Free Headline Alerts     
Worldwide Web


Friday, February 5, 2010     INTELLIGENCE BRIEFING

February 11, 1979: The day modern Iran was hurled into the Dark Ages

By Sheda Vasseghi

For centuries, Iran has been a center of struggle between opposing ideologies and ways of life. Now, in the twenty-first century, it will be a decisive battleground for progress versus calamity.

Thirty years of Islamic theocracy presents not only Iranians but the international community with a historical turning point and the opportunity shadowed by responsibility to make the right decision or be held accountable for its ramifications.   

In the 1970s, the Shah and a secular, wealthy Iran were the balancing tools in the volatile Middle East. The Shah's regime was not without its faults and far from perfect. But his progressive vision and invaluable geopolitical knowledge were sought by foreign policymakers, who had realized Iran was following the path of its ancestors credited with championing tolerance, diplomacy, and the first known bill of rights.

Examples abound: during a meeting on July 27, 1973, Henry Kissinger and other diplomats asked for the Shah's advice on the role of oil and international affairs, the Egyptian-Israel problem, the Pakistan-Indian conflict, the Kurds and the Baath Party in Iraq as well as his views on the newly-designed F-14 jets. [Memorandum of Conversation, transcribed by H. H. Saunders, The White House, Washington, DC, July 27, 1973, 5:00 p.m., 14 pages.] In hindsight, the late Shah was a 20th century renaissance man.

Also In This Edition

On Feb. 1, 1979, Ruhollah Khomeini, a virtually forgotten cleric exiled for his involvement with radical Islamism and anti-modern extremism, returned to Iran as the leader of an "Islamic" revolution. This sudden twist of fate would have been impossible without moral and financial support from (1) Islamist and communist opposition groups, (2) disgruntled, selfish political activists who lost power in the 1950s, and (3) misguided foreign leaders fearful of U.S.S.R.'s expansionism and a perceived threat by an Iran on its way to supersonic modernization.

With the arrival of Khomeini in Iran on Feb. 1, 1979, and the creation of a Council of the Islamic Revolution a few days later, it was clear that the revolutionary party in power was the Islamists. Unfortunately, the extent of violence exhibited by this party and its degree of backwardness were unknown to many Iranians, who were either unaware, naïve, or in denial. The international world to its detriment was clueless to the impact of an "Islamic" Iran on humanity.

Despite the Shah's departure and Khomeini's arrival, the success of the Islamic Revolution was not realized nor would have been possible without the support of the Iranian armed forces. The Imperial Iranian Armed Forces were loyal to the Shah. According to former Iranian diplomat, Dr. Assad Homayoun, Khomeini's departure from Paris to Tehran was postponed for fear of possible military action. Khomeini's advisors sought assurances from the Carter Administration to do everything possible to prevent a potential military coup. Later in Tehran, Khomeini and his religious team were fearful of the armed forces and in a constant state of panic. On Feb. 10, 1979, without a commander-in-chief and with mixed signals from foreign diplomats the confused Iranian armed forces mutinied and announced their neutrality. Tragically, by noon on Feb. 11, the nation was handed over to Khomeini and his followers. [Homayoun, A., "Iran: Into Harm's Way," Global Affairs, New York, NY, 1987, 177-83.]

Feb. 11, 1979, marks the day the nation was hurled into the Dark Ages as witnessed by the backwards and prejudicial Islamic Republic Constitution. Since then the world has seen an alarming spread of terrorism funded and supported by the rogue mullahcracy in Tehran — Khomeini's legacy to history. The reign of terror that followed spared no one. Mass executions ordered by revolutionary tribunal courts condemned tens of thousands of Iranian intellectuals, political and military elites, and nationalists. The Islamic Constitution abolished the people's civil rights especially for women and minorities. The mullahs' squandering and money laundering has ruined the nation's wealth and economy. Recent rumors of impending bankruptcies hovering over Iran's banks have caused mobs across the nation to gather at local banks demanding cash withdrawals. To the embarrassment of an ancient and proud nation, the mullahs support terrorism and jihadists. The regime has alienated former allies such as U.S. and other Western nations as well as Israel and neighboring countries. The incompetency of the Islamic Republic threatens the unity and security of Iranians.

Despite the regime's propaganda, the majority of Iranians did not want a barbaric, theocratic revolution out of touch with modern realities. For three decades, Iranians have paid a hefty price by having lost their civil rights, having endured a bloody war with Iraq, and having faced imprisonments and public executions at the hands of the regime. Since 1979, millions of Iranians have fled the country taking not only their wealth and labor, but talents and education which no country can afford to lose. In the past 30 years, freedom-loving Iranians have been opposing the regime, but a unified, nationalist movement had not been achieved and successfully broadcasted until June 2009 following the bogus presidential elections. Contrary to the predictions of some political analysts and foreign policymakers, the national revolution which began last June has sustained and continues to pick up momentum. Technology has captured and continues to record these images for those, who knowingly or unknowingly, deny the existence of this struggle of ideologies.

Feb. 11 is the anniversary of that gloomy day in 1979 when Iranian loyalists and misguided foreign policymakers did not make the right decision. In Iranian calendar, "22 Bahman" equates to Feb. 11. Interestingly, "Bahman" is an ancient Zoroastrian concept meaning "good mind" or "good purpose."

Hopefully, this Feb. 11 or "22 Bahman," the nationalist Iranian armed forces will make the right decision in supporting and protecting the people against an illegitimate government. And the U.S. administration will make the right choice in standing with the people of Iran in their endeavor to win this struggle.

Sheda Vasseghi is a regular contributor on Iran's affairs. She is on the Board of Azadegan Foundation and a member of


Once again Ms. Vasseghi has eloquently drawn attention to a key moment in Iranian history. Her grasp and insight regarding Iranian issues is extraordinary. I hope things will begin to change for the better for the people of Iran.

Jay F.      10:58 a.m. / Friday, February 5, 2010

About Us     l    Contact Us     l     l
Copyright © 2010    East West Services, Inc.    All rights reserved.