The Islamic Republic, whose survival nobody would have betted on, still lives on. No matter what John Bolton predicted last year – “the Islamic Republic will not last until its 40th birthday” – or what common sense suggested in the early days of the revolution, when very few people thought it would have lasted more than six months.
Of the many challenges that Iran has faced over the 40 years since the 1979 revolution that overthrew the Shah and established the Islamic Republic, one was dead on arrival: the impossible fight against time by the generation who fought the revolution. Four decades later, of that circle of combatant clergy fewer and fewer members are still alive and in power.
The establishment of official diplomatic relations between China and Iran dates back only to 1971. Nevertheless, the two countries share a web of economic and cultural interactions rooted in history, which finds in the ancient Silk Road its idealised apogee. A flourishing past, a shared sense of national humiliation, and the idea of a possible alternative world order frame the narrative that backs the Sino-Iranian axis.
As the anniversary of the 1979 revolution in Iran was approaching, the head of Iran’s international trade center, Mohammad Reza Sabzalipour, said that the impact of sanctions on Iran’s economy does not exceed 20 percent of the country’s problems, while 80 percent of problems are attributed to the mismanagement of President Hassan Rouhani’s consecutive governments. Sabzalipour’s response came after President Hassan Rouhani blamed US sanctions for the unprecedented pressure the economy is facing.
Who can speak about Iranian society without speaking for it? How can one engage in critical reflection on the Iranian revolution at forty, without claiming the right to force Iranians’ will into crystallized categories and fallacious lines of reasoning?
On 11 February 2019, the Islamic Republic will celebrate forty years of political life in Iran. It has been the first experience of a modern Islamic State in the world. In other words, the rise of the Islamic Republic in Iran could be seen as the first political experience in institutionalisation of political Islam.
Since the onset of the Islamic Revolution of 1978-9 the Iranian foreign policy motto has been “Neither East, nor West, Islamic Republic”. But one has to consider that Iran has always been more East than West by both necessity and design. Faced with the economic consequences of Western containment, Iran put aside its historic rivalry with Russia, and included it in its Look East policy – referring to China, Russia and India.
Engagement and constructive dialogue, albeit conditional, are the leitmotif that have driven the European strategy towards Iran for the past three decades. While this is likely to continue being the case, the fear of being back to the future, in a situation in which such approach yielded limited results, might lead to a new and different stage in the EU-Iran relations moving forwards.
Non c’è nulla di nuovo nella decisione israeliana di colpire obiettivi militari iraniani in territorio siriano. Ciò che è realmente inedito è la decisione di dichiararlo apertamente tramite una comunicazione ufficiale. Le forze armate israeliane abbandonano dunque la tradizionale opacità – fino ad oggi, dopo ogni strike si erano limitate a non confermare né negare l’accaduto – e portano lo scontro con l’Iran in Siria su un livello superiore.
Le divisioni in Medio Oriente sono pane quotidiano. Lo sono all’interno degli Stati, tra etnie o comunità religiose diverse; lo sono fra Stati, tra blocchi contrapposti, allineati dietro bandiere religioso-ideologiche che di solito servono a celare i più classici conflitti di potere. Dal secondo dopoguerra in poi ne abbiamo viste diverse varianti. C’erano una volta i Paesi del Patto di Baghdad, allineati con l’Occidente, e i regimi panarabi allineati con l’Unione Sovietica.