The Shah was first put in Power in 1941 by the allied powers to prevent Nazi influence from spreading to Iran (the Nazis were attempting to spread it's influence into the middle east) and, since the Nazis had just invaded the USSR, the allies wanted a safer way to get supplies to the soviets. after the war and with the fear of communist expansionism under stalin (especially into an area we were dependent upon for trade and energy sources) the western powers stayed in iran.
But a series of complex crisises within iran resulted in the election of Dr. Mohammad Mossadegh as Prime Minister and a removal of the Shah and his supporters from power (who was later exiled to Iraq after an unsuccessful coup). Mossadegh was heavally influenced by Iran's "Tudeh" communist party.
Truman and his top advisers always focused on working out an oil agreement between Mosaddeq and British. To the end, they believed that Mosaddeq represented the most effective barrier to a communist takeover in Iran. This view differed sharply from the Eisenhower administration's, which held that Mosaddeq's inability to withstand Tudeh subversion or a coup made him a liability that had been removed.
When the plot threatened to fall apart entirely at an early point, U.S. agents on the ground took the initiative to jump-start the operation, adapted the plans to fit the new circumstances, and pressed their Iranian collaborators to keep going. Moreover, a British-led oil boycott, supported by the United States, plus a wide range of ongoing political pressures by both governments against Mosaddeq, culminating in a massive covert propaganda campaign in the months leading up to the coup helped create the environment necessary for success. On the morning of August 19, 1953, a crowd of demonstrators operating at the direction of pro-Shah organizers with ties to the CIA made its way from the bazaars of southern Tehran to the center of the city. Joined by military and police forces equipped with tanks, they sacked offices and newspapers aligned with Prime Minister Mohammad Mosaddeq and his advisers, as well as the communist Tudeh Party and others opposed to the monarch. By early afternoon, clashes with Mosaddeq supporters were taking place, the fiercest occurring in front of the prime minister's home. Reportedly 200 people were killed in that battle before Mosaddeq escaped over his own roof, only to surrender the following day. At 5:25 p.m., retired General Fazlollah Zahedi, arriving at the radio station on a tank, declared to the nation that with the Shah's blessing he was now the legal prime minister and that his forces were largely in control of the city. Iranians and non-Iranians both played crucial parts in the coup's success. The Shah was back.
in 1963 the shah launched a series of far-reaching reforms known as the "White Revolution" which included a large number of western values, including giving women the right to vote. These caused outrage amoung the shia populous, one of the leaders of the opposition to the reforms was Ayatollah Khomeini, who was seen as a threat by the shah and exiled. however, the Khomein had tapes recorded and smuggeled into iran and his popularity grew.
the shah grew increasingly paranoid. by 1975, he abolished the multi-party system of government so that he could rule through a one-party state under the Rastakhiz (Resurrection) Party in autocratic fashion. Amnesty International reports methods of torture that included "whipping and beating, electric shocks, extraction of teeth and nails, boiling water pumped into the rectum, heavy weights hung on the testicles, tying the prisoner to a metal table heated to a white heat, inserting a broken bottle into the anus, and rape."
The Iranian Revolution began in January 1978 with the first major demonstrations to overthrow the Shah. The Shah greatly expanded the military and turned it against his own people. With newfound oil wealth the Shah bought $2C million of U.S. arms. Despite claims that a strong army was needed to prevent external agression, its real purpose became clear when the army murdered more than 50,000 Iranians fighting the Shah (the number is based on estimates of dead quickly buried after street massacres and compiled throughout the year). But opposition continued to grow.
On January 16, 1979 the Shah and the empress left Iran and to scenes of spontaneous joy and the destruction "within hours of almost every sign of the Pahlavi dynasty." On February 1, 1979 Ayatollah Khomeini returned to Tehran to rapturous greeting by several million Iranians. A Revolutionary government was quickly formed. The Revolutionary Guard or Pasdaran-e Enqelab, was established by a decree issued by Khomeini on May 5, 1979 "to protect the revolution from destructive forces and counter-revolutionaries".
Ayatollah Khomeini became the 1st Supreme Leader of Iran on December 3, 1979, but the event was overshadowed by event in the previous months.
On 22 October 1979, the Shah was admitted into the United States for medical treatment for lymphoma. There was an immediate outcry in Iran and on November 4, 1979, a group of students seized the United States embassy in Tehran, taking 63 Americans hostage. After a judicious delay, Khomeini supported the hostage-takers under the slogan "America can't do a damn thing." 10 of the hostages were released soon after, but 53 continued to be held — an event usually referred to as the Iran hostage crisis. The hostage-takers justified this violation of long-established international law as a reaction to American refusal to hand over the Shah for trial and execution. On February 23, 1980, Khomeini proclaimed Iran's Majlis would decide the fate of the American embassy hostages, and demanded that the United States hand over the Shah for trial in Iran for crimes against the nation. Although the Shah died less than a year later, the crisis continued. Supporters of Khomeini named the embassy a "Den of Espionage", and publicized the weapons, electronic listening devices, other equipment and many volumes of official and secret classified documents they found there. a rescue attempt failed and resulted in 8 us deaths, an event seen as divine intervention. the crisis cost jimmy carter the 1980 election to reagon, who promised to take a hard-line on iran if the hostages were not freed.
But even as the crisis was ongoing, another dramatic event occured. Shortly after assuming power, Khomeini began calling for Islamic revolutions across the Muslim world, including in Lebanon whare iran choose to aid the shias in a brutal muli-faction civil war, and Iran's Arab neighbor Iraq, the one large state besides Iran with a Shia majority population. At the same time Saddam Hussein, Iraq's secular Arab nationalist Ba'athist leader, was eager to take advantage of Iran's weakened military and (what he assumed was) revolutionary chaos, and in particular to occupy Iran's adjacent oil-rich province of Khuzestan, and, of course, to undermine Iranian Islamic revolutionary attempts to incite the Shi'a majority of his country. With what many Iranians believe was the encouragement of the United States, Saudi Arabia and other countries, Iraq launched a full scale invasion of Iran in semtember of 1980, starting what would become the eight-year-long Iran-Iraq War. things looked very bad for iran in the months that followed, and the chance of war with the US also seemed real due to the fact that 53 US hostages were still being held and the hard-line reagan was comming to office. On the night of reagon's inaugeration, iran let the hostages go after 444 days of captivity.
A combination of fierce resistance by Iranians and military incompetence by Iraqi forces soon stalled the Iraqi advance and by early 1982 Iran regained almost all the territory lost to the invasion. The invasion rallied Iranians behind the new regime, enhancing Khomeini's stature and allowed him to consolidate and stabilize his leadership. After this reversal, Khomeini refused an Iraqi offer of a truce, instead demanding reparation and toppling of Saddam Hussein from power. Outside powers supplied arms to both sides during the war, but the West wanted to be sure the Islamic revolution did not spread to other parts of the oil-exporting Persian Gulf and began to supply Iraq with whatever help it needed. Most military sales came from the USSR and the USA, and also from France, Saudi Arabia, and Egypt. Most rulers of other Muslim countries also supported Iraq out of opposition to the Islamic ideology of Islamic Republic of Iran, which threatened their own native monarchies. On the other hand most Islamic parties and organizations supported Islamic unity with Iran, especially the Shiite ones. The war continued for another six years, with 450,000 to 950,000 casualties on the Iranian side and at a cost estimated by Iranian officials to total USD $300 billion. As the costs of the eight-year war mounted, Khomeini, in his words, “drank the cup of poison” and accepted a truce mediated by the United Nations. He strongly denied however that pursuit of overthrow of Saddam had been a mistake. In a `Letter to Clergy` he wrote: `... we do not repent, nor are we sorry for even a single moment for our performance during the war. Have we forgotten that we fought to fulfill our religious duty and that the result is a marginal issue?' As the war ended, the struggles among the clergy resumed and Khomeini’s health began to decline.
Arab and other Muslim volunteers who came to Iran were trained in camps run by the Revolutionary Guards. these include many terrorist groups.
[ In 1975, the Lebanese Civil War began. Further instability was caused in 1982 by the invasion of Lebanon by Israel, which targeted the Palestine Liberation Organization based there. As the capital of Beirut was besieged by the Israelis, U.S. Ambassador Philip Habib negotiated with the warring parties for an end to the fighting and for the establishment of a peacekeeping force in Beirut. In August, the siege intensified, but Habib was successful in getting the PLO to decide to withdraw from Beirut to Tripoli. The participants included contingents of United States Marines, US Navy SEALs, French paratroopers, Italian soldiers, and British soldiers. ]
Around June 1982, Iran dispatched more than 1000 Revolutionary Guards to the predominately Shi'ite Bekaa Valley of Lebanon. There they established themselves, taking over the Lebanese Army's regional headquarters in the Sheikh Abdullah barracks, as well as a modern clinic renamed `Hospital Khomeini` and the Hotel Khayyam. Pasdaran were active in many places, including schools, where they propagated Islamic doctrine. Iranian clerics, most notably Fazlollah Mahallati, supervised. From this foothold, the Islamic Republic helped organize one of its biggest successes, the Hezbollah militia, party and social services organization loyal to the Khomeini principle of Guardianship (i.e. rule) of the Islamic Jurists (Velayat-e-Faqih), and loyal to Khomeini as their leader. Over the next seven years Iran is estimated to have spent an estimated $5 to $10 million US dollars per month on Hezbollah. their were systematic kidnappings in Lebanon of 96 foreign hostages of 21 national origins between 1982 and 1992. The victims were mostly from Western countries, and mostly journalists, diplomats, or teachers. 25 of them were Americans, 16 were Frenchmen, 12 Britons, 7 Swiss and 7 West Germans. It is widely believed that the Islamic Republic of Iran and to a lesser extent Syria played a major role in the kidnappings. The original reason for the hostage-taking seems to have been "as insurance against retaliation by the U.S., Syria, or any other force" against Hezbollah, which is thought responsible for the killing of over 240 Americans in the Marine barracks and embassy bombings in Beirut. Other reasons for the kidnappings or the prolonged holding of hostages are thought to be "primarily based on Iranian foreign policy calculations and interests" particularly the extraction of "political, military and financial concessions from the Western world," the hostage takers being strong allies of the Islamic Republic of Iran. Frustration with the situation, along with public pressure from the media and families of the hostages led to a breakdown of the anti-terrorism principle of "no negotiations, no concessions" by American and French officials. In particular the Ronald Reagan administration in the United States negotiated a secret and illegal arms for hostage swap with Iran known as the Iran-Contra Affair, which turned into a major scandal.At least 10 hostages perished in captivity: some murdered, while others died from lack of adequate medical attention to illnesses.
Khomeini dies in 1989
In April 1995 a total embargo on dealings with Iran by U.S. companies was imposed by U.S. president Clinton. Trade with the U.S., which had been growing following the end of the Iran-Iraq war ended abruptly. The next year the American Congress passed the Iran-Libya Sanctions act which threatened even non-U.S. countries making large investments in energy. The act was denounced by the European Union as null and void, but blocked some needed investment for Iran nonetheless.
Khatami and Iranian reformers
The election of reformist president Khatami brought hopes for a thawing of relations. In January 1998 Khatami called for a "dialogue of civilizations" with US in a CNN interview, contrasting Huntington's famous essay 'Clash of Civilizations'. In the interview, Khatami invoked Alexis de Tocqueville's 'Democracy in America' to explain the similarities between American and Iranian quests for freedom. US Secretary of state Madeleine Albright answered with conciliatory words and there followed an exchange of wrestling teams, freer travel to and from the US, and an end to the U.S. embargo of two Iranian export items, carpets and pistachios. Relations did not improve further though, as Iran's conservatives opposed them in principle and the U.S. preconditions for discussions included changes in Iranian policy on Israel, nuclear energy, and support for terrorism.
Following the 9/11 Attack some Iranians spontaneously gathered in the Maidan-e-Mohseni shopping area in northern Tehran in a candlelit vigil for the victims of the attack. However, these vigils were violently broken up by Ansar-e-Hezbollah hardliners.
On January 29, 2002 U.S. President George W. Bush gave his "Axis of evil" speech, describing Iran, along with North Korea and Saddam Hussein's Iraq, as an axis of evil and warning that the proliferation of long-range missiles developed by these countries was of great danger to the US and that it constituted terrorism. The speech caused outrage in Iran and was condemned by reformists and conservatives alike. Since 2003 the U.S. has been flying unmanned aerial vehicles, launched from Iraq, over Iran to obtain intelligence on Iran's nuclear program, reportedly providing little new information. The Iranian government has formally protested the incursions as illegal. Note: An opinion poll in 2003 asking Iranians if they supported resuming government dialogue with the United States found 75% in favor. The pollsters were jailed, at least one of them spending several years in prison for his indiscretion.
US invaded Iraq in 2003 (see belowe for info on iran's involvment in the iraq war and the insurgence)
The presidential elections in June, 2005, were won by the hardline conservative mayor of Tehran, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who ran on a populist, anticorruption platform. Ahmadinejad and former president Rafsanjani were the leaders after the first round, but in the runoff Ahmadinejad's populist economic policies combined with Rafsanjani's inability to pick up sufficient reformist support assured the former's win. Ahmadinejad's victory gave conservatives control of all branches of Iran's government.
Ahmedinejad has made several controversial statements about the Holocaust and Israel, and was quoted in foreign media sources as saying "Israel should be wiped off the map." Iran's stated policy on Israel is to urge a one-state solution through a countrywide referendum in which a government would be elected that all Palestinians and all Israelis would jointly vote for; which would normally be an end to the "Zionist state". The Iranian government "regularly sends aid to various Palestinian causes, everything from transporting injured children to hospitals to supplying" the Islamist "resistance" groups Islamic Jihad and Hamas with arms.
in Aug., 2005, Iran resumed converting raw uranium into gas, a necessary step for enrichment. On April 11, 2006, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad announced that Iran had successfully enriched uranium. President Ahmadinejad made the announcement in a televised address from the northeastern city of Mashhad, where he said "I am officially announcing that Iran joined the group of those countries which have nuclear technology." The uranium was enriched to 3.5% using over a hundred centrifuges. At this level, it could be used in a nuclear reactor if enough of it was made.
Of all the neighbors, Iran has the most leverage in Iraq. Iran has long-standing ties to many Iraqi Shia politicians, many of whom were exiled to Iran during the Saddam Hussein regime. Iran has provided arms, financial support, and training for Shiite militias within Iraq, as well as political support for Shia parties. There are also reports that Iran has supplied improvised explosive devices to groups—including Sunni Arab insurgents—that attack U.S. forces. The Iranian border with Iraq is porous, and millions of Iranians travel to Iraq each year to visit Shia holy sites. Many Iraqis spoke of Iranian meddling, and Sunnis took a particularly alarmist view. One leading Sunni politician told us, "If you turn over any stone in Iraq today, you will find Iran underneath." U.S., Iraqi, and international officials also commented on the range of tensions between the United States and Iran, including Iran's nuclear program, Iran's support for terrorism, Iran's influence in Lebanon and the region, and Iran's influence in Iraq. Iran appears content for the U.S. military to be tied down in Iraq, a position that limits U.S. options in addressing Iran's nuclear program and allows Iran leverage over stability in Iraq. Proposed talks between Iran and the United States about the situation in Iraq have not taken place. One Iraqi official told us: "Iran is negotiating with the United States in the streets of Baghdad."
harsh sanctions have been put on iran and it has interupted the daily lives of the citizans. isreal is treataning an attack on iran, Israel's military sent warplanes over the eastern Mediterranean for a large military exercise in June 2008 that U.S. officials described as a possible rehearsal for a strike on Iran's nuclear facilities, which the West fears are aimed at producing atomic weapons. On July 09, 2008, Iran test-fired nine long- and medium-range missiles in the Persian Gulf and the Strait of Hormouz, including a new version of the Shahab-3 missile, which officials have said has a range of 1,250 miles.
Ahmadinejad is extreamly unpopular in iran due to his broken promises about reform, human rights violations, and his hard line foriegn policy and defiance of the world with it's nuclear program; bringing harsh sanctions for the people of iran and bringing it to the brink of war.
my sources for this topic: