|Azerbaijanis have always been vigorously active in the political, cultural,
linguistic, and commercial domains of
In my visit to Tehran a few years ago, I recall the cab driver asking me
what music I wanted to hear in his car: “Sir are you in the mood for Turkish music?...I
also have the latest from Ercan from
This tiny example neatly encapsulates what
The pan-Turanian theories discussed in Part I represent only a part of
the picture. There is a whole set of beliefs being narrated about
Iranian Azerbaijan in both the
(2) Azerbaijanis have spoken Turkish since the advent of History.
(3) Turks have
been in the
(4) The Safavid Empire was Turkish.
(5) Sattar Khan was a pan-Turanian separatist.
(6) Babak Khorramdin was a Turk who fought against
(7) Azerbaijanis and all who speak Turkish are Turkish by race.
discussing these items, an important point must be revisited. Pan-Turanian claims to
is the belief that there was an independent kingdom by the name of
sources have clearly delineated the historical
Strabo (64/63 BC-23 AD): Cites the people of Iranian Azerbaijan (known as Media Atropatene at the time of Strabo) as Iranians and with Persian as their language [v] . The “Persian” cited by Strabo would have most likely been of the Parthian Pahlavi variety at the time.
Arrian (92-c. 175
AD): The region north of the
The Hodud-ol-Alam Text (10th century AD): Cites the
Century AD): Divided Persia into eight regions which include both
Yaqut Al-Hamavi (13th
Century AD): Defines Arran and
emperor, Shapur I (r. 241-270 AD), cited
(b) The Musavats and the early Pan-Turanianists. The Islamic Democratic Musavat Party (IDMP) was established in the
of the Czarist Russian Empire by 1917 was the catalyst for the breaking
away of many of
worth noting that Nuri Pashi, a brother of Enver Pasha, also volunteered
and fought against the Imperial Russians in the
objective of “borrowing”
activists first applied the name of
and Soviet Russia did much to advance the cause pan-Turanianism, a
fact undoubtedly rejected by pan-Turanian and Russian scholars alike.
Despite the fact that the Russians and Turks have fought several long
and bloody wars against each other in history, the two powers have
at times cooperated against
agreement of 1724…conspired to dismember…
[Pirouz Mojtahed-Zadeh, Small Players of the Great Game, 2004, p.15].
powers were forced to evacuate
(c) The Soviet Russians & Joseph Stalin. The Independent Republic of Azerbaijan was dismantled and overthrown
by Soviet Russian forces on
study of rare historical archives reveals a very cynically self-serving
(and an unintentionally pan-Turanian) Russian approach to the
“The name “Azerbaijan” for the Republic of Azerbaijan (Soviet Azerbaijan) was selected on the assumption that the stationing of such as republic would lead to that entity Iranian to become one…this is the reason why the name “Azerbaijan” was selected (for Arran)…anytime when it is necessary to select a name that refers to the territory of the Republic of Azerbaijan, we should/can select the name Arran…”
Quote from Bartold, Soviet academic, politician and foreign office official. See Bartold, V.V., Sochineniia, Tom II, Chast I, Izdatelstvo Vostochnoi Literary, p.217, 1963.
was a brilliant geopolitical move, as it now allowed for
tactic was to lump all historical figures and references from
specifically worked at removing pre-communist (Tsarist) archives that
referred to the historical designations of the
Stalin who encouraged the museums
and maps of the Soviet Republic of Azerbaijan to refer to Azerbaijani
cities in the
Soviet “Anthropologists” formally coined the ethnic name of "Azeris"
to the Albanians/Arranis. These were published as azerbaidzantsi
in Russian and rapidly translated by
the Soviets to azarbaycanli, in Turkish. Stalin’s historians
were instructed to engage in the process of ethno-engineering in
which invented terms were used to de-Persianize
those ethnic groups
interesting that pan-Turanian activists view
ethno-engineers went much further however. They literally created at least twenty-four ethnic-territorial designations for numerous
“nationalities” that had never
existed before in history. Most of these new “nationalities” were
Turkic (e.g. Buryatia, Yakutia, Kirgiziya). The Soviets administratively
organized a mosaic of distinct Turkic regions in the
(d) Mr. Mohammad Amin Rasulzadeh. A leading proponent of
was in fact the editor of the newspaper Iran-e-Now (The New Iran). Russian
influence and coercion finally forced the Iranian government to expel
The Young Turk movement had
a profound psychological influence on Rasulzadeh; he became ensnared
in the embrace of pan-Turanianism. It is noteworthy that before his
conversion to pan-Turaniasm, Rasulzadeh viewed himself and his native
in general and Azerbaijani activists in particular, opposed the new
was to admit in 1924 to his former Iranian comrade, Sheikh Hassan Taqhizadeh (photo below – seated next to him is Seyyed Abolhassan Alavi) of Tabriz that he wished to
is in his power to avoid any further discontent among Iranians”
and explicitly admitted that “Albania (present Republic of Azerbaijan) is
different from Azerbaijan (the original Azerbaijan in Iran)”
. Taqhizadeh and Alavi were the publishers of the
popular Kaveh newspaper, named after
one of ancient
By the 1930s, Rasulzadeh’s writings revealed his full conversion to pan-Turanianism:
first he admitted that “
then rejected his previous writings and declared
had betrayed his Iranian heritage in two ways. First, he failed to
fulfill his promises to Iranian Azerbaijanis to rectify the name change
he had bought for
his arrest and expulsion from
(e) The role of Soviet
Jafar Pishevari (????-1947)
led the separatist “
the exact similarity of the uniforms of the
Kurdish “martyrs” to the Russian uniforms of the period. Below is
a photo of Kurdish “martyrs” of the
again the exact similarity of the uniforms of the
Despite the photo’s poor quality, Gholam Yahya’s uniform is clearly that of a Junior Lieutenant of the Russian red Army; the two men standing next to Yahya wear the uniforms and caps of Soviet NKVD officers (Red Army political/intelligence officers).
Pan-Azeri separatists also fail to explain why the Pishevari
government collapsed so quickly as
“What appears to have been much more crucial than “Western pressure”…in bringing about the downfall of the Azerbaijani Democrats was the lack of popular (Azerbaijani) support they had to cope…the speed with which their regime (Pishevari) collapsed … the virtual absence of any form of popular armed resistance to the central government’s troops…” (p.176).
Even as he was rejected by the very Azerbaijani people he so passionately
advocated, Mr. Pishevari continued his fantasy of partitioning
There are now vigorous attempts by pan-Turanian activists
and their western sympathizers to virtually ignore any link between
Mr. Pishevari and Communist Russian support for his cause. In the
Archival research again reveals a less flattering image of Mr. Pishevari: a man with an openly servile attitude towards his Kremlin masters. Note Mr. Pishevari’s telegram to Mr. Mir Jaafar Bagherov, First Secretary of the Communist Party and Stalin's hand-picked man in Soviet Azerbaijan:
“Dear and Kind Father Mir Jaafar Bagherov,
The people of “south”
As published in the
Note photo below of Mr. Pishevari in
“The government of the
It is truly sad to see how misguided Mr. Pishevari was. The story of his
demise however is even more tragic and is being hidden from public
knowledge. “Official” Soviet history has it that Mr. Pishevari died
in hospital and/or as a result of a car accident in
Although many of those details remain classified, a Georgian immigrant whose family had ties to the former Soviet regime (who has asked not be identified), noted that during his stay in Baku, Mr. Pishevari began to express doubts as to the wisdom of his actions and even felt that he had betrayed his nation, Iran. The fear of Pishevari “coming out” led Bagherov to quickly eliminate Pishevari before he made any embarrassing public statements. He may either have been suffocated with a pillow or died in his car as a result of deliberate mechanical tampering. These details cannot be independently verified and most likely the entire truth of these final tragic events will never be known.
Stalin’s aims was to use his occupation as leverage to force oil concessions
from the Iranian government at the time. Interestingly, a number of
declassified documents suggest that the British
were sympathetic to the Russians annexing
“There was a powerful current of (British) Foreign Office thought…that Anglo-Soviet relations could be improved if it could be demonstrated to the Russians that the British did not intend to corner all of the Persian oil resources”
[Louis, Wm., R., The British
Empire in the
Note the following statement made by the British Head of the Northern Department of the Foreign Office, Mr. C.F.A. Warner, at the height of the Pishevari crisis, where he suggested that the British:
“…look at the problem from the long-term angle of Anglo-Soviet relations rather than from the point of view of the feckless Persians”.
Wm., R., The British Empire in the
NOTE: Feckless generally means having no effect or importance, lacking purpose or vitality, feeble or ineffective, careless and irresponsible.
Pishevari was in fact trying to convert regional economic grievances into a full blown separatist movement – with Russian support. This is very similar to what is happening today with the geopolitically sponsored movements such as the United Azerbaijan Movement who endeavour at creating separatism based on local (mainly economic) grievances and linguistic differences (item 5a).
(2) Azerbaijanis have spoken Turkish since the advent of History.
(a) Archival Information.
Once again, historical archives contradict pan-Turanian ideology. Note the following example:
Century AD): Cites people of
The notion of Azerbaijanis as never having been part of the Persian nation linguistically and historically is again dramatically contradicted by:
Al-Masudi (10th Century AD): Reported Persians as “a people whose borders are the Mahat Mountains and Azerbaijan up to Armenia and Arran, and Baylaqan up to Darband (in the Caucaus), and Rayy and Tabaristan amd Masqat and Shabaran and Jorgan (Gorgan) and Abarshahr, and that is Nishabur, and Heart and Merv and other places in the land of Khorassan, and Sejistan and Kerman and Fars and Ahvaz…all these lands were one kingdom with one sovereign and one language…the language differed slightly…such as Pahlavi, Dari, Azeri, as well as other Persian languages.”
dialect mentioned by Al-Istakhri was most likely a transitional post-Pahlavi
language (like modern Kurdish), however it may have been a derivative
of a North Iranian language, such as Ossetian.
Azeri was a Pahalvi based Iranian dialect, and there are unconfirmed
reports of a certain “Fahlavi”
dialect that is still spoken in isolated pockets in
(b) The Turkic arrivals & Manzikert. Pockets of Turkish arrivals to Arran and
The Manzikert battle, and Alp Arslan’s victory was of immense consequence:
[a] It was a major factor leading to the crusades,
[c] Expansion of subsequent (Ottoman) Turkish power into Central Europe by the 1600s
ensured the survival of Turkish
as the main vernacular in
(c) Linguistic Turkification. The process of linguistic Turkification was reinforced with the arrival
of the Mongols in the 1200s,
and their Il-Khanid dynasty in
early 16th century (see Safavids
item 4), Azerbaijani Turkish
had largely replaced the
indigenous Iranian Azeri in
The Buyid dynasty (945-1055
AD), hailed from the Daylamites of Northern Persia who spoke a post-Sassanian
Pahlavi dialect. Note illustration of a Dailamite female governess/warrior
of Rayy (near modern
Banu of Rayy
Nader Shah was an ethnic
Turcomen and adhered to the Sunni branch of Islam. Karim Khan Zand (1705-1779) (see illustration below) and his partisans
spoke Luri, a west Iranian language distinct from Persian and Kurdish.
The Zands (like Nader Shah before them) were essential in preserving
(d) Resistance against Ottoman Turks. The bitter legacy of Ottoman attempts to annex
‘The well-established Ottoman policy of military expansion into Azerbaijan…goes a long way in explaining the hostile Azerbaijani attitude towards what came to be the modern Republic of Turkey”
[Touraj Atabaki, 2000, p.11]
ideologues are attempting to change this history as well. Simply put,
they are perpetuating (yet another) fraudulent view
that Azerbaijanis and Ottoman Turks have been friendly allies ever
since the foundation of the
(Azerbaijanis), Nader Shah Afshar (Turcomen) and Karim Khan Zand (Lur)
all considered themselves to be the heirs of the ancient Persian realm.
It is truly ironic to see pan-Turanian ideologues claiming the Safavids and Afsharids
(among others) as “ethnic Turks”, as it was these who formed a major factor in resisting the Ottoman Empire and defeating its
attempts to annex
(e) World War One. Pan-Turanian
ideologues have been deluding themsleves about the history of the
Perso-Ottoman wars ever since the foundation of the Young Turk movement
(and perhaps earlier). When
to their expectations, the achievements of pan-Turkists in
[Touraj Atabaki, 2000, p.11 – see References]
little is known about Ottoman military activities in
There are three ways in which pan-Turanian ideologues are re-writing this particular saga of history:
state that there was no forceful occupation of
[b] That the Azerbaijani’s welcomed the Ottoman occupiers
[c] Khiyabani (item 1a) was a pan-Turanian seperatist and an ally of the Ottomans (see item 5a).
As with nearly all of their assertions, pan-Turanian statements diverge from historical veracity to the extreme.
(3) Turks have been in the
This is a relatively new claim, apparently first made in the late 1970s.
Pan-Turanian activists claim to have proof that the Turks have the
oldest, most influential and deeply rooted influence in the
This is at best, a grandiose exaggeration. The real influence of the Turks
begins with the Seljuks and Ottomans, and even then, the Turks are
only one more layer upon an ancient region that has seen a rich and
varied legacy. If anything, it is the Persian and (to a lesser extent),
the Greco-Roman legacies that remain in the
The Caucasus is one of the oldest cradles of human civilization – a prime
example being the proto-Kartvelian Hurrian empire (2500-1270 BC) which
at one time ruled much of northwest
“The oldest outside influence in Trans-Caucasia is that of
[Whittow, Mark, The Making of
Understandably, objective information about any Persian legacy in the
With regards to
(Excerpted from the late Heydar Aliyev,
President of the
It is very shocking to have a head
of state refer to a neighboring nation in such a dismissive manner.
Armenians are perhaps one of the world’s most ancient and inventive
people’s of history. Simply put, the late President’s assessment widely
diverges from reality. Armenians are now understood to have been derived
from the post-Hittite Phyrgian migrations that originated in the Balkans
(they migrated across the Aegean and Anatolia to reach the
Armenians are perhaps one of the oldest
surviving Indo-European peoples and may trace their origins to the
ancient Phrygians who migrated from the Balkans into Anatolia, eventually
taking residence in historical
The Armenian connection to
From the mid 6th century
to the late 4th century BC
The Iberian kingdom (The Kartli –
the eastern half of modern
The Armenian term for nobility – “Naxarar” – is of Persian
(Sassanian?) origin. Armenian warriors were so highly regarded by
the Sassanians that they were allowed to wear the emblems and regalia
of the “Savaran”, Sassanian
Equally important are Armenian links to the Greco-Roman
that has been almost totally removed from the
Byzantine records make no reference to any Turkic origins
with respect to
Turkic peoples appear as invaders
from the Central Asian Steppes which they had also conquered from
their original homeland in
The onset of powerful Turkish influence
can be traced to the Ottoman Empire and its wars with the Safavid
It is impossible to provide an exhaustive list of prominent Armenians and Georgians, however, the point has hopefully been made to the interested reader.
It was only after the wars of Imperial
Czarist Russia that
(4) The Safavid Empire was Turkish.
Ever since his brief tenure as president of the
some of the excerpts of his speech at
the V Congress [Kurultai] of the Azerbaijan Popular Front Party, 30-31
January 1998 delivered in
“The creation of the
has conveniently neglected to mention how Arran was re-named as “
based much of his ideology on his re-invention of the Safavids of
Persia as an exclusively Turkish dynasty. He had been a history professor
Elchibey was barred from teaching
upon his release. He then turned to archival and records research,
and here is where one may raise a few questions. As an archival researcher,
what went through Elchibey’s mind as he observed the pre-1918 maps
showing Arran, its association with
In an almost bizarre act of publicity, Elchibey made a public spectacle of hanging a portrait of Shah Ismail (ruled 1501-1524), the founder of the Safavid dynasty (1501-1736) in his home (see a European portrait of Shah Ismail below).
was an attempt to “prove” that the Safavids were anti-Persian Turks
More importantly, Elchibey’s ideology runs contrary to the historical fact that the Safavids endeavoured to recreate the Persian Empire and their boundaries corresponded to ancient Persia (see map of Sassanian Persia at its maximum extent in 610 AD (below left) and a map of Safavid Persia (below right) at the eve of the Battle of Caldiran (before Ottoman Sultan Selim’s successful attack) in 1514 AD.
SafavidMap [Pic 60-SassMap
true that by the time of the Safavids, Turkish had become prevalent
in Iranian Azerbaijan and
the clear inscription “Shach
Abas Persarum Rex” – Shah
Abbas, King/ Sovereign of
Pan-Turanian activists (and a number of western academics) are engaged in Herculean efforts to expunge this information and suppress these historical archives from Iranian Azerbaijanis. Instead they rationalize the wars of Shah Ismail and Abbas as “wars between Turkish brothers based on religion (Sunni versus Shiite)”. Fraudulent terms such as “The great Turkish-Azeri Empire” are also being invented to push the pan-Turanian agenda forward. All of these attempts at outright falsification ignore the following:
did the Safavids fight in the name of
did Shah Abbas decide to make
(c) Why was Persian architecture, music, literature and the arts so actively promoted?
(d) Why did the Safavids so strongly insist on Shiism versus Sunnism to distinguish themselves from the Sultans of Istanbul?
Incredibly, Pan-Turanian activists have explained these events as “mistakes”. As the gentle reader, you may wish to contemplate what “mistakes” these actually signify. But it is here where we run into further historical ironies. The Ottoman Turks were themselves great patrons of Persian literature and the Turkish Sultans wrote and spoke Persian very well. Sultan Selim “Yavuz” (The Grim) (1465-1520) (see photo below) wrote in Persian to his archenemy, Shah Ismail, even as Ismail wrote back to him in Turkish!
also failed to mention that Ismail was in fact Kurdish, and was an
adherent of the ancient Sufi cults of western and northern
Elchibey represented the final evolution of a racist philosopher, one who projects imagined events into a history that never existed, and one who is able to rationalize and believe what his thinking process produces.
Despite their high level of university education, many pan-Turanian activists (such as the late Abulfazl Elchibey), are virtually immune to scholastic or logical explanations that contradict their beliefs. Their cognitive dissonance leads to reinterpret what is historically true as False and what is False as truth. The same cognitive process is true of Western European Nordicists/racial chauvinists, pan-Kurdish nationalists, Persian chauvinists, and Religious fundamentalists.
went to his grave believing the rhetoric of the Grey Wolves and fleeing
any suggestion that Arran ever existed or (heaven forbid) had any
reported is the fact that after his overthrow by Heidar
Aliev (1923-2003) (below left photo), Tansu
Ciller (Turkish Prime Minister 1993-1996, below centre photo)
was implicated in a failed coup to reinstall Elchibey in
It must be noted that Demirel has been on record several times noting that Iran and Turkey have much to gain by directly and constructively co-operating and working together (rather than against each other) in the Caucasus, Central Asia and the Near East. He is among many Turks who realize that Iranians and Turks have had a long history of admixture and cultural exchanges. Tragically, it would appear that people like Tansu Ciller and the Grey Wolves have a somewhat different view.
(5) Sattar Khan was a pan-Turanian separatist.
(a) Mr. Mahmudali Chereganli.
(see photo below) has made a career at attempting to incite hatred
among Iranian Azerbaijanis against
There is a parallel movement residing in
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 Azerbaijani 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…”
highlighted lines are replete with fraudulent
information. First, Mr. Chehreganli is claiming one of
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.
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
true that Khiyabani was strongly in favour of local autonomy for
no desire or intention of severing
[British Foreign Office Archives 371/1278, 11-12 September, 1920 – also cited by Atabaki, 2000, p.50, 205]
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 “
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.
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
or fiction, the next series of events are as entertaining as a
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
history of Sattar Khan is different from what Mr. Chehreganli is stating.
Sattar Khan was a legendary hero of the constitutional revolution
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.
Qajar monarch Muzaffar al-Din
Shah (1853 - 1907) (see photo below) agreed to a constitutional
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.
[b3] Muhammad Ali Shah (1872–1925; 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
Russian Cossack Brigade in
[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:
Surviving delegates fled to Tabriz. In
Sattar Khan and his colleague, Bagher Khan, organized the resistance. Volunteers from the
The siege of
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.
avoids any mention of the multi-ethnic nature of Sattar Khan’s movement
Professor Atabaki makes clear that:
“In the constitutional revolution, like minded Azerbaijanis, 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)
(c) European Intervention.
British and Russians were hoping to isolate and possibly discredit
Sattar Khan and Bagher khan, they certainly failed. When Sattar Khan
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
respect to the
“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].
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
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
[a] Shuster was to be immediately dismissed
[b] The Iranian gendarmes were to replaced by Russian controlled Cossacks
the Majlis rejected this affront to
[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
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
The Russians and their anti-Constitutionalist supporters
took full advantage of these events to kill off many of the Iranian
constitutional activists in
below of more executions of Democratic reformers in
20,000 Russian troops were occupying much
of Northern Persia (see Chaqeri, p.286 and
“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-Azerbaijanis, like the Rashtis, Mazandaranis or Bakhtiaris support him?
was he a powerful symbol of the entire constitutional movement in
was he honoured twice by the
does he remain one of
that Sattar Khan was anti-Persian is as historically illogical as
stating that George Washington, the first president of the
Khan would roll in his grave if he heard of Mr. Chehreganli, the SANAM
movement and the UAM. The majority
of Iranian Azerbaijanis are deeply offended by Mr. Chehreganli’s claims
regarding Sattar Khan (see “Welcome to
is determined to destroy
(6) Babak Khorramdin
was a Turk who fought against
Babak Khorramdin (Persian for “those of who follow the joyful religion”)
is one of ancient
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
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
As noted previously (items 2-3), the Turkish language did not
Romano-Byzantine sources are clear in identifying the Babak Khorramdin
rebellion as a Persian movement
aimed at re-establishing
“Azerbaijan 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)…Azerbaijan 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
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
Pan-Turanian activists have attempted
to turn these celebrations into anti-Persian events. There are reports that Grey Wolves activists from
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 Azerbaijanis (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
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):
Though entertaining at first sight, this painting is portraying the Babak that never was. This
is yet another assault against
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
(7) Azerbaijanis 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).
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”.
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
characters share the name “
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
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
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
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
was not entirely wrong about
Interestingly, no mainstream western, Turkish, or Iranian scholars have challenged the logical veracity of Gokalp’s argument that Azerbaijanis 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), Azerbaijanis (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, Azerbaijanis 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]
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
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 Azerbaijanis and Armenians may have much more in common that has been admitted.
is one finding that most likely is of interest to modern day Turks:
The Richards team had a large
sample of Turks from
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
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
(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:
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
Luigi (2000). Genes, Peoples and Languages.
Interestingly, Cavalli-Sforza notes
of a broad genetic grouping that includes many parts of
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
Felipe Fernandez-Arnesto, The
Peoples of Europe,
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 imposed
its language on the local Romance-speaking population…Today
barely 10 percent of the genes in
Luigi, Genes, Peoples and Languages,
(e) Transcending the Concept of “Race”.
are considered to be Magyar
– not an Asiatic Turkic people. In like manner,
why are the Azerbaijanis (of
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
Cultural links between Anatolia, mainland
“…the heavy historical gene flow
[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
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
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
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
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,
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
here were the barbaric aspects of “race criteria” break down. In
(8) Iranian complacency.
This author has critically focused on the activities of the Grey Wolves
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
The first western intellectual to astutely observe
this has been author/researcher,
Makie notes that there seems to be a divide between those who appreciate
the past of
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
(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
The label associates authoritarianism, dictatorship, narrow-minded, and
violent oppression with virtually any favorable observations of
Another “modern” view is that
“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
“Choveneesm-e-Fars” is a term that challenges the historical unity
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
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
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
As noted succinctly by Professor Olson:
“What is ironic about the fact that the“Azerbaijan 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”
As Olson has duly observed above, the current regime in
Iranian high school students at the senior level obtain no education in
“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 Azerbaijan has been Turanian since time immemorial simply because there is no academic platform to stop them…meanwhile pan-Turanian activists in Azerbaijan 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 Azerbaijan 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
To its credit, the regime in
(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
The Russians (and British) were
very concerned with a cultural dynamic in
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
The cultural weapons are the so-called
venomous “jokes” targeted against
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
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
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., Azerbaijan: Ethnicity and the Struggle for Power in Iran, p.7.
Kasravi, A. Azeri ya Zaban-e Bastan-e
Azarbaijan, 2nd print,
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,
[iv] Atabaki, T., Azerbaijan: Ethnicity and the Struggle for Power in Iran, p.7.
Strabo Geographica, see p. 17-18 regarding
[vi] Matini, Jalal, “Azerbaijan Koja Ast?”, 1989, Iranshenasi, I(3), p.452.
[x] Matini, Jalal, “Azerbaijan Koja Ast?”, 1989, Iranshenasi, I(3), p.452.
[xii] Ibid. Matini also notes that Greater Azerbaijan 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 Azerbaijan in the mid-1940s.
[xiii] Chaqueri, Cosroe, Origins of Social Democracy in Iran, 2001, p.209.
[xiv] Matini, Jalal, “Azerbaijan Koja Ast?”, 1989, Iranshenasi, I(3), p.445.
The Ottoman Turks had successfully defeated
and expelled the Russians from
[xvi] Matini, Jalal, “Azerbaijan Koja Ast?”, 1989, Iranshenasi, I(3), p.452.
[xviii] Chaqueri, Cosroe, Origins of Social Democracy in Iran, 2001, p.118, 174-181, 209-210.
Rasulzadeh, Mohammad Amin, 1910, Tanqid-e
Ferqeh-e E’tedaliyun ya Ejtema’iyun E’tedaliyun,
[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.
Blucher, W.V., Zeitenwende, Persian
Ramazani, R., op. cit. p.115. See also citation
[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, “Azerbaijan Koja Ast?”, 1989, Iranshenasi, I(3), p.449.
The author, who is born in
[xxvii] The Mazdak rebellion fought centuries earlier during the pre-Islamic Sassanian regin, are also reputed to have worn red garments.
History has seen repeated instances of a minority group introducing
its language upon a majority population. The Romance-speaking population of