Iran – Part Two. Islamic revolution

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In continuation of the discussion about the Islamic Republic of Iran, we will discuss in this part the Islamic Revolution with several focal points that formed the current face of the regime in Iran and contributed to the formation of the current political features in the region, and it is :

1- The Iranian Revolution of 1979, or the Iranian coup, was a series of events that led to the overthrow of the Pahlavi dynasty and is considered the pivotal year in the contemporary era for refocusing attention away from the Cold War era. The revolution affected the overthrow of authoritarian regimes in dozens of countries over the decades that followed, and unlike most other uprisings that toppled dictators, the outcome of the Iranian struggle was not the establishment of a liberal democracy but rather a new form of expansionist authoritarian regime in the region whose effects extended beyond the borders of the Islamic Republic. intellectually and politically.

  1. After the Iranian coup d’état in 1953, Reza Shah Pahlavi allied with the United States and the Western bloc to consolidate his rule in that period, and relied heavily on American support to remain in power for another 26 years. This led to the launch of the “White Revolution” and the dismissal of Parliament in 1963. It was the White Revolution that cheered many up and constituted a vigorous modernization program that overturned the wealth and influence of the landowners and clergy, further disrupted rural economies, and prompted rapid urbanization and Westernization which sparked series of concerns about democracy and human rights,

The program was economically successful, but the benefits in practice were not evenly distributed.

Opposition to the Shah’s policies intensified in the 1970s due to heavy government spending, high inflation, diminished iranian prchase power and low living standards.In addition to the economic problems and the increase in social and political repression by the Shah’s regime and the marginalization of the opposition parties, followed by political arrests and censorship on a large scale.

This feeling of disenfranchisement led to the movement of diverse segments of society, including secular thinkers, Shiite scholars and figures from the rural economic community on one platform under the populist influence of Ayatollah Khomeini. who was a former professor of philosophy in Ghavam, and was exiled in 1964 after he spoke frankly against the Shah’s alleged reforms at the time,

In the midst of the civil unrest, members of the National Front and the Tudeh Party also joined the scholars in broad opposition to the Shah’s regime.

Khomeini continued to preach in exile about the evils of the Pahlavi regime, accusing the Shah of irreligiosity and submission to foreign powers.

Which was reinforced at that time by the Shah’s dependence on the United States, his close relations with Israel and the Unstudied economic policies of his regime, which contributed to fueling the power of opposition discourse among the masses. The most widespread and most common slogan that united the various revolutionary parties and their supporters was “Let him (the Shah) go and then let it be a flood”.

 

  1. In January 1978, thousands of young students from religious schools took to the streets due to slanderous statements directed at Khomeini in a Tehran newspaper. They were joined by thousands of unemployed youth, accompanied with the shah being exhausted from cancer and stunned by the sudden escalation of open hostilities against him, he wavered between concessions and repression.

At that time many protesters were killed by government forces which led to martial law on 8 September and further killings.

In that period and during his exile, Khomeini coordinated the escalation of opposition, first from Iraq and after 1978 from France – demanding the Shah to step down.

In January 1979, the Shah and his family fled Iran, and the regency council established to run the country failed to function or control civil strife.

A crowd of more than a million people demonstrated in Tehran, proving a wide appeal to Khomeini, who arrived in Iran on February 1.

Ten days later, the Iranian armed forces declared their neutrality, practically overthrowing the Shah’s regime.

 

  1. On April 1, through a overwhelming ruling in the referendum, Khomeini declared Iran an Islamic Republic.

The clergy moved immediately to exclude their former intellectual left-wing nationalist ally from the position of power in the new regime and imposed a return to conservative social values.

The Family Protection Law (1967 and amended in 1975), which provided guarantees and rights for women in marriage, was declared invalid.

Revolutionary gangs stationed in mosques, known as komitehs, patrolled the streets to enforce Islamic codes of dress and behavior and administer impromptu justice to the imposed revolution.

The militias and the clergy did their best to suppress Western cultural influence. In the face of this persecution, many of the elites educated in the West fled the country.

These anti-Western sentiments eventually led to the taking of 66 hostages at the US Embassy in November 1979 by a group of Iranian protesters who demanded the extradition of the Shah, who was at the time undergoing medical treatment in America.

The Assembly of Experts formed by Khomeini ( al-Khabeerjan), dominated by the clergy, approved a new constitution through a referendum that gives broad powers to the leader, the first of which was Khomeini himself.

 

 

  1. From early 1979 to 1983, Iran remained in a “revolutionary crisis mode”.

After the autocratic monarchy was overthrown, the economy and the apparatus of government collapsed and the military and secular forces were in disarray.

However, by 1983, Khomeini and his supporters had crushed the rival factions, defeated the local insurgency and consolidated their power.

The major events that shaped the crisis and its revolution were the Iran hostage crisis, the Iran-Iraq war, and the presidency of Abu al-Hasan Bani Sadr through the elections.

There is a widespread belief that what began as an authentic, anti-dictatorial popular revolt soon turned into an Islamic fundamentalist takeover of power.

Khomeini was more of a spiritual leader than a ruler. Khomeini in the mid-1970s had never held public office, walking out of Iran for a decade and telling interviewees that “religious figures don’t want to rule.”

The most important bodies of the Iranian Revolution were the Revolutionary Council, the Revolutionary Guards, the Revolutionary Courts, the Islamic Republican Party, and the Revolutionary Committees.

At its core, the Iranian Revolution of February 1979 was a revolt of society against the state, which represented not just an ordinary dictatorship but an absolutist and arbitrary regime that lacked political legitimacy and social base in almost all parts of society and subsequently ended with a more tyrannical and dictatorial regime than before with boundless expansionist ambitions.

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