Difference between revisions of "Iran"

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(Removing incorrect information. The link refers to Yasser Arafat's actions not Iran.)
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The State Department, September 28, 2018</ref> Ethnic minorities are also persecuted by the racist Iranian regime,<ref>[https://www.arabnews.com/node/1822151/middle-east No country for minorities: The agony of Iran’s ethnic Arabs, Kurds, Balochis and Azeris], O. Shahbandar, Arab News, March 8, 2021.
 
The State Department, September 28, 2018</ref> Ethnic minorities are also persecuted by the racist Iranian regime,<ref>[https://www.arabnews.com/node/1822151/middle-east No country for minorities: The agony of Iran’s ethnic Arabs, Kurds, Balochis and Azeris], O. Shahbandar, Arab News, March 8, 2021.
 
''Since the Islamic Revolution of 1979, ethnic Kurds, Arabs and Balochis have faced particularly harsh crackdowns by regime security forces.'' </ref> such as Ahwazi Arabs, Kurds, Azeris and Baloch.
 
''Since the Islamic Revolution of 1979, ethnic Kurds, Arabs and Balochis have faced particularly harsh crackdowns by regime security forces.'' </ref> such as Ahwazi Arabs, Kurds, Azeris and Baloch.
 
It also incites hatred and publish propaganda against [[Christians]].<ref>[https://mosaicmagazine.com/picks/israel-zionism/2020/12/how-yasir-arafat-drove-christians-from-bethlehem/ How Yasir Arafat Drove Christians from Bethlehem] D. Weinberg, Mosaic Mag., Dec. 28, 2020.</ref>
 
  
 
== History ==
 
== History ==

Revision as of 23:28, June 11, 2021

جمهوری اسلامی ايران
Jomhūrī-ye Eslāmī-ye Īrān
Iran rel 2001.jpg
Iran location.png
800px-Flag of Iran svg.png
Arms of Iran.png
Flag Coat of Arms
Capital Tehran
Government Islamic theocracy
Language Persian (Farsi) (official)
President Hassan Rouhani
Area 636,372 sq. mi.
Population 84,000,000 (2020)
GDP $480,000,000,000 (2020)
GDP per capita $5,357 (2020)
Currency Iranian rial

Iran, officially the Islamic Republic of Iran (جمهوری اسلامی ايران) is an Islamic theocratic dictatorship in southwest Asia. Its capital is Tehran and its official language is Farsi. A historical name for Iran was "Persia, " which is also the name of the dominant ethnic group. Iran is suspected by Israel and her western allies of pursuing nuclear weapons to gain a strategic advantage in a regional cold war against Sunni-majority Saudi Arabia. Israel also accuses Iran of pursuing nuclear weapons for use against Israel, which is hotly denied by Iran's government which claims the program is to be used for peaceful purposes, requiring the enrichment of uranium. Iran has a poor human rights record.[1] Ethnic minorities are also persecuted by the racist Iranian regime,[2] such as Ahwazi Arabs, Kurds, Azeris and Baloch.

History

See also: History of Iran

In the Western world, Persia was historically the common name for Iran.[3] In 1935, Reza Shah asked foreign delegates and the League of Nations to use the term Iran ("Land of the Aryans"). The suggestion for the change of the country’s official name to Iran is said to have come from the Iranian ambassador to Germany, who came under the influence of the Nazis. German friends of the ambassador convinced him that the name change would free his country from the past influences of Russia and the British Empire. It would be a new beginning as an Aryan nation. Many Persian elites and intellectuals nurtured the idea of Aryan superiority.[4] Reza Shah[5]said,

“Germany was our age-old and natural ally, Love of Germany was synonymous with love for Iran. The sound of German officers’ footsteps was heard on the shores of the Nile. Swastika flags were flying from the outskirts of Moscow to the peaks of the Caucasus Mts. Iranian patriots eagerly awaited the arrival of their old allies. My friend and I would spin tales about the grandeur of the superior race. We considered Germany the chosen representative of this race in Europe and Iran its representative in Asia. The right to life and role was ours. Others had no choice but submission and slavery. We discarded the old maps and remade Iran into a country larger than what it was in Achaemenian times.”[6]

Reza Shah and Mohammad Reza Pahlavi legacies evoke consternation and controversy. Both were pro-Western modernizers, promoted science, Western education, women and minority rights, economic development, a judiciary more on a Western model as opposed to shariah and clerical rule. But the Carter administration viewed the Ayatollah Khomeini as a paragon of human rights, an expression of the will of the Iranian people for self-determination. One of the Ayatollah's first acts was to issue a fatwa promising paradise for children who joined the Iranian military during the Iran-Iraq war. By 1982, with Shi'a clergy in command, the government asked children, age 9 years old and up, to clear minefields so the regular Army could advance against the Iraqi Army. [7][8] About 100,000 died as Basij child soldiers building the Islamic Republic of Iran.

Iran today is 75 million people with a per capita income behind Mexico but ahead of Brazil. Female enrollment and graduation rates in higher education now outnumber males.[9] But if political repression during the monarchy was troublesome, Iran's human rights record and coercive measures against dissidents under its religious rulers has been abysmal.[10] That, and its active sponsorship of terrorism to further its foreign policy objectives abroad. Its non-cooperation with international conventions in pursuit of nuclear power status is particularly worrisome. Iran's Quds Force (Jerusalem Force), as its name implies, carries out external special operations worldwide to further Iran's foreign policy aims.[11]

Iran's revolution in 1979 and the creation of an Islamic state based on Shariah law was a source of pride, inspiration and envy to Sunnis everywhere. The revolutionaries successfully deposed a Western leaning monarch and sent U.S. military personal and technicians packing.[12] Initially Iran sought to export its revolution to the Gulf States and Lebanon. Iran was behind two U.S. Embassy truck bombings in Beirut and the Marine barracks bombing that killed 241 U.S. soldiers. As the Iran-Iraq war progressed, Iran concentrated its efforts to removing Saddam Hussein's regime in Iraq. After the war Iran began providing assistance to the radical Sunni leader Hassan al Turabi who took power in Sudan in 1989[13], and to Hamas in Gaza. The 1990s marked a period of cooperation between Sunni groups such as al Qaeda and the Muslim Brotherhood and the Shiite revolution of Iran.[14] It organized and created Hezbollah al-Hejaz, based in Saudi Arabia, which in conjunction with al Qaeda staged the 1996 Khobar Towers attack killing 19 Americans and wounding another 372. The 9/11 Commission Report suggested[15] and a U.S. Federal judge ruled in December 2011[16] Iran was a material accomplice with al Qaeda in the September 11, 2001 attacks.

Iran benefited greatly when the Sunni walls that had been erected around it - Afghanistan and Iraq - were torn down. Several analysts argue that since about 2005 Iran has evolved rapidly from a theocracy into a garrison state, in which the military dominates political, economic, and cultural life.[17]

Unlike Sunnis who emphasize sectarian differences with minority Shiites, the Iranian regime emphasizes the Israeli bogeyman because they estimate this gains them Arab street cred and diverts attention from the Shia rise to power. They ultimately believe they have earned the right to speak on behalf of the whole Muslim world.[18]

People

Iran is not a pluralistic society, but does have some diversity. Persians are the largest predominant ethnic and cultural group in this country, though many are actually of mixed ancestry. The population of the country has important Turkic elements (e.g., Azeris) and Arabs predominate in the southwest. In addition, Iranian citizens include Kurds, Balochi, Bakhtyari, Lurs, and other smaller minorities, such as Armenians, Assyrians, Jews, and Brahuis (or Brohi).

  • Population (2020): 84 million.
  • Population growth rate (2007 est.): 0.663%.
  • Ethnic groups: Persians 51%, Azeri 24%, Gilaki and Mazandarani 8%, Kurd 7%, Arab 3%, Lur 2%, Baloch 2%, Turkmen 2%, other 1%.
  • Religions: Shi'a Muslim 89%; Sunni Muslim 9%; Zoroastrian, Jewish, Christian, and Baha'i 2%.
  • Languages: Persian and Persian dialects 58%, Turkic languages (besides Turkish) 26%, Kurdish 9%, Luri 2%, Balochi 1%, Arabic 1%, Turkish 1%, other 2%.
  • Education: Literacy (total population age 15 and over who can read and write, 2003)--79% (male: 86%, female: 73%).
  • Health (2007 est.): Infant mortality rate—38.2 deaths/1,000 live births. Life expectancy at birth (2007)--total population: 70.56 yrs.
Persian women from Shiraz.

The 1979 Islamic revolution and the 1980-88 war with Iraq transformed Iran's class structure politically, socially, and economically. During this period, Shia clerics took a more dominant position in politics and nearly all aspects of Iranian life, both urban and rural. After the fall of the Pahlavi regime in 1979, much of the urban upper class of prominent merchants, industrialists, and professionals, favored by the former monarch, the shah, lost standing and influence to the senior clergy and their supporters. Bazaar merchants, who were allied with the clergy against the Pahlavi shahs, also have gained political and economic power since the revolution. The urban working class has enjoyed somewhat enhanced status and economic mobility, spurred in part by opportunities provided by revolutionary organizations and the government bureaucracy. Though the number of clergy holding senior positions in the parliament and elsewhere in government has declined since the 1979 revolution, Iran has nevertheless witnessed the rise of a post-revolutionary elite among lay people who are strongly committed to the preservation of the Islamic Republic.

Most Iranians are Muslims; 89% belong to the Shi'a branch of Islam, the official state religion, and about 9% belong to the Sunni branch, which predominates in neighboring Muslim countries. Non-Muslim minorities include Zoroastrians, Jews, Baha'is, and Christians.

There's wide 'religious apartheid' in Iran, With Sunnis faring better than non-Muslims.[19]

Government

Ayatollah Ruholla Khomeini, founder of the Islamic Republic.

The December 1979 Iranian constitution defines the political, economic, and social order of the Islamic republic. The document establishes Shi'a Islam of the Twelver (Jaafari) sect as Iran's official religion. Sunni Islam, Zoroastrianism, Judaism and Christianity are the only other recognized, legal minority religions. But Iran is the eighth country on the World Watch List of Open Doors. The country is governed by secular and religious leaders through governing bodies, whose duties often overlap. (See also:Christians in Iran)

The Supreme Leader holds power for life unless removed by the Assembly of Experts. He has final say on all domestic, foreign, and security policies for Iran, though he establishes and supervises those policies in consultation with the Expediency Council. The Leader is the final arbiter on all differences or disputes among the various branches of government. He appoints officials to key positions including the head of judiciary and the 12 members of the Guardian Council (six directly, six indirectly). He has power to disqualify candidates or remove an elected official from office. The Supreme Leader and is also the commander-in-chief of the armed forces.

The constitution stipulates that the Assembly of Experts, which currently consists of the 86 popularly-elected clerics elected to 8-year terms, chooses the Supreme Leader based on jurisprudent qualifications and commitment to the principles of the revolution. The Assembly of Experts reviews his performance periodically and has the power to depose and replace him. Pragmatic conservative candidates generally polled better than their hardline conservative opponents during the December 15, 2006 elections to the Assembly of Experts. (Turnout for this vote, which coincided with municipal council elections, was quite high, topping 60%.) Citizens will not vote for representatives to the Assembly again until 2014.

Population density

The Council of Guardians consists of 12 persons. The Supreme Leader appoints the six religious members of the Council of Guardians while the Iranian parliament, the Majles, selects the six lay members from candidates recommended by the judiciary, which is in turn selected by the Supreme Leader. The non-clerics play a role only in determining whether legislation before the Majles conforms to Iran's constitution. The religious members, on the other hand, take part in all deliberations, considering all bills for conformity to Islamic principles. The Council of Guardians can veto any law. This body also certifies the competence of candidates for the presidency, the Assembly of Experts, and the Majles.

Ali Khamenei, second Supreme Leader for life of the Islamic Republic.

The president of the Islamic Republic of Iran is elected by universal suffrage to a 4-year term. The president supervises the affairs of the executive branch, appointing and supervising the Council of Ministers (members of the cabinet), coordinating government decisions, and selecting government policies to be placed before the National Assembly.

The Majles, or National Assembly, consists of 290 members elected to 4-year terms. The members of the legislature are elected by direct and secret ballot from among the candidates approved by the Council of Guardians.

In 1988, Ayatollah Khomeini created the Council for Expediency, which resolves legislative issues on which the Majles and the Council of Guardians fail to reach an agreement. Since 1989, it has been used to advise the national religious leader on matters of national policy as well. It is composed of the president, the speaker of the Majles, the judiciary chief, the clerical members of the Council of Guardians, and other members appointed by the Supreme Leader for 3-year terms. Cabinet members and Majles committee chairs also serve as temporary members when issues under their jurisdictions are considered. In 2005, it was announced that the Expediency Council, which now has over 40 members, would have responsibility for general supervision of the system, though that has not resulted in any noticeable change in this institution's day-to-day authority or operations.

Judicial authority is constitutionally vested in the Supreme Court and the four-member High Council of the Judiciary; these are two separate groups with overlapping responsibilities and have one head. Together, they are responsible for supervising the enforcement of all laws and for establishing judicial and legal policies.

Iran has two military forces. The national military is charged with defending Iran's borders, while the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) is charged mainly with maintaining internal and external security. Iran also uses proxy militias and foreign terrorist organizations to execute its foreign policy designs throughout the world.

President Hassan Rouhani, in office since since 2013, current term ends 2021.

Iran has 30 provinces managed by an appointed governor general. The provinces are further divided into counties, districts, and villages. Sixty percent of eligible voters took part in the first ever municipal and local council elections in 1999, though a lower percentage went to the polls in the second round in 2003. Turnout during the December 15, 2006 elections, during which citizens also elected Assembly of Expert representatives, was over 60%. The local councils select mayors.

The March 2008 elections resulted in the conservatives getting a significant lead in the polls, with Conservative politician Shahabeddin Sadr saying that, during early counting, 70 per cent of winners were "principlists" - a label conservatives use to describe their loyalty to the Islamic Republic's ideals.[20]

Principal Government Officials

  • Supreme Lead and Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces—Ali Hosseini-Khamenei
  • President—Hassan Rouhani
  • First Vice President—Eshaq Jahangiri
  • Foreign Minister—Mohammad Javad Zarif
  • Ambassador to the United Nations—Gholamali Khoshroo

Political Conditions

Iran's post-revolution difficulties have included an 8-year war with Iraq, internal political struggles and unrest, and economic disorder. The early days of the regime were characterized by severe human rights violations and political turmoil, including the seizure of the U.S. Embassy compound and its occupants on 4 November 1979, by Iranian student militants. Iranian authorities released the 52 hostages only after 444 days of captivity, minutes after Ronald Reagan's inauguration as the 40th president of the United States.[21]

Ethnoreligious distribution

By mid-1982, the clergy had won a succession of post-Revolution power struggles that eliminated first the center of the political spectrum and then the leftists, including the communist Tudeh party and the cult-like Mujahedin-e Khalq Organization (MEK or MKO). Assassinations, throwing acid in the faces of women who refused to wear the veil, and other acts of violence punctuated this period. There has been some moderation of excesses since the early days of the revolution, and the country experienced a partial "thaw" in terms of political and social freedoms during the tenure of former president Khatami, but serious problems remained. The administration of former President Ahmadi-Nejad had witnessed a crackdown on Iranian civil society, continued human rights violations, and worsening constraints on press freedom and civil liberties. Current president Hassan Rouhani did not changed anything.

The Islamic Republican Party (IRP) was Iran's sole political party until its dissolution in 1987. Iran now has a variety of groups engaged in political activity; some are oriented along ideological lines or based on an identity group, others are more akin to professional political parties seeking members and recommending candidates for office. Some have been active participants in the Revolution's political life while others reject the state. Conservatives consistently thwarted the efforts of reformists during the Khatami era and have consolidated their control on power since the flawed elections for the seventh Majles in 2004 and president Ahmadi-Nejad's victory in 2005. The party of Khamenei is the Combatant Clergy Association. President Hassan Rouhani is a member of it.

The Iranian Government has faced armed opposition from a number of groups, including the MEK (which the U.S. Government added to its list of Foreign Terrorist Organizations in 1999), the People's Fedayeen, and the Kurdish Democratic Party of Iran (KDPI).

World domination

Gradually since the 1980s, the Islamic Republic has been actively involved in its global spread.

In recent years it has become more emboldened.[22]

Apocalyptic motivation, goal in world domination

Iranian ambitions to become a nuclear superpower.

Their Islamic messianic creed is the raison d'être for the Islamic Republic of Iran according to its founders and leaders. [23]

They believe the Shia messiah known as the “Twelfth Imam” or the “Mahdi” will appear soon to establish a global Islamic kingdom. [24]

Shiite Iran (and its Hezbollah), and the Sunni ISIS, both believe that any moment now their "messiah", will appear. Iran and ISIS are both eager to hasten the coming of their Mahdi. [25]


Global network

The Islamic Republic works through its proxies: in the Middle East, [26][27][28] such as: Hezbollah, Houthis, "Palestinian" Islamic Jihad, it is strongly Hamas linked. Its bases of operations in South America works through Hezbollah network, via local Arab-Muslims in the community in: Venezuela, Maicao/ Colombian/Venzuelan border;[29] Tri-Border area[30][31] in Argentina/Brazil/Paraguay). In recent years it has even expanded its TV channel in Spanish.

Foreign Relations

Khomeini's revolutionary regime initiated sharp changes from the foreign policy pursued by the Shah, particularly in reversing the country's orientation toward the West. In the Middle East, Iran's only significant ally has been Syria. Within the U.N framework of the "[New World Order]]", as some Islamists refer to it, Iran pursues its foreign policy objectives under the kufr Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations as it covertly promotes terrorism. Western governments have labeled Iran as the leading state sponsor of terrorism.[32]

Iran's foreign policy and Shi'a brand of Islam promotes Muslim unity[33] whereas Sunni Salafi-jihadists consider Shi'ism not as a dissident sect, but rather as treasonous to the people of God (ulema) and worthy of the death penalty (takfir).

Iran's foreign relations are based on sometimes competing objectives. Iran's pragmatic foreign policy goals include, not surprisingly, protecting itself from external threats and building trade ties. Iran has additionally been accused, however, of trying to export its fundamentalist revolution to other countries, supporting terrorist organizations, and its vehement anti-U.S. and anti-Israel stances are well-known. Senior Iranian officials directed Hezbollah to carry out the bombing of the Asociación Mutual Israelita Argentina (AMIA, the Argentine Israelite Mutual Association) building in Buenos Aires on July 18, 1994, killing 85 people and wounding scores of others. Out of the eight individuals indicted by the Government of Argentina in October 2006, the Interpol Executive Committee has recommended the issuance of Red Notices (international arrest warrants) against six: five former or current Iranian officials and one Lebanese Hezbollah leader.

In September 1980, during the U.S. hostage crisis, Iraq invaded Iran to take control of the waterway between the two countries, the Shatt al-Arab, although the conflict's underlying causes included each nation's overt desire for the overthrow of the other's government. Iran defended itself and demanded the withdrawal of Iraqi troops from Iranian territory and the return to the status quo ante for the Shatt al-Arab as established under the 1975 Algiers Agreement signed by Iraq and Iran. Khomeini's government turned down an Iraqi cease-fire proposal in 1982, making a new demand for Saddam Hussein's removal as well. After eight punishing years of war, in July 1988, Iran at last agreed to UN Security Council Resolution 598 and the cease-fire was implemented on August 20, 1988. Neither nation had made any real gains in the war.

Iran's relations with many of its Arab neighbors have been strained by Iranian attempts to spread its Islamic revolution, a strictly ideological goal. In 1981, Iran supported a plot to overthrow the Bahrain Government. In 1983, Iran expressed support for Shi'ites who bombed Western embassies in Kuwait, and in 1987, Iranian pilgrims rioted during the hajj (pilgrimage) in Mecca, Saudi Arabia. Nations with strong fundamentalist movements, such as Egypt and Algeria, also mistrust Iran. Iran backs Hezbollah (in Lebanon), Hamas, Palestinian Islamic Jihad, and the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine-General Command, all of which are violently opposed to the Arab-Israeli peace process. In contrast, while relations with west European nations have been uneven, they have been driven primarily by pragmatic goals of trade and security. Iran has accepted stronger commercial ties but largely declined to deliver on key European political concerns such as human rights and weapons of mass destruction (WMD) acquisition efforts, particularly in the nuclear field, where the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) has been strongly critical of Iran.

An IAEA report in November 2003 provided evidence that Iran, a signatory to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), had concealed secret nuclear activities for 18 years. Under international pressure, Iran signed the Additional Protocol to the Safeguards Agreement on December 18, 2003, agreeing to suspend all uranium-enrichment and reprocessing activities voluntarily, as well as cooperate fully with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) in resolving questions regarding Iran's nuclear program. In June 2004, the IAEA rebuked Iran for failing to fully cooperate with an inquiry into its nuclear activities, and in November 2004, Iran agreed to suspend most of its uranium enrichment under a deal with the EU. That promise did not last, however, and since then concerns over Iran's nuclear activities have increased.

Project Cassandra discovered a global cocaine smuggling network run by Iran through its proxy, Hezbollah.

On June 6, 2006, the Peoples Republic of China, France, Germany, Russia, the United States, and United Kingdom offered Iran a substantial package of economic cooperation and assistance. Tehran, however, was first required to come into compliance with International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) guidelines on its nuclear program, suspending its uranium enrichment program. On July 31, the UN Security Council adopted resolution 1696 on the Iranian nuclear question, requiring Iran to suspend all activities related to enrichment and reprocessing, including research and development, as demanded by the IAEA, or else face possible sanctions. Tehran defied the UN Security Council (UNSC) deadline of August 31, leading to the passage of UNSC Resolution 1636 in December 2006 and, as Iran continued to balk, Resolution 1747 in March 2007.

Iran sparked an international controversy when its forces seized and held hostage 15 British sailors and marines, conducting routine anti-smuggling operations in Iraqi territorial waters under UN mandate, on March 23, 2007. Tehran released the U.K. service members on April 6.

Iran maintains regular diplomatic and commercial relations with Russia and the former Soviet republics. Both Iran and Russia believe they have important national interests at stake in developments in Central Asia and the Transcaucasus, particularly regarding energy resources from the Caspian Sea. Russian and other sales of military equipment and technology to Iran concern Iran's neighbors and the United States. Prior to the Obama administration, the United States was concerned about Russian assistance in building at nuclear facility at Bushehr.

Iran spends about 3.3% of its GDP on its military. Iran's military consists of both a national military held over from the shah's government and the IRGC, each with its own ground, naval and air branches. The Iran-Iraq war took a heavy toll on these military forces. Iran has modernized its military, including ballistic missile programs, and weapons of mass destruction; it continues to seek nuclear capabilities. On November 7, 2007, Ahmadinejad announced that Iran had 3,000 centrifuges operating in its uranium enrichment program, which would be enough to produce a nuclear weapon.[34] However, a December, 2007 U.S. intelligence report stated that Iran halted its nuclear program in 2003, and remains on hold. According to the National Intelligence Estimate, "We do not know whether (Iran) currently intends to develop nuclear weapons."[35]

In early 2021 the Peoples Republic of China signed a massive 25-year, over $400-billion infrastructure-for-oil deal with Iran, boosting their military and defense cooperation.[36]

Support for terrorism

See also: Khobar Towers bombing and 2021 Gaza War

The Iranian government supports and funds Islamic terrorist organizations in various countries, doing so since the Islamic revolution in 1979.[37] The U.S. Department of State labels Iran as a leading state sponsor of terror.[38]

According to a U.S. court record for the 1998 U.S. Embassy bombings, Osama Bin Laden was living in Khartoum, Sudan when Sudanese religious scholar Ahmed Abdel Rahman Hamadabi brought Shekih Nomani an emissary of Iran to meet the Al-Qaeda leadership. Sheikh Nomani was described as having "had access to the highest echelons of power in Tehran.[39] This meeting resulted in an informal agreement between Iran and Al-Qaeda to cooperate, with Iran providing critical explosives, intelligence and security training to Bin Laden's organization.[40] Iran continued to provide support to Al-Qaeda even after they relocated to Afghanistan in 1996. Iranian officials helped Al-Qaeda members transit through Iran to Afghanistan. Iranian border guards were instructed not to stamp their passports, to prevent their home governments from suspecting that they had traveled to Afghanistan.[40] A section of the 9/11 commission states that shortly after the meetings between Iran and Al-Qaeda in Sudan in 1991,"senior Al-Qaeda operatives and trainers traveled to Iran to receive training in explosives. In the fall of 1993, another such delegation went to the Bekaa Valley in Lebanon for further training in explosives as well as in intelligence and security. Bin Laden reportedly showed particular interest in learning how to use truck bombs such as the one that had killed 241 U.S Marines in Lebanon in 1983. The relationship between Al-Qaeda and Iran demonstrated that Sunni-Shia divisions did not necessarily pose an insurmountable barrier to cooperation in terrorist operations."[41]

Iran and Al-Qaeda cooperation continues to this day. The State Department's Country Reports on terrorism has noted that, "Iran has allowed [Al-Qaeda] facilitators to operate a core facilitation pipeline through Iran since at least 2009, enabling [Al-Qaeda] to move funds and fighters to South Asia and Syria."[42]

Relations with the United States

US Iran.gif

The United States designated the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRCG) and Quds Force as a Foreign Terrorist Organization (FTO) in 2019 based on the IRGC’s “continued support to and engagement in terrorist activity around the world.”[43]

On November 4, 1979, militant Iranian students occupied the American Embassy in Tehran with the support of Ayatollah Khomeini. Fifty-two Americans were held hostage for 444 days, ending only with Ronald Reagan's first days in office.[44] On April 7, 1980, the United States broke diplomatic relations with Iran, and on April 24, 1981, the Swiss Government assumed representation of U.S. interests in Tehran. Iranian interests in the United States are represented by the Government of Pakistan. The Islamic Republic of Iran does not have its own embassy in Washington, though it does have a permanent mission to the United Nations in New York City.

In accordance with the Algiers declaration of January 20, 1981, the Iran-U.S. Claims Tribunal (located in The Hague, Netherlands) was established for the purpose of handling claims of U.S. nationals against Iran and of Iranian nationals against the United States. U.S. contact with Iran through The Hague covers only legal matters.

The U.S. Government, by Executive Orders issued by the President as well as by Congressional legislation, prohibits most trade with Iran. Some sanctions were imposed on Iran because Tehran is a state sponsor of terrorism, others because of the nuclear proliferation issues, and still more for human rights violations, including infringement of religious freedom. The commercial relations that do exist between the two countries consist mainly of Iranian purchases of food and medical products and U.S. imports of carpets and food. Some sanctions were temporarily waived in the wake of the devastating Bam earthquake of December 2003. U.S. officials and relief workers actively assisted in relief and reconstruction efforts.

There are serious obstacles to improved relations between the two countries. As a state sponsor of terrorism, Iran remains an impediment to international efforts to locate and prosecute terrorists. Recent attempts by Iran to form loose alliances with anti-U.S. governments in the Western Hemisphere, such as the Venezuelan Government, has further heightened concern about Iran's support for terrorism and nuclear ambitions. Operation Iraqi Freedom removed the Iranian Government's greatest security threat, but officially Iran remained neutral about U.S. policy, sometimes strongly condemning American policies and actions in Iraq. Iran has cultural ties to elements of the populations of both Iraq and Afghanistan. It has made some positive contributions to stability in both countries, but other actions have had the opposite effect. It remains to be seen whether Tehran will ultimately be a constructive force in the reconstruction of its two neighbors or not.

On November 9, 2019, Iran reported that Robert Levinson was still alive.[45] In 2009 FBI director Robert Mueller and Russian oligarch Oleg Deripaska colluded in an operation to win Levinson's release.

The U.S. Government defines its areas of objectionable Iranian behavior as the following:

  • Iran's efforts to acquire nuclear weapons and other weapons of mass destruction;
  • Its support for and involvement in international terrorism;
  • Its support for violent opposition to the Middle East peace process, as well as its harmful activities particularly in Lebanon, as well as in Iraq, Afghanistan, and elsewhere in the region; and
  • Its dismal human rights record and lack of respect for its own people.

The United States has held discussions with Iranian representatives on particular issues of concern over the years. U.S. and Iranian envoys cooperated during operations to overthrow the Taliban in 2001 and during the Bonn Conference in 2002 that established a broad-based government for the Afghan people under President Karzai. U.S. Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice, her Iranian counterpart, and others met at talks on Iraq in Sharm El Sheikh, Egypt, on May 3, 2007. The American and Iranian ambassadors to Iraq took part in face-to-face discussions in Baghdad, with Iraqi officials in attendance, on May 28, 2007. The Bush administration believed, however, that normal relations were impossible until Iran's policies changed.

Nevertheless, the U.S. State Department continued then to support efforts to further the cause of democracy in Iran. In fiscal year (FY) 2006, the U.S. Congress allocated approximately $66 million to promote free media, personal freedom, and a better understanding of western values and culture. As part of those efforts, the Department supported efforts to develop civil society in Iran and exchange programs that would bring Iranian students, athletes, professionals and others to the United States.

Secretary Rice stated that Iranian agreement to abide by UNSC Resolutions 1696 and 1747, calling for Tehran to suspend uranium enrichment and comply with its international nuclear obligations, could lead to the direct negotiations between American and Iranian government officials, not only on Iran's nuclear case but on a wide range of issues.

In May 2007, the Iranian Government charged and in some cases imprisoned a handful of innocent Iranian-American scholars, civil society actors, and journalists, accused by the regime of jeopardizing the security of the state. The international community, academic institutions, non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and private citizens joined the U.S. Government in calling for the release of the detained dual nationals, as well as Iranian cooperation in the case of missing retired FBI agent Robert Levinson, last reported on Kish Island, Iran, on March 8, 2007.

Barack Obama addressing the United nations: "The future must not belong to those who slander the prophet of Islam."

Iranian nuclear deal

See also: Iranian nuclear deal

The Iranian nuclear deal or the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) was a failed diplomatic agreement by the Obama administration negotiated by John Kerry to help Iran get 150 billion dollars of U.S. taxpayer money and American banks. Iran then used this money for terrorism.

Then-President Obama said the joint agreement put Iran on the path of having nuclear weapons in 13 years. Obama finalized the agreement on January 21, 2016 when he signed Executive Order 13716.

The deal supposedly limited Iran's uranium enrichment, but it did not stop Iranian support of terrorist groups like the Muslim Brotherhood, Hamas and Hezbollah. It also did not address Iran's expansionist ambitions in the Middle East. [46] President Donald J. Trump rescinded the executive order in May 2018.

Economy

Pre-revolutionary Iran's economic development was rapid. Traditionally an agricultural society, by the 1970s Iran had achieved significant industrialization and economic modernization. However, the pace of growth had slowed dramatically by 1978, just before the Islamic revolution. Since the fall of the shah, economic recovery has proven elusive thanks to a combination of factors, including fluctuations in the global energy market. Economic activity was severely disrupted additionally by years of upheaval and uncertainty surrounding the revolution and the introduction of statist economic policies. These conditions were worsened by the war with Iraq and the decline in world oil prices beginning in late 1985. After the war with Iraq ended, the situation began to improve: Iran's GDP grew for two years running, partly from an oil windfall in 1990, and there was a substantial increase in imports. However, Iran had suffered a brain drain throughout the previous decade and wartime policies had resulted in a demographic explosion.

Iran-Pakistan-India gas pipeline.

A decrease in oil revenues in 1991 and growing external debt dampened optimism for recovery. In March 1989, the government instituted a new 5-year plan for economic development, which loosened state control and allowed Iran to seek greater latitude in accessing foreign capital. Mismanagement and inefficient bureaucracy, as well as political and ideological infighting, hampered the formulation and execution of a consolidated economic policy, and the Iran fell short of the plan's goals while economic inequality was aggravated. Today, Iran's economy is a mixture of central planning, state ownership of oil and other large enterprises, village agriculture, and small-scale private trading and service ventures. Former President Khatami followed the market reform plans of his predecessor, President Rafsanjani, and indicated that he would pursue diversification of Iran's oil-reliant economy, although he made little progress toward that goal. High inflation and expansive public transfer programs, as well as powerful economic-political vested interests created obstacles for rapid reform.

During the 2005 election campaign, President Ahmadi-Nejad promised to redistribute oil revenues to the impoverished, fund large infrastructure projects, and privatize Iranian state enterprises. He has been criticized within Iran for not carrying through on many of his promises. While establishment of the Imam Reza fund for cheap loans to youth has been popular, a law increasing the minimum was revoked because of the huge strain on employers. The "Shares of Justice" program—distributing shares of state-owned enterprises to the poor—faces a number of potential problems.


Unemployment was estimated to be 20% for 2007, according to the International Monetary Fund. Unemployment, a major problem even before the revolution, has many causes, including population growth, high minimum wage level and other restrictive labor policies. Farmers and peasants enjoyed a psychological boost from the attention given them by the Islamic regime but hardly appear to be better off in economic terms. The government has made progress on rural development, including electrification and road building, but Iran still faces inefficiencies related to agricultural land usage which are politically difficult to reconcile. Agriculture also has suffered from shortages of capital, raw materials, and equipment, problems dating back to the 1980-1988 war with Iraq. (See Foreign Relations above.)

Although Islam guarantees the right to private ownership, banks and some industries—including the petroleum, transportation, utilities, and mining sectors—were nationalized after the revolution under Marxist-influenced economic policies. Starting under President Rafsanjani, Iran has pursued some privatization through its nascent equities markets. However, the industrial sector remains plagued by low labor productivity and shortages of raw materials and spare parts, and is uncompetitive against foreign imports.

Increases in the price of oil starting in 2003 have increased state revenue enormously and permitted a much larger degree of spending on social programs than previously anticipated. However, this has not eased economic hardships such as high unemployment and inflation. The proportion of the economy devoted to the development of weapons of mass destruction and military spending overall remains a contentious issue with leading Western nations.

Earnings from Iranian oil exports, projected at $57-$87 billion for 2007–2008, are placed into the Oil Stabilization Fund (OSF), originally designed as a Treasury safety net if oil prices dropped below $20/barrel. In practice, the government has drawn upon the OSF to cover over expenditures. Iran relies on oil for 80% of its export revenue, and 40% of total revenues. (Note: Iran's refining capacity is limited, and Tehran is a net gasoline importer, spending $2.6 billion for foreign gas in 2005.)

  • GDP (purchasing power parity, 2006 est.): $599.2 billion.
  • GDP (official exchange rate, 2006 est.): $193.5 billion.
  • GDP real growth rate (2007 est.): 4.6%.
  • GDP composition by sector (2006): Agriculture 11.2%, industry 41.7%, services 47.1%.
  • Per capita income (2006 est.): $8,700.
  • Work force: 24.36 million.
  • Work force - by occupation (2001 est.): Agriculture 30%, industry 25%, services 45%.
  • Unemployment rate (2007 est.): 20%.
  • Natural resources: Petroleum, natural gas, coal, chromium, copper, iron ore, lead manganese, zinc, sulfur.
  • Agriculture: Principal products—wheat, rice, other grains, sugar beets, fruits, nuts, cotton, dairy products, wool, caviar. Note: Iran is not self-sufficient in terms of food.
  • Industry: Types—petroleum, petrochemicals, textiles, cement and building materials, food processing (particularly sugar refining and vegetable oil production), metal fabricating (particularly steel and copper), armaments.
  • Trade (2007 est.): Exports--$56.9 billion: petroleum 80%, chemical and petrochemical products, carpets, fruits, nuts. Major export partners (2006): Japan (17.3%), China (11.4%), Italy (6.2%), South Korea (5.2%), South Africa (5.5%), Turkey (5.7%), Netherlands (4.6%), France (4.1%), Taiwan (4.1%). Imports--$48.1 billion: industrial raw materials and intermediate goods, capital goods, foodstuffs and other consumer goods, technical services, military supplies. Major import partners: Germany (14.2%), U.A.E. (6.7%), China (8.3%), Italy (7.5%), France (6.2%), South Korea (5.4%), Russia (4.9%).

Law

Because of its Shi'ite character, the Islamic Republic of Iran is referred to as Rafida, or rejectionist of the orthodox Salafi traditions handed down thru Ibn Taymiyyah, Abd al-Wahhab, and others. [47] Iran has been ruled under the Shi'a interpretation of Shariah since 1979. Homosexuals get the death penalty in Iran. [48] However, in a speech at Columbia University, the president of Iran stated that homosexuality does not exist in his nation.

In Iran, production and consumption of alcohol by Muslims is prohibited. However, Iranian law makes an exception for minority groups, such as the Christian Armenians, who are allowed to produce and consume wine and distilled spirits. Naturally, these communities produce far more alcohol than they consume, "illegally" selling it to Muslims who drink in contradiction of Sharia law.

Prostitution is also prohibited in Iran, but there are allegations that نكاح المتعة (temporary marriage, legal in Usuli Shia jurisprudence) is exploited to solemnize marriages of such short duration (hours or days) that the activities thus permitted more resemble dating (if money is not exchanged) or prostitution (if a fee is charged for the marriage).

Military

Iranian industry and mining

Iran has it own weapons industry and also relies upon its Chinese communist and Russian allies to supply the latest weapons technology and equipment which can be easily and cheaply duplicated in Iranian factories. In addition, it holds sizable stockpiles purchased from the United States in the Cold War era prior to 1979.

The Quds Force (Jerusalem Force) is the organization tasked with Iran's external covert, paramilitary, terrorist and intelligence functions. Quds Force also carries out some diplomatic functions.[49] As the name implies, the Jerusalem Force was organized to capture Jerusalem from Israel. Its leader answers directly to the Iranian Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei as of 2021.

In Syria

Iran has for years sought to entrench itself militarily in Syria. It has active military bases in Syria and tenths of thousands of fighters. [50][51]

Disputed Territories

South Azerbaijan

For a more detailed treatment, see South Azerbaijan Independence Movement.

West Balochistan

For a more detailed treatment, see Balochistan(Country).

West Balochistan was invaded and annexed by Iran in 1928. [52]

Further reading

See also

External links


Copyright Details
License: This work is in the Public Domain in the United States because it is a work of the United States Federal Government under the terms of Title 17, Chapter 1, Section 105 of the U.S. Code
Source: File available from the United States Federal Government.

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