Iran: December 6, 2003




Unrest among Baluchis and other minorities in Iran is  a reminder that Iran is actually an empire. About half the population is Iranian (an Indo-European people.) But the borders of Iran are populated with non-Iranians. In the northwest there are the Turkic Azeris (24 percent of the population), northwest there are Kurds (seven percent of the population), in the northeast there are more Turks (Turkmen,  two percent of the population), in the southeast are the Baluchis ( two percent of the population) and in the southeast are Arabs ( three percent of the population.) There are also other Indo-European groups (Gilaki, Lurs and Mazandarani scattered around, accounting for ten percent of the population.) Some 95 percent of the population is Shia Moslem, with most of the remainder being Sunni (mainly the Baluchis.) About one percent are Christian, Zoroastrian (the ancient Iranian religion) and others. What has kept Iran united over the centuries has been the ability of the Iranian half of the population to get themselves motivated and mobilized periodically to bring the other (non-Iranian) half of the population under control. Actually, for much of Iran's 3,000 year history, the Iranians comprised less than a third of the "empire's"  population. In the last five centuries, Iran has controlled most of Iraq and half of Afghanistan. Like all empires, there is constant tension between the dominant group and all


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