14 April 2015
A football pitch in the Iranian city of Ahvaz, home to Iran’s Arab minority, has emerged as a flashpoint of anti-government protest, at a time of rising Arab-Iranian tensions over the status of Shi’a Muslim minorities in the Arab world, the crisis in Yemen, and the outlines of a multilateral agreement that would curb Iran’s nuclear program and return the Islamic republic to the fold of the international community.
Football fans clashed with security forces last Friday after a match between state-owned Foolad FC and Tehran’s Esteghlal FCin Ahwaz, the capital of the Iranian province of Khuzestan for the second time is as many weeks, according to the National Council of Resistance in Iran, a coalition of opposition groups dominated by the Mujahedeen-e-Khalq, a group that lost much of its credibility after it was expelled from France in 1986 and moved its operations to Iraq at a time that Iraq was at war with Iran.
The protest was sparked by mounting anger among ethnic Arabs in oil-rich but impoverished Khuzestan that constitutes part of Iran’s border with Iraq. Ethnic Arabs have long complained that the government has failed to reinvest profits to raise the region’s standards of living.
… James M. Dorsey is a Senior Fellow at the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies (RSIS), Nanyang Technological University in Singapore, co-director of the University of Würzburg’s Institute for Fan Culture, a syndicated columnist, and the author of The Turbulent World of Middle East Soccer.
RSIS / Online
Last updated on 15/04/2015