Given the savagery with which Abbas Shah treated potential heirs to his throne, it is not surprising that Iran fell into disarray after his death. Neighbors began to prey on it, and in 1722 Afghan tribesmen swept down and overran it, even sacking Isfahan itself. The Afghans were finally expelled by the last of Irans great historical leaders, Nadir Shah, a Sunni Turk who then marched on to seize Delhi. One of the treasures he looted from Delhi was the jewel encrusted Peacock Throne, which became a symbol of Iranian royalty. Nadir was assassinated in 1747, and after a series of power struggles that lasted nearly fifty years, a new dynasty, the Qajars, came to power.
The Qajars, a Turkic tribe based near the Caspian Sea, ruled Iran from the late eighteenth century until 1925. Their corrupt, small-minded kings bear heavy responsibility for the countrys poverty and backwardness. As much of the world rushed toward modernity, Iran under the Qajars stagnated.
In a country so backward in constitutional progress, so destitute of forms and statutes and charters, and so firmly stereotyped in the immemorial traditions of the East, the personal element, as might be expected, is largely in the ascendant, the British statesman Lord Curzon wrote toward the end of the Qajar period. The government of Persia is little else than the arbitrary exercise of authority by a series of units in a descending scale from the sovereign to the headman of a petty village.
Had Iran been governed during the nineteenth century by a strong and sophisticated regime, it might have managed to fend off the ambitions of foreign powers. The pressures, however, would have been intense in any case. Geography placed Iran in the way of that eras two great imperial powers, Britain and Russia. When the British looked at Iran, they saw a nation that straddled the land route to India, their richest and most precious colony. The Russians, for their part, saw a chance to control a large swath of land across their exposed southern border. The fact that Iran was ruled by weak and self-involved monarchs made it too tantalizing for either empire to resist. Both rushed to fill the power vacuum left by the ignorant Qajars.
Qajar kings did not seem disturbed to see Iran slipping into subservience, or if they were, they determined to take what advantage they could of its seemingly unavoidable fate. In what turned out to be a great miscalculation, they presumed that the Iranian people would accept whatever their rulers dictated. But by their corruption and especially their willingness to allow Iran to slip under the domination of foreign powers, the Qajars fell out of step with their people and ultimately lost their right to rule, their farr. Armed with the Shiite principle that endows the ordinary citizen with inherent power to overthrow despotism, and with the ideals of the emerging new world, Iranians rebelled in a way their forefathers never had. Their demands were as astonishing as their rebellion itself; an end to the countrys domination by outside powers and a parliament to express the popular will. This was the most radical program Iranians had ever embraced. It would spell the overthrow of the Qajar dynasty and define all of Irans subsequent history.
to be continued...
What comes next resembles what happened when our forefathers rebelled against the King of England in the act of the Boston Tea Party incident....
It is amazing how history repeates itself in various generations and nations of peoples. Just like Solomon wrote...their is nothing new under the sun...