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Iran crisis of 1946
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“The only true wisdom is in knowing you know nothing.”
The Iran crisis of 1946, also known as the Azerbaijan Crisis (Persian: غائله آذربایجان translit.: Qaʾilih Âzarbâyjân), was one of the first crises of the Cold War, sparked by the refusal of Joseph Stalin’s Soviet Union to relinquish occupied Iranian territory, despite repeated assurances. The end of World War II should have resulted in the end of the Allied joint occupation of Iran. Instead, Pro-Soviet Iranians proclaimed the separatist Azerbaijan People’s Government and the Kurdish separatist Republic of Mahabad. The United States pressured Soviet withdrawal in the earliest success of the new containment strategy.
As of August 1941, the United States was a neutral nation and had not yet entered as a belligerent in World War II. Therefore, the bloc known as ‘The Allies’ were principally (with Poland and France occupied by Germany in 1939 and 1940, respectively) the United Kingdom and the Soviet Union, recently forming their alliance after the German invasion of territories of the Western Soviet Union in June 1941. In August–September 1941, Pahlavi Iran had been jointly invaded and occupied by the Allied powers of the Soviet Red Army in the north and by the British in the centre and south. Iran was used by the Americans and the British as a transportation route to provide vital supplies to the Soviet Union’s war efforts.In the aftermath of the occupation of Iran, those Allied forces agreed to withdraw from Iran within six months after the cessation of hostilities. However, when this deadline came in early 1946, the Soviets, under Joseph Stalin, remained in Iran. Soon, the alliance of the Kurdish and People’s Azerbaijani forces, supported in arms and training by the Soviet Union, engaged in fighting with Iranian forces, resulting in a total of 2,000 casualties. Negotiation by Iranian premier Ahmad Qavam and diplomatic pressure on the Soviets by the United States eventually led to Soviet withdrawal and dissolution of the separatist Azeri and Kurdish states.