The Constitutional Revelation of 1905-1911 was a significant turning point in the history of the Iranian people. Although crushed by foreign forces, it initially ended the archaic system of government in which the Shah, as the "shadow of God on Earth", ruled the people without any democratic base. More significantly, the Revolution introduced the constitutional concept of government in which the people were sovereign and their representatives were delegated to enact the laws, to formulate planning, and to set up foreign policy directives .
For the Iranian Constitutionalists, the year following the first flush of unexpected victory was a period of indulging in enthusiasm and "victorious democratic ideals". Because of their general optimism, the Constitutionalists failed to take necessary steps for the protection of their easily gained victory against domestics and international threats. Failing to understand that Britain supported the Constitutionalists in order to counteract Russian presence in Iran, a good number of Iranian Constitutionalists placed England in the position of "natural ally" of the Iranian people.
By underrating the tactical strength of the monarchists, they took at face value Mohammed Ali Shah's pledges in respect to the constitution. This unrealistic image of Britain and unreserved faith in the new Shah's loyalty soon vanished with a "suddenness that was shocking" . In 1907, Britain and Russia prepared to divide Iran into "spheres of influence", and Mohammed Ali Shah welcomed this as an opportunity to overthrow the constitutional government and re-establish the absolute monarchy.
The Anglo-Russian collusion can be explained in the light of several important events. First, when Russia suffered a humiliating defeat in the Russo-Japanese war of 1905, she was forced to review her policy in Iran. The problem of conflict with Britain had to be reconsidered in the light of the obvious limitation of Russia's military and economic resources and of her internal instability, so dramatically revealed in the abortive Revolution of 1905. Moreover, Britain and Russia saw in the Iranian Constitutional Revolution a "disruptive force" which threatened to defy their respective imperial interests in India and elsewhere in Asia, which, in the process, could upset Anglo-Russian "détente" vis-a-vis the German thrust into Middle East .
Spheres of influence
Due to these factors the British and Russians called for a convention to eliminate the zones of conflict and agreed to institutionalise their respective positions in the Middle East by dividing Iran into "spheres of influence" . The Anglo-Russian convention, which was signed on August 31, 1907, divided Iran into three zones. Russia took the Northern part, bounded on one side by her own border and the Caspian Sea and on the other by an arbitrary line starting from Qasr-i Shirin, passing through Isfahan, Yazd and ending at a point on the Iran-Afghan frontier. The British zone paralleled the Persian Gulf and came into contact with the Indian empire on the east. The neutral zone across the centre of the country, was tacitly recognises as being open to British interests .
In Iran, the press and National Assembly were profoundly dismayed by the agreement, while the Shah and his supporters were immeasurably encouraged in the pursuit of their goal of destroying constitutional government . The response of the press was severe. The leading articles against the treaty were written in the daily Habl al-Matin of Tehran. On September 10, 1907, the editorial of Habi al-Matin declared that:
In any event the National Assembly ought to make an investigation, and should ask the Minister of Foreign Affairs whether the report is true that while we are living in our house others are arranging its disposal and making compacts and conventions with one another without even informing us of the matter. A strange rumour this, the like of which no one has seen! It is the duty of the members of the Parliament at once to summon the Ministers to appear before it in public, put a stop to the Committee-mongering and secret conclaves of the last three or four months, and investigate this matter openly, and to inform the Powers officially that any such agreement, concluded without our knowledge, is invalid .
The same newspaper ran four long articles (on September 9, 10, 13, and 14, 1907) analysing the Russian and British foreign policy objectives in Iran prior to and after the signing of the Convention. These political essays were informative and well documented. They constituted outstanding reportage on the part of the Iranian press and demonstrated the awareness of the articulate sector of Iranian society.
That this treaty was signed in the period of the first constitutional regime indicates that these two powers saw in the Iranian Constitutional Movement a "disruptive force" which threatened to defy their interests and, in the process, to upset the Anglo-Russian vis-à-vis the German thrust into the Middle East.
Thus, the Anglo-Russian convention in alliance with the ruling classes obstructed the constitutional movement by dividing Iran into "spheres of influence" and finally led to its defeat. For instance, throughout 1907 and the first part of 1908, the Tar virtually encouraged Mohammed Ali Shah to repudiate the constitution. When this failed, the Russian officers ordered the Cossacks to bombard the Majlis Building in Tehran and attack the stronghold of the constitutionlists in Tabriz. Furthermore, once the constitutionalist forces succeeded, after regrouping, in capturing Tehran and deposing the Shah, Britain and Russia decided to intervene militarily in 1911. 
After the Anglo-Russian invasion of Iran and brutal suppression of the heroic uprising in Tabriz,  Iran fell under the increased control of Britain and Russia . While striving to perpetuate their domination of Iran, the Russians and the British reiterated their pledge of respecting the "integrity" and "independence" of Iran according to the 1907 Convention. After the outbreak of World War I, the Russian troops were in actual control of the northern provinces, and the British South Persia, Rifles, organised and led by Sir Percy Sikes, occupied the southern provinces of Isfahan and Shiraz . In retrospect, it is a fact that Britain and Russia were slowly preparing to substitute annexations for the spheres of influence . The outbreak of war put an end to such imperial intentions, and the Russian and British armies made a battleground of Iran's out-lying regions against Turkish and German forces at one time or another throughout the War years .
The years between the outbreak of the World War and the Bolshevik (October) Revolution were characterised by the formation and development of armed struggle by democratic forces in Iran against foreign domination and the outright imperialist attempts to colonise Iran. Although the nominal government in Tehran declared its neutrality, Tzarist troops occupied Azerbaijan, which borders Turkey, and Iran became a Russo-Turkish battleground. Imperial Germany, a new rising imperialist power, tried to woo Iranian nationalists to her side and she naturally had the propaganda advantage . The liberal nationalist leadership, loosely organised in the Democratic Party in Iran, accepted German support in order to combat the Anglo-Russian occupation. The concerted and nearly successful conspiracies of the German and the Turks in penetrating the national liberation movements of the Iranian against the Anglo-Russian machination, gave these two latter imperialist powers enough of a pretext to join hands and establish a liaison between their respective occupied areas in Iran. Both powers even secretly agreed (March, 1915) that Great Britain, in exchange for the neutral zone in Iran would recognise Tzarist interests in Constantinople and Russia's right to a free hand in northern Iran, and both powers then would control Iran through a puppet government in Tehran . The occupation of Iran and the close collaboration between the two competing powers remained unchanged for the next two years until October, 1917 , when the Bolshevik Revolution in Russia radically transformed the situation, on the one hand, in favour of the national liberation movement and, on the other, against British interests in Iran.
After the Bolshevik Revolution, Soviet Russia pursued a qualitatively different foreign policy strategy in Iran. Immediately after the seizure of power, the Bolsheviks manifested their policy toward Iran by renouncing all the extraterritorial rights and privileges that Tzarist Russia had forcibly acquired and called upon the people of Iran to unite in order to liberate themselves from "the yoke of British imperialism" and her native allies .
The fundamental goal of the Soviets in their anti-imperialist policy toward Iran was to weaken and /or neutralise the British military presence in Iran: a presence which was constantly threatening the security the young Soviet Republic .
The British occupation of Iran during the First World War, so long it was aimed at main-tainting the Anglo-Russian convention of 1907 and at preventing Iran from being drawn into "the orbit of German diplomacy," gave rise to no difficulties with Russia . But after the Bolshevik Revolution a dramatic change of relationship between Russia and Britain took place. No longer did the British and the Russia's act in concert and collusion, but, instead, the two diametrically-opposed systems waged a life- and death struggle in Iran. The Bolshevik seizure of power created a far reaching transformation in the character of "power politics." The expansionist policies of Tzarist Russia, which had long been in unison with the British, were now replaced by the anti-imperialist and revolutionary policies of the Bolsheviks, especially in regard to the total Russian troop withdrawals from Iran .
The Bolshevik decision to withdraw the Russian troops from Iran in favour of supporting the national liberation forces created a vacuum in Iran which the British attempted to fill. The dynamic impact of the Bolshevik Revolution on the Iranian liberation movement and the discovery and exploitation of huge reservoirs of petroleum in Iran made the British move in the direction of colonising Iran .
Throughout the period from 1918 to 1920, the British permitted officers of Denikin and other white Russian generals to use Iran as a base from which to wage their wars against Lenin's Russia . Apart from supplies furnished to the anti-Bolshevik Russians, the British troops, under the leadership of Dunsterville, moved north through Iran and, with the aid of Russian white Guards occupied the valuable oil provinces of the Caucasus. These military aggressions by the British forces could hardly fail to attract attention in Moscow .
To Lenin and his associates, the fundamental strategic goal in Iran was to see that the British would fail in their attempt to use Iran as a spring board to attack the Soviet Republic. But, apart from this important security principle, the Bolsheviks attached importance to the increasing strategic role of Iran in relation to the outcome of the national liberation movements in the East. In fact, the theoretical concept of the Bolsheviks in regard to the "semi-colonial" condition of Iran as well as other Asian countries originated much earlier than the time of the Bolshevik take-over in Russia. As early as 1908, Lenin, noting a new significance in the revolutionary movement in Iran, Turkey, and India, pointed out:
There shall be no doubt that the age-old British system of plunder in India, and the present struggle of these "progressive" Europeans against Persian....Democracy, will steel millions of proletarians throughout Asia, for a struggle against oppressors .
The impact of the First World War on the Asians and the upsurge of national self-determination movements  prompted an earnest revaluation of the strategic guidelines of the Marxist theory and practice of revolution. More then Rosa Luxembourg's and Bukharin's analysis of imperialism,  Lenin's work, Imperialism, the Highest Stage of Capitalism,  left the greatest impact on Marxism and the destiny of the liberation movement in the East. In elaborating his theoretical concept of imperialism, Lenin in July, 1916, expressed the view that:
National wars waged by colonies and semi-colonies in the imperialist era are not only probable but inevitable. About 1,000 million people, or over half of the World's population, live in the colonies and semi-colonies (China, Turkey, Persia). The national liberation movement there are either already strong or are growing and maturing. Every War is the continuation of politics by other means. The continuation of national liberation politics in the colonies will inevitably take the form of national wars against imperialism .
Stressing the significance of cutting off and separating the European capitalist powers from the raw materials and markets of the colonial and semi-colonial counties in the underdeveloped countries, Lenin further commented in 1916:
Socialists must not only demand the unconditional and immediate liberation of the colonies without recompensation - and this demand in its political ramification signifies nothing more or less than the recognition of the right to self-determination - but, they must render determined support to the more revolutionary elements in the bourgeois democratic movements for national liberation in these countries and assist them in rebellion, and if need be, in their revolutionary war against the imperialist powers that oppress them .
On the origins, development and consequences of the Constitutional Revolution in Iran, see M. Malekzadeh, Tarikh-i Enghelab-i Mashrutiyyat-i Iran (A history of Iranian Constitutional Revolution), 8 vols. Tehran: Ibn Sina, 1336/1957.
For example, on the first anniversary of the constitutional victory, the influential newspaper Habl al-Matin, reflecting the people's mood declared: "Today is the day that the Iranian nation was liberated from the yoke of 6,000 years of despotism". see Habl al-Matin, July 23, 1907 and Cottam, Nationalism in Iran, p 17.
For an excellent Persian account of these important factors, see M, Bahar, Tarikh-i Mokhtasar-i Ahzab-i Siyasi dar Iran (A Brief History of the Political Parties in Iran). Tehran: Sherkat-i Sahami, 1327/1948 pp 15-16
Kaveh, vol. III, No. 28, May 15, 1918, p 5.
For full text of this agreement in English, see Hurewitz, ed. Diplomacy in the Near and Middle East vol. II pp 265-67.
E. G. Browne, The Persian Revelation of 1905-1909. London: Cambridge University Press 1914, pp 173-95.
Habl al-Matin, September 10, 1907.
For reference see Browne, The Persian Revolution, pp 196-291.
Great Britain, State Papers 1912, Persia No. 3. London: H.M.S.O. ,1913, pp. 105, 120 and 129.
The suppression of the nationalist uprising by Russians was followed by a wholesale massacre of the constitutionalists in Tabriz. Sigat al-Islam, one of the most respected religious pontiffs in Iran, was arrested and ordered to sign a declamatory document that Russian suppression of the constitutionalists was for "stability" and "normalisation" purposes. The pontiff refused to obey and was therefore flogged and finally hanged in the public market square on the most respected and observed religious day in the Iranian calendar, Ashura. This specific Russian savagery aroused anger all over the world among Muslims against the Tzars. For reference, see Iran September 7, 1917 Chehrenoma March 4, 1912; and E.G. Browne, The Reign Of Terror at Tabriz. London: Taylor, Garnett, Evans and Co. 1912, pp.1-15.
Yahya. Dowlatabadi, Tarikh-i Moaser, Ya Hayat-i Yahya (A contemporary History, or the Life of Yahya), 4 Vols.Teheran: Ibn Sina, 1326-1332/ 1947-1953. Vol. IV, p.26.
Ibid, pp.26 ff.
Chehrenoma, March 27, 1917; Hable al-Matin August 17, 1914; and Bahar, A Brief History p. 120.
Habl al-Matin, December 28, 1914, January 4, February 1, 1915; also, Iran, September 7, 1917; and Chehrenoma, February 14, 1915.
For reference, see Habl al Matin, June 4, July 19, 1914, and February 15, 1915; also consult, Kaveh Vol. III, No. 28 (May 15,1918) p. 5.
See Iran, January 2, 7, 31, 1919; for the text of this secret agreement, see Hurewitzed. , Diplomacy in the Near and Middle East, Vol. II, p. 251.
J. Balfour, Recent Happenings in Persia. London: W. Blackwood and Sons, 1922, p. 107; and N. S. Fatemi, Diplomatic History of Persia; 1917-1923. New York: Russell F. Moore Company, 1952, p. 26.
For the Bolshevik documents outlining their policies toward Iran During the period under study, see J. Degras, Soviet Documents on Foreign Policy, London: Royal Institute of International Affairs, 1951, Vol. I, pp. 28 ff.; J. R. Childs Perso-Russian Treaties and Notes of 1828-1931 (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1936), pp. 64 ff.; X. Eudin and R. C. North, Soviet Russia and the East; 1917-1927. Standford: Standford University Press, 1957, pp. 92-93; and J. Bunyan and H. H. Fischer, The Bolshevik Revolution, 1917-1918 Documents and Materials. Standford University Press, 1934, pp. 467-69.
For reference, see Kapur, Soviet Russia and Asia, pp. 152-153.
For a Persian account, see M. Sepahr, Iran dar Jang-i Bozorg (Iran in the Great War) Tehran: Chapkhaneh-i Bank-i Melli, 1336/1957, pp. 70-88.
For example. see Carr, The Bolshevik revolution, Vol. III, P. 240-241.
See W. G. Rosenberg, A. I. Denikin and the Anti- Bolshevik Movement in South Russia. Amherst Amherst College Press, 1961.
L. C. Dunsterville, Military Mission to Northwest Persia, 1918, in Journal of Royal Central Asia Society, Vol., VIII, No. 2 (1922), pp. 80-85. and for a complete examination of this important question, consult G. Lenczowsky, Russia and the West in Iran, 1918-1941. Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1949, p. 10.
VI Lenin, Inflammable Material in World Politics, in The National Liberation Movement, p 15.
For reference, see H. Kohn, A History of Nationalism in the East. New York: Harcourt, Brace and Co., 1929, pp128 ff.
R Luxembourg, The Accumulation of Capital: and N. Bukharin, Imperialism and the World Economy. New York: Howard Fertig, 1966.
In a nutshell, his theory runs as follows: capitalism, in order not to confront the inevitable communist revolution because of the development of internal contradictions, had found an escape valve by colonising the world in its search of cheap raw materials, a market for commodities and extra capital, and cheap labour to exploit. Through the stage of capitalism (imperialism) super profits were made from the colonies which enable the capitalists to bribe a part of the worker (labour aristocracy), thereby avoiding the coming revolutions in the West. Exploitation of the colonies and semi-colonies should be viewed on an international level. For even while certain sections of workers in the imperialist states were somewhat sharing the super profits reaped by the capitalist system, the colonised peoples and oppressed nations were being exploited in the same way as were the majority of the workers in the industrialised and capitalist world. Therefore, exploitation had also been internationalised, and imperialism was creating a favourable ground for the colonised and oppressed peoples and nations to rise against in the same way as capitalism had provided a condition under which the workers the capitalist world to rise against the bourgeoisie. As a result of this historical development, the peoples of Asia, as well as other continents, would inevitably wage national liberation wars against the capitalist states. For details, see VI Lenin, Imperialism the highest stage of capitalism.
VI Lenin, "The Junius pamphlet", in The national Liberation Movement, p167.
V I Lenin, "Three Types of Countries in Relation to self-determination of Nations", in Selected Works. London: Lawrence and Wishart, 1936-1939 Vol. V, p. 276.