Baha’is in Iran

Persecution is the wrong word

The situation of Baha’is in Iran is sad, but in this article I want to explain why persecution is the wrong word intentionally used because of political motivation.

In no way I intend to deny that in Iran human rights violations are all over the place.
Persecution however happens in Iran for individuals, this is no matter which religion the individual has, it is actually about if the person is acting against the government. Even publicly criticizing the government, or massing up people who in some way publicly show that they are against the government can lead to the persecution of a single person or that group, regardless what religion these people have.

In the case of Iran there is often talk about Baha’is being persecuted in Iran, but persecution is a word that is used when a person is hunted down, jailed, killed … None of these happens to the group of Baha’is in Iran. The more correct terms are that they are disadvantaged or even second class citizens.
This is still very bad but it is a huge difference to persecution.
Now what happens actually to Baha’is in Iran? They are barred from higher (University) education, and they are not allowed to seek every kind of work. They cannot enter politics, the military and other positions that give you power above others. This is clearly restricting their rights, but is far from persecution.
Comparing Baha’is to other second class citizens in the middle east, it might make you wondering why those groups are not called out as persecuted.

Think about Kurds in Turkey:
The Turkish government and military has actively attacked Kurdish villages. They have killed hundreds of Kurds in a few months, flattend complete villages. Why again is this not called out as persecution? Hint: Turkey is a NATO member.

Think about Bedoon in Kuwait:
They are one third of the Kuwaiti population, and have no citizenship, no rights: long version here at Human Rights Watch: Hint: Kuwait is a partner and big arms importer

Think about Shia in Bahrain:
They are 70% of the population, are not allowed to enter parts of the country. Their religious sites get bulldozed away because they were not built with the right permissions, even if they were built 900 years before there was a state called Bahrain. Hint: Bahrain is a partner and the host of the United States Fifth Fleet in the Persian Gulf

Think about Palestinians in Israel: They do not have a state. Their own territory (West Bank) nerved by routes and streets that only Israelis are allowed to use. The palestinians and Israelis have different plates on their cars so if they drive on Israeli streets, they get pulled over by the Israeli military, interrogated fined and even jailed. Even inside the West Bank they cannot move from one Palestinian village to the next where they need to reach a hospital, school, university without every day going two times through Israeli checkpoints, where it can take 30 minutes or 3 hours or you are even sent back without a reason. All this not at the border to Israel but in their own territory.
You don’t believe me watch this presentation by a Jewish American lady who describes in clear words how life looks for Palestinians.
The video is just factual and explanatory, Just watch the first 10 minutes:

Now, compare the state of the Bahai’s in Iran with that of all the groups mentioned, and think about who’s state is worse.
Labeling the state of the Bahai’s as persecuted minority in Iran while not doing the same with all the groups mentioned above is just applying double standards because of political reasons or preferences.

Not looking at the Middle East, even an almost perfect state like Germany has problems:
In this case the problems are not rooted in the state or in the law, but rather in the society. Comparing now the society, the society in Iran in its generallity has no problems with Baha’is, hence even Amnesty or HRW cannot list attacks as they can list for a perfect state like Germany, and for example as they list for Christians that are attacked in Egypt, or Rohingya in Myanmar (reigned by Nobel Peace Prize winner: Aung San Suu Kyi but scene of killings, rape and torture of minority Rohingya. Here is the Human Rights Watch report: .

If you read in contrast the reports of Amnesty and HRW on Iran you will find, that there is a lot about Human Rights violations, injustice, … but it is not about a single minority but against anyone who opposes the Regime.

American “sailors” and “mechanical failures”

The wording sailors is quite amusing. If two Iranian ships full of highly armed soldiers would have had the same kind of mechanical failure both at the same time and would accidentally enter US waters, they would rather have been called: militants, elite soldiers, Qods-Force or what ever seems more threatening.

But in this case all the international press is repeating “sailors”, and even though in this case like in other cases it is clear that these sailors were most probably on a spy mission like in this case (the source is referenced: The Guardian) or like US drones that regularly accidentally enter Iranian Air space.

Guardian story about CIA Agent:

Anyhow Iran’s reaction has been very mild. Looking back at what Turkey did as a Russian Airplane entered its Airspace for a few seconds, it shows how much Iran has actually softened its stance. While this is good for the “Sailors” it seems that some GOP candidates are quite frustrated that the Americans were set free as easily:

US “boats”: speed boats in full camouflage and highly equipped with weapons:


US boat camouflage coloring sailors Iran Persian Gulf

More info about the boats:

“On their way from Kuwait to Bahrain”:

US Sailors on the way from Kuwait to Bahrain

These highly trained professionals should be trained better in navigation.

And here their weapons:

US sailors weapons Iran Persian Gulf

Great article by Glenn Greenwald in the Intercept:

Glenn Greenwald is the holder of multiple awards including the George Polk Award

The origin of the “modern” Sunni Shia conflict

This conflict is not going on forever as stated by many people who lack the knowledge and hence oversimplify and trivialize. Less than two decades ago there was not such a violent conflict. Hence this is not an endless conflict and we can go back to the situation that we had not too long ago.

We have to take a look at the beginnings, analyze the ones who profited most and stop to listen to their rhetoric

Another interesting article on this topic is the following one written by Seymour Hersh the Pulitzer Prize winner for the New Yorker in 2007. What he wrote then can explain a lot of things that are happening today in the middle east:

If you ask me the Sunni Shia conflict as it has gotten momentum after the Iraq war had three main reasons:

  1. It was a “good” way of divide and conquer used by the US who had big problems fighting Sunni and Shia insurgency. Violence between these two groups took the load off the US army in Iraq.
  2. After the invasion of Iraq, Iran had emerged as the winner of the happenings, neither the self called “leader of the Arab world” Saudi Arabia nor their partners, the US, could be happy about this outcome. Saudi Arabia as country that is suppressing its own Shia minority was not happy to have a Shia dominated Iraq, and a democracy as a neighbor. Democracy in Iraq would indeed be poised to put a Shia leadership on Shia majority Iraq.
  3. Arab public polls in 2006 (as effect of the war between Israel and Hezbollah) had shown that the Arab public was in fact favorizing non Sunni leaders. The most favorite politicians were Hassan Nasrallah, Bashar Assad and Ahmadinejad. (Two Shia and one Alawite).
    This was a major blow back for the wannabe “leaders of the Arab world”. Strengthening sectarianism seemed to improve Saudi Arabia’s position in a Arab world that was favorizing non Sunni leaders that were in contrast to the leadership of Saudi Arabia not appeasing to the West and to Israel.

Iran was in its best position right after Saddam was removed. A huge military threat next to Iran was removed making Iran the undisputed power after Israel in the region. With the start of the sectarian conflict Iran has only lost, as this conflict has inflicted huge costs on Iran. It is also interesting to point out that Iran was in its policies mainly opposed to Israel was never going against Sunnis. Infact Iran’s opposition to Israel was on behalf of Sunni Palestinans, who were supported by Iran and Syria more than by any country in the Persian Gulf region (mostly crazily rich countries that never took any Sunni refugees while advocating them selves as truly Sunni nations).

So, who profited:

  1. Saudi Arabia: With the US worried about Iran as emerging power in the region, arms sales to Sunni monarchies took off, making Saudi Arabia the biggest importer of US and European weapons. the result is a more and more aggressive foreign policy by Saudi Arabia. The positive or at least neutral views on Shia and the anger on Sunni monarchies are replaced with fear and hate mongering towards Shia, making Saudi Arabia the protector of Sunnis in the region, though Saudi Arabia has refused to take any Syrian refugees, leaving the load on the shoulders of much poorer nations in the region and on the shoulder of Christian European countries.
  2. USA: Through divide and conquer, the insurgency against the US turned towards violence between the insurgents.
  3. Israel: The opposition and hate towards Israel was replaced with hate between the two main factions of Islam, fighting off each other at heavy costs, while Sunni Arab countries and Israel moving closer together than ever before.
    Israeli official: Israel quite content if Syria war goes on

    Jerusalem Post: Israel treating al-Qaida fighters wounded in Syria civil war
    The biggest opposing Arab power and most dangerous neighbor set back for decades and thrown into a devastating civil war.

But how would these profiteers fuel the conflict and keep it rolling:

  1. Use proxies in Iraq to start attacks on Shia, trying to provoke counter attacks. Thanks god for the most part counter attacks remained quite rare, also because Grand Ayatollah Sistani the most important Shia leader called for Iraqi unity and discouraged counter attacks for almost a decade until finally calling for resistance, not against Sunni Iraqis but against IS.
  2. Declare a for the Arab world NOT uncommon way, of putting down demonstrations in Syria, as a sectarian war towards Sunnis, even though Assad had been the most secular leader in the Arab world and the only one standing up against Israel. Hosting the biggest share of Sunni Palestinians for years,  having a Sunni wife he was hardly some one fighting Sunnis. Using opinion building tools like Al Jazeera and Al Arabia (controlled by the Qatari and Saudi monarchs) the Syrian conflict was miss portrayed of an Army of Alawites fighting the Sunni people of Syria. 5 Years into the conflict it is clear that the Syrian Army is consists of a big share of Sunnis who rather fight against the opposition who is more and more non Syrian with the biggest and most mighty groups (IS and Al Nusra) being mainly foreign mercenaries from Chechnya, Tunisia, … , where as Sunni Syrians often flee from rebel owned areas to Government controlled areas.
    Read more about this: here


“Yemen after five months looks like Syria after five years” sais head of the International Red Cross

Five months of war in Yemen has wrought destruction similar to that seen in Syria after five years, said the head of the International Red Cross on Wednesday.

Returning from a visit to the war-ravaged nation, Peter Maurer told the Associated Press that entrenched poverty, months of intensified warfare and limits on imports because of an international embargo have contributed to “catastrophic” conditions.

“The images I have from Sanaa and Aden remind of what I have seen in Syria,” said Maurer. “So Yemen after five months looks like Syria after five years.”


An interesting anecdote from the Iraq-Iran war

Saddam Hussein’s goal for attacking Iran was to conquer Iranian oil fields.

Saddam was thinking that (Sunni) Arab Iranians would be oppressed in Iran (as Shia are oppressed in many Arab countries) and would join forces with their Arab “brothers” from the Iraqi Army, but the opposite was the case Arab Iranians felt more as Iranians than as Arabs and fiercely defended their homeland Iran and stopped the mighty Iraqi Army until the surprised Iranian army could finally send help to the Iraqi border.

This story beautifully shows how Arab leaders speculated and finally invented an oppression of the (Sunni) Arab minority in Iran, and were surprised by the realities on the ground, that these allegedly oppressed minorities felt pretty much Iranian, and nearer to their fellow Shia Iranians than to external Sunni and even Shia Arabs.

Great book that covers the Iraq-Iran war and other conflicts in the Middle East: