IRAN: The Foreign Genies

Four centuries ago, Persia's Shah Tahmasp looked on the sparkling waters of the Karun River on one side of the Zagros mountain range and at the parched and dusty land around Isfahan on the other side, and issued an imperial decree: let the waters of the Karun be brought to Isfahan so that Isfahan valley may bloom. Thousands of peasants chiseled into the mountainside to cut an aqueduct, but midway they hit a core of hard rock that dented even the Shah's will. Work stopped.

Last week another Shah, 34-year-old Mohammed Reza Pahlevi, journeyed to Isfahan, Iran's third city, to...

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