March 21, 2013
An article from Time Magazine published in 2009 accurately describes the ethnic makeup in Iran, and the conflicts that occurred during the last election year. In late 2009, only a few months after the presidential elections, there was a suicide bomber who killed 42 people in the Southern province of Sistan-Baluchistan. The Iranian government attempted to blame outside forces, such as the U.S. or Pakistan, but an ethnic group called the Baluch took responsibility for the attack. The goal of the attack was to kill officers of the Revolutionary Guard Corps. The attack was successful in killing five members, and there were also thirty-seven civilian casualties.
Iran is a country that has a majority Persian population. Fifty-one percent of its population is Persian therefore; they are able to hold the majority of political seats. However, there are many ethnic groups that represent a significant portion of Iran’s population, and the Baluch are one such group. They represent nine percent of the population. These ethnic groups at times have felt oppressed by the government. They feel as if they are not properly represented in the government, and this is where the conflict arose.
It is important to look at these types of ethnic conflicts in Iran, because at times ethnic conflicts can lead to political violence. Erik Cederman argues that ethnicity can be a cause of civil war. When groups feel under represented they will either fight for better representation in their states government, or if they have enough resources they will fight to be separate from the state altogether. However, if there are many ethnic groups fighting then many civil wars could potentially break out, which would increase instability in the region.
It is important for the Iranian government to remember this conflict, especially since they have elections this upcoming summer. If the various ethnic groups within the state feel as though the results of the elections do not portray their interests, more conflicts such as the suicide bombing are likely to occur. The international community should keep informed on the state of Iran because they are looking to become a nuclear power. If there is internal instability in the region then security on the nuclear materials could be lacking and there is a higher probability of them being stolen. It is dangerous for a any nuclear state to have political unrest.
Source: Robert Baer. Time Magazine. October 21,2009