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Persia, a permanent opponent at the gates of Europe.

During the reign of Assyrian King |Assur-ah-iddin (681-669 BC), the main attacks of the Median population are attested, but they knew to oppose them the force of the Scythian tribes.

In 615 BC King Cyaxares attacked Assyria at the same time with the Chaldeans. He occupied the upper Mesopotamia, kept under obedience the Persians and destroyed the State of Urartru (future Armenia).

In 585 BC the King initiated a war with the Lydians, establishing the frontier at Halyes in 582 BC. His successor Astyages (582-550 BC) did not resist in front of the new opponent: the Persians (1).

The Indo-European tribes of the Persians established their rule in mountains, at Parsumash (future Persepolis, North from Susa), under the command of king Ahmenes (the founder of the Ahemenit Dinasty), who accepted the suzerainty of the Elamites in the 7th century.

The successors of Ahmenes eliminated the authority of Elamites establishing their residence at Anshan and Parse (present province of Shiraz), accepting the suzerainty of King Astyages. The main Persian ruler, Cyrus the Great (556-530 BC) makes an uprising against Astyages who becomes his prisoner. Cyrus the Great becomes the Master of the entire Western Asia, eliminating the tribal formations and arriving at the gates of the great-civilized states: those of Mesopotamia and Egypt (2).

The Persian Kingdom destroyed the Lydian Kingdom of Cressus, the New Babylonian Empire (538 BC) and Egypt (525 BC). After that, Persians went on the corridor of the Palestine, freed the Jews from their captivity, allowed them to enter in Jerusalem re-building their Temple and re-gaining the cultic inventory stolen by Babylonians (3).

The power of Persians, the greatest force of the near East was based on an innovator system of communication. The main axes named the Royal Way, from Sardes to Sussa connected the Aegean Sea with the Persian Gulf and Ancient India (present Afghanistan). From this axes split two ways, one from the Plateau of Media and Hircania and other by desert, based on a system of oasis from the present Turkestan. The Persian Kingdom had another way to the Arabia for arriving at the Red Sea harbors.

Historians explained the growth of the Persian power through the birth of the 'Iranian conception": "Ride! Shoot the arch! Tell the truth!" and through the experience gained by Persians from the government systems of the conquered oriental states.

The Persians applied a very important lesson, unfortunately ignored until the 20th century, that of ethnic toleration.

The Medians and the Persians were a small group comparing to the conquered people. They were exempted from paying taxes, which were collected as describes the Greek historian Herodotus (Histories, book III), exclusively from the subjects of the state.

The subject people were informed by the Imperial administration in their mother language, which they were free to use among them and in relation with the state. They were also free to honor their own gods and to apply their own laws. It was a propagandistic way to present the Great King's "mercy".

The main reformatory of the state was Darius (522-486 BC), who implemented the system of provinces, with separate command, military and civilian, struck the golden coins, developed the roads infrastructure.

For the first time, Persian Kingdom entered in contact with the European civilization in 546 BC when Cyrus subjected the Greek cities from the coasts of Minor Asia. As usual, the Greek cities were let to develop autonomously, not being obliged at the tribute excepting the annual gifts for the Great King. The single "intervention" of the Persians was the help offered to the Greek tyrants, who might action as mediators between Persians and Greek cities. Hestiaios and his son-in-law Aristagoras ruled the greatest city of Ionia, Miletus. The political intrigues of the first and the attempts to independence ruined the peace and contributed to the Ionian uprising (499-493 BC) in which Miletus was erased from the face of Earth. Its allies from the European Greece (Athens and Eubeea) will be punished very soon (4).

Between 490-449 BC, Europe knows its first intercontinental war. Persians were defeated at Marathon (490 BC), Salamis (480 BC), Eurymedon (468 BC) and their allies from Carthage at Himera (480 BC).

It was Europe's first major peace, signed in 449 BC (Peace of Kallias), which confirmed the first separation of the influence area between the Greek world and the Persian Kingdom.

In 487 BC was created the first European defensive alliance, the Delian League which had as main objective the security of the Greek world.

Because Athens subdued the League, for confronting with its former ally Sparta, Greece was wasted by the Peloponesian War (431-404 BC), gained by Sparta, but giving satisfaction to the Persian Kingdom which recovered the lost terrain from 449 BC.

In 400 BC, 10,000 Greeks helped Cyrus the Young against Persian King Artaxerxes, brother of Cyrus.

The death of Cyrus made useless the victory of Cunaxa near Babylon.

The Greeks lead by Xenophon went back home almost without casualties, presenting the real situation of the Persian Empire: a colossus with clay-foots.

The ascension of the Macedonian Kingdom under Philip the Second and Alexander the Great was the catalyst of the idea of defeating Persians. Alexander the Great, between 334-327 BC, had a great expedition against Persians, creating a Great Empire on two continents which did not survive his creator who died in 323 BC.

The conflict between the generals of Alexander the Great finished in 301 BC after the battle of Ipsos after the death of Antigonos, the last exponent of the Imperial Monarchy (5).

After the end of Hellenistic Dynasty from Seleucia, a tribe subdued by Persians took over the initiative of Persian recovery and creates the Parthian Kingdom under the Dynasty of the Arsacids and Sasanids.

The new state confronted with Rome, the first state which created a European Empire. After the defeat of Crasus at Carrhae (54 BC), all Roman Republican leaders and Emperors (Traian, Hadrian, Septimius Severus, Caracalla, Macrinus, Severus Alexander) confronted with Great Parthian Kings as Chosroes I (107-130 AD), Vologese II (130-148 AD), Vologeses IV (191-208 AD), Vologese V (209-222 AD), Artaban V (222-226 AD) (6).

Between 226-272 AD, the Parthian State was conducted by the Sassanid Dynasty on centralized bases. All Roman Emperors as Maximinus, Philip the Arab, Valerianus, Gallienus, Decius, Claudius Gothicus and Aurelianus fought with the Sassanids (7).

With Diocletianus and Constantine the Great a new state will appear, the Byzantine Empire. After the division of the Roman Empire in 395 AD, at the end of the reign of Theodosius, it was the Eastern part of the Roman Empire (the Byzantine Empire) which confronted with the Parthians until 651 AD, when the Sassanid organization was replaced with the religious one, that based under the Muslim faith founded by Mohammed since 622 AD (8).

The Byzantine Empire punished the Jews who helped the Persians and rejected the Monophysits, who preferred the Muslim Rule, contributing to the religious unity of the Empire.

The Arab Conquest will impose the organization of the Caliphates until 1322 when the Ottoman Empire was founded by the Warrior tribes of Turks. Controlling the Persian Area, the Turks got for their Emperor (Sultan) the ancient name of Padishah (King of the Kings) (9).

In the 18th century Iran was a state in decline. In 1747, after the fall of the Empire of Nadir-Shah, the power is taken by the Turks of Muhammad Shah who is killed under the influence of Russians (1797).

Persia, wanted by both the Russian and English Empire ceased to be a great power, but succeeded to avoid the colonization. Napoleon helped Persia to organize its army, but since 1809, Persia gave all its attention over England, which helped it avoid the Russian domination (10).

In 1809, the British Government obliged the Persian Shah Fath Ali to cease the diplomatic relations with France, because Napoleon had the intention after the Treaty of Titlist (1807) to attach India. During the period 1804-1813 the Russians won a war against Iran imposing the treaty of Gulistan, in which Persia lose Christian provinces of Georgia and the Muslim provinces of Shriven and Dagestan. The Russian imposed a new treaty on April 2nd, 1828 when Persia lost Armenia.

In 1834, Russia follows the idea of the neutrality of Persia concluding a treaty in which they recognized the independence of Persia.

Muhammad Shah (1834-1847) will try to take back the Afghan region of Herat in 1837 from British, which was attacked firstly in 1816 and the second time in 1833 when he was the heritor prince.

A new attack against Herat will be stopped by British between 1852-1856. Confronted with religious problems Persia recovered after 1852 (11).

In 1839, the former Persian province of Gedrosia, independent at the half of the 18th century, was occupied by British as protectors in 1854. In 1879, at the treaty of Gandamak they decided to make the annexing of Gedrosia, finished in 1887. Great Britain succeeded to impose the domination in Persia imposing its domination in Bahrain, protected between 18701888 and annexed from 1914.

British took all the main economic fields from Persia under their monopoly (telegraphic communications-1863, tobacco-1892, oil-1909) and took half of the money of the foreign companies from Persia, in the London Treasury.

From 1907, British and Russians conceived a treaty on the recognition of Persian independence under their influence.

After a riot in 1908, on June 23rd, British, Russian and Turk troops invaded Persia throwing the king and replacing him with his son Ahmed Ghan (1909-1925).

The Russian Revolution from 1917 obliged Russian to withdraw from Persia which became entirely dominated by British, getting its independence under the "eternal protection of England" on August 19th, 1919.

Iran declared war in 1943 to the Axe Roma-Berlin forces, occupied by the Russians who organized the allied conference in Teheran (December 1943) (12).

In contemporary age, the Shah Mohammed Rheza Pahlevi celebrated 25 centuries of Iran by a monumental ceremony in 1971. Shah Mohammed used the huge reserves of oil to engage Iran on the international political scene, but the spiritual leader, Ayatolack Komeini started the Islamic revolution which gained the victory in 1979, throwing away the Shah who left the country dying into exile.

Between 1981-1989, the war against Iran, conducted by Sadam Hussein, the leader of Iraq with the help of American government was gained by the Iranian forces.

During the Gulf crisis, from 1990 to 2003, Iran was a strong political and military force. The Iranian militia fought in Syria, South of Lebanon, against the interests of Israel.

Today, Iran is the most powerful state in the Middle East, the "red point" on the world's political map which has a great army, an ultra-modern infrastructure, accused by producing the atomic bomb, trying to regain the glory of the ancient times.


(1) Horia C. Matei, O istorie a lumii antice, Eminescu Publishig House, Bucharest, 1983, pp. 34-35.

(2) Pierre Levecque, Istoria Universala, Rao Publishig House, Bucharest, 2005, p. 313.

(3) Ibidem, pp. 335-337.

(4) Adelina Piatkowski, O istorie a Greciei Antice, Albatros Publishing House, Bucharest, 1988, pp. 147-150.

(5) Ibidem, p. 235.

(6) Eugene Albertini, L 'Empire Romain, Paris, Libraririe Felix Alcan, 1936, pp. 231-232.

(7) M. Cary, J. Wilson, A Shorter History of Rome, MacMillan, New York 1963, pp. 297-299.

(8) Emanoil Babus, Aspecte ale istoriei si spiritualitafii Bizanfului, Sofia Publishing House, Bucharest, 2003, pp. 143-144.

(9) Serge Berstein, Pierre Milza, Istoria Europei, 2nd, European Institute Publishing House, Iasi, 1999, pp. 89-95.

(10) J. Thibault, Istoria universala, 3rd volume, Rao Publishing House, Bucharest, 2005, p. 148.

(11) Ibidem, p. 157.

(12) Duncan Townson, Dictionary of Modern History, Penguin Books, London, 1994, pp. 342-344.
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Title Annotation:Conflicts and Threats: Pieces of the Global Puzzle
Author:Serban, Ionut
Publication:Revista de Stiinte Politice
Article Type:Report
Date:Oct 1, 2008
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