Thursday, September 4, 2008

A review of Islamic revolution- Part 3

Activities of Islamic groups like "Fadaian Islam" (or devotees of Islam) against Iranian government goes back to the days of Kadjar dynasty in which they assassinated Naser-ol-din shah of Kadjar through directions and teachings of seyyed Jamal-o-din Asadabadi (or Afghani), who was also known for his attempts to create a establishment with Islamic ideology in Egypt called Islamic Unity Front, in order to unite all Islamic nations. Seyyed Jamal was a mysterious character who had visited many places in and out of the region and had also spent some time in England where he became familiar and stayed with important British figures there.

Even though seyyed Jamal was not successful in Egypt but, he managed to create the foundation of a movement through his students which was later established by Hassan al-Banna and became known as "Muslim Brotherhood" while "Fadaian Islam" practically started with him as a mentor. Fadian Islam carried out many other assassinations through out their history which one of them was assassination of Hassanali Mansour, a technocrat who became Prime Minister in Iran before late Amir-Abbas Hoveyda.

Another Islamic group which was founded more recently in Iran was "Motalefeh" which was made mainly by bazaris and Islamic clerics form which most of them were from Tehran and Isfahan region. This group proved to be more deadly and radical in their views and actions than others. In their first known violent move in cooperation with "Fadian Islam", Motalefeh killed ayatollah Shamsabadi through one of their supporters, Mehdi Hashemi, around Isfahan. This murder was carried out over differences between two groups of clerics regarding a book called "shahid-e javid" (or "Immortal Martyr") which was denounced by ayatollah Shamsabadi while Khomeini and his staunch followers including ayatollah Montazari had praised it. "Immortal Martyr" was a new version of Imam Hussein's story written by a cleric from Qum and speaking against that was considered as opposition to Khomeini whom some of high ranking mullahs were trying to promote as universal leader of Shi'ite sect.

"Immortal Martyr" promoted violent revolt of imam Hussein against Yazid as a doctrine for worldwide struggle against injustice which later became subject of teaching by people like Dr. Shariati in his books and places like "Husseiniye Ershad". Ayatollah Shamsabadi had openly argued against it as a tool to create difference in Islamic world and put Shi'ites against Sunnis. He was condemned to death by a group of mullahs and non-mullah supporters of Khomeini who would have a part in creation of Islamic Republic later on. This event took place in 1976 and Mehdi Hashemi, brother of ayatollah Montazeri's son in law was arrested shortly afterwards and jailed to be freed during revolution days in 1979. Mehdi Hashemi who was a wealthy farmer was also involved in drug trades and had done a lot more for Islamic revolution and Islamic movement in Lebanon, Palestine and Syria prior to this event. He was the connection between Ghtobzadeh and internal elements of Islamic movement and flow of money from bazaaris to Khomeini was mostly through him. Hashemi's arrest by SAVAK did not lead to any more arrest which indicate either a soft approach on this issue (for whatever reason) by SAVAK or lack of will to move in that direction because otherwise, many people who were involved in making the original decision about that murder would end up in cage instead of plotting for revolution a couple of years later.

While the grounds for Islamic revolution was being prepared by supporters of Khomeini in Iran which also had infiltrated the government agencies, relations between Iran and western nations with leadership of United States, despite apparent sincere and public exchanges, was not in greatest shape because of disagreements over the issue of oil. Declassified documents of communications between different US government divisions clearly indicate a double face policy regarding oil dispute between Iranian government and oil consortium. In these documents we can see how US government always advised Iranians that they have no control over the oil companies while expressed concern that lack of cooperation between Iranian government and oil companies may cause deterioration of relation with United States and other western nations! United States even rejected the suggestion by Shah to buy Iranian oil directly at cheaper price in exchange for US products in order to make sure there will be no balance of payments with the excuse that these matters should be done through private contractors according to US laws while they had same arrangements with Canada and Venezuela at same exact time!

Multiple documents reveal that United States also had great concerns over close relations between Iran and Soviet Union and had warned Iranian government over that while ignoring Iranian government's information regarding upcoming "changes" in Afghanistan and possible take over of that country by a Soviet friendly government. Iran's negative position towards the situation in Bahrain regarding replacement of British forces by Americans in 1972 and insisting on the role of Iran and Saudi Arabia in taking the security of the Persian Gulf in their own hands was viewed with suspicion even after Shah expressed his agreement of keeping a small presence of American forces as a deterrent in the face of heavy activities of Soviet Union in Indian Ocean. US government was aware that their strategic national and security interests in Iran had been effectively used as a balancing factor by Iranian government against Iran's relation with Soviet Union and to push for more support from United States. While US government took advantage of the information provided to them about the region through Shah, the increasing influence of Iranian government which became more evident as time passed, and also ambitions of Shah to make Iran a regional power and an important element in politics of the world through use of the wealth earned from selling oil, was not very pleasant to them.

After US government terminated their military grants to Iran in 1964, Iran continued its dependence to US military equipments for its military expansion programs which was to support industrialization of the nation as far as security and also to enforce Iran's international rights and guarantee her territorial integrity in case of any aggression by surrounding nations. Total military purchases of Iran from United States was about $11.2 billion from year 1950 to year 1979 from which about $10.7 billion was delivered and from that about $1.4 billion was part of US military grants to Iranian government. Most of the military purchases were based on credit with an interest of 6.25% while the rest was paid for in hard cash. During the years that Iran was making those military purchases, the economic growth continued to be one of the highest in the world ranging from 8% to 12%, which indicate a healthy economy.

During these years, Shah continued to press oil consortium for more revenue to satisfy the funding needed for different development programs and expansion of military might while western observers and politicians always raised concerns over the speed of development programs and the magnitude of military purchases. Increasing presence of Soviet Union in Iran through economic agreement over steel mill project and also purchase of military equipments from them which, required contact between Iranian military officers with Soviets, caused some worries for US officials. US government became concerned about compromising the security of the secrets of their advanced military technology that Shah had requested for, or at least, they expressed such concerns even if it was just an excuse for grievance.

Through out those years, while US government tried to use the policy of "carrot and stick" to exert control over Iranian government by linking the availability of their military aid requested by Shah to cooperation of Iranian government with consortium, they found themselves in a situation that same policy was played on them through "independent foreign policy" of Iran under which Iranian government implemented their diversification policies in the field of military and economy. Shah in his communications with US officials always stressed that Iran was counting on friendship of US government in case if Soviet Union aggression against Iran but he insisted that it would not be wise for Iran to depend on US to come to his assistance for example if Iraqi government decided to make some problems for Iran. In response to what he would do if US did not or was not able to help Iran in case of Soviets aggression, Shah said that he would use the policy of "scorched territory" if he had to in case Iranian forces could not deter the enemy.

There is ample amount of documents to suggest that international oil consortium used security of flow of oil from Persian Gulf as an element of pressure especially on Iranian government through western nations, to curb their demands for increasing revenue from oil. NATO with 90% of its oil consumption coming from Persian gulf was one of the most important interested parties as far as continuous and secure flow of oil from Persian Gulf. US government predicted the demand for oil in western world, including NATO, would grow quickly in future and showed a great deal of sensitivity towards the negotiation between Iranian government and oil companies with a tendency to support the oil companies. During these years, the question of "change" in Iranian government and future of Iran after Shah became an issue of concern for US government and a comprehensive intelligence research was initiated to study the possible outcomes if Shah disappeared and in one occasion, in 1971, US state department asks American embassy in Tehran to clarify what would happen if Shah was assassinated or died of a sickness.

Comparison of Reza Shah the Great and Mohammad Reza Shah the Great with two Kadjar kings from which one went to exile and other was assassinated (above), and comparison of Khomeini with high ranking mullahs during Iranian Constitutional Revolution (below).

To be continued....