The War and the Struggle for the State

by Eric Rouleau
published in MER98

“Was it not your KGB which indirectly passed on to us the secret plan for the Iraqi offensive?” President Bani-Sadr’s point-blank question clearly embarrassed the Soviet ambassador. Vladimir Vinogradov lapsed into an embarrassed silence but his face was lit by a smile which was as broad as it was enigmatic. The Iranian head of state had pointed out that the invasion of the Islamic Republic, which had begun more than 36 hours before his conversation with the diplomat, followed a scenario described in detail in a report given to him weeks previously. Who but the Kremlin, he wondered, could have access to the plans of Baghdad’s general staff?

Approaching the Islamic Revolution

by Michael Gilsenan
published in MER102

Shahrough Akhavi, Religion and Politics in Contemporary Iran: Clergy-State Relations in the Pahlavi Period (Albany: State University of New York Press, 1980).

Michael M. J. Fischer, Iran: From Religious Dispute to Revolution (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1980).

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Ali Shariati: Ideologue of the Iranian Revolution

by Ervand Abrahamian
published in MER102

Westerners commonly perceive the Iranian Revolution as an atavistic and xenophobic movement that rejects all things modern and non-Muslim, a view reinforced by the present leaders of Iran. They claim that the revolution spearheads the resurgence of Islam, and that the revolutionary movement is an authentic phenomena uncorrupted by any alien ideas and inspired solely by the teachings of the Prophet and the Shi‘i imams. This conventional wisdom, however, ignores the contributions of ‘Ali Shari‘ati, the main ideologue of the Iranian Revolution.

Religious Ritual and Political Struggle in an Iranian Village

by Mary Hegland
published in MER102

The villagers of Aliabad do not presume political stability. They were not especially surprised at the fall of the Shah, nor at the demise of the most powerful person in the village, Seyyid Ibn Ali Askari, some months after the Iranian revolution. “One day the saddle is on the horse, the next day the horse is on the saddle,” they said. “Families become scattered. Families come and go. Ezzat va zellat. Honor and ruin.”

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Letter

by
published in MER104

To the Editors: I would like to give a correct version of the interview I had with Fred Halliday in March 1980, published in MERIP Reports 98 (July-August 1981). Our conversation was not recorded. Halliday occasionally took notes, and errors and inaccuracies have therefore crept into the interview as published.

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"The Only Serious Obstacle Is Khomeini Himself"

by
published in MER104

I conducted this interview with Manuchehr Hezarkani after his departure from Iran in October 1981. He is a medical doctor trained in France, and has been among the founders of three important Iranian political forces: the Confederation of Iranian Students, which led the opposition in Europe to the Shah in the 1960s and 1970s, the Writers’ Association of Iran, and the National Democratic Front, an independent socialist coalition established immediately after the revolution and driven underground in August 1979 after organizing protests against the imposition of censorship. Since this interview was given, the NDF has officially associated itself with the National Council of Resistance set up by Bani-Sadr and the Mojahedin.

—Fred Halliday

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"We Are Living Between Two Tides"

published in MER104

Shokrallah Paknejad, one of the most prominent and far-sighted of modern Iranian socialists, was executed in Evin prison, Tehran, during December 1981. Although his death was not officially announced, his family was given a number for his grave in the cemetery of Behesht-e Zahra, and the prison authorities confirmed the news early in the following month. His death, like that of the Mojahedin leader Mohammad Reza Saadati, and of the Fedayi (Minority) leader Said Sultanpour, came after Paknejad had spent several months in jail without trial or formal charges. He was held as a political hostage and shot in retaliation for opposition activities.

"All the People Who Are Opposed to Our Solution Must Die"

by
published in MER104

Sadeq Khalkhali is the representative from Qom in the Majles. Although not himself a leading element in the Islamic Republican Party, he has a small following among the extreme right-wing clergy. He wielded considerable influence within the regime, particularly in its formative period, and consistently criticized successive IRP governments as “too soft” toward “counter-revolutionaries.” He was interviewed by an Iranian journalist in the summer of 1980.

Could you tell us when and where you were born, and what kind of Islamic training you have?

I was born in 1926 in Khalkhal, a small town in northwest Iran and I’ve gained the title of Hojjat-ol-Islam.

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"We Started to Feel Cold Sweat on Our Brows"

by
published in MER104

Ali Reza Nobari studied mathematics in France and was finishing a Ph.D. in operations research at Stanford University in California when the Iranian revolution occurred. He helped to fund the newspaper Enqelab-e Islami and served as governor of Iran's Central Bank during Bani-Sadr’s presidency. Eric Hooglund and Joe Stork spoke with him in Washington, DC in December 1981.

If you could have seen where the revolution stands now, would you have participated in it three and four years ago?

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"The Americans Played a Disgusting Role"

by
published in MER104

Shahpour Bakhtiar served as prime minister in the last weeks of the Shah’s regime. Since escaping from Iran after February 1979 he has been living in exile. Fred Halliday spoke with him in Paris in August 1981.

Mr. Bakhtiar, what is your estimation of the current strength of the Iranian regime?

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