DEVELOPMENTS IN THE AZERBAIJAN SITUATION (ORE 19)

Created: 6/4/1947

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DEVELOPMENTS IN THE AZERBAIJAN SITUATION

ORE 19

47

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approved for release through DEVELOPMENTS IH -fthj HISTORICAL REVIEW PROGRAM of AZERBAIJAN SITUAT^BK Caatrsl Intelligence Agency.

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Although tha collapse of the pro-Soviet "Azerbaijan Nationalo mld-Decoziber of last year relieved much of thotonaion centering In this strategically situated provinoe Ln northwestern Iran, Azerbaijan's proscnt unstable internal condition and persis'^nt Soviet activities and anbitlons in this roglon continue to makeotential source of International friction.

While progress has been nade in the re-estsbllshaent of order since the restoration of central authority over the province, thecontinues to bo unatablo owing to the opposition of heavily armed tribes to the army's program of forceful disarseusSBt sad becsuss ofcaused by sxcessive corruption practiced by both the aroy and civil administrations. The Prime Minister, despite strong erieyhas been making efforts toeaceful settlement with the tribes, sad Azerbaijan's Governor General has given evldenoeesire to improve the local government. Serious fighting betweoo the tribes and the army may be expected if the any attempts to carry out its disarmament policy, and discontent among the vocal sections of the non-tribsl population may be expected to grow if excessive corruption and malpraotioeo continue unabated.

Although tribal unrest end maladministration hnvo longId Iran, thoy enhance the chances for successful Sovietwhich has recODtly taken the form of encouragement to dissident tribes to rosist tho army and of propaganda broadcasts designed to undormlne the government. Moreover, the similarity in race sodanong the populations on bote sidos of thoanmakes the infiltration of Soviet agents into Iran in easy matter.

Azerbaijan's position on tha eastern flank of Turkey and Iraq, its nearness to the Caucasus oil fields, and its usefulnesssteway to the whole of Iran give impetus to the Soviet will to control this province which contains one-fifth of Iran's population sad produces nearly one-quarter of its wheat. Because of its strategic geographic position, its iwuipower, and its agricultural productivity, the loss of Azerbaijan would throaton Iran's Independence.

Having Incurred the strong censuro of world opinion asln the Unltod Nations for encouraging an autonomous regixe ln Azerbaijan, and having failed to arouse sympathetic response todoctrine among the local populace, thc Soviets nay bo expected to

limit thoir effort* in Azerbaijan for thc time being to oconomicand subversive activities. The USSR, howover, will not abandon Its ultimate objeotlve of controlling Azerbaijan, and eventually all of Iran. To thie and, the Soviets will doubtless bring such pressure upoo Iran for oil concessions and air rights. Tho Iranians, encouraged by their success in regaining control of Azerbaijan and relying upon US and US support, will resist Soviet domination and will probably reject the present Soviet deaands for concessions. If these concessions are not grantod, the USSR will probably Intensify Its efforts to createdisorders In Aiorbaijaa, possiblyretext for subsequentSoviet intervention, maintaining in the United Nation* thatsecurity was In jeopardy. It Is yet doubtful whether the Iraaisn Government oon take effective steps to counter such Soviet subversivo activities. Azerbaijan, therefore, will probably continue torouble spot in world politics.

Further discussion of the Aterbaljan situation isthe Enclosure

S-KCIXSOP-E

STRATEGIC POSITION

Control of Azerbaijanoreign power would place that poweroeltion to dominate Iran bo cause two lofty mountain ranges fan out from the province,V" which opens tho rest of Iran to oasy conquest. Azerbaijan it especially well placed geographically for penetration and military operations from the USSR. Tabriz, Its capital, is butiiles from the Soviet border, whichiles' long and inpossiblo for the Iranians to defend. Conversely, thewould regard control of Azerbaijan by an unfriendly governmenterious threat to their rich Caucasus oil fields, which produce approximately threo-fourths of the Soviet petroleum supply. Baku, koy city of the Caucasus oil area, isiles distant from theborder. Tho possession of Azerbaijanower friendly to Iraq and Turkey Is important to those countries as protection of their eostorn flanks. Azerbaijaniles on Turkey andiles on Iraq, whose valuable Uosul-Kirkuk oil fieldsiles from this frontier. Although tho rugged mountains between Turkey end Azerbaijan discourage oxtensive military action in that quarter, the bordor farther southetter military routo Into northern Iraq, which in turn offers access to southern Turkey.

A description of tho geography and economy of Azerbaijan is contained in Appondix "A" hereto, while its ethnic composition isin Appendix

HISTORICAL BACKGROUND

prior to World Bar I

During thoears, tho history of Azerbaijan has boon intimately bound to that of an expanding Russia. The preeent borderthe province and the USSR was established8 when, after two disastrous wars, Iran was forced to ccdo aroae which ereort of thc Soviet Socialist Republics of Georgia, Armenia, and Azerbaijan. Not only did this forced cession deprive Iranian Azerbaijan ofwhich had for centuries boon an integral part of tho province, but it also divided the ethnic-language group composing much of the Tho Anglo-Russian Agreementhich provided for zones of Russian and British Influence in Iran, was used by Russia asfor intorvoning in Azerbaijan's affairs Russian troops were sent to keep order io Tabriz (the capital) during upheavolsthe Persian Revolution, were subsequently maintained in thc province, and were used to quiet further internal disturbances

Worldo World War II

jaaattleground for Russian, Turkish, andarwie* during World Tar I, and during the subsequent two yearsfron fanino ead^inseeurity. With the advent of Rica Khan as array chief of staffJV strong efforts to re-establish Iran's authority over tho area were enooureged by the fsvorable terms of1 Soviet-Iranian Treaty of Friendship. Aider the terms of this agreenent the young Bolshevik Government renounced extraterritorial rights and all concessions and holdings galnod in Ira, during tho Ctarist regimetho Julfa-Tabrlt Railway) with the exception of Soviet interetts in the Caspian 5ea fisheries. The USSR did, however* reserve "the right to advance her troops into (Iran) for tha purpose of carrying outoperations necessary for its defense"hird party threaten tho frontiers of Russia through this ares and should Iran be unable to moothreat aftor having been onco called upon to do so by Xuaila.

Rita Shan took advantage of Soviet preoccupation with interna! natters to reduce Iran's economic dependence on the USSR and to extend his firm control over dissident elements in Azerbaijan. Thoartarger movement for Kurdish autonomyacong Turkish and Iraqi Kurds, was decisively crushed. During hit rolgn as, Rita Khan endoavorod to strengthen Iranian solidarity by requtrljig the exclusive use of the Persian language in schools and in official correspondence, by choosing administratorsfrom Tehran, and by fostering an economic development program in which many neutral experts, particularly German nationals, were employed.

Following the opening of German-Soviet hostilities, both Gi Critaln and theensnded that Setntn agents throughout Iran, iacli ing many in Tabriz, be expelled. esult of the Shah's failure to orient Iran toward the Allied cause, it became strategically expedient for tho Allies to occupy the country. Soviet columns crossed into Aier-baijan in late1 ot the some time that the British attacknd Iran In the south. Ever/ important city In Azerbaijan was occupied wsthin four days, and tease fire" orders were immediately forthcoming fron Tehran. Rise Shah, the keystone of strong central authority, was replaced by his young and politically woak son, liuhomaod Rita Pahlavl, and Azerbaijaneriod of complete foreign occupation. The Tripartite Treaty of Januaryin -hich the USSR end Great Britain guaranteed Iranian sovereignty and territorial integrity and agrood to tho withdrawal of all foreign troops within six months after the and of the war, did little to restrict Soviet activities in Iran to matters of military necessity.

During acrid War n

the opening of German-Soviet hostilities, bot

iaolud

Tha familiar pattern of Soviet political penetration became quickly evident In Azerbaijan as Imported agents began agitation through tho pro-Soviet Iranian Tudeh Parly, Disregarding treaty obligations, the USSR prevented tbe moving of additional Iranian security forces Into Azerbaijan3 and blocked the supply and movement of troops already there. Aided by Soviet intimidation of the opposition, tha Tudeh Party was able to elect two deputies from Azerbaijan to the Majlis (Parlisment) in tha spring elections Ia October of that year,quare miles in northern Iran, Including most of Azerbaijan, were demanded byR of Prime Minister Sa*ld*3 The deoision not to grant any concessions so long as foreign troops oocupied Iranian soil led to Soviet-Inspired anti-governmont demonstrations end to the fall of Sa'ld's cabinet In The five succeeding cabinets have found Azerbaijan and Iranian-Soviottheir most difficult problem.

The'Autonomous Movement

Following the war, the USSR, instoad of preparing to withdraw the garrison of0 Soviet troops In Iran, increased it0 soldiers with the heaviest addition assigned to Asorbaijan, The motive for this action became quickly apparent. Icow "Doiaooratlon outgrowth of the Tudeh Party, began to clamor in Tabriz for autonomy,imilar movement with Sovietwas initiated among the Kurdish tribes ic southwestern Azerbaijan. Democratic partisans took ovor tho Aterbaijan government the following December,Nationalnd installed the Soviet-trained Iranian, Jaafar Pishevnri, as president. urdish Republlo was set up at Mahabad under Qaiiurdish leader who had received direct encouragement from Soviet diplomatic agents in Azerbaijan,

Central Government garrisons disintegrated, andoor the autonomous regime hold sway. Because of tho similarity in race and language botseen the inhabitants of Irf-nlan and Soviet Kicrbaijan, itimple task for tbe USSR to export Soviet nationals andIranian subjects to stiffen the Azerbaijan People's Army or to act as socret police and political leaders io the movement. Underpressure from world opicloa shapod by Iran's appeal to the United Hations, tha Soviet garrison ln Azerbaijan was finally withdrawn inwo months after the deadline set by the Tripartite Treaty Agents of the USSR remained, however, and were reported to number aturing the greater part of the "Domocrbtic" re-gimo.

hmed Qavera,elder statesman, had beenPrime Lilnlster of Iran in* In June ho succeeded in reachingbasic agreenent with the Tabrix Government whereby Ater-baiJan would enjoy limited autonomy and could anticipate increasedin the National Government. Disagreement over details, however, delayod implementation of the agreement, and in October,wore broken off by the Aserbaljan Government in protest over Qava.-n's dismissal of Leftists from the Tehran Government. The Shah then demanded that Qavam allow the use of troops to take possession of theand finally inespite Soviet lntinidation, the Government ordered direot military action. The failure of the USSR to givo aotive support to the "Democrats" and the weakness of thearmy enabled the Iranian forces to occupy the province withinmatter of days. The disintegration of the Soviet-inspired regime was swift and complete. Oavao, the ar=y, and above all the Shah, were widely acclaimed as liberators, and all three enjoyed unprecedented popularity.

CURRENT SITUATION

Corrupt and Oppressive Rule

Five months have elapsed sinco the Central Government's troops marched into the province to depose theany of whom poured into the USSR alongile Azerbaijan-Sovlet border. Within this time thc enthusiasm with which the population welcomed the return of Iranian authority changed to widespread dissatisfaction over government PBladnlnistration and army corruption. Since the fall of Azerbaijan, tho army hasirtual military occupation of the proviaco, which is still under Ifertlal Law. it fillod the Jails not only with political prisoners but also with persons who resist its venal The execution of collaborationists unable to buy their freedom, although temporarily suspended during thc recent liajlia elections, has now been renewed.

Public declarations by Qavsm and the appointment of Allormer prime minister .of wide experience in governmentas the province'* new governor general encouraged the hopeore enlightened, progressive administration would be provided for Azerbaijan. Nevertheless, wealthy landlords were permitted to abuso

Shortly after his appointment, Qavam went to Moscow in an attempt to oaso Iran's strained, relations with tho USSR. The trip proved fruitless. In April, however, he and the Soviet Ambassador in Tehran reached an accord providinghe Central Government wouldeaceful settlement of it* differences withn agreement covering the formationixed Soviet-Iranian company to exploit Iran's northern oil resources would bo presented to the Majlis for consideration;od Army troops would be withdrawn from northern Iran, including Azerbaijan.

the peasants In extorting crop shares for the past year, the collection of which had been specifically prohibited by prime Minister Qavam at the tlce central authority was restored. Subordinate officials of dishonest reputation re-eatered the local government; now, howeyer, the government Is scroealng Aierbaljan's civil and gendarmerie officials in an effort to improve tho provincial administration.

Disturbances In Western Aterbaijan.

The western part of the province,urdish aroa containing many well-armed tribesmen, has been particularly unsettled. The number of rifles and machine guns in Kurdish hands is variouslyto be0; and although the tribeshaveesire to cooperate with the Central Government, continued mutual distrust, engendered by long years of oppressiveros by the army and excesses on the part of both tho tribes and the sovommcnt, makes than obviouslypotential source of trouble. The Iranian Army has thus far been unable to carry out the administration's program for disarmament, and while leaders of the principal Kurdish tribes' manifest some acquiescence ln partial disarmament providedand fair treataont are promised them, little moreoken surrender of are* Is anticipated.

The western area has also suffered from extensive looting sod Pillaging, which followed the fell of the autonomous regime ln the Furthermore, the Iranian Army has had great difficulty Incertain tribesmen who had collaborated with the "Kurdish Peoples (established under Soviet aegis in6 and terminated along with the autonomous government). These tribesmen include renerade elements indigenous to the area and the Jartcni Kurds, who fled from' Iraq to Iran,5 after the Iraqi Government had condemned thoir leaders for rebellious activities. To evice the Barranis free Iran Central Government slUtery leaders found it necessary to augment the'r force0 troop. InrUi jan with heavi^aVjd

^he-lone is unable to effect tribal disarmament.

toviet Complicity

of the deteriorating situationin the light of the USSR's proximity to Azerbaijan and inthe common Soviet practice or capitalizing on local icoUaP5od' livestock, goods, and arms I ISSR by the discredited "Democrats" whon^?territory, ready tools for fu-

ture penetration of th. unsettled province. Broadcasts from Soviet

i

stations and underground radios are directed toward increasing theamong the population. Moreover, Soviet diplonaticare reported to have encouraged leaders of the Parsanis and other dissident elements in their resistance to the Iranian Army. Econoalc prossures are constantly applied to Azerbaijan; the Soviets continue to operato an illegal airline between Tabrit end Tehran, end they have maintained demands upon tho Central Government for exclusive air rights covering Azerbaijan as well as other northern Iranian provinces. they aro applying Increased pressure to secure Parliamentaryfor the formationixed coapany to exploit the oil resources in five northern provinces including most of Azerbaijan, tentatively agreed to by Prime Minister Qavam in

Internal instability facilitates Soviet intervention inaffairsirst step toward including Iron in the fringe of satellite governments it considers essential to Soviet security. The loss of Azerbaijan, which would deprive Iran of one-fifth of itsand cut off the eourco of almost one-quarter of itB wheat, would threaten Iran's Independence. All these circumstances focus attention on on aroa which possesses many elements of international dissension and which has long been subject to Russian interference.

PROBABLE FUTURE DOTELOfVENTS

future will be groatly influenced by the atti-tudo of the Tehran Government toward the province's ecmi-nomadic tribes and sedentary agrarian population, but it will be largely determined by the relationship of Iran with the USSR.

The Direction of Soviet Activities.

ilitary point of view, the USSR will contiouo to be able to reoccupy Azerbaijan at will. The weakness of the Iranian Army attributable as much to low morale as to inadequate equipment, indicates that. Important as Azerbaijan is to Iran's independence, the government cannot organize the province's defenses to offerclayfnzst direct Soviet attack. In the face of strong US foreign policy

elihood that tho USSR would risk Se^ossU MUty of disrupting the united Nations by taking unilateral miliUrJ

"the stron7Cen-

navtnr rmy troops and

vt^wfn tnrS?"th6lrSo-

viets will, for the time being, probably restrict their activities in

conomic pressure end political subversion. If thethe Majlis, almost ail of tho

s

province will be open to exploration and development by Soviet petroleum

technicians, and the USSH will undoubtedly uae these privileges toIts offorts to eoln hegemony over Iran. Similarly, If theSoviet demands for air rights in northern Iran are granted,will receive an additional Influx of Communist agents lnguise. If these concessions are not granted, or are ineffectual in gaining Soviet alas, the USSR will probably Intensify Its efforts to create friction or even warfare botuoen tribes and amy, or similar serious disturbances which might, at an appropriate future tine, provide tho Soviets with an excuse to Intervene unilaterally, thus presenting the United Nationsait accompli basedlaim that Soviet security was in Jeopardy.

The Iranian Course of Action

The prevailing sentiment among deputies-elect to the Majlis is to rcfuso the USSR any and all concessions. The unpopularity of the recent autonomous regime with anf the population does not preclude the possibility of another Soviet-inspired regime'spower in an Azerbaijan subjected to Intense subversive activities among its di ssatisf iod tribal and non-tribal clcmonts. Iran's best defense against such activities would be toetterstimulate employment, andational tribal policy. While it Is doubtful that sufficient action will be token to Improve the government of the province, Tehran will undoubtedly attempt toits economic development program, which contemplates extensive public works improvements. Prime tlinieter QavOta end influential tribal leaders will continue to work for the adoption of ft modorftte tribalbut will meet strong opposition froas military leaders, who favor disarmament of tribes by force and who have groat Influence with the Shah, Unless the Shah can bo induced to support peaceful settlement of thc tribal problem, the array's "blood and iron" policy is likely to prevail. In such event, tho relationship botween tribes and government will further deteriorate, probably developing into serious confliots abetted and encouraged by tho Soviets. Although tho tribes naya portion of their less serviceable weapons to the army at this time, they will boosition to oppose the government with strong force as soon as the present heavy military concentration in thc area is reduced for the purpose of disarming the Qashqais ajid other southern tribes. It is more than likely that serious fighting will then. If not before, break out in the Kurdish area, where'the tribes will undoubtedly be supportod covertly end possibly openly by the Soviots.

r -a"

crcctAPirr and economy

Topography

0 square miles (comparable to tho size of Maine) aro generally Mountainous, with saay wide valleys between the extended ranges. The principal topographic featureshe Ares (Araxea) River valley and the Moghaa Steppes, both in northernalong the Soviet border;he Zagros Mountains in western Azerbaijan and thc 'Jara Dagh Uountalos in the north;he basin in western Azerbaijan formed by Lake Urmia, Iran's largest inland body of wator. Tho lofty mountain ranges which interseot tho province's high tablolands are the only strategic obstacles of consequence. developed road and rail communications, togother with well-known nountalc paths, mako the whole of Azerbaijan comparativelyexcept along the wostera frontier,

Ccnuni eati ona

Road connections with the USSR consist of Azerbaijanihighway, which extends south fron Julfa through Tabriz and the heart of theecond road fron Julfa traversing western Azerbaijan from north tooad south fron Araolan intoAzerbaijan; and roods fron Astara through ArdeMl to Tabriz and froa Astara along the Caspian Sea to Pahlavi. Theoot gn-ice railway extending north froa Tabriz is linked with the Soviet roil network at Julfa, and southeastern Azerbaijan is served by the stojYAard-gauso "rons-Iranlan Railway vhlch nine north froa Tehran to Hianeh. The Central Government has projected completion of znie railway, which is toaneh and Tabriz. Azerbaijan ii linked with Turkeyood through Kakn (in the northwestern corner

ILITra1*which crosses tho border southwest of Lake Urmia.

Agriculture.

, has an essentially agricultursl economy, and the

land providesof the provinces wealth. Azerbaijan contributes

"hare of Iran's total agricultural Although the province comprises but one-twentieth of Iran','T' lyof its wheat, together Tha ^PorUnco of Azerbaijan's

titbyflVOnU^ USSR took all of

hadUt iQ Tehrftn' which theretofore ^ lilt?rVfeat "auirsments frooand importation of large grain replies from Allied countries

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was required to avert famine in parts of southern Iran. The USS^.the largestost profitable market for /jterbalJan'sgrape and apricot crops, which could not be advantageously disposed of olsewhore.

1ndustry and Natural Resources

By Western standards the industrial output in Aterbaijan is negligible since the greatest portion of manufactured goods is the product of "hone" economy. Tabrit factories, however, do produce half of Iran's tamed leather and alnost half of its catches. Development of the province's Industry Is hampered by lack of power sources; Diesel motors furnish most of the industrial energy, and the USSRore economical source of fuel for thoBo motors than it southern Iran and tho Anglo-Iranian refineries.

Although there it soma geological evidence to indicate the possibility of oil deposits in this region, up to the present tlae thore hat been no evidonco proving the existence of oil in ccenorclsl quantities. Similarly, other mineral resources havo not beenexplored or devolopcd. Deposits of molybdenum, copper, lead, and tine are known to exist along with arsenic, potash, salt, and scattered deposits of coal, but at present only arsenic is being mined.

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APPEND IX "B'

ETlHilC COItPCSITIOK

Turfci Elcm/wits

Of Aierbeijan's estimated populationwhichthat ofha largo majority speak Turld. Tartar and Turk elements settled in Azerbaijan in tha Kiddlo Ages, Introduced tha Turkish language, and stampod the population with many of itscharacteristics. Few Turk! peoples have maintained tribalof these the Shohsevane, who numbernd inhabit the northeastern section of tho province, aro the moat tinlike many of the turdtsh tribes, they are not expected toource of serious trouble because of their traditional loyalty to the Shah which was rooontly rtanifested by thoir aiding the Ironior. Army in its recentgainst the autonon-ous regime.

a *

w

sh El clients

Azerbaijan's Kurds numbernd represent halfKurdish peoples in all Iran. From tima to time there has beenfor tho formationurdish National State amongand theurds in Iraq, Turkey, andtribal fragmentation has operated against the success of suchwhich have boon rigorously suppressed by the respective Kurds in Aterbaijan, whoanguage related to thegroup, are divided Into numerous tribesonstant process of disintegration and refornation. been brought under government control only by pressure ofrather to follow the leadership of their preferredof the Soviet-inspired "Kurdish Peoples Repub-

os unable tonloj. of tho tribesoundmall area around Mehabad. After failing to got continues support from the USS? or encouragement frox other Kurdish peoples, he wt quickly divested of his following when the Iranian Army moved intoat tho close permitted himoelf to be usedo^ i< "stooge" in his desire to further the Kurdish cause as he conceived it, but before the collapse of /serbaljan he had promised allegiance to and support of thc Central Government. JJovortheloss, heumber of hi: supporters were executed by the army, although tho "overnmeat has not taken similar action against Djavid, Shatostarl, and other non-tribal key figures in the Azerbaijan aovcr.ent. Ammar Khan, chief of theShikkak Kurds, is perhaps the most influential tribal leader in Azerbaijan today. and Rashid Dog. paramount Hark! Bird ehleftain, have assisted tho Iranian Army in subduing rebellious tribal elomeata and, at the sane time, have conducted negotiations with the govurnment regarding tribal disarmament. As lon^ as the tribes keep their oxtens-ive arm, they willotential source of trouble; and they willnot aubait theeselves peacefully to disannaraont until thogives convincing evidence ofore llboral tribal policy.

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Christian ICinoritles

Assyrians and Armenians ia Aiertaijaninoritybecause of their religion and the recent cooperation of some of their number with the autonomous regies. Persecutions flaring up In February of this year were reported to bo of political rather thaninspiration. The Assyrians number0hile the Armenians are twice as numerous. The latter have never been well Integrated with the rest of the population, and many havoto reoont Soviet Inducements to migrate to Armoolan SSR. 6 anrmenians moved to the Soviet 'Jnlon, andindicate in come instances that all expenses for the journey were borne by the Soviets.

Tho Central Government's past performances in doellng with tribal and minority problems do not suggest that an early solution to the present difficulties will be reached. Tribal administration ha* traditionallyunction of the army, which has employedmilitary action ratheronstructive, far-sighted policy in dealing with unrest among the tribal peoples. Soviet agents turned this situation to their advantage during the autonomous movements, and will doubtless continue to encourage the discontent of Azerbaijan's tribes.

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