“Triumph of Will- The Revolution of 1906 and the Omani War” Edit
The Iranian Revolution of 1906 is often overlooked in view of other 'mass movements' of the time. These other movements are often either more “Europoean' or much larger in scope and power. Among these are the Ulster Resistance in Ireland, The founding of XX( basically, India deciding on Political freedom but keeping close connection), the victory of British-German immigrants over Dutch South Africans, the agitation in Tanzania and even the turbulence of Eastern Europe. These movements often overshadow the overthrow of yet another 'Oriental Despotism”, but this view is incorrect in the extreme.
The expulsion of Western influence in Iran is possibly one of the most significant events in Middle east and Central Asian history. For the next 50 years, this event is the dominating event in the region. This book is an attempt to understand and explore this crucial and world changing event. Also, following the Revolution, part of the book is a study of the Omani War, which helped shape the Revolution in new ways and helped cement (or dissolve) some of its foundations.
The Revolution is best understood by considering the odd bedfellows that helped achieve it. One important faction is the merchant mid-upper class. Consisting of native Iranian traders and businessmen, these were the men with the most to gain and most to lose. It was only through their capital and education that the Revolution had the success that it did. The catalyst of the revolt (Western monopolies of markets) was also their biggest concern, and longest running concern. It was these highly educated, native born Iranians that hoped to form a modern, powerful, rich capitalists state in the old state of Persia.
On the other hand, we have the Muslim clerics. Alienated by a secular and power-hungry Shah, they often sided with the merchants before, and the Revolution was no different. Seeing that this could be the chance to help strengthen the power of the mosque, they often aided and helped the revolters by giving a moralistic and religious meaning to the fight. Also, if anything, the clerics were even more against the oppressive Western influence (primarily Russian) that was dictated policy, even over religious matters. The strong community spirit the clerics added to the Revolt was irreplaceable.
But perhaps the strangest contingent of the revolt was the actual fighters. The poor, violent often non-Persian military men. Inflamed by rhetoric and propaganda, and minds filled of Socialist, nationalist fervor, they were willing to do anything for “Iran”, as they envisioned it. Many of these men were used rather callously by the merchants and the clerics as expendable fighters, but some turned out to be surprisingly intelligent and clever. These men were more the face of the Revolt then anyone else, and left the most permanent mark, despite many disasters and betrayals later on.
The Revolution Edit
The Revolt was the rare case of a mass rising of the populace. The passage of yet another Western trade agreement was the ctatlyst, Finally, the merchants took a stand, and to their mild surprise, the rest of the nation rose with them, including tough fighters from the north. Still, it was hardly quick and easy. Even without Russian or British help the Shah had the army on his side. He sieged such rebel bases as Tabriz and Rasht. And in the rural countryside the military fought a running battle with the growing partisan forces. It was in the battles and sieges that the military men came to the fore. Men like Sattar Khan, a native of Tabriz. A rough, no-nonsense leader, he soon broke the siege and proceeded to take to the hills, gathering a strong force. Other liked-minded men soon took control of much of Oran as the Shah trembled. Desperate for aid, he called out to Moscow and London but both were far more concerned with Europe and the Shah saw he had little hope.
By Mid-July it was all but over, everywhere but inner Tehran had fallen tot he parliament forces and still the West failed to act. Khan was set up as 'President” of the chaos, and finally the Sultan attempted to flee the nation. Caught in the back county, he was killed by a small unimportant band of fighters. With this act, the revolt turned even more violent. Hundreds of “Shah men” were killed as the clerics took revenge against liberals and atheists as merchants took aim at old business enemies. Even worse, many of the though military men ran rampant across the country-side, killing and looting. Still, by September peace had mostly returned. At the head of one ad-hoc army after another Khan restored peace and set in place a intermin parliament.
The parliament quickly took shape as merchants and clerics are picked by various committees to serve. The body actually took a rather conservative face and soon Kahn faced a serious challenge for power. The meetings of the parliament were often watched by hundreds if not thousands of Tehran citizens, eager to see which Shah scapegoat was thrown before the lions or what new law would be passed. In the cold January of the new year a new debate raged. Should a new Shah be put on a throne? Didn't Iran have a tradition to mantian? Something more subtle and powerful then the West could understand? Not to mention the religious implications. Against this tide Kahn stood, along with most of the bloody veterans. It seemed that the tide had turned against them.
But help came from an unlikely source. (bit about American guy here) finally the great vote on the Shah was about to be held. The clerics and some merchants were confident that their great victory was at hand and they sat smugly in the great rows of benches. Then, unexpectedly Setter Kahn rose to speak.