Islamic Republic of Iran PoliSci Department SUNY @ Stony Brook POL 103 (Section 2) Spring 2005 Instructor: Udi Sommer Comparative Politics
Geography - Borders • East - Pakistan (909km of border) and Afghanistan (936km) • Northeast - Turkmenistan (1000km) • North - the Caspian Sea, Azerbaijan (500km) and Armenia (35km) • West - Turkey (500km) and Iraq (1458km) • South - Persian Gulf and the Gulf of Oman
Political history • World War I • British interests in the Middle East (oil) • Iranian oil company is founded • Reza Khan – a modernizing tyrant with nationalist tendencies (builds roads, railways, unversities, student exchange) • Unpopularity at home, and suspicion he might join the Nazis abroad, lead to his fall
Political history • Role during World War II • Following WWII – heavy Soviet involvement in northern Iran. • Marks the beginning of the Cold War • Shah is replaced by his son under British influence • Hopes that Iran would be a constitutional monarchy
Political history • Politics quickly becomes unstable • Mussadegh rises to power • Initiates nationalization of oil industry • CIA makes efforts to depose Mussadegh • Under British and American influence the Shah forces Mussadegh from office. • Profits of oil company are shared evenly with foreign nations
The White Revolution • White as opposed to the Bolshevik revolution in Soviet Union which was red • A revolution from above • Shah wants to win progress economically and socially.
Elements of the Reform • Importing western economic ideas • Massive government financed heavy industries • Land reform • Women’s rights • Investment in education
Problems • No increase in democratic representation • Corruption • Not enough land to allow farmers to make their living • Shiite clergy displeased with reduction of their influence in education • Creates a major division in Iranian politics (reality in villages and reality in big cities)
2 types of opposition to the Shah • From the middle class – aspiring to establish a constitutional monarchy. • Opposition from religious sects – despise reforms and the White Revolution, and perceive the Shah to be an American puppet.
Ayatollah Khomeini • Leader of opposition to the Shah. • Exile • Turkey, Iraq, Paris • Organizes a broader populist movement, using recorded speeches on cassettes, and through mosques. • In 1978 it is the Islamic groups rather than the middle class that rally masses against the Shah.
Key elements of Iranian constitution • Establish and facilitate people’s ability to live Muslim life • Opposes monarchy • Relations with non-Islamic groups • Supervision by Islamic judges • Representation of minorities • Islamic Supreme Leader • Foreign policy – independence from USA and the Soviet Union.
The Constitution – its elements • Shiia Islam –official religion. • The Supreme Leader: • Head of state • Elected and (potentially) deposed by Assembly of Experts • Appoints the 6 religious members of the Council of Guardians. • May dismiss president.
The Constitution – its elements • The President: • Universal suffrage • 4 year terms • Appoints and supervises Council of Ministers. • Coordinates government • Selects policies • Council of Guardians screens candidates to the job.
The Constitution – its elements • The parliament – the Majles • Direct and secret ballot • All its legislation is reviewed by the Council of Guardians • No members of parliament are members of any of the councils or vice versa.
The Constitution – its elements • The Guardian Council of the Constitution • Authority to interpret constitution • Constitutional review of laws • Not a legislative body, but a power to veto. • Composed of 6 Islamic clerics (selected by the Supreme Leader), and 6 memebers who are lawyers. • Does not change with a change in Supreme Leader position
The Constitution – its elements • The Assembly of Experts: • Selects Supreme Leader • Supervises the activities of the Supreme Leader • Popularly elected • Currently this is a conservative stronghold and thus considered a threat to the reform movement
The Constitution – its elements • The Expediency Council • Resolves legislative issues that Majles and Council of Guardians fail to agree upon • Advises Supreme Leader on matters of national policy • Oversees important policies • Functions as a cabinet of Supreme Leader
The Constitution – its elements • Judicial Authority • Vested in the Head of the Judiciary, who is appointed by the Supreme Leader • As an administrative position a Minister of Justice is appointed by the president • Supervises enforcement of laws. • Establishes judicial and legal policies
Armed Forces Judicial Authority Key - supervise - advise - approval Expediency Council Supreme Leader Assembly of Experts President Council of Guardians 6 Religious Members 6 Lawyers Council ofMinisters Majles (The Parliament) voters The constitution – institutional arrangement
Economy 3 components: • State economy • Cooperative economy • Private economy Growth since revolution has slowed (due to revolution, war, oil price, management, inability to establish market economy)
Latest developments • Reformers in the Majles and presidency • Conservatives in the Council of Guardians and the Expediency Council • Effects of War in Iraq, war in Afghanistan, and ‘Axis of Evil’ • Relations with Turkey
Final comments • The importance of the geographical location to the centrality of Iran in world affairs – consequential to domestic politics (e.g. relations with the USA). • The level of democracy – some democratic features, defined as a non-democracy