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The Ahwazi Arabs: REAL Occupation, Ethnic Cleansing, and Apartheid… By Iran

It is no secret that Iran being behind much of the terrorism against the Jewish state through its proxies, something it says is justified because of Israel’s supposed “occupation of Palestinian lands,” “ethnic cleansing,” and “apartheid.” Of course, these accusations are not borne by fact, but what is is that Iran is guilty of these very things against Arabs in the region.


Have you heard of the Ahwazi Arabs? I bet most people haven’t, and this is something Iran is no doubt banking on. But they very much exist, despite Iran’s wishes they didn’t. And their existence is a reminder as to the hypocrisy not just of Iran, but the world.

Last year, the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs came out with a piece about these forgotten Arabs of Al Ahwaz.

Every year on April 20, the Ahwazi people mark the loss of their homeland, Arabistan, which means “the land of the Arabs,” an autonomous emirate that for centuries was ruled by Arab tribes. In 1925, the Persians invaded Arabistan, and by brutal force, they implemented measures to erase the Arab identity of Arabistan and change its ethnic composition.

Following the Persian invasion, Arabistan, or Al Ahwaz, as the Ahwazi people call it, was divided in 1936 into several provinces; Khuzestan, Elam, Bushehr, and Hormozgan. The regime in Iran started a resettling program, incentivizing ethnic Persians to move to Al Ahwaz. Today, Khuzestan is the only province that remains populated predominately by Ahwazi Arabs, the descendants of the Arab tribes who lived in this region for centuries.

Al Ahwaz’ location is highly strategic: it shares borders with Iraq and the area surrounding the Persian Gulf and Shatt-Al-Arab [literally, “Arab stream”] at the confluence of the Tigris and Euphrates rivers.

The population of Al Ahwaz numbers between 8-10 million. They are ethnic Arabs who have endured almost 100 years of systematic persecution and cultural discrimination under the Shah’s and the Ayatollahs’ rule. Al Ahwaz is home to the third largest oil field in the world, yet its people, the Ahwazi Arabs, are marginalized and poor.

The Arabic language is banned in schools, peaceful protests are brutally suppressed, and tens of thousands of Ahwazi civilians are lingering in prisons, with many being tortured and executed without a fair trial. Karim Abdian, director of Virginia-based NGO, the Ahwaz Education and Human Rights Foundation, said that his people have endured “political, cultural, social, and economic subjugation, and treated as second and third-class citizens. An Ahwazi Arab cannot even give a child an Arabic name. It must be either Persian or the name of one of the Shiite imams. So, this nation, which owns the land that currently produces 80 percent of the oil, 65 percent of the gas, and 35 percent of the water of Iran, lives in abject poverty.”

Iranian security forces committed heinous crimes in Al Ahwaz, including “abducting political activists’ female spouses and sisters, raping them to break the spirit and the will of those activists, who finally give up. On several occasions, the Iranian regime also planted bombs in public locations so that they could propagate against our peaceful political struggle and stigmatize our just political fight as terrorism. They use the opportunity to catch and arrest Ahwazis without charges.”

Abdullah explains that the regime in Iran wants to erase the Arab identity of Al Ahwaz by applying discriminatory restrictions on cultural and linguistic rights. Abdullah continued that since the Iranian occupation of Al Ahwaz (April 20, 1925), his people have suffered “racial discrimination, genocide, arbitrary arrests, executions, starvation, and forced displacement against the Ahwazi people.” Abdullah stated that Tehran has tried “all illegal means to obliterate the identity of our people as Arabs.” Among those restrictions are banning the use of Arabic in Ahwazi schools and allowing parents to give children Arabic names. The restrictions imposed on the Ahwazi people include banning congregational prayer according to Sunni Islam,” says Abdullah.

For those of you who are cynical of the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs because of its pro-Israel bona fides, I present to you this report by the anything-but-pro-Israel Al Arabiya English:

You can find out more about Iran’s treatment of the Ahwazi Arabs at this YouTube channel, including videos like the below:

And it is not just the Ahwazi Arabs that Iran are subjugating. 40-45% of Iran’s almost 90 million are non-Persians, with Azeris being the most significant ethnic minority, followed by the Kurds, Ahwazi, and Baluchi. As Hamid Mutshar, an Ahwazi peace activist recently told the Jerusalem Post:

“The Islamic Republic’s entire geography is illegal, since it is all occupied land,” Mutasher argued. “You have Al-Ahwaz in the south, Baluchistan in the southeast, the Kurds in the west and the Azeris and Turkmen in the north. All these peoples’ lands were occupied by Iran almost a century ago and are nowadays exploited by the Tehran regime to build military bases, missile launchers, and nuclear reactors, posing a long-term threat to all countries in the region. Thus,” he added, “it is a moral duty to support these peoples inside Iran until they gain their freedom and promote peace as a strategic option to advance their country and their people.”

Naturally, he is on team Israel:

Before answering any questions, Hamid Mutasher asked to congratulate the Jewish people on the occasion of Passover, and express his condolences for the loss of more than 1,200 innocent people during the October 7th massacre. “We in Ahwaz call it the ‘October 7th of Qassem Soleimani the terrorist.’ We also made a point to stress our categorical rejection of all the terrorist acts practiced by Hamas, ‘the ISIS wing of the terrorist IRGC.’ We pray for Israel’s victory over the forces of darkness and evil, and, God willing, victory will be your ally.”

“We have been exposed to many lies and much brainwashing. The main lie which we have been fed is that ‘Palestine is the central issue for the Arabs.’ This is the biggest political lie witnessed in the modern history of humanity,” he argued.

“We are witnessing a great historical transformation in our collective memory and views towards Israel and the Jewish nation, after the Iranian occupation strived to saturate us with myths,” he added. “I believe that the establishment of Israel in 1948 was in fact a liberation of lands usurped for centuries, and that Israel is not an ‘occupation,’ as the corrupt and fascist Arab-Islamic media claims. We demand that all peoples of the region liberate their mind from these lies. The Jewish people regained their rights after thousands of years, building a sophisticated and civilized model of scientific advancement and humanitarian giving, and it must be emulated globally.”

I hope, and trust, that Israel is assisting the Ahwazis, as we do the Kurds, because it is the right thing to do and also a wise strategy. As Hamid Mutasher says:

Despite the Islamic Republic’s propaganda attempts, Mutasher said that he and his colleagues are trying to educate their next generations into seeing Israel “as a country liberating its lands and not as an occupation,” adding hopefully that “this is a great historical change that will pave the way for a major revolution against the Iranian occupation.”

“We have a good relation with leaders of other groups, and we are working together to expel the Iranian occupation from our lands. There is joint action between non-Persian peoples inside Iran, and with the determination of our youth and the support of friendly countries, God willing, we will witness the collapse of this rogue state and its dismantling.”

“We call on the Arab and Islamic countries, and surely Israel too, to support the liberation of Al-Ahwaz. Israel will find a trustworthy partner and ally, capable of repelling the greed of Iran and form part of the Abrahamic axis of peace. Our cause is a legitimate and sacred one, and we ask the world to support our legitimate struggle to get rid of the Iranian occupation, which has become a threat to everyone in this world.”

Amen to that.

And why doesn’t the world know about this forgotten people? It may not be all about the Benjamins, but mostly:

Fear of state repression and the lack of independent media have led to “obfuscating the Ahwazi issue,” said Abdullah. However, Abdullah continued adding other factors which he says “reflects the extent of international hypocrisy towards Iran, as they disagree with each other in policies but agree on goals, especially since Al-Ahwaz is rich in natural resources such as oil, gas, and many others, and it has a strategic location on the Arabian Gulf, where Iran was able, through the strategic location of Al-Ahwaz, to influence the Arab countries.”

I would also add that Qatari money infiltrating universities and TikTok propaganda have poisoned the minds of so many of the young to believe that the Jewish state is the root cause of all evil in the world, and that Iran is fighting this supposed evil, obfuscating Iran’s own terrible treatment of its own people and ethnic minorities.

Which is why we need to be highlighting the plight of those like the Ahwazi Arabs now more than ever.

About the author

Picture of David Lange

David Lange

A law school graduate, David Lange transitioned from work in the oil and hi-tech industries into fulltime Israel advocacy. He is a respected commentator and Middle East analyst who has often been cited by the mainstream media
Picture of David Lange

David Lange

A law school graduate, David Lange transitioned from work in the oil and hi-tech industries into fulltime Israel advocacy. He is a respected commentator and Middle East analyst who has often been cited by the mainstream media
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