Thirty Years Of Iranian Revolution

. 2/14/09

Thirty years ago, millions of Iranians flocked to the streets, defying the Shah's strict security measures. The self-proclaimed modernizer ignored the opposition for decades, causing much anger and frustration among different political factions. But his fatal mistake was alienating the powerful religious institution.

The battle between Reza Shah, an Ataturk-like autocrat, and the clerics, spearheaded by Khomeini, ended in the Shah's defeat after the masses had made their choice. The years of imprisonment and exile did not succeed in deflating the charisma of the Grand Ayatollah, who returned triumphant on February 1, 1979.

Realizing the ambitions of thinkers like the Iran-born, French-educated sociologist Ali Shariati, Khomeini brought Shiite Islam and Islamic jurists to power in Iran in 1979. And the same man, whose return was surrounded by an aura of holiness in Iran, bringing soft murmurs of rejoice about the return of the Occulted Imam, was — and is still — demonized by the West.

Timeline of Iran
The history of Iran — one of the oldest civilizations on earth — is an interesting subject that few of us know enough about. Here we offer our readers a chronology of major events in Iranian history:

3rd millennium BC Iran's first settlements are established in Elam, the region known today as Khuzestan.

7th century BC King Achemenes creates the first Persian Empire, that of the Achaemenids.

333 BC Alexander the Great defeats Greeks, Egyptians and Persians at Issus.

224-651 AD Sassanid dynasty rules Persia with Zoroastrianism being the dominant religion.

637 AD Arabs defeat Sassanids in Qadisyya and most of Persia becomes part of the Islamic Empire.

1051 Seljuk Turks capture Isfahan.

1220 Mongols invade Persia. 1501Shah Islamil, the first Safavid ruler, declares himself shah and declares Shiism to be the official religion of the state.

1639 The Treaty of Qasr-e Shirin (or Treaty of Zuhab) is signed, ending around 150 years of war against the Ottoman Empire.

1907 Under popular pressure, the Qajars are forced to introduce a constitution that limits the powers of the ruler.

1921 Reza Khan, a colonel in the Cossack Brigade, led his men into Tehran.

1925 Reza Khan crowned Reza Shah Pahlavi and Mohammad Reza, the Shah's eldest son, is proclaimed Crown Prince.

1935 Reza Shah changes the name of the country to Iran, a word that is derived directly from Aryan (meaning "of noble origin").

1936 Iran officially bans the wearing of the veil.

1941 Under pressure from the Allies, Reza Shah abdicates in favor of his son in an attempt to preserve the Pahlavi dynasty.

1944 Reza Shah dies in exile.

1946 Employing the military, Muhammad Reza crushes the Azerbaijan autonomy movement.

1951 In 1951, the nationalist Prime Minister Muhammad Mosaddeq was removed in a coup organized by the British and US intelligence services. Parliament votes to nationalize the oil industry, which is dominated by the British-owned Anglo-Iranian Oil Company and invites Muhammad Mossadeq to become Prime Minister.

1953 The nationalist Prime Minister Muhammad Mossadeq is removed in a coup organized by the British and American intelligence services.

1963 The Shah, who is increasingly dependent on the secret police (SAVAK), introduces a modernization and Westernization program.

1964 Khomeini — one of the opposition leaders — is exiled to Turkey.

1965 Khomeini is deported to Iraq.

1978 September In response to the demonstrations against the Shah, martial law is imposed.OctoberKhomeini is forced to leave Iraq for France.

1979 January Fearing the growing popular anger, the Shah and his family flee the country.

1979 February Ayatollah Khomeini, returns triumphant to Iran after 15 years of exile.

1979 April Following a referendum, the Islamic Republic of Iran is proclaimed.November A number of Iranian students take a group of Americans hostages inside the US embassy in Tehran in what is known as the Iran hostage crisis.

1980 July The exiled Shah dies in Egypt.September Iran-Iraq war starts.

1981 The US hostages are released.

1988 Following negotiations in Geneva, Iran and Iraq accept a ceasefire agreement.

1989 June Ayatollah Khomeini dies and Ayatollah Khamenei assumes his position as supreme leader.

1989 August Ali Akbar Hashemi-Rafsanjani becomes the new president.

1993 Rafsanjani is reelected. Reza Khan broke with tradition by appropriating for the monarchy the ancient Iranian royal title shahanshah (King of Kings).

1995 Oil and trade sanctions are enforced on Iran by the United States over its alleged funding of terrorism.

1997 The reform-minded Mohammad Khatami wins the presidential election in a landslide.

2000 Khatami's allies win the Majlis elections, extorting control of parliament from conservatives.

2001 President Khatami is re-elected.

2002 January In his State of the Union speech, President George W. Bush describes Iraq, Iran, and North Korea as an "axis of evil".September Russians start constructing Iran's first nuclear reactor at Bushehr.

2003 October Shirin Ebadi wins the Nobel Peace Prize, becoming Iran's first Nobel Prize winner. December An earthquake kills around 40,000 people in south-east Iran.

2004 Conservatives win parliamentary elections.

2005 Tehran's former mayor, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, wins presidential elections, beating former president Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani.

2006 UN Security Council enforces sanctions on Iran's trade in sensitive nuclear materials.

2007 March Iran detains 15 British sailors and marines in Shatt Al-Arab, causing a diplomatic crisis. June Violence erupts as a result of the government's decision to impose petrol rationing.

Cleveland, William L. A History of the Modern Middle East. Colorado: Westview Press, 2000.
Iran. London: Lonely Planet Guidebooks, 2004.
Key events in Iran since 1921.
The Online News Hour.
Timeline: Iran. BBC News.

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