Archive for the ‘Iran’ Category

History of Iran – Wikipedia

The history of Iran, commonly also known as Persia in the Western world, is intertwined with the history of a larger region, also to an extent known as Greater Iran, comprising the area from Anatolia, the Bosphorus, and Egypt in the west to the borders of Ancient India and the Syr Darya in the east, and from the Caucasus and the Eurasian Steppe in the north to the Persian Gulf and the Gulf of Oman in the south.

Iran is home to one of the world’s oldest continuous major civilizations, with historical and urban settlements dating back to 7000 BC.[1] The southwestern and western part of the Iranian Plateau participated in the traditional Ancient Near East with Elam, from the Early Bronze Age, and later with various other peoples, such as the Kassites, Mannaeans, and Gutians. Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel calls the Persians the “first Historical People”.[2] The Medes unified Iran as a nation and empire in 625 BC.[3] The Achaemenid Empire (550330 BC), founded by Cyrus the Great, was the first Persian empire and it ruled from the Balkans to North Africa and also Central Asia, spanning three continents, from their seat of power in Persis (Persepolis). It was the largest empire yet seen and the first world empire.[4] The First Persian Empire was the only civilization in all of history to connect over 40% of the global population, accounting for approximately 49.4 million of the world’s 112.4 million people in around 480 BC.[5] They were succeeded by the Seleucid, Parthian, and Sasanian Empires, who successively governed Iran for almost 1,000 years and made Iran once again as a leading power in the world. Persia’s arch-rival was the Roman Empire and its successor, the Byzantine Empire.

The Persian Empire proper begins in the Iron Age, following the influx of Iranian peoples. Iranian people gave rise to the Medes, the Achaemenid, Parthian, and Sasanian Empires of classical antiquity.

Once a major empire, Iran has endured invasions too, by the Greeks, Arabs, Turks, and the Mongols. Iran has continually reasserted its national identity throughout the centuries and has developed as a distinct political and cultural entity.

The Muslim conquest of Persia (633654) ended the Sasanian Empire and is a turning point in Iranian history. Islamization of Iran took place during the eighth to tenth centuries, leading to the eventual decline of Zoroastrianism in Iran as well as many of its dependencies. However, the achievements of the previous Persian civilizations were not lost, but were to a great extent absorbed by the new Islamic polity and civilization.*

Iran, with its long history of early cultures and empires, had suffered particularly hard during the late Middle Ages and the early modern period. Many invasions of nomadic tribes, whose leaders became rulers in this country, affected it negatively.[6]

Iran was reunified as an independent state in 1501 by the Safavid dynasty, which set Shia Islamas the empire’s official religion,[7] marking one of the most important turning points in the history of Islam.[8] Functioning again as a leading power, this time amongst the neighboring Ottoman Empire, its arch-rival for centuries, Iran had been a monarchy ruled by an emperor almost without interruption from 1501 until the 1979 Iranian Revolution, when Iran officially became an Islamic republic on April 1, 1979.[9][10]

Over the course of the first half of the 19th century, Iran lost many of its territories in the Caucasus, which had been a part of Iran for centuries, comprising modern-day Eastern Georgia, Dagestan, Azerbaijan, and Armenia, to its rapidly expanding and emerged neighboring rival, the Russian Empire, following the Russo-Persian Wars between 180413 and 18268.[12]

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The earliest archaeological artifacts in Iran were found in the Kashafrud and Ganj Par sites that are thought to date back to 100,000 years ago in the Middle Paleolithic.[13] Mousterian stone tools made by Neandertals have also been found.[14] There are more cultural remains of Neandertals dating back to the Middle Paleolithic period, which mainly have been found in the Zagros region and fewer in central Iran at sites such as Kobeh, Kunji, Bisitun Cave, Tamtama, Warwasi, and Yafteh Cave.[15] In 1949, a Neanderthal radius was discovered by Carleton S. Coon in Bisitun Cave.[16] Evidence for Upper Paleolithic and Epipaleolithic periods are known mainly from the Zagros Mountains in the caves of Kermanshah, Piranshahr and Khorramabad and a few number of sites in the Alborz and Central Iran. During this time, people began creating rock art.

Early agricultural communities such as Chogha Golan in 10,000 BC[17][18] along with settlements such as Chogha Bonut (the earliest village in Elam) in 8000 BC,[19][20] began to flourish in and around the Zagros Mountains region in western Iran.[21] Around about the same time, the earliest-known clay vessels and modeled human and animal terracotta figurines were produced at Ganj Dareh, also in western Iran.[21] There are also 10,000-year-old human and animal figurines from Tepe Sarab in Kermanshah Province among many other ancient artifacts.[14]

The south-western part of Iran was part of the Fertile Crescent where most of humanity’s first major crops were grown, in villages such as Susa (where a settlement was first founded possibly as early as 4395 cal BC)[22] and settlements such as Chogha Mish, dating back to 6800 BC;[1][23] there are 7,000-year-old jars of wine excavated in the Zagros Mountains[24] (now on display at the University of Pennsylvania) and ruins of 7000-year-old settlements such as Tepe Sialk are further testament to that. The two main Neolithic Iranian settlements were the Zayandeh River Culture and Ganj Dareh.

Parts of what is modern-day northwestern Iran was part of the KuraAraxes culture (circa 3400 BCca. 2000 BC), that stretched up into the neighboring regions of the Caucasus and Anatolia.[25][26]

Susa is one of the oldest-known settlements of Iran and the world. Based on C14 dating, the time of foundation of the city is as early as 4395 BC,[27] a time that goes beyond the age of civilization in Mesopotamia. The general perception among archeologists is that Susa was an extension of the Sumerian city state of Uruk.[28][29] In its later history, Susa became the capital of Elam, which emerged as a state found 4000 BC.[27] There are also dozens of prehistoric sites across the Iranian plateau pointing to the existence of ancient cultures and urban settlements in the fourth millennium BC,[1] One of the earliest civilizations in Iranian plateau was the Jiroft culture in southeastern Iran in the province of Kerman.

It is one of the most artifact-rich archaeological sites in the Middle East. Archaeological excavations in Jiroft led to the discovery of several objects belonging to the 4th millennium BC.[30] There is a large quantity of objects decorated with highly distinctive engravings of animals, mythological figures, and architectural motifs. The objects and their iconography are unlike anything ever seen before by archeologists. Many are made from chlorite, a gray-green soft stone; others are in copper, bronze, terracotta, and even lapis lazuli. Recent excavations at the sites have produced the world’s earliest inscription which pre-dates Mesopotamian inscriptions.[31][32]

There are records of numerous other ancient civilizations on the Iranian Plateau before the emergence of Iranian peoples during the Early Iron Age. The Early Bronze Age saw the rise of urbanization into organized city states and the invention of writing (the Uruk period) in the Near East. While Bronze Age Elam made use of writing from an early time, the Proto-Elamite script remains undeciphered, and records from Sumer pertaining to Elam are scarce.

Russian historian Igor M. Diakonoff states that the modern inhabitants of the Iranian Plateau are descendants of mainly non-Persian groups: “It is the autochthones of the Iranian plateau, and not the Proto-Indo-European tribes of Europe, which are, in the main, the ancestors, in the physical sense of the word, of the present-day Iranians.”[33]

Records become more tangible with the rise of the Neo-Assyrian Empire and its records of incursions from the Iranian plateau.As early as the 20th century BC, tribes came to the Iranian Plateau from the PonticCaspian steppe. The arrival of Iranians on the Iranian plateau forced the Elamites to relinquish one area of their empire after another and to take refuge in Elam, Khuzestan and the nearby area, which only then became coterminous with Elam.[34] Bahman Firuzmandi say that the southern Iranians might be intermixed with the Elamite peoples living in the plateau.[35]By the mid-first millennium BC, Medes, Persians, and Parthians populated the Iranian plateau. Until the rise of the Medes, they all remained under Assyrian domination, like the rest of the Near East. In the first half of the first millennium BC, parts of what is now Iranian Azerbaijan were incorporated into Urartu.

In 646 BC, Assyrian king Ashurbanipal sacked Susa, which ended Elamite supremacy in the region.[36] For over 150 years Assyrian kings of nearby Northern Mesopotamia had been wanting to conquer Median tribes of Western Iran.[37] Under pressure from Assyria, the small kingdoms of the western Iranian plateau coalesced into increasingly larger and more centralized states.[36]

In the second half of seventh century BC, the Medes gained their independence and were united by Deioces. In 612 BC, Cyaxares, Deioces’ grandson, and the Babylonian king Nabopolassar invaded Assyria and laid siege to and eventually destroyed Nineveh, the Assyrian capital, which led to the fall of the Neo-Assyrian Empire.[38] Urartu was later on conquered and dissolved as well by the Medes.[39][40] The Medes are credited with founding Iran as a nation and empire, and established the first Iranian empire, the largest of its day until Cyrus the Great established a unified empire of the Medes and Persians, leading to the Achaemenid Empire (c.550330 BC).

Cyrus the Great overthrew, in turn, the Median, Lydian, and Neo-Babylonian Empires, creating an empire far larger than Assyria. He was better able, through more benign policies, to reconcile his subjects to Persian rule; the longevity of his empire was one result. The Persian king, like the Assyrian, was also “King of Kings”, xyaiya xyaiynm (shhanshh in modern Persian) “great king”, Megas Basileus, as known by the Greeks.

Cyrus’s son, Cambyses II, conquered the last major power of the region, ancient Egypt, causing the collapse of the Twenty-sixth Dynasty of Egypt. Since he became ill and died before, or while, leaving Egypt, stories developed, as related by Herodotus, that he was struck down for impiety against the ancient Egyptian deities. The winner, Darius I, based his claim on membership in a collateral line of the Achaemenid Empire.

Darius’ first capital was at Susa, and he started the building programme at Persepolis. He rebuilt a canal between the Nile and the Red Sea, a forerunner of the modern Suez Canal. He improved the extensive road system, and it is during his reign that mention is first made of the Royal Road (shown on map), a great highway stretching all the way from Susa to Sardis with posting stations at regular intervals. Major reforms took place under Darius. Coinage, in the form of the daric (gold coin) and the shekel (silver coin) was standardized (coinage had already been invented over a century before in Lydia c. 660 BC but not standardized),[41] and administrative efficiency increased.

The Old Persian language appears in royal inscriptions, written in a specially adapted version of the cuneiform script. Under Cyrus the Great and Darius I, the Persian Empire eventually became the largest empire in human history up until that point, ruling and administrating over most of the then known world,[42] as well as spanning the continents of Europe, Asia, and Africa. The greatest achievement was the empire itself. The Persian Empire represented the world’s first superpower[43][44] that was based on a model of tolerance and respect for other cultures and religions.[45]

In the late sixth century BC, Darius launched his European campaign, in which he defeated the Paeonians, conquered Thrace, and subdued all coastal Greek cities, as well as defeating the European Scythians around the Danube river.[46] In 512/511, Macedon became a vassal kingdom of Persia.[46]

In 499 BC, Athens lent support to a revolt in Miletus, which resulted in the sacking of Sardis. This led to an Achaemenid campaign against mainland Greece known as the Greco-Persian Wars, which lasted the first half of the 5th century BC, and is known as one of the most important wars in European history. In the First Persian invasion of Greece, the Persian general Mardonius resubjugated Thrace and made Macedon a full part of Persia.[46] The war eventually turned out in defeat however. Darius’ successor Xerxes I launched the Second Persian invasion of Greece. At a crucial moment in the war, about half of mainland Greece was overrun by the Persians, including all territories to the north of the Isthmus of Corinth,[47][48] however, this was also turned out in a Greek victory, following the battles of Plataea and Salamis, by which Persia lost its footholds in Europe, and eventually withdrew from it. During the Greco-Persian wars Persia gained major territorial advantages capture and razed Athens in 480 BC. However, after a string of Greek victories the Persians were forced to withdraw thus losing control of Macedonia, Thrace and Ionia. Fighting continued for several decades after the successful Greek repelling of the Second Invasion with numerous Greek city states under the latters’ newly formed Delian League, which eventually ended with the peace of Callias in 449 BC, ending the Greco-Persian Wars. In 404 BC, following the death of Darius II, Egypt rebelled under Amyrtaeus. Later pharaohs successfully resisted Persian attempts to reconquer Egypt until 343 BC, when Egypt was reconquered by Artaxerxes III.

From 334 BCE to 331 BCE, Alexander the Great, also known in Avestan as Arda Wiraz Nmag (“the accursed Alexander”), defeated Darius III in the battles of Granicus, Issus and Gaugamela, swiftly conquering the Persian Empire by 331 BCE. Alexander’s empire broke up shortly after his death, and Alexander’s general, Seleucus I Nicator, tried to take control of Iran, Mesopotamia, and later Syria and Anatolia. His empire was the Seleucid Empire. He was killed in 281 BCE by Ptolemy Keraunos.

Greek language, philosophy, and art came with the colonists. During the Seleucid era, Greek became the common tongue of diplomacy and literature throughout the empire.

The Parthian Empire was the realm of the Arsacid dynasty, who reunited and governed the Iranian plateau after the Parni conquest of Parthia and defeating the Seleucid Empire in the later third century BC, and intermittently controlled Mesopotamia between ca 150 BC and 224 AD. The Parthian Empire quickly included Eastern Arabia.

Parthia was the eastern arch-enemy of the Roman Empire and it limited Rome’s expansion beyond Cappadocia (central Anatolia). The Parthian armies included two types of cavalry: the heavily armed and armoured cataphracts and the lightly-armed but highly-mobile mounted archers.

For the Romans, who relied on heavy infantry, the Parthians were too hard to defeat, as both types of cavalry were much faster and more mobile than foot soldiers. The Parthian shot used by the Parthian cavalry was most notably feared by the Roman soldiers, which proved pivotal in the crushing Roman defeat at the Battle of Carrhae. On the other hand, the Parthians found it difficult to occupy conquered areas as they were unskilled in siege warfare. Because of these weaknesses, neither the Romans nor the Parthians were able completely to annex each other’s territory.

The Parthian empire subsisted for five centuries, longer than most Eastern Empires. The end of this empire came at last in 224 AD, when the empire’s organization had loosened and the last king was defeated by one of the empire’s vassal peoples, the Persians under the Sasanians. However, the Arsacid dynasty continued to exist for centuries onwards in Armenia, the Iberia, and the Caucasian Albania, which were all eponymous branches of the dynasty.

The first shah of the Sasanian Empire, Ardashir I, started reforming the country economically and militarily. For a period of more than 400 years, Iran was once again one of the leading powers in the world, alongside its neighboring rival, the Roman and then Byzantine Empires.[50][51] The empire’s territory, at its height, encompassed all of today’s Iran, Iraq, Azerbaijan, Armenia, Georgia, Abkhazia, Dagestan, Lebanon, Jordan, Palestine, Israel, parts of Afghanistan, Turkey, Syria, parts of Pakistan, Central Asia, Eastern Arabia, and parts of Egypt.

Most of the Sassanian Empire’s lifespan it was overshadowed by the frequent ByzantineSasanian wars, a continuation of the RomanParthian Wars and the all-comprising RomanPersian Wars; the last was the longest-lasting conflict in human history. Started in the first century BC by their predecessors, the Parthians and Romans, the last RomanPersian War was fought in the seventh century. The Persians defeated the Romans at the Battle of Edessa in 260 and took emperor Valerian prisoner for the remainder of his life.

Eastern Arabia was conquered early on. During Khosrow II’s rule in 590628, Egypt, Jordan, Palestine and Lebanon were also annexed to the Empire. The Sassanians called their empire Ernshahr (“Dominion of the Aryans”, i.e., of Iranians).[52]

A chapter of Iran’s history followed after roughly six hundred years of conflict with the Roman Empire. During this time, the Sassanian and Romano-Byzantine armies clashed for influence in Anatolia, the western Caucasus (mainly Lazica and the Kingdom of Iberia; modern-day Georgia and Abkhazia), Mesopotamia, Armenia and the Levant. Under Justinian I, the war came to an uneasy peace with payment of tribute to the Sassanians.

However, the Sasanians used the deposition of the Byzantine emperor Maurice as a casus belli to attack the Empire. After many gains, the Sassanians were defeated at Issus, Constantinople, and finally Nineveh, resulting in peace. With the conclusion of the over 700 years lasting RomanPersian Wars through the climactic ByzantineSasanian War of 602628, which included the very siege of the Byzantine capital of Constantinople, the war-exhausted Persians lost the Battle of al-Qdisiyyah (632) in Hilla (present day Iraq) to the invading Muslim forces.

The Sasanian era, encompassing the length of Late Antiquity, is considered to be one of the most important and influential historical periods in Iran, and had a major impact on the world. In many ways the Sassanian period witnessed the highest achievement of Persian civilization, and constitutes the last great Iranian Empire before the adoption of Islam. Persia influenced Roman civilization considerably during Sassanian times,[53] their cultural influence extending far beyond the empire’s territorial borders, reaching as far as Western Europe,[54] Africa,[55] China and India[56] and also playing a prominent role in the formation of both European and Asiatic medieval art.[57]

This influence carried forward to the Muslim world. The dynasty’s unique and aristocratic culture transformed the Islamic conquest and destruction of Iran into a Persian Renaissance.[54] Much of what later became known as Islamic culture, architecture, writing, and other contributions to civilization, were taken from the Sassanian Persians into the broader Muslim world.[58]

Expansion under Muhammad, 622632

Expansion during the Patriarchal Caliphate, 632661

Expansion during the Umayyad Caliphate, 661750

In 633, when the Sasanian king Yazdegerd III was ruling over Iran, the Muslims under Umar invaded the country right after it had been in a bloody civil war. Several Iranian nobles and families such as king Dinar of the House of Karen, and later Kanarangiyans of Khorasan, mutinied against their Sasanian overlords. Although the House of Mihran had claimed the Sasanian throne under the two prominent generals Bahrm Chbin and Shahrbaraz, it remained loyal to the Sasanians during their struggle against the Arabs, but the Mihrans were eventually betrayed and defeated by their own kinsmen, the House of Ispahbudhan, under their leader Farrukhzad, who had mutinied against Yazdegerd III.

Yazdegerd III, fled from one district to another until a local miller killed him for his purse at Merv in 651.[59] By 674, Muslims had conquered Greater Khorasan (which included modern Iranian Khorasan province and modern Afghanistan and parts of Transoxiana).

The Muslim conquest of Persia ended the Sasanian Empire and led to the eventual decline of the Zoroastrian religion in Persia. Over time, the majority of Iranians converted to Islam. Most of the aspects of the previous Persian civilizations were not discarded, but were absorbed by the new Islamic polity. As Bernard Lewis has commented:

These events have been variously seen in Iran: by some as a blessing, the advent of the true faith, the end of the age of ignorance and heathenism; by others as a humiliating national defeat, the conquest and subjugation of the country by foreign invaders. Both perceptions are of course valid, depending on one’s angle of vision.[60]

After the fall of the Sasanian Empire in 651, the Arabs of the Umayyad Caliphate adopted many Persian customs, especially the administrative and the court mannerisms. Arab provincial governors were undoubtedly either Persianized Arameans or ethnic Persians; certainly Persian remained the language of official business of the caliphate until the adoption of Arabic toward the end of the seventh century,[61] when in 692 minting began at the capital, Damascus. The new Islamic coins evolved from imitations of Sasanian coins (as well as Byzantine), and the Pahlavi script on the coinage was replaced with Arabic alphabet.

During the Umayyad Caliphate, the Arab conquerors imposed Arabic as the primary language of the subject peoples throughout their empire. Al-Hajjaj ibn Yusuf, who was not happy with the prevalence of the Persian language in the divan, ordered the official language of the conquered lands to be replaced by Arabic, sometimes by force.[62] In al-Biruni’s From The Remaining Signs of Past Centuries for example it is written:

When Qutaibah bin Muslim under the command of Al-Hajjaj bin Yousef was sent to Khwarazmia with a military expedition and conquered it for the second time, he swiftly killed whomever wrote the Khwarazmian native language that knew of the Khwarazmian heritage, history, and culture. He then killed all their Zoroastrian priests and burned and wasted their books, until gradually the illiterate only remained, who knew nothing of writing, and hence their history was mostly forgotten.”[63]

There are a number of historians who see the rule of the Umayyads as setting up the “dhimmah” to increase taxes from the dhimmis to benefit the Muslim Arab community financially and by discouraging conversion.[64] Governors lodged complaints with the caliph when he enacted laws that made conversion easier, depriving the provinces of revenues.

In the 7th century, when many non-Arabs such as Persians entered Islam, they were recognized as mawali (“clients”) and treated as second-class citizens by the ruling Arab elite until the end of the Umayyad Caliphate. During this era, Islam was initially associated with the ethnic identity of the Arab and required formal association with an Arab tribe and the adoption of the client status of mawali.[64] The half-hearted policies of the late Umayyads to tolerate non-Arab Muslims and Shias had failed to quell unrest among these minorities.

However, all of Iran was still not under Arab control, and the region of Daylam was under the control of the Daylamites, while Tabaristan was under Dabuyid and Paduspanid control, and the Mount Damavand region under Masmughans of Damavand. The Arabs had invaded these regions several times, but achieved no decisive result because of the inaccessible terrain of the regions. The most prominent ruler of the Dabuyids, known as Farrukhan the Great (r. 712728), managed to hold his domains during his long struggle against the Arab general Yazid ibn al-Muhallab, who was defeated by a combined Dailamite-Dabuyid army, and was forced to retreat from Tabaristan.[65]

With the death of the Umayyad Caliph Hisham ibn Abd al-Malik in 743, the Islamic world was launched into civil war. Abu Muslim was sent to Khorasan by the Abbasid Caliphate initially as a propagandist and then to revolt on their behalf. He took Merv defeating the Umayyad governor there Nasr ibn Sayyar. He became the de facto Abbasid governor of Khurasan. During the same period, the Dabuyid ruler Khurshid declared independence from the Umayyads, but was shortly forced to recognize Abbasid authority. In 750, Abu Muslim became leader of the Abbasid army and defeated the Umayyads at the Battle of the Zab. Abu Muslim stormed Damascus, the capital of the Umayyad caliphate, later that year.

The Abbasid army consisted primarily of Khorasanians and was led by an Iranian general, Abu Muslim Khorasani. It contained both Iranian and Arab elements, and the Abbasids enjoyed both Iranian and Arab support. The Abbasids overthrew the Umayyads in 750.[66] According to Amir Arjomand, the Abbasid Revolution essentially marked the end of the Arab empire and the beginning of a more inclusive, multiethnic state in the Middle East.[67]

One of the first changes the Abbasids made after taking power from the Umayyads was to move the empire’s capital from Damascus, in the Levant, to Iraq. The latter region was influenced by Persian history and culture, and moving the capital was part of the Persian mawali demand for Arab influence in the empire. The city of Baghdad was constructed on the Tigris River, in 762, to serve as the new Abbasid capital.[68]

The Abbasids established the position of vizier like Barmakids in their administration, which was the equivalent of a “vice-caliph”, or second-in-command. Eventually, this change meant that many caliphs under the Abbasids ended up in a much more ceremonial role than ever before, with the vizier in real power. A new Persian bureaucracy began to replace the old Arab aristocracy, and the entire administration reflected these changes, demonstrating that the new dynasty was different in many ways to the Umayyads.[68]

By the 9th century, Abbasid control began to wane as regional leaders sprang up in the far corners of the empire to challenge the central authority of the Abbasid caliphate.[68] The Abbasid caliphs began enlisting mamluks, Turkic-speaking warriors, who had been moving out of Central Asia into Transoxiana as slave warriors as early as the 9th century. Shortly thereafter the real power of the Abbasid caliphs began to wane; eventually they became religious figureheads while the warrior slaves ruled.[66]

As the power of the Abbasid caliphs diminished, a series of dynasties rose in various parts of Iran, some with considerable influence and power. Among the most important of these overlapping dynasties were the Tahirids in Khorasan (821873); the Saffarids in Sistan (8611003, their rule lasted as maliks of Sistan until 1537); and the Samanids (8191005), originally at Bukhara. The Samanids eventually ruled an area from central Iran to Pakistan.[66]

By the early 10th century, the Abbasids almost lost control to the growing Persian faction known as the Buyid dynasty (9341062). Since much of the Abbasid administration had been Persian anyway, the Buyids were quietly able to assume real power in Baghdad. The Buyids were defeated in the mid-11th century by the Seljuq Turks, who continued to exert influence over the Abbasids, while publicly pledging allegiance to them. The balance of power in Baghdad remained as such with the Abbasids in power in name only until the Mongol invasion of 1258 sacked the city and definitively ended the Abbasid dynasty.[68]

During the Abbassid period an enfranchisement was experienced by the mawali and a shift was made in political conception from that of a primarily Arab empire to one of a Muslim empire[69] and c. 930 a requirement was enacted that required all bureaucrats of the empire be Muslim.[64]

Islamization was a long process by which Islam was gradually adopted by the majority population of Iran. Richard Bulliet’s “conversion curve” indicates that only about 10% of Iran converted to Islam during the relatively Arab-centric Umayyad period. Beginning in the Abassid period, with its mix of Persian as well as Arab rulers, the Muslim percentage of the population rose. As Persian Muslims consolidated their rule of the country, the Muslim population rose from approximately 40% in the mid-9th century to close to 100% by the end of the 11th century.[69] Seyyed Hossein Nasr suggests that the rapid increase in conversion was aided by the Persian nationality of the rulers.[70]

Although Persians adopted the religion of their conquerors, over the centuries they worked to protect and revive their distinctive language and culture, a process known as Persianization. Arabs and Turks participated in this attempt.[71][72][73]

In the 9th and 10th centuries, non-Arab subjects of the Ummah created a movement called Shu’ubiyyah in response to the privileged status of Arabs. Most of those behind the movement were Persian, but references to Egyptians, Berbers and Aramaeans are attested.[74] Citing as its basis Islamic notions of equality of races and nations, the movement was primarily concerned with preserving Persian culture and protecting Persian identity, though within a Muslim context. The most notable effect[citation needed] of the movement was the survival of the Persian language to the present day.[citation needed]

The Samanid dynasty led the revival of Persian culture and the first important Persian poet after the arrival of Islam, Rudaki, was born during this era and was praised by Samanid kings. The Samanids also revived many ancient Persian festivals. Their successor, the Ghaznawids, who were of non-Iranian Turkic origin, also became instrumental in the revival of Persian culture.[75]

The culmination of the Persianization movement was the Shahnameh, the national epic of Iran, written almost entirely in Persian. This voluminous work, reflects Iran’s ancient history, its unique cultural values, its pre-Islamic Zoroastrian religion, and its sense of nationhood. According to Bernard Lewis:[60]

“Iran was indeed Islamized, but it was not Arabized. Persians remained Persians. And after an interval of silence, Iran reemerged as a separate, different and distinctive element within Islam, eventually adding a new element even to Islam itself. Culturally, politically, and most remarkable of all even religiously, the Iranian contribution to this new Islamic civilization is of immense importance. The work of Iranians can be seen in every field of cultural endeavor, including Arabic poetry, to which poets of Iranian origin composing their poems in Arabic made a very significant contribution. In a sense, Iranian Islam is a second advent of Islam itself, a new Islam sometimes referred to as Islam-i Ajam. It was this Persian Islam, rather than the original Arab Islam, that was brought to new areas and new peoples: to the Turks, first in Central Asia and then in the Middle East in the country which came to be called Turkey, and of course to India. The Ottoman Turks brought a form of Iranian civilization to the walls of Vienna…”

The Islamization of Iran was to yield deep transformations within the cultural, scientific, and political structure of Iran’s society: The blossoming of Persian literature, philosophy, medicine and art became major elements of the newly forming Muslim civilization. Inheriting a heritage of thousands of years of civilization, and being at the “crossroads of the major cultural highways”,[76] contributed to Persia emerging as what culminated into the “Islamic Golden Age”. During this period, hundreds of scholars and scientists vastly contributed to technology, science and medicine, later influencing the rise of European science during the Renaissance.[77]

The most important scholars of almost all of the Islamic sects and schools of thought were Persian or lived in Iran, including the most notable and reliable Hadith collectors of Shia and Sunni like Shaikh Saduq, Shaikh Kulainy, Hakim al-Nishaburi, Imam Muslim and Imam Bukhari, the greatest theologians of Shia and Sunni like Shaykh Tusi, Imam Ghazali, Imam Fakhr al-Razi and Al-Zamakhshari, the greatest physicians, astronomers, logicians, mathematicians, metaphysicians, philosophers and scientists like Avicenna, and Nasr al-Dn al-Ts, the greatest Shaykh of Sufism like Rumi, Abdul-Qadir Gilani.

In 977 a Turkic governor of the Samanids, Sabuktigin, conquered Ghazna (in present-day Afghanistan) and established a dynasty, the Ghaznavids, that lasted to 1186.[66] The Ghaznavid empire grew by taking all of the Samanid territories south of the Amu Darya in the last decade of the 10th century, and eventually occupied parts of Eastern Iran, Afghanistan, Pakistan and northwest India.[68]

The Ghaznavids are generally credited with launching Islam into a mainly Hindu India. The invasion of India was undertaken in 1000 by the Ghaznavid ruler, Mahmud, and continued for several years. They were unable to hold power for long, however, particularly after the death of Mahmud in 1030. By 1040 the Seljuqs had taken over the Ghaznavid lands in Iran.[68]

The Seljuqs, who like the Ghaznavids were Persianate in nature and of Turkic origin, slowly conquered Iran over the course of the 11th century.[66] The dynasty had its origins in the Turcoman tribal confederations of Central Asia and marked the beginning of Turkic power in the Middle East. They established a Sunni Muslim rule over parts of Central Asia and the Middle East from the 11th to 14th centuries. They set up an empire known as Great Seljuq Empire that stretched from Anatolia in the west to western Afghanistan in the east and the western borders of (modern-day) China in the northeast; and was the target of the First Crusade. Today they are regarded as the cultural ancestors of the Western Turks, the present-day inhabitants of Azerbaijan, Turkey, and Turkmenistan, and they are remembered as great patrons of Persian culture, art, literature, and language.[78][79][80]

The dynastic founder, Tughril Beg, turned his army against the Ghaznavids in Khorasan. He moved south and then west, conquering but not wasting the cities in his path. In 1055 the caliph in Baghdad gave Tughril Beg robes, gifts, and the title King of the East. Under Tughril Beg’s successor, Malik Shah (10721092), Iran enjoyed a cultural and scientific renaissance, largely attributed to his brilliant Iranian vizier, Nizam al Mulk. These leaders established the observatory where Omar Khayym did much of his experimentation for a new calendar, and they built religious schools in all the major towns. They brought Abu Hamid Ghazali, one of the greatest Islamic theologians, and other eminent scholars to the Seljuq capital at Baghdad and encouraged and supported their work.[66]

When Malik Shah I died in 1092, the empire split as his brother and four sons quarrelled over the apportioning of the empire among themselves. In Anatolia, Malik Shah I was succeeded by Kilij Arslan I who founded the Sultanate of Rm and in Syria by his brother Tutush I. In Persia he was succeeded by his son Mahmud I whose reign was contested by his other three brothers Barkiyaruq in Iraq, Muhammad I in Baghdad and Ahmad Sanjar in Khorasan. As Seljuq power in Iran weakened, other dynasties began to step up in its place, including a resurgent Abbasid caliphate and the Khwarezmshahs. The Khwarezmid Empire was a Sunni Muslim Persianate dynasty, of East Turkic origin, that ruled in Central Asia. Originally vassals of the Seljuqs, they took advantage of the decline of the Seljuqs to expand into Iran.[81] In 1194 the Khwarezmshah Ala ad-Din Tekish defeated the Seljuq sultan Toghrul III in battle and the Seljuq empire in Iran collapsed. Of the former Seljuq Empire, only the Sultanate of Rum in Anatolia remained.

A serious internal threat to the Seljuqs during their reign came from the Ismailis, a secret sect with headquarters at Alamut between Rasht and Tehran. They controlled the immediate area for more than 150 years and sporadically sent out adherents to strengthen their rule by murdering important officials. Several of the various theories on the etymology of the word assassin derive from these killers.[66]

Parts of northwestern Iran were conquered in the early 13th century AD by the Kingdom of Georgia, led by Tamar the Great.[82]

The Khwarezmid Empire only lasted for a few decades, until the arrival of the Mongols. Genghis Khan had unified the Mongols, and under him the Mongol Empire quickly expanded in several directions, until by 1218 it bordered Khwarezm. At that time, the Khwarezmid Empire was ruled by Ala ad-Din Muhammad (12001220). Muhammad, like Genghis, was intent on expanding his lands and had gained the submission of most of Iran. He declared himself shah and demanded formal recognition from the Abbasid caliph an-Nasir. When the caliph rejected his claim, Ala ad-Din Muhammad proclaimed one of his nobles caliph and unsuccessfully tried to depose an-Nasir.

The Mongol invasion of Iran began in 1219, after two diplomatic missions to Khwarezm sent by Genghis Khan had been massacred. During 122021 Bukhara, Samarkand, Herat, Tus and Nishapur were razed, and the whole populations were slaughtered. The Khwarezm-Shah fled, to die on an island off the Caspian coast.[83]During the invasion of Transoxania in 1219, along with the main Mongol force, Genghis Khan used a Chinese specialist catapult unit in battle, they were used again in 1220 in Transoxania. The Chinese may have used the catapults to hurl gunpowder bombs, since they already had them by this time.[84]

While Genghis Khan was conquering Transoxania and Persia, several Chinese who were familiar with gunpowder were serving in Genghis’s army.[85] “Whole regiments” entirely made out of Chinese were used by the Mongols to command bomb hurling trebuchets during the invasion of Iran.[86] Historians have suggested that the Mongol invasion had brought Chinese gunpowder weapons to Central Asia. One of these was the huochong, a Chinese mortar.[87] Books written around the area afterward depicted gunpowder weapons which resembled those of China.[88]

Before his death in 1227, Genghis had reached western Azerbaijan, pillaging and burning cities along the way.

The Mongol invasion was disastrous to the Iranians. Although the Mongol invaders were eventually converted to Islam and accepted the culture of Iran, the Mongol destruction of the Islamic heartland marked a major change of direction for the region. Much of the six centuries of Islamic scholarship, culture, and infrastructure was destroyed as the invaders burned libraries, and replaced mosques with Buddhist temples.[89]

The Mongols killed many Iranian civilians. Destruction of qanat irrigation systems destroyed the pattern of relatively continuous settlement, producing numerous isolated oasis cities in a land where they had previously been rare.[90] A large number of people, particularly males, were killed; between 1220 and 1258, 90% of the total population of Iran may have been killed as a result of mass extermination and famine.[91]

After Genghis’s death, Iran was ruled by several Mongol commanders. Genghis’ grandson, Hulagu Khan, was tasked with the westward expansion of Mongol dominion. However, by time he ascended to power, the Mongol Empire had already dissolved, dividing into different factions. Arriving with an army, he established himself in the region and founded the Ilkhanate, a breakaway state of the Mongol Empire, which would rule Iran for the next eighty years and become Persianate in the process.

Hulagu Khan seized Baghdad in 1258 and put the last Abbasid caliph to death. The westward advance of his forces was stopped by the Mamelukes, however, at the Battle of Ain Jalut in Palestine in 1260. Hulagu’s campaigns against the Muslims also enraged Berke, khan of the Golden Horde and a convert to Islam. Hulagu and Berke fought against each other, demonstrating the weakening unity of the Mongol empire.

The rule of Hulagu’s great-grandson, Ghazan Khan (12951304) saw the establishment of Islam as the state religion of the Ilkhanate. Ghazan and his famous Iranian vizier, Rashid al-Din, brought Iran a partial and brief economic revival. The Mongols lowered taxes for artisans, encouraged agriculture, rebuilt and extended irrigation works, and improved the safety of the trade routes. As a result, commerce increased dramatically.

Items from India, China, and Iran passed easily across the Asian steppes, and these contacts culturally enriched Iran. For example, Iranians developed a new style of painting based on a unique fusion of solid, two-dimensional Mesopotamian painting with the feathery, light brush strokes and other motifs characteristic of China. After Ghazan’s nephew Abu Said died in 1335, however, the Ilkhanate lapsed into civil war and was divided between several petty dynasties most prominently the Jalayirids, Muzaffarids, Sarbadars and Kartids.

The mid-14th-century Black Death killed about 30% of the country’s population.[92]

Prior to the rise of the Safavid Empire, Sunni Islam was the dominant religion, accounting for around 90% of the population at the time. According to Mortaza Motahhari the majority of Iranian scholars and masses remained Sunni until the time of the Safavids.[93] The domination of Sunnis did not mean Shia were rootless in Iran. The writers of The Four Books of Shia were Iranian, as well as many other great Shia scholars.

The domination of the Sunni creed during the first nine Islamic centuries characterized the religious history of Iran during this period. There were however some exceptions to this general domination which emerged in the form of the Zayds of Tabaristan (see Alid dynasties of northern Iran), the Buyids, the Kakuyids, the rule of Sultan Muhammad Khudabandah (r. Shawwal 703-Shawwal 716/1304-1316) and the Sarbedaran.[94]

Apart from this domination there existed, firstly, throughout these nine centuries, Shia inclinations among many Sunnis of this land and, secondly, original Imami Shiism as well as Zayd Shiism had prevalence in some parts of Iran. During this period, Shia in Iran were nourished from Kufah, Baghdad and later from Najaf and Hillah.[94] Shiism was the dominant sect in Tabaristan, Qom, Kashan, Avaj and Sabzevar. In many other areas merged population of Shia and Sunni lived together.

During the 10th and 11th centuries, Fatimids sent Ismailis Da’i (missioners) to Iran as well as other Muslim lands. When Ismailis divided into two sects, Nizaris established their base in Iran. Hassan-i Sabbah conquered fortresses and captured Alamut in 1090 AD. Nizaris used this fortress until a Mongol raid in 1256.

After the Mongol raid and fall of the Abbasids, Sunni hierarchies faltered. Not only did they lose the caliphate but also the status of official madhhab. Their loss was the gain of Shia, whose center wasn’t in Iran at that time. Several local Shia dynasties like Sarbadars were established during this time.

The main change occurred in the beginning of the 16th century, when Ismail I founded the Safavid dynasty and initiated a religious policy to recognize Shi’a Islam as the official religion of the Safavid Empire, and the fact that modern Iran remains an officially Shi’ite state is a direct result of Ismail’s actions.

Iran remained divided until the arrival of Timur, who is variously described as of Mongol or Turkic origin[95] belonging to the Timurid dynasty. Like its predecessors, the Timurid Empire was also part of the Persianate world. After establishing a power base in Transoxiana, Timur invaded Iran in 1381 and eventually conquered most of it. Timur’s campaigns were known for their brutality; many people were slaughtered and several cities were destroyed.[96]

His regime was characterized by tyranny and bloodshed, but also by its inclusion of Iranians in administrative roles and its promotion of architecture and poetry. His successors, the Timurids, maintained a hold on most of Iran until 1452, when they lost the bulk of it to Black Sheep Turkmen. The Black Sheep Turkmen were conquered by the White Sheep Turkmen under Uzun Hasan in 1468; Uzun Hasan and his successors were the masters of Iran until the rise of the Safavids.[96]

The Kara Koyunlu were Oghuz Turks who ruled over northwestern Iran and surrounding areas from 13741468 CE. The Kara Koyunlu expanded their conquest to Baghdad, however, internal fighting, defeats by the Timurids, rebellions by the Armenians in response to their persecution,[97] and failed struggles with the Ag Qoyunlu lead to their eventual demise.[98]

Aq Qoyunlu were Oghuz Turkic tribal federation of Sunni Muslims who ruled over most of Iran and large parts of surrounding areas from 1378 to 1501 CE. Aq Qoyunlu emerged when Timur granted them all of Diyar Bakr in present-day Turkey. Afterward, they struggled with their rival Oghuz Turks, the Kara Koyunlu. While the Aq Qoyunlu were successful in defeating Kara Koyunlu, their struggle with the emerging Safavid dynasty lead to their downfall.[99]

Persia underwent a revival under the Safavid dynasty (15021736), the most prominent figure of which was Shah Abbas I. Some historians credit the Safavid dynasty for founding the modern nation-state of Iran. Iran’s contemporary Shia character, and significant segments of Iran’s current borders take their origin from this era (e.g. Treaty of Zuhab).

The Safavid dynasty was one of the most significant ruling dynasties of Persia (modern Iran), and “is often considered the beginning of modern Persian history”.[100] They ruled one of the greatest Persian empires after the Muslim conquest of Persia[101][102][103][104] and established the Twelver school of Shi’a Islam[7] as the official religion of their empire, marking one of the most important turning points in Muslim history. The Safavids ruled from 1501 to 1722 (experiencing a brief restoration from 1729 to 1736) and at their height, they controlled all of modern Iran, Azerbaijan and Armenia, most of Georgia, the North Caucasus, Iraq, Kuwait and Afghanistan, as well as parts of Turkey, Syria, Pakistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan. Safavid Iran was one of the Islamic “gunpowder empires”, along with its neighbours, its archrival and principal enemy the Ottoman Empire, as well as the Mughal Empire.

The Safavid ruling dynasty was founded by Ismil, who styled himself Shh Ismil I.[105] Practically worshipped by his Qizilbsh followers, Ismil invaded Shirvan to avenge the death of his father, Shaykh Haydar, who had been killed during his siege of Derbent, in Dagestan. Afterwards he went on a campaign of conquest, and following the capture of Tabriz in July 1501, he enthroned himself as the Shh of Azerbaijan,[106][107][108] minted coins in this name, and proclaimed Shi’ism the official religion of his domain.[7]

Although initially the masters of Azerbaijan and southern Dagestan only, the Safavids had, in fact, won the struggle for power in Persia which had been going on for nearly a century between various dynasties and political forces following the fragmentation of the Kara Koyunlu and the Aq Qoyunlu. A year after his victory in Tabriz, Ismil proclaimed most of Persia as his domain, and[7] quickly conquered and unified Iran under his rule. Soon afterwards, the new Safavid Empire rapidly conquered regions, nations, and peoples in all directions, including Armenia, Azerbaijan, parts of Georgia, Mesopotamia (Iraq), Kuwait, Syria, Dagestan, large parts of what is now Afghanistan, parts of Turkmenistan, and large chunks of Anatolia, laying the foundation of its multi-ethnic character which would heavily influence the empire itself (most notably the Caucasus and its peoples).

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Rouhani: U.S. asks Iran ‘every day’ to begin talks | Reuters

GENEVA (Reuters) – Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said on Saturday that the United States continually sends messages to Iran asking it to begin negotiations.

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani attends a news conference with President Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey and Vladimir Putin of Russia following their meeting in Tehran, Iran September 7, 2018. Kirill Kudryavtsev/Pool via REUTERS

Tensions between Iran and the United States soared after President Donald Trump pulled out of a landmark nuclear deal with Iran in May, and then reimposed sanctions on the Islamic Republic last month.

Trump has said he would meet Irans leaders.

From one side they try to pressure the people of Iran, on another side they send us messages every day through various methods that we should come and negotiate together, Rouhani said in a speech broadcast on Iranian state television.

(They say) we should negotiate here, we should negotiate there. We want to resolve the issues … Should we see your message? … Or should we see your brutish actions?

Washington aims to force Tehran to end its nuclear program and its support of militant groups in Syria and Iraq.

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif took aim at U.S. criticism of Irans regional policy in a Twitter post on Saturday.

Trump regime flip-flops are truly comical, he wrote. One week, its talking point is that we are squandering our resources abroad, the next week its that weve not financially supported the Palestinians enough.

U.S. sanctions targeting Irans oil sector are scheduled to be reimposed in November.

Iran is facing an economic, psychological and propaganda war, Rouhani said Saturday, pointing to the United States and Israel as the Islamic Republics main enemies.

Reporting By Babak Dehghanpisheh; Editing by Robert Birsel and Kevin Liffey

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Chanting Iran, out! Iraqi protesters torch Iranian …

BASRA, Iraq Protesters in this port city stormed the Iranian Consulate late Friday, setting it on fire and sharply escalating violent demonstrations that began over miserable living conditions but have grown into an indictment of Iraqs stagnant politics.

The consulate was the latest symbol of entrenched power to be torched by protesters in Basra during a week of demonstrations, raising concerns that the unrest would draw a firm response from Iran, which controls several powerful militias in the oil-export city.

The attack on the consulate also upended notions of solidarity between Iraqs Shiite heartland and Iran, the preeminent Shiite power in the region. The assault contributed to a growing sense that Iraq is slipping into a period of dangerous instability as powerful political parties remain locked in a struggle over the composition of the countrys next government.

Protesters said they targeted the consulate to vent their frustrations over abuses by Iran-backed militias in Basra, as well what they see as Tehrans outsize influence over their city and over Iraqs fractured politics.

The demonstrators complained that the militias run rampant in Basra, kidnapping and extorting money from their opponents and creating an atmosphere of fear. They said Iran has empowered the militias to enrich themselves at the expense of the citys residents.

Iran has destabilized Basra with their armed gangs, said Sattar Hamdi, 50, a day laborer. They have the upper hand here and with the politicians in Baghdad. Im appealing to any foreign country, even Israel, for help because weve already lost Iraq to Iran.

Protests over a lack of electricity and clean water during the scorching summer months began in early July in Basra and other Shiite-majority cities but have grown larger and more violent in recent days as politicians have failed to form a national government nearly four months after elections in May.

Iran and the United States have been deeply involved in the political gridlock, each supporting rival factions that claim a parliamentary majority and the right to appoint a new prime minister.

People in Basra have accused Iraqs political class of abandoning them, ignoring the peoples pleas for relief as the politicians jockey for control of a new government. They have expressed their displeasure by burning down the headquarters of nearly every political party in the city, along with offices belonging to Shiite militias that won parliamentary seats in the May elections.

Fresh graffiti outside the destroyed offices of the powerful Badr Organization, an Iran-aligned party that counts Iraqs interior minister among its senior leaders, announced: We demand blood.

Packs of young men surrounded the gated complex of the Iranian Consulate as the sun set on Friday, breaking past police checkpoints as they smashed their way into the empty building and set it on fire.

Dozens lingered afterward, taking photos and videos of the burning consulate as police stood by sometimes chatting or joking with the young demonstrators.

Police had repelled an attack on the consulate Thursday night but were overwhelmed by the growing number of young men Friday, one officer said. He said he was hesitant to draw his weapon on the protesters after at least eight were shot during other demonstrations this week, drawing widespread condemnation from the government and from the United Nations and human rights groups.

Visa services are officially suspended, cracked one of the demonstrators as he filmed the flames and dark plumes of smoke with his cellphone.

Shall we go for the Turkish Consulate next? a friend responded.

A group of protesters gathered around a young man who clutched papers he said he stole from a city council building that purported to show thousands of dollars in allocations to various city officials.

Theyre being given a fortune, but we cant even get clean water from the taps, the man shouted.

Iraqs Health Ministry said Thursday that 6,280 people have been sickened by the water in Basra, which residents have said is too salty for drinking or cleaning.

Protesters have said they were moved to action by the citys undrinkable water and crumbling infrastructure, bitterly noting that Basra is the top export hub for Iraqs oil yet remains one of the countrys least developed cities.

After Prime Minister Haider al-Abadis government failed to respond to their demands in July, protesters began to rally against Iraqs endemic corruption and the political figures that have dominated the country since the 2003 invasion by U.S. troops.

Hussein Hatem, 33, a welder, said that torching the Iranian Consulate was a message to Irans and Iraqs leaders alike that Basra does not belong to anyone.

Our government takes orders from Iran, he said. And no one is looking after us. Weve run out of patience. Theyre busy trying to form the biggest bloc in parliament and they cant fulfill the most basic demand for clean water.

Iraqs Foreign Ministry condemned the attack on the consulate, saying the assault harms Iraqs interests and is unrelated to demonstrators demands for basic services and clean water.

It was the latest security embarrassment for the ministry in two days. Late Thursday, three mortar rounds landed in an empty field near the U.S. Embassy in Baghdads fortified Green Zone. There were no injuries, and no group asserted responsibility for the incident.

Meanwhile, Basra is settling into a new rhythm.

During the day, diverse groups of protesters, including many women, chant against government corruption and unemployment, occupying major squares and boulevards to demonstrate peacefully.

As day gives way to night, large columns of young men in their teens and 20s take over the streets, stopping traffic as they walk swiftly or jog to any symbol of government power they can find to vandalize.

Despite the daytime protests and nighttime disturbances, residents go about their business, sipping tea in cafes or window-shopping at brightly lighted stores. On occasion, they step aside to make way for the clutches of young men chanting slogans such as Iran, out, out! and If we die, we die, as long as the nation survives.

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Deadly protests rage in Iraq over lack of services as political transition deadlocks

How Moqtada al-Sadr went from anti-American outlaw to potential kingmaker in Iraq

U.S. sanctions on Iran hit an unintended target: Ordinary Iraqis

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Iran claims it controls Strait of Hormuz, prompting Pompeo denial | Fox …

A major shipping route located between Oman and Iran where nearly one-third of the world’s sea-traded oil passes through daily may become a new flashpoint after a top Iranian Navy general said Monday that the country has taken full control of the Strait of Hormuz.

The head of the navy of Irans Revolutionary Guards, Gen. Alireza Tangsiri, said that Iran had full control of both the Persian Gulf itself and the Strait of Hormuz that leads into it,Reuters reported.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo responded Monday night: “The Islamic Republic of Iran does not control the Strait of Hormuz. The Strait is an international waterway. The United States will continue to work with our partners to ensure freedom of navigation and free flow of commerce in international waterways.”

The strait, which at its narrowest point is 21 miles wide, has shipping lanes that are 2 miles wide in each direction and is the only sea passage from many of the world’s largest oil producers to the Indian Ocean.

“It’s a very contentious area,” retired Lt. Col. Bob Maginnis told Fox News’ “Your World with Neil Cavuto” earlier this month.

The Strait of Hormuz is where most of the oil from Saudi Arabia passes through, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration. The Saudis have constructed pipelines to bypass the strait, but a majority of crude oil is shipped by sea, meaning that any action by Iran to halt shipping may impact consumers across the world.

“The blockage of the Strait of Hormuz, even temporarily, could lead to substantial increases in total energy costs,” the agency said in a 2012 report.

At the beginning of August, Iran began a large-scale exercise in the Strait of Hormuz involving more than 50 small boats, practicing swarming operations that could potentially shut down the vital waterway if ever deployed for real. The drill came after President Trump pulled the U.S. out of a landmark nuclear accord with Iran and leaders of both countries exchanged fiery rhetoric.

The country routinely operates small boats in the Strait of Hormuz and the surrounding area, and has often threatened to shut down the highly traveled waterway. Acheck of conditions on MaritimeTraffic.comon Monday showed that conditions appeared to be normal, with heavy maritime traffic through the strait.

In recent weeks Iranian President Hassan Rouhani renewed the threat, saying that if sanctions threatened Iran’s crude oil exports, the rest of the Middle East’s exports would be threatened as well.

“They’re causing problems once again, as predicted, in the Strait of Hormuz,” Maginnis said. “This is something we’ve grown accustomed too.”

IRAN SAYS IT HAS CONTROL OF GULF AND STRAIT OF HORMUZ: REPORT

Military officials have said that U.S. and allies train to be able to insure that freedom of navigation continues in the Strait of Hormuz.(Reuters)

But if Iran were to follow through with any bluster to close down the vital shipping channel, a potential U.S. response would be swift.

“The U.S. and our partners provide and promote security and stability in the region on a daily basis,” Lt. Chloe Morgan, U.S. Naval Forces Central Command spokesperson, said in a statement to Fox News on Monday. “Together, we stand ready to ensure the freedom of navigation and the free flow of commerce wherever international law allows.”

Gen. Joseph Votel, head of U.S. Central Command, said earlier this month that Iran was showcasing its military capabilities and has the ability to plant mines and explosive boats in the waterway, as well as use missiles and radar along the coast. He stressed the U.S. and allies routinely train for that possibility and are prepared to insure that freedom of navigation and commerce continues in those waters.

U.S officials say that Iran has the ability to ability to plant mines and explosive boats in the waterway, in addition to using missiles and radar along the coast.(Reuters)

“We are aware of what’s going on and we remain ready to protect ourselves,” he told reporters.

Fox News security analyst Walid Pharestold Fox Business Network’s”Varney & Co.” that the Iranians can damage the international passage “if they want,” but that the U.S. can easily “intercept them, stop them, and damage their own capacity.”

“It’s kind of a brinkmanship capacity of gaming with us,” Phares said. “I think the United States is very much attentive to what they are doing, and will respond if the Iranians will cross that red line.”

IRAN DEPLOYS 50 SMALL BOATS TO STRAIT OF HORMUZ FOR LARGE-SCALE ‘SWARMING’ EXERCISE

The Strait of Hormuz, which at its narrowest point is 21 miles wide, has shipping lanes that are two miles wide in each direction and is the only sea passage from many of the world’s largest oil producers to the Indian Ocean. (Reuters)

President Obama’s former National Security Adviser Jim Jones, a four-star general, said in an interview earlier this month the Iranian Navy should be “wiped out” if any action is taken to block maritime traffic.

I personally would like to see, if they ever did something in the Strait of Hormuz, I would like to see their navy disappear,” Jonestold The National.

Jones, who served as national security adviser for Obama from 2009 to 2010, also told the National that Iran’s government is an “an existential threat to the region.”

Iran has been active in Syria, backing the government of President Bashar Assad, while also stoking violence in the southern part of the country and triggering military counterattacks from Israel. The U.S. and Saudi Arabia have condemned Iran repeatedly for providing missiles to Yemeni Houthi rebels, who have fired toward Riyadh.

The Iranian officials recently threatened to block the waterway in retaliation for any hostile action by the U.S. government amid President Trumps remarks in July, which were prompted by the Iranian President Rouhani saying the U.S. risks the mother of all wars” with Iran.

Trump called for Rouhani to stop the rhetoric or in caps lock suffer the consequences the like of which few throughout history have ever suffered before. We are no longer a country that will stand for your demented words of violence and death. Be cautious!

Just over two weeks ago, Iran test-fired a ballistic missile as a brazen display of defiance, which coincided with the naval exercise, three U.S. officials with knowledge of the launch told Fox News at the time.

While the U.S. military publicly acknowledged the naval activity, the missile test from an Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps base in Bandar-e-Jask in southeastern Iran has not been previously reported. The launch was detected by U.S. spy satellites.

Fox News’ Nicholas Kalman, Lucas Tomlinson, Lukas Mikelionis and The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Travis Fedschun is a reporter for FoxNews.com. Follow him on Twitter @travfed

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Iran threatens to hit U.S., Israel after Trump aide warns of …

LONDON/JERUSALEM (Reuters) – Iran warned on Wednesday it would hit U.S. and Israeli targets if it were attacked by the United States after President Donald Trumps security adviser said Washington would exert maximum pressure on Tehran going beyond economic sanctions.

A U.S.-Iranian war of words has escalated since Trump withdrew Washington from the world powers nuclear deal with Iran in May, blasting it as flawed and reimposing sanctions to choke Irans economy and force it to renegotiate or change direction.

The U.S. turnaround, which scrapped a wary detente between Iran and the United States after decades of hostility, has drawn defiance from Tehran despite renewed unrest over economic privations, and has unnerved other big powers where businesses have been debating whether to divest from Iran.

U.S. National Security Adviser John Bolton told Reuters the return of U.S. sanctions was having a strong effect on Irans economy and popular opinion.

There should not be any doubt that the United States wants this resolved peacefully, but we are fully prepared for any contingency that Iran creates, Bolton said during a visit to Israel, Irans enemy in the Middle East.

U.S. sanctions dusted off this month targeted Irans car industry, trade in gold and other precious metals, and purchases of U.S. dollars crucial to international financing and investment and trade relations. Farther-reaching sanctions are to follow in November on Irans banking sector and oil exports.

European powers have been scrambling to ensure Iran secures enough economic benefits to persuade it to stay in the deal. This has proven difficult, with many European firms keen to avoid financial penalties by the Trump administration.

We expect that Europeans will see, as businesses all over Europe are seeing, that the choice between doing business with Iran or doing business with the United States is very clear to them, Bolton said.

So we will see what plays out in November. But (Trump) has made it very clear – his words – he wants maximum pressure on Iran, maximum pressure, and that is what is going on.

Asked at a news conference later whether the United States had discussed any plans with ally Israel on how to capitalize on economic protests in Iran and if these posed any tangible threat to the Tehran government, Bolton said:

Just to be clear, regime change in Iran is not American policy. But what we want is massive change in the regimes behavior … We are going to do other things to put pressure on Iran as well, beyond economic sanctions. He did not elaborate.

A senior Iranian cleric seen as close to Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei told worshippers at Eid holiday prayers in Tehran: The price of a war with Iran is very high for America.

They know if they harm this country and this state in the slightest way the United States and its main ally in the region, the Zionist regime (Israel), would be targeted, Ahmad Khatami said.

Irans Revolutionary Guards have said it could strike Israeli cities with missiles if it were threatened. Iran also has proxies in the region including Lebanons Hezbollah.

The Revolutionary Guards said on Wednesday they would continue increasing Irans defensive capabilities not surrender to U.S. pressure to scrap its ballistic missile program.

Last week, Khamenei – who has the ultimate say on Iranian policy – said the United States would avoid outright conflict because of Iranian military might.

There will be no war…We have never started a war and they will not confront Iran militarily, he said.

Trumps campaign to isolate Iran and cripple its economy has put the old adversaries back on a collision course that European signatories to the nuclear accord fear will raise the risk of a broader Middle East war.

Under the 2015 deal, Iran curbed its contested uranium enrichment program under U.N. monitoring and won an end to global sanctions in return.

Trump has condemned the deal as too soft on Tehran and would not stop it developing a nuclear bomb, though U.N. nuclear non-proliferation inspectors have repeatedly certified Iranian compliance with its terms.

Khatami, the prominent Iranian cleric, also said Trumps offer of talks was unacceptable as he was demanding Tehran give up its ballistic missile program and scale back regional influence. Neither issue was covered by the 2015 agreement.

Americans say you should accept what we say in the talks. So this is not negotiation, but dictatorship, Mizan news agency quoted Khatami as saying.

Trump has said Iran must stop meddling in wars in Syria and Yemen, part of a foreign policy supporting regional allies in conflict with proxies of U.S.-backed Gulf Arab kingdoms.

Tehran has not given an inch to Trumps pressure despite an economy beset by high unemployment and inflation and a rial currency that has lost half its value since April.

Thousands of Iranians have protested against price rises of some food items, a lack of jobs and state corruption. The protests over the cost of living have often turned into anti-government rallies.

I think the effects, the economic effects certainly, are even stronger than we anticipated, Bolton said.

But Iranian activity in the region has continued to be belligerent: what they are doing in Iraq, what they are doing in Syria, what they are doing with Hezbollah in Lebanon, what they are doing in Yemen, what they have threatened to do in the Strait of Hormuz.

The Strait is a strategic waterway for oil shipments which Irans Revolutionary Guards have threatened to block in response to Trump administration calls to ban all Iranian oil exports.

Writing by Mark Heinrich; Editing by Janet Lawrence

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Iran protests: President Rouhani calls for unity as death …

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The video went viral, triggering a response from the Iranian government.”,”descriptionText”:”An amateur video shows a member of the “morality police” physically confronting a woman in Iran. The video went viral, triggering a response from the Iranian government.”},{“title”:”Dashed hopes: Reasons Iran protests kicked off”,”duration”:”01:32″,”sourceName”:”CNN”,”sourceLink”:””,”videoCMSUrl”:”/video/data/3.0/video/world/2018/01/03/iran-protests-why-they-all-began-lon-orig-mkd.cnn/index.xml”,”videoId”:”world/2018/01/03/iran-protests-why-they-all-began-lon-orig-mkd.cnn”,”videoImage”:”//cdn.cnn.com/cnnnext/dam/assets/180102093610-03-iran-protest-1230-large-169.jpg”,”videoUrl”:”/videos/world/2018/01/03/iran-protests-why-they-all-began-lon-orig-mkd.cnn/video/playlists/iran-in-the-news/”,”description”:”Protests have gripped multiple cities in Iran for the past week, with pro-government protests on the seventh day. CNN’s Nick Paton Walsh explains how they started in the first place. “,”descriptionText”:”Protests have gripped multiple cities in Iran for the past week, with pro-government protests on the seventh day. CNN’s Nick Paton Walsh explains how they started in the first place. “},{“title”:”DOJ: Iranians hacked US professors”,”duration”:”01:39″,”sourceName”:”CNN”,”sourceLink”:”http://www.cnn.com/”,”videoCMSUrl”:”/video/data/3.0/video/politics/2018/03/23/rod-rosenstein-iranian-hackers-indicted-sot.cnn/index.xml”,”videoId”:”politics/2018/03/23/rod-rosenstein-iranian-hackers-indicted-sot.cnn”,”videoImage”:”//cdn.cnn.com/cnnnext/dam/assets/180323095301-rod-rosenstein-0323-screengrab-large-169.jpg”,”videoUrl”:”/videos/politics/2018/03/23/rod-rosenstein-iranian-hackers-indicted-sot.cnn/video/playlists/iran-in-the-news/”,”description”:”The Trump administration alleged Friday that Iranian government-linked hackers broke into the accounts of roughly 8,000 professors at hundreds of US and foreign universities, as well as private companies and government entities, to steal massive amounts of data and intellectual property.”,”descriptionText”:”The Trump administration alleged Friday that Iranian government-linked hackers broke into the accounts of roughly 8,000 professors at hundreds of US and foreign universities, as well as private companies and government entities, to steal massive amounts of data and intellectual property.”},{“title”:”Protests turn violent in Iran”,”duration”:”01:41″,”sourceName”:”CNN”,”sourceLink”:””,”videoCMSUrl”:”/video/data/3.0/video/world/2018/01/02/iran-anti-government-protests-sje-lon-orig.cnn/index.xml”,”videoId”:”world/2018/01/02/iran-anti-government-protests-sje-lon-orig.cnn”,”videoImage”:”//cdn.cnn.com/cnnnext/dam/assets/180101115904-cnnmoney-iran-protests-large-169.jpg”,”videoUrl”:”/videos/world/2018/01/02/iran-anti-government-protests-sje-lon-orig.cnn/video/playlists/iran-in-the-news/”,”description”:”Anti-government protests in Iran have left multiple people dead and led to the arrest of hundreds of protesters, according to state media. “,”descriptionText”:”Anti-government protests in Iran have left multiple people dead and led to the arrest of hundreds of protesters, according to state media. “},{“title”:”Protesters angry over economy, corruption”,”duration”:”01:47″,”sourceName”:”CNN”,”sourceLink”:”http://www.cnn.com/”,”videoCMSUrl”:”/video/data/3.0/video/world/2018/01/01/iran-tehran-protests-roberston-lklv.cnn/index.xml”,”videoId”:”world/2018/01/01/iran-tehran-protests-roberston-lklv.cnn”,”videoImage”:”//cdn.cnn.com/cnnnext/dam/assets/171230172246-04-iranian-student-protests-large-169.jpg”,”videoUrl”:”/videos/world/2018/01/01/iran-tehran-protests-roberston-lklv.cnn/video/playlists/iran-in-the-news/”,”description”:”Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani is warning protesters that violence won’t be tolerated after massive anti-government protests turned deadly over the weekend. CNN’s Nic Robertson reports. “,”descriptionText”:”Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani is warning protesters that violence won’t be tolerated after massive anti-government protests turned deadly over the weekend. CNN’s Nic Robertson reports. “},{“title”:”Why are citizens protesting in Iran?”,”duration”:”01:45″,”sourceName”:”CNN”,”sourceLink”:”http://www.cnn.com”,”videoCMSUrl”:”/video/data/3.0/video/world/2017/12/30/iran-protests-rouhani-ayatollah-khamenei-damon-newday.cnn/index.xml”,”videoId”:”world/2017/12/30/iran-protests-rouhani-ayatollah-khamenei-damon-newday.cnn”,”videoImage”:”//cdn.cnn.com/cnnnext/dam/assets/171230123643-iran-protests-mashhad-youtube-large-169.jpg”,”videoUrl”:”/videos/world/2017/12/30/iran-protests-rouhani-ayatollah-khamenei-damon-newday.cnn/video/playlists/iran-in-the-news/”,”description”:”Anti-government protests have spread into several cities in Iran and President Trump is vocally supporting the protesters.”,”descriptionText”:”Anti-government protests have spread into several cities in Iran and President Trump is vocally supporting the protesters.”},{“title”:”Trump applauds Iran’s anti-government protest”,”duration”:”00:59″,”sourceName”:”CNN”,”sourceLink”:”http://www.cnn.com”,”videoCMSUrl”:”/video/data/3.0/video/world/2017/12/30/iran-protests-trump-tweets-sot.cnn/index.xml”,”videoId”:”world/2017/12/30/iran-protests-trump-tweets-sot.cnn”,”videoImage”:”//cdn.cnn.com/cnnnext/dam/assets/171230044528-02-iran-protests-youtube-large-169.jpg”,”videoUrl”:”/videos/world/2017/12/30/iran-protests-trump-tweets-sot.cnn/video/playlists/iran-in-the-news/”,”description”:”President Trump tweeted about the recent protest in Iran and said the “Iranian govt should respect their people’s rights”. CNN’s George Howell reports.”,”descriptionText”:”President Trump tweeted about the recent protest in Iran and said the “Iranian govt should respect their people’s rights”. CNN’s George Howell reports.”},{“title”:”Why are Iran and Saudi Arabia so at odds?”,”duration”:”02:15″,”sourceName”:”CNN”,”sourceLink”:””,”videoCMSUrl”:”/video/data/3.0/video/world/2017/12/22/iran-saudi-relationship-anderson-expl-mkd-lon-orig.cnn/index.xml”,”videoId”:”world/2017/12/22/iran-saudi-relationship-anderson-expl-mkd-lon-orig.cnn”,”videoImage”:”//cdn.cnn.com/cnnnext/dam/assets/171228161652-iran-and-saudia-arabia-flag-split-large-169.jpg”,”videoUrl”:”/videos/world/2017/12/22/iran-saudi-relationship-anderson-expl-mkd-lon-orig.cnn/video/playlists/iran-in-the-news/”,”description”:”Iran and Saudi Arabia: Two regional superpowers going head-to-head across the Middle East. CNN’s Becky Anderson explains the tense relationship between the two countries.”,”descriptionText”:”Iran and Saudi Arabia: Two regional superpowers going head-to-head across the Middle East. CNN’s Becky Anderson explains the tense relationship between the two countries.”},{“title”:”Haley: This is concrete evidence against Iran “,”duration”:”02:00″,”sourceName”:”CNN”,”sourceLink”:”http://www.cnn.com/”,”videoCMSUrl”:”/video/data/3.0/video/politics/2017/12/14/nikki-haley-us-evidence-against-iran-weapons-sot.cnn/index.xml”,”videoId”:”politics/2017/12/14/nikki-haley-us-evidence-against-iran-weapons-sot.cnn”,”videoImage”:”//cdn.cnn.com/cnnnext/dam/assets/171214133446-nikki-haley-us-evidence-against-iran-weapons-sot-00013621-large-169.jpg”,”videoUrl”:”/videos/politics/2017/12/14/nikki-haley-us-evidence-against-iran-weapons-sot.cnn/video/playlists/iran-in-the-news/”,”description”:”US Ambassador to the U.N. Nikki Haley presented what she called “concrete evidence” of Iran’s weapons proliferation and called on the international community to join “a united front in resisting this global threat.””,”descriptionText”:”US Ambassador to the U.N. Nikki Haley presented what she called “concrete evidence” of Iran’s weapons proliferation and called on the international community to join “a united front in resisting this global threat.””},{“title”:”Moment Iran-Iraq earthquake struck”,”duration”:”01:08″,”sourceName”:”CNN”,”sourceLink”:””,”videoCMSUrl”:”/video/data/3.0/video/world/2017/11/13/iraq-iran-border-deadly-earthquake-sdg-lon-orig.cnn/index.xml”,”videoId”:”world/2017/11/13/iraq-iran-border-deadly-earthquake-sdg-lon-orig.cnn”,”videoImage”:”//cdn.cnn.com/cnnnext/dam/assets/171113092250-03-iraq-iran-earthquake-1113-large-169.jpg”,”videoUrl”:”/videos/world/2017/11/13/iraq-iran-border-deadly-earthquake-sdg-lon-orig.cnn/video/playlists/iran-in-the-news/”,”description”:”Hundreds of people are dead and thousands are injured after a powerful 7.3 magnitude earthquake struck the border region between Iran and Iraq.”,”descriptionText”:”Hundreds of people are dead and thousands are injured after a powerful 7.3 magnitude earthquake struck the border region between Iran and Iraq.”}],’js-video_headline-featured-1jffwi6′,”,”js-video_source-featured-1jffwi6″,true,true,’iran-in-the-news’);if (typeof configObj.context !== ‘string’ || configObj.context.length

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How Israel, in Dark of Night, Torched Its Way to Irans …

One of the scientists warned that work on neutrons that create the chain reaction for a nuclear explosion must be hidden. Neutrons research could not be considered overt and needs to be concealed, his notes read. We cannot excuse such activities as defensive. Neutron activities are sensitive, and we have no explanation for them. That caution, the documents show, came from Masoud Ali Mohammadi, an Iranian nuclear physicist at the University of Tehran, who was assassinated in January 2010.

Mr. Netanyahu argues that the trove proves that the 2015 agreement, with its sunset clauses allowing the Iranians to produce nuclear fuel again after 2030, was nave. The fact that the Iranians went to such lengths to preserve what they had learned, and hid the archives contents from international inspectors in an undeclared site despite an agreement to reveal past research, is evidence of their future intent, he has said.

But the same material could also be interpreted as a strong argument for maintaining and extending the nuclear accord as long as possible. The deal deprived the Iranians of the nuclear fuel they would need to turn the designs into reality.

Former members of the Obama administration, who negotiated the deal, say the archive proves what they had suspected all along: that Iran had advanced fuel capability, warhead designs and a plan to build them rapidly. That was why they negotiated the accord, which forced Iran to ship 97 percent of its nuclear fuel out of the country. Tehran would never have agreed to a permanent ban, they said.

The archive captures the program at a moment in time a moment 15 years ago, before tensions accelerated, before the United States and Israel attacked Irans nuclear centrifuges with a cyberweapon, before an additional underground enrichment center was built and discovered.

Today, despite Mr. Trumps decision to exit the deal with Iran, it remains in place. The Iranians have not yet resumed enrichment or violated its terms, according to international inspectors. But if sanctions resume, and more Western companies leave Iran, it is possible that Iranian leaders will decide to resume nuclear fuel production.

The warehouse the Israelis penetrated was put into use only after the 2015 accord was reached with the United States, European powers, Russia and China. That pact granted broad rights to the International Atomic Energy Agency to visit suspected nuclear sites, including on military bases.

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Mike Pompeo threatens US will ‘crush’ Iran through …

Pompeo, unveiling the administration’s new policy just weeks after President Donald Trump pulled out of the Iran nuclear deal, said the US will work to counter Tehran’s regional activities, curb its influence in the Middle East and make sure that it never gains a nuclear weapon.

The speech earned praise in some quarters for the “toughness” of Pompeo’s ultimatum to Iran’s leaders, and his message of support for the Iranian people. Other analysts said the remarks amounted to a push for new leadership in Tehran and a return to traditional US policy that could carry risks for the Trump administration.

“It’s implicitly a regime change policy,” said Suzanne Maloney, deputy director of the Foreign Policy program at the Brookings Institution. “There’s no other possible way to interpret that speech.”

Pentagon preparations

Pentagon spokesman Col. Rob Manning said the Defense Department is assessing whether to “double down on current actions or implement new actions. Obviously we are part of a broader approach to address Iran,” he said, adding the US is “not going to rule out anything necessary in order to address Iran.”

Within hours, Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani fired back at Pompeo asking, “who are you to make decisions about Iran?” according to the semi-official Iran Labor News Agency.

“Today’s world will not accept the United States to decide on behalf of the whole world. Countries have their own sovereignty,” ILNA quoted Rouhani as saying. “Of course, they (US) will do what they want by the use of force; but the world does not accept this logic.”

Israeli President Benjamin Netanyahu, speaking at a Foreign Ministry reception, offered praise. “The US policy is correct,” he said.

Pompeo laid out a vision of a policy that will end Iranian missile launches, shrink its sphere of influence, and cripple its economy so that “Iran will be forced to make a choice: either fight to keep its economy off life support at home, or keep squandering precious wealth on fights abroad.”

The US will do this by using “unprecedented” financial pressure, working with partners, advocating for the Iranian people, and using the military, Pompeo said.

“We will ensure freedom of navigation on the waters in the region. We will work to prevent and counteract any Iranian malign cyber activity. We will track down Iranian operatives and their Hezbollah proxies operating around the world and crush them,” Pompeo said. “Iran will never again have carte blanche to dominate the Middle East.”

“This is just the beginning”

“The Iranian regime should know this is just the beginning,” Pompeo added.

Analysts who opposed the Iran nuclear deal applauded. “Pompeo provided a clear Plan B,” said Mark Dubowitz, chief executive of the Foundation for Defense of Democracies. “Intensify the Iranian regime’s ongoing liquidity and political crisis to force fundamental changes in its behavior across a range of malign activities with the promise of a big diplomatic deal if they do.”

Others saw a set up for confrontation.

“I think this is war, but not by name,” said Trita Parsi, president of the National Iranian American Council. “There is really no strategy there. We heard a long list of complaints combined with a maximizing pressure in order to achieve objectives that everyone knows are unachievable. Where does that get you? Pressure combined with unachievable objectives is a path to confrontation, by design.”

The liberal leaning pro-Israel advocacy group J Street called on Congress to ensure that Trump “and his regime change-obsessed advisors cannot bring about another costly and bloody war of choice.”

Lawmakers “must make clear that the President does not now have its authorization for the use of military force against Iran,” J Street’s Vice President of Government Affairs Dylan Williams said in a statement.

Pompeo appeared to hold out an olive branch, saying the administration is “open to new steps” with Iran, including a diplomatic relationship, but he laid out 12 preconditions that regional experts said precluded any chance of negotiations.

Included among the demands: Iran must acknowledge past military dimensions of its nuclear program, expand the access given to nuclear inspectors, effectively end its ballistic missile program, release US detainees, end its support for groups like Hezbollah and Hamas, and pull its forces out of Syria.

“You know, that list is pretty long,” said Pompeo, “but if you take a look at it, these are 12 very basic requirements.”

Maloney and others said the list is a non-starter. “They’ve ruled out the prospects of negotiation with those 12 conditions,” Miller said.

“Magical thinking”

Clement Therme, a Bahrain-based Iran expert with the International Institute for Strategic Studies, said the conditions are “impossible for the Islamic Republic to accept because they deal with issues that are part of the identity of the revolution. We are not going to have a new agreement, we are going to regime change.”

In exchange for a change in behavior, Pompeo said the US would be willing to end sanctions, re-establish commercial relationships and allow it to have advanced technology.

Aaron David Miller, a vice president at the Wilson Center, said the speech reflected “magical thinking” because it amounted to “a regime change strategy designed to change the regime and its behavior without the means to do so.”

Pompeo offered no details on how the US will contain or rollback Iran’s influence in Iraq, Syria or Lebanon. “It lacks the specifics of any real strategy to change Iran’s regional calculations,” Miller said.

The other point, he said, is that Pompeo’s speech highlighted a disconnect.

“If you do want to try to dislodge Iran’s influence in the region you’re talking about a major investment – decades,” Miller said. But the President campaigned against exactly that kind of commitment, promising to get the US out of the Middle East, with its messy, expensive and seemingly intractable military quagmires.

Just two days ago, the Trump administration announced it was pulling stabilization assistance to northern Syria, where al Qaeda-linked groups remain active and the Syrian regime, backed by Iran, has been making gains.

The decision to pull funding raises questions about the thoroughness of the administration’s strategy and commitment to roll back Iran, as walking away from Syria “ultimately could benefit” Iran and others, said retired Air Force Col. Cedric Leighton, a CNN military analyst.

“The strategy will fail if the President pulls US troops out of Syria and hands the rest of the region to the Iranian regime,” Dubowitz said in an email to CNN.

“The plan requires the credible threat that President Trump is prepared to use all instruments of national power or the regime will assess that he is a paper, or more fittingly, a Twitter tiger,” Dubowitz said.

Pompeo emphasized that the US would make full use of as many punitive economic measures as it could. And he made clear that the Trump administration was ready to part ways with allies and even use sanctions against them if necessary.

A broad coalition

“We understand our re-imposition of sanctions and the coming pressure campaign on the Iranian regime will pose financial and economic difficulties for a number of our friends,” Pompeo said. “But you should know that we will hold those doing prohibited business in Iran to account.”

After his remarks, Pompeo was asked about the anger of European allies who still back the Iran deal and had worked, at Trump’s request, on an supplemental agreement to address his concerns about Iran’s missiles and regional activities.

“We focus on the Europeans, but there are scores of countries around the world,” Pompeo said in a Q&A after his speech. In his remarks, he said the US hoped to create a broad international coalition to counter Iran, mentioning Australia, Bahrain, Egypt, India, Japan, Jordan, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, South Korea, the UAE, “and many, many others worldwide,” but no European allies.

“The casual disregard, the back of the hand that was given to Europeans, I think, is going to be incredibly counterproductive” and “going to prompt a lot of anger and resentment,” said Maloney. “There’s no possibility for Europe to work within these parameters, and by definition no possibility for Russia and China.”

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Saudi Arabia’s crown prince slams Obama’s Iran nuclear …

Saudi Arabia’s crown prince Mohammed bin Salman, 32, said Israelis have a right to their ‘own land’ — and compared Iran’s Supreme Leader to Hitler — in a wide-ranging interview this week. (Reuters)

Saudi Arabia’s crown prince affirmed Israel’s right to exist and criticized former President Obama’s Iran policy in an interview published Monday, pointedly bucking other leaders in the Arab world and signaling support for President Trump’s Middle East agenda.

Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, 32, told The Atlantic that both Israelis and Palestinians”have the right to have their own land” — a surprising assertion given that many Arab countries, including Saudi Arabia, do not have formal diplomatic relations with Israel.

I believe that each people, anywhere, has a right to live in their peaceful nation,” he said. “I believe the Palestinians and the Israelis have the right to have their own land.

Prince Mohammed then took aim at Iran’s Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei.

WATCH: WHO IS SAUDI ARABIA CROWN PRINCE MOHAMMED BIN SALMAN?

Hitler didnt do what the supreme leader [of Iran] is trying to do,” the crown prince told The Atlantic. “Hitler tried to conquer Europe. This is bad. But the supreme leader is trying to conquer the world.

“He is the Hitler of the Middle East.”

“He believes he owns the world. They are both evil guys. He is the Hitler of the Middle East. In the 1920s and 1930s, no one saw Hitler as a danger. Only a few people. Until it happened.”

Asked about the Obama administration’s nuclear deal with Iran — which President Trump has long lambasted — the crown prince sided with the current White House.

NEW SAUDI LEADER SAYS WOMEN ‘ABSOLUTELY’ ARE EQUAL TO MEN

President Obama believed that if he gave Iran opportunities to open up, it would change, he said. But with a regime based on this ideology, it will not open up soon. Sixty percent of the Iranian economy is controlled by the Revolutionary Guard. The economic benefits of the Iran nuclear deal are not going to the people.

They took $150 billion after the deal can you please name one housing project they built with this money? One park? One industrial zone? Can you name for me the highway that they built? I advise them please show us something that youre building a highway with $150 billion. For Saudi Arabia, there is a 0.1 percent chance that this deal would work to change the country. For President Obama it was 50 percent. But even if theres a 50 percent chance that it would work, we cant risk it. The other 50 percent is war. We have to go to a scenario where there is no war.

Prince Mohammed pushed aside his cousin last year to become first in line to the Saudi throne, and he now controls a vast fortune, a well-heeled military and the future of a nation in the throes of sweeping economic and social change.

He is on a mission during his three-week U.S. visit to improve the perception of his nation in the eyes of Americans, who have viewed Saudi Arabia warily because of its conservative social mores, unequal treatment of women and, more recently, deadly military campaign in Yemen.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Gregg Re is an editor for Fox News. Follow him on Twitter @gregg_re.

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History of Iran – Wikipedia

The history of Iran, commonly also known as Persia in the Western world, is intertwined with the history of a larger region, also to an extent known as Greater Iran, comprising the area from Anatolia, the Bosphorus, and Egypt in the west to the borders of Ancient India and the Syr Darya in the east, and from the Caucasus and the Eurasian Steppe in the north to the Persian Gulf and the Gulf of Oman in the south. Iran is home to one of the world’s oldest continuous major civilizations, with historical and urban settlements dating back to 7000 BC.[1] The southwestern and western part of the Iranian Plateau participated in the traditional Ancient Near East with Elam, from the Early Bronze Age, and later with various other peoples, such as the Kassites, Mannaeans, and Gutians. Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel calls the Persians the “first Historical People”.[2] The Medes unified Iran as a nation and empire in 625 BC.[3] The Achaemenid Empire (550330 BC), founded by Cyrus the Great, was the first Persian empire and it ruled from the Balkans to North Africa and also Central Asia, spanning three continents, from their seat of power in Persis (Persepolis). It was the largest empire yet seen and the first world empire.[4] The First Persian Empire was the only civilization in all of history to connect over 40% of the global population, accounting for approximately 49.4 million of the world’s 112.4 million people in around 480 BC.[5] They were succeeded by the Seleucid, Parthian, and Sasanian Empires, who successively governed Iran for almost 1,000 years and made Iran once again as a leading power in the world. Persia’s arch-rival was the Roman Empire and its successor, the Byzantine Empire. The Persian Empire proper begins in the Iron Age, following the influx of Iranian peoples. Iranian people gave rise to the Medes, the Achaemenid, Parthian, and Sasanian Empires of classical antiquity. Once a major empire, Iran has endured invasions too, by the Greeks, Arabs, Turks, and the Mongols. Iran has continually reasserted its national identity throughout the centuries and has developed as a distinct political and cultural entity. The Muslim conquest of Persia (633654) ended the Sasanian Empire and is a turning point in Iranian history. Islamization of Iran took place during the eighth to tenth centuries, leading to the eventual decline of Zoroastrianism in Iran as well as many of its dependencies. However, the achievements of the previous Persian civilizations were not lost, but were to a great extent absorbed by the new Islamic polity and civilization.* Iran, with its long history of early cultures and empires, had suffered particularly hard during the late Middle Ages and the early modern period. Many invasions of nomadic tribes, whose leaders became rulers in this country, affected it negatively.[6] Iran was reunified as an independent state in 1501 by the Safavid dynasty, which set Shia Islamas the empire’s official religion,[7] marking one of the most important turning points in the history of Islam.[8] Functioning again as a leading power, this time amongst the neighboring Ottoman Empire, its arch-rival for centuries, Iran had been a monarchy ruled by an emperor almost without interruption from 1501 until the 1979 Iranian Revolution, when Iran officially became an Islamic republic on April 1, 1979.[9][10] Over the course of the first half of the 19th century, Iran lost many of its territories in the Caucasus, which had been a part of Iran for centuries, comprising modern-day Eastern Georgia, Dagestan, Azerbaijan, and Armenia, to its rapidly expanding and emerged neighboring rival, the Russian Empire, following the Russo-Persian Wars between 180413 and 18268.[12] Contents The earliest archaeological artifacts in Iran were found in the Kashafrud and Ganj Par sites that are thought to date back to 100,000 years ago in the Middle Paleolithic.[13] Mousterian stone tools made by Neandertals have also been found.[14] There are more cultural remains of Neandertals dating back to the Middle Paleolithic period, which mainly have been found in the Zagros region and fewer in central Iran at sites such as Kobeh, Kunji, Bisitun Cave, Tamtama, Warwasi, and Yafteh Cave.[15] In 1949, a Neanderthal radius was discovered by Carleton S. Coon in Bisitun Cave.[16] Evidence for Upper Paleolithic and Epipaleolithic periods are known mainly from the Zagros Mountains in the caves of Kermanshah, Piranshahr and Khorramabad and a few number of sites in the Alborz and Central Iran. During this time, people began creating rock art. Early agricultural communities such as Chogha Golan in 10,000 BC[17][18] along with settlements such as Chogha Bonut (the earliest village in Elam) in 8000 BC,[19][20] began to flourish in and around the Zagros Mountains region in western Iran.[21] Around about the same time, the earliest-known clay vessels and modeled human and animal terracotta figurines were produced at Ganj Dareh, also in western Iran.[21] There are also 10,000-year-old human and animal figurines from Tepe Sarab in Kermanshah Province among many other ancient artifacts.[14] The south-western part of Iran was part of the Fertile Crescent where most of humanity’s first major crops were grown, in villages such as Susa (where a settlement was first founded possibly as early as 4395 cal BC)[22] and settlements such as Chogha Mish, dating back to 6800 BC;[1][23] there are 7,000-year-old jars of wine excavated in the Zagros Mountains[24] (now on display at the University of Pennsylvania) and ruins of 7000-year-old settlements such as Tepe Sialk are further testament to that. The two main Neolithic Iranian settlements were the Zayandeh River Culture and Ganj Dareh. Parts of what is modern-day northwestern Iran was part of the KuraAraxes culture (circa 3400 BCca. 2000 BC), that stretched up into the neighboring regions of the Caucasus and Anatolia.[25][26] Susa is one of the oldest-known settlements of Iran and the world. Based on C14 dating, the time of foundation of the city is as early as 4395 BC,[27] a time that goes beyond the age of civilization in Mesopotamia. The general perception among archeologists is that Susa was an extension of the Sumerian city state of Uruk.[28][29] In its later history, Susa became the capital of Elam, which emerged as a state found 4000 BC.[27] There are also dozens of prehistoric sites across the Iranian plateau pointing to the existence of ancient cultures and urban settlements in the fourth millennium BC,[1] One of the earliest civilizations in Iranian plateau was the Jiroft culture in southeastern Iran in the province of Kerman. It is one of the most artifact-rich archaeological sites in the Middle East. Archaeological excavations in Jiroft led to the discovery of several objects belonging to the 4th millennium BC.[30] There is a large quantity of objects decorated with highly distinctive engravings of animals, mythological figures, and architectural motifs. The objects and their iconography are unlike anything ever seen before by archeologists. Many are made from chlorite, a gray-green soft stone; others are in copper, bronze, terracotta, and even lapis lazuli. Recent excavations at the sites have produced the world’s earliest inscription which pre-dates Mesopotamian inscriptions.[31][32] There are records of numerous other ancient civilizations on the Iranian Plateau before the emergence of Iranian peoples during the Early Iron Age. The Early Bronze Age saw the rise of urbanization into organized city states and the invention of writing (the Uruk period) in the Near East. While Bronze Age Elam made use of writing from an early time, the Proto-Elamite script remains undeciphered, and records from Sumer pertaining to Elam are scarce. Russian historian Igor M. Diakonoff states that the modern inhabitants of the Iranian Plateau are descendants of mainly non-Persian groups: “It is the autochthones of the Iranian plateau, and not the Proto-Indo-European tribes of Europe, which are, in the main, the ancestors, in the physical sense of the word, of the present-day Iranians.”[33] Records become more tangible with the rise of the Neo-Assyrian Empire and its records of incursions from the Iranian plateau.As early as the 20th century BC, tribes came to the Iranian Plateau from the PonticCaspian steppe. The arrival of Iranians on the Iranian plateau forced the Elamites to relinquish one area of their empire after another and to take refuge in Elam, Khuzestan and the nearby area, which only then became coterminous with Elam.[34] Bahman Firuzmandi say that the southern Iranians might be intermixed with the Elamite peoples living in the plateau.[35]By the mid-first millennium BC, Medes, Persians, and Parthians populated the Iranian plateau. Until the rise of the Medes, they all remained under Assyrian domination, like the rest of the Near East. In the first half of the first millennium BC, parts of what is now Iranian Azerbaijan were incorporated into Urartu. In 646 BC, Assyrian king Ashurbanipal sacked Susa, which ended Elamite supremacy in the region.[36] For over 150 years Assyrian kings of nearby Northern Mesopotamia had been wanting to conquer Median tribes of Western Iran.[37] Under pressure from Assyria, the small kingdoms of the western Iranian plateau coalesced into increasingly larger and more centralized states.[36] In the second half of seventh century BC, the Medes gained their independence and were united by Deioces. In 612 BC, Cyaxares, Deioces’ grandson, and the Babylonian king Nabopolassar invaded Assyria and laid siege to and eventually destroyed Nineveh, the Assyrian capital, which led to the fall of the Neo-Assyrian Empire.[38] Urartu was later on conquered and dissolved as well by the Medes.[39][40] The Medes are credited with founding Iran as a nation and empire, and established the first Iranian empire, the largest of its day until Cyrus the Great established a unified empire of the Medes and Persians, leading to the Achaemenid Empire (c.550330 BC). Cyrus the Great overthrew, in turn, the Median, Lydian, and Neo-Babylonian Empires, creating an empire far larger than Assyria. He was better able, through more benign policies, to reconcile his subjects to Persian rule; the longevity of his empire was one result. The Persian king, like the Assyrian, was also “King of Kings”, xyaiya xyaiynm (shhanshh in modern Persian) “great king”, Megas Basileus, as known by the Greeks. Cyrus’s son, Cambyses II, conquered the last major power of the region, ancient Egypt, causing the collapse of the Twenty-sixth Dynasty of Egypt. Since he became ill and died before, or while, leaving Egypt, stories developed, as related by Herodotus, that he was struck down for impiety against the ancient Egyptian deities. The winner, Darius I, based his claim on membership in a collateral line of the Achaemenid Empire. Darius’ first capital was at Susa, and he started the building programme at Persepolis. He rebuilt a canal between the Nile and the Red Sea, a forerunner of the modern Suez Canal. He improved the extensive road system, and it is during his reign that mention is first made of the Royal Road (shown on map), a great highway stretching all the way from Susa to Sardis with posting stations at regular intervals. Major reforms took place under Darius. Coinage, in the form of the daric (gold coin) and the shekel (silver coin) was standardized (coinage had already been invented over a century before in Lydia c. 660 BC but not standardized),[41] and administrative efficiency increased. The Old Persian language appears in royal inscriptions, written in a specially adapted version of the cuneiform script. Under Cyrus the Great and Darius I, the Persian Empire eventually became the largest empire in human history up until that point, ruling and administrating over most of the then known world,[42] as well as spanning the continents of Europe, Asia, and Africa. The greatest achievement was the empire itself. The Persian Empire represented the world’s first superpower[43][44] that was based on a model of tolerance and respect for other cultures and religions.[45] In the late sixth century BC, Darius launched his European campaign, in which he defeated the Paeonians, conquered Thrace, and subdued all coastal Greek cities, as well as defeating the European Scythians around the Danube river.[46] In 512/511, Macedon became a vassal kingdom of Persia.[46] In 499 BC, Athens lent support to a revolt in Miletus, which resulted in the sacking of Sardis. This led to an Achaemenid campaign against mainland Greece known as the Greco-Persian Wars, which lasted the first half of the 5th century BC, and is known as one of the most important wars in European history. In the First Persian invasion of Greece, the Persian general Mardonius resubjugated Thrace and made Macedon a full part of Persia.[46] The war eventually turned out in defeat however. Darius’ successor Xerxes I launched the Second Persian invasion of Greece. At a crucial moment in the war, about half of mainland Greece was overrun by the Persians, including all territories to the north of the Isthmus of Corinth,[47][48] however, this was also turned out in a Greek victory, following the battles of Plataea and Salamis, by which Persia lost its footholds in Europe, and eventually withdrew from it. During the Greco-Persian wars Persia gained major territorial advantages capture and razed Athens in 480 BC. However, after a string of Greek victories the Persians were forced to withdraw thus losing control of Macedonia, Thrace and Ionia. Fighting continued for several decades after the successful Greek repelling of the Second Invasion with numerous Greek city states under the latters’ newly formed Delian League, which eventually ended with the peace of Callias in 449 BC, ending the Greco-Persian Wars. In 404 BC, following the death of Darius II, Egypt rebelled under Amyrtaeus. Later pharaohs successfully resisted Persian attempts to reconquer Egypt until 343 BC, when Egypt was reconquered by Artaxerxes III. From 334 BCE to 331 BCE, Alexander the Great, also known in Avestan as Arda Wiraz Nmag (“the accursed Alexander”), defeated Darius III in the battles of Granicus, Issus and Gaugamela, swiftly conquering the Persian Empire by 331 BCE. Alexander’s empire broke up shortly after his death, and Alexander’s general, Seleucus I Nicator, tried to take control of Iran, Mesopotamia, and later Syria and Anatolia. His empire was the Seleucid Empire. He was killed in 281 BCE by Ptolemy Keraunos. Greek language, philosophy, and art came with the colonists. During the Seleucid era, Greek became the common tongue of diplomacy and literature throughout the empire. The Parthian Empire was the realm of the Arsacid dynasty, who reunited and governed the Iranian plateau after the Parni conquest of Parthia and defeating the Seleucid Empire in the later third century BC, and intermittently controlled Mesopotamia between ca 150 BC and 224 AD. The Parthian Empire quickly included Eastern Arabia. Parthia was the eastern arch-enemy of the Roman Empire and it limited Rome’s expansion beyond Cappadocia (central Anatolia). The Parthian armies included two types of cavalry: the heavily armed and armoured cataphracts and the lightly-armed but highly-mobile mounted archers. For the Romans, who relied on heavy infantry, the Parthians were too hard to defeat, as both types of cavalry were much faster and more mobile than foot soldiers. The Parthian shot used by the Parthian cavalry was most notably feared by the Roman soldiers, which proved pivotal in the crushing Roman defeat at the Battle of Carrhae. On the other hand, the Parthians found it difficult to occupy conquered areas as they were unskilled in siege warfare. Because of these weaknesses, neither the Romans nor the Parthians were able completely to annex each other’s territory. The Parthian empire subsisted for five centuries, longer than most Eastern Empires. The end of this empire came at last in 224 AD, when the empire’s organization had loosened and the last king was defeated by one of the empire’s vassal peoples, the Persians under the Sasanians. However, the Arsacid dynasty continued to exist for centuries onwards in Armenia, the Iberia, and the Caucasian Albania, which were all eponymous branches of the dynasty. The first shah of the Sasanian Empire, Ardashir I, started reforming the country economically and militarily. For a period of more than 400 years, Iran was once again one of the leading powers in the world, alongside its neighboring rival, the Roman and then Byzantine Empires.[50][51] The empire’s territory, at its height, encompassed all of today’s Iran, Iraq, Azerbaijan, Armenia, Georgia, Abkhazia, Dagestan, Lebanon, Jordan, Palestine, Israel, parts of Afghanistan, Turkey, Syria, parts of Pakistan, Central Asia, Eastern Arabia, and parts of Egypt. Most of the Sassanian Empire’s lifespan it was overshadowed by the frequent ByzantineSasanian wars, a continuation of the RomanParthian Wars and the all-comprising RomanPersian Wars; the last was the longest-lasting conflict in human history. Started in the first century BC by their predecessors, the Parthians and Romans, the last RomanPersian War was fought in the seventh century. The Persians defeated the Romans at the Battle of Edessa in 260 and took emperor Valerian prisoner for the remainder of his life. Eastern Arabia was conquered early on. During Khosrow II’s rule in 590628, Egypt, Jordan, Palestine and Lebanon were also annexed to the Empire. The Sassanians called their empire Ernshahr (“Dominion of the Aryans”, i.e., of Iranians).[52] A chapter of Iran’s history followed after roughly six hundred years of conflict with the Roman Empire. During this time, the Sassanian and Romano-Byzantine armies clashed for influence in Anatolia, the western Caucasus (mainly Lazica and the Kingdom of Iberia; modern-day Georgia and Abkhazia), Mesopotamia, Armenia and the Levant. Under Justinian I, the war came to an uneasy peace with payment of tribute to the Sassanians. However, the Sasanians used the deposition of the Byzantine emperor Maurice as a casus belli to attack the Empire. After many gains, the Sassanians were defeated at Issus, Constantinople, and finally Nineveh, resulting in peace. With the conclusion of the over 700 years lasting RomanPersian Wars through the climactic ByzantineSasanian War of 602628, which included the very siege of the Byzantine capital of Constantinople, the war-exhausted Persians lost the Battle of al-Qdisiyyah (632) in Hilla (present day Iraq) to the invading Muslim forces. The Sasanian era, encompassing the length of Late Antiquity, is considered to be one of the most important and influential historical periods in Iran, and had a major impact on the world. In many ways the Sassanian period witnessed the highest achievement of Persian civilization, and constitutes the last great Iranian Empire before the adoption of Islam. Persia influenced Roman civilization considerably during Sassanian times,[53] their cultural influence extending far beyond the empire’s territorial borders, reaching as far as Western Europe,[54] Africa,[55] China and India[56] and also playing a prominent role in the formation of both European and Asiatic medieval art.[57] This influence carried forward to the Muslim world. The dynasty’s unique and aristocratic culture transformed the Islamic conquest and destruction of Iran into a Persian Renaissance.[54] Much of what later became known as Islamic culture, architecture, writing, and other contributions to civilization, were taken from the Sassanian Persians into the broader Muslim world.[58] Expansion under Muhammad, 622632 Expansion during the Patriarchal Caliphate, 632661 Expansion during the Umayyad Caliphate, 661750 In 633, when the Sasanian king Yazdegerd III was ruling over Iran, the Muslims under Umar invaded the country right after it had been in a bloody civil war. Several Iranian nobles and families such as king Dinar of the House of Karen, and later Kanarangiyans of Khorasan, mutinied against their Sasanian overlords. Although the House of Mihran had claimed the Sasanian throne under the two prominent generals Bahrm Chbin and Shahrbaraz, it remained loyal to the Sasanians during their struggle against the Arabs, but the Mihrans were eventually betrayed and defeated by their own kinsmen, the House of Ispahbudhan, under their leader Farrukhzad, who had mutinied against Yazdegerd III. Yazdegerd III, fled from one district to another until a local miller killed him for his purse at Merv in 651.[59] By 674, Muslims had conquered Greater Khorasan (which included modern Iranian Khorasan province and modern Afghanistan and parts of Transoxiana). The Muslim conquest of Persia ended the Sasanian Empire and led to the eventual decline of the Zoroastrian religion in Persia. Over time, the majority of Iranians converted to Islam. Most of the aspects of the previous Persian civilizations were not discarded, but were absorbed by the new Islamic polity. As Bernard Lewis has commented: These events have been variously seen in Iran: by some as a blessing, the advent of the true faith, the end of the age of ignorance and heathenism; by others as a humiliating national defeat, the conquest and subjugation of the country by foreign invaders. Both perceptions are of course valid, depending on one’s angle of vision.[60] After the fall of the Sasanian Empire in 651, the Arabs of the Umayyad Caliphate adopted many Persian customs, especially the administrative and the court mannerisms. Arab provincial governors were undoubtedly either Persianized Arameans or ethnic Persians; certainly Persian remained the language of official business of the caliphate until the adoption of Arabic toward the end of the seventh century,[61] when in 692 minting began at the capital, Damascus. The new Islamic coins evolved from imitations of Sasanian coins (as well as Byzantine), and the Pahlavi script on the coinage was replaced with Arabic alphabet. During the Umayyad Caliphate, the Arab conquerors imposed Arabic as the primary language of the subject peoples throughout their empire. Al-Hajjaj ibn Yusuf, who was not happy with the prevalence of the Persian language in the divan, ordered the official language of the conquered lands to be replaced by Arabic, sometimes by force.[62] In al-Biruni’s From The Remaining Signs of Past Centuries for example it is written: When Qutaibah bin Muslim under the command of Al-Hajjaj bin Yousef was sent to Khwarazmia with a military expedition and conquered it for the second time, he swiftly killed whomever wrote the Khwarazmian native language that knew of the Khwarazmian heritage, history, and culture. He then killed all their Zoroastrian priests and burned and wasted their books, until gradually the illiterate only remained, who knew nothing of writing, and hence their history was mostly forgotten.”[63] There are a number of historians who see the rule of the Umayyads as setting up the “dhimmah” to increase taxes from the dhimmis to benefit the Muslim Arab community financially and by discouraging conversion.[64] Governors lodged complaints with the caliph when he enacted laws that made conversion easier, depriving the provinces of revenues. In the 7th century, when many non-Arabs such as Persians entered Islam, they were recognized as mawali (“clients”) and treated as second-class citizens by the ruling Arab elite until the end of the Umayyad Caliphate. During this era, Islam was initially associated with the ethnic identity of the Arab and required formal association with an Arab tribe and the adoption of the client status of mawali.[64] The half-hearted policies of the late Umayyads to tolerate non-Arab Muslims and Shias had failed to quell unrest among these minorities. However, all of Iran was still not under Arab control, and the region of Daylam was under the control of the Daylamites, while Tabaristan was under Dabuyid and Paduspanid control, and the Mount Damavand region under Masmughans of Damavand. The Arabs had invaded these regions several times, but achieved no decisive result because of the inaccessible terrain of the regions. The most prominent ruler of the Dabuyids, known as Farrukhan the Great (r. 712728), managed to hold his domains during his long struggle against the Arab general Yazid ibn al-Muhallab, who was defeated by a combined Dailamite-Dabuyid army, and was forced to retreat from Tabaristan.[65] With the death of the Umayyad Caliph Hisham ibn Abd al-Malik in 743, the Islamic world was launched into civil war. Abu Muslim was sent to Khorasan by the Abbasid Caliphate initially as a propagandist and then to revolt on their behalf. He took Merv defeating the Umayyad governor there Nasr ibn Sayyar. He became the de facto Abbasid governor of Khurasan. During the same period, the Dabuyid ruler Khurshid declared independence from the Umayyads, but was shortly forced to recognize Abbasid authority. In 750, Abu Muslim became leader of the Abbasid army and defeated the Umayyads at the Battle of the Zab. Abu Muslim stormed Damascus, the capital of the Umayyad caliphate, later that year. The Abbasid army consisted primarily of Khorasanians and was led by an Iranian general, Abu Muslim Khorasani. It contained both Iranian and Arab elements, and the Abbasids enjoyed both Iranian and Arab support. The Abbasids overthrew the Umayyads in 750.[66] According to Amir Arjomand, the Abbasid Revolution essentially marked the end of the Arab empire and the beginning of a more inclusive, multiethnic state in the Middle East.[67] One of the first changes the Abbasids made after taking power from the Umayyads was to move the empire’s capital from Damascus, in the Levant, to Iraq. The latter region was influenced by Persian history and culture, and moving the capital was part of the Persian mawali demand for Arab influence in the empire. The city of Baghdad was constructed on the Tigris River, in 762, to serve as the new Abbasid capital.[68] The Abbasids established the position of vizier like Barmakids in their administration, which was the equivalent of a “vice-caliph”, or second-in-command. Eventually, this change meant that many caliphs under the Abbasids ended up in a much more ceremonial role than ever before, with the vizier in real power. A new Persian bureaucracy began to replace the old Arab aristocracy, and the entire administration reflected these changes, demonstrating that the new dynasty was different in many ways to the Umayyads.[68] By the 9th century, Abbasid control began to wane as regional leaders sprang up in the far corners of the empire to challenge the central authority of the Abbasid caliphate.[68] The Abbasid caliphs began enlisting mamluks, Turkic-speaking warriors, who had been moving out of Central Asia into Transoxiana as slave warriors as early as the 9th century. Shortly thereafter the real power of the Abbasid caliphs began to wane; eventually they became religious figureheads while the warrior slaves ruled.[66] As the power of the Abbasid caliphs diminished, a series of dynasties rose in various parts of Iran, some with considerable influence and power. Among the most important of these overlapping dynasties were the Tahirids in Khorasan (821873); the Saffarids in Sistan (8611003, their rule lasted as maliks of Sistan until 1537); and the Samanids (8191005), originally at Bukhara. The Samanids eventually ruled an area from central Iran to Pakistan.[66] By the early 10th century, the Abbasids almost lost control to the growing Persian faction known as the Buyid dynasty (9341062). Since much of the Abbasid administration had been Persian anyway, the Buyids were quietly able to assume real power in Baghdad. The Buyids were defeated in the mid-11th century by the Seljuq Turks, who continued to exert influence over the Abbasids, while publicly pledging allegiance to them. The balance of power in Baghdad remained as such with the Abbasids in power in name only until the Mongol invasion of 1258 sacked the city and definitively ended the Abbasid dynasty.[68] During the Abbassid period an enfranchisement was experienced by the mawali and a shift was made in political conception from that of a primarily Arab empire to one of a Muslim empire[69] and c. 930 a requirement was enacted that required all bureaucrats of the empire be Muslim.[64] Islamization was a long process by which Islam was gradually adopted by the majority population of Iran. Richard Bulliet’s “conversion curve” indicates that only about 10% of Iran converted to Islam during the relatively Arab-centric Umayyad period. Beginning in the Abassid period, with its mix of Persian as well as Arab rulers, the Muslim percentage of the population rose. As Persian Muslims consolidated their rule of the country, the Muslim population rose from approximately 40% in the mid-9th century to close to 100% by the end of the 11th century.[69] Seyyed Hossein Nasr suggests that the rapid increase in conversion was aided by the Persian nationality of the rulers.[70] Although Persians adopted the religion of their conquerors, over the centuries they worked to protect and revive their distinctive language and culture, a process known as Persianization. Arabs and Turks participated in this attempt.[71][72][73] In the 9th and 10th centuries, non-Arab subjects of the Ummah created a movement called Shu’ubiyyah in response to the privileged status of Arabs. Most of those behind the movement were Persian, but references to Egyptians, Berbers and Aramaeans are attested.[74] Citing as its basis Islamic notions of equality of races and nations, the movement was primarily concerned with preserving Persian culture and protecting Persian identity, though within a Muslim context. The most notable effect[citation needed] of the movement was the survival of the Persian language to the present day.[citation needed] The Samanid dynasty led the revival of Persian culture and the first important Persian poet after the arrival of Islam, Rudaki, was born during this era and was praised by Samanid kings. The Samanids also revived many ancient Persian festivals. Their successor, the Ghaznawids, who were of non-Iranian Turkic origin, also became instrumental in the revival of Persian culture.[75] The culmination of the Persianization movement was the Shahnameh, the national epic of Iran, written almost entirely in Persian. This voluminous work, reflects Iran’s ancient history, its unique cultural values, its pre-Islamic Zoroastrian religion, and its sense of nationhood. According to Bernard Lewis:[60] “Iran was indeed Islamized, but it was not Arabized. Persians remained Persians. And after an interval of silence, Iran reemerged as a separate, different and distinctive element within Islam, eventually adding a new element even to Islam itself. Culturally, politically, and most remarkable of all even religiously, the Iranian contribution to this new Islamic civilization is of immense importance. The work of Iranians can be seen in every field of cultural endeavor, including Arabic poetry, to which poets of Iranian origin composing their poems in Arabic made a very significant contribution. In a sense, Iranian Islam is a second advent of Islam itself, a new Islam sometimes referred to as Islam-i Ajam. It was this Persian Islam, rather than the original Arab Islam, that was brought to new areas and new peoples: to the Turks, first in Central Asia and then in the Middle East in the country which came to be called Turkey, and of course to India. The Ottoman Turks brought a form of Iranian civilization to the walls of Vienna…” The Islamization of Iran was to yield deep transformations within the cultural, scientific, and political structure of Iran’s society: The blossoming of Persian literature, philosophy, medicine and art became major elements of the newly forming Muslim civilization. Inheriting a heritage of thousands of years of civilization, and being at the “crossroads of the major cultural highways”,[76] contributed to Persia emerging as what culminated into the “Islamic Golden Age”. During this period, hundreds of scholars and scientists vastly contributed to technology, science and medicine, later influencing the rise of European science during the Renaissance.[77] The most important scholars of almost all of the Islamic sects and schools of thought were Persian or lived in Iran, including the most notable and reliable Hadith collectors of Shia and Sunni like Shaikh Saduq, Shaikh Kulainy, Hakim al-Nishaburi, Imam Muslim and Imam Bukhari, the greatest theologians of Shia and Sunni like Shaykh Tusi, Imam Ghazali, Imam Fakhr al-Razi and Al-Zamakhshari, the greatest physicians, astronomers, logicians, mathematicians, metaphysicians, philosophers and scientists like Avicenna, and Nasr al-Dn al-Ts, the greatest Shaykh of Sufism like Rumi, Abdul-Qadir Gilani. In 977 a Turkic governor of the Samanids, Sabuktigin, conquered Ghazna (in present-day Afghanistan) and established a dynasty, the Ghaznavids, that lasted to 1186.[66] The Ghaznavid empire grew by taking all of the Samanid territories south of the Amu Darya in the last decade of the 10th century, and eventually occupied parts of Eastern Iran, Afghanistan, Pakistan and northwest India.[68] The Ghaznavids are generally credited with launching Islam into a mainly Hindu India. The invasion of India was undertaken in 1000 by the Ghaznavid ruler, Mahmud, and continued for several years. They were unable to hold power for long, however, particularly after the death of Mahmud in 1030. By 1040 the Seljuqs had taken over the Ghaznavid lands in Iran.[68] The Seljuqs, who like the Ghaznavids were Persianate in nature and of Turkic origin, slowly conquered Iran over the course of the 11th century.[66] The dynasty had its origins in the Turcoman tribal confederations of Central Asia and marked the beginning of Turkic power in the Middle East. They established a Sunni Muslim rule over parts of Central Asia and the Middle East from the 11th to 14th centuries. They set up an empire known as Great Seljuq Empire that stretched from Anatolia in the west to western Afghanistan in the east and the western borders of (modern-day) China in the northeast; and was the target of the First Crusade. Today they are regarded as the cultural ancestors of the Western Turks, the present-day inhabitants of Azerbaijan, Turkey, and Turkmenistan, and they are remembered as great patrons of Persian culture, art, literature, and language.[78][79][80] The dynastic founder, Tughril Beg, turned his army against the Ghaznavids in Khorasan. He moved south and then west, conquering but not wasting the cities in his path. In 1055 the caliph in Baghdad gave Tughril Beg robes, gifts, and the title King of the East. Under Tughril Beg’s successor, Malik Shah (10721092), Iran enjoyed a cultural and scientific renaissance, largely attributed to his brilliant Iranian vizier, Nizam al Mulk. These leaders established the observatory where Omar Khayym did much of his experimentation for a new calendar, and they built religious schools in all the major towns. They brought Abu Hamid Ghazali, one of the greatest Islamic theologians, and other eminent scholars to the Seljuq capital at Baghdad and encouraged and supported their work.[66] When Malik Shah I died in 1092, the empire split as his brother and four sons quarrelled over the apportioning of the empire among themselves. In Anatolia, Malik Shah I was succeeded by Kilij Arslan I who founded the Sultanate of Rm and in Syria by his brother Tutush I. In Persia he was succeeded by his son Mahmud I whose reign was contested by his other three brothers Barkiyaruq in Iraq, Muhammad I in Baghdad and Ahmad Sanjar in Khorasan. As Seljuq power in Iran weakened, other dynasties began to step up in its place, including a resurgent Abbasid caliphate and the Khwarezmshahs. The Khwarezmid Empire was a Sunni Muslim Persianate dynasty, of East Turkic origin, that ruled in Central Asia. Originally vassals of the Seljuqs, they took advantage of the decline of the Seljuqs to expand into Iran.[81] In 1194 the Khwarezmshah Ala ad-Din Tekish defeated the Seljuq sultan Toghrul III in battle and the Seljuq empire in Iran collapsed. Of the former Seljuq Empire, only the Sultanate of Rum in Anatolia remained. A serious internal threat to the Seljuqs during their reign came from the Ismailis, a secret sect with headquarters at Alamut between Rasht and Tehran. They controlled the immediate area for more than 150 years and sporadically sent out adherents to strengthen their rule by murdering important officials. Several of the various theories on the etymology of the word assassin derive from these killers.[66] Parts of northwestern Iran were conquered in the early 13th century AD by the Kingdom of Georgia, led by Tamar the Great.[82] The Khwarezmid Empire only lasted for a few decades, until the arrival of the Mongols. Genghis Khan had unified the Mongols, and under him the Mongol Empire quickly expanded in several directions, until by 1218 it bordered Khwarezm. At that time, the Khwarezmid Empire was ruled by Ala ad-Din Muhammad (12001220). Muhammad, like Genghis, was intent on expanding his lands and had gained the submission of most of Iran. He declared himself shah and demanded formal recognition from the Abbasid caliph an-Nasir. When the caliph rejected his claim, Ala ad-Din Muhammad proclaimed one of his nobles caliph and unsuccessfully tried to depose an-Nasir. The Mongol invasion of Iran began in 1219, after two diplomatic missions to Khwarezm sent by Genghis Khan had been massacred. During 122021 Bukhara, Samarkand, Herat, Tus and Nishapur were razed, and the whole populations were slaughtered. The Khwarezm-Shah fled, to die on an island off the Caspian coast.[83]During the invasion of Transoxania in 1219, along with the main Mongol force, Genghis Khan used a Chinese specialist catapult unit in battle, they were used again in 1220 in Transoxania. The Chinese may have used the catapults to hurl gunpowder bombs, since they already had them by this time.[84] While Genghis Khan was conquering Transoxania and Persia, several Chinese who were familiar with gunpowder were serving in Genghis’s army.[85] “Whole regiments” entirely made out of Chinese were used by the Mongols to command bomb hurling trebuchets during the invasion of Iran.[86] Historians have suggested that the Mongol invasion had brought Chinese gunpowder weapons to Central Asia. One of these was the huochong, a Chinese mortar.[87] Books written around the area afterward depicted gunpowder weapons which resembled those of China.[88] Before his death in 1227, Genghis had reached western Azerbaijan, pillaging and burning cities along the way. The Mongol invasion was disastrous to the Iranians. Although the Mongol invaders were eventually converted to Islam and accepted the culture of Iran, the Mongol destruction of the Islamic heartland marked a major change of direction for the region. Much of the six centuries of Islamic scholarship, culture, and infrastructure was destroyed as the invaders burned libraries, and replaced mosques with Buddhist temples.[89] The Mongols killed many Iranian civilians. Destruction of qanat irrigation systems destroyed the pattern of relatively continuous settlement, producing numerous isolated oasis cities in a land where they had previously been rare.[90] A large number of people, particularly males, were killed; between 1220 and 1258, 90% of the total population of Iran may have been killed as a result of mass extermination and famine.[91] After Genghis’s death, Iran was ruled by several Mongol commanders. Genghis’ grandson, Hulagu Khan, was tasked with the westward expansion of Mongol dominion. However, by time he ascended to power, the Mongol Empire had already dissolved, dividing into different factions. Arriving with an army, he established himself in the region and founded the Ilkhanate, a breakaway state of the Mongol Empire, which would rule Iran for the next eighty years and become Persianate in the process. Hulagu Khan seized Baghdad in 1258 and put the last Abbasid caliph to death. The westward advance of his forces was stopped by the Mamelukes, however, at the Battle of Ain Jalut in Palestine in 1260. Hulagu’s campaigns against the Muslims also enraged Berke, khan of the Golden Horde and a convert to Islam. Hulagu and Berke fought against each other, demonstrating the weakening unity of the Mongol empire. The rule of Hulagu’s great-grandson, Ghazan Khan (12951304) saw the establishment of Islam as the state religion of the Ilkhanate. Ghazan and his famous Iranian vizier, Rashid al-Din, brought Iran a partial and brief economic revival. The Mongols lowered taxes for artisans, encouraged agriculture, rebuilt and extended irrigation works, and improved the safety of the trade routes. As a result, commerce increased dramatically. Items from India, China, and Iran passed easily across the Asian steppes, and these contacts culturally enriched Iran. For example, Iranians developed a new style of painting based on a unique fusion of solid, two-dimensional Mesopotamian painting with the feathery, light brush strokes and other motifs characteristic of China. After Ghazan’s nephew Abu Said died in 1335, however, the Ilkhanate lapsed into civil war and was divided between several petty dynasties most prominently the Jalayirids, Muzaffarids, Sarbadars and Kartids. The mid-14th-century Black Death killed about 30% of the country’s population.[92] Prior to the rise of the Safavid Empire, Sunni Islam was the dominant religion, accounting for around 90% of the population at the time. According to Mortaza Motahhari the majority of Iranian scholars and masses remained Sunni until the time of the Safavids.[93] The domination of Sunnis did not mean Shia were rootless in Iran. The writers of The Four Books of Shia were Iranian, as well as many other great Shia scholars. The domination of the Sunni creed during the first nine Islamic centuries characterized the religious history of Iran during this period. There were however some exceptions to this general domination which emerged in the form of the Zayds of Tabaristan (see Alid dynasties of northern Iran), the Buyids, the Kakuyids, the rule of Sultan Muhammad Khudabandah (r. Shawwal 703-Shawwal 716/1304-1316) and the Sarbedaran.[94] Apart from this domination there existed, firstly, throughout these nine centuries, Shia inclinations among many Sunnis of this land and, secondly, original Imami Shiism as well as Zayd Shiism had prevalence in some parts of Iran. During this period, Shia in Iran were nourished from Kufah, Baghdad and later from Najaf and Hillah.[94] Shiism was the dominant sect in Tabaristan, Qom, Kashan, Avaj and Sabzevar. In many other areas merged population of Shia and Sunni lived together. During the 10th and 11th centuries, Fatimids sent Ismailis Da’i (missioners) to Iran as well as other Muslim lands. When Ismailis divided into two sects, Nizaris established their base in Iran. Hassan-i Sabbah conquered fortresses and captured Alamut in 1090 AD. Nizaris used this fortress until a Mongol raid in 1256. After the Mongol raid and fall of the Abbasids, Sunni hierarchies faltered. Not only did they lose the caliphate but also the status of official madhhab. Their loss was the gain of Shia, whose center wasn’t in Iran at that time. Several local Shia dynasties like Sarbadars were established during this time. The main change occurred in the beginning of the 16th century, when Ismail I founded the Safavid dynasty and initiated a religious policy to recognize Shi’a Islam as the official religion of the Safavid Empire, and the fact that modern Iran remains an officially Shi’ite state is a direct result of Ismail’s actions. Iran remained divided until the arrival of Timur, who is variously described as of Mongol or Turkic origin[95] belonging to the Timurid dynasty. Like its predecessors, the Timurid Empire was also part of the Persianate world. After establishing a power base in Transoxiana, Timur invaded Iran in 1381 and eventually conquered most of it. Timur’s campaigns were known for their brutality; many people were slaughtered and several cities were destroyed.[96] His regime was characterized by tyranny and bloodshed, but also by its inclusion of Iranians in administrative roles and its promotion of architecture and poetry. His successors, the Timurids, maintained a hold on most of Iran until 1452, when they lost the bulk of it to Black Sheep Turkmen. The Black Sheep Turkmen were conquered by the White Sheep Turkmen under Uzun Hasan in 1468; Uzun Hasan and his successors were the masters of Iran until the rise of the Safavids.[96] The Kara Koyunlu were Oghuz Turks who ruled over northwestern Iran and surrounding areas from 13741468 CE. The Kara Koyunlu expanded their conquest to Baghdad, however, internal fighting, defeats by the Timurids, rebellions by the Armenians in response to their persecution,[97] and failed struggles with the Ag Qoyunlu lead to their eventual demise.[98] Aq Qoyunlu were Oghuz Turkic tribal federation of Sunni Muslims who ruled over most of Iran and large parts of surrounding areas from 1378 to 1501 CE. Aq Qoyunlu emerged when Timur granted them all of Diyar Bakr in present-day Turkey. Afterward, they struggled with their rival Oghuz Turks, the Kara Koyunlu. While the Aq Qoyunlu were successful in defeating Kara Koyunlu, their struggle with the emerging Safavid dynasty lead to their downfall.[99] Persia underwent a revival under the Safavid dynasty (15021736), the most prominent figure of which was Shah Abbas I. Some historians credit the Safavid dynasty for founding the modern nation-state of Iran. Iran’s contemporary Shia character, and significant segments of Iran’s current borders take their origin from this era (e.g. Treaty of Zuhab). The Safavid dynasty was one of the most significant ruling dynasties of Persia (modern Iran), and “is often considered the beginning of modern Persian history”.[100] They ruled one of the greatest Persian empires after the Muslim conquest of Persia[101][102][103][104] and established the Twelver school of Shi’a Islam[7] as the official religion of their empire, marking one of the most important turning points in Muslim history. The Safavids ruled from 1501 to 1722 (experiencing a brief restoration from 1729 to 1736) and at their height, they controlled all of modern Iran, Azerbaijan and Armenia, most of Georgia, the North Caucasus, Iraq, Kuwait and Afghanistan, as well as parts of Turkey, Syria, Pakistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan. Safavid Iran was one of the Islamic “gunpowder empires”, along with its neighbours, its archrival and principal enemy the Ottoman Empire, as well as the Mughal Empire. The Safavid ruling dynasty was founded by Ismil, who styled himself Shh Ismil I.[105] Practically worshipped by his Qizilbsh followers, Ismil invaded Shirvan to avenge the death of his father, Shaykh Haydar, who had been killed during his siege of Derbent, in Dagestan. Afterwards he went on a campaign of conquest, and following the capture of Tabriz in July 1501, he enthroned himself as the Shh of Azerbaijan,[106][107][108] minted coins in this name, and proclaimed Shi’ism the official religion of his domain.[7] Although initially the masters of Azerbaijan and southern Dagestan only, the Safavids had, in fact, won the struggle for power in Persia which had been going on for nearly a century between various dynasties and political forces following the fragmentation of the Kara Koyunlu and the Aq Qoyunlu. A year after his victory in Tabriz, Ismil proclaimed most of Persia as his domain, and[7] quickly conquered and unified Iran under his rule. Soon afterwards, the new Safavid Empire rapidly conquered regions, nations, and peoples in all directions, including Armenia, Azerbaijan, parts of Georgia, Mesopotamia (Iraq), Kuwait, Syria, Dagestan, large parts of what is now Afghanistan, parts of Turkmenistan, and large chunks of Anatolia, laying the foundation of its multi-ethnic character which would heavily influence the empire itself (most notably the Caucasus and its peoples).

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September 24, 2018  Tags:   Posted in: Iran  Comments Closed

Rouhani: U.S. asks Iran ‘every day’ to begin talks | Reuters

GENEVA (Reuters) – Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said on Saturday that the United States continually sends messages to Iran asking it to begin negotiations. Iranian President Hassan Rouhani attends a news conference with President Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey and Vladimir Putin of Russia following their meeting in Tehran, Iran September 7, 2018. Kirill Kudryavtsev/Pool via REUTERS Tensions between Iran and the United States soared after President Donald Trump pulled out of a landmark nuclear deal with Iran in May, and then reimposed sanctions on the Islamic Republic last month. Trump has said he would meet Irans leaders. From one side they try to pressure the people of Iran, on another side they send us messages every day through various methods that we should come and negotiate together, Rouhani said in a speech broadcast on Iranian state television. (They say) we should negotiate here, we should negotiate there. We want to resolve the issues … Should we see your message? … Or should we see your brutish actions? Washington aims to force Tehran to end its nuclear program and its support of militant groups in Syria and Iraq. Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif took aim at U.S. criticism of Irans regional policy in a Twitter post on Saturday. Trump regime flip-flops are truly comical, he wrote. One week, its talking point is that we are squandering our resources abroad, the next week its that weve not financially supported the Palestinians enough. U.S. sanctions targeting Irans oil sector are scheduled to be reimposed in November. Iran is facing an economic, psychological and propaganda war, Rouhani said Saturday, pointing to the United States and Israel as the Islamic Republics main enemies. Reporting By Babak Dehghanpisheh; Editing by Robert Birsel and Kevin Liffey

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September 8, 2018  Tags:   Posted in: Iran  Comments Closed

Chanting Iran, out! Iraqi protesters torch Iranian …

BASRA, Iraq Protesters in this port city stormed the Iranian Consulate late Friday, setting it on fire and sharply escalating violent demonstrations that began over miserable living conditions but have grown into an indictment of Iraqs stagnant politics. The consulate was the latest symbol of entrenched power to be torched by protesters in Basra during a week of demonstrations, raising concerns that the unrest would draw a firm response from Iran, which controls several powerful militias in the oil-export city. The attack on the consulate also upended notions of solidarity between Iraqs Shiite heartland and Iran, the preeminent Shiite power in the region. The assault contributed to a growing sense that Iraq is slipping into a period of dangerous instability as powerful political parties remain locked in a struggle over the composition of the countrys next government. Protesters said they targeted the consulate to vent their frustrations over abuses by Iran-backed militias in Basra, as well what they see as Tehrans outsize influence over their city and over Iraqs fractured politics. The demonstrators complained that the militias run rampant in Basra, kidnapping and extorting money from their opponents and creating an atmosphere of fear. They said Iran has empowered the militias to enrich themselves at the expense of the citys residents. Iran has destabilized Basra with their armed gangs, said Sattar Hamdi, 50, a day laborer. They have the upper hand here and with the politicians in Baghdad. Im appealing to any foreign country, even Israel, for help because weve already lost Iraq to Iran. Protests over a lack of electricity and clean water during the scorching summer months began in early July in Basra and other Shiite-majority cities but have grown larger and more violent in recent days as politicians have failed to form a national government nearly four months after elections in May. Iran and the United States have been deeply involved in the political gridlock, each supporting rival factions that claim a parliamentary majority and the right to appoint a new prime minister. People in Basra have accused Iraqs political class of abandoning them, ignoring the peoples pleas for relief as the politicians jockey for control of a new government. They have expressed their displeasure by burning down the headquarters of nearly every political party in the city, along with offices belonging to Shiite militias that won parliamentary seats in the May elections. Fresh graffiti outside the destroyed offices of the powerful Badr Organization, an Iran-aligned party that counts Iraqs interior minister among its senior leaders, announced: We demand blood. Packs of young men surrounded the gated complex of the Iranian Consulate as the sun set on Friday, breaking past police checkpoints as they smashed their way into the empty building and set it on fire. Dozens lingered afterward, taking photos and videos of the burning consulate as police stood by sometimes chatting or joking with the young demonstrators. Police had repelled an attack on the consulate Thursday night but were overwhelmed by the growing number of young men Friday, one officer said. He said he was hesitant to draw his weapon on the protesters after at least eight were shot during other demonstrations this week, drawing widespread condemnation from the government and from the United Nations and human rights groups. Visa services are officially suspended, cracked one of the demonstrators as he filmed the flames and dark plumes of smoke with his cellphone. Shall we go for the Turkish Consulate next? a friend responded. A group of protesters gathered around a young man who clutched papers he said he stole from a city council building that purported to show thousands of dollars in allocations to various city officials. Theyre being given a fortune, but we cant even get clean water from the taps, the man shouted. Iraqs Health Ministry said Thursday that 6,280 people have been sickened by the water in Basra, which residents have said is too salty for drinking or cleaning. Protesters have said they were moved to action by the citys undrinkable water and crumbling infrastructure, bitterly noting that Basra is the top export hub for Iraqs oil yet remains one of the countrys least developed cities. After Prime Minister Haider al-Abadis government failed to respond to their demands in July, protesters began to rally against Iraqs endemic corruption and the political figures that have dominated the country since the 2003 invasion by U.S. troops. Hussein Hatem, 33, a welder, said that torching the Iranian Consulate was a message to Irans and Iraqs leaders alike that Basra does not belong to anyone. Our government takes orders from Iran, he said. And no one is looking after us. Weve run out of patience. Theyre busy trying to form the biggest bloc in parliament and they cant fulfill the most basic demand for clean water. Iraqs Foreign Ministry condemned the attack on the consulate, saying the assault harms Iraqs interests and is unrelated to demonstrators demands for basic services and clean water. It was the latest security embarrassment for the ministry in two days. Late Thursday, three mortar rounds landed in an empty field near the U.S. Embassy in Baghdads fortified Green Zone. There were no injuries, and no group asserted responsibility for the incident. Meanwhile, Basra is settling into a new rhythm. During the day, diverse groups of protesters, including many women, chant against government corruption and unemployment, occupying major squares and boulevards to demonstrate peacefully. As day gives way to night, large columns of young men in their teens and 20s take over the streets, stopping traffic as they walk swiftly or jog to any symbol of government power they can find to vandalize. Despite the daytime protests and nighttime disturbances, residents go about their business, sipping tea in cafes or window-shopping at brightly lighted stores. On occasion, they step aside to make way for the clutches of young men chanting slogans such as Iran, out, out! and If we die, we die, as long as the nation survives. Read more: Deadly protests rage in Iraq over lack of services as political transition deadlocks How Moqtada al-Sadr went from anti-American outlaw to potential kingmaker in Iraq U.S. sanctions on Iran hit an unintended target: Ordinary Iraqis Todays coverage from Post correspondents around the world Like Washington Post World on Facebook and stay updated on foreign news

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September 7, 2018  Tags:   Posted in: Iran  Comments Closed

Iran claims it controls Strait of Hormuz, prompting Pompeo denial | Fox …

A major shipping route located between Oman and Iran where nearly one-third of the world’s sea-traded oil passes through daily may become a new flashpoint after a top Iranian Navy general said Monday that the country has taken full control of the Strait of Hormuz. The head of the navy of Irans Revolutionary Guards, Gen. Alireza Tangsiri, said that Iran had full control of both the Persian Gulf itself and the Strait of Hormuz that leads into it,Reuters reported. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo responded Monday night: “The Islamic Republic of Iran does not control the Strait of Hormuz. The Strait is an international waterway. The United States will continue to work with our partners to ensure freedom of navigation and free flow of commerce in international waterways.” The strait, which at its narrowest point is 21 miles wide, has shipping lanes that are 2 miles wide in each direction and is the only sea passage from many of the world’s largest oil producers to the Indian Ocean. “It’s a very contentious area,” retired Lt. Col. Bob Maginnis told Fox News’ “Your World with Neil Cavuto” earlier this month. The Strait of Hormuz is where most of the oil from Saudi Arabia passes through, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration. The Saudis have constructed pipelines to bypass the strait, but a majority of crude oil is shipped by sea, meaning that any action by Iran to halt shipping may impact consumers across the world. “The blockage of the Strait of Hormuz, even temporarily, could lead to substantial increases in total energy costs,” the agency said in a 2012 report. At the beginning of August, Iran began a large-scale exercise in the Strait of Hormuz involving more than 50 small boats, practicing swarming operations that could potentially shut down the vital waterway if ever deployed for real. The drill came after President Trump pulled the U.S. out of a landmark nuclear accord with Iran and leaders of both countries exchanged fiery rhetoric. The country routinely operates small boats in the Strait of Hormuz and the surrounding area, and has often threatened to shut down the highly traveled waterway. Acheck of conditions on MaritimeTraffic.comon Monday showed that conditions appeared to be normal, with heavy maritime traffic through the strait. In recent weeks Iranian President Hassan Rouhani renewed the threat, saying that if sanctions threatened Iran’s crude oil exports, the rest of the Middle East’s exports would be threatened as well. “They’re causing problems once again, as predicted, in the Strait of Hormuz,” Maginnis said. “This is something we’ve grown accustomed too.” IRAN SAYS IT HAS CONTROL OF GULF AND STRAIT OF HORMUZ: REPORT Military officials have said that U.S. and allies train to be able to insure that freedom of navigation continues in the Strait of Hormuz.(Reuters) But if Iran were to follow through with any bluster to close down the vital shipping channel, a potential U.S. response would be swift. “The U.S. and our partners provide and promote security and stability in the region on a daily basis,” Lt. Chloe Morgan, U.S. Naval Forces Central Command spokesperson, said in a statement to Fox News on Monday. “Together, we stand ready to ensure the freedom of navigation and the free flow of commerce wherever international law allows.” Gen. Joseph Votel, head of U.S. Central Command, said earlier this month that Iran was showcasing its military capabilities and has the ability to plant mines and explosive boats in the waterway, as well as use missiles and radar along the coast. He stressed the U.S. and allies routinely train for that possibility and are prepared to insure that freedom of navigation and commerce continues in those waters. U.S officials say that Iran has the ability to ability to plant mines and explosive boats in the waterway, in addition to using missiles and radar along the coast.(Reuters) “We are aware of what’s going on and we remain ready to protect ourselves,” he told reporters. Fox News security analyst Walid Pharestold Fox Business Network’s”Varney & Co.” that the Iranians can damage the international passage “if they want,” but that the U.S. can easily “intercept them, stop them, and damage their own capacity.” “It’s kind of a brinkmanship capacity of gaming with us,” Phares said. “I think the United States is very much attentive to what they are doing, and will respond if the Iranians will cross that red line.” IRAN DEPLOYS 50 SMALL BOATS TO STRAIT OF HORMUZ FOR LARGE-SCALE ‘SWARMING’ EXERCISE The Strait of Hormuz, which at its narrowest point is 21 miles wide, has shipping lanes that are two miles wide in each direction and is the only sea passage from many of the world’s largest oil producers to the Indian Ocean. (Reuters) President Obama’s former National Security Adviser Jim Jones, a four-star general, said in an interview earlier this month the Iranian Navy should be “wiped out” if any action is taken to block maritime traffic. I personally would like to see, if they ever did something in the Strait of Hormuz, I would like to see their navy disappear,” Jonestold The National. Jones, who served as national security adviser for Obama from 2009 to 2010, also told the National that Iran’s government is an “an existential threat to the region.” Iran has been active in Syria, backing the government of President Bashar Assad, while also stoking violence in the southern part of the country and triggering military counterattacks from Israel. The U.S. and Saudi Arabia have condemned Iran repeatedly for providing missiles to Yemeni Houthi rebels, who have fired toward Riyadh. The Iranian officials recently threatened to block the waterway in retaliation for any hostile action by the U.S. government amid President Trumps remarks in July, which were prompted by the Iranian President Rouhani saying the U.S. risks the mother of all wars” with Iran. Trump called for Rouhani to stop the rhetoric or in caps lock suffer the consequences the like of which few throughout history have ever suffered before. We are no longer a country that will stand for your demented words of violence and death. Be cautious! Just over two weeks ago, Iran test-fired a ballistic missile as a brazen display of defiance, which coincided with the naval exercise, three U.S. officials with knowledge of the launch told Fox News at the time. While the U.S. military publicly acknowledged the naval activity, the missile test from an Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps base in Bandar-e-Jask in southeastern Iran has not been previously reported. The launch was detected by U.S. spy satellites. Fox News’ Nicholas Kalman, Lucas Tomlinson, Lukas Mikelionis and The Associated Press contributed to this report. Travis Fedschun is a reporter for FoxNews.com. Follow him on Twitter @travfed

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August 26, 2018  Tags:   Posted in: Iran  Comments Closed

Iran threatens to hit U.S., Israel after Trump aide warns of …

LONDON/JERUSALEM (Reuters) – Iran warned on Wednesday it would hit U.S. and Israeli targets if it were attacked by the United States after President Donald Trumps security adviser said Washington would exert maximum pressure on Tehran going beyond economic sanctions. A U.S.-Iranian war of words has escalated since Trump withdrew Washington from the world powers nuclear deal with Iran in May, blasting it as flawed and reimposing sanctions to choke Irans economy and force it to renegotiate or change direction. The U.S. turnaround, which scrapped a wary detente between Iran and the United States after decades of hostility, has drawn defiance from Tehran despite renewed unrest over economic privations, and has unnerved other big powers where businesses have been debating whether to divest from Iran. U.S. National Security Adviser John Bolton told Reuters the return of U.S. sanctions was having a strong effect on Irans economy and popular opinion. There should not be any doubt that the United States wants this resolved peacefully, but we are fully prepared for any contingency that Iran creates, Bolton said during a visit to Israel, Irans enemy in the Middle East. U.S. sanctions dusted off this month targeted Irans car industry, trade in gold and other precious metals, and purchases of U.S. dollars crucial to international financing and investment and trade relations. Farther-reaching sanctions are to follow in November on Irans banking sector and oil exports. European powers have been scrambling to ensure Iran secures enough economic benefits to persuade it to stay in the deal. This has proven difficult, with many European firms keen to avoid financial penalties by the Trump administration. We expect that Europeans will see, as businesses all over Europe are seeing, that the choice between doing business with Iran or doing business with the United States is very clear to them, Bolton said. So we will see what plays out in November. But (Trump) has made it very clear – his words – he wants maximum pressure on Iran, maximum pressure, and that is what is going on. Asked at a news conference later whether the United States had discussed any plans with ally Israel on how to capitalize on economic protests in Iran and if these posed any tangible threat to the Tehran government, Bolton said: Just to be clear, regime change in Iran is not American policy. But what we want is massive change in the regimes behavior … We are going to do other things to put pressure on Iran as well, beyond economic sanctions. He did not elaborate. A senior Iranian cleric seen as close to Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei told worshippers at Eid holiday prayers in Tehran: The price of a war with Iran is very high for America. They know if they harm this country and this state in the slightest way the United States and its main ally in the region, the Zionist regime (Israel), would be targeted, Ahmad Khatami said. Irans Revolutionary Guards have said it could strike Israeli cities with missiles if it were threatened. Iran also has proxies in the region including Lebanons Hezbollah. The Revolutionary Guards said on Wednesday they would continue increasing Irans defensive capabilities not surrender to U.S. pressure to scrap its ballistic missile program. Last week, Khamenei – who has the ultimate say on Iranian policy – said the United States would avoid outright conflict because of Iranian military might. There will be no war…We have never started a war and they will not confront Iran militarily, he said. Trumps campaign to isolate Iran and cripple its economy has put the old adversaries back on a collision course that European signatories to the nuclear accord fear will raise the risk of a broader Middle East war. Under the 2015 deal, Iran curbed its contested uranium enrichment program under U.N. monitoring and won an end to global sanctions in return. Trump has condemned the deal as too soft on Tehran and would not stop it developing a nuclear bomb, though U.N. nuclear non-proliferation inspectors have repeatedly certified Iranian compliance with its terms. Khatami, the prominent Iranian cleric, also said Trumps offer of talks was unacceptable as he was demanding Tehran give up its ballistic missile program and scale back regional influence. Neither issue was covered by the 2015 agreement. Americans say you should accept what we say in the talks. So this is not negotiation, but dictatorship, Mizan news agency quoted Khatami as saying. Trump has said Iran must stop meddling in wars in Syria and Yemen, part of a foreign policy supporting regional allies in conflict with proxies of U.S.-backed Gulf Arab kingdoms. Tehran has not given an inch to Trumps pressure despite an economy beset by high unemployment and inflation and a rial currency that has lost half its value since April. Thousands of Iranians have protested against price rises of some food items, a lack of jobs and state corruption. The protests over the cost of living have often turned into anti-government rallies. I think the effects, the economic effects certainly, are even stronger than we anticipated, Bolton said. But Iranian activity in the region has continued to be belligerent: what they are doing in Iraq, what they are doing in Syria, what they are doing with Hezbollah in Lebanon, what they are doing in Yemen, what they have threatened to do in the Strait of Hormuz. The Strait is a strategic waterway for oil shipments which Irans Revolutionary Guards have threatened to block in response to Trump administration calls to ban all Iranian oil exports. Writing by Mark Heinrich; Editing by Janet Lawrence

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August 22, 2018  Tags:   Posted in: Iran  Comments Closed

Iran protests: President Rouhani calls for unity as death …

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CNN’s Nick Paton Walsh explains how they started in the first place. “},{“title”:”DOJ: Iranians hacked US professors”,”duration”:”01:39″,”sourceName”:”CNN”,”sourceLink”:”http://www.cnn.com/”,”videoCMSUrl”:”/video/data/3.0/video/politics/2018/03/23/rod-rosenstein-iranian-hackers-indicted-sot.cnn/index.xml”,”videoId”:”politics/2018/03/23/rod-rosenstein-iranian-hackers-indicted-sot.cnn”,”videoImage”:”//cdn.cnn.com/cnnnext/dam/assets/180323095301-rod-rosenstein-0323-screengrab-large-169.jpg”,”videoUrl”:”/videos/politics/2018/03/23/rod-rosenstein-iranian-hackers-indicted-sot.cnn/video/playlists/iran-in-the-news/”,”description”:”The Trump administration alleged Friday that Iranian government-linked hackers broke into the accounts of roughly 8,000 professors at hundreds of US and foreign universities, as well as private companies and government entities, to steal massive amounts of data and intellectual property.”,”descriptionText”:”The Trump administration alleged Friday that Iranian government-linked hackers broke into the accounts of roughly 8,000 professors at hundreds of US and foreign universities, as well as private companies and government entities, to steal massive amounts of data and intellectual property.”},{“title”:”Protests turn violent in Iran”,”duration”:”01:41″,”sourceName”:”CNN”,”sourceLink”:””,”videoCMSUrl”:”/video/data/3.0/video/world/2018/01/02/iran-anti-government-protests-sje-lon-orig.cnn/index.xml”,”videoId”:”world/2018/01/02/iran-anti-government-protests-sje-lon-orig.cnn”,”videoImage”:”//cdn.cnn.com/cnnnext/dam/assets/180101115904-cnnmoney-iran-protests-large-169.jpg”,”videoUrl”:”/videos/world/2018/01/02/iran-anti-government-protests-sje-lon-orig.cnn/video/playlists/iran-in-the-news/”,”description”:”Anti-government protests in Iran have left multiple people dead and led to the arrest of hundreds of protesters, according to state media. “,”descriptionText”:”Anti-government protests in Iran have left multiple people dead and led to the arrest of hundreds of protesters, according to state media. “},{“title”:”Protesters angry over economy, corruption”,”duration”:”01:47″,”sourceName”:”CNN”,”sourceLink”:”http://www.cnn.com/”,”videoCMSUrl”:”/video/data/3.0/video/world/2018/01/01/iran-tehran-protests-roberston-lklv.cnn/index.xml”,”videoId”:”world/2018/01/01/iran-tehran-protests-roberston-lklv.cnn”,”videoImage”:”//cdn.cnn.com/cnnnext/dam/assets/171230172246-04-iranian-student-protests-large-169.jpg”,”videoUrl”:”/videos/world/2018/01/01/iran-tehran-protests-roberston-lklv.cnn/video/playlists/iran-in-the-news/”,”description”:”Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani is warning protesters that violence won’t be tolerated after massive anti-government protests turned deadly over the weekend. CNN’s Nic Robertson reports. “,”descriptionText”:”Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani is warning protesters that violence won’t be tolerated after massive anti-government protests turned deadly over the weekend. 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CNN’s George Howell reports.”,”descriptionText”:”President Trump tweeted about the recent protest in Iran and said the “Iranian govt should respect their people’s rights”. CNN’s George Howell reports.”},{“title”:”Why are Iran and Saudi Arabia so at odds?”,”duration”:”02:15″,”sourceName”:”CNN”,”sourceLink”:””,”videoCMSUrl”:”/video/data/3.0/video/world/2017/12/22/iran-saudi-relationship-anderson-expl-mkd-lon-orig.cnn/index.xml”,”videoId”:”world/2017/12/22/iran-saudi-relationship-anderson-expl-mkd-lon-orig.cnn”,”videoImage”:”//cdn.cnn.com/cnnnext/dam/assets/171228161652-iran-and-saudia-arabia-flag-split-large-169.jpg”,”videoUrl”:”/videos/world/2017/12/22/iran-saudi-relationship-anderson-expl-mkd-lon-orig.cnn/video/playlists/iran-in-the-news/”,”description”:”Iran and Saudi Arabia: Two regional superpowers going head-to-head across the Middle East. CNN’s Becky Anderson explains the tense relationship between the two countries.”,”descriptionText”:”Iran and Saudi Arabia: Two regional superpowers going head-to-head across the Middle East. CNN’s Becky Anderson explains the tense relationship between the two countries.”},{“title”:”Haley: This is concrete evidence against Iran “,”duration”:”02:00″,”sourceName”:”CNN”,”sourceLink”:”http://www.cnn.com/”,”videoCMSUrl”:”/video/data/3.0/video/politics/2017/12/14/nikki-haley-us-evidence-against-iran-weapons-sot.cnn/index.xml”,”videoId”:”politics/2017/12/14/nikki-haley-us-evidence-against-iran-weapons-sot.cnn”,”videoImage”:”//cdn.cnn.com/cnnnext/dam/assets/171214133446-nikki-haley-us-evidence-against-iran-weapons-sot-00013621-large-169.jpg”,”videoUrl”:”/videos/politics/2017/12/14/nikki-haley-us-evidence-against-iran-weapons-sot.cnn/video/playlists/iran-in-the-news/”,”description”:”US Ambassador to the U.N. Nikki Haley presented what she called “concrete evidence” of Iran’s weapons proliferation and called on the international community to join “a united front in resisting this global threat.””,”descriptionText”:”US Ambassador to the U.N. 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August 19, 2018  Tags:   Posted in: Iran  Comments Closed

How Israel, in Dark of Night, Torched Its Way to Irans …

One of the scientists warned that work on neutrons that create the chain reaction for a nuclear explosion must be hidden. Neutrons research could not be considered overt and needs to be concealed, his notes read. We cannot excuse such activities as defensive. Neutron activities are sensitive, and we have no explanation for them. That caution, the documents show, came from Masoud Ali Mohammadi, an Iranian nuclear physicist at the University of Tehran, who was assassinated in January 2010. Mr. Netanyahu argues that the trove proves that the 2015 agreement, with its sunset clauses allowing the Iranians to produce nuclear fuel again after 2030, was nave. The fact that the Iranians went to such lengths to preserve what they had learned, and hid the archives contents from international inspectors in an undeclared site despite an agreement to reveal past research, is evidence of their future intent, he has said. But the same material could also be interpreted as a strong argument for maintaining and extending the nuclear accord as long as possible. The deal deprived the Iranians of the nuclear fuel they would need to turn the designs into reality. Former members of the Obama administration, who negotiated the deal, say the archive proves what they had suspected all along: that Iran had advanced fuel capability, warhead designs and a plan to build them rapidly. That was why they negotiated the accord, which forced Iran to ship 97 percent of its nuclear fuel out of the country. Tehran would never have agreed to a permanent ban, they said. The archive captures the program at a moment in time a moment 15 years ago, before tensions accelerated, before the United States and Israel attacked Irans nuclear centrifuges with a cyberweapon, before an additional underground enrichment center was built and discovered. Today, despite Mr. Trumps decision to exit the deal with Iran, it remains in place. The Iranians have not yet resumed enrichment or violated its terms, according to international inspectors. But if sanctions resume, and more Western companies leave Iran, it is possible that Iranian leaders will decide to resume nuclear fuel production. The warehouse the Israelis penetrated was put into use only after the 2015 accord was reached with the United States, European powers, Russia and China. That pact granted broad rights to the International Atomic Energy Agency to visit suspected nuclear sites, including on military bases.

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July 16, 2018  Tags:   Posted in: Iran  Comments Closed

Mike Pompeo threatens US will ‘crush’ Iran through …

Pompeo, unveiling the administration’s new policy just weeks after President Donald Trump pulled out of the Iran nuclear deal, said the US will work to counter Tehran’s regional activities, curb its influence in the Middle East and make sure that it never gains a nuclear weapon. The speech earned praise in some quarters for the “toughness” of Pompeo’s ultimatum to Iran’s leaders, and his message of support for the Iranian people. Other analysts said the remarks amounted to a push for new leadership in Tehran and a return to traditional US policy that could carry risks for the Trump administration. “It’s implicitly a regime change policy,” said Suzanne Maloney, deputy director of the Foreign Policy program at the Brookings Institution. “There’s no other possible way to interpret that speech.” Pentagon preparations Pentagon spokesman Col. Rob Manning said the Defense Department is assessing whether to “double down on current actions or implement new actions. Obviously we are part of a broader approach to address Iran,” he said, adding the US is “not going to rule out anything necessary in order to address Iran.” Within hours, Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani fired back at Pompeo asking, “who are you to make decisions about Iran?” according to the semi-official Iran Labor News Agency. “Today’s world will not accept the United States to decide on behalf of the whole world. Countries have their own sovereignty,” ILNA quoted Rouhani as saying. “Of course, they (US) will do what they want by the use of force; but the world does not accept this logic.” Israeli President Benjamin Netanyahu, speaking at a Foreign Ministry reception, offered praise. “The US policy is correct,” he said. Pompeo laid out a vision of a policy that will end Iranian missile launches, shrink its sphere of influence, and cripple its economy so that “Iran will be forced to make a choice: either fight to keep its economy off life support at home, or keep squandering precious wealth on fights abroad.” The US will do this by using “unprecedented” financial pressure, working with partners, advocating for the Iranian people, and using the military, Pompeo said. “We will ensure freedom of navigation on the waters in the region. We will work to prevent and counteract any Iranian malign cyber activity. We will track down Iranian operatives and their Hezbollah proxies operating around the world and crush them,” Pompeo said. “Iran will never again have carte blanche to dominate the Middle East.” “This is just the beginning” “The Iranian regime should know this is just the beginning,” Pompeo added. Analysts who opposed the Iran nuclear deal applauded. “Pompeo provided a clear Plan B,” said Mark Dubowitz, chief executive of the Foundation for Defense of Democracies. “Intensify the Iranian regime’s ongoing liquidity and political crisis to force fundamental changes in its behavior across a range of malign activities with the promise of a big diplomatic deal if they do.” Others saw a set up for confrontation. “I think this is war, but not by name,” said Trita Parsi, president of the National Iranian American Council. “There is really no strategy there. We heard a long list of complaints combined with a maximizing pressure in order to achieve objectives that everyone knows are unachievable. Where does that get you? Pressure combined with unachievable objectives is a path to confrontation, by design.” The liberal leaning pro-Israel advocacy group J Street called on Congress to ensure that Trump “and his regime change-obsessed advisors cannot bring about another costly and bloody war of choice.” Lawmakers “must make clear that the President does not now have its authorization for the use of military force against Iran,” J Street’s Vice President of Government Affairs Dylan Williams said in a statement. Pompeo appeared to hold out an olive branch, saying the administration is “open to new steps” with Iran, including a diplomatic relationship, but he laid out 12 preconditions that regional experts said precluded any chance of negotiations. Included among the demands: Iran must acknowledge past military dimensions of its nuclear program, expand the access given to nuclear inspectors, effectively end its ballistic missile program, release US detainees, end its support for groups like Hezbollah and Hamas, and pull its forces out of Syria. “You know, that list is pretty long,” said Pompeo, “but if you take a look at it, these are 12 very basic requirements.” Maloney and others said the list is a non-starter. “They’ve ruled out the prospects of negotiation with those 12 conditions,” Miller said. “Magical thinking” Clement Therme, a Bahrain-based Iran expert with the International Institute for Strategic Studies, said the conditions are “impossible for the Islamic Republic to accept because they deal with issues that are part of the identity of the revolution. We are not going to have a new agreement, we are going to regime change.” In exchange for a change in behavior, Pompeo said the US would be willing to end sanctions, re-establish commercial relationships and allow it to have advanced technology. Aaron David Miller, a vice president at the Wilson Center, said the speech reflected “magical thinking” because it amounted to “a regime change strategy designed to change the regime and its behavior without the means to do so.” Pompeo offered no details on how the US will contain or rollback Iran’s influence in Iraq, Syria or Lebanon. “It lacks the specifics of any real strategy to change Iran’s regional calculations,” Miller said. The other point, he said, is that Pompeo’s speech highlighted a disconnect. “If you do want to try to dislodge Iran’s influence in the region you’re talking about a major investment – decades,” Miller said. But the President campaigned against exactly that kind of commitment, promising to get the US out of the Middle East, with its messy, expensive and seemingly intractable military quagmires. Just two days ago, the Trump administration announced it was pulling stabilization assistance to northern Syria, where al Qaeda-linked groups remain active and the Syrian regime, backed by Iran, has been making gains. The decision to pull funding raises questions about the thoroughness of the administration’s strategy and commitment to roll back Iran, as walking away from Syria “ultimately could benefit” Iran and others, said retired Air Force Col. Cedric Leighton, a CNN military analyst. “The strategy will fail if the President pulls US troops out of Syria and hands the rest of the region to the Iranian regime,” Dubowitz said in an email to CNN. “The plan requires the credible threat that President Trump is prepared to use all instruments of national power or the regime will assess that he is a paper, or more fittingly, a Twitter tiger,” Dubowitz said. Pompeo emphasized that the US would make full use of as many punitive economic measures as it could. And he made clear that the Trump administration was ready to part ways with allies and even use sanctions against them if necessary. A broad coalition “We understand our re-imposition of sanctions and the coming pressure campaign on the Iranian regime will pose financial and economic difficulties for a number of our friends,” Pompeo said. “But you should know that we will hold those doing prohibited business in Iran to account.” After his remarks, Pompeo was asked about the anger of European allies who still back the Iran deal and had worked, at Trump’s request, on an supplemental agreement to address his concerns about Iran’s missiles and regional activities. “We focus on the Europeans, but there are scores of countries around the world,” Pompeo said in a Q&A after his speech. In his remarks, he said the US hoped to create a broad international coalition to counter Iran, mentioning Australia, Bahrain, Egypt, India, Japan, Jordan, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, South Korea, the UAE, “and many, many others worldwide,” but no European allies. “The casual disregard, the back of the hand that was given to Europeans, I think, is going to be incredibly counterproductive” and “going to prompt a lot of anger and resentment,” said Maloney. “There’s no possibility for Europe to work within these parameters, and by definition no possibility for Russia and China.”

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May 21, 2018  Tags:   Posted in: Iran  Comments Closed

Saudi Arabia’s crown prince slams Obama’s Iran nuclear …

Saudi Arabia’s crown prince Mohammed bin Salman, 32, said Israelis have a right to their ‘own land’ — and compared Iran’s Supreme Leader to Hitler — in a wide-ranging interview this week. (Reuters) Saudi Arabia’s crown prince affirmed Israel’s right to exist and criticized former President Obama’s Iran policy in an interview published Monday, pointedly bucking other leaders in the Arab world and signaling support for President Trump’s Middle East agenda. Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, 32, told The Atlantic that both Israelis and Palestinians”have the right to have their own land” — a surprising assertion given that many Arab countries, including Saudi Arabia, do not have formal diplomatic relations with Israel. I believe that each people, anywhere, has a right to live in their peaceful nation,” he said. “I believe the Palestinians and the Israelis have the right to have their own land. Prince Mohammed then took aim at Iran’s Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei. WATCH: WHO IS SAUDI ARABIA CROWN PRINCE MOHAMMED BIN SALMAN? Hitler didnt do what the supreme leader [of Iran] is trying to do,” the crown prince told The Atlantic. “Hitler tried to conquer Europe. This is bad. But the supreme leader is trying to conquer the world. “He is the Hitler of the Middle East.” “He believes he owns the world. They are both evil guys. He is the Hitler of the Middle East. In the 1920s and 1930s, no one saw Hitler as a danger. Only a few people. Until it happened.” Asked about the Obama administration’s nuclear deal with Iran — which President Trump has long lambasted — the crown prince sided with the current White House. NEW SAUDI LEADER SAYS WOMEN ‘ABSOLUTELY’ ARE EQUAL TO MEN President Obama believed that if he gave Iran opportunities to open up, it would change, he said. But with a regime based on this ideology, it will not open up soon. Sixty percent of the Iranian economy is controlled by the Revolutionary Guard. The economic benefits of the Iran nuclear deal are not going to the people. They took $150 billion after the deal can you please name one housing project they built with this money? One park? One industrial zone? Can you name for me the highway that they built? I advise them please show us something that youre building a highway with $150 billion. For Saudi Arabia, there is a 0.1 percent chance that this deal would work to change the country. For President Obama it was 50 percent. But even if theres a 50 percent chance that it would work, we cant risk it. The other 50 percent is war. We have to go to a scenario where there is no war. Prince Mohammed pushed aside his cousin last year to become first in line to the Saudi throne, and he now controls a vast fortune, a well-heeled military and the future of a nation in the throes of sweeping economic and social change. He is on a mission during his three-week U.S. visit to improve the perception of his nation in the eyes of Americans, who have viewed Saudi Arabia warily because of its conservative social mores, unequal treatment of women and, more recently, deadly military campaign in Yemen. The Associated Press contributed to this report. Gregg Re is an editor for Fox News. Follow him on Twitter @gregg_re.

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April 3, 2018  Tags:   Posted in: Iran  Comments Closed


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