Iran Second largest country in the Middle East. Huge oil reserves, much of the land is rugged and is a large plateau. Oil makes up over 25% of the nations income. The 1979 Revolution and a long war with Iraq depleted their output. The people are mostly Persians, Kurds, and Armenians. Only a small percentage are Arabs.
US Interest in Iran • In Iran in the 1950’s the country was in the process of westernization. We helped them develop their oil fields and other basic industries to fund their government. • The Soviet Union had invaded Iran during WWII, and was making their presences felt. • Dr. Mohammad Mosaddeq was an European educated lawyer who rivaled the Pahlavi’s for rule in Iran. • He became a member of the legislature in Iran and by 1951, rose to Prime Minister through a popular vote.
After elected, Mosaddeq displayed a streak of dictatorship; bypassing Parliament, he conducted a national referendum to win approval for Parliament’s dissolution. • Meanwhile, the United States became alarmed at the strength of Iran's Communist Party, which supported Dr. Mosaddeq. • In 1953, under President Eisenhower, a CIA operation called operation TP-AJAX forced the prime minister out of office and gave supported to Rezi Pahlavi as Shah of Iran.
The Shah increased his authoritarian power by passing land reform and other pro-western policies. • This agitated religious leaders, and when he named himself King of kings and crowned his wife as Empress, scholars and students began to lose support for the lack of real democratic reform. • It becomes obvious when Shah Palavi is overthrown and flees to Egypt, the history of US involvement in Iran causes a lack of trust for any western government. • We gave them democracy, yet when they elected someone they liked and we feared, we replaced him.
The Ayatollah (a title which is the highest that can be held by a Shiite Muslim religious leader) Ruhollah Khomeini who was exiled in France, spoke out against the shah and condemned western influences on his country. • In 1979, unrest caused the shah to flee Iran. • Khomeini returned and lead an Islamic revolt. • He was able to seize power, made Iran a Theocracy with the Koran the basis of all law, and replaced secular courts with religious ones.
Revolutionaries in Iran held 52 Americans hostage when they stormed the Embassy in Tehran. • They held them for 444 days until President Jimmy Carter left office. • It was seen as a great blow to the United States. Yet the revolutionaries suffered the recourse of isolation from the west. The economy suffered because of US sanctions. • Eventually new ties after Khomeini’s eased some of the tension in Iran, but trouble remains. • Mahmoud Ahmadinejad was elected in 2005 until Hassan Rouhani was elected as President of Iran in June 2013.