Wake-up call for Iran

WHAT is going on in Ahvaz, Iran’s oil rich city with Sunni majority population? Nine people were killed in the series of bomb blasts that rocked Ahvaz and Teheran yesterday. This is the first of its kind incident in the otherwise peaceful and stable Iran. Little wonder Iran’s leaders are worried particularly when the country is going to crucial presidential elections later this week, on Friday.

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Published: Tue 14 Jun 2005, 10:07 AM

Last updated: Thu 2 Apr 2015, 6:46 PM

Prominent presidential candidate Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani has been quick to blame his political opponents for the blasts saying they want to undermine his poll prospects. But the attacks hardly appear the handiwork of Rafsajani’s "opponents".

Ahvaz, in Khuzestan province bordering Iraq, has not been strange to political unrest. Two months ago, the region, the major source of Iran’s oil, saw huge and widespread protests by the Sunni population. Resentment against the Shia majority of Iran runs deep also because few locals are employed in the huge oil industry despite the fact that Ahvaz bore the brunt during the 8 year long devastating war with Iraq. Besides, the people of Ahvaz feel left out of the centralised decision making process in Teheran.

The bombings should come as a wake-up call to Iranian leadership. They should examine the causes of popular unrest not only in Ahvaz but elsewhere in the country and address them quickly. All religious and ethnic minorities should be given their due share of power and resources. Iran’s proximity to the bloody chaos in neighbouring Iraq too poses a clear and present danger to the country. The months and years ahead could be very crucial for Iran.

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