Azerbaijanis take over Iran

Iran crisis

The Anglo-Soviet invasion

The establishment of the Autonomous Republic of Azerbaijan and the Kurdish People's Republic

In July 1945, Stalin issued several decrees in which the secession of the Iranian province of Āzarbāydschān, which was occupied by Soviet troops, and the establishment of an autonomous republic of Azerbaijan were ordered.[4][5] Stalin's goal was to bring the oil reserves in northern Iran under Soviet control.[6]

At the end of October 1945 the gendarmerie in Tabriz reported that trucks with weapons had arrived in the city, which had been distributed to parts of the population. A little later, police stations in and around Tabriz were attacked by gunmen. In November 1945, the Soviets began to openly support the insurgents, in that Soviet troops did not allow the police and gendarmerie reinforcements sent to Kurdistan and Azerbaijan to enter the provinces. Iranian Foreign Minister Najm sent a protest note to the Soviet embassy calling on the Soviet Union not to interfere in Iran's internal affairs in Azerbaijan and Kurdistan. The Kurds strived for their own state and proclaimed the Mahabad Republic in Mahabad.

On December 12, 1945 Tabriz was occupied by armed members of the Fiqeh Democrat, a National Assembly of Azerbaijan was established and the Azerbaijani People's Government was established with Jafar Pischewari as Prime Minister.[7] After the proclamation of the Azerbaijani People's Government in Tabriz, the Iranian General Karim Varahram came across a map printed in Baku in 1943, on which Iran was divided into several independent republics. The map showed the Democratic Republic of Azerbaijan, consisting of the Soviet and Iranian Azerbaijan, the Republic of Kurdistan, which included the territory of the Iranian west as far as Bushehr, the Republic of Arabistan, which consisted of the province of Khusistan, the Republic of Baluchistan, the Kerman and Makran included, the Republic of Khorasan, which consisted of Khorasan Province, Uzbekistan and Tajikistan, the Republic of Tabaristan, which included the Caspian provinces, and the Republic of Fars, which covered the area of ​​central Iran.[8]

The question of the withdrawal of Allied troops from Iran was discussed in detail on July 21, 1945 at the Potsdam Conference. It was decided that the troops should withdraw from the capital Tehran, but remain stationed in Iran until six months after the end of the war with Japan. After the atomic bombs were dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki and the Japanese surrendered on September 2, 1945, the Iranian government set the withdrawal date for Allied troops on March 2, 1946. The British and Soviet governments agreed to this withdrawal date.[9]

Negotiations with Stalin

In mid-January 1946, Prime Minister Ebrahim Hakimi turned to the United Nations Security Council, founded on January 17, 1946, which called on the Iranian government to negotiate directly with the Soviet Union in order to find a balance of interests on the question of the separatist movements. On January 20, 1946, Prime Minister Hakimi resigned due to the threat of a no-confidence vote by the Iranian parliament. At the suggestion of Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi, Ahmad Qavam was elected Prime Minister by Parliament, who traveled to Moscow on February 18, 1946 for negotiations.

On January 30, the Security Council in Resolution 2 called on the parties involved to settle their disputes and to report regularly.

The negotiations between Prime Minister Qavam and General Secretary Josef Stalin dragged on for two weeks. Stalin's demands were:

"1. The Soviet troops will remain stationed in northern Iran for an indefinite period.
2. The Iranian government recognizes the autonomy of Azerbaijan.
3. Iran and the Soviet Union set up an Iranian-Russian oil company to look for, extract and market Iranian oil, with the Soviet Union holding 51% and Iran 49% of the shares in the company.[10]

Qavam signed a communiqué that the negotiations that had begun between the Iranian government and the Soviet ambassador would be continued, and traveled back to Tehran on March 10, 1946 without further promise to Stalin.

Plans for a communist overthrow

According to documents from the Iranian military secret service, Stalin planned to set up a communist government in Tehran that would agree to the permanent occupation of Iran by Soviet troops and turn Iran into a pro-Soviet satellite state. In detail, the People's Army of the Azerbaijani People's Government of Javar Pischevari was supposed to march from the north to Tehran. Communist units from Tabriz and Semnan were to march from the west and east towards Tehran. In Tehran, the Communist Tudeh Party was supposed to organize a popular uprising. The food supply in Tehran was to be cut off by members of the Tudeh party in Qazvin and Firuzkuh, among others, in order to stir up popular dissatisfaction with the current government. The Soviet troops in Iran would then have been forced to maintain order.[11] Chief of Staff Arfa initially sent troops from Tehran to the north, west and east of Iran, but they were stopped by Soviet troops on the march to their destinations. Troops were then mobilized in the provinces to stop the communist associations. In Tehran all important places were occupied by military units. In view of the massive military deployment of the Iranian army, the attempted communist overthrow quickly collapsed.[12]

The beginning of the cold war

US President Harry S. Truman threatened Stalin with serious consequences, including the use of nuclear weapons, if he did not withdraw his troops from Iran.[13] For President Truman, there was no question that the Soviet Union's control of Iranian oil would shift the balance of power in the world and massively damage the emerging Western economy. At the urging of the Iranian government, the newly created Security Council of the United Nations first dealt with the question of the withdrawal of Soviet troops from Iran on January 30, 1946. In Resolution 2, the Security Council called on Iran and the Soviet Union to resolve the disputes over the territories occupied by the Soviet Union since August 1941 as part of the Anglo-Soviet invasion of Iran. The resolution also requires the Security Council to be kept informed of the negotiations on a regular basis. The Security Council resolution did not fail to have its effect. On March 25, 1946, Stalin declared that Iran and the Soviet Union had agreed in principle on the issue of troop withdrawal and that the Soviet troops would withdraw from Iran within six weeks. In Resolution 3 of April 4, 1946, the Security Council decided not to meet again until May 6, 1946 to check whether all Soviet troops had withdrawn from Iran and how to proceed with the Iranian question. On May 8, the Security Council noted in Resolution 5 that the Iranian government had not been able to determine the withdrawal of Soviet troops and postponed further steps until May 20. It was only after Prime Minister Qavam and the Soviet ambassador in Tehran had signed an agreement that the Azerbaijani people's government would enter into negotiations with the central government about its continued existence and that the Soviet-Iranian oil company would be founded in seven weeks from March 24, 1946 The Soviet Union should hold 51% and Iran 49% of the shares, Stalin declared that the Red Army would withdraw from Iran within six weeks, calculated from March 24, 1946.[14]

The Iran crisis was a sign of the incipient antagonism between the USA and the USSR and one of the first events of the Cold War that was emerging at that time.

The end of the separatist movements

The Soviet troops withdrew, but the communist Tudeh party organized massive strikes across the country on the instructions of Stalin in order to put further pressure on the Iranian government. On June 11, 1946, negotiations between the central government and Jafar Pischewari began in Tabriz about the continued existence of the Azerbaijani People's Government. On June 13, 1946, an agreement was signed in which Pischevari's demands for land reform, the occupation of the governor of Azerbaijan, military issues, the collection of taxes and possible election dates were recorded. On June 15, 1946, Prime Minister Qavam Salamollah appointed Javid, Minister of Interior of the Azerbaijani People's Government, governor of Azerbaijan. On August 3, 1946, Qavam reshuffled his cabinet and appointed members of the communist Tudeh party as ministers of health, economics ministers and education ministers to further accomodate Stalin. At the same time he appointed General Hajj Ali Razmara as inspector general of Azerbaijan and Kurdistan. A separatist government was still in power in Kurdistan and had proclaimed the Mahabad Republic. Unrest had also broken out in southern Iran in the Bakhtiar and Kashgai areas. Prime Minister Qavam sent General Fazlollah Zahedi as governor to Fars Province.

In December 1946 events rolled over. At the request of Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi, Prime Minister Qavam dismissed the ministers belonging to the Communist Tudeh Party from his cabinet and replaced them with politicians from the Democratic Party. On December 6, 1946, troops of the Iranian army marched into Azerbaijan. On December 12, 1946, Pischevari gave up and fled to the Soviet Union with his closest confidante. When the Iranian troops reached Tabriz, they were greeted with cheers by the population. When Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi visited Azerbaijan on May 24, 1947, he met with the same cheers. In June 1947, after his return from Azerbaijan, the Shah was celebrated in Tehran for his courageous efforts to maintain the unity of the country. Alinaghi Alikhani, who would become Minister of Economic Affairs twenty years later, describes the events as follows:

“I was a student and stood at the entrance to Tehran University. The Shah stood in a jeep all alone and unaccompanied by security guards and greeted the cheering crowd that prevented him from continuing. A colonel wanted to clear an alley for the Shah's car, but there was no getting through. The Shah was at the height of his popularity.[15]

The province of Kurdistan was also occupied by Iranian troops after the withdrawal of the Soviet troops. The leaders of the separatist movement were executed in Car Cira Square in Mahabad.

On October 22, 1947, the Iranian parliament held the final discussion on the agreement signed by Qavam with the Soviet Union to establish a joint oil company. Parliament rejected the establishment of a Soviet-Iranian oil company with 102 votes in favor with 104 members present and instructed the government to start negotiations with the Anglo-Iranian Oil Company to redesign the existing concession agreement, which would secure a higher share of Iran’s oil revenues should. In the same month, the Iranian government signed an agreement with the United States government to establish an American military mission. Stalin was shocked and felt betrayed by the Iranians.[16] The Soviets called for Qavam's resignation as a prerequisite for improving relations between Iran and the Soviet Union. Qavam put the vote of confidence in parliament on December 10, 1947. Of 112 MPs present, only 46 voted for Qavam. On December 28, 1947, Ebrahim Hakimi became Prime Minister of Iran. The Iran crisis had thus also come to an end domestically.[17]

See also


  • Fereydun Ala: The Azerbaijan Crisis of 1945-1946: The catalyst of the 50-year Cold War. (PDF; 4.3 MB) In: Journal of the Iran Society, 2011, p. 34.
  • André Fontaine: La guerre froide 1917–1991. Editions de la Martinière, 2004, ISBN 2-84675-139-0.
  • Jana Forsmann: Test case for the "Big Three". The occupation of Iran by the British, Soviets and Americans 1941–1946. Böhlau Verlag, Cologne / Vienna 2009, ISBN 978-3-412-20343-6
  • Jamil Hasanli: At the dwan of the cold war - The Soviet-American Crisis over Iranian Azerbaijan, 1941-1946. Oxford 2006.
  • George Lenczowski: The Communist Movement in Iran. In: Middle East Journal. No.1, January 1947, pp.29-45.
  • Archie Roosevelt Jr. The Kurdish Republic of Mahabad. In: Middle East Journal. No. 1, July 1947, pp. 247-269.
  • William Linn Westermann: Kurdish Independence and Russian Expansion. In: Foreign Affairs. No. 24, pp. 675-686 (1945-1946).

Individual evidence

  1. ↑ Compton Mackenzie: Eastern Epic. London 1951, pp. 136-139.
  2. ↑ Gholam Reza Afkhami: The life and the times of the Shah. University of California Press, 2009, p. 91 f.
  3. History of the Tudeh Party of Iran. In: Iran Chamber Society.P. 1, accessed November 18, 2008.
  4. Secret Soviet Instructions on Measures to Carry out Special Assignments throughout Southern Azerbaijan and the Northern Provinces of Iran in an attempt to set the basis for a separatist movement in Northern Iran. (PDF)
  5. Decree of the CC CPSU Politburo to Mir Bagirov CC Secretary of the Communist Party of Azerbaijan. (PDF)
  6. Decree of the USSR State Defense Committee No 9168 SS Regarding Geological Prospecting Work for Oil in Northern Iran. (PDF)
  7. ↑ Gholam Reza Afkhami: The life and the times of the Shah. University of California Press, 2009, p. 93.
  8. ↑ Gholam Reza Afkhami: The life and the times of the Shah. University of California Press, 2009, p. 621.
  9. ↑ Kristen Blake: The U.S.-Soviet confrontation in Iran, 1945–1962. University Press of America, 2009, p. 22.
  10. ↑ Gholam Reza Afkhami: The life and the times of the Shah. University of California Press, 2009, p. 96.
  11. ↑ Hassan Arfa: Under five shahs. London 1964, p. 352.
  12. ↑ Hassan Arfa: Under five shahs. London 1964, p. 355.
  13. ↑ Gerhard Schweizer: Iran. Stuttgart 1991, ISBN 3-7632-4034-9, p.383.
  14. ↑ Gholam Reza Afkhami: The life and the times of the Shah. University of California Press, 2009, p. 98.
  15. ↑ Gholam Reza Afkhami: The life and the times of the Shah. University of California Press, 2009, p. 102.
  16. ↑ Gholam Reza Afkhami: The life and the times of the Shah. University of California Press, 2009, p. 106.
  17. ↑ Gholam Reza Afkhami: The life and the times of the Shah. University of California Press, 2009, p. 109.