The Making of the Modern Iranian State SECTION 1
Political System Democracy and theocracy; headed by a cleric with title of “Leader” THEOCRACY: state dominatedRegime History Islamic Republic since 1979 Islamic Revolution by the clergy (we’ll get to that in a minute) who rule on theAdministrative •Centralized administration grounds thatStructure •30 Provinces they’re the only •Interior minister appoints the provincial interpreters of governor-generals God’s will and lawsExecutive President and his cabinet (chosen by general electorate every 4 yrs; chooses cabinet ministers LEADER: but they must be approved by the Majles) (supremeLegislature Unicameral. 290 seats. Elected every 4 yrs. leader); cleric(The Majles) Multiple member districts with top runners in elected to be the election taking seats. Bills passed here do not head of Iran become laws until approved by the Council of Guardians. GUARDIANJudiciary A chief Judge and a supreme court COUNCIL: -independent of executive and legislature Committee created -appointed by leader in the IranianParty System Party and organizational activities are restricted constitution to by ruling clergy oversee the Majles.
Geographic Setting• Located in the middle east (or west Asia)• Much larger than its neighbors• Inhospitable to agriculture• 2nd largest oil producer in the Middle East (4th in the world) Resulted in urbanization and industrialization• 83% literacy rate• Life expectancy is greater than 70 years• Quality of life is better than most of Asia and Africa• No longer a poor underdeveloped Third World country• Middle Income with per capita income above Mexico, Brazil, and South Africa
Geographic Setting• 51% speak Persian (Farsi), 26% speak dialects of Turkic, 8% speak Kurdish, and 3% speak Arabic• Its Persian heritage = distinct national identity (Do not consider themselves part of Arab world)• 98% Muslim (89% Shi’a, 9% Sunni); 2% Zoroastrian, Jewish, Christian, and Baha’I• 51% Persian, 24% Azeri, 7% Kurd, 3% Arab,12% other groups• Currency: Rial (IRR); US$1=10,308
Critical Junctures• THE SAFAVIDS (1501-1722) – Forcibly converted subjects to Shi’ism (despite majority being Sunnis) – Tolerant of “People of the Book” (Christians, Zoroastrians, and Jews) because mentioned in the Qu’ran• THE QUAJARS (1794-1925) – Moved capital to Tehran – Declared Shi’ism to be state religion – Imperialism resulted in resentment (during WWI Russia took N. Britain took S.) – This led to Constitutional Revolution 1905-1909 and the 1906 Constitution – The Constitution provided elections, separation of powers, laws from a legislature, popular sovereignty, the concept if a nation. It also gave the Majles power over laws, budget treaties, loans, and make up of the cabinet – Clerical courts implemented the shari’a (Islamic law derived from the Qur’an and the Prophet Muhammad)
Critical Junctures• THE PAHLAVIS (1925-1979) – 1921 Colonel Reza Khan carried out coup d’etat Consolidated power: shah in shah or “king of kings” – Ruled harshly until 1941 when British and Soviets invaded to prevent Nazi Germany from est. there – Reza Shah abdicated power to son, Muhammad Reza Shah who controlled armed forces, tolerated free press, independent judiciary, competitive elections – Political movements: *The Tudeh: working class trade unions *The National Front: salaried middle classes, campaigned to nationalize the British company controlling the petroleum industry. Led by Dr. Muhammad Mossadeq – 1951 Mossadeq elected Prime Minister.. Nationalized oil industry – 1953 royalist army officers over threw Mossadeq and instated shah with absolute power THE COUP FINANCED BY THE US CIA and the British
Critical Junctures• THE PAHLAVIS (1925-1979) CONTINUED – Iran’s first highly centralized state – Armed forces grew and were supplemented by secret police (SAVAK) – Bureaucracy = 21 ministries (the Interior Ministry appointed provincial governors, town mayors, district superintendents, and village headmen, as well as rigged Majles elections and created rubber stamp parliaments) – Justice Ministry replaced the shari’a with a civil code and clerical courts – By late 1970s: modern system of communication, minor industrial revolution, extended reach into outlying villages – Gathered resentment (overthrow of popular prime minister, disregard for constitutional freedoms, stifling of independent newspapers and political parties) – 1975 shah formed Resurgence Party, declared one-party state and imprisoned or exiled those refusing to join – established bazaar guilds (in order to exert control over marketplaces that had maintained some independence) – Established women’s organizations, professional associations, labor unions, and Religious Corps to teach peasants “true Islam”
Critical Junctures• THE ISLAMIC REVOLUTION (1979) – Opposition cleric Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini (exiled in Iraq) formed new version of Shi’ism: Islamic Fundamentalism or political Islam – He denounced monarchies, and corrupt elite exploiting the oppressed masses – Argued that “jurist’s guardianship” (idea that clergy should rule because they are divinely appointed guardians of law and people) gave them authority over all people not just groups – Speculation rose that the shah was out to divert attention from court corruption and destroy the bazaar. – The Shah began to loosen restraint as a result of international pressure led to regrouping of organizations and associations. – September 8, 1978 “Black Friday” troops shot unarmed civilians in Tehran = hatred for regime – late 1978 strikes brought economy to halt – Pasdaran (revolutionary guards) replaced the police – The Shari’a became unofficial judicial system once again – Huge protests demanded abolition of the monarchy, return of Khomeini, and est of republic with national independence – This movement attracted people from all sorts of groups (communists, intellects, students, lawyers, women, etc) – One of first televised revolutions (inspiration for revolutions E Europe in 80s) – In the face of this opposition, the shah left Iran – February 11, 1979 marked the end of this 54 yr old dynasty – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0s5pRsCWW9k
Critical Junctures• THE ISLAMIC REPUBLIC (1979-NOW) – Referendum replaced the monarch with Islamic Republic – Khomeini was Leader of the Revolution, Founder of the Islamic Republic – 1979 new highly theocratic constitution by Assembly of Experts (nominates and can remove supreme leader, elected by general electorate, members are clerics) – Voters were intimidated by Hexbollahis (“partisans of God;” religious vigilantes) – Prime Minister Bazargan wanted French-style presidential republic was made to look like he was allied with the US.. Led to US embassy break in (hostage crisis November 4, 1979) and his resignation http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gGUI7kDLsQo – Constitution had wide spread acceptance – First decade: Khomeini’s popularity, Iraq’s invasion spurred rallying behind homeland, high oil prices=financing all helped growing regime – Second decade: Khomeini died, Ali Khamenei took his place and not so charismatic or scholastically qualified, Iran-Iraq War ended, oil prices dropped considerably – Late 1990s: major ideological crisis democracy over theocracy among many
Critical Junctures• IRAN AFTER 9/11 – The Taliban and Saddam Hussein were enemies of Iran for years – Helped the US replace the Taliban in 2001 – Helped install pro-American gov’t in Iraq in 2003 – 2003 offered US to settle difference: nuclear research, Israel, Lebanon, Persian Gulf, and help with stabilizing Iraq – President George W. Bush however named Iran as part of the “Axis of Evil” supporting terrorism and developing weapons of mass destruction. And wouldn’t negotiate until Iran stopped nuclear research – This undermined liberal President Khatemi and made it easier for the ultraconservative Ahmadinejad in 2005 – US still won’t negotiate unless Iran stops nuclear enrichment program – Iran insists it has no military purpose and conforms to international treaties
Themes and Implications• Historical Junctures and Political Themes – Khomeini said Islam and democracy worked together b/c people respected clerics as true interpreters – No longer as easy because the public has lost its enthusiasm for clerical rule (and democracy and shari’a are in great contrast… based on inequalities) – Khomeini launched research program to build nuclear power – One of the biggest armies in the region – Respectable GDP – Unlikely to develop nuclear weapons in the near future – Iran is now surrounded with military bases as a result of US occupation of Iraq – Differences between Shi’ism and Sunnism put strain on national identity
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