Monday, July 25, 2011

The Great Game: The Struggle for Empire in Central Asia by Peter Hopkirk - Chs. 5-9

Chapter 5: All Roads Lead to India
  • "The glittering riches of India have always attracted covetous eyes" - 69
1. 500 BC - Darius of Persia
2. 300 BC - Alexander the Great of Macedonia
3. 997-1026 AD - Mahmoud of Ghazni (part of Afghanistan), 15 raids
4. 1175-1206 AD - Mohammed of Gor (northern Pakistan), 6 invasions
5. 1398 AD - Tamerlane's troops sack Delhi
6. 1526 AD - Babur the Turk invades from Kabul, establishes Mogul Empire
7. 1739 AD - Nadir Shah of Persia
  • "Were it even possible for an enemy to succeed in constructing a fleet of materials conveyed, at vast trouble and expense, from the interior of Syria, or the shores of the Mediterranean...there is no harbour which could protect such a fleet from the attack of our cruisers." - John Kinneir, British risk assessor of sea invasion - 71
  • "All roads ultimately led through Afghanistan, whatever [overland] route an invader came by." - 73
  • "Unlike Wilson, Kinneir was not fully convinced that Tsar Alexander was planning to seize India: 'I suspect that the Russians are by no means desirous of extending their empire in this quarter; it is already too unwieldy, and may probably, ere long, crumble into pieces from its own accumulated weight.' He considered Constantinople a far more likely target for Alexander's ambitions." - 74
Chapter 6: The First of the Russian Players
  • September 21, 1819: Captain Nikolai Muraviev sets off across the Karakum Desert in a caravan to attempt to win over the Khan of the Turcomans at Khiva - 79
  • December 13, 1819: Muraviev returns to the eastern side of the Caspian Sea after the Khan agrees to send envoys to Tiflis, Georgia - 86
  • Muraviev's "journey was destined to mark the beginning of the end of the independent khanates of Central Asia." - 88
Chapter 7: A Strange Tale of Two Dogs
  • "It was in the course of the second of three long journeys he [William Moorcroft] made in search of these horses -- this one to the Kailas region of Tibet -- that something happened which gave birth to an obsession that haunted him for the rest of his life....he was greeted by two strange dogs which he knew at once to be of European origin....The two dogs had once belonged to [Russian] soldiers....From then until his death in 1825, Moorcroft was to deluge his superiors in Calcutta with impassioned warnings about Russian intentions in Central Asia." - 90
  • "What Moorcroft did not realise was that their many months in Ladakh spent trying to negotiate with the Chinese across the mountains [for access to Bokhara through Chinese Turkestan to avoid the current conflict/civil war in Afghanistan] had been pointless almost from the start. For the artful [Mehkti] Rafailov...had successfully poisoned the minds of the senior Chinese officials against them" - 98
Chapter 8: Death on the Oxus
  • "If the British did not get their hands on Afghanistan first, he [Moorcroft] warned, then the Russians almost certainly would." - 99
  • February 25, 1825: after proceeding through the Khyber Pass and travelling north along the Oxus River, "Moorcroft and his companions were able to make out in the distance the unmistakable line of minarets and domes which they knew were those of Bokhara, the holiest city in Muslim Central Asia." - 101
  • "It was hoped that these ['lavish gifts, including guns and furs, watches and European porcelain'] would create an appetite among rich Bokharans for more such goods. For the Russian factories...were becoming desperate for new markets. The home market was too small and impoverished to absorb the rapidly growing volume of goods being produced, while their British rivals, using more sophisticated machinery, were able to undercut them in both Europe and America." - 102
  • "To St. Petersburg the Great Game was as much about commercial penetration as about political and military expansion" - 102
Chapter 9: The Barometer Falls
  • "Both Tsar and Shah had looked upon the Treaty of Gulistan, which the British had negotiated between them in 1813, as no more than a temporary expedient which would allow them to strengthen their forces prior to the next round." - 109
  • November 1825: Governor-General Yermolov sends troops to occupy a disputed territory between Erivan and Lake Sevan that was not addressed in the Treaty of Gulistan - 109
  • "Not only was St. Petersburg embroiled on the side of the Greeks in their struggle for independence against the Turks, but at home, especially within the army, it was facing serious disorders following the sudden death of Tsar Alexander in December 1825....Abbas Mirza decided to strike the Russians while they were off their guard. Suddenly and without warning a 30,000-strong Persian force crossed the Russian frontier" - 110
  • "The original purpose of the pact between London and Teheran had, so far as the British were concerned, been the protection of India from attack by an intruder marching across Persia...the pact contained an escape clause....they were only obliged to go to the Shah's assistance if he were attacked, and not if they were the aggressor....Thus was Britain able to wriggle off the hook, for the second time in twenty-two years." - 111
  • "Under the terms of the peace treaty it had been agreed that Armenians living in Persia might, if they so wished, return to their homeland now that it had become part of the Russian Empire, and was therefore under Christian rule." - 112
  • "If the Ottoman Empire were to break up, with Russia occupying Constantinople and commanding the straits, a scramble would follow among the major European powers, including Britain, France and Austria, for what was left. Not only might a general European war result, but with British and French bases in the eastern Mediterranean, Russia's flank would be permanently threatened. It would be altogether safer to let the Sultan keep his ramshackle empire intact, even if he were to be made to pay for the privilege." - 115

Saturday, July 23, 2011

The Great Game: The Struggle for Empire in Central Asia by Peter Hopkirk - Chs. 3,4

Chapter 3: Rehearsal for the Great Game
  • see Captain Charles Christie's Mission to Herat and Lieutenant Henry Pottinger's observations of Baluchistan and Kerman
  • "Early in 1812, to the immense relief of London and Calcutta, the alarming partnership between Napoleon and Alexander had broken up. In June of that year Napoleon attacked, not India, but Russia, and to the astonishment of the world suffered the most catastrophic reverse in history. The threat to India had been lifted. Or so it seemed to a wildly rejoicing Britain." - 56
Chapter 4: The Russian Bogy
  • March 30, 1814: "Alexander, convinced now that he had been ordained by the Almighty to rid the world of Napoleon, was not content simply to drive them back beyond his own frontiers. He pursued the French half-way across Europe to Paris, entering it in triumph" - 58
  • "If one man could be said to be responsible for the creation of the Russian bogy, it was a much-decorated British general named Sir Robert Wilson....It was on his return [from Russia as the official British observer] to London that Wilson drew official wrath upon himself by launching a one-man campaign against the Russians." - 59
  • 1817: Wilson publishes A Sketch of the Military and Political Power of Russia; "In it he claimed that the Russians, emboldened by their sudden rise to power, were planning to carry out Peter the Great's supposed death-bed command that they conquer the world." - 60
  • "Although Wilson had no lack of supporters among the intelligentsia and the liberals, who abhorred Alexander's authoritarian rule, and from newspapers and journals of like view, he was largely shouted down. Nonetheless his book, much of which was based on false assumptions, gave birth to a debate on Russia's every move which would continue for a hundred years or more....The first seeds of Russophobia had been sown." - 61
  • 1813: Treaty of Gulistan, "the Shah was obliged to surrender almost all his claims to Georgia and Baku, as well as renouncing all naval rights on the Caspian Sea....All that the Shah got in return, apart from an end to hostilities, was an undertaking from the Tsar that he would support the claim of Abbas Mirza, his son and heir apparent....the Shah had no intention of honouring this treaty which had been forced upon him by his aggressive neighbours" - 66

Saturday, July 16, 2011

The Great Game: The Struggle for Empire in Central Asia by Peter Hopkirk - Ch.2

Chapter 2: Napoleonic Nightmare
  • "There were two schools of thought. One argued that he would advance overland through Syria or Turkey, and attack India from Afghanistan or Baluchistan, while the other was convinced that he would come by sea, setting sail from somewhere on Egypt's Red Sea coast." - 24-5
  • the East India Company "had found itself drawn reluctantly and expensively into the vacuum created by the disintegration of Mogul rule in India, and therefore increasingly involved in government and administration." - 25
  • August 1, 1798: Admiral Horatio Nelson finds the French Armada of 40,000 soldiers east of Alexandria, Egypt, traps the fleet, and destroys all but two ships (26)
  • January 24, 1801: after failing to convince Napoleon to join him, Tsar Paul I orders the Don Cossacks to attempt an overland invasion of India, through mainly unknown terrain; Paul told the Cossack leader, "You are to offer peace to all who are against the British....All the wealth of the Indies shall be your reward." - 28
  • March 23, 1801: Tsar Paul I is assassinated and his son Alexander soon sends a messenger to stop the Don Cossacks - 29-30
  • September 1801: Tsar Alexander annexes the independent kingdom of Georgia; "although Persian feelings ran high, actual hostilities did not break out between the two powers until June 1804, when the Russians thrust even further south, laying siege to Erivan, the capital of Armenia, a Christian possession of the Shah's." - 32
  • "Early in 1804, informed of what happened [involving the British neglecting to assist Persia against Russian incursions]..., Napoleon approached the Shah, offering to help him drive back the Russians in return for the use of Persia as a land-bridge for a French invasion of India." - 33
  • May 4, 1807: the Shah of Persia "signed a treaty with which he agreed to sever all political and commercial relations with Britain, declare war on her, and allow French troops the right of passage" - 33
  • "Fears of a Franco-Russian attack on India had brought home to those responsible for its defence how little they knew about the territories through which an invading army would have to march. Something had to be done quickly to remedy this, for all the treaties in the world would not stop a determined aggressor like Napoleon." - 36

Friday, July 15, 2011

The Great Game: The Struggle for Empire in Central Asia by Peter Hopkirk - Forward to Ch.1

  • "a succession of ambitious Tsars and ruthless generals crushed the Muslim peoples of Central Asia and occupied their lands. Fearing that the Russians would not stop until India too was theirs, the British sent young officers northwards through the passes to spy on them. At times the Great Game spilled over into Afghanistan, Persia, China and Tibet" - xv

  • 1807: "intelligence reached London which was to cause considerable alarm to both the British government and the [East India] Company's directors. Napoleon Bonaparte, emboldened by his run of brilliant victories in Europe, had put it to Paul's successor, Tsar Alexander I, that they should together invade India and wrest it from British domination" - 2-3
  • "diplomatic missions were dispatched [by the British] to the Shah of Persia and the Emir of Afghanistan, through whose domains the aggressor [Russia] would have to pass, in the hope of discouraging them from entering into any liaisons with the foe." - 3
  • "Indian hill men of exceptional intelligence and resource, specially trained in clandestine surveying techniques, were dispatched across the frontier disguised as Muslim holy men or Buddhist pilgrims. In this way, often at great risk to their lives, they secretly mapped thousands of square miles of previously unexplored terrain with remarkable accuracy. For their part, the Russians used Mongolian Buddhists to penetrate regions considered too dangerous for Europeans." - 5
  • "The Afghans, Moscow found too late, were an unbeatable foe." - 7
Chapter 1: The Yellow Peril
  • 1206: "The dreadful Mongol whirlwind had been unleashed on the an illiterate military genius named Teumjin, formerly the unknown chief of a minority tribe, whose fame was destined shortly to eclipse even that of Alexander the Great. It was the dream of Genghis Khan, as he was to become known, to conquer the earth, a task which he believed he had been chosen by God to carry out. During the next thirty years, he and his successors almost achieved this. At the height of their power their empire was to stretch from the Pacific coast to the Polish frontier. It embraced the whole of China, Persia, Afghanistan, present-day Central Asia, and parts of northern India and the Caucasus. But more important still, and particularly to our narrative, it included vast tracts of Russia and Siberia." - 12
  • "taking advantage of its reduced circumstances and military weakness, Russia's European neighbors began to help themselves freely to its territory. The German principalities, Lithuania, Poland and Sweden all joined in....Crushed thus between their European foes to the west and the Mongols to the east, the Russians were to develop a paranoid dread of invasion and encirclement which has bedeviled their foreign relations ever since." - 13
  • "If Catherine [the Great] failed to add either India or Constantinople to her domains, she nonetheless took a number of steps in that direction. Not only did she win back from the Persians the Caucasian territories which Anne had restored to them, but she also took possession of the Crimea, that last surviving stronghold of the Mongol empire." - 21
  • "To conquer India we must first make ourselves masters of Egypt." - 22, Napoleon Bonaparte

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Racial Theory in The Book of Mormon

Alma 3:6-27

6 And the skins of the Lamanites were dark, according to the mark which was set upon their fathers, which was a curse upon them because of their transgression and their rebellion against their brethren, who consisted of Nephi, Jacob, and Joseph, and Sam, who were just and holy men.
7 And their brethren sought to destroy them, therefore they were cursed, and the Lord God set a mark upon them, yea, upon Laman and Lemuel, and also the sons of Ishmael, and Ishmaelitish women.
8 And this was done that their seed might be distinguished from the seed of their brethren, that thereby the Lord God might preserve his people, that they might serve his people, that they might not mix and believe in incorrect traditions which would prove their destruction.
9 And it came to pass that whosoever did mingle his seed with that of the Lamanites did bring the same curse upon his seed.
10 Therefore, whosoever suffered himself to be led away by the Lamanites was called under that head, and there was a mark set upon him.
11 And it came to pass that whosoever would not believe in the traditions of the Lamanites, but believed those records which were brought out of the land of Jerusalem, and also in the tradition of their fathers, which were correct, who believed in the commandments of God and kept them, were called the Nephites, or the people of Nephi, from that time forth --
12 And it is they who have kept the records which are true of their people, and also of the people of the Lamanites.
13 Now we will return again to the Amlicites, for they also had a mark set upon them; yea, they set the mark upon themselves, yea, even a mark of red upon their foreheads.
14 Thus the word of God is fulfilled, for these are the words which he said to Nephi: Behold, the Lamanites have I cursed, and I will set a mark on them that they and their seed may be separated from thee and thy seed, from this time henceforth and forever, except they repent of their wickedness and turn to me that I may have mercy upon them.
15 And again: I will set a mark upon him that mingleth his seed with they brethren, that they may be cursed also.
16 And again: I will set a mark upon him that fighteth against thee and they seed.
17 And again, I say that he that departeth from thee shall no more be called thy seed, and I will bless thee, and whomsoever shall be called they seed, henceforth and forever; and these were the promises of the Lord unto Nephi and to his seed.
18 Now the Amlicites knew not that they were fulfilling the words of God when they began to mark themselves in their foreheads; nevertheless they had come out in open rebellion against God; therefore it was expedient that the curse should fall upon them.
19 Now I would that ye should see that they brought upon themselves the curse; and even so doth every man that is cursed brings upon himself his own condemnation.
20 Now it came to pass that not many days after the battle which was fought in the land of Zarahemla, by the Lamanites and the Amlicites, that there was another army of Lamanites came in upon the people of Nephi, in the same place where the first army met the Amlicites.
21 And it came to pass that there was an army sent to drive them out of their land.
22 Now Alma himself being afflicted with a wound did not go up to battle at this time against the Lamanites;
23 But he sent up a numerous army against them; and they went up and slew many of the Lamanites. and drove the remainder of them out of the borders of their land.
24 And then they returned again and began to establish peace in the land, being troubled no more for a time with their enemies.
25 Now all these things were done, yea, all these wars and contentions commenced and ended in the fifth year of the reign of the judges.
26 And in one year were thousands and tens of thousands of souls sent to the eternal world, that they might reap their rewards according to their works, whether they were good or whether they were bad, to reap eternal happiness or eternal misery, according to the spirit which they listed to obey, whether it be a good spirit or a bad one.
27 For every man receiveth wages of him whom he listeth to obey, and this according to the words of the spirit of prophecy; therefore let it be according to the truth. And thus endeth the fifth year of the reign of the judges.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Empire of the Mind: A History of Iran by Michael Axworthy

Chapter 9: From Khatami to Ahmadinejad, and the Iranian Predicament

  • "Iran gave significant help to the coalition forces against the Taliban later in 2001, helping to persuade the Northern Alliance to accept democratic arrangements for post-Taliban Afghanistan. In 2002 Iranians were rewarded with President George W. Bush's 'Axis of Evil' speech, which lumped Iran with Iraq and North Korea." - 284
  • "One theory of Iranian history, advanced by Homa Katouzian and others, is that Iran lurches from chaos to arbitrary autocracy and back again." - 287
  • "The Iranian regime, as pragmatism would suggest, has always insisted on its desire for stability in both Iraq and Afghanistan." - 289
  • "This is the problem: civil uranium enrichment is a legitimate activity under the NPT [Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty]. But once the enrichment process has begun, the difference between enrichment to levels consistent with civil use and the levels necessary for weapons is difficult to verify from outside." - 292
  • "the declaration by Iranian religious leaders against ownership of nuclear weapons should be given some credence." - 292

Empire of the Mind: A History of Iran by Michael Axworthy

Chapter 8: Iran Since the Revolution: Islamic Revival, War, and Confrontation

  • "The revolution of 1979 was not solely -- and perhaps not even primarily -- a religious revolution. Economic slump and middle-class disillusionment with the corruption and oppression of a regime many had previously supported were important factors, as was a nationalistic dislike of the unequal relationship with the United States. But the revolution drew great strength from its Shi'a form, which lent cohesion and a sense of common purpose to disparate elements" - 261
  • May 1979: "Khomeini established the Revolutionary Guard Corps (Sepah-e Pasdaran) as a reliable military force to balance the army and to supplement the gangs of street fighters that became known as Hezbollah -- the party of God" - 263
  • "The constitution set up an elected presidency, an elected Majles, and elected municipal councils, but it also established a Council of Guardians (twelve clerics and jurists) to vet and approve candidates before they could run for election, and to approve or veto legislation passed by the Majles." - 264
  • September 1980: "Saddam Hussein's forces invaded Iran" - 267
  • "The arsenal supplied to Iraq [by 'Western nations'] included chemical weapon technology that was used against Iranian soldiers as well as Kurdish civilians in the north of Iraq, whom Saddam treated as rebels" - 268
  • 1984: Saddam begins attacking Iranian ships in the Persian Gulf transporting oil - 268
  • July 1988: the "disastrously gung-ho commander" of the U.S. warship called USS Vincennes "shot down an Iranian civilian airliner...killing 290" while in pursuit of Iranian gunboats - 268
  • June 3, 1989: Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini died - 269
  • "the economy remained heavily dependent on oil, the oil industry remained inefficient for lack of international help to secure the most up-to-date technology, and that help was further blocked by U.S. economic sanctions, which sharpened through the 1990s as part of the policy of dual containment applied to both Iran and Iraq." - 275
  • May 1997: President Khatami elected and "called for proper constitutional government and for a halt of extra-judicial violence....But his reforms were blocked" - 277

Empire of the Mind: A History of Iran by Michael Axworthy

Chapter 7: The Pahlavis and the Revolution of 1979

  • "The Pahlavi monarchy was an odd kind of monarchy, with no real roots in tradition. It was established only after Reza Khan had failed to set up a republic." - 222
  • "As in Turkey, the shah set up a language reform to remove words not of Persian origin, and to replace them with Persian words." - 226
  • 1935: Reza Shah "ordered that foreign governments should drop the name 'Persia' in official communication and use instead the name 'Iran' -- the ancient name that had always been used by Iranians themselves." - 226
  • 1927/1928: Reza Shah "ended the capitulations" to foreign trade interests - 226
  • "The Allies were the immediate cause of Reza Shah's abdication, but his removal was welcomed by most Iranians...Reza went into exile in South Africa (where he died in July 1944)." - 230
  • "Mohammad Reza Shah had confirmed at his coronation that he would rule as a constitutional monarch, and in 1944 elections were held for the first genuinely representative Majles since the 1920s." - 231
  • "The shah tried to appeal to pro-American feeling, and to the United States for support. He made a speech drawing a comparison between Iranian nationalism and America's struggle for independence" - 232
  • May 1946: "after a tense period of negotiations and pressure from the United States and Britain", all Soviet forces had left Iran - 234
  • "Mohammad Mossadeq assembled a broad coalition of Majles deputies that came to be called the National Front. It was organized around the central demand for oil nationalization" - 235
  • March 15, 1951: Majles voted to nationalize oil reserves "under his [Mossadeq's] leadership" - 235
  • April 28, 1951: Mossadeq named prime minister - 235
  • "In the wake of this demonstration [on August 19, 1953 and partially arranged by the C.I.A. under code name Operation Ajax,] Mossadeq was arrested, the army and Zahedi were in control, and the shah returned. Mossadeq was tried and convicted of treason by a military court but was allowed to live under house arrest until he died in 1967." - 237
  • the coup "established the United States in Iran as the prime ally and protector of the Pahlavi regime....the removal of Mossadeq damaged U.S. interests in a much more serious way than could have been imagined at the time." - 237-8
  • July 1956: "Egypt's Jamal Abd al-Nasser...followed the example of Mossadeq and nationalized the Suez Canal." - 238
  • 1957: "a British diplomat with more than ordinary perspicacity wrote the following of Tehran...'The slums have a compact self-conscious unity and communal sense that is totally lacking in the smart districts of chlorinated water, macadamed roads and (fitful) street lighting. The bourgeois does not know his neighbor: the slum-dweller is intensely conscious of his.'" - 241
  • 1963: "a cleric little known outside of ulema circles, Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, began to preach in Qom against the shah's government. He attacked its corruption, its neglect of the poor, and its failure to uphold Iran's sovereignty in its relationship with the United States -- and he also disliked the shah's sale of oil to Israel." - 242
  • "In the mid-1970s half the population were under sixteen, and two-thirds were under thirty. This was to be the generation of the revolution." - 247
  • Ali "Shariati was not a Marxist, but he could be said to have recast Shi'a Islam in a revolutionary mold, comparable to the Marxist model: 'Everywhere is Karbala and every day is Ashura.'" - 255
  • January 16, 1979: the shah leaves Iran - 258
  • February 1, 1979: Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini flies back to Tehran - 258

Empire of the Mind: A History of Iran by Michael Axworthy

Chapter 6: The Crisis of the Qajar Monarchy, the Revolution of 1905-1911, and the Accession of the Pahlavi Dynasty

  • "Persian merchants began to protest the fact that cheap European products, especially textiles, were coming onto Persian markets with low or no tariffs and were undercutting domestic craftsmen, destroying their livelihoods. Predictably, the merchants who made a profit from handling the imports kept quiet." - 186
  • "Another development during the reign of Mohammad Shah was the appearance in Iran of the Babi movement, which eventually gave rise to the Baha'i religion." - 187
  • March 1857: The Peace of Paris "stipulated that Persia must abandon all claim to Afghan territory" -192
  • "The British, feeling their loss of the latest round in the Great Game, decided in 1902/1903 to liaise with some members of the ulema, notably Ayatollah Abdollah Behbehani, to oppose the customs arrangements, including the Belgian administrators and the Russian loans....The following year the harvest was bad. Next, the outbreak of the Russo-Japanese war, followed by the 1905 revolution in Russia, interrupted imports from the north and made them more expensive. The significance of the outcome of the war, in which the Japanese inflicted a humiliating defeat on the Russians (with the help of the British-built battleships), was eagerly taken in by Iranian intellectuals, for whom it demonstrated that the dominance of the imperialist Europeans was not unshakeable." - 200-1
  • October 1906: the Majles, or national assembly, ordered by Mozaffar od-Din Shah "convened for the first time...and rapidly set about drafting a constitution, the central structure of which took the form of what were called the Fundamental Laws." - 203
  • "The Majles expected to govern, and to govern on new principles. The constitution (which remained formally in force until 1979, and was based on the Belgian constitution) stated explicitly that the shah's sovereignty derived from the people, as a power given to him in trust, not as a right bestowed directly from God." - 204
  • "The Constitutional Revolution marked the effective end of the Qajar era of government, and promised to usher in a period of government under more regular, legitimate, modern principles. inaugurated a period of conflict and uncertainty." - 204
  • 1907: "Britain and Russia had finally compounded their mutual suspicions and reached a treaty over their interests in Persia. The treaty showed no respect for the new condition of popular sovereignty in the country, .... This new treaty divided Persia into three zones: a zone of Russian influence in the north, including Tabriz, Tehran, Mashdad, and Isfahan -- most of the major cities; a British zone in the southeast, adjacent to the border with British India; and a neutral zone in the middle." - 207
  • July 1909: Russia moves on Tehran to restore Qajar rule, "intolerant as ever of any form of popular movement".... Mohammad Ali Shah fled to the Russian legation, was deposed, and went into exile in Russia. He was replaced by his young son, Ahmad" - 208
  • Morgan Schuster, a young American financial adviser appointed by the government, "assessed, probably correctly, that the deeper Russian motive was to keep the Persian government's affairs in a state of financial bankruptcy, and thus in a position of relative weakness (as supplicant for Russian loans), the better to manipulate them." - 209
  • December 1911: "the Bakhtiaris and conservatives in the cabinet enacted what has been called a coup, and dismissed both Schuster and the Majles" - 209
  • 1912: the British Navy switches from coal to oil - 211
  • "The effect of the Russian Revolution on trade was devastating. Before 1914, sixty-five percent of foreign trade had been with Russia, but this fell to five percent by the end of the First World War." - 214
  • After World War I, "The British foreign secretary at the time, Lord Curzon...proposed [in 1919] -- or, rather, he attempted to force through -- an Anglo-Persian agreement that would have reduced Persia to the status of a protectorate (parallel with the mandate arrangements being set up at the same time for Iraq and Palestine)" - 215
  • February 16, 1921: "Reza Khan marched twenty-five hundred of his Cossacks from their camp near Qazvin toward Tehran." - 218
  • February 21, 1921: Reza Khan takes his Cossacks "into the capital without opposition, and the shah allowed him to set up a new government" - 218
  • 1925: Reza Khan takes "the name Pahlavi, which resonated with nationalists as the name of the Middle Persian language of pre-Islamic times." - 219
  • 1926: Reza crowned shah after "a constituent assembly [of the Majles] agreed to a changeover from the Qajar to the Pahlavi dynasty" - 219

Friday, July 1, 2011

Empire of the Mind: A History of Iran by Michael Axworthy

Chapter 5: The Fall of the Safavids, Nader Shah, the Eighteenth-Century Interregnum, and the Early Years of the Qajar Dynasty

  • "The prime agent of the Safavid dynasty's destruction was an Afghan of the Ghilzai tribe, from Kandahar, Mir Veis." - 148
  • "Like most Pashtun-speaking Afghans, Mir Veis was a Sunni Muslim." - 149
  • October 23, 1722: Shah Sultan Hosein "surrendered the city [of Isfahan] and the [Safavid] throne to Mahmud Ghilzai", son of Mir Veis - 150
  • 1729: "Nader [Qoli, also Tahmasp Qoli Khan, meaning slave of Tahmasp]'s army had defeated the Afghans in three battles and had retaken Isfahan." - 153
  • "Within Persia, Nader sought only to amend religious practices -- not to impose Sunnism wholesale. But outside Persia he presented himself and the country as converts to Sunnism" partly to compete with the Sunni Ottoman Empire for influence over the Islamic world - 157
  • "Using the excuse that the Moghul authorities had given refuge to Afghan fugitives, Nader crossed the old frontier between the Persian and Moghul empires, took Kabul, and marched on toward Delhi." - 157
  • "Nader's annexation of Moghul territory west of the Indus, removing the geographical barrier of the Afghan mountains, was one indicator that his regime, had it endured, might have expanded further into India." - 159
  • "On his arrival in Kandahar, Ahmad [Khan Abdali, commander of the Afghans under Nader Shah] was elected to be the first shah of the Durrani dynasty, founding a state based on Kandahar, Herat, and Kabul that was to become modern Afghanistan." - 165-6
  • "Agha Mohammad [Khan, first Qajar ruler] marched on to Isfahan, taking it in the early part of 1785. He was then duly accepted into Tehran in March 1786....From then on it became clear that he intended to establish himself as ruler of the whole country, and Tehran has been the capital since that time." - 169
  • "The Akhbaris asserted that ordinary Muslims should read and interpret the holy texts for themselves, without the need for intermediaries. The traditions (hadith) -- especially the traditions of the Shi'a Emams -- were the best guide. The Usulis rejected this doctrine, saying that authoritative interpretation (ijtihad) on the basis of reason was necessary and required extended scholarly training" - 172
  • "This dispute [between Akhbaris and Usulis] was not fully resolve until the early Qajar period...: each Shi'a Muslim had to have a marja-e taqlid, an 'object of emulation' or religious role model. This had to be a living person, a mojtahed [ a specially talented scholar in the ulema], which in practice meant only one or two of just a few mojtaheds in each generation. As some were thus elevated, a hierarchy of mojtaheds came to be created." - 173
  • during Fath Ali Shah's reign, "Europeans suddenly began travelling to and reporting back from Persia in large numbers, both as tourists and as state representatives operating out of diplomatic missions. This was because Fath Ali Shah's reign coincided with the revolutionary and Napoleonic Wars, and the European powers were reaching out in competition with one another to find new allies." - 176
  • "After Agha Mohammad's massacre at Tbilisi [capital of modern-day Georgia] in 1795, the Russians established a protectorate in Georgia, stationed troops there in 1799, and later abolished the Georgian monarchy after the death of its king -- effectively annexing the territory." - 178
  • "although the British encouraged Fath Ali Shah to continue the costly war with the Russians, when Napoleon attacked Russia in 1812 Britain and Russia again became allies, and Britain's enthusiasm for helping Persia against the Russians evaporated." - 180