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Chapter 14

Chapter 14. IRAN. Historical Turning Points. 559 BCE --- Empire of Cyrus the Great 332 BCE --- Conquest by Alexander the Great and the Greeks 250 BCE --- Parthian Dynasty 226 CE --- Sassanian Dynasty 638 --- Arab/Islamic Conquest 1219 --- Mongol Invasion

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Chapter 14

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  1. Chapter 14 IRAN

  2. Historical Turning Points • 559 BCE --- Empire of Cyrus the Great • 332 BCE --- Conquest by Alexander the Great and the Greeks • 250 BCE --- Parthian Dynasty • 226 CE --- Sassanian Dynasty • 638 --- Arab/Islamic Conquest • 1219 --- Mongol Invasion • 1501 --- Safavid Dynasty establishes Shiism as state religion • 1796 --- Qajar Dynasty

  3. Political Turning Points I • 1905 --- Constitutional Revolution • 1908 --- Oil discovered • 1925 --- Reza Khan overthrows Qajar Dynasty • 1941 --- Muhammad Reza Shah Pahlavi becomes shah • 1950’s --- Mossadeq nationalizes oil industry; US coup restores shah • 1960s-70s – White Revolution/Khomeini in exile • 1979 --- Islamic Revolution

  4. Political Turning Points II • 1980-1988 --- War with Iraq • 1989 --- Khomeini dies; Khamenei succeeds him as Supreme Leader after a power struggle in the Assembly of Religious experts • 1997 --- Reformist Khatami elected president • 2000 --- Reformist candidates win control of the Majlis • 2004 --- Conservatives regain control of Majlis • 2005 --- Conservative Ahmadinejad elected president

  5. Achemenian Empire (Persia) • Founded by Cyrus (6th century BCE) • Largest empire in the world at that time • Survived for 200 years • Centralized military leadership • Major rival was the Greeks • Both Greeks & Persians ultimately conquered by Alexander the Great • Alexander left Persian political structure relatively intact

  6. King Darius - Zoroastrianism • Iranian sovereigns were hereditary military leaders • Darius built capital of Persepolis • Built intricate system of roads • King’s authority supported by strong military as well as state-sponsored religion: Zoroastrianism • Zoroastrianism did not survive as major religion but continued to be practiced regularly until 7th century CE.

  7. Shi’ism • Between 7th & 16th centuries CE religion held Iran together • Numerous invasions by Arabs introduced Islam to the region • Even when Iranian caliphate was defeated by Mongols in 13th century the Mongolians converted to Islam • Shi’ism established as state religion in 16th century

  8. Shi’ism II • Shi’ites – after Muhammad’s death they felt that leadership of the Muslims should be hereditary and pass to Muhammad’s son-in-law, Ali. • Sunnis favored choosing a caliph from the accepted Sunni leadership • When Ali was killed the Shi’ite opinion became a minority one, but they kept their separate identity • True heirs of Islam were the descendants of Ali • The heirs (Imams) continued until the 9th century, when the 12th descendant disappeared as a a child, to become known as the “Hidden Imam”

  9. Twelver Shi’ism • “Hidden Imams” • 12th Imam disappeared as a child in 874 CE, did not die however, will come forward and show himself to establish just rule at the end of times, when injustice and corruption reign supreme (Messiah-like figure) • Ulema were willing to give the right to rule to the shahs as long as they ruled justly • By end of the 17th century for a shah’s rule to be legitimate he had to have the ulema’s endorsement • Ulema ultimately establish themselves as an institution independent of the state, tithes were often paid to the ulema directly giving them both political and economic influence • The center of Twelver Shi’ism is the city of Najaf, in Iraq

  10. Safavid Empire (1501-1722) • Established Shi’ite identity in Iran • By mid-17th century converted 90% of population to Shi’ism • Tolerated “People of the Book” – monotheistic religions based on holy books similar to the Qur’an • Serious economic problems do to breakup of the Silk Road • Had no money for large bureaucracy or standing army • Relied on local rulers to maintain order and collect taxes • Claimed absolute power but lacked a central state • Monarchy became separated from society and lost power by 1722

  11. Qajars (1794-1925) • Turkish people that reconquered Iran at end of 18th century • Moved capital to Tehran • Could not claim to be descendents of Twelve Imams • Shi’ite clerical leaders could claim more power as interpreters of Islam, separation between government and religion widened • Suffered land loss to European empires of 19th century, sold oil rights to British in the southwest • Shah led country into serious debt • Iranians upset over shah’s lavish lifestyle look for change that would be initiated by bankers and businessmen

  12. Constitutional Revolution • Constitution of 1906 • Elections • Separation of Powers • Laws made by an elected legislature • Popular sovereignty • Bill of Rights guaranteeing citizen equality, protection of the accused, and freedom of expression • Majlis & Guardian Council created • Shi’ism becomes official state religion

  13. Pahlavis (1925-1979) • By early 1920’s Iran in political and economic disarray • Majlis divided by quarreling factions • Iran divided into three parts after WWI with Russia and Great Britain each occupying a third of the country • Cossack Brigade of the Qajar’s led by Colonel Reza Khan carries out coup d’etat in 1921 and claims himself shah-in-shah in 1925 establishing the Pahlavi dynasty

  14. Pahlavi’s continued • Authoritarian rule reestablished in Iran • Majlis loses its power • Reza Shah passes power to his son, Muhammad Reza Shah in 1941 • Democratic experiment of 1906 constitution not forgotten, shah challenged domestically • Tudeh Party (communists) • National Front (nationalists) Muhammad Mossadeq • Mossadeq overthrown by CIA in 1953, Shah reinstated

  15. Pahlavi - OIL & the Rent-seeking state • Iran transformed into rent-seeking state under Pahlavi’s because of increasing income from oil • Rentier Economy: heavily supported by state expenditure, while the state receives “rents” from other countries • Iran received increasing revenue from exporting oil and leasing oil fields to foreign countries • Although shah promoted import substitution policies by 1979 oil & associated industries provided 97% of foreign exchange and majority of Iran’s GNP • Oil revenue became so great government did not have to rely on internal taxes to generate income, paid expenses from oil profits • The people become unnecessary to the government in a rentier state

  16. Pahlavi Influence • Centralized State • State banks • National radio/TV networks • National Iranian Oil Company (NOIC) • Central Bureaucracy controlled local governments • Majlis became “rubber-stamp” legislature • Secularization in judicial branch (European-style judicial system) • “White Revolution” • Armed forces 5th largest in world by 1979 • Patronage – shah’s boost personal wealth by seizing property and establishing tax-exempt Pahlavi Foundation that controlled large companies and fed their wealth • Muhammad Reza Shah formed Resurgence Party, claimed Iran was one-party state, named himself head

  17. Pahlavi – “White Revolution” • “White” to counter influence of “red” communists • Land reform – government bought land from large absentee owners and sold it to farmers at affordable prices • Encourage agricultural entrepreneurship with irrigation canals, dams, & tractors • Women’s rights (secularization) • Suffrage • Restricting Polygamy • Women allowed to work outside the home

  18. Islamic Revolution & the Republic (1979-present) • Dominant ideology of Iranian revolution: Religion • Leader a cleric (Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini) • Theocracy established • Fundamental Islam • Causes • Shah perceived as being totalitarian • Balance between secular and religious state ruptured • Ties with US and the Western world

  19. Khomeini, Fundamentalism, & Revolution • Islamic Fundamentalism • Literal interpretation of Islamic texts • Social conservatism • Political traditionalism • Resentment towards elites, US, and the Western world • US was the “Great Satan” • Velayat-e faqih (jurist’s guardianship) • Senior clergy given authority over entire Shi’ia community

  20. Revolution • Oil prices decrease about 10% in late 70s • Consumer prices in Iran increase about 20% at the same time • “Revolution of Rising Expectations” – revolutions occur when people are doing better than they once were and a set back occurs • US puts pressure on shat to loosen restrictions on civil society, in particular restraints on political opposition • Once restrictions were eased many groups join the revolt (students, teachers, labor groups, oil workers, merchants, and professional associations)

  21. Revolution II • 1978 • Unarmed demonstrators killed in central square Tehran • Oil workers go on strike • Anti-regime rallies attract 2 million participants • Rallies organized and led by clerics • Shah flees the country in February 1979 • Khomeini returns to Iran from exile in Paris

  22. Islamic Republic • April 1979 referendum held, Iranians officially vote out the shah, Islamic Republic established • Assembly of Religious Experts – 73 clerics elected by the people draft a new constitution in 1979 • US-Iranian hostage crisis on-going during vote to ratify constitution • 99% of electorate vote to endorse constitution although only 75% of eligible voters cast votes

  23. Khomeini & the Islamic Republic • Clerics consolidate power • Popular support for regime high • World oil prices rise again, allowing for social programs, improvements in medicine & housing • Iraq invades Iran, people rally around the government • Charisma of Khomeini inspired faith in the government • Khomeini dies in 1989, constitution amended • Ali Khamenei succeeds Khomeini, does not have the same political charisma as the Ayatollah • Iran/Iraq war ends in 1988, country war-torn • Oil prices drop in 1990’s • Population begins to question authoritarian rule of the clerics

  24. Constitution of 1979 • Document & 40 Amendments (Some added in 1989) • Mixture of theocracy and democracy • Preamble reflects importance of religion • Velayat-e faqih (Jurist’s guardianship) • Gave broad authority to Khomeini and the clerics

  25. Political Cleavages • Religion • Ethnicity • Social Class • Reformers vs. Conservatives

  26. Religion • 89% of Iranians are Shi’a Muslims • 10% are Sunni Muslim • The constitution does not mention Sunni’s and their legal status is therefore unknown • 1% are combination of Jews, Christians, Zoroastrians, and Baha’i • Constitution recognizes rights of religious minorities, many religious minorities have left country since Islamic Revolution • Baha’i considered unholy offshoot of Islam and they have been persecuted by Shi’ite governments. • Baha’i leaders have been executed, imprisoned, tortured, their schools closed and property confiscated

  27. Ethnicity • 51% Persian (speak Farsi) • 24% Azeri • Live mostly in the northwest close to Azerbaijan, this causes tension with Iranian government worried that Azeri may want to unite part of Iranian territory with Azerbaijan • Azeri do not speak Farsi, but they are mostly Shi’ite, Ali Khameini was Azeri • 8% Gilaki & Mazandarani • 7% Kurds • Predominantly Sunni • 3% Arabic • Predominantly Sunni

  28. Social Class • Peasantry and middle class support Islamic regime • Benefited from government social programs. • Provided electricity & paved roads • Middle & Upper-middle class largely secularized • Critical of clerics • Have not fared well economically under the Republic this reinforces their cultural and political views

  29. Political Culture • Authoritarianism (not totalitarianism) – leaders claim to be all powerful, but do not interfere with every aspect of the citizens lives • Union of political & religious authority • Shi’ism & Sharia – key components of everyday life • Escape from European Colonialism • Geographic Limitations – limited arable land forced expansion through military conquest, population of Iran unevenly distributed in cities and northwestern part of country • Influence of Ancient Persia

  30. Legitimacy of Modern State • Revolution of 1979 • Legitimacy attached to principles of Shi’ism • Constitution of 1979 • Amended in 1989

  31. Women & the Political System • Treatment of women in Iran is probably more contentious for Westerners than the majority of Iranian women • When shari’a law is interpreted narrowly women are considered wards of their male relatives • “Equality-with-difference” policy – instituted by the Islamic Republic slants law favorably towards men on issues such as divorce and custody • Women must wear scarves and long coats in public • Women can not leave country without consent of male relatives • Occasionally women stoned for committing adultery • Women allowed to get education in Iran and entrance into some occupations • Expectations for better jobs and increased political rights among educated women • Half of college students in Iran are women • Women make up 27% of the labor force

  32. Linkage Institutions • Political Parties • Elections • Interest Groups • Mass Media

  33. Political Parties • Constitution legalized political parties, but they were not allowed until Muhammad Khatami’s election (1997) • The Iranian Militant Clerics Society – left wing reform party led by Muhammad Khatami. • Khatami president from 1997-2005 • Several prominent politicians belong to this party including former Majlis speaker, and a vice-president • Candidate in 2005, Mehdi Karroubi, came in third • The Islamic Iran Participation Front – reformist party led by Khatami’s brother, Muhammad Reza Khatami • Founded in 1998, motto “Iran for all Iranians” • Did well in 2000 Majlis elections • Guardian Council barred many members from running in 2004 so membership declined

  34. Political Parties II • Executives of Construction Party – founded by several former cabinet members of President Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani • Important supporter of Rafsanjani and his political platform • Rafsanjani lost election runoff to Ahmadinejad by a large margin • The Islamic Society of Engineers – member of the conservative alliance, party of current president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who secured office in presidential election of 2005 • The “society” however did not support Ahmadinejad in the election, their candidate was Ali Larijani, who lost in first round

  35. Reformist Parties • Khordad Front (Alliance between Iranian Militant Clerics Society & Islamic Iran Participation Front) – the alliance helped win reelection for Khatami in 2000. • The Second Khordad Front did not survive in 2004 elections as Guardian Council banned many reformist candidates from Majlis elections • Liberation Movement – Moderate party, party founded by Mehdi Bazargan (Khomeini’s PM), in 1961 it was banned in 2002 as subversive organization • National Front – headed by Mossadeq in 1950, it was banned in late 1980s • Exile parties – Mojahedin (guerrilla group fought the shah); Fedayin (Marxist guerrillas modeled after Che Guevara); Tudeh (communist party)

  36. Elections • Citizens over 15 may vote • National elections held for the following: • Assembly of Religious Experts • Representative to the Majlis • President • Elections to Majlis and President are by plurality, winner-take all • Elections are done over two rounds • First round narrows field down to 2 candidates

  37. Majlis Election of 2004 Feb. 20, 2004 Council of Guardians banned thousands of candidates from mostly reformist parties Out of a possible 285 seats (5 reserved for religious minorities) reformist could only introduce 191 candidates 51% - Official voter turnout Conservative candidates won 70% of seats Presidential Election of 2005 Khatami steps down after serving two terms Guardian Council disqualifies about 1000 candidates Only 7 candidates run Akbar Hasemi Rafsanjani and Mahmoud Ahmadinejad Rafsanjani received 21% of the vote compared to Ahmadinejad’s 19% in the first round In second round runoff Ahmadinejad won with 62% of the vote Rafsanjani suffered from being unable to organize reformist vote behind him Elections II

  38. Interest Groups • It is difficult to distinguish between parties and interest groups in Iran • Most exile parties have members in Iran that work for their benefit • Interest Groups • Islamic Association of Women • Green Coalition • Workers’ House • Interest group for factory workers, have a political party as well, Islamic Labor Party • Hold a May Day rally every year, turned into protest in 1999 against conservative policies to water-down labor laws

  39. Mass Media • During and shortly after revolution 27 newspapers in total were shut down • In 1981 Majlis passed law making it illegal to use “pen and speech” against the government • Some restrictions have been lifted • Rafsanjani government allowed for debate in press on some controversial issues • Khatami administration issued permits to new publications in attempt to establish independent press • Many newspapers and magazines privately owned • Freedom of Press still a major issue between conservatives and reformists • In 2002, some 60 pro-reform newspapers were shut down • Iran’s elite are well-educated, and private media cater to their needs and interests • Radio & TV are government-run, Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting (IRIB)

  40. Government Institutions • Jurist’s Guardianship • Supreme Leader • Guardian Council • Assembly of Religious Experts • Expediency Council • President & Cabinet • Majlis • Judicial Branch • Military

  41. Velayat-e faqih (Jurist’s guardianship) • The principle instituted by Khomeini of overarching authority for different government institutions: • Supreme Leader • Guardian Council • Assembly of Religious Experts • Expediency Council • This authority is all-encompassing and is over whole community based on their ability to understand shari’a and their commitment to champion the rights of the people

  42. Supreme Leader • Position created for Khomeini, currently held by Ali Khomeini • Powers of Supreme Leader: • Elimination of presidential candidates • Dismissal of the president • Command armed forces • Declares war & peace • Appointment and removal of major administrators and judges • Nominates six members of Guardian Council • Appoints many non-governmental directors, such as radio/TV and semi-public foundations • Responsibilities of Supreme Leader: • faqih – he is the leading Islamic jurist to interpret shari’a and religious documents • Links three branches of government together • “Determining the interests of Islam”

  43. Guardian Council • 12 members • All Male • 6 members appointed by Supreme Leader • 6 members nominated by chief judge, approved by Majlis • Responsibilities • They represent theocratic principles within the government • Review bills passed by Majlis to ensure they conform with shari’a • Guardian Council and Supreme Leader together exercise principle of jurist’s guardianship (Make sure all democratic bodies adhere to Islamic laws & beliefs) • Power to decide who can compete in elections • In 2004 & 2005 disqualified thousands of candidates for both Majlis and presidential elections

  44. Assembly of Religious Experts • Expanded in 1989 to an 86 man house • Directly elected by the people • 4 year terms • Members originally required to have seminary degree equivalent to a master’s, 1998 revision now allows non-clerics to stand for Assembly – candidates still subject to approval by Council of Guardians • Responsibilities • Broad constitutional interpretation • Elected Khomeini’s successor (Khamenei) • Reserve right to remove supreme leader

  45. Expediency Council • Created by Khomeini • Main purpose to “referee” disputes between the Guardian Council and the Majlis • Began as a 13-member group including: president, chief judge, speaker of Majlis, and six jurists from the Guardian Council • 1989, Expediency Council passes some bills, and is institutionalized by constitutional amendments • Currently consists of 32 members • It may originate its own legislation • Not all members are clerics • Still appointed by Supreme Leader • Collectively most powerful men in Iran

  46. President & the Cabinet • Iran is not a presidential system, therefore the executive branch does not have the same authority as presidents in presidential systems such as U.S., Mexico, and Nigeria • President does represent highest official representing democratic principles in Iran • Chief executive, highest state official after Supreme Leader • Directly elected every 4 years • Constitution still requires the president to be a Shi’ite and uphold Islamic principles • All six presidents of the Islamic Republic have been clerics except for Abol-Hasan Bani-Sadr who was ousted in 1981 for criticizing the regime as a dictatorship

  47. President’s Power • Devising the Budget • Supervising economic matters • Proposing legislation to the Majlis • Executing policies • Signing of treaties, laws, and agreements • Chairing the National Security Council • Selecting vice presidents and cabinet ministers • Appointing provincial governors, town mayors, and ambassadors

  48. Cabinet’s Power • Conducts the day-to-day work of governance • Most new laws and the budget are initiated and devised by cabinet members • Then submitted to parliament for approval, modification, or rejection

  49. Bureaucracy • President heads up the bureaucracy that has doubled since 1979 • Provides jobs for high school and college graduates • Clergy dominates the bureaucracy, head ministers all clerics (Intelligence, Interior, Justice, Culture & Islamic Guidance) • Agencies • Culture and Islamic Guidance – censures media • Intelligence – chief security organization • Heavy Industry – manages factories • Reconstruction – expands social services and sees that Islam extends to countryside

  50. Semipublic Institutions • Theoretically autonomous • In reality they are directed by clerics appointed by the Supreme Leader • Usually called “foundations” (bonyads) • Foundation of the Oppressed • Martyrs Foundation • Foundation for the Publication of Imam Khomeini’s Works • Foundations are tax exempt • Reputed to have a great deal of wealth • Most property they supervise was confiscated from pre-1979 elite

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