Throughout the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries the space extending from the northern shores of the Caspian Sea to the Persian Gulf coast lay at the center of a dizzying array of competing political projects. From Tehran, Istanbul, and Kabul, centralizing regimes aspired to bring more and more territory under their direct control. Until the early twentieth century, however, tribal authorities and local magnates still held sway along the margins of this zone. The role of Russia, Britain, and other European powers steadily expanded, especially in the realms of finance, trade, and infrastructure.1 But European demands for concessions and monopolies related to railroads, telegraphs, and tobacco spurred popular discontent and fueled nationalist and constitutionalist movements that swept throughout Iranian society, including the diaspora in the Ottoman Empire and the Caucasus. In 1907, amid revolution in Iran, an Anglo-Russian Convention initiated a new era. It divided the country into three zones of influence (with the north claimed by Russia, the south by Britain, and a neutral zone in between). In 1909 Russian troops seized the northern province of Azerbaijan, ushering in more than a decade of Russian, British, and Ottoman occupation regimes.