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For most of the 1980s, Iran fought a war with Iraq that resulted in severe casualties and economic devastation for both sides.Iran's political system has elements of a presidential democracy with a theocracy governed by an autocratic "Supreme Leader".An Iranian rebellion established the Parthian Empire in the third century BCE, which was succeeded in the third century CE by the Sasanian Empire, a leading world power for the next four centuries.Arab Muslims conquered the empire in the seventh century CE, and the subsequent Islamization of Iran led to the decline of the once dominant Zoroastrian religion.Under king Cyaxares, the Medes and Persians entered into an alliance with Babylonian ruler Nabopolassar, as well as the fellow Iranian Scythians and Cimmerians, and together they attacked the Assyrian Empire.The civil war ravaged the Assyrian Empire between 616 and 605 BC, thus freeing their respective peoples from three centuries of Assyrian rule.Later conquests under Cyrus and his successors expanded the empire to include Lydia, Babylon, Egypt, parts of the Balkans and Eastern Europe proper, as well as the lands to the west of the Indus and Oxus rivers.539 BC was the year in which Persian forces defeated the Babylonian army at Opis, and marked the end of around four centuries of Mesopotamian domination of the region by conquering the Neo-Babylonian Empire.

The Parthian Empire continued as a feudal monarchy for nearly five centuries, until 224 CE, when it was succeeded by the Sasanian Empire.to the north by the Caspian Sea, to the northeast by Turkmenistan, to the east by Afghanistan and Pakistan, to the south by the Persian Gulf and the Gulf of Oman, and to the west by Turkey and Iraq.Its central location in Eurasia and Western Asia, and its proximity to the Strait of Hormuz, give it geostrategic importance.Iran's major contributions to art, philosophy, and science spread throughout the Muslim world and beyond during the Islamic Golden Age.Over the next two centuries, a series of native Muslim dynasties emerged before the Seljuq Turks and the Ilkhanate Mongols conquered the region.

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