Iran has one of the oldest histories in the world, extending more than 5000 years, and throughout history, Iran has been of geostrategic importance because of its central location in Eurasia and Western Asia. Iran is a founding member of the UN, NAM, OIC, OPEC, and ECO. Iran as a major regional power occupies an important position in the world economy due to its substantial reserves of petroleum and natural gas, and has considerable regional influence in Western Asia. The name Iran is a cognate of Aryan and literally means "Land of the Aryans." (Full article...)
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"The victory of Maʿmun over Amin". Folio from a manuscript of Nigaristan, Iran, probably Shiraz, dated 1573–74.
The Fourth Fitna or Great Abbasid Civil War resulted from the conflict between the brothers al-Amin and al-Ma'mun over the succession to the throne of the Abbasid Caliphate. Their father, Caliph Harun al-Rashid, had named al-Amin as the first successor, but had also named al-Ma'mun as the second, with Khurasan granted to him as an appanage. Later a third son, al-Qasim, had been designated as third successor. After Harun died in 809, al-Amin succeeded him in Baghdad. Encouraged by the Baghdad court, al-Amin began trying to subvert the autonomous status of Khurasan, and al-Qasim was quickly sidelined. In response, al-Ma'mun sought the support of the provincial élites of Khurasan and made moves to assert his own autonomy. As the rift between the two brothers and their respective camps widened, al-Amin declared his own son Musa as his heir and assembled a large army. In 811, al-Amin's troops marched against Khurasan, but al-Ma'mun's general Tahir ibn Husayn defeated them in the Battle of Ray, and then invaded Iraq and besieged Baghdad itself. The city fell after a year, al-Amin was executed, and al-Ma'mun became Caliph.
Al-Ma'mun chose to remain in Khurasan, however, rather than coming to the capital. This allowed the power vacuum which the civil war had fostered in the Caliphate's provinces to grow, and several local rulers sprang up in Jazira, Syria and Egypt. In addition, a series of Alid uprisings occurred, beginning with Abu'l-Saraya at Kufa and spreading to southern Iraq, the Hejaz, and Yemen. The pro-Khurasani policies followed by al-Ma'mun's powerful chief minister, al-Fadl ibn Sahl, and al-Ma'mun's eventual espousal of an Alid succession in the person of Ali al-Ridha, alienated the traditional Baghdad élites, who saw themselves increasingly marginalized. Consequently, al-Ma'mun's uncle Ibrahim was proclaimed rival caliph at Baghdad in 817, forcing al-Ma'mun to intervene in person. Fadl ibn Sahl was assassinated and al-Ma'mun left Khurasan for Baghdad, which he entered in 819. The next years saw the consolidation of al-Ma'mun's authority and the re-incorporation of the western provinces against local rebels, a process not completed until the pacification of Egypt in 827. Some local rebellions, notably that of the Khurramites, dragged on for far longer, into the 830s. (Full article...)
During the latter part of his father's reign, Pacorus ruled the Parthian Empire along with him. After Vologases I's death in 78, Pacorus became the sole ruler, but was quickly met by a revolt by his brother Vologases II, which lasted until the latter's defeat in 80. In 79/80, Pacorus' rule was contended by another Parthian prince—Artabanus III—whom he had defeated by 81. A third Parthian contender, Osroes I, appeared in 109. The following year, Pacorus was succeeded by his son Vologases III, who continued his father's struggle with Osroes I over the Parthian crown. (Full article...)
Tahmasp was a patron of the arts and was an accomplished painter himself. He built a royal house of arts for painters, calligraphers and poets. Later in his reign, he came to despise poets, shunning many and exiling them to the Mughal court of India. Tahmasp is known for his religious piety and fervent zealotry for the Shia branch of Islam. He bestowed many privileges on the clergy and allowed them to participate in legal and administrative matters. In 1544 he demanded that the fugitive Mughal emperor Humayun convert to Shi'ism in return for military assistance to reclaim his throne in India. Nevertheless, Tahmasp still negotiated alliances with the Christian powers of the Republic of Venice and the Habsburg monarchy who were also rivals of the Ottoman Empire. (Full article...)
Aristagoras had been approached by exiled Naxian aristocrats, who were seeking to return to their island. Seeing an opportunity to bolster his position in Miletus, Aristagoras sought the help of his overlord, the Persian king Darius the Great, and the local satrap, Artaphernes to conquer Naxos. Consenting to the expedition, the Persians assembled a force of 200 triremes under the command of Megabates. (Full article...)
Coin of a Parthian ruler, possibly Phraates I. Minted at Hecatompylos between 185–132 BC
The son of the governor of Bust, Maymandi was raised as the foster brother of the Ghaznavid prince Mahmud, and would first start his administrative career as the head of the department of correspondences of Khorasan. He would thereafter rapidly rise to higher offices, finally becoming the vizier of the Ghaznavid dynasty in 1013, which would last until 1024, when he was arrested due to the great amount of wealth that he had gained, which the suspicious Mahmud disliked. (Full article...)
Khurshid (Book Pahlavi: hwlšyt'; Tabari/Persian: اسپهبد خورشید, Spāhbed Khōrshīd 'General Khorshid'; 734–761), erroneously designated Khurshid II by earlier scholars, was the last Dabuyidispahbadh of Tabaristan. He succeeded to the throne at an early age, and was supervised by his uncle as regent until he reached the age of fourteen. Khurshid tried to assert his independence from his vassalage to the Caliphate, supported various rebellions and maintained diplomatic contacts with Tang China. Finally, the Abbasids conquered his country in 759–760, and captured most members of his family. Khurshid fled to Daylam, where he ended his life. (Full article...)
"Alexander executes Janushyar and Mahiyar, the slayers of Darius." Folio from a manuscript of Ferdowsi's Shahnameh ("Book of Kings"), created in Shiraz, dated 1482.
A member of the ruling Achaemenid dynasty, Bessus came to power shortly after killing the legitimate Achaemenid ruler Darius III (r. 336–330 BC), and subsequently attempted to hold the eastern part of the empire against the Macedonian king Alexander the Great (r. 336–323 BC). His realm quickly started to fall apart, including Bactria, which was the main center. Fleeing into Sogdia, he was arrested by his own officers, who handed him over to Alexander, who had him executed at Ecbatana. (Full article...)
Persian soldier (left) and Greek hoplite (right) depicted fighting, on an ancient kylix, 5th century BC
The Greco-Persian Wars (also often called the Persian Wars) were a series of conflicts between the Achaemenid Empire and Greek city-states that started in 499 BC and lasted until 449 BC. The collision between the fractious political world of the Greeks and the enormous empire of the Persians began when Cyrus the Great conquered the Greek-inhabited region of Ionia in 547 BC. Struggling to control the independent-minded cities of Ionia, the Persians appointed tyrants to rule each of them. This would prove to be the source of much trouble for the Greeks and Persians alike.
In 499 BC, the tyrant of Miletus, Aristagoras, embarked on an expedition to conquer the island of Naxos, with Persian support; however, the expedition was a debacle and, preempting his dismissal, Aristagoras incited all of Hellenic Asia Minor into rebellion against the Persians. This was the beginning of the Ionian Revolt, which would last until 493 BC, progressively drawing more regions of Asia Minor into the conflict. Aristagoras secured military support from Athens and Eretria, and in 498 BC these forces helped to capture and burn the Persian regional capital of Sardis. The Persian king Darius the Great vowed to have revenge on Athens and Eretria for this act. The revolt continued, with the two sides effectively stalemated throughout 497–495 BC. In 494 BC, the Persians regrouped and attacked the epicenter of the revolt in Miletus. At the Battle of Lade, the Ionians suffered a decisive defeat, and the rebellion collapsed, with the final embers being stamped out the following year. (Full article...)
After the 1953 Iranian coup d'état, Pahlavi aligned Iran with the Western Bloc and cultivated a close relationship with the United States in order to consolidate his power as an authoritarian ruler. Relying heavily on American support amidst the Cold War, he remained the Shah of Iran for 26 years after the coup, effectively keeping the country from swaying towards the influence of the Eastern Bloc and the Soviet Union. Beginning in 1963, Pahlavi implemented a number of reforms aimed at modernizing Iranian society, in what is known as the White Revolution. In light of his continued vocal opposition to the modernization campaign after being arrested twice, Khomeini was exiled from Iran in 1964. However, as major ideological tensions persisted between Pahlavi and Khomeini, anti-government demonstrations began in October 1977, eventually developing into a campaign of civil resistance that included elements of secularism and Islamism. In August 1978, the deaths of between 377 and 470 people in the Cinema Rex fire — claimed by the opposition as having been orchestrated by Pahlavi's SAVAK — came to serve as a catalyst for a popular revolutionary movement across all of Iran, and large-scale strikes and demonstrations paralyzed the entire country for the remainder of that year. (Full article...)
The rule of Ismail I is one of the most vital in the history of Iran. Before his accession in 1501, Iran, since its conquest by the Arabs eight-and-a-half centuries earlier, had not existed as a unified country under native Iranian rule, but had been controlled by a series of Arab caliphs, Turkicsultans, and Mongolkhans. Although many Iranian dynasties rose to power amidst this whole period, it was only under the Buyids that a vast part of Iran properly returned to Iranian rule (945–1055). (Full article...)
The president is required to gain the Supreme Leader's official approval before being sworn in by the Parliament and the Supreme Leader has the power to dismiss the elected president if he has either been impeached by Parliament or found guilty of a constitutional violation by the Supreme Court. The president carries out the decrees, and answers to the Supreme Leader, who functions as the country's head of state. Unlike the executive in other countries, the president of Iran does not have full control over the government, which is ultimately under the direct control of the Supreme Leader. Before elections, the nominees must be approved by the guardian council to become a president candidate. Members of the guardian council are chosen by the supreme leader. The president of Iran is elected for a four-year term by direct vote and is not permitted to run for more than two consecutive terms. (Full article...)
Mosaddegh had sought to audit the documents of the Anglo-Iranian Oil Company (AIOC), a British corporation (now part of BP), to verify that AIOC was paying the contracted royalties to Iran, and to limit the company's control over Iranian oil reserves. Upon the AIOC's refusal to cooperate with the Iranian government, the parliament (Majlis) voted to nationalize Iran's oil industry and to expel foreign corporate representatives from the country. After this vote, Britain instigated a worldwide boycott of Iranian oil to pressure Iran economically. Initially, Britain mobilized its military to seize control of the British-built Abadan oil refinery, then the world's largest, but Prime Minister Clement Attlee (in power until 1951) opted instead to tighten the economic boycott while using Iranian agents to undermine Mosaddegh's government. Judging Mosaddegh to be unamenable and fearing the growing influence of the communistTudeh, UK prime minister Winston Churchill and the Eisenhower administration decided in early 1953 to overthrow Iran's government. The preceding Truman administration had opposed a coup, fearing the precedent that Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) involvement would set, and the U.S. government had been considering unilateral action (without UK support) to assist the Mosaddegh government as late as 1952. British intelligence officials' conclusions and the UK government's solicitations to the US were instrumental in initiating and planning the coup. (Full article...)
The stele was rediscovered in 1901 at the site of Susa in present-day Iran, where it had been taken as plunder six hundred years after its creation. The text itself was copied and studied by Mesopotamian scribes for over a millennium. The stele now resides in the Louvre Museum. (Full article...)
Whereas now Iranian cinema shows the Iranian people to the world. The US has tried very hard to make an entire people out to be terrorists. The Iranian cinema tries to say that the Iranian people are very warm and poetic people.
— Mohsen Makhmalbaf, president of Asian Film Academy