Today in Middle Eastern history: Iran becomes “Iran” (1935)

It’s a historical oddity that the nation (kingdom, empire, whatever it was at any particular point in history) of Iran was never officially called “Iran” by anybody other than Iranians until 1935, even though most Iranians had been calling it “Iran” for millennia. The rest of the world didn’t catch on until Reza Shah Pahlavi (d. … Continue reading Today in Middle Eastern history: Iran becomes “Iran” (1935)

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Today in Middle Eastern history: Iran becomes “Iran” (1935)

I don’t mean to seem obscure with that title, but it’s a historical oddity that the nation (kingdom, empire, whatever it was at any particular point in history) of Iran was never officially called “Iran” by anybody other than Iranians until 1935, even though most Iranians had been calling it “Iran” for millennia. The rest of … Continue reading Today in Middle Eastern history: Iran becomes “Iran” (1935)

Today in Middle Eastern history: the Battle of al-Qadisiyah (636)

and that's the way it was

There are battles throughout history that are decisive for purely military reasons, and then there are battles that are decisive for reasons that go far beyond that. Take two famous examples from the Second Punic War. Hannibal’s victory at the Battle of Cannae (216 BCE) was pretty damn decisive from a military perspective. It’s hard to get much more decisive than killing anywhere from half to 7/8 of an 80,000+ man Roman army while losing maybe a tenth of yours. You’ve clearly made a statement with a win like that. But the war went on and Rome was only temporarily weakened. The Battle of Zama (202 BCE), on the other hand, not only ended the war, but it basically ended Carthage. Yes, there was a Third Punic War, but Carthage had no ability to put up a real fight. Zama was decisive far beyond the battlefield.

The two great Arab…

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Today in Iranian history: the 1921 Iranian coup

The irony of Iran's experience during World War I is that the evaporation of Imperial Russia in the aftermath of the 1917 Russian Revolution should have marked a positive turning point for the Qajar Dynasty, but instead it eventually led to their overthrow. Russia and Britain had dominated Iranian affairs (first as rivals, then as … Continue reading Today in Iranian history: the 1921 Iranian coup