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"CLERICAL MISRULE IN IRAN AND THE OMINOUS TUNES OF SEPARATISM - October 1997

"What I fear is not the enemy's strategy, but our own mistakes.

" Thucydides-The Peloponnesian War

(This issue was posted to our Internet site in August of 1997)
Several times in the past, we discussed in Focus on Iran that the irresponsible policies of the ruling clerics, is posing a grave danger to the security ofIran and we pointed out that if meaningful change does not take place, the unity of the country could be seriously jeopardized. The deterioration of the economy, discrimination against women and religious minorities, violation of basic and fundamental rights of Iranians, support of international terrorism, the export of Radical Islam and the country's isolation, will all have dire internal and external consequences for Iran. From one side, internal centrifugal forces are developing, on the other, some foreign powers see an opportune time to use the dissatisfaction of the people to their own benefit in fomenting the disintegration of Iran.

All of this is occurring when the ominous tunes of separatism are spreading everywhere. The revolution in mass communications technology, the rising notion of selfdetermination and covert/overt support of some interested states could indeed help the implementation of such
precarious desires. Furthermore, the United Nation's Security Council resolution no. 688 which was passed in 1991 after the Desert Storm War, regarding the Kurds in Iraq, ironically created an ideal ground for future separatist movements. The doctrine of self-determination which is based on a liberal principle and was originally introduced by President Woodrow Wilson at the end of World War 1, has also been a pretext in the hands of separatist cliques. This liberal principle has always resulted in intolerant consequences, adding fuel to bloody wars and as thus, transforming certain nations to a much weaker status. The genocidal civil wars in Bosnia, and the horrific events that transpired between the Hutu and the Tutsi tribes in Africa should open the eyes of those who recklessly pursue their self serving ambitions. For the Iranian nation, (in a sense comprised ofvariations of the Persian culture, customs and social organizations) the debility of the central power or the oppression and unfairness of the central government, has historically caused the creation of centrifu gal forces sin a grave challenge to the territorial integrity of the country. Fortunately enough, Iran has always managed to preserve its unity, with its most important strategic reserve, the Persian culture. The Iranian nation (Mellat), because of its long history, traditions, and multi-dimensional culture is indeed an organic and a spiritual entity. It is akin to a marble and not a cake-like tissue which could be cut to pieces. Despite the fact that it has managed to stay united, we must point out that within the current framework, namely the misbehavior and the incompetence of the ruling theocrats, there is nonetheless, ground to be concerned.

Lately we hear and detect, through statements, writings, and activities of some elements, in Turkey and specially the Republic of Azarbaijan, and some even here in the United States, the promotion of Pan-Turkism movement with a reference to the Azari-Turkish speaking Iranians in the northwestern province ofthe country. In this regard, a former CIA officer who has written several articles under the alias ofEdward Shirley, in his recent book, which incidentally has an amazing resemblance to the paltry remarks of James Morier in his fictitious 19th century book, Haji Baba of Isfahan, boldly utters that:

"Nothing in the world .scared 7ehrans clerics, like the shahs before them, more than an Iranian Azari divorce. So why not feed their fears? ". Here we must briefly refer to history to set the record straight.

The Caucasia and the Central Asian republics which became independent after the disintegration ofthe Soviet Union, have an undeniable, long-standing historical and cultural bond with IranThe areas of Caucasia and Central Asia have been segments of a greater Persian cultural and political orbit. The site of the greatest Zoroastrian fire temple associated with the Iranian Kings, is located in Ganjak (rooted in the Persian term Ganjineh meaning treasure), Caucasia. As Roman Ghirshman, points out in his book, "Persian Art", Persian culture, theme and decorative motifs and arts in Azarbaijan, Georgia, Armenia and Central Asia have survived to such extents that neither Christianity nor Islam could prevent the use ofZoroastrian-Sassanian decorative arts and symbols. Caucasia and the northern part of Iran, as corroborated by numerous history books, were called "Arran". These parts, were separated from Iran after two imperialistic incursions by Russia, and through the subsequent inauspicious treaties of Golistan in 1813, and Turkemanchai in 1828. Iran's borders with Caucasia and Central Asian republics extend to some 2000 miles. Historical, cultural and economic ties
between Iran and Caucasia are not only deep rooted and date back to at least 500B.C., but great cities such as Ganjak, Samarkand, Bukhara, Marv, Khiva and Balkh, in Central Asia were traditional centers of Persian arts and literature. In addition to Tajikstan where the language is Farsi, many of Uzbakistan's people are indeed tied by linguistic heritage to their Persian neighbors and a high proportion of the people of Bukhara and Samarkand, and Uzbakistan's other main cities, though ethnically Turkic, speak Farsi. These historical and cultural links are playing an important role in the friendly relationships between Tehran and those important countries in the region. These links could indeed contribute to the expansion of economic relations amongst Iran, the Caucasian and the Central Asian States, resulting in the security and prosperity of the people, only and only when the helms of the Iranian ship are trusted to the hands of a responsible far-sighted government. It must be stressed that Iran is indeed a link between the Caspian Sea and the Persian Gulf, the two important energy zones.

Regrettably, from one side, the irresponsible policies of the Leadership in Iran, continues to undermine the moderate Islamic states ofthe region, and its belligerence towards the secular systems of Turkey and the Republic of Azarbaijan, still persists. On the other side, irresponsible statements, such as "liberation of the Southern Azarbaijan" or resuscitating new versions of the long defunct ethnocentric Pan-Turkism by some leaders and writers, in Turkey and especially in the Republic of Azarbaijan, are exacerbating the problems between Iran and these neighbors. Those statements, will provide an excuse to some separatist elements to use some language similarities, for their misguided intentions. The Azarbaijan that has freed itself, after 73 years, from Soviet domination and communist ideology, ought to realize and should know better that the revival of Pan-Turkism or Pan- Turanism, is as harmful to their national interest as fundamentalism or Pan-Islamism is to Iran. Pan-Turkists, are in essence, advocating and injecting an artificial, imperialistic and inflammatory issue to the region. Although this idea is in conflict with the ideals of Turkish founding father, Kamal Ataturk, and does not enjoy a serious following in Turkey and the Republic of Azarbaijan, but raising the specter of racial and ethnic conflict could cause serious troubles for the region.

It should be mentioned that, first and foremost, the name of the Republic of Azarbaijan is not a historical one and its real name was "Arran". This was changed to "Azerbaijan" by the Nationalist party of "Mussavat" only in the early 20th century. Secondly, it was eagerly adopted later by the Soviet leaders, in order to facilitate the annexation of northwestern Iran to the Soviet orbit. This was also considered facile and usefW for some Pan-Turanists who vied for the unity of"North and South" with Turkey. An Iranian historian and theorist of the former Tudeh (Communist ) Party, Mr. Ehsan Tabari, confirms this historical fact that the Northern segment of the Aras river, was never called Azarbaijan. Mr. Tabari in his book, "Kazhrahe - Misguided Path", explains that historically, the Northern part of the Aras river was always referred to as "Arran" and, the primary motive behind the re-naming of that zone to "Azarbaijan" by the Mussavatists, and the subsequent support of and its manipulation by the Soviet Communists, was indeed for the annexation and the taking control ofthe Iranian Azarbaijan.

In reference to the etymology ofthe term Azarbaijan, the late scholar and iconoclast, Ahmad Kasravi Tabrizi, himself an Iranian from Azarbaijan, has numerous enlightening articles, including the following which appeared in the Shahin Newspaper nearly 66 years ago:
Among the provinces of Iran, perhaps none are as renowned as Azarbaigan. Specially after the beginning of the constitutional era, when she achieved all those heroic victories in those revolutionary movements, Azarbaigan gained more prominence both in Iranian & European newspapers.

This name, from 2000 years ago, has been one of the most famous terms in Iran's geography, and in each century her name has been synonymous with momentous historic events. However, if we search for this name in history books we will find different variations of it: All three, Azarbaijan, Azarbaigan, and Azarbadgan are listed in Persian books. In Ferdowsi's Shahnameh we read;
Azarbaigan ,Azarbadgan ,,
Arabs refer to it as Azarbijan. In Armenian books both Azarbayaghan and Azarbadaghan are recorded. In ancient Pahlavi books it is listed as Atoorpatgan. We will attempt to answer three questions;

Which one ofthese terms are the more accurate one? When was the name given to this land?
What is the meaning and reason behind this name?

Insofar as an explanation for the origin and appearance of the name Azarbaigan, Strabo (63 B.C. - 24 A.D.), the famous Greek geographer happens to be the most accurate. According to him, at the end of the Achaemenid Empire, when Alexander the Macedonian was prevailing in Iran, an Iranian commander by the name of Atoorpat, kept this region (part of the "Median" territory referred to as the Lesser Mede - maad e koochak) from falling into the hands of the invaders. Thus, this land was named after him - Atoorpatkan. People elected him as their sovereign and he protected their independence. Strabo, in his book, which was written at the time of the Parthians (Ashkaniyan) and close to the birth of Jesus, declares that:
"...still the successors of Atoorpat are reigning independently. Occasionally they have married into the family c?f the Armenian, Parthian, and Syrian rulers ".
Several notions are learned from Strabo's writings: one is that the name Azarbaigan, which was originally Atoorpatkan, appeared more than 22 centuries ago during the time of Alexander the Macedonian. Prior to that period, being part of the region of maad (Mede) it was naturally referred to as maad. Namely, Hamedan and those regions were called "maad e bozorg" - the Greater Mede, and Azarbaigan was called "maad e koochak" - the Lesser Mede. Even today there are remnants of this name in Azarbaigan: the plateau west of Tabriz extending to the eastern banks of the Oroomiyeh Lake, so far as we know, up to the time of the Mongolian incursion, was called "dashte maayaan" - referring to the "dashte maadaan" (the plain of the Medes). At the time of the Sassanians and during the advent of Islam, "maah" was substituted for the term "maad" and in Azarbaigan they called it "maay". At the far end of this plain, there is still a village called "maayaan"...

W e also learn from Strabo, that the term Azarbaigan gets its name from the Iranian Commander, Atoorpat, who ruled over that territory. Unfortunately, the erroneous writings of some authors, during the Mongolian era, such as Khaje Rashid Od-Din Fazlollah e Hamedani has become a pretext for the Pan-Turkist advocates. Hamedani writes
"... when Aghooz conquered that region, he became, fond of the grasslands of Ow/an, which is a district in Azarbailan. He ordered everyone to bring a bushel of the earths soil and dump it there. He himself did so, along with all the people including the soldiers. Naturally a large hill was created!! which he called Azarbaigan. Since Azar, in Turkish means towering and elevated and Baigan means distinguished ardfamous!! "
No one knows where the soil came from!!
Also erroneous is the meaning which some Iranian writers have deduced for Azarbaigan, simply due to the existence of fire alters. The third issue, which pertains history, is the fact that Azarbaigan protected its independence from the Greek suzerainty. Some have claimed that Atoorpat was a Greek commander in Alexander's army, however, there's no doubt from Strabo's writings & the name Atoorpat that he (Atoorpat) was an Iranian. Furthermore, this region during the reign of Parthians, kept its independence, and was separated from the other provinces of Iran.

It's a pity that other than Strabo's writings, we have no further information regarding Atoorpat and his successors who reigned in Azarbaigan for over 300 years. Archaeologist so far, have not found any coins either. I picked Strabo as the most accurate reference on the roots of the name Azarbaigan, due to the fact that he lived during the Parthian era and was thus close to the time of Atoorpat. In fact he stated that at the time of his writings Atoorpat's dynasty still reigned independently in that region. This proximity oftime along with his reputable name as an ancient I-TistoriaA make him even more credible. Aside from the fact that scientific laws, support Strabo's writings, it is quite clear that the name Azarbad or Atoorpat, was common among Iranians and many were named as such (i.e. Azarbad marespandan, the high Zoroastrian priest ofthe Sassanid King, Shapour II-Zolaktal; who wrote a book in counseling in the Pahlavi language).

Furthermore, attributing the name of cities to people by adding the suffix "kan" or "gan" was quite common. We have many examples in this regard, i.e. golpaigan, which originally was vartpatkan, Vartpat being someone's name. It's obvious then that Azarbaigan is a combination of three words:
1) Atoor or Azar 2) pat or pay

3) kan or gan
In order to understand the correct form of this term we must
talk about each one of these separately...

1) Atoor: this is a well known "Old Persian"/Pahlavi term, meaning Atash (fire). The term Atoor has become Azar, and is a popular word in Farsi today. Although all the words containing the letter "zal" -z-, from the Sassanid era up to the Mongolian times, were pronounced as such, and thereafter transformed to "dal" -d-, it's quite interesting to see the "zal" in Azarbaigan stay unchanged. Nonetheless it must be noted that villagers pronounce it as Adarbijan.
2) pat: from the verbal noun of payidan, meaning guarding and protecting. The Pahlavi form was patan. Thus "pat" being a derivative ofthat would render the meaning of Atoorpat as "Atash negahdar" or the protector office.... Vartpat as "gol negahdar" or guardian of flower. I must admit that I'm not certain yet about the derivation of "pat", and I only suspect it to be from patan. Nonetheless, "pat" has become "paz" and then "pad", and since in the accent of Hamedan and Azarbaigan almost all the letters "dal" -d- became "ya" -ythen "pad" became "pay". Other examples are maadan becoming maayaan, and maadeh (female) becoming maayeh in Azari language. But how did the letter "pe" -p- change into "be" -b- ? I suspect that Azari people (the ancient people of Azarbaigan) didn't pronounce the letter "pe" quite the same as it was in other parts of Iran (Armenians, incidentally follow this pattern too). For instance, in Azarbaigan the word "pas" meaning (then, thus), is pronounced "bas". So, it could be called Azarbaigan also.

3) kan: this word which later became "gan", is quite common after the name ofcities and villages, such as: Ardakan, Gorgan, Zangan, and Arzangan and many others. We could attribute two meanings to this word. The first, signifying location and land (refer to the book "namhaye shahr ha va dih haye Iran - 2nd part). And the other is a suffix ofattribution such as "bazargan" and "shaygan - shahgan".

Now, the meaning of Azarbaigan is clear to us:
*The land or city of Azarbad
Atoorpatkan = Azarpazgan > Azarpadgan Azarbaigan...
Each were correct in their own time, and since in the southern part of Iran, the letter "gaf' -g- was changed into "jim" j-, Azarbaijan is not incorrect. However, since the rule no longer exists, and since "jim" is closer to the Arabic version of the Army. The settlement ofthese Tatars in our nation, and the impact of their language, is another element which must be kept in mind. Nonetheless, those who refer to certain people in Iran as Turk, either based on their ignorance or vile political ambitions, do not know or do not wish to know that after the battle of Chalderan (in 1514 A.D. ), and later during the Afghan incursion, when the Ottomans ventured to invade the western parts of Iran, the latter carried out their ruthless policies in such homicidal manner where, in the eyes of the Iranians, the term "Turk" found a derogatory connotation. Nonetheless, the new Republic of Azarbaijan on the north, is now a political and historical fact and Turkey on west, is a very important neighbor of Iran. After over 250 years of armed conflicts (and almost 57 large and small wars) between the Persian and the Ottoman empires, for the last 250 years, namely since the battle of Kars in 1747, the two countries have lived in peace. Indeed after WW l, wherein Turkey took the place ofthe Ottomans, the two countries developed very close political, economic and security relationship. This deep rooted relationship lasted until the 1979 revolution and the establishment oftheocracy in Iran. Nevertheless, it must be said that regardless of the policies of the current leadership, the people of Iran would like to continue their friendly relations with the nation of Turkey and especially the Republic of Azarbaijan.

Iran and the Republic of Azarbaijan share common borders in land and in Caspian Sea. They both have common interests in the security of the region. While opposing the arbitrary rule and policies ofthe Islamic fundamentalists and the latter's aim in Iran for exporting its radical version of Islam, the people of Iran, at the same time, and equally so, will take a stance against Pan-Turkism, Pan-Turanism or for that matter, any form of secessionist movement aimed to disintegrate their motherland. No matter where it comes from, it would be considered as "psyop" - psychological operations and warfare - against the national security of Iran, against its territorial integrity and even more so against the collective will of the peace-loving patriotic People of Iran. The people of Iran are aware that the present precarious conditions are caused by the internal and external policies of ruling clerics. They are also simultaneously conscious about the vile activities of certain elements in encouraging and fomenting secessionist movements in Azarbaijan, Kurdistan, Baluchistan and Khuzistan and will not permit such ominous tunes of discord to materialize. In fact throughout history, these unswerving members of the Iranian community, have been the shining
armor against the Ashur, Macedonian, Arab, Mongol, Afghan and Turk incursions.

It must be emphatically pointed out to those who contemplate the disintegration oflran, that there are no Turks in Azarbaijan, neither are there any Arabs in Khuzistan. There are however, Iranian Azarbaijanis who speak Azari and Iranian Khuzistanis who converse in Arabic.

Iranian nation has managed in the past to preserve its territorial integrity against communist separatists who tried to disintegrate the country with support of the former Soviet Union. They defended Iran against the Iraqi incursion of 1980, and will do the same against any kind of anti-Iranian movement. Iranians also indicated in the last election that, the only remedy and path to salvation, in preventing economic collapse and disintegration is the removal of Mullahs from power.

We strongly believe that the answer to the problems is the termination oftheocratic system of Velayat-e-Fagih, and the formation ofa national democratic government. The answer, is the establishment of a truly democratic and representative government that will encourage the desire of all elements of the nation in shaping the destiny ofthe country. A government that can guarantee equality and justice for all and prepare the grounds for a meaningful participation of all the people irrespective of their ethnic, social and religious tendencies. A government that can win the " hearts and minds" of all its people to remove the sources of discontent and distrust in the country and restore peace, tranquillity, prosperity to Iran and stability to the volatile region. One thing is indeed certain that Azarbaijan, the land of Atoorpat and Zarathustra, the motherland ofBabak Khorram
Din, the cradle of Sattar Khan, Ahmad Kasravi, Hoseyn Behjat, Hassan Roshdiyeh, and Parvin E'tesami, shall always remain the shining armor ofIran.
The following souces are also consulted:

1) Ahmad Kasravi - Azari ya zaban bastan Azarbaigan 2) Siyavash Bashiri - Azar Azarbaigan

3) Hoseyn Ghoh Katebi - Zaban haye bastani Azarbaijan 4) Rahim Rayees Niya - Azarbaijan dar seyre tarikh e Iran 5) Ehsan Tabari - Kazhrahe

6) Nosratollah Jahanshahloo Afshar - Partow Iran Newsletter 7) Samad Sardariniya - Mashaheer Azarbaijan

8) Keith McLachlen - The boundaries of modern Iran 9) Jalal Matini - Iran Shenasi Magazine

10) Enayatollah Reza - Azarbaijan az kohan tarin ayyam to emrooz

 



 

 

 

 


 

 






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