History of the Islamic Republic of Iran


History of the Islamic Republic of Iran

One of the most dramatic changes in government in Iran's history was seen with the 1979 Iranian Revolution where Shah (king) Mohammad Reza Pahlavi was overthrown and replaced by Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini. Autocratic monarchy was replaced by an Islamic Republic based on the principle of rule by Islamic jurists, (or ""), where clerics serve as head of state and in many powerful governmental roles. A pro-Western, pro-American foreign policy was exchanged for one of "neither east nor west," said to rest on the three "pillars" of mandatory veil ("hijab") for women, and opposition to the United States and Israel. [ [http://www.carnegieendowment.org/files/sadjadpour_iran_final2.pdf Reading Khamenei by Karmin Sadjadpour ] p.14] A rapidly modernizing, capitalist economy was replaced by populist and Islamic economic and cultural policies.

The leader of the revolution and founder of the Islamic Republic, Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, was Iran's supreme leader until his death in 1989. [http://www.britannica.com/eb/article-32981 Encyclopædia Britannica] .] He was followed by Ali Khamenei.

General trends

The success of the Islamic Republic is disputed. President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has called it "a perfect model of splendid, humane, and divine life ... for all the peoples of the world." [Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, [http://www.memritv.org/Transcript.asp?P1=1288 "As Soon as Iran Achieves Advanced Technologies, It Has the Capacity to Become an Invincible Global Power] ," 9/28/2006 Clip No. 1288.]

While others, such as journalist Afshin Molavi, claim that

over the past 26 years, Iranians have witnessed the collapse of an idea. Khomeinism, the idea that clerics should rule the state, has died in the court of [Iranian] public opinion. [Molavi, Afshin "The Soul of Iran", Norton, (2005), p.343]

Religion

Iran is governed by Sharia law. It is one of the few Muslim countries where hijab for women is required by law. At the same time, it has "the lowest mosque attendance of any Islamic country," according to Zohreh Soleimani of the BBC. [http://www.bbc.co.uk/worldservice/documentaries/2008/09/080925_children_of_revolution_one.shtml children of the revolution] ] Iranian clergy have complained that more than 70% of the population do not perform their daily prayers and that less than 2% attend Friday mosques. ["Economist" 16, January 2003]

Foreign policy

Following the 1979 revolution in Iran, the Islamic revolutionary regime of Ayatollah Khomeini dramatically reversed the pro-Western foreign policy of the regime it overthrew. Since then Iran has oscillated between the two opposing tendencies of revolutionary ardour - eliminating western non-Muslim tendencies and promoting the Islamic revolution abroad - and moves towards pragmatism - promoting normalization and economic development. Iran's initial post-revolutionary idealistic and hard-line foreign policy and ambitious goals during the Iran–Iraq War were replaced by more pragmatic policies after the Imam's death in 1989. Relations improved with its non-Revolutionary-Islamic neighbours - i.e. all its neighbors - particularly Saudi Arabia. Following the 2005 election of President Ahmedinejad, Iran has returned to more Islamic revolutionary policies.

The Islamic Republic's sponsorship of Hezbollah in Lebanon has been a major success, however in other areas it has seen setbacks. Author Olivier Roy describes the Islamic Republic's as having "lost most of its allure among non-Iranian Shia's," giving as examples the 1995 house arrest in Qom of the two sons of Grand Ayatollah Shirazi, spiritual leader of the Bahraini Shia; and the close cooperation between the Afghan Shia party Wahdat and the U.S. Army after November 2001. [Roy, Olivier, "Globalized Islam", Columbia University Press, 2004, p.67-8]

The Islamic Republic strongly supports the Palestinian cause. Government aid goes to everything from Palestinian hospitals to arms supplies. There is vigorous media publicity, an official "Quds (Jerusalem) Day", and squares and streets named after Palestine crisscross Iranian cities. Some, however, believe Palestine is an issue where Islamic government priorities part company from grassroots support, and that Iranians "lack emotional and cultural ties to Palestinians." [Molavi, Afshin, "The Soul of Iran", Norton, (2005), p.59]

Foreign policy events

The Soviet invasion of Afghanistan (1980) had brought some 3 million Afghan refugees to Iran. In 1989 Khomeini died and was succeeded by Iran's president, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. The presidency was soon filled by Ali Akbar Rafsanjani, who sought improved relations and with Western nations while somewhat diminishing the influence of revolutionary factions and embarking on a military buildup.

When Iraq invaded Kuwait in Aug., 1990, Iran adhered to international sanctions against Iraq. However, Iran condemned the use of U.S.-led coalition forces against Iraq during the Persian Gulf War (1991). As a result of the war and its aftermath, more than one million Kurds crossed the Iraqi border into Iran as refugees.

Rafsanjani was reelected president in 1993. The United States suspended all trade with Iran in 1995, accusing Iran of supporting terrorist groups and attempting to develop nuclear weapons. In 1997, Mohammad Khatami, a moderately liberal Muslim cleric, was elected president. Also in 1997, several European Union countries began renewing economic ties with Iran in the late 1990s; the United States, however, continued to block more normalized relations, arguing that the country had been implicated in international terrorism and was developing a nuclear weapons capacity. In 1999, as new curbs were put on a free press, prodemocracy student demonstrations erupted at Tehran University and other urban campuses. These were followed by a wave of counter demonstrations by conservative factions.

On January 29 2002 in his State of the Union Address United States President George W. Bush labeled Iran, along with Iraq, and North Korea as an "Axis of evil" The speech sparked widespread demonstrations all across Iran.

Tensions with the United States increased after the Anglo-American invasion of Iraq in March, 2003, as U.S. officials increasingly denounced Iran for pursuing the alleged development of nuclear weapons.

Hezbollah's dependence on Iran for military and financial aid is heavily debated, and the Israel-Hezbollah 2006 War provided an eye-opening for the world of Hezbollah weapons said to be Iranian imports.Military and economic aid in the 2006 Israel-Lebanon conflict#Military aid from Iran Military Aid from Iran, 2006 Israel-Lebanon Conflict, Wikipedia.] [http://www.globalsecurity.org/military/world/para/hizballah.htm Hizballah] , [http://globalsecurity.org./ Global Security] .]

Human development

Iran's Human Development Index rating (including life expectancy, literacy, education, and standard of living) improved significantly in the years after the revolution, climbing from 0.569 in 1980 to 0.759 in 2007/8. [ [http://globalis.gvu.unu.edu/indicator_detail.cfm?country=IR&indicatorid=15 Iran: Human Development Index] ] It now ranks 94th out of 177 countries with data. [ [http://hdrstats.undp.org/countries/country_fact_sheets/cty_fs_IRN.html Iran (Islamic Republic of) The Human Development Index - going beyond income] ] This is approximately the same rate, as neighbor Turkey which has a slightly higher HDI rating (0.775). [ [http://globalis.gvu.unu.edu/indicator_detail.cfm?country=TR&indicatorid=15 Turkey: Human Development Index] ] One factor in the HDI rise has been literacy rates among Iranian women which "rose from 28% to 80% between 1976 and 1996." [Roy, Olivier, "Globalized Islam : the Search for a New Ummah," Columbia University Press, 2004, p.14]

Although the Shah's regime had created a popular and successful Literacy Corps and also worked to raise literacy rates, ["Iran, the Essential Guide to a Country on the Brink", Encyclopaedia Britannica, 2006, p.212] the Islamic Republic based its educational reforms on Islamic principles. The Literacy Movement Organization (LMO), replaced the Literacy Corps following the revolution [ [http://www2.unesco.org/wef/countryreports/iran/rapport_1.html Iran] , the UNESCO EFA 2000 Assessment: Country Reports.] and is credited with much of Iran's continued success in reducing illiteracy from 52.5 per cent in 1976 to just 24 per cent, at the last count in 2002. [ [http://www.accu.or.jp/litdbase/policy/irn/index.htm National Literacy Policies, Islamic Republic of Iran] ] The movement has established over 2,000 community learning centers across the country, employed some 55,000 instructors, distributed 300 easy-to-read books and manuals, and provided literacy classes to a million people, men as well as women. [http://www.ungei.org/infobycountry/iran_550.html Adult education offers new opportunities and options to Iranian women] , UNGEI.] [ [http://www.unfpa.org/news/news.cfm?ID=756&Language=1 Adult education offers new opportunities and options to Iranian women] , UNFPA.]

In the field of health, maternal and infant mortality rates have been cut significantly. [Howard, Jane. "Inside Iran: Women's Lives", Mage publishers, 2002, p.89]

Economy

This improvement in Iran's human development figures is particularly impressive given that Iran's economy has stagnated since the revolution - gross national income per capita was $2,160 in 1981 and had only grown to $2,770 in 2005 (for comparison the UK's GNI quadrupled in the same time period) [ [http://www.newint.org/features/2007/03/01/facts/ New Internationalist: Iran - The Facts] ] .

This is credited in part to the shattering of the Iranian oil sector and consequent loss of output from the revolution and Iran–Iraq War and Iran's soaring population over the same period. see|1979 energy crisis.

Complaining about the economy is said to have become "a national pastime" in Iran. [ Molavi, Afshin, "The Soul of Iran", Norton, (2005), p.114] According to international economic consultant Jahangir Amuzegar, as of 2003:

Despite a 100 percent rise in average annual oil income since the revolution, most indicators of economic welfare have steadily deteriorated. … Average inflation in the years after the revolution has been at least twice as high as during the 1970s, unemployment has been three times higher, and economic growth is two-thirds lower. As a result, Iran's per capita income has declined by at least 30 percent since 1979. By official admission, more than 15 percent of the population now lives below the absolute poverty line, and private estimates run as high as 40 percent. ["Iran's Crumbling Revolution", Jahangir Amuzegar. "Foreign Affairs." Jan/Feb 2003., V.82, N.1 ]

Another economist estimates that Iranians earn one-forth of what they did before the revolution in real terms. Accumulated assets of the Iranian middle class - carpets, gold, apartments - that were acquired in the four-year boom after the 1973 oil price rise and served to cushion the fall in standards of living, have now reportedly "largely been sold off." [Molavi, Afshin, "The Soul of Iran", Norton, (2005), p.17]

The poor have also exhibited dissatisfaction. Absolute poverty rose by nearly 45% during the first 6 years of the Islamic revolution [ Based on the government's own Planning and Budget Organization statistics, from: Jahangir Amuzegar, `The Iranian Economy before and after the Revolution,` "Middle East Journal" 46, n.3 (summer 1992): 421)] and on several occasions the "mustazafin" have rioted, protesting the demolition of their shantytowns and rising food prices. Disabled war veterans have demonstrated against mismanagement of the Foundation of the Disinherited. [ [http://gemsofislamism.tripod.com/khomeini_promises_kept.html#Class_Division The Case of Iran- Class Division and Poverty Will Not Be Tolerated] Hardship has compelled some children to take odd jobs rather than go to school. [ [http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZVJgeSOHW6k&mode=related&search= video of "Labour children in Iran" بچه های کار در ايران ] ]

A 2002 study leaked from Iran's Interior Ministry, reported nearly 90% of respondents dissatisfied with the present government according to Amuzegar. Of this total, 28% wanted "fundamental" changes, 66% "gradual reforms." 10% expressed satisfaction with the status quo.

According British-Iranian scholar, Ali M. Ansari, "Iranians joke" that with the world's second or third largest reserves of oil and natural gas, extensive deposits of copper, gold, uranium, as well as an educated and cohesive workforce, "they are blessed with all the facilities to be the industrial engine of the region, except good governance." [ [http://books.google.com/books?id=fvRObgMdsYYC&dq=%22confronting+iran%22+by+ansari&pg=PP1&ots=x12XoqsXqK&sig=sdwEbPDlmVurt2NQO3ILHmdUE_o&hl=en&prev=http://www.google.com/search?sourceid=navclient&ie=UTF-8&rlz=1T4ADBR_enUS227US227&q=%22confronting+iran%22by+ansari&sa=X&oi=print&ct=title&cad=one-book-with-thumbnail#PPA3,M1 Confronting Iran: The Failure of American Foreign Policy and the Next Great Conflict in the Middle East By Ali M. Ansari] ]

Corruption

According to some observers, corruption in Iran compares unfavorably with pre-revolutionary days. Foreign journalist Robin Wright quotes a bazaari as saying "The clergy tries to keep itself clean. But you can't do anything anymore without paying off this mullah's son or that mullah's brother-in-law - and these days usually both."

Bribery "in Iran... was increasingly becoming the biggest part of a business deal - and a lot of other transactions too. Iranians called it bribery, or "oiling the mustache," was commonly practiced before the revolution, but payoffs then "were usually a one-time thing of a known amount. Two decades after the revolution, even the smallest service called for bribes to several different parties. [The Last Great Revolution by Robin Wright c2000, p.280]

Emigration

Journalists report complaints that, "these days, if a student is lucky enough to study in the West, he will rarely come home. There are so few good jobs that everyone, from students to middle-aged engineers, is looking for a way out." [Molavi, Afshan, The Soul of Iran, Norton, (2005), p.14] In part because of the economy, an estimated "two to four million entrepreneurs, professionals, technicians, and skilled craftspeople (and their capital)" emigrated to other countries following the revolution. [ [http://www.washingtoninstitute.org/templateC04.php?CID=23 "Iran's Economic Morass: Mismanagement and Decline under the Islamic Republic"] ISBN 0-944029-67-1]

Emigration from Iran, starting with young males fleeing from the Iran–Iraq War draft, is thought be some to be the feature of the Islamic Republic most resented by Iranians. According to Shirin Ebadi, "If you ask most Iranians what "keeneh", what grievance, they nurture most bitterly against the Islamic Republic, it is the tearing apart of their families ... had the revolutionaries tempered their wild radicalism, had they not replaced then shah with a regime that prompted mass flight, their families would still be whole." [Ebadi, Shirin, "Iran Awakening : A Memoir of Revolution and Hope" by Shirin Ebadi with Azadeh Moaveni, Random House, 2006, p.78-9]

ociety

While the revolution brought about some re-Islamisation of Iran, particularly in terms of personal appearance -- beards, hijab -- it has not prompted a reversal of some modernizing trends or a reversion to traditional patterns of family life, (such as polygamy and the extended family with numerous children).

Despite the lowering of the legal age of marriage for women fell to 9, [ [http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_m2872/is_1_27/ai_71563378 Council Of Guardians Rules 9 Years Is Girls' Marriage Age ] accessed 7-26-2007] and the Ayatollah Khomeini's support for early marriage for females,

It is recommended that one hurries in giving husband to a daughter who has attained puberty, meaning that she is of the age of religious accountability. His Holiness, Sadegh [the 6th Imam] salutations to him, bade that it is one of a man's good fortunes that his daughter does not see menses in his own house. [Fatwa #2459 from A Clarification of Questions : An Unabridged Translation of Resaleh Towzih al-Masael by Ayatollah Sayyed Ruhollah Mousavi Khomeini; Translated by J. Borujerdi, with a Foreword by Michael M. J. Fischer and Mehdi Abedi; Westview Press/ Boulder and London, c1984)]

the actual average age of marriage for women rose to 22 by 1996. Thus the age difference between husbands and wives in Iran actually fell between 1980 and 2000, from 7 to 2.1 years. [ see Marie Ladier-Fouladi, Population et politique en Iran, Paris: Institut national d'etudes demographiques, 2003.] (The man's average age at marriage has remained around 24.4 over the past 20 years, which means greater educational equality between spouses.)

Nor has Islamisation of family law lead to an increase in the number of polygamous families or more frequent divorces. Polygamy has remained at about 2% of permanent marriages during the past 40 years and the divorce rate has decreased slightly since the 1970s. [Marie Ladier-Fouladi, cited in Azadeh Kian-Thiebaut, Femmes iranieenes entre islam, Etat, famille, Paris: Maisonneuve et Larose, 2000, pp.128, 149.]

Population growth was encouraged for the first nine years of the revolution, but in 1988 youth unemployment concerns prompted the government to do "an amazing U-turn" and Iran now has "one of the world's most effective" family planning programs. [Keddie, Modern Iran (2003) p.287-8]

After Iranian revolution, Iranian women have continued to occupy high positions in political system. In late 1990s, Iranians sent more women to Iranian parliament than Americans sent to U.S. senate. [ [http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=-1906961103476312537&q=Dabashi&total=1&start=0&num=10&so=0&type=search&plindex=0 "The Culture of Imperialism"; "Iranian Women and the Effects of a Possible War" ] ]

The success of elimination of Western influence has also been mixed. A common Western custom - the wearing of neckties - is banned in government buildings in Iran. [Molavi, Afshin, "The Soul of Iran", Norton (2005), p.45 ] Western music is banned even more thoroughly, [ [http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/middle_east/4543720.stm Iran president bans Western music ] ] but observors note it is nonetheless popular and widespread. [Molavi, Afshin, "The Soul of Iran", Norton (2005), p.10 ]

Natural disasters

An earthquake, centered on Bam in SE Iran, killed more than 26,000 people in Dec 2003. A major earthquake hit N Iran on June 21 1990, killing nearly 40,000 people.

cientific development

Iran's scientific progress is subject to many problems including funding, international sanctions and management. However in some areas such as medicine, surgery, pharmacology, stem cell research and theoretical physics (e.g. string theory), Iranian scientists have found international reputation since the Iranian revolution. Perhaps, nuclear technology and stem cell research were the two fields that have enjoyed special support from the central government and Iranian leadership since the revolution. [ [http://www.payvand.com/news/03/sep/1010.html Iran, 10th country to produce embryonic human stem cell ] ]

Iran has some of the most liberal laws on stem cell research. [ [http://edition.cnn.com/2006/WORLD/meast/11/16/raman.iranstemcell/index.html Iran in the forefront when it comes to stem cell research - CNN.com ] ] This has helped Iran to place itself among leaders of stem cell technology. However, the United States, followed by Germany, is by far the world’s leader in the total number of stem cell articles published. [http://www.stemcellresearch.org/facts/fallingbehindmyth2.pdf] In terms of articles per capita basis, Israel is the leading state. Iran with one paper per capita has been ranked 16th along with Czech Republic, Spain, Romania, Switzerland and Turkey. Except for 21 countries, all other states produced no published research in this field till 2007. [ [http://www.jpost.com/servlet/Satellite?cid=1159193379030&pagename=JPost%2FJPArticle%2FShowFull Israeli human embryonic stem cell research is 2nd in world | Jerusalem Post ] ]

Iran had some significant successes in nuclear technology during last few decades, especially in nuclear medicine. However, there is hardly any connection between Iran's scientific society and that of the Iran's nuclear program. [ [http://www.nature.com/nature/podcast/v443/n7110/nature-2006-09-28.html "Nature: Prof Reza Mansouri comments on Nuclear issue and existing hostilities toward Iranian scientists"] ]

Iran's national science budget is about $900 million and it has not been subject to any significant increase since 15 years ago. [http://www.sciencemag.org/cgi/content/full/309/5742/1802?maxtoshow=&HITS=10&hits=10&RESULTFORMAT=&fulltext=iran&searchid=1138556046976_3291&FIRSTINDEX=0&journalcode=sci] United States federal budget for 2007 was $25 billion, more than 25 time above Iran's budget.

Khomeini era

Islamic Revolution

Islamic Republic of Iran began with the Iranian Revolution. Although some might argue that the revolution is still ongoing, its time span can be said to have begun in January 1978 with the first major demonstrations to overthrow the Shah, [ [http://www.fsmitha.com/h2/ch29ir.html The Iranian Revolution] .] and concluded with the approval of the new theocratic Constitution — whereby Khomeini became Supreme Leader of the country — in December 1979. In between, Mohammad Reza Pahlavi fled Iran in January 1979 after strikes and demonstrations paralyzed the country, and on February 1, 1979 Ayatollah Khomeini returned to Tehran to a greeting by several million Iranians. [http://www.britanniaca.com/eb/article-9045329 Ruhollah Khomeini] , Encyclopedia Britannica.] The final collapse of the Pahlavi dynasty occurred shortly after on February 11 when Iran's military declared itself "neutral" after guerrillas and rebel troops overwhelmed troops loyal to the Shah in armed street fighting. Iran officially became an Islamic Republic on April 1, 1979 when Iranians overwhelmingly approved a national referendum to make it so. [ [http://www.britannica.com/ebi/article-202892 Iran Islamic Republic] , Encyclopedia Britannica.]

Initial international impact

The initial impact of the Islamic revolution around the world was striking. In the non-Muslim world it has changed the image of Islam, generating much interest in the politics and spirituality of Islam. [Shawcross, William, "The Shah's Last Ride" (1988), p. 110.] In the Mideast and Muslim world, particularly in its early years, it triggered enormous enthusiasm and redoubled opposition to western intervention and influence. Islamist insurgents rose in Saudi Arabia (the 1979 week-long takeover of the Grand Mosque), Egypt (the 1981 machine-gunning of the Egyptian President Sadat), Syria (the Muslim Brotherhood rebellion in Hama), and Lebanon (the 1983 bombing of the American Embassy and French and American peace-keeping troops). [http://www.geocities.com/martinkramerorg/FundamentalistPower.htm Fundamentalist Power] , Martin Kramer.]

Hostage crisis

An event that helped radicalize the revolution and strengthen its anti-American stance was the Iran hostage crisis. On November 4, 1979, Iranian students seized the U.S. embassy in Tehran holding 52 embassy employees hostage for a 444 days. The Carter administration severed diplomatic relations and imposed economic sanctions on April 7, 1980 and later that month unsuccessfully attempted a rescue that further enhanced Khomeini's prestige in Iran. On May 24 the International Court of Justice called for the hostages to be released. Finally the hostages were released 20 January 1981, by agreement of the Carter Administration, see Algiers Accords Jan. 19, 1981. The crisis also marked the beginning of American legal action, or sanctions, that economically separated Iran from America. Sanctions blocked all property within US jurisdiction owned by the Central Bank and Government of Iran. [ [http://www.mafhoum.com/press3/108E16.htm History Of US Sanctions Against Iran] Middle East Economic Survey, 26-August-2002]

Iran–Iraq War

The eight year long Iran–Iraq War also helped strengthen the revolution although it cost Iran much in lives and treasure. The war began when Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein decided to take advantage of what he perceived to be disorder in the wake of the Iranian Revolution and its unpopularity with Western governments. The once-strong Iranian military had been disbanded during the revolution. Saddam sought to expand Iraq's access to the Persian Gulf by acquiring territories that Iraq had claimed earlier from Iran during the Shah's rule. Of chief importance to Iraq was Khuzestan which not only has a substantial Arab population, but most of Iran's enormous oil reserves. On the unilateral behalf of the United Arab Emirates, the islands of Abu Musa and the Greater and Lesser Tunbs became objectives as well. With these ambitions in mind, Hussein planned a full-scale assault on Iran, boasting that his forces could reach the capital within three days.

On September 22, 1980 Iraq invaded Iran. Official U.S. policy sought to isolate Iran, and the U.S. and its allies supplied Iraq with weapons and technology to maintain a balance in the war, as policy of dual containment. Iraq obtained most of its weaponry from the Soviets, China, and France. Members of the Reagan Administration covertly sold anti-tank missiles and spare parts to Iran in what became known as the Iran-Contra affair. Iraq also bombed civilians and used chemical weapons against Iran.

On the 14 April 1988, an American guided missile frigate, the Samuel B. Roberts, was damaged after Iran had mined parts of the Persian Gulf. On the 18th of April, the US responded in Operation Praying Mantis by attacking two Iranian oil platforms. In the ensuing battle, two Iranian warships and several armed speedboats were sunk.

On July 3 1988 the USS "Vincennes" shot down Iran Air Flight 655 en route to Dubai killing all 290 people on board. Eight years later, the United States agreed to pay Iran US$61.8 million in compensation, but denied any responsibility or liability for the incident. See Iran Air Flight 655.

After eight years of war with great losses on each side Iran finally agreed to in 1988 to end the war. Nonetheless, severe fighting continued into the 1990s (and even to the present on a smaller scale [http://www.iranian.ws/iran_news/publish/article_8780.shtml Iran News] .] ) as Kurdish, nationalist, and communist forces fought the Iranian government. Disputed-inline

The war is reconned to have ended in a "draw", with no change in borders or regimes, ["The Longest War : Iran-Iraq Military Conflict" by Dilip Hiro, (1991), p.255] an estimated 200,000 Iranian killed [IRI government estimate is 200,000 Iranian troops and civilians killed. ] and cost Iran $627 billion in total direct and indirect costs (in 1990 dollars). ["The Longest War : Iran-Iraq Military Conflict" by Dilip Hiro, (1991), p.250-1] Nonetheless the war helped to `awaken the people and to fight the problems that threaten the revolution,` in the word of Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani [Hiro, Dilip, The Longest War, Routledge, 1991, p.257]

Post-Khomeini era

President Rafsanjani's administration

"See also: Rafsanjani presidency"Rafsanjani served as President of Iran from August 17, 1989 to August 1997. He has been described as edged out more revolutionary "isolationist rivals" from power and pursuing a more pragmatic `economy-first` policy. [Pasri, Trita, "Treacherous Alliance : the secret dealings of Israel, Iran and the United States", Yale University Press, 2007, p.132]

President Khatami's reform era

"See also: Iranian reform movement"

The eight years of Mohammad Khatami's term as president from 1997-2005 are sometimes called Iran's Reform Era. [Ebadi, Shirin, Iran Awakening : A Memoir of Revolution and Hope by Shirin Ebadi with Azadeh Moaveni, Random House, 2006, p.180]

Mohammad Khatami was elected as the President of Iran in 1997 after having based his campaign on a reform program promising implemention of a democratic and more tolerant society, the rule of law and improvement of social rights. After taking office, Khatami faced fierce opposition from his powerful opponents within the unelected institutions of the state which he had no legal power over, and this led to repeated clashed between his government and these institutions (including the Guardian Council, the state radio and television, the police, the armed forces, the judiciary, the prisons, etc.).

Reformers won a substantial victory in the Feb., 2000, parliamentary elections, capturing about two thirds of the seats, but conservative elements in the government forced the closure of the reformist press. Attempts by parliament to repeal restrictive press laws were forbidden by Khamenei. Despite these conditions, President Khatami was overwhelming reelected in June, 2001. Tensions between reformers in parliament and conservatives in the judiciary and the Guardian Council, over both social and economic changes, increased after Khatami's reelection.

The reforms

"See also: Mohammad Khatami's reforms"

The promotion of civil society and the rule of law are the key elements in Khatami's reform program. [ [http://www.findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_m2267/is_2_67/ai_63787333 Civil Society and the Rule of Law in the Constitutional Politics of Iran Under Khatami - Iranian president Mohammad Khatami | Social Research | Find Articles at BNET.com ] ] [ [http://www.iranchamber.com/government/articles/civil_society_politics_iran_khatami.php Civil Society and the Rule of Law in the Constitutional Politics of Iran Under Khatami –Iranian president Mohammad Khatami ] ]
*Initiating Iran's city council elections
*Voicing the idea of civil society and the rule of law
*Full commitment to Iranian constitution of the time (any revision in the law must be done through legal routes)
*Calling people to criticize high ranking authorities; (the supreme leader is not a holy personality)
*Giving permission to newspapers by people of a wide range of political views
*Reopening the embassies of all European countries
*Reorganizing the Ministry of Intelligence of Iran; after the Iran's Chain Murders of Intellectuals
*Initiating a dialogue between people of different faith inside and outside Iran, also called "Dialogue Among Civilizations" by the United Nations.

President Ahmadinejad

The presidential elections in June, 2005, were won by the hardline conservative mayor of Tehran, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who ran on a populist, anticorruption platform. Ahmadinejad and former president Rafsanjani were the leaders after the first round, but in the runoff Ahmadinejad's populist economic policies combined with Rafsanjani's inability to pick up sufficient reformist support assured the former's win. Ahmadinejad's victory gave conservatives control of all branches of Iran's government.

Foreign policy

Controversy concerning remarks about Israel

President Mahmoud Ahmedinejad also made several controversial statements about the Holocaust and Israel, and was quoted in foreign media sources as saying "Israel should be wiped off the map." [ [http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/middle_east/4384264.stm Iran leader defends Israel remark ] BBC news, 28 October 2005, "Iran's president has defended his widely criticised call for Israel to be `wiped off the map`". ] However his remarks did not enjoy support from Iranian leaders. Iran’s foreign minister denied that Tehran wanted to see Israel "wiped off the map," saying "Ahmadinejad had been misunderstood." It was asserted that the correct translation of Ahmadinejad's remark was, "the regime currently occupying Jerusalem will be erased from the pages of time." Reviewing the controversy over the translation, New York Times deputy foreign editor Ethan Bronner observed that "all official translations" of the comments, including the foreign ministry and president's office, "refer to wiping Israel away". [cite web
url = http://www.nytimes.com/2006/06/11/weekinreview/11bronner.html
title = Just How Far Did They Go, Those Words Against Israel?
accessdate = 2006-06-11
last = Bronner
first = Ethan
date = June 11, 2006
publisher = New York Times
]

Iran's stated policy on Israel is to urge a one-state solution through a countrywide referendum in which a government would be elected that all Palestinians and all Israelis would jointly vote for; which would normally be an end to the "Zionist state". Iran's supreme leader Ayatollah Khamenei, rejecting any attack on Israel, called for a referendum in Palestine. Ahmadinejad himself has also repeatedly called for such solution. [ [http://www.president.ir/eng/ahmadinejad/cronicnews/1385/05/12/#b2 News Headlines ] ] [ [http://www.president.ir/eng/ahmadinejad/cronicnews/1385/04/12/index-e.htm#b1 News Headlines ] ] [cite web | url = http://www.president.ir/eng/ahmadinejad/cronicnews/1385/03/22/#b1 | title = 1385-03-22 AH | work = News | publisher = Iranian Presidency] [cite web | url = http://www.president.ir/eng/ahmadinejad/cronicnews/1385/03/12/#b1 | title = 1385-03-12 AH | work = News | publisher Iranian Presidency] Moreover Khamenei’s main advisor in foreign policy, Ali Akbar Velayati, said that Holocaust was a genocide and a historical reality. [cite web | url=http://www.iran-press-service.com/ips/articles-2007/february-2007/ali-akbar-velayati-adviso.shtml | title = Ali Akbar Velayati, Advisor | publisher = Iran Press Service]

Controversy about Iran's nuclear program

After, in Aug., 2005, Iran resumed converting raw uranium into gas, a necessary step for enrichment, the IAEA passed a resolution that accused Iran of failing to comply with the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty and called for the agency to report Iran to the UN Security Council. The timetable for the reporting, however, was left undetermined. Iran's stated position is that it is in full compliance with the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty, that it has allowed the IAEA inspections beyond what is required, and that it has no ambitions to build atomic weapons.

In the Feb., 2004, elections, conservatives won control of parliament, securing some two thirds of the seats. Many Iranians, however, were unhappy with the failure of the current parliament to achieve any significant reforms or diminish the influence of the hardliners.In mid-2004 Iran began resuming the processing of nuclear fuel as part of its plan to achieve self-sufficiency in civilian nuclear power production, stating that the negotiations with European Union nations had failed to bring access to the advanced nuclear technology that was promised. The action was denounced by the United States as one which would give Iran the capability to develop nuclear weapons. The IAEA said that there was no evidence that Iran was seeking to develop such arms. However, the IAEA also called for Iran to abandon its plans to produce enriched uranium. In Nov., 2004, Iran agreed to suspend uranium enrichment, but subsequently indicated that it would not be held to the suspension if the negotiations the EU nations failed.

In October, however, Iran agreed, in negotiations with several W European nations, to toughen international inspections of its nuclear installations. Concern over Iran's nuclear program nonetheless continued.

Resolving the Management and Planning Organisation of Iran

In July 2007, the Management and Planning Organisation of Iran was dissolved after a direct order of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. The organization was a 60 years old, scientific planning body that had a supervisory role in addition to its responsibility to allocate the national budget. Although the MPO was a state body whose head was appointed by the president, it was relatively independent organisation. [ [http://www.bbc.co.uk/persian/iran/story/2007/07/070710_ka-mpo.shtml Iran] , BBC, 2007-07.]

President Ahmadinejad, however, established a new budget planning body directly under his control, a move that may give him a freer hand to implement populist policies blamed for driving up prices. [ [http://archive.gulfnews.com/articles/07/07/12/10138593.html Gulf News] , 2007-07-12.]

Economist Fariborz Raiis-Dana said that the decision dealt the coup de grace to the structure of the national management organization. Iranian MP Esmaeil Gramimoqaddam said that the president's directive is illegal and the parliament opposes his decision. "The president is not authorized to order an alteration or merger of an organization. This is the parliament's job," he added. [ [http://www.payvand.com/news/06/oct/1192.html 2006-10] ]

Family planning and population policy

In October 2006, President Ahmadinejad opposed encouraging families to limit themselves to just two children, stating that Iran could cope with 50 million more people than the current 70 million. In remarks that have drawn criticism, he told MPs he wanted to scrap existing birth control policies which discouraged Iranian couples from having more than two children. Critics reacted with alarm and said the president’s call was ill-judged at a time when Iran was struggling with surging inflation and rising unemployment, estimated at around 11%. Mr Ahmadinejad’s call for an increased birth rate is reminiscent of a demand Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini 1979. The policy was effective in increasing population growth, but was eventually reversed in response to the resultant economic strain.cite web
url = http://www.guardian.co.uk/iran/story/0,,1929364,00.html?gusrc=rss&feed=1
title = Ahmadinejad urges Iranian baby boom to challenge west
accessdate = 2007-05-03
last = Tait
first = Robert
date = October 23, 2006
work = Guardian Unlimited
publisher = The Guardian
quote = Iran’s president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, has called for a baby boom to almost double the country’s population to 120 million and enable it to threaten the west. In remarks that have drawn criticism, he told MPs he wanted to scrap existing birth control policies which discouraged Iranian couples from having more than two children. Women should work less and devote more time to their “main mission” of raising children, Mr Ahmadinejad said. …Mr Ahmadinejad’s call for a higher birth rate echoes a similar demand by the late Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini after the triumph of Iran’s Islamic revolution in 1979.
]

2007 Gas Rationing Plan in Iran

2007 Gas Rationing Plan in Iran was launched by president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's cabinet to reduce that country's fuel consumption. Although Iran is one of the world's largest producers of petroleum, kleptocracy, rapid increases in demand and limited refining capacity has forced the country to import about 40% of its gasoline, at an annual cost of up to $7 billion.cite news|title = Q&A: Petrol rationing in Iran|work = BBC News|date = 2007-06-27|accessdate = 2007-07-02|url=http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/middle_east/6244574.stm] cite news|title = Iran bans negative petrol stories|work = BBC News|date = 2007-06-28|accessdate = 2007-07-02|url = http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/middle_east/6249222.stm]

ee also

*History of Iran
*Foreign relations of Iran
*History of political Islam in Iran
*Iran's Nuclear Program

References


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