1979 events of the year still determine Iran’s foreign policy
In Washington, a new foreign policy team talks about "normalizing relations with Iran," but experts are convinced that America can achieve this goal only if "repents of its historical errors ". For the Iranian elite, the events of the Islamic revolution play a key role in relations with the outside world, and in this respect the local establishment is strikingly reminiscent of the Soviet nomenklatura before World War II.
Conservative American commentators have already dubbed the new US Secretary of State "patron of the ayatollahs" and "the future father of the Iranian nuclear bomb." After all, dialogue with Tehran for John Kerry is one of the main priorities. “If the authorities of the Islamic Republic,” he said at his first 8 press conference in February, “will provide a clear report on their nuclear program during the upcoming Six talks in Kazakhstan, the US is ready for a diplomatic solution to the problem.” However, just like four years ago, when Barack Obama spoke for the first time about direct talks with Tehran, the great Ayatollah Ali Khamenei cooled the eagerness of the Americans. "The United States," he said, "suggests that Iran negotiate at gunpoint, and we will never agree to that." Indeed, in February, the US administration imposed regular financial sanctions against Iran concerning oil exports, and it is not surprising that the thousands of crowds that gathered in Tehran to celebrate the 34 anniversary of the Islamic revolution, chanted: "Do not trust the cowboys!"
American gendarme in the Middle East: Shah against mosques
The Islamic revolution, which began in Iran in 1979, took the Americans by surprise. They were convinced of the strength of the power of the Shah, who was considered one of Washington’s closest allies in the Middle East. American oil companies participated in the development of Iranian oil, there were more than 10 thousands of US advisers in the country who worked in almost all sectors of the economy, the army and law enforcement agencies. The United States has supplied to Tehran the latest weapon, and the children of Shah's officials studied at the prestigious American universities of the Ivy League. In 1977, Jimmy Carter made an official visit to Iran, was very well received and announced that this is the most stable country in the Middle East. Moreover, the new, 78 year, the US president met with Shahinshah in Tehran.
According to experts, the American special services simply "missed the Islamic revolution." They did not admit that the Persian monarchy, which existed 2500 for years, would fall so easily under the pressure of the crowd. The intelligence services were confident in the effectiveness of SAVAK, the Ministry of State Security, which was created not without their help during the reign of Mohammed Reza Pahlavi. “It was a serious, powerful intelligence service,” said Vladimir Sazhin, an expert at the Institute of Oriental Studies, in an interview with “However,” who cleaned out all the organizational opposition in Iran. After the Shah created a single party, Rastahiz (Revival), in 70, other political organizations were banned and the SAVAK staff acted especially violently. ” Politicians in Washington believed that in these conditions it was almost impossible to raise people in Iran. Moreover, after the overthrow of the popular Prime Minister Mohammed Mossadegh by CIA agents, the Iranians fell into a state of political apathy for a long time.
However, in 1978, a process began in the Azerbaijani province of Tabriz, which causes many experts to associate with the recent events of the Arab Spring. The police broke up a youth demonstration, there were several casualties, and commemorative events were held in 40 days: demonstrations spread to several cities at once, and the authorities again used force. This was repeated every forty days, until a nationwide uprising began. Indeed - a painfully familiar scenario.
As during the Arab revolts in the first stage of the Iranian revolution, the Islamists did not play a key role in the protest movement. It was attended by liberals and social democrats united in the Popular Front (with the United States, as usual, flirted with them), representatives of the Communist Party, hastily returned from the USSR, GDR and Sweden, Iranian Maoists and representatives of the petty bourgeoisie - the so-called “Bozori” who did not like the economic policy of the Shah. However, it was the Islamists who turned out to be the most organized and efficient force. In the people's committees, which spontaneously began to be created in Iran in the 1979 year (analogous to the “councils” operating during the Russian revolution 1917 of the year), they were given leadership positions. In addition, they were the ones who were able to unite citizens, most of whom are dissatisfied with the pro-Western course of the authorities.
As early as the beginning of the 60's in Iran, the so-called “white revolution of the Shah and the people” was announced. “It was a program of bourgeois reforms in agriculture, industry and the banking sector, aimed at transforming a semi-feudal country into a“ modern society, ”says Vladimir Sazhin,“ but the secularization policy has caused the most complaints. Even the Persian intelligentsia, which was far from Islamic convictions, understood that the Shah went too far, forcibly planting Western culture in a country with a history of three thousand years. However, despite the secularization policy and the economic offensive against the clergy (the vacuus lands were taken from them), the shah did not dare to hit the mosques. ”
Mosques remained inaccessible for SAVAK employees and in fact became the headquarters of the future revolution. It was in the mosques that the films on which Imam Ruhollah Khomeini’s sermons were recorded were distributed. And although some ministers urged the shah to “restore order” in religious institutions, he did not heed their advice, and in 1979, the mosques became military bases and depots for small arms.
Of course, the Islamists were strong in ideological terms. They very skillfully played the anti-American card. After all, many Iranians did not like the fact that their country was turning into a “US gendarme in the Middle East”.
Return Khomeini and the laws of revolution
The White House, of course, had a chance to save the situation. The Iranian army was actually under the control of the United States, and they could well provide power support to the shah's regime. But, as Sazhin notes, “the Americans surrendered their ally, just as many years later the Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak surrendered, refusing to provide him with effective assistance. Perhaps this is their tradition ... "
16 January 1979, the shah, being a pilot himself, raised his Boeing with his family and close friends, made a farewell circle over Tehran and flew to Cairo. Then he moved to the United States for treatment. Two weeks later, 1 February 1979, Ayatollah Khomeini flew to Tehran from Paris with his team. In Iran, giant crowds were waiting for him. According to eyewitnesses, there were several millions who met, and the Ayatollah was descending the ladder amid the rising sun. (In recent years, journalists have constantly referred to this textbook historical story comparing the arrival of Arab Islamic leaders to their homeland with the triumphant return of Khomeini. This honor was given, for example, by the leader of the Islamist party “An-Nahda” Rashid Gannushi, who returned after “jasmine revolution” to Tunisia from London exile, and the Salafi preacher Yusuf Kardaui, who came to Egypt after the overthrow of Mubarak.)
After the fall of the Shah in Iran, a temporary transitional government was formed, headed by a moderate Islamic Democrat, the leader of the Liberation Movement of Iran, close to the Liberal Popular Front, Mehdi Bazargan. A prominent economist, educated in the West, he was perceived in Washington as a quite predictable and reliable partner. The same could be said about the first democratically elected president of Iran, Abolhasan Banisadre, who has participated in the anti-Shah student movement since 60. In general, politicians in Washington hoped that the passions would subside and, over time, they would be able to establish good relations with the new Iranian authorities.
True, they forgot about the existence of a law formulated once by Georges Danton: a revolution devours its children. Alexander Filonik, an expert of the Institute of Oriental Studies of the Russian Academy of Sciences, said “However,” “the intelligentsia, headed by the anti-Shah revolution in Iran, was a highbrow who could not withstand the pressure of Islamists led by Ayatollah Khomeini.” Two years ago, some experts pointed to this experience of pro-Western revolutionary democrats in Egypt. “They should remember the fate of other naive visionaries,” wrote The National Review magazine, “secular reformers in Iran who overthrew an autocrat and shot him in the back of the head several hours after the formation of the new regime.” The Islamists really did not stand on ceremony with their temporary allies: for example, already at the beginning of the 80-s almost all the leaders of the Iranian Communist Party were shot.
Islamic Republic against “big shaitan”
1 April 1979, the majority of Iranians supported the creation of an Islamic Republic in a referendum, and in December a constitution was adopted, according to which the head of state became rahbar (leader), who is also the leader of the Shiite community. The supreme power in the country passed to Khomeini and his entourage. And it was then that an event occurred, which to this day determines the nature of American-Iranian relations. Revolutionary students, with the blessing of the authorities, attacked the US embassy and took over 50 American diplomats hostage. Thus, the new Iranian leaders wanted to punish the “big shaytan” (as they called America) for refusing to extradite the Shah to them and transfer money from his bank accounts to the country. But the main task of the Ayatollah was to unite the various political forces of Iran and make it clear to the outside world that this country will henceforth pursue an independent course based on the interests of the global Islamic revolution.
By the way, it is worth noting that the possibility of capturing the Soviet embassy was also discussed in the environment of the rakhbar. After all, according to the Khomeini doctrine, Iran has three main enemies: the “big shaitan” - the USA, the “red shaitan” - the USSR, and the “minor shaitan” - Israel. Israelis were expelled by new Iranian leaders immediately after the revolution, and a representative office of the Palestine Liberation Organization was stationed in the building of the former Israeli embassy. The embassies of the USA and the USSR also provoked angry feelings in them, and it was finally decided to storm the “American nest of espionage.”
Now in the United States they are trying to make this story heroic, removing epic tapes about the rescue of six diplomats who, at the last moment, managed to escape from the captured embassy. At the beginning of 1980, the so-called “Argo operation” was conducted, as a result of which these people were taken out of Iran by CIA expert Tony Menders. And now the Americans relish the details of how they "made" the Iranians. Menders in the special services was called a magician, he developed a bold plan, according to which the embassy staff were to appear in the role of the crew of the fantastic film “Argo”, which had arrived in Iran to find a place for future shootings. To the case of Menders approached in a big way. A production studio was created in Hollywood, a film script was developed, posters were drawn, the best costume designers and decorators were drawn. As a result, the operation was a success, but this is only a story of private success against the background of a general failure.
After all, the operation to free the remaining hostages, known as the Eagle Claw, has become one of the most shameful pages in the history of American intelligence services. It was assumed that the capture group would be taken by helicopter to Tehran from one of the abandoned Air Force bases on Iranian territory, they would free the hostages, take them back to the base, and then take them to Egypt. However, everything went wrong. The American "squadron" fell into a sandstorm, several helicopters broke down and were forced to sit in the desert. The commandos fled, and the Iranian patrol discovered an abandoned vehicle the next day. Ayatollah Khomeini assured his supporters that Allah is on their side because he sent a sandstorm. President Carter commented briefly on the operation: "Failure ... It all went to hell!" He was well aware that he was losing the election. In Iran, the guards of the revolution exulted: they managed to punish the friend of the Shah, who endorsed Pahlavi’s "repressive policy". When Carter ceded the White House to Republican Ronald Reagan, Khomeini proclaimed: "Iran is now so great by the will of God that it can dictate its conditions even to" great devil. "
Of course, the 2011 Arab revolutionaries of the year were not so ambitious. And historical parallels should rather be sought in the past. During the Islamic revolution, Iran actually repeated the Russian experience of 17: the fall of the monarchy, the establishment of dictatorship, and foreign intervention. “Like the king, the shah was overthrown by all: the liberals, leftists and nationalists,” said Yevgeny Satanovsky, President of the Middle East Institute, “However,” but in the end, only grim bearded men with an automatic rifle remained. This analogy is considered appropriate by the chairman of the Islamic Committee of Russia, Heydar Jemal: "The same large-scale enthusiasm of the people, then the immediate collapse of the war, which destroyed a huge amount of passionate asset." And when now the rulers of Iran, who still belong to that revolutionary generation, see the iron hand under the “velvet glove of Obama”, for many in Russia, this naturally causes associations with the angry appeals of the Bolsheviks to the “Western imperialists” like the famous diplomatic note included in history as “Our answer to Chamberlain”.