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Does Islamic revivalism pose a threat to U.S. interests?

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Title:
Does Islamic revivalism pose a threat to U.S. interests?
Creator:
Rasekhi Azmi, Hooshang
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Denver, CO
Publisher:
University of Colorado Denver
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English
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82 leaves : ; 29 cm

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Subjects / Keywords:
Islamic fundamentalism ( lcsh )
Diplomatic relations ( fast )
Islamic fundamentalism ( fast )
Foreign relations -- Iran ( lcsh )
Foreign relations -- United States ( lcsh )
Iran ( fast )
United States ( fast )
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bibliography ( marcgt )
theses ( marcgt )
non-fiction ( marcgt )

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Bibliography:
Includes bibliographical references (leaves 75-82).
Thesis:
Submitted in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree, Master of Arts, Political Science
General Note:
Department of Political Science
Statement of Responsibility:
by Hooshang Rasekhi Azmi.

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|University of Colorado Denver
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|Auraria Library
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All applicable rights reserved by the source institution and holding location.
Resource Identifier:
32714397 ( OCLC )
ocm32714397
Classification:
LD1190.L64 1994m .R37 ( lcc )

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Full Text
I
DOES ISLAMIC REVIVALISM POSE A THREAT TO U.S
by
Hooshang Rasekhi Azmi
B.A., University of Alame-Tabatabaii, 1984
A thesis submitted to the
Faculty of the Graduate School of the
University of Colorado at Denver
in partial fulfillment
of the requirements for the degree of
Master of Arts
Political Science
INTERESTS?

1994


This thesis for the Master of Arts
degree by
Hooshang Rasekhi Azmi
has been approved for the
Graduate School
by
Amin A. Kazak

Date


Rasekhi Azmi, Hooshang (M.A., Political Science)
Does Islamic Revivalism Pose a Threat to U.S. Interests?
Thesis directed by Professor Jana M. Everett
ABSTRACT
This thesis examines whether or not the so-called "Islamic fundamentalism"
or the term used in this study, Islamic revivalism, poses a threat to U.S. interests
in the Middle East. Since Iran is considered to be the epitome of Islamic
revivalism, the scope of this research is narrowed to Irans foreign policy toward
the region in three areas of transformation of the status quo, Israel and oil. This
thesis, based on an in-depth study of current political science scholarship, supports
the hypothesis that Islamic revivalism, in terms of ideology, poses a potential
threat to U.S. interests, for it might revive Islam as an alternative to the existing
ideologies. Nevertheless, in terms of practice, Islamic revivalism does not pose a
threat to U.S. interests because it faces obstacles in the realization of its
aspirations.
This abstract accurately represents the contents of the candidates thesis.
I recommend its publication.
Signed
Jana M. Everett


CONTENTS
CHAPTER
1. INTRODUCTION .......................................... 1
Review of Literature ................................2
Thesis Statement................................... 13
2. THE ISLAMIC REVOLUTION OF IRAN ....................... 15
Historical Background ............................. 15
Foreign Policy Concepts ............................21
3. IRANS FOREIGN POLICY
TOWARD THE MIDDLE EAST ................................ 31
Transformation of the Status Quo .................. 34
Israel............................................. 43
Oil ............................................... 52
4. CONCLUSIONS ...........................................65
REFERENCE LIST
75


CHAPTER ONE
INTRODUCTION
Islam has been a central component of peoples movements in the Middle
East. In the nineteenth century, Islamic revivalism was provoked by religious
leaders disillusioned by regime decay or inspired by nationalism. Islamic
revivalism favored reforms within existing political structures. Such reforms
mostly aimed at curtailing power of the court or restricting foreign influence.
However, the turning point in the contemporary history of political Islam is
Irans Islamic Revolution in 1979. This movement, unlike preceding revivals,
transformed completely the existing political system.An Islamic government was
established in place of a monarchial one and Irans domestic politics underwent
fundamental changes. In terms of external behavior, Irans foreign policy inspired
by Islamic ideology took a new orientation.
In addition to these changes, the Islamic revolution remapped the politics
of the Middle East. Islamic movements have gained momentum and turned into a
political force in the whole region. This aspect of the Islamic Revolution has
raised concerns that Islam could be the next "ism" threatening U.S. regional
interests such as preservation of the status quo, security of Israel and access to
cheap oil. These concerns have been aggravated by the Western media which
attribute violent acts to Islamic movements. This study aims, to cast new light on
1


the validity ot these concerns and to see to what extent Islamic revivalism poses a
threat to U.S. regional interests.
Review of Literature
Most American scholars have referred to the Islamic Revolution and the
other Islamic movements as "fundamentalism." This term has also been widely
used by the U.S. media. John L. Esposito (1992, 7-8), a professor of religious
studies, argues that "fundamentalism" is not the right word for the Islamic
movement. He regards the term as too laden with Christian presuppositions and
Western stereotypes, as well as implying a monolithic threat that does not exist.
He rejects using the term "fundamentalism" for the Islamic movement for the
following reasons: 1) All those who call for a return to fundamental beliefs or the
fundamentals of a religion may be called fundamentalist. In a strict sense, this
could include all Muslims, who accept the Quran as the literal word of God and
the Sunnah (Islamic practice) of the prophet Muhammad as a normative model for
living. 2) Our understanding and perceptions of fundamentalism are heavily
influenced by American Protestantism. Websters Ninth Collegiate Dictionary
defines the term "fundamentalism" as a movement in 20th century Protestantism
emphasizing the literal interpretation of the Bible as fundamental to Christian life
and teaching. For many liberal and mainline Christians, "fundamentalism" is
pejorative or derogatory, being applied rather indiscriminately to all those who
2


advocate a literalist biblical position and thus are regarded as static, retrogressive
and extremist. 3) Fundamentalism is often equated with political extremism,
fanaticism and terrorism. Yet, this kind of perception is biased and does not
reflect the true nature of the Islamic movement. 4) This term has been applied to
the governments of Libya, Saudi Arabia, Pakistan and Iran. I should point out that
each of these countries has its own model of Islamic society. So it is not
appropriate to categorize all of them as fundamentalist. According to Esposito
(1992), more fitting terms are "Islamic revivalism" or "Islamic activism" which
are less value-laden and have roots within the Islamic tradition. For these reasons,
the term "Islamic revivalism" instead of "fundamentalism" will be used in this
thesis.
The scholarly work conducted on this topic focuses on the question of
whether or not Islamic revivalism is a threat to the U.S. interests. To examine this
question, scholars have talked about both internal and external dynamics of the
Islamic movement. The scholars can be divided into two camps: the first camp
considers Islamic revivalism a threat to the U.S. interests. The second camp
negates any possible threat. Some scholars such as Phebe Marr (1992) and Anwar-
ul-Haq Ahady (1992) have also mentioned that the U.S. should not worry about
the Islamic movement because it is now declining due to lack of support by
majority of people or because of internal problems.
3


Among the scholars of the first camp, Shireen Hunter (1986), Deputy
Director of the Middle East Project at Georgetown University, believes that the
Islamic movement is a threat to the Western interests. According to her, the
Islamic movements goal is to end the Muslim worlds state of dependency by
eradicating Western and Russian influence. Islam is an alternative to both
capitalist and socialist ideologies. In this respect, the Islamists reflect the desire
for cultural autonomy and the quest for indigenous solutions to indigenous
problems that are common to all developing nations. She further adds that it is
neither the misperception of Islam as anti-progressive nor its threat to disrupt the
Wests relations with the Muslim world that makes it distasteful and frightening.
Instead, the hostility arises from the movements emphasis on changing the terms
on which the relations are based, terms that Islamists believe favor the West
disproportionately. In her opinion, the Islamists do not oppose normal economic,
commercial, or even limited cultural exchange with the West, but they want to
control its direction and change its terms.
Samuel Huntington (1993), a political scientist, looks into this question
from a historical perspective. He holds the view that the centuries-old military
rivalry between the West and Islam is unlikely to decline. Huntington views the
rivalry between Islam and the West as a clash of civilizations. According to him,
differences between civilizations are real and important. Huntington further notes
that matters relating to civilization are becoming more important; conflict between
4


civilizations will supplant ideological and other forms of conflict as the dominant
global form of conflict. International relations, a game historically played out
within Western civilization, will increasingly be de-Westernized and become a
game in which non-Western organizations are actors and not simply objects.
Violent conflicts between groups in different civilizations are the most likely and
most dangerous source of escalation that could lead to global wars. The paramount
axis of world politics will be the relations between the West and the rest of the
world.
Bernard Lewis (1990), another historian, comes to a same conclusion:
We are now facing a mood and movement for transcending the level
of issues and politics and the governments that pursue them. This is
no less than a clash of civilizations-perhaps irrational but surely
historic reaction of an ancient rival against our Judeo-Christian
heritage, our secular present, and the worldwide expansion of both.
(60)
Elsewhere, Lewis (1992) emphasizes the military aspect of the Islamic
movements threat to the West. According to him, in a program of aggression and
expansion this movement would enjoy the advantage of fifth columns in every
country and community with which it shares a common universe of discourse.
There is also the possibility that the advocates of the movement might have
nuclear weapons, either for terrorist or for regular military use. Civil wars may be
precipitated. Most of the Middle East states are of recent and artificial
construction and are vulnerable to such processes. If the center is sufficiently
5


weakened, there is no real sense of common national identity or overriding
allegiance to the nation-state in the Middle East, according to Lewis.
Mitchell Bard (1989), a foreign policy analyst, and Judith Miller (1993), a
Middle East expert, believe that the Islamic movement will continue its efforts to
undermine Western interests, but given the relative weakness of. the Islamic world,
it will have to rely on terrorism in its fight. According to them, the threat is
serious but manageable. Given Americas military might, Islamic governments
would probably be reluctant to attack this country openly and directly. However,
the proliferation of state-sponsored or assisted terrorist groups and the weapons of
mass destruction in the region threaten the U.S., as well as Israel, Egypt and the
other allies. Bard argues that the origin of the threat should be traced to the
Iranian Revolution and the desire of the leaders of Iran to export their brand of
Islamic Revolution. Miller believes that the Islamist movement opposes democracy
and pluralism. She sees this phenomenon as an anti-Western, anti-American and
anti-Israeli movement.
Within the first camp, Hunter emphasizes the Islamic movements desire
for changing the terms on which their relations with the West are based.
Huntington and Lewis both take a historical approach toward this matter and
arrive at the conclusion that the clash between Islam and Judeo-Christianity is
inevitable. Huntington takes into consideration the cultural aspect of the threat,
and Lewis stresses the violent attitude of the Islamic movement. Bard and Miller
6


argue that the Islamic movement is too weak to wage a full-fledged war against
the West. As a result, it will resort to terrorism which will cause damage to
Western and U.S. interests.
Another group of scholars does not consider the revival of Islam a threat to
the West. Esposito (1994) disagrees with Huntingtons and Lewiss perception of
cultural animosity. He states that the political and cultural confrontation is
magnified by some who reduce the contemporary realities to the playing out of
ancient rivalries. In this respect, Muslim-Western relations are placed in the
context of confrontation in which Islam is again pitted against the West-Judeo-
Christian and secular West-rather than concerning specific political and socio-
economic grievances. Thus, the assault on the West is seen as irrational and
mounted by peoples particularly driven by their passions and hatred. Esposito
(1994) also draws our attention to the fact that, "National interest and regional
politics rather than ideology or religion remain the major determinants in the
formulation of the U.S. foreign policy" (22).
Esposito (1984, 1992) maintains that although the U.S. and Islamic
revivalism have different ideological worldviews, this does not necessarily result
in any hostility between the two sides. According to Esposito, the Islamic
movement rules out the division between politics and religion. For the Islamic
activist, Islam is a comprehensive way of life as stipulated in the Quran, seen as
Gods revelation, mirrored in the example of Muhammad and the nature of the
7


first Muslim community-state, and embodied in the comprehensive nature of
Sharia, Gods revealed law. Islamic revivalism condemns Westernization and
secularization of society, but not its modernization. Science and technology are
accepted, but the pace, direction, and extent of change are to be subordinated to
Islamic belief and values in order to guard against the penetration of Western
values and excessive dependence on them.
Esposito believes that American policy-makers, like the media, are not
aware of the complex realities of the Muslim world and view the Muslim world
and the Islamic movements as a monolith and see them solely in terms of
extremism and terrorism. This kind of approach fails to do justice to the
complicated realities of the Muslim world and can undermine relations between
the West and Islam: "U.S. perception of a monolithic Islamic threat often
contributes to support for repressive governments in the Muslim world and thus to
the creation of a self-fulfilling prophecy" (Esposito 1992, 208).
John O. Voll (1989), an historian, argues that the Islamic movement is not
inherently anti-Western or anti-Russia as long as neither the West nor the Russians
act in a way that appears to threaten the possibility of implementing an Islamic
way of life. When either becomes identified with an institution or group hostile to
Islamists views (as was the case with the identification of the U.S. with the Shah
and the former Soviet Union with the Communist regime in Afghanistan), then the
movement turns into a determined adversary.
8


Leon T. Hadar (1993), a professor in the School of International Service of
American University, negates any threat on the ground that Islam is neither
unified nor a danger to the U.S. He warns that in the way that the perception of
danger from Communism or the Soviet Union helped to define U.S. policy for
more than four decades, the fear of Islam could embroil Washington in a second
Cold War. Were America to let these phobias drive its foreign policy, long and
costly battles with various unrelated phenomena would ensue. In the Middle East,
the principle battleground of this struggle, this would place the U.S. in the
position of maintaining a corrupt, reactionary, and unstable status quo. In short,
such a policy would run against the long-run interests of the peoples of the U.S.
and the Middle East. Hadar shares Volls viewpoint in considering the Islamic
movement merely a reaction to the U.S. foreign policy which favors the unstable
status quo.
Hadar (1993) also raises some evidence to support this assumption that
the Islamic movement is on the defensive against the anti-Muslim factions. He
draws our attention to the situation of Muslims in the former Yugoslavia, Central
Asia and India. In the former Yugoslavia, the Westernized and secular Muslim
population of Bosnia and Kosovo is threatened with extinction by Serbian
nationalists, who have a strong connection to the Eastern Orthodox Church. In
Central Asia, the old Communist guard, with support from Russian nationalists, is
leading a bloody campaign against both Westernized and Islamic opposition
9


groups, sending a wave of Muslim refugees from Tajikistan into Afghanistan. In
India, the Bharatiya Janata Party, an anti-Muslim, Hindu nationalist group and
an even more militant Shiv Sena are gaining power.
Phebe Marr (1992), a senior fellow at the National Defence University,
while stressing the diversity of the movements, argues that despite the dynamism
of the Islamic revival, its threat to the stability and security of the Middle East
should not be overestimated. First, Islamic movements, even those moving into
the mainstream, do not yet have majority support in any country. The bulk of
population within these countries is loyal to more traditional forms of Islam that
pose little or no threat. Second, the trend toward pragmatism is gaining strength in
some countries as evidenced by Arab participation in the peace process, the
release of Western hostages, and Irans move to strengthen ties with Europe.
Abdul Aziz Said (1992), a professor in the School of International Service
at American University, points out that the Islamic movement seeks to restore an
old civilization, not to create a new empire. Among the worlds historical powers,
only the Muslims as a people, have not reversed the decline in their global status.
The Japanese, the Chinese, and the Europeans have all regained their world
influence. The Islamic movement is a social and political movement, a reaction to
Westernization and modernization. The Islamic people are trying to preserve their
culture by replacing Western secularization with Islamic ideology. Said concludes
that foreign intervention is the main source of conflict.
10


The other scholars in this camp reiterate the internal dynamics of the
movement and bring up a variety of issues to support their arguments.
Douglas E. Streusand (1989), Public Affairs Fellow at the Hoover Institution,
states that Islam is compatible with Western religious values. He emphasizes the
similarities between Islam, Judaism and Christianity such as their monotheistic
tradition, the individuals moral responsibility for his actions and the payment of
alms so central in all three religions. Anwar-ul-Haq Ahady (1992), a professor of
political science at Providence College, also negates the threat on the ground that
the movement has proved unable to solve the problems that face it. He backs up
his argument with the following points: 1) support for Islamic radical parties has
declined in many Islamic societies where elections are not completely manipulated
by the authorities; 2) that although in a few instances the Islamic radical parties
have increased their electoral strength, even there they had to accept
parliamentarism and pluralism; 3) in strongly authoritarian states they have been
successfully suppressed; 4) that modernity, which is the greatest enemy of the
radical Islam, continues to spread in Muslim societies; 5) that there is some
evidence from survey data which indicates the decline of radical attitudes among
Muslims; 6) by the 1980s, it seemed that radical Islam had failed to solve socio-
economic problems.
In this camp, Espositos analysis is very comprehensive relative to that of
the other scholars. He argues from a historical perspective that due to the failure
11


of Western secular ideology in resolving the socioeconomic problems of the
Middle East, people are now determined to try their own Islamic model which has
deep roots in their longstanding history. Esposito draws our attention to the
complex realities of Islamic revivalism. He thinks that the U.S. should revise its
monolithic approach to the phenomenon and distinguish between the many groups
such as the Islamic Brotherhood in Egypt that favor peaceful participation in the
political process of the Middle East countries and the few groups that support
violent acts. Although Voll, Hadar and Said have used different methodologies in
their studies, they have all come to Espositos conclusion that the Islamic
movement is a response to the Wests secular ideology. Voll examines the
question of foreign influence and how it turns the movement into an adversary.
Hadar focuses on the lack of unity among the worlds Muslims which prevents the
movement from acquiring a cutting-edge at the international level. Said takes a
historical approach to examine the issue. He believes that the Islamic civilization,
like other great civilizations (Japanese, Chinese, and European), is going to
reemerge, but this does not necessarily pose a threat to the West. Marr and Ahady
talk about the internal problems the movement faces. These problems include lack
of majority support, repression by the authoritarian incumbent regimes and
inability to offer a workable alternative to the secular model. Both scholars think
that the Islamic movement has to overcome those formidable problems in order to
become a viable force. Finally, Streusand makes a comparison between Islam,
12


Christianity and Judaism from a religious perspective. According to him, the
existing hostility is not necessary in the light of the similarities between the three
religions.
Thesis Statement
The scholars have examined whether or not Islamic revivalism poses a
threat to U.S. interests from a variety of perspectives. Some have argued that
Islam is a threat due to a rivalry between the West and Islam. Others have argued
that Islam is not a threat because its adherents do not have majority support, and
they have been unable to solve socio-economic problems in their societies. These
scholars came to different conclusions according to the basis of their arguments.
In this thesis, my argument is that Islamic revivalism, in terms of ideology,
is a potential threat to U.S. interests, for it might revive Islam as an alternative to
the existing ideologies; and in terms of practice, Islamic revivalism is not a threat
to U.S. interests because it faces obstacles in the realization of its aspirations. To
support my argument, I am going to examine Irans foreign policy toward the
Middle East in three areas: transformation of status quo, Israel and oil. In each
area, I evaluate viewpoints from an ideological perspective arguing that Irans
foreign policy threatens U.S. interests potentially and viewpoints from a practical
perspective arguing that Irans policy does not threaten U.S. interests.
13


What distinguishes this research from the existing academic literature is
that this thesis, instead of looking into historical rivalries between Islam and
Judeo-Christianity or focusing on Irans domestics politics, examines the present
realities of the Middle East by concentrating on Irans external behavior as a case
study. Since it is my contention that U.S. foreign policy pursues objectives which
contradict those of Iran, a brief examination of U.S. objectives in the Middle East
also becomes relevant.
Chapter two gives a short history about role of Islam in Irans political
movements and then focuses on Islamic concepts that have shaped Iran's post-
revolution foreign policy. Chapter three examines Irans foreign policy toward the
Middle East in three areas of transformation of the status quo, Israel and oil.
Since Irans foreign policy is reviewed from a comparative perspective,
this chapter also includes a brief examination of U.S. foreign policy. The
conclusion is presented in Chapter four.
14


CHAPTER TWO
THE ISLAMIC REVOLUTION OF IRAN
The purpose of this chapter is to give a short history of the role of Islam in
Irans political life with an emphasis on the Islamic Revolution of 1979 and to
examine concepts shaping Irans post-revolution foreign policy. The Islamic
Revolution led to the establishment of an Islamic government whose foreign policy
was founded upon Islamic concepts.
Historical Background
Islam has become a significant force of social and political change in the
contemporary history of Iran. During the Qajar dynasty, the Tobacco Movement
of 1891-92 led by Ayatollah Hassan al-Shirazi prevented Nasir al-Din Shah from
selling the tobacco concession to a British company. The concession consisting of
the production, sale and export of tobacco, was to be granted to the British, "who
agreed to pay the Qajar an annual sum of 15,000 British pounds at 5 percent
dividend on the capital and one-quarter share of the profits" (Hussain 1985, 27).
Several years later, the Constitutional Revolution of 1905-11 forced Mozaffar al-
Din Shah to approve a constitution limiting his power.
According to David Menashri (1990), these two movements had certain
characteristics in common. First, they had their origins in reactions against the
15


reigning Shah's policies. Second, clerics were the main driving force. And third,
the two movements reflected mounting social and economic tensions, intensified
by autocratic rule, growing secularization and increased foreign influence. These
movements were successful in attaining their initial goals but fell short of trying to
do away with existing regimes.
During the Pahlavi dynasty, 1925-79, Reza Shah and his son, Muhammad
Reza, initiated a process of secularization which aimed to develop Iran according
to Western pattern. The Pahlavis achieved the secularization of Irans political
system through educational and legal reforms. Reza Shah replaced religious ulama
by foreign educated Iranians and the latter formulated a new code of laws for
Iran, based on the French Civil Code, for the secularization of Iran.
Secularization and Westernization created resentment among clerics and
the people. The Pahlavi dynasty moved toward separating the state from religion
and reduced the power base of the religious establishment. In doing so, it also
offended religious sentiments of the population, most of them devoted Shiis. While
other regimes in the Muslim world were careful not to offend religious
sensibilities of their people, the Pahlavi dynasty ignored them altogether. For
example, Muhammad Reza Shah adopted measures that alienated Iran from its
past Islamic history. The most important one came in 1976
when the Islamic calendar counting the years from the Hijra (emigration of
Prophet Muhammad from Mecca to Medina) was replaced by the imperial
16


calendar counting the years from the accession of Cyrus the Great.
During the Pahlavi dynasty, the question of-foreign influence concerned
the people. The danger of foreign intervention was realized in 1941 when the
British and the former Soviet Union forced Reza Shah to abdicate in favor of his
son. It became more evident in 1953 after Muhammad Reza Shah was driven into
exile by a nationalist movement headed by the Prime Minister, Muhammad
Musadeq, whose nationalization of Irans oil threatened interests of Western oil
companies. The Shahs return from Rome to Tehran aboard an American military
plane with the head of the CIA at his side was orchestrated by the U.S. with
British support.
The return of the Shah was a turning point in the political history of Iran.
Irans political, military, and economic ties with the West, particularly with the
U.S., increased significantly. After the U.S. failure in Vietnam in 1972, the U.S.
administration substituted its policy of direct involvement with an indirect one. As
a result, during the Nixon administration, Iran along with Saudi Arabia became
the gendarme of the region to provide local and regional security in the Persian
Gulf region. It was according to this policy that, despite the unwillingness of the
Iranian people, the Iranian army consisting of fifteen hundred men was sent to the
Dhofar Province of Oman in December 1973 to repress the so-called leftist rebels
who waged a liberation struggle against their puppet government (Skeet 1992, 49).
In terms of domestic politics, according to Shaul Bakhash (1990a), the Shah
17


carried out his secularization plan and concurrently reinforced the foundations of a
royal autocracy. During his reign, political power was concentrated in the
monarchy and the structure of the political system was rigid, with no
decentralization of power to other bodies such as Majlis (legislature) and cabinet.
Due to the Shahs domestic and foreign policies, dissent began to grow and
spread to a broad social base. In the meantime, other socio-economic problems
such as the widening social gap, rapid inflation and spread of corruption added
fuel to the discontent. Despite the repressive policy of the Shah, some ulama
(Islamic clergymen) and lay intellectuals remained advocates of reform. In the
early 1960s, Ayatollah Khomeini, 1902-89, emerged as a key anti-government
spokesman among a growing minority of ulama who viewed the Shahs
secularization program and Irans close ties with the West as a threat to Islam and
national independence.
Ayatollah Khomeini began to speak against the regime and opposed foreign
influence in Iran. In 1963, following Khomeinis speeches, widespread riots took
place in the country. But before long, these riots were put down with great
severity. Khomeini was sent into exile in 1964; he moved to Iraq in 1965 and then
to France in 1978. While in exile, he continued to write and speak out against the
Shah condemning his un-lslamic policies. Opposition to the Shah grew throughout
the 1970s encompassing a broad spectrum of Iranian society: writers, poets,
journalists, university professors, liberal nationalists, and Marxists. They shared a
18


concern about the lack of political participation, the erosion of national autonomy,
and loss of religiocultural identity in an increasingly Westernized society.
Among the lay intellectuals who criticized the Shah and his policies,
Dr. Ali Shariati stood out. He combined Third World anti-imperialism and Iranian
Shiism to produce a revolutionary Islamic ideology for socio-political reform.
Shariati (1979) denounced "Weststruckness" saying, "Come friends let us abandon
Europe; let us cease this nauseating, apish imitation of Europe. Let us leave
behind this Europe that always speaks of humanity, but destroys human beings
wherever it finds them" (17).
In 1978, the ulama, intelligentsia, students and merchants organized
peaceful demonstrations against the Shah. The government responded to these
political protests with brutality, as a result of which many people were killed. The
closing down of the bazaars and universities as well as strikes in the oil sector of
the economy were heavy blows to the regime. The embattled Shah, no longer able
to control the situation, left Iran on January 16; 1979. Khomeini returned to Iran
on February 1, 1979.
Khomeini played a key role in the victory of the revolution. He united and
mobilized people against the regime under the banner of Islam. According to
Esposito (1990), Islamic ideology, symbols and the mosque formed the core of the
revolution. Khomeini believed that the source of problems of Muslim people lies
in their estrangement from the divine path of Islam, their adoption of
19


inappropriate ways of either the West or the East and their disunity. The solution
is a return to Islam, the establishment of Islamic governments, and overcoming
divisions and achieving unity. According to Khomeini, "Nobody could defeat one
billion Muslims if they were united" (Hunter 1990, 40)
The outcome of the Islamic Revolution of 1979 was the establishment of an
Islamic government. Despite the chaos that accompanies all revolutions, the
Islamic Republic of Iran took shape within a relatively short period of time. A
referendum in March 1979 transformed Irans government from a monarchy to an
Islamic Republic. The new Constitution, based on Shiis concept of Islamic
government, was adopted at the end of 1979. This constitution vests supreme
political authority in the Valiy-e-Faghih, the leading theologian (religious leader)
in the country. The constitution specifically named Khomeini as having been
recognized as the first Valiy-e-Faghih. After Khomeini, a leader should be chosen
by the Council of Experts (high-ranking clerics) which was established in 1983.
These experts, elected by the people, are to discuss the competence of all qualified
candidates, select one of them and introduce him to the people. If they fail to
select one, they will select three to five theologians to form a "Council of
Leadership." The constitution gives the "leader" (or "Council of Leadership")
virtually unlimited political powers. He is the Supreme Commander of the Armed
Forces. He also appoints the President of the Supreme Court, confirms the
20


president in office once lie is elected and under certain conditions, is entitled to
dismiss him "in consideration of the political interests" (Menashri 1990, 116).
Second to the leader in the hierarchy of the office is the Council of
Guardians. It is composed of six theologians appointed by the leader and six
Muslim jurists nominated by the High Council of the Judiciary and approved by
the Majlis. Its task is to review laws passed by the Majlis and to determine
whether they are in conformity with Islamic religious law and compatible with the
constitution. If they are not, the Guardians have authority to veto them. The
members of the council serve six-year terms, with half the members being
changed every three years. The Majlis has 270 members popularly elected to four-
year terms. Executive responsibility rests with the president, who is elected to a
four-year term by popular vote. Along with these structural changes, Irans
foreign policy underwent extensive modifications. The next section examines the
new concepts underlying post-revolution Irans foreign policy toward the Middle
East.
Foreign Policy Concepts
In this section, based upon scholars viewpoints, I argue that Irans
external behavior has been shaped by Islamic concepts. Against this argument,
some other scholars believe that both ideological and non-ideological concepts
have influenced Irans foreign policy. This group goes further and claims that
21


sometimes non-ideological concepts have been the prevailing theme in Irans
behavior toward the outside world. After evaluating viewpoints which support my
argument, I am going to analyze evidence presented by those who allocate a role
to non-ideological concepts in Irans external behavior.
According to Malnnood Sariolghalam (1993), three concepts originating
from Islamic ideology lay the foundation of Irans foreign policy in the post-
revolutionary era: Shii egalitarianism, ideological centralism and authenticity.
According to Shii egalitarianism, the basis of human power is not materialistic,
rather it is spiritual. People, nation-states and civilizations are compared and
categorized on the basis of their devotion to monotheistic beliefs, obedience to
religious guidelines and virtuous behavior. Therefore, human power is founded
upon spirituality, not on the accumulation of wealth and other material things.
In the political arena, this type of worldview certainly has effects. From a
comparative perspective, the Shii concept of power completely rejects the tenets of
Western political realism which, according to William O. Beeman (1990), has a
materialistic outlook and requires military preparedness and economic sufficiency
for political assertiveness and material superiority.
It is clear from the Shii conceptualization of a "political power base" why
Irans officials disapproved of the superpowers and superpower political behavior.
Iranian complaints of superpower behavior in the developing world in general, and
in Muslim world in particular, have been based upon the non-egalitarian approach
22


of the Western countries towards them. According to Ruhollah K. Ramazani
(1986); Johannes Reissner (1989); Hunter (1990); Esposito (1992); and Richard
Cottam (1993), Khomeini divides the world into two blocks of state actors: the
oppressors and the oppressed. The oppressors are those who have power and use
it to dominate others. The oppressed are those who lack power and are being
dominated. It was on the basis of this concept that Khomeini rejected the
contemporary international system. For example, in 1981, in a meeting with a
foreign delegation, he said,
We will not agree to be dominated by America or by the Soviet
Union. We are Muslims and wish to live. We dont want that kind
of progress and civilization which would make us reach our hands
out to aliens. We want civilization which is based upon honor and
humanity and which would preserve peace upon this basis. The
superpowers wish to dominate human beings. We, you and any
other Muslim, are dutybound to remain steadfast against them....
(Ramazani 1983, 17)
The concept of egalitarianism is also linked to the idea of worldwide justice
as manifested by Shiism. Islamic ideology, particularly Shiism, attaches significant
importance to justice. Western observer Malise Ruthven notes the overriding
importance of justice in Islam. Ruthven (1984) states that, "whereas Christianity is
primarily the religion of love, Islam is above all religion of justice" (227). Thus,
the concept of egalitarianism has driven Irans policy to reject the prevailing
international system on the grounds that it treats Islamic countries unfairly and
unjustly.
23


The second Islamic concept is ideological centralism. One of the common
features of all revolutions is to portray themselves as a symbol of progressiveness.
The Iranian revolutionary elite has continuously spoken of the revolutions
attractiveness and appeal in the developing world in general, and in the Muslim
world in particular. According to Khomeini, the Islamic revolution has provided
the ground for the establishment of new order. Article 11 of the Constitution of
Iran provides that the Iranian government "should exert continuous efforts in order
to realize the political, economic and cultural unity of the Islamic world"
(Ramazani 1990a, 48). The Islamic Revolution repudiated the national boundaries
set by the colonialists. Therefore, it put forth the idea that Muslims should relate
to one another beyond their nationalities, race, and color and instead reflect upon
the establishment of a transnational Islamic body. This idea is more than implicit
in Ayatollah Khomeinis own world outlook. In his words, "Islam is a sacred trust
from God to ourselves and the Iranian nation must grow in power and resolution
until it has vouchsafed Islam to the entire world" (Ramazani 1983, 18). Farhang
Rajaee (1990) shares Sariolghalams viewpoint and calls this aspect of Islamic
ideology "universalism." According to Rajaee, Islam is claimed to be the straight
path for the glory of humanity regardless of color, race and culture. Article 154 of
the Constitution of Iran states that,
The Islamic Republic of Iran is concerned with the welfare of
humanity as a whole and takes independence, liberty, and
sovereignty of justice and righteousness as the right of people in the
24


world order. Thus while refraining from any involvement in the
internal affairs of other nations, the Islamic Republic of Iran
supports the struggle of the oppressed anywhere in the world.
(Rajaee 1990, 67)
The third concept is authenticity which reiterates a return to Islam for
reducing dependency on foreign ideologies. Iranian leaders have consistently used
historical cases to support their policies. Irans history in the last 150 years and its
bitter experiences with the British, Russians and Americans have served as strong
reminders that the government should pursue an independent foreign policy.
Hunter (1990) also argues that Irans historical experiences have convinced Irans
officials to adhere to the Islamic concept of authenticity to counter foreign
influence. Irans notable historical experiences were the fate of two nineteenth
century Iranian Prime Ministers, Ghaein Magham Farahani and Mirza Amir
Kabir, who championed reform and independence. Both authorities resisted
foreign pressures and tried to curb the privileges of the court, and both were
murdered on the kings orders. In more recent times, Mohammad Musadeq met a
comparable fate for similar reasons.
Rajaee (1990, 66) calls this aspect of Islamic ideology "idealism."
According to him, idealism has basically been a reaction to the expansive wave of
modernism and to Western culture. In the views of Irans intellectuals, the only
reason their glorious past has not been realized is because of the machinations of
others, particularly of outside powers. Thus, the search for an authentic identity
25


dominates Iran's post-revolutionary political outlook and policy statements. The
Muslim worlds social, political and economic dependency on major powers
deprive them of authenticity. Therefore, in order to be authentic, Muslim
statesmen need to look inward instead of expanding their interdependencies.
National and transnational Islamic authenticity is based on principles of Islamic
ideology and can only be achieved through the ideological, political and economic
integration of Muslim nation-states. The most significant premise of authenticity,
according to Iranian elites, calls for re-shaping Muslim relations with the external
world: parity and ideological sovereignty must be among the major determinants
of Muslim and non-Muslim relations.
It was within this context that Iran, after the victory of the Islamic
Revolution, neither tilted toward the West nor the East. The adoption of such a
foreign policy by Iran alienated both the capitalist and communist blocks.
According to Khomeini, "No revolution in history has been attacked as much as
the Iranian revolution has been,...[because] ... other revolutions have either
tended toward the left or the right. If they tended toward the left, the leftists
supported them, and vice versa" (Rajaee 1983, 78).
Other scholars such as Bakhash (1990a), Menashri (1990), George
Linaberg (1992), Hooshang Amirahmadi (1993), and Bahman Bakhtiari (1993)
argue that Irans foreign policy has been a reflection of both ideological and non-
ideological considerations. These scholars link Irans external behavior to Irans
26


domestic politics. They divide the ruling elite into two factions: "pragmatists" or
"realists" versus "radicals" or "idealists." According to these scholars, non-
ideological considerations take precedence over ideological ones in Irans external
behavior when pragmatists or realists ascend over power, and the opposite occurs
when radicals or idealists take over power. According to these scholars,
pragmatists or realists such as Hashemi Rafsanjani and Dr. Ali Akbar Velayati
place national interest and economics ahead of ideology, support private enterprise
and favor expansion of relations with the West. Radicals or idealists such as
Khomeini, Ali Akbar Mohtashemi and Mussavi Khoiniha insist on a revolutionary
interpretation of Islam, support a state-controlled economy and oppose expanded
relations with the West.
These scholars present some evidence to support their arguments.
Amirahmadi (1993) mentions that since Rafsanjanis ascendancy to power in 1988,
Irans harsh rhetoric towards OPEC and the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) has
been reduced. Moreover, Iran does not support regional Islamic movements as
much as before and did not support Iraq in its war against the allied forces led by
the United States. He also adds that when Saddam Hussein tried to portray Iraqs
war against the U.S. as a war between revolutionaries and anti-revolutionaries,
and thereby involve other countries in the war, Iran maintained its neutrality.
Bakhtiari (1993), in support of this argument, states that immediately after the
defeat of the Iraqi army by the U.S., Saddams control over his opponents was
27


eliminated. The Iraqi Shiis revolted against him, taking over the important cities
of Najaf, Karbala and Hi!la. Looking to Iran, Iraqi Shiis expected help and
military assistance for their revolt, but Iran did not aid the Iraqi Shiis. In response
to the question why Iran did not help Iraqi Shiis, Rafsanjani stated that the Iraqis
"can do their own work" (Bakhtiari 1993, 89).
Without any doubt, the struggle for power between the two factions within
Irans ruling elite has, from time to time, impacted Irans behavior toward the
outside world. Nevertheless, the important point ignored by these scholars is the
factor of time. From 1980 to 1988, Iran engaged in a war against Iraq. During the
war, some members of GCC and OPEC, including Saudi Arabia and Kuwait
supported Iraq financially. Such support strained Irans relations with these
countries. In 1988, when the war ended the ground was provided for
normalization of relations with them. Such a rapprochement came about because
of the end of the war and not merely due to the ascendancy of the so-called
pragmatists in 1988. Iran did not side with Iraq in its war against the allied forces
because Iran had already become the first victim of the Iraqi aggression. Iran also
did not involve itself in the Persian Gulf crisis, because contrary to Saddams
statements, the Iranian government did not see the war as the one between
revolutionaries and anti-revolutionaries. In Hashemi Rafsanjanis words, "The
events that have taken place in the region are neither the battle between the
revolution and the counter-revolution nor a fight between the reactionaries and
28


progressives..." (Bakhtiari 1993, 85-6). Iran did not support Iraqi Shiis because
they had already launched their military struggle against Saddam, thus any Iranian
involvement could have been meant interference in the internal affairs of another
country. Such an interference is in conflict with Irans Constitution which allows
support for the oppressed only within a humanitarian framework.
Another problem with the analysis presented by this group of scholars is
that they categorize Irans ruling elite in a rigid manner leading themselves to
misinterpretation. The fluidity of Irans domestic politics is such that todays
radicals may be tomorrows pragmatists and vice versa. Irans authorities may be
pragmatists on one set of issues and may be radicals on another. Moreover, Irans
rapprochement with other countries did not start with the ascendancy of
pragmatists to power. The process, although it did not bear fruit until the end of
the war, started with Khomeinis own statements in 1984. Khomeini said on
October 29, 1984 that it was "inadmissible to common sense and humanity" not to
have relations with other governments, "since it would mean defeat, annihilation
and being buried right to the end..." (Ramazani 1990b, 60). According to
Bakhtiari (1990, 258), Khomeini did not even rule out relations with the U.S. on
the condition that the U.S. ended its hostility toward Iran.
This chapter ends with the conclusion that Islam has been a major driving
force for political changes in Iran. Such a role was evident in the Tobacco
Movement and the Constitutional Revolution, and reached its apex during the
29


Islamic movement of 1979. The Islamic Revolution led to the establishment of an
Islamic government whose foreign policies have been shaped by Islamic concepts.
The next chapter examines what Irans post-revolution policy toward the Middle
East has been and whether it poses a threat to U.S. interests.
30


CHAPTER THREE
IRANS FOREIGN POLICY TOWARD THE MIDDLE EAST
This chapter reviews the question of whether or not Irans post-revolution
foreign policy poses a threat to U.S. interests. To answer this question, Irans
foreign policy toward the Middle East is examined in three areas: transformation
of the status quo, Israel and oil. In each area, I examine arguments from both
ideological and practical perspectives and then evaluate the strengths and
weaknesses of them.
During the Shahs era, Irans foreign policy toward the region reflected a
Cold War environment which dictated that "Communism is bad, capitalism is
good; stability is desirable, instability threatens U.S. interests" (Bloomfield 1974,
58). In such an environment, Iran was an important actor in containing
Communism due to its proximity to the former Soviet Union. Irans alliance with
the U.S. aimed to maintain U.S. regional interests such as "containment of Soviet
expansion and influence, access to oil and security of Israel" (Kuniholm 1984,
38).
The strategic alliance between Iran and the U.S. was consolidated in the
1970s by the Nixon Doctrine which made Iran a symbol of stability and a
defender of political status quo in the Persian Gulf. For example, when the Dhofar
rebellion broke out in Oman in 1975, the Iranian army consisting of 1500 men
31


was sent to the Dhofar Province of Oman to repress the so-called leftist rebels
(Skeet 1992, 49-50).
In the aftermath of the Nixon Doctrine, the U.S. supplied a variety of
military equipment to Iran. The U.S. military assistance enabled Iran to contain
Soviet expansionism into the Persian Gulf, which according to Richard K.
Hermann (1991, 44-5) holds 65 percent of the worlds proven oil reserves and
currently accounts for 25 percent of the worlds oil production. According to
Barry Rubin (1985, 102), direct or indirect extension of Soviet influence over the
Persian Gulf would threaten the free flow of oil which is of vital importance to the
West. The Shah not only contained Soviet influence in the region, particularly in
the Persian Gulf, but also, helped the U.S. have access to oil. For instance,
during the Arab Oil Embargo of 1973, the Shah quietly shipped large amounts of
oil to the U.S. to give U.S. administration some relief. According to Walter
LaFeber (1989), "those shipments amounted to over $9 billion between 1973 and
1977" (625).
The Shahs connection with Israel was aimed to strengthen his alliance with
the United States (Ramazani 1986, 148). De facto recognition of the Jewish state
by the Shah in 1950, the regimes association with the Israeli intelligence service
(MOSSAD), the export of Iranian oil to Israel and its continuation even during the
1973 Arab Oil Embargo against the West appeared to further consolidate such a
32


strategic alliance between the U.S. and Iran (Ramazani 1986, 154; Bakhash
1990b, 116).
After the Islamic Revolution, the Islamic concepts of egalitarianism,
centralism and authenticity gave a new orientation to Irans foreign policy toward
the Middle East. Such a new orientation has greatly impacted the Iranian-U.S.
relationship in three areas: the political status quo, oil and Israel. Iran has pursued
a policy of non-alignment vis-a-vis the superpowers. This policy runs counter to
the Shahs alliance with the U.S. to maintain his regime and the territorial
integrity of Iran. The Islamic Republic of Iran has propagated Islamic ideology to
promote political awareness and bring unity among Muslims. Propagation of
Islamic ideology could lead to a transformation of status quo in the political arena
which is the opposite of the Shahs policy of the preservation of status quo. The
Shahs friendly attitude toward Israel was substituted with an unfriendly one which
seeks complete withdrawal of Jews from Palestine. According to Ramazani
(1983), after the revolution the main principles for the conduct of Iranian foreign
policy appeared to be: "first, rejection of dependency on either the West or the
East; second, support for oppressed people, especially Muslims; and third,
liberation of Jerusalem" (22). Examination of Irans foreign policy in three areas
of the transformation of the status quo, Israel and oil indicates to what extent these
principles have threatened U.S. interests in the region.
33


Transformation of the Status Quo
In his classic work on revolution, Crane Brinton (1965) discusses the
universalistic nature of deep-rooted revolutions and observes that revolutionaries
throughout history all sought to spread the gospel of their revolution. The Islamic
Revolution has not been an exception to this rule. After the victory of the Islamic
Revolution, Iran began to propagate its Islamic ideology according to its Islamic
concept of Islamic centralism.
In terms of ideology, the propagation of Islamic ideology has been a
potential threat to U.S. interests because it is aimed at transforming the U.S.-
supported status quo. If in an early period of the Cold War, secular nationalism
headed by Nasser in Egypt established itself as a socio-political movement of rapid
political change in the Middle East, in the 1980s, Islamic revivalism began to
replace nationalism as the most important instrument of social and political
change. Moreover, Islamic revivalism has been a more serious threat to U.S.
interests because it has been associated with Islam which is the most important
cultural characteristic of the Middle Eastern people.
The failure of secular ideologies such as Marxism and capitalism in
resolving socio-economic problems of the Middle East countries has enhanced the
appeal of Islamic ideology as a political alternative. In the aftermath of their
failure, Muslims began searching for a more compatible political system that
would allow them to establish an independent identity for both the individual and
34


the state and to restore cultural dignity. In view of the cultural characteristics of
the people of the Middle East, Islam seemed to be promising for the realization of
these goals. According to Robin Wright (1989), one of the reasons Islam became
attractive was that it offered an authentic source of identity that did not force the
population to look or act contrary to tradition or to their own priorities.
For these reasons, the Islamic Revolution carries some points of appeal to
people of the Persian Gulf countries. According to Ramazani (1988, 133-4) and
James A. Bill and Robert Springborg (1990, 390), these points of appeal include
the overthrow of U.S. backed regimes, the end of ties of dependence on
superpowers, and the reaffirmation of strength and relevance of Islamic
civilization in the modern world. In addition to these appeals, some other factors
concerned U.S. administrations and the conservative Arab rulers. First, in the
view of Khomeini, Islam is incompatible with monarchial rule. This aspect of
Khomeinis view worried the majority of Arab rulers. Moreover, according to
William B. Quandt (1985, 56) and M.E. Ahrari and James H. Noyes (1994, 224-
5) similarities of governance between the Imperial Iran and the monarchial states
of the Persian Gulf, such as political repression and lack of freedom of speech,
created considerable concern among the sheikhdoms that their rule might also
suddenly end, as did that of the Shah.
Second, there was a fear among Arab rulers that Shii communities residing
in these countries might rise up in an Iranian-style revolution. According to
35


Wayne E. White (1988, 99), many Shiis have less opportunity for political
participation through existing government institutions and more limited economic
opportunities than those of resident Sunnis. In addition to the issue of inequality
between Shiis and Sunnis, the size of Shii populations are worrisome for Arab
sheikhdoms. The percentage of Shii populations in Bahrain, Iraq, Kuwait, the
United Arab Emirates and Qatar are respectively 70%, 60%, 30%, 16%, and 16%
(Congressional Quarterly 1990, 159-216).
In terms of practice, the Islamic Revolution has not been a threat to U.S.
interests. Some scholars believe that Iran has resorted to violent means for
propagating its revolution and others believe that Iran has only employed non-
violent ways and means for spreading its Islamic ideology. According to Rubin
(1985, 109) and Bruce R. Kuniholm (1984, 39-43), Iran has resorted to three
kinds of violent ways and means : launching direct attacks, engaging in
fundamentalist subversion and seeking regional supremacy all of which are
intended to transform the status quo. As for direct attacks, there has been a fear
among regional countries that Iran might resort to direct military force in
spreading its revolution. Ramazani (1990a) indicates evidence for such behavior
during the Iran-Iraq war. When in July 1982, Iran regained almost all territories
captured by the Iraqi forces, it carried the war into Iraqi territory until 'July 1988.
The extension of war into Iraqi territories was aimed at exporting the revolution.
On February 22, 1989, Khomeini himself said that: "Every day of the war we had
36


blessing, which we utilized in all aspects. We exported our revolution to the world
through the war..." (Ramazani 1990a, 51).
The fundamentalist subversion constituting of actions such as coups,
insurgencies, terrorism and hostage-taking cannot be examined thoroughly because
all arguments are based on circumstantial evidence. According to Rubin (1985),
Iran was involved in training revolutionaries in Bahrain to overthrow Arab
governments. The arrest of such a group in Bahrain in December 1981 set off a
regional panic. Other incidents attributed to Iran include: the suicidal truck
bombing against the American and French military contingents in Lebanon in
October 1983 and hijacking and bombing of planes (Ramazani 1990a, 52).
Iran is also accused of hostage-taking as a forceful means of meeting its
demands. According to Bakhash (1990b, 126), hostage-taking, even if not
instigated by Tehran but masterminded by groups friendly to Iran,, suggest that
hostages could be exchanged for concessions or materials desired by Iran, for
example, release of French hostages in exchange for diplomatic concessions and
the release of Iranian assets held by the French government.
Seeking regional supremacy is another way of spreading the Islamic
Revolution. According to Rubin (1985, 109), Joseph A. Kechichian (1993, 131),
Amirahmadi (1993, 148), Iran could use its size and strength to pressure the
Persian Gulf states to adopt anti-American policies. These scholars argue that the
Shah and Khomeini both pursued supremacy in the region through using different
37


'tactics. The Shah essentially relied on Irans military strength to achieve his goal
I
1
land Khomeini used both Irans military power and its Islamic ideology. These
scholars bring up the case of the Iran-Iraq war as an example of Irans efforts of
regional supremacy. This aspect of Islamic Revolution runs counter to U.S.
regional interests because one of U.S. objectives has been to prevent any power
from dominating the region. According to Lewis (1992, 30), the U.S. has pursued
such a policy because the emergence of a regional hegemon could pose a threat to
U.S. interests.
Other scholars believe that Iran has resorted to non-violent ways and means
for propagating its revolution. According to Rajaee (1990,72-5) and Ramazani
(1990a, 54-6), Iran has propagated its revolution through peaceful mechanisms
such as Ayatollah Khomeinis speeches, model-building (Iran serving as a model
worth emulating), and publicity organizations (organizations established for the
purpose of propagating Islam abroad). After the victory of the Islamic Revolution,
Khomeini made speeches containing emancipatory messages for the people of the
developing world in general and the Muslim nations in particular. Model-building
was another way to spread the revolution. Model-building means that Iran could
become a model of development for other Islamic nations by constructing an ideal
society. In the words of President Rafsanjani,
If under the present post-war conditions we manage
to create an acceptable type of society and set up a
viable model of development, progress, evolution ,
38


and correct Islamic morals for the world, then we
will achieve what the world has feared; that is the
export of Islamic Revolution. (Ramazani 1990a, 54)
Ayatollah Khomeinis letter to Mikhail Gorbachev in January 1989 shows the
trend of propagating the revolution by model-building. In his letter, refuting both
Marxism and Western Liberalism while presenting Islam as an alternative,
Khomeini invited Gorbachev "to do serious research on Islam" (Rajaee 1990, 76).
The other tools of propagation have been publicity organizations and the
mass media. Publicity organizations such as the organization for the propagation
of Islam, the Andishe Foundation and the Farabi Foundation have published books
on the Islamic Revolution and other Islamic issues in several languages.
Government-controlled media such as radio stations have broadcast Irans
propaganda to the Persian Gulf region.
Ramazani (1990a) brings up another aspect of the propagation of Islamic
values. According to him, Iran has spread message of its revolution through
holding conferences on Islamic issues. According to Ramazani (1990a, 55-6),
examples include an international conference with participation of five hundred
foreign ulama in Tehran in may 1982, a conference on Islamic propagation to
analyze various ways of spreading message of Islam in January 1989, and a
conference of fourteen Lebanese and Palestinian groups in Tehran in July 1989.
Parallel with non-violent ways and means of propagating the Islamic
ideology, Iran has also tried to contain those who favor violent means for
39


spreading the revolution. For example, Mehdi Hashemi, a radical, "tried to use
pilgrims to smuggle arms into Saudi Arabia in the summer of 1986" (Ramazani
1990b, 52). Following that attempt, he was arrested and executed in 1987. In
another incident, when a passenger airliner TWA 847 was hijacked on June 14,
1985, Iran helped in the process of freeing the American hostages. The first
indication of the help was reported on July 1, 1985, by Washington Post
correspondent, Don Oberdorfer (1985) who wrote that, "U.S. officials said that
hints exist that Iran acquiesced in the settlement" (Al). On July 3, Oberdorfer
(1985) reported that:
Some administration officials said they believe that Iranian
authorities, who have a close relationship with the most militant
Shiite groups, used their influence late last week to persuade the
extremist Hezbollah, or Party of God, to submit to Assads
authority and release four TWA hijacking hostages the group was
holding. (A 12)
No less important, Iran put on trial the two South Yemeni hijackers who
on November 5, 1984 seized a Saudi Arabian jetliner on route from Jeddah to
Europe and sentenced them to twelve years in prisons (Ramazani 1986, 238).
I believe that Iran has not propagated its revolution through violent ways
and means. In fact, Shiis may not use violent methods for the spread of their
ideology. According to Shii Doctrine, "only infallible Imams (title of twelve
Muslim leaders) are authorized to initiate offensive wars for the purpose of
religious expansion" (Rajaee 1983, 84). The allegations regarding Irans
40


involvement in direct attacks or fundamentalist subversion are ambiguous and are
based on circumstantial evidence. The only piece of evidence presented by the
scholars accusing Iran of direct military attack is the entry of the Iranian forces
into Iraqi territory after the retreat of Iraqi forces in July 1982. The fact is that the
entry of the Iranian army into Iraqi soil aimed at putting Iraq under pressure for
meeting Irans conditions for the end of the war, such as recognition of aggressor
and compensation for war damages, rather than exporting the revolution.
Furthermore, Iran has faced formidable obstacles in spreading its
revolution through non-violent ways and means. In this regard, the scholars have
identified four major barriers. First, many Arabs believe that Irans Islamic
ideology embraces Shii particularism which is not appropriate for Sunni Muslims.
According to Ramazani (1988, 134-5) and Augustus Richard Norton (1990, 134),
many Sunni Arabs reject the model of Iranian governance for their own societies.
Even Shii Muslims are divided on the applicability of Valyat-e-Faghih to their
societies. For example Shii clerics in Lebanon have contrary viewpoints on the
Iranian-style Islamic government. Second, ancient historical differences between
Iranians and Arabs are formidable obstacles in the way of Irans influence in the
region. Ramazani (1988. 134-5), Sohrab Sobhani (1989, 165-6), and M.E. Ahrari
(1994, 89) identify some of the existing differences. The discrepancies are
reflected in the way Arabs refer to the Persian Gulf as "the Arabian Gulf" or refer
to the Khuzistan province of Iran as "Arabistan." Other examples include the most
41


costly dispute over the Shat-al-Arab waterway dividing Iran and Iraq and recent
disputes over the three Persian Gulf islands of Abu Musa and the Greater and
Lesser Tunbs. The Persian-Arab differences are also underscored on security
matters, especially in the 1980s. The GCC has emerged as an Arab organization
that supports excluding Iran from all security arrangements. For example,
according to Ahrari (1994, 89), after the cessation of the Persian Gulf war in
1991, when the Arab states were considering future security agreements, Iran was
once again excluded. The security agreement "The GCC Plus Two" or the
Damuscus Agreement remained focused on Arab participation in the security of
the Persian Gulf. Egypt and Syria were to consolidate their forces in the "Plus
Two" part of this agreement. Third, mounting economic problems have dampened
the earlier appeal of the revolution. According to Ramazani (1988, 34-5) and
David E. Long (1990, 106-7), the disappointment with the Iranian revolution has
increased since 1981, as a result, Arabs prefer policies and practices of the
existing local regimes to those of the Irans. Fourth, U.S. support for conservative
Arab states through the combined effort of U.S. Central Command (U.S. special
force for protecting its interests in the Persian Gulf), the GCC, and U.S. AWACS
stationed in Saudi Arabia have been enough to deter any Iranian influence in the
region. According to Stephen R. Shalom (1993, 30-1), Irans threat to its
neighboring Arab states has always been something of an exaggeration. The U.S.,
42


along with conservative Arab states, have been able to contain the spread of Irans
Islamic ideology to the region.
In sum, in terms of ideology, the Islamic Revolution poses a potential
threat to U.S. interests because, in the long run, it might enable Islam to emerge
as political force in the Middle East, thus transforming the U.S.-supported status
quo. In terms of practice, the Islamic Revolution does not pose a threat to U.S.
interests due to two reasons. First, according to Shii belief, followers of Shiism
are not authorized to use violent methods for religious expansion. Second, in its
efforts to spread the revolution through non-violent ways, Iran faces obstacles
such as Shii-Sunni divisions, Persian-Arab disputes, declining appeal for Irans
Islamic Revolution because of its economic problems and U.S. financial and
military support for the conservative Arab states.
Israel
After the Islamic Revolution, Iran broke relations with Israel. According to
Bakhash (1990b) and Hunter (1990), Iran took the position that Israel has no right
to exist and must be eradicated. Iran has opposed all peace plans in the Middle
East over the last fifteen years including the Camp David Accord, the Reagan
Plan, the abortive agreement between King Hussein of Jordan and Yasir Arafat on .
a common negotiating posture toward Israel, and the recent peace agreement
between the Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO) and Israel.
43


Irans position towards Israel stems from its ideological concept of
authenticity. Iran views the Palestinian-Israeli conflict as an ideological war
between Islam and Islams enemies, rather than a territorial one. This viewpoint,
argues that the successive defeats of the Arabs by Israel, and particularly the
Israeli occupation of Jerusalem, the third holiest city of Islam, are the results of
Arab deviation from the true path of Islam. According to Yvonne Haddad (1992,
268), the defeats were punishments for misplaced trust in the promise of alien
ideologies. In the view of Iranian authorities, in order to achieve the glory of the
past, Muslims should adhere again to their own ideology of Islam. This is the only
option for Arabs to take effective actions to counter the Israeli occupation.
Although, sometimes viewpoints expressed by Iranian authorities indicate
a kind of flexibility in approaching the question of Israel, so far Irans policy
toward Israel has not undergone any change. For example, on some occasions,
Iranian authorities have criticized peace plans without rejecting them completely
on the basis of Irans ideological considerations. Some statements by Irans
authorities show that they oppose peace plans because their main elements, the
creation of a Palestinian state on the West Bank and Gaza Strip, do not resolve the
Palestinian problem. In President Rafsanjanis words:
... the densely populated area (the West Bank and the Gaza Strip)
holds more than the capacity of the region, and could not absorb 3
or 4 million other Palestinians. Hence the Palestinians would remain
as refugees all around the world. Under these circumstances, if we
44


recognize the validity of Israels existence, we will be losing
everything. (Ramazani 1986, 154)
Despite such pragmatic statements, the ideological considerations have been
a prevailing theme in Irans approach toward Israel. Irans government views
Israel as an agent which serves U.S. regional interests. Iran believes that "U.S.
economic and military support for Israel provides the U.S. with an enormous
leverage of power in the region" (Bina 1991, 80). According to this viewpoint, the
state of Israel was established in the region as a U.S. agent or, according to
Farhad Kazemi (1985), "as a by-product of American imperialism" (90), to
destroy any Islamic and non-Islamic resistance to Western hegemony. Alamin A.
Mazrui (1977), an African scholar, illustrates this point: "Israel was a piece of the
Western world deposited in the heart of the Third World" (136). Since Iran, in
accordance with its ideological concept of egalitarianism, opposes domination of
the region by any hegemon, Israel becomes Irans prime target. In other words,
Irans struggle against Israel is parallel with its resistance to U.S. hegemony.
U.S. support for Israel has been a catalyst for shaping Irans irreconcilable
stance toward Israel. During the Cold War, U.S. backing for Israel was matched
by Soviet backing for the Arab position and arming of favored Arab regimes, first
Nassers Egypt and then Baathist Syria and Iraq. During the Nixon administration,
Israel along with Iran and Saudi Arabia emerged as the principal U.S. surrogates
entrusted with keeping the status quo in the Wests favor.
45


Nevertheless, the U.S. relationship with Israel has been different from that
with Iran and Saudi Arabia. The U.S. officials have repeatedly said that, "the
U.S. and Israel, unlike the other Middle Eastern countries, share the same values
such as democracy and freedom" (Pranger 1988, 452). Therefore, these common
values necessitate a special relationship between the two countries. The compatible
political systems have led some to the idea that Israel could be considered a
strategic as well as ideological partner for the American foreign policy in the
region. According to Robert J. Pranger (1988), the problem with such a special
relationship is that the Arabs cannot believe that Washington is impartial towards
the Arab-Israeli dispute when it holds important such a deliberately "ethnocentric
standard of values" for its ally in the Middle East.
Israel has received huge amounts of military aid from the U.S. to contain
Communism and to deter Arab hostility and any socio-political change unfavorable
to the United States. According to Bill and Springborg (1990, 363), Israel
received $250 million in military aid during the Kennedy and Johnson
administrations, $6.7 billion during the eight years of the Nixon and Ford
administrations and $7.4 billion under the Carter administration. This military aid
enabled Israel to defeat Egypt and Syria in 1967 and neighboring Arabs in the
October War of 1973.
During the Reagan administration, the importance of regional surrogates,
particularly Israel, was further increased due to the administrations new
46


worldview. The administration believed that Communism was the main source of
tension and instability in the world. The outcome of such a world outlook was to
extend full support for Israel for its combat-ready and combat-experienced
military. From 1978 to 1988, "the U.S. government gave Israel $29 billion in
economic and military assistance, more than double the cost of Marshall Plan for
all Europe after the World War II" (Bill and Springborg 1990, 362-3). According
to Mohammad Rabie (1988, 74), out of the $29 billion U.S. total economic and
military assistance to Israel $10 billion was in the form of grants.
The end of the Cold War in 1989 eroded Israels strategic importance.
There was no longer any need to counter potential Soviet aggression in the region.
The adversarial relationship of the last decades between the U.S. and the former
Soviet Union was transformed during the 1980s into a cooperative relationship
(Keddie 1992, 102).
Although the end of the Cold War has reduced Israels strategic
importance, the U.S. has not ceased its aid to Israel. According to Paul Findley
(1993, 110-13), the U.S. total assistance to Israel amounted to $3.7 billion in
1991. Out of this amount, $1.8 billion was in the form of military grants.
Moreover, in 1992, the U.S. granted Israel $10 billion in loan guarantees.
In addition to aid to Israel, the U.S. has attempted to safeguard the
interests of Israel in its role as a peace-broker between the Arabs and Israelis.
47


According to Richard Nixon (1992), three principles have guided successive U.S.
governments policies toward the Arab-Israeli conflict,
1) Washington insists on the right of Israel to exist within secure
boundaries; 2) despite a tilt toward Israel in terms of military and
economic assistance, the U.S. does not want to alienate the
strategically located Arab world; 3) it supports Resolution 242 as a
basis for peace. (174)
U.N. Security Council Resolution 242 calls for peace in return for territory
(Lenczowski 1984, 174). This resolution could not be implemented in the past
because a majority of Arabs, while rejecting any "peace for land" formula,
defined the Arab-Israeli conflict in ideological terms (a conflict between Islam and
imperialism). In order to implement this resolution and to maintain the security of
Israel, the U.S. had to transform the Arab-Israeli conflict from an ideological
dispute to a territorial one. To this end, the U.S. has pursued a two-pronged
policy of dividing the Arab front and containing radicals who advocate the
liberation of the whole of Palestine. The Camp David Accord reached between
Egypt and Israel alienated Egypt from the Arab front opposing Israel. The PLO
also faced the same fate. Although earlier sticking to the main elements of its
1968 Charter: "Palestine is an indivisible territorial unit," and "the liberation of
Palestine will destroy the Zionist and imperialist presence" (Lenczowski 1984,
173), the PLO accepted in December 1988 that it would meet the three U.S.
conditions for opening dialogue. These conditions consisted of "acceptance of
U.N. Security Council Resolutions 242 and 338, recognition of Israels right to
48


exist, and renunciation of terrorism" (Hunter 1993, 68). Following the PLO
acceptance of U.S. conditions, a peace agreement was signed between PLO and
Israel in June 1994. These separate peace agreements between Egypt and Israel
and between PLO and Israel divide the Arab front vis-a-vis Israel and are in the
interest of the U.S.
The containment of radicals also helps maintain the security of Israel. The
more the U.S. transforms the Arab-lsraeli dispute from an ideological one to the
territorial one, the less radicals pose a threat to Israel. U.S. successive
administrations have tried to break nearly a half-century deadlock through
negotiation. The fact is that as long as the Arab-lsraeli conflict remains unsolved,
the Arabs and non-Arab factions supporting the ideological solution to the dispute
will gain ground, thus challenging the entity of Israel. According to Thomas R.
Mattair (1992), "...the unresolved conflict may discredit moderates and enhance
radicals,... whether secular or Islamic, whether Arab or Iranian" (6).
In terms of practice, there are arguments suggesting that Irans foreign
policy does not threaten the security of Israel. These arguments are based on five
points. First, the elimination of Israel requires a degree of unity among Muslims
in the Middle East which is not possible at the present time due to the Shii-Sunni
and the Persian-Arab division among Muslims. Moreover, different systems of
governance in Islamic countries such as secular versus non-secular, republic
versus monarchial impede Muslim unity. According to Linaburg (1992, 37), Iran
49


cannot face successfully the superpowers and Israel as long as solidarity among
Muslims is not fulfilled. Hashemi Rafsanjanis words clearly support this
proposition:
The means of eradicating the Zionist regime and the establishment
of another government to replace it in Palestine lie in massing all
powers of the Islamic world, the foremost of which will be the
capabilities of the Islamic Republic of Iran, Syria and Algeria.
(Ramazani 1986, 155)
Second, according to Sobhani (1989, 149), Irans arms purchases from
Israel during the Iran-Iraq war might be an indication of flexibility toward the
question of Israel. Of course there is ongoing controversy among scholars
regarding verification of arms purchases from Israel. Kazemi (1985, 92) argues
that evidence proving these purchases is inconclusive. Bakhash (1990b, 123) states
that Iran was not aware that it was purchasing arms indirectly from Israel;
otherwise it would not have done so. He adds that, for example, Iran returned one
shipment of missiles because it bore Israeli markings. Regardless of this
controversy, according to Sobhani (1989), arms deals suggest that Irans
unfriendly stance toward Israel could be changed some day leading to the
resumption of relations.
Third, according to Ramazani (1986, 160), human ties between people of
Israel and Irans Jewish community, "constituting of 90,000 people" (Sobhani
1989, 143), might impact Irans foreign policy toward Israel through their
representation in Irans parliament.
50


Fourth, according to Ramazani (1986, 160), the lack of direct territorial
conflict and the.geographical distance between Iran and Israel could moderate
Irans stance toward Israel. Bakhash (1990b, 122) also argues that'Iran does not
pose a threat to Israel because it is not a neighboring country of Israel and
geographically lies far from the center of the conflict. He further adds that aside
from Lebanon, Iran has not committed significant material resources to the
struggle against Israel.
Fifth, after the end of the Iran-Iraq war, Iran needs Western technology
and investment to reconstruct its shattered economy. Given Western support for
Israel, Irans unfriendly stance toward Israel would be costly in terms of its
economic cooperation with the West. According to Hunter (1990), Irans emphasis
on the liberation of Palestine will adversely affect its projects of attracting the
Western investment.
In a nutshell, in terms of ideology, Irans foreign policy is a potential
threat to the security of Israel because Iran views the arab-Israeli dispute as an
ideological conflict between Islam and Islams enemies. Irans stance toward Israel
stems from its Islamic concept of authenticity which invites Muslims to return to
Islam and to become united in order to achieve the glory of the past. In terms of
practice, Irans policy does not threaten the security of israel, for Iran is facing
obstacles for the liberation of Palestine, the most important of which is lack of
unity among Muslims.
51


Oil
The U.S. has not spared any effort to exert its control over Middle East
oil. Access to cheap oil has been one of the principles guiding U.S. policy toward
the region. To achieve this goal, the U.S. has always contained any move
jeopardizing its control over oil. For example, in the 1950s, Irans Prime
Minister, Dr. Mohammad Musadeq attempted to nationalize the Anglo-Iranian oil
concessions. This threatened one of the basic pillars of the existing structure,
private enterprise and ownership and led to Dr. Musadeqs overthrow.
In the 1960s, OPEC was established to create consensus among members
on issues such as the exploration, production and pricing of oil. This collective
body began to challenge oil companies First on the issue of prices and then on a
number of related issues. During the Arab-Israeli war in 1973, OPEC oil
ministers designated the U.S. as the principal hostile state because of its support
for Israel and subjected it to a total embargo of crude oil. According to
Amirahmadi (1993), in response to oil embargo-in 1973, the U.S. led a crusade to
bring OPEC under control with the creation of the International Energy Agency
(IEA). Except France, all major oil-consuming nations in the West participated in
this new agency. The agencys main task was to create a surplus of energy by a
combination of several means including reduction in demand, development of new
energy sources, and the engineering of an occasional oil glut. In retrospect, this
policy has been successful. According to Amirahmadi (1993), "in 1985, demand
52


for oil in the then non-Comnumist world was 5 percent lower than it was in 1973"
(141).
In addition to these strategies, the U.S. has also relied on its allies for the
control of oil. The U.S. support for moderate political systems in the Middle East
has served this goal. For example, the Saudi regime was protected and supported
by the U.S. to ensure that its oil policies would best serve U.S. interests. This
policy was pursued because from the U.S. perspective, "... any coup or revolution
likely to put in power a group hostile to the U.S. or a party favoring state-run
economies constituted an overt or covert threat to U.S. oil interest in the area"
(Lenczowski 1984, 179).
After the revolution, Iran adopted a new oil policy. It terminated the oil
consortiums control of Iranian oil production, export and marketing. All these
operations were transformed to the National Oil Company. Also all joint-venture
oil companies including those active in exploration in various parts of the country
were nationalized. Within OPEC, according to Amirahmadi (1990, 73), Iran
defended a policy of limited production and increasing prices. In addition to this
policy, Iran pursued a policy of broadening markets by utilizing spot sales as
opposed to contract sales, barter trade and government buyers.
Since the Islamic Revolution, Iran in accordance with its Islamic concept of
egalitarianism, has attempted to limit U.S. influence over the pricing of Middle
East oil. U.S. influence over pricing has contributed to its economic and military
53


power as well as its global leadership. Access to cheap Middle East oil is of vital
importance to the United States. The U.S. administrations .have tried to keep the
price of oil as low as possible. According to Suante Karlsson (1986), David
Winterford and Robert E. Looney (1994), the American-controlled world
economic order is to a large extent built on the price of oil. Therefore, when the
price of oil began to increase, U.S. hegemony began to be undermined.
The price of oil is as important to the Middle East countries as it is to the
U.S. and other Western countries. According to Bakhtiari (1993), all oil-rich
countries are dependent on oil revenues for the implementation of their
development plans. Therefore, any sudden downward change in the price of oil
affects adversely the economy of the Middle East countries. For example,
according to Ramazani (1990c, 137), Irans first development plan aimed at an
increase of about 5.5 percent in the GNP from 1989 to 1993. He further adds that
this plan was based on the assumption that the country's oil income would be $63
million during the five year period, but the 1986 slump in oil prices ruined the
plan. In the 1990s, not only Iran, but also other Middle Eastern countries, need to
generate oil revenues to finance their national and regional aspirations. According
to Winterford and Looney (1994, 168), Saudi Arabia has to pay back huge loans
obtained from national and regional banks. Kuwaitis badly need the money to
make up the losses from the war, "which cost it $65 billion and cut deeply into its
assets of nearly $100 billion" (Winterford and Looney 1994, 168).
54


Due to the dependence of all Middle East countries on oil revenues,
sometimes arbitrary fluctuations in the price of oil are used to control political and
economic ambitions of regional countries. According to Winterford and Looney
(1994), since influencing the price of oil affects directly economic plans and
military capabilities of the regional countries, it becomes a critical and enduring
challenge to both regional and outside actors. One example of influencing the
price of oil occurred during the Iran-Iraq war. According to Dilip Hiro (1993),
during the war, Saudi Arabia and Kuwait depressed oil prices dramatically by
flooding the market, thus severely curtailing Irans economic ability to continue
the war.
Given the importance of oil revenues to post-revolution Iran, the control of
the oil price became a top priority. According to Michael Youssef (1991), since
the Arabs successfully used oil as a weapon in 1973, accordingly Islamic
revivalism reviewed oil as a means to exert pressure on its adversaries. To this
end, Irans policy aimed to limit oil production and increase its price. Iran adopted
this strategy to curb the influence of outside actors on the pricing of oil. Although
in 1973, the Arab Oil Embargo exerted considerable pressure on the West, in the
1990s, the adoption of such a strategy again is unlikely due to the dependency of
the Middle East countries on revenues arising from oil. Therefore, the only option
left for Muslims is to exert more control over the pricing of oil.
55


Although the increase of oil price reduces U.S. economic and military
influence in the Middle East, it might leave some adverse impacts on developing
countries economies. In response to the increase in oil revenues, OPEC member
countries have created national, regional and multilateral funds for the purpose of
channelling financial resources to other developing countries. According to Hassan
M. Selim (1983), such financial flows have been channelled either directly to
individual countries or indirectly through international organizations. Moreover, to
alleviate the pressure on .the developing countries, the OPEC countries have
assisted the developing countries through funding their development plans. The
total OPEC assistance for the developing countries over the 1973-83 period was
more than $69 billion (Benamara and Ifeagwu 1987, 13).
After the Islamic Revolution, the U.S. relied mostly on Saudi Arabia to
moderate Irans oil policies. With respect to the pricing of oil, Saudi Arabia has
always tried to use its influence in OPEC to reduce prices. In the aftermath of the
Iranian Revolution, the price of oil reached the historic peak of slightly below $40
per barrel. By 1981, Saudi Arabia succeeded in imposing its will on the other
OPEC members, forcing them to realign prices at the lowered Saudi scale. In an
interview with NBC television on April 19, 1981, the then Saudi Oil Minister,
Ahmad Zaki Yamani said that, "The current oil glut was engineered by his
government to stabilize the world oil price" (Amirahmadi 1990, 72). It was
following this policy that the Saudis found themselves in opposition to the other
56


twelve members of OPEC during the Organizations sixteenth meeting in Geneva
on May 25-7, 1981. According to Amirahmadi (1990), as a result of the Saudi
policy, prices collapsed in February 1982.
The Iranians became critical of the oil policies of Saudi Arabia. Saudi
Arabia not only imposed its will on other members, but also cheated others in
terms of production. For six months early in 1984, the Saudis produced 500
thousand barrels a day over their quota of 5 million barrels. Independent observers
agreed with this assessment, charging that, "The Saudis have been among the
main cheaters on their quotas" (Hornblower 1984, A4).
Contrary to Saudi policy, Iran supported a rise in oil prices and tried to
build a consensus on prices which would best serve the interests of all producing
countries. Since the Middle East countries including Iran have been dependent on
oil for their foreign currency, the price of oil plays a significant role in
determining their capabilities for the implementation of their development projects.
With the decline of oil prices, the economies of the region face serious problems.
For this reason, Iran advocated the reduction of production to boost oil prices.
Irans position on oil price is elaborated by the former Irans Oil Minister,
Muhammad Gharazi. According to him, at most, "the price of oil should be set at
$60 to $70 per barrel-presumably the price of substitute forms of energy such as
coal-and at least, the price of oil should increase according to the rate of world
inflation" (Ramazani 1986, 209).
57


Blit, in most part clue to the Saudi oil policies, the price of oil declined. In
1985, the Saudis introduced a new plan known as "netback" deals. Under the
netback pricing arrangements, oil companies buying Saudi oil were guaranteed
profits at the refining stage by indexing the crude oil price to the market value of
products made from it. The netback mechanism, therefore, reduced the risk of the
volatile oil market. According to Amirahmadi (1990), again as a result of this
policy, oil prices declined from about $28 per barrel in mid-January to $10 per
barrel by the first week of April 1986.
The rationale for this policy from the Saudi point of view was that, in the
long run, Saudi Arabia is the only country that can increase its production and
benefit from the increase in demand that low prices would presumably bring
about. Although all members to OPEC suffered from the Saudi policy, the
government of Iran, Iraq, Libya and Algeria sustained a greater loss than others
because all had major economic development plans which had required a high oil
income. These plans were essential in each country for long-term political
stability. In an interview with the Lebanons weekly Al-Kifah Al-Arabi on
February 24, 1986, Col. Gaddafi said that the oil war was "especially directed
against Libya, Iran and Algeria" (Luciani 1989, 29). Iran felt the greatest impact
because it was involved in a war and had inherited an economy highly dependent
on oil revenue.
58


Iran was perhaps fortunate that the oil price crash of 1986 was equally
harmful to the American oil industry, in Texas. Therefore, according to James A.
Bill (1988), "Irans and U.S.s interests converged on this issue" (311). In the
spring of 1986, the then Vice President, George Bush, travelled to Saudi Arabia to
plead with it to stop flooding the market. Mr. Bush told the Saudis that, "... their
overproduction, by driving down the price, was jeopardizing the American oil
industry, in turn undermining the nations economic strength and security"
(Sciolino 1990, A5).
The U.S.s reaction to the Saudis overproduction was aimed at saving the
domestic industry. On the other occasions, the U.S. has encouraged Saudi Arabia
to use its influence to reduce the price of oil. In addition to the Saudi factor, the
U.S. has also taken advantage of its oil companies to manipulate the world oil
market. For example, according to Karlsson (1986, 270), during the spring and
summer of 1982, the international oil market was flooded with 3-5 million barrels
a day from international oil companies and emergency stocks in order to disrupt
an already weak market, thereby creating competition between the OPEC
countries for shrinking market. Such a flooding of the oil market led OPEC "to
reduce its
official reference price from $34 to $29 per barrel" (Karlsson 1986, 272).
The U.S. denies its influence in the international oil market. U.S.
59


officials argue that cheap oil does not serve U.S. interests. According to Feiler
(1993, 261), U.S. officials raise three points to support their argument. First, the
U.S. is participating in the petro-dollar based economic growth of the Middle
East. Therefore, a decline in oil price would hurt U.S. investment in the area.
Second, since the U.S. banks are the major creditors of the region, low oil prices
would lead to the collapse of the U.S. banking system. Third, since the economic
rivals of the U.S. (Western Europe and Japan) are more dependent on the Middle
East oil, in terms of international trade, a low oil price would further weaken the
U.S. economy vis-a-vis theirs.
The verification of these points requires an investigation into economic
statistics which is not within the scope of this study. However, recent research
indicates that factors other than U.S. pressure have caused a decline in the oil
price. Kuniholm (1984, 5), Michael G. Renner (1988,191-2), Amirahmadi (1990,
75-6), Winterford and Looney (1994, 151-2) identify three factors leading to a
decline in oil prices. First, "worldwide oil consumption was reduced by 23
percent between 1979 and 1985" (Winterford and Looney 1994, 152). Second, the
higher oil price level prevalent in the 1970s made production in various high-cost
areas around the world competitive. As a result, according to Renner (1988, 192),
oil output in the capitalist world outside OPEC rose from 16.8 mb/d in 1973 to
23.3 mb/d in 1983 and 24.1 mb/d in 1984. Third, Western governments expanded
subsidies and promotional programs for oil substitutes. As a consequence,
60


the relative prices of products such as gas, coal and nuclear energy
declined while demand for them increased leading to expansion in their
use and production.
Winterford and Looney (1994, 152) raise another aspect which affected the
price of oil. They argue that OPECs failure to control its oil production led to a
decline in the oil prices. For example, OPEC members cheated on quotas to
increase their production causing a price break in late 1985 and early 1986.
Renner (1988, 192) links the oil price decline to a rise of trading on spot and
future markets. According to him, in 1979, merely 5 percent of the worlds oil
was sold on the spot market but by 1982-83, this share grew to 20-30 percent.
Although these arguments are valid, they do not completely account for the
prevailing mechanism for the pricing of oil. There are two pieces of evidence that
support this argument. First, according to Quandt.(1982), Saudi Arabias
moderation on the oil prices has on two occasions corresponded with the
beginning of a new U.S. administration that had under review major Saudi arms
requests. This was the case in 1977-78 when the Saudis sought approval of the
sale of the F-15 jet fighter from President Carter, and it was also the case
throughout 1981 when the Saudis were intent on purchasing the AWACS and the
enhancement of the package for the F-15. According to Quandt (1982, 25), stable
oil prices and high rates of production might be thought in Saudi Arabia to help
ensure U.S. presidential support for controversial arms packages. Second,
61


according to Gil Feiler (1993, 256), after the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait, the price
of oil soared to $28.51, and $35.79 respectively in August 27 and September 28,
1990. Saudi Arabia began calling for an emergency OPEC conference aimed at
increasing oil output to compensate for Iraqi and Kuwaiti crude oil being withheld
from the world markets. The Saudis aim was to lower the price of oil in world
markets. Iran opposed any kind of production increase asserting that raising output
was a big mistake by OPEC because this was the best opportunity to demand that
industrial countries used their stockpiles. But the Saudis refused to permit crude
oil prices to soar freely.
As a result of the Saudis policy, oil prices began to decline even before
the massive U.S.-led air strikes started against Iraqi military installations in Iraq
and Kuwait on January 16, 1991. According to Feiler (1993, 255), the price of oil
declined from $33.56 on October 5, 1990 to $23.86 on January 4, 1991. Such a
decline was due to two policies: 1) Saudi Arabia increased its output without some
members consent such as Iran, Iraq and Libya;-and 2) according to Feiler (1993,
260), the U.S. sold 33.75 million barrels from its 585 million barrels strategic
reserve as a measure additional to Saudi Arabias production increase to bring the
prices under control.
Despite disagreements among the OPEC members, most notably Iran and
Saudi Arabia, this organization has been relatively successful since 1990 in
coordinating members production levels and pricing. OPECs meeting on July 27,
62


1990 resulted in a consensus among all members which raised the oil price from
$18 to $21 per barrel and fixed its production ceiling for all thirteen members at
22.5 million barrels a day (Ibrahim 1990, 1,30). Moreover, the foreign
exchange needs of the post-war reconstruction have moderated Irans behavior
within OPEC. Iran has taken steps to change its pricing policy. The new pricing
policy is based on cooperation with Saudi Arabia and other OPEC members.
According to Amirahmadi (1993, 153), Irans new policy focuses on the actual oil
market and seeks a stable price rather than push for a higher unsustainable price in
the past.
In terms of ideology, Irans policy toward oil is a threat to U.S. interests
because it ultimately seeks to use oil as a weapon to eliminate U.S. hegemony in
the region. Nevertheless, in terms of practice, Irans policy is not a threat to U.S.
interests, for since the cease-fire with Iraq, Iran has taken an accommodative
approach within OPEC. Irans accommodation with other OPEC members,
particularly Saudi Arabia, indicates two facts. First, the success of Irans
reconstruction plans depends on higher foreign exchange revenue which, under the
present circumstances, can only be obtained through cooperation with the other
OPEC members. Second, although Iran views the U.S. influence as a factor
depressing oil prices, it does not ignore the fact that market factors, such as a
decrease in the world oil demand, the oil production increase in non-OPEC
countries and the expansion of oil substitutes in the West, also play a
63


part in the oil price decline.
This chapter examined Irans policies concerning three areas: the
transformation of the status quo, Israel and oil. In each area, I covered arguments
supporting and opposing the contention that Iran's policies pose a threat to U.S.
interests. Based on the material presented in this chapter, I conclude that Iran has
propagated and spread its Islamic ideology through non-violent ways and means.
Except for the Iranian-supported Hezbollah that had to resort to violent acts in
order to defend itself against the military offensives of Israel in the south of
Lebanon, allegations regarding Irans involvement in violent acts are based on
merely circumstantial evidence. As for Israel, although Muslim unity may be
necessary to liberate Palestine, Iran has not postponed its struggle until solidarity
among Muslims could be achieved. Iran has already launched its struggle against
Israel through extending support for Lebanons Shii groups including Hezbollah.
With regard to oil, since the end of the World War II, the U.S. has pursued
objectives such as the free flow of oil and guaranteed access to cheap oil. To
achieve these goals, the U.S., in addition to exerting its own influence over the
production and the pricing of oil, has relied on its allies, particularly Saudi
Arabia. Yet, the oil price decline has not been only the result of U.S. policy,
market factors have also played a part in reducing the world oil price.
64


CHAPTER FOUR
CONCLUSION
Attributing the existing tension between the U.S. and Iran to cultural and
historical differences alone would be too naive. It would be misleading to analyze
problems of the present world in the context of outdated issues. The realities of
the day are different from those of earlier times. The Middle East region has
experienced both direct and indirect colonial rule. During the Cold War, the
Middle East countries, like other developing countries, turned into a battle field
between the superpowers. It was a Cold-War game in which each superpower
tried to further expand its sphere of influence in order to change the balance of
power in its own favor.
The superpower rivalry was more tense in the Middle East in comparison
to the other parts of the world. This was due to the Middle East oil resources and
its strategically important location at the junction of three continents. The control
of the Middle East, particularly its oil resources and its waterways that carry the
bulk of the world oil consumption, could change dramatically the balance of
power between superpowers. For this reason, after the end of World War II, the
superpowers started competing with each other in exerting their influence over the
Middle East.
65


To counter Soviet expansionism, the U.S. pursued a three-pronged policy
of the preservation of the status quo, support for Israel and access to cheap oil.
According to U.S. policy-makers, every kind of reform in the political system of
the Middle Eastern countries could be in the interest of Communism because the
Soviets could fish in the troubled waters. This principle led to the establishment of
authoritarian regimes which served U.S. interests, especially that of access to oil.
Exerting influnce on the Middle East was not an easy task. The region had
a glorious past and was proud of being the birth place of three of most significant
religions in the world. After the demise of Ottoman empire, Islam continued to
affect the every day life of the people. Most of the Middle East countries did not
abandon Islams educational and legal systems. No less important, the link
between religious institutions and the traditional business community remained
strong as before. This enabled religious institutions to mobilize the people against
the ruling regimes for the purpose of limiting their power or resisting foreign
influence.
Given the political role of Islam in the Middle East, the U.S. realized that
religious institutions were barriers to its expansion of influence in the region.
This, in particular, applied to Iran where Shii activism proved to be resistant to
foreign domination. Therefore, the U.S. devised starategies to reduce the power of
the religous institutions and replace them with secular ones. In Iran, the Pahlavi
66


dynasty initiated the program of secularization which lasted untill 1979. Such a
program created resentment among the people because it was in conflict with their
deep-rooted beliefs. The U.S. did not apply the same strategy to all countries of
the Middle East. The secularization of the society reduced the power of religious
institutions leading to U.S. full-fledged influence in Iran. In other countries,
especially in the littoral states of the Persian Gulf, support for the conservative
Islam served U.S. interests because that version of Islam does not pose a serious
challenge to U.S. influence.
In Iran, the program of secularization aimed at alienating the people from
their indigenous culture providing the ground for foreign dominator. The more the
program of secularization accelerated, the greater the gap between the Pahlavi
dynasty and the people became. The resentment with the Shahs policies reached
its apex in 1979 when the Islamic Revolution broke out. The revolution was a
reaction to U.S. behavior toward Iran. The U.S., while ignoring Irans
deep-rooted Islamic culture, tried to expand its influence through replacing the
Islamic culture with a secular one.
In the aftermath of the Islamic Revolution in Iran, Islamic movements
gained momentum in the other parts of the Middle East. Although Islamic
revivalism has emerged as a force to resist foreign influnce and revive the glory of
the past, this should not imply that Islam, like Communism, is pursuing political
67


and economic expansion. Rather its main objective is to improve the status of the
Islamic countries from being a pawn in the hands of the big powers to becoming
independent actors within the present international system. Islamic revivalism does
not oppose normal relations with the other countries, but it want to change the
terms on which the present relations are based.
Following the Islamic Revolution, the relationship between the U.S. and
Iran developed strains. Some scholars claimed that the incompatibility of Islam
with the Western democracy and pluralism is the main cause of the existing
tensions. This viewpoint is not valid because, during the Cold War, and even in
its aftermath, the U.S. has preferred stability to democracy in order to maintain its
interests. The policy of preserving the status quo has brought to power repressive
regimes that have s'erved the regional interests of the United States.
With the advent of the Islamic Revolution in Iran, U.S. foreign policy in
the Middle East faced a serious challenge. For the first time in the post-colonial
history of the region, an Islamic government was established in Iran. The Islamic
government made fundamental changes in Irans foreign policy toward the region.
Islamic concepts were the main motives for these changes. The concept of
egalitarianism negates hierarchy among nations based on their economic and
military capabilities. Instead, it attaches importance to virtue. In practical terms,
this concept drives Irans policy to resist foreign influence. The concept of
68


centralism promotes political awareness and ultimately is aimed to bring about
unity among Muslims. The concept of authenticity encourages Muslims to replace
the previously adopted Western secular ideology with an Islamic one for solving
their socio-economic problems, thus challenging the U.S. model of development.
Irans post-revolution policy toward the Middle East runs counter to U.S.
Cold-War objectives in the region. Iran pursues the transformation of the status
quo through propagating its Islamic ideology. This contradicts the U.S. policy of
preserving the status quo. As for Israel, Iran views the Arab-Israeli conflict as an
ideological dispute between Islam and the West. Again this runs counter to the
U.S. position which views the problem as a territorial dispute that could be settled
by a "land for peace" formula. Regarding oil, Iran favors the elimination of
foreign influence over the production and the pricing of oil. This is also in conflict
with U.S. interests because U.S. control, or at least its influence over oil, has
been a prerequisite to its global leadership.
In terms of ideology, Irans foreign policy poses a potential threat to U.S.
interests because it presents a new form of Islamic ideology to the people of the
Middle East. Given the strong Islamic background of the region, this new
ideology may gain ground and replace the existing ideologies whether secular or
non-secular, thus jeopardizing U.S. influence over the region. Furthermore, the
spread of the new ideology might radicalize the position of the Middle East
69


countries toward the U.S. and Israel. Such a radicalization is a threat to U.S.
interests, particularly in terms of Israel. For this reason, since the Islamic
Revolution, the U.S. has not spared any effort to contain the spread of Islamic
revivalism to other parts of the Middle East.
In terms of practice, Iran faces obstacles to the realization of its Islamic
aspirations. These obstacles are unlikely to be overcome or removed in the near
future. The obstacles to the transformation of the status quo include the Shii-Sunni
divisions, the Persian-Arab disputes and the U.S. economic and military support
for conservative Arab regimes. Moreover, after the Islamic Revolution, most of
the Middle East regimes incorporated the Sharia into their legal and educational
systems to gain legitimacy among the people and to prevent the outbreak of an
Iranian style Islamic revolution. In view of these obstacles, Iran tends to rely on
model-building as the only ways and means for transforming the status quo.
However, the success of this choice depends on how the Iranian government is
going to overcome its existing economic problems.
The elimination of economic problems would help Iran serve as a model of
development for the other Islamic countries. Yet, it is premature to conclude that
Islamic revivalism has failed to resolve the socio-economic problems. I think any
evaluation regarding the performance of Islamic revivalism should be made in a
longer span of time. In addition to the factor of time, some other factors should be
70


taken into consideration. During the last fifteen years, Irans economic
performance has been under no normal circumstances. Iran has gone through an
eight-year war with Iraq, has suffered from different sanctions and finally has
been a host to one million Afghani refugees.
Regarding Israel, the lack of unity among Muslims impedes the liberation
of Palestine. The barriers to the unity of the Muslims include secular versus non-
secular and republic versus monarchial regimes as well as U.S. influnce over the
region. Nevertheless, Iran has launched its struggle against Israel through
extending support for Hezbollah in Lebanon. Scholars presented arms purchases
from Israel, cultural ties between Irans Jewish community and the people of
Israel and lack of direct territorial conflict as evidence indicating that Iran might
temper its stance toward the question of Israel. This evidence is not convincing.
The indirect arms purchases from Israel was an insignificant incident that occurred
under unusual circumstances. Iran was under arms embargo and at the same time
had to carry on the war with Iraq. The size of Irans Jewish community is not
significant enough in proportion to its Irans total population to impact Irans
policy toward Israel. And while it is true that Iran and Israel do not have any
direct territorial conflict and are far geographically from each other; nevertheless,
Iran has used Lebanon as a platform for its anti-Israeli activities. Although Irans
attitude toward Israel might restrict its access to Western investment and
71


technology and even might impact its relations with the Western countries, Irans
irreconcilable stance toward Israel during the last fifteen years suggests that
liberation of Palestine will be a durable feature of Irans foreign policy in the
future.
With regard-to oil, Irans policy is aimed at exerting more influence over
the production and pricing of oil. Achieving this goal is not an easy task
considering U.S. political, economic and military presence in the region. U.S. .
hegemony depends on its control of oil for two reasons. First, one of the main
pillars of the U.S.-devised World Economic Order is the control of oil prices.
Any sudden change in the price of the oil could jeopardize the U.S. status as a
world hegemon. Second, U.S. control of oil prices helps it check the political,
military and developmental ambitions of all Middle Eastern countries, particularly
the adversarial ones. In addition to the U.S., market factors have also impacted
the price of oil. Iran has abandoned its confrontational attitude within OPEC to
neutralize the impact of market factors through the coordination of OPEC
members policies, particularly in terms of the production ceiling and the price of
oil.
Based on the material presented in this thesis, I conclude that Irans foreign
policy, in terms of ideology, poses a potential threat to U.S. interests because it
presents a new form of Islamic ideology in the region which could replace the
72


existing ideologies in the long run. Nevertheless, in terms of practice, Irans
policy does not pose a threat to U.S. interests, for Iran faces obstacles for the
realization of its objectives. Irans ideological threat to U.S. interests might be
reduced either by Iran attaching less significance to ideological considerations in
the making of its foreign policy or by the U.S. adjusting its foreign policy to the
new realities in the Middle East.
During the Cold War, the U.S. pursued three objectives of preserving the
status quo, supporting Israel and maintaining access to cheap oil. After the end of
the Cold War, the continuation of such a policy does not serve U.S. interests any
longer. The threat of Communism does not exist any more. The U.S. does not
need to prefer stability to any kind of change to contain Soviet political and
economic expansionism. Therefore, the U.S. can allow countries to try their own
regionally-oriented models for solving the existing socio-economic problems
without any major risk.
In the post Cold-War milieu, the strategic importance of Israel as a
bulwark against Communism is eroded. Given this fact, U.S. economic and
military support for Israel is not consistent with the new environment. The former
Soviet Union does not threaten the free flow of Middle East oil to the West. Also
low oil prices does not serve U.S. interests any more because low oil prices ruin
the development plans of the oil-producing countries, thus sowing the seeds of
73


instability. Moreover, the budget deficit arising from the low oil price will
decrease the volume of trade between the U.S. and the Middle East countries.
With regard to the status quo and oil, tension between the U.S. and Iran
might be eliminated by either side making changes in its foreign policy. But, this
does not apply to Israel. On the one hand, given the U.S. special relationship with
Israel, it is unlikely that the U.S. will abandon its policy of maintaining the
security of Israel. On the other hand, Iran has set the liberation of Palestine as .one
of its ideological goals. If Iran changes its policy toward Israel, it would definitely
be an indication that less importance is attached to ideology in the making of
Irans policy toward the Middle East. If this happens the potential threat of
Islamic revivalism to U.S. interests will be removed. The question of Israel would
be resolved by either country making a major shift in its policy. Any major shift
will be costly for either Iran or the United States. A major shift for Iran would
involve abandoning its most important ideological goal. A major shift for the U.S.
would involve abandoning its regional interest in the security of Israel. It remains
to be seen whether or not these shifts will be made by either country in the future.
74


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Full Text

PAGE 1

DOES ISLAMIC REVIVALISM POSE A THREAT TO U.S. INTERESTS? by Hooshang Rasekhi Azmi B. A., University of AlameTabatabaii, 1984 A thesis submitted to the Faculty of the Graduate School of the University of Colorado at Denver in partial fultillment of the requirements for the degree of Master of Arts Political Science 1994

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This thesis for the Master of Arts degree by Hooshang Rasekhi Azmi has been approved for the Graduate School by Jana M. Everett Amin A. Kazak J. ecza .,.-. c" .;--', ./_ /I / Date

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Rasekhi Azmi, Hooshang (M.A., Political Science) Does Islamic Revivalism Pose a Threat to U.S. Interests? Thesis directed by Professor Jana M. Everett ABSTRACT This thesis examines whether or not the so-called "Islamic fundamentalism" or the term used in this study, Islamic revivalism, poses a threat to U.S. interests in the Middle East. Since Iran is considered to be the epitome of Islamic revivalism, the scope of this research is narrowed to Iran's foreign policy toward the region in three areas of transformation of the status quo, Israel and oil. This thesis, based on an in-depth study of current political science scholarship, supports the hypothesis that Islamic revivalism, in terms of ideology, poses a potential threat to U.S. interests, for it might revive Islam as an alternative to the existing ideologies. Nevertheless, in terms of practice, Islamic revivalism does not pose a threat to U.S. interests because it faces obstacles in the realization of its aspirations. This abstract accurately represents the contents of the candidate's thesis. I recommend its publication. Jana M. Everett

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CONTENTS CHAPTER 1. INTRODUCTION Review of Literature . . . . . . . . . . . . . 2 Thesis Statement . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 13 2. THE ISLAMIC REVOLUTION OF IRAN . . . . . . . 15 Historical Background . . . . . . . . . . . . 15 Foreign Policy Concepts . . . . . . . . . . . . 21 3. IRAN'S FOREIGN POLICY TOWARD THE MIDDLE EAST ..................... 31 Transformation of the Status Quo . . . . . . . . . 34 Israel . . . : . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 43 Oil .............. ....................... 52 4. CONCLUSIONS . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 65 REFERENCE LIST . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 75

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CHAPTER ONE INTRODUCTION Islam has been a central component of people's movements in the Middle East. In the nineteenth century, Islamic revivalism was provoked by religious leaders disillusioned by regime decay or inspired by nationalism. Islamic revivalism favored reforms within existing political structures. Such reforms mostly aimed at curtailing power of the court or restricting foreign influence. However, the turning point in the contemporary history of political Islam is Iran's Islamic Revolution in 1979. This movement, unlike preceding revivals, transformed completely the existing political system.An Islamic government was established in place of a monarchial one and Iran's domestic politics underwent fundamental changes. In terms of external behavior, Iran's foreign policy inspired by Islamic ideology took a new orientation. In addition to these changes, the Islamic revolution remapped the politics of the Middle East. Islamic movements have gained momentum and turned into a political force in the whole region. This aspect of the Islamic Revolution has raised concerns that Islam could be the next "ism" threatening U.S. regional interests such as preservation of the status quo, security of Israel and access to cheap oil. These concerns have been aggravated by the Western media which attribute violent acts to Islamic movements. This study aims to cast new light on

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the validity of these concerns and to see to what extent Islamic revivalism poses a threat to U.S. regional interests. Review of Literature Most American scholars have referred to the Islamic Revolution and the other Islamic movements as "fundamentalism." This term has also been widely used by the U.S. media. John L. Esposito (1992, 7 -8), a professor of religious studies, argues that "fundamentalism" is not the right word for the Islamic movement. He regards the term as too laden with Christian presuppositions and Western stereotypes, as well as implying a monolithic threat that does not exist. He rejects using the term "fundamentalism" for the Islamic movement for the following reasons: 1) All those who call for a return to fundamental beliefs or the fundamentals of a religion may be called fundamentalist. In a strict sense, this could include all Muslims, who accept the Quran as the literal word of God and the Sunnah (Islamic practice) of the prophet Muhammad as a normative model for living. 2) Our understanding and perceptions of fundamentalism are heavily int1uenced by American Protestantism. Webster's Ninth Collegiate Dictionary defines the term "fundamentalism" as a movement in 20th century Protestantism emphasizing the literal interpretation of the Bible as fundamental to Christian life and teaching. For many liberal and mainline Christians, "fundamentalism" is pejorative or derogatory, being applied rather indiscriminately to all those who 2

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advocate a literalist biblical position and thus are regarded as static, retrogressive and extremist. 3) Fundamentalism is often equated with political extremism, fanaticism and terrorism. Yet, this kind of perception is biased and does not ret1ect the true nature of the Islamic movement. 4) This term has been applied to the governments of Libya, Saudi Arabia, Pakistan and Iran. I should point out that each of these countries has its own model of Islalilic society. So it is not appropriate to categorize all of them as fundamentalist. According to Esposito (1992), more fitting terms are "Islamic revivalism" or "Islamic activism" which are less value-laden and have roots within the Islamic tradition. For these reasons, the term "Islamic revivalism" instead of "fundamentalism" will be used in this thesis. The scholarly work conducted on this topic focuses on the question of whether or not Islamic revivalism is a threat to the U.S. interests. To examine this question, scholars have talked about both internal and external dynamics of the Islamic movement. The scholars can be divided into two camps: the first camp considers Islamic revivalism a threat to the U; S. interests. The second camp negates any possible threat. Some scholars such as Phebe Marr (1992) and Anwar ul-Haq Ahady (1992) have also mentioned that the U.S. should not worry about the Islamic movement because it is now declining due to lack of support by majority of people or because of internal problems. 3

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Among the scholars of the tirst camp, Shireen Hunter ( 1986), Deputy Director of the Middle East Project at Georgetown University believes that the Islamic movement is a threat to the Western interests. According to her, the Islamic movement's goal is to end the Muslim world's state of dependency by eradicating Western and Russian influence. Islam is an alternative to both capitalist and socialist ideologies ln this respect, the Islamists retlect the desire for cultural autonomy and the quest for indigenous solutions to indigenous problems that are common to all developing nations. She further adds that it is neither the misperception of Islam as anti-progressive nor its threat to disrupt the West's relations with the Muslim world that makes it distasteful and frightening. Instead, the hostility arises from the movement's en1phasis on changing the terms on which the relations are based, terms that lslamists believe favor the West disproportionately. In her opinion, the Islamists do not oppose normal economic, commercial, or even Limited cultural exchange with the West, but they want to control its direction and change its terms Samuel Huntington ( 1993), a political scientist, looks into this question from a historical perspective. He holds the view that the centuries-old military rivalry between the West and Islam is unlikely to decline. Huntington views the rivalry between Islam and the West as a clash of civilizations. According to him, differences between civilizations are real and important. Huntington further notes that matters relating to civilization are becoming more important; contlict between 4

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civilizations will supplant ideological and other forms of contlict as the dominant global form of cont1ict. International relations, a game historically played out within Western civilization, will increasingly be de-Westernized and become a game in which non-Western organizations are actors and not simply objects. Violent conflicts between groups in different civilizations are the most likely and most dangerous source of escalation that could lead to global wars. The paramount axis of world politics will be the relations between the West and the rest of the world. Bernard Lewis ( 1990), another historian, comes to a same conclusion: We are now facing a mood and movement for transcending the 'level of issues and politics and the governments that pursue them. This is no less than a clash of civilizations-perhaps irrational but surely historic reaction of an ancient rival against our Judea-Christian heritage, our secular present, and the worldwide expansion of both. (60) Elsewhere, Lewis ( 1992) emphasizes the military aspect of the Islamic moveme1it's threat to the West. According to him, in a program of aggression and expansion this movement would enjoy the advantage of fifth columns in every country and community with which it shares a common universe of discourse. There is also the possibility that the advocates of the movement might have nuclear weapons, either for terrorist or for regular military use. Civil wars may be precipitated. Most of the Middle East states are of recent and artificial construction and are vulnerable to such processes. If the center is sufficiently 5

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weakened, there is no real sense of common national identity or overriding allegiance to the nation-state in the Middle East, according to Lewis. Mitchell Bard ( 1989), a foreign policy analyst, and Judith Miller ( 1993), a Middle East expert, believe that the Islamic movement will continue its efforts to undermine Western interests, but given the relative weakness of the Islamic world, it will have to rely on terrorism in its fight. According to them, the threat is serious but manageable. Given America's military might, Islamic governments would probably be reluctant to attack this country openly and directly. However, the proliferation of state-sponsored or assisted terrorist groups and the weapons of mass destruction in the region threaten the U.S. as well as Israel, Egypt and the other allies. Bard argues that the origin of the threat should be traced to the Iranian Revolution and the desire of the leaders of Iran to export their brand of Islamic Revolution. Miller believes that the Islamist movement opposes democracy and pluralism. She sees this phenomenon as an anti-Western, anti-American and anti-Israeli movement. Within the first camp, Hunter emphasizes the Islamic movement's desire for changing the terms on which their relations with the West are based. Huntington and Lewis both take a historical approach toward this matter and arrive at the conclusion that the clash between Islam and Judea-Christianity is inevitable. Huntington takes into consideration the cultural aspect of the threat, and Lewis stresses the violent attitude of the Islamic movement. Bard and Miller 6

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argue that the Islamic movement is too weak to wage a full-tleclgecl war against the West. As a result, it will resort to terrorism which will cause damage to Western and U.S. interests. Another group of scholars does not consider the revival of Islam a threat to the West. Esposito ( 1994) disagrees with Huntington's and Lewis's perception of cultural animosity. He states that the political and cultural confrontation is magnified by some who reduce the contemporary realities to the playing out of ancient rivalries. In this respect, Muslim-Western relations are placed in the context of confrontation in which Islai11 is again pitted against the West-Judeo Christian and secular West-rather than concerning specitic political and socio economic grievances. Thus, the assault on the West is seen as irrational and mounted by peoples particularly driven by their passions and hatred. Esposito (1994) also draws our attention to the fact that, "National interest and regional politics rather than .ideology or religion remain the major determinants in the formulation of the U.S. foreign policy" (22). Esposito ( 1984, 1992) maintains that although the U.S. and Islamic revivalism have different ideological worldviews, this does not necessarily result in any hostility between the two sides. According to Esposito, the Islamic movement rules out the division between politics and religion. For the Islamic activist, Islam is a comprehensive way of life as stipulated in the Quran, seen as God's revelation, mirrored in the example of Muhammad and the nature of the 7

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first Muslim community-state, and embodied in the comprehensive nature of Sharia, God's revealed law. Islamic revivalism condemns Westernization and secufarization of society, but not its modernization. Science and technology are accepted, but the pace, direction, and extent of change are to be subordinated to Islamic belief and values in order to guard against the penetration of Western values and excessive dependence on them. Esposito believes that American policy-makers, like the media, are not aware of the complex realities of the Muslim world and view the Muslim world and the Islamic movements as a monolith and see them solely in terms of extremism and terrorism. This kind of approach fails to do justice to the complicated realities of the Muslim world and can undermine relations between the West and Islam: "U.S. perception of a monolithic Islamic threat often contributes to support for repressive governments in the Muslim world and thus to the creation of a self-fulftlling prophecy" (Esposito 1992, 208). John 0. Voll (1989), an historian, argues that the Islamic movement is not inherently anti-Western or anti-Russia as long as neither the West nor the Russians act in a way that appears to threaten the possibility of implementing an Islamic way of life. When either becomes identified with an institution or group hostile to Islamists' views (as was the case with the identitication of the U.S. with the Shah and the former Soviet Union with the Communist regime in Afghanistan), then the movement turns into a determined adversary. 8

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Leon T. Hadar ( 1993), a professor in the School of International Service of American University, negates any threat on the ground that Islam is neither unified nor a danger to the U.S. He warns that in the way that the perception of danger from Communism or the Soviet Union helped to define U.S. policy for more than four decades, the fear of Islam could embroil Washington in a second Cold War. Were America to let these phobias drive its foreign policy, long and costly battles with various unrelated phenomena would ensue. In the Middle East, the principle battleground of this struggle, this would place the U.S. in the position of maintaining a corrupt, reactionary, and unstable status quo. In short, such a policy would run against the long-run interests of the peoples of the U.S. and the Middle East. Hadar shares Vall's viewpoint in considering the Islamic movement merely a reaction to the U.S. foreign policy which favors the unstable status quo. Hadar ( 1993) also raises some evidence to support this assumption that the Islamic movement is on the defensive against the anti-Muslim factions. He draws our attention to the situation of Muslims in the former Yugoslavia, Central Asia and India. In the former Yugoslavia, the Westernized and secular Muslim population of Bosnia and Kosovo is threatened with extinction by Serbian nationalists, who have a strong connection to the Eastern Orthodox Church. In Central Asia, the old Communist guard, with support from Russian nationalists, is leading a bloody campaign against both Westernized and Islamic opposition 9

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groups, sending a wave of Muslim refugees from Tajikistan into Afghanistan. In India, the Bharatiya Janata Party, an anti-Muslim, Hindu nationalist group and an even more militant Shiv Sena are gaining power. Phebe Marr( 1992), a senior fellow at the National Defence University, while stressing the diversity of the movements, argues that despite the dynamism of the Islamic revival, its threat to the stability and security of the Middle East should not be overestimated. First, Islamic movements, even those moving into the mainstream, do not yet have majority support in any country. The bulk of population within these countries is loyal to more traditional forms of Islam that pose little or no threat. Second, the trend toward pragmatism is gaining strength in some countries as evidenced by Arab participation in the peace process, the release of Western hostages, and Iran's move to strengthen ties with Europe. Abdul Aziz Said (1992), a professor in the School of International Service at American University, points out that the Islamic movement seeks to restore an old civilization, not to create a new empire. Among the world's historical powers, only the Muslims as a people, have not reversed the decline in their global status. The Japanese, the Chinese, and the Europeans have all regained their world influence. The Islamic movement is a social and political movement, a reaction to Westernization and modernization. The Islamic people are trying to preserve their culture by replacing Western secularization with Islamic ideology. Said concludes that foreign intervention is the main source of cont1ict. lO

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The other scholars in this camp reiterate the internal dynamics of the movement and bring up a variety of issues to support their arguments. Douglas E. Streusand ( 1 989), Public Affairs Fellow at the Hoover Institution, states that Islam is compatible with Western religious values. He emphasizes the similarities between Islam, .I udaism and Christianity such as their monotheistic tradition, the individual's moral responsibility for his actions and the payment of alms so central in all three religions. Anwar-ul-Haq Ahady (1992), a professor of political science at Providence College, also negates the threat on the ground that the movement has proved unable to solve the problems that face it. He backs up his argument with the following points: I) support for Islamic radical parties has declined in many Islamic societies where elections are not completely manipulated by the authorities; 2) that although in a few instances the Islamic radical parties have increased their electoral strength, even there they had to accept parliamentarism and pluralism; 3) in strongly authoritarian states they have been successfully suppressed; 4) that modernity, which is the greatest enemy of the radical Islam, continues to spread in Muslim societies; 5) that there is some evidence from survey data which indicates the decline of radical attitudes among Muslims; 6) by the 1980s, it seemed that radical Islam had failed to solve socio economic problems. In this ca.mp, Esposito's analysis is very comprehensive relative to that of the other scholars. He argues from a historical perspective that due to the failure I 1

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of Western secular ideology in resolving the socioeconomic problems of the Middle East, people are now determined to try their own Islamic model which has deep roots in their longstanding history. Esposito draws our attention to the complex realities of Islamic revivalism. He thinks that the U.S. should revise its monolithic approach to the phenomenon and distinguish between the many groups such as the Islamic Brotherhood in Egypt that favor peaceful participation in the political process of the Middle East countries and the few groups that support violent acts. Although Yo II, Hadar and Said have used different methodologies in their studies, they have all come to Esposito's conclusion that the Islamic movement is a response to the West's secular ideology. YoU examines the question of foreign intluence and how it turns the movement into an adversary. Hadar focuses on the lack of unity among the world's Muslims which prevents the movement from acquiring a cutting-edge at the international level. Said takes a historical approach to examine the issue. He believes that the Islamic civilization, like other great civilizations (Japanese, Chinese, and European), is going to reemerge, but this does not necessarily pose a threat to the West. Marr and Ahady talk about the internal problems the movement faces. These problems include lack of majority support, repression by the authoritarian incumbent regimes and inability to offer a workable alternative to the secular model. Both scholars think that the Islamic movement has to o'vercome those formidable problems in order to become a viable force. Finally, Streusand makes a comparison between Islam, 12

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Christianity and Judaism from a religious perspective. According to him, the existing hostility is not necessary in the light of the similarities between the three religions. Thesis Statement The scholars have examined whether or not Islamic revivalism poses a threat to U.S. interests from a variety of perspectives. Some have argued that Islam is a threat due to a rivalry between the West and Islam. Others have argued that Islam is not a threat because its adherents do not have majority support, and they have been unable to solve socio-economic problems in their societies. These scholars came to different conclusions according to the basis of their arguments. In this thesis, my argument is that Islamic revivalism, in terms of ideology, is a potential threat to U.S. interests, for it might revive Islam as an alternative to the existing ideologies; and in terms of practice, Islamic revivalism is not a threat to U.S. interests because it faces obstacles in the realization of its aspirations. To support my argument, I am goi1ig to examine Iran's foreign policy toward the Middle East in three areas: transformation of status quo, Israel and oil. In each area, I evaluate viewpoints from an ideological perspective arguing that Iran's foreign policy threatens U.S. interests potentially and viewpoints from a practical perspective arguing that Iran's policy does not threaten U.S. interests. 13

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What distinguishes this research from the existing academic literature is that this thesis, instead of looking into historical rivalries between Islam and Judea-Christianity or focusing on Iran's domestics politics, examines the present realities of the Middle East by concentrating on Iran's external behavior as a case study. Since it is my contention that U.S. foreign policy pursues objectives which contradict those of Iran, a brief examination of U.S. objectives in the Middle East also becomes relevant. Chapter two gives a short history about role of Islam in Iran's political movements and then focuses on Islamic concepts that have shaped Iran's post revolution foreign policy. Chapter three examines Iran's foreign policy toward the Middle East in three areas of transformation of the status quo, Israel and oil. Since Iran's foreign policy is reviewed from a comparative perspective, this chapter also includes a brief examination of U.S. foreign policy. The conclusion is jJresented in Chapter four. 14

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CHAPTER TWO THE ISLAMIC REVOLUTION OF IRAN The purpose of this chapter is to give a short history of the role of Islam in Iran's political life with an emphasis on the Islamic Revolution of 1979 and to examine concepts shaping Iran's post-revolution foreign policy. The Islamic Revolution led to the establishment of an Islamic government whose foreign policy was founded upon Islamic concepts. Historical Background Islam has become a significant force of social and political change in the contemporary history of Iran. During the Qajar dynasty, the Tobacco Movement of 1891-92 led by Ayatollah Hassan al-Shirazi prevented Nasir al-Oin Shah from selling the tobacco concession to a British company. The concession consisting of the production, sale and export of tobacco, was to be granted to the British, "who agreed to pay the Qajar an annual sum of 15,000 British pounds at 5 percent dividend on the capital and one-quarter share of the profits" (Hussain 1985, 27). Several years later, the Constitutional Revolution of 1905-11 forced Mozaffar at Din Shah to approve a constitution limiting his power. According to David Menashri ( 1990), these two movements had certain characteristics in common. First, they had their origins in reactions against the 15

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reigning Shah's policies. Second, clerics were the main driving force. And third, the two movements ret1ectecl mounting social and economic tensions, intensified by autocratic rule, growing secularization and increased foreign int1uence. These movements were successful in attaining their initial goals but fell short of trying to do away with existing regimes. During the Pahlavi dynasty, 1925-79, Reza Shah and his son, Muhammad Reza, initiated a process of secularization which aimed to develop Iran according to Western pattern. The Pahlavis achieved the secularization of Iran's political system through educational and legal reforms. Reza Shah replaced religious ulama by foreign educated Iranians and the latter formulated a new code of laws for Iran, based on the French Civil Code, for the secularization of Iran. Secularization and Westernization created resentment among clerics and the people. The Pahlavi dynasty moved toward separating the state from religion and reduced the power base of the religious establishment. In doing so, it also offended religious sentiments of the population, most of them devoted Shiis. While other regimes in the Muslim world were careful not to offend religious sensibilities of their people, the Pahlavi dynasty ignored them altogether. For example, Muhammad Reza Shah adopted measures that alienated Iran from its past Islamic history. The most important one came in 1976 when the Islamic calendar counting the years from the Hijra (emigration of Prophet Muhammad from Mecca to Medina) was replaced by the imperial 16

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calendar counting the years from the accession of Cyrus the Great. During the Pahlavi dynasty, the question of foreign in tluence concerned the people. The danger of foreign intervention was realized in 1941 when the British and the former Soviet Union forced Reza Shah to abdicate in favor of his son. It became more evident in 1953 after Muhammad Reza Shah was driven into exile by a nationalist movement headed by the Prime Minister, Muhammad Musadeq, whose nationalization of Iran's oil threatened interests of Western oil companies. The Shah's return from Rome to Tehran aboard an American niilitary plane with the head of the CIA at his side was orchestrated by the U.S. with British support. The return of the Shah was a turning point in the political history of Iran. Iran's political, military, and economic ties with the West, particularly with the U.S., increased significantly .. After the U.S. failure in Vietnam in 1972, the U.S. administration substituted its policy of direct involvement with an indirect one. As a result, during the Nixon administration, Iran along with Saudi Arabia became the gendarme of region to provide local and regional security in the Persian Gulf region. It was according to this policy that, despite the unwillingness of the Iranian people, the Iranian army consisting of fifteen hundred men was sent to the Dhofar Province of Oman in December 1973 to repress the so-called leftist rebels who waged a liberation struggle against their puppet government (Skeet 1992, 49). In terms of domestic politics, according to Shaul Bakhash (1990a), the Shah 17

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carried out his secularization plan and concurrently reinforced the foundations of a royal autocracy. During his reign, political power was coi1centratecl in the monarchy and the structure of the political system was rigid, with no decentralization of power to other bodies such as Majlis (legislature) and cabinet. Due to the Shah s domestic and foreign policies, dissent began to grow and spread to a broad social base. In the meantime, other socio-economic problems such as the widening social gap, rapid inflation and spread of corruption added fuel to the discontent. Despite the repressive policy of the Shah, some ulama (Islamic clergymen) and lay intellectuals remained advocates of reform. In the early 1960s, Ayatollah Khomeini, 1902-89, emerged as a key anti-government spokesman among a growing minority of ulama who viewed the Shah's secularization program and Iran's close ties with tile West as a threat to Islam and national independence. Ayatollah Khomeini began to speak against the regime and opposed foreign influence in I ran. In 1963, following Khomeini 's speeches, widespread riots took place in the country. But before long, these riots were put do,.vn with great severity. Khomeini was sent into exile in 1964; he moved to Iraq in 1965 and then to France in 1978. While in exile, he continued to write and speak out against the Shah condemning un-lslamic policies. Opposition to the Shah grew throughout the 1970s encompassing a broad spectrum of Iranian society: writers, poets, journalists, university professors, liberal nationalists, and Marxists. They shared a 18

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concern about the lack of political participation, the erosion of national autonomy, and loss of religiocultural identity in an increasingly Westernized society. Among the intellectuals who criticized the Shah and his policies, Dr. Ali Shariati stood out. He combined Third World anti-imperialism and Iranian Shiism to produce a revolutionary Islamic ideology for socio-political reform. Shariati (1979) denounced "Weststruckness" saying, "Come friends let us abandon Europe; let us cease this nauseating, apish imitation of Europe. Let us leave behind this Europe that always speaks of humanity, but destroys human beings wherever it finds them" ( 17). In 1978, the ulama, intelligentsia, students and merchants organized peaceful demonstrations against the Shall. The government responded to these political protests with brutality, as a result of which many people were killed. The closing down of the bazaars and universities as well as strikes in the oil sector of the economy were heavy blows to the regime. The embattled Shah, no longer able to control the situation, left Iran on January 16; 1979. Khomeini returi1ed to Iran on February 1, 1979. Khomeini played a key role in the victory of the revolution. He united and mobilized people against the regime under the banner of Islam. According to Esposito (1990), Islamic ideology, symbols and the mosque formed the core of the revolution. Khomeini believed that the source of problems of Muslim people lies in their estrangement from the divine path of Islam, their adoption of 19

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inappropriate ways of either the West or the East and their disunity. The solution is a return to Islam, the establishment of Islamic governments, and overcoming divisions and achieving unity. According to Khomeini, "Nobody could defeat one billion Muslims if they were united" (Hunter 1990, 40) The outcome of the Islamic Revolution of 1979 was the establishment of an Islamic Despite the chaos that accompanies all revolutions, the Islamic Republic of Iran took shape within a relatively short period of time. A referendum in March 1979 transformed Iran's government from a monarchy to an Islamic Republic. The new Constitution, based on Shii 's concept of Islamic government, was adopted at the end of 1979. This constitution vests supreme political authority in the Valiy-e-Faghih, the leading theologian (religious leader) in the country. The constitution specifically named Khomeini as having been recognized as the first Valiy-e-Faghih. After Khomeini, a leader should be chosen by the Council of Experts (high-ranking clerics) which was established in 1983. These experts, elected by the people, are to discuss the competence of all qualified candidates, select one of them and introduce him to the people. If they fail to select one, they will select three to tive theologians to form a "Council of Leadership." The constitution gives the "leader" (or "Council of Leadership") virtually unlimited political powers. He is the Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces. He also appoints the President of the Supreme Court, confirms the 20

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president in office once he is elected and under certain conditions, is entitled to dismiss him "in consideration of the political interests" (Menashri 1990, 116). Second to the leader in the hierarchy of the office is the Council of Guardians. It is composed of six theologians appointed by the leader and six Muslim jurists nominated by the High Council of the Judiciary approved by the Majlis. Its task is to review laws passed by the Majlis and to determine whether they are in conformity with Islamic religious law and compatible with the constitution. If they are not, the Guardians have authority to veto them. The members of the council serve six-year terms, with half the members being changed every three years. The Majlis has 270 members popularly elected to four year terms. Executive responsibility rests with the president, who is elected to a four-year term by popular vote. Along with these structural changes, Iran's foreign policy underwent extensive modifications. The next section examines the new concepts underlying post-revolution Iran's foreign policy toward the Middle East. Foreign Policy Concepts In this section, based upon scholars' viewpoints, I argue that Iran's external behavior has been shaped by Islamic concepts. Against this argument, some other scholars believe that both ideological and non-ideological concepts have intluenced Iran's foreign policy. This group goes further and claims that 21

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sometimes non-ideological concepts have been the prevailing theme in Iran's behavior toward the outside world. After evaluating viewpoints which support my argument, I am goi.ng to analyze evidence presented by those who allocate a role to non-ideological concepts in Iran's external behavior. According to Mahmood Sariolghalam (l993), three concepts originating from Islamic ideology lay the foundation of Iran's foreign policy in the post revolutionary era: Shii egalitarianism, ideological centralism and authenticity. According to Shii egalitarianism, the basis of human power is not materialistic, rather it is spiritual. People, nation-states and civilizations are compared and categorized on the basis of their devotion to monotheistic beliefs, obedience to religious guidelines and virtuous behavior. Therefore, human power is founded upon spirituality, not on the accumulation of wealth and other material things. In the political arena, this type of worldview certainly has effects. From a comparative perspective, the Shii concept of power completely rejects the tenets of Western poiiticaJ realism which, according to William 0. Beeman (1990), has a materialistic outlook and requires military preparedness and economic sufficiency for political assertiveness and material superiority. It is clear from the Shii conceptualization of a "political power base" why Iran's officials disapproved of the superpowers and superpower political behavior. Iranian complaints of superpower behavior in the developing world in general, and in Muslim world in particular, have been based upon the non-egalitarian approach 22

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of the Western countries towards them. According to Ruhollah K. Ramazani (1986); Johannes Reissner (1989); Hunter (1990); Esposito (1992); and Richard Cottam (1993), Khomeini divides the world into two blocks of state actors: the oppressors and the oppressed. The oppressors are those who have power and use it to dominate others. The oppressed are those who lack power and are being dominated. It was on the basis of this concept that Khomeini rejected the contemporary international system. For example, in 1981, in a meeting with a foreign delegation, he said, We will notagree to be dominated by America or by the Soviet Union. We are Muslims and wish to live. Wedon't want that kind of progress and civilization which would make us reach our hands out to aliens. We want civilization which is based upon honor and humanity and which would preserve peace upon this basis. The superpowers wish to dominate human beings. We, you and any other Muslim, are dutybound to remain steadfast against them .... (Ramazani 1983, 17) The concept of egalitarianism is also linked to the idea of worldwide justice as manifested by Shiism. Islamic ideology, particular! y Shiism, attaches signiticant importance to justice. Western observer Malise Ruthven notes the overriding importance of justice in Islam. Ruthven ( 1984) states that, "whereas Christianity is primarily the religion of love, Islam is above all religion of justice" (227). Thus, the concept of egalitarianism has driven. Iran's policy to reject the prevailing international system on the grounds that it treats Islamic countries unfairly and unjustly. 23

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The second Islamic concept is ideological centralism. One of the common features of all revolutions is to portray themselves as a symbol of progressiveness. The Iranian revolutionary elite has continuously spoken of the revolution's attractiveness and appeal in the developing world in general, and in the Muslim world in particular. According to Khomeini, the Islamic revolution has provided the ground for the establishment of new order. Article 11 of the Constitution of Iran provides that the Iranian government "should exert continuous efforts in order to realize the political, econo-mic and cultural unity of the Islamic world" (Ramazani 1990a, 48). The Islamic Revolution repudiated the national boundaries set by the colonialists. Therefore, it put forth the idea that Muslims should relate to one another beyond their nationalities, race, and color and instead ret1ect upon the establishment of a transnational Islamic body. This idea is more than implicit in Ayatollah Khomeini 's own world outlook. In his words, "Islam is a sacred trust from God to ourselves and the Iranian nation must grow in power and resolution until it has vouchsafed Islam to the entire world" (Ramazani 1983, 18). Farhang Raj aee (1990) shares Sariolghalam' s viewpoint and calls this aspect of Islamic ideology "universalism." According to Rajaee, Islam is claimed to be the straight path for the glory of humanity regardless of color, race and culture. Article 154 of the Constitution of Iran states that, The Islamic Republic of Iran is concerned with the welfare of humanity as a whole and takes independence, liberty, and sovereignty of justice and righteousness as the right of people in the 24

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world order. Thus while refraining from any involvement in the internal affairs of other nations, the Islamic Republic of Iran supports the struggle of the oppressed anywhere in the world. (Rajaee 1990, 67) The third concept is authenticity which reiterates a return to Islam for reducing dependency on foreign ideologies. Iranian leaders have consistently used historical cases to support their policies. Iran's history in the last 150 years and its bitter experiences with the British, Russians and Americans have served as strong reminders that the government should pursue an independent foreign policy. Hunter (1990) also argues that Iran's historical experiences have convinced Iran's officials to adhere to the Islamic concept of authenticity to counter foreign influence. Iran's notable historical experiences were the fate of two nineteenth century Iranian Prime Ministers, Ghaem Magham Farahani and Mirza Amir Kabir, who championed reform and independence. Both authorities resisted foreign pressures and tried to curb the privileges of the court, and both were murdered on the king's orders. In more recent times, Mohammad Musadeq met a comparable fate for similar reasons. Rajaee (1990, 66) calls this aspect of Islamic ideology "idealism." According to him, idealism has basically been a reaction to the expansive wave of modernism and to Western culture. In the views of Iran's intellectuals, the only reason their glorious past has not been realized is because of the machinations of others, particularly of outside powers. Thus, the search for an authentic identity 25

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dominates Iran's post-revolutionary political outlook and policy statements. The Muslim world's social, political and economic dependency on major powers deprive them of authenticity. Therefore, in order to be authentic, Muslim statesmen need to look inward instead of expanding their interdependencies. National and transnational Islamic authenticity is based on principles of Islamic ideology and can only be achieved through the ideological, political and economic integration of Muslim nation-states. The most significant premise of authenticity, according to Iranian elites, calls for re-shaping Muslim relations with the external world: parity and ideological sovereignty must be among the major determinants of Muslim and non-Muslim relations. It was within this context that Iran, after the victory of the Islamic Revolution, neither tilted toward the West nor the East. The adoption of such a foreign policy by Iran alienated both the capitalist and communist blocks. According to Khomeini, "No revolution in history has been attacked as much as the Iranian revolution has been I [because] ... other revolutions have either tended toward the left or the right. If they tended toward the left, the leftists supported them, and vice versa" (Rajaee 1983, 78). Other scholars such as Bakhash ( 1990a) I Menashri ( 1990) I George Linaberg (1992), Hooshang Amirahmadi (1993), and Bahman Bakhtiari (1993) argue that Iran's foreign pol icy has been a reflection of both ideological and non ideological considerations. Thesescholars link Iran's external behavior to Iran's 26

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domestic politics. They divide the ruling elite into two factions: "pragmatists" or "realists" versus "radicals" or "idealists." According to these scholars, non ideological considerations take precedence over ideological ones in Iran's external behavior when pragmatists or realists ascend over power, and the opposite occurs when radicals or idealists take over power. According to these scholars, pragmatists or realists such as Hashemi Rafsanjani and Dr. Ali Akbar Velayati place national interest and economics ahead of ideology, support private enterprise and favor expansion of relations with the West. Radicals or idealists such as Khomeini, Ali Akbar Mohtashemi and Mussavi Khoiniha insist on a revolutionary interpretation of Islam, support a state-controlled economy and oppose expanded relations with the West. These scholars present some evidence to support their arguments. Amirahmadi (1993) mentions that since Rafsanjani's ascendancy to power in 1988, Iran's harsh rhetoric towards OPEC and the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) has been reduced. Moreover, Iran does not support regional Islamic movements as much as before and did not support Iraq in its war against the allied forces led by the United States. He also adds that when Saddam Hussein tried to portray Iraq's war against the U.S. as a war between revolutionaries and anti-revolutionaries, and thereby involve other countries in the war, Iran maintained its neutrality. Bakhtiari (1993), in support of this argument, states that immediately after the defeat of the Iraqi army by the U.S., Saddam's control over his opponents was 27

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eliminated. The Iraqi Shiis revolted against him, taking over the important cities of Najaf, Karbala and Hilla. Looking to Iran, Iraqi Shiis expected help and . military assistance for their revolt, but Iran did not aid the Iraqi Shiis. In response to the question why Iran did not help Iraqi Shiis, Rafsanjani stated that the Iraqis "can do their own work" (Bakhtiari 1993, 89). Without any doubt, the struggle for power between the two factions within Iran's ruling elite has, from time to time, impacted Iran's behavior toward the outside world. Nevertheless, the important point ignored by these scholars is the factor of time. From 1980 to 1988, Iran engaged in a war against Iraq. During the war, some inembers of GCC and OPEC, including Saudi Arabia and Kuwait supported Iraq financially. Such support strained Iran's relations with these countries. In 1988, when the war ended the ground was provided for normalization of relations with them. Such a rapprochement came about because of the end of the war and not merely due to the ascendancy of the so-called pragmatists in 1988. Iran did not side with Iraq in its war against the allied forces because Iran had already become the first victim of the Iraqi aggression. Iran also did not involve itself in the Persian Gulf crisis, because contrary to Saddam's statements, the Iranian government did not see the war as the one between revolutionaries and anti-revolutionaries. In Hashemi Rafsanjani' s words, "The events that have taken place in the region are neither the battle between the revolution and the counter-revolution nor a fight between the reactionaries and 28

PAGE 33

progressives ... (Bakhtiari 199J, 85-6). Iran did not support Iraqi Shiis because they had already launched their military struggle against Sadclam, thus any Iranian involvement could have been meant interference in the internal affairs of another country. Such an interference is in conflict with Iran's Constitution which allows support for the oppressed only within a humanitarian framework. Another problem with the analysis presented by this group of scholars is that they categorize Iran's ruling elite in a rigid manner leading themselves to l_'he t1uiclity of Iran's domestic politics is such that today's radicals may be tomorrow's pragmatists and vice versa. Iran's authorities may be pragmatists on one set of issues and may be radicals on another. Moreover, Iran's rapprochement with other countries did not start with the ascendancy of pragmatists to power. The process, although it did not bear fruit until the end of the war, started with Khomeini's own statements in 1984. Khomeini said on October 29, 1984 that it was "inadmissible to common sense and humanity" not to have relations with other governments, "since it would mean defeat, annihilation and being buried right to the end ... (Ramazani 1990b, 60). According to Bakhtiari ( 1990, 258), Khomeini did not even rule out relations with the U.S. on the condition that the U.S. ended its hostility toward Iran. This chapter ends with the conclusion that Islam has been a major driving force for political changes in Iran. Such a role was evident in the Tobacco Movement and the Constitutional Revolution, and reached its apex during the 29

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Islamic movement of 1979. The Islamic Revolution led to the establishment of an Islamic government whose foreign policies have been shaped by Islamic concepts. The next chapter examines what Iran's post-revolution policy toward the Middle East has been and whether it poses a threat to U.S. interests. 30

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CHAPTER THREE IRAN'S FOREIGN POLICY TOWARD THE MIDDLE EAST This chapter reviews the question of whether or not Iran's post-revolution foreign policy poses a threat to U.S. interests. To answer this question, Iran's foreign policy toward the Middle East is examined in three areas: transformation of the status quo, Israel and oil. In each area, I examine arguments from both ideological and practical perspectives and then evaluate the strengths and weaknesses of them. During the Shah's era, Iran's foreign policy toward the region reflected a Cold War environment which dictated that "Communism is bad, capitalism is good; stability is desirable, instability threatens U.S. interests" (Bloomfield 1974, 58). In such an environment, Iran was an important actor in containing Commtinism due to its proximity to the former Soviet Union. Iran's alliance with the U.S. aimed to maintain U.S. regional interests such as "containment of Soviet expansion and int1uence, access to oil and security of Israel" (Kuniholm 1984, 38). The strategic alliance between Iran and the U.S. was consolidated in the 1970s by the Nixon Doctrine which made Iran a symbol of stability and a defender of political status quo in the Persian Gulf. For example, when the Dhofar rebellion broke out in Oman in 1975, the Iranian army consisting of 1500 men 31

PAGE 36

was sent to the Dhofar Province of Oman to repress the so-called leftist rebels (Skeet 1992, 49-50). In the aftermath of the Nixon Doctrine, the U.S. supplied a variety of military equipment to Iran. The U.S. military assistance enabled Iran to contain Soviet expansionism into the Persian Gulf, which according to Richard K. Hermann (1991, 44-5) holds 65 percent of the world's proven oil reserves and currently accounts for 25 percent of the world's oil production. According to Barry Rubin ( 1985, 102), direct or indirect extension of Soviet influence over the Persian Gulf would threaten the free tlow of oil which is of vital importance to the West. The Shah not only contained Soviet influence in the region, particularly in the Persian Gulf, but also, helped the U.S. have access to oil. For instance, during the Arab Oil Embargo of 1973, the Shah quietly shipped large amounts of oil to the U.S. to give U.S. administration some relief. According to Walter LaFeber (1989), "those shipments amounted to over $9 billion between 1973 and 1977" (625). The Shah's with Israel was aimed to strengthen his alliance with the United States (Ramazani !986, 148). De facto recognition of the Jewish state by the Shah in 1950. the regime s association with the Israeli intelligence service (MOSSAD), the export of Iranian oil to Israel and its continuation even during the 1973 Arab Oil Embargo against the West appeared to further consolidate such a 32

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strategic alliance between the U.S. and Iran (Ramazani 1986, 154; Bakhash 1990b, 1 16) After the Islamic Revolution, the Islamic concepts of egalitarianism,. centralism and authenticity gave a new orientation to I ran's foreign policy toward the Middle East. Such a new orientation has greatly impacted the Iranian-U.S. relationship in three areas: the political status quo, oil and Israel. Iran has pursued a policy of non-alignment vis-a-vis the superpowers. This policy runs counter to the Shah's alLiance with the U.S. to maintain his regime and the territorial integrity of Iran. The Islamic Republic of Iran has propagated Islamic ideology to promote political awareness and bring unity among Muslims. Propagation of Islamic ideology could lead to a transformation of status quo in the political arena which is the opposite of the Shah's policy of the preservation of status quo. The Shah's friendly attitude toward Israel was substituted with an unfriendly one which seeks complete withdrawal of Jews from Palestine. According to Ramazani ( 1983), after the revolution the main principles for the conduct of Iranian foreign policy appeared to be: "first, rejection of dependency on either the West or the East; second, support for oppressed people, especially Muslims; and third, liberation of Jerusalem" (22). Examination of Iran's foreign policy in three areas of the transformation of the status quo, Israel and oil indicates to what extent these principles have threatened U.S. interests in the region. 33

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Transformation of the Status Quo In his classic work on revolution, Crane Brinton ( 1965) discusses the universalistic nature of deep-rooted revolutions and observes that revolutionaries throughout history all sought to spread the gospel of their revolution. The Islamic Revolution has not been an exception to this rule. After the victory of the Islamic Revolution, Iran began to propagate its Islamic ideology according to its Islamic concept of Islamic centralism. In terms of ideology, the propagation of Islamic ideology has been a potential threat to U.S. interests because it is aimed at transforming the U.S. supported status quo. If in an early period of the Cold War, secular nationalism headed by Nasser in Egypt established itself as a socio-political movement of rapid political change in the Middle East, in the 1980s, Islamic revivalism began to replace nationalism as the most important instrument of social and political change. Moreover, Islamic revivalism has been a more serious threat to U.S. interests because it has been associated with Islam which is the most important cultural characteristic of the Middle Eastern people. The failure of secular ideologies such as Marxism and capitalism in resolving socio-economic problems of the Middle East countries has enhanced the appeal of Islamic ideology as a political alternative. In the aftermath of their failure, Muslims began searching for a more compatible political system that would allow them to establish an independent identity for both the individual and 34

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the state and to restore cultural dignity. In view of the cultural characteristics of the people of the Middle East, Islam seemed to be promising for the realization of these goals. According to Robin Wright (1989), one of the reasons Islam became attractive was that it offered an authentic source of identity that did not force the population to look or act contrary to tradition or to their own priorities. For these reasons, the Islamic Revolution carries some points of appeal to people of the Persian Gulf countries. According to Ramazani (1988, 133-4) and James A. Bill and Robert Springborg (1990, 390), these points of appeal include the overthrow of U.S. backed regimes, the end of ties of dependence on superpowers, and the reaftirmation of strength and relevance of Islamic civilization in the modern world. In addition to these appeals, some other factors concerned U.S. administrations and the conservative Arab rulers. First, in the view of Khomeini, Islam is incompatible with monarchial rule. This aspect of Khomeini 's view worried the majority of Arab rulers. Moreover, according to William B. Quandt (1985, 56) and M.E. Ahrari and James H. Noyes (1994, 2245) similarities of governance between the Imperial Iran and the monarchial states of the Persian Gulf, such as political repression and lack of freedom of speech, created considerable concern among the sheikhdoms that their rule might also suddenly end, as did that of the Shah. Second, there was a fear among Arab rulers that Shii communities residing in these countries might rise up in an Iranian-style revolution. According to 35

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Wayne E. White (1.988, 99), many Shiis have less opportunity for political participation through existing government institutions and more limited economic opportunities than those of resident Sunnis. In addition to the issue of inequality between Shiis and Sunnis, the size of Shii populations are worrisome for Arab sheikJ1doms. The percentage of Shii populations in Bahrain, Iraq, Kuwait, the United Arab Emirates and Qatar are respectively 70% 60% 30%, 16%, and 16% (Congressional Quarterly 1990, 159-216). In terms of practice, the Islamic Revolution has not been a threat to U.S. interests. Some scholars believe that Iran has resorted to violent means for propagating its revolution and others believe that Iran has only employed non violent ways and means for spreading its Islamic ideology. According to Rubin (1985, 109) and Bruce R. Kuniholm (1984, 39-43), Iran has resorted to three kinds of violent ways and means : launching direct attacks, engaging in fundamentalist subversion and seeking regional supremacy all of which are intended to transform. the status quo. As for direCt attacks, there has been a fear among regional countries that Iran might resort to direct military force in spreading its revolution. Ramazani ( 1990a) indicates evidence for such behavior during the Iran-Iraq war. When in July 1982, Iran regained almost all territories captured by the Iraqi forces, it carried the war into Iraqi territory until July 1988. The extension of into Iraqi territories was aimed at exporting the revolution. On February 22, 1989, Khomeini himself said that: "Every day of the war we had 36

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blessing, which we utilized in all aspects. We exported our revolution to the world through the war. .. (Ramazani l990a, 51). The fundamentalist subversion constituting of actions such as coups, insurgencies, terrorism and hostage-taking cannot be examined thoroughly because all arguments are based on circumstantial evidence. According to Rubin ( 1985), Iran was involved in training revolutionaries in Bahrain to overthrow Arab governments. The arrest of such a group in Bahrain in December 1981 set off a regional panic. Other incidents attributed to Iran include: the suicidal truck < bombing against the American and French military contingents in Lebanon in October 1983 and hijacking and bombing of planes (Ramazani 1990a, 52). Iran is also accused of hostage-taking as a forceful means of meeting its demands. According to Bakhash (1990b, 126), hostage-taking, even if not instigated by Tehran but masterminded by groups friendly to Iran,-suggest that hostages could be exchanged for concessions or materials desired by Iran, for example, release of French hostages in exchange for diplomatic concessions and the release of Iranian assets held by the French government. Seeking regional supremacy is another way of spreading the Islamic Revolution. According to Rubin (1985, 109), Joseph A. Kechichian (1993, 131), Amiralu:nadi (1993, 148), Iran could use its size and strength to pressure the Persian Gulf states to adopt anti-American policies. These scholars argue that the Shah and Khomeini both pursued supremacy in the region through using different 37

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; 'tactics. The Shah essentially relied on_ [ran's military strength to achieve his goal and Khomeini used both Iran's military power and its Islamic ideology. These scholars bring up the case of the Iran-Iraq war as an example of Iran's efforts of regional supremacy. This aspect of Islamic Revolution runs counter to U.S. regional interests because one of U.S. objectives has been to prevent any power from dominating the region. According to Lewis (1992, 30), the U.S. has pursued such a policy because the emergence of a regional hegemon could pose a threat to U.S. interests. Other scholars believe that [ran has resorted to non-violent ways and means for propagating its revolution. According to Rajaee (1990,72-5) and Rai11azani (1990a, 54-6), Iran has propagated its revolution through peaceful mechanisms such as Ayatollah Khomeini 's speeches, model-building (Iran serving as a model worth emulating), and publicity organizations (organizations established for the purpose of propagating Islam abroad). After the victory of the Islamic Revolution, Khomeini made speeches containing emancipatory messages for the people of the developing world in general and the Muslim nations in particular. Model-building was another way to spread the revolution. Model-building means that Iran could become a model of development for other Islamic nations by constructing an ideal society. In the words of President Rafsanjani, If under the present post-war conditions we manage to create an acceptable type of society and set up a viable model of development, progress, evolution 38

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and correct Islamic morals for the world, then we will achieve what the world has feared; that is the export of Islamic Revolution. (Ramazani 1990a, 54) Ayatollah Khomeini 's letter to Mikhail Gorbachev in January 1989 shows the trend of propagating the revolution by model-building. In his letter, refuting both Marxism and Western Liberalism while presenting Islam as an alternative, Khomeini invited Gorbachev "to do serious research on Islam" (Rajaee 1990, 76). The other tools of propagation have been publicity organizations and the mass media. Publicity organizations such as the organization for the propagation of Islam, the Andishe Foundation and the Farabi Foundation have published books on the Islamic Rev
PAGE 44

spreading the revolution. For example, Mehdi Hashemi, a radical, "tried to use pilgrims to smuggle arms into Saudi Arabia in the summer of 1986" (Ramazani 1990b, 52). Following that attempt, he was arrested and executed in 1987. In another incident, when a passenger airliner TWA 847 was hijacked on June 14, 1985, Iran helped in the process of freeing the American hostages. The first indication of the help was reported on July 1, 1985, by Washington Post correspondent, Don Oberdorfer ( 1985) who wrote that, "U.S. officials said that hints exist that Iran acquiesced in the settlement" (A 1). On July 3, Oberdorfer ( 1985) reported that: Some administration ofticials said they believe that Iranian authorities, who have a close relationship with the most militant Shiite groups, used their int1uence late last week to persuade the extremist Hezbollah, or Party of God, to submit to Assad's authority and release four TWA hijacking hostages the group was holding. (Al2) No less important, Iran put on trial the two South Yemeni hijackers who on November 5, 1984 seized a Saudi Arabian jetliner on route from Jeddah to Europe and sentenced them to twelve years in prisons (Ramazani 1986, 238). I believe that Iran has not propagated its revolution through violent ways and means. In fact, Shiis may not use violent methods for the spread of their ideology. According to Shii Doctrine, "only infallible Imams (title of twelve Muslim leaders) are authorized to initiate offensive wars for the purpose of religious expansion" (Rajaee 1983, 84). The allegations regarding Iran's 40

PAGE 45

involvement in direct attacks or fundamentalist subversion are an1biguous and are based on circumstantial evidence. The only piece of evidence presented by the scholars accusing Iran of direct military attack is the entry of the Iranian forces into Iraqi territory after the retreat of Iraqi forces in July 1982. The fact is that the entry of the Iranian army into Iraqi soil aimed at putting Iraq under pressure for meeting Iran's conditions for the end of the war, such as recognition of aggressor and compensation for war damages, rather than exporting the revolution. Furthermore, Iran l1as faced formidable obstacles in spreading its revolution through non-violent ways and means. In this regard, the scholars have identified four major barriers. First, many Arabs believe that Iran's Islamic ideology embraces Shii particularism which is not appropriate for Sunni Muslims. According to Ramazani ( 1988, 134-5) and Augustus Richard Norton (1990, 134), many Sunni Arabs reject the model of Iranian governance for their own societies. Even Shii Muslims are divided on the applicability of Valyat-e-Faghih to their societies. For example Shii clerics in Lebanon have contrary viewpoints on the Iranian-style Islamic government. Second, ancient historical differences between Iranians and Arabs are formidable obstacles in the way of Iran's influence in the region. Ramazani (1988. 134-5), Sohrab Sobhani (1989, 165-6), and M.E. Ahrari (1994, 89) identify some of the existing differences. The discrepancies are reflected in the way Arabs refer to the Persian Gulf as "the Arabian Gulf" or refer to the Khuzistan province of Iran as "Arabi stan." Other examples include the most 41

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costly dispute over the Shat-ai-Arab waterway dividing Iran and Iraq and recent disputes over the three Persian Gulf islands of Abu Musa and the Greater and Lesser Tunbs. The Persian-Arab differences are also underscored on security matters, especially in the 1980s. The GCC has emerged as an Arab organization that supports excluding Iran from all security arrangements. For example, according to Ahrari ( 1994, 89), after the cessation of the Persian Gulf war in 1991, when the Arab states were considering future security agreements, Iran was once again excluded. The security agreement "The GCC Plus Two" or the Damuscus Agreement remained focused on Arab participation in the security of the Persian Gulf. Egypt and Syria were to consolidate their forces in the "Plus Two" part of this agreement. Third, mounting economic problems have dampened the earlier appeal of the revolution. According to Ramazani (1988, 34-5) and David E. Long ( 1990, 106-7), the disappointment with the Iranian revolution has increased since 1981, as a result, Arabs prefer policies and practices of the existing local regimes to those of the Iran's. Fourth, U.S. support for conservative Arab states through the combined effort of U.S. Central Command (U.S. special force for protecting its interests in thePersian Gult), the GCC, and U.S. AWACS stationed in Saudi Arabia have been enough to deter any Iranian int1uence in the region. According to Stephen R. Shalom (1993, 30-1), Iran's threat to its neighboring Arab states has always been something of an exaggeration. The U.S., 42

PAGE 47

along with conservative Arab states, have been able to contain the spread of lran's Islamic ideology to the region. In sum, in terms of ideology, the Islamic Revolution poses a potential threat to U.S. interests because, in the long run, it might enable Islam to emerge as political force in the Middle East, thus transforming the U .S.-supported status quo. In terms of practice, the Islamic Revolution does not pose a threat to U.S. interests due to two reasons. First, according to Shii belief, followers of Shiism are not authorized to use violent methods for religious expansion. Second, in its efforts to spread the revolution through non-violent ways, Iran faces obstacles such as Shii-Sunni divisions, Persian-Arab disputes, declining appeal fm Iran's Islamic Revolution because of its economic problems and U.S. financial and military support for the conservative Arab states. Israel After the Islamic Revolution, Iran broke relations with Israel. According to Bakhash (1990b) and Hunter ( 1990), Iran took the position that Israel has no right to exist and must be eradicated. Iran has opposed all peace plans in the Middle East over the last fifteen years including the Camp David Accord, the Reagan Plan, the abortive agreement between King Hussein of Jordan and Yasir Arafat on a common negotiating posture toward Israel, and the recent peace agreement between the Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO) and Israel. 43

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Iran's position towards Israel stems from its ideological concept of authenticity. Iran views the Palestinian-Israeli cont1ict as an ideological war between Islam and Islam's enemies, rather than a territorial one. This viewpoint, argues that the successive defeats of the Arabs by Israel, and particularly the Israeli occupation of 1 erusalem, the third holiest city of Islam, are the results of Arab deviation from the true path of Islam. According to Yvonne Haddad (1992, 268), the defeats were punishments for misplaced trust in the promise of alien ideologies. ln the view of Iranian authorities, in order to achieve the glory of the past, Muslims should adhere again to their own ideology of Islam. This is the only option for Arabs to take effective actions to counter the Israeli occupation. Although, sometimes viewpoints expressed by Iranian authorities indicate a kind of t1exibility in approaching the question of Israel, so far Iran's policy toward Israel has not undergone any change. For example, on some occasions, Iranian authorities have criticized peace plans without rejecting them completely on the basis of Iran's ideological considerations. Some statements by Iran's authorities show that they oppose peace plans because their main elements, the creation of a Palestinian state on the West Bank and Gaza Strip, do not resolve the Palestinian problem. In President Rafsanjani 's words: ... the densely populated area (the West Bank and the Gaza Strip) holds more than the capacity of the region, and could not absorb 3 or 4 million other Palestinians. Hence the Palestinians would remain .as refugees all around the world. Under thesecircumstances, if we 44

PAGE 49

recognize the validity of Israel's existence, we will be losing everything. (Ramazani 1986, 154) Despite such pragmatic statements, the ideological considerations have been a prevailing theme in Iran's approach toward Israel. Iran's government views Israel as an agent which serves U.S. regional interests. Iran believes that "U.S. economic and military support for Israel provides the U.S. with an enormous leverage of power in the region" (Bin a 1991, 80). According to this viewpoint, the state of Israel was established in the region as a U.S. agent or, according to Farhad Kazemi (1985), "as a by-product of American imperialism" (90), to destroy any Islamic and non-Islamic resistance to Western hegemony. Alamin A. Mazrui (1977), an African scholar, illustrates this point: "Israel was a piece of the Western world deposited in the heart of the Third World" (136). Since Iran, in accordance with its ideological concept of egalitarianism, opposes domination of the region by any hegemon, Israel becomes Iran's prime target. In other words, Iran's struggle against Israel is parallel with its resistance to U.S. hegemony. U.S. support for Israel has been a catalyst for shaping Iran's irreconcilable stance toward Israel. During the Cold War, U.S. backing for Israel was matched by Soviet backing for the Arab position and arming of favored Arab regimes, first Nasser's Egypt and then Baathist Syria and Iraq. During the Nixon administration, Israel along with Iran and Saudi Arabia emerged as the principal U.S. surrogates entrusted with keeping the status quo in the West's favor. 45

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Nevertheless, the U.S. relationship with Israel has been different from that with Iran and Saudi Arabia. The U.S. officials have repeatedly said that, "the U.S. and Israel, unlike the other Middle Eastern countries, share the same values such as democracy and freedom" (Pranger 1988, 452). Therefore, these common values necessitate a special relationship between the two countries. The compatible political systems have led some to the idea that Israel could be considered a strategic as well as ideological partner for the American foreign policy in the region. According to Robert J. Pranger (1988), the problem with such a special relationship is that the Arabs cannot believe that Washington is impartial towards the Arab-Israeli dispute when it holds important such a deliberately "ethnocentric standard of values" for its ally in the Middle East. Israel has received huge amounts of military aid from the U.S. to contain Communism and to deter Arab hostility and any socio-political change unfavorable to the United States. According to Bill and Springborg (1990, 363), Israel received $250 million in military aid during the Kennedy and Johnson administrations, $6.7 billion during the eight years of the Nixon and Ford administrations and $7.4 billion under the Carter administration. This military aid enabled Israel to defeat Egypt and Syria in 1967 and neighboring Arabs in the October War of 1973. During the Reagan administration, the importance of regional surrogates, particularly Israel, was further increased due to the administration's new 46

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worldview. The administration believed that Communism was the main source of tension and instability in the world. The outcome of such a world outlook was to extend full support for Israel for its combat-ready and combat-experienced military. From 1978 to 1988, "the U.S. government gave Israel $29 billion in economic and military assistance, more than double the cost of Marshall Plan for all Europe after the World War II" (Bill and Springborg 1990, 362-3). According to Mohammad Rabie (1988, 74), out of the $29 billion U.S. total economic and military assistance to Israel $10 billion was in the form of grants. The end of the Cold War in 1989 eroded Israel's strategic importance. There was no longer any need to counter potential Soviet aggression in the region. The adversarial relationship of the last decades between the U.S. and the former Soviet Union was transformed during the 1980s into a cooperative relationship (Keddie 1992, 102). Although the end of the Cold War has reduced Israel's strategic importance, the U.S. has not ceased its aid to Israel. According to Paul Findley (1993, 1l0-l3), the U.S. total assistance to Israel amounted to $3.7 billion in 1991. Out of this amount, $!. 8 billion was in the form of military grants. Moreover, in 1992, the U.S. granted Israel $10 billion in loan guarantees. In addition to aid to Israel, the U.S. has attempted to safeguard the interests of Israel in its role as a peace-broker between the Arabs and Israelis. 47

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According to Richard Nixon ( 1992), three principles have guided successive U.S. governments' policies toward the Arab-Israeli contlict, 1) Washington insists on the right of Israel to exist within secure boundaries; 2) despite a tilt toward Israel in terms of military and economic assistance, the U.S. does not want to alienate the strategically located Arab world; 3) it supports Resolution 242 as a basis for peace. ( 17 4) U.N. Security Council Resolution 242 calls for peace in return for territory (Lenczowski 1984, 174). This resolution could not be implemented in the past because a majority of Arabs, while rejecting any "peace for land" formula, detined the Arab-Israeli contlict in ideological terms (a conflict between Islam and imperialism). In order to implement this resolution and to maintain the security of Israel, the U.S. had to transform the Arab-Israeli conflict from an ideological dispute to a territorial one. To this end, the U.S. has pursued a two-pronged policy of dividing the Arab front and containing radicals whoadvocate the liberation of the whole of Palestine. The Camp David Accord reached between Egypt and Israel alienated Egypt from the Arab front opposing Israel. The PLO also faced the same fate. Although earlier sticking to the main elements of its 1968 Charter: "Palestine is an indivisible territorial unit," and "the liberation of Palestine will destroy the Zionist and imperialist presence" (Lenczowski 1984, 173), the PLO accepted in December 1988 that it would meet the three U.S. conditions for opening dialogue. These conditions consisted of "acceptance of U.N. Security Council Resolutions 242 and 338, recognition of Israel's right to 48

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exist, and renunciation of terrorism" (Hunter 1993, 68). Following the PLO acceptance of U.S. conditions, a peace agreement was signed between PLO and Israel in June 1994. These separate peace agreements between Egypt and Israel and between PLO and Israel divide the Arab front vis-a-vis Israel and are in the interest of the U.S. The containment of radicals also helps maintain the security of Israel. The more the U.S. transforms the Arab-Israeli dispute from an ideological one to the territorial one, the less radicals pose a threat to Israel. U.S. successive administrations have tried to break nearly a half-century deadlock through negotiation. The fact is that as long as the Arab-Israeli cont1ict remains unsolved, the Arabs and non-Arab factions supporting the ideological solution to the dispute will gain ground, challenging the entity of Israel. According to Thomas R. Mattair (1992), ... the unresolved contlict may discredit moderates and enhance radicals, ... whether secular or Islamic, whether Arab or Iranian;, (6). In terms of practice, there are arguments suggesting that Iran's foreign policy does not threaten the security of Israel. These arguments are based on five points. First, the elimination of Israel requires a degree of unity among Muslims in the Middle East which is not possible at the present time due to the Shii-Sunni and the Persian-Arab division among Muslims. Moreover, different systems of governance in Islamic countries such as secular versus non-secular, republic versus monarchial impede Muslim unity. According to Linaburg (1992, 37), Iran 49

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cannot face successfully the superpowers and Israel as long as solidarity among Muslims is not fulfilled. Hashemi Rafsanjani 's words clearly support this proposition: The means of eradicating the Zionist regime and the establishment of another government to replace it in Palestine lie in massing all powers of the Islamic world, the foremost of which will be the capabilities the Islamic Republic of Iran, Syria and Algeria. (Ramazani 1986, 155) Second, according to Sobhani (l989, 149), Iran's arms purchases from Israel during the Iran-Iraq war might be an indication of tlexibility toward the question of Israel. Of course there is ongoing controversy among scholars regarding verification of arms purchases from Israel. Kazemi ( 1985, 92) argues that evidence proving these purchases is inconclusive. Bakhash (1990b, 123) states that Iran was not aware that it was purchasing arms indirectly from Israel; otherwise it would not have done so. He adds that, for example, lran returned one shipment of missiles because it bore Israeli markings. Regardless of this controversy, according to Sobhani (1989), arms deals suggest that Iran's unfriendly stance toward Israel could be changed some day leading to the resumption of relations. Third, according to Ramazani ( 1986, 160), human ties between people of Israel and Iran's Jewish community, "constituting of90,000 people" (Sobhani 1989, 143), might impact Iran's foreign policy toward Israel through their representation in Iran's parliament. 50

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Fourth, according to Ramazani (1986, 160), the lack of direct territorial conflict and the geographical distance between Iran and Israel could moderate Iran's stance toward Israel. Bakhash -(1990b, 122) also argues that-Iran does not pose a threat to Israel because it is not a neighboring country of Israel and geographically lies far from the center of the conflict. He further adds that aside from Lebanon, Iran has not committed significant material resources to the struggle against Israel. Fifth, after the end of the Iran-Iraq war, Iran needs Western technology and investment to reconstruct its shattered economy. Given Western support for Israel, Iran's unfriendly stance toward Israel would be costly in terms of its economic cooperation with the West. According to Hunter (1990), Iran's emphasis on the liberation of Palestine will adversely affect its projects of attracting the Western investment. In a nutshell, in terms of ideology, Iran's foreign policy is a potential threat to the security of Israel because Iran views the arab-Israeli dispute as an ideological conflict between Islam and Islam's enemies. Iran's stance toward Israel stems from its Islamic concept of authenticity which invites Muslims to return to Islam and to become united in order to achieve the glory of the past. In terms of practice, Iran's policy does not threaten the security of israel, for Iran is facing obstacles for the liberation of Palestine, the most important of which is lack of unity among Muslims. 51

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Oil The U.S. has not spared any effort to exert its control over Middle East oil. Access to cheap oil has been one of the principles guiding U.S. policy toward the region. To achieve this goal, the U.S. has always contained any move jeopardizing its control over oil. For example, in the 1950s, Iran's Prime Minister, Dr. Mohammad Musadeq attempted to nationalize the Anglo-Iranian oil concessions. This threatened one of the basic pillars of the existing structure, private enterprise and ownership and led to Dr. Musadeq's overthrow. In the 1960s, OPEC was established to create consensus among members on issues such as the exploration, production and pricing of oil. This collective body began to challenge oil companies first on the issue of prices and then on a number of related issues. During the Arab-Israeli war in 1973, OPEC oil ministers designated the U.S. as the principal hostile state because of its support for Israel and subjected it to a total embargo of crude oil. According to Amirahmadi (1993), in response to oil embargo in 1973, the U.S. led a crusade to bring OPEC under control with the creation of the International Energy Agency (lEA). Except France, all major oil-consuming nations in the West participated in this new agency. The agency's main task was to create a slllvlus of energy by a combination of several means including reduction in demand, development of new energy sources, and the engineering of an occasional oil glut. In retrospect, this policy has been successful. According to Amirahmadi (1993), "in 1985, demand 52

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for oil in the then non-Communist world was 5 percent lower than it was in 1973" (141). In addition to these strategies, the U.S. has also relied on its allies for the control of oil. The U.S. support for moderate political systems in the Middle East has served this goal. For example, the Saudi regime was protected and supported by the U.S. to ensure that its oil policies would best serve U.S. interests. This policy was pursued because from the U.S. perspective, ... any coup or revolution likely to put in power a group hostile to the U.S. or a party favoring state-run economies constituted an overt or covert threat to U.S. oil interest in the area" (Lenczowski 1984, 179). After the revolution, Iran adopted a new oil policy. It terminated the oil consortium's control of Iranian oil production, export and marketing. All these operations were transformed to the National Oil Company. Also all joint-venture oil companies including those active in exploration in various parts of the country were nationalized. Within OPEC, according to Amirahmadi ( 1990, 73), Iran defended a policy of limited production and increasing prices. In addition to this policy, Iran pursued a policy of broadening markets by utilizing spot sales as opposed to contract sales,. barter trade and government buyers. Since the Islamic Revolution, Iran in accordance with its Islamic concept of egalitarianism, has attempted to limit U.S. influence over the pricing of Middle East oil. U.S. influence over pricing has contributed to its economic and military 53

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power as well as its global leadership. Access to cheap Middle East oil is of vital importance to the United States. The U.S. administrations .have tried to keep the price of oil as low as possible. According to Suante Karlsson ( 1986), David _Winterford and Robert E. Looney (1994), the American-controlled world economic order is to a large extent built on the price of oil. Therefore, when the price of oil began to increase, U.S. hegemony began to be undermined. The price of oil is as important to the Middle East countries as it is to the U.S. and other Western countries. According to Bakhtiari (1993), all oil-rich countries are dependent on oil revenues for the implementation of their development plans. Therefore, any sudden downward change in the price of oil affects adversely the economy of the Middle East countries. For example, according to Ramazani (1990c, 137), Iran's first development plan aimed at an increase of about 5.5 percent in the GNP from 1989 to 1993. He further adds that this plan was based on the assumption that the country's oil income would be $63 million during the five year period, but the 1986 slump in oil prices ruined the plan. In the 1990s, not only Iran, but also other Middle Eastern countries, need to generate oil revenues to finance their national and regional aspirations. According to Winterford and Looney (1994, 168), Saudi Arabia has to pay back huge loans obtained from national ancl regional banks. Kuwaitis badly need the money to make up the losses from the war, "which cost it $65 billion and cut deeply into its assets of nearly $100 billion" (Winterford and Looney 1994, 168). 54

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Due to the dependence of all Middle East countries on oil revenues, sometimes arbitrary t1uctuations in the price of oil are used to control political and economic ambitions of regional countries. According to Winterford and Looney (1994), since intluencing the price of oil affects directly economic plans and military capabilities of the regional countries, it becomes a critical and enduring challenge to both regional and outside actors. One example of int1uencing the price of oil occurred during the Iran-Iraq war. According to Dilip Hiro (1993), during the war, Saudi Arabia and Kuwait depressed oil prices dramatically by t1ooding the market, thus severe! y curtailing Iran's economic ability to continue the war. Given the importance of oil revenues to post-revolution Iran, the control of the oil price became a top priority. According to Michael Youssef (1991), since the Arabs successfully used oil as a weapon in 1973, accordingly Islamic revivalism reviewed oi-l as a means to exert pressure on its adversaries. To this end, Iran's policy aimed to limit oil production and increase its price. Iran adopted this strategy to curb the intluence of outside actors on the pricing of oil. Although in 1973, the Arab Oil Embargo exerted considerable pressure on the West, in the 1990s, the adoption of such a strategy again is unlikely due to the dependency of the Middle East countries on revenues arising from oil. Therefore, the only option left for Muslims is to exert more control over the pricing of oil. 55

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Although the increase of oil price reduces U.S. economic and military influence in the Middle East, it might leave some adverse impacts on developing countries' economies. In response to the increase in oil revenues, OPEC member countries have created national, regional and multilateral funds for the purpose of channelling financial resources to other developing countries. According to Hassan M. Selim ( 1983), such financial tlows have been channelled either directly to individual countries or iridirectly through international organizations. Moreover, to alleviate the pressure on .the developing countries, the OPEC countries have . assisted the developing countries through funding their development plans. The total OPEC assistance for the developing countries over the 1973-83 period was more than $69 billion (Benamara and Ifeagwu 1987, 13). After the Islamic Revolution, the U.S. relied mostly on Saudi Arabia to moderate Iran's oil policies. With respect to the pricing of oil, Saudi Arabia has always tried to use its intluence in OPEC to reduce prices. In the aftermath of the Iranian Revolution, the price of oil reached the historic peak of slightly below $40 per barrel. By 1981, Saudi Arabia succeeded in imposing its will on the other OPEC members, forcing them to realign prices at the lowered Saudi scale. In an interview with NBC television on April 19, 1981, the then Saudi Oil Minister, Ahmad Zaki Yamani said that, "The current oil glut was engineered by his government to stabilize the world oil price" (Amirahmadi 1990, 72). It was following this policy that the Saudis found themselves in opposition to the other 56

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twelve members of OPEC during the Organization's sixteenth meeting in Geneva on May 25-7, 1981. According to Amirahmadi ( 1990), as a result of the Saudi policy, prices collapsed in February 1982. The Iranians became critical of the oil policies of Saudi Arabia. Saudi Arabia not only imposed its will on other members, but also cheated others in terms of production. For six months early in 1984, the Saudis produced 500 thousand barrels a day over their quota of 5 million barrels. Independent observers agreed with this assessment, charging that, "The Saudis have been among the main cheaters on their quotas" (Hornblower 1984, A4). Contrary to Saudi policy, Iran supported a rise in oil prices and tried to build a consensus on prices which would best serve the interests of all producing countries. Since the Middle East countries including Iran have been dependent on oil for their foreign currency, the price of oil plays a significant role in determining their capabilities for the implementation of their development projects. With the decline of oil prices, the economies of the region face serious problems. For this reason, Iran advocated the reduction of production to boost oil prices. Iran's position on oil price is elaborated by the former Iran's Oil Minister, Muhammad Gharazi. According to him, at most, "the price of oil should be set at $60 to $70 per barrel-presumably the price of substitute forms of energy such as coal-and at least, the price of oil should increase according to the rate of world int1ation" (Ramazani 1986, 209). 57

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But, in most part clue to the Saudi oil policies, the price of oil declined. In 1985, the Saudis introduced a new plan known as "netback" deals. Under the netback pricing arrangements, oil companies buying Saudi oil were guaranteed profits at the refining stage by indexing the crude oil price to the market value of products made from it. The netback mechanism, therefore, reduced the risk of the volatile oil market. According to Amirahmadi (1990), again as a result of this policy, oil prices declined from about $28 per barrel in mid-January to $10 per barrel by the first week of April 1986. The rationale for this policy from the Saudi point of view was that, in the long run, Saudi Arabia is the only country that can increase its production and benefit from the increase in demand that low prices would presumably bring about. Although all members to OPEC suffered from the Saudi policy, the government of Iran, Iraq, Libya and Algeria sustained a greater loss than others because all had major economic development plans which had required a high oil income. These plans were in each country for long-term political stability. In an interview with the Lebanon's weekly Al-Kifah Al-Arabi on February 24, 1986, Col. Gaddafi said that the oil war was "especially directed against Libya, Iran and Algeria" (Luciani 1989, 29). Iran felt the greatest impact because it was involved in a war and had inherited an economy highly dependent on oil revenue. 58

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Iran was perhaps fortunate that the oil price crash of 1986 was equally harmful to the American oil industry in Texas. Therefore, according to James A. Bill (1988), "Iran's and U.S.'s interests converged on this issue" (311). In the spring 1986, the then Vice President, George Bush, travelled to Saudi Arabia to plead with it to stop tlooding the market. Mr. Bush told the Saudis that, ... their overproduction, by driving down the price, was jeopardizing the American oil industry, in turn undermining the nation's economic strength and security" (Sciolino 1990, A5). The U.S.'s reaCtion to the Saudi's overproduction was aimed at saving the domestic industry. On the other occasions, the U.S. has encouraged Saudi Arabia to use its int1uence to reduce the price of oil. In addition to the Saudi factor, the U.S. has also taken advantage of its oil companies to manipulate the world oil market. For example, according to Karlsson ( 1986, 270), during the spring and summer of 1982, the international oil market was tlooded with 3-5 million barrels a day from international oil companies and emergency stocks in order to disrupt an already weak market, thereby creating competition between the OPEC countries for shrinking market. Such a tlooding of the oil market led OPEC "to reduce its official reference price from $34 to $29 per barrel" (Karlsson 1986, 272). The U.S. denies its intluence in the international oil market. U.S. 59

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officials argue that cheap oil does not serve U.S. interests. According to Feiler (1993, 261), U.S. officials raise three points to support their argument. First, the U.S. is participating in the petro-dollar based economic growth of the Middle East. Therefore, a decline in oil price would hurt U.S. investment in the area. Second, since the U.S. banks are the major creditors of the region, low oil prices would lead to the collapse of the U.S. banking system. Third, since the economic rivals of the U.S. (Western Europe and Japan) are more dependent on the Middle East oil, in terms of international trade, a low oil price would further weaken the U.S. economy vis-a-vis theirs. Tile verification of these points requires an investigation into economic statistics whicll is not within the scope of this study. However, recent research indicates that factors other than U.S. pressure have caused a decline in the oil price. Kuniholm (1984, 5), Michael G. Renner (1988,191-2), Amirahmadi (1990, 75-6), Winterford and Looney (1994, 151-2) identify three factors leading to a decline in oil prices. First,. "worldwide oil consumption was reduce? by 23 percent between 1979 and 1985" (Winterford and Looney 1994, 152). Second, the higher oil price level prevalent in the 1970s made production in various high-cost areas around the world competitive. As a result, according to Renner (1988, 192), oil output in the capitalist world outside OPEC rose from 16.8 mb/d in 1973 to 23.3 mb/d in 1983 and 24.1 mb/d in 1984. Third, Western governments expanded subsidies and promotional programs for oil substitutes. As a consequence, 60

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the relative prices of products such as gas, coal and nuclear energy declined while demand for them increased leading to expansion in their use and production. Winterforcl and Looney ( 1994, 152) raise another aspect which affected the price of oil. They argue that OPEC's failure to control its oil production led to a decline in the oil prices. For example, OPEC members cheated on quotas to increase their production causing a price break in late 1985 and early 1986. Renner (1988, 192) links the oil price decline to a rise of trading on spot and future markets. According to him, in 1979, merely 5 percent of the world's oil was sold on the spot market but by 1982-83, this share grew to 20-30 percent. Although these arguments are valid, they do not completely account for the prevailing mechanism for the pricing of oil. There are two pieces of evidence that support this argument. First, according to Quandt.( 1982), Saudi Arabia's moderation on the oil prices has on two occasions corresponded with the beginning of a new U.S. administration that had under review major Saudi arms requests. This was the case in 1977-78 when the Saudis sought approval of the sale of the F-15 jet fighter from President Carter, and it was also the case throughout 1981 when the Saudis were intent on purchasing the AWACS and the enhancement of the package for the F-15. According to Quandt (1982, 25), stable oil prices and high rates of production might be thought in Saudi Arabia to help ensure U.S. presidential support for controversial arms packages. Second, 61

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according to Gil Feiler ( 1993, 256), after the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait, the price of oil soared to $28.5 I, and $35.79 respectively in August 27 and September 28, 1990. Saudi Arabia began calling for an emergency OPEC conference aimed at increasing oil output to compensate for Iraqi and Kuwaiti crude oil being withheld from the world markets. The Saudi's aim was to lower the price of oil in world markets. Iran opposed any kind of production increase asserting that raising output was a big mistake by OPEC because this was the best opportunity to demand that industrial countries used their stockpiles. But the Saudis refused to permit crude oil prices to soar free! y. As a result of the Saudis' policy, oil prices began to decline even before the massive U .S.-led air strikes started against Iraqi military installations in Iraq and Kuwait on January 16, 1991. According to Feiler (1993, 255), the price of oil 'declined from $33.56 on October 5, 1990 to $23.86 on January 4, 1991. Such a decline was due to two policies: I) Saudi Arabia increased its output without some members' consent such as Iran, Iraq and Libya; and 2) according to Feiler ( 1993, 260), the lJ .S. sold 33.75 million barrels from its 585 million barrels strategic reserve as a measure additional to Saudi Arabia's production increase to bring the prices under control. Despite disagreements among the OPEC members, most notably Iran and Saudi Arabia, this organization has been relatively successful since 1990 in coordinating members' production levels and pricing. OPEC's meeting on July 27, 62

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1990 resulted in a consensus among all members which raised the oil price from $18 to $21 per barrel and tixed its production ceiling for all thirteen members at 22.5 million barrels a day (Ibrahim 1990, 1,30). Moreover, the foreign exchange needs of the post-war reconstruction have moderated Iran's behavior within OPEC. Iran has taken steps to change its pricing policy. The new pricing policy is based on cooperation with Saudi Arabia and other OPEC members. According to Amirahmadi (1993, 153), Iran's new policy focuses on the actual oil market and seeks a stable price rather than push for a higher unsustainable price in the past. In terms of ideology, Iran's policy toward oil is a threat to U.s. interests because it ultimately seeks to use oil as a weapon to eliminate U.S. hegemony in the region. Nevertheless, in terms of practice, Iran's policy is not a threat to U.S. interests, for since the cease-fire with Iraq, Iran has taken an accommodative approach within OPEC. Iran's accommodation with other OPEC members, particular! y Saudi Arabia, indicates two facts. First, the success of Iran's reconstruction plans depends on higher foreign exchange revenue which, under the present circumstances, can only be obtained through cooperation with the other OPEC members. Second. although Iran views the U.S. intluence as a factor depressing oil prices, it does not ignore the fact that market factors, such as a decrease in the world oil demand, the oil production increase in non-OPEC countries and the expansion of oil substitutes in the West, also play a 63

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part in the oil price elect ine. This chapter examined Iran's policies concerning three areas: the transformation of the status quo, Israel and oil. In each area, I covered al'guments supporting and opposing the contention that Iran's policies pose a threat to U.S. interests. Based on the material presented in this chapter, I conclude that Iran has propagated and spread its Islamic ideology through non-violent ways and means. Except for the Iranian-supported Hezbollah that had to resort to violent acts in order to defend itself against the military offensives of Israel in the south of Lebanon, allegations regarding Iran's involvement in violent acts are based on merely circumstantial evidence. As for Israel, although Muslim unity may be necessary to liberate Palestine, Iran has not postponed its struggle until solidarity among Muslims could be achieved. I ran has alreact y launched its struggle against Israel through extending support for Lebanon's Shii groups including Hezbollah. With regard to oil, since the end of the World War II, the U.S. has pursued objectives such as the free t1ow of oil and guaranteed access to cheap oil. To achieve these goals, the U.S., in addition to exerting its own intluence over the production and the pricing of oil, has retied on its allies, particular! y Saudi Arabia. Yet, the oil price decline has not been only the result of U.S. policy, market factors have also played a part in reducing the world oil price. 64

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CHAPTER FOUR CONCLUSION Attributing the existing tension between the U.S. and lran to cultural and historical differences alone would be too naive. lt would be misleading to ami.lyze problems of the present world in the context of outdated issues. The realities of the day are different from those of earlier times. The Middle East region has experienced both direct and indirect colonial rule. During the Cold War, the Middle East countries, like other developing countries, turned into a battle field between the superpowers. It was a Cold-War game in which each superpower tried to further expand its sphere of influence in order to change the balance of power in its own favor. The superpower rivalry was more tense in the Middle East in comparison to the other parts of the world. This was due to the Middle East oil resources and its strategically important location at the junction of three continents. The control of the Middle East, particularly its oil resources and its waterways that carry the bulk of the world oil consumption, could change dramatically the balance of power between superpowers. For this reason, after the end of World War II, the superpowers started competing with each other in exerting their intluence over the . Middle East. 65

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To counter Soviet expansionism, the U.S. pursued a three-pronged policy of the preservation of the status quo, support for Israel and access to cheap oil. According to U.S. policy-makers, every kind of reform in the political system of the Middle Eastern countries could be in the interest of Communism because the Soviets could fish in the troubled waters. This principle led to the establishment of authoritarian regimes which served U.S. interests, especially that of access to oil. Exerting int1unce on the Middle East was not an easy task. The region had a glorious past and was proud of being the birth place of three of most significant religions in the world. After the demise of Ottoman empire, Islam continued to affect the every day life of the people. Most of the Middle East countries did not abandon Islam's educational and legal systems. No less important, the link between religious institutions and the traditiona.l business community remained strong as before. This enabled religious institutions to mobilize the people against the ruling regimes for the purpose of limiting their power or resisting foreign influence. Given the political role of Islam in the Middle East, the U.S. realized that religious institutions were barriers to its expansion of influence in the region. This, in particular, applied to Iran where Shii activism proved to be resistant to foreign domination. Therefore, the U.S. devised starategies to reduce the power of the religous institutions and replace them with secular ones. In lran, the Pahlavi 66

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dynasty initiated the program of secularization which lasted unti II 1979. Such a program created resentment among the people because it was in contlict with their deep-rooted beliefs. The U.S. did not apply the same strategy to all countries of the Middle East. The secularization of the society reduced the power of religious institutions leading to U.S. full-tledged intluence in Iran. In other countries, especially in the littoral states of the Persian Gulf, support for the conservative Islam served U.S. interests because that version of Islam does not pose a serious challenge to U.S. in t1uence. In Iran, the program of secularization aimed at alienating the people from their indigenous culture providing the ground for foreign dominator. The more the program of secularization accelerated, the greater the gap between the Pahlavi dynasty and the people became. The resentment with the Shah's policies reached its apex in 1979 when the Islamic Revolution broke out. The revolution was a reaction to U.S. behavior toward Iran. The U.S., while ignoring Iran's deep-rooted Islamic culture, tried to expand its int1uence through replacing the Islamic culture with a secular one. In the aftermath of the Islamic Revolution in Iran, Islamic movements gained momentum in the other parts of the Middle East. Although Islamic revivalism has emerged as a force to resist foreign int1unce and revive the glory of the past, this should not imply that Islam, like Communism, is pursuing political 67

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and economic expansion. Rather its main objective is to improve the status of the Islamic countries from being a pawn in the hands of the big powers to becoming independent actors within the present international system. Islamic revivalism does not oppose normal relations with the other countries, but it want to change the terms on which the present relations are based. Following the Islamic Revolution, the relationship between the U.S. and Iran developed strains. Some scholars claimed that the incompatibility of Islam. with the Western democracy and pluralism is the main cause of the existing tensions. This viewpoint is not valid because, during the Cold War, and even in its aftermath, the U.S. has preferred stability to democracy in order to maintain its interests. The policy of preserving the status quo has brought to power repressive regimes that have served the regional interests of the United States. With the advent of the Islamic Revolution in Iran, U.S. foreign policy in the East faced a serious challenge. For the first time in the post-colonial history of the region, an Islamic government was established in Iran. The Islamic government made fundamental changes in Iran's foreign policy toward the region. Islamic concepts were the main motives for these changes. The concept of egalitarianism negates hierarchy among nations based on their economic and military capabilities. Instead, it attaches importance to virtue. In practical terms, this concept drives Iran's policy to resist foreign int1uence. The concept of 68

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centralism promotes political awareness and ultimately is aimed to bring about unity among Muslims. The concept of authenticity encourages Muslims to replace the previously adopted Western secular ideology with an Islamic one for solving their socio-economic problems, thus challenging the U.S. modei of development. Iran's post-revolution policy toward the Middle East runs counter to U.S. ColdWar objectives in the region. Iran pursues the transformation of the status quo through propagating its Islamic ideology. This contradicts the U.S. policy of preserving the status quo. As for Israel, Iran views the Arab-Israeli contlict as an ideological dispute between Islam and the West. Again this runs counter to the U.S. position which views the problem as a territorial dispute that could be settled by a "land for peace" formula. Regarding oil, Iran favors the elimination of foreign int1uence over the production and the pricing of oil. This is also in conflict with U.S. interests because U.S. control, or at least its int1uence over oil, has been a prerequisite to its global leadership. In terms of ideology, Iran's foreign policy poses a potential threat to U.S. interests because it presents a new form of Islamic ideology to the people of the Middle East. Given the strong Islamic background of the region, this new ideology may gain ground and replace the existing ideologies whether secular or non-secular, thus jeopardizing U.S. influence over the region. Furthermore, the spread of the new ideology might radicalize the position of the Middle East 69

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countries toward the U.S. and Israel. Such a radicalization is a threat to U.S. interests, particularly in terms of Israel. For this reason, since the Islamic Revolution, the U.S. has not spared any effort to contain the spread of Islamic revivalism to other parts of the Middle East. In terms of practice, Iran faces obstacles to the realization of its Islamic aspirations. These obstacles are unlikely to be overcome or removed in the near future. The obstacles to the transformation of the status quo inClude the Shii-Sunni divisions, the Persian-Arab disputes and the U.S. economic and military support for conservative Arab regimes. Moreover, after the Islamic Revolution, most of the Middle East regimes incorporated the Sharia into their legal and educational systems to gain legitimacy among the people and to prevent the outbreak of an Iranian style Islamic revolution. In view of these obstacles, Iran tends to rely on model-building as the only ways and means for transforming the status quo. However, the success of this choice depends on how the Iranian government is going to overcome its existing economic problems. The elimination of economic problems would help Iran serve as a model of development for the other Islamic countries. Yet, it is premature to conclude that Islamic revivalism has failed to resolve the socio-economic problems. I think any evaluation regarding the performance of Islamic revivalism should be made in a longer span of time. In addition to the factor of time, some other factors should be 70

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taken into cons.ideration. During the last tifteen years, Iran's economic performance has been under no normal circumstances. Iran has gone through an eight-year war with Iraq, has suffered from different sanctions and finally has been a host to one mill ion Afghani refugees. Regarding Israel, the lack of unity among Muslims impedes the liberation of Palestine. The barriers to the unity of the Muslims include secular versus non secular and republic versus monarchial regimes as well as U.S. influnce over the region. Nevertheless, Iran has launched its struggle against Israel through extending support for Hezbollah in Lebanon. Scholars presented anns purchases from Israel, cultural ties between Iran's Jewish community and the people of Israel and lack of direct territorial conflict as evidence indicating that Iran might temper its stance toward the question of Israel. This evidence is not convincing. The indirect arms purchases from Israel was an insignificant incident that occurred under unusual circumstances. Iran was under arms embargo and at the same time had to carry on the war with Iraq. The size of Iran's Jewish community is not significant enough in proportion to its Iran's total population to impact Iran's policy toward Israel. And while it is true that Iran and Israel do not have any direct territorial conflict and are far geographically from each other; nevertheless, Iran has used Lebanon as a platform for its anti-Israeli activities. Although Iran's attitude toward Israel might restrict its access to Western investment and 71

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technology and even might impact its relations with the Western countries, Iran's irreconcilable stance toward Israel during the last fifteen years suggests that liberation of Palestine will be a durable feature of Iran's foreign policy in the future. With regard. to oil, Iran's policy is aimed at exerting more intluence over the production and pricing of oil. Achieving this goal is not an easy task considering U.S. political, economic and military presence in the region. U.S .. hegemony depends on its control of oil for two reasons. First, one of the main pillars of the U.S.-devised World Economic Order is the control of oil prices. Any sudden change in the price of the oil could jeopardize the U.S. status as a world hegemon. Second, U.S. control of oil prices helps it check the political, military and developmental ambitions of all Middle Eastern countries, particularly the adversarial ones. ln addition to the U.S., market factors have also impacted the price of oil. Iran has abandoned its confrontational attitude within OPEC to neutralize the impact of market factors through the coordination of OPEC members policies, particularly in terms of the production ceiling and the price of oil. Based on the material presented in this thesis, I conclude that Iran's foreign policy, in terms of ideology, poses a potential threat to U.S. interests because it presents a new form of Islamic ideology in the region which could replace the 72

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existing ideologies in the long run. Nevertheless, in terms of practice, Iran's policy does not pose a threat to U.S. interests, for Iran faces obstacles for the realization of its objectives. Iran's ideological threat to U.S. interests might be reduced either by Iran attaching less signiticance to ideological considerations in the making of its foreign policy or by the U.S. adjusting its foreign policy to the new realities in the Middle East. During the Cold War, the U.S. pursued three objectives of preserving the status quo, supporting Israel and maintaining access to cheap oil. After the end of the Cold War, the continuation of such a policy does not serve U.S. interests any longer. The threat of Communism does not exist any more. The U.S. does not need to prefer stability to any kind of change to contain Soviet political and economic expansionism. Therefore, the U.S. can allow countries to try their own regionally-oriented models for solving the existing socio-economic problems without any major risk. In the post Cold-War milieu, the strategic importance of Israel as a bulwark against Communism is eroded. Given this fact, U.S. economic and military support for Israel is not consistent with the new environment. The former Soviet Union does not threaten the free tlow of Middle East oil to the West. Also low oil prices does not serve U.S. interests any more because low oil prices ruin the development plans of the oil-producing countries, thus sowing the seeds of 73

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instability. Moreover, the budget deficit arising from the low oil price will decrease the volume of trade between the U.S. and the Middle East countries. With regard to the status quo and oil, tension between the U.S. and Iran might be eliminated by either side making changes in its foreigri policy. Bu-t, this does not apply to Israel. On the one hand, given the U.S. special relationship with Israel, it is unlikely that the U.S. will abandon its policy of maintaining the security of Israel. On the other hand, Iran has set the liberation of Palestine as .one of its ideological goals. lf Iran Changes its policy toward Israel, it would definitely be an indication that less importance is attached to ideology in the making of Iran's policy toward the Middle East. If this happens the potential threat of Islamic revivalism to U.S. interests will be removed. The question of Israel would be resolved by either country making a major shift in its policy. Any major shift will be costly for either Iran or the United States. A major shift for Iran would involve abandoning its most important ideological goal. A major shift for the U ,S. would involve abandoning its regional interest in the security of Israel. It remains to be seen whether or not these shifts will be made by either country in the future. 74

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