Iran – the Islamic Republic

On 1 April 1979 the Republic was proclaimed Islamic religion of Iran and a new constitution gave Khomeinī the role of religious leader of the country for life. The fear of the spread of the Islamic revolution grew, both at the regional level (the Arab countries of the Gulf), and at the international level, especially after, in 1979, 50 officials of the US embassy in Tehran were taken hostage and only released in 1981. in exchange for the suspension of the freezing measures on Iranian deposits in the US. In 1980 Iraq, counting on the favor of both Western powers and Arab countries, worried about a spread of the Islamic revolution, and also taking advantage of the weakening of the Iran, denounced the 1975 agreements for the Shatt al-Arab and invaded Iran. The attack started a long and painful war, which would have ended only in 1988 (in 1990, Baghdad accepted the re-establishment of the borders agreed in 1975).

According to ehotelat, the conflict made the power struggle between the Shiite clergy and the secular forces more open: expelled in 1981 by Khomeinī the President of the Republic Abu al-Ḥasan Bani Ṣadr, spokesman for the reformist current, a sort of urban guerrilla was unleashed which saw in front row of the Islamic organization of the mugiāhidīn of the people, initially supported by popular sympathies. The integralist faction definitively consolidated the control of the state by stifling all opposition to a theocratic government and ethnic minorities with thousands of arrests and executions. In 1983, the Tudeh party, initially an ally of the regime, was also dissolved and many of its leaders and militants were sentenced to death. ● The presidential elections of 1985 confirmed the head of state ‛A. Khāmane´ī (elected in 1981), who in 1989 succeeded Khomeinī, who died in June, as religious leader of the country. The moderate and pragmatic conservative ‛AA Rafsangiānī was elected to the presidency of the Republic, who favored a cautious opening of the regime towards Western countries and supported the start of a policy of economic liberalization, remaining in terms of morals (veil for women, prohibition of alcohol etc.) and interpretation of canon law on the line of rigor that had been Khomeinī’s. The 8 years of his presidential term disappointed the expectations of those who hoped for the normalization of the regime. Relations with neighboring countries remained difficult and in 1995 the US announced the blocking of trade and investment against Iran, accused of being the instigator and main organizer of international Islamic terrorism, as well as pursuing a program to acquire nuclear weapons. Furthermore, the country was overall poorer and less free, especially with respect to the needs matured among the new generations.

The presidential elections of 1997 were won by surprise, with a solid base of consensus, by SM Khatamī, accused of liberalism and opposed by conservative religious leaders for having dared to challenge the regime in 1992, resigning because he disagreed with the government. Its unexpected success confirmed the vitality of a part of Iranian society, especially women and young people, who after years of silence came out in the open supporting the reformist candidate from the columns of some press organs. Immediately a tug-of-war broke out between the reformist forces and the more obscurantist forces of the country, which traditionally hold all religious, judicial and supervisory positions.

In 2002, in the new scenario following the September 11 attacks in the United States, the inclusion by US President GW Bush of the Iran among the countries of the so-called ‘axis of evil’, it triggered a nationalist reaction in the country skilfully exploited by the conservatives, who since 2004 experienced a clear political recovery, winning first the elections in Parliament and then (2005) the presidential elections, with the election of M. Ahmadinejad, rewarded by a clever blend of nationalist rhetoric, populism and justicialism in the name of Islam, and strong in the support and mobilization of mosques and ‘guardians of the revolution’ (or pasdaran), the special voluntary assault corps set up by Khomeinī to defend the Islamic Republic. With his victory, an authoritarian wave, characterized by pressures on the press and reform movements expressed by civil society, brought an abrupt halt to the vitality and internal dialectic of the country.On the international front, Ahmadinejad’s aggressive strategy has resulted in invectives against Israel, threatened in its very existence, support for the actions of the Lebanese ḥezbollāhs, great emphasis placed on the nuclear program, which exposed the country to the condemnation of the international community, in particular of the USA, but also allowed the Iran to gain prestige in the region. The 2009 elections confirmed Ahmadinejad’s presidency, despite being challenged by strong street demonstrations that denounced heavy fraud, while in the legislative consultations held in March 2012 the politician suffered a clear defeat from the confrontation with the conservative forces governed by the Guide Supreme A. Khamenei, who won the majority of the 225 seats assigned in Parliament out of a total of 290. In the ballot held in May following, in which 130 candidates competed for the remaining 65 seats in 33 constituencies, 22 were assigned to the Motahed (United Front) loyal to Khamenei, and 11 to the Paidari (Resistance Front), close to President Ahmadinejad. The remaining seats are held by independents, reformists and other minor political groups.

The presidential elections held in June 2013 marked a profound reconfiguration of the executive, decreeing the victory in the first round, with 50.7% of the preferences, of the moderate reformist H. Rohani, former chief negotiator on nuclear power under the presidency of Khatami, then resigned in 2005 with the election of Ahmadinejad; the high participation in the vote (80%) gave the Islamic Republic democratic legitimacy, leading the country towards more extended international relations.

With respect to nuclear power, a first agreement was reached in Lausanne in April 2015 between the Iran and the countries of the 5 + 1 Group (i.e. the countries that have the right of veto at the UN – United States, Russia, France, China, Great Britain – plus Germany), thanks to which the parameters of a comprehensive joint action plan were established regarding the nuclear program of the Islamic Republic, with a view to a definitive agreement to be reached by 30 June 2015. In based on this agreement, Iran has undertaken to reduce uranium enrichment and storage activities, converting them into research and development activities, and to allow the inspectors of the International Atomic Energy Agency to enter the country, in exchange for the progressive removal of sanctions relating to nuclear development imposed by the United States and the European Union. The historic agreement, reached in Vienna on July 14, 2015, provided for a 98% cut in enriched uranium stocks, a two-thirds reduction in the number of centrifuges,In January 2016 an IAEA report certified that the Iran has implemented all the commitments respecting the conditions of the agreement, therefore the economic sanctions against the country have been lifted, while those related to the experimentation of ballistic missiles and respect for human rights remain in force. Rohani’s open-to-change policy was rewarded in the consultations for the renewal of the Parliament and Assembly of Wise Men in February 2016, to which the list of president and former head of state H. Rafsanjani, supported by reformists and moderates, it obtained 90% of the votes in Tehran, winning the 30 seats in the running in the capital and also gaining ground on a national basis, although in the rural areas and in the provinces the conservative front still enjoyed widespread popular support. The success of the front close to President Rohani was largely confirmed in the second round of consultations, held in the following April, following which the moderates won over half of the 68 seats in the Assembly of Wise Men, the head of which was elected in the month of May, Ayatollah A. Janati. In May 2017 Rohani was reconfirmed at the helm of the country in the first round of the presidential consultations – held with a turnout of over 70% – to which he obtained about 57% of the votes against the 38.5% awarded by the main opponent, the conservative E. Raisi, who took over from him following the elections of June 2021, to which he won 62% of the votes. The legislative elections held in February 2020,

The intense and direct action taken by the country against Sunni jihadism in Syria and Iraq has in fact made the Iran one of the preferential targets of terrorism: while at least 30 attacks were recorded in 2016, among the most serious episodes of the conflict we should mention the double action of attack on power and its symbols which took place in June 2017 in Tehran in the Parliament and at the Khomeini Mausoleum and claimed by the Islamic State, which has produced numerous victims and which risks weakening Rohani’s leadership.

Iran - the Islamic Republic

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