"There Is a Feeling That the Regime Owes Something to the People"

by Ervand Abrahamian , James Paul
published in MER156

Ahmad Ashraf is an Iranian sociologist currently teaching in the United States. He is presently working on a book with Ali Banuazizi on social classes and the state in contemporary Iran. Ervand Abrahamian and James Paul spoke with him in New York City in late October.

How would you describe the regime’s social base of support?

The regime consists of different factions, and each of them has certain social bases among the populace. The bazaar, for instance, is no longer the social base of the government in general, but rather of a group collaborating with the regime.

What are the main currents, and which social bases are aligned with them?

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The Islamic Republic at War and Peace

by Eric Hooglund
published in MER156

Ten years after the Iranian revolution swept the Shah from power, and contrary to innumerable prophecies of its demise, the Islamic Republic endures. Many of the revolution’s original leaders remain in power and many of their goals, although not yet fulfilled, continue to be policy objectives.

From the Editors

by The Editors
published in MER156

As President-elect George Bush sits down to lunch with Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev in early December 1988 to discuss the modalities of Detente II, we wonder what the prospects are for any similar sort of US rapprochement with the leaders of the Islamic Republic of Iran. It took 16 years, from 1917 to 1933, for the United States to come to diplomatic terms with the Bolshevik Revolution, and the half-century since then has been marked by periods of deep hostility, none more pronounced than the first half of the Reagan-Bush administration.


published in MER159

Prop. W Not a Setback

A Separation at Iranian Universities

by Nazanin Shahrokni , Parastou Dokouhaki | published October 18, 2012

On August 6, with the new academic year approaching, the government-backed Mehr News Agency in Iran posted a bulletin that 36 universities in the country had excluded women from 77 fields of study. The reported restrictions aroused something of an international uproar.


published in MER161

Intifada Chic We’re not really sure what this tells us about the present state of the Israeli Jewish psyche, almost two years into the intifada, but here are some of the designer T-shirts being sold these days in Jerusalem:

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Iran in the Campaign's Crosshairs

by Chris Toensing | published October 10, 2012

The war of words over Iran's nuclear program keeps expanding.

It’s now a multi-sided melee pitting Iran against the West and Israel, Israel against the Obama administration, Mitt Romney against Barack Obama, and neo-conservatives like William Kristol against the rest of the US foreign policy establishment.

The rhetoric is more heated, too. President Obama swears that his administration “will do what we must to prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon.” It’s his clearest indication to date that he would, if he deemed it necessary, order military strikes on Iranian nuclear facilities.

Abrahamian, Radical Islam: The Iranian Mojahedin

by Mansour Farhang
published in MER163

The roots of the People's Mojahedin of Iran (PMOI) reach back to the Liberation Movement of Iran (LMI), a modernist liberal-religious party formed in 1961. The founders of the LMI, virtually all educated members of the traditional middle class, opposed the Shah’s rule on both political and moral grounds. Mehdi Bazargan, the first prime minister of the Islamic Republic, has been the principal leader and theoretician of the LMI since its inception. Following the defeat of the June 1963 uprising against the Shah, some younger members of the LMI split from the parent organization. They created the nucleus of the Mojahedin as an urban guerrilla group and concocted a radical-left version of Islam as their ideology.

Report from Paris: The Kurdish Conference

by Sami Zubaida
published in MER163

“There’s not much talk about the Kurds because we have never taken any hostages, never hijacked a plane. But I am proud of this.” So wrote Abd al-Rahman Qassemlou, the Iranian Kurdish leader who was assassinated in Vienna last July. The Kurdish Institute of Paris and France-Libertes, a human rights foundation sponsored by Danielle Mitterand, organized a conference in Paris October 14-15, 1989, precisely to remedy the cynical international neglect of the Kurdish question. Some French government quarters clearly had misgivings, particularly concerning the impact on relations with Iraq. A measure of French sensitivity and Iraqi pressure was an attempt to introduce into the conference the president of Iraq’s so-called Kurdish Autonomy Zone.

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To Save Syria, Work with Russia and Iran

by Aslı Bâli , Aziz Rana | published August 15, 2012

As the violence intensifies in Syria, external powers, including the United States, are embracing increasingly belligerent positions. Indeed, in recent days the United States and Turkey have announced plans to study a no-fly zone after calls by many American commentators for a more direct military role.

Although there is no doubt the government of President Bashar al-Asad carries the overwhelming responsibility for the unfolding tragedy in Syria, the attempt to militarily defeat the regime is the wrong strategy if the goals are reducing violence and protecting innocent civilians.