Section: Global Kenyon

Global Kenyon: The Fortieth Anniversary of Iranian Revolution

Feb. 11 marked the anniversary of the Iranian revolution, also known as the Islamic revolution, in  that established the Islamic Republic of Iran in 1979. This year, Iranians came out in droves on Feb. 11 to march up Revolution Street to the capital’s Freedom Monument, pushing strollers decorated with balloons in the red, white and green of the country’s flag for a huge state-backed rally commemorating the 40th anniversary of the Islamic revolution, according to a Feb. 11 New York Times article.

“Iran was one of the most important allies of the United States from the end of the Second World War in the region,” Professor of Political Science David Rowe said. “One was relative to the Soviet Union, and the other was British Petroleum interest in Iran. Since Britain was a major United States ally, this fact affected the United States policy to consider Iran as an important ally against the Soviet Union.”

However, the Shah, Mohammed Reza Pahlavi, who had been reinstalled in 1953 after the CIA helped overthrow democratically-elected Prime Minister Mohammed Mossadegh, used tough and sometimes brutal measures to tamp down dissent. He replaced Iran’s two-party political system with a single political organization, downplayed the role of Islam in public life and used his internal security organization to jail and sometimes torture opponents, according to a Feb. 11 Los Angeles Times article.

“The regime became very powerful because of the revenue from the oil and support from the United States government,” Professor of History Nurten Kilic-Schubel said. “However, the Shah became the target of many oppositional groups with different demands and political orientations in the country.”

Anti-Imperialism in the form of anti-American sentiment emerged at that time. For many Iranians, the Shah was imposed on them by the United States'” according to Professor Kilic-Schubel.

“The United States tried to support human rights in Iran, but at the same time the United States also sold military weapons to the regime,” Professor Rowe said. “The regime used these weapons against and even tortured its people.”

This strong sense of anti-U.S.ideology continues to mobilize the Iranian population. The hostility between Iran and the United States became worse after the oil and nuclear weapon sanctions. President Hassan Rouhani told the crowd at the Freedom Monument that the country was in the middle of  “a psychological and economic war, waged by cruel enemies,” which had a reference to the United States and the sanctions the Trump administration reimposed after it unilaterally withdrew from a global deal over Iran’s nuclear program. The anniversary of the revolution has over the years morphed into an ideological carnival, with the national mobile phone operator this year handing out placards that read, “40 years, the revolution has become mature,” according to a Feb. 11 New York Times article.

Today, the Trump administration argues that Iran is a severe threat to American interest stability, and U.S.  influence is minimal in this whole region of the Middle East, according to Rowe.

However, Professor Kilic-Shubel said that “I doubt it the United States will leave the region anytime soon. The geopolitical and economic interests of the United States continue to play a crucial role in the region.” The situation in the region is still complex. In conclusion, Iran is a land of contrasts.

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