Thursday, November 20, 2008,2:00 am
Iran's Modern History: Beyond the Legacy
Since the revolution of 1979, we find that Iran as a country has been under immense pressure to bow to the demands of International heavyweights. These demands only intensified in recent years due to a propaganda cycle generated by the United States and Israel regarding the Iranian nuclear program. Despite 29 years of sanctions, threats, and war one has to ask what is the motivation that has kept the Iranian nation so steadfast and firm on their path despite these countless obstacles?

The answer to the above question lies in different aspects of the Iranian History. One has to explore the history of this nation deeply to see why they are so firm on this path regardless of the struggle they are facing. Iran is a stronghold of Shia Learning, and one of the most talked about and important subjects regarding the Shia faith is the tragedy of Karbala. The story of Al-Husayn [a], the grandson of the Prophet [p], and his revolution against the oppressive forces of Yazeed may sound like a simplistic battle between good and evil, but beyond the apparent, there is much more which is applicable to the lives of many Shias around the world today; be it in Iran, Lebanon, Syria, Iraq or Pakistan. This tragedy is a source of inspiration for all and most importantly it was the foundation for the revolution of Ayatollah Khomeini.

His first speech against the Shah was given on the 15th of Kordad which coincided with the day of Ashura. It was the perfect starting point to a revolution which would change the world for years to come. In one of his speeches, the great Ayatollah had stated ‘They call us a nation of tears, but with these tears we have overthrown an empire’ – this statement in itself shows how important the tragedy of Ashura was in success of the revolution of Ayatollah Khomeini.

Iran, a country like many others, bears a past of oppression and tyranny, but the fragrance of freedom and the aroma of independence can be noticed in the masses who laid their lives to make this revolution a living present. An 8 year war which Saddam Hussein had initiated against the Iranians and was backed by several Western governments did not deter the Iranian nation from their path. One only has to look as far as Beshte Zehra, the Garden of Zehra, which is a graveyard for the martyrs of this nation who fought in the war against the Saddam and those who were killed in the revolution. The belief in martyrdom over a life of humiliation stems from the tragedy of Karbala. These people understood the essence of martyrdom and were ready to give all they had for their country but most importantly to safeguard the religion. One of the shining examples of this is MostafaChamaran, the defense minister under Ayatollah Khomeini. Defense ministers are known for their tactics and strategies in war and in survival of the country but this man had not limited himself to just giving orders. He practiced what he himself ordered others and fought alongside many of the young soldiers in the Iranian army and embraced martyrdom on the war front.

In the recent years we find that the Iranian nation has successfully progressed in many fields, most notably in the discipline of science. Iran being a nuclear entity is something which threatens most of the Western powers and especially the Israeli regime. Since the turn in the presidency, we find that the Western powers have left no leaf unturned in their agenda to slow down Iran’s advancement. After having visited Iran many times and speaking to the people there, the general attitude is way different than that is portrayed by the media in the Western countries. Many Iranians are unfazed by the talk of war and people believe it is simply hype created by the media with little substance. They fear nothing, simply because they believe they are only seeking their right by being nuclear. Many, if not most of the Iranians actually believe that the Government is doing well given the current situation. There will always be a small minority who would play down the Government regardless of their work in the betterment of the country. These individuals even if given the luxuries they demand would be impossible to please, hence to listening to them is futile.

The reason as to why Iran has remained so strong despite the sanctions and threats is due to the differences in their ideologies in comparison with other states and even other people to an extent. When the focal point of one’s every action is influenced by religion then one will evolve to be steadfast and be able to take the challenges head on Iran, from past to present, has done this quite openly, most notable example was the war by Saddam. It is a nation in their majorities who are vigilant and have faith in Almighty alone. They do not seek the luxuries nor do they seek a way of living which will cause them to delve into greed or diver them away from their purpose of life. For them religion is everything and in the examples above that have been mentioned that has been the common denominator: Islam!
posted by Ya_Baqiyatullah
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  • At 7:47 pm, December 11, 2008, Anonymous Politicolysis

    You put forth a good effort to demonstrate your viewpoint. The grammatical quality of your article is substandard. You ascribe some supernatural qualities to Iran's resistance to America, however you neglect to mention that a much smaller country like Cuba has continued to defy the US right in its backyard, despite the numerous assassination attempts on Fidel Castro.

    Your mention of 'sanctions' is misleading. It implies that Iran has perhaps been boycotted by the entire world, much like Iraq in the 90s. That's not true; Iran has only had US sanctions (just as in Cuba's case) until very recently when the UN began imposing sanctions on sensitive material pertaining to Iran's nuclear program.

    Additionally, your image of the revolution and the situation that followed is misleading. You seem to believe that the struggle for the Shah's ouster was homogenous, which it was not, there were many different groups protesting for different reasons.

    Finally, you fail to take into account the fact that Iran could have easily won the Iran-Iraq War in the early 80s, that Iraq had offered ceasefire, but Iran in its high-mindedness refused a ceasefire and continued to wage the war that cost millions of Shia lives--an isse that caused a rift between Ayatollah Khomeini and Ayatollah Mohammad Shirazi.

    Life in Iran isn't as holy a paradise as you would have us believe. Iran has survived to date due to its vast oil reserves--nothing else. The country has been blessed with immense resources yet its inefficient post-revolution governments have done nothing to tap those resources. There is a lot of potential in developing tourism (besides the usual religious tourism), the highly educated workforce of Iran could have been used to tap into the IT sector. But lo and behold, Iran imports the oil it uses for internal consumption. Go figure!

  • At 8:15 pm, December 11, 2008, Anonymous Anonymous

    Saddam's offer of ceasefire included a great deal of compromise on the Iranian side. Accepting such a deal would have been detrimental as much of Iranian region bordering with Iraq was still under occupation by the Ba3athis forces. This deal would not have given any victory.

    Ayatollah Khomeini's vision was to remove Saddam and that is the only victory he had seen to achieve in the 8 year war. Furthermore, the difference between Ayatollah Shirazi and Ayatollah Khomeini was much more than the war. Run a search regarding the fatwa of Ayatollah Shirazi countering that of Ayatollah Khoui where he called upon the Iraqi Shias to take up arms against their Iranian brothers where as Ayatollah Khui had explicitly stated that it is forbidden for Shias to fight their Shia brothers.

    As for the sanctions, it is not just from the US sanctions but even Europe to an extend and I agree that recently it has been hit with the UN sanctions.

  • At 12:25 am, December 16, 2008, Anonymous Politicolysis

    A closer investigation of the Iranian defense would reveal that Iran had completely repelled the Iraqi forces in 82-83 and occupied significant sections of Iraqi territory.

    The real problem lies in the Iranian goals of toppling Saddam Hussain. These goals had no basis in reality and the Iranian government should have realized that, rather than continuing the war for another six years only to enlarge the monumental Behesht e Zahra and making life worse for Iraqi Shias.

    As far as sanctions are concerned, the United States imposed sanctions against Iran after the embassy/hostage issue. No other country had beef with Iran until after the nuclear issue arose int the past 5 years. The European sanctions you might be referring to are, in fact, the broader UN sanctions or the result of pressures from the US, but again only after the nuclear issue arose.

    In sum, Iran has only faced American sanctions since the hostages issue until about 2003 when other countries began imposing sanctions due to Iran's nuclear ambitions. Iran has had plenty of time to develop its economy in the decades prior to its face off with Europe/UN over nuclear energy.

    The country is bestowed with natural beauty and a rich culture. As I said earlier, it also has a vibrant and one of the most highly educated young workforce in the entire Islamic world. Yet the government has been completely inept at using such immense benefits to further the economy of its country. Political and economical focus has been placed squarely on building armaments and Islamicizing the country.

    When push comes to shove, Iran has no problems in dealing with Israel or America, as it did to procure nuclear weapons during its war against Iraq. The gross domestic product of Iran currently stands at roughly $600 Billion, compare that to Saudi Arabia's $366 Billion and Pakistan's $437 Billion.

    It's time to stop playing the Iran apologist card. The country is healthy and wealthy. Quit blaming the West for all it's woes, and give some of the credit to the Mullahs for turning Iran into an inefficient oligarchy.

  • At 3:29 am, December 17, 2008, Anonymous Link

    I didnt know that being ambitious and removing a dictator and a tyrant was such a bad thing. Khomaini wanted to remove Saddam and had he done so Iraqis would have lived much more happily.

    And I do not get why you are so worked up regarding the Iraqi Shias. For had you talked to many of them you will know exactly how they felt. It is only the nationalists who felt so annoyed about Iranians continuing on and trying to take down Saddam. Iraqi Shais would not had to live with years of oppression had they been united along with the Iranians and the Badr Brigades then they would have been successful in defeating Saddam.

    Btw, just something for you to look up. How many Iraqi Shias do you think moved to Iran during the 8 year war? And why did they move there? The statement of 'Anonymous' regarding the Fatwa of Ayatollah Khoui is a big hint. Look it up!