Iran History – from Pahlavi Dynasty to The Islamic Republic

By | December 16, 2021

The Pahlavi dynasty. The victory over the absolutist resistances was frustrated by the outbreak of the First World War, during which the neutrality of the country was violated by both warring parties. After the war, Reza Pahlavi emerged, a nationalist soldier known as Reza Khan who, with mainly British help, expelled the Qagiar, assumed the title of shah and founded a dynasty (1925). His despotic government was at the same time aimed at a great effort to modernize the Persian state, which in 1935 officially took the name of Iran. In the Second World War, the Soviets and the British, worried about the Germanophilia of the Iranian regime, occupied the country (1941), thus ensuring control of the oil and communication routes of the Middle East for the allied cause. Reza Shah was forced to abdicate in favor of his son Muhammad Reza. Once the occupation ceased in 1946, after difficult negotiations, in 1947 the country, refusing the Soviet option for the exploitation of oil wells, made a choice of a pro-Western camp, which was accompanied by the ban of the pro-Soviet communist party Tudeh. The refusal of the British-controlled Anglo-Iranian oil company to renegotiate the distribution of oil revenues (the British got 85%) exacerbated the problem of economic independence while giving new vigor to nationalism. In 1951, following the victory of the new Prime Minister MH Mossadeq with the nationalization of the oil sector, Great Britain reacted with an economic embargo. The contrast between the shah, opposed to nationalization, and the prime minister opened a serious political crisis that first saw the shah forced to leave the country, then the ouster in 1953, with US and British support, of Mossadeq and the assumption of an increasingly active controlling role in the administration of the state by the shah. Thanks to the substantial financial help of the United States (US companies had taken over the exploitation of the oil fields), the Iran he was placed in a position to overcome financial difficulties, until the moment when he began to receive the income deriving from the royalties petroleum. The early 1960s were characterized by the so-called “white revolution”, consisting of a series of reforms aimed at modernizing and westernizing the country, the key moment of which was the agrarian reform. The reforms were opposed by the Shiite religious hierarchy, hit by the expropriation of the lands it owned and hostile to political innovations extraneous to the Islamic rule. As a sign of the country’s progress, the shah in 1967 crowned the imperial crown with a sumptuous ceremony. On the international level, the intense relations with the USA and Western Europe were accompanied by collaboration with the USSR and the re-establishment of relations with China (1971), while the only tensions with regard to the Arab states were those with the Iraq, with respect to which Iran it claimed sovereignty on the left bank of the Shatt al-Arab, later accepted by Iraq in 1975 (Algiers agreements) in exchange for the cessation of Iranian aid to the Kurds. On the economic level, the country was experiencing a notable process of expansion, determined above all by the very high proceeds from oil extraction (of which Iran was the second largest producer in the Near and Middle East, after Saudi Arabia). However, the repercussions of this economic growth in society were unsatisfactory: large sums were absorbed by military spending and the social inequality had increased, involving not only the popular strata, but also the middle classes. Only a very harsh repression of internal dissent (thousands of political prisoners), exercised by the SAVAK, the secret police, allowed the shah, who in 1975 also abandoned the fiction of the two-party system and imposed a single party (Rastakhiz), to remain on the throne. From 1977 the opposition to the regime intensified, quickly conquered by the Shiite religious of the Ayatollah Khomeini, in exile in Paris since 1963, and in January 1979 the shah was forced to leave the Iran, paralyzed by strikes and demonstrations, while the army (the most powerful in the Middle East, after Israel), disintegrated. Khomeini, having returned to his homeland, took over the direction of the country. For Iran geography, please check

The Islamic Republic. On 1 April 1979 the Islamic Republic of Iran and a new Constitution gave Khomeini the role of religious leader (Supreme Leader) of the country for life, making the executive, legislative and judicial powers subject to religious authority, which acquired the right to discourage the President of the Republic. Legislative power was delegated to the Islamic Consultative Assembly (elected by universal suffrage for a four-year mandate); the President of the Republic was also head of the government, and was also elected every four years. Finally, a Council of Guardians, made up of twelve members (six of whom appointed by the religious leader), was in charge of verifying the compliance of the legislative activity with the Constitution and Islamic law. Fear of the spread of the Islamic revolution grew, both at the regional level (the Arab countries of the Gulf) and at the international level, especially after, in 1979, fifty officials of the US embassy in Tehran were taken hostage and released only in 1981 in exchange for the suspension of the deposit freezing measures Iranians in the USA. In 1980 Iraq, counting on the favor of both Western powers and Arab countries, worried about a spread of the Islamic revolution, and taking advantage of the weakening of the Iran, denounced the 1975 agreements for the Shatt al-Arab and invaded the ‘Iran. The attack started a long and painful war (1980-88), which initially saw Iraq prevail, also due to the support provided to Saddam Husain by various Arab countries, by the USSR, but also by the USA and other countries Western countries such as France, Germany and Great Britain, while Iran it was supported by Libya and Syria. The conflict awakened patriotic and nationalist sentiments, but also made the power struggle between the Shiite clergy and the secular forces more open: the President of the Republic Abu al-Hasan Bani Sadr, a spokesman for the reformist current, was ousted in 1981 by Khomeini. a sort of urban warfare that saw the Islamic organization of the gods in the front row mujahideen of the people, initially supported by popular sympathies. The integralist faction definitively consolidated the control of the state, stifling all opposition to a theocratic government and the demands of ethnic minorities with thousands of arrests and executions. In 1983, the Tudeh party, initially an ally of the new regime, was also dissolved and many of its leaders and militants were sentenced to death. The presidential elections of 1985 confirmed the reformer ‛A. Khamanei, already elected in 1981. The war against Iraq ended only in 1988 (in 1990, during the Gulf War, Baghdad accepted the re-establishment of the borders agreed in 1975). In June 1989, Khomeini’s death also symbolically marked the end of the first phase of the Islamic Republic.

Iran History - from Pahlavi Dynasty to The Islamic Republic