A. D. Arabs incorporated Persia into Caliphate, introduced Islam

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Iran (1 day)
Richards and Waterbury pp. 256-60
Ghadar on Economic Coup, Cole, Harris, Nikou on Shiis, Bazaar, and Subsidies

Handouts on Iran political map, US-Iran conflict.

Outline: Basic maps

History: Qajars, Reza Pahlavi, Mohammad Reza Shah Pahlavi. Mossadeq.

Revolution of Ayatollah Khomenei.

Phases of IRI

Government Structure. Current Political Figures

Economic Analysis.

GDP, Income Distribution and Poverty, Labor Force Participation.

Judging the Islamic Regime.

Why unceasing conflict between US &Iran?

Distribution of Iran’s population, in millions

Persians are about half.

Source: Encyclopedia of the Orient

6th century B.C., Persian empire founded by Cyrus the Great

641 A.D. Arabs incorporated Persia into Caliphate, introduced Islam

10th century, invasion by Turks

13th century, invasion by Jehghiz Khan

14th century, invasion by Timur

1502-1736 Safavid dynasty; (Shi’ism) subsequent period of decline and loss of territory

1794-1925 Qajardynasty

1891 Tobacco protest: first nationalist demonstrations against favoritism to foreigners

Early 1900s, discovery of oil

1906-08 Constitutional era: short-lived reformist movement

1907 Anglo-Russian Entente divided Persia into spheres of influence; Britain later increases pressure to hold out Bolsheviks, maintain petroleum from Anglo-Iranian Oil Co.

1921 Coup by Reza Khan overthrowing Qajar dynasty; established Pahlevi dynasty in 1925

1936 Wearing of the veil is outlawed

1941 Abdication by Reza Shah Pahlevi in favor of his son, Muhammad Reza Shah Pahlevi

1950s Shah is challenged by Prime Minister Muhammad Mussadegh who nationalized oil industry; he was ousted in 1953 with help from the CIA and British Intelligence.

1955 Iran joins Baghdad pact

1960s modernization program (a.k.a.The White Revolution; reformism from above). Land reform is promulgated, and is opposed by some religious leaders, because their estates provided them with income. Also, the secret service (SAVAK) becomes more powerful and repressive.

1963 Ayatollah Kohmeini is exiled for opposition to Shah

1970s Conflicts between Iran and Iraq over islands in the Gulf.

1979 Shah is forced to leave, and Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini returns from exile to lead government.

1979-81 US embassy occupied by militants, whose demand for Shah’s return was denied by his death, from cancer, in Egypt

1980-88 IranIraq war

1981 Revision of family law.

1985 Iran-Contra affair, with US selling arms to Iran to finance Nicaraguan contras

1989 Khomeini issues fatwa against writer Slaman Rushdie, because of his novel Satanic Verses.

1989 Khomeini dies, and is replaced by Ali Khamenei; Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani becomes president, somewhat improving relations with US and Europe

1990 Iran condemns Iraq’s invasion of Kuwait, and outside attacks on Iraq (i.e. they remained neutral in Gulf War).

1995 US total ban on trade with Iran, alleging sponsorship of terrorism.

1997 Khatami wins presidential election, promising reformist policies.

1999 Student protests in Tehran escalate into nation-wide protests, paralleling fight between Khamenei and Khatemi

2000 Election of new Majles results in victory for reformists.

2003 Earthquake kills 40,000 in south-east

2005 Mahmoud Ahmadinejad elected President in a run-off, defeating Rafsanjani

2009 Ahmadinejad is elected in widely criticized many protests.

Islam is introduced early—by 700s. Shi’ism becomes state religion with rise of Safavids in 1501; people slowly adopt the religion.

Never was governed by foreigners.

Nasser al-Din Shah. Born

Ruled 1848-1896

Modernizer who lost zeal for change

First Qajar to travel outside Iran. Assassinated by a follower of Jamal al-Din al-Afghani

19th century, Qajar dynasty is failing. Country is agglomeration of tribes. Persia is in middle of conflicts between Britain and Russia. Lose tariff autonomy. Naser al-Din Shah initially wanted to modernize, visited Europe, but lost courage. In 1850s gives telegraph concession to British (who were interested in communications with India), and in 1872 general concession to Rueter for railroads, mining, industry, banking etc. Major exports were carpets, raw materials.

1891 Tobacco boycott/riots against giving monopoly of tobacco trade to a British group.

Could also note gradual de-industrialization, loss of exports, gradual displacement of native textiles.

Anti-modernism messianic movement in late 19th century, similar to Taipings, Ahmadiya in Pakistan, etc.

1906 Constitution. Attempted to shift power from Shah to Majles. Had some clerical oversight and sponsorship—important predecessor. Constitution reversed in 1908.

1908 Oil discovered. William D’Arcy had been given commission in 1901. Ango-Persian Oil Company formed.

1911 American money doctor, Morgan Shuster.

1914-18: Persia is neutral in World War 1, but—too weak to keep out foreign powers-- becomes a battle ground, where the oil of the country was the goal. Was British protectorate for a time after war.

Children Weavers

From Iran-va-jahan web site, apparently also in Severguin and the Persian Image

In 1900, there were only 21 Dabestan or modern primary schools in Iran. Prior to their introduction, vehemently opposed by the mullahs, Maktabs or religious schools run by mullahs were the norm

Reza Shah Pahlavi


Shah (emperor) 1925-41
Born into military family

Charismatic leader

With British help, he overthrew previous government -- Qajar dynasty.

Is described as following policies similar to Ataturk -more secular government, no religious clothing. Didn’t have Ataturk’s common touch, was less familiar with Europe. [Note chronological parallels].

During 1930s, established close ties to Germany in effort to counterbalance British. British troops invade Iran, leading to his abdication. Dies in exile; succeeded by son.

1935 name of country changed from Persia to Iran.

Mohammad Reza Shah Pahlavi


Shah (emperor) 1941-79

Shah described as weak willed—father was strong personality. Studied in Switzerland. Married three times, first to the Egyptian princess Fawzia. His second wife no children.

Dr. Mohammad Mossadeq


Elite (educated in Paris & Switzerland), nationalist. 1951-53 nationalized Ango-Iranian Pet. Co, Overthrown by CIA & British intelligence.

1949 election in Majlis was over foreign control of oil. Issue became foreign share of petroleum profits - 50/50. CIA helps Shah back to power, and he remained loyal to U.S.

1955, Iran joined the Baghdad Pact, which brought together the "northern tier" (anti-USSR) countries of Iraq, Turkey, and Pakistan in an alliance that included Britain, with the United States serving as a supporter of the pact but not a full member. The pact was renamed the Central Treaty Organization--CENTO--after Iraq's withdrawal in 1958-and is described as a pretext under which US funneled aid to Iran.

1963 White revolution: land reform, nationalization of forests, profit sharing in industry, vote for women, infrastructural and development projects. Land reform resisted by some religious elements, whose income came from land endowments (waqf). Led to riots, exile of Ayatollah Khomeini.

Shah M. Reza Pahlavi’s Modernization Policies.

Often referred to as the White Revolution (i.e., bloodless); 1963-


Agrarian reform weakened the traditional landowning class, as well as challenging the land and revenues of the clergy

Is often depicted as hostile to Bazaari class, whom the Shah viewed as backward

Pushed education, rural infrastructure, roads, etc.


Gave vote to women, while allowing some veiling (which father had forbidden)


Hostile to Tudeh( ~ Communist) Party, and to religious – Ayatollah Khomeini


Friendly toward Israel, monarchies of Saudi A., Morocco, Jordan. Sadat

Baghdad Pact – mini Nato against USSR.

The Shah’s regime was described as increasingly corrupt and authoritarian, as he made greater use of SAVAK to control.

Not so much religious/secular divide.
1970s minor border skirmishes with Iraq.
Islamic Revolution
1979, Shah was exiled, & replaced by Khomeini in 1980. Shah went first to Panama, eventually to Egypt, where he died of cancer. His son lives in US, ready to return when called.

Why was the Shah overthrown? Autocratic, increasingly so. SAVAK.

Concentration of wealth. Pro-US. President Carter had made an issue of human rights. Unable to produce changes he sought. Student movement was strong. Shah was ill; could have been replaced.

Contradictions between Shah’s ideals and his actions.

Selling out to foreigners.

(Absolute) monarchy was/is obsolete.

Not so much religion per se

Rentier economies don’t function well.

Why Islamic Revolution?

Reaction against the Shah

No political parties had been allowed to grow, so religious movement evolved.

Nativist response to Western cultural domination, led by lay intellectuals, in which Islam initially played a secondary role. [Boroujerdi: Iranian Intellectuals and the West 1996]

“Occidentalism”—orientalism in reverse. “Westoxification” [Gharbzadigi]

Weakness of political system, “the left”

Genealogy of Iranian Left Organizations: Source: Reformers and Revolutionaries in Modern Iran ed. Stephanie Cronin p. 255

Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini

Ayatollah Khomeini 1902-1989 Leader of Iran 1979-89.

Born into a family of clerics and landowners.

Was initially follower of “quietist” teacher, but turned quite radical. (Pushing policies similar to Shariati, paralleling Parisian left-bank intellectuals). He became a religious teacher in Qom (Iran), was arrested and exiled in 1963 for opposing land reform and women’s emancipation, capitulations (vis a vis US troops) as well as attacking regime’s corruption. Went to Turkey, Iraq, and ultimately to Paris, from where he influenced events in Iran. Sent cassettes of his speeches, which were passed around. One of his sons was killed by SAVAK in 1977. Had developed over the years the idea, and wrote book entitled Islamic government which espoused the Velayat-e Faqih (“guardianship of the jurist-consul” a.k.a. Supreme Leader), which outlined the institutions that were subsequently adopted. He had also been critical of the clergy, as being too accomodationist.

Reasons for Khomeini’s popularity

  1. Uncompromising hostility towards the Shah: Shah was elitist, insecure, inflexible, became more authoritarian, & his modernization policies did not bear enough visible success

2) rhetoric that was both anti-imperialistic and populist; 3) simple lifestyle and language; 4) religious status. Also, note that he was underestimated by his foes in Iran and US & Europe.
Importance of Ayatollah Khomeini as central force. He used pan-Islamism (anti-US/Israel/westernism) which de-emphasized Shia/Sunni differences. His movement succeeded where other Islamist movements - Islamic Brotherhood and Jama-e’Islami did not. Most observers had underestimated his importance.

Note influence of his example for subsequent religion-based events (Shia crescent, Afghanistan, Saudi A.), rather as Nasser in 1950s/60s (Iraq, Saudi, Yemen, Algeria). His conflicts with other Shia ayatollahs. Khosi in Iraq, mentor of Ali al-Sistani.

Broader implications of Shia/Sunni conflict: Iran-Saudi Arabia; Iranian hostility to Taliban of Afghanistan, Al-Qaeda (9-11), and subsequent support of Iraqi Shias (“Shia Revival”). But note that during Iran-Iraq war, people in both countries were loyal to their countries, not to ethnic/religious identities.

Government Structure

New Iranian constitution approved in December, 1979.
Highest authority is “Supreme Leader of the Islamic Revolution”/Guardian JusrisprudentValiFaqih. Selected by Council of Experts. Initially was Ayatollah Khomeini.

Iran’s Government

Generally described as a theocracy.

Islamic Consultative Assembly (Majlis --Parliament): Members are elected by popular vote to serve four-year terms. The president is popularly elected to a four-year term.

Iran’s Supreme Leaders & Presidents

Ayatollah Ruho Khomeini 1979 - 1989

Ali Khamenei 1989 - present


Banisadr 1980-81

Khamenei 1981-89

Rafsanjani 1989-97

Khatami 1997-2005

Ahmadinejad 2005 - present

Ayatollah Ali Khamenei

President 1981-1989

Supreme Leader 1989-

Iran’s spiritual leader and highest authority-- “Supreme Leader” or Leader of the Islamic Revolution (WaliFaqih)

Successor of Ayatollah Khomenei

Viewed as “conservative,” hostile to US; opposed 2003 invasion of


Critical of pro-reform student protests in mid-2003.
In addition there are 5 councils.

Guardian Council is composed of six Islamic jurists, selected by the Supreme Leader of Iran, and six jurists elected by the Majlis from candidates nominated indirectly by the Supreme Leader. It is charged with interpreting the Constitution of Iran, supervising elections of, and approving of candidates to, the Assembly of Experts, the President and the Majlis (Parliament)

Expediency Council appointed by the Supreme Leader, intermediates conflicts between the Majlis and the Guardian Council.

The Council of Experts has 86 members, all Islamic theologians all elected by popular vote from a list drawn up by the Council of Guardians.

The Supreme Council for National Security has 10 members.

The two further councils oversee the implementation of Islamic law in Iran.

Also mention village councils.

Iran’s Political map, from Safskehan
Re-inforces Ghadar’s view of an Economic Coup.

Post Shah period: one says of Islamic Revolution of Iran

Three phases:

1) Revolutionary Phase (few months of 1979-1980)

2) Domination by Khomeini, Iran-Iraq War (1980-89)

3) Post Khomeini [can be further sub-divided]

Events around 1980:

Nationalization of 70% of capital, 2/3 of GDP. Foreigners were eventually re-imbursed. Massive capital flight. ”Structural involution.”

Price controls. Subsidization of firms. Clerical control of (charitable) foundations, ‘banyads’ taking over Shah’s wealth.

Was a period of radicalization, of growing definition of direction of the Iranian revolution. New constitution approved in 1979.

Viewed as a period of consolidation of power by Khoemeini

Key political event was the students swarm US embassy in 1979, protesting US help to Shah (medical treatment), and Khomeini does not reject this. Bazragan resigns. 444 days of hostage; they were released as Ronald Reagan was sworn in as President.

1980 Iraq attacked Iran

Why? Conflict between secular Iraq& Khomeini’s Islamic revolution; Hussein thought Iran was weakened by revolution; dispute over Shatt al-Arab. Also, miscalculation by Saddam Hussein, who had recently come to power, and wanted to unite country behind him. U.S. supported Iraq, and imposed sanctions against Iran. Chemical weapons used by Iraq, and perhaps Iran. Perhaps 500,000-1 million died; 40% Iraqis and 60% Iranians.

An agreement in 1975 had Iraq cede 518 km2 of borderland to Iran, in exchange for Iran agreeing to stop supporting Kurdish rebels. Sadam Hussein, recently come to power, invaded Iran in 1980 Shatt al-Arab. Ultimately, not much territory was occupied by either country. US and USSR supported Iraq, as did most centrist Moslem states such as Egypt, Saudi Arabia, and Pakistan. War ended because everybody is tired. Not much use.

Current political figures

Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani1934-

Speaker of the Majles 1980-89

President 1989-1997. Has been seen as Progressive, but less than Khatami. Wealthy pistachio grower. Member of Council of Experts. Lost 2005 election.

Mohammed Khatami

Born 1943

President since 1997

Father was an important religious leader. He studied at Qom. Leader of Islamic center in Hamburg. Liberal who was rebuffed by President Bust

Post Khomeini era.

1995 US imposes ban on trade with Iran.

1996 Iran-Libya Sanctions Act. Sanctions on anyone doing business with them. Also are pressures on finance

Is argued that Iran cooperated with US against Taliban.

2002 –January Axis of Evil speech

Issue of Nuclear program
1999 Protests Democracy, anti-clerical. [discussed in Current History article]

2002 December--2003 June. Student protests against privatization of University of Teheran, raise tuition. Also against repressive policies of Islamic Republic, “Death to Khamenei”. Some support from Teheran’s middle classes. Right wing paramilitaries attacked students viciously. Ayatollah Khamenei accused students of being American mercenaries. (Juan Cole, The Nation July 14, 2003). Can be argued that there are debates inside Shi’a religious groups, “the reform of Islam” with implications for national welfare.

Mahmud Ahmadinejad

Born 1956, son of a blacksmith

Raised in Tehran. Has a Ph.D. in engineering. Appointed Mayor of Tehran 2003. President 2005-

Controversial vote in 2009. Has since split with Khamanei

Described as a religious conservative, a populist. Known for making strong anti-Israel and anti-American statements.

Hassan Rouhani 1948 –

Cleric with lots of government experience: is viewed as a moderate.

View that the Islamic Revolution is dead, but that Shiism is flourishing. Dynamic society in terms of web, debates, functioning of universities. Unclear how widespread rejection of religious hierarchy is.

Iran’s Supreme Leader demands support from clerics.

Ahmadeinejad vs. Khamenei in the headlines.


Born 1961 near Mashhad,in eastern Iran.Active in Iran-Iraq War, and with Basiji.Became Chief of Police for IRI.Ran for President in 2005. Later that year was selected as Mayor of Tehran.

Pictures from web site Iran -va-jahan

Analysis of IRI’s Economic Policies and Results i

Economic policies are difficult to judge in war economy 1980s. Some food production is subsidized; consumption also. Slow Job Creation. Poverty down. Little debt

Inflation increased, lots of price controls

Non-petroleum sector is growing, slowly.

Unsatisfactory investment and industrial growth.

Inadequate support for the national oil company Oil sector is weaker than before—overproduction, lack of maintenance, increased internal demand, no new reserves. Could use new FDI and explorations. Oil consumption is subsidized-one of the cheapest in world. Some assert that clergy is keeping benefits of oil.

Significant US economic pressure (against Japan and India on oil and gas, trade boycott & financial pressure).

Analysis of IRI’s Economic Policies and Results(ii)

Nomani&Behdad (p. 34-6): structural involution and the “fervent search for a populist-statist Islamic utopia” 1980-88.

Concentration of power in Bonyads /IGRC.

Followed by a period of economic restructuring, a la IMF and World Bank. Bloated state economic sector. Multiple exchange rates were eventually unified.

Karshenas and Pesaran emphasize negative effects of exchange rate controls. Need for planning but inability. “Inflexible fiscal machinery of Shah’s era. Exhaustion of Shah’s ISI, especially in context of Dutch disease. Rentier nature. Inability of export oriented sector to develop

Land Reform: Major mobilizations of peasants by “radicals”, opposed to return of land taken by Shah. Issues were “dead land”, land acquired unjustly (but centuries earlier), inefficient, large holdings shared out.

Shakoori describes creation of IRI’s Ministry of Jihad, Village Councils, cooperatives. Concludes (p. 98) “..most agricultural and rural policies initiated after the revolution were politically motivated, and once the short-term political objectives had been attained most projects, such as the service centers, the village councils, the provisions laid down in the Land Reform Act and even the mosha cooperatives were either abandoned or left to fade away.”

Stability of (private) land tenure has led to increased production.

Iran’s Plan to Phase Out Subsidies Brings Frenzied Debate


  • Charitable religious foundations in Iran, ~ waqf

  • Do not pay taxes, receive gov’t subsidies, little government control;

are essentially responsible only to the Supreme Leader.

Azadi Grand Hotel
(ex- Hyatt) in Tehran, owned by

  • Very little publicly accessible data

  • Estimates are that the Bonyads control 20% of the country’s


  • Have increased in power since the revolution in 1979

  • Associated with the IRGC and certain mullahs

  • Astan Quds Razavi (Imam Reza shrine Foundation: in

Moshhad), with $15 billion in assets (2003)

Family Planning

Immediate change was pro-natal, then moderated, and now

significant support for family planning.

Economic Policies: Country has stagnated; people do not feel that benefits of oil have reached them. [see above]. Government relies on subsidies to ‘buy’ allegiance.

Agrarian Reform 1982 after many debates, law passed. Rejected in 1983 by Council of Guardians. Reconsidered a milder version in 1985, also rejected. 1986 an even milder version was accepted.

In those votes, the clerics did not vote uniformly.

Comparisons Iran/Turkey. Source: chapter by Karshenas and Hakimian,

in Katouzian and Shahidi (eds.) Iran in the 21st Century

The authors present a similarly negative comparison with Malaysia

Politics: Democracy-staying within Constitution. Some view this as non-ideological flexibility.

Interesting analysis of “ruling clergy” in Baktiari and Vaziri article, which describes “Functional gridlock” of theocracy.

Judging Islamic aspect of the IRI

Women’s issues Subject to significant criticism, although some later moderation on issues such as divorce & work. The Nobel Peace Prize was

recently given to a female Lawyer [see below]

Why unceasing conflict between US and Iran?

1) Historical background breeding nationalism—Iran squeezed between two expanding empires, Britain and Russia/USSR.

Oil wealth also invites nationalism

2) Specific events relating to US and Shah:

Shah not accepted as ruler by Iranians Wasteful monarchy

Mossadeq nationalized oil, overthrown by CIA

Shah allowed/encouraged excessive military expenditures

Ayatollah Khomeini: hatred for US/Shah, (takeover of embassy, Iran/contra, US support of Iraq, US hostility to Muslim theocracy)


Iran (& Syria) military support for US foes Hamas, Hizbullah, Iraq

US embargoes of Iranian businesses, trade, finance, etc.

Bush’s speech “axis of evil”

Iran’s nuclear power

Vested interests in both countries.

Politicians have a visible foe

No natural support for Iran insideUS—not in oil industries.

Strategic geographical considerations.

US neo-cons and political-industrial complex.

Who will be regional power, Iran or Israel/Saudi Arabia?
Directory: ~mtwomey -> econhelp -> 444files

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