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Pan-Turanism Takes Aim At Azarbaijan; A Geopolitical Agenda

Part II-b: Pan-Turanism Claims To Azarbaijan


  

By: Dr Kaveh Farrokh

 

 

(5) Sattar Khan was a pan-Turanian separatist.

Sattar Khan

 

 

 

 

 

(a) Mr. Mahmudali Chereganli.

 

Mr. Chehreganli (see photo below) has made a career at attempting to incite hatred among Iranian Azarbaijanis against Iran . He portrays Azarbaijanis as “Turks oppressed by Persians”, and has been a major force in the fraudulent re-narration of Babak Khorramdin’s rebellion as an “anti-Persian” movement (see item 6). Chehreganli leads a movement entitled SANAM (South Azarbaijan National Awakening Movement) (Kindly see Website References).

 

Chehregani

 

cehreqanli@yahoo.com

 

 

There is a parallel movement residing in Baku (allegedly set-up by Azarbaijanis of Iranian origin) known as the UAM (United Azarbaijan Movement). There is also the South Azarbaijan National Liberation Movement as well as the Azarbaijan National Front (AZNF). It is SANAM however that has received the greatest western support (see also Part VI).

 

Mr. Chehreganli’s SANAM website is replete with false, simplistic and inflammatory information. The distortions begin with the personal dossier of Chehreganli, the chairman of SANAM (Persian section of SANAM website – see Web References):

 

Mahmudali Chehregani – Chehreganli – was born in the village of Chehregan…His grandfather Sattar Khan Chehreganli was an intellectual who participated in three Azarbaijani revolutions: the constitutional movement, the Azadistan movement, and the national and people’s government…he completed his Doctorate in linguistics at Tehran’s Tarbiat Modarress University…

 

The few highlighted lines are replete with fraudulent information. First, Mr. Chehreganli is claiming one of Iran ’s greatest heroes, Sattar khan (1868-1914) (see photo below) as his ancestor, because both share the name Chehreganli.

 

People who share the same last name are not necessarily related. In that case, all who bear the surname “Smith” are members of the same family. Another detail not mentioned in SANAM: Sattar Khan was born in Janali, not Chehregan.

 

The issue of kinship is irrelevant. Even if we accept that Mr. Chehreganli has legitimately “proven” his lineage to Sattar Khan, he still cannot change the history of his (alleged) grandfather who fought in the name of a united Persia (see “Sattar Khan” below). Mr. Chehreganli has re-narrated Sattar Khan as an Azarbaijani separatist and “a Turkish patriot”. Sheikh Khiyabani (recall item 1d) has also been re-invented as a separatist. Historical archives contradict Mr. Chehreganli. 

 

While true that Khiyabani was strongly in favour of local autonomy for Azarbaijan , he was clear that we wished to do so within the framework of a united Iran . A sample of foreign archives states that he:

 

…had no desire or intention of severing no desire or intention of severing Azarbaijan from Iran

[British Foreign Office Archives 371/1278, 11-12 September, 1920 – also cited by Atabaki, 2000, p.50, 205]

 

Chehreganli claims that Khiyabani’s term “Azadistan” (land of freedom), and his pursuit of autonomy is clear proof of Khiyabani’s separatist objectives. This is patently false, and is a distorted interpretation of actual historical events. First, as recounted in item 1d, Khiyabani was against the Musavat-Rasulzadeh re-invention of Arran/Albania as “ Azarbaijan. The term “Azadistan” was an attempt to disassociate from the actions of Rasulzadeh and his supporters in Baku . Second, there is a very large difference between seeking local autonomy within a sovereign state and being a pan-Turanian separatist.

 

The real nature of Mr. Pishvari’s “national and people’s government” has already been recounted in item 1e.  Suffice it so say that Mr. Chehreganli has a talent for blurring facts and re-inventing them within his fictional narratives.

 

There are other puzzling inaccuracies in the SANAM website, namely the chronology of Sattar Khan’s career. Simply put, it would have been physically impossible for Sattar Khan to have “participated” in the “Azadistan” and Pishvari movements - Sattar Khan had already passed away before their onset.

 

What is most interesting is Mr. Chehreganli’s background and adoption of pan-Turanianism as a professional career. It is true that Mr. Chehreganli was a student at Tarbiat Modarress University . In reality, his academic performance was less than spectacular; he never achieved the graduate credentials necessary to become a Doctoral candidate. With his career options narrowing as a result of academic mediocrity, Mr. Chehreganli “discovered” separatist ethnic politics. His first “demand” was to exhume his “grandfather’s remains” (meaning Sattar Khan) from Tehran ’s Shah Abdul Azim cemetery and “return it to his homeland” (meaning a separate Azarbaijan from Iran ). Mr. Chehreganli had found his calling at last: a failed academic whose career was to promote misinformation and alienation.

 

Fact or fiction, the next series of events are as entertaining as a Hollywood screenplay. Mr. Chehreganli ran for Iran ’s parliament and claimed to have obtained “800,000 votes”. This claim is not only unverifiable, but suspect (see Part III - items 2-3).  He then claims that he was arrested and tortured because of his “advocacy” for the rights of his “race”. Whatever the truth, Chehreganli was released from jail and left Iran . He travelled to Baku where he was awarded an honorary Doctoral degree in recognition of his anti-Iran political platform.

 

Western outlets regularly refer to Mr. Chereganli as a “Professor of linguistics” when in fact his academic training in the field is suspect at best. As far as can be determined, Mr. Chehreganli has never produced a credible dissertation. Nevertheless, his nominal “expertise” is being cynically trumpeted to project a mirage of academic authority. These “academic credentials” are being used by western geopolitical interests to further their economic (i.e. Petroleum) objectives (Part VI).

 

(b) Sattar Khan & the Constitutional Movement of Persia .

 

The actual history of Sattar Khan is different from what Mr. Chehreganli is stating. Sattar Khan was a legendary hero of the constitutional revolution of Iran (1905-1911), which was virtually the first of its type in western Asia and the Caucasus . To this day, Iranians of all stripes refer to him as the “Sardar-e-Melli” (The national Champion-leader).

 

The complete narrative of the Constitutional Movement is beyond the scope of the discussion here, however a few points may be highlighted, especially with respect to points being re-narrated by Mr. Chehreganli.

 

[b1] Qajar monarch Muzaffar al-Din Shah (1853 - 1907) (see photo below) agreed to a constitutional monarchy for Persia in August 1906.

 

 

 

Muzaffar al-Din -Shah

 

]

 

[b2] The first Tehran Assembly or Majlis (1906-1908) managed to limit the powers of the Shah and his ministers. Among its many reforms was the freedom of the press. Below is a photo of the building where the first Majlis was convened.

 

Majlis

 

 

[b3] Muhammad Ali Shah (18721925; ruled 1906-1909) (photo below) moves to limit constitutionalists (June 1, 1908). Ambassador Zapolski of Russia and Ambassador Marling of Britain openly warn the Majlis to comply with the Shah’s wishes.

 

Muhammad Ali Shah

 

 

[b4] Russian Cossack Brigade in Persia (See photo of Russian Cossack leader Liakhov and a number of his troops – Chaqeri in references), in support of Muhammad Ali Shah, bombarded the Majlis on June 24, 1908 .

 

Liakhov

 

 

[b5] By July 1908, the Shah imprisons many constitutionalists. See Photo below (Shuster in references) of their imprisonment at the Bagh-e-Shah (Garden of the Shah) below:

 

Stranglingpersia

 

 

 

 

[b6] Surviving delegates fled to Tabriz. In Tabriz , the local Azeris (see photo of Tabriz Mojaheds below – see Chaqeri in References ) join forces with these men and organize a resistance army against the anti-constitutionalist Royalist troops.

 

Tabriz Mojaheds

 

 

 

[b7] Sattar Khan and his colleague, Bagher Khan, organized the resistance. Volunteers from the Caucasus join Sattar Khan. Sattar Khan resists Royalist forces besieging Tabriz for nine months -attacks barricades on April 22nd, 1909 .

 

Tabriz-Mojaheds-B

 

 

[b8] The siege of Tabriz ends – Russians invade and occupy Tabriz on April 1909 -  photo below is the Persian Cossack brigade commanded by Russian officers (see Shuster in References). This unit in particular was a direct instrument of foreign (Russian and indirectly British) influence in Persia in the early 20th century.

 

Russian Coassack Brigade

 

 

Sattar Khan rallied the entire nation of Iran to a constitutional democratic cause, and in this endeavour had the support of the entire spectrum of Iran’s populace, such as the northern Iranians (see 1908 photo of Rasht volunteers below left – Chaqeri in references) and Bakhtiaris from Isfahan (see 1909 photo below right- Chaqeri in references), not to mention Mashad (northeast Iran), etc. It was these Bakhtiaris and Rashtis (from Gilan) who supported Sattar Khan in July 1909. This allowed for the second Majlis to convene.

 

Rasht Bakhtiari

 

Mr. Chehreganli avoids any mention of the multi-ethnic nature of Sattar Khan’s movement across Iran (see also the role of the Armenians in part IV, item 1). Sattar Khan and his allies all fought under the Persian banner. Note Sattar Khan’s own comrades in Azarbaijan , shown fighting below in Tabriz under the tricolour Persian flag in 1908 (Chaqeri in references):

 

 

Sattar Khan

 

 

 

Professor Atabaki makes clear that:

 

In the constitutional revolution, like minded Azarbaijanis, Persians, Bakhtiyaris, and Gilanis fought alongside one another against…the absolute arbitrary power of the monarchy…their objective was not to divide this power (of Law and government) among the different ethnic groupings in the country in order to establish separate independent states based on ethnic identity.” (p.28)

[ Touraj Atabaki , Azarbaijan : Ethnicity and the Struggle for Power in Iran . Published I.B. Taurus Publishers, 2000]

 

(c) European Intervention.

 

Imperial Britain and Czarist Russia were unhappy at the prospect of a Persian government that did not cater primarily to their economic interests. They did their utmost to destroy the fruits of the constitutional movement and supported the autocratic Shah. Their tactic was to lure Sattar Khan and Bagher Khan from Tabriz to Tehran . To that end, there appears to be a connection to a certain telegram issued to Mr. George Birly, British ambassador in Iran on March 16, 1910 by the British Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

 

If the British and Russians were hoping to isolate and possibly discredit Sattar Khan and Bagher khan, they certainly failed. When Sattar Khan arrived in Tehran on 3 April 1910 ; the citizens of Tehran were ecstatic in their welcome and hailed him as a national hero and messiah. Both Sattar Khan and fellow Azeri comrade-in-Arms, Bagher Khan had been bestowed with the “Sardar-e-Melli” (Leader of the Nation) title by the Tehran assembly. The assembly also ordered that gold plaque portraits be drawn in honour of both Sattar Khan and Bagher Khan in recognition of their services to Persia . Throughout Iran, in places such as Rasht , Tehran , Qazvin or Isfahan , committees proudly bore the name "Sattar Khan".  Sattar Khan and his followers then settled in Tehran ’s Atabak Park .

 

It is here where a gross tragedy occurred. Details are not totally clear, however it appears that a coalition of radical Constitutionalists wanted to disarm Sattar Khan, in the interests of party building along European lines (see Chaqeri p.166 in References).. These included many of Sattar Khan’s former Azeri comrades from Tabriz (e.g. Tabriz Social-Democratic group) as well as other Azeris such as Taqhizadeh. The Armenian Yephrem Khan, another one of Sattar Khan’s comrade in arms, was chief of Tehran ’s police and was present in Atabak Park . A shooting incident broke on the night of August 7, 1910 . Sattar Khan was injured by the police and he died on November 9, 1914 . He was buried in Tehran ’s Shah Abdul Azim’s graveyard. To this day, Sattar Khan’s exploits and commitment to Constitutional reform in Persia are vividly recalled in Iranian literature.

 

With respect to the Atabak Park incident, Chehreganli’s supporters claim that “…Sattar Khan was killed by the racist Persians…”.  As noted by Professor Chaqeri:

 

What is usually and intentionally forgotten…is…that…the revolutionaries were divided into two hostile political camps: the radicals and the conservatives…this new atmosphere…led to bloodshed…the idea of disarming (Sattar Khan’s) Mojaheds and Feda’is originated simultaneously in…the radical constitutionalists and in the British and Russian governments…the majority of those who took part in the Atabak park incident belonged to the radical wing of revolutionary fighters…Taqhizadeh (himself Azeri from Tabriz)…his close associates (included many Azeris)…and the Tabriz Social-Democratic Group

[Chaqeri, Cosroe, Origins of Social Democracy in Modern Iran, 2001, p.166-167].

 

Predictably, Mr. Chehreganli’s attempts at falsifying history fail when exposed to archival research. It would appear that Mr. Chehreganli is hoping to re-narrate the political factions (Radical vs. Conservative) at Atabak Park in terms of ethnic groups (Persian vs. Azeri).

 

The Atabak park tragedy did not derail the democratically representative Tehran Assembly (Majlis), thanks to the original exploits of Sattar Khan. The Tehran Assembly, turned to Morgan Shuster (see Shuster in References), to act as treasurer-general with wide-ranging powers to finally put Persia ’s chaotic financial house in order. Shuster arrived on May 1911. Imperial Russia was furious – Shuster’s reforms were viewed as a threat. The Russians demanded the following from Tehran ’s assembly (Majlis) (see Adelson, p.96 in References):

 

[a] Shuster was to be immediately dismissed

[b] The Iranian gendarmes were to replaced by Russian controlled Cossacks

[c] Persia was to issue an official apology to Czarist Russia

 

Naturally, the Majlis rejected this affront to Persia ’s sovereignty. Russia promptly invaded Persia through Azarbaijan and by the end of 1911 re-issued its dictates:

 

[a] Shuster was again demanded to be immediately dismissed

[b] No other foreign advisors were to be hired by the Majlis without prior British and Russian approval

[c] Persia was to reimburse Russia for the costs of its military invasion of Persia

 

The Majlis again rejected the Imperial Russian demands. The British government was fully supportive of Russian actions – even the potential of a modern, forward looking domestic democracy within Iran was unfathomable to the policymakers of London and Moscow .

 

The Russians and their anti-Constitutionalist supporters took full advantage of these events to kill off many of the Iranian constitutional activists in Tabriz during their 1911-1912 invasion of northern Persia . . Note 1912 photo of the Russian hanging of Sattar Khan’s nephews at left (Chaqeri in References) and the disembowelment of Yusef Hokhabad by local Russophiles (a Tabriz supporter of the Iranian constitutional movement - Chaqeri in References) at right:

 

Murder-A Murder-B

 

Note picture below of more executions of Democratic reformers in Tabriz ; figures with drawn swords and man at right are Tsarist Russian troops:

 

Murder-C

 

]

 

By 1914, 20,000 Russian troops were occupying much of Northern Persia (see Chaqeri, p.286 and Mclean , p.82 in references). The photographic evidence of their brutality is historically documented. Chaqeri cites W.S. Blunt (see References; blunt also cited in Part I, item 1) who stated:

 

There has been an abominable massacre by the Russians at Tabriz…men, women and children killed, women raped and every imaginable abomination perpetuated…This is (British Prime Minister) Grey’s doing as distinctly as he had given the orders; yet almost no protest is made in our (British) press

[Wilfred S. Blunt, My Diaries, Being a Personal Narrative of Events (Part II: 1900-1914), pp.213, 388-389].

 

(d) SANAM & the Fabrication of History.

 

Incredibly, despite historical archives and massive documentation (see Adelson, Blunt, Browne, Chaqeri, and Shuster in references), the followers of Chehreganli reject all of this information and insist that all of the atrocities were exclusively committed by “murderous Persians” (virtually no mention of the Russian and British roles).

 

The information expostulated in this section of the commentary is being thoroughly distorted, re-narrated and even expunged by pan-Turanian ideologues (recall SANAM website and its narrative of Sattar Khan) and their western supporters (see Brenda Shaffer in part VI, item 4c).

 

When factual information is presented to Chehregani and his followers, the predictable psychological reaction is that of cognitive dissonance cited earlier with respect to Professor Diker and Elchibey. Sattar Khan’s movement is even being re-narrated as “a Turkish movement”. 

 

If Sattar Khan was indeed a pan-Turanian activist, then:

 

(a) Why would non-Azarbaijanis, like the Rashtis, Mazandaranis or Bakhtiaris support him?

(b) Why was he a powerful symbol of the entire constitutional movement in Persia ?

(c) Why was he honoured twice by the Tehran national assembly?

(d) Why does he remain one of Iran ’s most potent symbols of justice and egalitarianism?

 

To state that Sattar Khan was anti-Persian is as historically illogical as stating that George Washington, the first president of the American Republic , was anti-American!

 

Sattar Khan would roll in his grave if he heard of Mr. Chehreganli, the SANAM movement and the UAM. The majority of Iranian Azarbaijanis are deeply offended by Mr. Chehreganli’s claims regarding Sattar Khan (see “Welcome to Tabriz Iran ” weblink in Website References). Many view Chehreganli’s fiction as simply another divisive tool which is being ultimately perpetuated by geopolitical objectives (Part VI).

 

Chereganli is determined to destroy Persia , and in that endeavour he has created another fictional narrative: Babak Khorramdin, one of Persia ’s greatest champions, is now claimed as a pan-Turanian hero.

 

(6) Babak Khorramdin was a Turk who fought against Persia .

 

Babak Khorramdin (Persian for “those of who follow the joyful religion”) is one of ancient Persia ’s greatest icons. Babak (see reconstruction below) fought the Arabian Abbassid Caliphate in Baghdad (750-1258 AD) to restore the independence of Persia   which had been lost after the Arab victories over the Sassanian Empire at the Battles of Qadissiya (637 AD) and Nehavand 651 (AD).  

 

BabakBanner

 

 

 

 

Predictably, Babak Khorramdin has now been retroactively Turkified by SANAM and re-named as “Bay Beg”. Mr. Chereganli claims that Babak and his followers were:

(a) all Turkish

(b) fighting “the racist Persians to free themselves from Persia ”.

 

Again, a quick study of historical archives contradicts pan-Turanian claims. First, Babak’s name is derived from that of the first Sassanian monarch Ardashir-e-Babak-an, who lived hundreds of years before Khorramdin. The name “Babak” is derived from the name of the father of the first monarch of the Sassanian Empire (224-651 AD), Ardashir I Babak-an (180-239 AD). Babak/Pabek was himself the son of Sassan, the high priest at the Temple of goddess Anahita in Persis (see Wilcox, p.36 in References). Babak can also mean “little father” or “faithful” in Sassanian Pahlavi (see Mackenzie in References). Babak is also the name of a character in the Shahname epic.

 

As noted previously (items 2-3), the Turkish language did not arrive in Azarbaijan and Arran until three centuries later at the earliest. The inhabitants of historical Azarbaijan (in Iran ) and Arran spoke Iranian languages at the time (items 1-2). Babak and his followers never spoke a word of Turkish.

 

Romano-Byzantine sources are clear in identifying the Babak Khorramdin rebellion as a Persian movement aimed at re-establishing Persia ’s independence from Arab Caliphate rule and reviving her Zoroastrian past (see for example Reference for Laurent (Canard), esp. pages 133-134 357-381). Oxford Medieval historian, Professor Mark Whittow has noted that:

 

Azarbaijan was the scene of frequent anti-caliphal and anti-Arab revolts during the eighth and ninth centuries, and Byzantine sources talk of Persian warriors seeking refuge in the 830s from the caliph’s armies by taking service under the Byzantine emperor Theophilos (p.195)Azarbaijan had a Persian population and was a traditional centre of the Zoroastrian religion(p.203)…The Khurramites were a…Persian sect, influenced by Shiite doctrines, but with their roots in a pre-Islamic Persian religious movement (p.215)”.

[Whittow, Mark, The Making of Byzantium : 600-1025, Berkley : University of California Press , p.195, 203, 215].

 

There are simply no historical references to Babak (or any of his followers) being Turkish, or fighting for a “Turkish homeland”. As noted previously, Pan-Turanian activists (e.g. UAM) simply reject any history or factual information that contradicts their views. Mr. Chehreganli himself represents the classic psychological case of cognitive dissonance par excellence.

 

For over a thousand years, the people of Azarbaijan have held annual celebrations (July 9th) to honor the exploits of Babak Khorramdin. Babak’s fort is located in Azarbaijan ’s Bez Mountain (see photo below). The fort was the base from which Babak Khorramdin, his brave and resilient wife, Banu Khorramdin and his followers began their long resistance movement against the Abbasid caliphs (816-837 AD). They were identified as the “Sorkh-Jamegan” (Persian for “those who wear red attire”); red has been the colour of many Zoroastrian and ancient mystical Aryan cults in pre-Islamic Persia [xxvii] .

 

Babak-B

 

 

Pan-Turanian activists have attempted to turn these celebrations into anti-Persian events. There are reports that Grey Wolves activists from Turkey and the Republic of Azarbaijan join the celebrations, chant anti-Iranian slogans and distribute anti-Iran literature (Parts III & IV). This is dramatically illustrated by the photograph below (from Mr. Chehreganli’s aforementioned SANAM website) showing pan-Turanian activists raising their hands with the Grey Wolf salute. As noted in Part I (item 2b), this salute is based on the fictitious Grey Wolf legend originally invented by the pan-Turanian ideologues of Turkey . Although Grey Wolves activists would beg to differ, their salute is as historically meaningless (and alien) to Azarbaijanis as it is for Armenians and Greeks.    

 

 

Azer-Wolves Wolf Hand

 

The people who engage in the racist Grey Wolf salute are insulting their ancestral Iranian heritage – just as the misled and ignorant Russian neo-Nazis are glorifying their greatest enemy: Hitler and Nazism (see Part IV, item 5).

 

It is truly tragic to see how ignorant and indifferent a select number of Iranian Azarbaijanis (and Iranians in general) have become with respect to their history – a cultural vacuum which allows racist opportunists (and their geopolitical allies) to cynically exploit, not only in Azarbaijan , but in many parts of Iran (Khuzestan, Kurdistan, Baluchistan , etc.).

 

There is also a painting of Babak Khorramdin wearing Grey Wolf head gear – another attempt at falsely portraying this ancient Persian icon as “Turanian” (note that his complexion has been deliberately painted in a yellowish hue to suggest Asiatic ancestry):

 

Babak-Oghlu

 

 

Though entertaining at first sight, this painting is portraying the Babak that never was. This is yet another assault against Persia ’s heritage, identity and the historical unity of her people.  How offended would the Turks be if foreigners began claiming Alp Arslan or Suleiman the magnificent as non-Turks?

 

To claim that Babak Khorramdin was an anti-Persian Turkish separatist is as illogical as claiming Sam Houston was a Mexican who fought in the name of Greater Spain against Texas .  

  

(7) Azarbaijanis and all who speak Turkish are Turkish by race.

 

(a) Ziya Gokalp.

 

The notion of Azeris being Turkish because of language is based on the late Ziya Gokalp (1876-1924) who equated language with racial and ethnic membership: you are racially Turkish if you speak Turkish. This is a standard argument of characters like Mr. Chehreganli and his western geopolitical supporters. Gokalp was in fact a Kurd born in Diyarbakr. He is one of a long line of non-Turks who helped build pan-Turanian ideology (Part I, item 1).

 

ZiyaGokalp

 

 

By no means is the discussion in this item attempting to simplistically outline the complex (and anthropolically interwoven) Iranian and Turkish national, ethnic, and linguistic identities. Such a Herculean task would require volumes of text. Instead, we are clearly confining the discussion to the linear and (in my opinion) divisive concept of “race” – in the purely anthological sense.

 

The main weakness of Gokalp’s simplistic premise is his oversimplification of the complex interrelationships between ethnicity, nationality, language and historical migrations. His logic is that speakers of a language “X” must also be racially members of “X”.

 

A Canadian anthropologist (who does not wish to be named in this commentary) has recently noted to me of the humorous application of Gokalp’s logic to North American English speakers. In the United States alone, millions of English speakers are of African descent. However, English is a Germanic language, originally spoken by the Anglo-Saxon invaders of ancient 4th century Romano-Celtic Britain. If Gokalp’s logic is correct, African Americans and European Americans must be of the same racial stock as they both speak English. For a more visual example, compare the photos of Black-American actor Samuel L. Jackson (left) with contemporary Hollywood director Peter Jackson (right):

 

Samuel-Jackson Peter-Jackson

 

Both characters share the name “ Jackson ”, as well as the English language. Being an Anglophone and having an English name does not mean that one is automatically Anglo-Saxon by race. In that case, the entire Black, Asian, Hispanic, Amerindian population of the United States and Canada are Anglo-Saxons. Likewise, being a Turcophone does not mean that one is automatically Turkish or Turkic by race. National identity is based on a number of domains, only one of which is defined by language. Nevertheless, this simplistic logic (language = race) is being used to attack the Iranian heritage of the people of Azarbaijan and Iran in general. 

 

But since when does language alone define cultural and/or national identity? As your writer, I write in English, does this mean that I, like Peter Jackson, am Anglo-Saxon?

 

National identity is multi-faceted. A Belgian could be either a Francophone (Walloon) or Dutch dialect speaker (Flemish). A Frenchman can be Basque (Eskuri) or speak an Italian dialect (e.g. Provencal, Corsican, etc.). In northern France , many of the inhabitants lay claim to a proud Celtic tradition ( Brittany ).

 

Have you, gentle reader, ever contemplated that the so-called “Middle East peoples” (itself a bogus and meaningless term) are just as complex and diverse in their origins as the peoples of Europe and the rest of the world? It is a mystery as to why westerners have insisted on applying such linear, simplistic and rigid concepts to define complex peoples such as Iranians, Turks and Arabs?  These rigidly simplistic concepts are highly divisive and misleading. 

 

Many modern Turks hail from Bosnian, Georgian, Iranian (Persian, Kurdish, Azeri) Greek, Arab, Venetian, Slavic and Armenian backgrounds. Arabs are just as diverse – in the eastern Arab world, many have Iranian ancestry (Persian and Kurdish) – the Levant has seen multitudes of Hittite, Mittani, etc. settlers in its history.  In the Western Arab world one finds a plethora of Christians (Greek Orthodox, Coptic, etc.). One can also trace much of the ancestry of modern Arabs to the earlier Semitic peoples such as the Akkadians, Babylonians, Assyrians (Aramaic-speakers), Syriacs, etc.    

 

The Iranian ethnic mosaic is far too complex to even begin attempting to define it in the confines of this commentary. If we extend timelines back to pre-Aryan arrivals, we witness proto-Elamites in the Southwest and Southeast, and Hurrian arrivals from the Caucasus . We then have a long period of Iranian Aryan migrations onto the Iranian plateau and eastern Anatolia (many areas of western Iran and modern Kurdistan was already settled by Assyrian peoples). Arab settlers also arrived during Sassanian and post-Sassanian eras (a number of their descendants survive in Khorrassan and Tajikestan) – these are then eclipsed by subsequent Turkic and Mongol arrivals. The very overall sketch just outlined highlights how complex definitions such as “race” and “language” are.

 

Gokalp was not entirely wrong about Iran – there are a plethora of Turkic settlers who can trace their ancestry to the original Oghuzz (the aforementioned Nader Shah was a Turkmen). But even the identity of the Turkmen (meaning “very Turk”) is hotly disputed. There are claims of strong Iranic admixture within them. This is not surprising as Turkic and Iranic peoples have been intertwined in Central Asia for thousands of years. Even the Mongols who invaded Persia are said to have had some Iranian (North Iranic?) ancestry (see Turnbull in references).   

 

Interestingly, no mainstream western, Turkish, or Iranian scholars have challenged the logical veracity of Gokalp’s argument that Azarbaijanis are Turkish simply because they speak Turkish. This is one area of academic and popular complacency, especially amongst the Iranians and Europeans, that has allowed pan-Turaninism to come as far as it has today.    

 

(b) The Richards et al. Genetic Studies.

 

Genetic studies have provided very interesting results. Professor Martin Richards and 26 other researchers conducted a very detailed genetic analysis of Turks, Arabs, and Iranians.

 

The sample body of Ossetians (n=106 - large), Azarbaijanis (n=48 – adequate sample size), and Kurds (n=53 - adequate sample size) were more than sufficient to be able to draw conceptually valid inferences. In addition, the study had a large number of Armenians (n=109) as well.

 

A major conceptual flaw with the study was that Kurds, Azarbaijanis and Ossetians were segregated from the Iranian sample. This has resulted in two major shortcomings:

 

[a] Incorrect delineation of the Iranian family: Ossetians are descendants of the North Iranian Alans (see Part I, item 2l); Kurds descendants of the west-Iranian Mede as well as North Iranian Alan and Saka peoples. In addition, no Mazandaranis, Rashtis, Baluchis, Khorassanis, etc. were examined. It is also unclear why the large Richards research team excluded Iranian specialists from participating in the study. The study certainly enlisted the help of world class Turkish (e.g. Professor Mukaddes Golge) and Arabian (e.g. Professor Nadia Al-Zaheri) specialists.

 

[b] Small sample size: Only 12 subjects were defined as “Iranians”. These are too few to draw any statistically valid conclusions – you need at least 30 subjects in scientific studies (see Tabachnik & Fidell, Rencher, and Jaccard in references). This means that the reports of the Richards team on the “Iranians” are statistically invalid.

 

Nevertheless, the study has yielded dramatically significant results, despite its conceptual flaws in ethnically classifying Iranians. Put simply, the results strongly contradict pan-Turanian ideology.

 

The results are especially interesting with respect to Azeris. Azeris, like the Kurds, Ossetians and Armenians, show a high incidence of U5 lineages – genes common among Europeans as a whole. The results are aptly summarized as such:

 

…many Armenian and Azeri types are derived from European and northern Caucasian types (p.1263)The U5 cluster… in Europe… although rare elsewhere in the Near east, are especially concentrated in the Kurds, Armenians and Azeris…a hint of partial European ancestry for these populations – not entirely unexpected on historical and linguistic grounds (p.1264)”

[Richards et al., (2000). Tracing European founder lineages in the Near Eastern mtDNA pool. American Journal of Human Genetics, 67, p.1263-1264, 2000]

 

One of my colleagues has noted that these results are as threatening to pan-Turanian ideology as they are to European neo-Nazi/Nordicist movements. Nordicists are vehemently (and violently) opposed to any notion that Europeans have racial connections to any peoples of the Near East .

 

Among academic researchers however, these findings are neither earth-shattering nor surprising. They are simply another piece of the puzzle of the Indo-European origins of the Iranian family and the Armenians. What is especially damaging to pan-Turanian ideology is the notion that Azarbaijanis and Armenians may have much more in common that has been admitted.

 

But there is one finding that most likely is of interest to modern day Turks: The Richards team had a large sample of Turks from Turkey (n=218) and also found incidences of the U5 gene cluster.

 

This is not surprising either. The Turkish language is historically, a relative newcomer to Anatolia; it was introduced by a minority of Turkic Oghuzz warriors from Central Asia (recall Part II, item 2).

 

The genetic ancestry of modern Turks is highly varied, mainly as a result of multiple migrations, wars and empires. While modern Turks (and a growing number of Hungarians) stress their genetic connection to Central Asia , scientific evidence fails to corroborate their beliefs. True, there are Turkmen Turks of Central Asian stock in eastern Turkey , however a large proportion of modern Turks have Balkan, Persian, Greek, Armenian, Kurdish, Azeri, Georgian, Varangian, and even some Celtic ancestry. The latter seems surprising; however the term “ Ankara ” may be derived from the Celtic “Ankyra”. The Galatian Celts appear in Anatolia ’s interior after the Greeks defeated them in 230 BC.  The original Turkic stock from Central Asia (some of whom live in northeast Iran today) have little or no connection to the European-type U5 cluster.

 

(c) The Analyses of Colin Renfrew.

 

Professor Colin Renfrew (see 1994 References) notes how Turkic languages spread by Elite Dominance:

 

…incoming minorities…conquer other populations and…impose their languages on them. The Altaic family spread in this fashion…

[Colin Renfrew, World linguistic diversity, Scientific American, 270(1), 1994, p.118]

 

Genetic alteration can only occur as a result of one of more of the following:

[a] Sustained migrations across a long period of time

[b] Population dispersals by farming,

[c] Dispersals forced by climactic changes.

 

In general, the Turks did not arrive peacefully but as conquering elites who imposed their languages upon indigenous populations (Azeris, Arranis, etc.). Conquering elites provide very modest genetic changes to the indigenous populations that they conquer.  However, they can alter the population’s language as result of their elite military and political dominance.  

 

(d) The Cavalli-Sforza et al. Genetic Studies.

 

Renfrew’s studies have been corroborated by Professor Luigi Cavalli-Sforza (see photo below) and his colleagues, who have concluded the following after decades of genetic research:

 

Around the third century B.C., groups speaking Turkish languages…threatened empires in China, Tibet, India, Central Asia, before eventually arriving in Turkey…genetic traces of their movement can sometimes be found, but they are often diluted, since the numbers of conquerors were always much smaller than the populations they conquered(p.125)…Turks…conquered Constantinople (Istanbul) in 1453..replacement of Greek with Turkish ..Genetic effects of invasion were modest in Turkey . Their armies had few soldiers…invading Turkish populations would be small relative to the subject populations that had a long civilization and history(p.152). 

[Cavalli-Sforza, Luigi (2000). Genes, Peoples and Languages. New York : North Point Press. P.125, 152]

 

Luigi

 

 

 

Interestingly, Cavalli-Sforza notes of a broad genetic grouping that includes many parts of Iran , Turkey , the Caucasus and Greece . While these regions certainly vary in their histories, religions and languages, one can find many cultural facets in common (cuisine being one small example). Turks have much stronger anthropological links to Iranians, Greeks and Armenians than their ideologues would wish to admit. Racialism however is the dogma of division and hate: information such as this is ignored.

 

European researchers have long known of the dichotomy between Grey Wolf pan-Turanian ideology and factual information. Note the following observation by history Professor Fernandez-Arnesto:

 

The homogeneity of the (Turkish) nation is an unwritten dogma, although few Turks would seriously maintain that they are a pure race. For thousands of years before their arrival, Anatolia has been the home of the Hittites, Phrygians, Lydians, Assyrians and countless forgotten peoples, as well as being a highway into Europe for conquering armies. In that mixture of genes, the Turks were just one more ingredient…the Janissaries…were recruited in boyhood from the Christian subject peoples…in the multiracial Ottoman Empire , many soldiers and administrators took wives from among the inhabitants of the provinces in which they served ”.

[]Felipe Fernandez-Arnesto, The Peoples of Europe, London : Times Books, 1994, p.203]

 

What Professor Fernandez-Arnesto states has been known to international scholarship for a long time. Few in the international scholastic arena have been swayed by what Professor Fernandez-Arnesto characterizes as the “homogeneity…dogma” of a single Turkish “race”. Hungarians speak a language that is a distant relative of Turkish; does this mean they are Turkic by race? Grey Wolf activists would insist that the answer is a resounding “yes”, however the aforementioned genetics Professor Cavalli-Sforza again contradicts dogma:

 

…a Magyar (Hungarian) monarchy(Turkic) conquerors…

[Cavalli-Sforza, Luigi, Genes, Peoples and Languages, New York : North Point Press, 2000, p.151]

 

(e) Transcending the Concept of “Race”.

 

Hungarians are considered to be Magyar speaking Europeans – not an Asiatic Turkic people. In like manner, why are the Azarbaijanis (of Iran in particular) being forcibly re-defined as “Turanian” simply because they speak Seljuk Oghuzz Turkish? How can a single index (Turkish language) be used to virtually erase Azarbaijan ’s mighty civilizational identity in Persia ? Azarbaijan has been of vital importance in the development of Persian civilization, just as Hungary has been a vital element in the development of European civilization.

 

It is here where Professor Diker’s “genetic proof” of a “Turkish-Etruscan” connection (Part II, item 2e) can be logically disassembled. Like Gokalp, Professor Diker is confusing “Turkophone” with “Turkic” (as in Central Asian). The study cited by Diker has only demonstrated a link between the inhabitants of today’s Turkey (I suspect mainly, western Turkey ) and the Etruscans. But as we have seen, modern Turks are a highly varied genetic mix who speak Turkish (excepting the Kurds of Eastern Turkey). Has Professor Diker compared the ancient Etruscans to modern day Sinkiang Turks for example?

 

Cultural links between Anatolia, mainland Greece and southern Italy have been in existence for thousands of years. This cultural system was itself linked first to the ancient Mesopotamian cultures and later to Persia . Nik Spatari (see references) has provided an exhaustive compendium of the artistic and cultural intercourse between the different peoples of the Aegean, pre-Roman Calabrian and Estruscan Italy , Anatolia, and Persia . The term used to summarize this ancient cultural zone is called “Assi-tite” by Spatari. The aforementioned Richards study provides support for the already established archeological analyses by noting on:

 

the heavy historical gene flow between Greece and other populations of the eastern Mediterranean ”.

[Richards et al, 2000, p.1267]

  

Again, none of these studies reveal any Central Asian or Turkish speaking connections, as no Turks existed in the Caucasus, Anatolia, the Near East, the Aegean or Persia at the times of the ancient Sumerians, Hittites, Greeks, Achaemenids, etc. In essence, scientific studies, historical archives, anthropology, linguistics and Socratic questioning fail to substantiate pan-Turanian ideology[xxviii] . It would seem that Professor Diker and pan-Turanian activists are simply playing with semantics by replacing terms such as “Greek” and “Persian” with “Turkish”.  Professor Diker will undoubtedly invent a way of explaining away everything that has been discussed in this section. Indeed, the pseudo-science of racialism utilizes word play, fact distortion, archival falsification, and creative semantics as its main methods of inquiry. Racialists always appear under the guise of “science” and “history”, but in reality, they are nothing more than intellectual hooligans seeking to appease their cognitive dissonance.

 

As noted repeatedly in this commentary, racist dogma of any creed or persuasion fails the test of objective scrutiny. The thesis of a pan-Turanian homeland in which the inhabitants of Central Asia, Sinkiang, modern Turkey and Azarbaijan are all one “super race” is based on fiction. This is similar to the Nazi fantasy of the “Aryan super nation” that would encompass much of the Eurasian landmass.

 

Language is only one of the many domains that may or may not define national identity. Similarly, the tribalistic concept of “race” cannot be used to define national identity in a binary fashion. In the American Republic , an American can be of any “race” (Black, Asian, Anglo-Saxon, or Hispanic), religion (Catholic, Protestant, Jewish, Muslim, etc.) or political persuasion. In Iran , the definition goes even further – to be an Iranian one does not even have to speak Persian as one’s first language. In Khuzistan there are Arab-speakers, in the southwest Baluchi, in the west Kurdish and Luri, and in some parts of Khorrassan, Fars and of course Azarbaijan : Turkish. India , an ancient civilization with many links to Persia , has dozens of languages and dialects and a variety of faiths and cultures, yet all are subsumed under a single and distinguished civilization.

 

Modern Turks are just as accepting of diversity (irrespective of the Kurdish issue today), undoubtedly a result of their high level of education. In cosmopolitan Istanbul (ancient Constantinople ), one can hear Georgian, Kurdish, and Persian spoken alongside Turkish. There is also a thriving Jewish community – thanks to the generosity of the Sultans who welcomed the persecuted Jews of medieval Spain . Although many of Turkey ’s enemies would beg to differ, Turks have all the hallmarks of a civilization.

 

It is here where the strict application of “Nationalism” appears to fail. A true pluralistic domain is able to accept and embrace all, regardless of “nationality”, “race”, or “language”. What do we mean by the “pluralistic domain”? Here we speak of a true civilization (e.g. Western civilization, Islamic civilization, India , etc.). The enemies of that civilization are racialist and religious dogmas.   

 

How simplistically vulgar it is dehumanize peoples into “my race-your race”, especially when it comes to Iranians and Turks. As noted before, Iranians and Turks are two peoples whose fates have been intertwined: Turkic and Iranic mixtures are evident from the mountains of the Tien Shan all the way to the shores of the Aegean . There are so many beautiful and complex mixtures of the two peoples that it almost boggles the mind.

 

It is here were the barbaric aspects of “race criteria” break down. In Afghanistan we have the Mongol descended “Hazara” (lit. “The Thousand” in Persian) who now speak Persian, or the many people of Khazar Turkish-Jewish descent in Dagestan (next to Chechniya) who speak Persian. Conversely, Azarbaijanis are an essentially Iranic people who mainly speak Turkish. A branch of the Turcophone Azeris are believed to have been settled in Iran ’s Fars province by the Safavids– they are today known as the Qashqai’s (note photo of Qashaqi girl by Shahyar Mahabadi).

 

Qashqai-Girl

 

 

“Aryan” Persia is herself is indebted to peoples such as the Babylonians, Sumerians, Elamites or Kartvelians. The Turkic peoples such as the Ghaznavids, Mamluks, Seljuks and even the Ottomans were great patrons of Persian literature, poetry, arts and music (recall Part II, item 4). To this day, one can see Persian inscriptions in the Dulmabahce Palace of Istanbul. The often unfairly vilified Arabs, under the Islamic Empire, allowed for the transmission of much (Sassanian) Persian knowledge and culture to Spain .  Iranian Jewry has a long history inside of Persia , dating back to Median times. Jews have often played a key role in the preservation and promotion of Persian language and culture. Persia , since its inception, has housed a plethora of “races”, languages and religions, and is home to all of them. The genetic tapestry of Persia is best exemplified by the Persian carpet: a complex interweave of diverse and intricate colours and designs.

(8) Iranian complacency.

 

This author has critically focused on the activities of the Grey Wolves in Azarbaijan and the Caucasus . However, to blame the current situation exclusively on pan-Turanian ideologues is overly simplistic. It is a fact that the Iranians (as a whole) are also to blame for the current predicament.  

 

But in what way? The answer to that question obliges one to enter a veritable hornet’s nest of (endless) political debates and passionate discussions with no end. By no means does this writer offer any “solutions”, nor does this writer pretend to be the “ultimate expert” in any sense. However, it is possible to share a number of surprising observations.

 

(a) Difficulty balancing Aryan Persia with Islam  

 

The first western intellectual to astutely observe this has been author/researcher, Sandra Mackey.
. In her book (The Iranians – see References), Mackie points to the classic Iranian identity conundrum: pride in Persia versus loyalty to Islam. Although it is not the place of the author to offer sweeping opinions, an idea may be entertained. Many Iranians are somewhat “binary” or “black and white” when it comes to their national identity.  

 

Makie notes that there seems to be a divide between those who appreciate the past of Persia versus those who only wish to identify with Islam. A number of the former ( Persia ’s past) usually tend to hold anti-Islamic views and (unfairly) blame the Arabs for Iran ’s historical and present-day ills. In contrast, a number of the latter (Islamic identity) view Persia ’s pre-Islamic past with disdain and contempt.

 

This intellectual “tug of war” has been very damaging in that it has absorbed much of the Iranian intellectual impetus for nearly a century (perhaps longer). It has allowed for the rise of anti-Persian cultural expression (see (b) below). Many Iranians are simply tired of this “binary” state of affairs, and wish to arrive at a healthy synthesis: accommodating Persia ’s Aryan heritage with its mighty legacy in the formation of Islamic civilization.   

 

(b) Toleration of Anti-Persian cultural expressions  

 

Iranians have been surprisingly meek in the face of certain anti-Persian cultural expressions notably the following.

 

 “Nasee-o-naleest”. The above mentioned “tug of war” (Persia-Islam) has produced a unqiue phenomenon among a number of the Iran ’s new generation: rejection of Persia and Islam. This view is associated with a unique interpretation of western liberalism. Any pride expressed with respect to Persia is labeled as “Nasee-o-naleest” (derived from the western-English word “nationalist”).

 

The label associates authoritarianism, dictatorship, narrow-minded, and violent oppression with virtually any favorable observations of Persia , especially pre-Islamic (Aryan) Persia . Some of this may be explained by the alienation of Iran ’s youth at present from the endless political wranglings, not to mention the constant state of international confrontation. The term may also be partly traced to a number of leftist political activists of the latter days of the former Pahlavi regime.

 

Another “modern” view is that Iran ’s past history is irrelevant simply because it happened in the past, and as such bears no relation to the present. This belief is especially targeted against Iran ’s pre-Islamic heritage. This view may have its origins in the anti-Pahlavi regime movements of the 1960s and 1970s.

 

Choveneesm-e-Fars. A number of leftist political platforms in the 1960s and 1970s re-cycled a term that had been invented by Soviet historians: “Choveneesm-e-Fars”. As the term was originally associated with the discredited pro-Soviet Pishevari movement, it was never taken seriously by the majority of Iran ’s populace.

 

Choveneesm-e-Fars” is a term that challenges the historical unity of Persia in three ways. First, it states that the “real Persia ” only constitutes the Persian-speaking heartlands and the northeast. This is the logic that any Iranian domain in which Persian is not the majority language, is not an integral part of Persia in the historical and cultural sense, and must seceede. Second, Persians are seen as “oppressors” of the “cultural and linguistic rights” of non-Persians. Third, any individual who challenges that assertion is labeled as a “Persian chauvinist” and/or “Nasee-o-naleest”.

 

The term “Choveneesm-e-Fars” is still used by the followers of the highly discredited and unpopular MKO (Mujaheddin Khalq Organization). This observation is denied by the MKO of course. Nevertheless, actions speak louder than words. The leadership of the MKO was on Saddam Hussein’s payroll throughout much of the Iran-Iraq war. MKO ideologues fought against regular Iranian troops and terrorized Iranian civilians throughout that war. The MKO continued to support Saddam’s territorial claims to southwest Iran (Khuzistan) right up to US-led invasion of Iraq . The below audio-video news clip provides rare footage of the leader of the MKO (Massoud Rajavi) meeting with and Saddam Hussein and Tariq Aziz (kindly click on the box below):

 

 

Mr. Rajavi’s allusions to “Choveneesm-e-Fars” neatly coincided with Pan-Arab claims to Khuzestan.

 

The term “Choveneesm-e-Fars” was one of an array of political weapons used by the Iranian left in the 1960s and 1970s to mobilize Iran ’s various ethnic groups (Baluchis, Azeris, Khuzestan Arabs, Turcomen, etc.) in a bid to eject the former Pahlavi regime from power.

 

Perhaps the Iranian leftists originally viewed “Choveneesm-e-Fars” from a romantic-Bohemian “human rights” vantage point; whatever their motives the damage has been done.

 

Today, the MKO has found powerful western patrons, particularly the English, Americans and Israelis. In their myopia to support the MKO, geopolitical lobbies seem to have conveniently forgotten the fact that it was the MKO who murdered American personnel in the 1970s. Their ideology was vehemently anti-modern and anti-western in its inception. The movement is said to resemble a cult and all democratic dissent is violently suppressed. MKO denies all of these allegations of course.

 

Although Iranians rightly despise the MKO, very few are aware of the cultural weapons they are promoting. Organizations like the MKO openly advocate anti-Persian cultural terminology (Choveneesm-e-Fars) and ally themselves with geopolitically funded separatist groups in their short-sighted and selfish bids to gain political office.

 

The term “Choveneesm-e-Fars” is now a cultural geo-political weapon at the hands of the MKO against the cultural, historical and territorial integrity of Persia . Mr. Rajavi has made common cause with Mr. Chehreganli, who states in his website the need to “liberate the “oppressed peoples of Iran ” from “Choveneesm-e-Fars”.

 

(c) Iran ’s Neglect of Persian culture    

 

As noted succinctly by Professor Olson:

 

What is ironic about the fact that the“Azarbaijan question” was allowed to devolop to the stage that it did from 1991 to the present is that it occurred under the watch of an Islamic Republic preaching the universalist discourse of Islam, never realizing that such values could result in accelerated particularisms, including the strengthening of sub-group nationalisms the could grow to threaten the state

[Olson, Robert , Turkey -Iran Relations, 1979-2004: Revolution, Ideology, War, Coups and Geopolitics, 2004, p.156].

 

As Olson has duly observed above, the current regime in Tehran appears to be overly interested in Arabian affairs (Palestinian issues, etc.) and neglecting the cultural state of affairs at home. It is this vacuum, created largely by Iran ’s current education system that is allowing separatist organizations to operate with virtual impunity.

 

Iranian high school students at the senior level obtain no education in Persia ’s history, especially its pre-Islamic past. These have been largely removed from the curricula since 1979. A professor at the Tarbiat Modarress University (his identiy is hidden in this commentary) noted the following to the author by telephone:

 

In our university library there are just 3 books on pre-Islamic Persia…pan-Turkist types like Chehreganli, one of our former students, can make claims that Azarbaijan has been Turanian since time immemorial simply because there is no academic platform to stop them…meanwhile pan-Turanian activists in Azarbaijan make unsubstantiated claims…all of this could be easily halted if we had the academic resources…the regime needs to take notice

 

Given these circumstances, it is no wonder that nonsense narratives about Iranian icons (e.g. Babak Khorramdin, Sattar Khan), history (claiming Azarbaijan as Turanian) or languages (claiming Parthian as Turkish) are have been allowed to spread among Iran’s youth – there simply are no adequately organized educational structures in place to combat pan-Turanian ideology.

 

Nevetheless there are signs that the people of Iran are taking notice of the dangers of pan-Turanianism. The defense of Iran ’s heritage and integrity is now resting mainly on the shoulders of Iran ’s people – many of whom (like the author) are non-partisan. The good news is that Iran is literally bursting with books about Persia and the interest is among young and old is spreading.

 

To its credit, the regime in Tehran seems to have partly woken up to the cultural danger facing Iran . After a long hiatus, a number of western Iranologists are now returning to conduct archaeological surveys in Iran . Conferences on Persia have been gaining ground in Iran as well. There are positive but small steps that can help in the struggle of the people of Iran against organizations such as SANAM, the MKO, Pezhak and the Al-Ahwaz organizations. However, more must be done as the aforementioned separatist organizations have very powerful geopolitical allies and have access to virtually unlimited funds (see discussions in Part VI as well).   

 

(d) A Bitter Tsarist Legacy    

 

The information in this section will undoubtedly make a number of Iranians uncomfortable. Nevertheless, despite its unpalatable nature, certain facts need to be addressed.

 

The followers of Mr. Chehreganli and SANAM often refer to the how “Persian chauvinists” engage in disparaging ethnic jokes against Azeris. Of course, Mr. Chehreganli either does not know, or wants it to be known, that many of these “jokes” are not even Persian in origin.

 

In Part II, items 5b-c, we noted of the brutal role of Imperial Russian troops in early twentieth century Iran . What is virtually unknown is the role played by Imperial Tsarist agents in fomenting negative and potentially divisive cultural cultural expressions in Iran, especially against Northern Iranians in Gilan (Rasht in particular) and Azarbaijan.

 

The Russians (and British) were very concerned with a cultural dynamic in Iran that could lead to the rise of a modern and progressive state. The Russians and English were especially concerned with the leadership role that northern Iranians (e.g. Azeris, Rashtis, etc.) had played in Iran ’s democratic movement of the early 1900s. It would appear that the united nature of the constitutional movement in which Azeri, Bakhtiari, Mazandarnai, Mashahdi, etc. fought side by side in the name of a democratic, progressive and modern Iran was not palatable to the distinguished policy makers in Moscow and London . A means had to be found to divide the Iranians and dissolve their historical bonds.

 

It was in here where the Russian secret police had the distinction of inventing the first anti-Iranian cultural weapons. They even outdid the British, who themselves had been working to undermine Iran ’s unity since the 19th century (see Part VI, item 10).

 

The cultural weapons are the so-called venomous “jokes” targeted against Iran ’s Azeri population and the north in general (esp. Rasht ). This is not surprising as it was always these regions that would put up the first fight against any Russian invasion. The Bakhtiaris and Lurs were also targeted, partly due to fears of their martial abilities.  

 

The “jokes” themselves are anything but humorous, especially when these are narrated to non-Iranians. In general these “jokes” always question the intelligence of the Azeris and the valour of the Rashtis. The Russian invention is especially ingenious as the Azeris have in reality always been highly industrious and among Iran ’s educational elites. Among their many virtues, the Rashtis were known to be good fighters, as was seen in their support of Sattar Khan.

 

What is not known is that many members of the Imperial Russian secret police (like the KGB later) spoke and wrote fluent Persian and were able to easily blend into Iran ’s native population. It did not take long for the so-called “jokes” to take hold.

 

Each and every time Iranians engage in these so-called “jokes”, they are forwarding an anti-Iranian agenda, one that goes back to the early 1900s. They are also helping Mr. Chehreganli, SANAM and their Geopolitical supporters.

 

[i] Atabaki, T., Azarbaijan: Ethnicity and the Struggle for Power in Iran, p.7.[ii] Kasravi, A. Azeri ya Zaban-e Bastan-e Azarbaijan, 2nd print, Tehran, Taban, 1938, p.8.
[iii] It is notable that this region was identified as the land in which Zoroastrian “fire-temples were very common”, as cited in Yaqut al-Hamavi, Kitab Mujam Al Buldan, Wustenfled F. (ed.) vol.1, Leipzig, Brockhaus, 1866, p.17.
[iv] Atabaki, T., Azarbaijan: Ethnicity and the Struggle for Power in Iran, p.7.
[v] Strabo Geographica, see p. 17-18 regarding Azarbaijan and Arran.
[vi] Matini, Jalal, “Azarbaijan Koja Ast?”, 1989, Iranshenasi, I(3), p.452.
[vii] Ibid.
[viii] Ibid.
[ix] Ibid.
[x] Matini, Jalal, “Azarbaijan Koja Ast?”, 1989, Iranshenasi, I(3), p.452.
[xi] Ibid.
[xii] Ibid. Matini also notes that Greater Azarbaijan nationalists such as Abbas-Ali Javadi have inaccurately cited the new republic as having been the Democratic Republic of Azerbaijan. This may perhaps be an attempt to provide a historical (albeit fictional) background for the rise of the Soviet-supported Pishevari movement in Iranian Azarbaijan in the mid-1940s. 
[xiii] Chaqueri, Cosroe, Origins of Social Democracy in Iran, 2001, p.209.
[xiv] Matini, Jalal, “Azarbaijan Koja Ast?”, 1989, Iranshenasi, I(3), p.445.
[xv] The Ottoman Turks had successfully defeated and expelled the Russians from Kars on April 26, 1918, a full month before the declaration of the “Republic of Azerbaijan”. For the little studied area of Ottoman operations and personnel in the Caucasus and Iran during World War One, consult Nicolle, David, The Ottoman Army: 1914-1918, 1994, p.37, 39-40.  
[xvi] Matini, Jalal, “Azarbaijan Koja Ast?”, 1989, Iranshenasi, I(3), p.452.[xvii] Ibid.
[xviii] Chaqueri, Cosroe, Origins of Social Democracy in Iran, 2001, p.118, 174-181, 209-210.
[xix] Rasulzadeh, Mohammad Amin, 1910, Tanqid-e Ferqeh-e E’tedaliyun ya Ejtema’iyun E’tedaliyun, Tehran, Farus. See also citation by Atabaki, Touraj, Azarbaijan: Ethnicity and the Struggle for Power in Iran, 2000, p.38.
[xx] Pan-Turanian activists also portray Khiyabani as a sort of “closet separatist”. Refer to Atabaki’s 2000 text for further discussion.
[xxi] Kasravi, A. Tarijh-e-Hejdah Saleh-e Azarbaijan, op. cit., p.872.
[xxii] Blucher, W.V., Zeitenwende, Persian Translation: Safar-nameh-e-Blucher, Tehran, Khwarami, 1984, p.37. Tancoigne, A Narrative, p.177. See Ayandeh (1988), vol 4, no.s 1-2, p. 57-59).
[xxiii] Ramazani, R., op. cit. p.115. See also citation by Atabaki, Touraj, Azarbaijan: Ethnicity and the Struggle for Power in Iran, 2000, p.25.
[xxiv] Chaqeri, Origins of Social Democracy in Iran, p.209; Watson, A History, p.26; Bassett, The Land of Imams, p.266; US Consular Report, p.294. 
[xxv] Matini, Jalal, “Azarbaijan Koja Ast?”, 1989, Iranshenasi, I(3), p.449.
[xxvi] The author, who is born in Greece, met a number of ex-Greek communists who had fought against Athens on Russia’s behalf after the Second World War. After their defeat, they retreated to Skopje in Yugoslavia, which was re-named by the Communists as “Macedonia”. Russia then bought a number of these to prop up Pishevari’s flagging movement.
[xxvii] The Mazdak rebellion fought centuries earlier during the pre-Islamic Sassanian regin, are also reputed to have worn red garments.
[xxviii] History has seen repeated instances of a minority group introducing its language upon a majority population. The Romance-speaking population of Pannonia adopted the Turkic language of the Hunnic invaders of Attila. Again, the actual genetic trace of the original Magyar Turkic invaders is negligible (see Cavalli-Sforza in references). As noted by Professor Colin Renfrew (see references) languages can be spread by conquest, agricultural and economic factors, occupation of uninhabited lands, and climate changes forcing population movements.  

 

 

 

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