THE NEO-CON VIEW OF GRABBING IRAN'S OIL:
A MAP OF "AL-AHWAZ" (Formerly Southern Iran):
Notice how the map of the "al-Ahwazi" independence movement corresponds conveniently with the reported battle plans of the neo-cons for Khuzestan and the southern coast
Some here at DailyKOS know I've been concerned that the neo-cons plan to invade Iran, not all of Iran but just the oil-bearing province of Khuzestan and the southern coast adjacent to the shipping lanes. This article reports that in 2003, the neo-con mantra was "REAL MEN GO TO KHUZESTAN", which the author then used as the title of the article.
Earlier Diary:Intel Official: Cheney Orders Violence Inside Khuzestan
In 1897, the British Empire backed Khuzestani Arab rulers to secede from Persia and become the de facto British protectorate of "Arabistan" (much as the British did in neighboring Kuwait). The entire southern zone of Persia was declared a British "sphere of influence" in 1907, and the following year a British adventurer discovered oil in "Arabistan," at Masjed Soleyman. The discovery created the Anglo-Persian Oil Company, later renamed British Petroleum (BP). In 1925, Reza Shah's forces retook "Arabistan," and renamed it Khuzestan, as he renamed "Persia" as Iran a decade later.
British troops occupied Khuzestan during World War II, but after the war Iranians grew more concerned that Westerners had a stranglehold on their oil wealth. In 1951, the Iranian nationalist leader Mohammed Mossadegh nationalized the oil industry based mainly in Khuzestan (including Anglo-Iranian's holdings), drawing the wrath of Western powers. Two years later, a CIA-engineered coup ousted Mossadegh, and installed the new Shah Reza Pahlevi, who opened Khuzestan to a U.S.-British oil concession.
In 1978, Arab oil workers in Khuzestan went on strike against the Shah, and played a central role in the Iranian Revolution that toppled him the following year. They openly supported the revolution in its early months, when it included leftist and other secular parties (that were later crushed by the Islamic Republic). Encouraged by Western powers that were threatened by the revolution, Saddam Hussein launched a brutal invasion of Khuzestan in 1980, and occupied its western Arab oil region. He tried to engineer the secession of the province from Iran, and backed an Arab separatist rebel group (which also briefly seized the Iranian Embassy in London).
Yet in the Iran-Iraq War, most Iranian Arab Shi'ites fought on the side of Persian-ruled Iran, just as Iraqi Arab Shi'ites fought on the side of Saddam's Sunni-ruled Iraq. State territoriality trumped both ethnic and religious territoriality, in a massive slaughter complete with trench warfare and "human wave" attacks, aerial bombing and missile strikes, and the use of chemical weapons on both sides. Iranian forces pushed the Iraqis out of Khuzestan in 1982, but the province's cities and oil refineries were the most heavily damaged in the war, that finally ended in 1988. (The U.S. had cynically had supplied aid to bleed both sides, including a naval intervention to escort vessels carrying Iraqi oil, and the sale of missiles to the Iranians.)
The Al-Ahwazi movement complains about how Arabs are treated by the Persian Iranians in Khuzestan:
Ahwazi Arabs are among the world's most disadvantaged and persecuted ethnic groups. Ahwazis have traditionally farmed Khuzestan's fertile plains, but their way of life is being destroyed by an aggressive policy of land confiscation, forced migration and a long-term programme of permanently eliminating Arab influences from Khuzestan. The regime's very existence depends on ethnic cleansing in Khuzestan. The presence of Arabs, who have farmed the land for centuries, if not millennia, represents a major challenge to the regime's access to oil; historical Arab tribal lands contain up to 90 per cent of Iran's oil reserves and produce 10 per cent of OPEC's total output. The Iranian government has consistently refused to allocate just 1.5 per cent of oil revenues to Khuzestan, as demanded by the province's representatives in the Majlis (parliament). Arab demands for the redistribution of land and oil revenue have been met with a violent policy of Persianisation, resembling Milosevic's attempts to create a Greater Serbia. Persianisation entails government confiscation of Arab-owned land and 'ethnic restructuring', which typically involves the forced migration of Arabs out of Khuzestan and their replacement with 'loyal' ethnic groups, particularly ethnic Persians. Ahwazi Arabs are denied equal access to education and healthcare, while Khuzestan's provincial authorities are overwhelmingly dominated by non-Arab Iranians - despite the fact that Ahwazi Arabs are the largest ethnic group in the province. The Ahwazi Arab population endures hardship, poverty, illiteracy and unemployment at higher rates than the national average, despite being indigenous to a province that forms the foundations of the Iranian economy.
The situation in Khuzestan can even be compared to apartheid, with the Ahwazis denied social mobility and cultural expression. In urban areas, Ahwazi Arabs live in shanty towns which resemble the townships of apartheid South Africa. In Ahwaz City, slums lack most of the everyday necessities, such as plumbing, electricity, telephone, pavements, street lighting, public transport, sewerage systems, schools, clinics, hospitals, shops and parks. The conditions in the slums stand in stark contrast to the non-Arab areas of Ahwaz City.
This appeared in the Asia Times on April 6:
Real men go to Khuzestan
By Pepe Escobar
TEHRAN - When it comes to Iran, the widespread belief is that the United States cannot possibly occupy the country - it's the size of France, Britain, Italy and Spain combined - and thus exercise the avowed White House goal of regime change.
The next best thing - from the point of view of armchair warriors - would be subversion from within. Pentagon chief Donald Rumsfeld, in a widely distributed opinion piece a few months ago, stated that should the US attack Iran, ethnic minorities "might welcome the humiliation of their oppressors", that is, the Persians. Nonsense replays itself, as in the US supposedly being greeted as the "liberator" of Iraq.
In the overdrive run-up to the attack on Iraq in 2003, the ultimate neo-conservative mantra was "Real men go to Khuzestan." Indeed, some of of these "real men" may already have been there. The Iranian government is convinced US, British and/or Israeli special ops have been conducted on Iran's western and southeastern borders, at least since early 2005.
Significantly, the new US budget calls for additional funds to special operations and psy-ops (psychological operations) in Iran, in addition to the US$75 million the administration of President George W Bush wants to spend to advance "regime change". For their part, the US marines have commissioned Hicks and Associates, a subsidiary of Science Applications International Corp, one of the biggest US defense contractors and heavily involved in the Iraq invasion, to carry out in-depth research into Iranian ethnic groups.
The ultimate prize is Khuzestan province, where 90% of Iran's oil is located and which provides the country with 80% of its funds from oil production. In January, Tehran announced it had evidence of British special ops and bombings in Khuzestan, starting last year. Two Iranian Arabs were hanged in public for bombing a bank in the provincial capital Ahvaz in January. Three others were executed in a local prison.
At least 50 Arabs were accused as perpetrators of bombings that killed 21 people last April - after an "official" (but unconfirmed) letter was leaked with detailed plans for the ethnic cleansing of Arabs in Khuzestan. President Mahmud Ahmadinejad has already had to cancel three trips to Ahvaz at the last minute.
The province could not be more sensitive. Iran's second nuclear reactor will be built in Khuzestan. During an extended Nauroz - the Persian New Year - which in many cases goes on until early April - the Revolutionary Guards promote instructive Khuzestan tours to huge groups from all over the country, who are bused to battle sites of the Iran-Iraq War of the 1980s. As many as 2 million people a year may participate in these tours. During this period special permits are not issued for the foreign press.
John Bradley was one of the few foreign journalists to be allowed in Khuzestan last month. In a dirt-poor Arab village near Ahvaz, crossed by pipelines supplying crude oil to the huge Abadan refinery (450,000 barrels a day), Bradley saw Iranian Arabs complaining that "we are standing on all of the country's wealth, and yet we get no benefit from it".  Unemployment is rife, Farsi is the only language taught in local schools, and no Arab-language newspapers are allowed. The pipelines have already been bombed - last September. One month later, Tehran announced it had cracked a plot to bomb Abadan with five Katyusha rockets.
I think the neo-cons are crazy enough to want to prove they are "real men" and that they will "go to Khuzestan" with the phony Iranian bomb threat as an excuse, as in Iraq. Even our own intelligence says Iran won't have a bomb for years.
It's really about the oil and the conquest of Khuzestan province in Iran will prove that once and for all. Bush has to do it before 2008, so that means this year or next year.
The Bush administration's attention has shifted to a small province in southwestern Iran that is unknown to most Americans. Never the less, Khuzestan will become the next front in the war on terror and the lynchpin for prevailing in the global resource war. If the Bush administration can sweep into the region (under the pretext disarming Iran's nuclear weapons programs) and put Iran's prodigious oil wealth under US control, the dream of monopolizing Middle East oil will have been achieved.
Not surprisingly, this was Saddam Hussein's strategy in 1980 when he initiated hostilities against Iran in a war that would last for eight years. Saddam was an American client at the time, so it is likely that he got the green-light for the invasion from the Reagan White House. Many of Reagan's high-ranking officials currently serve in the Bush administration; notably Rumsfeld and Cheney.
From the Beirut Times:
if ethnic tensions in Khuzestan province can be effectively exploited by the U.S. and Britain, they may feel that a more limited destabilization or invasion will put Iran's main oil province under Western control. In other words, the prospects of an invasion may loom larger, simply because Bush thinks it can be a "mission accomplished" with less effort than an all-out conquest of Iran. Bush and Blair use the prospects of civil war to justify their continuing occupation of Iraq (though their actions instead appear to be stimulating an Iraqi civil war). They are also not above stimulating a little ethnic strife to get their way next door in Iran.
Think of Khuzestan as a "Kuwait-Inside," with most of Iran's crude oil deposits contained within the small province. Like in Iraq, Nigeria or Colombia, much of the oil is under the lands of a historically aggrieved ethnic minority. The Arab Shi'ites living on the plains of western Khuzestan share both their ethnicity and faith with the majority Arab Shi'ites across the strategic Shatt al-Arab waterway in Iraq. Arabs make up only 3% of Iran's population, but a majority (or at least a plurality) of about 3 million in Khuzestan (which some Arabs call "Ahwaz" or "Arabistan").
To take all of Iran, it is estimated that 600,000 troops are needed. But to take Khuzestan and the southern coast, many less are required as the Zagros Mountains make Khuzestan a natural fortress. As long as some of the oil wealth is promised to the Arab militias there and they fight with Bushco for their "independence", the poll below asks how many US troops and forces would be need to conquer and occupy Khuzestan??