Summary of Azerbaijan History

Reshid Güneyli

First part: documentary historical evidences obtained from old historical references
1- In his book titled "Albaldan", Yaghoubi(9 AD) specifies the Azerbaijan's borders and limits. According to him, Zanjan and Varsan are the southern and Bilghan and Bardeeh are the northern borders of Azerbaijan.(Albaldan, Ahmad-ebn- Yaghoubi, translated by Dr. Mohammad Ebrahim Ayati, Tehran, 1977)

2- In his book titled "Balami history", which is an abridgement and translated version of Tabari history (839-923 AD) and in the chapter tilted (recapturing of Azerbaijan and Darband Khezran) Mohammad Balami the vizier of Samanid Dynasty (1053 years before) illustrates Azerbaijan land as follows: Azerbaijan begins from Hamedan ,it extends to Abhar and Zanjan and finishes up in Darband Khezran and any cities in the midst are called Azerbaijan. On page 42 of the said book it is stated that all of these lands are dominated by Turks.(Balami history, Abou Ali Mohammad-ebn Balami, through the efforts of Mohammad Javad Mashkour , Tehran, 1958)

3- Hamdollah Mostofi (740 lunar hegira) in his book titled Nozhatolgholoub , describes the Azerbaijan's cities and borders as follows: Azerbaijan is linked to Persian Iraq( today's Arak city) Moghan, Georgia and Armenia . Its cities includes: Hamedan, Ghazvin , Zanjan, Tabriz, Uroumieh, Ardabil, Nakhjavan, Ordoubad, Oujan, Gargar, Makou, Bardeeh and Darband Babolabvab(Nozhatolgholoub, Hamdollah Mostofi, corrected by Lestrange, Tehran ,1983)

4- Aboueshagh Ebrahim Estakhri(340 lunar hegira) describes the Azerbaijan's geography under the title "Armenia and Azerbaijan" in his book titled " Almasalek & Almamalek" where he states that northwards, Azerbaijan is limited to Alan and Caucasus mountains , southwards it is limited to Arab Iraq and Jazirah (upper Mesopotamia),(Almasalek & Almamalek, Aboueshagh Ebrahim Estakhri, compiled by Iraj Afshar, Tehran, 1989)

5- Mirza Mohammad Sadegh Mousavi Esfehani, in his book titled " Tarikh Gitigosha"(history of imperialism) stated that Aras river is one of the famous big rivers running across Azerbaijan and pours to Caspian Sea and is the gate to the said regions. Whatever exists beyond the said regions are famous as lands beyond the sea including Shirvanat, Salian, Baku, Ghobbeh, Shapouran, and Darband Babolabvab all of which are parts of Azerbaijan.(history of Imperialism, with an introduction by Saeid Nafisi, Tehran , 1987)

A general review on ancient history
1- The condition of region in the 1st millennium AC: in this period we see Elamite(pro-Turk) Sumer (pro-Turk), Manichaean and Urartoei ( Pro – Turk ) . In the 7th century AC, and following to some bloody battles, the Median Empire including great Media and Minor Media was established and took part in the regional competitions. The Minor Media is concordant with today's Azerbaijan including Iranian Azerbaijan and Republic of Azerbaijan (Greek historian, Estrabon). In the 5th century AC, the Achaemenian governor was established in the south part of Zagros Mountains. Because of its savage attitude, this government destroyed all civilized cities and reigns including Elamite, Sumer , Babel and captured their architectures and artists to constitute Persepolis palaces of oppression, and destroyed its surroundings. In the battles between the Medians and Persian's, many of the establishments of the great Media were destroyed. The nonexistence of ordinary establishments even around Persepolis is an evidence of the Achaemenian's dominance. As a consequence of insufficiency of archeological data, this period of Persian's history is called Iron Age (international congress of Achaemenian world of Iran- British museum in London, 2005).

In the year 330 AC, Macedonian Alexander assailed the east and in Gaugamela battle, Atropat the Median king of Atropatene who was allied with Persian , became the commander of the right flank of eastern forces. This part of eastern army not only succeeded to move the left flank of Alexander's army backward but also made him desist from pursuing the Persian king and instead devoted all his forces to save the Parmenio's troops who were in battle with Median troops. Nevertheless, Atropat saved his troops and adopted the policy of patience; he organized his troops and fortified his position and waited to see the consequences of Alexander's moving eastwards(Macedonian Alexander's film, includes scenes of Gaugamela battle and the defeat of the right flank of Alexander's troops commanded by Parminion).

In response to the question asking "how did Atropat become able to retain his independent reign at the beginning of Alexander's battles in the east" A.M Diakonove, the preeminent Russian historian and the compiler of the book titled" Median history" says: Atropat was an eminent and talented king and if it was not for the logical evolution of history and the powerful social, economical, military and political forces of Azerbaijan, he could not secure the independency of Atropatene. In this way, the Seleucid dynasty who were Alexander's successors did not find the ability to adjoin Atropategan to his territory. Richard Fray expresses his astonishment in this regard and quoted from Straborn who said "the king of Atropategan protected this land called in Roman and Greek references as Minor Media , Atropatene Media or Median Limbo, from Seleucid's dominance depending upon the knighthood and warfare of Atropategan nation. Atropategan nation and government defend their independence with all their strength. Straborn said: the main part of ancient Media is Atropatene which has never been a part of great Media or Achaemenian Persia. Also it has never been a part of Seleucid's territory. Westwards Atropatene is limited to Armenia, Turkey and great Media and eastwards it is limited to Khazar Sea; southwards it is limited to the great Media from Hamedan. Atropategan is so powerful that can not be underestimated. In a second it can mobilize for war a military force including 100,000 lancers and 40000 infantries.

2- The regional condition during the 1st millennium AD
As of the 1st century AD through 6th century AD Atropategan was in battle with Parthian empire (pro-Turk) and the Sassanid invaders (Persia) to remain independent but sometimes it was only semi-independent.

As of the 6th century AD, and after the invasion of Arab Moslems and the collapse of Sassanid dynasty, Atropategan was also conquered by Arab Moslems. The Arabs dominance lasted until 11th century AD and at this time Azerbaijanis' admission to Islam made Azerbaijan as one of the important states of Islamic empire. There are evidences showing that at the beginning Azerbaijanis resisted Arab invasion strongly and the fights of Babak Khorramdin -an Azerbaijani national hero -against Arabs is one of the main instances of such fight backs. (837 to 815 AD) In 11th and 12th centuries AD, local governments called Saji, Salari, Ravvadi and Shaddadi appeared in Azerbaijan's political scene. But the Seljuk Turks came to dominate such governments and even the greater ones such as Eldniz and Atabak governments. During the government of Seljuk Turks, Turk people descended to Azerbaijan where they resided to be with their own siblings. Actually during 12th and 13th centuries AD, Turkish language began to be the national language of this land. When Genghis Khan the Mongolian Warrior assaulted west, Kharazmshah government and Seljuk dynasty were collapsed And the Azerbaijan was dominated by Mongolians. In this era beginning as of 13th century and lasted until 14th century, Azerbaijan became the throne of Mongolian governors. Between 14th and 15th centuries AD, Azerbaijan witnessed the challenges among Mongolians, Zarrin horde, Timurid dynasty, Ghareghoyounlou and Aghouyounlou. That was a time when the process of changing the Turkish language into the national language of Azerbaijani nation was more and more completed. In the 16th century AD, Safavid empire was founded by Shah Ismail Safavid with the spiritual support of Safavid Sheikhs and depending upon military forces and warfare of the 7 Azerbaijani Turk tribes named the Shahsavan or the Ghezelbash. These 7 tribes including: Shamlou, Romlou, Estajlou, Qajar, Bayat, Zolghadr and Afshar play significant role in developing the Safavid government into an empire. Depending on this great force Shah Ismail expanded Azerbaijan Territory so that northwards it was limited to Darband, southwards to Persian Golf and Oman Sea, eastwards to Hindu Kush Mountains and from northeast to Jaxartes and Oxus so that all Persian states became parts of Azerbaijani territory. At this time Azerbaijani Turkish Language was determined to be the language used by the army and government and the correspondences with Ottoman and other European countries were all made in Turkish language. Safavid dynasty expanded Azerbaijani lands to 500000 square kilometers. Benefiting from the power of Biglarbeigis of Tabriz(Gilan, Ghazvin , Zanjan, Hamedan, Saveh and Zangehzour), Chekhorsad(Iravan, Nakhjavan, Bardeeh, Bargoshad, and Javanshir) and Shirvan( Baku, Shamakhi, Sheki, Shirvan, Ghouba, and Salian) , Azerbaijan was considered as one of the most powerful regions of Safavid empire. After the collapse of Safavid dynasty in the 16th century AD, and during the short reign of Afshar Turks and also during the long term reign of Qajar Turks, Azerbaijan was still considered as the most important states among the 4 main states of Afshar and Qajar empires and Tabriz was its central city of Azerbaijan and the seat of the crown prince.

In the 19th century AD following to the battle between Czar's Russian empire and Qajar Turk empire which led to the defeat of the latter, the great Azerbaijan was divided in two northern and southern parts based on the 2 disgraceful treaties called Gulistan treaty(1813) and Turkomanchai treaty(1828) . Based on these treaties the northern part had to be under the control of Russian empire and the southern part under the dominance of Qajars. From this time, the historical trends of the two parts of Azerbaijan were apparently different but actually the two nations were empathetic and were in hope for a better future.

Being volunteered in democratic and liberation movements, between the years 1900 to 2000, the southern Azerbaijan followed a different direction. Sattarkhan and Bagherkhan's constitutionalism(1905), Heidarkhan's endeavors (1909) and the struggles of Sheikh Mohammad Khiabani (1920) and Mohammad Taghikhan Pesian (1921), the endeavors of Seyed Jafar Pishehvari and Azerbaijan's national government(1945-1946) and the strives of Ayatollah Shariatmadari and the Moslem peoples' party(1979), all are evidences showing the Azerbaijanis' efforts to develop and expand democracy inside the country. At the time of Reza Shah and during Pahlavi's dynasty which was founded in the year 1920 according to British policy, the Azerbaijani's endeavors became centralized. Such endeavors made the Pahlavi dynasty to adopt an anti Azerbaijani policy and as a result the gradual segregation of southern Azerbaijan became a priority for Pahlavi dynasty and the next Iranian governments.

Second part: Southern Azerbaijan's segregation calendar
1- In the year 1299 solar hegira (1920), when Reza Khan Mirpanj (also famous as packsaddle Reza) dominated, the anti Azerbaijan dynasty of Pahlavi, began to rule over the plateau called Qajar's protected states.

2- In the Oct. 1937, and based on an act approved by the 1st Pahlavi's Majlis(Iranian parliament), the national segregation of Qajar's era was annulled and the historical names of regions were omitted and the country were divided in 6 provinces called" northwest, west, north, south, Macran and northeast"

3- In Dec.1937, once more the previous segregation act was reviewed and as a result the country was segregated in 10 provinces called with numbers from 1 to 10. according to this new segregation, Tabriz was the central city of the 3rd provinces and Urumieh was the central city of the 4th province and in this way the name and limits of Azerbaijan was completely eliminated from the national map. Nevertheless, Ardabil, Zanjan, Ghazvin, Hamedan, and Saveh cities were all parts of the 3rd province with Tabriz as its central city.

4- In the year 1960, the 3rd and the 4th provinces were called east Azerbaijan (Tabriz) and west Azerbaijan (Urumieh). Iran was segregated to 13 provinces with 8 Offices of Governor General (which later increased to 11 offices). In this new segregation, some cities were separated from Azerbaijan and became the affiliates of other provinces. But still Ardabil, Zanjan and Ghazvin were the cities of East Azerbaijan province with Tabirz was the central city. At this time Hamedan was chosen as the seat of the governor general and since then, the process through which Hamedan were going to be separated form East Azerbaijan began. Before the segregation of the year 1960 , to be exact, in the year 1958, Astara which was a part of Ardabil city, became a separate city itself and next it was separated from East Azerbaijan and became an affiliate to Gilan province and so the natural connection between Azerbaijan and the khazar sea shores and the Astara port was ruptured.

5- Simultaneous with the changes mentioned above, Zanjan was also chosen as the seat of governor general and together with other counterpart cities became the centre of a separate province in the year 1978.

6- In the year 1993(15 years after the Islamic revolution and 2 years after Republic of Azerbaijan declared independency, Ardabil was also separated from East Azerbaijan and became the central city of a new province called Ardabil province.

7- In the year 1984, Ghazvin and all the Turk residing regions around were separated from Zanjan province to form Ghazvin province with Ghazvin as its central city.

Part 3: cities and villages of southern borders of South Azerbaijan
Since this part aims at showing the connection among the regions of Azerbaijan located in the northwest of Iran and the way they were segregated to be included in 12 newly established provinces, the provinces that embrace Azerbaijani Turks are stated in this part.

1- Eastern Azerbaijan province: including cities such as Tabriz, Marand, Soufian, Shabestar, Jolfa, Gharehdagh, Alamdar Gargar, Mianeh, Maragheh, Bonab, Malekan, Oskou, Azarshahr(Toufarghan), Gharehaghaj, Siahruod, sarab, Ahar, Kalibar, Haris, Mehraban, Bostanabad(Oujan), Hashtrou (Hashtri), the 100% of the population of this province are Azerbaijani Turks.

2- Western Azerbaijan Province: including cities such as Orumiyeh, Khoi, Salmas, Makou(Maki), Miandoab(Ghoushachai), Naghadeh(Soldouz), Siahcheshmeh, Shout, Gharehziaeddin, Ghoushchi, Takab(Tikan Tappeh), Shahindezh (Saeinghala), Mahabad(Souyoughbolagh), and Gharehmousalou, 90% of the population of this province are Azerbaijani Turks.

3- Ardabil province: including cities such as Ardabil, Parsabad, Namin, Near, Meshkinshahr(Khiav), Khalkhal, Bilehsavar, Aslandouz & Kivi, 100% of the population of this province are Azerbaijani Turks.

4- Zanjan province: including cities such as Zanjan, Tarom Oliya, Mahneshan, Zarrinabad, Sultanieh, Gheidar(Khodabandeh), Khorramdarreh, Abhar, Hidaj & Saeinghaleh, 100% of the population of this province are Azerbaijan Turks.

5- Hamadan Province: the central city of this province is Hamadan city, and the cities and villages of this province are included in the following table. Hamadan is one of the most ancient cities of Atropatene Media (Azerbaijan) and 75% of its population are Azerbaijani Turks.

It is noteworthy that Ms. Shirin Ebadi the winner of Peace Nobel Prize and Gholamreza Takhti the World wrestling champion are also Azerbaijani Turks.

6- Ghazvin(Kazvin) province: Ghazvin(Kazvin) is the central city of this province and this province includes cities and villages with Turk population as stated in the following table. Ghazvin the biggest city of Ghazvin province was the capital of Safavid emperor between the years 655 and 1000 hegira. Presently 80% of the population of this city is either Azerbaijani Turks or have been made Persian.

7- Kurdistan province: Sanandaj is the central city of Kurdistan province. This province includes thecities and villages like Bijar, Ghorveh that the majority of their population are Azerbaijani Turks.

8- Kermanshah province: Songhor city that the majority of its population is Azerbaijani Turks.

9- Gilan province: the central city of this province is Rasht. The province includes the cities and villages like Astara, Hashtpar... that the majority of their population is Azerbaijani Turks.

10- Qom province: the central city is Qom. The province also includes an urban region named Jafarabad. Qom is the biggest city of the province that has been considered the religious center for Shia. 60% of its population is Azerbaijani Turks.

11- Markazi province: Arak(Sultanabad or Iranian Iraq) is the central city of this province. Arak, is the biggest city of the province and 50% of its population is Azerbaijani Turks.

12-Tehran Province: Tehran is the central city of this province and also the country’s capital city. It is the 2nd Turk residing city after Istanbul. 40% of Tehran population is Azerbaijani Turks.