A 1918 German Reference to Pan-Turkism


Historically and geographically, the term Azarbaijan applies to the province of that name in northwest Iran. The Khanates such as Shirvan, Nakhcehvan, etc. north of the Araxes river to the east of Armenia were re-named as “The Republic of Azarbaijan” by the late Mohammad Amin Rasulzadeh (1884-1955) in 1918 at the best of the pan-Turk activists of the former Ottoman Empire. The term was retained and expolited for geopolitical purposes by the former Soviet Union.

There is now new evidence to support the fact that the renaming of the former Iranian khanates in the Transcaucasus was deliberately done to allow the pan-Turks and then the Soviets to lay claims to the real historical Azarbaijan in Iran’s northwest.

This pertains to a report provided in Tiblisi, Georgia by Kress von Kressenstein (the Head of the German Delegation in the Caucasus) to Prince Max von Badenhe (Reichskanzler of Imperial Germany) on October 30, 1918.

Note that the information on this being an original German citation is provided on the top left (note enclosure 7 of that identification number). Those archives were selected by Wolfgang Gust and are accessible through the site as seen in the link in their German original. Note this citation:

In Persia, the fact that Turkey has selected the name ‘Azerbaijan’ for the most eastern of the three Transcaucasian republics in order to be able to construct a claim to the Persian Azerbaijan has caused very strong ill-feelings in Persia. Agitation in Persia is even greater, because the Persians are by no means friends of the Tartars.

 In essence, the term “Azerbaijan” was applied to those former Iranian khanates north of the Araxes in order to help lay the geopolitical basis for claims on the historical Azarbaijan in Iran’s northwest. This was initially done by pan-Turk activists sympathetic to the Ottoman Empire, and then by the former Soviet Union, followed by pan-Turk nationalists at present.

There are numerous sources that clearly affirm the historical distinction between the historical Azarbaijan and those territories to the north of the Araxes River, now known as the Republic of Azarbaijan. these can be seen in both maps and academic/historical references.

Maps of the Caucasus

One example is that of a 1912 map of by the Ottoman Turks (see below).

Map of the Ottoman Empire, western and northwestern Iran and the Caucasus drafted in 1912 by the Ottoman Turks in 1912. Note that the term “Azarbaijan” is only applied to Iran’s northwest, which is a province with that name. The name was not applied to the territories to the north of the Araxes River.

Map of Iran, the eastern marches of the former Ottoman Empire and the Caucasus. Note that the term “Azarbaijan” applies to Iran’s northwest province known as “Azarbaijan”. No such  name is used to designate those territories to the north of the Araxes River.

Historical and Academic References

There are numerous historical references attesting to the historical distinction between the ancient province of Azarbaijan in northwest Iran and the modern-day Republic of azarbaijan which was known as Arran (and other designations such as the Khanates, or Albania, etc.) before 1918. A handful of these include:

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 Araxes River is cited as “Albania” and south of the Araxes as “Media Atropatene”.

The Hodud-ol-Alam Text (10th century AD): Cites the Araxes River as the northern limit of Azerbaijan.

Ibn-Hawqal: Cites the Araxes River as the southern limit of Arran.

Al-Muqaddasi (10th Century AD): Divided Persia into eight regions which include both Azerbaijan and Arran. Defines Arran as being situated between the Caspian Sea and the Araxes River. 

Yaqut Al-Hamavi (13th Century AD): Defines Arran and Azerbaijan as distinct territories with the Araxes River forming the boundary between them. Arran defined as north and west of the Araxes, with Azerbaijan to the south of the River.

Borhan-e-Qate (Completed 1632 AD): Aras (Araxes) defined as a river flowing past Tbilisi in Georgia and forming the boundary between Arran and Azerbaijan.  

Historical sources have clearly delineated the historical Azerbaijan as having been situated between the Daylamites of Northern Persia to their east, with the Araxes River as its northernmost limit. The region north/northeast of the Araxes River was known as Arran. This region was variously known as Ardan by the Parthians, as well as Alban/Albania as per the Caucasian designation. Armenian historians cite the region north of the Araxes as “Agvan”, “Agvanak”, “Alvan” or “Alvanak”. The region above the Araxes River has never been known as “Azerbaijan”.

Professor Mark Whittow’s map of Oxford University clearly shows the historically attested distinction between ancient Arran/Albania and the original Azerbaijan in Iran:

Note how the Araxes River separates Arran from the historical Azarbaijan (in Iran).

The Development of Controversies: From the Early Modern Period to Online Discussion Forums


Dr. Manouchehr Moshtagh Khorasani’s new book, is based on his PhD in English linguistics and has now been published in the renowned series Linguistic Insights. This work opens an entirely new area of research in the study of conflicts and controversies in an online environment.  Numeours books and articles in different disciplines, such as linguistics, psychology, communication studies, social sciences, military and peace studies, and strategy analysis, have been written on this subject, but no research has been done on internet/online controversies and conflicts.  This makes Dr. Khorasani’s work both a pioneering piece of research as well as a primary reference source in the domain.

Millions of people worldwide are involved in the virtual world and experience all types of human interaction in an online version.  They contact each other, make friends, exchange information and have conflicts and controversies.  The latter gives many people involved sleepless nights the same phenomenon and feelings that are experienced in the real, physical world.  In the absense of facial expressions and additionaly because people do not see obliged to follow social norms and etiquettes, online controversies and conflicts even tends to be very aggressive and even brutal.  Any person who has been active in an online discussion forum or a chatroom can attest this.

Dr. Manouchehr Moshtagh Khorasani’s central question is: 

Has the internet changed the nature of conducting controversies?”

The book provides an in-depth analysis of controversies in Early Modern Period and the applied strategies and moves used by people involved in writing pamphlets.  This serves as a framework to be used and compared to two controversial threads on online discussion forums dedicated to the study of arms and armor that are competently analyzed during the course of the book.  Thus, this volume describes the communicative background of two online discussion forums dedicated to the study of historical arms and armor.  One recognizes that different forms of human interaction in an online environment exist and controversies..  Since the volume analyzes the similarities and differences between Early Modern controversies and controversies in online internet discussion forums, one realizes that many old strategies are still being used and new ones have been added to the repertoire of people involved in controversies.  The book also comments on stylistic choices used by participants in the online controversies.

The book is highly recommended to all persons (academic and laypersons) interested in analyzing the nature of conflicts and controversies in an online environment.  It has not only opened new venues of research but also provides a thorough and excellent analysis of the subject matter.

Dr. Khorasani’s book can be obtained at amazon.com or directly from the publisher.:

Hollywood Plans to produce 30 new anti-Iran Movies


Professor Elena Andreva has provided a precise definition of Nordicism or Eurocentricism and how this applies to the Iranians. Her definition is as thus:

Eurocentricism…everything is seen and judged from the European point of view, because that is perceived as the only correct way of doing things and the sole criterion by which everyhting has to be judged. The implication behind the comparison of everything Iranian with everything European…is Europe in its oppostion to Iran” (Elena Andreva, Russia and Iran in the Great Game,   Routledge, pp.78)

It is in this Eurocentrist (or Nordicist) context where distorted “historical” movies such as “Alexander” and  “300” have been produced. The 300 movie set new heights of Eurocentrist dehumanization by reinterpreting ancient Iranians as ugly, grotesque and demonic creatures. Last July 2008, witnessed prestigious Western media outlets such as Spiegel Magazine and the Daily Telegraph launching distorted attacks against Cyrus the Great and his legacy in world civilization by labelling him as a “violent bloodthirsty tyrant.

Professor James Bill has provided a rare and balanced view of the present state of affairs:

…the masses of Iranian people…hold warm feelings toward…American citizens…the American public has not been so forgiving…public opinion surveys consistently reveal that Americans consider Iran to be the least popular country in the world…distorted and simplistic mass media representations, such as the widely distributed Hollywood film “Not Without My Daughter!” question the very civility and humanity of Iranians…some officials such as former Secretary of State Warren Christopher, have had a personal, visceral dislike of Iran“(James A. Bill, Iran and the United States: A Clash of Hegemonies, Middle East Report, 212, p.45, 1999).

Iranians as a whole have become propaganda targets. Their identity, culture, history, and legacy are being seriously questioned (if not attacked) and as Professor Bill has noted: the very humanity and civility of the Iranians are now under siege.

It would seem that these attacks against the history, identity and civility of the Iranians hav eonly just begun. According to recent reports in Iran Mania news outlets on February 25, 2009, Iranian Foreign Ministry Spokesman, Hassan Qashqavi, has told reporters at a weekly news conference in Tehran that: 

Hollywood has thirty anti-Iranian movies in the offing with the subject of hostility towards Iran’s historical and Islamic identity…The subject of making various movies has directly targeted not only Iran’s religious and historical identity but also the country’s social values including hospitality in an attempt to show hostility towards the Islamic Republic…There are certain political objectives behind a number of movies under the pretext of creating art…The controversial anti-Iranian Hollywood film ‘300’, made by Zack Snyder, is an example of such films.” 

Modern Eurocentricism against Iran goes back to the early 1800s and has as much to do with Nordicist thinking as it does with economics and politics. This may partly explain why so many prestigious media and entertainment outlets, once the guardians of truth, objective reporting and wholesome entertainment, seem to be steering towards distorted productions whenever Iranians are involved.

Support Professor Talattof’s drive to promote Iranian Studies


In an effort to stimulate lecture and colloquia with topics focused on Persian and Iranian Studies, Professor Kamran Talattof recently provided seed money for a lecture series. The money will be used for travel expenses, lodging and honoraria to bring outstanding scholars to The University of Arizona and the Iranian American community in Tucson to speak on various aspects of Persian studies.

The goal of the lecture series is to promote and celebrate the remarkable culture of Iran in its many facets and manifestations. Such activities are particularly important because the UA program in Persian and Iranian studies has been growing, and many graduate students come to Arizona to receive their education under the guidance of some the best known scholars in the humanities and social sciences. In 2007 the Department was cited by a study in the Chronicle of Higher Education as
one of the two top producing programs in the nation. We need to maintain this level of excellence and provide our students with the best education possible.

In order to continue, the lecture series needs to rely on contributions from members of the community and the friends of Persian and Iranian studies. We appreciate receiving your tax-deductible check payable to the University of Arizona Foundation, mailed to the address below. Per
IRS guidelines, your gift is fully tax-deductible to the extent allowed by law.

Donors will receive a brochure of our Persian Studies program and an invitation to upcoming lectures. Please provide your email if you prefer email notification.

No matter the size, we appreciate your contribution.
Cultural Partner     Copper Sponsor     Silver Sponsor     Gold Sponsor
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Donations can be made:

     * By check through U.S. mail,
     * Online using your credit card, or
     * By using the fillable form at the bottom of this page

Mail Checks To:
Persian Lecture Series, NES
Marshall Bldg Rm 440, 845 N Park Av
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to designate: Persian Lecture Series for your contribution.

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For questions, or to obtain more information contact:

Professor Kamran Talattof, Talattof@email.arizona.edu, (520) 621-2330; or
Beth Marlatt, Business Manager, marlatt@email.arizona.edu, (520) 621-8012

1952 Map of the Persian Gulf by Saudi Arabia


Below is map of the Persian Gulf which was published bt the government of Saudi Arabia in 1952.


Saudi Arabian Map of 1952 displaying the correct name for the Persian Gulf.

The Saudi Arabian map is noteworthy as it was published at the time of the coup d’etat of pan-Arab nationalist Gamal Abdul Nasser who had siezed power in Egypt. At the time Nasser consistently applied the correct term to the body of water (Persian Gulf) but this changed by the late 1950s.

Gamal Abdul Basser (1918-1970). Known for his honesy and integrity of character, Nasser was a tragic victim of the ideology of pan-Arabism by his advocacy of changing the historical name of the  Persian Gulf. Some have speculated that Nasser may have been partly motivated to do so due to his dislike of the late Shah of Iran.

The first person to apply the historically inaccurate term “Arab Gulf” to the Persian Gulf was a non-Arab by the name of Roderick Owen a British agent who had also worked for the British petroleum Company (originally the Anglo-Iranian Oil Company) in the 1950s. Owen wrote a book entitled “The Golden Bubble of the Arabian Gulf: A Documentary“. His thesis for changing the name of the Persian Gulf was that the name of Persian Gulf was “unfair” due to Arabs inhabiting regions such as Kuwait, Arabia, etc. Despite the weak logical and historical foundation of Owen’s argument, pan-Arabists have been working consistently to rewrite not only the name of the Persian Gulf but also its entire history.

A tragic case of this can be found in the museum of Dubai where an ancient map of the Persian Gulf has been displayed with the name “Persian” literally erased off that map (see below).

Map of the Persian Gulf in the Dubai Museum. Note how the word “Persian” has been blotted out. This questions the impartiality of the museum as well as its adherance to honest historiography.

Comparison of the above map with the Saudia Arabian 1952 publication clearly demonstrates how ideology (in this case pan-Arabism) is able to overide impartial historiography, thanks to decades of irredentist propaganda. Despite the efforts of venues such as the Dubai Museum, pan-Arabism (like any other racialist ideology) cannot “erase” the history of the Persian Gulf as the primary references to the domain are simply far too numerous across thousands of years.