History of Iran Timeline

  • Russo-Persian War

    Russo-Persian War
    1804-1813 First Russo-Persian War
  • War lost to Russia

    War lost to Russia
    1813-1828 War eventually lost to Russia, with loss of territory.
  • Constitutional Revolution

    Constitutional Revolution
    1906-1911 Constitutional Revolution. Dabashi calls this event the beginning of modern Iran, when the absolute monarchy becomes a constitutional monarchy (71).
  • 1925-1979: Rule of the Pahlavi Royal Family (Reza Shah and son Muhammad Reza Shah)

    1925-1979: Rule of the Pahlavi Royal Family (Reza Shah and son Muhammad Reza Shah)
    The rule of the first Pahlavi monarch comes about as a result of a military coup in 1921 supported by the British. Reza Shah crowned himself on April 25, 1926. Reza Shah was determined to modernize Iran, looking to imitate Ataturk’s modernization of Turkey (1895-1914, Young Turk Movement).
  • Establishment of Tehran University

    Establishment of Tehran University
    1934 Establishment of Tehran University, modern and secular.
    Dabashi says of the university: “Tehran University would of course also function as the secular counterpart of religious seminaries in Qom and Mashhad – thus there were now two, diametrically opposed, educational systems, one almost exclusively under the control of the Pahlavi government, while the others thrived under a more or less autonomous clerical establishment” (121).
  • Veiling of Women

    Veiling of Women
    Veiling of women in public is banned by the Shah.
  • Second Pahlavi Monarch

    Second Pahlavi Monarch
    Second Pahlavi monarch, age 22, occupies the throne after his father is exiled to South Africa. Dabashi says of this transition: “The flirtation of Reza Shah with the Axis powers resulted in the Allied occupation of Iran soon after the war began, and he was forced to abdicate in favor of his son, Muhammad Reza Shah, who was installed and supported in power by the Allied forces” (123).
  • Three majors meet in Tehran

    Three majors meet in Tehran
    1943 Winston Churchill, Franklin Roosevelt, and Joseph Stalin meet in Tehran; they promise Iran national sovereignty (Dabashi 124).
  • Prime Minister Mosaddeq nationalizes the Iranian oil industry

    Prime Minister Mosaddeq nationalizes the Iranian oil industry
    Iranian Prime Minister Mosaddeq nationalizes the Iranian oil industry, which foments a power struggle with the Shah. Dabashi notes that this is a time when anticolonial movements are active in the region, Jawaharlal Nehru in India, Nasser in Egypt (127).
  • The US CIA engineers a coup

    The US CIA engineers a coup
    The US CIA engineers a coup (led by Kermit Roosevelt) that removes Prime Minister Mosaddeq, and brings the Shah back to power.
    Dabashi notes that Iran served as a crucial logistical base for the American military during the US involvement in the Vietnam War (1956-1975) (123).
  • The establishment of SAVAK

    The establishment of SAVAK
    The Shah establishes SAVAK, the secret police that act against political dissenters.
  • The White Revolution

    The White Revolution
    The White Revolution, initiated by the Shah and supported by President Kennedy, implements further secularization.
  • The Challenge

    The Challenge
    Ayatollah Khomeini, now Shi’ite leader, challenges the Shah, only to be arrested and exiled to Iraq.
  • 2500 years

    2500 years
    The Shah celebrates 2500 years of Persian monarchy.
  • Siahkal uprising

    Siahkal uprising
    1971 Siahkal uprising, armed struggle against the Shah by socialists.
  • Arab Oil Embargo

    Arab Oil Embargo
    Iran doesn’t participate in the Arab oil embargo, which means tremendous profits for the Shah.
  • Jimmy Carter Visit

    Jimmy Carter Visit
    President Jimmy Carter on a visit to Iran proclaims Iran “an island of stability in an otherwise troubled Middle East” (Dabashi 157).
  • Public Demonstrations

    Increasing large public demonstrations against the Shah signify opposition of urban guerrilla movements and the clerics. On “Black Friday” in September the Shah’s army opens fire on protesters, killing and wounding many. In October Khomeini flies to France to direct the revolution from there. The Shah appoints a series on prime ministers in an effort to regain control of the country as demonstrations become increasingly violent.
  • The Shah leaves the country

    The Shah leaves the country on January 16 for Egypt, Morocco, the Bahamas, Mexico, and then the US, where he undergoes treatment for cancer. He eventually settles in Egypt, where he dies on July 27, 1980.
  • Iranians Celebrate

    Iranians Celebrate
    a million Iranians celebrate in Tehran, calling for the formation of an Islamic republic and the return of Khomeini.
  • Khomeini returns

    Khomeini returns in triumph to Iran and appoints Mehdi Bazargan prime minister for a provisional government while the Islamic constitution is drafted.
  • Khomeini returns

    Khomeini returns in triumph to Iran and appoints Mehdi Bazargan prime minister for a provisional government while the Islamic constitution is drafted.
  • Students seize the American embassy

    Students seize the American embassy
    Militant students seize the American embassy in Tehran and hold 52 American diplomats hostage there for 444 days. A US attempt to rescue the hostages on April 24, 1980, results in humiliating catastrophe when the American helicopters and planes crash in the desert with heavy casualties. The hostages will finally be released on Reagan’s inauguration, January 20, 1981.
  • The first Iranian President

    The first Iranian president, Abu al-Hassan Bani-Sadr, is inaugurated. He’ll be dismissed and exiled by Khomeini in June 1981.
  • Saddam Hussein invades Iran

    1980 In September, Saddam Hussein invades Iran, with the support of the US, Europe, and the Soviet Union. This is the beginning of the eight-year Iran-Iraq War.
    Consider the other upheaval in the region:
    The Russians invade Afghanistan
    Military coup in Pakistan
    Assassination of Saudi King Faysal
    Peace treaty signed between Egypt and Israel followed by assassination of Egyptian President Anwar al-Sadat.
    Israel invades and occupies Lebanon.
  • Peace Treaty

    Peace Treaty
    Iran accepts a UN-sponsored peace treaty that ends the war with Iraq.
  • Khomeini dies

    Khomeini dies
    Khomeini dies and is succeeded by Ali Khamenei. Rafsanjani becomes president, serving until 1997.
  • New President

    New President
    Mohammad Khatami elected president, serving until 2004.
  • Ol'Bush

    Ol'Bush
    President Bush designates Iran, along with Syria and North Korea, as the Axis of Evil.
  • US Invades

    US Invades
    March the US invades Iraq.
  • Mahmoud Ahmadinejad

    Mahmoud Ahmadinejad
    2005 Mahmoud Ahmadinejad becomes president of Iran. Dabashi calls him a populist candidate, supported by the poor and also by the militant Islamists (221).