The Iranian Révolution is the revolution of 1979 which transformed the Iran into Islamic Republic. In 1978, Iran was a pro-Western authoritative constitutional monarchy, under the reign of the Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi; following the revolution, Iran will become a theocratic République Islamic and populist under the direction of the Ayatollah Rouhollah Khomeini. The revolution comprises two phases: the first sees the alliance of the religious, liberal groups and gauchists in order to drive out the Shah of the capacity; the second part, often named Islamic revolution sees the rise with the capacity of the Ayatollah Khomeini.
Precursory elements of the revolution
In 1953, Mohammad Reza Pahlavi takes again the capacity in Iran after having fled of the country. That is possible by reversing the government of Mohammad Mossadegh with the assistance of a clandestine operation carried out by the CIA and the MI6 whose code name is Opération Ajax. Pahlavi maintains good relationships with the the United States, but its government is criticized for its corruption and the violent practices of SAVAK, which causes protests in Iran and causes the judgment of many members of the international community.
A strong political opposition is formed in many fringes of the company during the reign of the Shah. In this respect, the religious figures have an particular importance within the opposition in Iran. Since the revolt of the Tobaccos in 1891, the clergy gradually acquires a political influence as much as nun. Whereas this opposition increases, the Shah strongly represses the dissidents.
The Ayatollah Khomeiny is one of the leaders of the religious opposition, which proclaims that the reign of the Shah is a Tyrannie. After the arrest of Khomeiny, then its exile of Iran in 1964, the riots carried out by the partisans of the clergy increase. The Shah frequently chooses to answer these riots by violence, stopping and killing the demonstrators. One does not know today how much this countryside repression because of victims. The Pahlavi government gives the figure of 86, whereas exiled Iranian estimates it in thousands.
Facing a growing opposition of the religious leaders, joined by the owners of small companies in 1975, the Shah tries a new effort to take again the control of the Iranian company. This effort consists in trying to minimize the role of Islam in the life of the empire, by renting in the place the achievements of pre-Islamic Perse civilization. In 1976, the beginning of the Iranian solar calendar is thus moved since the Hégire with the rise with the throne of Cyrus Large the. In same time, the Marxist and Moslem publications are strongly censured.
The reform program of the Shah is known under the name of white Révolution . This program abolishes also the existing uneven agrarian system until there (having for example for consequences to decrease the size of the properties of the clergy, decreasing by there their incomes), and grants the right to vote with the women, to which the clergy is opposed because it sees a conspiracy there to make burst the family.
Conditions pre-revolutionists in Iran
The poorest fringe of the Iranian population also most religious and are opposed to the foreign imperialism. The poor are mainly rural, or live in poor districts of the big cities, particularly with Teheran. Much of them wishes a return to the former lifestyle. Moreover, the reforms of the Shah started during the white Révolution do not hold all their promises; the land reform strongly has failures and dissatisfied the Shiite clergy and the other land great landowners.
Moreover, in the years which follow its restoration on the throne in 1953, the position of the Shah becomes perilous. That is due on the whole to its close relationships with the occident, with the reforms which did not make a success of during the white Révolution, with the corruption and the despotic nature of its government, particularly because of its known secret police under the name of SAVAK. A many opposition to the mode of the Shah starts to be formed, within whom exists a laic and democratic opposition, made up of three different movements:
- Front National, composed of notable mossadeghists and urban liberal intellectuals;
- the extreme left urban (Organization of the moudjahiddines of the Iranian people), groupusculaire;
- the Iranian Communist party (Tudeh) which had a base within the working population.
In October 1971, the Shah organizes the celebration of the 2500e birthday of the foundation of the Persian Empire. This celebration is held over three days with Persépolis, with more than 600 foreign guests. The ceremonies in costumes of time Achéménide are imposing, and the banquets which follow them mobilize more than 200 employees, especially come from France on this occasion. A polemic in the press on the cost of the festivities contributes to still tarnish the image of the Shah.
In 1977, following pressures of the president of the the United States Jimmy Carter (who threatens to stop the deliveries of weapons) concerning the human rights and political freedom, more than 300 political prisoners are released, the censure is slackened, and the system of justice is reformed. Casing makes especially pressure for the Right of association, which involves thereafter a multiplication of the campaigns for the Freedom of expression, on behalf of the intellectuals.
This beginning of opposition is carried out by Mehdi Bazargan and its “Movement for the Freedom of Iran”. This laic group, liberal, rather near to the Front National of Iran of Mohammad Mossadegh, quickly knows a rather significant support in Iran and abroad, in particular in Occident.
Ali Shariati is more revolutionist: this professor and popular and respected philosopher seek to obtain social justice and the democracy through a modern interpretation of Islam. Before the rise of Khomeiny, Shariati is most famous opposing to the Shah. Its murder with London in 1977 contributes largely to the increase in the tensions. Khomeiny then becomes the figurehead of the revolution.
The clergy divides, some being combined with the laic liberals, and others with the Marxists. Khomeiny, then in exile in Iraq, carries out a small faction of the opposition which fights for the end of the mode and the establishment of a theocratic state. At the end of 1977, the son of Khomeiny, Mostafa Khomeiny is found died; Khomeiny blames the secret police of the Shah of it.
The groups of opponents operate since the outside of Iran, mainly since London, Paris, the Iraq and the Turkey. The speeches of the leaders of these groups are clandestinely introduced in Iran in order to be diffused with the population.
The United States
Vis-a-vis the threat of a revolution, the Shah of Iran seeks of the assistance at the United States. Iran then occupies a strategic place of foreground in their foreign politics in the Middle East. It is a small island of stability, and a plug against the Soviet penetration in the area. The American ambassador in Iran, William H. Sullivan remembers that the national adviser with safety, Zbigniew Brzezinski “ensured the Shah that the United States supported it fully”. However this support would never go until an action on behalf of the United States. The November 4th 1978, Brzezinski calls the Shah to mean to him that the United States would support it until the end. In same time, unquestionable official American high placed consider that the Shah must leave, without consideration for its substitute. Brzezinski, the Secretary with energy James Schlesinger (former minister for defense under Gerald Ford), continue to repeat that the United States will support the Shah militarily.
Rise of the dispute
Until 1978, the opposition to the Shah comes mainly from the urban middle-class, of which a rather laic part would support a constitutional monarchy. In fact the Islamic groups succeed in the first gathering great masses against the Shah.
In January 1978, the official press publishes a rumor intended to make wrong to Khomeiny. Religious students and leaders protest against these allegations in the town of Qom. The army is sent, dispersing the demonstrators and killing several students.
According to the habits Shiite, a religious service is held in memory of dead after a 40 days mourning. The February 18th, of the groups thus go in many cities in honor to deaths, and benefit from it to express against the mode of the Shah. This time violence prevails with Tabriz, and more than one hundred demonstrators are killed. The cycle of mourning and celebrations is repeated, and starting from the March 29th, of new protests take place in the country. Luxury hotels and other symbols of the mode of the Shah are destroyed. The cycle takes again the May 10th.
The damage due to the demonstrations, in addition to crawling inflation, strikes full whip the Iranian economy. Because of that, the government imposes austerity measures on summer 1978 which cause the cancellation of many public projects and the freezing of the wages. These measurements worsen the unemployment and the resentment of the population. More and more, the working class joint with the students and the middle-class against the mode.
Fall of the Shah
In September, the nation is destabilized quickly; the mass demonstrations become regular. The Shah introduces the martial law, and prohibits any demonstration. Friday September 8th, a mass demonstration takes place with Teheran, Défavorable for the use of the violent repression which is likely to degenerate into blood bath, the Shah initially refuses this option suggested by the persons in charge of SAVAK. However, the police force does not have the material adapted (teargas, water hoses, etc) to control the overflows of crowd, and it proves to be impossible to differently control the gatherings of several million individuals than by the weapons. The Shah, in a delicate position, accepts finally that the soldiers spread themselves with tanks, helicopters and automatic weapons. Certain armed activists benefit from the situation to create confusion while killing out of the additional hundreds of demonstrators, crimes allotted then to the only imperial army. This day remains known under the name of black Friday.
Black Friday contributes to reduce even more the support for the Shah within the Iranian population, like at its allies abroad. A started general strike in October paralyzes the economy, the majority of industries being closed and the tankers being blocked in the port of Abadan.
The protests of 1978 reach their paroxysm in December, during the holy month of Muharram, one of the important months for the Shiite Moslems. Demonstrators are killed each day, and each day the protests still become extensive. The December 12th, more than two million people ravel in the streets of Teheran to protest against the policy of the Shah. This last, weakened by the disease and given up by the foreign great powers, lives cut off in the palate from Niavaran. Vis-a-vis chaos which does not cease increasing and against the opinion of the officers of SAVAK, the Shah orders that the army ceases drawing in crowd. He plays his last chart then: the nomination of Shapour Bakhtiar at the post of Prime Minister.
To calm the situation, Shapour Bakhtiar requires of the Shah to leave Iran for one unlimited duration. The January 16th 1979, left by helicopter the Palate Niavaran, the imperial couple arrives at the military airport, where their last collaborators and officers remained wait faithful. The plane must fly away bound for Egypt where president Sadate awaits the deposed sovereigns. A few weeks later, the Shah and the Farah empress leave for Morocco, then shortly after for the American continent. The wandering continues in the Bahamas, in Panama, in Mexico, in a hospital of New York and on a military base of Texas. The presence of the Shah in the United States is used as pretext for the taking of hostage of the American embassy of Teheran. Claimed by Teheran to be judged (and probably carried out, as the majority of his/her former collaborators) the Shah is again accommodated by Egypt where it undergoes a news and ultimate surgical operation. He dies shortly after.
Meanwhile, Shapour Bakhtiar tries to restore the situation. It orders the dissolution of SAVAK and the release of the political prisoners. The Ayatollah Khomeiny, since its exile of Neauphle-the-Castle, which is that for a long time invites to carry out the general strike. Shapour Bakhtiar still believes capacity to gain the support of the partisans of Khomeiny, and thus to remain with the capacity. However, the discussions in order to find a compromise with the Ayatollah do not succeed and Khomeiny delivers a message with its partisans after the demonstration with Arba' in promising to them to be soon with them in Iran. The airport of Teheran remains closed several days because of demonstrations and blockings organized by the opposition. This amount of time makes it possible to the partisans to be organized to prepare the arrival of Khomeiny. The 1979, the ayatollah arrives at Teheran where thousands of people await it. It then goes to the large cemetery Behesht-e Zahra (the Paradis of Zahra in Persan) where it makes a speech delivering its vision of the future of Iran.
The ayatollah Khomeiny elects residence at the Alavi school then in the center of Teheran. The school becomes the general headquarter of the revolutionists. He says to want to create a provisional government as soon as possible, since he estimates that of Shapour Bakhtiar is not legitimate. However, Shapour Bakhtiar cannot agree the idea to be found with two governments in Iran. The ayatollah Khomeiny appoints all the same Mehdi Bazargan Prime Minister, and asks him to form a government. The government of Bakhtiar is under pressure because them calls to be expressed made by Khomeiny, calls followed particularly to Esfahan. In answer, the partisans of Bakhtiar express in sign of support at the Amjadiyeh Stage in Teheran. The fear of the armed conflict between the two factions starts to come up. Khomeiny rejects the calls which are made to him call with the armed conflict and rather tries to bind the army to its movement. However, the leaders of the army respect the last orders of the Shah, to avoid at all costs making run more blood.
In addition, certain warrant officers already joined the revolution, particularly among the juniors by the air force. February 9th, 1979, the internal tensions with the army not being able more to be contained, an armed conflict bursts with the garrison Doshan Tappeh between the Imperial Guard and the juniors.
The news of engagements within the army brings back people in the street, and the curfew is not respected any more by the population, which continues to express the night. New combat burst in the night of the February 10th after the meeting by Shapour Bakhtiar of the chiefs of the army. Shapour Bakhtiar remains in its districts under the orders of the Qarabaghi General. In the morning of February 11th, the army decides to remain neutral in the conflict. A little later the ayatollah Khomeiny makes make with the Ayatollah Moussavi Ardabili a statement with the radio, announcing the victory of the Revolution.
The evening of February 11th, 1979, the Ayatollah Khomeini is with the capacity and Mehdi Bazargan is its Prime Minister. This date then marks the end of the Empire of Iran, and the fall of the government of Shapour Bakhtiar, constrained with the escape. At the same time, the revolutionary forces seize televisions and the radios.
Khomeyni seizes the power
The dismissal of the Shah causes a great jubilation in Iran, but of many dissensions as for the future of the country appear. Khomeiny is the political figure most popular, but there exist tens of groups revolutionary, each one having its own vision of the future of Iran, of the factions Libéral are, Marxiste S, Anarchiste S and laic, and also a good variety of religious groups seeking to model the future of Iran.
The foreign, economic relations and soldiers of the nation are disturbed. The first years see the development of a bipolar government. Mehdi Bazargan becomes Prime Minister, and the movement for freedom works to establish a laic liberal government. The monks carried out by Khomeiny form a separate pole of the capacity, the Islamic Republican party. The groups try to cooperate, but the tensions grow between the two factions.
The theologists are the first to restore the order in the country: the revolutionary cells become the local committees. Known under the name of Guards of the Revolution as from May 1979, these groups quickly seize the power in the local governments in all Iran, and thus recover the majority of the local authorities. They take also the control of the courts which give judgments on the former heads of the security services and the soldiers of the mode of the Shah.
In June, the movement for freedom publishes its constitution project, which declares Iran Islamic Republic, but without giving any role to the Ouléma S nor with the Islamic law. The constitution is subjected to the vote of the legislature lately elected for approval, legislature dominated by the allies of Khomeiny. The room rejects the constitution, in agreement with Khomeiny: the new government must be “entirely” based on Islam.
A new constitution is written; it creates the powerful station of Supreme guide, charged to control the army and the security services, and being able to put its veto at the candidature of the applicants for the position of president of the republic. A president of the republic is elected every 4 years by the vote for all, but only the candidates whose candidature was approved by the Conseil of the guards of the constitution have the right to present themselves to the elections. Khomeiny itself becomes “Guide of the Revolution”. Feeling without capacities and in dissension with the direction which the country takes, Bazargan resigns of its post of Prime Minister in November 79.
Opposition to the revolution
Relations between the west/the USA and Iran
Anger starts to thunder against the United States following their decision, in October 1979, to accept the Shah in their country to look after his cancer there. Refugee then in Mexico, the imperial family is tracked, and more the extremists claim the extradition of the Shah to condemn it to death. In answer, on November 1st, 1979, Khomeiny exhorts the population to express against the United States and Israel, with its anti-American rhetoric, calling then the United States the “Grand Satan” and the “enemies of the Revolution”. Students gathered close to the American embassy take the building and its occupants by storm, then update the work of the CIA via the embassy. Khomeiny is very far from the image of “Saint Man”, whom a little too quickly president Carter allotted to him. It is not either the “Iranian Gandhi” about which the French newspaper “Le Monde speaks” and uses the oppressive methods which had been denounced under the dictatorship of the Shah.
Coup d'etat missed “Nojeh”
In July 1980, the adviser with the national security of the United States, Zbigniew Brzezinski meets King Hussein of Jordan to Amman, in order to discuss an operation aiming at bringing Saddam Hussein to sponsoriser a coup d'etat in Iran against Khomeiny. King Hussein is then the nearest confidant to Saddam in the Arab world, and is used as intermediary during the preparation of this coup d'etat. The invasion of Iran by Iraq would be done under pretext of one call using officers Iranian loyal supporters having prepared their own rising on July 9th, 1980 (code name Nojeh, according to the name of Shahrokhi/Nojeh air base to Hamedan). The Iranian officers are coordinated by Shapour Bakhtiar, which fled in France at the time of the takeover by Khomeini, but operates since Baghdad and Sulaymaniyah at the time of the recontre between Brzezinski and Hussein. However, Khomeiny is informed of the operation Nojeh by Soviet agents in France and Latin America. Shortly after the meeting of Brzezinski with Hussein, the president of Iran, Abolhassan Bani Sadr makes stop 600 officers and carry out the majority of them, marking the brutal stop of the coup d'etat of Nojeh. Saddam then decides to invade her neighbor without the assistance of the Iranian officers, starting the Guerre Iran-Iraq the September 22nd 1980.
In the adjoining countries
Leaders of Iraq, of Kuwait, of Saudi Arabia and other states of Persian Gulf are them also disturbed by revolution Iranian, since minorities Shiite S exist also in their country (except in Iraq and with Bahrain where the Shiites are majority) and that the situation can lead to civil wars. Iran de Khomeiny calls with social justice with the Middle-East and the end of corruption among the governments of the area and in the world in general. The new governments of Iran give their support for the black population of South Africa, with the nations in the process of development to Africa, Cuba and PLO. Iran declares nonaligned country, neither in the west, nor in the east, and being opposed at the same time to the American domination and the Soviet domination. The emergence of a radical theocracy dominated by Shiites frightens many its Arab neighbors sunnites. In 1980, the Iraq, financially and militarily constant by the other Arab countries, the United States, the Western countries and the USSR, invades Iran with the hope to destroy the incipient revolution. This marks the beginning of the Guerre Iran-Iraq which will make enormously lose life human and resources with the two countries.
Iran definitely stronger and is organized that what Saddam Hussein thinks. The invasion by Iraq helps to gather Iranian behind the new mode, and the different last ones are forgotten face of the external threat. The same year, a new constitution is approved by referendum with a very vast majority. For those which remain opposite with the new mode, mainly the groups of extreme left, the war is a pretext to subject them to very hard treatments as the illegal torture and imprisonments, as at the time of the Shah.
Whereas Iraq, at the conclusion of the Iran-Iraq war, does not succeed in demolishing the Islamic revolution, this one does not manage either to be exported. The war thus reaches part of its objectives since the populations Shiite of Iraq and countries of the Persian Gulf do not embrace the new model, even if they sympathize with him.
It is at the time of the civil war to the Lebanon that develops the Iranian influence. The Hezbollah becomes an ally close to the Iranians, not mixing with the engagements between Lebanese factions to devote the majority of its efforts to be fought against the Israelis. The support of Iran for a group considered as terrorist is at the origin of the setting to the round of applause of the Islamic Republic by the international community.
- white Revolution
- Organization of the moudjahiddines of the Iranian people
- constitutional Revolution of Iran
- History of Iran
- List of the leaders of Persia and Iran
- Oil crisis of 1979
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