Iranian Revolution of 1979 and its Impact on the Middle East Essay
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Iranian Revolution is described as the events which involved in overthrow of the Iran’s monarchy, which was under Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi and afterward replacement with Islamic republic by Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini who was the leader of the revolution (Abdelnasser, 1997). It is known as 1979 Revolution or Islamic Revolution. The 1979 revolution is said to have been a nationalist, Shi’a Islamic and populist revolution, which replaced monarch with theocracy guided by Islamic jurists (Abdelnasser, 1997). Shah Mohammad Reza regime collapsed in early 1979 and marked the end of monarchial rule in Iran for more than 450 years.
The origin of Iranian revolution can be traced back to the coup deter of 1953 which was against the front leader of the nation and the prime minister or the 1963 abortive uprising which was sparked by Ayatollah Khomeini arrest. The reason of Iran leader Mohammad Reza to be overthrown is subject of the historical debate. The Iranian revolution was to some extend a backlash conservative against the secularizing and westernizing efforts of the Shah who was backed by the western nations especially the Americans.
The shah also had no conservative reaction to the social injustice as well as to other ancient regime shortcomings. Many Iranians perceived the Shah as being a puppet of the western power who were non-Muslims and who had culture, which was contaminating the culture of Iran (Salehi, 1988). The Shah regime was seen by the Iranians as being oppressive, corrupt, extravagant and brutal. The regime suffered from functional failures since the economic programs were overly ambitious and thus brought inflation, shortages and economic bottlenecks.
The Iranian revolution is said to have been unique since it surprised the whole world. The surprise was because the revolution overthrew regime, which had support of many nations internationally and also which was protected heavily by lavishly financed security and army services (Amuzegar, 1991). Furthermore the revolution was conducted by unarmed demonstrators and crumbled the regime in duration of months. The revolution customary causes include: war defeat, peasant rebellion, financial crisis and disgruntled military (Ganji, 2002). Other causes of the revolution include policy of the Iran Shah and his policy mistakes.
The shah strong westernization policy as well as his close identification with the United States of America is one factor which mainly caused the revolution (Gabriel, 1998). This included the allied powers original installation of the Shah as well as the CIA assistance to restore him in the power in 1953. In addition, the shah had many US military technicians and advisers and also was granted diplomatic immunity for them not to prosecute him. This led to the nationalist Iranians irrespective of their religion, to consider this Shah as the American puppet.
Another cause of the revolution was the Islamic tradition unpopular disregard in the year 1976. The shah changed the calendar from Islamic to imperial, marking the Cyrus birthday to be the first day, where as is supposed to be the day on the flight of prophet Muhammad to Medina from Mecca (Ganji, 2002). The year overnight to 2535 from1355. The revolution was also caused by the policies of the shah rule, which was said to have corruption, extravagance and elitism and also the people did not like the shah royal court.
Furthermore, the Shah failed to cultivate leadership supporters of the Shia religion who could have encountered the campaigns by Khomeini against him. Failure of the overly ambitious economic program in 1974, which was to meet the expectations brought by the windfall of the oil revenue, was also another cause (Daniel, 2001). In 1977-78, the Iran experienced a short but sharp economic contraction period which followed a considerable economic growth period and according to Crane Brinton who is a revolution scholar, situation like that create much disappointment larger than if the people were left all long in poverty.
Shah also was focusing on government repression and surveillance on the Iran people’s Mujahedin, the communist Iran Tudeh party as well as other groups of leftist, while the religious opposition who were more popular grew, organized, and gradually started undermining the regime authority. Shah also had tendencies of authoritarian that violated constitution of Iran of 1906. This included dissent repression by security services such as the SAVAK, and then followed by appearance and appeasement of weakness while the revolution was gaining momentum (Amuzegar, 1991).
The people of Iran exercised Alex de Tocqueville idea, which he stated that, when people who have been put up under oppressive rule for a long time without any protest over a sudden finds that the government pressure is relaxing, they join arms against it (Abdelnasser, 1997). Inflation, bottle necks and shortages followed by black markets, attacks on the alleged gougers of price and also the austerity measures, which angered the bazaar as well as the masses influenced the revolution.
In addition, Shah antagonized former political Iranians, in particular the bazaar merchants by creating single party to have political monopoly, and this party had compulsory dues and membership (Ganji, 2002). This shah also generally had aggressive interference on the economic, political and concerns of religion on people’s lives. The Iranian shah had started having overconfident neglect in his governance and also had preoccupation of playing the statesmen of the world during oil boom, which followed a loss of his resolution and self confidence. Also his health had been weakened by cancer by the time the revolution was gaining momentum.
The terminal illness of the shah was secret for a time, but he knew he was to die due to cancer; his medication on the other hand made him to be listless and depressed. Furthermore, several of his closest advisers had for the time died, and the personnel of palace had been fired in large number during the 1978 summer. The Shah had also underestimated the opposition strength and more especially the religious opposition (Salehi, 1988). The efforts to please and convince the opposition were too little and untimely even if no counter-attack efforts were made against the revolutionaries.
His failure to train and prepare his security forces to deal with demonstration and protest also lead to the success of the revolution. His failure to control the crowd without using excessive force since the troops used live ammunition rather than the using water cannons or Plexiglas led to the revolution. The military officers also was used as power base who were to be pampered rather than using them as force for controlling security threats. Furthermore, the shah government had a personalized nature and he much prevented any possible or potential competitor to the trumped efficient of the monarch and also effective government.
This led to crown cultivation of the divisions within political elite and the army and ultimately, the regime lack of support by its allies by the time he most needed them since many Iranians had left the country at the time when the revolution was beginning (Khomeini, 2010). The monarch government used to take governmental matters as personal interests, used to discourage initiatives by the frequent dismissal from office and also their overruling, and also their refusal to allow cooperation of officials in fear of the regicidal conspiracies.
The shah was careful when meeting his generals and top aides individually and in his absence; the whole system could not be able to function. This made the revolution to take place and succeed efficient. The revolution had several impacts in the Iran country and the Middle East at large. First the revolution led to anew peoples governance which was to be guided by Islamic laws. The officials of American embassy were taken on hostage and Mr. Bazargan resigned. Khomeini established revolutionary guard to be counter weight of both the left armed groups as well as to the military of Shah.
The guard with time grew to a military force at a full-scale and also became the revolution strongest institution. People serving under Pasdaran were the most oppressed mobilization known as Baseej-e Mostazafin who were volunteers in every activity starting from management of earthquake emergency to attacking newspaper offices and opposition demonstrators (Amuzegar, 1991). Thousands of revolutionary committees acted as the ears and eyes for the new found regime and were criticized for their arbitrary arrests and executions as well as property confiscations.
Also, the regime wills enforcement was done by the Hezbollahi who were known as God party and they were strong-arm thugs whose role was to attack newspaper offices and demonstrators. Two political parties were formed after the fall of Shah Regime and were later suppressed by the pro-Khomeini group. These parties were, moderate religious group known as Muslims People’s Republican Party (MPRP) associated with the Mohammad Kazem and the other group was National Democratic Front (NDF) (Gabriel, 1988).
Soon after the government of Khomeini, referendum was conducted as whether to replace the monarchy system and replace it with Islamic republic and 98. 2%voted for the favor of the referendum (Abdelnasser, 1997). Khomeini then declared the government should have 100%base on Islam. In addition, new constitution provided jurist rule to have powerful post, which should control security services and the military as well as to appoint judicial and top government officials (Khomeini, 2010).
Khomeini also increased cleric’s number in the guardian council and their power and granted it control over legislature passed laws as well as the elections. One year after the revolution, Saddam Hussein invaded Iran with an attempt of taking advantage of the Iran revolutionary chaos as well as destroys the revolution when it is still young. Iran was then galvanized and people of Iran rallied behind the Khomeini government to help stop and reverse advance of Iraq. After another two years, Iran regained their land which had been lost in the invasion.
Just like hostage crisis, the Iran war served as opportunity for the new regime to make stronger the revolutionary groups as well as the Islamic revolutionary at expense of the remaining turned-opponent allies (Amuzegar, 1991). While destructive and enormous costly, the Iran war rejuvenated drive for Islamic revolution and national unity as well as inhabiting fractious dispute and debate in the country. Shortly after the constitution election, several news papers, magazines and writing assembly opposing the idea of Khomeini, jurist theocratic rule, were made to shut down.
When the NDP organized for the protests, Khomeini denounced them and said they thought they were dealing with people but now there is evidence that they are not. He further said that after each revolution, corrupt elements are supposed to be executed to the public and be burned (Ganji, 2002). He said they have not been given authority to publish the newspapers. After that speech, several people were injured and harmed by clubs, chains, iron bars and rocks when they were attacked by the Hezbollahi and shortly afterwards, a warrant was given for the NDF leader arrest.
In December 1979, Islam party MPRP under its leader Shariatmadari had now become a rallying point of the Iranians who did not want theocracy but wanted democracy. Riots in Shariatmadari home area broke out and the followers of shariatdari and the members of MPRP seized the television station of Tabriz and used it to broadcast grievances and demands. The new regime reacted quickly and sends the revolutionary guards to take the station, the mediators to make diffusion of the complaints whereas the activists to stage counter demonstration of pro-Khomeini.
In 1980, under leadership of Bansidr, universities in the country were closed to purge opponents of the theocratic rule in the nation as a part of Cultural Revolution. 8,000 military officers and 20,000 teachers were dismissed out of work since they were deemed to be westernized. In 1981, the office of IRP was bombed and seventy high-ranking officers were killed which included cabinet ministers as well as the parliament members (Ganji, 2002).
Thousands of people were arrested and also hundreds of them were executed. In conclusion, the revolution of Iran even if it brought change to a new governance, the existing government seems to be the one which was promoting social unity between the people of Iran with other people of different nations. The constitution which was brought by this new government divided people and planted enmity in the society of Iran. American foreign policy on Iran changed with the new Iran Government taking a hardliner stance.