Iran and the United States

A Clash of Hegemonies

by James A. Bill
published in MER212

While visiting the desert city of Yazd during my most recent trip to Iran, a young female physician confronted me in the living room of her family home. The intense, chadored Iranian sharply demanded my answers to four questions: Why did the US oppose the Iranian revolution? Why did the US support Saddam Hussein in his invasion and war against Iran? Why did the United States shoot down the civilian Iranian airbus on July 3, 1988, killing 290 innocent men, women and children? And why did the US lie about this massacre and then proceed to award the captain and the chief weapons officer of the warship medals of commendation?

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"Existing Political Vessels Cannot Contain the Reform Movement"

A Conversation with Sai'id Hajjarian

by Kaveh Ehsani
published in MER212

Sai’id Hajjarian, a leading theorist of the democratic Islamist new left, is one of President Khatami’s closest political advisers. In 1998 he ran for the Tehran City Council, receiving the second largest number of votes. Hajjarian is also the official permit holder for the daily Sobh-e Emrooz and serves on the central committee of the Participation Front, the main left-wing Islamic democratic party. In the early 1980s he was a vice minister in the Intelligence Ministry, and later headed the political bureau of the president’s Strategic Research Center. This interview was conducted on May 19, 1999 and translated from Persian by Kaveh Ehsani.

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Pushing Back the Limits of the Possible

The Press in Iran

by Zarir Merat
published in MER212

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"God Hasn't Died in This Society Yet"

A Conversation with Alireza Alavitabar

by Kaveh Ehsani
published in MER212

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"The Conservatives Have Misjudged"

A Conversation with Ahmad Bourghani

by Kaveh Ehsani
published in MER212

During his brief tenure as vice minister of Islamic guidance and culture, Ahmad Bourghani oversaw the issuance of hundreds of press permits and the flowering of an independent Iranian press for the first time since 1979.

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Iranian Press Update

by Ramin Karimian , Sha'banali Bahrampour
published in MER212

The press has played a crucial role in advancing Iran’s emerging reformist agenda. Following the initial wave of attacks on the reformist press, which culminated in the closure of Jame’eh and Tous in the summer of 1998, a second crop of independent dailies appeared in late 1998. These papers exposed Intelligence Ministry agents’ involvement in the political assassinations of reformist intellectuals and activists in late 1998.

Municipal Matters

The Urbanization of Consciousness and Political Change in Tehran

by Kaveh Ehsani
published in MER212

Although the 1997 election of Mohammad Khatami as president of Iran is widely considered a political watershed, an intriguing question remains unanswered: Why did such a grassroots intervention not occur earlier? What had changed to unite Iran’s heterogeneous interests and constituencies at this particular historic moment? [1]

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The Islamization of Law in Iran

A Time of Disenchantment

by Azadeh Niknam
published in MER212

The re-Islamization of law by the leadership of the Islamic Republic following the 1979 revolution immediately clashed with the realities of contemporary Iranian society. [1] This clash engendered divisions between the parliament and the Guardian Council (a body of faqihs [2]] tasked with safeguarding laws’ conformity to Islam and the constitution). [3] Numerous government projects and decisions adopted by the parliament were rejected by the Guardian Council on the grounds that they did not conform to shari‘a (Islamic law). The Council’s hard-line policy generated continuous conflicts, necessitating the intervention of Ayatollah Khomeini, Supreme Guide of the Islamic Republic.

Do-e Khordad and the Specter of Democracy

by Kaveh Ehsani
published in MER212

A shadow haunts Iran, the shadow of democracy and popular sovereignty. Twenty years ago the Islamic Revolution established a polity based on two contradictory elements: a republic of equal and sovereign citizens, and a hierarchical theocracy of pastoral power descending from an unelected religious leader (vali-e faqih, the Supreme Leader), which represented an innovation in Shi‘i Islam. The inevitable tensions between these irreconcilable elements are now coming to a head. [1]