Some Timelines of Recent History

Last Updated: 6-27-2005

Qajar Dynasty

Constitutional Revolution of Iran

Reza Shah: Rise, Reign and Fall

Mossadeq: Rise, Premiership and Fall

Khomeini's Early Years

Khomeini's Rise and Exile

Events Leading Up to the Islamic Revolution,

The Islamic Revolution and Aftermath

The Return of Khomeini.
The Elimination of the Threat of Military Putsch.
The Elimination of the Shah's Elite,
(November 1978 - April 1979)

  • 1978 November 27 - Millions celebrate throughout the country weeping and jumping at having seen Khomeini's face in the moon after rumour sweeps the land that the Imam's face will so appear on this night. Even Tudeh Party embraces the story. (Taheri p.238)
  • 1978 December 10-11 - Tasu'a and Ashura. As many as 17 million people "up and down the country march peacefully demanding the removal of the Shah and return of Khomeini." (Moin p.196) 17-point resolution is presented during the demo "declaring the Ayatollah to be the leader of the Iranian people," and calling on Iranians to struggle until the Shah is overthrown. (Graham p.238) U.S. Carter administration and Shah torn between supporting Iranian popular opinion and "tough line." (Moin p.196)
  • 1979 January 10 - Khomeini unveils plan to public saying: `according to religious right and based on the vote of the confidence by an absolute majority of the people in me [in the form of large December protest demonstrations], a council called the Islamic Revolutionary Council has been formed.` (Moin p.197)
  • 1979 January 12 - Khomeini sets up a "Council of Islamic Revoution with the task of establishing a transitional government. The names of its members ... not disclosed." (Arjomand p.134)
  • 1979 January 16 - Shah leaves country `on vacation,` never to return. (Moin p.198)
  • 1979 February 1 - Khomieni returns to Iran (Moin p.197) as "undisputed leader of one of the major revolutionary movements in modern history." (Moin p.199)
  • 1979 February 5 - Announcement of appointment of Mehdi Bazargan as provisional prime minister (in competition with Shah-appointed prime minister Bakhtiar) by Khomeini. Bazargan's moderate, democrat (but pious) reputation and demeanor "smooth the transition of power." Bazargan was charged with preparation of a referendum on an Islamic Republic to be followed by election of a Constituent Assembly (Moin p.203) `I hereby pronounce Bazargan as the Ruler, and since I have appointed him, he must be obeyed,` says Khomeini, proclaiming disobedience of `God's government ... a revolt against God. Revolt against God is blasphemy.` (Moin p.204)
  • 1979 February 7 - Large rallies "in support of Bazargan's premiership." Counter-rallies the next day by Bakhtiar very small, "further exposing his lost cause." (Moin p.205)
  • 1979 February 8 - "Hundreds of air force technicians descend upon [Khomeini's headquarters at] the Refah School to pledge an oath of allegiance to Khomeini." Imperial Guard `Immortals` attack air force bases. People's Fedaiyan and Mojahedin-e Khalq rush to their defense. Fighting spreads to the rest of Tehran. Police and army barracks attacked. Arsenals looted. (Moin p.198)
  • 1979 February 10 - Bakhtiar announces curfew in an "attempt to resist the inevitable." Khomeini instructed his followers to ignore it. Jihad to be proclaimed by Khomeini against any army units that do not surrender. (Moin p.205-6)
  • 1979 February 11 - Bakhtiar government collapses. To stop collapse of the military, Supreme Military Council declares itself "neutral in the current political disputes ... in order to prevent further disorder and bloodshed" and orders "all military personnel to return to base." Revolution triumphs over the military. Bakhtiar goes into hiding and flees country shortly thereafter. (Moin p.206)
  • 1979 February 15 - First Revolutionary Tribunals convene (in secret). (Mackey p.290) Executions of Shah's henchmen begin. "Four leading generals" tried and shot at Khomeini's headquarters at Refah School. (Moin p.207)
  • 1979 March 31 - referendum approved the establishment of an Islamic republic with Khomeini in de facto control. 97% vote yes.
  • 1979 April 7 - long-serving prime minister Amir Abbas Hoveida executed (shot), after being found a `doer of mischief on earth` (Mackey p.290), despite attempts of Bazargan's government and human rights lawyers to "organize a proper trial" for him. "Within a short period over 200 of the Shah's senior officials followed Hoveida to their graves." (Moin p.208)

Crushing the Peaceful Democratic Opposition.
(February - August 1979)

  • 1979 February-December - Revolutionary Islamic groups take the stage: Islamic Revolutionary Party, Hezbollah, Komitehs, Revolutionary Guards. They ensure supremacy of clerical rule by outmaneuvering, intimidating, physically attacking opponents and "undesirable allies." (Moin p.210-2)
  • 1979 March 1 - Warning that democracy is not in the cards. Khomeini returns to Qom. Addressing a great crowd he proclaims: `What the nation wants is an Islamic republic: not just a republic, not a democratic republic, not a democratic Islamic republic. Do not use this term, `democratic.` That is the Western style.`" (p.73 The Reign of the Ayatollahs by Shaul Bakhash)
    Move to Qom from Tehran in theory means he surrenders control over day-to-day decision making back in Tehran. In practice it means the power center moves to Qom were non-clerics have little access to power. Another proclamation: "Western laws must be abolished and replaced with Islamic law. We will uproot all Western cultural influence ..." (Moin p.215)

  • 1979 March (early) - Beginning of Islamization of government. Khomeini directs "the Minister of Justice to eliminate from the Family Protection Act any passages contradicting Islamic principles." (Benard/Khalilzad p.98)
  • 1979 Spring, late - Exclusion of other elements from power by Revolutionary Council and Islamic Republican Party "begins to show." Becomes clear Bazargan has little power compared to shadow government of Khomeini, Revolutionary Council. (Moin p.215)
  • 1979 April - Complaints against hegemony of Islamic Republican Party and power of revolutionary courts from Ayatollah Taeqani, Karim Sanjabi, Ayatollah Shari'atmadari, Qomi and many other. (Moin p.210-2)
  • 1979 June 5 - Warning to Intellectuals to piss off. Khomeini proclaims `Who are they that wish to divert our Islamic movement from Islam? ... It was the mosques that created this Revolution, the mosques that brought this movement into being ... Intellectuals, do not be Western-style intellectuals, imported intellectuals,; do your share to preserve the mosques.` (Arjomand p.137)
  • 1979 June 14 - Official preliminary draft of the constitution published. (Schirazi p.24) Draft constitution contains Council of Guardians to veto unIslamic legislation, but no Velayat-e faqih. Khomeini declares it `correct.` (Moin p.217)
  • 1979 June 15 - At the same time he supports the draft constitution Khomeini declares liberal and leftwing groups advocating a Constituent Assembly to be `counter-revolutionaries` against Islam. "No `Westernised jurists` are needed, only `noble members of the clergy.`" (Moin p.217) "Campaign launched to popularised the idea of the velayat-e faqih," hitherto virtually unknown to most Iranians. (Moin p.218)
  • 1979 June 18 - Khomeini turns on Islamic moderates/democratics, denounced them as enemies of Islam. [Kayhan 18.6.79 from Schirazi]
  • 1979 Summer - New party, the National Democratic Front of Iran, launched as opposition to Khomeini regime. Supports Constituent Assembly and free press. Draws large crowds which are "ferociously attacked by gangs of Hezbollahi toughs." (Moin p.218)
  • 1979 Summer - First Assembly of Experts elected. Vote boycotted by opponents. "Vote-rigging, violence against undesirable candidates and the dissemination of false information used to produce an assembly overwhelmingly dominated by clergy loyal to Khomeini." (Moin p.218)
  • 1979 August 7 - Ayandegan, "the daily newspaper with the widest circulation, which had agitated against Velayat-e faqih" is banned under new press law for "counter-revolutionary policies and acts." Assembly of Experts begins deliberations. (Kayhan, 20.8.78-21.8.78,` quoted in Schirazi p.51) (New York Times)
  • 1979 August 8 - demonstrators gather in Tehran to protest closing of Ayandegan. In the next three days 41 newspapers and periodicals are prohibited. (Kayhan 20.8.78-21.8.78, quoted in Schirazi p.51)
  • 1979 August 10 - Khomeini tells Assembly of Experts delegates those who campaigned against the Assembly of Experts and in defence of Ayandegan newspaper are `wild animals. We will not tolerate them any more... After each revolution several thousand of these corrupt elements are executed in public and burnt and the story is over. They are not allowed to publish newspapers. ... We will close all parties except the one, or a few which act in a proper manner ... we all made mistakes. we thought we were dealing with human beings. It is evident we are not.` (Moin p.219)
  • 1979 August 12 - More demonstrations. National Democratic Front schedules a mass demonstration to protest the closure of newspapers like Ayandegan. Demonstration is "viciously attacked by Hebollah thugs." (Moin p.219-20) Hundreds are injured by rocks, clubs, chains and iron bars. The next day Khomeini supporters attack and loot offices of leftist groups in retaliation for demonstrations. (New York Times)
  • 1979 August, mid to late - End of peaceful resistance to Khomeini's Islamization. Warrant issued for arrest of Hedayat Matin Daftari, one of the National Democratic Front's leaders. 26 major newspapers and magazines closed. Hezbollah attacks office of People's Feda'iyan. (Moin p.219-20)

Hostage Crisis and Approval of Theocratic Constitution
(October 1979-January 1980)

  • 1979 October 14 - Assembly of Experts approves Khomeini as the vali-ye faqih with "command of the armed forces and veto power over all candidates for the Majlis and the presidency." Referendum approving this to come. (Mackey p.293)
  • 1979 October (date ?, probably same as above) - Assembly of Experts produces theocratic new constitution including velayt-e faqih position. Now that the National Democratic Front has been crushed the constitution faces strong opposition from People's Mohahedin, People's Feda'iyan, ethnic minorities, Shari'atmadari's Muslim People's Republican Party. (Moin p.226)
  • 1979 October 22 - Cancer ridden Shah allowed to United States for medical treatment. Khomeini furious at this "evidence of American plotting." Heightens rhetoric against `Great Satan.` (Moin p.220)
  • 1979 November 1 - Prime Minister Bazargan photo-ed shaking hands with Zbigniew Brzezinski at meeting in Algeria. (Radical) Iranian media eager to attack moderates alerts the "nation of the return of American influence." (Moin p.221)
  • 1979 November 4 - Iranian militants seize the U.S. embassy in Tehran and hold 66 occupants hostage, demanding the return of the shah from the U.S. Khomeini waits a few days to see if moderate Iranians or the U.S. will do anything to stop them, then supports hostage-takers. 52 hostages held for 444 days. (Moin p.221)
  • 1979 November 6 - Bazargan offers his resignation, "unable to muster" support for "eviction of the students." Khomeini immediately accepts. (Moin p.221)
  • 1979 November - Hostage crisis divides opposition. Leftist guerilla organizations abandon fight against Khomeini's new theocratic constitution to side with the anti-imperialist assertiveness of hostage-taking. Referendum scheduled for Dec. 3. (Moin p.227)
  • 1979 November - Anti-theocratic opposition now rallies behind Grand Ayatollah Shari'atmadari and a few other clerical opponents of Khomeini (Ayatollah Reza Zanjani and Qomi.) (Moin p.229)
  • 1979 November - Attacks by state-controlled media on MPRP and Shari'atmadari. Riots in Shari'atmadari's Azeri home region. Demonstrations and counter-demonstrations. (Moin p.231)
  • 1979 December 3 - Referendum of new constitution passes with massive endorsement but much lower turnout because of boycott. Khomeini becomes vali-ye faqih (Moin p.232)
  • 1979 December 6 - Khomeini meets with Shari'atmadari and delivers "what appears to have been an ultimatum." (Moin p.231)
  • 1980 January - Many of Shari'atmadari aides put under house arrest in Qom. Muslim People's Republican Party no longer a player. (Moin p.232)

Bani Sadr v. Mullahs
(February 1980-June 1981)

  • 1980 January - Presidential election. Mujahedin-e Khalq finally breaks with Khomeini after its leader Masoud Rajavi is barred from running for president by Supreme Leader Khomeini. (Mackey p.304)
  • 1980 February 4 - Bani Sadr (one of Khomeini's three vizers while in France) receives Khomeini's confirmation following his (Bani Sadr's) election as president. Appoints Bani-Sadr Commander-in-Chief. Bani-Sadr is immediately beset by mullahs undermining his power. Confusion over the constitutional role of the president and opposition by "shrewd mullahs" of the IRP. Khomeini takes neutral stance towards Bani Sadr. Appoints Ayatollah Behesti as chief justice to proceed with "Islamisation of the law." (Moin p.233-4)
  • 1980 March 21 - Cultural revolution begins. In New Year's speech, Khomeini inveighs against `imperialist universities` where those `cloaked with the West` teach and study. `The universities must become Islamic.` (Benard/Khalilzad p.116)
  • 1980 March-May - First and second rounds of Parliamentary elections. Islamic Republican Party mobilises "network among clergy, komitehs and the revolutionary guard." Hezbollah attacks rallies and offices of opposition parties (mostly the Mojahedin-e Khalq, as they are nearly the only opposition group left standing). The Mohahedin-e Khalq - erstwhile revolutionary allies against the Shah - are attacked by Khomeini as elteqati (eclectic), contaminated with Gharbzadeqi ("the Western plague"), and as monafeqin (hypocrits) and kafer (unbelievers) (Moin p.234, 239)
  • 1980 April 24 - Hostage rescue attempt by US military fails after sandstorm causes crash of helicopter into C-130 transport plane killing 8 servicemen. Khomeini credits divine intervention on behalf of Islam. His prestige is greatly enhanced as "Bani-Sadr simply could not compete with God." (Mackey p.298)
  • 1980 May - Parliamentary elections results show clergy dominating parliament. Islamic Republican Party has 85 members, but far more influence. Bani Sadr has "no more than a handful of supporters among the deputies." No Mohahedin-e Khalq candidates elected. Widespread accusations of election malpractice. (Moin p.234)
  • 1980 July - Purge of Westernized elements in the state bureaucracy begins. "Some 20,000 teachers and nearly 8000 officers were discharged." (Arjomand p.144)
  • 1980 July 27 - Shah dies of cancer.
  • 1980 August - Bani Sadr forced to accept IRP-oriented prime minister he declares "incompetent," Ali Raja'i. (In theory, Iran's president is supposed to appoint the prime minister). (Moin p.234-5)
  • 1980 September 22 - Iraq invades Iran. Bani Sadr/IRP disputes continue. Bani Sadr commands regular army. Revolutionary Guards take orders from clerics. (Moin p.235)
  • 1980 Nov. Dec.(?) - Mohahedin-e Khalq leadership "virtually driven underground" by its vigorous campaign against the government on all fronts. (Moin p.239)
  • 1981 January - Muslim People's Republican Party (Hezb-e Jomhuri-ye Khalq-e Mosalman) banned. (Schrazi p.125)
  • 1981 January 20 - U.S. Embassy hostages freed just before the inauguration of a new, more hard line U.S. president (Reagan) soon to be inaugurated.
  • 1981 March 5 - Rally led by Bani Sadr to commemorate death of Mosaddeq. Protected by People's Mojahedin who disarm Hezbollah thugs and find IRP membership cards in their pockets. Bani Sadr now rallying point "for all doubters and dissidents" of the theocracy, including People's Mojahedin. (Moin p.238)
  • 1981 March 15 - Meeting called by Khomeini to attempt a reconciliation between Bani-Sadr and IRP leaders. (Bakhash p.153)
  • 1981 Spring - Major media battle between Bani Sadr's Enqelab-e Islami and IRP-controlled media. (Moin p.237)
  • 1981 June 8 - Bani Sadr calls for "resistance to dictatorship" in speech at air base. Khomeini counters with speech declaring that street demonstrations in opposition to the law are a dictatorial act. Bani Sadr counters accusing Khomeini of trying to destroy the country by refusing to allow "a competent government to introduce modern and democratic policies." (Moin p.239-40)
  • 1981 June 10 - Bani Sadr stripped of title of commander-in-chief of the armed forces by Khomeini. (Moin p.240)
  • 1981 June 15 - Big Rally planned by National Front to unite Bani Sadr, the moderates and left against Khomeini, IRP and their terrorizing of the opposition. Rally flops after threatening last minute speech by Khomeini and show of force by Islamist forces in rally square. (Bakhash p.158-9)
  • 1981 June 20 - Majlis to vote to impeach Bani Sadr. All opposition groups (except the Tudeh Party and majority faction of the Feda'iyan Khalq) take to the streets to march against dictatorship. As many as 500,000 march in Tehran. Protestors attacked by Hezbollah armed with chains and sticks. Shoot out between guerillas and Revolutionary Guard. 20 killed. A thousand arrested. (Moin p.240)
  • 1981 June 21 - Majlis votes to impeach Bani Sadr 177 to 1. In secret hideout Bani Sadr issues call for mass uprising. More than 50 opponents of the religious leadership killed in the streets and prisons. Wave of sympathy for Mojahedin. (Moin p.240) Mojahedin begins doomed armed struggle against Khomeinists. (Keddie p.253)

Khomeini v. Mojahedin-e Khalq, Terror and Counter Terror
(June 1981-1982)

  • 1981 June 28 - Large bomb blows up Islamic Republican Party headquarters killing 70, including Beheshti, four cabinet ministers and 25 deputees of parliament. Country stunned. Mojahedin blamed, does not claim or deny responsibility. All-out war waged against them, National Front and other opposition groups. Execution of opposition figures in prison stepped up. (Moin p.241-2) (Keddie p.253)
  • 1981 July (mid) - Bani Sadr escapes to Paris. (Moin p.243)
  • 1981 June 21-Dec - Represssion intensifies. 2,946 executions in the 12 months following Bani-Sadr's impeachment. (Bakhash, p.221-222)
  • 1981 July 6 - Mojahedin assassinates Hojjat al-Islam Shari'ati-Fard in Gilan. (Moin p.242)
  • 1981 August 4 - Mojahedin assassinates Dr. Hassan Ayat in Tehran. (Moin p.242)
  • 1981 August 30 - Bomb attributed to the Mojahedin assassinates President Mohammad ali Raja'i and recently appointed prime minister Mohammad Javad Bahonar. (Moin p.242)
  • 1981 Sept 5 - chief public prosecutor announces that the "Islamic ordinances will be applied to small groups" ("small groups" being the regime's name for opposition organisations) (Scharzi p.127)
  • 1981 September 11 - Mojahedin assassinates Ayatollah Madani in Tabriz. (Moin p.242)
  • 1981 September 29 - Mojahedin assassinates Hojjat al-Islam A.K. Hasemi-Nejad in Mashhad. (Moin p.242)
  • 1981 June-Dec. - Amnesty International estimates 2500 executions of political dissidents by Islamic Republican government. (Moin p.242)
  • 1982 (early) - Mojahedin commander Musa Khiabani killed and his hideout destroyed in Tehran. Mojahedin threat wanes. (Moin p.243) and Khomeinists are strengthened. (Keddie p.253)
  • 1982 January - Leftist group Communist League, takes over "the small northern city of Amol." Is "quickly" retaken by the government. Most of the Communist League leaders "captured and executed." (Keddie p.254)
  • 1982 Spring - Plot by former supporter Qotzadeh and "up to 70 army officers" to assassinate Khomeini uncovered. Ayatollah Shari'atmadari implicated and is `defrocked` and forced to make public repentance on television. "Unprecedented intervention" in Shi'i religious institution. (Moin p.252)
  • 1982 Summer - Government launches "major assault" against "Kurdish rebel-held territory" in the north. Several non-Kurdish leftist groups had joined the Kurdish Democratic Party in the north and the KDP had joined the National Council of Resistance. But the government recaptures "virtually all" KDP territory within a year and a half. (Keddie p.254)
  • 1984 July - Iranian Government completes reconquest of Kurdish territory. KDP driven into Iraq. Only surviving leftist groups in Iran are the pro-government Kudeh party and "Feda'iyan majority" (Keddie p.254)

Clergy and Clerical Politics

  • 1981 October 2 - Hojjat al-Islam Ali Khamene'i elected as the third president of the Islamic Republic (Mackey p.307)
  • 1981 October 20 - Hojjat al-Islam Ali Khamene'i takes over as the third president of the Islamic Republic (Moin p.245)
  • 1981 - Khomeini encourages mollahs to come forward and take over key positions in the government and the civil service: `Islam is a religio-political faith. Its worship contains politics and its political affairs contain worship.` (Moin p.245)
  • 1982 April - Shari'atmadari "demoted" from the rank of Grand Ayatollah. In "move unprecedented in Shi'ite history, 17 of the 45 professors of the Qom theological seminaries were prevailed upon to issue a declaration `demoting` Shari'atmadari" (Arjomand, p.156)
  • 1982 May-June - Pro-Shari'atmadari `ulama purged.. "Leading pro-Khomeini clerics ... purge ... pro-Shari'atmadari `ulama and of other `pseudo-clerics` reluctant to accept the Velayat-e Faqih. The Society of Militant Clergy was put in charge of confirming the true clerics." (Arjomand, p.156)
  • 1982 December 15 - Khomeini makes 8-point decree effectively instructing the courts to ensure that people's rights and the due process of Islamic law". Hezbollah brought under control temporarily. (Taheri p.289)
  • 1985 November - Khomeini's successor named. Ayatollah Hossein Ali Montazeri named deputy Velyat-e Faqih (Moin p.262)
  • 1987 Islamic revolutionary Party disolved. In part because of factional infighting between populists and conservatives, inpart because it has "hadly any role" and does "almost nothing" now that all its non-Khomeinist rivals have been eliminated. (Keddie p.260)
  • 1987 December - Overriding Islamic Shari'ah law. Khomeini authorizes the government to punish hoarders without going to court. Introduces a bill cutting off essential services from companies which do not pay their taxes. Is challenged by the Guardian Council. Khomeini decrees the Islamic Government of Iran is the continuation of prophecy and Islamic rule pioneered by the Prophet. (Moin p.259)
  • 1988 January 1 - In a Jumu'ah Khutbah, President Ali Khamene'i suggests Khomeini meant that the government should act within the rules of Islam. (Moin p.260)
  • 1988 January 7 - Khomeini sternly corrects Khamene'i. `Islamic government, which stems from the absolute velayat ... is one of the primary injunctions in Islam, taking precedence over all subsidiary precepts, even praying, fasting and performing the Haj...` (Brumberg, p.135-6)
  • 1989 January - Khomeini sends letter to Soviet leader Mikhael Gorbachev inviting him to Islam (thus following in the footsteps of the Prophet (SAW) and the letters sent to emperors of Byzantium, Ethiopia and Persia). Letters advise Gorbachev to study Islam, specifically the works of Ibn Arabi, Avicenna and Sohravardi, all famous mystical philosophers. Orthodox ulema attacks Khomeini's (unorthodox) choice of suggested reading. Khomeini replies with an attack of `stupid reactionary mollahs` in a television address a few weeks later. (Moin p.275-6) ( p.260)

The Revolution and the Economy

  • 1979 June 8 - Banking system nationalized. (Mackey p.340)
  • 1979 June 25 - Privately owned insurance companies nationalized. (Mackey p.340)
  • 1979 July 5 - Sweeping nationalization measure: "Law for the Protection and Expansion of Iranian Industry" passed. Included most of the privately industry and much of the businesses (Mackey p.340)
  • 1980 June - Dwellings left empty by fleeing owners seized by government. (Mackey p.340)
  • 1980 April - Revolutionary Council approves sweeping land reform law. (Mackey p.342)
  • 1980 November - Vali-e Faqih Ayatollah Khomeini suspends land reform. (Mackey p.342)
  • 1983 August - interst-free banking bill approved, "though, as elsewhere in the Musilm world, the system then established" does "not bring much change." (Keddie p.257)
  • 1987 June - Islamic Republic Party (a big supporter of state control of the economy) is disbanded by Vali-e Faqih Khomeini. (Mackey p.348)
  • 1992 March - Protest by disabled war veterans against the mismanagement of the Foundation of the Disinherited. (Mackey p.361)
  • 1992 May 30 - Protest by squatters against demolition of shantytowns in Mashhad. Government buildings set fire, including city's main library with rare Qur'ans. (Mackey p.361) Protests brutally suppressed (Keddie p.267)
  • 1993 January - Mob attacks on grocery stores in protest against rise in subsidized milk prices. (Mackey p.362)
  • 1994 March - Reduction or elimination of subsidies to state-run services begins. Price increase: telecommunications 60%, gas 100%, electricity at plants and factories 300%. (Mackey p.365)
  • 1995 April - Akbarabad shantytown on the edge of Tehran explodes in protest over bus fare increases. 30 people die. (Mackey p.366)
  • 1995 April - total U.S. embargo on dealings with Iran imposed by Clinton after "pressure from Congress and the pro-Israeli lobby. Trade with the U.S., which had been growing following the end of the Iran-Iraq war ends abruptly. (Keddie p.265)
  • 1995 Summer - Foreign debt at $40 billion. Average per capita income 1/4 that of 1979. Rafsanjani calls for wider use of Muta (termporary marriage) since few can afford permanent marriage. (Mackey p.366)

War with Iraq

  • 1979 July - Saddam Hussein officially takes over presidency of Iraq. Ayatollah Khomeini goes on Tehran Radio to describe him (Saddam) as `a puppet of Satan.` (Mackey p.317)
  • 1980 April 8 - Broadcast call by Khomeini for the pious of Iraq to overthrow Saddam and his regime. Al-Dawa al-Islamiya party in Iraqi is the hoped for catalyst to start rebellion. (Mackey p.317)
  • 1980 September 22 - Iraq invades Iran. Invading force bogs down after small territorial gain.(Moin p.235)
  • 1981 September - Iran counter attacks. Iraqi siege of Abadan, site of key oil installation, broken. (Moin p.248)
  • 1982 May - Khorramshahr, the country's main port, is recaptured by Iran. (Moin p.248)
  • 1982 June - Ba'ath Party Revolutionary Command Council meets in Baghdad and issues peace offer to Iran. Offer is rejected by Khomeini. (Bulloch p.xvi)
  • 1982 July (mid) - Iranian forces turn the tables and launch their first invasion of Iraq itself. Human waves of Basij volunteers between ages of 10 and 16 used to clear Iraqi minefields. Khomeini calls the war `God's hidden gift.` (Moin p.249, 51)
  • 1983 February - Tudeh (Communist) party, the last remaining secular, non-Khomeinist political group, crushed following its failure to support Khomeini's war against Iraq (an ally of the Soviet Union, the leading Communist state). Members accused of "treason, espionage and conspiracy." Party disbanded. (Schirazi p.127)
  • 1984 - "War of the Cities" missile attacks between Iran and Iraq. Tehran not hit. (Moin p.267)
  • 1985 - Conditions in Iran worsen. Materiel from Shah's depots has run out. Inflation at 35%. Government's refusal to negotiate becomes increasingly unpopular. (Mackey p.325)
  • 1985 April 10 - Anti-government demonstrations break out in Aban district of Tehran. Spread to other districts and cities. Are crushed by vigilantes within two weeks. (Mackey p.325)
  • 1986 February 11 - Fao Peninsula captured at the cost of thousands of lives putting Iran within 50 miles of Basra. Biggest Iranian victory since the recapture of Khorramshahr in 1982. First capture of a sizeable amount of Iraqi territory. Still no negotiation with Iraq. (Mackey p.327)
  • 1986 November 3 - Iran Contra arms dealing makes headlines. President Hashemi Rafsanjani embarrassed. (Mackey p.327)
  • 1987 - Domestic conditions in Iran worsen. Cost of low-grade beef reaches $14/lbs. Unemployment reaches almost 40%. (Mackey p.330)
  • 1987 March - U.S. agrees to protect Kuwaiti tankers against Iran by reflagging and escorting them. (Keddie p.259)
  • 1987 July - UN Security Council passes Resolution 598 calling for a cease-fire; Iraq accepts, Iran does not respond. (Keddie p.259)
  • 1987 September - U.S. destroys first of a number of Iranian ships and oil platforms, "partly in response to Iranian attacks on U.S.-flagged ships." (Keddie p.259)
  • 1988 January - Mounting economic problems, and progressive demoralisation among the both Iranian troops and civilians. Soldier deserting the war front. Conscription period increased. International black market for arms (which Iran is dependent on) tightens. (Moin p.267)
  • 1988 February 28 - Iraqi Scud missile attacks on Tehran begin. An estimated quarter of the population leaves the capital during month-long attacks. (Moin p.267)
  • 1988 April 18 - Chemical attacks by Iraqis drive Iranian troops from the "dearly won" Faw peninsula. American navy blows up two Iranian oil rigs, destroys a frigate, sinks a missile boat. (Moin p.268)
  • 1988 July 3 - Iranian Air flight shot down by American warship. 290 civilians killed. Shooting is a mistake but a "reckless" one "in view of the information available to the captain." (Keddie p.259) Iranian public reacts more with despair and helplessness than outrage. (Moin p.269)
  • 1988 July 18 - Ceasefire. Iran announces it will unconditionally accept United Nations Security Council resolution 598. Massive psychological shock to Iranians after enormous sacrifices of the war. (Moin p.269)

Post-War Fallout: Rushdie Fatwa and Montazeri's Removal

  • 1987 November - Designated successor to Khomeini Ayatollah Hussein-Ali Montazeri "challenges" the "claim that political parties" are "irrelevant," and demands that the `law on political parties` be implemented. (Moin p.277)
  • 1988 - Designated successor Montazeri begins to become more liberal calling for open assessment of failures and ceases his support of the export of revolution, claiming Iran should only be an example. (Keddie p.260) In private letter to Khomeini, Montazeri argues it is wrong to execute people who have already been tried and served their sentence. (Moin p.279)
  • 1988 February - Khomeini criticizes Montazeri and one month later calls for a meeting of the Assembly of Experts to discuss him. (Keddie p.260)
  • 1988 July 20 - Invasion of Iran by People's Mojahedin from its military base in Iraq. Generates zero political support in Iran. Advance defeated in two days. Hundreds of Mojahedin killed. (Moin p.278)
  • 1988 Late summer and early autumn - "New reign of terror" against political prisoners. Khomeini appoints three-man commission, secretly telling them to determine which political prisoners have sincerely recanted and which have not. Those that have are released. Those that have not are executed. Amnesty International documents 3000 killed. Other sources estimate between 6000-10,000 executed. Most dead are Mojahedin but many are nonviolent demonstrators. (Moin p.278)
  • 1989 January - End of series of lectures by designated successor Ayatollah Hussein-Ali Montazeri in which he indicates support for a "far more open" polity, including freedom for political parties to operate. Opposes mass executions of political prisoner. (Moin p.279)
  • 1989 January - Montazeri goes public with criticism in daily newspaper Kayhan. (Moin p.279)
  • 1989 January - Dissent within Khomeini power base. January/February issue of hardline journal Pasdar-e Islam complains against new moderate policies allowing some kinds of music to be played on radio and television, chess playing and use of eau de cologne. (Moin p.281-2)
  • 1989 February 14 - fatwa issued by Khomeini calling for death of British author, Salman Rushdie, for his book Satanic Verses. Khomeini's bid for leadership of Islamic world. Refocuses energies of supporters demoralised by long, bloody, unsuccessful war. (Moin p.282-4)
  • 1989 February 16 - President Khamene'i suggests if Rushdie apologises and disowns the book, people may forgive him." (Moin p.284)
  • 1989 February 18 - Rushdie issues a carefully-worded statement regretting `profoundly the distress the publication has occasioned to the sincere followers of Islam...`(Moin p.284)
  • 1989 February (late) - Khomeini refuses apology saying: `Even if Salman Rushdie repents and become the most pious man of all time, it is incumbent on every Muslim to employ everything he has got, his life and wealth, to send him to Hell.` (Moin p.284)
  • 1989 February 22 - Khomeini counter attacks. Issues `Letter to Clergy` defending his war waging in Iraq: `... we do not repent, nor are we sorry for even a single moment for our performance during the war. Have we forgotten that we fought to fulfill our religious duty and that the result is a marginal issue?` (Moin p.285)
  • 1989 March (early) - Montazeri letters condemning post-war wave of executions published abroad and broadcast on BBC. Khomeini furious. (Moin p.287)
  • 1989 March 26 - Heir apparent Montazeri fired. summons senior leadership to sort out issue of succession. They advise against removal of Montazeri. Khomeini fires him anyway but agrees to keep private his angry letter to Montazeri in which he calls Montazeri a "spokesman for the monafeqin" (hypocrites). (Moin p.290)
  • 1989 March 27 - Montazeri replies accepts his dismissal. "I ask all brothers and sister not to utter a word in my support." (Moin p.289)
  • 1989 March 28 - Khomeini announces Montazeri has resigned his post. Following this Montazeri's title of grand ayatollah is withdrawn, publication of his lecture in Kayhan and reference to him on the state radio stopped, his portraits collected from offices and mosques, security guard withdrawn. "Articles and editorials appear in various newspapers aimed at dismantling" Montazeri's "impeccable" revolutionary credentials." (Moin p.290-1)
  • 1989 April 24 - Constitutional change allowing supreme leader to be low-level rather than leading cleric. Khomeini health failing. No recognized marja have "political credentials" he wants. Khomeini calls special assembly for revising the Constitution to change vali-ye faqih job description to allow for a cleric he approves of (Khamene'i) to succeed him. Vali-ye faqih no longer has to be a marja`. (Moin p.293)
  • 1989 June 3 - Khomeini dies. Five days of national morning declared. 40 days of official morning. Vast number of mourners delay funeral for a week. (Moin p.299, 304)
  • 1989 June 4 - Khamane'i elected new supreme leader by Assembly of Experts, having been recently "promoted" to Ayatollah. (Moin p.300?, Brumberg, p.146) Promotion to grand ayatollah is "rejected by much of the clerical establishment in Qom." (Keddie, p.262)
  • 1989 June 11 - Funeral. Millions mass funeral and graveyard. 10,000 injured, dozens killed in displays of grief. Khomeini's body is knocked to the ground and shroud ripped apart at graveyard. Body brought back to north Tehran to be reshrouded. Helicopters carrying it to and fro. (Moin p.304, 312-3)
  • 1989 July 9 - New Constitution approved by national referendum. Acting swiftly after the death of Khomeini, leading clerics complete draft of new constitution and prepare for vote. Changes include removing requirement that the Supreme Leader be a marja`. (Brumberg p.146)

Post-Khomeini Period
(1990- )

  • 1992 January - Satellite antennas start to appear on rooftops in Tehran, hundreds of thousands begin watching previously unavailable Western Television broadcasts. (Satrapi, p.170)
  • 1994 April 15 - Minister of the interior, `Ali Mohammad Besharati announces that the government has forbidden satellite antennas. (Schirazi, p.243) Enforcement of ban is not successful.
  • 1997 May 23 - "Reformist" candidate Mohammad Khatami is elected President with 70% of the vote. Running on a platform of rule of law and democracy he receives heavy female and youth support. But during his two terms is unable to prevail in repeated clashes with the hardline and conservative Islamists in the government.
  • 1997 November - Grand Ayatollah Montazeri put under house arrest after saying that Supreme Leader Khamene'i was not competent to issue religious rulings. (Keddie p.283)
  • 1998 Sept - Iran deploys thousands of troops on its border with Afghanistan after the Taleban admits killing eight Iranian diplomats and a journalist in Mazar-e Sharif.
  • 1998 Nov. 22-Dec. 9 - Critics of the government found murdered. Jafar Pouyandeh, a translator and writer; Mohammad Mokhtari, a writer and poet; Majid Sharif, a prominent writer and political critic; Darioush Forouhar, and his wife Parvaneh Forouhar (née Eskandari) are all murdered or found dead under suspicious circumstances. (
    In the following months, journalist Akbar Ganji links the former president, Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, and other leading conservative figures to the murders. Ganji is arrested a year later for attending an academic and cultural conference on "Iran after the elections," in Berlin. He's sentenced on January 13, 2001 to 10 years' imprisonment plus five years' internal exile. (
  • 1999 July - Pro-democracy students at Tehran University hold a demonstration following the closure of the reformist newspaper 'Salam'. Clashes with the security forces and basij lead to six days of rioting and the arrest of over 1,000 students. ( "Several students" are killed and "many more" are injured. (Nasr,
  • 2000 February 18 - Liberals and supporters of Khatami win 170 of the 290 seats in the Majlis elections held February, thus gaining control of parliament previously dominated by the conservatives since the 1979 Islamic revolution. Hard-liners win only 44 seats. An additional 65 seats will be decided in run-offs. (
  • 2000 April 23 - Judiciary bans publication of 16 reformist newspapers, following the adoption of a new press law. (
  • 2000 May 27 - Inauguration of the Sixth parliament.
  • 2000 August 1 - Senior clerics issue a religious decree, or fatwa, allowing women to lead religious congregations of women worshippers. (
  • 2000 September - Satellite TV broadcasts from USA to Iran. Iranian-American Zia Atabay's Los Angeles-based, Farsi-language National Iranian Television (NITV), realizes its broadcasts are reaching Iran after NITV call-in show receives a telephone call from Isfahan. Station responds with appeals to Iranians and interviews of Reza Pahlavi. Enthusiasm for American-based Iranian opposition flags after a couple of years. (
  • 2001 April - Iran and Saudi Arabia (formerly bitter foes) sign major security accord to combat terrorism, drug trafficking and organised crime. (
  • 2001 June 8 - President Khatami re-elected for a second term after winning just under 77% of the vote. (
  • 2001 September 12 - Thousands of Iranians in Tehran stage candlelight vigil for Americans killed in 9/11 attack. (
  • 2002 January 29 - "Axis of evil" speech. US President George Bush describes Iran, along with North Korea and Saddam's Iraq, as an "axis of evil". Warns that the proliferation of long-range missiles being developed in these countries is as great a danger to the US as terrorism. The speech causes outrage in Iran and is condemned by reformists and conservatives alike. (
  • 2002 September - Russian technicians begin construction of Iran's first nuclear reactor at Bushehr despite strong objections from US. (
  • 2002 Autumn - Repression of pollsters. Authorized public opinion researchers Abbas Abdi, Hossein-Ali Ghazian, and Behrooz Geranpayeh are arrested and later tried and sentenced to several years in prison for taking and publishing the results of a poll finding that 74% of respondents favor negotiating with the United States and 64% favor opening relations with the United States. (Keddie p.281,
  • 2002 Autumn - polls indicate dissatisfaction 94% of those polled say Iran is in urgent need of reform and 71% back a referendum to choose a new form of government. (Keddie p.281, source: Economist, Jan 19, 2003, Survey: Iran "A Secular Democracy in Waiting.")
  • 2002 November 6 - Death Sentence Hashem Aghajari sentenced to death for speech in June rejecting the doctrine that all Shi'i should follow a leading cleric and saying that imitation was for monkeys. (Keddie p.280; ) Sentence is later reduced to three years in jail.
  • 2003 February - Iranian government no longer allows stoning as punishment. (Keddie p.283)
  • 2003 June - Thousands attend student-led protests in Tehran against clerical establishment. (
  • 2003 August - Diplomatic crisis with UK over arrest of former Iranian ambassador to Argentina, sought by Buenos Aires on warrant alleging complicity in 1994 Jewish centre bombing.
  • 2003 September - UN nuclear watchdog gives Tehran weeks to prove that it is not pursuing atomic weapons programme. (
  • 2003 November - Grand Ayatollah Montazeri freed from house arrest after his health deteriorates and calls grow for his release. "More than 100 Iranian legislators" call on President Khatami "to lift restrictions on Montazeri." Government is thought to not want to risk popular backlash should he die while in custody. (Keddie p.283)

Conservative Clampdown
(2004- )

  • 2004 February - Conservatives gain control of parliament in controversial elections; their win is consolidated in a second round of voting in May. Thousands of reformist candidates were disqualified by the hardline Council of Guardians before the polls. (
  • 2004 June - Iran is rebuked by the IAEA for failing to fully cooperate with an inquiry into its nuclear activities.
  • 2004 November - Iran agrees to suspend most of its uranium enrichment as part of a deal with the EU.
    More than 400 people are killed in an earthquake in the southern province of Kerman. (

  • 2005 June - Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, Tehran's ultra-conservative mayor, wins a run-off vote in presidential elections, defeating cleric and former president Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani. (
  • 2005 August-September - Tehran says it has resumed uranium conversion at its Isfahan plant and insists the programme is for peaceful purposes. An IAEA resolution finds Iran in violation of the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. (
  • 2005 Oct. 26 - Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad calls for Israel to be "wiped out from the map," quoting the late Ayatollah Khomeini. U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan and other world leaders express "dismay" over the comment. (
  • 2005 December - A military aircraft crashes in a Tehran suburb. More than 100 people are killed. ( Crash blamed in part on Iran's aging air fleet and US sanctions which have made spare parts unavailable.
  • 2006 January - Iran breaks IAEA seals at its Natanz nuclear research facility and says it intends to enrich uranium at the plant.
    Bomb attacks in the southern city of Ahvaz - the scene of sporadic unrest in recent months - kill eight people and injure more than 40. (


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Abrahamian, Ervand, Khomeinism : Essays on the Islamic Republic by Ervand Abrahamian Berkeley : University of California Press, c1993.

Arjomand, Said Amir, The Turban for the Crown : The Islamic Revolution in Iran, Oxford University Press, c1988

Benard, Cheryl, "The Government of God" - Iran's Islamic Republic by Cheryl Benard and Zalmay Khalilzad, Columbia University Press, 1984

Bakhash, Shaul, Reign of the Ayatollahs : Iran and the Islamic Revolution by Shaul, Bakhash, Basic Books, c1984

Bulloch, John, The Gulf War : It's Origins, History and Consequences by John Bulloch and Harvey Morris, London : Methuen London, 1989.

Brumberg, Daniel, Reinventing Khomeini : The Struggle for Reform in Iran by Daniel Brumberg, University of Chicago Press 2001,

Harney, Desmond, The Priest and the King : An Eyewitness Account of the Iranian Revolution, Tauris Publishers, 1998

Keddie, Nikki, Modern Iran : Roots and Results of Revolution by Nikki Keddie, Yale University Press, 2003

Mackey, Sandra The Iranians : Persia, Islam and the Soul of a Nation, New York : Dutton, c1996.

Moin, Baqer, Khomeini: Life of the Ayatollah, Thomas Dunne Books, c2000

Nasr, Vali, "Shirin Ebadi's Troubled History, Don't Hold Your Breath" Post date: 06.06.2006 Issue date: 06.12.2006

Satrapi, Marjane, Persepolis 2: The Story of a Return, New York : Pantheon Books, c2004.

Schirazi, Asghar, The Constitution of Iran, Tauris, 1997

Taheri, Amir, The Spirit of Allah : Khomeini and the Islamic Revolution, Adler and Adler, c1985

Wright, Robin, The Last Great Revolution : Turmoil And Transformation In Iran, New York : Alfred A. Knopf : Distributed by Random House, 2000.

Timeline: Iran A chronology of key events: