This is a study of modern Iranian political history and is set in the international context of the Second World War and its aftermath. The rise and fall of the autonomous state in Iranian Azerbaijan can be said to be the beginning of the Cold War, and the issues it threw up - nationalism, ethnicity and citizenship - are vital towards understanding the present Azeri crisis. The book covers the essential background in Iranian political history in the 20th century including the role played by Azerbaijani politicians in the Constitutional Revolution of 1905-6, the drastic reforms of the autocratic Reza Shah regime and its effect on ethnic identity in Iranian Azerbaijan, the abdication of the Shah and the role of the Allied Powers and the occupations of Iran. The core of the study is the establishment of the autonomous government in 1945-6 and its demise, and an assessment of its achievements and organization - a vignette perhaps on the stage of international history but one which brings to the fore vital elements in the political history of the 20th century.
The book draws on Turkish, Persian and Azeri sources as well as British, French, American and Soviet materials and interviews with surviving members of the period of autonomous government in Iranian Azerbaijan. It contains biographical details of the leading protagonists of the period.
About the Author: Touraj Atabaki is Professor of Modern History at the University of Amsterdam and Senior Research Fellow at the International Institute of Social History, Amsterdam.