Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Question 6: How are other Muslim/Arab countries in the middle east seen by Iran?

...(allies - opponents)?

Thanks to reader Phillip for the great question. I cannot answer this authoritatively. All I can say is that for the most part, the Iranians I met do not like to see themselves as part of the Arab world. They are fairly racist against Arabs, claiming that the Arabs have no culture.

The Arabs I met in Iran also seemed to find Iranian culture foreign and odd. "This is not an Islamic country," they would tell me. "Every Iranian party has alcohol. At private parties, the women remove their hijab!" Yep.

An Ahwazi Arab-Iranian told me that during the Iran-Iraq war he dreaded hearing the propoganda from both sides. The Iranians, he told me, claimed that the Arabs were dirty and blood-thirsty and the Arabs claimed the same thing about the Persians.

After an earthquake in a Sunni-dominated area, the Iranian government refused to accept aid from many of the Sunni Arab countries. Why? They were afraid that the aid would come with radical ideas and were afraid of the radicalization of the Sunni population. This angered the local population because they felt that they were being denied help... but it did not radicalize them.

I think relations among Iran and the Arab/Muslim world are very delicate. The alliances that exist are not very strong. I have actually heard people in Iran argue that they would be better off forming an alliance with Israel. (Not that we will see anything of the sort anytime soon).

Some references:

The Persian Gulf States

(I hope to add more as I find them. If readers have suggestions, please add them. Thanks)


Philipp said...

thnx a lot for your time answering & the insights you deliver!

christopher said...

the iranian-israeli alliance is fascinating to contemplate.

obviously, right now it seems like one of the looniest, over the moon ideas one could think of. but they're are historical links aren't there?

here are some other musings on the subject;

and ironically, there are some who have written that america has a more strategic ally in iran than we do in israel.

talk about shuffling the deck!

Esther said...

That was an interesting article Christopher. Thanks.

Phillip, I wish I had more insights to share... I think your question is really key to understanding the region. I am sure there are people out there who know a hellva lot about this topic. I hope that some of them will find this post and point us in the direction of more information.

Marie said...

Esther, my understanding is that Iranians feel that the Arabs had no culture until they invaded Iran ...then from Persia they continued to spread Islam and with it the art the West calls 'Arabesque'. The Iranian language is not semitic but Indo-European in origin. Iranians comprise several different racial groups, and long before Islam came to Arabia, Iranians enjoyed their own monotheistic religion, Zoroastrianism. I think many Iranians are quite aware of these things and their unique heritage, no? To my mind, the Arabian countries and Iran are not natural allies.

Matt said...

Interesting, thanks for answering, Esther!