Southern Asia 1921: Rise of Reza Khan

Political map of South & Southwest Asia on 05 Apr 1921 (Anglo-French Overreach: Rise of Reza Khan), showing the following events: Armenian Soviet Socialist Republic; Reza Khan’s Coup; Socialist Conciliar Republic of Georgia; Russo-Persian Treaty of Friendship; Cairo Conference; Treaty of Moscow; Autonomous Government of Khorasan.

The growing power of Soviet Russia and the threat it posed to Persia, encouraged the British to support the overthrow of the weak Persian government. However the coup leader, Reza Khan, was not a British puppet. He swiftly signed a treaty with Soviet Russia and soon after renounced the Anglo-Persian Agreement. In the ensuing years he would crush the widespread opposition to his rule, establishing the Pahlavi dynasty in 1925.


Changes to the map 28 November 1920–5 April 1921

Persia: Reza Khan's coup has put a strong leader in power in Tehran. The Russo-Persian Treaty of Friendship has in turn weakened the position of the Gilan Soviet. However there is considerable opposition across the country. Khorasan has effectively become independent and there is unrest in Kurdistan.

Armenia & Georgia: Soviet Russia has conquered Armenia, setting up a Soviet Republic on invasion. Armenian resistance continues in the south in the Republic of Mountainous Armenia. In February, the Soviets have conquered Georgia, declaring a Soviet Republic upon occupying Tblisi.

Greco-Turkish War: Despite two repulses at Inonu, the Greek advance is pushing on to the Eskisehir-Kutahya-Afyonkarahisar line.

Franco-Turkish War: The French have abandoned Zonguldak on the Black Sea, and Kadirli and Feke in Cilicia. By the Cilicia Peace Treaty of March 1921, France has agreed to evacuate the region.

Kuwait: The Ikhwan attacks on Kuwait have intensified, with Mutayr raids on Shammar and Dhafir.

British Protectorates in the Persian Gulf

The British Residency of the Persian Gulf maintains British India influence in a number of Gulf states. These states are nominally independent - and shown as such in most atlases from the period - but have all signed treaties guaranteeing British control over their foreign affairs.

The Sultanate of Muscat and Oman is 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 is the region to the west of Oman which collectively signed treaties with Britain. The sheikhdoms of this region are often called the Trucial States, and will become the United Arab Emirates. However at this time they have little unity, with no regional council until 1952.

Indian Empire

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

The area under direct British rule is 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, are the hundreds of protectorates or 'princely states'. These are indirectly ruled states, the largest being Hyderabad, Kashmir, and Mysore. The others are either collected into agencies - which may in turn contain other smaller agencies - or fall under the sway of the provinces.

Main Events

29 Nov 1920 Armenian Soviet Socialist Republic

The Soviet Eleventh Army invades Armenia, declaring the Armenian Soviet Socialist Republic. The Armenian government, currently negotiating peace with Turkey, falls 5 days later when the Red Army reaches wikipedia

21 Feb 1921 Reza Khan’s Coup

Reza Khan leads the Persian Cossack Brigade into Tehran, capital of Persia, seizing control of the city and forcing the dissolution of the government. The 23-year old Ahmad Shah Qajar, the nominal ruler of Persia, is retained as a figurehead for another two wikipedia

25 Feb 1921 Socialist Conciliar Republic of Georgia

The Red Army of Soviet Russia enters Tbilisi, capital of the Democratic Republic of Georgia. In their wake, the Revkom headed by Mamia Orakhelashvili and Shalva Eliava proclaims the overthrow of the Menshevik government, the dissolution of the Georgian National Army and People’s Guard, and the formation of the Socialist Conciliar Republic of wikipedia

26 Feb 1921 Russo-Persian Treaty of Friendship

Persia and Soviet Russia sign the Russo-Persian Treaty of Friendship, cancelling the previous largely unequal treaties between the two countries. The Treaty gives both countries equal shipping rights in the Caspian Sea, reaffirms their mutual borders, and prohibits either state from hosting groups that will engage in activity against the other wikipedia

12–30 Mar 1921 Cairo Conference

British officials—the so-called ‘Forty Thieves’—met at Cairo to discuss Middle Eastern problems arising from the conflicting partition plans made during World War I and framed a common policy for the future. At the conference, it was agreed that the French should retain Lebanon and Syria and the British should keep their mandate over Palestine and support the establishment of a Jewish homeland there. Abdullah bin Hussein was to be given the part of the Palestine mandate east of the Jordan River—Transjordan—while Faisal was to be made king of Mesopotamia/Iraq. In Arabia, Hejaz and Nejd were recognized as separate British-supported wikipedia

16 Mar 1921 Treaty of Moscow

Soviet Russia and the Grand National Assembly of Turkey sign the Treaty of Brotherhood in Moscow, undertaking to establish friendly relations between the two internationally unrecognized countries after both came close to clashing over Armenia and Georgia. The Soviets recognize the Turkish claim to Kars, while the Turks recognize Batum as part of Soviet wikipedia

2 Apr–6 Oct 1921 Autonomous Government of Khorasan

Colonel Mohammed Taqi-Khan Pessian and 200 gendarmes seize power in Mashhad, Persia, and declare the Autonomous Government of Khorasan. The Autonomous Government collapses when Pessian is defeated by Khorassani Kurdish tribesmen near Quchan on 3 October. Pessian is killed and his head sent to wikipedia