International Law and the Iran Impasse

by Aslı Bâli | published December 16, 2012

On any given day, provided her paper of choice still features international coverage, the average American newspaper reader can expect to be treated to one or two articles on attempts to halt advances in Iran’s nuclear program. These articles might cover efforts to levy fresh sanctions against the Islamic Republic; they might relay news of discussions among Iran’s primary interlocutors on the nuclear question, the five permanent members of the UN Security Council plus Germany (the so-called P5+1), about diplomatic overtures. Or the stories might echo the mounting calls for airstrikes or other military action to delay and disrupt the progress of Iranian nuclear research.

Human Rights Watch

by Ömer Karasapan
published in MER159

Perhaps the saddest commentary on the situation in Iran is Amnesty International’s recent statement that “some former prisoners of conscience held during the 1970s when the late Shah was in power, for whose unconditional release [Amnesty] then worked, now figure among those with responsibility for the incarceration of prisoners of conscience and for other human rights violations in Iran. Others who were imprisoned in the 1970s for the non-violent expression of their conscientiously held beliefs are once more in prison, and many have been executed.”

Revolutionary Posters and Cultural Signs

by Michael M.J. Fischer , Mehdi Abedi
published in MER159

All revolutions require aesthetic means for representing changes in consciousness. The French Revolution saw itself as something new and universal, and generated a rich elaboration of aesthetic categories of the sublime (storms of nature, volcanoes, earthquakes), the beautiful (island of calm, meadow after a storm) and the grotesque (metamorphoses) as vehicles for thinking about social change and the future. Most revolutions since then have seen themselves in relation to predecessor revolutions, from which they borrow tactics, organizational forms, strategies, rhetoric, symbols and graphics.

"The Fear Can Drive You Crazy"

A Prisoner's Testimony

by Eric Hooglund
published in MER156

“Roya” is how she wants to be known. She was arrested in Iran in the fall of 1982. She was released four years later and lived in Tehran for 15 months before coming to the US in early 1988. Eric Hooglund spoke with her in Washington in October 1988.

Can you describe the circumstances of your arrest?

One day I was at home alone. Four armed men in civilian clothes came looking for me. They showed me a card from the Revolutionary Prosecutor’s office. They shoved their way in and confiscated all our tapes, books, letters and other personal papers. Then they ordered me to come with them. They pushed me into their car, forced me onto the floor and took me to Evin Prison.

Iran and the Gulf Arabs

by MERIP's Special Correspondent in Iran
published in MER156

Within weeks of Iran’s surprise acceptance of a ceasefire in its war with Iraq last July, perceptions of the regime in Tehran on the Arab side of the Gulf underwent a radical transformation. Governments in Kuwait, Riyadh and Bahrain pledged to forget past clashes, restore full diplomatic ties and launch a new era of political cooperation. Dollar signs danced in traders’ eyes as they saw a revival of a once booming reexport business with ports on the Persian coast.

Iran and Lebanon

A Conversation with Ahmad Baydoun

by Irene Gendzier
published in MER156

What are current relations between Iran and Lebanon? What has been the import of Iran’s revolution on Lebanon’s Shi‘i community? These were the questions we put to Ahmad Baydoun, poet, man of letters and professor of history at the Lebanese University, in Boston in late October.

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The Revolution's First Decade

by Fred Halliday
published in MER156

It is now ten years since the triumph of the Iranian revolution and the assumption of power by Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini and his forces on February 11, 1979. If the revolution itself was a surprise, destroying an apparently strong and capable regime and bringing a most unexpected clerical leadership to power, its subsequent course has also contained quite a few unanticipated elements. In the first place, the Islamic Republic of Iran has survived: The clerical regime has consolidated its hold on the country, crushed its many opponents, greatly reduced external political and economic influence within Iran, and overcome the supreme test of foreign invasion.

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"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.