Iranians Debate the 1953 Coup

by Malcolm Byrne
published in MER216

On  June 7-8, 2000, the Center for Documents and Diplomatic History of the Iranian Foreign Ministry hosted an international conference in Tehran on the subject of “Iran and the Great Powers, 1950-1953,” with the participation of scholars and archivists from several countries.

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The CIA Looks Back at the 1953 Coup in Iran

by Mark J. Gasiorowski
published in MER216

The 200-page CIA official history of the 1953 coup in Iran, obtained recently by the New York Times, adds considerably to our understanding of the coup. The history, written strictly for the US intelligence community by the late Donald Wilber, a well-known scholar who wrote many books about Iran, chronicles the coup d’état in which a team of CIA officers overthrew Iranian Prime Minister Mohammad Mossadeq. Wilber worked on a part-time basis for the CIA and was deeply involved in planning the coup and overseeing the propaganda campaign that accompanied it. [1]

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Deja Vu All Over Again?

Twenty Years Later, Iranian Demonstrations Surprise the US

by Haleh Vaziri | published July 20, 1999

Two decades after Iran's Islamic revolution of 1978-79, another US administration has been surprised by violent demonstrations on the streets of Tehran and other Iranian cities. The Clinton Administration and members of Congress watched with alarm and some helplessness as Iranian student protests persisted and spread--despite official warnings, the brutality of religiously inspired vigilantes claiming to protect the Islamic Republic's interests and carefully orchestrated counter-demonstrations. The US Department of State has reacted cautiously to these developments, while members of Congress--usually eager to criticize the Clinton Administration's intelligence failures--have remained silent so far.

Report from Iran

by MERIP's Special Correspondent in Iran | published July 15, 1999

International press reports have not done justice to the complexity of recent dramatic events in Iran. What began as a genuine, spontaneous student uprising in defense of press freedoms and political reforms has now been appropriated by extremist religious paramilitaries and vigilantes aiming to discredit the students and provoke a crackdown by anti-reform elements of the regime. Khatami's call for moderation in the wake of street battles between students and security forces was not an "about face" on reform, but a demand consistent with several appeals for calm issued by leading pro-reform figures and groups, including the fledgling student "Unity Council."

Neo-Conservatives, Hardline Clerics and the Bomb

by Kaveh Ehsani , Chris Toensing
published in MER233

Even as the US military launched a long-rumored offensive in the Iraqi city of Falluja in early November 2004, the subject of anxious speculation in Washington was not Iraq, but Iran. President George W. Bush’s victory at the polls on November 2 returned to office the executive who located Iran upon an “axis of evil” in the 2002 State of the Union address and called the Islamic Republic a “totalitarian state” during his campaign for a second term in the White House. The neo-conservatives who were so influential in promoting the invasion of Iraq have long harbored the desire to foment “regime change” in Tehran as well as in Baghdad.

Iran, the Vatican of Shi'ism?

by Roschanack Shaery
published in MER233

The Iranian state, controlled de facto by the conservatives in the government, promotes the idea that Iran is the center of Shi‘ism. It bases its argument on the fact that Iran is a Shi‘i-run state, whereas Shi‘i Muslims in other parts of the world live in states that are dominated by Sunnis, and so Iran is free to pay near exclusive attention to Shi‘i concerns.

Fatemeh Haqiqatjoo and the Sixth Majles

A Woman in Her Own Right

by Ziba Mir-Hosseini
published in MER233

On February 23, 2004, two days after the conservative victory in the elections for the Seventh Majles, for which the Guardian Council banned over 2,000 reformist candidates, including some 80 current deputies, the reformist-dominated Sixth Majles accepted the resignation of Fatemeh Haqiqatjoo.

Abbas's Photographs of Iran

by Shiva Balaghi
published in MER233

My work is visual. It’s immediate. My photographs show the process that is happening in Iran. —Abbas

Born in Iran in 1944, Abbas moved to Algeria with his family when he was eight years old. As a young school¬boy at the École de Garcons d’El-Biar, Abbas wrote a short story entitled “A Grand Voyage” about his family’s emigration, illustrating the tale with a pencil drawing of an Air France jet flying over jagged, snow-capped mountains. “A Grand Voyage” proved to be a prescient tale, foretelling his life as a traveler -- an identity he prefers to that of an exile.

The New Conservatives Take a Turn

by Farhad Khosrokhavar
published in MER233

The conservative forces that took majority control of Iran’s parliament, or Majles, in the February 2004 elections were not swept into office by a mass movement. Conservative candidates had the help of the Council of Guardians, a body of 12 senior clerics [1] vested by the constitution of the Islamic Republic with the power to overturn acts of parliament, which blocked the candidacy of over 1,000 men and women associated with the reformist trend that held the majority in the Sixth Majles of 2001-2004. Thanks to this intervention, conservatives won the majority of seats, because many Iranians were left with no one for whom to vote.

The New Landscape of Iranian Politics

by Morad Saghafi
published in MER233

After seven turbulent years in which a reformist movement transformed Iran’s political landscape as well as its international image, conservatives recaptured two thirds of the parliament in February 2004. “Victory” for the conservatives was achieved, in large part, by the intervention of the unelected Guardian Council, which succeeded in rejecting the candidacy of 2,400 reformist candidates. The “Tehran spring” -- when Iranians and international observers hoped that reformists could bring about peaceful, democratic transformation of the Islamic Republic -- has faded.