Iranian Duplicity: Between Jerusalem And Al Ahwaz…Why “Palestine” But Not Arabistan?
by Gerald A. Honigman
Let’s get the ball rolling here with a question.
Whom and what do you think the following excerpts are referring to below?
_ _ _ _ _ has discriminated against the Arabs of _ _ _ _ _ since their homeland’s occupation and annexation; they are being treated as third-class citizens, abandoned to primitive living standards and without even the basic political rights.
The dispossessed _ _ _ _ _ Arabs…accuse the I_ _ _ _ government of racially-based political and economic prejudice, which is why some groups are calling for _ _ _ _ _ to be liberated and recognised as an independent Arab state. However, the government is attempting to manipulate demographics by setting-up self-contained farming settlements and bringing in _ _ _ _ _ to work there.
According to Amnesty International, “Land expropriation by the I_ _ _ _ authorities is reportedly so widespread that it appears to amount to a policy aimed at dispossessing Arabs of their traditional lands…” It is believed that the government is also trying to eradicate the _ _ _ _ _ culture. I_ _ _ _ authorities will not register birth certificates to Arab new-borns unless they assume _ _ _ _ _ names. Schools in _ _ _ _ _ are barred from teaching Arabic, which is also banned from parliament and ministries. Arabic media is forbidden in the territory. Journalists who write against this cultural barbarism are routinely imprisoned.
Eight million _ _ _ _ _ Arabs…have as much Arab blood flowing through their veins as nationals of GCC states. I would, therefore, request Arab countries to call upon the Arab League to put their right of self-determination before the UN Security Council. Their abandonment is nothing less than a stain upon the Arab Nation to which the Arabs of _ _ _ _ _ proudly belong.
Okay, I think most of the world would agree that the answer to this question is a “no brainer,” as my students would say.
I mean, who else could those poor souls described above be but victims of those allegedly nasty Jews–the “Palestinians,” correct ?
That’s the message Iran’s Ahmadinejad and the murderous mullahs like to send out.
The Iranian leader repeated his rant recently while addressing a group of ambassadors from Islamic countries. Among other things, he claimed that the “annihilation of the Zionist regime” is not just a Palestinian issue, but the “key for solving the world problems.”
The reality, however, is that the answer to our opening question is in fact much closer to home for the duplicitous Iranian bloviators.
You see, those excerpts above are from an article which appeared on April 3, 2011 as a special to GulfNews.com, Al Ahwaz Will Always Be Arab, and were written by Khalaf Al Habtoor (http://gulfnews.com/opinions/columnists/al-ahwaz-will-always-be-arab-1.786524).
So, to get the correct answer, just fill in all of the above blanks with Tehran or the Iranians for the victimizers and the Arabs of Al Ahwaz as the victims–and then read those above excerpts again.
Al Ahwaz is the centrally-located capital city of the western province Iranians call Khuzestan–where most of the country’s vast oil wealth is located–but which has been known as Arabistan for centuries because of its predominantly Arab population.
Let’s be honest.
How many of you, dear readers, knew about this and/or ever heard of the plight of millions of Iran’s “own” Arabs?
Have you ever read an editorial by The New York Times taking Tehran to task about this–or an op-ed by its favorite Israel-bashing dhimmi Hebrew, Tom Friedman?
Can you remember a United Nations resolution or a lecture by “The Quartet” condemning Iranian behavior about this…or an American State Department proclamation of concern?
How about a “roadmap” for the creation of that 22nd state Arabs insist they must have…but within Iran instead?
Etc. and so forth.
What else is new? If folks aren’t getting gassed to death by the thousands a la Kurds, having genocide waged against them a la Sudanese black Africans, being slaughtered by the thousands by fellow Arabs…if the sin is not allegedly Hebrew, it is more often than not simply ignored.
And there is more than a bit of irony here…
As the lion’s share of the original April 25, 1920 Mandate of Palestine was handed over to Arab nationalism in 1922, with the creation of what would later be renamed Jordan, a more than just partition of the land favoring the Arabs had already been completed between the two nationalism’s competing for it. Indeed, Arabs wound up with some 80% of the total area.
Thus, the real place where relative justice (the perfect variety rarely, if ever, exists among the realm of man) for Arabs has not yet been addressed and remains to be achieved is in Iran itself.
Ahmadinejad has his annual “Jerusalem Day” so that there will be no Al Ahwaz Day. This year it falls out on August 17th.
I’ve written about the plight of the Ahwazi Arabs myself over the years and was pleasantly surprised to find one of my own analyses in their own publications. But, rather than quoting from my own earlier work, let’s return to a few more telling excerpts from Khalaf Al Habtoor’s op-ed…
The historic claim of the Ahwazi Arabs to their Arab homeland is solid. Al Ahwaz was once a thriving province of Mesopotamia known for its Muslim scholars, poets and artists. From the mid-7th century until the mid 13th century, its people were ruled variously by Umayyad and Abbasid caliphs, their numbers swelled by Arab tribes from the Arabian Peninsula.
Al Ahwaz came to be known as the semi-autonomous region of ‘Arabistan’ towards the end of the 16th century when it received an influx of Arab tribes from southern Iraq as well as a clan of the powerful Bani Ka’ab with origins in Central Arabia.
Led by Shaikh Jabir Al Ka’abi, the Bani Kaab fought to stave-off British and Ottoman invasions. Shaikh Jabir was a wise governor who established law and order and turned the coastal city of Mohammerah into a bustling free port. On the cusp of 20th century, oil was discovered around Mohammerah when the British founded the Anglo-Persian Oil Company and entered into an oil exploration treaty with Shaikh Jabir’s son Khaz’al. The UK guaranteed Arabistan’s security and agreed payments to both Shaikh Khaz’al and the Shah of Iran.
What should have been a blessing for the Ahwaz Arabs was a curse. When Shaikh Khaz’al realised that Reza Shah’s ambitions extended to Arabistan’s oil wealth, he asked the British to defend the Ahwazi people and back their homeland’s independence as an Arab state. Forced to choose, Britain reneged on its treaty with Khaz’al and supported the Shah.
Please re-read that last line above, for that’s exactly what the Brits did with their promises to the Kurds.
Prior to the League Of Nations’ resolution of the Mosul Question in 1925, London had promised the Kurds independence in at least part of the Mandate of Mesopotamia. Recall that the post-World War I dismantled Ottoman Turkish Empire had controlled much of the area for at least the previous four centuries.
After 1925, when the oil-rich, predominantly Kurdish north (Mosul, Kirkuk, etc.) was awarded to the British Mandate at Ataturk’s expense, the hopes of the Kurds were abandoned as well. But in this case, the Arabs were the sole winners. “Purely Arab” Iraq emerged out of a multi-ethnic Mesopotamia–largely as a result of the collusion of British petroleum politics and Arab nationalism. My work on this very subject has been on recommended reference lists of academies such as Paris’s acclaimed Institut d’Etudes Politique (Sciences Po) since 1982.
Now, in light of what I’ve written above, in case you have come to assume that I therefore endorse the Arabs’ own claims in their dispute with Iran, my response is that this is also far more complicated. And here’s the reason…
By Khalaf Al Habtoor’s own admission, it was not until the 7th century C.E. that Khuzestan/Arabistan was ruled by successive imperial Arab Caliphates.
That time frame above is no coincidence.
During the same era that Arab armies were bursting out of the Arabian Peninsula north, south, east, and west, spreading their Dar ul-Islam, massacring, and/or forcibly Arabizing millions upon millions of non-Arab peoples native to the region to one extent or another, Iran fell to imperial Arab conquests the same way that the land of the Jews did as well.
And the same way that Arabs next claimed that they were the sole legitimate owners of all that they came to conquer in Iran, they did likewise in the land of the Jews, Judea.
The latter was not re-named “Palestine” until after the Jews’ second major revolt for freedom against the Roman Empire just several centuries prior to the Arabs’ own invasion. As I like to remind readers, here’s how two of the most famous contemporary Roman historians described this themselves…
It inflamed (the emperor) Vespasian’s ire that the Jews were the only nation which had not submitted…Titus was appointed by his father to complete the subjugation of Judaea… he commanded three legions in Judaea itself…To these he added the twelfth from Syria and the third and twenty-second from Alexandria…amongst his allies were a band of Arabs, formidable in themselves and harboring towards the Jews the bitter animosity usually subsisting between neighboring nations (The Works of Tacitus, Volume II, Book V).
Open to the front cover of my book (http://q4j-middle-east.com) to see one of the Judea Capta coins Rome issued in honor of their victory. Judea Capta–not Palaestina Capta.
Also please note that the Arabs mentioned above were not “native Palestinians,” as they and Arabized stooges such as Ahmadinejad and the Iranian mullahs now claim, but came in from nearby adjacent areas of the Arabian Peninsula to join in the Roman slaughter of native Jews fighting for their independence from the conqueror of much of the known world. The Arabs were foreign vultures moving in for a share of the Roman imperial kill.
Here’s a quote from. Dio’s Roman History:
580,000 men were slain, nearly the whole of Judaea made desolate. Many Romans, moreover, perished in this war (the Bar Kochba Revolt). Therefore Hadrian, in writing to the Senate, did not employ the opening phrase commonly affected by the emperors, ‘ I and the legions are in health.’
Enraged at the Jews’ persistence, Hadrian became determined to end their hopes once and for all. He thus re-named the land after the Jews’ well-known historic enemies, the Philistines. Not only were the latter not Arabs, they were not even Semites. They were the “Sea Peoples” of ancient Egyptian records and David and Goliath and Samson and Delilah fame who came from the Greek islands near Crete and settled in the area near Gaza.
In short, invading Arabs have as much claim to the land of the Jews as they do to that of, ironically, the Jews’ ancient allies and liberators–the Iranians.
Indeed, it was Cyrus the Great who freed the Jews from Babylonian captivity and allowed them to return to the very Jerusalem which Ahmadinejad & Co. now claim Jews have no rights to. The Korash Prism, the ancient Iranian record itself, gives historical testimony on this very topic.
With Iran’s Al-Quds (Jerusalem) Day fast approaching, and despite the dilemma over the quest for justice illustrated above, I will end this discussion abruptly by simply putting forth a second question to leave you all with…
Why “Palestine” but not Arabistan ?