Thursday, May 4, 2023

Islamic Republic Of Iran

 John C Gibson

Apr 1, 2023

Comparative Politics

Prof. Van Pho

Islamic Republic Of Iran

General And Historial Information

Iran is the 19th populous country in the Middle East that commentators often view Western imperialism as the cold, calculated evil has wreaked havoc in. British engineers discovered oil in Iran in 1908, marking the year as a pivotal point of imperial exploitation by the conventional Western view. However, a closer look at the year of other countries, the Americans only first produced the Ford Model-T car in the year, as chronicled in (Automotive History, 2021). The mass transportation mode and the driving force of industrial powers were the coal-fired locomotives. Petroleum energy was possibly a novel, speculative gold rush requiring refinery, unheard of to the commoners before. The regional conflicts involving King Shah’s family in Persia in the 1930s can be more reasonably categorized as an hot struggle, not cold calculation, between the Shah family allying with either Russia or Britain in strategic timing to work with experienced foreign engineers to ensure the production of oil while it lasted for an undetermined amount of time. No other apparent options existed, but a moral judgment requires free choices. There was no time to cultivate a new domestic engineering mining discipline in Persia, which would take a generation of education. After the domestic rising of a coalition in Iran’s parliament in 1950 that disrupted oil production, the CIA, Central Intelligence Agency, without a better option, staged the infamous 1953 coup to restore the Shah family’s power and restore order in oil production. Garnering power while in exile, Khomeini successfully inoculated the revolution of 1979. Khomeini’s theocratic constitution formed the base of modern Iran’s political landscape, and the rest, as they call it, is history.

Non-liberal Regime

The theocratic regime may seem alien to Westerners, but there is no shortage of Western counterparts for comparison. The textbook classification of the current Iranian regime is non-democratic “pop- ulism” (O'Neil, p. 556), mirroring the Viking political construct of the ancient era West. According to FreedomHouse, the Iranian constitution permits public assembly, demonstrations, provided that they are not “detrimental to the fundamental principles of Islam”; the Althing constitution of the Viking era Iceland famously started with “The first principle of our law is that all Icelanders henceforth shall be Christian,” as translated by the Viking study professor Ashlinman (FreedomHouse, Ashlinman). The chieftain that declared the first sentence of the Iceland constitution was a pagan, non-Christian-believer, most popular among the “heathens” (Ashlinman); the winners of Iranian elections similarly win by popularity. Encyclopedia Britannica says that there have been zero political parties in Iran since 1987, when the Iran disbanded its only party the Islamic Republic Party (Encyclopedia Britannica, 2023). There is no political group focusing on human rights or opposing fascism. There is no environmentally focused green party to resist environmental damage by the petroleum industry. The tourism industry's size is dismal, nearly non-existent, and international monitoring is restricted, which can be a danger to society. For example, the crackdown against the mass protest at the end of 2022 resulted in more than 500 deaths, as reported by Al Jazeera (Al Jazeera, 2022). The counterpart in Viking king Olaf Traggevasson produced gruesome tales, tortures, and drownings.

In my opinion the biggest challenges to civil societies in Iran are the lack of checks and balances in a populism political climate, as is often taught in comparative politics that eliminating non-government civil societies encourages populism. Non-liberal populism can dictate social activities and silence oppositions unchecked. For example, Iran’s clergy and priests of Isam can issue religious rulings with the legality as court orders promoting doctors to perform sterilization procedures, as reported by Janet Larsen of TheGlobalist, resulting in an sharp population decline after Khomeini took office, far sharper than Iceland’s and China’s population pyramid fluctuation curves, as shown in Figure 1 (Larsen, 2022). Without checks and balances, the conservative Islam values of pro-life, birth, and fertility, similar to Roman Catholicism, were silenced. In the Viking populism, the declaration of Christianity as national religion was a “defeat”, as translated by Professor Ashliman, and as a “disappointment” to the Icelanders (Ashliman). Pagan believers were not given a chance for resistance. 

Society And Political Conflict

Textbook illustrations show Iran comprises 61% of Persians, 16% of Azeris, 10% of Kurds, and 2% of Arabs and other minorities (O’Neil, p560). The Shia denomination of Islam, which is central to the Iranian regime, is considered a heresy by many Arab Muslims, according to the textbook (O’Neil, p543). The Iranian regime’s ideation focus gives high efforts in ethnic-religious integration to counter Arab influence, including the Arab Spring social movement. But integrating ethnicities and religions resulting in bloodshed in the name of religion is well known, as mentioned in previoys paragraph. The ruling and integration of 39% of ethnic minorities, logically and numerically involves aggressive efforts, either during the Qajar dynasty Hun ruling or during the modern-day Sunni-Shia divide. For numerical comparison, Iceland and China have 7-8% minority populations (Minority Rights Group, 2020). A hard fact from JATC news: to exert control, by the Iranian Civil Law, women showing their hair without a hijab is punishable by 15 years emprisonment. (Caldwell, 2022).

The authority emphasizes Shiism solidarity and allocation of national resources for the Shia caliphate and believers(O’Neil, p541). The majority, 61% of ethnic Persians, are Shia denominated by their historical heritage, and this consolidation of power optimizes the national identity with the infusion of the wealth of the oil/gas economy, ranked number 3 in oil reserve in the world, as shown in Figure 2. Primary and secondary educations use the Persian language nearly exclusively according to FreedomHouse report (Freedom House, 2023). The most significant minority, the Azeris, who speak the Azeri/Hunnish languages, identify as Shias by sheer pervasion of integration - for example, the current Supreme Leader of Iran, Khamenei, is well-known of Azeri descent, a Shia scholar. 39% of minorities speak native languages at home and speak official Persian at school and work (Freedom House, 2023). Violence as a means of coercion and human rights violations are frequent and random as reported by HRW news (HRW, 2020).  According to Aljazeera, in 2021, Iran’s number of executions ranked second in the world, even though Iran’s population is about 20 times smaller than the top most populous countries (Aljazeera, 2022). If factoring in the countries’ population sizes, the execution rate of Iran is far greater than any other country. According to HRW news, during the 2009 mass protest in Isfahan, the prosecutor general of Isfahan province publicly and firmly stated that the punishment for waging war against God was execution (HRW, 2020). In contrast, all other countries with high numbers of executions, including the United States, view death as a taboo subject.

Political Violence 

The use of violence is well-known as accepted by Quran. And state-sponsored political violence is part of Iran’s 1979 constitution, specifically inscribed as “jihad” prominently in the constitution’s preamble section (ConstituionProject). In the name of a holy war, Iran's army has divided into four organizations over the past few decades, progressively focusing on the sacred religious war. The first army organization is a regular armed force inherited from the Shah dynasty government; the second, Revolutionary Guard, was created by and is more entrusted by the Supreme Leader than the first; the third is the religious paramilitary police, called Basij; and the fourth organization, called Quds Force, wages jihad beyond Iranian border, such as military strikes in Syria against non-state militias to expand Iranian influence in the region, as reported by Foreign Policy (Vohar, 2021). The extraterritorial Quds force, the jihad force, is the second most important figure in Iranian geo-political life, as reported by BBC News in the aftermyth of US assination of the Quds Force commander Solemaini with the “ninja” blade bomb in Bahgdad in January 2020 (BBC, 2020). In Foreign Policy’s 2021 report, the influence that Iran tried to excert is the conversion of Syrians to Shiism Muslum, and, in some cases, Iran handed out cash incentives and successfully recruited Syrian converts to Shiism (Vohar, 2021).

Specifically, the clientelistic politics, by textbook classification, gives the Revolutionary Guard 75% control of the country’s top oil producer Pars Oil according to NCRI organization (O’Neil, p556, NCRI Staff, 2020). The funding for the Quds Force is highly classified secrets, as reported by Small Wars Journal, to aid the ambiguity of Iran state’s role in the political violence (Small Wars Journal, 2015). The fundings expands Iran’s influence through coalition forces, such as Hezbollah-Quds Force in Lebanon, Lebanon Corps, Iraq Corps, all pledging allegion to Iran Supreme Leader, according to Small Wars Journal. 

Specifically, the word of choice by Iranian leaders in the aftermyth of Soleimani’s assination in 2020 was “avange”, according to Bloomberg’s report (Haghdoost, 2020). In contrast, American leaders’ word of choice after violent attacks, as expected, are “justice,” whether it is a dometic or international attack. And American journalists’ word of choice is “respond” and “proportional way”, as shown in Figure 3. 

The struggle for political power in the Assad family resembles the Iran’s Shah dynasty family’s fight of the last century. Assad family has to ally with multiple powers, such as Russia and Arab nations, to balance the encroaching influence of Iran, which had already attempted to convert Syrians to Shiism, as mentioned as reported by Foreign Policy. In the last century’s struggle, the West provided funding to the dynastic family Shah, and the Shah family allied with the West. But, this time around, the dynastic family has not allied with Westerners. But there is no reason an alliance can not be formed if an apparent option presents and humans are not  blinded by grudge or guilt. 

Vafþrúðnir 2023

Works Cited

Aljazeera, Al. “Executions Surge 20 Percent in 2021: Amnesty.” Death Penalty News | Al Jazeera, 24 May 2022,

Al Jazeera. “What Will 2023 Bring for Iran and Its Protest Movement?” News | Al Jazeera, 27 Dec. 2022,

Ashliman, D. L., translator. “Iceland Accepts Christianity.” Sites.Pitt.Edu, Accessed 8 Apr. 2023.

Automotive History. “August 12, 1908 – the First Ford Model T Is Assembled.” This Day in Automotive History, Aug. 2021,

BBC News. “Iran’s Qasem Soleimani: Why the US Had Him in Its Sights.” BBC News, 3 Jan. 2020,

Britannica, The Editors of Encyclopaedia. "Quds Force". Encyclopedia Britannica, 24 Mar. 2023, Accessed 4 May 2023.

Encyclopedia Britannica. “Iran | History, Culture, People, Facts, Map, and Nuclear Deal.” Encyclopedia Britannica, 4 May 2023, Accessed 4 May 2023.

Caldwell, Ronique. “How Is a Ponytail a Crime?” The JTAC,

ConstituionProject, translator. “Iran (Islamic Republic of) 1979 (Rev. 1989) Constitution - Constitute.” ConstitutionProject.Org, Accessed 8 Apr. 2023.

Freedom House, editor. “Iran.”, Accessed 8 Apr. 2023.

Haghdoost, Yasna, and Arsalan Shahla. “Iran’s Leader Says Plans to Avenge US Strike on Top General Soleimani Ongoing.”, 2 Nov. 2022,

HRW. “Iran: Halt the Crackdown.” Human Rights Watch, 28 Oct. 2020, Accessed 14 Apr. 2023.

Larsen, Janet. “Iran: A Model for Family Planning?” The Globalist, June 2022,

Minority Rights Group. “Iceland - World Directory of Minorities and Indigenous Peoples.” Minority Rights Group, 17 Nov. 2020,

NCRI Staff, and Staff Writer. “Inside Iran’s Army of Terror and Oppression: Revolutionary Guards (IRGC) – Part 2.” NCRI, Feb. 2023,

O’Neil, Patrick H., et al. Cases and Concepts in Comparative Politics: An Integrated Approach. W.W. Norton & Company, 2018. 

Small Wars Journal. A Review of Iran’s Revolutionary Guards and Qods Force: Growing Global Presence, Links to Cartels, and Mounting Sophistication | Small Wars Journal.

Vohra, Anchal. “Iran Saved Assad and Is Now Trying to Convert Syria to Shiism.” Foreign Policy, 15 Mar. 2021,

Figure 1. Iran’s population pyramid sharp decline after the Khomeini revolution