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Geographically and culturally, Greater Iran is generally acknowledged to include the entire Iranian plateau and its bordering plains,[1] extending from Mesopotamia and the South Caucasus in the west, to the Indus River in the east, and from the Oxus River in the north to the Persian Gulf and Sea of Oman in the south.
Geographically and culturally, Greater Iran is generally acknowledged to include the entire Iranian plateau and its bordering plains,[1] extending from Mesopotamia and the South Caucasus in the west, to the Indus River in the east, and from the Oxus River in the north to the Persian Gulf and Sea of Oman in the south.

Pan-Iranism is an ideology that advocates solidarity and reunification of Iranian peoples living in the Iranian plateau and other regions that have significant Iranian cultural influence, including the Persians, Azerbaijanis (a Turkic people culturally Iranian[2][3][4][5] ) Gilaks, Lurs,[6] Mazanderanis,[7][8][9] Kurds,[10][11][12] Zazas,[13] Talysh,[14][15][16] Tajiks,[17] Pashtuns, Ossetians[18][19][20] and Balochs. The first theoretician was Dr Mahmoud Afshar Yazdi.

Origins and ideology

Flag of the Pan-Iranist Party
Flag of the Pan-Iranist Party

Iranian political scientist Dr. Mahmoud Afshar developed the Pan-Iranist ideology in the early 1920s in opposition to Pan-Turkism and Pan-Arabism, which were seen as potential threats to the territorial integrity of Iran.[21] He also displayed a strong belief in the nationalist character of Iranian people throughout the country’s long history.[21]

Unlike similar movements of the time in other countries, Pan-Iranism was ethnically and linguistically inclusive and solely concerned with territorial nationalism, rather than ethnic or racial nationalism.[22] On the eve of World War I, pan-Turkists focused on the Turkic-speaking lands of Iran, Caucasus and Central Asia.[23] The ultimate purpose was to persuade these populations to secede from the larger political entities to which they belonged and join the new pan-Turkic homeland.[23] It was the latter appeal to Iranian Azerbaijanis, which, contrary to Pan-Turkist intentions, caused a small group of Azerbaijani intellectuals to become the strongest advocates of the territorial integrity of Iran.[23] After the constitutional revolution in Iran, a romantic nationalism was adopted by Azerbaijani Democrats as a reaction to the pan-Turkist irredentist policies threatening Iran's territorial integrity.[23] It was during this period that Iranism and linguistic homogenization policies were proposed as a defensive nature against all others.[23] Contrary to what one might expect, foremost among innovating this defensive nationalism were Iranian Azerbaijanis.[23] They viewed that assuring the territorial integrity of the country was the first step in building a society based on law and a modern state.[23] Through this framework, their political loyalty outweighed their ethnic and regional affiliations.[23] The adoption of these integrationist policies paved the way for the emergence of the titular ethnic group’s cultural nationalism.[23]

History

Pan-Iranist flags seen during Pro-Mosaddegh rallies in Tehran on 16 August 1953
Pan-Iranist flags seen during Pro-Mosaddegh rallies in Tehran on 16 August 1953

With the collapse of the Qajar dynasty, which had descended into corruption, and the rise of Reza Shah Pahlavi in 1925, who began introducing secular reforms limiting the power of the Shia clergy, Iranian nationalist and socialist thinkers had hoped that this new era would also witness the introduction of democratic reforms. However, such reforms did not take place. This culminated in the gradual rise of a loosely organized grass roots Pan-Iranist movement made up of nationalist writers, teachers, students, and activists allied with other pro-democracy movements.

In the 1940s, following the Anglo-Soviet invasion of Iran, the Pan-Iranist movement gained momentum and popularity as a result of the widespread feeling of insecurity among Iranians who saw the king, Reza Shah, powerless against such foreign presence in the country. There were soldiers from Russia, England, India, New Zealand, Australia and later on, America, present in the country, especially in the capital, Tehran.[24] The Allied occupation influenced a series of student movements in 1941. One of these new groups was an underground nationalist guerrilla group called the Revenge group, also known as the Anjoman.[24] The Pan-Iranist Party was founded later on by two of the members of the Revenge group and two other students in the mid-to-late 1940s in Tehran University. Though the pan-Iranist movement had been active throughout the 1930s, it had been a loosely organized grass roots alliance of nationalist writers, teachers, students, and activists. The party was the first organization to officially adopt the pan-Iranist position, which believed in the solidarity and reunification of the Iranian peoples inhabiting the Iranian plateau. In 1951, the party leaders Mohsen Pezeshkpour and Dariush Forouhar came to a disagreement as to how the party should operate, and a division occurred. The two factions greatly differed in their organizational structure and practice. The Pezeskpour faction, which retained the party name, believed in working within the system of Mohammad Reza Pahlavi. The Forouhar faction, which adopted a new name, Mellat Iran (Nation of Iran Party), believed in working against the system.[24]

Iran-e-Bozorg

Iran-e Bozorg was a periodical published in the city of Rasht by the Armenian political activist Gregory Yeghikian (Armenian: Գրիգոր Եղիկյան). It advocated the unification of Iranian peoples (e.g., Afghans, Kurds, etc.) included the Armenians. Yaqikiān believed that, with education and the rising of the levels of people’s awareness, such a goal was feasible through peaceful means. The journal benefited from the contributions of a number of leading intellectuals of the time, including Moḥammad Moʿin and ʿAli Esfandiāri (Nimā Yušij), and carried articles, poetry, a serialized story, and some news. It also published articles in support of the Kurds who had risen in rebellion in Turkey, which caused the protest of the Turkish counsel in Rasht and led to the banning of the paper by the order of the minister of court. Yaqikiān tried, without success, to have the ban removed and eventually moved to Tehran, where he published the paper Irān-e Konuni.[25]

See also

Further reading

References

  1. ^ "Iran i. Lands of Iran". Encyclopædia Iranica.
  2. ^ "Azerbaijan, country, Asia." The Columbia Encyclopedia, Sixth Edition. 2001-05.
  3. ^ Frye, R. N. "IRAN v. PEOPLES OF IRAN (1) A General Survey". Encyclopædia Iranica. XIII. pp. 321–326, "The Turkish speakers of Azerbaijan (q.v.) are mainly descended from the earlier Iranian speakers, several pockets of whom still exist in the region."
  4. ^ Roy, Olivier (2007). The new Central Asia. I.B. Tauris. p. 6. ISBN 978-1-84511-552-4. "The latter were to keep the name 'Turkmen' for a long time: from the 13th century onwards they 'Turkised' the Iranian populations of Azerbaijan (who spoke west Iranian languages such as Tat, which is still found in residual forms), thus creating a new identity based on Shiism and the use of Turkish. These are the people today known as Azeris."
  5. ^ Arakelova, Victoria (2015). "On the Number of Iranian Turkophones". Iran and the Caucasus. 19 (3): 279 ...and the Turkic-speaking population of the Iranian origin, predominantly the Azaris, inhabiting the north-west provinces of Iran roughly covering historical Aturpātakān.
  6. ^ Minorsky, V., (2012), "Lur", Encyclopaedia of Islam, Second Edition, Brill, ...an Iranian people living in the mountains in southwestern Persia.
  7. ^ The World Book Encyclopedia, World Book, Inc, (2000), p. 401.
  8. ^ Academic American Encyclopedia By Grolier Incorporated, p. 294.
  9. ^ Area handbook for Iran, Harvey Henry Smith, American University (Washington, D.C.), Foreign Area Studies, p. 89.
  10. ^ Bois, Th; Minorsky, V.; MacKenzie, D. N., "Kurds, Kurdistān", Encyclopaedia of Islam, Second Edition, Brill, p. 439, The Kurds, an Iranian people of the Near East (...)
  11. ^ E. J. van Donzel, Islamic desk reference, BRILL, (1994). p. 222, "Kurds/Kurdistan: the Kurds are an Iranian people who live mainly at the junction of more or less laicised Turkey, Shi'i Iran, Arab Sunni Iraq and North Syria and the former Soviet Transcaucasia."
  12. ^ Biggs, Robert D. (1983). Discoveries from Kurdish Looms. Mary and Leigh Block Gallery, Northwestern University. p. 9. ISBN 978-0-941680-02-8. Ethnically the Kurds are an Iranian people
  13. ^ Asatrian, Garnik S. "DIMLĪ – Encyclopaedia Iranica". Archived from the original on 29 April 2011. DIM(I)LĪ (or Zāzā), the indigenous name of an Iranian people living mainly in eastern Anatolia...
  14. ^ Shoemaker, M. Wesley (2000). Russia, Eurasian States, and Eastern Europe, 2000. p. 160. ISBN 978-1-887985-29-1. Here the Talysh, an Iranian people, live in their mountainous villages and support themselves by weaving rugs and carpets by hand in the traditional way.
  15. ^ Dowsett, Charles James Frank (1997). Sayatʻ-Nova: An 18th-century Troubadour : a Biographical and Literary Study. p. 174. ISBN 978-90-6831-795-4. Tâlish is the name of an Iranian people in Gilan.
  16. ^ Croissant, Michael P. (1998). The Armenia-Azerbaijan Conflict: Causes and Implications. p. 67. ISBN 978-0-275-96241-8. ...Talysh, an Iranian people whose language belongs to the northwest Iranian language group.
  17. ^ Perry, John (2009). "TAJIK i. THE ETHNONYM: ORIGINS AND APPLICATION". Encyclopædia Iranica. "The Tajiks are an Iranian people..."
  18. ^ Akiner, Shirin (2016) [1987]. Islamic Peoples of the Soviet Union. p. 182. ISBN 978-0710301888. The Ossetians are an Iranian people of the Caucasus.
  19. ^ Saul, Norman E. (2015). "Russo-Georgian War (2008)". Historical Dictionary of Russian and Soviet Foreign Policy. p. 317. ISBN 978-1442244375. The Ossetians are a people of Iranian descent in the Caucasus that uniquely occupy territories on both sides of the Caucasus Mountain chain.
  20. ^ Galiev, Anuar (2016). "Mythologization of History and the Invention of Tradition in Kazakhstan". Oriente Moderno. 96 (1): 61. doi:10.1163/22138617-12340094. The Ossetians are an East Iranian people, the Kalmyks and Buryats are Mongolian, and the Bashkirs are Turkic people.
  21. ^ a b AHMAD ASHRAF, "IRANIAN IDENTITY IN THE 19TH AND 20TH CENTURIES", Encyclopedia Iranica. Also accessible here:[1][permanent dead link]. Excerpt: "Afšār, a political scientist, pioneered systematic scholarly treatment of various aspects of Iranian national identity, territorial integrity, and national unity. An influential nationalist, he also displayed a strong belief in the nationalist character of Iranian people throughout the country’s long history. He was the first to propose the idea of Pan-Iranism to safeguard the unity and territorial integrity of the nation against the onslaught of Pan-Turkism and Pan-Arabism (Afšār, p. 187)"
  22. ^ Perspectives on Iranian identity, pg.26 Archived 2007-09-28 at the Wayback Machine
  23. ^ a b c d e f g h i Touraj Atabaki, “Recasting Oneself, Rejecting the Other: Pan-Turkism and Iranian Nationalism” in Van Schendel, Willem(Editor). Identity Politics in Central Asia and the Muslim World: Nationalism, Ethnicity and Labour in the Twentieth Century. London, GBR: I. B. Tauris & Company, Limited, 2001. Actual Quote:

    As far as Iran is concerned, it is widely argued that Iranian nationalism was born as a state ideology in the Reza Shah era, based on philological nationalism and as a result of his innovative success in creating a modern nation-state in Iran. However, what is often neglected is that Iranian nationalism has its roots in the political upheavals of the nineteenth century and the disintegration immediately following the Constitutional revolution of 1905– 9. It was during this period that Iranism gradually took shape as a defensive discourse for constructing a bounded territorial entity – the ‘pure Iran’ standing against all others. Consequently, over time there emerged among the country’s intelligentsia a political xenophobia which contributed to the formation of Iranian defensive nationalism. It is noteworthy that, contrary to what one might expect, many of the leading agents of the construction of an Iranian bounded territorial entity came from non Persian-speaking ethnic minorities, and the foremost were the Azerbaijanis, rather than the nation’s titular ethnic group, the Persians.

    ....

    In the middle of April 1918, the Ottoman army invaded Azerbaijan for the second time.

    ...

    Contrary to their expectations, however, the Ottomans did not achieve impressive success in Azerbaijan. Although the province remained under quasi-occupation by Ottoman troops for months, attempting to win endorsement for pan-Turkism ended in failure.

    ...

    The most important political development affecting the Middle East at the beginning of the twentieth century was the collapse of the Ottoman and the Russian empires. The idea of a greater homeland for all Turks was propagated by pan-Turkism, which was adopted almost at once as a main ideological pillar by the Committee of Union and Progress and somewhat later by other political caucuses in what remained of the Ottoman Empire. On the eve of World War I, pan-Turkist propaganda focused chiefly on the Turkic-speaking peoples of the southern Caucasus, in Iranian Azerbaijan and Turkistan in Central Asia, with the ultimate purpose of persuading them all to secede from the larger political entities to which they belonged and to join the new pan-Turkic homeland. It was this latter appeal to Iranian Azerbaijanis which, contrary to pan-Turkist intentions, caused a small group of Azerbaijani intellectuals to become the most vociferous advocates of Iran’s territorial integrity and sovereignty. If in Europe ‘romantic nationalism responded to the damage likely to be caused by modernism by providing a new and larger sense of belonging, an all-encompassing totality, which brought about new social ties, identity and meaning, and a new sense of history from one’s origin on to an illustrious future’,(42) in Iran after the Constitutional movement romantic nationalism was adopted by the Azerbaijani Democrats as a reaction to the irredentist policies threatening the country’s territorial integrity. In their view, assuring territorial integrity was a necessary first step on the road to establishing the rule of law in society and a competent modern state which would safeguard collective as well as individual rights. It was within this context that their political loyalty outweighed their other ethnic or regional affinities. The failure of the Democrats in the arena of Iranian politics after the Constitutional movement and the start of modern state-building paved the way for the emergence of the titular ethnic group’s cultural nationalism. Whereas the adoption of integrationist policies preserved Iran’s geographic integrity and provided the majority of Iranians with a secure and firm national identity, the blatant ignoring of other demands of the Constitutional movement, such as the call for formation of society based on law and order, left the country still searching for a political identity.

  24. ^ a b c Engheta, Naser (2001). 50 years history with the Pan-Iranists. Los Angeles, CA: Ketab Corp. ISBN 978-1-883819-56-9.
  25. ^ "IRAN-E KABIR – Encyclopaedia Iranica". Iranicaonline.org.