Greater Imperial Iran survives

Discussion in 'Alternate History Discussion: Before 1900' started by Setofan1, Aug 11, 2017.

  1. Setofan1 New Member

    Aug 10, 2017
    Hello everyone. I've been a long time lurker and I decided it was time to join. Like all of you, I enjoy history and what could have been. I like to make alternate maps in particular, and I'd like to share some with you over the coming weeks. Anyway... moving right along... for this exercise, I seek to create an alternate timeline where not only does the Imperial State of Iran survive and with more of Greater Iran intact, but becomes one of the 5 largest economies on the planet by present day. In order to do this, I'll of course need your help. I'm not particularly versed with central Asian history and politics, but I've always found Iran fascinating and often wonder what could have been had the 1979 Revolution either been killed or not gone down.

    Starting during the Qajar dynasty and leading up to today, how can Imperial Iran survive as a state and with the borders as seen in my map? The map includes Bahrain, Baluchistan and Herat province (I accidentally included Badghis in the map). This should give Iran an area roughly 2,050,928 km2 and a population of 96,356,700 people (neither counting Badghis province).


    I figure starting with Mohammad Shah Qajar, instead of fighting losing wars with the British over Herat, he could negotiate to cede Afghanistan to them minus Herat and begin the process of Westernizing after the wars with Russia. Wikipedia doesn't provide much information of Baluchistan, so I don't know how they can keep it, but for Bahrain, I figure that instead of the Anglo-Soviet invasion of Iran, Iran would instead being more advanced due to earlier industrialization and Westernization be firmly in the allies camp and as reward for loyalty to the allies, they be gifted Bahrain like the Shah's originally wanted.

    In this timeline, with no invasion, Mohammad Reza Shah, would secede his father upon his death in 1944. So no broken lineage, no Mohammad Mosaddegh coming to power and thus hand waving away Operation Ajax. This I feel would lessen the Shah's perception as being a Western puppet and thereby increasing his credibility among the Iranian people (not saying he still wouldn't have problems). Anyway, the Shah would go on his spending spree, but with a stronger, more diverse economy from the get go. The Shah wanted Iran to become one of the 5 largest economies and military powers in the world. Hell by 1990 Iran would have already been the 3rd largest military power had the Shah gotten all his orders through. Below is a partial list of what he was looking for:


    He was also looking to buy 10 C-5 Galaxies as well.

    Anyway, what do you guys think? Could you help me fill out the timeline? It would also be much appreciated if those when more detailed knowledge of Iran and the surrounding region could help me develop the economy of Iran for my timeline.
  2. Setofan1 New Member

    Aug 10, 2017
    Thanks a bunch!:)

    Anyway... a question to anyone who can help... I've been reading more about Baluchistan, and the Baloch people are an Iranian people, however Wikipedia's info on the region is confusing as shit. Even if Iran can hold onto Baluchistan, Oman still controls the port of Gwadar until 1958 when they sold the port to Pakistan. The Achaemenid Empire lost the region to Alexander the Great, which then fell to the Seleucid Empire who in turn lost it to the Maurya Empire around 303 BCE. They in turn lost the Makran to Umar in 643 AD and later the Khanate of Kalat. The region then fell to Omani control in 1783. So we're talking centuries of seemingly no direct Persian control. Would I have to go back to Nader Shah or earlier to gain control of the region or wait till the 20th century to reestablish Iranian control?
  3. metalinvader665 Well-Known Member

    Aug 19, 2011
    Tennessee, North American Union
    Why would the Pahlavi Dynasty rise if the Qajars are stronger and more Westernised in the 19th century? What about the Constitutional Revolution and how does that play out here? Because if Persia has a better 19th century, something like that will play out differently, and Persia won't end up practically divided between Russia and Britain as in OTL. If there's a Great War in Europe which the Ottoman Empire takes part in, what side will they enter on, since they obviously have claims against Russia.

    Oman is a non-entity by the mid-19th century. Or not quite one, but it isn't like Iran can't get the port of Gwadar in some other way. Like buying it. Oman was poor until the 1970s and could be convinced to part with it pretty easily.
    Setofan1 likes this.
  4. Setofan1 New Member

    Aug 10, 2017
    Thanks for the reply.

    *Total edit*

    As for your question... Iran would fight in World War I against the Ottoman Empire, and later aide the British Empire directly in the Allied intervention in the Russian Civil War both to fight for it's allies and in an attempt to recapture territory lost to the Russians in the 19th century. Persia would invade the Ottoman Empire at the start on October 29, 1914 backed by both the British and Russian Empires. I don't know enough about the Ottoman Empire and the Middle-Eastern theatre to know how well they would be able to respond to the Iranian threat, especially if they were stronger then IRL. Later Iran would intervene in Russia to acquire territory lost where they would be bogged down in the mountainous Caucasus region. This would in turn make the intervention in Russia more bloody then IRL. Eventually Persia and the British could be pushed back or perhaps cut away Azerbaijan maybe?

    During the two wars, Reza Khan Pahlavi would distinguish himself as a hero of Persia. He had made a name for himself with the Persian Cossack Brigade IRL, so it's not too much of a leap for him to come out of the conflicts looking every bit a national hero. Perhaps he could even be so gallant enough to be awarded the Victoria Cross by the British for his heroics. Several British Indians such as Mir Dast and even a few Americans were awarded it during WW1, so I don't think it's too much a stretch. During this time, Persia's economy would suffer under the strain of two great conflicts. Ahmad Shah Qajar would show off his inept leadership and with the economy in bad shape, the people could end up sick of continuous war and loss of living standards. This would leave the door open for the 1921 coup to still go off.

    The British being keen on their ally Persia remaining strong in the face of a Bolshevik Russia and a chaotic Middle East following the collapse of the Ottoman Empire, would work to see Reza Khan install himself as the new Shah sooner then 1925 and bring order to chaos. Of course that now brings up the issue of the Iranian people possibly seeing the Pahlavi dynasty as Western puppets again... shit.:oops: However, given the above many of the people may welcome the coup. It would certainly help if Reza Khan was viewed as a hero by the Iranian populace prior to the coup.

    Also thanks for helping to clarify the situation with Gwadar. After all if Iran controls Baluchistan, it makes no sense for them not to control Gwadar, especially if Iran is to rise up as major power in the Indian Ocean.
    Last edited: Aug 12, 2017
  5. Grand Archduke of Austria Well-Known Member

    Jan 11, 2016
    Cardiff, United Kigdom
    The problem with Iran lies in two places.

    The first is that by 19th Century Iranian power and influence is contracting and that power is shifting towards Russia and the British Empire. This is why the great game came about, both countries wanted to turn Iran into a colony but they did not want to because they wanted all benefits and none of the disadvantages of that colony. So they both fiddled it through influence for Iran to sell it self out by westernizing, which they wanted and knew via technology from first world countries in the first place. (Double edged sword) However, once the Iranians sold their country to meddling powers they could never get it back when they actually westernized and were held to ransom by the great powers. (Now you know why they hate so us much.)

    The second problem is Mohammad Shah Qajar, in that I don't know what is childhood was like, which is where men are truly created. In the mind. Depending on his upbringing, you can fiddle it to bring about a different outcome.

    Naturally, however, there is an irreversible third problem to solve and that is the geopolitics of Iran as a Country. If you look at a map she has countries around her from all sides apart from the Persian Gulf but the Arabian Penninsula encroaches her entry to the open sea. Two minimal strategic war goals to break part of this problem would be to own the Caucasus Mountains as a natural border between it and Russia in which armies cannot pass and to get access to the Black Sea. The second would be to colonize and keep the present state of Djibouti as an outpost to the world.

    An expansion of these minimal requirements and to buffer Iran and its enemies, she should seek out other barriers. The annexation of the Turkmenistan area and the whole of Iraq (which would include Kuwait) provide desserts to her west (southern-western and western Iraq) and North-eastern flank which would greatly hinder any invasion. As a result, what is now Kuwait city (and Bahrain) would greatly strengthen the Iranians hand in the Arabian Gulf.

    Your inclusion of Balochistan province is good because it is rough and harsh terrain and again acts a buffer between Iran and British India. Plus the ports relieve the strain on the Persian Gulf as the ports are at the entrance.

    The only problem is Afghanistan. Afghanistan is the "Graveyard of empires" in that the British invaded three times (1839, 78 and 1919), the soviets in 1979, Americans in 2001 and here we have Mohammad Shah Qajar failing to take Merat province. Whereas Afghanistan should be part of Greater Iran I think it will be the pinnacle and last stage of the puzzle because of the type of and harsh warfare that needs be conducted to win. (if that's possible)

    This is what Iranians currently think is Greater Iran. Much of what I said but I made adjustments of Strategic warfare and economic reasons.

    Greater Iran map.gif

    The really big question is when are they going to get conquer these lands. If Iran by 1914 was a great power and Ottomans side with the allies, you would think she would obviously side the Triple Alliance and if she successfully conquers these lands and Triple Alliance wins or loses. (Make a separate peace with ottomans and takes part in the treaty of Brest-Litovsk) Shed gain Iraq, (including Kuwait) the Caucasus Mountains and Turkmenistan whilst she already has the Balochistan province.

    Now that I have outlined what the Iranian goals should be up until 1920, this must be set in motion by Abbas Mirza (who died) or Mohammad Shah Qajar who succeed him to the throne. First, however, I am going outline what Iran will face in the inter war years, WWII and the cold war.
    Last edited: Aug 14, 2017 at 11:47 AM
  6. Grand Archduke of Austria Well-Known Member

    Jan 11, 2016
    Cardiff, United Kigdom
    In this post I am carrying on but I have included what type of war Iran would have been fighting against Russia during WWI and after, in invading and defending the same ground.

    Post world war I will be intriguing, tense and dark time for this Iran because of one country. USSR. After WWI she set about recovering what territory she lost and losing the Caucasus Mountains and Turkmenistan will be a thorn in her side and it will be a war they will provoke and relish. If Iran gains the Caucasus Mountains and Turkmenistan she must put the terrain to immediate use and in the form of defensive hard stubborn guerrilla warfare. If I were Iran I would put all military efforts into the Caucasus Mountains and Turkmenistan. It is intriguing to point out that Iran would have to do fight with Russia on the same ground as the Ottomans did.

    The Ottoman third army in WWI lost 86% of its army in four weeks at Kars because of the inhospitable rugged mountainous terrain with temperatures as severe as -20c which cause Frostbite. Kars is not even the Caucasus Mountains and this is what you get.

    The method to invade the Caucasus Mountains:

    Thankfully Iran has the Caspian sea, and because of this she should push all her armies extremely fast to Baku and then to mid-Caucasus (present day Staroterechnoye) where a collection (between five and eight) armies should push west all the way to the Black sea. The point of having a collection of armies is that Russia would punch holes from the north and south of the armies making their route westward. The only disadvantage of this is if the Russia react quickly enough when the Iranians are pushing up the right side of the Caspian sea, and redirect their armies accordingly the armies could buckle under Russian armies. This is why it must be quick. (Blitzkrieg) In hindsight the Russian Military at this time is incompetent.

    At the same time, a mass of armies should sweep the Russian Caucasus Mountains in careful and orderly fashion from Kapan to Sochi. All armies should stop during winter time and should only move in late spring, summer and early autumn.

    The method in defending the Caucasus Mountains:

    The mountainous terrain will make it difficult to invade and the more the armies force through the more men the Soviets will lose via Iranian defensive positions and if and when they do occupy part of Iranian Caucasus, guerrilla warfare should be used. This will dog down Soviet armies. A war of this nature, considering the time period and circumstances would last between three to five years. This war along with all the other wars Soviet Russia was fighting at the same will have a cumulative effect on when they seek peace and the number of lives lost taken will be a lot. The winter season will provide an intermedium for the Iranians to rest, pound the enemy with artillery, repair defensive positions and replenish soldiers. The west and east of the Caucasus Mountains are the weak points because it is flat, therefore at Sochi and Makhachkala should have between two and three armies placed there.

    Turkmenistan climate: Summers are long (from May through September), hot, and dry, while winters generally are mild and dry

    The method in invading the Turkmenistan area:

    Due to the climate, Turkmenistan should be the attacked when the climate is mild and dry in August to January. The supply lines are short which is good but they cannot be broken especially in the summer because the heat of over 40 C will kill the soldiers from dehydration and the exhaustion of war.

    The method in defending the Turkmenistan area:

    The supply lines are more important in defending this area because of the heat in the long summers. The summer provides long periods of time for intermedium which only gives a narrow space of time to conduct war. This puts pressure on which side should act first and therefore should make any person cautious but divisive when required. However, the usual stuff is required for defending this area which hard stubborn defensive warfare and lots of men to fight it.

    The invasion of present day Iraq:

    The Iranian invasion of Ottoman Iraq will mainly be through the far south next to present-day Kuwait. It will not be through the far North because of the mediocre Kurdish mountainous region which will slow the troops. Going through the south leads directly to Bagdad through the flat terrain. Once the Iranians have occupied where the Tigris and Euphrates rivers run through mid-Iraq. Iran can start moving north and North East. Western and southwestern Iraq cannot be occupied because it is just desert, whilst in the south, the Iranians will drive all the way to Kuwait City.

    Whilst the Caucasus mountains, the deserts of Turkmenistan and Iraq protect Iran, it is Mesopotamia, which is one of the most fertile lands in the world which will make it a world power. (Along with the port of Kuwait city)

    Post World War I:

    Assuming Iran wins this war she must set about in having the capability to fight the Soviets again sometime in the late 1930s which will be around ten years. It is during this time that Iran does not crumble to complete renewed Soviet invasion.

    Iran after WWI with Russians and then other WWI with the USSR, I could imagine that she on the verge of collapse with the potential of seven to nine years of constant warfare.

    The USSR threat will force her to act, in that she will threaten to dominate the black sea, the entire Caucasus region, and the Caspian Sea. She will accomplish this plan by building and buying battleships and aircraft carriers.

    After WWI Britain scrapped a load of battleships because of the Washington Naval treaty. She could have bought any of the following with war reparations:

    HMS Dreadnought
    Bellerophon class: HMS Bellerophon, HMS Superb, and HMS Temeraire
    St. Vincent class: HMS St. Vincent and HMS Collingwood
    HMS Neptune
    Colossus class: HMS Colossus and HMS Hercules
    Orion class: Orion, Monarch, Conqueror, and Thunderer
    King George V class: HMS King George V and HMS Ajax
    Iron Duke class: HMS Marlborough, Benbow, and Emperor of India
    HMS Agincourt
    HMS Erin
    HMS Canada (Resold to the Chilean Navy)

    13 of the battleships were scrapped between 1920 and 1922, the other battleships were scrapped in the mid-1920s to the early 1930s.

    The Iranians would also get the advantage of buying a lot of battleships and then converting a quarter of them to aircraft carriers. This saves money building an entirely new aircraft carrier from scratch. Plus the Iranians might not have the technology, facilities along with the money to build battleships and aircraft carriers from scratch. In the case of a battleship you just need to do is it take it down to the hull, refigure it, put a flat surface on top and a tower. (It's a lot harder than I say it is) I would say that would take 5 years max given the technology, facilities, and money to refigure a battleship in the hands of Iran after WWI.

    As for destroyers, Submarines and cruisers to assist them, if the Iranians have not got the technology by 1920s, the Iranians would probably only buy one of type because other countries would not take a liking to the UK arming a foreign power with an entire navy. With these examples, she could then design and building her own types.

    (Writing in progress)
    Last edited: Aug 18, 2017 at 5:38 PM
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  7. Setofan1 New Member

    Aug 10, 2017
    Thanks for sticking with this and double thanks for helping me flesh out the timeline.

    I'm familiar with Greater Iran. So basically what you're advocating is an Iran that at least coming into the 1930's looks like this? In this map, they pushed into Dagestan but I left Georgia, Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan with the Soviet Union. As for Afghanistan and Tajikistan, what about if they claim them in the aftermath of the Cold War when Iran invades Afghanistan to oust the Taliban after provocation (Iran wanted to invade Afghanistan IRL in the 90's) and Tajikistan asks to rejoin with Iran? Afghanistan I somehow just can't see being too much a problem given the close cultural and language links barring outsider influence of course.

    As for earlier posts, I don't see the French letting Iran get a hold of Djibouti (though who's to say about present day since China just built a base there), but what's stopping Iran from making a vassal of Oman and Somaliland? Relations are close with Oman IRL and if Iran is the only country to recognize Somaliland, then it gives them stroke with them even if Somaliland is predominantly Sunni while Iran is secular/Shia. Double points if Iran actually works to build Somaliland into a respectable country. Also what about Pakistan? Iran was close to Pakistan in the Shah years IRL and was used to funnel weapons to Pakistan during the wars with India by President Nixon. In this timeline, Pakistan is still a decent size country but now with a thin middle as can be seen in the map. With Iran being much more powerful, surely they'll end up a satellite of Iran rather then China. Then again both would undoubtedly vie for influence in the country in more recent years, setting the stage for bad blood between Iran and China.

    Post World War II, I see Iran rapidly industrializing; Perhaps in this timeline there is no Miracle on the Han River and Iran takes South Korea's place as an industrial and electronic powerhouse. Of course the Shah's would still have to tiptoe around the issue of oil as they did in real life. I'm currently reading The Oil Kings by Andrew Scott Copper and it's a fascinating and informative read. I certainly recommend it and it shows how despite the US being something of a sugar daddy for Iran, the Shah was nonetheless able to wield considerable influence over US politics. Still, even the Shah was careful not to vie for control of Iran's oil supply until the 1970's.

    After the Mohamed Reza Shah's death in 1980, his son Reza Pahlavi ascends to the throne. As I understand it, he was kinder then his father. However while he recognizes the need for a softer hand, he nonetheless continues his fathers arms purchases. Saddam Hussein perceives this an an opportune time to strike, seeing Reza Shah Pahlavi II as weak and not wanting to wait for Iran to complete it's rearmament programs kicks off the Iran-Iraq War as IRL. Of course Iran being stronger and not having suffered from the purges of the Revolution and with US/NATO backing are much better able to fight back and Saddam and Iraqi Army quickly find themselves overwhelmed as the Iranian Army pushes onto Baghdad.

    Whether the Iranian's accept an armistice or dispose Saddam and annex Iraq now I haven't decided. I'll need to think more on it.

  8. Grand Archduke of Austria Well-Known Member

    Jan 11, 2016
    Cardiff, United Kigdom
    (I know this is a Victoria II map but I could not find any other map however it serves its purpose.)

    As for Iran, agree to disagree. This would be post World War I.

    Greater Iran.png
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