Thursday, July 7, 2011

Empire of the Mind: A History of Iran by Michael Axworthy

Chapter 8: Iran Since the Revolution: Islamic Revival, War, and Confrontation

  • "The revolution of 1979 was not solely -- and perhaps not even primarily -- a religious revolution. Economic slump and middle-class disillusionment with the corruption and oppression of a regime many had previously supported were important factors, as was a nationalistic dislike of the unequal relationship with the United States. But the revolution drew great strength from its Shi'a form, which lent cohesion and a sense of common purpose to disparate elements" - 261
  • May 1979: "Khomeini established the Revolutionary Guard Corps (Sepah-e Pasdaran) as a reliable military force to balance the army and to supplement the gangs of street fighters that became known as Hezbollah -- the party of God" - 263
  • "The constitution set up an elected presidency, an elected Majles, and elected municipal councils, but it also established a Council of Guardians (twelve clerics and jurists) to vet and approve candidates before they could run for election, and to approve or veto legislation passed by the Majles." - 264
  • September 1980: "Saddam Hussein's forces invaded Iran" - 267
  • "The arsenal supplied to Iraq [by 'Western nations'] included chemical weapon technology that was used against Iranian soldiers as well as Kurdish civilians in the north of Iraq, whom Saddam treated as rebels" - 268
  • 1984: Saddam begins attacking Iranian ships in the Persian Gulf transporting oil - 268
  • July 1988: the "disastrously gung-ho commander" of the U.S. warship called USS Vincennes "shot down an Iranian civilian airliner...killing 290" while in pursuit of Iranian gunboats - 268
  • June 3, 1989: Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini died - 269
  • "the economy remained heavily dependent on oil, the oil industry remained inefficient for lack of international help to secure the most up-to-date technology, and that help was further blocked by U.S. economic sanctions, which sharpened through the 1990s as part of the policy of dual containment applied to both Iran and Iraq." - 275
  • May 1997: President Khatami elected and "called for proper constitutional government and for a halt of extra-judicial violence....But his reforms were blocked" - 277

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