The Iranian revolution, also known as ‘Islamic revolution in Iran’, took place in Iran from Jan 1978 to Feb 1979. The main goal of the revolution was to transform the country from a monarchy to an Islamic Republic. In order to do this, the opposition first had to overthrow Shah Mohammad R. Pahlavi, the last king of Iran and the leading figure of the ruling Pahlavi dynasty. The main causes behind the revolution were the exile of Ayatollah Khomeini, social injustice and the overall discontent with the way in which the Pahlavi dynasty ruled the country. The main political driving force behind the revolution was Ayatollah Khomeini, who seized power and became the country’s supreme leader after the revolution.
Revolution was carried out by means of civil resistance, demonstrations and large scale strikes, which eventually weakened the already crumbling economy. Mass protests and widespread strikes which took place in Jan 1978, forced M. Pahlavi to proclaim martial law, which banned public protests. The situation culminated on Sep 8, 1978, when Iranian troops killed dozens of protesters. The events forced M. Pahlavi to flee the country in Jan 1979. Just a few days after he left the country, Ayatollah Khomeini returned from exile to Teheran, where he was welcomed by millions. In the months that followed, the military of Iran took a neutral stance, which was regarded as the official end of the monarchy (Feb 11, 1979).
The leader of the revolution, Khomeini, officially declared Iran an Islamic Republic on Feb 12, 1979. The revolution took nearly 40 000 lives, mostly students, workers and ordinary people. The revolution itself officially ended on April 1, after 98,2% people voted pro republic. The new constitution, which laid the legal and formal foundations of the new republic, was adopted in December of the same year, and it merged together different elements of the republic and theocracy. The Iranian revolution was unique for its time. It came as a surprise to the western powers, as it lacked all the usual elements which lead to revolutions: military defeat, economic crisis or military uprising.
The revolution was also carried out very quickly. After the revolution, the Islamic Republic of Iran took a very unique and bold stance; it heavily criticized BOTH of cold war superpowers. The U.S and the USSR. This move had far reaching consequences for the region, and resulted in the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan and Iraq-Iran war backed by the U.S. The goal of the new Islamic government under Khomeini was to establish a system of rule based solely on Islam and the school of thought established by the prophet Mohammed and his descendants. At that point, this made Iran the only country in the world ruled by a theocratic government.
The new system was considered unprecedented at the time, because it recognized a deity as the official civil ruler for the first time in 14 centuries long history of Islam. As far as state administration is concerned, the new regime followed western concepts based on democracy, which can clearly be seen in the new constitution of the Republic – a hybrid of democratic and theocratic principles.
The Iranian military was almost non-existent in 1925. After years of wars, the king at that time (Reza Shah Pahlavi) decided it was time to focus on developing a strong military force. Hundreds of officers were sent to Western and European countries for training to attain this goal, as well as rigid training of army members within Iran.
When the Iranian revolution took place in 1979, relationship between Iran and USA became strained until an arms-embargo was imposed on Iran. This prevented Iran from acquiring equipment and weaponry from USA, making them find ways to maintain and operate old weaponry by themselves. When the five-year rearmament plan was opened in 1989, Iran took this opportunity to stock up their arsenal to the point of spending about $10 billion to purchase submarines, aircraft carriers and other equipment. Aside from this, Iran also found other sources from where they can get their military requirements. China, North Korea, and Russia were among them. Today, Iran has greatly decreased its reliance on other countries in terms of providing their military arsenal. They have started to develop their own weaponry and are now exporting them instead of importing.
Iran has the largest inventory of missile among Middle East countries. They are persistently acquiring new technologies, including the development of short-range rockets. Aside from this, they have a continuous nuclear research activity. The expansion of their capabilities and growing independence has made them a formidable threat to the United States.
Iran’s present military structure consists of the following:
The armed forces with the following branches under it: Iran’s Air Defense Force, Iran’s Army, Iran’s Navy, and the Iran’s Air Force. This group has an estimated count of 545,000 personnel. This branch is in charge of national defense and internal order.
The IRGC (Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps) group was formed with the effect of Iranian Revolution and has about 125,000 personnel. This section has its own naval, air, ground and Special Forces. It intends to protect Iran’s Islamic system, including prevention of military uprisings.
The police force that has about 60,000 personnel. They take care of border security and national police.
Among these three, it is the IRGC that controls the production of missiles, chemical, and biological weapons. They also oversee the current nuclear program. Aside from this, they are said to be building external ties with other countries in their goal to break Israel’s military capabilities.
Today, Iran’s military is said to be the strongest among Middle East, with Israel being its greatest contender. Besides the regular armed forces, they have the Basij which has about 12 million members ready to be mobilized when needed. Their military power has continuously intimidated neighboring countries. Despite this, any aggressive attack from Iran is not likely to happen considering the visibility of the US forces in other regions. Also, such a move will definitely cause an economic breakdown to Iran because it will seal off its channels for exporting oil. Their military capability, however, gives them a massive defense structure against any attacks. Unlike other countries, Iran has no base for foreign military and is not open to this possibility.
Iran is a theoretical Islam Republic that is governed under the constitution which was amended in 1979. Appointed bodies and offices rather than elected ones hold the real power in the government. Imam Khomeini was the founder of the Islamic Republic and he ruled from24th September 1902 to 3rd June 1988. Ayattollah Khamenei took over from him and he is known as the leader of the Islamic Republic. The president of the country is known as Seyed Moammad Khatami. The government is made up of 7 main branches namely:
1. The Leadership- the Leader is the highest authority in this republic. This is also known as the Leadership Council who exercises a combination of religious and supreme political powers. This is a manifestation of the integration of religion and politics that is found in article 5 of the constitution. The main duties and powers of the leader include deciding on the overall polices of the country, ordering referenda, general command of armed forces, endorsing president and pardoning or commuting prisoner sentences.
2. Executive- the Executive is the second highest authority in the country held by the president. The president is elected by people to serve a 4 year term. He can rule for another 4 years if he is re-elected. The president supervises and signs laws that have been passed by Majles and also signs treaties with international bodies.
3. The Legislative- this is made up of 2 powerful bodies known as the Guardian Council of the constitution and Majlis (Parliament). Parliament has to approve all legislations’ before they are ratified by the council and passed on to the President. Other duties they have include; debating motions and inquiring into various national affairs among many other roles.
4. The Judiciary- this is an independent branch of the government whose responsibilities and powers include implementation and administration of justice, supervision of correct enforcement of the law, protection of public and individuals rights, promotion of legit freedoms, providing the right procedures for handling judicial disputes and investigation, punishment and prosecution of criminals guided by the Islamic penal code. They are also supposed to provide adequate measures for preventing crime as well as rehabilitating criminals.
5. Assembly of experts- this is made up of a group of experts and may include the President, Majlis Speaker, Judiciary chief, members of Guardians council, and ministers. They usually hold meetings to come up with policies that are great for the republic or try and solve issues’ that are affecting the country.
6. Supreme National Security Council- this was an institution that was founded to deal with the revision of the constitution. It was mainly established to watch over the revolution as well as safe guars IRI’s national interests, territorial and sovereignty dignity. It is made of heads of the 3 main powers (Judiciary, Legislative and Executive), Chief of the Supreme command Council, Official in charge of Budget and Plan Organization, 2 representatives who are nominated by the leader and several selected ministers.
7. Expediency Discernment Council of the system- this was formed in February 1988 to overcome differences between Council of Guardians and the Islamic Consultative Assembly
The discussion about the Iranian culture should embrace a number of areas such as language, art, religion, life style, celebrating various events etc. The Iranian art occupied an important place in the world history by being one of the most celebrated arts in the world. It includes many art forms such as painting, architecture, calligraphy, poetry, Stonemasonry etc. The Iranian art has been subject to many changes down the line and especially during the Islamic era. With the advent of modernism, a substantial change has also found its way into their art.
The people of Iran do speak several languages of which Persian is the most widely spoken language. The other languages include Azeri, Kurdish, Arabic, and Balochi etc. The modern literature of Iran has its strong base found in traditional Persian poetry while holding on to the tenets of the modern Islam. The majority of the people living in Iran are the followers of Islam while Judaism, Christianity and Zoroastrianism are other officially recognized religions.
The people of Iran have Friday as the week off and working days from Saturday to Wednesday. The important public holidays of the Iranians include Oil Nationalization Day, the Prophets’ birthday, Iman Sadeq, the death of Imam Khomeini etc. The wedding ceremonies are celebrated with great pomp and joy in Iran in two phases. The first phase is known as “Aghd” in which the marriage contract is signed between the bride and the groom. This usually takes place in the bride’s house. The second phase known as the Jashn-e-Aroosi is the phase during which all the feasts and the celebrations are held. All the practices during the marriage underscore the strict following of the traditions which has its roots in the religious forms. Though the Iranian civil code set the age at 15 for women and 18 for men for marriage, in certain rural areas, child marriages are still prevalent.
Persian rugs occupy an important place in the Persian culture with Iranians being one among the first people to weave carpets. The rugs are quite know for the expertise with which they are made and their beautiful and intricate designs. Gardens are other reflections of the Iranian culture and it occupies a significant place in their architecture and paintings. Iranian cuisine is one of the ancients forms present in the world. It mainly consists of various forms of bread, various items made from Mast (yoghurt) and rice. Sherbet is the most widely used dessert drink in Iran.
Coming to the position of the women in the Iran culture, patriarchy is widely prevalent in the country. However, with the spread of modernism and westernization equal status is being given to women in developed parts of the country. However, women still occupies a subordinate position in the rural areas.
Hence, the Iran culture just as all the other great cultures of the world has got its present form by passing through many stages of evolution. It also shares common aspects with the cultures of Iraq, Azerbaijan, Afghanistan, Armenia, Georgia, Turkey etc.