The Islamic republic and the world : global dimensions of the Iranian revolution


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Leadership

Ironically, however, it was the Shia Iranian Revolution that pushed Sunni Islamic activism into politics. By the early s, several Sunni Islamic parties—from the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt to PAS in Malaysia—were participating in national legislative elections, either as independent parties where permitted or in alignments with recognized political parties. The Egyptian regime banned the Muslim Brotherhood MB , for example, from contesting the elections as a religious political party but allowed it to run jointly with another party—the Wafd in the s and the Socialist Labor Party in the s.

The Palestinian Hamas, another Sunni political party grounded in the MB ideology, won the national elections in Gaza in by defeating the pro-PLO secularist candidates. Since running Gaza over the past 13 years, Hamas and other Palestinian factions in Gaza have reportedly received some military and financial support from the Islamic Republic. In Turkey, the Sunni Islamic Refah Party participated in national elections in the early s, for the first time since the establishment of the Kemalist Republic in the s.

Both advocate for political Islam, but they both abhor democratic politics and the ensuing freedoms. The Islamic Republic in its infancy raised the possibility of normative politics in Islam, which required free discourse and calls for a reformist approach to political Islam. Unfortunately, however, as Islamic activists assumed power across the Arab and Muslim world, including in Iran and Turkey through revolution or the ballot box, they drifted toward autocracy and repression. Secular leaders like Abdel Fattah al-Sisi in Egypt have also ignored democratic and constitutional constraints on the executive and have altered their own constitutions to give themselves a life-long hold on power.

The United States and other countries have branded the Islamic Republic for most of its year history as a state supporter of terrorism and has endured crushing sanctions imposed primarily by the United States or by the United Nations at the behest of Washington. Threatened with regime change for most of this history, Iran has formed different alliances with states and non-state actors as part of its strategic doctrine. Iran has accused the United States and Israel of undermining the Islamic Republic and its political system.


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The fear of a foreign invasion has driven Iran to pursue active contacts with terrorist organizations. The Islamic Republic has used radical and terrorist groups in the pursuit of a strategic doctrine that serves its national interest and survival. It has maintained relations with Sunni and Shia groups—including al-Qaeda, Hezbollah, Hamas, and other groups in Yemen, the Horn of Africa, Afghanistan, and elsewhere—regardless of their religious ideology and doctrine or sectarian identity.

Iran also cooperated with the United States after the American invasion of Iraq in and the collapse of the regime. Tehran collaborated with Washington for a stable and unitary Iraq. Both states and their proxies in Iraq, including the pro-Iranian Sadr militias, collaborated in the fight against al-Qaeda, the Zarqawi group, and later the Islamic State in Iraq. Iran has worked diligently to protect its strategic religious and political interests in Iraq.

Islam lacks a blueprint for government

It has also viewed Iraq as a land bridge to Syria, which became more critical as Tehran decided to support the Syrian tyrant in crushing the opposition to his regime. In order to expand its status as a regional power, Iran began to develop a sophisticated uranium enrichment program with an eye toward becoming a nuclear capable power. The Islamic Republic has always maintained that it was not interested in becoming a nuclear power. The Obama administration decided to separate the two sets of problems—the nuclear program and support for terrorism—and initiated contacts with Iran to contain its nuclear program.

The resulting nuclear deal, which was a welcome bright spot in the bloody history of the Middle East, promised to bring relief from the sanctions under which the Iranian people have suffered for many years. President Trump withdrew from the nuclear deal despite all the evidence from his intelligence chiefs that Iran was living up to the conditions of the deal.

As the Islamic Republic faced more existential threats, it moved away from theocracy toward realpolitik and the politics of national survival. In the first half of the last century, Arab states became independent but with close relations to external actors—British, American, French, and Russian. In the second half, Arab states fought among themselves and with their peoples and neighbors. They achieved no tangible accomplishments in innovation, industrialization, manufacturing, technology, or scientific discoveries.

The region continues to produce per capita more violence, human misery, war deaths, and displaced persons than any other region in the world. See our updated Privacy Policy to find out more about cookies and how we use your data. Iran is now in the eye of the storm. As events in Iraq deteriorate, a US invasion of Iran looms as a real threat. This book provides a detailed analysis of Iran's recent history, and in particular how the country has been shaped by the revolution.

It is often forgotten that modern Iran is a revolutionary republic that arose out of the overthrow of the old, secular and very pro-western regime.

The Islamic Republic and the World: Global Dimensions of the Iranian Revolution

Since the revolution, this has been replaced by an Islamic State. Maryam Panah explores the Iranian revolution in its international context, and examines the different forces at play within the country, and how these conflicting political interests continue to mould the country today and shape its external relations. The need for freedom, independence, national liberation, anti-imperialism and the establishment of a more egalitarian society gradually entered the language of the religious hierarchy.

Weekend Roundup: The Iranian Revolution 40 Years Ago Presaged Populist Revolts Today

As the participation of the religious leaders in the political process increased, the distinction between cleric and intellectual was dissolved. He propagated the myth of a revolutionary essence of early Islam, drawing the conclusion that political activity was urgent and a necessity for Muslims and the Third World in general. He attacked clerical compromises with the state and gave credence to the concept of Islam as a mass-mobilising ideology.


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He encouraged the exploited to world revolution, for which he justified the seizure of power by intellectuals through organisation and propaganda. While his earlier writing indicated a more traditional attitude requiring only that the monarch respect religion and the state law conform to religious law, a clear transformation took place in his views on these matters while he was in exile in Iraq.

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This work was largely a reaction against modernist writers of the time who began to criticise religious institutions. There was little criticism of the monarchical regime or notion of revolution in these early declarations. Even later in the s, when he in fact spoke out against the monarchy, he remained moderate in his demands by criticising practices rather than the principle of a monarchical state. In general, in this period Khomeini retained a traditional attitude to the state.

He put forward his novel ideas on Islamic government in a series of lectures later published as Velayat-e Faqih: Hokumat-e Islami. Here he introduced the necessity of the rule velayat by the leading religious jurisprudent faqih. The novelty of this work was the insistence on control of the political affairs of the Muslim community by the religious elite. Concomitantly, he began to use more radical language in his depiction of society.

The exact source and origins of this new activist language are not clear. Imperialism of the left and imperialism of the right have joined hands in their efforts to annihilate the Muslim peoples and their countries; they have come together in order to enslave the Muslim peoples and plunder their abundant capital and natural resources. It is your duty, respected youths of Islam A popular crossclass coalition of opposition forces emerged. The significance of state intervention in capital allocation and accumulation in pre-revolutionary Iran made the state the central target for the collective action of various classes and groups who were antagonised by economic policies that included the licensing system, credit allocation and the establishment of large agri-businesses.

The policies of the pre-revolutionary state had imposed a heavy cost on large sections of the peasantry, urban poor and the urban working class, the traditional middle class of the bazaar and sectors of the modern middle class. These pressures were magnified as a result of the rising inflation of the post oil boom years.

The potential for crossclass opposition to the state thus existed. Secular leftist political organisations and the religious figures led by Khomeini shared a political language that could mobilise this popular force. The organisational advantage, however, lay on the side of the religious elements.

Despite the attempted onslaught of the state, the clerical hierarchy maintained its financial stability, independence and robust organisational structure.


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Religious educational institutions had been strengthened and the collection of religious taxes took place on a more secure basis. Although the exact source and amount of financing is unclear due to the informal nature of the collection of religious taxes, estimates suggest that up to 80 per cent of the reserves of the religious institutions was provided by the bazaar. Opposition to large capitalists and their Western backers as well as a commitment to traditional values earned them the support of a large proportion of the merchant class. In any case, the bazaar financed many mosque activities and some bazaaris actively promoted ceremonies and gatherings held in mosques preceding the Revolution.

Thus, the old regime thus gave way to the new in February Less than a year later, however, power had consolidated in the hands of a small group of clerics intent on creating an Islamic state and exporting the Revolution to the region and beyond.

This chapter explains the transformation from a modern social revolution to an Islamic state. The immediate period following the Revolution was one of social and political indeterminacy as the old structures of the state had yet to be replaced by new ones.

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Struggles over property relations and democratic rights formed the backdrop to the disintegration of the revolutionary coalition, pulling the post-revolutionary state in opposing and contradictory directions. It also subscribed to a universalist ideology which called for the Revolution to push beyond the national borders of the Iranian state. Populism is one of the less precise terms in the vocabulary of social science. Popular attitudes are called upon and appropriated by a particular group or class.

Popular cultural symbols and traditions, the crystallisation of resistance to oppression in general, may be articulated into a discourse of a specific social group thereby neutralising their content. While populism may inform and constitute the discourse of dominated classes, dominant elites are also able to establish hegemony over a broad popular spectrum by appropriating the vocabulary of popular culture.

The emergence of a populist phenomenon cannot be detached from the socio-economic context, but is historically linked to a crisis of the prevailing dominant ideological discourse and is part of a more general social crisis. This uprooting experience has often affected the prevailing modes of existence of diverse social classes and formed the backdrop to the creation of broad cross-class coalitions ready to engage in social protest and unified by a populist discourse.

Nevertheless, a pattern in the form which modern populist movements have taken may be discerned.

OLD NEWS: The Iranian Revolution

Modern populism of dominant elites has involved the mobilisation of support from underprivileged groups, often achieved through the personal appeal of a charismatic leader. Populist politics therefore entails an emphasis on the poor, disinherited or oppressed. Populist ideology is moralistic, emotional and anti-intellectual, and non-specific in its programme. It portrays society as divided between powerless masses and coteries of the powerful who stand against them.

But the notion of class conflict is not a part of that populist rhetoric. Rather it glorifies the role of the leader as the protector of the masses. He was thus able to hold together and take command of the coalition which, in the immediate revolutionary aftermath, seemed on the verge of fragmentation. The revolutionary centrifuge: a fragmenting coalition The immediate post-revolutionary period was one of great political and socio-economic indeterminacy as the old structures had yet to be replaced by new ones. In the aftermath of the Revolution, Ayatollah Khomeini mandated a provisional government, headed by Mehdi Bazargan of the Liberation Movement of Iran, to run the administration of the country until regular political institutions could be established.

Meanwhile an executive Revolutionary Council composed largely of religious figures remained in place. The provisional government, bereft of well-established state institutions, was beset by difficulties due to the interruption of economic activity on the one hand and a variety of social demands on the other. Industry was disrupted during the revolutionary period and production could no longer be ensured as managers fled the country, and capital flight occurred on a large scale. Oil production — the principal lifeline of the country — also fell dramatically.

Moreover, revolutionary consciousness in factories translated into demands for self-management by workers.

40 years of Islamic Revolution in Iran

The provisional government found itself in a contradictory situation needing on the one hand to start up production in factories — and therefore to restore order — and on the other to maintain the semblance of being the protector of the interests of the underprivileged. The bazaaris had believed that an Islamic government would protect private property, free them from government restrictions and controls, provide them with greater business opportunities, and tax them more lightly. In this way, the struggle for workers rights and conditions continued within the immediate post-revolutionary context.

In the context of the relative post-revolutionary political freedom and the unprecedented increase in unemployment, large numbers of the jobless also organised to publicise their plight and make demands for unemployment benefits or loans. Led by young activists, they occupied vacant and deserted buildings in Tehran and other cities. This occupation of residential properties and hotels constituted another challenge for the new regime.

The provisional government and sectors of the clergy committed to the sanctity of private property opposed the action vehemently.

The Islamic republic and the world : global dimensions of the Iranian revolution The Islamic republic and the world : global dimensions of the Iranian revolution
The Islamic republic and the world : global dimensions of the Iranian revolution The Islamic republic and the world : global dimensions of the Iranian revolution
The Islamic republic and the world : global dimensions of the Iranian revolution The Islamic republic and the world : global dimensions of the Iranian revolution
The Islamic republic and the world : global dimensions of the Iranian revolution The Islamic republic and the world : global dimensions of the Iranian revolution
The Islamic republic and the world : global dimensions of the Iranian revolution The Islamic republic and the world : global dimensions of the Iranian revolution
The Islamic republic and the world : global dimensions of the Iranian revolution The Islamic republic and the world : global dimensions of the Iranian revolution
The Islamic republic and the world : global dimensions of the Iranian revolution The Islamic republic and the world : global dimensions of the Iranian revolution

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