POL110 Marymount Creation of An Islamic Republic Article Analysis Paper

Question Description


Analysis paper, not a research paper so only use the article i will attach below. No other sources, including internet. For quotes or paraphrases, use in-text citation, e.g., (Randjbar-Daemi, 30)

Format: One page single-spaced (500 words)

Question for Analysis:

Explain how the creation of an Islamic Republic by Ayatollah Khomeini was a “revolution.”

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‘DEATH TO THE SHAH’ Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini became a lightning rod for the mass protests which overthrew the Shah of Iran in 1979, but the causes of the Iranian Revolution lay elsewhere. Siavush Randjbar-Daemi 28 | History Today | April 2019 28-45_iran_02.indd 28 06/03/2019 17:51 April 2019 | History Today | 29 28-45_iran_02.indd 29 06/03/2019 17:51 O n the afternoon of 11 February 1979, the top brass of the Imperial Iranian Army gathered for the first time in the absence of their commander-in-chief, the shah. They proceeded to declare the army neutral in the increasingly violent confrontation between the revolutionary forces and the government of the shah’s last appointed prime minister, Shapur Bakhtiar. By the evening, Tehran had fallen into the hands of a spirited group of ordinary citizens, political activists and hardened opponents of the regime, who celebrated the downfall of a monarch who, only 407 days earlier, had been toasted by US president Jimmy Carter as having created an ‘island of stability’ in the turbulent Middle East. In a religious school, which had been turned into his makeshift headquarters, the octogenarian leader of the revolution, Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, was savouring the first step in a rise to political dominance, which would take another three years to complete. The Iranian Revolution of 1978-79 is one of the most significant examples of the efficacy of a sustained popular and largely unarmed mass uprising. The slogan of the revolutionary masses in the latter part of 1978 morphed into the simple and effective ‘Marg bar shah’ (‘Death to the shah’). The mass perception that Mohammad Reza Pahlavi was a modern Yazid, the hated Sunni slayer of the revered Shia saint Imam Hussein at Karbala in 680, took hold across every stratum of society. It was the ultimate reason for the revolution’s success. Much has been written about Iran’s uneven economic development throughout the 1970s, the unabating censorship of the press and repression of political opposition and the ever-increasing gap between the rich and poor in the aftermath of the sharp rise in oil prices in 1973. But none of these factors alone could have led to the Ashura and Tasua marches that took place across the country on 10 and 11 December 1978, possibly the highest per capita participation in a revolutionary episode in modern history. When the world was shaken by the ripples of global protest movements in 1968, the shah’s increasingly archaic elite was able to exert its control over Iran through economic incentives, extensive ties with the West and a strong purchasing power for its currency. But Iran had uneven economic growth similar to other developing countries: thousands of lower middle-class students received scholarships to go abroad, but unmanaged rural to urban migration resulted in shanty towns and deprivation. The shah and his elite’s command and knowledge of Iranian society were ephemeral: his long-serving, pliant prime minister, Amir Abbas Hoveyda, was a rapacious reader of the French roman policier, but had a minimal grasp of Persian poetry. The Empress Farah had a passion for Western art which was not matched in the domestic realm. The shah was a visionary who had paternalistic feelings towards his nation, yet was unable to establish deep bonds with society. His unswerving nemesis, the Ayatollah Khomeini, had no such problem. At the end of the 1970s there was enough economic resentment, despite the lack of widespread destitution or famine, to fuel the revolutionary fervour. The fall of Mossadegh The withering of support for the shah did not happen overnight. It was a process which began on 19 August 1953, when his supporters combined with the CIA and MI6 intelligence agencies to bring about a sudden and dramatic end to the premiership of Mohammad Mossadegh. Mossadegh was a popular and populist member of the elite, who had ceaselessly championed the cause of Iranian independence. In 1951 he had achieved his signature aim, the nationalisation of Iranian oil. This polarised Iranian politics. It generated strong support among a fledgling group of upper middle-class politicians and journalists who coalesced within Mossadegh’s National Front, a loose umbrella group of moderate nationalist persuasion. From the left, the communist Tudeh Party remained suspicious of Mossadegh’s true intentions and repeatedly castigated his overt admiration of the US and his alleged secret intention to mend fences with the UK, which remained his public nemesis after it enacted a naval blockade to prevent the export of Iranian oil. Cartoons published in both left and rightleaning British newspapers depicted Mossadegh as a pyjama-wearing buffoon 30 | History Today | April 2019 28-45_iran_02.indd 30 06/03/2019 17:51 Previous spread: Ayatollah Khomeini greets the crowd at Tehran University after his return from exile in 1979. Above: Mohammed Peza Pahlavi, Shah of Iran, 12 February 1954. ‘The shah was unable to establish deep bonds with society. Khomeini had no such problem’ or as an arsonist intent on engulfing both Iran and the Middle East in flames fed by burning oil. Mossadegh’s fate was critically affected by the result of the US election of 1952. Eisenhower’s accession to the White House paved the way for a swift understanding with Churchill, who was back in Downing Street. By summer, the two had approved a complex plan that led to Mossadegh’s downfall. While the British were motivated mainly by their desire to regain control over the expropriated oil industry, the Americans had been convinced by the British that the Tudeh were on the verge of assuming power, thus shifting Iran to the other side of the Iron Curtain. The stage was set for the chaotic events of mid-August, when the shah’s backers succeeded at the second attempt, with support from US and British intelligence, in overthrowing Mossadegh and restoring the young Pahlavi to the throne. The shah returned from a brief stay in Rome. For the rest of the 1950s, he pressed ahead with forging authoritarian rule. He formed Iran’s first structured secret police force, the Savak, which was created with CIA and Mossad assistance and tasked with the destruction of the Tudeh. By the start of the 1960s, the shah had embarked on plans to modernise the country. He co-opted and subsumed several reform initiatives that had been floated in previous decades, such as land reform, and bound them together in an initiative known as the White Revolution, or, as the official title insisted, the ‘Revolution of the Shah and the People’. Iran became equipped, for the first time, with the ability to mass produce consumer goods, such as shoes, electronics and automobiles. Prosperity and a modern lifestyle were slowly introduced into a society, which, in the words of the historian Ervand Abrahamian, had entered the 20th century on the ox-cart. Exit Khomeini By the end of the 1960s, the shah appeared to have seen off the other major challenge to his rule, which his father had driven to the fringes of society, but not annihilated: the clergy. Following the death, in 1962, of the last undisputed supremo of the Shia faith, Grand Ayatollah Hossein Ali Borujerdi, Iran’s largest seminary in Qom was effectively directed by a April 2019 | History Today | 31 28-45_iran_02.indd 31 06/03/2019 17:51 32 | History Today | April 2019 28-45_iran_02.indd 32 06/03/2019 17:51 April 2019 | History Today | 33 28-45_iran_02.indd 33 06/03/2019 17:51 triumvirate which included Khomeini, then a suave, 60-year-old climber of the clerical political ladder. Khomeini’s first major expression of opposition was in 1963. In a speech in Qom, he launched a direct attack on the shah, which caused a brief but intense series of street demonstrations against the monarchy. The revolt was quickly put down and the shah considered the fate of Khomeini, who was swiftly incarcerated. After much pleading from his security chiefs, particularly the Savak head, General Hassan Pakravan, the shah opted for the progressive release of Khomeini; the execution of a ranking Ayatollah would have set a sinister precedent for a nation aspiring, among other things, to take the mantle of the leadership of the Shia and wider Muslim world. A year later, however, Khomeini was dispatched to exile after he delivered another sermon, in which he sternly decried the extension of the Vienna Convention to all US contractors in Iran, which granted them immunity from prosecution under the Iranian legal system. This development caused a major change in the attitude of the Tudeh and other left-wing organisations towards the Ayatollah. While the Tudeh had described the clergy as ‘reactionary’ in 1963, it now praised Khomeini as having joined the antiimperialist fold. With no substantial opposition left inside the country, the Pahlavi state seemed set for decades of consolidated rule. Western assessments of the shah’s character mirrored his changing authority. In 1951, the US Embassy in Tehran had written that the shah was ‘confused, frustrated, suspicious, proud and stubborn … His fears, questionings, and indecisiveness are permanent instabilities of character’. By 1970, its judgement had changed: ‘He is completely self-assured and is confident that he is leading the country in the right direction … He has an agile mind, sees the point quickly, and gets rights to the heart of the issue.’ Yet, despite reeling from the exile of Khomeini and the eclipse of the Tudeh at the hands of Savak, internal opposition had not vanished. The two main secular parties’ inability to put up any meaningful opposition to the shah’s rule led to the detachment from their ranks of a younger generation of activists, who had witnessed the Mossadegh years, but who were aware of the global drift towards radical politics in the 1960s. Inspired by the Cuban and Algerian revolutions and the war in Vietnam, these former Tudeh and National Front youth members broke ranks to form their own clandestine organisations. Several Marxist groups spread across the country and would form the embryo of the Fadayan-e Khalq (‘Sacrificers of the People’) and the Mojahedin-e Khalq (‘Holy Warriors of the People’). After years spent secretively reading whatever Marxist texts they could and debating at length about the course of action to take, in February 1971 a cell attacked a gendarmerie post at Siyahkal, a hamlet in the historically restive province of Gilan in northern Iran. The initiative, which was supposed to act as the spark for local peasant support for an uprising against the state, fell short of its intended objective, but the scene was set for the start of nearly a decade of bloody armed struggle against the Pahlavi regime. ‘Straws in the wind’ Another type of opposition also survived precariously. A loosely affiliated set of opponents of the shah’s regime had etched an existence on the fringes of public life, despite having been previously affiliated with the National Front, the Tudeh and other proscribed organisations. Their renunciation of armed struggle as a means through which to confront the Pahlavi state meant that they would occasionally be allowed by Savak to publish in intellectual journals and mainstream newspapers, to teach at university or to hold informal discussion groups. Together with former political leaders who had withdrawn from public life after the increase of Savak control, these individuals formed what was in effect a fringe but existent civil society. The new Democratic White House in 1976 gave a new lease of life to these groups. Under the auspices of what Iranian activists dubbed ‘Jimmycracy’, the Carter administration pressed the Iranian authorities to soften Savak’s suffocating presence in public life. Throughout 1977, political prisoners, who had 34 | History Today | April 2019 28-45_iran_02.indd 34 06/03/2019 17:51 Previous spread: protesters carry banners depicting Khomeini in Tehran, 11 December 1978. Above: the shah at lunch with his wife Farah Pahlavi and son, Prince Reza Pahlavi, Tehran, 15 June 1977. ‘With no substantial opposition left inside the country, the Pahlavi state seemed set for decades of consolidated rule’ been remanded for a considerable time after the end of their sentences, were freed, while the number of intellectuals ‘banned from the pen’ decreased. Dissident gatherings on university campuses were tolerated and intellectuals, lawyers and even leaders of the old political movements took turns to write open letters to the authorities, in which they called for the respect of the 1906 constitution, which enshrined the right to free assembly and expression, and the creation of genuine elections. In July and August 1977, the US ambassador William Sullivan reported in a series of cables that he felt that the ‘straws in the wind’ were pointing to a resumption of dissident activity. This first phase of mobilisation against the shah reached its climax during what was meant to be a modest gathering of intellectuals under the aegis of the Goethe-Institut in Tehran. For ten evenings in October 1977, the West German cultural institution became the focus of a mass April 2019 | History Today | 35 28-45_iran_02.indd 35 06/03/2019 17:51 36 | History Today | April 2019 28-45_iran_02.indd 36 06/03/2019 17:51 April 2019 | History Today | 37 28-45_iran_02.indd 37 06/03/2019 17:51 gathering attended by thousands of young, inquisitive Iranians, who shared anything from poems in honour of ‘Azadism’ (Liberty), to thinly veiled references to armed struggle and Islamic-tinged verses. Shortly after the Goethe-Institut nights, which marked the first instances of protests and commotion against his regime, the shah visited the White House. While Carter was emphasising Mohammad Reza Pahlavi’s warm ties with his predecessors going back to Harry Truman, mounted police were charging at the street battles unfolding within the precinct of the President’s Park between students from campuses across the US and Savak operatives bussed in to contain them. An embarrassed Carter decided to pay a swift return visit to the shah. During a whirlwind world tour, Carter stopped at Tehran for New Year’s Eve, 1977 and delivered his laudatio for Mohammad Reza Pahlavi, who was toasted as having brought about ‘an island of stability in shark infested waters’. Previous spread: riots in Tehran, 5 November 1978. Above: President Jimmy Carter and the Shah share a toast at the Niavaran Palace, Tehran, 31 December 1977. ‘The authorities’ only reaction consisted of putting down the commotion with brute force’ 38 | History Today | April 2019 28-45_iran_02.indd 38 06/03/2019 17:51 Perhaps unknown to Carter, Ayatollah Khomeini had kept a keen eye on the developing relationship between the new US president and his nemesis. In a message to Iranian students abroad on 16 November 1977, Khomeini wrote off the entente between Carter and Mohammad Reza Pahlavi in advance of the White House encounter and stated that ‘the shah and his pack of relations and followers should understand that, in his meeting with the President of the United States, whether or not he agrees to renew his servility and stabilise his illegal position, the Iranian nation does not want him and will not abandon their campaign until they have avenged their blood-soaked youth’. Settling scores A few days after Carter’s visit, the shah decided to settle scores with Khomeini by launching an unprecedented tirade against him. An article produced under the pseudonym Ahmad Rashidi Motlagh carried a series of gratuitous and scurrilous accusations against Khomeini, who was accused, by virtue of his supposed Indian descent, of being a pawn in the hands of sinister machinations by the old overlord of Iran, Britain. A few days later, however, seminary students in Qom, some of them disciples of Grand Ayatollah Kazem Shariatmadari of Tabriz and hailing from the northern region of Azerbaijan, engaged in unexpectedly virulent protest, which was put down by force. At least six were killed. As per religious custom, the 40th day following the deaths of the Muslim faithful was marked by widespread mourning. On 21 January, Tabriz, a socially conservative urban centre, witnessed a day of rage against the Pahlavi state. In what the official press later described as ‘hooliganism’, a large crowd went on the rampage against public buildings and shops thought to be associated with the regime. The Tabriz incident was indicative of much to come. The authorities had little training in how to deal with large-scale urban riots and no contingency plan in place. For most of the spring of 1978, the authorities’ only reaction consisted of putting down the commotion with brute force. The 40-day mourning process continued apace across the country. Khomeini became the lightning rod of the opposition, for a number of reasons. The resumption of meek activity by elements of the opposition in 1977 did not immediately lead to the resumption of activity by the main anti-shah parties. Indeed, the National Front was described by William Sullivan as having ‘disappeared from the political scene’ a decade earlier. The remnants of the communist splinter groups were sparsely distributed in safe houses across major cities, focused on avoiding the unrelenting Savak repression, which continued until the downfall of the regime. That left Khomeini as the most ardent and tangible opponent of the shah. On 24 April, the prominent LebaneseIranian Shia cleric Imam Musa Sadr, who would later disappear under still-unexplained circumstances, arranged for his friend Lucien George of Le Monde to travel to Najaf and conduct Khomeini’s first interview with the Western media. During two hours of conversation, Khomeini claimed that his nemesis implemented the policies of the ‘imperialists’ and sought to keep Iran in a ‘backward and regressive’ condition. He also refuted accusations of misogyny, claiming that ‘Islam was never against female emancipation’. Khomeini’s views on his preferred political system were, however, infused with a vagueness which he would maintain until the end. When pressed on whether he would accept the continuation of the monarchy in any form or push for the establishment of a republic, Khomeini abruptly stated that such a topic was outside the scope of the interview. The Ayatollah was content to ride the everrising tide of anger against the shah and was wary of proposing details which could cause apprehension and hesitation and therefore stymie the flow of the rebellion. The flaring of popular resentment against the shah caught the attention of US and British diplomats in Tehran early on. On 6 July the UK embassy gleefully reported that the 40-day mourning processions and confrontations were likely to be over and that the focus of political activity was inside the ruling Rastakhiz party, where reformists were attempting to position themselves for assuming power. Just over a month later, on 12 August, two days of intense rioting at Esfahan caused the imposition of martial law. A fortnight later came the first of several April 2019 | History Today | 39 28-45_iran_02.indd 39 06/03/2019 17:51 40 | History Today | April 2019 28-45_iran_02.indd 40 06/03/2019 17:51 April 2019 | History Today | 41 28-45_iran_02.indd 41 06/03/2019 17:51 calamities that would seal the monarchy’s fate. A fire, which would a couple of years later be attributed to Islamist supporters of Khomeini, destroyed a mostly wooden cinema at Abadan. Nearly 400 of those in attendance died. The event, which Khomeini deftly succeeded in turning into proof of the monarchy’s evilness, caused the downfall of the cabinet of the prime minister Jamshid Amouzegar, who was beginning to assert his authority, and his replacement by an ..

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