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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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historical turning points
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
political turning points i
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
political turning points ii
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
achemenian empire persia
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
king darius zoroastrianism
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.
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
shi ism ii
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”
twelver shi ism
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
safavid empire 1501 1722
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
qajars 1794 1925
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
constitutional revolution
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
pahlavis 1925 1979
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
pahlavi s continued
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
pahlavi oil the rent seeking state
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
pahlavi influence
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
pahlavi white revolution
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
islamic revolution the republic 1979 present
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
khomeini fundamentalism revolution
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
  • 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)
revolution ii
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
islamic republic
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
khomeini the islamic republic
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
constitution of 1979
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
political cleavages
Political Cleavages
  • Religion
  • Ethnicity
  • Social Class
  • Reformers vs. Conservatives
  • 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
  • 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
social class
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
political culture
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
legitimacy of modern state
Legitimacy of Modern State
  • Revolution of 1979
    • Legitimacy attached to principles of Shi’ism
    • Constitution of 1979
      • Amended in 1989
women the political system
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
linkage institutions
Linkage Institutions
  • Political Parties
  • Elections
  • Interest Groups
  • Mass Media
political parties
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
political parties ii
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
reformist parties
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)
  • 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
elections ii
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
interest groups
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
mass media
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)
government institutions
Government Institutions
  • Jurist’s Guardianship
  • Supreme Leader
  • Guardian Council
  • Assembly of Religious Experts
  • Expediency Council
  • President & Cabinet
  • Majlis
  • Judicial Branch
  • Military
velayat e faqih jurist s guardianship
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
supreme leader
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”
guardian council
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
assembly of religious experts
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
expediency council
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
president the cabinet
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
president s power
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
cabinet s power
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
  • 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
semipublic institutions
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
legislature majlis
  • Unicameral legislature
      • Assembly of Religious Experts has served similar to an upper house since 1989 (Both groups are elected representatives)
  • Created by Constitution of 1906, however Constitution of 1979 and 1989 amendments weakened the Majlis power
  • 290 seats
  • All directly elected through single member districts by citizens over 15 years old
majlis authority
Majlis Authority
  • Powers of Majlis
      • Enacting or Changing Laws (with approval of Guardian Council)
      • Interpretation of legislation (as long as it does not contradict judicial authorities)
      • Appointment of 6 of 12 Guardian Council members from list made by chief judge
      • Investigation of the cabinet ministers and public complaints against the executive and judiciary
      • Removal of cabinet ministers, but not the president
      • Approval of budget, cabinet appointments, treaties, & loans
majlis elections
Election of 2000

Reformists fill seats through coalition of reformist parties (Khordad Front)

Reformists win 80% of the vote, most secular voters whose parties were banned supported the reformists.

Election of 2004

Guardian Council bans thousands of reformist candidates

Overwhelming victory for conservatives

Control of the Majlis flips from the reformists to the conservative faction

Majlis elections
  • Distinction between two types of law: shari’a & qanun
  • Judicial review does not exist in Iran
  • Principle of jurist’s guardianship means that the Supreme Leader, the Guardian Council, and the Assembly of Religious Experts have final say regarding interpretation of law
  • Ultimate legal authority does not rest in the constitution, but in shari’a law itself
  • Because interpreting shari’a is difficult it has been applied in different ways at various times
  • Because of Ayatollah Khomeini interpretation of shari’a came to be the standard that would influence all succeeding Iranian leaders
judiciary ii
Judiciary II
  • Islamic Republic
    • Islamicized the judiciary code to interpret shari’a strictly
    • Retribution Law
      • Permitted families to demand “blood money” – compensation to the victim’s family from those responsible for someone’s death
      • Mandated the death penalty for actions such as adultery, homosexuality, drug dealing and alcoholism
      • Set up unequal treatment between men & women, and Muslims & non-Muslims
      • Banned interest rates on loans, viewed as usury, which means lenders take advantage of people seeking loans
Shari 'a

Islamic law

Considered to be foundation of all Islamic civilization

Embodies a vision of a community in which all Muslims are brothers and sisters subscribe to the same moral values

Shari’a supersedes all other law in Iranian society

Supreme leaders authority and the jurist’s guardianship based on importance of shari’a


No sacred basis

Statutes passed by Majlis

“the People’s Law”

Can never contradict shari’a

Guardian Council & Supreme Leader must make sure all laws apply interpretations of shari’a

law justice
Law & Justice
  • Khomeini realized that despite the influence of shari’a judges, the regime did need a centralized judicial system to tend to matters of justice in an orderly manner
  • The interpretation of shari’a was broadened so that the harsh penalties of the Retribution Law are rarely carried out
      • Modern methods of punishment are more common than harsh public retribution
  • Regime retained the shah’s court structure
      • Appeals system
      • Hierarchy of state courts
      • Central government’s right to appoint and dismiss judges
  • Revolutionary Guard – established by Khomeini after the revolution, a parallel military force to the shah’s traditional armed forces that were the 5th largest at the time
  • Commanders of the Revolutionary Guard are appointed by the Supreme Leader
  • According to the constitution, the regular army defends the borders, the Revolutionary Guard protects the republic
  • Both were greatly strained during the Iran-Iraq War of the 1980’s
  • Basij – volunteer militia of those to young to serve created during Iran-Iraq War.
    • Martyred by Khomeini against the invading Iraqi troops
    • After the war they became the Supreme Leader’s private militia
    • Currently serve as the Islamic Republic’s “morality police” (Comparable to Hitler Nazi Youth)
  • Iran’s armed forces currently have over 500,000 active troops making it the 8th largest military in the world
public policy policy making factions

Created by often contradictory influences of theocracy & democracy

Conservatives uphold principles of regime established in 1979

Against modernization because it threatens Shi’ism

Wary of western influence

Political & religious decision should be synonymous

Support right of clerics to run the political system


Believe political system needs reform (but disagree on what reforms)

Advocate some degree of international involvement with western countries

Believe Shi’ism is important basis of Iranian society

Support idea that political leaders do not have to be clerics

Public Policy:Policy-Making Factions
public policy policy making factions ii

Government should take active role in the economy

Not necessarily communists

Policy goals include:

Redistribute land

Redistribute wealth

Eliminate unemployment

Finance Social Welfare Programs

Price restrictions on Consumer goods


Similar market principles to the US, but in a theocratic/democratic state

Liberal Economic Policies

Remove price controls

Lower business taxes

Encourage private enterprise

Balance the budget

Public Policy:Policy-Making Factions II
public policy
Public Policy
  • Majority of policy issues among factions stem from the “theocratic vs. democratic” debate
  • Policy issues have recently led to a drain of the “best & brightest” from Iran do to frustration with government
  • Policy-making factional disagreements over relationship with US & Economic issues
us relations
US Relations
  • Reformists & Conservatives constantly disagree regarding diplomatic relations with the US
      • Ex: Following 9-11-01, President Khatami immediately offered his condolences to American people, but Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei forbid public debate about improving relations with US, and implied Americans brought the situation on themselves
  • Nuclear Weapons
    • For energy or defense?
economic policy
Economic Policy
  • Oil creates vertical divide among elites in Iran
      • Elites with close ties to the oil state


      • Traditional sector of the clergy
  • Instability of Oil prices effects the economy of this rentier state
  • Attitudes toward supranational organizations (WTO, UN, World Bank) are mixed. Iran’s application for admittance to the WTO in 1996 rejected
    • Based on difficulties in making foreign investments in the country
    • US opposed Iran’s entry into WTO
  • Economic policy characterized by internal bickering
    • Ex: Bill drafted in 2002 by Majlis would have allowed foreigners to own as much as 100% of any firm in the country (up from 48%). The bill came from reformists, the bill was not approved by Guardian Council. Conservatives worry about influence of secular prosperity on Shi’ism