The BBC provided a television report on Sunday February 14, 2010 entitled “Azerbaijan-Iran tensions increasing” and posted a story on Iranian Azarbaijan on Tuesday, 16 February 2010 entitled “Azeris Feel iranian Pressure“.
There reports perpetuate a number of misconceptions with respect to Iranian Azarbaijan, the Republic of Azarbaijan (which did not historically exist until 1918) and the “language” issue in Iran.
Historically speaking, there was no “Azarbaijan” north of the Araxes River as these were a collection of Khanates subject the authority of Iran with the real historical Azarbaijan being a province in Iran’s northwest since antiquity.
Professor Mark Whittow’s map of Oxford University clearly shows the historically attested distinction between ancient Arran/Albania (modern Republic of Azarbaijan) and the original Azerbaijan in Iran (see below):
Note how the Araxes River separates Arran/Albania (modern Republic of Azarbaijan) from the historical Azerbaijan in Iran. For more information consult Whittow, Mark, The Making of Byzantium: 600-1025, Berkley: University of California Press.
Russia invaded Iran and forced her to relinquish much of her Caucasian territories in the early 19th century.
Map of Iran in 1805 before the invasions of Czarist Russia. Note the Caucasus, north of Iran and along the eastern Caspian littoral, which was Iranian territory. There was no independent kingdom named “Azerbaijan” which was supposedly “divided” between iran and Russia. Russia invaded Iran and forced her to cede the Caucasus. iran also lost important eastern territories such as Herat which broke away with British support, Picture source from CAIS.
Note a British 1909 Map which again notes how the real historical Azarbaijan existed only in Iran’s northwest:
Map of Iran, the eastern marches of the former Ottoman Empire and the Caucasus. Note that the term “Azarbaijan” applies to Iran’s northwest province known as “Azarbaijan”. No such name is used to designate those territories to the north of the Araxes River.
Ottoman maps of 1912 (just before World War One) also make clear that the historical Azarbaijan existed only in Iran’s northwest (below the Araxes River):
Map of the Ottoman Empire, western and northwestern Iran and the Caucasus drafted in 1912 by the Ottoman Turks in 1912. Note that the term “Azarbaijan” is only applied to Iran’s northwest, which is a province with that name. The name was not applied to the territories to the north of the Araxes River.
The BBC report was responded to by Shervin Majlesi who sent the protest below to the news outlet:
Your story entitled “Azeris feel Iranian pressure” wrongly states “