Iran Backgrounder – Sassanids to Jundallah

This is an old repost from the old blog from three years ago, but I edited it to make it up to date. It goes you a bit of a background into the religious Sunni-Shia conflicts in the region and how they tie in with the conflicts in the region today.
Most people do not realize that the famed Shah of Iran was actually a blood and soil, Persian supremacist, ethnic nationalist, primordialist, volkisch, fascist along the same lines as Hitler’s Nazis and Milosevic’s Serbs. Yet it is true – in fact, the Shah even formed an alliance with Nazi Germany.
The Nazis attempted to form all sorts of alliances with people they mistakenly regarded as genetic inferiors – including Bosnian Muslims, Palestinian and Iraqi Arabs, Ukrainian, White Russian, Latvian, Lithuanian and Estonian rightwing nationalists, Iranians and some of the upper-caste peoples of East India.
The East Indians, of course, are part of the original Aryans – the light-skinned invaders who descended from the steppes into India, Pakistan, Nepal, Bangladesh and Afghanistan at various times in the past 3,500 years. In India, they displaced the native Indians – the Dravidians or South Indians – and pushed them to South.
They also twisted the Hindu religion by adding on their casteism, which was apparently not present in the original pre-Aryan system. Originally, in the caste system, those at the top were the lightest-skinned and the lowest castes tended to be the darkest. It is interesting that over thousands of years the Brahmins have become progressively darker.
The Nazis were fascinated that these Brahmins regarded themselves as fellow Aryans and even sent researchers over to India to measure skulls and analyze the facial characteristics of statues and engage in other peculiarities of Nazi racial research. The Brahmin class of India has always returned the favor and many have long been supporters of Hitler, Nazism and fascism in general.
The fascinating article linked above deals with something that is little known to most Americans – a neat summary of many of the views expressed by what are best termed Iranian nationalists. Americans have no understanding at all of this ancient, proud culture.
The piece notes the Western deceit that modern nationalism began with the Treaty of Westphalia in 1600’s Europe, when the principle of inviolable national borders was first codified. In fact, this is a Western narcissistic view. Other nations, in particular Persians and Iranians, have a long history of what could be called nationalism, depending on how one defines the term, dating back maybe 2500 years to Cyrus the Great.
US idiots like George Bush and the council of clueless super-Zionist advisors whispering in his ear provoke this ancient culture at their peril.
The piece goes on to discuss the Minorities Question in modern Iran. Most people do not recognize that Persian and Iranian are not synonymous. Persian is an ethnic group, but Persians only constitute 51% of all Iranians. Azerbaijanis are a huge group in the northwest, constituting 23%.
US imperialism and Kurdish nationalism make much of Azerbaijanis supposed desire to break away from Iran, but there is not much truth to that. Those who say such things do not understand history. It is true that there is an Azerbaijani minority that invokes irredentism and wishes to break away from Iran and reunite with “northern Azerbaijan”, the independent state of Azerbaijan.
But the majority of Azerbaijanis have no desire to do such a thing. People do not understand that despite the racist Persian ethnic nationalism of the Shah, Azerbaijanis have typically ruled Iran for many centuries now. In fact the Supreme Jurisprudent Ayatollah Khameini is an Azerbaijani.
The Sassanid Empire was one of the most prominent empires in the world from 200-600, a rival to the Roman Empire. This culture, to many, represents the pinnacle of Iran’s power in the world. Its religion was Zoroastrianism and it was characterized by great tolerance towards religious minorities, especially Christians and Jews.
The Sassanids were defeated in the mid-650’s by invading Arab Muslim armies, many Iranians were put to the sword, and many Iranian nationalists have resented the resulting forced imposition of Islam ever since. According to these nationalists, there is a difference between those societies where Islam was “native” – supposedly Arab societies, and those where it was imposed by force – supposedly all non-Arab countries.
This greatly simplifies matters, and in many ways is false. For instance, Islam has deep roots in the Philippines, Thailand, Indonesia, Bangladesh, Muslim India, Eastern China, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan, Kyrgyzstan, Turkey, Albania, Kosova, Bosnia, the Caucasus and in Sub-Saharan Africa.
So the case of Iran is not generalizable. In most cases, where Islam conquered non-Arab lands, many of the natives converted and become passionate Muslims. In fact, some of the world’s most ferocious and fundamentalist Muslims have traditionally come from non-Arab lands like Afghanistan and Pakistan. But in Iran, something different happened: Islam ran up against Persian nationalism.
To understand the conflict between Iranian nationalism and Islam is essential to understanding modern Iranian culture. The Khomeinists have enraged Iranian nationalists by declaring wholesale war on Iranian nationalism. According to the mullahs, there is no need for Iranian nationalism since Islam supplants it. Iranian nationalists are often theologically diverse, secular, atheists, agnostics, or even Zoroastrians.
Even worse, the mullahs seem to have imposed a pro-Arabism on Iran. This is sure to infuriate Iranian nationalists. Iranian nationalists have always had a resentful and bigoted attitudes towards Arabs (and some towards Muslims – who they regard as having a barbaric Arab religion).
When you hear an Iranian nationalist hurl an insult like “lizard-eating Mohammadens”, this is the rage they are mining. It is the rage at a primitive culture of desert barbarian wanderers – so barbaric, in fact, that they “ate lizards” – that invaded the glorious, superior, Sassanid Zoroastrian Empire and destroyed it, supplanting it with inferior Arab Islamic culture and religion.
The mullahs have not only waged war on symbols of Iranian nationalism, but they have also tried to import Arab culture and language, much to the fury of Iranian nationalists. Since, to Islamic fundamentalists, Arabic is the language of Islam (a bigoted and irrational construct on its face), they tend to promote Arab culture and language over native culture and language.
This tends to produce friction between Islamic fundamentalists and non-Arab nationalists in the non-Arab parts of the Muslim World. For instance, it is often difficult to find a copy of the Koran in any language other than Arabic. And many non-Arab Muslims claim that Arabs, especially Gulf Arabs, look down on them and despise them when they go Mecca on hajj.
The Arab chauvinism in Islam has been a long-term hindrance to spread of the religion. Furthermore, for centuries after the conquest of Islam, the greatest Iranian poets, authors and scientists – beloved by all Iranian nationalists – were ordered to be killed by the fundamentalist Islamic morons ruling Islam at the time. Few of these heroes of Iranian culture were killed, but the fact that their deaths were even condoned stings.
It is important to note that Shia Islam was also imposed at the point of the sword sometime later and many Sunni Iranians were put to death.
The remains of this violent religious imposition can be seen today, when one notes that Sunni Islam (Iran is only about 75% Shia Muslim) continues to hold sway in the outliers of the Iranian state – in the desolate Balochi barrens of the southeast, in the northeast near Afghanistan, and in wild, mountainous Iranian Kurdistan in the northwest.
All of these parts of the Iranian state remain largely outside of the regime’s control, and Sunnis continue to complain, legitimately, of discrimination by Iranian Shia Muslims.
The rage between Iranians and Arabs is difficult for outsiders to fathom, but is essential to understanding the region. Sunni Islam is synonymous with Arab identity and nationalism, as Juan Cole astutely notes, in the same way that White Christianity is synonymous with American nationalism. Hence, the secularism of Arab nationalists has always been a bit of a lie.
The Arab masses and regimes are Sunni. Shia minorities have traditionally been suppressed in Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Yemen, Iraq, Pakistan, Afghanistan and even in Lebanon. This is the root of the Sunni-Shia conflict that rages ferociously in Iraq today.
See here for a particularly bigoted and insane example of Sunni Iraqi bigotry from the interesting blog of a secular Iraqi woman. Note that she ridiculously claims that Shia Islam was invented by the Iranians to destroy the Sunni Islamic civilization of the Arabs.
I realize that sounds like the ravings of a mentally ill person, but this is how many Sunni Muslims, especially Sunni Arabs from Mesopotamia, the Gulf and the Levant, regard Iran and Shiism.
When we understand this sick, crazy, racist hatred, we can understand why Saddam attacked Iran, and why he was supported in that war by all of the states in the Arab peninsula. We can understand why the secular King of Jordan intones darkly about a “Shia Belt” snaking ominously from Iran, across Iraq, to Syria and Southern Lebanon under Hizbollah control.
We can understand the insane, Nazi-like massacres of crowds of Shia civilians – men, women and children of all ages – in Iraq by both the Sunni Islamist guerrilla animals and Saddam’s secular, Shia-hating fascist Arab nationalists. We can understand why the government of Yemen launched a murderous war on the Zaidi Shia of northern Yemen, who constitute 40% of Yemen but are locked out of the state.
We can understand why the Sunni Muslim states of the Gulf are supporting the preliminary plans for a US attack on Iran, and why these states and the Iraqi Sunni-Nazi rebels will stand up and cheer till they can’t talk if the US invades Iran. We can understand why the viciously racist Sunni Arab bigots of Iraq intone darkly, “We will never be ruled by the blackhats (the Shia)”.
While the Arab attitude towards Iran and the Shia has always been one of sheer, Nazi-like racist hatred, the Iranian attitude towards Arabs has tended to be one of the disdain of a supposedly superior people for a supposedly inferior one.
I have droned on enough on this subject, and we need to move on to the rest of the post. If you wish to dive into this fascinating matter further, click the link above and take a crash course in Iranian history, the minorities of Iran and modern-day Iranian nationalism. I hope you enjoyed this excursion.
Jundallah is an Al Qaeda oriented outfit has its origins in the Sunni population of the Iranian province of Sistan-Balochistan.
The Sunnis here complain of discrimination and ethnic cleansing by Iranian Shia officials, charges which have a basis in fact. There are suggestions that Jundallah may be based over the border in Afghanistan, possibly in the wild deserts of Nawruz Province. Clearly, Jundallah has a safe haven in the area where Pakistan, Iran and Afghanistan all come together. This is one of the more dangerous places on Earth.
Travelers heading there are advised to take a bodyguard, or preferably several bodyguards. None of the three governments in the region have much control over this area. It is overrun with drug traffickers (usually smuggling heroin or opium), who travel in large, very heavily-armed convoys.
They periodically fight it out with Iranian troops. Iranian troops have lost an incredible figure of hundreds of troops in just a few years fighting running battles in this border region with drug traffickers. Jundallah has links to Al Qaeda.
Iranian officials say that Jundallah is the arm of Al Qaeda inside Iran, and they say that Jundallah leader Abdolmalek Rigi is bin Laden’s right hand man in Iran. That is probably correct.
In 2006, Syrian officials arrested dozens of leaders of the various Shia Arab Ahwaz fronts who are waging guerrilla war in Iran’s oil-rich Ahwaz Province. I cannot support this struggle, which is simply designed to steal much of Iran’s oil wealth. However, the Arabs in this region fought bravely in the Iran-Iraq War and suffered heavy casualties.
They complain that they do not see much of the oil wealth in this region. The area was heavily damaged in the war, and the Iranian government hasn’t even rebuilt it very much. The Arabs also complain of discrimination. There is some truth to all of this, but one of Iran’s top military leaders is an Ahwaz Arab.
If Iran had any sense, they would institute affirmative action to hire Ahwaz Arabs, rebuild the Ahwaz region and let the area see much more of their present share of the wealth. This conflict has always been fed by Arab nationalist fascists like the Baath fascists in Iraq, whose hatred of Iran borders on the insane and pathological.
Furthermore, for the past few years, US and British Special Forces and intelligence are in the region assisting the insurgency. By arresting most of the top leaders of the insurgency, Syria is spitting in the eyes of Arab nationalist bigots all over the Arab World, and is throwing its lot in with Shia solidarity (Syria is ruled by a Shia sect) and Syria’s alliance with Iran.
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4 thoughts on “Iran Backgrounder – Sassanids to Jundallah”

    1. Yes and if you tell them that they are White just like Europeans they eagerly agree and nod their heads. They really do think of themselves as some kind of Europeans outside of Europe.

  1. According to Robert Fisk’s book “The Great War for Civilization” the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem ( a card carrying pro-Nazi) was totally convinced that the Nazis looked at him and fellow Arabs as inferiors, and that they would start on them when they were finished with the Jews.

    1. That’s really interesting! I’ve never heard that the Nazis had much to say racially about the Arabs. They just sort of avoided the topic altogether. I like to take the position that at least the White Arabs and White Berbers are White. One reason I like to say that is because it makes WN’s totally insane. Haha.

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