Day 1 Preview and Summary • 1945-1950: Persia/Iran a kingdom formerly a British colony and largely controlled by Western oil companies • 1951: Prime Minister Mossadegh nationalizes Iran’s oil, • 1953: America’s CIA helps Iranian military oust Mossadegh and helps the Shah take full power • 1979: Islamic Revolution—Ayatollah Khomeini becomes “Supreme Leader” as Shah flees
A few facts before we get started… • Population: 66 million • Religion: 89% Shi’ite Muslim (The world’s largest Shi’ite country) • Language: Farsi (Persian) • Ethnicities: 51% Persian, 24% Azeri • Note: Persians/Iranians are NOT Arabs (They hate it when people make that mistake!)
History 1:A really old society • Persia is an ancient culture that has produced large empires, technological advancements, and enlightened leadership. • But by the 1900s it was a distant outpost of the British and Russian colonial systems of little importance…until its vast reserves of oil were discovered.
History 2:The problems begin with oil • In 1951, Iran elected M. Mossadegh as Prime Minister, who promised to nationalize Iran’s oil as under a colonial-era agreement with Great Britain, Iran was only allowed to keep 16% of its oil profits—American and British companies got the rest. • America, of course, would not stand for this…
History 3:America gets involved • The CIA reacted to Mossadegh’s plan to nationalize Iranian oil by paying people to riot, then blaming the riots on Communists and falsely accusing Mossadegh of being a Communist. In 1953 the CIA paid members of Iran’s military to jail Mossadegh and hand total power to the Shah (king), Shah R. Pahlavi. America now had someone under its control as Iran’s unquestioned leader. • In other words, America did not like who Iran elected, so, as with Chile in 1973, the US schemed to put someone in power who would not promote democracy, but would let American corporations get rich while Americans believed the conflict was to stop non-existent Communists.
History 4: Yay! Iran Under the Shah (1953-1979) • The Shah was loved by the West (America and Europe) and by Westernized Iranians because he… --Was Anti-Communist, --Bought a lot of weapons, especially from the US --made sure the West had cheap oil, --Allowed Western companies to dominate the Iranian economy, --Took land from wealthy landowners and wealthy clerics (Islamic leaders) and handed it to landless peasants, --Brought women’s rights to Iran’s traditional society, --Modernized the economy and created factory jobs, --Forced Western culture on Iran and cracked down on Muslim fundamentalists, --Brought modern education to Iran
History 5:Boooo! Iran Under the Shah • Many moderate Iranians hated the Shah because… --He was corrupt, keeping much of the nation’s wealth for himself, --A lot of the nation’s wealth—especially from oil—went to foreigners, --A lot of money was spent on American weapons instead of on improving the lives of Iranians --His CIA-trained secret police (the SAVAK) kept the nation in fear through torture, kidnappings, and imprisonment of those opposed to him, --Americans working in Iran could not be charged for crimes by Iran’s police
History 6: Boooo! Iran under the Shah • Religious leaders and religious Iranians hated the Shah because he… -- Took land from wealthy clerics (Islamic religious leaders) and gave it to landless peasants --Banned the practice of veiling women and gave women nearly equal rights --Discouraged Islam and attacked the power and wealth of religious leaders, --Attempted to force Western culture on a traditional Islamic society --Arrested and jailed religious leaders who would not support him
Revolution 1:The Rise of Ayatollah R. Khomeini • The most vocal critic of the Shah was Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, a religious leader. His speeches on cassette tape were copied and shared throughout Iran, increasing his popularity. Since he was a religious leader, the Shah did not want to cause further problems by harming him.
Revolution 2: Khomeini in exile • In the mid-1970s, after Khomeini’s father was allegedly killed by the SAVAK and attacks on religious leaders increased, Khomeini fled to neighboring Iraq, but was kicked out by Iraq’s US-ally dictator Saddam Hussein—an insult Khomeini would not forget. He fled to France and continued speaking against the Shah from there, somehow smuggling recordings of his speeches into Iran.
Revolution 3: The Shah Strikes Back • With riots and strikes increasing and the Ayatollah gaining followers from both religious Iranians and the middle class who hated the Shah’s corruption and economic mismanagement, the Shah responded by… • Killing thousands of rioters and strikers, jailing and torturing many more, • Using the state-controlled media to make laughably false claims about Khomeini and others opposed to his rule, • Pretending to make reforms
Revolution 4: Run Awaaay!!! • In January 1979, secretly dying of cancer, the Shah and his family fled Iran, flying his own plane out of the country. Power was left in the hands of his Prime Minister. • On April Fool’s Day 1979, Khomeini guessed correctly that the Iranian military would not oppose him, and flew back from Paris to Tehran. He declared himself “Supreme Leader” of the “Islamic Republic” and vowed to create a religious country opposed to “The Great Satan”—the United States. This was the 1979 Iranian Revolution. America never saw it coming.
The Islamic Republic 1: The First Few Months • In Khomeini’s Islamic Republic of Iran… • Westerners (including oil companies) were kicked out of Iran, • Religious leaders were put in charge of the government, • Non-Islamic books were burned and universities were closed until they could be “Islamicized”, • Men were urged to grow beards and burn their neckties, • A “morals police” was formed to punish anyone not sufficiently Islamic • Anyone judged to be hostile to the Revolution was jailed or killed including military leaders, teachers and professors, members of the middle class who did not care for the “Islamic” aspect of the Revolution, and ethnic minorities wanting greater independence. Thousands were killed by the new regime, and thousands more fled the country.
The Islamic Republic 2: Women and the Revolution • In the “Islamic Republic”, women… • Had to keep their heads covered in public; many took to wearing the traditional chador () as either a show of support for the Revolution, or in fear of what might happen if one did not wear it. Many women wore a more comfortable hijab () • Had to remain segregated from men in public.
The Islamic Republic 3:The Iran Hostage Crisis • When the US allowed the Shah into America to receive cancer treatment instead of handing him over to Iran, on November 4, 1979 Iranian “students” stormed the US embassy in Tehran and took the embassy workers hostage for 444 days. • In response, President Carter banned all trade with Iran (including oil) and froze its sizeable accounts in American banks. He also ordered a daring helicopter rescue that failed miserably. Carter’s inability to solve the hostage crisis was a major reason he lost his bid for reelection in 1980.
Need More Information? • Documentary on the Islamic Revolution: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0s5pRsCWW9k • Terrific report on the Hostage Crisis by two Bullis students: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tTG8sc_AxuM