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By Federal Research Division

Iran's destiny path within the past due Eighties hinged upon a couple of components. those incorporated the smoothness with which it'd be in a position to make the transition to Ayatollah Khomeini's successor; the period, price, and payment phrases of the conflict with Iraq; the path of Iran's international coverage, in relation either to the superpowers and to the rest of the area, relatively the international locations of the area; and the ability of Iranian technocrats in taking the required steps to handle the country's monetary problems.

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The military officer who had become master of Iran was crowned as Reza Shah Pahlavi in April 1926. Even before he became shah, Reza Khan had taken steps to create a strong central government and to extend government control over the country. Now, as Reza Shah, with the assistance of a group of army officers and younger bureaucrats, many trained in Europe, he launched a broad program of change designed to bring Iran into the modern world (see Historical Background , ch. 5). To strengthen the central authority, he built up Iran's heterogeneous military forces into a disciplined army of 40,000, and in 1926 he persuaded the Majlis to approve a law for universal military conscription.

The Safavids also faced external challenges from the Uzbeks and the Ottomans. The Uzbeks were an unstable element along Iran's northeastern frontier who raided into Khorasan, particularly when the central government was weak, and blocked the Safavid advance northward into Transoxiana. The Ottomans, who were Sunnis, were rivals for the religious allegiance of Muslims in eastern Anatolia and Iraq and pressed territorial claims in both these areas and in the Caucasus. The Safavid Empire received a blow that was to prove fatal in 1524, when the Ottoman sultan Selim I defeated the Safavid forces at Chaldiran and occupied the Safavid capital, Tabriz.

THE SAFAVIDS, 1501-1722 Unavailable Part of the Porch of Xeres at Persepolis Courtesy LaVerle Berry The Safavids, who came to power in 1501, were leaders of a militant Sufi order. They traced their ancestry to Shaykh Safi ad Din (died circa 1334), the founder of their order, who claimed descent from Shia Islam's Seventh Imam, Musa al Kazim. From their home base in Ardabil, they recruited followers among the Turkoman tribesmen of Anatolia and forged them into an effective fighting force and an instrument for territorial expansion.

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