Israeli Aggressions Against Iraq: From Subversions to Normalization Attempts

September 30, 2021

Source: Al Mayadeen

By Ali Jezzini

The Israeli occupation has attempted to destabilize Iraq since the sixties. How is the Israeli Occupation trying to infiltrate Iraqi society?

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Iraqi Society has been a target for pro-normalization Propaganda in Past years

On the 24th of the current month, a conference was held in Erbil, the capital city of the Iraqi Kurdistan region. The conference of “Peace and Reclamation,” called for the normalization of relations with the Israeli occupation under the shady slogans of peace and establishing civil society organizations.  

The conference, organized by the New York-based Center for Peace Communications (CPC), was called “an illegal gathering” by the Iraqi government. The CPC is an organization that openly calls for the normalization of relations between the Arab states and “Israel”.

For a foreign observer, the story might look like it started here, and one might think, isolating the Iraqis from their national and cultural context, that this reaction is just a mere prejudice from the Iraqis in the face of something they ignore or never have experienced. But is it the case? 

A History of Sabotage 

Despite Iraq not sharing a direct border with Occupied Palestine, the country was a target for countless Israeli aggressions during the last century. Even before the foundation of the Israeli entity in 1948, contact has been made as early as the thirties through the Jewish agency with some Kurdish groups in northern Iraq. In the forties and fifties, simple contact was transformed into real military espionage committed by Kumran Ali Bedir-Khan a Kurdish leader with close ties to “Israel”.

These espionage attempts continued throughout the sixties as well until the rebellion started in autumn 1961 in northern Iraqi regions. Eventually, a larger scale training and supply operation to the insurgents in the north was launched following Kurdish leaders from the Kurdish democratic party (KDP) meeting with Israeli officials during that year. 

Israeli attempts to destabilize the country go back to at least the sixties when the Israelis intervened with the help of the SAVAK, the former Shah of Iran intelligence Agency, to assist the militants of the KDP led by Moustafa Barazani. The insurgents agreed on this supply training Israeli operation in 1963 following their initial hesitation. There were reports about unidentified arms cache in the region, and  Mossad agents never found any difficulty accessing the northern zones in Iraq to fuel the insurgency.

In August 1965, the Israelis provided a training course code-named Marvad (carpet) for Peshmerga (the military force of Barazani at that time). Israeli-backed militias not only destabilized the region and attacked Iraqi military personnel and installations, but also civilian infrastructures. Attacking the Kirkuk oil field which produced a large portion of Iraq’s Oil at that time was one of these attacks.

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  • Mustafa Barzani accompanied by Israeli Occupation President Zalman Shazar in the Occupied Lands,1968
  • Following the Shah of Iran signing the 1975 Algier agreement with Iraq, Israelis objected to the Shah and called it a “betrayal to the Kurds.” This abandonment led to the KDP’s demise and a subsequent de-escalation of the violence in the north, although contacts with “Israel” were maintained afterward.  

    The first official acknowledgment of the Israeli occupation’s aid to the insurgency dates to September 29 1980 when Prime Minister Menachem Begin disclosed that “Israel” had supported the Kurds (KDP) “during their uprising against the Iraqis in 1965–1975.” Begin added that “Israel” had sent instructors and arms but not military units.

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    Israeli Field Hospital Helping the insurgency in Northern Iraq between 1963-1973

    In 2004, the Israeli media reported on meetings between Masud Barzani (who would become president of the KRG in 2005 ), Jalal Talabani (who would become president of Iraq in 2005 and serve in that office until 2014), and Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon. Relations continued to flourish as the PUK became entangled with this illegal normalization according to Iraqi Legal code 111 of 1969 in its 201st article.

    Such actions reached their peak after the Iraqi president and head of the PUK Jalal Talabani, shook hands with Ehud Barak, the Israeli Defence Minister, in 2008. In 2015, “Israel” reportedly imported as much as three-quarters of its oil from the Kurdistan region in Iraq, providing a vital source of funds as Kurdish Peshmerga to finance its militia.

    Normalization as a division method

    As a part of its “Peripherical alliance” strategy, the Israeli occupation tried to sow division in the societies surrounding it. It tried to ally itself with every ethnic or religious minority in the Arab world as well as surrounding states like Turkey or the Shah’s Persia. The objective of this article is not to bash Kurds as ethnicity in any way. For instance, many Kurdish factions resisted colonialism and Zionism such as the PKK who fought the Israeli occupation in 1982. Kurdish factions in general, have been a target of Israeli subversive actions, due to the complexity of the Kurdish national cause that the Israelis tried to exploit.

    For the first time, this time publically at least, the normalization efforts have been extended to wider sectors of the Iraqi society outside of the “Periphery doctrine.” These efforts have intensified with the recent normalization wave that included UAE, Bahrain, and other countries like Morocco. New faces have appeared on the scene in parallel with such normalization such as Wisam al-Hardan’s The head of the Awakening Groups and Sahar al-Tai, among having called to normalize with “Isreal” following the previously mentioned states’ model. “The UAE and Saudi Arabia are backing these efforts” according to Iraqi Popular Mobilisation forces

    Haaretz Israeli newspaper mentioned another level of normalization that is happening mainly on social media. Besides the older Facebook and Twitter page “Israel in Arabic” that was launched in 2011, another Facebook page was created in 2018 called “Isreal Speaks in Iraqi (dialect)” to target Iraqi society specifically. The article says that many operate under the cover of linking Iraqi jews to their heritage and introducing “Israel” to the Iraqis.

    The article mentions the page admin stating that the 2003 war opened up new channels of communication with Iraqis, this communication has been made easier with the signing of the normalization deals with UAE and other countries. Iraqis with second passports are being brought to Israel with the pretext of “tourism” since 2018, which the organizer claims to be independently done from her work for the occupation government as an administrator of the page. The page publically calls for normalization and launches polls to investigate the views of the general audience.

    The stumbling project

    The Iraqi government and various political parties expressed their firm rejection of the “illegal” meetings that were held by some tribal figures in the city of Erbil in the Kurdistan Region, which called for the normalization with “Israel.” Arrest warrants have been issued against the participants of the “Peace and Reclamation” conference in Erbil. One of the main speakers of the conference Wissam al-Hardan has been suspended from his post as the head of the “awakening movement”.

    In the light of these reactions, a general popular rage is engulfing Iraqi Streets while activists on social media called for all participants to be held accountable for the crimes committed according to Iraqi law. Iraqis haven’t forgotten not only the injustice of the Israeli occupation against their Palestinian and Arab brethren but the role Israelis played in insinuating and calling for both major wars launched by the US against their country in 2003. A war whose devastating effects are still evident today.

    Understanding the Concepts of Imamat and Wilayat in Shi’a Islam: Iranian Revolution and Constitution, Part I

    Understanding the Concepts of Imamat and Wilayat in Shi’a Islam: Iranian Revolution and Constitution, Part I

    October 01, 2020

    by Mansoureh Tajik for the Saker Blog

    Bismillah-ir-Rahman-ir-Rahim, “In the Name of God, the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful.

    Who is qualified to be in the position of governing and based on what rules are two of the most essential questions with which human societies continue to wrestle. We are currently witnessing at the global stage how the fate and wellbeing of nations are tightly linked to the quality of, or lack thereof, the people in charge of their affairs and the quality of the rules with which they are governed. There is now multitude of nations and leaderships globally that operate based on many ideological shades and hues. From among them, one could choose a few systems to dissect, compare, and contrast to have a sober understanding of which system could offer the wisest framework for a given nation, why, and how. Here, I will focus on one specific form within Shi’a Islam frame of reference, that of Imamat with its extension Wilayat Faqih.

    Admirers of secular and other non-secular persuasions could have their own picks and explain their version of things. While they are at it, they could also explain how theirs is working out for them but we request that they do so with intellectual honesty and solid evidence.

    Happily, time is almost up for two specific groups of people who have actually been enablers of one another’s dysfunctions, true colleagues, if you will: 1) Religious hypocrites who have duplicitously used religion as a shield to further their selfish lusts and corrupt ways. 2) Non-believing seculars who have made misuse of religion by the first group a scapegoat for their ignorance, arrogance, and incompetence. They are in fact two blades of the same scissors, a match made in hell.

    A genuinely interested and intellectually honest and fair person nowadays could examine all evidence about particular leaderships and nations that claim a given religion or ideology as their frame of reference and distinguish the real from the fake. Quite a few rulers around the world, for example, claim Islam as their frame of reference—let’s say, like Iran or Turkey or Saudi Arabia or Egypt or Pakistan or any other— but an impartial thinker could examine all the evidence and reach a reasonable conclusion that these nations have decidedly different systems of words and deeds even though they all claim Islam as the overarching framework. When, for instance, Ayatullah Khamenei of Iran speaks about which direction Iran and the Iranians should be, would be, and are taking, a diligent truth seeker has enough tangible, measurable, and truthful evidence to determine that this man is speaking and behaving as an honest, forthright, and God-fearing leader. In contrast, when the Sultan Al-junior Rajab Tayyib Erdogan of Turkey speaks of Islam, Muslims, and Quran, a fair person can clearly conclude based on real and tangible evidence that s/he is witnessing an Effendi Charlatan in operation.

    Questions (be they real, cynical, or rhetorical) forming in the mind of those without real familiarity with Quran and Islam might include the followings: If Islam as a religion and Quran as a Book of God have qualities that they could produce such contrary products and opposite leaderships as a wise leader like Ayatullah Khamenei and a weasel like Sultan Erdogan Junior, then what good is such religion and of what use is such Book?! Random and lottery picking could have a 50/50 chance of either of the two outcomes, too. So, why bother with God, Islam, the religion, and the Book?

    These are rational questions and I am glad that some are asking them, albeit with their inner voices. The short answer to these questions is that the two are not both products of the same religion and Book. They are the products of the degree to which they stay on or astray from the Right Path as set by this religion and this Book. The Leader is an example of someone who is genuinely striving to be on the Right Path to the best of his abilities. The weasel is an example of someone who has willfully deviated from the Right Path in deeds but is pretending to be on it in his ramblings. The long answer and evidence and documents supporting it constitute the core of these writings.

    For the sake of transparency and for those who may be new to my essays, I must state once again that I am a Shi’a Muslim Twelve-Imami and a believer in Wilayat Faqih, the current system of governance in Iran. An important task before me here as I see it, is not to get anyone to accept or approve of this system of Imamat and Wilayat Faqih. Rather, I hope to provide enough and clearly enough explanations and examples to disentangle and clarify complex and at times decidedly contentious historical and religious facts and concepts in order to correctly convey the wisdom and the reasoning behind this particular system of leadership and governance to those who are interested and/or have an intellectual curiosity about the subject.

    I am certain I cannot pack into one moderately-sized essay everything I ought to say to do a decent job of explaining without making this difficult article so lengthy that by the time people reach the middle, they will have already forgotten the beginning. Therefore, in as much a synopsis form as possible, I will Inshallah explain in this and most likely one or two follow-up essays how a delegated system of governance by God based on God’s rules as revealed in Quran and interpreted by scholars of Shi’a Twelve-Imami has worked both in theory and in practice. We shall see. I will also use historical examples from Islam and Iran in addition to relevant concepts to make the text less abstract and more comprehensible. We shall see as well how things have been working out for us the non-seculars specifically the Shi’a Muslims under Imamat and Wilayat Faqih, as operationalized in the Islamic Republic of Iran. It is not going to be an easy ride. So, do please bear with me and the essays.

    “Islamic Republic, Not a Word More, Not a Word Less”

    Fifty days after the victory of the Iranian Revolution in 1979, through a nation-wide referendum in which 98 percent of eligible voters participated, 99.25% of the participants voted “yes” to an Islamic Republic system of government in Iran[1] replacing a system of monarchy based on an inherited position transfer from a king to his eldest son.

    The ballots were worded rather simply (See the image below): “The change from previous regime to Islamic Republic the constitution of which will be put to the nation’s vote for approval.” The “Yes” ballots were in crimson text on a green background. The “No” ballots were in red lettering on a beige background.

    No gimmicks. No play on words. No deceptive tactics. It was on persistent urging of Imam Ruhullah Khomeini the referendum was held in the first place. Many were insisting that he, as the uncontested Leader of the Revolution, should just make a public announce about the change in Iran’s political system since the majority in the population was wholeheartedly supporting him anyway. Why mess with a referendum?

    Imam Khomeini begged to differ. He insisted on a real tangible and measurable participation by the people of Iran. The people of Iran must put their choice into writing. A choice in which there is obligation and responsibility for their life on earth and for the Hereafter. Their decision had to be clearly documented and witnessed by themselves first and foremost, by the world at large, by the future generations, and above all, by God. A majority “yes” vote in this context could be thought of as a written Bey’at, or a written covenant of allegiance, to the very principles of Islam as the overarching framework of governance. The governed does not just consent. The governed enters into a contract to never desert the scene and to remain ever-vigilant and ever-present at war or at peace or wherever the battle is. For the past 40+ years, majority of the Iranian people, by Grace of God Almighty, have been in the scene.

    It is useful to go into a bit more details about the events surrounding the referendum since it gives us an inside look into how things were back then at the beginning. Also, I might need to refer back to some segments later on in the essays. Late Sadiq Tabatabai, the spokesperson for then the transitional government, writes the details in his memoires as follows:

    We were in the middle of Esfand (the 12th month in the Iranian calendar, March 1979) when Ahmad Agha (Imam Khomeini’s second son) called me from Qom. He said, “Agha says you must hold a referendum.”

    I said, “That’s all good but I am not in charge!”

    He said, “You should talk to the State Minister and tell him Imam says a referendum must be held.” I went to Agha Ahmad Haj Seyyed Javadi and relayed Imam’s message. He said, “A referendum needs tools. It requires provincial and regional governors. When we have none of these, how could we hold any referendum?! The State Ministry used to have a major office of elections but that is not currently active either.”

    So, I called Ahmad Agha and told him what the State Minister had told me. An hour later, Ahmad Agha called again and said that Agha was asking how the referendum’s situation was progressing. I said, “Ahmad jan, this is not some dyeing barrel [an Iranian expression meaning it is not that easy].”

    He said, “You know Agha and I know him, too! I am not going to go back to him a second time and say no! If you want, you come and tell him yourself.”

    Immediately, I headed to Qom and went to see Imam. I said, “Agha, why a referendum? You should just make an announcement about it. The whole world knows that the entire population is behind you if you just announce that Islamic Republic is now our political system, all the people will be behind you and support you. Besides, a referendum is going to show exact same thing as well. Right now, we have no resources.”

    He said, “You are not understanding things. Right now, it is as you say. But fifty years from now, they are going to turn around and say that they stirred people’s emotions and they just forced the system they wanted on them. They manipulated the public’s sentiment and had them say what they themselves told them to say. So, voting must be done and the precise number of people for and against it must be officially determined and publicly announced.”[2]

    Those of us who observe on a regular basis what is spewed out of the media outlets of hostile regimes in the UK, the US, the Zionist entity in Occupied Palestine, and their regional oil wells with flags, we could see quite vividly how they are trying so desperately to distort and falsify the Iranian history and the history of our revolution. So, we find ourselves always remembering to salute Imam Khomeini for his prudence and foresight.

    Within less than three weeks from the majority “yes” vote to change to an Islamic Republic, another nationwide election was held and 73 members of Majlis Khubregan-e Qanon Asasi, the Assembly of Experts for Constitutional Laws were elected directly by the people. This assembly formulated the first constitution of the Islamic Republic with Wilayat Faqih, or the Guardianship of Faqih, as its core custodial authority and stewardship through some 67 public and open sessions.[3]

    The final draft of the constitution was once again put to a nationwide vote on November 22, 1979, just as it had been promised by Imam Khomeini and was clearly written on the ballots for the very first referendum (See above). Again, there were quite a few people who were insisting the constitution not to be put into another direct vote by the people. However, Imam Khomeini insisted once again on proceeding with another nationwide referendum so the people of Iran could cast their votes regarding the constitution of the Islamic Republic of Iran. The constitution was approved by nearly 95% of the eligible participants who voted positively.

    Now, from among all existing systems of government, why this system and how is it different from other Islamic countries in the world? Why did it happen in 1979? Why in a Shia-majority Iran? What does “Wilayat” mean? What are the indicators of “Wilayat”? What does “Faqih” mean? What are the attributes of a “Faqih”? Why should a “Wali Faqih” become the supreme steward of the entire system? Where did this system and its principle concepts come from and why? Where is it headed, how, and why?

    We will get to all these questions and more. But it is important to first contextualize the formation of this decidedly religious system by examining the global socio- and geo-political context in which it was being established during the last quarter of the 20th Century. I apologize for zigzagging back and forth through time. It is a necessary tactic here to get to some significant events.

    The Iranian Islamic Revolution in a Global Context

    Written in blood-red color and pasted on a solid black background a rhetorical question was plastered on the cover of Time magazine on April 8, 1966, about thirteen years before the victory of the Iranian Revolution. At the cost of 35 cents per issue, a willfully ostentatious question read: “Is God Dead?”[4] The cover, for the first time ever, used no figures, photographs, or drawings. Dismissal of a deeply-rooted system of belief in God was gleefully advertised. No need for any distractions and pictorial bells and whistles. The title aimed to rehash a rhetoric of Nietzsche from eight decades earlier written in The Gay Science:

    “After Buddha was dead, people showed his shadow for centuries afterwards in a cave,—an immense rightful shadow. God is dead: but as the human race is constituted, there will perhaps be caves for millenniums yet, in which people will show his shadow.—And we—we have still to overcome his shadow.”[5]

    A shadow play, heh?! In the Time article, the author had not failed to overestimate the power of the self-proclaimed liberals of the West. Nor had it faltered to underestimate God and men of God. He wrote, “Secularization, science, urbanization all have made it comparatively easy for the modern man to ask where God is and hard for the man of faith to give a convincing answer, even to himself.” He was, after all, catering to his bosses’ greed to sell a few more copies of the magazine at 35 cents a piece. His boss was catering to the greed of his masters at Meredith Corporation to keep his job. Meredith Corporation in turn was catering to the greed of its shareholders at New York Stock Exchange to show a noticeable rise in their stock price. Greed, a deadly Sin? Says who?

    The harbingers of the self-declared liberal West intoxicated by a feeling of intestinal fortitude failed to see, or more accurately refused to believe, what was going on right under their aloofly laic noses in their most precious puppet kingdoms. While the West was busy closing the file on anything God might say about the governance and rulership of people and societies in the West itself and around the world, Imam Ruhullah Khomeini, a man of God in his sixties then, who was sent to exile in Najaf by Shah’s regime was hard at work to bring the Word of God into the governance of the people who believed in God, and in Iran of all places.

    Around the time the Time article was being circulated in April 1966, Imam Khomeini gave a mission to his first son, Agha Mostafa Khomeini to take part in Hajj and make connections with other Muslim activists and inform them of the aims and the progress of the Islamic movement. Shah’s SAVAK (National Intelligence and Information Agency) in close collaboration with Istikhbarat (Information Ministry) in Iraq and Saudi Arabia is following the movement. A memo from the central office of Shah’s SAVAK that was forwarded to a local office of SAVAK in Qom (See the image below) reads:

    “Information obtained indicates Mostafa Khomeini, the son of Ayatullah Khomeini, who in the current year went to Mecca, has had contacts with a few radical elements including Majdiddin Mahllati, one of the opposition clerics in Shiraz. They have made some decisions for the months of Muharram and Safar. Since it is probable that these types of people, upon their return to Iran, create incitements, you must order a complete surveillance of the known entities and make necessary arrangements and announce the outcome.”[6]

    Iran was a country that was groomed by the lords of the West and through overt and covert operations and a major coup d’etat to become its most darling puppet secular regime and Gendarme in Persian Gulf. It was to be Shi’a only in name and a great model for the region. Even up until two years before the victory of the Iranian Revolution, Jimmy Carter referred to it as an “Island of Stability in one of the more troubled areas of the world.” How boorishly unschooled. (To be continued.)

    References

    [1] The Center for Islamic Revolution Documents, “Media Narrative Regarding the Islamic Republic Referendum on Farvardin 12, 1358.” News Code: 4822. Published online at 12:19, Farvardin 12, 1398 (April 1, 2019). Accessed online through the Center’s site: http://irdc.ir/

    [2] Tabatabai S. “Social and Political Memoires of Dr. Sadeq Tabatabai.” Vol. 3, Pages 269-276. Translated from Farsi.

    [3] Madani, Seyyed J (1382). “A Review of the Formation of the Islamic Republic’s Constitution.” Portal of Comprehensive Social Sciences, Zamaneh, No. 16. Social Sciences and Cultural Studies Research Center, Article Number: 9644. Online at: Insani.ir

    [4] Time. Available online at: http://content.time.com/time/covers/0,16641,19660408,00.html

    [5] Friedrich Nietzsche (2001). “The Gay Science.” Willimas B., the Editor; Nauckhoff J., the Translator. Cambridge Texts in the History of Philosophy, Cambridge University Press, UK. Available online at: http://www.holybooks.com/the-gay-science-friedrich-nietzsche

    [6] SAVAK Memo #1432600011 to Qom’s SAVAK. Central Office of National Intelligence and Security Agency, Prime Minister’s Office, Farvardin 25, 1345 (April 14, 1966).

    The Sword of Damocles Over Western Europe: Follow the Trail of Blood and Oil

    The Sword of Damocles Over Western Europe: Follow the Trail of ...

    Cynthia Chung June 3, 2020

    In Part 1, we left off in our story at the SIS-CIA overthrow of Iran’s Nationalist leader Mohammad Mosaddegh in 1953. At this point the Shah was able to return to Iran from Rome and British-backed Fazlollah Zahedi, who played a leading role in the coup, replaced Mosaddegh as Prime Minister of Iran.

    Here we will resume our story.

    An Introduction to the ‘Shah of Shahs’, ‘King of Kings’

    One important thing to know about Mohammad Reza Shah was that he was no fan of British imperialism and was an advocate for Iran’s independence and industrial growth. That said, the Shah was a deeply flawed man who lacked the steadfastness to secure such a positive fate for Iran. After all, foreign-led coups had become quite common in Iran at that point.

    He would become the Shah in 1941 at the age of 22, after the British forced his father Reza Shah into exile. By then, Persia had already experienced 70 years of British imperialism reducing its people to near destitution.

    Mohammad Reza Shah had developed very good relations with the U.S. under President FDR, who at the behest of the Shah, formed the Iran Declaration which ended Iran’s foreign occupation by the British and the Soviets after WWII.

    His father, Reza Shah came into power after the overthrow of Ahmad Shah in 1921, who was responsible for signing into law the infamous Anglo-Persian Agreement in 1919, which effectively turned Iran into a de facto protectorate run by British “advisors” and ensured the British Empire’s control of Iran’s oil.

    Despite Reza Shah’s problems (Mosaddegh was sent into exile during his reign), he had made significant achievements for Iran. Among these included the development of transportation infrastructure, 15 000 miles of road by 1940 and the construction of the Trans-Iranian Railway which opened in 1938.

    Mohammad Reza Shah wished to continue this vein of progress, however, he would first have to go through Britain and increasingly the U.S. in order to fulfill Iran’s vision for a better future.

    In 1973, Mohammad Reza Shah thought he finally found his chance to turn Iran into the “world’s sixth industrial power” in just one generation…

    OPEC and the European Monetary System vs the ‘Seven Sisters’

    In 1960, OPEC was founded by five oil producing countries: Venezuela, Iraq, Saudi Arabia, Iran and Kuwait in an attempt to influence and stabilise the market price of oil, which would in turn stabilise their nation’s economic return. The formation of OPEC marked a turning point toward national sovereignty over natural resources.

    However, during this period OPEC did not have a strong voice in such affairs, the main reason being the “Seven Sisters” which controlled approximately 86% of the oil produced by OPEC countries. The “Seven Sisters” was the name for the seven transnational oil companies of the “Consortium of Iran” cartel which dominated the global petroleum industry, with British Petroleum owning 40% and Royal Dutch Shell 14%, giving Britain the lead at 54% ownership during this period.

    After 1973, with the sudden rise of oil prices, the Shah began to see an opportunity for independent action.

    The Shah saw the price increase as a way to pull his country out of backwardness. To the intense irritation of his sponsors, the Shah pledged to bring Iran into the ranks of the world’s top ten industrial nations by the year 2000.

    The Shah understood that in order for this vision to become a reality, Iran could not just stay as a crude oil producer but needed to invest in a more stable future through industrial growth. And as it just so happened, France and West Germany were ready to make an offer.

    In 1978, France and West Germany led the European community, with the exception of Great Britain, in the formation of the European Monetary System (EMS). The EMS was a response to the controlled disintegration that had been unleashed on the world economy after the fixed exchange rate became a floating exchange rate in 1971.

    French foreign minister Jean Francois–Poncet had told a UN press conference, that it was his vision that the EMS eventually replace the IMF and World Bank as the center of world finance.

    For those who are unaware of the devastation that the IMF and World Bank have wreaked upon the world, refer to John Perkins’ “Confession of an Economic Hit Man”… the situation is 10X worst today.

    As early as 1977, France and West Germany had begun exploring the possibility of concretizing a deal with oil producing countries in which western Europe would supply high-technology exports, including nuclear technology, to the OPEC countries in exchange for long-term oil supply contracts at a stable price. In turn, OPEC countries would deposit their enormous financial surpluses into western European banks which could be used for further loans for development projects… obviously to the detriment of the IMF and World Bank hegemony.

    The Carter Administration was not happy with this, sending Vice President Walter Mondale to France and West Germany to “inform” them that the U.S. would henceforth oppose the sale of nuclear energy technology to the Third World…and thus they should do so as well. West Germany’s nuclear deal with Brazil and France’s promise to sell nuclear technology to South Korea had already come under heavy attack.

    In addition, the Shah had started a closer partnership with Iraq and Saudi Arabia cemented at OPEC meetings in 1977 and 1978. In a press conference in 1977 the Shah stated he would work for oil price stability. Together Saudi Arabia and Iran at the time produced nearly half of OPEC’s entire output.

    If an Iran-Saudi-Iraq axis established a permanent working relationship with the EMS it would have assembled an unstoppable combination against the London world financial center.

    Recall that France and West Germany had already ignored British calls to boycott Iranian oil in 1951 under Mosaddegh, and therefore, there was no indication that they were going to follow suit with Britain and the U.S. this time either.

    As far as London and Washington were concerned, the Shah’s reign was over.

    British Petroleum, BBC News and Amnesty International as Servants to the Crown

    Were we to select a date for the beginning of the Iranian revolution it would be November 1976, the month that Amnesty International issued its report charging brutality and torture of political prisoners by the Shah of Iran.

    Ironically, the SAVAK which was the secret police under the Shah from 1957 to 1979, was established and pretty much run by the SIS (aka MI6), CIA and the Israeli Mossad. This is a well-known fact, and yet, was treated as somehow irrelevant during Amnesty International’s pleas for a humanitarian intervention into Iran.

    For those who haven’t already discovered Amnesty International’s true colors from their recent “work” in Syria… it should be known that they work for British Intelligence.

    Gruesome accounts of electric shock torture and mutilation were printed in the London Times, the Washington Post and other respected press. Within a few months, President Carter launched his own “human rights” campaign. With this, the international humanitarian outcry got bigger and louder demanding the removal of the Shah.

    The Shah was caught between a rock and a hard place, as he was known not to be strong on “security” matters and often left it entirely up to the management of others. Once Amnesty International sounded the war-cry, the Shah made the mistake of not only defending the undefendable SAVAK in the public arena but continued to trust them entirely. It would be his biggest mistake.

    With the international foment intensifying, the British Broadcasting Corporation’s (BBC) Persian language broadcasts into Iran fanned the flames of revolt.

    During the entire year of 1978 the BBC stationed dozens of correspondents throughout the country in every remote town and village. BBC correspondents, often in the employ of the British secret service, worked as intelligence operatives for the revolution.

    Each day the BBC would report in Iran gory accounts of alleged atrocities committed by the Iranian police, often without checking the veracity of the reports. It is now acknowledged that these news reports helped to fuel and even organise the political foment towards an Iranian revolution.

    In 1978, British Petroleum (BP) was in the process of negotiating with the government of Iran the renewing of the 25 year contract made in 1953 after the Anglo-American coup against Mosaddegh. These negotiations collapsed in Oct 1978, at the height of the revolution. BP rejected the National Iranian Oil Company’s (NIOC) demands, refusing to buy a minimum quantity of barrels of Iranian oil but demanding nonetheless the exclusive right to buy that oil should it wish to in the future!

    The Shah and NIOC rejected BP’s final offer. Had the Shah overcome the revolt, it appeared that Iran would have been free in its oil sales policy in 1979 – and would have been able to market its own oil to the state companies of France, Spain, Brazil and many other countries on a state-to-state basis.

    In the American press hardly a single line was published about the Iranian fight with BP, the real humanitarian fight for Iranians.

    The Sword of Damocles

    The “Arc of Crisis” is a geopolitical theory focused on American/western politics in regards to the Muslim world. It was first concocted by British historian Bernard Lewis, who was regarded as the leading scholar in the world on oriental studies, especially of Islam, and its implications for today’s western politics.

    Bernard Lewis was acting as an advisor to the U.S. State Department from 1977-1981. Zbigniew Brzezinski, the National Security Advisor, would announce the U.S.’ adoption of the “Arc of Crisis” theory by the American military and NATO in 1978.

    It is widely acknowledged today, that the “Arc of Crisis” was primarily aimed at destabilising the USSR and Iran. This will be discussed further in Part 3 of this series.

    Egypt and Israel were expected to act as the initiating countries for the expansion of NATO into the Middle East. Iran was to be the next link.

    Iran’s revolution was perfectly timed with the launching of the “Arc of Crisis”, and NATO had its “humanitarian” cause for entering the scene.

    However, the fight was not over in Iran.

    On Jan 4th, 1979, the Shah named Shapour Bakhtiar, a respected member of the National Front as Prime Minister of Iran. Bakhtiar was held in high regard by not only the French but Iranian nationalists. As soon as his government was ratified, Bakhtiar began pushing through a series of major reform acts: he completely nationalised all British oil interests in Iran, put an end to the martial law, abolished the SAVAK, and pulled Iran out of the Central Treaty Organization, declaring that Iran would no longer be “the gendarme of the Gulf”.

    Bakhtiar also announced that he would be removing Ardeshir Zahedi from his position as Iran’s Ambassador to the U.S.

    An apple that did not fall far from the tree, Ardeshir is the son of Fazlollah Zahedi, the man who led the coup against Mosaddegh and replaced him as Prime Minister!

    Ardeshir was suspected to have been misinforming the Shah about the events surrounding the Iranian revolution and it was typical that he spoke to Brzezinski in Washington from Teheran over the phone at least once a day, often twice a day, as part of his “job” as Ambassador to the U.S. during the peak of the Iranian revolution.

    With tensions escalating to a maximum, the Shah agreed to transfer all power to Bakhtiar and left Iran on Jan 16th,1979 for a “long vacation” (aka exile), never to return.

    However, despite Bakhtiar’s courageous actions, the damage was too far gone and the hyenas were circling round.

    It is known that from Jan 7th to early Feb 1979, the No. 2 in the NATO chain of command, General Robert Huyser, was in Iran and was in frequent contact with Brzezinski during this period. It is thought that Huyser’s job was to avoid any coup attempts to disrupt the take-over by Khomeini’s revolutionary forces by largely misleading the Iranian generals with false intel and U.S. promises. Recently declassified documents on Huyser’s visit to Iran confirm these suspicions.

    During the Shah’s “long vacation” his health quickly deteriorated. Unfortunately the Shah was never a good judge of character and kept a close dialogue with Henry Kissinger as to how to go about his health problems. By Oct 1979, the Shah was diagnosed with cancer and the decision was made to send him to the U.S. for medical treatment.

    This decision was very much pushed for and supported by Brzezinski and Kissinger, despite almost every intelligence report indicating this would lead to a disastrous outcome.

    In Nov 18th 1979, the New York Times reported:

    ‘The decision was made despite the fact that Mr. Carter and his senior policy advisers had known for months that to admit the Shah might endanger Americans at the embassy in Teheran. An aide reported that at one staff meeting Mr. Carter had asked, “When the Iranians take our people in Teheran hostage, what will you advise me then?” ‘

    On Oct 22, 1979, the Shah arrived in New York to receive medical treatment. Twelve days later, the U.S. Embassy in Teheran was taken over and 52 American hostages would be held captive for 444 days!

    With the taking of the hostages, the Carter Administration, as preplanned under the “Arc of Crisis”, set into motion its scenario for global crisis management.

    The hostage crisis, a 100% predictable response to the U.S.’ decision to accept the Shah into America, was the external threat the Carter Administration needed to invoke the International Emergency Economic Powers Act, authorising the President to regulate international commerce after declaring a national emergency in response to an extraordinary threat

    With this new authority, President Carter announced the freezing of all U.S.-Iranian financial assets, amounting to over $6 billion, including in branches of American banks abroad. Instantly, the world financial markets were thrown into a panic, and big dollar depositors in western Europe and the U.S., particularly the OPEC central banks, began to pull back from further commitments.

    The Eurodollar market was paralyzed and most international lending halted until complex legal matters were sorted out.

    However, the most serious consequence by far from the Carter Administration’s “emergency actions,” was in scaring other OPEC governments away from long-term lending precisely at a time when West Germany and France were seeking to attract deposits into the financial apparatus associated with the European Monetary System (EMS).

    In addition, the Carter Administration’s insistent demands that western Europe and Japan invoke economic sanctions against Iran was like asking them to cut their own throats. Yet, the raised political tensions succeeded in breaking apart the economic alliances and the slow blood-letting of Europe commenced.

    Within days of the taking of the hostages, the pretext was given for a vast expansion of U.S. military presence in the Middle East and the Indian Ocean.

    Sound familiar?

    The message was not lost on Europe. In a Nov 28, 1979 column in Le Figaro, Paul Marie de la Gorce,  who was in close dialogue with the French presidential palace, concluded that U.S. military and economic intervention into Iran would cause “more damages for Europe and Japan than for Iran.” And that those who advocate such solutions are “consciously or not inspired by the lessons given by Henry Kissinger.”

    During the 444 day hostage crisis, a full-scale U.S. invasion was always looming overhead. Such an invasion was never about seizing the oil supply for the U.S., but rather to deny it to western Europe and Japan.

    If the U.S. were to have seized the oil supply in Iran, the body blow to the western European economies would have knocked out the EMS. Thus, during the 444 day holding of American hostages, this threat was held over the head of Europe like the sword of Damocles.

    It is sufficed to say that today’s ongoing sanctions against Iran cannot be understood in their full weight and international ramifications without this historical background.

    Imam Khomeini had a rather practical turn of mind: Falk

    TEHRAN – Forty-one years have passed since Mohammad Reza Pahlavi, upon failure to attract popular support, fled Iran forever

    January 17, 2020 – 13:2

    Over the past decades, despite being faced with threats, provocations, harsh sanctions, and even a variety of covert interventions, Iran has been more stable than ever- a fact even acknowledged by Professor Richard Falk as the former UN Special Rapporteur.

    Falk, who came to Tehran as a member of an American delegation in 1979, has an interesting narrative of Bakhtiar’s desperation on the day of Shah-Escape. 

    As Iran marks 41th anniversary of Islamic revolution, we asked Professor Falk to share his experience from this historical trip and the visit he later had with the founder of Islamic republic of Iran Ayatollah Khomeini. 

    Richard Anderson Falk is an American professor emeritus of international law at Princeton University. He is the author or co-author of 20 books and the editor or co-editor of another 20 volumes. In 2008, the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) appointed Falk to a six-year term as a United Nations special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Palestinian Territories occupied since 1967.   

    Following is the full text of the interview:

    Q: Before Iran’s Islamic revolution, as a member of an American delegation, you had a visit to Iran. What were the objectives of that trip?

    A: I was chair of a small committee in the United States with the name, “Committee for the Defense of Human Rights in Iran,” which sponsored events with Iranian students and some prominent figures. It became active within university settings as the revolutionary movement gathered momentum in 1978.

    The Committee had almost no funding, but had dedicated members, and achieved a certain visibility as there was so little attention being given to these historic developments in Iran unfolding as the months passed. The treatment of these issues in the mainstream media was not only mostly very pro-Shah but also quite uninformative, and even uniformed.

    It was in this context that I received as chair of the Committee an invitation from Mehdi Bazargan to visit Iran in a delegation of three persons for a period of two weeks. The stated purpose of the visit was to convey to several Americans a better understanding of the revolution underway. I felt that it was important to accept this invitation precisely for the reasons given in the letter of invitation. Our objective, then, was to achieve this better understanding of the revolution movement in Iran, and do our best after returning to share the experience and our impressions as widely as possible, and this is what we did.

    In this spirit I did my best to find two persons who would benefit from such a visit, possessed an open mind toward the challenge being posed to imperial rule in Iran, and had some access to media and influential audiences back in the United States. My first two choices both agreed to become members of the delegation along with myself. Ramsey Clark was my first choice. He had been prominent in government, having been Attorney General, was part of a well-known political family, and had previously been considered a possible candidate for the American presidency. Besides being extremely intelligence, Ramsey had a high profile that generated great media interest and had a reputation for telling unpleasant and inconvenient truths.

    My second choice was Philip Luce, a prominent religious activist who achieved world fame by his public acts of opposition to the Vietnam War. He was a person of the highest integrity, and fearless in searching for the truth in controversial political settings.
    The three of us made the trip without deep prior personal associations, but we got along very well throughout our time together in Iran, and subsequently. 

    Q: How different was what you witnessed from the US media narratives of the Iranian revolution’s developments?

    A: The differences were spectacular. The US media conveyed very little understanding of the character of the movement in Iran, and was perplexed by its strength and outlook. At the time, the Shah’s government was a close ally of the United States in the midst of the Cold War, and Iran’s strategic location with respect to the Soviet Union made it very important to Washington to keep the Shah’s regime in control of the country. As well, the US Government, having played an important role by way of covert intervention in the 1953 coup that restored the Shah to the Peacock Throne, there was a particularly strong commitment made in Washington to doing whatever was necessary to defeat this nonviolent mass movement led by a then still rather obscure religious figure. It was deemed unthinkable within the United States government that such a seemingly primitive movement of the Iranian people could produce the collapse of the Iranian government that had mighty military and police capabilities at its disposal, possessed a political will to use lethal ammunition against unarmed demonstrators, and gained the geopolitical benefits of a ‘special relationship’ with the most powerful state in the world deeply invested in upholding its regional interests. In such a setting the media reflected the propaganda and ideological outlook of the government, and was not a source of independent and objective journalism.

    It was in such an atmosphere that we hoped that we could bring some more informed and realistic commentary on the unfolding revolutionary process in Iran, including identifying its special character as neither left nor right, seemingly led by a religious leader who remained virtually unknown in the West. It was even unclear to us at the time of our visit whether Ayatollah Khomeini was the real leader or only a figurehead, a temporary phenomenon. We hoped to provide some insight into such questions, as well as to understand whether the new political realities in Iran would produce confrontation or normalization. Was the United States prepared, as it was not in 1953, to live with the politics of self-determination as it operated in Iran or would it seek once more to intervene on behalf of its geopolitical agenda? 

    Indeed, we did have some effect on the quality of Western media coverage of the developments in Iran. Ramsey Clark and myself were invited to do many interviews and asked for to describe our impressions by mainstream TV channels and print outlets. As a result, at least until the hostage crisis, discussion of Iran Politics became more informed and some useful political debate emerged, at least for a while.  

    Q: You met the then Prime Minister of Iran Shapour Bakhtiar on the same day when Mohammad Reza Pahlavi left Iran. What was Bakhtiar’s assessment of the developments including Shah’s departure?

    A: We had the impression from our meeting that the Prime Minister was uncertain about the situation and his own personal fate. Of course, we met with Mr. Bakhtiar at a tense time, only a very few hours after the Shah was reported as having left the country. Bakhtiar had a reputation. of being hostile to intrusions of religion in the domain of politics, and had a personal identity strongly influenced by French culture along with its very dogmatic version of secularism. When we met, the city of Tehran was in a kind of frenzied mood, with cars blowing their horns in celebration, and posters of Khomeini appearing everywhere. We had trouble maneuvering through the traffic so as to keep our appointment.

    We found Mr. Bakhtiar cautious and non-committal, and possibly intimidated, not by us, of course, but by the dozen or so others in the room who were never introduced, and wore the clothes associated with security personnel. We assumed that at least some of these anonymous individuals were from the SAVAK, and maybe explained partly why Bakhtiar seemed so uncomfortable. When we asked his help in arranging a visit to prisoners confined in Evin Prison, he seemed unable to answer until he received guidance from one of these advisers present in the room. After a short, whispered instruction, the Prime Minister told us that a visit could be arranged on the following day to the political prisoners, but that we would not be allowed to enter the part of the prison reserved for common criminals. After being at the prison, we felt that the political prisoners were treated well, seen as possibly of a future ruling elite, while the ordinary criminals held no interest for past or present, and lived in crowded cells often with no windows.

    Overall, we were left with not much clarity about how Bakhtiar viewed the future of his caretaker government. We had no real opinion on whether what he was saying to us with the others in the room was what they wanted him to say, or expressed his real views, or maybe reflected some sort of compromise. Would he be soon replaced, and his own role challenged as unlawful, or even criminal? We had the impression of a frightened bureaucrat lacking in leadership potential. Maybe our impressions were distorted by the reality that our visit took place at such a tense and difficult moment, which turned out to be transformative for the country and its people. As a result these impressions of a sad and entrapped individual may leave too negative a picture.  

    Q: What was the Central Intelligence Agency’s assessment of the Iranian revolution’s developments? Did CIA have a lucid exact assessment of the revolutionary forces and Iran’s future political system?

    A: We had no contact with the CIA, but did meet with the American ambassador to Iran at the time, William Sullivan, who had a counterinsurgency background with a militarist reputation. He gave us a briefing that was much more illuminating as to Iranian developments than was our meeting with the Prime Minister. Sullivan acknowledged that the U.S. was caught off guard by both the character and the strength of the movement, and was struggling to keep up with events. He told us that the Embassy had previously constructed no less than 26 scenarios of political developments that might threaten the Shah’s leadership, but not one was concerned about a threat to the established order mounted by Islamically oriented opposition. The American preoccupation, reflecting Cold War priorities, limited its concerns to containing the Marxist and Soviet-oriented left, and the belief that to the extent there was a political side to Islam it was aligned with the West in its anti-Communist agenda as evident in the setting of the Soviet intervention in Afghanistan. 

    Somewhat to our surprise, Sullivan spoke of his acute frustrations in dealing with the Carter presidency, especially with the National Security Advisor, Zbigniew Brzezinski, who he claimed to be unwilling to accept the finality of the Shah’s loss of power or of the outcome of the revolutionary movement. Sullivan advocated coming to terms with the emerging new realities as representing America’s national interests, but he spoke very clearly of the resistance to this view at the White House. Sullivan partly attributed this stubbornness to the influence of the Iranian ambassador on. Brzezinski, a view later supported by State Department officials. 

    Q: What were the issues discussed at a meeting you had in Neauphle-le Chateau with the late Islamic Republic’s founder Ayatollah Khomeini and how would you describe his personality?

    A: We met for a long time, maybe three hours, and covered many issues. During the conversation, after some rather long introductions on our sides about our experience in. Iran, we listened and responded to concerns expressed by Ayatollah Khomeini. After that we posed a series of questions. I will mention here a few topics discussed that have a lasting interest. 

    Ayatollah Khomeini’s first and understandable concern was whether the US Government would try to repeat the intervention of 1953 or live with the outcome of the revolution. Of course, we were not in a position to give a clear answer. We did think there was less disposition by the US to intervene than 25 years earlier, but we knew of the strategic importance attached to keeping Iran allied to the US in Cold War contexts and of the personal as well as ideological closeness between Carter and the Shah, especially after the Carter family spent New Year’s Eve in Tehran as the Shah’s guest in 1978, and Carter made his famous toast about the Shah being surrounded by the love of his people.

    Ayatollah Khomeini was also concerned about whether the military contracts with the United States would be fulfilled now that there would be a change of government in Iran. This line of questioning gave us a sense that Ayatollah Khomeini had a rather practical turn of mind.
    At the same time, he volunteered the view that he hoped that soon he would be able to resume his religious life, and explained taking up residence in Qom rather than Tehran seemed consistent with such an intention. Ayatollah Khomeini told us that he has reluctantly entered politics because in his words ‘there was a river of blood between the Shah and the people.’

    When we asked for his hopes for the revolutionary government, this religious leader made clear that he viewed the revolution as an Islamic rather than an Iranian occurrence. He stressed this issue, but without any sectarian overtones. He did go on to say that he felt that the basic community for all people in the Islamic world was civilizational and religious, and not national and territorial. Ayatollah Khomeini explained in ways I subsequently heard from others, that territorial sovereign states built around national identity did not form a natural community in the Middle East the way it did in Europe.

    Ayatollah Khomeini also made clear to us that he viewed the Saudi monarchy was as decadent and cruel as was the Shah, and deserved to face the same fate. He felt that dynastic rule had no legitimate role in Islamic societies.

    We also asked about the fate of Jews and Bahais in the emergent Islamic Republic of Iran, aware of their close working relationships with the Shah’s governing structure. We found the response significant. He expressed the opinion that Judaism was ‘a genuine religion’ and if Jews do not get too involved in support for Israel, they would be fine in Iran. His words on this, as I recall them, were ‘it would be a tragedy for us if they left.’ He viewed Bahais differently because of their worship of a prophet after Mohammad, leading him to adopt the view that Bahais were members of ‘a sect’ and did not belong to ‘a true religion,’ and thus its adherents would not be welcome in the new Iran. Afterwards, I learned that Ayatollah Khomeini intervened to oppose and prevent genocidal moves being advocated in relation to the Bahai minority living in Iran, but I have no confirmation of this. 

    Q: What was the last US Ambassador to Iran William Sullivan’s mission? He is known to be an anti-riot man. Did he give any intellectual help to Iran military or SAVAK (the secret police, domestic security and intelligence service in Iran during the reign of the Pahlavi)?

    A: Of course, Sullivan never would tell us about his covert activities. He had the reputation of being ‘a counterinsurgency diplomat’ as he had served in Laos as an ambassador during the Vietnam War. It was at a time that the embassy was being used to take part in a Laotian internal war that included directing US bombing strikes against rebel forces.

    With this knowledge, I was invited to testify in the U.S. Senate to oppose his confirmation. Unfortunately, my testimony did not prevent him from being confirmed as ambassador to Iran, although several senators at the time indicated to me privately their agreement with my testimony, but were unwilling to reject President Carter’s choice so early in his presidency. When in Iran I urged the meeting, and Ramsey Clark was skeptical at first, saying that he had had an unpleasant encounter with Sullivan some years earlier. I convinced Ramsey that the credibility of our trip would be compromised if we made no effort to get the viewpoint of the American Embassy. We did make an appointment, Sullivan’s first words as we entered were “I know Professor Falk thinks I am a war criminal..” Yet he welcomed us, and talked openly and at length about the situation and his efforts to get Washington to accept what had happened in Iran. In retrospect, I think he hoped we would be a vehicle for making his views more publicly known.

    He made the point that there were no social forces ready to fight to keep the Shah in power. The business community, or national private sector, was alienated by the Shah’s reliance on international capital to fulfill his development plans. The armed forces were also not favorable enough to the throne to fight on its behalf, complaining that the Shah’s abiding fear of a coup mounted against him, created distrust of his own military commanders, and led him to frequently shuffle the leadership in the armed forces. This resulted in a low level of loyalty, and helps explain why the military watched the political transformation take place without showing any pronounced willingness to intervene, despite being nudged in an interventionary, especially in the context of a visit by an American NATO general at the height of the revolutionary ferment. The general was widely reported to be exploring whether it was plausible to encourage the Iranian military to defend the established order. 

    We also asked about what would happen to the surviving leaders from the Shah’s government who had been accused of crimes against the Iranian people. Ayatollah Khomeini responded by saying that he expected that what he called ‘Nuremberg Trials’ would be held to hold accountable leading figures from the fallen government, and some from bureaucratic backgrounds, including SAVAK officials. We wondered why this plan was not later followed, and why those from the Shah’s regime accused were often executed after summary, secret trials. We knew some of those who had led the revolution had received support from the CIA during their period as students overseas or even when serving as mosque officials, which would be damaging and confusing to make public at a time of such uncertainty. It is important to remember that until the Islamic Revolution in Iran, Western intelligence assumed that the anti-Marxist approach of those of devout Islamic faith would make all religiously oriented personalities strong allies of Western anti-Communism, a view that persisted to some extent until after the Afghanistan resistance to Soviet intervention which was headed by Islamic forces, and was only decisively shattered by the 9/11 attacks on the World Trade Center and Pentagon in the United States. 

    Q: Why did the liberal–Islamist groups fail to secure the support of Ayatollah Khomeini at the end of the day?

    A: It is difficult for an outsider like myself to comment on the internal politics in that revolutionary period. The situation in Iran was still fluid, and worries about a counterrevolutionary coup to bring the Shah back to his throne a second time were widespread. Added to this, the change in Iran came so quickly. Several secular personalities of liberal persuasion told us that ‘the revolution happened too quickly. We were not ready.’ 

    Ayatollah Khomeini while still in Paris, seemed originally to believe that liberal Islamically oriented bureaucrats would be needed to run the government on a day to day basis. He may have envisioned a governing process relying on technical experts, especially to achieve good economic policies and results that he thought necessary to keep the support of the Iranian masses. Such expectations seem to be not entirely consistent with the vison of Islamic Government set forth in his published lectures, available to us in English, that were written while he was living as an exile in Iraq. His insistent theme in the lecture was that a government consistent with Islamic values could not be reliably established on democratic principles without being subject to unelected religious guidance as the source of highest authority.

    We also were aware of several other explanations for this about face on the governing process. Some in Iran believed that Ayatollah Khomeini only discovered his political popularity after he returned to the country, and this made him believe he had a mandate to impose a system of government that reflected his ideas. Others offered the opinion that he became convinced by his entourage of advisors that the revolutionary spirit and agenda was being lost by the liberals, and hence were urging him to take direct and visible charge of the government. And finally, there arose the view that the liberals were given a chance, and their performance disappointed Ayatollah Khomeini, leading him to reenter politics and move to Tehran to lead the country. As far as I know, this story of transition from the Pahlavi Era to the Islamic Republic remains veiled in mystery.  Hopefully, before long the mystery will disappear with the appearance of more authoritative accounts of what transpired after the Ayatollah Khomeini returned to the country.

    What we do know is that what was established in this transition period has survived for more than 40 years despite being faced with threats, provocations, harsh sanctions, and even a variety of covert interventions. Arguably, Iran has been as stable as any country in the region, and more stable than most. This is impressive, although it does not overcome some criticisms directed at violations of basic human rights of people in Iran.

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