Iran after the revolution: the word is for the people
In light of the upcoming Iranian presidential elections, Professor Mohammad Marandi dissects the Islamic Republic of Iran and mentions that amid the rise of the Islamic revolution the "Americans were caught off guard".
The democratic streets of Iran were once under the rule of a monarchy led by Mohammad Reza Pahlavi (Shah).
In 1941, Shah took after his father, Reza Khan (later Shah), the founder of the Shah dynasty. His reign lasted from 1941 till 1979 when Ruhollah Khomeini abolished the monarchy and succeeded in achieving an Islamic revolution.
Shah adopted a pro-western foreign policy and worked to develop the Kingdom's economy. However, during his reign, 52% of Iranians lived below the poverty line. The regime's over-ambitious economic program drove the working class to go against the Shah.
After overthrowing him in 1979, the Iranian Revolution (Islamic Revolution) shifted Iran from an absolute monarchy to an Islamic republic, under Ayatollah Khomeini, the leader and founder of the Islamic Republic.
From A Monarchy to a Republic
Iran was under an absolute monarchy for several years, before making the transition to becoming a republic. A population that was used to living under a monarchy for so long, welcomed the Islamic Revolution with open arms.
Marandi to Al-Mayadeen: Americans were caught off guard
In an interview with Al-Mayadeen, Professor in the University of Tehran, Mohammad Marandi explained that the reason behind the smooth transition was the overwhelming support for the Islamic Revolution because “Imam Khomeini kept the population as a whole, onboard, and the Americans were caught off guard” with no time to think of a way to “undermine the revolution”.
Marandi stressed that the revolution was based on “indigenous values and beliefs”, which people lived by for many years, unlike the western ideology that Shah adopted and imposed on his people. Instead of relying on the western adopted ideology, Imam Khomeini relied on an ideology that the people accepted.
Political Analyst Mohammad Marandi to #AlMayadeen: “the Islamic Revolution was based on indigenous values and beliefs.” @s_m_marandi#IranElections2021 #Iran pic.twitter.com/OWU83r5btK— Al Mayadeen English (@MayadeenEnglish) June 11, 2021
Republic of the People
The Pahlavi dynasty had a totalitarian government that suppressed opposition parties, restricted individual opposition to the state, and engaged in control over public and private life.
The Islamic revolution sought to eliminate the rural-urban divide. After the revolution, health and education reduced the poverty rate from 25% during the Shah's reign to less than 14%.
Mohammad Marandi explained to Al-Mayadeen that the support for the Islamic Republic helped resist the "United States and the western block, its allies, as well as the Soviet Union and its allies", which as he said were very hostile towards Iran and the revolution.
Due to the popular support in Iran, the state was able to remain strong even with the western support for Saddam Hussein's "murderous" war against Iran and the different terrorist organizations that were used to "undermine the country from within", he added.
Political Analyst Mohammad Marandi explains to #AlMayadeen how the public played a major role in resisting the Western pressure on #Iran. 👇 @s_m_marandi #IranElections2021 pic.twitter.com/IviTPmBGKe— Al Mayadeen English (@MayadeenEnglish) June 11, 2021
Marandi explained that the people played an important role in the success of the revolution and the reason behind the popular support is having a constitution that has a "strong component and element of democracy".
He mentioned that the values of the Islamic Republic of Iran are "indigenous and they are compatible with the lives of ordinary Iranians", unlike the formerly adopted foreign ideology.
The Iranians were ruled by a man that "obeyed" the United States, unlike Ayatollah Khomeini who was ready to "give up everything for dignity and for the dignity of the people", as Marandi put it.
Marandi to Al-Mayadeen: Iran should be saluted
The Islamic Republic of Iran engages with national and religious diversity, the spread of culture, the enrichment of media, and the promotion of freedom.
Marandi explained that there is no "inconsistency between being an Islamic country and being a republic" because he believes that Islam provides the ideological framework of the country and being a republic "provides the means or the method of which to govern in that society."
He stressed that Iran is not necessarily a "utopia" but to be fair, it should be "saluted" because it was able to exist and keep growing despite the ruthless sanctions, wars, and terrorism that was "imposed by dominant powers across the globe", and was always able to have strong elements of democracy.
Iran always held elections despite the blockade, isolation, and sanctions that were imposed amid economic and social crises. Explosions and war tore the country, but defense and national security remained a priority. The country never failed to keep developing and constructing, enacting laws, and establishing institutions.
How does the Republic of #Iran perceive #democracy?— Al Mayadeen English (@MayadeenEnglish) June 11, 2021
The Power Structure
Iran's power structure begins with the Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, who succeeded Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini upon his passing in 1989.
The Supreme Leader is elected by the Assembly of Experts, which are elected by the people.
Also, he appoints six of the twelve members of the Council of Guardians, which is the powerful body that looks over the Parliament and determines which candidates are qualified to run for public office.
The constitution holds the President responsible to "implement the constitution and, as the Chief Executive, to exercise the executive powers, except those matters that directly relate to the Supreme Leader."
Article 114 in the constitution writes: "The President shall be elected by the direct vote of the people for a four-year term of office. His consecutive re-election shall be allowed only for one term."
Article 126 writes that: "The President shall be directly responsible for the State Plan and Budget, and Administrative and Civil Services Affairs of the Country."
Despite being a part of an Islamic Republic, article 115 in the constitution clearly states that the President can be from any religious or political personality, as long as he is of "Iranian origins, have Iranian citizenship, efficient and prudent, have a record of good reputation, honesty, and piety, and be true and faithful to the essentials of the Islamic Republic of Iran and the official Faith of the country."
The Iranian Parliament is a legislative body made up of 290 members publicly elected by the people every four years.
The Parliament is held in check by the Council of Guardians, the influential oversight body that examines all laws passed by Parliament to determine their compatibility with the Islamic law.
Assembly of Experts
The Assembly of Experts, which meets for one week every year, consists of 86 virtuous and educated clerics that are elected by the people for eight-year terms.
Members of the Assembly elect the Supreme Leader from within their own ranks.
Council of Guardians
Twelve jurists are in the Council of Guardians, six of whom are appointed by the Supreme Leader. The head of the judiciary recommends the remaining six, which are officially appointed by Parliament.
The Council of Guardians has the authority to interpret the constitution and determine if Parliament's laws are in line with Islamic law. This means that the council has effective veto power over Parliament.
Based on what was aforementioned, the President is directly elected by the people who also directly elect the members of parliament and the Assembly of Experts, who then elect the Supreme Leader. Meanwhile, the Council of Guardians is shaped by both the Supreme Leader and the Parliament.
Therefore, we conclude that in the Islamic Republic of Iran, the word is for the people.