Traces its roots back to sixth century BCE, the great Persian Dynasty
But as always we will focus on recent history and current issues
Farsi main language
Sunni/Shia split began very early on Islam
Shia are known as Partisans of Ali, the Prophet Mohamed’s disciple and son-in-law
Shia believe in the 12 th (Hidden Imam) as the Messiah who will herald the end of the world when he returns
In the absence of the 12 th Imam’s authority, authority should rest in the hands of Ayatollahs, or senior Shia clerics
Anglo/Russian intervention, part of the Great Game
1906, the Shah (king) bowed to popular pressure and widespread strikes and adopted a Western-style constitution; govt would have to answer to the majilis
1906 constitution was legal basis for the govt until 1979 revolution
The Pahlavi Dynasty (Reza Khan)
Ruled from 1925-1941
Seized power in 1921 and had himself crowned the shah in 1925
Similarities to Ataturk
Intimated some sympathy for Hitler so the Americans, British, and Soviets ‘invade’ Iran to make sure the Nazis cannot establish a foothold there
Reza Khan is deposed and his young son, Mohamed Reza became the new shah
Ruled from 1941-1979
Operation Ajax in 1953 (overthrows PM Mossadegh)
Clip on Operation Ajax and the issue of Iran’s oil
Iranians haven’t forgotten Operation Ajax
After Mossadegh’s overthrow, the oil kept flowing to Britain and other Western countries
The Shah’s Rule
Baghdad Pact of 1955: US, Iran, Turkey, Iraq, Pakistan, and United Kingdom
Shah’s White Revolution in the 1960s (land reform to thwart popularity of communist party, Tudeh, extension of voting rights to women, more social programs, polygamy laws restricted)
Highly centralized state: power of the armed forces, the bureaucracy, majlis increasingly feels marginalized
Iran was the fifth largest army in the world by the time of the 1979 Revolution
Largest navy in the Persian Gulf region
From 1955-1978, Iran bought $20 billion dollars worth of arms from the U.S.
SAVAK (Organization to Protect and Gather Information for the State)
Shah announced the formation of the Resurgence party and declared all other parties illegal
Becoming increasingly paranoid and using the SAVAK to suppress all dissent
Many Iranians critical of Shah go into exile
Treason charges leveled against the Shah by exile newspapers- corruption, undermining Islam, extending diplomatic immunity to U.S. advisors in Iran, oil wealth lining the pockets of Shah’s supporters
Shah had exiled Ayatollah Khomeini, the grand ayatollah of Shia to Iraq and then Saddam expels the Ayatollah as well in 1978; ends up in France for a few months and then returns to Iran two weeks after the Shah fled Iran in January 1979
Ayatollah Khomeini Returns
The End of the Shah The Statue Comes Tumbling Down The Change for Women
May 2007: In an encounter on a street in Tehran, two policewomen with tightly fitting head scarves chastised a younger woman whose hair showed. Since 1979, Iranian law has specified that women and men must dress in a manner befitting Islam, and the law is interpreted very strictly at times.
After the return of Khomeini, what happens?
Communists, royalists thrown in jail
Mandatory chador goes into effect
Universities shut down for long stretches of time
Minority faiths have to put signs on their businesses, have to be buried in separate areas
Travel out of Iran is severely restricted
And then the hostage crisis ensues, why?
Shah had been admitted to the U.S. for medical treatment by President Carter (October 1979)
Iranian students broke into U.S. embassy in Tehran and took 63 hostages, some released
Held for 444 days
Diplomatic ties severed and still are
Students wanted Shah sent back to Iran to stand trial; eventually the Shah returns to Egypt and died in Egypt in 1980 at the age of 60
The Iranian Hostage Crisis
President Carter Addressing the Nation about the Failed Rescue Attempt
The Great Satan
Ayatollah Khomeini and President Bazargan
The hope for a democratic, but Islamic state quickly soured
Bani-Sadr impeached by parliament and fled to France in 1981
Ayatollah and the ruling clerics become more emboldened
Iraq invasion of Iran (Sept. 1980) helped as well
Oil factor/the oil shocks of the 1970s meant that oil stayed high at first; oil was $52 a barrel in late 1980 but then started to come back down in the 1980s
Saddam Comes to Power in Iraq
The Iran-Iraq War (1980-1988)
Explanations for the War
Two great empires: Ottomans and Persians- borders never made much sense
Border clashes for years; dispute over water ways; Sunni vs. Shia, Iranians had been supporting the Kurds for awhile but stopped doing that for fear it would set off Iran’s own Kurdish population
Iraq (secular Baathist state) viewed Iran’s Islamic agenda as threatening
Khomeini was bitter over being expelled from Iraq
In April 1980, an Iranian group operating operating inside Iraq tried to assassinate Iraq’s foreign minister
Saddam started executing major Shia leaders in Iraq
Sept. 1980; Iraq attacks first with Soviet bought air craft
Iran takes heavy hits against its air force
Iran caught way off guard
In May 1982, Saddam orders the retreat f his soldiers to international borders believing it would end the war, but Iran then begins a major offensive
By the end of 1983, over 100,000 Iranians and 60,000 Iraqis are dead
UN gets involved; criticized Iraq’s use of chemical weapons against Iranian cities
Iran uses human waves to walk across mined fields where they instantly become martyred
The tanker wars start to escalate in the mid 1980s; oil prices start to climb and the U.S. and Soviets start reflagging oil tankers
War ends with UNSC 598 in August 1988; over a million dead
Trading Arms for Hostages Iran-Contra Scandal also hits in the middle of Iran-Iraq war
Sell arms illegally to Iran- Use Israel as the broker: Iran needs weapons to keep up its war against Iraq.
From the revenues, use that money to fund the Contras against the Sandinistas in Nicaragua
Iran helps secure the release of American hostages held in Lebanon in return
Everybody wins! But it was all completely illegal.
Hearings held in 1986-1987; George H.W. Bush ends up pardoning everyone when he became President.
Iran-Contra Scandal: Connect the Dots Sandinistas
Khomeini Dies (1989)
Supreme Leader (“unelected”)
President (elected with qualifications): go to slide
Parliament (Majlis) (elected with qualifications)
Guardian Council (6 members selected by the Supreme Leader and 6 are Islamic jurists selected by the head of the judicial branch; voted in by Parliament for 6 years on a phased basis so half the membership changes every three years
Expediency Council (unelected)- their role?
Assembly of Religious Experts: selects the Supreme leader; elected for 8 year terms by the populace; has the power to replace the Supreme Leader if he acts not in accordance with Islam and the constitution
Presidential, parliamentary, and Assembly of Religious Experts candidates all have to be vetted by the Guardian Council
Supreme Leaders and Presidents
Only 2 Supreme Leaders: Khomeini and Khamenei
Prime Minister position abolished with amendments to 1979 constitution in 1989
Presidents of Iran: Bani Sadr (1980-1981); impeached
President Rajai assassinated in 1981
President Khamenei (1981-1989)
President Rafsanjani (1989-1997)
President Khatami (1997-present)
Supreme Leader cannot be removed.
Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and Former President Mohammed Khatami
Importance of Khatami
Elected in 1997 with 70% of the vote
A lot of support from women, university students, and young adults
Had read a lot of Western thinkers
Called for a dialogue between the U.S. and Iran
In 2001, he was re-elected with 77% of the vote, but then the fights between the hard-liners and reformers stymied a lot of Khatami’s power
Formal Powers of the Presidency
President given all powers PM use to have under 1989 amendments
Names ministers, introduces them to the Majlis to obtain votes of confidence; can ask for a vote of confidence from the Majlis on controversial issues
President does not have to receive a vote of confidence before forming a government since he is directly elected by the people
One quarter of all members of Majlis may table a question to the president who then has to appear and give ‘testimony’
Presidential elections held every four years
Run-off elections for presidency like French system
President can be dismissed by a vote of no confidence by 2/3 of the 290 member Majlis
Signs, supervises implementation of laws passed by Majlis; no veto power since the Council of Guardians really has the veto power.
Iranian Parliament and February 2004 Parliamentary Elections Has the Islamic Revolution Run Its Course?
Ali Akhbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, ex-president of Iran, campaigned to regain his seat by convincing conservatives and liberals than he can bring real change by finding the middle ground.
Presidential Elections 2005
The Guardian Council disqualified over 1,000 candidates to run for president of Iran; only 8 were qualified by the Council.
Bombings before the election; approximately 10 killed
Disputed first run of election; candidate needs a majority or it will go to a run-off
Rafsanjani came in first, hard-line mayor of Tehran, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, came in second; a run-off election ensues
Disputes between the Interior Ministry’s assessment of the first-round and the Guardian Council’s assessment
Supporters of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad cheered outside his home in Tehran in June 2005 after he was declared the winner of Iran's presidential vote.
The New President’s Agenda
Former mayor of Tehran, former member of Basiji
Fought in Iran-Iraq War; from humble background
Stood in line with everyone else on election day to cast his vote
Won in the run-off election with over 60% of the vote
Voter turnout in both rounds was approx. 60% of the eligible electorate
Advocates Islamic socialism; redistribution of wealth and a robust social safety net for all Iranians
Status of talks with EU over nuclear energy is more uncertain; has said Iran will become a nuclear weapons nation
Issues of Concern
Iran’s WMD Program/ Stance of EU/Signed Additional Protocol of NPT
Role in Iraq- fomenting sectarian violence?
Iran as “Axis of Evil” country
Iran’s Human Rights Record- Student Protests
Shirin Ebadi 2003 Nobel Peace Prize Winner
Mohamed ElBaradei, center, director general of the International Atomic Energy Agency, talking with Kamal Kharrazi, the Iranian foreign minister, right, and Javad Zarif, Iran's envoy to the United Nations. May 2005
A Nuclear Iran?
Impasse between Iran and US at the NPT Review Conference in May 2005 (NYC)
Majority of Iranians want a nuclear Iran
Israeli threat or strike against Iran’s facilities; similar to Osirak strike in 1981 (Iraq)
EU-3 carrots– WTO accession; US has blocked Iran’s application 27 times since 1996
Iran agreed to suspend uranium enrichment
The Russia factor
A long and winding road of developments
Under an accord signed in Paris in November 2004, Iran agreed to suspend its nuclear program.
However, Tehran restarted it 8 August 2005 after talks with the European countries broke down.
It has said that it is willing to talk but will continue uranium conversion, one of the earliest and least sensitive steps in the nuclear fuel cycle.
IAEA Governing Board (35 countries) passed a resolution on 11 August 2005 calling for Iran to suspend its nuclear fuel cycle development program
On 3 September 2005, IAEA General Director el-Baradei to report to the Governing Board on Iran’s response to the August 11 th resolution
If Iran ignores the resolution, Governing Board may recommend that the UNSC take up the matter.
April 2006: Men in traditional uniforms danced during a parade and lifted containers said to hold uranium enriched by Iran .
"Iran has joined the nuclear countries of the world," Mr. Ahmadinejad said during a large, carefully staged and nationally televised celebration, which included video presentations of each step of the nuclear process that he declared Iran had mastered.
"The nuclear fuel cycle at the laboratory level has been completed, and uranium with the desired enrichment for nuclear power plants was achieved."
Iran's lead nuclear negotiator, Ali Larijani, right, meeting in Tehran with the ambassadors of the five United Nations Security Council veto powers (France, Britain, Russia, China and the U.S.) plus Germany.
Late August 2006
The President of Iran made a provocative, if symbolic, gesture by formally inaugurating a heavy-water reactor.
The Iranians say the plant would be used for peaceful power generation.
But nuclear experts note that heavy-water facilities are more useful for weapons because they produce lots of plutonium — the preferred ingredient for missile warheads.
December 2006 Iran hosts a conference to re-examine the Holocaust Who is that on the left? Why it is David Duke of the American KKK!
A two-day gathering of Holocaust deniers and white supremacists ended with President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad welcoming participants in his office and telling them Israel would not survive long.
“ The Zionist regime will disappear soon, the same way the Soviet Union disappeared,” Mr. Ahmadinejad said.
Thus, “humanity will achieve freedom.”
President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad speaking at the Natanz uranium enrichment facility. The large industrial plant under construction at Natanz is roughly half the size of the Pentagon. Inspectors say Iran is constructing 3,000 centrifuges as a first step toward 54,000.
Iran said that it was now capable of industrial-scale uranium enrichment, a development that would defy two United Nations resolutions passed to press the country to suspend its enrichment program.
The UNSC unanimously passed a resolution on March 24, 2007 to expand sanctions on Iran in an effort to curb its nuclear program.
The resolution barred all arms exports and froze some of the financial assets of 28 Iranians linked to the country’s military and nuclear programs.
Iran’s President Goes to Iraq
President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad of Iran , arriving in Baghdad to open what he declared a “new chapter” in relations between Iraq and Iran, warned President Bush that America’s problems in the Middle East would worsen as long as he continued to accuse Iran of interfering in Iraq.
The visit, the first by an Iranian leader since the brutal Iran-Iraq war of the 1980s, set off protests in Sunni Arab areas that seemed to underscore how growing Iranian influence could thwart hopes of mending the Iraqi government’s sour relationship with Sunnis inside its own borders.
Many of Iraq’s Shiite leaders have ties to Iran.
Mr. Ahmadinejad later called for Iraq, Iran and Turkey to cooperate to drive Kurdish guerrillas from the Iraqi border areas they use to stage attacks into both countries.
American officials say the guerrillas of the Kurdistan Workers Party, who attack Turkey, a NATO ally, are terrorists.
But the U.S. does not condemn a closely linked group, the Party for Free Life in Kurdistan, which carries out deadly raids into Iran.
More action at the UNSC March 2008
The resolution authorizes inspections of cargo to and from Iran that is suspected of carrying prohibited equipment, tightens the monitoring of Iranian financial institutions and extends travel bans and asset freezes against persons and companies involved in the nuclear program.
It adds 13 names to the existing list of 5 individuals and 12 companies subject to travel and asset restrictions.
The new names include people with direct responsibility for building fast-spinning centrifuges that enrich uranium ore and a brigadier general engaged in “efforts to get around the sanctions” in the two earlier resolutions.
Resolution passed 14-0 with Indonesia abstaining.
The resolution extends the reach of punishments in the two earlier measures, adopted in December 2006 and March 2007, but it does not make them tougher.
The text was drawn up after months of talks among the Council’s five permanent members — Britain, China, France, Russia and the United States — and Germany, which is not a Council member.
It repeats a pledge from the six countries to establish full relations and economic cooperation with Iran should it agree to suspend enrichment-related and reprocessing activities.
Parliamentary Elections March 2008
More than 30 reformers appear to have won seats although most of their most prominent members had been barred from running by the country’s conservative establishment.
Voter turnout was 60 percent, compared with 51 percent four years earlier, according to the Interior Ministry.
The Iranian Parliament has 290 seats and all were contested in this election.
Reformers said they were expecting to win 50 to 70 of the seats in the assembly, which could make them a stronger minority.
They control 40 seats in the current Parliament.
The conservative Guardian Council, which evaluates candidates to determine if they are permitted to run, rejected most reformers.
The reformers were further hampered because Parliament forbade candidates from printing posters, one of the few ways reformers can get their message out since state media report only on conservatives.
Iran's newly-elected parliament picked one of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's potential rivals in the 2009 presidential election for the influential post of speaker.
Ali Larijani, who quit as Iran's chief nuclear negotiator last year citing differences with Ahmadinejad over how to handle the country's atomic dispute with the West, received a clear majority of 237 votes in the 290-member legislature.
The new parliament is dominated by moderate conservatives, including rivals of the president, and is expected to be more critical especially of his handling of the economy and failure to rein in inflation of more than 24 percent annually.
Is a nuclear Iran a grave threat to U.S. security? Israeli security? Middle East security?
If Iran goes nuclear, will other countries follow suit?
Is the U.S. preparing for regime change in Iran under the Obama administration?
Presidential Elections June 2009
Contest between four candidates, including current president
In this year’s campaign, Mr. Moussavi, a former prime minister with a reputation for honesty and competence, has emerged as Mr. Ahmadinejad’s strongest challenger.
In recent weeks his campaign has gained tremendous energy, and huge rallies by his supporters have packed the streets of the capital day and night.
A moderate politician who is considered the strongest challenger to President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad of Iran accused him on live television of undermining the nation’s interest by constantly questioning the Holocaust and by engaging in an adventurist foreign policy.
Mr. Moussavi, a former prime minister whose moderate views have won him support from other reformers in Iran, including former President Mohammad Khatami , has positioned himself as the strongest challenger to Mr. Ahmadinejad.
Support from the Islamic authorities for the president, who is a religious conservative, appears to have weakened, and he is now widely criticized for Iran’s economic malaise.
And the aftermath of the election…
Election results announced 2-3 hours after polls closed; earliest that election results have ever been announced
Ahmadinejad is said to have won 63% of the vote to Moussavi’s 33%; other two candidates barely got any votes
Immediate allegations of electoral fraud
Rallies become violent with pro-government/security forces attacking people
Supreme Leader gives Friday sermon speech backing the election results; saying future rallies will be illegal
Twitter and Facebook are how most of the rallies are being organized
Foreign correspondents could only file one story a day
Obama says “The world is watching Iran”
EU registers its concern as well
Guardian Council ‘certified’ the election results 10 days after elections
20 dead from protests; the YouTube death of Neda creates world-wide attention
An important group of religious leaders in Iran called the disputed presidential election and the new government illegitimate, an act of defiance against the country’s supreme leader and the most public sign of a major split in the country’s clerical establishment.