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Balochistan Smugglers’ Protests

Iran succumbs to trauma and demons

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  31 forum posts

Recent clashes in the Iranian province of Sistan and Balochistan highlight Iran’s vulnerabilities as well as its inability to overcome trauma and control its demons.

The clashes sparked by a crackdown on cross border fuel smuggling to neighbouring Pakistan achieved what past U.S. and Saudi machinations failed to accomplish: ethnic unrest in a strategic, impoverished and long restive majority Sunni province in predominantly Shiite Iran.

The clashes in February erupted after Iranian Revolutionary Guards killed two smugglers, prompting protesters to storm the governor’s office in the city of Saravan and burn police cars. Security forces dispersed crowds with tear gas, closed off roads and temporarily shut down Internet connections to prevent the protests from spreading.

True to form, the Guards denied responsibility.

Tasnim News Agency, a privately owned news outlet with close ties to the Guards, reported that the shots that killed the smugglers had been fired from the Pakistani province of Baluchistan. Tasnim reported several attacks in the days before and after the clashes that targeted the Guards as well as Intelligence Ministry officials in Sistan and Balochistan.

The Guards’ response constitutes more than a tired effort to evade responsibility. It is rooted in a deep-seated belief that Iran’s foremost enemies, the United States and Saudi Arabia, are bent on overthrowing the regime in Tehran and have repeatedly attempted to foment unrest using Pakistani Baluchistan as a launching pad.

While Iran has reason to fear attempts to destabilize the country, it often fails to separate the wheat from the chafe. As a result, the government frequently responds to crises in ways that threaten to aggravate rather than solve problems.

The Guards’ assertion that the shots were fired from Pakistan suggests that an investigation into the incident announced by the foreign ministry is unlikely to draw a different conclusion.

A precarious calm has returned to Sistan and Balochistan with the help of a prominent local Sunni cleric, Shaikh Abdolhamid Ismaeelzahi, who used the opportunity to call on the government to apply the law and tackle the region’s social and economic problems.

Seemingly rejecting the Guards’ version of events, Mr. Ismaeelzahi insisted that “the officers who made mistakes should be punished according to the law.”

The Guard’s version was also countered by the province’s deputy governor, Mohamad Hadi Marashi, who asserted that security forces “were forced to resort to shooting” because their “honour” was at risk due to fuel porters’ “attempts to enter the [Guards’] base”, stone-throwing, and other “destructive actions”. Mr. Ismaeelzahi went on to say that the “selling of fuel is not a crime or smuggling, rather it’s one of the means of income through which thousands of families make a living […] Governments have a duty to plan for the sustenance of people so that no one is forced to choose hazardous jobs.”

For residents of Sistan and Balochistan, one of Iran’s provinces with the highest rate of unemployment, smuggling is often the only way to put bread on the table. Anger has been mounting at the killing of scores of smugglers each year by security forces.

Some 120 people, many believed to be Baloch nationalists, are on death row in the central prison of the provincial capital of Zahedan. Five have been executed since January. The risk smugglers run is enhanced by the fact that Baloch nationalists operating from Pakistan have repeatedly launched attacks on the Iranian side of the border. Iran boasts some of the world’s lowest gas prices.

Iranian authorities had hoped that fuel hikes in November 2019 that sparked mass anti-government protests in which at least 225 people were killed by security forces would dampen the incentive for smuggling. Officials and smugglers say it did not.

"Increasing the price of gasoline does not affect fuel smuggling because the main fuel that is transported is diesel”, said Ahmed, a smuggler. “When I sit behind the wheel of a van full of diesel, I feel like I am carrying a big bomb, but I have no other way of escaping unemployment and earning a living.”

Iranian concerns about the porous border with Pakistan are not unfounded. Senior U.S. and Saudi officials played in 2017 publicly with the idea of pressuring Iran by supporting potential unrest among Iranian ethnic minorities, including Balochis, who straddle both sides of the Iranian-Pakistan border.

Pakistani militants asserted at the time that Saudi funds were pouring into religious seminaries in Balochistan that were operated by anti-Shia and anti-Iranian groups.

Intermittent efforts to foster unrest in Iran using Pakistani Baluchistan as a base date back to the presidency of George W. Bush.

Men like Mr. Ismaeelzahi suggest that investment in cross-border trade would serve to pacify Iran’s restive southeast, improve standards of living, and allow Iran to circumvent U.S. sanctions. “Borders are important potentials. Our country has a wide border with some Arab countries in the southeast by sea and it shares borders with Afghanistan and Pakistan by land […] Exchange of goods at borders is one of the most important ways of living and employing for people”, Mr. Ismaeelzahi said.

Acting on his advice would require Iranian authorities to expand their fixation on border security to include human security. That would mean adopting a prism that is not exclusively framed by concern about real and imagined external plots and machinations.

With the government preoccupied with a tug of war with U.S. President Joe Biden about who goes first in reviving the moribund 2015 international agreement that curbed Iran’s nuclear program and elections scheduled in the next months, that is likely to prove a tall order. ■

  Forum posts

  • جنگ هفتاد و دو ملت همه را بشاش بهش، با این آهنگ بلوچی حال کن:


  • این هم یکی دیگه:


    نوش جان

  • The Paks would be really stupid to want to use the Balochs against Iran (the Paks are stupid, by the way). It’s a double-edged sword. Pakistan has much more to fear from the Balochs than Iran.

  • There is no Pakistani, no Iranian, no Baloch, no Saudi. There is only Muslims and non Muslims. All musliman belongs to the same Nation: the Nation of Allah. So, rather than wage war against each other we must unite and fight against the devil which is India. India is the enemy. In India, people worship cows, idols, monkeys, etc.

  • They even drink their cow’s urine.

  • I am Muslim and very religious but I would never drink from the same cup a Paki used.

  • You Indian, Pakistani, Afghan…

    This article is about Iran. Go somewhere else to fight each other!

  • این مزخرفات رو دقیقا روی سایت مجاهدین خوندم. معلوم میشه که این سایت و مجاهدین از یک جا تغذیه میشند که اون هم ابن سعود خوار کسده است که میخواد با دلارهاش ایران رو نابود کنه. مردم به این چرندیات گوش نکنید. در بلوچستان جنگ با مردم نیست. جنگ با قاچاقچی است. این بابا چونکه اسم غربی داره دلیل نمیشه که حرفش آیه قرآن اه. الان نزدیک انتخاباته می خوان تفرقه بیاندازند

  • @Zafar Shah

    Personally, I prefer people who drink the cow’s urine to those who cut the throats of innocent people in the street.

  • Poverty in Pakistani Balochistan:

    The incidence of poverty in Balochistan is higher than the other provinces [of Pakistan}. Despite the fact that it is endowed with gas coal and other natural resources, yet it is the poorest province of Pakistan. The poverty rate of Balochistan has increased from 40% to 68% during the three months lockdown the number of people on the poverty line were initially 800,000. Poverty in the province can be the caused for several factors, for instance illitrecy education and low human capital. The backwardness can supreme the province. The people have run out of the facilities and job opportunities. Law and order have also aggravated the province with poverty nonetheless poverty has affected the whole sector of the province but no stern action has been taken by the government of Pakistan. The people in balochistan are facing devastating concequences and are even deprived of their basic needs for the present government the aggravateing poverty should be the major challenge. It must take step for supporting the reducing their vulnerability and saving them from disasters.

  • Iran has a real ethnic problem. Between the Baluchis, the Kurds, the Arabs, the Turkmens... how are they going to handle it. I think Iran is going to fall apart, a bit like Lebanon.

  • We should arm the Baloch to destroy Pakistan and Iran at the same time. But sleepy Biden, he will save both Iran and Pakistan.

  • The Middle East is complicated. So many ethnicities, so much hatred. We should isolate ourselves from their continuing violence instead of integrating them into a monolithic world.

  • وحید خان ملوس،

    آدم حسابی که نمیره سایت مجاهدین رو بخونه. اینو بطور کلّی میگم، منظور شخصی ندارم.

    مطلب دیگه اینکه آدم حسابی آدم گشنه رو داوری نمیکنه. یه پیت بنزین از اینور مرز به اونور مرز بردن رو با قاچاق هروئین که نمیشه مقایسه کرد. تو به اون بلوچ بیچاره نون و آب بده، مرض نداره که بنیزن «قاچاق» کنه.

    مطلب آخر اینکه کی دیگه انتخابات رو جدّی میگیره؟

  • Baloch Republican Army (BRA), also known as Balochistan Republican Army:

    Baloch Republican Army is a Baloch nationalist armed militant group that seeks an independent homeland for the Baloch people, based in Balochistan. The organization was formed in 2006. B.R.A is involved in terrorist activities against the Pakistan Army. Baloch Republican Army conducts conventional and unconventional battles against Pakistan Army and mostly operates through guerrilla tactics such as ambush, sabotage and hit and run activities. The prime targets of the Baloch Republican Army are the Security Forces of Pakistan and their installations including headquarters, check-posts and outposts, convoys, offices and personnel; state machinery and infrastructure including railway lines, communication system, gas pipelines, wells and plants, electricity pylons and any other system.

  • Message to webmasters: Please change your Persian/Farsi font. It’s too small. We cannot read it.

  • The real Baluchis are Iranian. In Pakistan, they mixed with Indians, but before the British came, Baluchistan was always part of Iran.

  • If Pakistani Balochistan is poor, it’ s because the Baloch are a lazy people. They prefer any illegal activity to regular work. In Pakistan there is plenty of jobs, no one can deny that. But you have to take the effort to seek it. We are not going to put bread in people’s mouths.

  • Zafar Shah said: " In Pakistan there is plenty of jobs" .Only a Paki can say such dumb things and not feel ridiculous. But you morons, you would wax the toilets of the Emiratis for 2 rupees a day because there is so much unemployment in your shitty country.

  • نمیگم در سیستان و بلوچستان فقر نیست. ولی کجای ایران فقر نیست؟ مسئله بلوچ و کرد و عرب و سنّی و اینها نیست. مسئله یک دولت غارتگر است که همه را به بدبختی کشانده. روشن است که درد بلوچ درد همه مردم ایران است. کشور را دو دستی به دشمن سپردیم دیگر نمی توانیم پس بگیریم. تقصیر پدران و مادرانمان است که انقلاب کردند و نسل ما را به روز سیاه کشاندند.

  • Some idiot said: "Message to webmasters: Please change your Persian/Farsi font. It’s too small. We cannot read it."

    Why the fuck are you writing in your shitty writing on an English website?

  • What is happening in Iran is that country is imploding, as are many countries in the 3rd World. In fact, all 3rd W countries that I can think of are imploding. And China is NOT an exception. What you see happening in Iran or Pakistan or Central Asia, they’re all imploding and in my view, they will all fall apart into tribal pieces, which means that there is a huge, huge humanitarian crisis that we are looking forward to, not in the very far future.

  • In general, Iranians are protesting against inflation, not against religious fanaticism. Inflation has been increasing and the problem with irrational people is that they think that believing more in Islam or believing more in tribalism, or investing more in military hardware, would somehow make up for this inflation, would somehow make them richer despite inflation. They don’t understand that fanaticism and too much focus on the military actually leads to even more inflation.

  • Which one is the poorest, Iranian Balochistan or Paki Balochistan?

  • It sucks to be a regular Iranian. But the "mahdi" (the hidden Imam) will save us.

  • The purpose of the Islamic revolution led by Ayatollah Khomeini was, among other things, to abolish tribalism and to create a nation-state based not on atheism as in the Western world, but on Islam, the most advanced belief on Earth. In this new Iran, there would be no Baluchis, no Kurds, no Arabs, no Armenians... but only Shiite Muslims, as in France, where after the revolution of 1789, everyone became a "citizen". In all modern countries, there is only one constitution. There is not a single country with two or more constitutions. Yet the constitution of a Muslim country is the Sharia, and Iran, as a Shia country, is governed according to this belief. So the culprits are all those so-called minorities who refuse to integrate into the Iranian nation.

  • Yhis guy, "DR" Tabatabaee is crazy. Don’t listen to him. As an Iranian I can assure you that no one believes in this bullshit anymore for a long, long time.

  • به این آقای دکتر طباطبائی باید جایزه نوبل فلسفه و فیزیک-شیمی داد که تونسته در تنها یک پاراگراف این همه کوس وشعر بگنجونه. بگمانم بعد از یک بست تریاک اینارو نوشته. معلوم هم هست ایران زندگی نمیکنه و اقلا سی چهل ساله که نرفته ببینه. خود خامنه ایش هم جرعت نمیکنه اینجوری بنویسه که مبادا مسخرش نکنن.

  • Your comment is one of the brightest I have ever read on the internet. I have also read other comments from you on other pages of this site. Islam needs wise and knowledgeable people like you to confront the mainstream media dominated by christian countries. You should post your personal website address or Facebook page here so that everyone can benefit from your insight.

  • Dear "Mr." Tabatabee (we don’t know if you are really a Doctor!),

    If I were you, I would cry when silly guy like this Aurangzeb praises me. If he has liked your comments, then you are probably on the same level as him. But keep writing, it’s great fun, everyone here will be entertained.

  • Why did the Pakistani cook get fired?

    He could only cook eggs Sunni side up and, honestly, they tasted like Shi’ite.

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