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Iran crisis of 1946: Wikis


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The Iran crisis in 1946 stemmed from a Soviet refusal to relinquish Iranian territories occupied by the Red Army since 25 August 1941. On the eve of World War II, Germany was Iran's largest trading partner. [1] After the German invasion of the USSR in June 1941, the United Kingdom and the Soviet Union occupied Iran as a preventative measure. Another purpose although not publicly stated, was to use Iran as a gateway for delivery of Lend-Lease supplies to the Soviet Union. The Shah was deposed and sent into exile in Mauritius. His son, Mohammad Reza Pahlavi, assumed the Peacock Throne as the new king. Throughout the rest of the war, the United Kingdom and the United States used Iran as an important supply line to the Soviet war effort against Nazi Germany.

The occupation of Iran was scheduled to end after Germany surrendered, but, when the war ended in 1945, Soviet leader Joseph Stalin refused to withdraw Soviet forces from Iran. Moreover, he attempted to partition Iran and establish two "People's Democratic Republics" on Iranian territory, the Azerbaijan People's Republic headed by Sayyid Jafar Pishevari and the Kurdish Republic of Mahabad under President Pesheva Qazi Muhammad.

Under intense pressure from the United States, the Soviet Union withdrew the Red Army from Iran and the Iranian army re-occupied Mahabad and Azerbaijan. The leaders of the Azerbaijan enclave in Iran fled to the Azerbaijan SSR, and the leaders of the Kurdish Republic were tried and sentenced to death. They were hanged in Chwarchira Square in the center of Mahabad in 1947.

This conflict, one of the first episodes of the Cold War, was a factor in the evolving and increasingly contentious political relationship between the United States and the Soviet Union.


  • André Fontaine, La guerre froide 1917-1991, Editions de la Martinière, 2004, ISBN 2-84675-139-0 (French)
  • George Lenczowski, "The Communist Movement in Iran", Middle East Journal, no. 1 (January 1947) pp. 29-45
  • Archie Roosevelt, Jr., "The Kurdish Republic of Mahabad", Middle East Journal, no. 1 (July 1947), pp. 247-69
  • William Linn Westermann: "Kurdish Independence and Russian Expansion", Foreign Affairs, Vol. 24, 1945-1946, pp. 675-686


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