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Not just one letter

When I was a kid all the books on Iran & Iraq would note that the difference between the two nations wasn’t just a letter. Kind of funny now that the American government is wondering about Iran’s role in looking the other way as Al Qaeda crossed its territory. Randall has a long post ruminating over the Iran situation. I don’t spend many cycles thinking about international policy or reading much about it, and frankly I find the likes of Hanson & Ledeen as predictive as the columnists over at ESPN, but the latter are more entertaining. But let’s compare Iraq and Iran for a moment….

 IraqIran
Shia65%90%
Sunni35%10%
Arab75%5%
Kurd20%5%
Turkic5%30%
Persian50%
Population       25 million70 million

Yes, I’ve rounded and simplified (putting Azeris into the ‘Turkic’ category like Iraq’s Turkoman). Both countries dispaly ‘ethnic diversity.’ But there is a difference, Iran is basically a Shia nation. I emphasize the term nation, because as everyone is now aware, Iraq is a quasi-nation. Now, Iran is no France or Germany, and the ‘ethnic differences’ between the various groups are not clear cut & fluid. But Azeris (most of the ‘Turkic’ element in Iran) have a big stake in the country, and the Safavid dynasty which made Iran a Shia nation in the 16th century was Turkic in origin, not Persian. Like Turkey, Iran was not cobbled together by European powers, rather, its nationhood was given more focus by the expansion of Western powers. Posted by razib at 01:09 AM

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