Middle East

INFOGRAPHIC - Iran commemorates 40th anniversary of revolution

Under leadership of Khomeini, Iran became Islamic republic in 1979

Erdoğan Çağatay Zontur   | 11.02.2019
INFOGRAPHIC - Iran commemorates 40th anniversary of revolution


By Muhammet Kursun


Iran commemorated the 40th anniversary of the Islamic Revolution in the shadow of U.S. sanctions.

The 1979 revolution under the leadership of the Shiite cleric Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, which led to the collapse of the 58-year Pahlavi dynasty in Iran, was recorded as one of the most important events of the 20th century.

The Tehran-Washington conflict began when the revolutionists overran the U.S. Embassy in Tehran, accusing Washington of supporting the Shah. 

The U.S. sanctions which started nine months after the revolution ended with a nuclear agreement called the Comprehensive Joint Action Plan on Jan. 16, 2016. However, President Donald Trump reimposed the sanctions by withdrawing from the agreement in two phases on Aug. 7 and Nov. 5, 2018.  

Pahlavi dynasty and Iran occupation

Reza Pahlavi, known as Great Reza Shah founded the Pahlavi Dynasty in 1921, overthrowing Ahmad Qajar, the last shah of Qajar Dynasty. Pahlavi became prime-minister in 1925.

The Soviet Union and the U.K invaded Iran when Reza Pahlavi abolished an oil treaty in 1941.

He appointed his son Mohammad Reza Pahlavi as the leader of Iran and fled to South Africa in 1941.  

Background of 1979 revolution

Mohammad Reza Pahlavi made progress in democratization of the country, however, Prime Minister Mohammad Mosaddegh, objected to British and Russian hegemony in Iranian oil industry.

Mosaddegh passed a law to nationalize facilities of Anglo-Iranian Oil Company Ltd in Iran, and Pahlavi appointed him as prime minister in 1951.

After two years in office, Mosaddegh was overthrown in 1953 in Operation Ajax, led by the British and American spy agencies.

Mohammad Reza Pahlavi began his ‘white revolution’ in 1963. The Shah was aiming to make the country one of the five most developed countries.

The agricultural policies of Muhammad Reza Shah, which were not in harmony with the needs of the country, accelerated rural to urban migration.   

Khomeini: Leader of Revolution

Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini emerged as a figure who criticised the white revolution and privileges enjoyed by the American troops.

Khomeini was imprisoned for his criticism and exiled to Paris in 1964.

From exile, he ran a campaign to overthrow the Shah.  

Shah’s politics leading 1979 Revolution

As Mohammad Reza Pahlavi was wasting money on celebrations and events, inflation escalated causing political chaos in the country.

The Organization of Arab Petroleum Exporting Countries (OAPEC) laid an embargo on the U.S. for its support to the Arab-Israel war in 1973-1974 and Iranian oil revenue began rising again. The Shah decided to buy ammunition with the revenue leading to mass opposition.

More than 100 people were killed in protests on Jan. 9, 1978, when an article against Ayatollah Khomeini was published. The government declared martial law on Sept. 8, 1978.

Mohammad Reza Pahlavi fled the country as the protests grew out of control on Jan. 16, 1979. Khomeini returned to country on Feb. 1, 1979, and declared he wanted Iran to be loyal to Islam.

Iranian people approved their country as an Islamic Republic in a plebiscite on April 1, 1979. Iranians accepted religious law (sharia) and elected Khomeini as the supreme leader in December 1979.

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