insecurity and instability in the Middle East through supporting terrorist groups.
In fact, security in Al-Ahwaz because of Energy never improves unless the regime changes. Poverty and deprivation of accessing economy will help the increasing the armed conflict in Al-Ahwaz that will include oil and gas companies and military camps. Therefore, Iranian regime then began to increase the death penalty and making sanction against Arabs and also move them from their lands (increasing demographic change).
Therefore, I suggest major companies to pay attention to the human rights and political issues in Al-Ahwaz before making any investment inside the country because all the land that companies want to base on belong to Arabs that forcibly appropriated by the regime.
12th April 2016