photo blog_head_zpsfzwide7v.jpg
Valar Qringaomis

Get email updates of new posts:        (Delivered by FeedBurner)

Monday, November 23, 2015

The Iranian Revolution, Revisited

This source explains the Iranian Revolution as a palace revolution with popular support arising from the Shah's liberalising, Iranian pre-modernity and explains the army's neutrality as being due to its traditional role as Protector of the Country, instead of attributing it to the Shah sucking.

THE IRANIAN: Monarchy and Theocracy, Fereydoun Hoveyda

"Continuity is the hallmark of Iranian culture . Indeed many "constants" blaze the trails of the three thousands years of Iranian history . Present historians , as well as those of the past century , have often underlined what they call the "permanence of Iran" , meaning that old Iranian traditions have survived the many calamities and invasions that struck the Caspian Plateau . Curiously enough the mindset of Iranians has barely changed over the centuries . Many ancient beliefs that linger in their unconscious trigger sometimes reactions which seem incomprehensible to foreign observers .

I remember a French journalist friend of mine who , after a travel to Iran in 1981 , asked me : "Are you Iranians insane ? You stunned the whole world by overthrewing with your bare hands the powerful Shah . And now your compatriots voluntarily , if not enthusiastically , submit to another dictator, even more totalitarian and repressive than the Shah and his regime ! ". No : Iranians are far from being mad ; they only are , so to say , "prisoners" of their own "permanence" , of their own mores . Indeed , despite its indeniable material and technical development under the Shah , Iran , in 1978 , remained at heart a traditional society .

The Shah , prey to his own hubris , entertained the illusion that Iran had already broken the walls of backwardness and underdevelopment and become part of the modern and advanced world...

The Iranian ruler is the "father-of-the-nation" and therefore supposed to provide for the well-being of his "citizens-children" ; but at the same time he is a very strict and adamant "father" who goes as far as putting them to death if they disobey him .He protects them as long as they submit to his commands , but do not hesitate to punish them severely when they fail to carry out his orders...

Iinvisible "bonds of servitude" link all levels of Iranian society from roots to branches . The "supreme ruler" himself , in a way , is far from being completely "free" . Indeed he must submit to God's authority . I evoked earlier the question of a French friend returning from a 1981 visit to Iran : "Are Iranians mad ?" . The answer is obviously negative . Indeed Iranians abandoned the Shah only when he lost his "fathership" by becoming "weak" and fleeing the country and when they found a replacement in the person of Khomeini . Screaming the slogan of "Islam is in danger" the latter startled them and appeared to them with the aura as a "saviour" sent by God...

By 1977, under the pressure of the Carter administration , Muhammad Reza Shah , already deeply impressed by Juan Carlos' example in Spain , wanted to "liberalize" his regime . He envisaged to install a real constitutional monarchy , authorize all political parties and organize free elections , under international scrutriny , in june 1979 . This new trend in his reforms , much more than the "modernization" inaugurated with the "White Revolution" , constituted a direct threat to the influence of the Shiite clergy whose paternalistic structure could only tolerate (and thrive under ) the despotic-father-rule of the traditional system , despite occasional frictions between the monarch and high ranking mullahs ...

What confused outside observers as well as some Iranians about the Islamic revolution , is that , save a limited group of intellectuals and educated members of society , the bulk of the Iranian citizens were not yearning for freedom , but rather looking for another "father" . The Shah with his so-called "liberalizing" program was softening his repressive rule . Under pressure by the United States and non-governmental Human Rights organizations (such as Amnesty International ) he pardoned some of his enemies (including Rajavi the head of the Mujahiddins who had been condemned to death ) . In 1978 he did not react harshly against his opponants and to the contrary accepted all their demands ... He showed weakness and therefore ceased to be a true "father" in the traditional sense ."

Continued:

"Such simple language [of Khomeini] was indeed soothing to the masses, bewildered by the sudden eruption of spates of novelties in their traditional environment. The Shah, who was acting like foreigners and speaking a complicated language, ceased to be a Father to them. They felt like orphan children in need of a protector, of a custodian. They feverishly looked for a real father, And the new father revealed himself in the person of Khomeini. whose religious aura compensated for his frailty: he possessed the title of Imam and had proven his endurance and force in past battles against the Shah. One day he descended from heaven in a Boeing 747 and appeared to the throngs in the full light of moon's sunshine. Order was restored, as a new shah, a high—ranking religious one to boot, came to sit on the throne vacated by his runaway predecessor...

The tripartite ideology can help in understanding an intriguing event during the turmoil that preceded the Shah's fall: the almost total neutrality of the armed forces in the last months of the imperial regime. The monarchists affirm that the Shah was against bloodshed and therefore ordered the armed forces to stay put. But what about his generals as individuals?... The generals who were pampered by the Shah could have stopped the demonstrations in a matter of hours. It was also in their personal interest to save their commander in chief and his regime. Many among them knew that they would later be executed by Khomeini. Why did they not budge?... the reason for the army's neutrality should be sought elsewhere. It is due to the very function of the army which, according to the tripartite ideology, is to make war or defend the country against aggression, not to insure internal security and order...

In this perspective the Islamic revolution appears as a kind of palace revolution. Indeed, it took place at the top level of the tri- functional pyramid, the palace, in which the Shah and the religious leader stood! To limit ourselves to the twentieth century, we see that Khomeini’s upheaval followed the pattern of a number of other palace revolutions: the coronation of Reza Shah in 1925 with the blessing of the clergy; Reza Shah's abdication and his replacement by his son Muhammad Reza in 1941; the overthrow of Prime Minister Mossadegh and the return of the Shah in 1953; and the dismissal of feudal landowners and clergy members by Muhammad Reza Shah in 1963 (arrest and exile of Khomeini). Even in the 1905 constitutional revolution, one can find elements of a palace revolution as suggested by the tripartite ideology: it pitted feudal landowners and high clergy against the absolutism of the Qajar shahs...

It might be objected that the Islamic revolution, like some of its predecessors, was characterized by large popular demonstrations. But, actually, these demonstrations by the lower (third) level of the pyramid, square perfectly with Iranian tradition. The mythological order of Iranian society accounts for them, inasmuch as this behavior stems from the eminent place accorded to the father: whenever he disappears or weakens, the children (plain citizens) take to the streets...

In a couple of months, Khomeini put an end to all street demonstrations which were not organized by his religious under- lings. Everybody went back, so to say, to their natural places: the people to their third level of the pyramid; the opponents to prison or to exile in foreign countries. Given the present disorder and turmoil, as well as the bickering and struggle for power among the religious people, one can predict that the replacement of the mullah rule will also probably take the appearance of a palace revolution with a change at the top level of the pyramid"

--- Shah and the Ayatollah, The: Iranian Mythology and Islamic Revolution: Iranian Mythology and Islamic Revolution / Fereydoun Hoveyda


Related:

Iran and the Shah: What Really Happened

"Primarily by using oil-generated wealth, he modernized the nation. He built rural roads, postal services, libraries, and electrical installations. He constructed dams to irrigate Iran's arid land, making the country 90-percent self-sufficient in food production. He established colleges and universities, and at his own expense, set up an educational foundation to train students for Iran's future.

To encourage independent cultivation, the Shah donated 500,000 Crown acres to 25,000 farmers. In 1978, his last full year in power, the average Iranian earned $2,540, compared to $160 25 years earlier. Iran had full employment, requiring foreign workers. The national currency was stable for 15 years, inspiring French economist André Piettre to call Iran a country of "growth without inflation." Although Iran was the world's second largest oil exporter, the Shah planned construction of 18 nuclear power plants. He built an Olympic sports complex and applied to host the 1988 Olympics (an honor eventually assigned Seoul), an achievement unthinkable for other Middle East nations...

On the home front, the Shah protected minorities and permitted non-Muslims to practice their faiths. "All faith," he wrote, "imposes respect upon the beholder." The Shah also brought Iran into the 20th century by granting women equal rights. This was not to accommodate feminism, but to end archaic brutalization...

At the center of the "human rights" complaints was the Shah's security force, SAVAK. Comparable in its mission to America's FBI, SAVAK was engaged in a deadly struggle against terrorism, most of which was fueled by the bordering USSR, which linked to Iran's internal communist party, the Tudeh. SAVAK, which had only 4,000 employees in 1978, saved many lives by averting several bombing attempts. Its prisons were open for Red Cross inspections, and though unsuccessful attempts were made on the Shah's life, he always pardoned the would-be assassins. Nevertheless, a massive campaign was deployed against him. Within Iran, Islamic fundamentalists, who resented the Shah's progressive pro-Western views, combined with Soviet-sponsored communists to overthrow the Shah...

For Western TV cameras, protestors in Teheran carried empty coffins, or coffins seized from genuine funerals, proclaiming these were "victims of SAVAK." This deception — later admitted by the revolutionaries — was necessary because they had no actual martyrs to parade. Another tactic: demonstrators splashed themselves with mercurochrome, claiming SAVAK had bloodied them"


Was shah Mohammed Pahlavi a more benign dictator than Khomeini? - Quora

"30-40 year old Persians think of the Pahlavi reign as a golden age. I'm not Iranian, but this is what my Iranian friends are telling to me.

Granted - in his last years Shah Mohammed Pahlavi did some bad things, but judging his whole reign, he was predominantly a good person for Persia and brought it a great deal forward, most importantly in economic terms and prosperity. He was in many ways an enlightened monarch as Oman's Qaboos bin Said al Said, albeit with autocratic / oppressive tendencies"
blog comments powered by Disqus
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...

Latest posts (which you might not see on this page)

powered by Blogger | WordPress by Newwpthemes