Iran's Policy with Ahvazi Arabs

Suppression, Persecution and Denial of Social and Service Rights

Persian general, Ahmad Madani, who was appointed by Khomeini as governor of Ahvaz, said: “Arabs are rioting and I will drink from their blood if they continue to press for demands”. This is how Iran’s generals deal with Ahvazi Arabs in the modern era. This was not a threat, but rather a practical application to eradicate the Ahvazis and exterminate them ethnically. General Ahmed Madani spared no effort in suppressing the Ahvazis and it was on 30 May 1979 when he committed the “Black Wednesday” massacre in Muhammarah city, in which he exterminated hundreds of Ahvazis, women and children, in just three days, only for the guilt of being Arabs longing to live in their land safely.

What Madani did was not out of that Persian repression against Arab Ahvazis. Rather, it is a return to historical Persian politics with the Arabs. We will find similar events carried out by Ismail Al-Safavi, as historical records point out that he used a policy of intellectual terrorism against the Ahvazis, in a reprehensible sectarian manner. Persian culture relies on eradicating culture and knowledge from the hearts of Ahvazis to keep them subject to occupation with Persian swords on their necks.

What the Persians practiced with the Ahvazi Arabs was a very harsh and strict policy, based on the eliminating the Arabic language and replacing it with Persian language, as the Persian authorities occupying Ahvaz prevented teaching Arabic language or using it orally or in writing.

Despite the Persian racial discrimination and hatred against the Arabs, their unwillingness to integrate them into the local society and viewing them as appendages of the population on the Iranian map, yet they attempted to Persinalize them to be, even if they spoke Persian, an outcast minority without a reliable identity, preceded by the Persians, the Azeris, the Uzbeks and the Baluchis, where the Arabs were placed at the bottom of the list of races that the Persians rule with iron fist.

Ahvazis expressed the state of oppression they have been subjected to for about 100 years until today in various forms, including poetry, which has become the blatant voice of the Ahvazis in the face of Persian occupation, which recorded the forms of repression, persecution and deprivation of social and service rights that Ahvazi Arabs suffer from. Therefore, Ahvazi poets had a role in exposing the policy of Persian mullahs.

Also, despite the attempts of Ahvazi poets, yet, through time, generations of Arabs were isolated from their heritage and identity. Yusef Al-Sarkhi expressed that by saying: “The eloquent Arabic literature, despite its antiquity and the presence of Ahvazi giants in language and literature, such as Abu Al-Hilal Al-Askari, Ali bin Khalaf Al-Mashasha’i, Abu Maatouq Al-Huwaizi, etc., yet Ahvazi people’s estrangement from its history and natural cultural extension, due to the generalization of Persian language in teaching in Iran, as well as the Persian culture and literature, with the prohibition of Arabic language and its circulation, all rendered Ahvazi people live in a state of complete cognitive disconnection from their previous history and achievements in literature and language.

Iran has worked to prevent the use and circulation of Arabic language, which contributed to the state of isolation drawn by the Persians for the Ahvazi Arabs, where Arabic language has become a crime in the eyes of the Iranian government and whoever deals in Arabic is treated as a real enemy. Al-Sarkhi says about that: “When Ahvazi writer or poet writes in Arabic, he is then considered a political opponent and may be detained and accused of being involved in political and military issues that may lead him to the gallows, only because he writes in an unofficial language suspected by Iranian Persian regime”.

Persians dealt with Arab poets as if they were real criminals and whoever speaks Arabic is classified as an enemy of the Iranian government.

There was nothing left for Ahvazi Arabs except to preserve and circulate poetry, as it is their cultural treasury, after the Iranian regime continued to try to eradicate and uproot their culture and strip them of their Arab heritage and civilization. Poet Muhammad Amer Zuwaidat explained the position of Arab poetry in Ahvazi heritage, saying: “Those who resisted over the past ninety years, carried the banner of fighting the occupation with words, penetrated all barriers and called for the necessity of expelling the occupiers from the land, were the resisting Ahvazi poets. They continued, with all courage, to fire shells of fiery words in the face of Persian occupation of Ahvaz, denouncing the Persian revenge and retaliation practices against everything that is Arab”. He emphasized that the class most subjected to torture, displacement, arrest and assassinations are the poets, saying: “There is an army of young poets in Ahvaz who have taken it upon themselves to spread national and patriotic awareness in Ahvazi street, opposing the inflammatory sectarian rhetoric spread by Iran in the region”.

This is evident in Ahvazis’ describing their tragedy with the racist, extremist Persian element, which practiced a scorched-earth policy against the occupied Arab state and people of Ahvaz. It was not content with occupation, but rather practiced the most heinous acts of cultural assassination and civilizational razing on the ground, just like any occupier imbued with prior enmity and hatred.

Researchers Baqer Al-Sarraf and Adel Al-Suwaidi say in their book, Is the Gulf Arab or Persian and Other Ahvazi Issues, “Ahvaz Emirate enjoyed great political independence, with its own ruler and foreign political representation, despite the circumstances before or after the First World War, where many Gulf states were completely subject to direct British rule or bound by imposed treaties that aimed at reducing their future political movement and determining the directions of their path in light of the colonial states’ political strategic requirements.  However, that vital Arab region, Ahvaz, which is inhabited by about ten million Ahvazi Arab citizens, suffers today even more than in the entire historical past, from a Persian political vision that is based on a conscious political and racist practice in terms of political goal and results, based on administrative settlement movements of the land and occupation of social composition and national geography, as well as displacement movements of the indigenous population, on the one hand, and settlement of the Persian race, confiscating the land, changing its national nature, dredging the rivers, transporting water to Sistan, Rafsanjan and Isfahan and seizing all material goods available on and inside the Arab Ahvazi land, without allocating any percentage of its cash income to spend on its reconstruction or contribute to its human progress. This is in addition to removing Arabic language so as not to be used by all Arab children, preventing them from studying in their mother tongue. They also killed Arab citizens under the pretext of being terrorists or Salafis who violate the Iranian constitution that is based on sectarian vision”.

Another goal other than expansion and search for financial sources is hidden behind the Persian-Iranian occupation of the Arab Ahvazis, which is revenge against the Arab element that defeated the Persians in Qadissiyah. Therefore, Persian colonization of Ahvazi dealt with the Ahvazis as if they were permanent enemies, who must pay the price for what their ancestors did 1400 years ago.

Persian occupation of Ahvaz, with international complicity, actually came to destroy a cultural heritage, where the culture of the Iranian regime was forcibly imposed thereon, subjecting it to their aggressive policies and goals, while destroying Arab customs and traditions and attempting to change their language and the names of their cities and villages to Persian names. They aimed to creating a rift between the coming generations of Ahvazi Arabs and their knowledge heritage and roots, disengaging them from their land, on which they lived for more than 2000 years. Ahvazi Arabs have actually lived on their land much more than the occupied Persians.

  1. Baqer Al-Sarraf and Adel Al-Suwaidi, Is the Gulf Arabic or Persian and other Ahvazi Issues (Cairo: Gazerat Al-Ward Library, 2012).


  1. Afia Al-Fifi, Ahvazi poetry… A revolution Confronting Persian Oppression and a Cry in the Ears of the world (Al-Riyadh newspaper, 6 August 2018).


  1. Amer Al-Dulaimi, Iranian Occupation of the Arab Region of Ahvaz (Amman: Academicians Publishing House, 2020).


  1. Ali Al-Helou, Ahvaz Revolutions and Organizations 1914-1966 AD (Najaf: Al-Ghari Modern Press, 1970).


  1. Ali Nima Al-Helou, Ahvaz in Its Historical Roles (Baghdad: Dar Al-Basr, 1967).