Iran’s land-grab policy in Ahwaz


The policy of illegally seizing land in Ahwaz is one of the most hallmark Iranian policies that have been in place for nine decades. It was initiated by Shah Reza Pahlavi and devolved in the Islamic republic.  The document leaked in 2005, which was then known as Abtahi Document, named after the head of former Iranian president Mohammed Khatami's office, may be a testament to the colonial intentions of the Iranian authorities. These policies are aimed to expel Arabs from their lands. Upon leaking this document, April uprising erupted.

This document is one of the hundreds of documents that expose criminal schemes carried out by the Iranian authorities in Ahwaz. The document literally confirms the displacement of Arabs from their land and their replacement by Persians and other Iranian citizens, bringing the number of non-Arab settlers in Ahwaz within ten years three times the indigenous Arab people.

In fact, these systematic policies, which contravened international norms and laws, began in the first Pahlavi era. The project of building the state and the nation was the first of these racist policies and projects towards the Arab people of Ahwaz. However, the project of the Shah in the second Pahlavi era, known as the "Shah and the People Revolution" or the "White Revolution", is considered one of the most important Persian political projects that were applied in that era. This project had social, cultural, political and economic impacts on Arab citizens and other non-Persian peoples living in Iran's political geography.

The project has nineteen principles. One of these principles was the principle of "land reform". The main objective was to deprive Arab citizens of their lands. According to the Persian documents, the percentage of land owned by the Persian state in all of Iran's modern political geography was only 10 percent. Protests that happened in the past days in the province of Elam Al-Ahwaz, specifically in the region of Al-Jalizi in the north-west of Ahwaz are a natural extension of the continued Arab rejection since the occupation of Ahwaz in 1925 and the overthrow of Arab rule in this country and the original Arab day.

Therefore, facts on the ground indicate that these Iranian systematic policies aimed at emptying Ahwazi land of Arab owners intensified after the victory of the Islamic Revolution and clerics' ascent to power. Indeed, after 1979, the Persian authorities carried out a lot of colonial projects, starting with the looting and razing of the land under several guises, including the Azadegan project in the city of Khafajiyeh and other projects, the construction of dams and diverting courses of rivers to the Persian depth, water theft, and changing the demographic makeup by bringing the Persians and settling them in Ahwaz cities in camps and neighborhoods for this purpose.


Another project also focused on bringing residents of Losartan, which is adjacent to Ahwaz, and settling them in the Ahwazi capital and its neighborhoods with the aim of enforcing demographic changes there. This comes as the city is a locomotive for the Arab activism against the Iranian occupation, which rubs off on the rest of the occupied Arab cities. This project is overseen by the Expediency Discernment System's official in the province Gen. Mohsen Rezai.



However, Hashemi Rafsanjani's project or rather his security and political plan to build dams on the borders of Ahwaz and is one of the acutest projects and plans that threatened Arab presence in the province of Ahwaz, as these dams have very serious geographical, economic, security and military consequences.

During that period, the Iraqi leadership (the Arab Baath Socialist Party), believed that Ahwaz is an Arab land that will one day return to Iraq's sovereignty.  The Iraqi position on Ahwaz represented a threat to the regime in Iran given the desire of the Ahwazis to get rid of the occupation.

The military weakness and sanctions imposed on Tehran at the time pushed the government to build dams on borders of Ahwaz and on mouths and estuaries of rivers. The plan had been implemented and the first dam has been constructed. It was named as 'Killer of Arabs' by the Ahwazis.

In fact, if these plans are implemented – the opening of these huge dams that are currently located on the heights of Ahwaz, specifically on the estuary of rivers and tributaries, including: Karoon and Karkheh – known as "Bakhtiari-Zagros mountain range, which separates the Persian lands (the current Persian plateau) from the Arab Al-Ahwaz, whose length is than 500 km, with the height of 4409 m, no country, including Iraq at that time, can attack Iran. In case of splitting these dams, vast swathes of lands in Iraq and Ahwaz will be submerged with water. No forces will be able to advance. The Iranians opened doors of the dam built on Hamidiyeh River at the beginning of the eight-year war with Iraq.

The advances of the Iraqi forces were halted. Their push for the Ahwazi capital was thwarted.

In the end, we must note that this project and other projects and other political and security plans implemented by the Persian authorities since nine decades have very serious security and environmental complications on the region of Ahwaz in particular and the Arab region in general, starting from Iraq and through Kuwait and the rest of the Region Including the Arabian Gulf.

The deliberate contamination we are seeing today of the entire Ahwaz region is an inevitable and expected outcome. These plans and hellish projects have led to the drying up of most of the lands, rivers, marshlands, and swamps in Ahwaz. They may lead in the near future to a huge exodus of the Arab population there unless the Arab masses move in Ahwaz to wipe out the looming danger to their presence in the land of their forefathers.

By Jamal Obaidi, Ahwazi freelance journalist


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