Book review by : Evan Siegel

The book under review discusses the relationship between Iranian Azerbaijanis and Iran in the context of the rise of the Islamic Republic on the one hand and the (re)establishment of the Republic of Azerbaijan in the Caucasus on the other. The author claims that she “challenges the view of the mainstream of contemporary Iranian studies, which contend [sic] that Azerbaijanis in Iran are a ‘well-integrated minority,’ harbor little ‘sense of separate identity,” and have assimilated into Iranian identity.”1

This issue is important. The Azerbaijani minority in Iran is a sizeable one. Foreigners have tried to play on tensions between Azerbaijan and the central government—most notably the Soviet Union in its occupation of northern Iran and, once again, the American government, which includes among its advisors people who urge a policy of increasing such tensions to weaken the Islamic Republic.2

Moreover, it is written by an established scholar, a long-time research director of the Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs' Caspian Studies Program at Harvard, who has published articles in scholarly journals such as the Association for the Study of Nationalities’ Nationalities Papers,3 Eurasia Insight,4 the Washington Institute for Near East Policy’s Policy Papers5 as well as op-ed pieces in the Wall Street Journal,6 International Herald Tribune7 the Christian Science Monitor,8 the Los Angelese Times,9 and the Boston Globe10. Her book was selected as “Book of the Month” by the Middle East Review of International Affairs,11 where it was hailed as “succeed[ing] in making numerous specific, well-argued assertions challenging accepted notions of modern Russian (Soviet), Turkish, and especially Iranian history and politics.” She has had fellowships at the Truman Institute, where she served as the coordinator of the Asia and Caucasus Unit, the Washington Institute for Near East Policy and at the International Security Program at Harvard University's Kennedy School of Government and is the Research Director of the Caspian Studies Program and Azerbaijan Initiative, Harvard University Security Program at Harvard's Kennedy School of Government. She has appeared at many venues and, on October 10th 2001, testified before the House Committee on International Relations, Subcommittee on Europe on US foreign policy in the Caucasus and the Caspian Sea region.

Given the topic’s political and scholarly importance and the author’s prominence, this reader came away from this book very disappointed for reasons he will explain below.

The first chapter takes us from the dawn of history to 1920 and the rise of the Pahlavi dynasty.

The author stakes out a neutral position between the Azerbaijani nationalists and Iranian nationalists on whether the ethnic composition of the terrain north and south of the Aras River before the Turkish invasions of the tenth century was Iranian or Turkish. But this neutrality hides the fact that every serious orientalist scholar she sites recognizes that the Turkish presence in the region before these invasions was minor. She continues this discussion declaring, based on no evidence, that the regions on the two banks of the Aras “often interacted culturally as one” and that these territories “were administered together within most of the various empires that ruled the area.”12 But the articles she cites say nothing of the kind.13

The author seems at pains to demonstrate the unity of the regions to the north and south of the Aras River. Whether there was such a unity in pre-Islamic times or that the region was administered as a unit under the `Abbassids would be more relevant if we were to accept the nineteenth century concept of blood and soil; this was at least half a millennium before the Turks made their massive appearance in the region. Moreover, what is now Iran was generally not administered as a unit over these millenia, something which is of no relevance to a study of modern Iranian nationalism. Indeed, one source declares that, while “before partition in the nineteenth century, Iran and Russian Azerbaijan consisted of a single cultural entity,” this was not true in ancient times.14

In her discussion of the Safavid period, Shaffer claims that Shah Isma`il, the founder of the Safavid dynasty, only learned to speak Persian as an adult. In documenting this claim, she cites a translation by E. Denison Ross to the effect that “Shah Isma`il reportedly only learned Persian as a young adult.”15 Indeed, the relevant part of Ross’s translation which she cited reads,16  

He appointed Maulalna Shams-ud-Din Lahiji, one of the learned men of that country, to instruct Ismail in the reading and recitation of the Kuran. Ismail took delight in the Maulana’s instruction, and with him studied the Kuran and learnt to read Persian and Arabic books. 

But the last phrase actually reads,17va az ruye reqhbat nazd maulanaye mazkur dars-e Qor’an va kotob-e farsi va `arabi mikhand,” “and enthusiastically studied [or learned lessons from] the Koran and Persian and Arabic books.” There is not implication here that he was illiterate in either Persian or Arabic; quite the contrary. Indeed, her very next citation underlines this point. There, she quotes Minorsky’s The Poetry of Shah Isma`il I, who says (in a portion not quoted by her) that “Shah Isma`il’s ancestors often had recourse to the Iranian patois of the neighbourhood of Ardabil.” Minorsky goes on to argue that Shah Isma`il’s use of a Turkish dialect was in line with other religious sectaries who wrote in a non-literary idiom and was, moreover, directed to his Turcoman followers.18

Identifying Shah Isma`il I as Turkic is important for Shaffer’s thesis that “The advent of the Safavid regime was an important even in the development of Azerbaijani national identity.” Outside of claims by Soviet Azerbaijani specialists, the her only proof of this assertion is that Shi`ism was a unifying force between those who dwelled to the north of the Aras and those who lived just south of it. Sunnism seems to have dominated the Southern Caucasus outside of a few Shiite centers.19 Shaffer cites Browne to make the point that Turkish was very much the language of the Safavid court even after it moved from Tabriz to Qazvin and Isfahan; indeed, Shaffer if anything understates Browne’s claim.20 However, she neglects the fact that Browne had stated only a few pages before that this dynasty was properly credited with making Iran “a nation once again” after eight and a half centuries.21 Even Soviet Azerbaijani scholarship is capable of a more restrained view of the Turkic character of the Safavids. Thus, one important monograph on “South Azerbaijan” notes that due to the cultural importance of the Persian language, the weight of the Persian-speaking bureaucracy and landlords, and the migration into the Persian heartland of the Safavid capital, the Persian language came to dominate the dynasty’s life.22

Moving to modern times, she has much to say about the Caucasian Azerbaijani renaissance of the late nineteenth century, but all of it is from secondary sources. This taints her analysis, since she is obliged to accept the views of Stalinist scholarship. Thus, she accepts the Soviet claim that the famous polemicist Akhundzade was an atheist;23 a reading of his work would compel the honest reader to qualify that strongly in the direction of pantheism. The idea that he was writing in Turkish to appeal to the masses is unsustainable. Had “the masses” read his polemics against Islam, they would have torn him limb from limb. He was called the Muslim Molière, although Voltaire was probably more his model, and his audience was very definitely those among the educated classes who had been exposed enough to philosophy to be able to digest his ideas without suffering a violent reaction.

Again, Shaffer claims that the journal Äkinchi, which was published between 1875-1878, was “[w]ritten in the style of the spoken Azerbaijani language,”24 whereas it was in fact written in a very Persianized (and Arabized) literary style. It is claimed that “it caused much controversy on both sides of the Araz.” Having read every single issue of it, I have found no trace of any such controversy. I am unaware of any “local proponents of pan-Islam” who “protested against publishing a journal in any language but Persian.” Indeed, the language of pan-Islam at the time was Ottoman Turkish, with the Caliph `Abdul-Hamid deliberately taking up the banner of Islamic unity. It is simply not true that “… Akinchi was forced to close down by the Russian authorities, on the premise [sic] that a Turkic-language newspaper should not be published in Russia during the Russian-Ottoman War.” In fact, the journal was forced to close down due to a lack of funds and Caucasian Muslim apathy, something constantly decried by the editor. Moreover, the journal took every opportunity to protest its loyalty to the Tsar and, like much of the Muslim intelligentsia, earnestly supported the Tsarist armies in the battle against their “Turkish brethren.”25

Again, of Sattar Khan, who rose up led Tabriz in a desperate eleven-month battle to save the constitution, she writes, “Sattar Khan’s troops captured Tabriz in the name of the Tabriz Anjuman [sc: Anjoman], and replaced the Iranian flag with the flag of the Tabriz Anjuman. Sattar Khan declared that the ‘nation of Azerbaijan’ refused to recognize the sovereignty of Mohammad `Ali Shah, and declared Tabriz the temporary capital of Iran.”26

Sattar Khan’s troops did not capture Tabriz in the name of the Anjoman. He led a band of followers within the city to rebel against a Russian ultimatum to pass under Russian protection and eventually forced the constitution’s enemies to surrender control over the parts of Tabriz they occupied. This was done in the name of the Iranian constitution. There was no “flag of the Tabriz Anjuman” raised in this affair; the only flag they replaced, or, rather, removed, was the white flags put up by the terrified residents as a sign of compliance to the Russians. It is unclear what word Shaffer has in mind when she talks about the “nation of Azerbaijan.” If she means “Mellat” as in Mellat-e Azarbayjan, this word was generally used at the time to mean “the people,” as in “the people of Azerbaijan,” just as mellat-e Esfahan was used to mean “the people of Isfahan.”27 Sattar Khan never publicly “refused to recognize the sovereignty of Mohammad `Ali Shah;” in fact, his public position was to deny that he was a rebel against the government at all.28 Nor did he ever declare “Tabriz the temporary capital of Iran.”29 The Anjoman did become the successor to the Tehran Majlis30 which had been dispersed and bombarded by the Russians, but nothing more than this. No documentation is offered for any of her assertions.

Shaffer portrays the 1920 revolt of Sheikh Mohammad Khiabani along the lines of the scholarship emanating from Caucasian Azerbaijani academia, although with less control of the facts. For instance, she claims that the sheikh’s journal, Tajaddod, was bilingual, when it was actually in Persian only.31 She mentions that the sheikh’s party had a branch in Azerbaijan, but does not mention its paper’s full title (which is mentioned in the sources she uses)—“Azerbaijani, an Inseparable Part of Iran.”32 Along the same lines, the author mentions that the sheikh changed the name of the province he now ran to Azadestan, but neglects to provide the context that both friend and foe give: this change was adopted because the Caucasian Azerbaijanis declared their republic to be the republic of Azerbaijan, and the sheikh was thereby repudiating their northern neighbor’s invitation to join them.33 There is no record that “Khiabani decreed the right to use the Azerbaijani language in the province.” Such a decree would have been met with incomprehension, since the language had never been banned. She claims that the sheikh’s “insistence on protecting journalists who wrote in Azerbaijani led to an open split with Ahmad Kasravi, who was deported from the province because he criticized the use of the Azerbaijani language in the province.” The issues in the split between Kasravi and the sheikh are well-documented and have nothing to do with any language issue, on which they were apparently in accord.34 Moreover, Kasravi had not developed his position of hostility to provincial languages and dialects at the time of the sheikh’s uprising; quite the opposite, in an article written shortly after the sheikh’s uprising which Shaffer herself cites, he calls for the revival of Azerbaijani Turkish in Iran.35 The author quotes a secondary source to the effect that the sheikh “worked to establish Azerbaijani-language schools in Iranian Azerbaijan, often employing teachers from north Azerbaijan or Turkey.” Her source36 does not give the source of his information, and this alleged policy of Khiabani’s does not appear in the primary sources available to the author.37 Indeed, the record shows the opposite: Kasravi writes that the sheikh’s Democrats indeed agreed to push for the spread of the Persianization of Azerbaijan.38 Let it be noted that Kasravi had no motivation to lie about this—the sheikh was his sworn enemy. Finally, the author has Reza Khan’s forces quelling the sheikh’s uprising. The uprising collapsed with the intervention of Mokhber os-Saltane, one of the few Qajar aristocrats who won the respect of the Azerbaijani people, with a minimum of force, since the people had become fed up with the sheikh’s capriciousness, brutality, and galloping megalomania.39

The next chapter discusses Azerbaijanis under the Pahlavis. Here, she cites a source as saying that “Reza Shah singled out the Azerbaijanis for special discrimination and economic disadvantages, and cultural repression, possibly to punish them for their part in the Khiyabani-led rebellion in 1920.40 But her source41 argues that the Azerbaijanis were subject to racial discrimination and does not mention Khiabani.

The author appears to argue that the 1946 autonomous government of Azerbaijan was not “a Soviet puppet-state” but “a local phenomenon.” This is a vexed question, with some observers taking the former view42 and some taking the latter.43 The author does not marshal any evidence to back up her point of view, nor does she bring any new analysis or information to clarify it. Her claim that “Initially, local support for the provincial government was quite extensive and at first, most of the population supported the measures taken” by the government, while undocumented in her book, is admitted even by those who paint this experiment in its darkest colors.44 The author suggests that the destruction of the autonomous government “became an important factor in shaping the identity of the Azerbaijanis in Iran”45 strikes me as dubious. Were there not too many people who opposed the autonomous government, particularly towards the end of its rule, to consider its repression an event traumatic enough to have shaped Azerbaijani national identity?

The chapter dealing with the Islamic Revolution, where it is documented, is documented almost entirely from Russian-language sources.46 The author includes an interesting observation she made on interviewing Azerbaijanis who had lived through the revolution: 

Azerbaijani members of the clerical elite … used Azerbaijani in public and in interviews in the Tabriz press. According to many Azerbaijanis who were in Iran in this period, this was an important factor in making it acceptable to use non-Persian languages in public, and instilled in them a sense of pride and the legitimacy of the use of their language; this was a stark contrast with the attitudes in the Pahlavi period…. It seems that the Azerbaijani clerics used their native tongue not because of rising Azerbaijani identity, but because many of them had difficulty in speaking Persian. The revolution propelled to power many second-rank clerics from the provinces. 

The author then examines Azerbaijan after the revolution. There is some general discussion of the Azerbaijani journals published, but all of this comes from secondary sources. She then gives an interesting report on the crisis which broke out in the fall of 1979 when the Tabriz-based Muslim People’s Republican Party led by followers of the late Ayatollah Shari`atmadari objected to the way the Islamic revolutionaries in the center were reorganizing the country, calling for a more decentralized system in which the clergy would exercise less control.47 Shaffer’s is the only sustained analysis of these events which has appeared in a Western language. Its interest is overshadowed by the recent publication of Mashallah Razmi’s excellent monograph on the subject.48 But by focusing almost exclusively on the ethnic issue—which was indubitably a central one—she misses the broader political context in which it unfolded and collapsed. The author’s portrayal of Ayatollah Shari`atmadari is much too simple. Of his politics, all we learn is that he had some positive feelings about the 1946 autonomous government and that he supported Mossaddeq. In fact, according to Razmi, who was sympathetic to this movement, after the collapse of the 1946 autonomous government, “on the day the Shah entered Tabriz like a conqueror the only prestigious cleric who would greet him was Shari`atmadari, and he was supported by the Shah and the Court ever since.” The ayatollah’s support to Mosaddeq was a fact, but inadequate given his means.49 When rioting broke out in Tabriz in the months leading up to the Islamic Revolution, Shari`atmadari used his considerable influence to disperse the movement. He did not object when the APCs and tanks of the army sent to put down the anti-government rioting were festooned with his picture.50

Ayatollah Shari`atmadari’s alliance with clerics who were hostile to the revolution and elements of the army came into a direct collision with the mood of the country after the embassy occupation, and this explains more than Shaffer’s understanding of the collapse of the movement as a result of a stab in the back by the Tudeh party51 or a military confrontation.52

In closing her discussion of Ayatollah Shari`atmadari, she discusses a coup plot in which he was allegedly involved. Here, the author reasons, “[T]he idea that Shariatmadari would actively attempt to take power from Khomeini was completely inconsistent with his strong guiding belief that clerics should not fill political positions, but should guide politicians.”53 But the accusation against him is absolutely not in conflict with his stated position. The chapter concludes with an interesting summary of Soviet Azerbaijani views of the Islamic Revolution.

The book’s next chapter is on the Republic of Azerbaijan under glasnost, the rise of nationalist ferment there and the Iranian response. The chapter’s strong point is its documentation of the perception in the Republic of Azerbaijan of the situation of Iranian Azerbaijanis and a rise of interest in Azerbaijani Turkish among some Iranian Azerbaijanis, in part in response to the rise of this sentiment on the other side of the Aras River. The discussion of the conflicting identity politics in the Elchibey period—characterized by a pan-Turkist streak—and the Aliyev period—much less ideological—and the politics of the various factions on this subject are helpful, although generally well-known.54 Much more interesting is her section on the Azerbaijani literary revival in Iran during this period, nourished on the one hand by the rise of the Republic of Azerbaijan and on the other by Khatami’s relatively permissive policies. The author also documents the resistance to the limitations on the Azerbaijani language which were all too present. One interesting observation along these lines is how the proliferation of satellite dishes in Iran led to an increasing audience for Turkish television and a consequent sense of dignity for Iranian Azerbaijanis.55 She also makes a convincing argument that the redivision of Iranian Azerbaijan proposed in 1992 was motivated by ethno-politics.56 Also of interest is the discussion of the harassment and detention of Dr. Mohammad Chehragani, the supporter of Azerbaijani cultural rights, although it does not go much beyond what can be read in Human Rights Watch.57

This chapter, however, is marred by giving Azerbaijani nationalist ideologues the last word. Is it a “fact” that “writers and poets from Iranian Azerbaijan were excluded from the 1984 Congress of Muslim Writers held in Iran”?58 If so, do we know that it was because of interest in their mother tongue? Again, how seriously should we take a complaint from “the semi-official Veten Society” over the display in the New York Metropolitan Museum of Art of Safavid art as Iranian and not Azerbaijani?59

The section of this chapter which cites groups of unknown provenance as authorities on the situation in Iranian Azerbaijan does not add to its quality. Does it matter what an unpublished manifesto by The South Azerbaijani Front for Independence or The Azerbaijani Feda’iyin Organization or The South Azerbaijan National Front for Independence has to say? What does the Azerbaijan Liberation Organization represent?

The book concludes with a general discussion about Iran and the politics of identity which are none too startling.

The book suffers from some general weaknesses. Its author is prone to make plausible generalizations which, however, are underdocumented when they are documented at all. At one point she claims, she claims,60 

In the second half of the nineteenth century, some Azerbaijanis espoused Pan-Islamic ideology, and many of the supporters of Pan-Islam identified with Iran at this time. In addition, many Azerbaijanis were interested in their Turkic identity in a cultural sense, but few supported political unity with other Turkic peoples. 

The source she cites for this says nothing of the sort.61

Elsewhere, she refers to “the insistence on the emancipation of woman advocated [sic] by political parties in both north and south Azerbaijan” some time during the period between 1905 and 1920.62 Documentation for this claim in Iranian Azerbaijan would have been welcome; none was offered. During the constitutional revolution, newspaper was shut down by the local constitutionalist establishment for the mere suggestion that a wife should be allowed to participate in public life under her husband’s supervision.63

A few pages later, Shaffer claims that “Generally, activists who had been educated in the Caucasus and had extended contacts with their co-ethnics in the north, including the leftists, tended to support the preservation of Azerbaijani cultural and linguistic rights within Iran.”64 No evidence is presented for this (otherwise perfectly reasonable) claim.

Along the same lines, the author claims that, “Despite the extreme limitations of the Pahlavi period, some Azerbaijanis still expressed desire [sic] for ties with their co-ethnics in Soviet Azerbaijan, which can be an articulation [sic] of Azerbaijani identity.”65 No documentation or even examples are given.

Elsewhere, the author asserts that the Iran-Iraq war led to Azerbaijanis being inducted into units in which they interacted with Persians and their racist attitudes towards them. This is certainly a possibility, although the experience of being led into combat by Azerbaijani commanders and the general emotional atmosphere of national unity might have had the opposite effect on both Persian and Azerbaijani inductees.66

Towards the end of the book, the author claims that,67 “One of the first major trends that emerged among the Azerbaijanis in Iran after the establishment of the republic [of Azerbaijan] was their tendency to refer to themselves as ‘Azerbaijanis,’ or ‘Azeris.’ Previously, most had called themselves ‘Turks.’” This very interesting observation is not documented.

Shaffer has adopted policy popular among a species of Azerbaijani nationalists of bashing Ahmad Kasravi, a Tabrizi who became famous as a spokesman for Iranian integral nationalism.68 The author claims that his “ideological convictions and political goals tainted his research on Azerbaijan,” although no examples of this are forthcoming, and regrets that “many researchers base their claims” on his works, although no examples are given. 69 This is a particularly jarring statement in light of her admiring reports from the wilder shores of nationalist ethnography in the Azerbaijani SSR during the heady years of glasnost.70 Two of her major sources, Vladimir Minorsky and R. M. Savory, are certainly take a different view.71

Again, she notes72 that in a 1922 article, Kasravi argued that Iranians had not been Turkified by brute force. She then claims that he later said the exact opposite. This she cites as an _expression of Kasravi’s “many contradictions.” The problems here are that she gives no evidence that he changed his mind on this issue and, even if she had, it is not an indication of any contradiction in his thought, but rather would indicate an ability to change his mind.

Shaffer cites an article in which Kasravi is accused of “distort[ing] facts in his own autobiography: in describing how, as a cleric in Azerbaijan, he refused to preach to his followers in Arabic which he opposed as a foreign influence on Iran, he does not mention that he preached in Azerbaijani, not Persian.”73 But clearly Kasravi simply didn’t think it was necessary to state the obvious, that he would preach in Azeri Turkish.

She accuses Kasravi of having attacked “autonomy movements” in his History of the Iranian Constitutional Revolution and his Eighteen Year History of Azerbaijan. Yet there were no autonomy movements in the period covered by the first book, and the second criticizes the uprisings of Sheikh Khiabani and the Jangalis in terms of their political aims or lack thereof and not qua autonomy movements.

The book includes more than its share of malapropisms. “Shi`a” is used for “Shiism,”74 “the Armenian-Tatar War … waged in the Caucasus” should have “raged,”75 and misspellings (Shadiq for Sadiq,76 the plural of “Duma” instead of “Dumas”,77 “predominant” should be “prominent,”78 “piousness” should be “piety”79). After Abrahamian, her main source, she rather oddly uses the Persian name for the Democratic Party of Azerbaijan and not the Turkish.80 Azerbaijani (and even Persian) words are vocalized with an Istambuli accent, so that the short “a” is given the value “e” (“veten” for “vatan,” ).

Brethren and Borders is a highly political book on an emotional subject which needs careful, dispassionate analysis. Its chapters on the historical background is full of inaccuracies. Its chapters on current events and trends include a few interesting observations which don’t appear in the literature, but most of it is readily available elsewhere.


1 Shaffer, p. 5, quoting Patricia J. Higgins, “Minority-State Relations in Comtemporary Iran,” Iranian Studies, Vol. 17, No. 1 (Winter 1984), pp. 33-71; Hooshang Amirahmadi, “A Theory of Ehtnic Collective Movements and Its Application to Iran,” Ehthnic and Racial Studies, Vol. 10 (1987); and Touraj Atabaki, Azerbaijan: Ethnicity and Autonomy in Twentieth-Century Iran (London: British Academic Press, 1993), p. 182.


2 Thus, of exiled Azerbaijanist leader, Damien Mcelroy writes in The Telegraph (UK), “Exiled leader poised to mount popular revolt against Iran's mullahs” (The Telegraph, 29/06/2003, news/2003/06/29/wiran29.xml):

A prominent Iranian exile, seen by the Pentagon as one of the most powerful opponents of his country's regime, aims to spur millions of his followers into protesting on the streets over the next two weeks. 

Mr Chehregani, a linguistics professor and popular former MP, has garnered strong support in Washington, where he is championed by Senator Sam Brownback, a prominent Republican advocate of "regime change" in Iran. He has held more than 50 meetings with senators and congressmen, State Department and Pentagon officials, and the White House during the past 11 months. 

In its efforts to destabilise the regime, the Pentagon has flirted with supporting the Mujahedin Khalq, a brutal Marxist militia bankrolled for years by Saddam Hussein, whose French-based leaders were arrested earlier this month. The US has so far held back from disbanding the militia within Iraq. Mr Chehregani, however, is seen as a more reliable ally: he has garnered a solid intellectual following among think-tanks close to the Pentagon, and has met senior defence officials.

Along the same lines, The Washington Times reports (Sharon Behn and Khadija Ismayilova, “Pentagon officials meet with regime foe”, 2003-06-04.,

Administration officials have been meeting quietly with an Iranian opposition figure who is trying to unify internal resistance to Iran's ruling clerics and spur a regime change in his country. 

Patrick Lang, former head of Middle East and North African intelligence for the Defense Intelligence Agency said there was a "good deal of interest in the U.S. government" in putting pressure on the Iranian government and a group like Mr. Chehregani's "would be appealing". 

"I think the judgment that Iran is rather unstable is probably correct," Mr. Lang said in a telephone interview, but warned that "if you start poking it and encouraging ethnic dissidents you may encourage destabilizing the system. It could come apart spectacularly."


3 "The Formation of Azerbaijani Collective Identity in Iran." Nationalities Papers, 28, no. 3 (2000).


4 “Azerbaijanis in Iran: Experiencing a Cultural Reawakening,”August 3, 2003.


5 #57 Partners in Need: The Strategic Relationship of Russia and Iran (May 2001).


6 “A Caspian Alternative to OPEC,” The Wall Street Journal, November 7, 2001.


7 “Iran's Nuclear Program: The Russians May Be Ready to Help,” June 12, 2003


8 “Righting a UN wrong," May 21, 2003, “Don't Focus Just On Terrorist Bullies,”January 13, 2003.


9 “The U.S. Needs Russia to Help Contain Iran,” February 21, 2002.


10 “US needs a plan to halt Russian’s sale of nuclear arms to Iran,” March 23, 2001.


11 Number 5/April 2003.


12 P. 17.


13 Of her three proof-texts, one is Bosworth’s article in Encyclopedia Iranica on Azerbaijan which says of this region:

In the north, the Aras … river … formed a clear natural boundary between Azerbaijan and Arran …, whilst the low-lying region of M*g*n … lying between the lower reaches of the Aras-K*r river system and the Western shore of the Caspian Sea was usually considered administratively a part of Azerbaijan.

The author continues, that “Azerbaijan and … Armenia .. were often taken as one vast province,” but it is hard to see how this can be cited in support of her argument.

Her second source, a passage from Audrey Altstadt’s The Azerbaijani Turks, mentions the administrative unity of Azerbaijan under the early Safavids, but, on the other hand, describes the period before Safavid rule as being characterized by the rule of independent states.


14 “Azerbaijan,” Encyclopaedia of Iran, p. 261.


15 P. 19, note 12.


16 “The Early Years of Shah Isma`il,” Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society (1896), p. 288.


17 Ibid., p. 271.


18 Minorsky, pp. 1007a-1008a.


19 We may at the very least extrapolate back from Russian census figures which indicate a definite Sunni edge during the early nineteenth century. Swietochowski, Russia and Azerbaijan, p. 10.


20 Browne, A Literary History of Persia, Vol. 4, p. 14.


21 Op. cit., p. 12.


22 A. S. Sumbatzadä, Sh. A. Taghiyeva, O. S. Malikov, Janubi Azarbayjan Tarikhinin Ocherki (1828-1917) (Elm: Baku, 1985), p. 208.


23 P. 26.


24 P. 29.


25 For a further discussion of Äkinchi as a reflection of Caucasian Muslim identity, see Evan Siegel, "Akinchi and Azerbaijani Self-Definition" in Michael Ursinus, Christoph Herzog, & Raoul Motika (ed.), Heidelberger Studien zur Geschichte und Kultur des modernen Vorderen Orients, vol. 27 (Frankfurt am Main, etc.: Peter Lang, 2001). A version of this article appears at


26 pp. 40-41.




28 See, e.g., Esma`il Amirkhizi, Qiyam-e Azarbayjan va Sattar Khan (Ketabforushiye Tehran, Tehran, 1960),p. 144, where he is quoted as vehemently denying that he was a rebel against the monarchy, but only wanted the Shah to restore the constitution.




30 See Kasravi, Tarikh-e Mashruteye Iran (Amir-e Kabir, Tehran, 1975), p. 731 ff., where he said that the Tabriz constitutionalist Anjoman had become the de facto successor to the Majlis, which was now dispersed.


31 Pp. 41-42. See Berengian, op. cit., p. 72, who says that it and the two other reviews published by the sheikh were in Persian. The claim that it was bilingual was actually made by Abrahamian, Iran between Two Revolutions, p. 113.


32 Swietochowski, Azerbaijan: A Borderland in Transition, p. 65, Atabaki, p. 117.


33 Thus, `Ali Azari, who adored the sheikh, quoted approvingly Kasravi’s evaluation of this event. `Ali Azari, Qiyam-e Sheikh Mohammad Khiabani (Marvi: Tehran (?), 1362=1983), p. 300.


34 Shaffer’s source for this error is Ervand Abrahamian, “Communism and Communalism in Iran: The Tudah and the Firqah-i Dimukrat,” IJMES 1970, No. 1, pp. 294. Later, Abrahamian, in his Iran between Two Revolutions would claim that Kasravi’s expulsion from Azerbaijan was due to his opposition to the change of the province’s name. But he had been driven out almost a year before the name change; the real reason was Kasravi’s outspoken opposition to Khiabani’s murderous brutality when he was in power the first time around. See, e.g., Kasravi, Zendeganiye Man, pp. 88-100. For a full-length treatment by Kasravi of this affair, see Qiyam-e Sheikh Mohammad Khiyabani (Markaz, Tehran, 1997). In any case, no source I have found indicates that the language question was a source of friction between the men.




36 Swietochowski, op. cit., p. 97.


37 Swietochowski states Khiabani’s movement was cultivating a Turkish literary revival which was alarming Tehran, and refers as his source to Berengian, op. cit., pp. 72-76. Berengian only says that the Turkish Republic was having a literary impact on Azerbaijani literature, and that this led Rezazade Shafaq to sound the alarm. Berengian, pp. 75-76. Swietochowski’s statement (p. 98) that it had invited the editor of the brilliant Azerbaijani satirical weekly Molla Nasr od-Din to set up in Tabriz is a legend of Soviet historiography not born out by primary sources. [Examples of this.] The magazine was reestablished with barely a nod from the sheikh. [Source]






40 p. 48.


41 Homa Katouzian, The Political Economy of Modern Iran, 1926-1979, pp. 133, 150.


42 Robert Rossow, Jr., “The Battle of Azerbaijan, 1946,” The Middle East Journal, Vol. 10 (Winter 1956).


43 Ervand Abrahamian, “Communism and Communalism in Iran: The Tudah and the Firqah-I Dimukrat,” IJMES 1 (1970). The most detailed account of the 1946 autonomous government of Azerbaijan appears in Turaj Atabaki, Azerbaijan, Ethnicity and Autonomy in Twentieth-Century Iran (British Academic Press: London, New York, 1993). On the founding of the government, see especially pp. 110-115.


44 Pishevari “promptly and effectively initiated a number of badly needed reforms which were genuinely popular with the people.” Robert Rossow, Jr., ibid., pp. 18-19. The same approach can be seen in Bruce R. Kuniholm’s The Origins of the Cold War in the Near East (Princeton University Press, Princeton, 1980), a bildungsroman in which the United States gradually awakens to its place in the Cold War. This is reflected in his contribution to the entry “Azerbaijan” in the Encylopaedia Iranica (p. 232.) The exception here is George Lenczowsky’s lurid Russia and the West in Iran, 1918-1948 (Ithaca, NY, 1949).


45 pp. 57, 79.


46 Pp. 80-84.


47 P. 90 ff.


48 Azarbayjan va Jombesh-e Tarafdaran-e Shari`atmadari dar Sal-e 1358 (Tribun, Stockholm, 2000).


49 Razmi, op. cit. p. 24.


50 Razmi, op. cit. p. 32.


51 Shaffer, p. 98.


52 Ibid., p. 99.


53 p. 100.




55 P. 174.


56 P. 174 ff; for a contrasting view, which Shaffer mentions in the course of this discussion, is Houshang Chehabi, “Ardebil Becomes a Province: Center-Periphery Relations in Iran,” IJMES, Vol. 29, No. 2 (1997).




58 P. 148.


59 P. 150-151.


60 P. 31.


61 Tadeusz Swietochowski, Russia and Azerbaijan: A Borderland in Transition (Columbia University Press: NYC, 1995), p. 33.


62 P. 33.




64 Pp. 39-40, repeated pp. 43.


65 P. 49.


66 P. 142.


67 P. 169.


68 Abrahamian


69 p. 17.


70 E.g., pp. 122-123.


71 V. Minorsky, “The Poetry of Shah Isma`il I,” Bulletin of the Shool of Oriental and African Studies, Vol. 10, No. 4 (1942), p. 1007a, footnote 3. There, he also cites how this became the starting point for another monograph on Iranian dialect studies. See also his “Adharbayj*n” in the Encyclopedia of Islam (1960) where he quotes Kasravi with great approval. R. M. Savory’s Studies in the History of Safawid Iran is also replete with positive evaluations of Kasravi’s work on Safavid Iran. See article III, p. 84, note 109, where he takes Kasravi as representing “the latest research” on the ethnic origins of the Safavid monarchy. See also articles VIII, p. 15-16, XII, p. 24. See also his Iran under the Safavids (Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, 1980), pp. 2 and 13.


72 P. 51.


73 Pp. 51-52, citing W. Stele, “The Intellectual Development of Ahmad Kasravi” (unpublished PhD dissertation, Princeton, 1966), quoted by Abrahamian, “Kasravi: The Integrative Nationalist of Iran,” p. 129.


74 p. 19, .


75 p. 32.


76 p. 31.


77 P. 25.


78 P. 85.


79 P. 102.


80 P. 53.