Thursday, June 05, 2008

Qajars Are Kings of Persia not “Azerbaijan”

Qajars Are Kings of Persia not “Azerbaijan”

Like in the case of the Safavids, and indeed when required in case of any ruling dynasty, Iranian or otherwise, the Qajar kings (1794–1925) are also hijacked as kings of “Azerbaijan”. The fact that the Qajars were a Turkmen tribe has given the impostors an adequate pretext to confuse the occasional non-Iranian individuals even more efficiently.

Agha Mohammad Khan, the founder of the dynasty and a ruthless man, set out with the same goal as Nader Shah, that is, to unify Iran and restore it to its glory after the chaotic period following the fall of the short lived Zand dynasty. He chose Tehran, then a mere village, as his capital, was crowned in 1796 and was murdered in 1797.

The Qajars are the least favored kings of Iran. The main reason, beside the abject condition of the country in the time of their rule or their concessions to foreigners, especially the British and the Russians, lies in Agha Mohammad Khan’s successor, his nephew Fathali Shah’s (R. 1797–1834) defeat from the Russians and the humiliating treaties of Golestan (1813) and Turkmenchai (1828) which forced Iran to cede the lands to the north of the Arax (Araxes) River.

Nasseruddin Shah (R. 1848-1896) is considered the smartest Qajar king in whose time western sciences and ideas were advanced in Iran. Especially his prime minister, Amir Kabir, is a bright star in Iranian history due to his reforms in all directions from boosting the economy to diminishing foreign influence, from promoting education to relieving the artificially ornate written language from its excesses which initiated the modern Persian prose. Rousing the jealousy of certain treacherous courtiers, he was rewarded for his services by the Shah by being murdered while bathing.

The Constitutional Revolution (1906-1911), a first in the so-called Middle-East, took place in the time of the Qajars. The Armenians played an important role with Yeprem Khan Davitian as the most successful military figure of the movement.

Whichever way one looks at it, the Qajars can in no way whatsoever be seen as kings of “Azerbaijan”. They are not the most favorite dynasty in the millennia-old Iranian history but they are unquestionably an integral part of it.

Here I would like to add that the Armenians had a difficult time under Muslim khans of the Caucasus, the vassals of the Persian kings who had the freedom to do as they pleased with the indigenous Christian population. For instance, Yerevan fortress, the most important and secure part of the city, housed the khan and his entourage. It was a city within Yerevan where the Armenians could have their businesses but had to leave before nightfall. In any case, the landlord of a city founded in 782 BC by the Armenian king Argishti I centuries before the rise of the Persian Empire by Cyrus the Great, was a second class citizen in their own home.

The persecutions of the Muslim khans rekindled the hope of liberation from their yoke in the minds of some, but not all, Armenians who fought in the Russian camp. Luigi Villari believes “…the very generals commanding the Russian invading armies were often Armenians, such as Lazareff and Loris Melikoff. It is indeed safe to say that but for the Armenians, Russia would never have conquered the Caucasus”. But the Iranian Armenian historic novelist Raffi remarks to his own regret that it was a decision which not only did not bring independence to Armenia, it caused the dissolution of the centuries old five Melikdoms of Artsakh (Moluk Khamsa of Karabakh) by the Russians who turned Armenia and Georgia into Russian provinces.

Unfortunately for the Armenians, many Iranians regret the loss of the so-called South Caucasus to this very day, a subject that comes up every time there is talk of relations with the Russians. It’s interesting that the loss of Afghanistan, an integral part of Iran until the 18th century AD, where ethnic, linguistic, religious and cultural ties are much closer, which happened only a century prior to the Russian victory is not remembered and mourned at all! The inability of many Iranians to see that Armenia is an ancient nation with a unique culture is detrimental not only to the Armenians, but the Iranians themselves. As mentioned elsewhere, the Armenian minority in Iran has not spared any effort to bring its share to the progress of Iran, culturally, politically, economically, scientifically, technically, etc.

The Armenians do not have any territorial claims on Iran, the majority, no matter from where, have an affinity with Iran and always support it. The fact that the lands ceded to Russians are no longer part of Russia but exist as independent states, confirms their non-belonging to one or the other. If the 1,648,195 km² vast, oil and gas rich Iran lets the almost two hundred years old grievance with the Russians go, the more or less 40,000 km² Armenia (including Artsakh) can still be a more important guarantee to harness wolfish pan-Turkist appetites of the Turks for the real Azarbaijan (Atrpatakan), the main reason for calling the tail of Turkey with the same name. This said, the relations between Iran and Armenia can be described as cordial at present (2007) and the “complaint” is aimed more at the mentality of the intellectual class of Iranians with the Golestan/Turkmenchai complex.


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