Southern Azerbaijan: Soft Support to Iranian Opposition
Iranian opposition groups must demand improvements in the rights of national minorities if they want to see real change in Tehran and build a meaningful coalition that represents the whole population of Iran today.
Ethnic Azerbaijanis in Iran give mostly passive support to anti-government protests, a political scientist has said.
They will give stronger support, if the opposition pays attention to the problems of national minorities, Aslan Khalidi, an ethnic Azerbaijani and Iranian citizen, said in Baku today[2nd March], Interfax-Azerbaijan reported.
Ethnic Azerbaijanis make up a substantial minority of the population of Iran. Many of the Azerbaijanis live in northwestern Iran in the provinces of Ardabil, East Azerbaijan and West Azerbaijan. These areas are often dubbed Southern Azerbaijan, while the Azerbaijan Republic constitutes Northern Azerbaijan.
"The leaders of the Iranian opposition do not demand that the rights of national minorities be defended. The population of Southern Azerbaijan will join the protests only if the Iranian opposition talks directly about the violation of the rights of Iranian Azerbaijanis," Khalidi, who heads the Centre of Strategic Research of Azerbaijan, told a news conference in Baku on Friday.
He said that the population of South Azerbaijan, which different estimates put at between twenty and thirty million people, gave just passive support to the current protests in Iran.
Halidi said it was time to raise awareness about the problems of the Azerbaijani population of Iran.
"There is a need to bring the truth about the situation of the rights of Iranian Turks in Southern Azerbaijan, to raise this problem at the international level," he said.