Nov 14, 2020 in Politics


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History and Culture

Two important facets differentiate Iran from its neighbors. The first one is that the Iranians are not Arabs, but they represent different ethnolinguistic groups whose origin cannot be explained. Although the Iranians can write Arabic script, their Farsi language differs from the Arabic language. Like all the other communities in the region, Iran derives security from the disunity of the Arabs, being reluctant to see a unified Arab state. The second distinguishing factor is that Iran is a member of the "Twelver" which is a branch of the Shi'a Islam. The Shi'as believe that Ali, who is Mohammed's son-in-law, should have succeeded the prophet, and this has made them reject the Orthodox line used in succession. Debates over succession have divided the Shia community into three distinct branches which are the Twelvers, the Zaidis, and the Ismailis.

The Twelver Shi'as believe that twelve imams ended dying as martyrs. They also think that the last imam was in a state of lesser occultation. This last Imam is called the "the Imam of the age", al-Mahdi, or the hidden imam. In the 19th century, the process of selecting the paramount Ayatollah with the aim of serving the hidden imam was very competitive. The Ayatollahs had the power of interpreting various religious texts in the way that is required by the imam.

Tribal Origins

In 900 BCE, the Iranians managed to enter their present land. During this period, the Iranians spoke in Indo-European language, but their specific origin is not known. In the year 553 BCE, Cyrus managed to ascend into power which brought about the rise of the world empire which includes Athens, Egypt, and Babylon. Persian Empire managed to reach its peak when it was under the leadership of Darius. In the year 640 CE, Arab armies managed to conquer the Iranians although the latter were more civilized during this period as compared to the dedouin soldiers. Ali managed to establish his position as a caliphate in Iraq which was dominated by the Persian culture. When Ummayads fell in the year 749 CE, the caliphate moved from Syria to Iraq. After Baghdad was destructed by the Mongols in the midst of the 13th century, Iran was separated from the mainstream of the Islamic countries.

The Colonial Era

The European powers did not colonize Iran, but the European influence was pervasive to the extent that the new Shah was escorted by the ambassadors of both Russia and Britain. During this period, Britain and Russia had taken a lot of commercial concessions from the profligate and weak shah. One of the commercial concessions was tobacco. British monopolized the production and distribution of tobacco in Iran which brought about the rise in the price on this commodity. Due to mass protests that were witnessed, monopolization of production and distribution of tobacco was abolished. During World War I, due to the fear that Iranian leaders would side with the Germans, British occupied Iran. Until the Second World War, British were in charge of the Southern Iran and deposed Shah for his son.

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The Era of Revolution

During the allied seizure in the Second World War, Reza Shah was still a symbolic leader in control of the Iranian government after the allied forces were withdrawn. During this period, Young Shah was interested in modernizing the region with the aim of improving the lives of Iranian people. He was also aware of the value of social and economic reform for the growing population. In the 1960s, several reforms called the White Revolution. These revolutions mainly aimed at improving the welfare of people. After the fall of Shah Ayatollah, Khomeini took over.

The Era of the Islamic Resurgence

The winning of Ayatollah was a notice to the Western countries that Islamic revolution had grown into a powerful force in the world politics. Ayatollah's force became stronger than that of Shah. Ayatollah's main aim was to unite his power domestically, make Iran a religious state, and spread the Islamic revolution to the neighboring countries. Also, Ayatollah wanted to revenge against the Saddam Hussein and the United States. However, Ayatollah could not be able to achieve any of his goals without solving issues that Iran was facing during that time. In the year 1983, Ayatollah inspired several attacks on the Western targets in Lebanon. The invasion of Iran by Iraq in the year 1980 was a significant threat to the Islamic revolution.

The Era of the New World Order

The death of Ayatollah and the collapse of USSR came almost at the same time. After these occurrences, there emerged a new world that was mainly dominated by the United States supported by its allies. The growth of the United States in the international arena occurred at the same time with the growth of the Islamic groups power, especially in the Middle East. During this period, Iran was divided between the elected president, the parliament, and some of the religious councils.

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Iran in the Era of Terror

In the year 2001, there were attacks on the United States by the leader of al-Qaeda Osama. Osama was supported by Afghanistan that was being ruled by the Taliban Group. Iran and Al-Qaeda parted company and shared a common aim since both wanted to develop and empower Islamic governments worldwide. They also believed that they could achieve their goals by completely driving out the United States from the region. During this period, Iran faced several challenges some of which included avoiding any attack from the United States and extending its influence in the Gulf region. After the attack on September 11th, Tehran condemned acts of terrorism, but Iran argued that the work of curbing terrorism was supposed to be carried out by the United Nations and not the United States.


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