Iran's Ethnic Factions Threaten to Split the State
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Focus on the American hostage crisis obscures the fact that no facet of the conflict in Iran is likely to affect the post-crisis political environment more fundamentally than unrest and militancy among the state's ethnic minorities. This oversight ignores many of the ethnic differences among the sizable minorities in Iran. The dominant Persian majority is rapidly losing its ability to control events along Iran's periphery, which is inhabited primarily by non-Persians. Ethnic minorities have seized the opportunities resulting from chaos at the center to advance a variety of local demands. This paper addresses the present state of disarray. The Iran that emerges will logically contain not one center of power, but several, thereby confronting policymakers with a complex international dilemma that they should have addressed long ago and for which they should have formulated sensible policies and contingency plans.
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