Sunday, May 28, 2006

Amir Taheri on Iran: Restive Provinces

via Arab News,

One of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s election promises was that he and his ministerial team would visit all of Iran’s 30 provinces within their first year in office. The idea was to settle long standing local problems in a single sitting of the Cabinet. However, as Ahmadinejad prepares to mark the first anniversary of his presidency it looks increasingly unlikely that he could keep that promise.

So far Ahmadinejad has a record of visiting nearly half of the provinces and is determined to do some more soon. Nevertheless, quite a few provinces have become no-go areas for the president. The reason is increasing ethnic and sectarian tensions in parts of the country.
Taken together Iran’s ethnic, linguistic and religious minorities account for some 40 percent of the population. Most are strategically located along Iran’s long borders, and thus vulnerable to outside manipulation.

While in Indonesia this month, President Ahmadinejad spoke of his ambition to unite and lead the Muslim world in a “clash of civilizations” against the “infidel”. Many in Iran believe that he should first address the grievances that have made it impossible for him to visit so many provinces, and before it is too late.

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