Islamic Republic between Repression and Opening

On July 28, 1989, Rafsandjani was elected President (re-election 1993, also head of government). He pursued a cautious economic and foreign policy opening, criticized by the radical Islamic forces, but stuck to the repressive policy against the politico-religious opposition. Due to the lack of domestic political liberalization (including strict censorship) and the persistently poor economic situation, there have been repeated anti-government rallies and bloody clashes with the security forces since 1991. Persistent international criticism (including UN resolution 1992) was directed by v. a. against mass executions, torture, the stoning of women and the persecution of religious minorities, among others. the Baha’i.

In 1997, according to aceinland, the moderate S. M. Khatami elected President (re-election 2001). Its attempt at further internal political liberalization and rapprochement with the West met with fierce resistance, especially from the conservative clergy: several intellectuals critical of the system were murdered in November / December 1998. In July 1999, demonstrations by reform-minded students in Tehran were suppressed (around 1,400 arrests). In the parliamentary elections on February 18 and on 5.5.2000 the reform forces won, as their stronghold v. a. Tehran proved to have an absolute majority in parliament, but they saw increasingly limited in their effectiveness. In the parliamentary elections on February 20, 2004, which was accompanied by international criticism (exclusion of more than 2,000 reform-oriented candidates by the Guardian Council), the conservative forces achieved an absolute majority.

During the 2nd  Gulf War (January / February 1991) Iran remained neutral. In the course of the suppression of the Kurdish and Shiite uprising in Iraq, over 1 million people fled to Iran. In 1992, however, Iran, Iraq and Syria reaffirmed their intention to prevent an independent Kurdish state: In 1991 and 1992, Turkish troops invaded Iran to seek out bases of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) attack. In the inner-Kurdish conflicts in Iraq, Iran supported the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK). After the Iraqi defeat in the 2nd Gulf War, Iran increasingly sought a leading role in the Persian Gulf, armed itself and competed with Turkey for influence in the Central Asian republics of the former Soviet Union, which had become independent in 1991.

In 1991, the United States resumed the oil imports from Iran that had been suspended in 1987. Nevertheless, an American embargo against Iran came into force in 1995 (extended in 2001), which the USA justified with Iran’s support for international terrorism. However, the US took up an offer for dialogue made by President Khatami and in 1999 eased its sanctions. In addition, Iran intensified diplomatic contacts with the Arab states (1999 first presidential visit to Saudi Arabiasince 1979). It could also be his v. a. Due to the judgment in the Mykonos Trial (1997), strained relations with the EU, especially with Germany, will improve significantly.

Iran sharply condemned the terrorist attacks in the USA on September 11, 2001, but turned against international military action in Afghanistan. The allegation made by the US government on Iran of being a major promoter of terrorism sparked violent protests in the country. In 2002 the EU negotiated a trade and cooperation agreement with Iran, accompanied by a separate agreement on political and human rights dialogue. During the Iraq War (3rd Gulf War) in March / April 2003, Iran remained neutral.

Surprisingly, in the second round of the 2005 presidential elections on June 24th. the ultra-conservative mayor of Tehran M. Ahmadinejad against the former president Rafsandjani, who was also running as president (took office as president on August 3, 2005).

Based on the poorer sections of the population in the cities and provinces to which he, inter alia. Assured a fairer distribution of oil revenues, and taking advantage of the disagreement of the opposition, Ahmadinejad took action against the cautious attempts at liberalization and reform, which had recently almost come to a standstill, by filling the political and economic switching points with his supporters and expanding the role of the religious militias. In addition, he tried to emancipate himself from the established clergy with his popular religiosity.

From the parliamentary elections of 14.3. On April 25th, 2008 the Conservatives emerged stronger. However, the Guardian Council and the Ministry of the Interior rejected around 2,100 applicants. But the election result was seen as a setback for President Ahmadinejad, as his opponents had made up ground from the pragmatic-conservative camp.

In addition to the incumbent, the Guardian Council admitted three further candidates to the presidential elections in May 2009 , in which Ahmadinejad officially received 62.6% and the former Prime Minister Mousavi 33.8% of the vote. Mousavi received particular support in large cities. Ahmadinejad was sworn in again as president. Hundreds of thousands supported Mousavi in protests against election rigging . The regime reacted by banning demonstrations, violence and mass arrests, switching off the cellular network and blocking the Internet. Clashes between demonstrators and security forces resulted in numerous deaths. After the death of the most senior Iranian cleric, Grand Ayatollah Husain Ali Montazeri , on December 19, 2009, there were again anti-government demonstrations. The regime had targeted members of the opposition arrested, tightened the surveillance and censorship of electronic data traffic and banned Iranians from contact with foreign media and human rights organizations. Only a few supporters of the president prevailed in the parliamentary elections on 2.3./4.5.2012. Critics of the regime and most reformers boycotted the election. Opposite revolutionary leaders Khamenei lost further ground to Ahmadinejad. On March 14th, 2012 the President v. a. even justify before parliament because of its unsuccessful economic policy.

In the presidential elections on June 15, 2013, the moderate candidate H. Rohani , who had distanced himself from Ahmadinejad’s policies, was surprisingly able to prevail over five conservative competitors. On Rohani accounted for approx. 50.7% of the vote. He took up his post on August 3, 2013. In the run-up to the elections, the Guardian Council refused to allow thousands of reform-minded candidates to participate. President Rohani was confirmed by the population on 05.19.2017 with approx. 57.1% of the votes in office.

A demonstration against the poor economic and social situation and the Iranian foreign policy on 12/27/2017 in Mashhad sparked nationwide protest rallies, which were directed against the political and religious leadership. Numerous people were killed in the process. Hundreds of demonstrators were arrested by the security forces. There were also criminal trials against representatives of the reform camp and Iranians with dual citizenship in 2017/18. On the other hand, criminal laws for minor drug offenses have been softened; until then the death penalty was often imposed.

During the civil war in Syria, Iran became an important pillar of the Assad regime. At its side, militias under Iranian leadership intervened decisively in the fighting. The strengthening of the Islamic State terrorist group briefly led Iran to cautiously move closer to Western states. Against the background of the Shiite-Sunni antagonism and the conflicts in Yemen and Syria, however, relations with the competing regional power Saudi Arabia remained tense (3 March 2016, diplomatic relations were broken off). In 2017, Iran initiated peace talks for Syria together with Russia and Turkey.

Islamic Republic between Repression and Opening

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