Ted Thornton
History of the Middle East Database
Benchmarks in the Modern History of Iran

Origins of Key Geographical Terms


History by Region or State


History by Time Period


Special Topics









Crucial Pre-Modern Benchmarks
Persian Empire
Sasanian Empire

16th Century, Safavids.

1598: Isfahan becomes Safavid capital.

1722: Afghan Invasions, Decline of Savafids.

1794-1925: Qajar Dynasty.

1856: Anglo-Iranian War.

1872: Reuter Concession.

1891: Harem Tobacco Rebellion.

1901: D'Arcy Oil Concession.

1906: First constitutional Revolution in modern Middle East history.

1907: Britain, Russia divide Iran into "spheres of interest."

1908: Oil strike.

1919: Anglo-Iranian Agreement.

1925: Pahlevi Dynasty.

1934: Iran becomes official name of the nation.

1941: Britain occupies Iran. Reza Shah Pahlevi abdicates, Mohammed Reza succeeds.

1946, December: Iranian troops crush the new Kurdish "Mahabad Republic."

1951: Anglo-Iranian Oil Company nationalized.

1953: U.S. instigates coup against Iranian government.

1963: White Revolution.

1971: Coronation of Mohammed Reza Shah.

1979: Revolution. Sources of the Iranian Revolution (including the "rentier state" problem). Shiite Iran begins to challenge Sunni Saudi Arabia for leadership of the Muslim world.

1902-1989: Life of Ayatollah Khomeini.

Nov., 1979-Jan., 1981: U.S. hostage crisis.

1980, Jan. 23: American-Iranian hostility prompts "Carter Doctrine."

1980-1988: War with Iraq (First Gulf War). (Gulf Wars Two and Three)

1981, June 20: the so-called "Khordad Massacre" takes place.

1987: Iran Contra Affair.

1989: Fatwa against Salman Rushdie (repealed 2001).

1989: Death of Ayatollah Khomeini, succeeded by Rafsanjani.

1997: Khatami elected President.

1999-2003: Unrest.

2001, April: Reformists thwarted.

2002: Iran included in Bush "axis of evil."

2002, July: Tensions rise between conservatives and reformists.

2003, May: Iran makes overtures to United States.

2003, May: Reformists protest delays (also) (also). Iran makes overtures to United States.

2004, November: Iran under pressure to rein in nuclear development program.

2004, December 7: Jordan's King Abdullah II warns against a spreading "crescent" of Iranian influence in the Middle East.

2005, April-November: Riots caused by ethnic unrest among Arab minority break out in Khuzestan Province.

2005, June: Elections with hardliners winning, purge of reformers and those in favor of better relations with the West begins.

2005, fall: Iran's President Ahmadinejad bans Western music, makes statements questioning Israel's right to exist and questioning whether the Holocaust occurred.

2006, January 10: Iran restarts nuclear enrichment program.

2006, April: Speculation about possible American plans to attack Iran.

2006, September 5: Iran's president calls for removal of "liberal" university professors.

2006, December: Reformists defeat Ahmadinejad's hardliners in local elections.

2006, December: United Nations votes sanctions against Iran for failing to halt its nuclear enrichment program.

2007, February: Unrest in Sistan-Baluchestan Province.

2007, March: Iran seizes British sailors in Persian Gulf.

2007, May 28: Iran and the U.S. hold their first direct talks since 1980.

2007, June: Fresh questions about possible Iranian role in regional conflicts.

2007, June: Riots over gas rationing and religious police crack down.

2007, August: Iran sentences two Kurdish journalists to death.

2007, September: Former President Rafsanjani elected Head of Assembly of Experts.

2007, October: U.S. imposes sanctions on Iran.

2007, November 22: Ahmadinejad comes under editorial attack.

2008, March: Parliamentary elections mark rise in conservative critics of Ahmadinejad.

2009, June: Voting in Iran leads to another term for incumbent President Ahmadinejad, but the results are disputed.


Further Reading on Iran (via ProQuest on NMH Virtual Desktop):

Iran section Islamic Middle East Blog

BBC web page on Iranian political infrastructure

Books on Iran

Borzou Daragahi, "Infighting Rules Iran's Power Elite," Seattle Times, January 1, 2008

Thomas Finger, "Waiting for the Mahdi," The Christian Century, June 17, 2008

Azadeh Moaveni, "Stars and Strips in Their Eyes," The Washington Post, June 1, 2008

Vali Nasr and Ray Takeyh, "The Costs of Containing Iran: Washington's Misguided New Middle East Policy," Foreign Affairs, vol. 87, no. 1, Jan/Feb, 2008

Scott Peterson, "U.S.-Iran Regional Power Plays Shift," The Christian Science Monitor," May 30, 2008

Thomas Powers, “Iran: The Threat,” The New York Review of Books, July 17, 2008

Gary Sick, Trita Parsi, Ray Takeyh, Barbara Slavin, "Iran's Strategic Concerns and U.S. Interests,"Middle East Policy, vol. 15, no. 1, Spring, 2008


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email: tthornton@nmhschool.org

Last Revised: June 14, 2009