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The revolution that sparked Iran’s hostility

The revolution that sparked Iran’s hostility
On Feb. 11, 1979, an Islamic revolution changed Iran from a pro-Western monarchy into an anti-Western theocracy. (AFP)
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Updated 22 April 2020

The revolution that sparked Iran’s hostility

The revolution that sparked Iran’s hostility

After radical clerics hijacked the protests, the Islamic Republic launched a campaign to destabilize the region that continues to this day

Summary

On Feb. 11, 1979, an Islamic revolution changed Iran from a pro-Western monarchy into an anti-Western theocracy. Shah Mohammed Reza Pahlavi had always relied on Western support, but many Iranians chafed at his rapid program of westernization. The first demonstrations erupted toward the end of 1977, and over the following 14 months the slow-motion collapse of the shah’s authority culminated in his overthrow and the return from exile of Shiite religious leader Ayatollah Khomeini.

Key Dates

  • 1

    Demonstrations and riots erupt in cities across Iran, triggering months of increasingly violent protests.

    Timeline Image Feb. 18, 1978

  • 2

    More than 80 are killed and hundreds injured in Tehran when security forces open fire on demonstrators in Jaleh Square on a day remembered as Black Friday.

  • 3

    Ayatollah Khomeini, in exile in France, orchestrates the Muharram protests, bringing millions onto the streets calling for the shah’s removal and Khomeini’s return.

    Timeline Image Dec. 2, 1978

  • 4

    The shah and his family flee Iran, never to return.

    Timeline Image Jan. 16, 1979

  • 5

    Khomeini returns to a rapturous welcome from millions of supporters and, days later, appoints an interim revolutionary government.

    Timeline Image Feb. 1, 1979

  • 6

    The military lays down its arms and the government of Prime Minister Shapour Bakhtiar, appointed by the shah, collapses. Bakhtiar, who attempts to organise a counter-coup from exile in France, is later assassinated.

  • 7

    Angered by Washington’s refusal to return the shah for trial from the US, where he is receiving treatment for cancer, revolutionaries seize the US Embassy in Tehran and hold 52 Americans hostage for 444 days.

 

The most immediate consequence was the seizure of the US Embassy in Tehran by revolutionary students, who held 52 Americans hostage for 444 days. But in the long term, the revolution turned a close ally of Washington into its sworn enemy, triggering a bitter enmity with consequences for the region that echo to this day. 

LOS ANGELES: The year 1979 is one of the most pivotal in modern history due to the Islamic revolution in Iran, an event that reverberated beyond the country’s borders and fundamentally altered the Middle East’s political landscape, affecting geopolitical alignments four decades later.

Since some politicians and policy analysts continue to misunderstand the Islamic Revolution or underestimate the commitment of the Islamic Republic to exporting its revolutionary ideals, it is critical to shed light on the underlying causes and the long-term impact it has had domestically, regionally and globally.

Before the revolution, most Iranian people were struggling to set up a representative and democratic system of governance. They were dissatisfied with Shah Mohammed Reza Pahlavi due to the widespread political and financial corruption and human-rights violations. Many people in Iran were also discontent with American foreign policy because of the 1953 coup when the Eisenhower administration and UK Prime Minister Winston Churchill decided to overthrow the first democratically elected government in Iran, which was led by nationalist Prime Minister Mohammed Mosaddegh, and reinstate the shah, who had built a close alliance with Washington and the West.

Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini took advantage of this situation and capitalized on the people’s grievances to seize power. In 1978, periodic demonstrations and protests began to erupt as ordinary people and various oppositional groups — including the Marxists, modernist Islamists, religious fundamentalists, constitutionalist liberals, leftists and reformists — came together. But the international community did not believe that these protests could result in the revolution of 1979. This is more likely due to the fact that the shah was successful in creating a desirable image of himself outside Iran as a king who enjoyed legitimacy and the support of the Iranian people.

Khomeini’s party had an edge over other political parties because the shah, like many others at this time, did not view the clerics as a threat. Instead, he invested significant political capital in cracking down on other political institutions, such as the nationalists, Marxists and leftists. This allowed Khomeini’s party to thrive, and it became one of the most powerful and best organized groups in the country. It could operate through enormous networks such as mosques and religious organizations.

Ultimately, Khomeini’s fundamentalist organization co-opted the revolution in February 1979. After the shah fled the country, the vast majority of Iranians voted for the Islamic Republic because they did not conceive that Khomeini’s religious party would be capable of committing the atrocities it ultimately came to carry out, or that it would have such an unrelenting hunger for power. Instead, the country thought it was on a smooth path toward democracy, with no expectation of returning to the shah’s era.

Once the clerics had hijacked the revolution, their key objective became the consolidation of power. This was fulfilled primarily through two important landscapes: The hostage crisis and the brutal crackdown on the Iranian population. This revealed the regime’s determination to show to its own people that it was not afraid of shedding blood in order to achieve its objectives.

“Makkah’s World Supreme Council of Mosques appealed to the people of Iran to exercise self-restraint in a spirit of Islamic brother and understanding.”

Farouq Luqman on the front page of Arab News, Feb. 12, 1979

 

Thousands upon thousands of people from other political or religious parties were ultimately tortured and executed. The regime established dozens of “death commissions,” which were run by people such as Ebrahim Raisi, who later ran for president, and Mostafa Pourmohammadi, who was served as minister of justice under President Hassan Rouhani. According to human rights groups, the death commissions were major players in the execution of some 30,000 political prisoners in a four-month period in 1988. Those killed were accused of having loyalties to anti-theocratic resistance groups, mainly the People’s Mujahedin of Iran.

The Islamic Republic also broke international laws by instigating the 1979 hostage crisis, in which 52 Americans were detained and humiliated for 444 days. This was a turning point in US-Iran relations and it empowered Iran’s hard-liners, ultra-conservatives and Principlists. It gave them the platform to further consolidate their power, crush the remaining leftists, liberals and secular groups inside the country, and present to the world the Islamic Republic’s defiant and revolutionary nature.

Tehran’s regional policies became anchored in exporting its revolution to other nations; increasing its influence through military adventurism; asymmetrical warfare; pursuing a sectarian agenda by inciting Shiites against Sunnis; the sponsorship of proxies and terror groups from Yemen to Iraq; and thwarting the objectives of other regional powers, particularly Saudi Arabia. Tensions in the region intensified as a belligerent, assertive and revolutionary dimension was added to Tehran’s foreign and regional policies.




A page from the Arab News archive from Feb. 11, 1979.

Finally, the Islamic Republic not only vied for regional dominance, but also absolute exertion of leadership in the Muslim world. And, since Saudi Arabia is considered a critical regional power, the cradle of Islam and home to its two holiest cities, Makkah and Madinah, Tehran became determined to undermine the Kingdom’s national, geopolitical and strategic interests in the region. As a result, antagonism toward Saudi Arabia became one of the core pillars of the mullahs’ regional policy.

  • Dr. Majid Rafizadeh, an Iranian-American political scientist who is a columnist for Arab News, was born in Iran a year after the revolution. Several of his family members, including his father, were tortured by the regime for criticizing the ruling mullahs. Twitter: @Dr_Rafizadeh


Renowned US authors Tayari Jones, Brent Weeks join Abu Dhabi Book Fair lineup

US author Tayari Jones is set to take part in the event. (File/ AFP)
US author Tayari Jones is set to take part in the event. (File/ AFP)
Updated 26 min 6 sec ago

Renowned US authors Tayari Jones, Brent Weeks join Abu Dhabi Book Fair lineup

US author Tayari Jones is set to take part in the event. (File/ AFP)

DUBAI: Renowned US fantasy author Brent Weeks, US author Tayari Jones, Emirati writer Eman Alyousuf and Kuwaiti writer Taleb Alrefai are all set to participate at the upcoming Abu Dhabi International Book Fair.

Organised by the Abu Dhabi Arabic Language Centre at the Department of Culture and Tourism - Abu Dhabi, the 30th edition of ADIBF will see the participation of more than 800 exhibitors from 46 countries around the world, and will comprise more than 104 virtual and physical sessions.

Dr. Ali bin Tamim, chairman of the Abu Dhabi Arabic Language Centre, said: “Despite the challenges we have faced in the wake of the pandemic, the Abu Dhabi International Book Fair is committed to ramping up its efforts to support the publishing industry and to promote cross-cultural dialogue. We are proud to host this event which reinforces our position as one of the most prominent intellectual and literary forums in region, and gives us the opportunity to highlight Arab literary output while simultaneously celebrating the pioneers of arts and culture from across the world.”

As part of its cultural programme, the fair will feature the artistic and literary works of authors and artists from multiple fields. Among those will be American author Tayari Jones, considered one of the most important writers of her generation, who will hold a session to discuss her latest work. In another session, the fantasy great Weeks will talk about the importance of science fiction novels in transporting readers away from the monotony of their daily lives. Providing a regional perspective, Kuwait’s Alrefai will participate in a dialogue with Emirati writer Alyousuf, to discuss how the pandemic has encouraged reading.

British television presenter and historian Bettany Hughes will join a conversation about the impact of plagues and pandemics on civilisations, while Emirati writer Sultan Al-Amimi will speak about with the importance of short stories and their role in enhancing literary diversity. .


Egypt jobless rate rises amid pandemic second wave

Egypt jobless rate rises amid pandemic second wave
Updated 11 May 2021

Egypt jobless rate rises amid pandemic second wave

Egypt jobless rate rises amid pandemic second wave
  • The size of the workforce was estimated at 29,284 million, compared to 29,965 million during the previous quarter

RIYADH: Egypt’s unemployment rate reached 7.4 percent of the total labor force in the first quarter of 2021 — up from 7.2 percent in the previous quarter.
The new data from the Central Agency for Public Mobilization and Statistics (CAPMAS), reflects the impact of the second wave of the pandemic.
The size of the workforce was estimated at 29,284 million, compared to 29,965 million during the previous quarter, representing a decrease of 2.3 percent, Al Arabiya reported.
The labor force in urban areas reached 13,034 million, with 16,250 million living in rural areas.
Gehan Saleh, economic affairs adviser to Egypt’s prime minister said in April that the second stage of the country’s economic reform program would be launched soon.
She said the plan aims to improve the quality of life of citizens and tackle unemployment through job-creating investments.


Smugglers post gold from Dubai to India hidden in Tang

Smugglers post gold from Dubai to India hidden in Tang
Updated 11 May 2021

Smugglers post gold from Dubai to India hidden in Tang

Smugglers post gold from Dubai to India hidden in Tang
  • It is the latest ruse by smugglers trying to avoid hefty import duties for the precious metal by employing increasingly intriguing methods

DUBAI: Indian customs have foiled an attempt to post gold from Dubai disguised in containers of the popular Tang drink.

After sieving the contents of the drink mix, Chennai customs officials discovered it had been mixed with gold granules, according to a statement from the Commissioner of Customs at Chennai International Airport.
Officials probing the racket found that the address of the receiver had been misused.
It is the latest ruse by smugglers trying to avoid hefty import duties for the precious metal by employing increasingly intriguing methods.
Earlier this year officials at Chennai airport also nabbed two men trying to smuggle gold through the airport underneath their wigs.
The hapless pair were nabbed after their unusual hairstyles caught the attention of officials.

They were found to be carrying two gold paste packets weighing almost 700 g


Review: Kate Winslet exudes quiet brilliance in sleuthing series ‘Mare of Easttown’

Kate Winslet shines in this small town murder mystery. (Supplied)
Kate Winslet shines in this small town murder mystery. (Supplied)
Updated 43 min 50 sec ago

Review: Kate Winslet exudes quiet brilliance in sleuthing series ‘Mare of Easttown’

Kate Winslet shines in this small town murder mystery. (Supplied)

CHENNAI: British actress Kate Winslet has dabbled in period pieces, rom-coms, dramas and everything in between, but in her latest outing in “Mare of Easttown,” a series streaming on OSN in the Middle East, she absolutely dazzles as a detective in a small, conservative town in Pennsylvania.

In bleak, deprived small-town America, everybody knows everybody and working as a cop is not easy for Winslet’s character Mare Sheehan.

Mare, who rarely smiles but is not grumpy or snappy, carries her own demons. She is tired and weighed down by grief over a family tragedy. Add to the mix a wayward ex-husband (played by David Denman) and a cagey daughter (Angourie Rice), and it seems her personal life is enough to fill a drama series on its own.

But this is a murder mystery, and soon our protagonist is faced with the unsolved case of a 19-year-old missing girl and more. The girl had been gone for a year, and her mother is a friend of Mare’s, which makes it difficult and personal for the detective. And it seems like a hard bolt from the blue when Erin (Cailee Spaeny), a single teenage mother, is found dead in the woods one night after townsfolk had gathered for a party.

The people of Easttown, used to leading uneventful lives, are not pleased with the ramped up police presence — including the intrusion of a county detective, Colin Zabel (Evan Peters) who is brought in to assist Mare — and it is into this tense atmosphere that Brad Ingelsby, who created and wrote the series, tweaks the formula to add a romantic angle.

Mare meets writer and guest lecturer Richard Ryan (an intelligent, witty and charming Guy Pearce), who is visiting the town.

The writer turns “Mare of Easttown” from what could have been a dull and boring story into something that leaves us thirsting for more at the end of each twisting episode, where every detail matters.

It is a fantastic study in both police work and, more interestingly, the effect a brutal crime has on a community. The series is ably led by director Craig Zobel, who builds a convincing narrative style.

Of course, his eyes are on the star of the series, and it is remarkable to see Winslet so engaging.


Arab League, Muslim World League condemn Israeli attacks against Palestinians, US expresses concern

Arab League, Muslim World League condemn Israeli attacks against Palestinians, US expresses concern
Updated 47 min 7 sec ago

Arab League, Muslim World League condemn Israeli attacks against Palestinians, US expresses concern

Arab League, Muslim World League condemn Israeli attacks against Palestinians, US expresses concern
  • Aboul Gheit called on the international community to act immediately to stop the violence
  • The Muslim World League has strongly condemned the attacks at Al-Aqsa Mosque

CAIRO: The head of the Arab League condemned on Tuesday deadly Israeli air strikes on the Gaza Strip as “indiscriminate and irresponsible” and said Israel had provoked an earlier escalation in violence by its actions in Jerusalem.
“Israeli violations in Jerusalem, and the government’s tolerance of Jewish extremists hostile to Palestinians and Arabs, is what led to the ignition of the situation in this dangerous way,” Arab League chief Ahmed Aboul Gheit said in a statement.
The attacks in Gaza were a “miserable show of force at the expense of children’s blood,” he said.
Aboul Gheit called on the international community to act immediately to stop the violence, saying continuing “Israeli provocations” were an affront to Muslims on the eve of the Eid holiday at the end of the holy month of Ramadan.
Arab League foreign ministers are holding a virtual meeting on Tuesday to discuss the situation in Jerusalem.
Meanwhile, the Muslim World League has strongly condemned the attacks at Al-Aqsa Mosque, it said in a statement.
The organization, issued Tuesday went on to say that it rejected the escalations against worshippers.
Mohammed bin Abdul Karim Al-Issa, secretary-general of the Muslim World League further denounced all acts of violence that undermined the dignity and rights of the Palestinian people, as well as provoking the feelings of Muslims around the world.
Al-Issa called on the International community to put an end to the violence, preserve the right of the Palestinian people, provide the necessary protection of civilians, guarantee their right to practice their religion, and stop all violations and attacks.
He also reiterated the affirmation of standing by the Palestinian people. He said he supports all peace efforts to reach a just and comprehensive solution to the Palestinian issue.
He also said the solution should allow Palestinians to establish their independent state on the 1967 borders, with East Jerusalem as their capital, in accordance with international legitimacy decisions and the Arab Peace Initiative.
Health officials in Gaza said at least 20 people, including nine children, were killed.