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1979: Iran's Islamic revolution: after the overthrow of the Shah, an American ally became one of its biggest adversaries.



Tehran, Iran's capital, was in a state of revolt on Jan. 19, 1979. The Shah, Iran's ruler for nearly four decades, had fled the country. Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini Grand Ayatullah Sayid Ruhullah Musawi Khomeini (listen (Persian pronunciation)  , the Shiite Muslim Noun 1. Shiite Muslim - a member of the branch of Islam that regards Ali as the legitimate successor to Mohammed and rejects the first three caliphs
Shi'ite, Shi'ite Muslim, Shia Muslim, Shiite
 cleric who had worked for years to overthrow the Shah, was still in exile in Paris, but vowing to return and form an Islamic government. A million people took to the streets to cheer on Khomeini and denounce the Shah.

"A great river of humanity flowed down Tehran's main street today," wrote New York New York, state, United States
New York, Middle Atlantic state of the United States. It is bordered by Vermont, Massachusetts, Connecticut, and the Atlantic Ocean (E), New Jersey and Pennsylvania (S), Lakes Erie and Ontario and the Canadian province of
 Times correspondent R.W. Apple. "Although Shah Mohammad Shah Mohammad (1780-1862) was a Punjabi poet who lived during the reign of Maharaja Ranjit Singh and is best known for Jangnama— a colossal work that gave an eyewitness account of the First Anglo-Sikh War that took place after the death of Maharaja Ranjit Singh.  Reza Pahlavi Reza Pahlavi, Crown Prince of Iran (Persian: رضا پهلوی, born October 31, 1960) is the eldest son of the late Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi and his Empress Consort, Farah Diba.  left the country three days ago, probably forever, the demonstrators again sounded their familiar battle cry 'Marg bar Shah'--'Death to the Shah!'"

Within two weeks, Khomeini had returned, replacing Iran's secular government with a theocracy theocracy

Government by divine guidance or by officials who are regarded as divinely guided. In many theocracies, government leaders are members of the clergy, and the state's legal system is based on religious law. Theocratic rule was typical of early civilizations.
 ruled by Islamic religious leaders Islamic religious leaders have traditionally been persons who, as part of the clerisy, mosque, or government, performed a prominent role within their community or nation. However, in the modern contexts of Muslims minorities in non-Muslim countries as well as secular Muslim states  called mullahs. By year's end, young supporters of Khomeini--angered by America's long support of the Shah--had stormed the U.S. embassy in Tehran, taking dozens of hostages. "Death to the Shah!" gave way to "Death to America!" and U.S. officials knew they had a powerful new foe on their hands in a radicalized Middle East.

Two of the rallying cries of Khomeini's 1979 revolution were azadi (liberty) and esteghlal (independence); that independence could only be from the U.S. and its Western allies The Western Allies were the democracies and their colonial peoples, within the broader coalition of Allies during World War II. The term is generally understood to refer to the countries of the British Commonwealth of Nations and part of the military of Poland (from 1939), exiled , given America's history with Iran.

THE U.S. & THE SHAH

A quarter century earlier, in 1953, the C.I.A. had secretly helped topple Iran's prime minister and restore the Shah to his throne after he had gone into exile during a power struggle with members of bran's elected parliament.

Why were American leaders so determined to keep the Shah in power? It was the height of the Cold War between the U.S. and the Soviet Union, and Iran was seen as a potential target for the spread of Soviet Communism. American presidents, from Dwight D. Eisenhower in the 1950s to Jimmy Carter in the 1970s, gave the Shah, who was sympathetic to the West, their support.

At home, however, the Shah could be a ruthless leader. After he regained power in 1953, he abolished Iran's tenuous multiparty system and placed himself at the head of a one-party state controlled by his secret police. Dissent was violently suppressed.

Although a forward-thinking ruler in many respects--he created a modern economy almost from scratch, and with it a growing middle class, and extended suffrage and other basic rights to women--the Shah was seen by many Iranians as a puppet of the West.

At the same time, many of the Shah's reforms, especially those involving women, infuriated in·fu·ri·ate  
tr.v. in·fu·ri·at·ed, in·fu·ri·at·ing, in·fu·ri·ates
To make furious; enrage.

adj. Archaic
Furious.
 conservative Muslims, led by Khomeini, a Shiite scholar.

In 1978, the simmering opposition to the Shah--not only from Khomeini's followers, but also from a middle class that sought greater political freedom--boiled over and brought millions of people onto the streets. The Shah and his wife fled in January 1979, ushering in Noun 1. ushering in - the introduction of something new; "it signalled the ushering in of a new era"
first appearance, introduction, debut, entry, launching, unveiling - the act of beginning something new; "they looked forward to the debut of their new product line"
 a brief period of confusion before Khomeini assumed control as Supreme Leader over what became the first Islamic theocratic the·o·crat  
n.
1. A ruler of a theocracy.

2. A believer in theocracy.



the
 regime in the modern Middle East.

Khomeini and the mullahs--and a roving army of "spiritual enforcers" known as the Revolutionary Guards--ended up substituting one autocratic regime for another. In doing so, they dashed the hopes of millions of Iranians who thought the revolution would bring more freedom, not less.

Women lost the social gains they had made under the Shah, and were forced to wear head coverings and full-body cloaks called chadors. Opponents were imprisoned im·pris·on  
tr.v. im·pris·oned, im·pris·on·ing, im·pris·ons
To put in or as if in prison; confine.



[Middle English emprisonen, from Old French emprisoner : en-
 and tortured as ruthlessly as under the Shah. A parliamentary democracy parliamentary democracy

Democratic form of government in which the party (or a coalition of parties) with the greatest representation in the parliament (legislature) forms the government, its leader becoming prime minister or chancellor.
 existed mostly on paper, with true authority residing with the mullahs.

With the Shah in exile, Khomeini identified the U.S. as "the Great Satan The Great Satan (Persian شيطان بزرگ Shaytan Bozorg, Arabic الشيطان الأكبر Al-Shaytan Al-Akbar " and an "enemy of Islam." The slogans, eerily familiar today, had deep roots in injured Iranian and Islamic pride. But they also served a practical purpose: Revolutions, Islamic and otherwise, seldom deliver on all their promises, and a clear external enemy can serve as a useful diversion from internal problems.

THE HOSTAGE CRISIS When a surrounded terrorist or criminal tries to hold off the authorities by force, it is considered a "barricaded suspect" situation. When a person/s holds others against their will, but keeps them hidden, it is simple kidnapping.  

Anger against the U.S. reached a fever pitch fever pitch
n.
A state of extreme agitation or excitement.


fever pitch
Noun

a state of intense excitement

Noun 1.
 when the Shah, suffering from cancer, came to America for treatment in October 1979.

On November 4, thousands of young Iranians, many of them college students, swarmed the U.S. embassy's 27-acre compound in Tehran, seizing the 66 Americans inside. "They seemed to be kids about 20 years old ... kids from small towns with rather strict upbringings," one hostage, John Limbert John W. Limbert is the charge d'affaires of the United States embassy in Khartoum, Sudan. Previously he was the ambassador to Mauritania from 2000-2003.

Limbert was born in Washington, D.C. where he attended public school.
, recalled. "Many of them had never seen an American before."

The 14-month standoff that followed humbled President Carter, led to the deaths of eight American servicemen in a botched botch  
tr.v. botched, botch·ing, botch·es
1. To ruin through clumsiness.

2. To make or perform clumsily; bungle.

3. To repair or mend clumsily.

n.
1.
 rescue operation, and created a measure of distrust and anger that has never dissipated.

In the U.S., vigils were held and yellow ribbons were worn to signify concern for the hostages. Americans grew increasingly frustrated as the crisis dragged on--a sentiment that helped Ronald Reagan in his successful 1980 presidential campaign against Carter.

The Shah died in July 1980, but the hostages, held for 444 days, were not released until the moment Reagan took the oath of office An oath of office is an oath or affirmation a person takes before undertaking the duties of an office, usually a position in government or within a religious body, although such oaths are sometimes required of officers of other organizations. , on Jan. 20, 1981.

Khomeini's death in 1989 did nothing to ease the enmity between Iran and the U.S., at least on an official level. As Iranians--particularly the Westward-looking middle class--grew more frustrated with the oppressiveness of the revolution, they began to view America more favorably. Today, Iran may be the only Mideast nation with a government--now led by Ayatollah Ali Khamenei (hah-mehn-a-EE) and President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad This article or section may contain inappropriate or misinterpreted which do not the text.
Please help [ improve this article] by checking for inaccuracies.
 (ah-ma-DIH-nee-jahd)--that is more anti-American than its people.

A NUCLEAR IRAN?

This is the context in which the current confrontation between the West and Iran over the country's nuclear ambitions, and its support of militant Islamic groups like Hezbollah in Lebanon, should be seen.

Iran wants a nuclear weapon for several reasons. Above all, the nuclear program, which Iran claims is for civilian energy purposes, represents an assertion of power at a time when surging oil revenues have emboldened em·bold·en  
tr.v. em·bold·ened, em·bold·en·ing, em·bold·ens
To foster boldness or courage in; encourage. See Synonyms at encourage.

Adj. 1.
 Iran's leaders.

Iran stirs up trouble for America wherever it can, most recently through Hezbollah's attacks on Israel. (Ahmadinejad has said that "Israel must be wiped off the map" and that the Holocaust never happened). In Iraq, Iran now has a direct channel to the Shiites who came to power after the fall of Saddam Hussein Saddam Hussein

(born April 28, 1937, Tikrit, Iraq—died Dec. 30, 2006, Baghdad) President of Iraq (1979–2003). He joined the Ba'th Party in 1957. Following participation in a failed attempt to assassinate Iraqi Pres.
.

Will relations between Iran and the U.S. ever improve? Iran remains a repressive regime built around an anti-Western ideology. Enough pro-Western forces exist in Iran for a reconciliation with the U.S. to be possible sometime in the future. But decades after Iran's Islamic Revolution, anger predominates on both sides and makes such a possibility improbable.

BACKGROUND

Iran's cataclysmic cat·a·clysm  
n.
1. A violent upheaval that causes great destruction or brings about a fundamental change.

2. A violent and sudden change in the earth's crust.

3. A devastating flood.
 revolution put a conservative Islamic regime, hostile to the West, in power for the first time. Today, that hostility is evident in Iran's support of Hezbollah, which precipitated this summer's conflict with Israel, and in its refusal. to halt nuclear research, which could allow Iran to produce nuclear weapons.

CRITICAL THINKING DEBATE

* What do you think might explain the Shah's simultaneous economic reforms and expansion of rights for women while severely cracking down on anyone who opposed his rule?

* Ask students to consider the issue of the Shah's restoration to power in 1953 with the help of the C.I.A. Have them discuss and debate under which conditions the U.S. might take such actions against another country.

* Why do you think Ayatollah Khomeini called the U.S. an "enemy of Islam"? How did demonizing the U.S. help him consolidate his control after the Revolution?

FAMILY SURVEY

* Assign students to conduct a survey of their parents or other adults who remember the 444-day hostage crisis. What did they feet about it at that time? Did they and their friends discuss the crisis? Did they blame President Carter for the crisis?

* Students can bring their findings to class and use them as the foundation for further discussion of the position the U.S. found itself in during the hostage crisis.

WRITING PROMPT

* Have students write an argument defending or opposing Iran's right to develop nuclear weapons.

FAST FACT

* On New Year's Eve in 1977, 13 months before the Shah was forced from power, President Jimmy Carter visited Tehran, toasted the Shah, and declared Iran "an island of stability" in the Middle East.

WEB WATCH

www.iran-daily.com Iranian English-Language daily newspaper, published by the Islamic Republic News Agency The Islamic Republic News Agency (Persian: خبرگزاری جمهوری اسلامی ایران), or IRNA , an arm of Iran's government.

1. In 1953, the U.S. wanted to restore the Shah to power because it feared

a Iran might cut off trade with the West.

b Iran was a potential target for the spread of Communism.

c the influence of Muslim rule.

d Iran might attack Israel.

2. The Shah angered conservative Muslims in Iran when he

a allowed non-Muslims to enter the country.

b broke off trade with the U.S. and Britain,

c closed many mosques,

d granted rights to women.

3. In 1919, anger at the U.S. boiled over after

a American spies were discovered in Tehran.

b Iranian students in the U.S. were deported.

c the U.S. banned Iranian oil imports.

d the U.S. admitted the Shah for medical treatment.

4. The Iranians held Americans hostage for 444 days until

a the U.S. issued a formal apology to Iran.

b the U.S. returned the Shah to Iran.

c President Carter's term in office ended and President Reagan was sworn in.

d the United Nations intervened and negotiated the release of the hostages.

5. In the recent Hezbollah-Israeli war, Iran

a sent troops to fight against Israel.

b was attacked by Israel.

c provided support to Hezbollah.

d attacked Americans who were supplying Israel.

6. Briefly explain why revolutions, in Iran and elsewhere, often direct attention to a foreign adversary.

IN-DEPTH QUESTIONS

1. Explain why you believe the U.S. should--or should not--make an effort to restore better relations with Iran.

2. Do the U.N. and the world community have the right to require that Iran use nuclear power solely to generate electricity? What should the U.S. or U.N. do if Iran's nuclear program could be used to produce weapons?

ANSWER KEY

1. [b] Iran was seen as a potential target for the spread of Communism.

2. [d]granted rights to women.

3. [d] the U.S. admitted the Shah for medical treatment.

4. [c] President Carter's term ended and President Reagan was sworn in.

5. [c] provided support to Hezbollah.

6. focusing on an external enemy is a useful diversion from internal problems. (Similar wording is acceptable.)

Roger Cohen, a former foreign editor of The New York Times, is a columnist for the International Herald Tribune International Herald Tribune

Daily newspaper published in Paris. It has long been the staple source of English-language news for American expatriates, tourists, and businesspeople in Europe.
.
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Title Annotation:TIMES PAST
Author:Cohen, Roger
Publication:New York Times Upfront
Geographic Code:7IRAN
Date:Sep 18, 2006
Words:1782
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