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.

Nobari, Iran Erupts

by
published in MER86

Ali-Reza Nobari, Iran Erupts (Iran-American Documentation Group, Stanford University, December 1978).

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Zabih, Iran's Revolutionary Upheaval

by
published in MER86

Sepehr Zabih, Iran’s Revolutionary Upheaval: An Interpretive Essay (San Francisco: Alchemy Books, 1979).

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Interview with Tudeh's Kianuri

published in MER86

Excerpts from an interview with Tudeh Party Secretary General Nureddin Kianuri by Elevtherotipia (Athens), November 27 and 28, 1979.

Since it is a timely issue, I would like to begin with the occupation of the US Embassy. What is your party’s position on this issue?

From the very beginning, our party supported the action of the young students who are following Khomeini’s line. Our party has recognized that it was an anti-imperialist action which has given an opportunity to the youth and the people of Iran to understand that the US Embassy was indeed a center of conspiracy against the Islamic Revolution....

Interview with Revolutionary Guard Commander

by
published in MER86

The following interview with Abbas Zamani (Abu Sharif), operations commander of the Revolutionary Guard, appeared in al-Safir (Beirut), December 1, 1979. The interview took place at the Guards’ operations command north of Tehran, in the complex that served as SAVAK headquarters under the Shah.

What are the tasks of the Guard and what has it been able to achieve in terms of consolidating the new authority in Iran?

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Letter from Gilan

by Fred Halliday
published in MER86

The western road from Tehran to the northern province of Gilan runs for about 270 miles up over the Elborz mountains till it reaches the Caspian port of Enzeli. Leaving Tehran on a clear Saturday morning, the first day of the week, the way is flanked by vendors -- melon sellers and men offering an array of car seat covers which lie along the roadside like distended carpets. Before clearing Tehran the road runs past an enormous abandoned housing site, a mass of grey skeletons that run for over half a mile down to Mehrabad airport and which were under construction by the Bank Omran, a subsidiary of the Shah’s Pahlavi Foundation. Like almost all other building sites in Tehran, this one is now empty and silent.

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The Tudeh Party in Iranian Politics

Background Notes

by Fred Halliday
published in MER86

Excerpted from Iran: Dictatorship and Democracy (1979), pp. 227-234:

The Tudeh Party was, in contrast to the National Front, an organized political party, indeed, the most organized political force ever seen in Iranian politics. The earlier Communist Party (founded 1921) had been crushed by Reza Khan, and under a 1931 law it became illegal for any organization to profess communist, or ‘collectivist,’ views. Hence when it became possible to form a party again after the Allied invasion in 1941, it was decided to call the party the Masses (Tudeh) Party; the Tudeh was, however, in practice the orthodox pro-Russian Iranian communist party and remains so to this day.

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Interviews with Fedayi, Mojahedin and Tudeh Activists

by Fred Halliday
published in MER86

Since the overthrow of the Shah, over 150 distinct political groups have declared their existence in Iran. Of these, the majority are probably groups adhering to some version of revolutionary socialism, and few have as yet a substantial following in the country. Perhaps the largest left-wing group judged in terms of membership and ability to influence events is the Kurdish Democratic Party of Iran, whose influence is predominant in the Kurdish mountains and towns.

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The Guerrilla Movement in Iran, 1963-1977

by Ervand Abrahamian
published in MER86

One crisp morning in the winter of 1971, thirteen young Iranians armed with rifles, machine guns and hand grenades, attacked the gendarmerie post in the village of Siakal on the edge of the Caspian forests. Killing three gendarmes, they tried to release two colleagues who had been detained a few days earlier, and, failing to find the prisoners in the gendarmerie post, escaped into the rugged mountains of Gilan. Unknown both to the participants and to the outside world, this famous “Siakal incident” sparked eight years of intense guerrilla activity and inspired many other radicals, Islamic as well as Marxist, to take up arms against the Pahlavi regime.