Readable, popular work giving background history of Iran/Persia but primarily about the fall of the Shah and the Islamic Revolution.
Mackey's emphasizes two themes:
"No foreigner can really understand what the monarchy means to Iran. It is our way of life. We could not be a nation without it."
Shah in Saturday Evening Post, Fall 1971, p.47
"Khomeini went on to categorically condemn the entire monarchical history of Iran [in his 19 lectures on Shia Islam and Politics Velayat-e Faqih, the Guardianship of the Jurist]....`Kingship from the day it started [around 559 BC with Cyrus the Great the first Persian Emperor] to this very day has been the shame of history'" (p.234 source: Theology of Discontent: The Ideological Foundation of Islamic Revolution in Iran (New York University Press, 1993 p.453)
In 1967 the Shah's government passed the Family Protection Bill "Under its provisions, a woman could, under certain circumstances, sue for divorce; deny her husband a second wife, and win custody of her children in a dissolved marriage. It also abolished the Shia practice of [muta] temporary marriage and raised the legal age of marriage for girls from nine to fifteen . . . while the modernizers within the elites applauded, the vast majority of the population sullenly complied with rules interpreted as threatening hallowed patriarchy..." p. 262
"...no Muslim should accept the authority of an unjust ruler. An since secular kings were inherently unjust, as demonstrated by Muhammad Reza Shah, they should be replace at the top of the political ladder by a marja-e taqlid, the supreme judicial authority of Shi'ism." (p.266) "Ultimate authority is vested in a single jurist superior to all other [mujtahids aka Shia jurists] - the faqih, the vice regent for God. Holding absolute religious authority and political power, he is to guide society ... In Khomeini's words ...`his regency will be the same as enjoyed by the Prophet in the governing of the Islamic community, and it is incumbent on all Muslims to obey him.'" p.286
`What he [the individual citizen] wants to do in the privacy of his home, drinking wine... gambling or other such dirty deeds, the [secular/profane] government has nothing to do with him. Only if he comes out screaming, then he would be prosecuted...
Islam and divine governments are not like that. These [governments] have commandments for everybody, everywhere, at any place, in any condition. If a person were to commit an immoral dirty deed right next to his house [and of course in his house], Islamic governments have business with him'. (The Iranians : Persia, Islam and the Soul of a Nation by Sandra Mackey, 1996, p.287-88) [source: Hamid Dabashi, Theology of Discontent, (p.476-7)]
"After Khomeini's return... komitehs arbitrarily arrested men, women, and even children on charges ranging from suspected prostitution to undefined antirevolutionary activities. . . . they invaded homes to seize Western music, pour out liquor and confiscate thing that offended their Islamic sensitivities." p.289
"Khomeini ruled in May 1979 that capital punishment was the exclusive fate of those responsible for actually killing during the Shah's rule. But the executions continued unabated and Khomeini remained quiet. During the revolutions first nine months almost 600 Iranians ranging from the elite of Pahlavi Iran to prostitutes ... went to the firing squad." p.291
"In Shi'ism it is believed that Satan exerts his influence by acting within a person. Although it may appear that a person is the wrongdoer it is in fact Satan ... Satan dwelled within the global superpower [U.S.] directing his power against Iran." p.295
"The clerical regime, like that of Muhammad Reza Shah, has long reached out beyond the borders of Iran to eliminate foes. In recent years, the most high-profile assassination was that of Shahpur Bakhtiar...[who] joined at least 63 other Iranians abroad who have been killed or wounded since the Shah was overthrown." p.373
"Mullahs direct involvement in the affairs of state has laid the blame or the ills of society and the failing of government at the feet of the clerics of Shia Islam, undermining the clergy's once considerable moral authority."
Leading dissent is Abdul Karim Soroush who argues that while "the sacred texts of Islam are, by definition, unalterable" man's "understanding of them is not". He opposes the clergy's "traditional privilege of interpreting and carrying out the will of the prophet". "Soroush's audience includes the 98% or more of the 80,000 clerics in Iran who are not part of Islamic government." p.376
But what is justice? She never attempts to define it. To the Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini and his legions of Iranian followers justice means something very different than to westerners (for example the Ayatollah comes from a long line of Mullah's or "jurists" and Mackey mentions in passing that Khomeini's father was murdered in vengeance for sentencing someone to death. The ultimate sacrifice made in upholding justice perhaps? Ahhh, but what was the perp executed for? For violating the Ramadan fast, that's what for!) To the Ayatollah, fighting for justice may mean upholding the practice of marrying off 9 year-old girls and the execution of those who drink wine, violate fasts, write blasphemous books. We should find such policies rather unjust.
Love of justice scarcely seems like a common value that will bring Iran and the U.S. together. Everybody is for justice, we just don't agree on what it is.
The final chapter of her book is devoted to a plea for U.S. rapprochement or engagement with Iran. "As happened in Vietnam, the United States is in danger of creating a monster from an adversary. Isolation to force Iran to alter its behavior in the murky realm of politicized Islam and to renounce nuclear armament fails both to evaluate realistically the threat of the Islamic Republic or to understand the Iranian people."
But this seems to contradict her description of Islamic Republican decay and corruption. If the Islamic Republic is in the process of proving itself a failure - i.e. providing neither honest government, nor prosperity for the poor, nor world strength and prestige, (and of course alienating its people!) - why reach out to it, why should the U.S. interfere at all? Everywhere in the Islamic world (Malaysia, Afghanistan, Egypt, etc.) fundamentalism is growing. Iran is helping fundamentalists of course, but it may also be providing an object lesson.
Even if Iran was becoming a monster is it possible to reverse this process through dialogue and goodwill gestures? For one thing is it politically possible? One of the many achievements of the Islamic Republic is drawing the attention of the masses of otherwise internationally unaware Middle Americans. Americans who would be hard pressed to locate China on a map have seen pictures of Iranian militants using an Aermican flag to carry garbage and know a bearded, glowering, towel-headed old guy calls their country the "Great Satan." (In contrast Americas enemy of the 1964-1972, the Socialist Republic of Vietnam, wore itself out talking about how its difference was with the U.S. government not the U.S. people.) While America's high-brow enlightened liberal (even leftist) thinkers - who can usually be counted on to support whatever Middle America opposes - are repelled by Iran's mindless adoration of "the Imam", his obsession with "sin and punishment, discipline and vengeance". And both wings can be counted on to be against the totalitarian "commandments for everybody, everywhere, at any place" and domination of Islam over all other religions. The values of the Islamic revolution are so alien to us that disunited though Western society is, Islam has something for every Westerner to detest.
And as for getting worse, Iran's aid and participation in Islamic terrorism seems to be waning slightly as a result of the revolution's inevitable decay.
After reading Mackey's book it seems the logical U.S. policy is continuing pressure on Iran as long as it participates in terrorism, while making sure the Iranian public is aware U.S. policy will cease to be hostile when Iran abandons terrorism. If in the mean time Iran feels "threatened", "encircled" and not getting "respect" well ... how could it be otherwise? You go out of your way to make the most powerful country in the world an enemy, taking hostages, calling it the Great Satan, what the hell do you expect for Christ sake?!
It's almost as though Mackey had to write a plea for understanding Iran, rapprochement with it, even though she knows she isn't being very persuasive. Perhaps she was even deliberately unpersuasive. Although her description of Khomeini is scrupulously reverent constantly talking about his fucking charisma, she never skimps on damning details of the Islamic government (the corruption, low standards of living) and even points out what other authors neglect (Iran's provoking Iraq before the Iraqi invasion). She may have made her plea with an eye to protecting her access to visas for return travel to talk to her sources. Who knows.
"Dissent was already whispering across the land in 1890 when Nasir ed-Din Shah decided that existing taxes and frequent raids on the fortunes of subjects no longer filled the cavernous coffers that supported the Qajar style. He turned to growing European economic interests in Iran to provide the shah a new and more lucrative source of quick money - the sale of concessions to European companies. Exercising the prerogative of absolute monarchy, Nasir de-Din Shah sold rights to minerals, railways, banking, and even a lottery to individuals, companies and nations of Europe." (p.138)
"For a fee of 15,000 pounds a year, the shah granted the British Imperial Tobacco Company the right to buy the entire tobacco crop of Iran." This was too much. "The tens of thousands of peasants who grew the highly prized tobacco, the thousands of small merchants who sold it, and the hundreds of thousands of smoked it realized that control of a product that came out of the sacred soil of Iran had been handed to the British." Why were the Mullahs against it? They "controlled large amounts of agricultural land through religious endowments and maintained close links to the merchants of the bazaar . . ." (p.141)
"In December 1891, Sheikh Shirazi the mujtahid of the day, broke the alliance between king and ulama by issuing a fatwa, or religious ruling, against the tobacco concession. `In the name of God, the Merciful, the Beneficent. Today the use of both varieties of tobacco, in whatever fashion is reckoned war against the Imam of the Age [the Twelfth Imam] - may God hasten his advent.` (p.141)
The Shah caved.
"Twenty-two days later, on January 26, 1892, the public crier in Tehran announced that Sheikh Shirazi had lifted the fatva."
Muzaffar ed-Din, at the age of 43 the oldest of Nasir ed-Din Shah's many sons, inherited" the kingdom. "Under his nose, nobles and courtiers amassed fortunes while the clerks in bureaucracy often went unpaid. Irrigation systems fell into ruin, turning fields and villages into desert. And the Russians and the British persisted in their strategic games with Iranian territory and treasure. In 1900, the shah relinquished some more of Iran to foreigners when he financed a royal tour of Europe by borrowing 22 million rubles from Russia. Iranian customs receipts served as collateral. And the terms included a restriction of Iran's right to borrow money elsewhere without Russian consent while any portion of the loan remained unpaid." (p.143)
The country rose up. "Protest broke into the open in 1905 when the director of customs, a Belgian, began to enforce with bureaucratic rigidity the tariff collections that underlay the Russian loan to Muzaffar ed-Din." "When merchants closed the bazaar, ... de-Din Shah agreed to dismiss his prime minister. He also promised to surrender absolute power by convening the `house of justice` advocated by intellectuals influenced by Western ideas." (p.144).
Three players in the ulama in descending order of pro-constitutionalism were:
Muhammad Tabatabia, a "Midlevel mujtahid"
Abdullah Behbahani, a "Midlevel mujtahid" (pro-constitution but more corruptible)
Sheikh Fazlollah Nuri, a low-level mullah (power-loving and pro-shari'a)
The movement of 1906 was for "a constitution ensuring the equality of all before the law and a national assembly to share power with the king." (p.148)
"Tabatabai thundered in the mosques, `We want justice, we want a majlis in which the shah and the beggar are equal before the law.`" (p.148)
In 1900, the shah relinquished some more of Iran to foreigners when he financed a royal tour of Europe by borrowing 22 million rubles from Russia. Iranian customs receipts served as collateral. And the terms included a restriction of Iran's right to borrow money elsewhere without Russian consent while any portion of the loan remained unpaid. (p.143, The Iranians : Persia, Islam and the Soul of a Nation by Sandra Mackey, 1996)
In 1905 the country rose up.
Protest broke into the open in 1905 when the director of customs, a Belgian, began to enforce with bureaucratic rigidity the tariff collections that underlay the Russian loan to Muzaffar ed-Din. . . When merchants closed the bazaar, ... de-Din Shah agreed to dismiss his prime minister. He also promised to surrender absolute power by convening the `house of justice` advocated by intellectuals influenced by Western ideas." (p.144).
Two of the last public acts of the dying Shah were attending the inauguration of the Majlis (Oct. 7, 1906) and a couple months later signing the Constitution.
1907 January - Muzzaffar's son Muhammad Ali, the 6th Qajar shah comes to power. Works hard to undermine the constitution. "moved to exploit the divisions within the ranks of the reformers." Sheikh Fazollah Nuri led the attack against the constitution. "For 8 months a fierce war raged over supplementary provisions to the constitution which would define the parameters of legislative authority."
1907 August - Anglo-Russian agreement "divided Iran into a Russian zone in the North and a British zone in the South. . . . Deciding that the Shah rather than the Constitutionalists could give Iran order, the British, in contradistinction to 1906, deserted the reformers."
1908 June 23 - shoot out at Sepahsalar Mosque between supporters of Majlis and Guns under control of Russian officers. Six hours later building (Sepahsalar?) destroyed. Protester sent to jail.
1909 April 29 - Pro-constitutionalist in Tabriz are broken by Russian troops. Revolts continued however.
1909 - Ulema in Najaf give religious sanction to the constitution.
1909 July 15 - Russians lose interest. Bakhtiari tribesmen march north to Tehran seize south gate. Muhammad Ali Shah flees to Russian legation. Fazlollah Nuri hanged. Second Majlis
1911 - Second Majlis expires from "internal dissension, apathy of the masses, antagonisms from the upper class, and open enmity from Britain and Russia."
1911 December 24 - "the shah's cabinet, backed by 12000 Russian troops in northern Iran executes a coup d'etat against the Majlis. Deputes are roughly expelled and threatened with death if they return. (p.150-55)
It is sometimes insinuated that the injunctions of Islam are defective, and said that the laws of judicial procedure, for example, are not all that they should be. In keeping with this insinuation and propaganda, agents of Britain were instructed by their masters to take advantage of the idea of constitutionalism in order to deceive the people and conceal the true nature of their political crimes. (the pertinent proofs and comments are now available). At the beginning of the constitutional movement, when people wanted to write laws and draw up a constitution, a copy of the Belgian legal code was borrowed from the Belgian embassy and a handful of individuals (whose names I do not wish to mention here) used it as the basis for the constitution they then wrote, supplementing its deficiencies with borrowings from the French and British legal codes. [Concerning the influence of Belgian constitutional law on the six-man committee that drafted the Supplementary Constitutional Laws of 1907, see A.K.S. Lambton, `Dustur, iv: Iran` Encyclopedia of Islam new ed., II 653-654, and Mustafa Rahimi, Qanun-I Asai-yi Iran (Tehran, 1347 Sh./1968), p.94] True, they added some of the ordinances of Islam in order to deceive the people, but the basis of the laws that were now thrust upon the people was alien and borrowed. (italics added) [p.30-31]
But whatever the defects of the western vocabulary used in the constitution itself, it was part of an uprising against a weak, unpatriotic monarch and the encroachment of foreign power (Russia) that monarch was allowing. By limiting the monarch's power the constitution would protect Iran from foreign exploitation. Shah Muzaffar ed-Din, almost parodying the figure of the decadent, backward autocrat, had borrowed 22 million rubles from Russia to finance a royal tour of Europe. The terms of the loan "included a restriction on Iran's right to borrow money elsewhere without Russian consent while any portion of the loan remained unpaid." In 1905 Russia commenced collecting back its loan. Adding insult to injury the Iranian director of customs (a Belgian, not an Iranian) amassed the tariff revenue for the Russians with infuriating "bureaucratic rigidity." The country rose. Protesters filled the streets. Merchants closed the bazaar. The Shah capitulated. What did he capitulate to? A constitution that kept the monarchy but limited his power with a "house of justice," aka a parliament. Was there a Mullah condemning the constitution as contradicting the Shari'ah,? Indeed there was! One Shaykh Fazlollah Nuri, now celebrated as a hero by the Islamic Republic. But far from being an opponent of foreign influence or the monarchy, Shaykh Nuri was famous for taking money from the Russians, spurning protest against their power and maintaining that "obedience to the monarchy was a divine obligation incumbent on all, including the clergy."
The mythology surrounding Shaykh Nuri obscures several awkward facts about him. Shaykh Nuri had been on good terms with the Russians since the turn of the century. He had refused to support the early bazaar protest against the Europeans in charge of collecting customs dues. He had caused a major scandal in 1905 by endorsing the sale of a cemetery to the Russians for the construction of their bank - the inadvertent exhuming of bodies had triggered street protests. He had organized an anti-constitutionalist rally in June 1907 after obtaining funds from the same Russian bank. In breaking with Parliament, Shaykh Nuri became the main court ideologue. He praised the shah as the guardian of Islam, arguing the representative government contradicted Islam and that obedience to the monarchy was a divine obligation incumbent on all, including the clergy. (p.95-96, Khomeinism : Essays on the Islamic Republic by Abrahamian, Ervand)
In the waning days of Qajar dynasty following the failure of the Constitutional Revolution, Iran was very backward. There was no highway patrol, no railroads (at least to the capital). Mail service with Europe was courtesy of a motorcar of the British legation traveling every two or three weeks. Transportation between cities was via caravans of camels or other pack animals traveling by dirt tracks at the mercy of local tribesmen. (p.159-60)
Modernizer, Westernizer Reza Shah Dynasty began in 1925. He was deposed in WWII. "Personified patriotic pride and national resurgence." After
Within his "repressive political climate" Reza Shah "built a railway, founded a modern educational system, instituted programs of public health, and attacked the entrenched interests of the clergy." p.184
"Reza Shah's hopes and dreams for Iran took form in the Iranian National Railroad that took me from Tehran to Sari. Railways could have crossed Iran in the Qajar dynasty had it not been for the rivalry between Britain and Russia, which ruled out a concession to either competitor. In a new dynasty and a new time, Reza Shah cut the fist sold at the site of the Tehran station on October 15, 1927. The centerpiece of the shah's plan of progress and prosperity for Iran, the railroad would be built without foreign loans, by foreign technicians from countries with no historic interest in Iran - principally Germany, Scandinavia, and the United States. Over a span of ten years,. 1928 to 1938, 865 miles of track went down, linking the Persian Gulf with the Caspian Sea. . . It did not matter that his rejection of foreign loans to finance the $125 million to construct the railroad put a crushing economic burden on his people." (p.173-4)
Forced settlement of the Bakhtiari, Qashqai, Lur, Kurd, Baluchi and a host of other tribes shattered tribal economic and undermined the traditional social structure. . . .people and herds, ill adapted to a sedentary lifestyle and dependent for hygiene and health on moving campsites from time to time, died in terrible numbers. None have forgotten. (p.174)
Founded 100,000-man army, 90,000-man civil service. "Islamic schools, Christian missionary schools, and schools of the religious minorities closed their doors under Reza Shah's orders. All Iranians - male and female - went to free, compulsory education." (p.179)
Founded University of Tehran. Expropriated wealth (land and real estate) of shrines at Mashhad and Qom, etc. In Mashhad, the revenues of the sanctuary of Imam Reza helped finance secular education, build a modern hospital, improve the water supply of the city, and underwrite industrial enterprises." (p.180)
"Persian Fascist" in the era of Mussolini and Franco. Majlis stayed but "existed as little more than the chosen and obedient instrument of Reza Shah's regime." Opponents in majlis "went to prison, into exile, or in one instance, committed suicide." (p.176) Brutally murdered poet Farrokhi Yazdi. (p.183)
1921 February - British demand command of Persian Army's Cossack Division (to counteract Bolshevik moves in north) from the weak Persian Qajar government. "Before the government can say yes" Reza Khan leads revolt and marches on Tehran. (p.166)
1921 February 21 - Cossacks arrive in Tehran. Cabinet arrested. Cowering Sultan Ahmed Shah appoints Reza Khan commander of armed forces. (p.167)
1921 December - 1923 - Reza Khan moves to crush separatist rebellions in Azerbaijan and Khorasan and Bolsheviks in Gilan. Prestige is enormous. (p.167-8)
1925 October 31 - Majlis votes to give Peacock throne to Reza Khan (p.170)
1926 April 25 - Reza Shah coronated (p.170)
1927 October 15 - groundbreaking for new Tehran railway station. Centerpiece of the shah's plan of progress and prosperity for Iran, the [$125 million] railroad is built without foreign loans, for foreign technicians from countries with no historic interest in Iran - principally Germany, Scandinavia and the United States (p.173)
1927 - New civil code (seeks to reconcile the Quran and the Code Napoleon. Shari'ah loses out in criminal and property title law. Restricted mostly to marriage, divorce, and wills.)
1928 March - mullah in Qom who yelled at Reza Shah's wife the day before when she accidentally, temporarily exposing her face while on pilgrimage is horse whipped by Shah. (p.181)
1928 December - Uniformity of dress law requires everyone except Shia jurisconsults who had passed a special qualifying examination to wear Western clothes. (p.184)
1929 - self-flagellation during Ashura forbidden
1932 - canceled the original oil concession that paid Iran only 16% of the Anglo-Iranian Oil Company's profits on Iranian crude. (p.194)
1934 - Law sets heavy fines for cinemas, restaurant, hotels that do not open doors to both sexes. (p.182)
1935 - Veil banned. Between 100-500 demonstrators machine-gunned in Mashhad protesting irreligiousity of shah. (p.182)
1935 - Changes name of country from Persia to Iran (name used during time of Cyprus). (p.178)
1936 - state judicial system requires all state judges hold a law degree from Tehran University or from a foreign university. System stripped of most of its clerics. (p.179)
1936 - cinema houses and public baths closed women wearing the veil. (p.182)
1938 August 26 - Railroad linking Caspian Sea with Persian Gulf complete. (p.173)
Because Reza Shah used Germany as his ally against Britain and Russia, when the Nazis invaded Russia Britain and Russia saw the Shah as unreliable and moved in to take control of his new railway to supply Russia.
1941 August 25 - British and Russians move and depose Shah.
1941 Sept 16 - Delivers resignation statement.
1944 - dies in South Africa
Why did Reza Shah spend so much political capital and money to build a secular university and school system?
"Although the voice of the clergy branded those who studied a foreign language infidels and forbade the dissection of human bodies in the medical school, males and females entered the [new] university [of Tehran] seeking a share of the new order in Iran. In defiance of the Quranic ban on necropsy, Reza Shah force his cabinet members to accompany him to the university's pathology lab to view two cadavers in a vat." (The Iranians : Persia, Islam and the Soul of a Nation by Sandra Mackey, 1996 p.179)
"Mossadeq rode to power on the wave of the Anglo-Iranian Oil Company. AIOC had emerged from the Masjid-e-Sulemain oil field discovered in southwest Khuzestan in 1908. After the admiralty converted from coal to oil in May 1913, the British government acquired 51% ownership of the company and a direct partnership in the 60 year concession that the Qajar shah, Mazaffar ed-Din, had granted in 1901.
Construction of the oil refinery at Abadan on the Shart al-Arab water way after WWI. Was among the largest in the world.
"Perception of Britain as a nation of satanically clever manipulators intent on plundering Iran led every villager to believe with certainty that locust, drought and crop failure resulted from nothing less than the evil designs of the British." (p.194)
In 1932 Reza Shah canceled the original oil concession that paid Iran only 16% of the Anglo-Iranian Oil Company's profits on Iranian crude. (p.194)
In 1950, the Anglo-Iranian Oil Company paid Iran royalties of $45 million for its oil and paid the British government taxes of $142 million on profits from that crude and its downstream products." (p.194)
"In a patriarchal and authoritarian society that puts great emphasis on family, education, and age, the aristocratic, highly educated, elderly Mossadeq fulfilled the requirements of the strong father figure. He was also the heroic leader defending the Iranian homeland against the hated foreigner. . . ."(p.199) A man of great success and enormous failure." (p.200)
"He confided to U.S. envoy Vernon Walter that `Iran's problems have always been caused by foreigners. The whole thing began with that Greek Alexander.` (p.201)
1925 - Mossadeq opposes Coronation of Reza Shah.
1930s - Hounded from public life by powerful Reza Shah
1941 - Reza Shah gone. Mossadeq re-emerges as popular hero.
1946-9 - National Front starts up. (p.196)
1949 September - Supplemental Agreement granted somewhat better terms than those negotiated by Reza Shah in 1932.
1950 November 25 - Supplemental Agreement rejected by Mossadeq chaired commission as too little. (p.198)
1951 March 7 - Prime Minister assassinated (by Fadaiyan-e Islam). Mossadeq "fills the void."
1951 March 15 - Majlis nationalizes the Anglo-Iranian Oil Company
1951 April 29 - Mossadeq voted Prime Minister. Basks in acclaim of "respect, devotion, loyalty" by Iranians. (p.199)
1951 July - Mossadeq orders all British employees of AIOC home. (p.200)
1952 - Oil production falls from lack of maintenance and boycott engineered by AIOC. Mossadeq appeals to United States to mediate. (p.201)
1952 July 13 - Asks majlis for "absolute powers for himself for a period of six months dating from July 13." (p.202)
1953 May - Mossadeq under siege. Tudeh party gives support with "hard-knuckle tactics that employ thugs . . . lawlessness"
1953 Summer - Head of CIA Allen Dulles, U.S. ambassador to Iran Loy Henderson, and Princess Ashraf meet in Switzerland. (p.204)
1953 August 10 - referendum give Mossadeq authority to dissolve parliament. (p.205)
1953 August - Ayatollah Kashani formally deserts Mossadeq
1953 August 13 - Shah tells Mossadeq he has been removed as prime minister. Mossadeq defies Shah, arrests messenger.
1953 August 16 - coup against Mossadeq fails. Shah flees Iran. (p.205)
1953 August 18 - Shah arrives in Rome without any money or entourage. In Tehran pro-Shah rent-a-mob hired by Americans fights Mossadeq demonstrators. Operation Ajax. "At least 300 people die." By nightfall Mossadeq flees palace(p.206)
1953 August 20 - Mossadeq arrested.
1957? - Mossadeq released from prison.
1967 - Mossadeq dies.
`Iran is like the stopper in the bathtub. Pull it out and the Caspian Sea, which is a Soviet lake, will pour down into the Persian Gulf, create a political vacuum there, and the Russians will seize the warm water ports they've been wanting ever since the time of Peter the Great. They'll be in striking distance of 181 billion barrels of mideastern oil` (p.246)
1919 October 26 - Muhammad Reza born.
1941 September 16 - Muhammad Reza sworn in by Majlis.
1941 - Soviet Union and Britain occupy northern Iran.
1953 August 16 - coup against Mossadeq fails. Shah flees Iran. (p.205)
1953 August - Shah returns to Iran
1960-1962 - Demonstrations by National Front and Communist left against Pahlavi reign.
1967 October 26 - Shah coronated. (p.230)
1971 March 1 - Shah fills power vacuum left by withdrawal of British from the Persian Gulf. Iraq doesn't like it. (p.242)
1973 October 6 - Yom Kippur war starts. Arab oil embargo. Oil starts rise to $11.65 a barrel. (p.243-4)
"Between 1972 and 1974, Iran's oil revenues multiplied nine fold, from $2.4 billion to $17.4 billion, while per capita income shot up to $2000 per year, the highest in the Third World. In the flood of dollars, public-sector investment doubled. Imports also doubled to a staggering 30% of GNP. . . . Iran's oil reserves [were] predicted to begin a decline as soon as 1990." (p.256)
"Representative of the critics, a pediatrician bitterly denounced the shah's skewed priorities: `Millions were spent to build big [gambling] casinos . . . while kids died because they drank contaminated water.` (p.258)
The clergy resisted the White Revolution "because land reform threatened to take 10,000 villages that helped finance the clerical establishment and its religious mission and second, because it hit the landowning families from which a large percentage of the upper echelon of the clergy came." (p.221)
White revolution led to depopulation of the countryside as illiterate peasants lost their land to loan sharks, qanats (irrigation works), vital to irrigation, often went to ruin because that organizing force that ensured their maintenance no longer existed. When the qanats failed, they took thousands of productive villages with them. (p.229)
After 1953, "Ruhollah Khomeini had continued to build his reputation within Qom's clerical circles as an exceptional legal talent, The tall, forbidding man moved through the halls of the madresehs never smiling at anybody or anything. ... his practice of ignoring his audience while he thought contributed to his charisma." (p.224)
"Khomeini the nationalist materialized when he denounced the 1964 Status of Forces Agreement, which exempted United States military personnel from Iranian law." (p.273)
"In May 1970, after his confidant, Ayatollah Muhammad Reza Saidi, died in a SAVAK prison, Khomeini at last called for an end to the Pahlavi monarchy." (p.276)
"By the mid-1970s, Khomeini as clerical and nationalist appealed to a spectrum of ideological persuasions: moderate, conservative, and militant seminarians in Qom and Mashad; secular and religious students in American and European universities; liberal and radical intellectuals. Without ever moderating his stance against Marxism, Khomeini pulled the divergent opponents of the Shah under his clerical robe." (p.276)
By 1977, a broad spectrum of Iran's population had retrieved an old Shia saying attributed to the Imam Musa al-Jafar. Prior to his death in 799, he prophesied that `A man will come out from Qom and he will summon people to the right path. There will rally to him people resembling pieces of iron, not to be shaken by violent winds, unsparing and relying on God.` (p.277) (source: Quoted in Fouad Ajami, The Vanished Imam: Musa al Sadr and the Shia of Lebanon (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1986), p.25)
Jala Al-e Ahmad - Born into religious family. Joined Tudeh. Became more of European socialist, Supported and became disillusioned with Mossadeq, Then publicly renounced his leftist politics in order to devote himself to the "search for the soul of Iran." Published Gharbzadeqi in 1962 `Today we stand under that Western banner, a people alienated from ourselves; in our clothing, shelter, food, literature, and press. And more dangerous than all, in our culture. We educate pseudo-Westerners and we try to find solutions to every problem like pseudo-Westerners.` Book was banned by the Shah. (p.215-6)
As Jalal Al-e Ahmad had awakened the young, educated Iranian to his cultural alienation, Shariati prepared him for revolution.
The powerful theme of cultural disjunction labeled `westoxification` underlay all of Shariati's writings. Although his frame of reference, his conceptions of history, society, class, economics and institutions of state all came out of classic Marxism, his vehicle of revolt against the power and privilege of Pahlavi Iran was Islam. . . .Essentially rewriting the entire Islamic history of Iran, he stripped Islam of the moribund ulama and shaped it into a systemized ideology of revolt. (p.264)
If Shariati used Islam to redefine Marxism for Iranians, Morteza Motahhari employed Islam to counter it. And if Shariati Disdained the ulama, Motahhari reigned as the quintessential cleric. A product of Qom, he studied with both Ayatollah Borujerdi and Ayatollah Khomeini. It was as a certified cleric that he met the challenge thrown at Shia Islam by leftist, secular ideologies; he did so by confronting the same political issues of Pahlavi Iran using the ideological and intellectual discourse of Islam." "Spoke to the Masses." Published two small volumes. His style was "simple concise, and anecdotal" Was broadcast on the radio by the Shah's regime (an anti-leftist after all) (p.265)
"Except for the few months he spent in France when his opponents claimed that he practiced taqiyeh before the western press, Khomeini made no secret of his goal of establishing Islamic government. The secularist simply did not listen." (p.287) COMMENT: Ya, but what WAS Islamic government? He certainly didn't say it was Velayat-e Faqih - he seldom, if ever, mentioned it.
Islamic Republican Party (IRP) was "essentially a reconstruction of the Revolutionary Council replaced by the new constitution." (p.297)
"The ayatollah finally acted in June 1987 when Rafsanjani as speaker of the Majlis and Ali Khamenei as president persuaded him to dissolve the Islamic Republican Party. The Purpose was to alleviate some of the unbearable pressure the party's core constituency put on the government to move even further in the direction of a state-controlled economy." (p.348)
"Ayatollah Khomeini had long been warning the Iranian people of an impending American attack. When the invasion of Iranian airspace came and so dismally failed, Khomeini credited God. In words alive with political and religious imagery, he said God had thrown sand into the motors of the U.S. helicopters to protect a nation government by Islam. In the circumstances, Bani-Sadr simply could not compete with God. The way opened for Khomeini and his clerics to launch their final drive for absolute power in what was a cultural as well as a political revolution." (p.298)
$86.7 billion in military costs
$28 billion in damage to the oil industry
$23 billion in lost oil revenues. (p.332)
In July 1979, when Saddam Hussein officially took over the presidency of Iraq, Ayatollah Khomeini went on Tehran Radio to describe the new Iraqi president as a `Puppet of Satan.` Eight months later, on April 8, 1980, he called the pious among the Iraqis to rise up and overthrow Saddam Hussein. When he broadcast his message, Khomeini knew an audience was already waiting for his instruction. Al-Dawa al-Islamiya, or the Call to Islam, Iraq's extreme Shia party, already breathed fire against Baghdad." (p.317)
The unresolved dispute between the proponents of Islamic socialism and the champions of private property. In 1986, the speaker of the Majlis, Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, admitted that there were `two relatively powerful factions in our country with differences of view on how the country should be run . . . They may, in fact be regarded as two parties without names.` (p.348) (source: Financial Times Feb. 9, 1988)
"The ayatollah finally acted in June 1987 when Rafsanjani as speaker of the Majlis and Ali Khamenei as president persuaded him to dissolve the Islamic Republican Party. The Purpose was to alleviate some of the unbearable pressure the party's core constituency put on the government to move even further in the direction of a state-controlled economy." (p.348)
In the Islamic Republic of the early 1980s, the council's 12 members all possessed strong connections with the landowning clergy and the bazaaris, who was in the government expropriation of land the shadow of a state-controlled economy that threatened their position as private entrepreneurs driving the Iranian economy. (p.342-3)
"The hard-liners' obsession with protecting the revolution is more than ideological and political. In contradiction to their own economic philosophy, many among the radicals are rich and important as a result of the private fortunes they have accumulated through the organs of the revolution, especially the Bonyad-e Mastazafin, the Revolutionary Guards, and a variety of other organizations. With a more flexible interpretation of the revolution and a more relaxed social atmosphere, the rationale for their fiefdoms would disappear and with it the fiefdoms themselves. (p.344)
"Government policy wallowed in the chaos of ideological confusion. Khomeini, as the Faqih, commanded the power and the authority to give dominance to one faction or the other. But he refused, choosing instead to maintain a precarious balance between the conservatives, the pragmatist, and the radicals. It was a leadership style for which Iran continues to pay a heavy price. (p.346)
`For the sake of maintaining balance among various factions, I have always issued bitter and sweet instructions because I consider all of them as my dear ones and children.` (p.348) (source: BBC Summary of World Broadcasts, February 24, 1989)
"His devoted followers conferred on him the title of imam. Although meaning leader rather than the sacred designation of the infallibles of Shi'ism, the title resonated with meaning, implying perfection and immortality. Defying all historical and theological prohibitions, Khomeini held a place in Iranian politics and culture that had never been occupied before nor is likely to be occupied by any other man again." (p.346)
"Among the six grand ayatollahs, not one totally concurred with Khomeini on the key issues of Islamic government, including the whole theory of the supreme spiritual guide. Opposition within the clergy, centering around the concern over the corrupting effect of political power, dug so deep and sparked so much emotion that followers of rival ayatollahs [mainly Shari'atmadari presumably] clashed with supporters of Khomeini in December 1979 and January 1980." (p.296)
"The product of a peasant family, Montazeri had studied with Khomeini at Qom. As a teacher at Faiziyeh Theological School, he went into the streets in 1963 to protest Muhammad Reza Shah's White Revolution. After Khomeini's expulsion from Iran, Montazeri sat at the center of the clerical network Khomeini left to opposed Pahlavi rule. He went tot prison in 1974 and came out in 1978 in time for the revolution. In Khomeini's Iran, he served as Friday prayer leader of Qom and held membership in both the Revolutionary Council and the assembly that wrote the constitution for the Islamic Republic [Assembly of Experts] Beginning in 1980, Khomeini had begun to transfer some of his power to Montazeri, and by 1983 all government offices hung a small picture of the chosen successor next to that of Khomeini. Yet the politically pristine Montazeri fell short of the theological requirements of the Faqih. He could not claim descent from the Prophet nor did he possess the credentials of a revered scholar of Islamic law. His religious followers were few. And he lacked the all-important charisma. His selection had happened for one reason - he was the only one among the candidates for Faqih who totally endorsed Khomeini's vision of Islamic government. But Montazeri, a relative moderate on domestic issues and a hard-liner in support of exporting the revolution, never took Khomeini's place."
. . . In personal letters to the Faqih, he criticized existing political conditions in the Islamic Republic. Citing the treatment of political prisoners, he charged, `Your prisons are far worse than those of the Shah and his SAVAK.` (source: Ahmad Khomeini's letter, Resalat, cited in Shaul Bakhash, The Reign of the Ayatollahs: Iran and the Islamic Revolution, rev. ed. p.282) . . He argued that political participation needed to be broadened and press censorship ended." p.353)
"Montazeri's removal let the Islamic Republic once more without an heir to Khomeini. And once again the regime faced its great theological problem - none of the grand ayatollahs from which Shia tradition dictated the choice be made agreed with the whole premise of Khomeini's Velayat-e Faqih." (p.354)
Ali Khamenei, the reigning president, was chosen as Khomeini's successor within 24 hours of Khomeini's death. "The stooped, black-bearded Khamenei is another of the clerics in Qom who joined Khomeini's defiance of the shah in 1963 and operated his network during the years of exile. After the revolution, he helped found both the Islamic Republican Party and the Bonyad-e Mostazafin. He took command of the Revolutionary Guards Corps in December 1979 and in January 1980 became Friday prayer leader of Tehran, where he gained public renown for his fiery sermons." (p.358)
Following his 1993 election, head pragmatist Rafsanjani pursued economic reform. He was opposed by an alliance of hardliners ("radical populists") and conservatives, who were joined by his former ally Rahbar Ali Khamenei "Khamenei began to employ his constitutional power as the final authority in the Islamic Republic to both sabotage the pragmatists and block Rafsanjani from emerging as Iran's uncontested political leader. Deviating from Ayatollah Khomeini's practice of moving back and forth between opposing groups in order to maintain balance, Khamenei most often took the side of the hard-liners. Consequently on the three great ideological issues that have divided the political clerics since the early 1980s - state intervention in the economy, the enforcement of strict Islamic codes of conduct, and relations with the West - the hard-liners gathered their allies..."
But don't put too much stock in ideology. Iranian politics is particularist, and the interests are narrow. "But the label of hard-liner or pragmatist fails to recognize the multitude of factions within each camp as the political clerics vie for purely personal power." (p.367)
"Education has opened up to the masses, dramatically improving literacy rates for both males and females. Access to health care has grown and social services have expanded ...even women have gained certain advantages in the Islamic state, including education, greater job opportunities, and the right in divorce to recover the value of a wife's labor over the duration of the marriage." (p.368)
In the revolution's two phases, the Iranian people ruptured. Perhaps as many as three million fled either the rage against the privileged or the repression imposed by the clerics. In economic terms, they took with them the capital and skills necessary to build a new Iran. In terms of Iranian society, the exodus physically broke the great extended families, the foundation blocks of society. They are now divided between those living abroad and those remaining in Iran. (p.368)
1978 - 36 million
1998 - 60+ million
"The assumption of the revolutionaries in charge of government was that large numbers of Iranians would help the Islamic Republic propagate its ideology." (p.369)
Observations fall of 1992. "Regardless of the 13-year campaign to wipe the vestiges of the West from Iran, I saw fast-food restaurants selling fried chicken under red-and-white striped awnings that mimicked those of Kentucky Fried Chicken. The Caspian seafront town of Babal sported a hamburger stand called McAli's. In a hotel in Isfahan an old Muzak system scratched out he Beatles hit `Yesterday.`" (p.362)
`The Iranian people, through their massive turnout in the elections, slapped in the mouth of their enemies and infuriated them.` - Rahbar Ali Khamenei
63.2% of vote for Rafsanjani.
57.6% turnout of eligible voters. (p.363-4)
"The Central Bank discreetly reopened its doors on the Iranian crown jewels. On Wednesday afternoon, anyone with the admission price of roughly $4 could go down steep carpeted steps into the dazzling exhibit of pre-revolutionary Iran ruled by kings. The globe of gold and jewels that once sparkled in Nasir ed-din Shah's thrown room is there next to a tiered, gilt throne embellished with the lion of Persia. So are the crowns of emeralds, rubies, diamonds and pearls that sat on the heads of the Qajars. Alone in a glass case near the entrance is the plumed Pahlavi crown. According to the museum's curator, the same man who served the shah, the collection remains intact for the people of Iran." ...Spokesmen of Islamic government conceded that although all pre-Islamic societies, including Persia had lived in ignorance and darkness, Persian society had proved superior to all others." (p.365)
"In August 1991, the Tehran district of Bagher Abad rioted against municipal agents who attempted to demolish illegally constructed shacks. A March 1992 protest by disabled war veterans against the mismanagement of the Foundation of the Disinherited spread. 2000-3000 protesters set buildings ablaze in Arak, 150 miles southwest of Tehran. Shiraz rumbled. On May 1992, Mashhad exploded when demolition squads and security forces moved into a squatter area. Torch-carrying rioters set fire to government buildings. In the conflagration, the city's main library with its extensive collection of Qur'ans burned and tax records disappeared. Computers and other equipment that refused to ignite flew out of the top floor of the Ministry of Culture and Islamic Guidance.
Quickly the clerics from the right and left of the political spectrum buried their differences and went on the attack. While officials blamed the violence on `foreigners` and the Mujahedin, the Basij and the Revolutionary Guards, the shields of Islamic government, came from near and far to put down the disturbances. Executions of four perpetrators followed. Finally, the clerics set about repairing the political damage among the lower class through the defense of Islamic culture." Shutting down a Western-style stage comedy, etc. (p.361)
"Today the Islamic Republic is rife with corruption. Perhaps nothing symbolized ill-gotten gains more potently to the man on the street than the Mullah gripping a briefcase under his cloak as he steps into a new, air-conditioned, chauffeur-driven Peugeot... As an example of how profits take precedence over public welfare, a large part of the output of the pharmaceutical industry goes to the black market... One Iranian complained to me, `Because of the Mullahs, sometimes there is not an aspirin [i.e. a reasonably priced non-black market aspirin] in Teheran.'" (p.370)
Some of the largess falling to the clerical alliance comes from the foundations. After the government-owned oil industry, they are the largest manufacturers, traders, and real estate developers in the country. At the same time they reap huge subsidies from government. The bloated giant of the bonyads is the Mostazafin Foundation, the Foundation of the Oppressed, that swept up the confiscated property of the Pahlavis and other wealthy families in the early days of the revolution. The roughly 700 companies now under its control make cars and pharmaceuticals, import steel and chicken, and operate most of Iran's hotels. It even owns property on Fifth Avenue in New York. In 1995, the foundation's assets were estimated at $12 billion, with yearly earnings of perhaps $100 million. (p.370)
"The President of the Bonyad Mostazafin is Mohsen Rafighdoost. He moved out of his father's fruit shop in the bazaar to become Ayatollah Khomeini's chauffeur and bodyguard. On the imam's orders, he founded the Revolutionary Guard. That put him in position to build the assets of the Foundation of the Oppressed." (p.370)
"The Mostazafin Foundation, the Martyrs Foundation, and most of the other so-called charity organizations are accountable neither to shareholders nor to the government, but only to the man who sits at its head, or to the faqih, Ali Khamenei. Rather than real businesses concerned with profits and losses, they are cornucopias of wealth for the Islamic Republic's elite. As an example of how profits take precedence over public welfare, a large part of the output of the pharmaceutical industry goes to the black market rather than the pharmacies, creating a chronic shortage of reasonably priced drugs. One Iranian complained to me, `Because of the Mullahs, sometimes there is not an aspirin [i.e. a non-black market aspirin] in Tehran.'" (p.370)
"In an attempt to prevent more civil disturbances over the rising cost of living, the Majlis is beginning to shine the light of inquiry on the foundations. In 1995, preparation began on a report on the Mostazafin foundation intended to determine if its primary purpose is charity or profit. But reining in the foundations will be difficult. First, people in high places are the bonyad's chief beneficiaries and secondly, a portion of the foundations' profits are channeled to the `martyrs and the oppressed` who keep the clerical regime in power." (p.370-1)
COMMENT: "A portion"!? Who the hell gets the rest!!!?
Unfortunately for the people of the Islamic Republic, corruption is not isolated to the bonyads. In the bureaucracy charged with everything from stamping a form to clearing a shipment through customs, to scheduling a court case, nothing gets done without a bribe.
"Even the Revolutionary Guards, the guardians of public morality, have become corrupt. Hefty fees paid in advance keep the Pasdaran away from parties of the rich where alcohol is served. Lesser bribes in lesser social classes smooth the departure of religious vigilantes who have burst through the door to shut off Western music and collect a payoff..." (p.371)
"Although the stain of corruption is on all layers of the Islamic Republic, its damage has penetrated to the core of the clergy in charge of the Islamic Republic. ... the perception ... is that every high-ranking cleric in government is corrupt.
* President Rafsanjani is rumored to control the pistachio market, own the Mitsubishi plant, and take a cut on all import taxes collected at Iran's major port of Qeshem Island.
* Ali Akbar Nateq-Noori, speaker of the Majlis, has had little success in denying that he owns four houses gifted by the government. Even the family of Imam Khomeini is suspect. The fact that
* Zahra Mustafvi, the ayatollah's daughter who heads the Women's Organization, travels the streets in a new Mercedes adds resonance to the whispers that before his death, her brother Ahmed, was the richest man in Iran. (p.371) H3>What did the Revolution do?
"Society in the Islamic Republic resembles that of Pahlavi Iran in that it is seemingly irrevocably split between a small, very rich minority, a larger middle class struggling to survive, and the overwhelming majority of the poor. This gaping chasm between rich and poor stands as testament to the brutal reality that the Islamic Republic has not been able to deliver on the one great social goal of the revolution - the equitable distribution of economic resources. It is as if the hourglass of power that turned over in 1979 changed everything and changed nothing. ..." (p.361)
Ali Akbar Saidi Sirjani. Books banned 1991. Arrested 1994.
Allegedly "confessed to charges of espionage and drug abuse. For eight months, Iranian intellectuals and international human rights advocates protested the writer's detention. Then on November 28, 1994, Ali Akbar Saidi Sirjani died in prison of a sudden and unexpected heart attack, the same fate that befell Jalal Al-e Ahmad and Ali Shariati during the reign of Muhammad Reza Shah." (p.373)
98% or more of the 80,000 clerics in Iran ... are not part of Islamic Government. [So the Mullahs in the government number 1600.] Fulfilling their traditional role of religious guide and source of succor for oppressed people, they see the prestige and influence of the clergy ebb in the failure of the Islamic Republic. While some still recognize the divine legitimacy of the faqih, other hold that the spiritual guide's authority derives solely from the popular will, and that, like other elected officials, popular will can remove him from power." And so are fodder for the siren song of people like Soroush. (p.376)
Why America is so tough on Iran:
"The collapse of Communism in 1989 that took with it the Soviet Union eliminated the evil empire against which the United States had directed its energy and its treasure for 40 years. Almost overnight Americans who knew no other way to look at the world except in terms of certain right and absolute wrong were cut adrift in a sea of ambiguities. Psychologically needing a new villainous enemy to engage their nation's moral energies, the attention of the Americans focused on Iran, and then in 1990, on Iraq. Following the neutering of Saddam Hussein, it returned to Iran and the ideology of revolutionary Islam."
"The American anxiety produced by what is imprecisely but viscerally termed `Islamic fundamentalism` is nothing new. The West had always been disquieted by the passion of Islam ..." (p.384)
COMMENT: So it's because of the U.S.'s "psychologically needing a new villainous enemy" and not the 444 days of hostage holding, the chants of Marg bar Amrika (Down with America), the Great Satan, the Fatwa on Salman Rushdie that Iran and the US are enemies?
This is Mackey at her patronizing, unconvincing worst. So bad you wonder if she really believes it herself.