An American politician is trying to stir up inter-ethnic tension in Iran. His initiative runs a great risk of stoking conflict between Azerbaijan and Iran.
Dana Rohrabacher, a Republican member of Congress from California, introduced a resolution in September calling for the self-determination of the Azeri people, who are "currently divided between the Republic of Azerbaijan and the Islamic Republic of Iran." The resolution failed to attract a single co-sponsor, and even if it did, it would not have been binding for the Obama administration.
Still, some Azeri nationalists in Baku and a few leaders of the Iranian-Azerbaijani diaspora greeted this initiative as an important milestone for their cause. Some even hope that in the event the Republican candidate Mitt Romney wins the US presidential election on November 6, support for the self-determination of different ethnic groups in Iran could become part of a more aggressive US policy toward the Islamic Republic.
These hopes are misguided, since initiatives like Rohrabacher's are more likely to do harm to Iranian Azeris than benefit them.
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Eldar Mamedov is a political adviser to the Socialists & Democrats Group in the European Parliament, who writes in his personal capacity.