Workers' Control After the Revolution

by Asef Bayat
published in MER113

In the months preceeding the February armed insurrection which led to the downfall of the Pahlavi regime, the term shura (council) appeared frequently in the speeches and literature of various political tendencies ranging from the Islamic right to the leftist organizations. The most ardent advocates of the shuras were the left organizations, including the Mojahedin, with an emphasis on workers’ shuras. Now, four years into the Islamic Republic, it is clear that repression was not the only cause of failure of these shuras. The question is to what extent the workers could manage to exert control within an overall framework of social relations.

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Bazaar and Mosque in Iran's Revolution

published in MER113

Ahmad Ashraf is a sociologist who studied and later taught at Tehran University and the New School in New York City. Ashraf is the author of “Historical Obstacles to the Development of the Bourgeoisie in Iran,” Iranian Studies 2/1-2 (Spring and Summer 1969). Ervand Abrahamian spoke with him in New York City in February 1983.

Of the many classes and groups that participated in the Iranian revolution, which have won the fruits of victory?

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The Reconstruction Crusade and Class Conflict in Iran

by Emad Ferdows
published in MER113

The Islamic Republic’s revolutionary credentials are, apart from foreign policy, largely based on the activities of the so-called revolutionary organizations created shortly after the February 1979 uprising. Operating through these popular organizations, the regime signaled a new beginning for millions of Iranians, especially the young, who had been deprived of meaningful social and political activity. In the last three years, these organizations have been the main channel of upward social mobility for clergy and lay people alike. Much of the course of the Iranian revolution and the social basis of the present regime can be discerned in the records of these new institutions.

"A Dictatorship Under the Name of Islam"

published in MER113

The following interview was conducted with Sheikh Izzedin Husseini during a visit he made to Paris in October 1982. This was the sheikh’s first trip outside Iran, and he had taken advantage of his stay in the French capital to go out and have a look at the city—“unlike Khomeini, when he was here,” the sheikh remarked. Later in 1982, Sheikh Izzedin returned to Iranian Kurdistan, as heavy fighting between the Kurdish peshmergas and government forces continued. —Fred Halliday 

What is your view of relations between the Kurds and the central government since the revolution?

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Year IV of the Islamic Republic

by Fred Halliday
published in MER113

The fourth year of the Iranian revolution at first sight contained less surprises and reverses of political trend than the three which preceded it. The leading personalities of the regime remained constant, without major divisions or assassinations. Khomeini himself, although apparently physically weaker, continued to exert a strong dominance over those in official positions. There were no major institutional developments, and little progress towards the strengthening of the Islamic Republican Party. Bloody repression and a reign of terror continued, but the opposition sustained its fight against the regime in the main cities and especially in Kurdistan. The war with Iraq dragged on, with immense loss of life on the Iranian side but no great breakthroughs.

An Extraordinary Feat of Diplomacy

by Chris Toensing | published August 5, 2015

The nuclear agreement with Iran is an extraordinary feat of diplomacy.

First and foremost, non-proliferation experts agree that the deal blocks all of the routes to making an atomic bomb. There are provisions for rigorous inspections—so if Iran cheats, the world will know.

Second, it isn’t just Washington to whom the Iranians are accountable. All five permanent members of the UN Security Council, and Germany too, signed alongside the United States. The UN’s nuclear watchdog, the International Atomic Energy Agency, will monitor Iranian activities on the great powers’ behalf.

Murray and Woods, The Iran-Iraq War

by Nida Alahmad
published in MER275

Williamson Murray and Kevin M. Woods, The Iran-Iraq War: A Military and Strategic History (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2014).

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Keddie and Hooglund, The Iranian Revolution and the Islamic Republic

published in MER121

Nikki R. Keddie and Eric Hooglund, eds., The Iranian Revolution and the Islamic Republic (Washington, DC: Middle East Institute, 1982).

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The Politics of Iran's Satellite Era

Turkish Serials, Safety Valves and Youth Culture

by Rebecca Joubin
published in MER274

“Once,” the Iranian comedian Mehran Modiri notes, “our marital relationships were formed over long distances. An Iranian man would explore the world abroad with his father’s money. When the money ran out, he would suddenly miss home-cooked qormeh sabzi and ask his family to send him a pure Iranian bride, so innocent she has seen neither sunrise nor sunset.” Today, Modiri continues, Iranian marriages are long-distance even when the couple is in the same room: “The husband is on Facebook while the wife watches Turkish serials. He might be 90 years old, and she’ll be on Instagram. He orders out for dinner, but she’s on a diet. The children are away at nursery school.

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Some Good News from the Middle East

by Chris Toensing | published February 25, 2015

There’s not much good news coming out of the Middle East these days.

But one reason to take heart is the progress of nuclear negotiations between Iran and the West. Even as new conflicts sprout up elsewhere, a three-decade standoff between Tehran and Washington could be heading for a breakthrough.

The talks have gone more slowly than many supporters had hoped, with negotiators twice having to extend their deadlines. But that should come as no surprise.

After all, there’s over 35 years of mutual antipathy to overcome, and the technical details are tricky. Plus, Iran’s domestic politics -- like our own -- are complicated, with hardliners always accusing the pragmatic president of going soft.