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Unformatted text preview: ran, wanted to
encroach on its territory. In 1828, Russia seized Iran’s
Caucasian territories and forced the Shah to accept
Russian diplomatic and commercial agents. At the same
time, Qajar shahs accepted English subsidies, and
followed a pro-British foreign policy. The shahs brought
in English officers to help reorganize their armies on
western lines, and they began to send students to study
Shah Naser ad Din (1848-1896), like the Ottoman
sultans, also followed a program of westernization. He
reformed the tax system, centralized the bureaucracy,
subordinated the provinces to central control,
encouraged trade and industry, and reduced the political
power of the Muslim clergy. In 1871, he established a
European-style cabinet and a legislative council of senior
princes and officials. Nevertheless, Naser ad Din was as
unsuccessful as any other Eurasian ruler at escaping
subordination by the West.
England and Russia supplied him with money to
bribe political leaders and to hire troops to intimidate the
population. In return, the Shah promised not to interfere
in Afghanistan and Central Asia, and he signed a Treaty
of Capitulations that gave the two countries access to
Iranian markets. Tsar Alexander II sent military officers
to organize a “Cossack Brigade” which became Iran’s
most effective fighting force; its Russian officers also
promoted Russian interests. Russia took northern Iran as
its sphere of influence and obtained concessions for
insurance companies and banks.
In 1890, a British venture,“The Imperial Tobacco
Corporation” obtained a monopoly on the sale of
tobacco in Iran. This led to a boycott by Iranian clerics
and nationalists, massive demonstrations, and even
rumors that a holy war would be declared against the
agents of the west. The Shah cancelled the concession
(agreeing, however, to compensate the shareholders for their losses).
In 1896, Nasir ad Din was assassinated by an Iranian
nationalist cleric. His successor obtained large loans
from Russia, and, in exchange, reduced import tariffs.
This allowed Russia to flood Iran with cotton cloth from
Turkestan, bankrupting most Iranian textile producers
and fueling nationalist anger.
In 1905 merchants and clerics went on strike across
Iran, and the following year the dying Shah granted a
constitution and an elected parliament. In 1907,
however, his successor revoked the constitution, and the
rebellion resumed. This provided a justification for
Russian and English forces to intervene. Russia occupied
the north and exploited its economy, while England
occupied the south and took possession of Iran’s oil
fields. North Africa
After the fall of the Abbasid Empire in 1258, North
Africa became independent. This lasted only until the
reign of Suleiman the Magnificent of the Ottoman
Empire who, in the 1500s conquered Algeria, Tunisia,
Libya, and Egypt and turned them into provinces of the
Ottoman Empire, ruled by governors appointed by the
Sultan in Constantinople.
Morocco, on the Eastern end of North Africa not only
resisted the Ottoman Empire, but the Portuguese, as...
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