Reflections on the Constitutional Revolution

There seems to be twp main theories about the origins and motivating forces behind Iran’s constitutional revolution, as set forth by either historiographers or those who had participated in the events surrounding it. This essay will attempt to elaborate on the thrust of these theories. Most of the historians or participants who sympathized with the main objectives of this revolution tend to construct it as the outcome of a self propelling social and political movement set into motion by Iran’s internal developments, particularly in the decades prior to the revolution.

A number of other analysts believe, in varying degrees, in the primacy of British conspiratorial role in bringing about the revolution in the context of England’s traditional rivalry with Tsarist Russia. The latter theory has particularly been endorsed by those who seek to denigrate and debunk the very ideas that informed the constitutional revolution by emphasizing the role of the great colonial power of the time, Great Britain.

The evidence, however, points clearly to the fallacy of the latter theory which is based on the assumption that the age old Anglo-Russian rivalry was the reason for British encouragement and support of Iran’s constitutionalists against the Qajar dynasty the traditional client of the Russian government. Yet, the preponderant historical evidence point to the fact that at this particular juncture of history, the British were more concerned about the rising power of Kaiser’s Germany than Tsarist Russia. The 1907 Anglo-Russian agreement, purporting to divide Iran into zones of influence, is among an number of developments that confirm the suspension of the old Anglo-Russian tensions in Iran.

Ahmad Ashraf
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