Iran Recent History

Iran is a country of ancient civilization. The Persians, belonging to the Indo-European lineage, had settled in the Iranian plateau in remote times, together with other peoples who were then subjected by them.

The first information on the town dates back to an Assyrian inscription from the 9th century BC. But the real history of Persia dates back to the 6th century BC and is divided into two major periods: the first goes from the time of Cyrus the Great to the year 651 after Christ, and the second from the year 651 to current years.

Cyrus, founder of the Persian empire, became king of Persia in 558 BC. At first he united all the scattered Persian tribes in a single state and then set off to conquer the Empire of the Medes and in 538 seized the empire of Babylon. With this he completed the work of unification of all the populations of western Asia and formed a vast empire.

According to Abbreviationfinder, an acronym site which also features history of Iran, Cyrus was a wise and generous ruler and respected the customs and habits of all the peoples unified by him. It allowed the Jews, who had been brought into slavery to Babylon, to return to Palestine and freely practice their religion. The Greek colonies of Asia Minor also wanted to pay homage to their submission to Cyrus whom they called “the king of the world”.

When Cyrus died in 529 BC, his son Cambyses ascended the throne; he continued to empower the Persian empire, also conquering Egypt and Cyrenaica, but had no luck in his expedition for the conquest of Ethiopia. He died in 522 BC and was succeeded by his son Darius.

He enlarged the empire even further by extending the borders to India. However, after consolidating peace throughout the empire, he began the organization and divided it into provinces, which were called “satrapìe”, from the name of their governors who called themselves “satraps”.

Then he took care to encourage relations and trade between all peoples, then he built many roads for communication and new gold and silver coins for exchanges. One of the longest roads was the 2400 km long one. which connected Susa, now Sush, with Sardi, near today’s Smyrna.

Iran Recent History

But Darius was especially famous for his military expedition conducted against Greece. He attributed the responsibility of some revolts, which took place among the peoples of Asia Minor, to the city of Athens. He therefore wanted to punish her and prepared a large army and landed him in the Marathon Bay, 42 km away. from Athens, where in the year 490 BC there was a clash with the Greek army headed by Miltiades. And Dario was defeated. Several times also Xerxes, successor of Darius, tried to subdue the Greeks, but the attempts were in vain, indeed they marked the beginning of the decadence which was complete under Darius III (330 BC), when Alexander the Great conquered the whole country. Xerxes died assassinated in 465 BC. On the death of Alexander the Great, which occurred in 323 BC, with the fall of the Macedonian monarchy,

In the third and fourth centuries Persia was continually fighting against the Turks, the Arabs, the Romans and the Byzantines; then it reached maximum power under Cosroe I. Shortly after the Sassanid empire it was overwhelmed by the Arabs and Persia became part of the Caliphate and embraced Islamism, gradually abandoning the ancient religion of Zoroaster, that is Mazdeism.

In the 11th century it was conquered by the Seljuk Turks; these were driven out by the Mongols who dominated the country until Ismail Safi first assumed the title of Shah in the year 1502 and joined several of the scattered properties of the kingdom. Thus began the New Persian Kingdom, under the Safavid dynasty, who held the throne for 150 years, consolidating the state and defending it from the Turks, the Russians, the Afghans, while British penetration began.

After a period of serious troubles, Aga Mohammed founded the Cagiari dynasty in 1794, under which Persia openly became a matter of contention between Russia and Great Britain. It had to cede the provinces between the Caspian and the Black Sea to Russia: that is, Scirvan and Dagestan in 1812 and Armenia in 1828. After this loss, Persia became increasingly dependent on Russia. In 1906 the Shah Muzaffer-ed-Din granted a constitution. But after he died, his reactionary successor Mohammed Ali withdrew it, causing the civil war in July 1909.

During the First World War Persia was subject to Turkish and Russian raids, and ended up falling under British protection completely.

After the war, she did not immediately enjoy peace, troubled by conflicting aims, until she was forced to conclude a treaty with the Soviet Union on February 26, 1921, while Americans and British hunted oil concessions.

In 1925, after a long revolution, Shah Reza Pahlevi was crowned, first ruler of the Pahlevi dynasty. Reformed the Constitution, the name of Persia was replaced by that of Iran.

In 1941 the country was invaded by British and Soviet forces, and from September of the same year all sovereign prerogatives and the same independence remained suspended. These were reestablished at the end of the Second World War, after which a strongly nationalist political current, opposed to England, which in Iran had huge interests in the oil industry, was established in Iran.

In 1950 after a series of agreements with the United States and the Soviet Union, Parliament refused to ratify an agreement for new concessions to the Anglo-Iranian Oil Company, and subsequently proclaimed the nationalization of the oil industries in March 1951.

The issue, of evident worldwide importance, given the size of the economic and political interests it invested, degenerated into a bitter controversy in which the Iranian point of view, uncompromisingly supported by the Minister of the Shah, Mossadeq, became the expression of the insurgent national spirit for the independence, sovereignty and dignity of the country.

The attempts at mediation and conciliation by the International Court of The Hague, and by the American envoy Averell Harriman, in July 1951, the interminable conversations between the two sides, the same threats from the British Navy, did not prevent the breakdown of the Anglo-Iranian negotiations, i.e. the removal of Great Britain from the most important part of the Middle East.

On 3 October of the same year the evacuation of the British from Abadan took place. In November Iran entered into an agreement with Egypt while formally denouncing the treaty with Britain.

After a brief government crisis, accompanied by serious riots, Mossadeq obtained full powers for 6 months and taking advantage of the difficulties created by the Egyptian revolution in Great Britain, he stiffened into a position of absolute intransigence, despite the economic conflict Persian received incalculable damage, canceling the British blockade any possibility of exporting large stocks of oil and thus paralyzing production.

This resulted in a break between Mossadeq, who had become little less than a dictator, and the Shah; on August 16, 1953, he dismissed the premier and gave the government to Fazollah Zahedi; but Mossadeq reacted violently and provoked a revolt that forced the Shah and his wife Soraya to leave Iran, while a part of the people asked for the proclamation of the Republic.

Zahedi managed, however, within a few days, with the support of the army, to dominate the situation, to capture Mossadeq and ensure the return of the Shah.

The new Zahedi government, while incriminating Mossadeq, however, seemed to maintain the same position towards Britain as its predecessor.

On 5 December 1953 relations with Great Britain were re-established so that negotiations for oil could be resumed. On August 5, 1954, an agreement was signed for the formation of a National Consortium which included the so-called “seven sisters”, ie the seven richest oil companies in the world.

After the fall of Mossadeq, Iran applied a decidedly pro-western policy, so that American military aid could also return. Then the government joined the Baghdad Pact of October 12, 1955 together with Turkey, Pakistan and Great Britain.

Meanwhile, on April 6, 1955, General Zahedi had resigned. For a short time he was succeeded by Hussein Ala, ex premier, and on April 3, 1957 Manuchehr Eqbal took over. On March 5, 1959 Iran signed a bilateral mutual defense pact with the United States that provoked violent grievances by the Soviet Union, to the great detriment of relations between the two countries.

In 1960 an Association of Oil Producers was formed. On March 20, 1972, the National Iranian Oil Company took over the direct management of the oil basins, removing it from foreign companies which had already replaced the Anglo-Iranian Oil Company since 1954.

In foreign policy, the Shah Mohammed Reza, more politically secure than in the past, also wanted to maintain good relations with China and the Soviet Union, while declaring himself closer to the American-type world bloc. On the other hand, relations with Iraq were not good, also for reasons of borders, and when it was necessary to send Iranian troops to the borders with Oman, starting from 1974, these could optimally support hostilities because they were armed with armaments procured by the United States., the best existing in the whole Middle East, excluding Israel.

Many reforms were made, even as far as the dating of the Persian New Year was concerned. The years were counted again not according to Hegira but according to the foundation of the empire by Cyrus the Great. In honor of the latter, for the 25th centenary of the foundation of the empire, huge celebrations were held which did not take Islamic culture into consideration. And this is also to break the rigid Islamic extremism, which is excessively conservative, a little.

Instead, education, the dissemination of the press was promoted and many universities were founded. Paradoxically, it was the student class that wanted to contest the innovations brought about by the shah government, which somehow attempted to modernize the state. And the protests were always repressed; the single party applied, with the suppression of all opposition, until this absolute lack of freedom, in August 1978 provoked a people’s revolt, certainly led by Ayatollah Khomeini, who had long been in exile in Paris.

The Shah, with the intention of quelling the revolt, had moderate Bakhtiar intervene in the government. But the people’s fury was unstoppable and the shah Reza Pahlevi was forced to flee to the United States with the whole family on January 16, 1979.

On the following February 1st Khomeini returned to his homeland, called a new prime minister, Bazargan, to the government and on February 12th proclaimed the Islamic Republic. In reality, the power was managed by an Islamic Revolutionary Council, designated by Khomeini himself who, with the new Constitution, was awarded the post of life of religious “guide” of the country.

As the situation evolved, ethnic conflicts occurred as minorities, for example the Kurds, having contributed to the Islamic revolution, claimed their autonomy. The repressions were just as harsh as the previous ones. Iran then came to the attention of the whole world in November 1979 when 50 American citizens, officials of the U.S. Embassy in Tehran, were taken hostage. In April 1980 the United States attempted a blitz to free them, but this failed and it was necessary to wait until 1981 for the hostages to be freed. The counterpart was a thawing of Iranian bank deposits in the United States.

When economic sanctions were imposed not only by the United States, but also by Japan and the European Economic Community, Iraq took advantage of the moment to bring back a question of borders with Iran. A conflict arose which soon became open war.

Meanwhile, the president of the republic, Bani Sadr, was being de-authored and, after a brief phase in which Raga-I was president, who died in an attack, in October 1981 Ali Hamene-I was elected.

All internal protests were severely quelled and in 1983 the Tudè Communist Party, formerly a friend of the regime, was dissolved and all its representatives were sentenced to death. Thus relations with the Soviet Union deteriorated while those with the West were gradually regularized, dictated above all by the need to have war supplies mainly of European and American manufacture, which had already been in use for some time by the army.

In August 1985 the incumbent president was reconfirmed. Three years later, following the unfortunate events of the war against Iraq, Iran was forced to accept the United Nations Security Council resolution, which called for the cessation of hostilities. Peace negotiations began amid a thousand difficulties.

In February 1989 another case brought Iran’s Islamic intransigence to the attention of the world. A British writer, of Indian origin, S. Rushdie, had published a work entitled “Satanic verses”, which was judged blasphemous by Khomeini, who sentenced the death penalty for the writer and incited every Iranian citizen to execute it, in any auspicious occasion. This led the writer to become untraceable, but also to the dissolution of relations with Great Britain.

On June 4, 1989 Khomeini died and the next day Hamene-I became “guide”, and his office as president of the republic passed into the hands of Akbar Rafsangani. He immediately passed a law by Parliament that reduced the percentage of state participation in the economic affairs of private individuals and included a request for a foreign loan for 27 million dollars. The vice-president also proposed the reopening of relations with the United States, but this did not get approval. But it was important for the consequence it had in the politics of the country because next to the inspiring principles of the hard line there were people who asked for moderation.

The conflict with Iraq was exacerbated, never completely dormant, and the first contacts for its resolution took place only in April 1991, at the end of the Gulf War, lost by Iraq. Meanwhile, popular protests against the regime began in the main cities of the country.

Political elections took place in April 1992 and Rafsangani’s moderate wing won. He had plans to modernize the state and open up to the international community. But he was always opposed by Islamic fundamentalist radicals who staged numerous serious accidents in big cities in June of the same year. The repression was not long in reaching the troublemakers, many of whom suffered death sentences.

In June 1993 there were presidential elections and Rafsangani was re-elected but had to take note of a strong drop in consensus. In February 1994, while holding a rally in the capital, he was made the subject of an attack, which failed.

Throughout 1994 there was a succession of protests and unrest against the president’s economic policy. The situation was rather precarious, so much so that in April 1995 a real revolt broke out against dear life. Moreover, American President Clinton, believed to be Iran’s main instigator of Islamic terrorism, had announced a total blockade of trade and investment against that country. As a result, Iran found itself in an isolation that precluded any access to international credit institutions. Nor were things in foreign policy more satisfying. There were disagreements and oppositions with Iraq, the enemy of all time, but also with Turkey over the long-standing issue of the Kurds; with this country there was a strong diplomatic crisis during 1997.

Rafsangani’s presidency was disappointing because the country that was theoretically taking the path of modernization and progress had actually become poorer, unemployment had increased and the industrial sector risked complete paralysis. There had been some signs of improvement in the meantime, such as literacy, the development of higher education and the active participation of women in the political and social life of the country. But it was precisely this last voice that had started the protests of women who demanded equal rights for both sexes and a different interpretation of the Koranic texts, the one in progress was too rigid. And it was precisely from the women, among the youngest in particular, that their life preferences were clearly known to be close to the Western model. The Iranian reformists took inspiration from this to emerge in some way on the obscurantists. And in fact in the 1996 elections the conservatives had to see an impressive drop in their votes. But the most significant turning point in the life of the country came with the presidential election of May 1997, when Sayyed Muhammed Hatami, former Minister of Culture, was elected, who in the past had had to abandon his post because he was not in line with the rigid principles of conservatives,

This success had important repercussions in foreign policy. In fact Hatami minimized the anti-American criticism, pronounced a declaration of esteem towards the American people so much that Clinton softened his economic policy towards Iran. But the most sensational event occurred in September 1998 when Foreign Minister Kamal Harrazi pronounced, in a session at the United Nations, Iran’s decision to dissociate itself from the death sentence pronounced at the time by Khomeini towards S. Rushdie.

Despite the international leaps and bounds made for all these new stances, Hatami was always in the balance in his position as president because of the dualism allowed in politics, since he could be ousted by the spiritual “guide” of the country at any time. had deemed it necessary.


In September 1998, a major macabre discovery of the bodies of some Iranian diplomats in Mazar-I Scerif, an Afghan city just recaptured by guerrillas a few days before, caused Iranian troops to be immediately deployed on the border with Afghanistan.

Between November and December 1998 some excellent murders of liberal dissidents and intellectuals were recorded, who had long been preaching the secularization of the country. The conservatives of the powerful Ministry of Information were suspected, a sort of secret service that had always struck the opposition with impunity in the past. In February 1999, municipal council elections saw the overwhelming success of President Hatami’s supporters. In July of the same year, Iranian students took to the streets to protest the closure of the Salam newspaper, also supported by the president; the police made a violent assault on the “campus” of the University of Tehran; the protest soon spread to the squares of the capital, but was firmly repressed.

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