Iran (Persian: ایران ), officially the Islamic Republic of Iran is a country in Western Asia. The name Iran has been in use natively since the Sassanian era and came into use in the Western world in 1935, before which the country was widely known as Persia. Both Persia and Iran are used interchangeably in cultural contexts; however, Iran is the name used officially in political contexts. The name Iran is a cognate of Aryan and means "Land of the Aryans".
Iran is home to one of the world's oldest continuous major civilizations. The first Iranian dynasty formed during the Elamite kingdom in 2800 BCE. The Iranian Medes unified Iran into an empire in 625 BCE. They were succeeded by the Iranian Achaemenid Empire, the Hellenic Seleucid Empire and two subsequent Iranian empires, the Parthians and the Sassanids, before the Muslim conquest in 651 CE. Iranian post-Islamic dynasties and empires expanded the Persian language and culture throughout the Iranian plateau. Early Iranian dynasties which re-asserted Iranian independence included the Tahirids, Saffarids, Samanids and Buyids.
The blossoming of Persian literature, philosophy, medicine, astronomy, mathematics and art became major elements of Muslim civilization and started with the Saffarids and Samanids. Iran was once again reunified as an independent state in 1501 by the Safavid dynasty—who promoted Twelver Shia Islam as the official religion of their empire, marking one of the most important turning points in the history of Islam. "Persia's Constitutional Revolution" established the nation's first parliament in 1906, within a constitutional monarchy. Iran officially became an Islamic republic on 1 April 1979, following the Iranian Revolution.
Iran-Iraq war (1980-1983)
Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein decided to take advantage of what he perceived to be disorder in the wake of the Iranian Revolution and its unpopularity with Western governments. The once-strong Iranian military had been disbanded during the revolution. Saddam sought to expand Iraq's access to the Persian Gulf by acquiring territories that Iraq had claimed earlier from Iran during the Shah's rule. Of chief importance to Iraq was Khuzestan which not only has a substantial Arab population, but boasted rich oil fields as well. On the unilateral behalf of the United Arab Emirates, the islands of Abu Musa and the Greater and Lesser Tunbs became objectives as well. On 22 September 1980 the Iraqi army invaded Iran at Khuzestan, precipitating the Iran-Iraq War.
Although Saddam Hussein's forces made several early advances, by 1982, Iranian forces managed to push the Iraqi army back into Iraq. Khomeini sought to export his Islamic revolution westward into Iraq, especially on the majority Shia Arabs living in the country.
After the failure of their 1982 summer offensives, Iran believed that a major effort along the entire breadth of the front would yield the victory that they desired. Iranian numerical superiority might have achieved a break-through if they had attacked across all parts of the front at the same time, but they still lacked the organization for that type of assault. Iran was getting supplies from countries such as North Korea, Libya, and China. The Iraqis had more suppliers such as the USSR, the NATO nations, France, United Kingdom, Brazil, Yugoslavia, Spain, Italy, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, and the United States. During the course of 1983, the Iranians launched five major assaults along the front. None met with substantial success. Khomeini's position on a truce remained unchanged.
The stalemate of the war would soon change, however, when Doomsday occurred. Both countries were spared from direct attacks, but fallout coming from the Soviet Union, as well as refugees fleeing for their lives, would soon cripple Iran, forcing it to halt all Iranian military offensives, as it was trying to ease the influx of fleeing Soviet citizens.
Iran-Iraq war post-Doomsday (1984-1986)
Although both countries were effectively cut off from foreign aid, Iraq had the upper hand regarding military equipment. Unhindered by any retaliation by the destroyed superpowers, Saddam Hussein started to massively produce chemical weapons, bombing more than eleven Iranian cities with these weapons, as well as bombing the front lines, and trying to mount an offensive of his own.
This would prove successful, as during one of these bombing raids on Tehran the Grand Ayatollah, Ruhollah Mousavi Khomeini, was killed during a joint prayer for all who were lost during the cataclysm that had occurred months before, along with a substantial part of Iranian leadership. Coupled by the loss of many high ranking leaders, the Iranian forces started to crumble during Iraq's relentless assaults.
However, Ali Khamenei managed to survive the attack on Tehran, as he was at the front line giving support to Iranian forces. He barely managed to escape when Iraqi forces broke through Iranian lines and he successfully returned to Tehran to find over 10,000 people had been killed during the Tehran air raid. The Iraqis would gain ground, pushing the front to a line from the city of Kermanshah to the north to the city of Ahvaz to the south. After a stalemate had developed on this line for several years, Khamenei had no choice but to concede to Iraqi demands and give them the occupied territories, along with Kharg Island on April 15th 1986.
Post Iran-Iraq war
After the war, Iran was left in shambles. The humiliating defeat, along with ex-Soviet military personnel who wreaked havoc on the former Iran-USSR border almost tore the country apart. Inciting hatred into the hearts of his people, Khamenei managed to rally them together against common enemies throughout the region.
Ex-Soviet forces were driven out of border regions, while their equipment was taken away. Any scientists found among the refugees were forced to work for the increasingly totalitarian government. The religious fervor reached a high when all non-Muslim refugees were either killed or forced to return back into the Central Asian wasteland, where most would see certain death. Less than a third of these men and women would reach the borders of the rebuilding Union of Sovereign Socialist Republics.
An organization, dubbed the Muslim Liberation Army, was also created during the Fall of 1987. The organization was aimed at perceived imperialism in the Middle East, being an enemy not only to Iraq, but other more tolerant muslim nations as well. The organization soon developed close ties with Kurds in former Turkey, as well as those trapped under Saddam Hussein's rule. It would also establish secretive cells throughout the Middle East, gaining local recruits. The leader of this organization was, and still is, Ali Sayad Shirazi.
From the time of their defeat, the Iranians would continue to support the insurgency in captured Iranian lands, who would mostly all enter into the service of the MLA by 1989. From early 1988 to 1989, Iran would continue to garner support in the Middle East, even being able to send spies into Israel. This would prove fruitful, as they were able to create several dirty bombs, both from information gained in Israel and the captured Soviet scientists.
An opportunity for revenge quickly presented itself when Iraq started to demand Kuwait become another Iraqi province. Seeing their opportunity, the MLA detonates a dirty bomb in Baghdad during one of Hussein's speeches, killing top ranking leaders, including Saddam. The regular army would also help, quickly taking over lost territory and even taking over some Iraqi territory. Kurdistan would soon break away as well, being recognized by Iran soon thereafter. Iraq dissolved into several other states in late 1990 and acknowledged Iranian gains.
After having taken revenge on Iraq, the MLA was not disbanded. In fact, having become somewhat of an entity on its own, it went on to actively support overthrowing leaders in the countries of the newly formed GSU. This would be alarming to Khameini, as he knew the GSU would most likely be able to destroy the undertrained Iranian conventional army. Although the MLA's plans were shot down, Shirazi would still demand the GSU be dealt with, further alarming the Iranian government.
This problem would soon be taken care of, when news of the existence of the USSR reached Iran. Shirazi was quickly assigned to create an insurgency within the former USSR's borders and oppose the Siberians when they inevitably reached the insurgency controlled areas. He was given instructions to denounce all connection to Iran, giving the impression of an independent Muslim force. This would prove extremely useful, after the Siberian invasion of Aralia took place, and the MLA was discovered in former Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan.
Iran's economy is a mixture of central planning, state ownership of oil and other large enterprises, village agriculture, and small-scale private trading and service ventures. The Iran-Iraq war, as well as the crash of the oil market and loss of trading partners proved to have catastrophic repercussions on Iran's economy, but during the nineties and the beginning of the new millennium the situation would somewhat improve.
Its economic infrastructure has been improving steadily over the past two decades but continues to be affected by inflation and unemployment. In the early 21st century the service sector contributed the largest percentage of the GDP, followed by industry (mining and manufacturing) and agriculture. In 2006, about 15% of the government's budget came from oil and natural gas revenues, and 51% came from taxes and fees.
The Armed Forces of the Islamic Republic of Iran (Persian: نيروهای مسلح جمهوری اسلامی ايران) include the IRIA (Persian: ارتش جمهوری اسلامی ایران) and the IRGC (Persian: سپاه پاسداران انقلاب اسلامی) and the Police Force (Persian: نيروی انتظامی جمهوری اسلامی ایران), as well as the secretive MLA.
These forces total about 545,000 active personnel (not including the Police Force). All branches of armed forces fall under the command of General Headquarters of Armed Forces (ستاد کل نیروهای مسلح), excluding the MLA, which is directly controlled by general Shirazi, which acts as a de facto separate entity. The Ministry of Defense and Armed Forces Logistics is responsible for planning logistics and funding of the armed forces and is not involved in in-the-field military operational command.
The Iranian Military consists of the Islamic Republic of Iran Army, Islamic Republic of Iran Navy, Islamic Republic of Iran Air Force, and the Iranian Air Defense Force. The regular armed forces have an estimated 420,000 personnel: the Islamic Republic of Iran Army, 350,000 personnel; the Islamic Republic of Iran Navy, 18,000 personnel; and the Islamic Republic of Iran Air Force, 52,000 airmen. Iranian Air Defense Force is a branch split off from the IRIAF. The Army of the Guardians of the Islamic Revolution, or Revolutionary Guards, has an estimated 125,000 personnel in five branches: Its own Navy, Air Force, and Ground Forces; and the Quds Force (Special Forces).
The country remains a pariah state in global affairs, as most oil from the Middle East comes from the GSU members, while Iranian oil is de facto boycotted. It has found allies, in the form of Kurdistan and Pakistan, who it actively supports in its war in Afghanistan against the USSR-funded Northern Alliance. It is not a member of the League of Nations. Its other ally is Balochistan, where they currently actively control a few leased military bases. the country is also suspected of harboring MLA operatives.
It has found a mutual understanding with the Sultanate of Turkey, something that other powers did not expect. They have agreed to help each other, if the USSR becomes an overt threat. There are also rumors that MLA members are stationed in Turkey, something that worries other countries, though this has, as of yet, not been proven.