Iran's New Grand Strategy

by Fred Halliday
published in MER144

The controversy over US-Iranian relations has implications as drastic for the government in Tehran as for that in Washington. The disputed character of the opening to Washington forced Majlis Speaker Akbar Hashemi-Rafsanjani to go public about the talks in early November. Even Ayatollah Khomeini himself has come under attack from Islamic radicals after his explicit support for talks with the US. Khomeini, although using the title "imam" or religious leader, has never claimed to be infallible, as the 12 imams of Shi&‘i Islam are supposed to be. But when a congress of radicals in December proclaimed that the imam was “not infallible,” this was designed to challenge Khomeini’s overall authority within the revolutionary regime.

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The Search for Iran's "Moderates"

by Eric Hooglund
published in MER144

Revelations about secret talks and arms deals between the United States and Iran have focused attention on the internal politics of the Islamic Republic. The Reagan administration justifies its policy as an 18-month effort to reach out to “moderate elements” in the Iranian government.

Bayat, Workers and Revolution in Iran

by Val Moghadam
published in MER153

Asef Bayat, Workers and Revolution in Iran: A Third World Experience of Workers’ Control (London: Zed Press, 1987.)

 

The participation of workers in the anti-shah struggle, the rise of factory councils in 1979 and 1980, and their battles with the new Islamic state over workers’ control and other aspects of industrial relations has sparked interest in the structure and consciousness of the Iranian laboring classes.

The particular strength of this book is the extensive fieldwork which Bayat undertook in 1980 and 1981, prior to the regime’s crackdown on the left and liberals. The material he collected includes interviews with workers and council activists, and observation of factory conditions.

Dorman and Farhang, The US Press and Iran

by Ervand Abrahamian
published in MER153

William Dorman and Mansour Farhang, The US Press and Iran: Foreign Policy and the Journalism of Deference (Berkeley and Los Angeles: University of California Press, 1987).

 

Hiro, Iran Under the Ayatollahs

by Eric Hooglund
published in MER148

Dilip Hiro, Iran Under the Ayatollahs (London: Routledge and Kegan Paul, 1985).

Although this book is thin on analysis, it is filled with valuable details about political and economic developments during the first five years of the Islamic Republic. It is thus a good source book for information about the drafting of the constitution, the Mojahedin struggle against the regime, the cultural revolution, the impact of the war on the domestic economy and relations with the West.

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Beck, The Qashqa'i of Iran

by Bahman Abdollahi
published in MER148

Lois Beck, The Qashqa’i of Iran (New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 1986).

The Qashqa’is are a confederation of Turkic-speaking tribes dispersed in the three southwestern Iranian provinces of Fars, Isfahan, and Bushehr. Historically, they have been one of the most important tribal groups in the country. Nevertheless, little is known about them due to the lack of critical research. Lois Beck’s pioneering work successfully familiarizes the reader with the political dynamics of the Qashqa’is.

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Ladjevardi, Labor Unions and Autocracy in Iran

by Afsaneh Najmabadi
published in MER148

Habib Ladjevardi, Labor Unions and Autocracy in Iran (Syracuse, NY: Syracuse University Press, 1985).

Over the past few years we have witnessed a welcome development in new books on Iran. Instead of general histories, spanning centuries and big events, a number of books attempt to reconstruct smaller chunks of history but in much richer detail. Ladjevardi’s work is one valuable instance, as it takes up a much ignored and little documented slice of Iranian history -- that of the labor movement. Ladjevardi makes extensive use, for perhaps the first time, of the US National Archives (in addition to other more commonly used sources, such as the British Public Records).

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An Islamic State?

The Case of Iran

by Sami Zubaida
published in MER153

How applicable are the classic concepts of “state” and “politics” to the world of Islam? The current prominence of Islamic politics and the establishment of an Islamic Republic in Iran poses this question anew.

Iran and the Gulf War

by Eric Hooglund
published in MER148

September marks the seventh anniversary of the war between Iran and Iraq. It now ranks as the longest inter-state military conflict in the Middle East in this century. It has also been the most costly in terms of human lives lost, property destroyed and numbers of people uprooted from their homes. Although there are few accurate statistics on the destructive effects of the war, estimated deaths include some 300,000 Iranians and about 100,000 Iraqis, and at least an equal number wounded. The destruction of homes, factories and critical infrastructure in southeastern Iraq and southwestern Iran exceeds $400 billion. At least 1.5 million persons have fled their homes since 1980, mostly Iranians from the cities of Khuzestan. More recently, thousands of Iraqis have left the Basra area.

Argo and the Roots of US-Iranian Tensions

by Narges Bajoghli | published December 26, 2012

The box-office hit Argo brings back long-faded memories of the Iran hostage crisis for many Americans.

News in November 1979 that US diplomats had been taken hostage in Tehran shocked the United States. Students stormed the US embassy, blindfolding 52 Americans and threatening them at gunpoint. The hostages, held captive for 444 days, immediately became the nation’s top news story and dogged President Jimmy Carter’s unsuccessful reelection campaign.