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Iran - A Movement or a Country ?

The Iranian political system remains undecided as to whether the Islamic Republic is a political movement or a country. A century ago the Soviet Union faced a similar choice, with Stalin advocating building Socialism in one country, while Trotsky proposed exporting World Revolution.

The concept of exporting the Islamic Revolution derived from a particular worldview that perceives Islamic revolution as the means whereby Muslims and non-Muslims can liberate themselves from the oppression of tyrants who serve the interests of international imperialism. Both the United States and the Soviet Union were initially perceived as the two principal imperialist powers that exploit Third World countries. A renewed commitment to Islam, as the experience of Iran in overthrowing the shah demonstrated, permits oppressed nations to defeat imperialism. According to this perspective, by following Iran's example any country can free itself from imperialist domination.

Although the political elite agreed upon the desirability of exporting revolution, no unanimity existed on the means of achieving this goal. At one end of the spectrum is the view that propaganda efforts to teach Muslims about the Iranian example is the way to export revolution. Material assistance of any form is not necessary because oppressed people demonstrate their readiness for Islamic revolution by rising against dictatorial governments. Those who subscribe to this line of reasoning argue that Iranians received no external assistance in their Revolution but were successful as a result of their commitment to Islam. Furthermore, they cite Khomeini's often stated dictum that Iran has no intention of interfering in the internal affairs of other countries. This view is compatible with the maintenance of normal diplomatic relations between Iran and other countries.

At the opposite end of the spectrum is the view of Iran as the vanguard of a world revolutionary movement to liberate Muslim countries specifically, and other Third World countries generally, from imperialist subjugation. This activist perspective contends that the effective export of revolution must not be limited to propaganda efforts but must also include both financial and military assistance. Advocates of this view also cite Khomeini to justify their position and frequently quote his statements on the inevitability of the spread of Islamic revolution throughout the world.

Iran does not accept the two-state solution for Israel and the Palestinians. Iranian leaders have argued that Israel's existence is illegitimate, because it came about as a result of the destruction of Palestine. Iran continues to hold a vehement anti-Israel stance and President Ahmadinejad made several provocative statements including calling for Israel to be “wiped off the map”. Iran has been very critical of the Middle East Peace Process and groups undermining peace in the Middle East through violence draw material and political support from within Iran.

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Page last modified: 31-03-2017 19:43:39 ZULU