Southern Asia 1946: Iran Crisis

Political map of South & Southwest Asia on 02 Mar 1946 (Independence: Iran Crisis), showing the following events: Chinese occupation of northern Indochina; Allied occupation of Indonesia; Jewish insurgency in Palestine; Azerbaijan People’s Government; Allied withdrawal from Iran; Republic of Mahabad; Royal Indian Navy mutiny.

When World War II ended, the Soviet Union refused to withdraw from Allied-occupied Iran at the same time as Britain and the United States. Under pressure from the newly formed United Nations, the Soviets finally backed down, but tried to retain influence by forcing Iran to agree to oil concessions and to accept Soviet supported Azerbaijani and Kurdish regimes in the north. However, the Iranian government revoked these deals after the Soviet troops left.


British Protectorates in the Persian Gulf

The British Residency of the Persian Gulf maintained British India's influence in a number of Gulf states from the 19th Century until 1947. These states were nominally independent - and shown as such in most atlases from the period - but all signed treaties guaranteeing British control over their foreign affairs.

The Sultanate of Muscat and Oman was the only one of these states with significant international relations, having obtained trade agreements with the US and France before it signed its treaty with Britain. Maps of the time often show Trucial Oman and even Qatar as regions of Oman.

Trucial Oman was the region to the west of Oman which collectively signed treaties with Britain. The sheikhdoms of this region were often called the Trucial States, and later became the United Arab Emirates. However at this time they had little unity, with no regional council until 1952.

Indian Empire

The British Indian Empire, also known as the British Raj, was comprised of a complex of presidencies, provinces, protectorates, and agencies. Only the top level subdivisions are shown here.

The area under direct British rule was known as British India and made up of presidencies and provinces - a presidency simply being the name for an older province.

Outside British India, but often included within the sphere of the presidencies/provinces, were the hundreds of protectorates or 'princely states'. These were indirectly ruled states, the largest being Hyderabad, Kashmir, and Mysore. The others were either collected into agencies - which might in turn contain other smaller agencies - or fell under the sway of the provinces.

Main Events

15 Sep 1945 Chinese occupation of northern Indochina

Nationalist Chinese forces under Lieutenant General Lu Han occupy French Indochina north of 16th parallel north, formally accepting the Japanese surrender in Hanoi on 28 September. The Chinese remain in occupation for six months, withdrawing only after the French agree to relinquish their lease in Kwangchowan to wikipedia

29 Sep 1945–29 Nov 1946 Allied occupation of Indonesia

About a month after the formal surrender of the Japanese Empire, British and Australian forces begin the process of accepting the surrender of the Japanese in the Dutch East Indies, providing an occupation force to secure the region as they await the arrival of troops from the Netherlands. While the Australian occupation of eastern Indonesia is largely uneventful, the British forces in the west soon come into conflict with the Indonesian wikipedia

1 Nov 1945–15 May 1948 Jewish insurgency in Palestine

The Jewish Resistance Movement—a collaboration between the Irgun, Lehi, and Haganah Jewish paramilitary movements—launches an insurgency against British authorities in Mandatory Palestine, officially beginning by sabotaging British railways across the country. The alliance collapses following recriminations over the King David Hotel bombing in July 1946, but attacks on the British will continue until shortly before Israel’s independence in wikipedia

12 Dec 1945 Azerbaijan People’s Government

With the support of the Soviet Union, the Azerbaijan National Assembly declared the creation of the Azerbaijan People’s Government in Tabriz, in Soviet-occupied northwest wikipedia

1 Jan–2 Mar 1946 Allied withdrawal from Iran

On 1 January the last United States personnel manning the Persian Corridor depart Iran. The United Kingdom ends its occupation of southern Iran a few months later, withdrawing its remaining forces from the country by early March. Soviet troops still remain in the northwest Iran, where they are backing the secessionist republics in Azerbaijan and wikipedia

22 Jan 1946 Republic of Mahabad

With support from the Soviet Union, the National Government of Kurdistan declares the Kurdish People’s Republic—also called the Republic of Mahabad—in Mahabad, Soviet-occupied northwest wikipedia

18–23 Feb 1946 Royal Indian Navy mutiny

Sailors of the Royal Indian Navy protest against their living conditions and food in Bombay Harbour, British India. These protests quickly lead to revolts and strikes across India, which are forcibly suppressed by British troops and Royal Navy warships, leading to 8 dead and 33 wounded. The mutiny is condemned by both the Indian National Congress and the Muslim League, who call for organized and peaceful wikipedia