The Achilles heel of Iran

When it comes to Iran, most analysts and commentators speak as if the country were a homogenous monolith comprising Persians.  It is not.  In fact, the seldom mentioned Achilles heel of Iran is its diverse ethnic and religious make-up.  This is highlighted by Brenda Shaffer of Georgetown University, who is a leading expert on Iran's ethnic minorities. Shaffer projects that Iran's current population of more than eighty-five million is made up of forty-two million Persians, an estimated twenty-seven million Azerbaijanis, and roughly eight million Kurds, five million Arabs, two million Turkmen, and one-and-a-half million Baluch. So although the Persians dominate and are the largest ethnic group in Iran, nearly half of Iranians define themselves as non-Persians.  And these non-Persian groups are not happy campers.  Each of them has its own customs, history, culture, and often...(Read Full Post)
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