Descriptive Background Geography Area: 1.6 million sq. km. (636,294 sq. mi.); slightly larger than Alaska. Cities: Capital--Tehran. Others: Isfahan, Tabriz, Mashhad, Shiraz. Terrain: Desert and mountains. Climate: Semiarid; subtropical -Caspian Resources: oil, natural gas, coal, copper Arable land: 9%
Iranian People Nationality: Iranian(s). Population (2007 est.): 69 million. Population growth rate (2007): 1.07%. 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 10%; Zoroastrian, Jewish, Christian, and Baha'i 1%. Languages: Persian and Persian dialects 58%, Turkic and Turkic dialects 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, 2007) 79.4%. Health (2003 est.): Infant mortality rate—44.17 deaths/1,000 live births. Life expectancy at birth (2007)--total population: 69.35. Work force (2001): Agriculture 30%, industry 25%, services 45% est. There is a shortage of skilled labor. (State Department Background Notes http://www.state.gov/r/pa/ei/bgn/5314.htm ) http://www.state.gov/r/pa/ei/bgn/5314.htm
Economy GDP (2004 est.): $477.8 billion. (1994 est. $90 billion) GNP real growth rate (2007 est.): 7.6%. GDP composition by sector (2004): Agriculture 19%, industry 26%, services 55%. Per capita income (est.2007): $8,700. (2004 7,000 est) (1994 est 1,500). Natural resources: Petroleum, natural gas, and some mineral deposits. Agriculture: Principal products--wheat, rice, other grains, sugarbeets, fruits, nuts, cotton, dairy products, wool, caviar; not self- sufficient in food. Industry: Types--petroleum, petrochemicals, textiles, cement and building materials, food processing (particularly sugar refining and vegetable oil production), metal fabricating (steel and copper), armaments. Trade (2002): Exports--$24.8 billion: petroleum 85%, carpets, fruits, nuts. Imports--$21.8 billion: food, machinery, and semifinished goods. Major markets/suppliers--Germany, Japan, Italy, South Korea.
Shiite and Sunni Islam Muhammad dies in 632 without designating a successor Followers split into two groups: 1)Sunni – believed that the most prominent members of the community should select the new leader (caliph) on the basis of personal attributes (piety, wisdom, morality, leadership) 2)Shiia – believed leadership should stay in the prophet’s family; believed Muhammad wanted his son-in-law Ali – “Shi’at Ali” – the partisans of Ali
Religious and political origins 2,500 years of existence as a state (Persia) Characterized by struggle between monotheistic religion and monarchical secular government. Persia is never colonized – but is impacted by the west (Romans, Russia, Great Britain) The monarchy: Shahinshah – king of kings (The Shah)
Persian Kings 400 years of expanding authoritarianism under the monarchy –Safavid dynasty –Qajar dynasty –Authoritarianism reinforced by Shiism (respect for learned scholars) Islam’s expansion related to regional politics: –Rejects the Sunni branch (Ottoman Empire) –Turn to Shiia Islam
19 th Century transition Persia torn by own traditions and growing western pressure – Qajar dynasty weak – pushing secularization Domestic response: –Shiites reject secularization –Bazaaris (small businessmen) want to make more money; reducing outside competition –Secular middle class wants political reform to “rule of law” if not total democracy
Constitutional Revolution 1905-1911 Promised all things to all people –Firming the legal status of Islam –Strengthening the state –Codifying the legal system 1906 King dismissed his Prime Minister creates the Majlis – conflict ensues –Revolution is defeated; a shah comes to power but controls only part of the country. Increases the influence of external powers (Great Britain)
The Final Dynasty Russian occupation (North); British occupation (South) Rise of Reza Khan – Cossack leader occupies Tehran; supported by British against Russians 1925 crowns self Shah; chooses name Pahlavi –Takes power in name of Shiism and nationalism –Era of modernization
The Revolution Last Shah (Muhammad Reza Shah): –alienated Shiite clerics –Tradition of shunning politics ended when Shah instituted the white revolution and created SAVAK to enforce his rule White Revolution (1963) –Effort to modernize country and consolidate Shah power –Targeted clergy (land redistribution, reduction of power) –Extended women’s rights
The Revolution SAVAK (1957) –Farsi acronym for Intelligence and Security Organization of the Country –Arrested and tortured dissidents at home and abroad Religious community radicalized –Ayatollah Khomeini (ayatollah in 1960) –Argues religion/politics not separable –Obligation to uphold principles in Iran –Arrested by Shah in 1963
The Revolution Khomeini released in 1964 –“All of Islam is politics”; exiled to Iraq (15 yrs) –Teaching: galvanizes opposition to the Shah Unintended consequences of Shah’s reforms: –Land redistribution fails –Unemployed; slums of Tehran –Continues to concentrate power –Alliance with U.S. unpopular; U.S. resident behavior culturally unacceptable
Khomeini 1979 – Revolution –Diverse coalition of revolutionaries too divided to govern –Political purges followed (executions); rival movements eliminated –Khomeini’s power solidified: 444 day occupation of US embassy by Iranian students Iran/Iraq war (1980-1988) –500,000 killed; stalemate Domestic repression increases
Political System Theocracy – “rule of the clergy” Cleric with title “Supreme Leader” –Ayatollah Ali Hoseini Khamenei Clergy rule by divine right Centralized administration with 28 provinces –Unitary state – governors appointed by the interior minister
Executive: Leader of the Islamic Revolution and Council of Guardians Ayatollah – leader of the Islamic Revolution Council -12 members - religious leaders. –6 religious members appointed by Ayatollah. –6 lay members appointed by Majles. Ultimate authority in Iranian political system. Ayatollah appoints highest judicial authorities. Council certifies competence of candidates for President and National assembly.
Executive President President and cabinet (Council of Ministers). Candidates for both approved by Council of Guardians. President popularly elected – 4 year cycle President appoints cabinet with approval of Majles (parliament)
Legislature Majles 290 seats, 4 year election cycle Multimember districts, most votes –Direct, secret ballot Legislation must be approved by Council of Guardians –lawyer members review legislation for limited questions of constitutionality –religious leaders consider legislation for conformity to Islamic principles.
Judiciary Authority vested in the Supreme Court and four member High Council of the Judiciary 2 separate groups with overlapping responsibilities and one head. Supervise enforcement of all laws and for establishing judicial and legal policies.
The Accidental President: 2005 Election Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani –1997 served two terms as president –Was head of Expediency Council and Assembly of Experts (currently in this position) Mahmoud Ahmadinejad (60% in second round) Rafsanjani’s defeat seen as repudiation of the generation that came to power with Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini (1903-1989)
Ahmadinejad First non-cleric to win the presidency of the Islamic Republic Former mayor of Tehran Possibly more conservative than the clerics Appealed to youth/poor view selves as left behind by the theocracy –¼ population is under age 15 –Median age is 26
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