A Project for the Settlement of “Lor and Bakhtiyar” tribes in Al Ahwaz, Prepared and presented by: Committee for research and studies in The Arab Movement for the Liberation of Al-Ahwaz.
Note: Some Persian names and words are used in the text just for clarification; however, we do not accept the Persianization of Ahwaz. Therefore, these words are only used for understanding of the text and of the location for those who are not familiar with Ahwaz and the Arabic names of these locations.
Ever since Persians set foot in the land of al Ahwaz they have persistently aimed at eradicating its Arab identity, and they have spared no effort to achieve their goal. In order to be able to force the Persianization of the land they began changing its demography by resituating in al Ahwaz non-Arab settlers from Persian areas adjacent to al Ahwaz as a fixed strategy. The most dangerous of all these Persian settlement projects is the “tribal settlement project” which led to the relocation of thousands of families of the “Lor and Bakhtiyar” nomadic tribes from their original homelands behind the” Zagros Mountains” in Ahwaz.
Project Beginnings and Aims:
The Persian state began studying the project in 1927. Detailed social, political and cultural studies of Ahwaz were undertaken by Persian occupation agencies upon request of the Persian state in order to be able to determine the scale and scope of resources and funds necessary for the project. Finally, and after the parliamentary approval of the project, the Persian state decided to issue an official declaration endorsing the project on 30 august 1933. In the year 1936 the first official decree was issued in which “Reza Khan” king of the Persian state at the time ordered the settlement of 4 thousand “Bakhtiyar” families in the foothills of northern Ahwaz relocating them from their original homeland behind the Zagros mountains, with the provision of all necessary amenities, security guarantees and resources needed for their settlement to be provided for by the state.
The aims of the project were not kept secretive anymore rather they were now openly declared as a natural outcome of the aspirations of the Persian state which for centuries had dreamed of controlling and Persianizing the land and people of Al-Ahwaz. After the Persian occupation, the time seemed right in order for them to achieve their vile goal by changing the demography of Al-Ahwaz and replacing the indigenous Arab population of Al-Ahwaz with Persian settlers.
It was very clear from the beginning to the Persian state that the Ahwazis would not acquiesce to Persian occupation however how forceful it was. This became evident in the Ahwazi revolution of 1925 in which soldiers of the last Arab ruler of Al-Ahwaz prince Khazaal bin Jabir” supported by the Arab tribes of “Al Muhammarah” and “Abadan” led the revolution among the Ahwazi populace which grew day after day spreading into the cities and the countryside of Al-Ahwaz. The 1925 Ahwazi revolution caused the Persian state to feel threatened to such an extent as to consider the solution to be the changing of the Ahwazi populace from Arab to Persian, and the changing of the Ahwazi identity from Arab to Persian and the changing of Ahwazi place and city names from Arabic to Persian and the forcing of Persian culture upon the Arabs of Al-Ahwaz.
True to this policy of Persianization many Persian thinkers and politicians such as Ahmad Kisrawi” and “Mahmoud Afshar” and others wrote much on the subject and many studies and books were published which skew the facts on the ground in Al-Ahwaz in favor of the Persians. Additionally numerous recommendations and directives were issued to Persians, and Persian merchants that are encouraging them to work and invest in Al-Ahwaz supported by state resources and security measures and other incentives.
Why the Lor and Bakhtiyar Tribes?
Lor and Bakhtiyar Tribes were chosen for the following reasons:
-Geographic reasons: These tribes original homeland is adjacent to Al-Ahwaz. They live behind the Zagros Mountains which make their settlement in Al-Ahwaz relatively cost effective.
-Social reasons: These tribes are pastoral Bedouin tribes thus they are accustomed to traveling and change.
And they are familiar with the mountains around northern Al-Ahwaz and Al-Ahwaz presents lush pasture to them. Thus, their settlement in Al-Ahwaz is economically favorable to the occupying state.
-It is worth mention here that prior to the Persian states’ settlement of these tribes in Al-Ahwaz these tribes used to pay taxes to the Arab rulers of Al-Ahwaz in exchange for grazing in Ahwazi territories.
The settlements of Bakhtiyar tribes in Al-Ahwaz were represented by the tribal chieftains of the Bakhtiyari supported by the Qajar state. The most notable among the Bakhtiyar tribal chieftains who forcibly settled in Alahwaz was Muhammad Taqiyy Khan Jihar Lang 1830-1841 and Hussein Qali Khan Ilkhaniy 1846-1892. They took advantage of inter- Arab feuding among the Arab princes of Al-Ahwaz during the later stages of the Bani Kaab Arab princes.
British Orientalists Sir Henry Rowlinson notes that during the era of Muhammad Taqiy Khan the ruler of the Bakhtiyar region, some tribes were settled in the Ramiz area in villages built especially for this purpose. It was confirmed by the American scholar Garthwitt based upon the British Orientalis Sir Austin Henry Layard accounts. Layard adds that he saw the tribe of Jenki settle in a number of villages in the area of Ramiz. The French Orientalists Babain Wahosa stated that the tribe of Dinarvandi was settled in the plane of Anshan. The Russian traveler Baron Dobbed stated that the Bakhtiyar tribes in the era of Muhammad Taqiy Khan took up agriculture after it abandoned their original pastoral way of living due to their settlement in agricultural settlements.
Various Bakhtiyar personages were within the Persian state; at the head of them was tribal chieftain Jaafar Qaliy Khan Sirdar Bahadur, minister of war during the era of Reza Khan who played a crucial role in implementing the project. In 1927, Reza khan ordered the setting up of a special fund for the project and the building of villages and settlements for it.
The Continuation of the Project in Era of the Mullahs
After the victory of the revolution of the peoples in 1979 and the accession of the Mullahs to power, the project was halted for a spell due to the volatile political and security situations resultant of the Mullahs subjugation of their liberal and leftist Persian opponents and their subjugation of the national liberation movements of the peoples under Persian occupation and their aggression against the state of Iraq which lasted 8 years.
After the brief interruption, the Persian state created the organization for tribal affairs that is concerned with providing services to Bedouin tribes and aids their settlement in areas designated by the government. In Al-Ahwaz, a branch of this organization was created under the leadership of a Bakhtiyari settler named Ali Rahim Karimi. The project was up and running again by 1992. The Persian state included the settlement of Lor and Bakhtiyari tribes in Northern Alahwaz within the 2nd 3rd 4th and 5th (current) national development plans.
In the year 2005 a blessed Intifada broke out in Al-Ahwaz sparked by the exposing of a secret document from the head of the Persian state at the time (Muhammad Khatami) which decreed that the demographic composition of Al-Ahwaz must be changed.
During the blessed Intifada of 2005, the slogans raised by the Ahwazis during their peaceful demonstrations called for the evacuation of all settlers from Al-Ahwaz. The Ahwazi resistance headed by the Brigades of the martyr Mohy al din al Nassir, the military arm of the Arab movement for the liberation of Al-Ahwaz delivered painful blows to many of the Persian states institutions active in this project such as the general directorate for planning and Saman bank which funds this sordid project.
Thus, the Persians officials responsible for the settlement project and the Persian settlers themselves began feeling insecure and their unlawful settlement in Alahwaz under threat. In response, all Persian state bodies particularly intelligence services began working on presenting research and studies aimed at subduing this threat. Based upon these studies, the criminal Ali Hosseini Khamenei, the current Supreme Leader of Iran and a Shia Cleric, decided to inaugurate a project to settle Lor and Bakhtiyari tribes funded by the Baraka association which is headed by him. Thus, Khamenei personally oversaw the implementation of this project which executed 424 development and construction projects including infrastructure, roads, schools, health centers, electricity grids, water and sewage systems, and communications systems in the amount of 246 billion Toman (246 million USD) 90 billion Toman (90 million USD) provided by the Baraka association. It was decided for the projects to be implemented within an estimated period of 2 and half years. 100 settlements were planned for this project 13 to be designated by the Persian state and 87 to be chosen by the tribes. The Persian state takes it upon itself to provide zero interest loans estimated at 30 million Toman (30 thousand USD) to each settler family to aid them with the cost of their housing unit. These projects were assisted by a number of Persian state institutions in Al-Ahwaz which are the electricity company, the water and Sewage Company, the directorates for tribal affairs, communications, health, education departments, the Khomeini relief organization, the directorates of agriculture and natural resources, police department, antiquities and tourism department.
The spread of Lor and Bakhtiyari tribes in Al-Ahwaz was significantly sizable as western Orientalists and Persian state sources state that the Lor and Bakhtiyar tribes first settled in the areas of Arjan (Behbahan) and Ramiz (Romhormoz) and Salihiyya (Andimeshk) and Tastur (Shushtar) and Al Qunaytira (Dezful) and mountainous regions. However, after the Persian occupation of Al-Ahwaz these tribes supported by the Persian state managed to build settlements that later became villages and cities.
The biggest Persian settlements that became cities are Masjid Solyman, Dehdaz and Andeka and Lali and Baghmalik and Saydoun and Qalaat Khawaja and Aghajari and Sardasht and Jayzan and Haftgels counties. And there are those who settled in Arab cities such as Ramiz and Ras al Bahr (Hendijan) and Al Qunaytira, and came to constitute a large percentage of these cities and to a lesser extent in the cities of Tastur and Sousse. Al Salihiyya and Arjan became completely made up of settlers in addition to hundreds of other towns. A close up look into the 2006 Persian state census shows that the number of settlers who have settled Al-Ahwaz through this project who live in the aforementioned areas is approximately 1 million and 100 thousand individuals. The latest census of the number of Lor Bedouin tribes in all of Iran conducted in the year 2008 shows that 179 thousand of these tribes live in Al-Ahwaz in 500 settlements on the mountains and in settlement cities of(Masjid Solyman and Izeh County, and Dehdaz and Andeka and Lali and Salind and Baghmalik and Qalaat tell and Hussainiyat Abd and Saydoun and Qalaat Khawaja and Aghajari and Sardasht and Jayzan and Haftgel.) and Tastur and Al Qunaytira and Al Sousse, Arjan, Ramiz, Al Salihiyya and Rass al Bahr. The Braka 2014 project settled 8000 families from the Lor and Bakhtiyari tribes to date in the rural areas of Al Salihiyya Arjan Tastur Qunaytira and Susa.
How the Ahwazis Resisted the Project
Never before in their history were the Ahwazis aware of such a threat to their existence and national security. What confrontations occurred were not more than sporadic outbursts driven by emotion. Most Ahwazi movements as near as two decades ago either failed to mention Persian settlements in their political programs or barely alluded to the issue without proposing solutions.
A survey of the political history of Al-Ahwaz after occupation shows no significant confrontations carried out against Persian settlements just with two exceptions. The first exception is the revolt of Haidar Altelel in 1940 which erupted as a response to the aggression of the Lor and Bakhtiyari tribes supported by the Persian state on the Arab tribes in an attempt to usurp their agricultural land and the second exception is various military operations conducted by Hatem Jaaloush (Heteh) and his comrades in the popular front for the liberation of Al-Ahwaz against the Persian settlers of Al-Ahwaz in Susa and Al Qunaytira and al Salihiyya.
However in the last two decades most Ahwazi movements are started to give special attention to this vital issue although they still have to clarify how to deal with it, particularly since it threatens the national security of Al- Ahwaz in both the short and long terms. The reason behind the failure of the Ahwazi movement to come out with a consensus strategy for the resistance of this danger is that any resisting act against the Persian settlements will be considerate as terrorism by the nations of the Western World.