The Islamic Republic

By | December 16, 2021

Upon his return from Paris, the Ayatollah appointed a provisional government chaired by Mahdi Bazargan, but royal power was assumed by an Islamic Revolutionary Council designated by Khomeini himself. On 1 April, following a popular referendum, the Islamic Republic of Iran was proclaimed and in December a second referendum approved a new Constitution which included, among other things, the figure of a religious leader, intended to verify the congruity between legislative action, the work of the government and canon law, a position that was entrusted to Khomeini for life. That it was a religious who took the reins of the country was not an element of surprise for the reality of Iran, where men of religion have formed a sort of clergy since the 19th century, they deal with politics and become interpreters, perhaps demagogic., of popular needs towards central power, while remaining careful guardians of economic and social privileges consolidated over time. The formulation of national identity on the basis of the adhesion of the vast majority of Iranian populations to Shiism, a minority and heretical form of Islam, meant that the frustrations of various kinds, including those of a cultural nature due to the politics of the Shah, were translated into a subversive thrust in the name of Islam, understood as a totalizing, religious, ideological and political system at the same time. The entry into force of the Constitution was, however, delayed by the explosion of ethnic conflicts. The minorities who had supported the revolution claimed recognition of their role and asked for autonomy and sharing in power but, albeit in different ways and times, the response was negative and resulted in the resumption of repression, which was directed above all against the Kurds. Fear of the spread of the Islamic revolution grew considerably, both regionally among the Arab Gulf countries and internationally, especially after a group of 50 US embassy officials in Tehran were taken hostage in November 1979 and failed. miserably the attempt to free them by force (the release took place only in 1981, in exchange for the suspension of the measures to freeze Iranian deposits in the US). The Western response was timely: economic sanctions were imposed by the United States, Japan and the EEC and Iraq was allowed to denounce the treaty on the definition of borders on the Shatt al-Arab, reason for a centuries-old dispute between the two countries. This provided Iraq with the pretext to attack Iran (September 1980), starting a long and bloody war that economically bled the two countries. The war exacerbated the internal conflicts of the regime. The President of the Republic, Abul-Hasan Bani Sadr, elected in January 1980, was substantially sacked and the reformist wing lost credit with him, while the fundamentalists strengthened with the 1980 elections, won by the Islamic Republican Party. The fundamentalist physiognomy of the regime was irreversibly institutionalizing and the most visible reaction was a sort of urban guerrilla which saw the Organization of the Mujaideen at the forefront. After the dismissal of Bani Sadr (June 1981) and with the succession (October 1981) of the religious leader Ali Khamenei – the first to directly assume the office of head of state – the situation seemed to stabilize, through a harsh repression against all forms of protest., ethnic, political or otherwise. In 1983, the Tudeh party, hitherto allied with the regime, was dissolved under the accusation of espionage in favor of the USSR: leaders and militants were arrested and sentenced to death, after painful ‘self-criticism’ televised. Khamenei was reconfirmed in 1985 as President of the Republic. In August 1988, Iraq’s war successes led Iran to accept the UN Security Council resolution which imposed a ceasefire and initiated peace negotiations, albeit amidst great difficulties. In 1983, the Tudeh party, hitherto allied with the regime, was dissolved under the accusation of espionage in favor of the USSR: leaders and militants were arrested and sentenced to death, after painful ‘self-criticism’ televised. Khamenei was reconfirmed in 1985 as President of the Republic. In August 1988, Iraq’s war successes led Iran to accept the UN Security Council resolution which imposed a ceasefire and initiated peace negotiations, albeit amidst great difficulties. In 1983, the Tudeh party, hitherto allied with the regime, was dissolved under the accusation of espionage in favor of the USSR: leaders and militants were arrested and sentenced to death, after painful ‘self-criticism’ televised. Khamenei was reconfirmed in 1985 as President of the Republic. In August 1988, Iraq’s war successes led Iran to accept the UN Security Council resolution which imposed a ceasefire and initiated peace negotiations, albeit amidst great difficulties.¬†For Iran political system, please check equzhou.

Evidence of reformism

Accused of being a liberal and opposed by religious leaders for daring to defy the regime in 1992 when he resigned because he disagreed with the conservative government, Khatami had no longer held any important position until the day of his investiture as sole candidate of the reformist alliance. Its success, with over 69% of the votes, confirmed the vitality of a part of Iranian society – in particular women and young people – which after years of silence came out in the open supporting the reformist candidate from the columns of some press organs. After the elections, a first sign of the great transformations taking place was the declaration of esteem to the American people made by Khatami in December 1997 and reiterated a month later in a television interview. In the summer of 1998, the brake imposed on anti-American propaganda led the United States, after decades of chronic mutual conflict, to use more conciliatory tones towards Iran. A clear sign of the new climate was the distancing from the death sentence pronounced at the time by Khomeini against Salman Rushdie. Despite the significant international recognition, Khatami’s role and the political weight of his choices were affected by the evident dualism of powers that dominated Iranian political life, in which the democratically elected President of the Republic can be, in principle, dismissed. from his office by the highest spiritual guide, chosen and supported by the religious who are members of the Council of Guardians. In July 1999 student protests against the closure of the newspaper Salam, very close to the president, after the violent assault on the Tehran university campus by the police forces and Islamic extremists, resulted in a real student revolt, firmly repressed by the regime. The following year, the reformist camp registered a new electoral success, winning the majority in Parliament. But in the month of April some highly restrictive laws on press freedom, enacted by the old Parliament a few weeks before the end of the mandate, hit hard the free press of the country, the spearhead of Khatami’s side: with the unconditional support of the judiciary, over 20 newspapers were closed and editors and journalists arrested. At the end of the year a new tug-of-war broke out between the reformist and the more obscurant forces in the country when, first Ayatollah Khamenei, then the Guardian Council, rejected the revisions of the press law proposed by the new Parliament. In the first months of 2001, in a climate of growing political tension, Iran prepared for the presidential elections on 9 June, which brought Khatami’s new success. The victory of the reformists, however, did not affect the position of the conservatives in the upper echelons of the judiciary and control, as was evident from the arrests and accusations launched against some parliamentarians between the end of 2001 and the beginning of 2002. reopened on the eve of the 2004 parliamentary elections, when the Guardian Council proceeded to revise the list of candidates, excluding, among others, numerous reformists. Aware of the threat implicit in such an intervention, Khatami turned to supreme leader Khamenei in an effort to ensure the proper conduct of the consultation. When the Guardian Council launched the final list, 125 reformist parliamentarians in protest announced a boycott of the elections and their resignation. With the intention of avoiding the escalation of the conflict, Khatami rejected those of the Minister of the Interior of his cabinet, intending to postpone the electoral competition, and confirmed the date set for the vote, causing a deep rift between the radical wing and the moderate one of the reformist camp, which was defeated. The 2005 presidential elections took place in a climate of general disappointment with politics and produced an unexpected result. In the absence of Khatami, not eligible under the constitutional law that does not allow more than two consecutive terms, the favorite by the forecasts, former president Rafsanjani, was defeated in the ballot, surpassed by a figure mostly unknown in Iranian politics before be elected Mayor of Tehran in 2003. On August 6, 2005, after receiving the approval of supreme leader Khamenei, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad officially assumed the highest office of the state, becoming the sixth president of the Iranian Republic. Since then Ahmadinejad has repeatedly alarmed the Western community for his invectives against Israel and for the defense of the Iranian nuclear program.

The Islamic Republic