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Tuesday, April 3, 2007



History never dies. It is reborn every minute of every day.

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“Every action of [great men], that seems to them an action of their own free will, is in an historical sense not free at all, but in bondage to the whole course of previous history, and predestined from all eternity.”- Count Leo Tolstoy, War and Peace.


TAG: Iran's highly publicized seizure of British sailors is only part of a long struggle to establish a historic Iranian national identity before the rest of the world.

IN THE NEWS: London and Tehran show a willingness to come to an agreement on the release of 15 British sailors being held by Iran. Part of an impending deal may be the release by Iraqi Intelligence of captured. Iranian diplomat, Jalal Sharafi..

IN A NUTSHELL: In Iran's use of force and brinksmanship in its dealings with the west over its nuclear program and influence in Iraq,, memories of British colonial mastery of the Persian Gulf, of Iranian oil and of Iraq, cannot be far beneath the surface.

THEN AND NOW: Coercion is nothing new in relations between Britain and Iran, It was was long used in British-Persian relations when the region was dominated by the British Empire. In 1892, for example, when the British navy exerted control over Persia's south coast, Britain gave Persia an immense loan only to seize the customs duties in Persian ports as collateral.

RECENT BACKGROUND TO THE EVENTS. On March 23, 15 British sailors were seized by the Iranian coastguard on grounds that they had crossed into Iranian waters in the Persian Gulf. Britain claimed evidence to the contrary, showing that they were seized from Iraqi waters where Britain as the right to patrol. A diplomatic row erupted and Iran was suspected of retaliation against a new round of UN sanctions for its nuclear program and against the American detension of 5 Iranian Revolutionary Guard operatives in northern Iraq. In a series of Iranian television spots, each of the British sailors made a statement that they were being well treated and were guilty of crossing into Iranian waters. London pointed out that the declarations appeared staged and delivered under pressure.Since Mahmoud Ahmedinejad won the presidency in 2005, he has used his relatively powerless postion to assert a radical anti-western position with loud and strident rhetoric. Though it's believed quieter sectors of the government with greater authority are a little more reasonable, the president has set the tone for Iran's international position on its support of Iraqi Shia, Iranian nuclear capabality and the western and American presence in the Middle east.

In August of 2005, Iran resumed converting uranium at Isfahan, insisting it was for peaceful purposes. But the IAEA declared that Iran was violating the Non-proliferation treaty. In January, 2006, Iran further dug in its heels by breaking seals placed on equipment by the IAEA on the Natanz nuclear power plant. After further violations, on July 31, the UN Security Council demanded that Iran suspend its nuclear activities. After Iran ignored an August 31 deadline, the UN approved the imposition of sanctions on December 23.
In February-March, 2007 after further Iranian intransigence over its uranium enrichment the international committee took further measures. It is now suspected that Iran had in fact lost a game of brinksmanship in the nuclear negotiations and may have seized the British sailors as a distraction, if not to save face. A further humiliation may have been the American capture of 5 Iranian Revolutionary Guard members.

In the long view, it is interesting to note how the Brtish rule of Iraq, where it put down a Shia-led uprising in 1920, along with one-time British naval supremacy in the Persian Gulf and along Iran's south coast, seem to foreshadow this year's run-in between British and Iranian naval patrols.

Iran extended its defiance to the international community in April, 2007, announcing a massive expansion of its nuclear program with the IAEA estimating that Iran could make a nuclear explosive in three to eight years. Despite Iran's grudging assent to some nuclear inspections, the United States responded by tightening sanctions in October. But American intelligence sent a coontradictory message that Iran's nuclear weapons development had been overestimated.

The new year, 2008, saw a visit to Iraq by Ahmadinejad where he signed agreements to help rebuild the shattered country. The clerics in Terhan, meanwhile, kept a firm grip on power with a 2/3 majority of conservatives returned in parliamentary elections with many reform candidates disqualified from running. In the spring, the UN tightened sanctions on Iran while the IAEA insisted Iran was concealing parts of its nuclear program. Throughout the summer, Iran defied incentives and sanctions from Europe and the United States as it pressed ahead with what many believe is a nuclear weapons program.

A false warming in relations ensued in November as Ahmedinejad congratulated Barak Obama's election as US President. Indeed, in March, 2009 Supreme Leader Khemenei accused Obama of continuing the old Bush policy toward Teheran. However, there might have been a faint gesture to the contrary when Iran released US-Iranian journalist Roxana Sabiri, recently imprisoned for spying.

In June, Ahmadinejad's presidential election victory was met with mass demonstrations protesting widespread fraud. Security forces killed 30 and detained over 1,000 amid international protest while the government blamed the West, especially Britain for fomenting the
the mass street gatherings. Leading opposition candidate Ali Hosseini periodically lead the demonstrators. As Ahmadinejad swore in his new cabinet in August, a large number of opposition figures were publicly put on trial for organizing the protests.

In September, the focus turned to construction of a uranium plant in Qom which the regime insisted was for peaceful purposes while it tested missiles that could reach US installations in the Persian Gilf as well as Israel. In November, Mohammed El Baredei pressured Iran to accept an offer by western nations to help it enriich uranium abroad. In Teheran, meanwhile, thousands broke a ban on demonstrations by gathering to protest the 30th anniversary of the hostage-taking at the US embassy during the Iranian Revolution.

DISTANT BACKGROUND TO THE EVENTS. It was the weakness of the Qajar Shahs that opened the way for direct British intervention in Persia. In the mid-nineteenth century the Qajars' heavy borrowing from European powers and the consequent debts encouraged those powers, especially Britain, to take direct control of the matter. The point of etnry was the southern coastline where Britain had naval supremacy.
Britain's grand strategy at the time was to protect its colony in India from southward Russian exppansion. To this end Britain had to counter Russia in Afghanistan as well as in Persia. As Russia took more terriory along Persia's northern border, extending its influence into Persia itself, the British replied, in 1892, by giving Persia a loan it couldn;t refuse and then seizing the customs duties in southern Persian seaports as collateral,

In 1907, Britain and Russia agreed to respective zones of influencewithin Persia, Russia claiming the northern half of the country and Britain the southeast, adjacent to its Indian colony of Balluchistan.

The discovery of oil in the years 1900 to 1910 only intensified British and Russian competition for influence in Persia but the prospect of domestically generated wealth also ignited a strong current of Persian nationalism which burns to this day. With British support, the new constitionalist movement pressured Mossafar al-Din Shah to create a national assembly, which, however, foundered in 1907, in part, due to Russian subversion.
The only thing to survive, it seemed, was the British-dominated Anglo Persian Oil company. With the first World War British supremacy was complete, the Russian revolution having led to the withdrawal of Russian influence in Persia. Now, Britian's Viceroy of India, Lord Curzon, saw Persia as the final link in the chain of British colonial power from India to Iraq, to the Mediterranean.
In 1919, a failing Persian ecomomy made it easy for Britain to make Persia a formal British Protectorate. Events today, involving the UN and Iraq were foreshadowed when Persia bridled at the severe resitriction of its influence in peace settlements at the end of the war. Tehran was further threatened when neighbouring Iraq became a British League of nations mandate. And in 1920, the Brtisih in Iraq violently suppressed a Sha-led rebellion in Iraq's south- a region seen by Iran's Shia majority as a sister in spirit.

When, in 1921, the British backed a coup, deposing the Shah in favour of an army officer, Reza Phalavi, they got more than they bargained for. Cleverly, the Reza Pahlavi made himself the new Shah, seized on Iran's new oil-fueled nationalism by renegotiating all foreign oil contracts, incuding that with Anglo-Persian Oil, in Persia's favour. He made a cult celebrating ancient Persian rulers, histpory and symbols as the spiritual basis for the modern state and empowered his country by playing off foreign rivals, against one another. Finally, he renamed Persia Iran, in memory of its founding Aryan people. In 1925, he made Iran once and for all independent. In 1951 Britian was still an influential power in Iran when am ultra-nationist president, Mohammed Mossadiq, challenged the outside world by nationalzing Iran's oil production once and for all.

The dream of a new Iran died when the British and the CIA worked in concert to protect their oil interests by staging a coup, removing Mossadiq from power and then backing the young Shah Pahlavi, son of Reza, as their tool. When he was overthrown in 1979 and Iran fell under the iron rule of a clerical, Shia theocracy, British and all other foreign influence inside the country came to an end.

When the British returned to the region in 2003 by taking part in the American invasion of neighbouring Iraq and occupying Iraq's Shia south , it could only bring back bad memories of the British-led repression of a Shia-led revolt there in 1920.- And the patrolling of British ships in the Persian Gulf could only recall Britain's naval supremacy in Persian waters in the 19th century.

REMOTE BACKGROUND TO THE EVENTS. The British were able to build on commercial links with Persia ever since the establishment of a British overland trade route in 1561. In the second half of the eighteenth century, Britain further established factories in Persia at Bushire and at Basra, respectively on the east side and at the head of the Persian Gulf (not far from where the British sailors were seised by Iran in 2007) British attention was more forcefully turned to Persia in 1798 by Napoleon's Egyptian campaign by which the French hoped to challenge British dominance in India and the Indian ocean. Britian's first step in protecting India was to induce Persia to attack Afghanistan which was trying to establish its own empire in the region.

In the same year, Persia's modern histroy began with the rise to power of the Qajar Shahs whose long decline would, for more than a century, be accompanied by the increasing influence of foreign powers, particularly Britain. In 1800, Britian ratified an alliance with Persia by which Persia and India were assured mutual protection from outside powers such as Russia and France. This, of course was more to English than Persian advantage. In 1806, France responded to the British initiative by signing an agreement with Persia and sending a mission to train the Persian army. In 1814, at the wane of the Napoleonic wars, the victorious Brtisih responded in turn by signing an Anglo-Persian pact which forced Persia to abolish any treaties with European powers hostile to Britain.

Britain further flexed its muscles in the region by controlling neighbouring Afghanistan and when the Persians asserted a historic claim to the east Persian city of Herat, Britain stopped them, retaking it on behalf of the Afghans. British resolve around Persia increased after Russia seized control of the Caspian Sea and regions to the east and to the west in Persia's northern marches.

Persia was finally and effectively hemmed in on the east when she tried again to seize Herat in 1856. The British declared war, forcing Persia to recognize Afghan indepence in 1857. Heavy borrowing by the Qajar Shahs further weakened Persia, leaving it increasingly to the mercy of British and Russian territorial ambitions. Russia, after all, was looking for a southeen Port and Britain wanted both Afghanistan and Persia as buffers to protect her Indian colony from Russian expansion. By poviding loans and development, Brtiain gained further control over Persia The discovery of oil in Persia, which hadn't the means to exploit it, put an end to any vestige of autonomy. But if foreign, mostly British, interests won concessions on Persian oil, the new resource also sparked intense nationalism. With nationalism came pressures for parliamentary government, granted by the Shah in 1907.

CROSS-CENTURY SUMMARY: The history of Iran can be seen, if figuratively, as a series of successive movements of liberation, each with a claim to Iranian, or 'Aryan' identity on the Iranian plateau: an identity defended from misrule from within and from ambitons without: an identity seen to be dinstinct from the Graeco-Romans and Arabs to the west, the peoples of India to the East and the Mongols and Turks to the north. Hence, we have the Medes rescuing the peoples of the plateau from the Assyrians, the Achaeminids releasing Iran from the Medes, the Parthians rescuing it from the Achaeminids, the Achaeminids crumbling before the Greek Seleucids, the native Parthians throwing out the Seleucids and then holding back the Roman Empire for four centuries. Pressures from within and without caused the Parthian rule to collapse and be replaced, again from within, by the Sassanids. Pressure by Byzantium and by Islamic conquest from Arabia ended Sassinid rule and Iran is further subjected to domination by the Mongols and Turks in the 13th and 14th centuries. In the 16th century a Persian, if Islamic revival was brought about by the Safavids whose adoption of Shiism in the face of a Sunni majority in the Islamic world, would contribute to the revivial of an Iranian exceptionalism. Safavid rule is seen to represent the apogee of Persian culture. It ended in the early eighteenth century when it was supplanted by an Afghan dynasty. The late eighteenth century saw a brief revival under the Zands. The Qajars who succeeded them were the last traditional Persian dynasty.
The weakness of the Qajars throughout the 19th and early 20th century led to Persia's subjugation by foreign territorial and colonial interests. It seems inevitable that Iran would sooner or later attempt to rescue and to defend an ancient sense of identity dating back to the expulsion of the Assyrians by the Medes from the Iranian plateau. The assertion and revivial of 'Iran' arrrived rather paradoxically with a British-backed coup overthrowing the Qajars. The new Shah Pahlavi turned on his colonialist allies and created a new Iranian nationalism which recalaimed its pre-Islamic history. The discovery of oil and its gradual nationalization gave economic power to a reborn Iranian identity. With history and oil wealth being recovered, the replacement of the Pahalvi dynasty with a Shia revolution restored the religious component.
Meanwhile, Israeli, American and British foreign policy and the Anglo-American occupation of Iraq have only served to strengthen the Iranian revivial and to encourage Iran's intransigence in its pursuit of neculear dominance in the region.

PRESENT SITUATION: In early April, 2007, President Ahmedinejad, due to internal pressures from more sober heads, announced the release of the 15 British sailores "as a gift" to the British people. As Iran gains power through oil, through its support of militant, anti-Western forces throughout the Middle East and through its nuclear program, the seizure and release of the British sailors points to internal divisions that could seriously weaken Iran- a country which has always faced its most serious dangers from within.

PLUS CA CHANGE: Persia, weakened and disunited in the late 15th century after conquest by Tamerlane, opened itself to the messianic and proseltyizing Shah Ismail who arrived from Azerbaijan bringing Shiism, founding the Safavid dynasty and making Shiism Persia's state relgion. In 1979, an Iran weakened by misrule, internal division and foreign intervention, overthrew its Shah and opened its doors to back another messianic Shia leader, the Ayatollah Khomeini, who, like Shah Ismail, made Shiism once again inseparable from Iranian identity.

CURIOSITY: After the First World War, Winston Churchill, Britain's First Lord of the Admiralty, bought 55 per cent of the Anglo Persian oil company.

2000 BC- Indo Iranians migrate from southern Russia. Median and Iranian tribes settle on the Iranian plateau.
2000- 750 BC- Iranian tribes and city states.
650 BC- the Median clan provides the Iranians with independence from the Assyrians.
650-559 BC- The Median Empire.
559 BC- Cyrus the Great leads a Persian revolt against the Medes.
500-330 BC- the Persian Achaeminid Empire expands from Iran to Egypt.
546 BC –The Persians take Anatolia.
530-522- BC Cambyses, son of Cyrus takes Egypt, Libya and part of Nubia.
521-486- BC- Darius the Great extends the empire as far as the Aegean and Macedonia; and in the east as far as the Indus. He developes a sophisticated Imperial administration based on the Assyrian model.
513 BC- Darius the Great fails to defeat the Scythians.
512- Darius the Great takes Thrace.
490- Darius the Great invades Greece. He is defeated at Marathon.
480- Darius the Great’s army is defeated at Thermopylae; his navy is destroyed at Salamis.
404-343 BC- Egypt is independent from Persia.
323-330 BC- conquest of the Persian Empire by Alexander of Macedon.
312-63 BC- the Seleucid Empire covers most of the Middle East, save for Egypt.
248 BC- the Parthians revolt and take Iran back from the Greek Seleucids.
248 BC- 224 AD- the Parthians maintain an empire in Iran.
171-138 BC- Mithridates I of Iran.
53 BC - Parthia defeats Rome at the Battle of Carrhae.
216-277 AD- Mani founds the Manichaean belief in Iran.
224- 651 AD- Sassanid Empire in Iran.
239-272- Emperor of Iran- Shapur I.
259- Shapur defeats the Romans, captures Valerian.
440-552- Hephthalite Huns penetrate Iran and India.
531-579- Khosrow I Anusharvan, Sassanid emperor of Iran.
591-628- Khosrow II Parviz, Sassanid emperor of Iran.
614-616- Sassanids conquer Syria, Jerusalem and Egypt.
627- Dastagird, the Sassanid city of palaces is sacked by the Byzantines.
636-651- the Muslim Arab conquest of Persia.
819-1062- Persia ruled by the Sunni Saminids, winning favour with the Abassids because of Shia Buyid rule of Baghdad.

-the Saminids restore elements of pre-Islamic Iranian culture, creating a sense of Persian nationalism.

1020- Mahmud of Ghazni, an East Afghanistan Turkic warlord and mercenary for the Abbasid Muslims, secedes to form his own dynasty.
1000, circa-- the Turks invade, making several states in Iran.
1225- Mongol conquest of Iran.
1335- the rule of the Ilkhanid Mongols collapses in Iran.
-mid-1300s- extreme instability in Iran and Iraq
1381-1387- Persia conquered by Tamerlane.
1405-1506- a dwlindling empire of Tamurlane's successors in eastern Iran.

1405-47- Tamerlane's son, Shah Rukh rules from Herat.

1501-1524- Shah Ismail founds the Iranian Safavid dynasty and establishes Shiism as the relgion of Persia.
1514- the Seljuk Turk Selim the Great defeats the Persians at Caldiran.
1524- Persiams conquer Baghdad.
1561- English begin overland trade with Persia.
1588-1629- Shah Abbas I- Safavid emperor of Iran.
-Abbas hires two Englaishmen to reorganize tribal fighters into a national army.
-Abbas takes Baghdad back from the Ottomans and recovers Armenian territories.
-Abbas starts a Persian revivial. Culture flourishes. He makes Shiism the state reglion- ends religious tolerance. Poer is given to the clergy.
-Shah Abbas drives the Portugeuse from the Pesian Gulf and begins trade with Great Britain.
1629- death fo Shah Abbas.
1638 -Persia fights religious wars with the Ottoman Turks who take baghdad.
1722- thr Afghans ovethrow the weak Shah Hussein.
1736- Nadir Shah expels the Afghans and establishes the Afshar dynasty.
1738- Nadir Shah invades and loots India.
1750-1794- the Zand Dynasty of Karim Khan- the capital is moved to Shiraz where a spectacular building program follows.
-peace and prosperity under the Zand dynasty.
1763- British establish a factory at Bushire
1770- British establish a factory at Basra
1794- the tyrant Aga Muhammad Khan.overthrows the Zands and establishes the Qajar Dynasty.
1797- Khan is assassinated.
1794-1925- the Qajar dynasty is a period of decline in which Persia sowly loses territory as Russia along with European nations exercise increasing influence.
1797-1834- Under Fath Ali Shah Persia is forced to give up the Causacus to Russia.
1798- The Brtish, to protect India, induce Persia to attack Afghanistan.
1798- Napoleon’s campaign in Egypt, intended to open a trade route to the Indian Ocean and the east- gets the attention of the British.
1800-Governor of Bombay sends an Indian messenger and British enviy, Sir John Malcom to the Shah. A Persian-British treaty is signed assuring the mutual protection of India and Persia.
1804- Persia at war with Russia.
1806- Napoleon sends a diplomatic mission to Iran, worrying the British. As a result, France sends a mission to train the Persian army.
1814- Formal Anglo-Persian treaty. Persia must cancel all treaties with European powers hostile to Britain.
-Herat is taken by the Afghans. After Persia tries to reclaim the city, the British intervene on behalf of Afghainistan.
1826-1828- Russo-Persian war. The Russian fleet wins control of the Caspian.
1856- Persians take Herat. Britain declares war on Persia.
1857- Persia is forced by the British to recognize Afghan independence.
-Britain and Russia start to compete over Persia; Britain is also concerned to protect its Indian possessions with Persia and Afghanistan as buffers against Russia.
-Russia takes Tiflis and Tashkent, west of Caspian.
-heavy borrowing from European powers by the Qajar Shahs leads to indebtedness and foreign intervention.
-Britain sees the opportunity of colonizing Persia from its southern coastline.
-1864- British complete the Persian section of the Britain-India telegraph line.
1864- Russia moves into Turkestan and takes Tashkent, east of Caspian..
1892- Britain gives Persia a loan, seizing its customs duties in the port cities as collateral.
1896- assassination of Nasiruddin Shah.
1900-1910- the discovery of oil in Persia results in intense rivalry between Russia and Great Britain.
1901- New Zeander WK D’Arcy gets an oil concession in Iran.
1905- nationalist revolution begins in Persia.
1906- Mozaffar al-Din Shah concedes a constitution under pressure from constitutionalists and with the encouragement of the British ambassador. This limits concessions to foreign companies.
1907- the Anglo-Russian agreement divides Persia into northern Russian, neutral center and British southern spheres of influence. Islamic traditionalists launch violent protests.
1907- Constitutional revolution under Shah Muzzafar al Din Qajar provides an elected assembly (Majlis)
1909- the Russians crush Persia’s constitutionalist movement.
-Anglo-Persian Oil Company founded.
1911- The constitution fails along with the assembly.
1914- World War I- Turkish, Russian and British troops operate in Persia against German influence- despite Persian neutrality.
-Winston Churchill, Lord of the Admiralty, buys 55 per cent of the Anglo Persian oil company.
1917- Russian influence in Persia lapses with the Russian Revolution. Britain withdraws her troops but struggles to maintain a presence.
-collapse of the Ottoman Empire leaves Britain the dominant power in the region.
-Persians angry that Persia is not given room to state its case in peace negotiations at the end of the WW I.
-Persia is threatened when Iraq becomes a British League of Nations mandate.
-Lord Curzon sees in Persia an opportunity to link British influence from India to Iraq.
1919- British subsidies support the collapsed Iranian economy. In that year Iran becomes a British protectorate under the Anglo-Persian agreement which the majlis refuses to ratify. The agreement includes British officers and advisers for the Persian army and government, a large loan to pay for them, and British development of transport and communications.
-the U.S. and France fear that the Anglo-Persian Agreement will curtail opportunities for those countries inside Persia, giving the British a monopoly. Lord Curzon says the presence of American advisers would have to be approved by Britain. Hence, US advisers in the region supported the aims of Persian nationalism.
-1920- internal opposition to the Anglo-Persian agreement results in Persia turning toward the the U.S. (which was increasingly interested in Persian oil). The U.S. responds by objecting to the unfairness of the British monopoly on Persian oil and negotiations are commenced for for Amercan insyead of British aid, development and advisers.
-however, the US does not favour displacing Britain outright, since it sees the British as a bulwark against Russia and Communism.
1921- a British-backed coup by an officer, Reza Pahlavi overthrows the government of Fathullah Gillani. . Pahlavi gets the Majlis to depose the Qajar dynasty and make him Shah.
-Pahlavi exploits Bolshevik fear of the British to get Russia to withdraw completely. He then drives out British and Russian-supported separatist movements.
-Reza Shah Pahlavi creates a strong, centralized government, renegotiates oil concessions given to the Anglo-Persian Oil Company and reforms the economy, getting more control over foreign companies and making them pay more in taxes and royalties. He plays Germany off against Britian and Russia.
-the Shah also makes a public cult of Iran’s ancient Achaemenid, Sassinid and Parthian history.
1925- Iran becomes independent from Britain and Russia.
1928- Reza Shah sets up the Bank of Iran to oppose the British Imperial Bank.
1933- Shah Pahlavi changes the name of Perisa to Iran, derived from “Aryan”.
-Pahlavi cancels the concession of the Anglo-Persian Oil Company.
-Pahliavi’s independence policy is ratified by the League of Nations.
-Iran’s gradual modenization begins to be decried by the Shia clergy.
1941- Opposed to Iran’s neutrality in the war with Germany, Britain and Russia occupy Iran and depose Pahlavi in favour of his son, Mohammed Reza Pahlavi. US, Russian and British advisers all try to influence Iranian policy toward respective national ends.
-US military advisers arrive and US army units help transport military equipment on the Trans-Iranian railroad.
-US advisers are accepted in all key financial departments of government. US adviser Millspaugh was made director general of finances, for November 1942 and May, 1943. The Full Powers law gave him financial control that was almost absolute. He favoured private enterprise over government corporations.
1942-43- US advisers more or less run the Iranian army. Colonel Norman Schwarzkopf reorganizes internal security along American lines.
1944- US Adviser Millspaugh excites popular protest by attempting to fire the head of the Iranian National Bank. Millspaugh resigns, most of his attempts at reform having failed.
-popular sentiment rises against the British interests and presence in Iran.
-theUS takes the lead in stabilizing Iran.
1948- Iran puts forward a 7-year economic plan heavily influenced by Max W. Thornburg, a US oil executive and adviser, whose Overseas Consultants Inc. is instrumental in drafting it. There are no recommendations for land reform or political or social reform, only technological advance. State ownership is blamed for all social and economic ills.
-the 7-year economic plan is passed by the majlis.
-1951- the 7-Year Economic Plan fails; its government administrators are universally blamed for failures of implementation. Overseas Consultants' contract is terminated. The existing social status quo will remain the basis for all Washington's future US planning for Iran's economy.
-1951- March- Britain negotiates for a high share of oil royalties, US ambassador Henry Grady backs Iranian nationalists, since the US doesn't want to see Britain getting a competitive deal on Iranian oil. However, the US will come to side with Britain in seeing nationalist Prime Minister Mussadiq as a fanatic.
1951- Mossadiq travels to the US to ask the Truman administration for a loan. Washington refuses his request, having now swung round to join the British in opposing nationalization of Iranian oil.
- Prime Minister Mohammed Mussadiq, a nationalist, nationalizes the Anglo-Iranian oil company.
- Britain protests, stopping oil exports. The Majlis votes Mussadiq emergency powers.
-the US supports British attempts to arrange a world-wide boycott of Iranian oil.
-the British and the Americans fear a non-Communist nationalist movement as an even greater danger than Iranian Communism.
-rumours are rife of a British invasion.
-at the UN, Mossadiq insists on Iran’s right to ownership of its oil
-US President Truman sends an envoy to Mossadiq but doesn't get any compromise on the nationalization of Iranian oil.
-US, Great Britain and other western nations begin to boycott Iran.
1953- after a struggle with Mossadiq over control of the Defense Ministry, an attempt by the Shah to dismiss Mossadiq is protested by nationalist riots, the Shah leaves Iran.
-however, the army remains in support of the Shah.
-June, 1953- under pressure of international isolation, Mossadiq's coalition crumbles.
-the British engineer a plan for Mossadiq's removal. It is simplified in the US by Kermit Roosevelt who then passes it on to Allen Dulles of the CIA. When it is approved by Eisenhower, Roosevelt goes to Iran to put the plan into operation through local contacts.
-the CIA, especially aware of the Shah as an asset against Communism, works with Monarchist officers bringing about the overthrows and arrest of Mossadiq and the return of the Shah. Mossadiq is sentenced to two years in prison.
-the CIA helps to organize mass, paid demonstrations to welcome back the Shah.
-the United States immediately supplies a$45 million emergency loan.
-with the deterioration of relations with Britain, Iran becomes more and more of a US client state. Traditionalist clergy and the poor are increasingly wary of modernization and US influence.
-the US has replaced Britain as the main foreign power in Iran.
1954- the Shah offers oil concessions to an international consortium which includes the US and Britain. Of the American members, Standard Oil of New Jersey, Standard Oil of California, the Gulf Oil Coroporation, the Texas Oil Company and Socony-Mobil each get 8 per cent. These five, later gave up 1 per cent each to US 'independents'. The total is a US investment of 40%.
-Iran joins the Baghdad Pact which links Iran, Pakistan, Turkey and Britain.
1950s- Iran, with US help launches its own nuclear program.
1960- the U.S. has become a net importer of oil.
1963- land reform reduces the power of the landlords.
-repressing the secular and clerical opposition and the landed aristocracy, the Shah sets up a police state to pave the way for capitalism. The oil cartel of the 1970s makes Iran wealthy.
-with police repression, only clerical networks remain active. Meanwhile mass urban migration creates a stratun of urban power.
1970- protests build against the Shah’s regime.
-U.S. oil production peaks and begins to decline.
-1972- the US accepts Shah Reza Phalavi as the main local power protecting the Persian gulf and agrees to sell Iran any non-nuclear weapons. The US already has colonies of technical advisers in Iran.
1972-73- the Shah is alert to arguments of ecologists that the US was using up the world's oil reserves oil too fast because oil is under priced. He is also aware that raw materials and commodities such as farm products are rising in price. The Shah therefore works on leaders of other oil-exporting Middle-Eastern countries to slow the production of oil thus rising the price. Opposition to the state of Israel provides additional incentive.
1975- Iran is the single largest purchaser of military equipment from the US.
-although Iraq appears to be moving toward becoming a regional, if not a world power, it is in fact heavily dependent on the US.
-the Carter administration, although critical of Iran on human rights still prefers the Shah to any truly popular government as a bulwark against the Soviet Union
1977- a protest movement begins under the guidance of Ruholla Khomeini from exile in Najaf.
1978- The US State Department of Human Rights, with its aggressive critique of Iran, undermines the Shah's authority.
-the heavy presence of foreign advisors and technicians and Iran's own technological backwardness lead many to feel that it is becoming an instrument of the United States. Many workers and merchants forced out by competition of technologically sophisticated state industries.
1978- an alliance of Marxists and radical Shia clerics overthrows the Pahlavi regime.
-anti-monarchist Shapur Bakhtiar becomes Prime Minister but the clergy mistrust him.
1979- January- the Shah goes into exile.
-attempts to set up a constitutional government fail.
-Prime Minister Bakhtiar is replaced by Mehdi Bazargan.
1979- April- after several attempts at a Monarchist coup are made, Iran is proclaimed an Islamic republic under the Ayatollah Ruholla Khomeini.
-the US recognizes the Khomeini regime- but is blamed for supporting the Shah. Mass denunciations of the US follow. But the regime simultaneously denounces the Soviet Union.
-US diplomats in Tehran try to form links with the new regime but are rebuffed.
-Iran suspends its nuclear energy program.
-the Khomeini regime begins to give support to the Afghan Mujehadeen.
1979-81- after the Shah is given asylum and medical treatment in the United States, US embassy personnel are held hostage by Iran’s Revolutionary Guards for over a year. The government fully endorses the hostage-taking.
-as the hostage-taking is universally condemned in a vote at the UN, it becomes clear that Iran is standing in complete defiance of a three-century tradition in international relations of the immunity of diplomats. Iran is no longer playing by rules and agreements taken for granted in the West.
-the US retaliates with sanctions against Iran and the freezing of Iranian assets in the US.
-Iran resumes its nuclear energy program with less help from the US and more from other countries.
-November- the Revolutionary Council of clerics forces out Bazargan and ousts most of the Revolutionary coalition.
1980- US President Carter declares the Persian Gulf region to be an area vital to US interests.
1981- On the day Ronald Reagan is elected president, the Iranians release the US embassy hostages.
1980- Saddam Hussein of Iraq tries to seize the Shatt al Arab waterway from Tehran, setting off the Iran-Iraq war.
-under US President Reagan, Washington supports Iraq against Iran with massive weapons shipments.
-the war only strengthens the hold of Khomeini and his government over the country.
-1982- repudiating dependence on western commercial goods, Iran reduces imports and embarks on a program of self-sufficiency.
1986- the US sells weapons to Iran and funnels the proceeds to the Contras in Nicaragua, setting off the Iran-Contra scandal.
1987-88- then US retaliates against Iranian attacks on US shipping in the Persian gulf, sinking several Iranian ships.
1988 -realizing that Iran cannot fight Iraq much longer, Khomeini agrees to a ceasefire.
1988- the Iran-Iraq war ends with the loss of one million Iranian lives.
1989- Khomeini dies. After a power struggle, another cleric, Hashemi Rafsanjani becomes speaker of the Majlis and Ayatollah Khamenei replaces Khomeini.
1991- During the US invasion of Iraq in the First Gulf War, Iran gives refugee to 1.5 million Iraqi Kurds and Shia.
1992-97- Clinton critical of Iran's hostility to the peace process with Israel and the Palestinians; Iranian support of organizations deemed terrorist in the Middle East, and the Iranian nuclear weapons program.
1993- Rafsanjani’s attempt at the creation of a mixed economy and low oil prices weaken the country’s economy.
May-US President Clinton announces policy of 'dual containment' which includes partial economic sanctions on Iraq and Iran.
1995- April- US president Clinton imposes a total embargo of US business dealings with Iran.
1997- Rafsanjani is defeated in elections by Muhammed Khatemi, a relative liberal. He brings liberal reforms to the political system.
1998- January- President Khatami, in an interview on CNN calls for a "a dialogue of civilizations" and expresses admiration for US political traditions. But findamental differences of policy remain unchanged.
1999- Under Khatemi, Iran holds its first elections.
2000- reformers win a majority in the Majlis.
2001- Khatami and Khamenei condemn the 9/11 on the US attacks for killing innocent civilians.
-November 2001- Iran stays officially neutral in the US invasion of Afghanistan but provides
covert assistance in expelling the Taliban from Kabul and in instating Hamid Karzai as president.
-December- Bonn Conference on the reconstruction of Afghanistan- Tehran supports alll US initiatives in Afghanistan.
2002- January- -US President George Bush lists Iran with North Korea and Iraq in the “Axis of Evil.”
Sept- Russia starts building a nuclear reactor at Bushehr despite US protests.
2003- March- the US invades Iraq. Though mistrustful of the US at first, Iraq’s two largest Shia parties, the Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution in Iraq and Al Dawa, both backed by Iran, come to represent the Shia of Iraq.
Sept- the IAEA asks that Iran prove it’s not developing a nuclear weapons program.
2004- April-September- radical, nationalist Shia militia leader, Moqtada al Sadr launches two rebellions, with Iranian support, against the US occupation.
2004- June- the IAEA criticizes Iran for its failure to cooperate with inspections.
November- the European Union gets Iran to agree to a deal to suspend its nuclear enrichment program.
-2004-2006- through charities and Revolutionary Guard Units, allowed to act semi-independently, Iran spreads influence among Iraq’s Shia majority.
2005- Mahmoud Ahmedinejad wins the presidency, defeating Hashemi Rafsanjani.
August- Iran resumes converting uranium at Isfahan, insisting it’s for peaceful purposes. But the IAEA syas that Iran is violating the Non-proliferation treaty.
2006- January- at its Natanz nuclear plant, Iran breaks seals placed on equipment by the IAEA.
February- As Iran resumes nuclear enrichment at Natanz, the IAEA votes to report the violations to the UN Security Council.
April- Iran claims to be enriching Uranium at natanz.
July 31- the UN Scurity Council demands that Iran suspend its nuclear activities.
Aug. 31- the deadline set by the Security Council for Iran to stop its uranium enrichment activities.
Dec 23- the UN security council approves the impostion of sanctions on Iran in nuclear.
Technology and trade. Iran continues enriching uranium.
Iranian Seizure of British Seamen.
2007- March 23- 15 British sailors are seized by the Iranian coastguard on grounds that they had crossed into Iranian waters. Britain claims evidence to the contrary, that they were seized from Iraqi waters. A diplomatic row erupts with the Iran suspected of retaliating against a new round of UN sanctions for its nuclear program and against the American detension of 5 Iranian Guard operatives in northern Iraq.

Iran Continues Uranian Enrichment.
April- Ahmedinejad announces increased, industrial scale of uranium production. IAEA says that Iran has 1,300 centrifuges.
May- IAEA declares that Iran woould need only 3-8 years to produce a nuclear weapon.
June- amid fears of UN sanctions Iran rations gasoline, sparking protests.
July- Iran agrees to allow IAEA inspectors to visit its Arak nuclear plant.
October- US announces its toughest snactions on Iran in 30 years.
December- A US intelligence report produces a reduced evaluation of the nuclear threat posed by Iran.
2008- February- Iran launches a rocket, announcing its own space program.
March- Agemdinejad visits Iraq, demand the withdrawal of foreign troops and signs some copperation agreements with Baghdad, vowing to help reuild the country.
Many Opposition Candidates Barred from Parliamentary Elections.
-parliamentary elections return a 2/3 majority of conservatives, with many reform candidates barred from running. Moderate conservatives embarrassed by Ahmedinejad also win seats.
-UN Security Council tightens sanctions on Iran.
May- IAEA says Iran is witholding information on its nuclear program. Former nuclear negotiator Ali Larigani is elected speaker of the parliament.
Iran Presses Ahead with Uranium Enrichment and Space Technology
June- Javier Solana, EU foreign minister offers Iran trade benefits, which Tehran warns it will refuse if they involve restrictions on the refinement of uranium.
July- Iran tests a long-range missile than can hit targets as far as Irael.
August- Iran lets pass and informal deadline to halt its nuclear program or forego incentives offered by western nations,
Iran tests a rocket which it says can launch a satellite.
November- Minister Ali Kordan is dismissed by parliament after admitting a degree received from Oxford was fake, embarrassing Ahmadinejad.
Iran Extends Guarded Congratulations upon Obama's Election as US President.
Ahmadinejad surprises everyone by congratulating Barak Obama on his election as US president. Obama offers unconditional discussions of Iran's nuclear program.
December- Iran closes a human rights office headed by nobel peace prize winner Shirin Abadi, saying it is an illegal political organization.
2009- February- On the 30th anniversary of the Islamic Revolution, Ahmadinejad claims he would welcome open and respectful talks with the US.

Khamenei Contradicts Ahmadinejad's Welcome to Obama
March- Ayatollah Khameini tells anti-US rally that Obama is merely prolonging the old Bush policy.
April- Roxana Sabiri, an Iranian-American journalist is sentenced by and Iranian court to 8 years for spying.
May- a US State Department report states that Iran is the world's foremost exporter of terrorism. Iran dismisses the finding.
-after international pressure, Roxana Sabiri is freed by Iran.
Protestors Shot Demonstrating against massive fraud in Ahmadinejad's Election Victory.
2009- after the June 12 presidential election, opposition candidates Ali Hosseini and others lead mass protests againsts Ahmadinejad's claim of victory in a mssively rigged election. Security forces kill 3o and arrest 1,000. Iran blames the west, particularly Britain, for provoking the arrest.
July- under pressure from Supreme Leader Khamenei, Ahmadinejad fires his first vice president, Esfandiar Rahim Mashaie.
August- Ahmadinejad is sworn in as president and forms his cabinet which includes a number of women- the first since 1979.
Opposition Members put on Public Trial for Abetting Election Fraud Protests.
Senior opposition figures are put on trial, allleged to have fomented unrest during the election protests. But Khamenei declares there is no proof they were motivated by foreign powers.
September- Iran concedes it is building a plant for enriching uranium near Qom but claims it is for peaceful purposes.
Iran tests long and medium ranges that could hit Israel or US bases in the Persian Gulf.
October 2009- Five UN Security Council members plus Germany offer to help Iran enrich its uranium abroad.
November- IAEA head Mohammed El Baredei recommends that Iran accept the five-nation offer on uranium.
-with protestors increasingly breaking protest bans, opposition demonstrations are held on the 30th anniversary of the mass hostage-taking at the US Embassy.

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