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Reader comment on item: Did the CIA Fiddle With Population Statistics about Iran?

Submitted by Eldad J. pardo (Israel), Jan 5, 2015 at 17:12

Dear Daniel

A similar thought to Daniel Pipes' argument did cross my mind when I surprisingly discovered that the number of home Persian-speakers in Iran rose to 61 percent on the CIA WF. My interpretation was that the Gilaki and Mazandarani languages—both close to Persian—had been added to the Persian speakers. This may have been a professional decision, albeit suspicious. What is more suspicious is the diminishing of the Azeri-speakers (24 to 16 percent!), Iran's main concern. Their percentage has been added to neighbors, Kurds and Luris.

Kurdish is an Iranian language and it seems that history aside, Iran is not really afraid of its Kurds partly because it has a clout over them via Iraqi Kurdistan. Presenting a large number of Kurds serves as a message to the Iran's Azerbaijanis that they have a demographic challenge at home. Luri is also close to Persian and the Lurs are small in numbers so they never pose a real danger to the unity of Iran. Turkmen and Baloch are dangerous—the latter nowadays the former in the past—yet remain small in size. Diminishing Arabs is interesting since the Arabs are a source of concern (terror and history). Interestingly Taleshis are not mentioned (They should be around 1 percent, or a little less than a million).

Part of Gilan, with Taleshi population, was added to the new province of Ardabil, which had been created to further divide the Iranian Azerbaijanis in 1993 by splitting East Azerbaijan Province and giving it a neutral name. I read recently that some Taleshis collaborated with ISIS in Iraq against Iranian forces. Some of the Taleshis are Sunnis.

But, one could also think that the CIA wants to signal to Iran that they do not have a real internal problem and hence be more flexible. Or the way you describe it, to please the Iranian regime. Or just a mistake.

Eldad Pardo

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