by Tahir Mustafa (News & Analysis, Crescent International Vol. 53, No. 12, Rajab, 1445)
February 2024 marks 45 years of the Islamic revolution in Iran. The people of Iran as well as their friends worldwide celebrate this event with great fervor. Why is the Islamic revolution important and what impact it has had on global politics? To answer these questions, one must first analyze the contemporary world order.
This will be addressed but we must understand that most political events leave only a temporary impact on global affairs. This is because too many events of limited significance occur simultaneously: some are natural, like floods, earthquakes and famines. Others are man-made.
War immediately comes to mind. It also causes a host of other problems: death, destruction, dislocation of people and famine. There are, however, other events that bring about radical changes in society.
The Islamic revolution in Iran is one such phenomenon whose impact has not been properly analyzed. This is because of the immense hostility and negative propaganda it evoked among the imperialists and zionists. The reason is that unlike earlier freedom movements that merely transferred power from European colonialists to their puppets in local societies, the Islamic revolution resulted in profound change in society.
The contemporary world order was imposed after the Second World War. This devastating war resulted in more than 60 million deaths, 25 million in the Soviet Union alone. It destroyed much of Europe. The colonial powers—Britain, France, Germany, Spain, the Netherlands, Italy and even tiny Belgium—were left exhausted. The only power that emerged largely intact was the US because it was separated from the theatre of war by the Atlantic Ocean.
The European powers had to shed their colonial possessions in Asia and Africa because it was no longer feasible to keep them under control. In the 1950s and 1960s, a host of countries emerged from the bowels of colonialism. While they claimed to be independent, it was merely a label.
The newly-emergent independent states were still dependent on the departing (or not so departing) colonial masters. They spoke the colonial master’s language, maintained their dress, laws, bureaucracy, educational system and other features of colonial rule. In the words of Lord Macaulay, they were “perfect Brown Englishmen”.
The only change that occurred in these countries was that they went from the control of European colonialists into the arms of Uncle Sam, who turned out to be even more ruthless in his exploitation of their resources. The string of US military bases around the Persian Gulf and West Asia region provides ample proof America’s greedy nature.
It could be pointed out that the Soviet Union pursued a different path to that of the collective west led by the US. This is true but Communist ideology was also a product of western political thought. Thus, there emerged two poles from the same root around which various countries congregated.
What was and is unique about the Islamic revolution in Iran is that it broke loose from the stranglehold of western hegemonic order. It also did not rush to join the Soviet-led bloc as happened with many other states. Iran returned to its roots: Islam. This is what aroused so much hostility among all the powers: western and eastern.
Soon after the victory of the Islamic revolution in Iran, Imam Khomeini made two pronouncements that shook the world profoundly. First, that Muslims must unite to liberate Al-Quds (Jerusalem) where al-Masjid al-Aqsa, the first qibla of the Muslims is located. Second, that the Islamic revolution must be exported to other countries.
The first announcement was seen as a direct challenge to the zionist-colonial settler entity, and the second to the illegitimate regimes on the western shores of the Persian Gulf. The idea of exporting the revolution was misunderstood by these regimes. They thought Iran’s revolutionary forces would flood across the borders and take over their shaky kingdoms. That is not what was meant as we have seen in the last 45 years. Export of the revolution meant the idea being exported and being adopted by people in their own societies.
The Arabian regimes, backed by imperialist powers, launched a devastating war against the Islamic Republic in September 1980. It was led by the Ba‘athist regime of Saddam Husain but had the support of the entire world. Its aim was to bring down the Islamic Republic. Soon thereafter, the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) was cobbled together (May 1981), at the behest of the west and with the specific aim of destroying the Islamic Republic through economic warfare.
For eight years, the Islamic Republic and its revolutionary leadership and people withstood the international onslaught singlehandedly. Through immense sacrifices, they protected every inch of their territory and defended the revolution. Their sacred defence has instilled such fear in their enemies that they had dare not invade Islamic Iran with ground forces again.
Let us address the issue of the export of Islamic revolution. Its first stirrings were noticed in an unlikely place: Lebanon, where the Hizbullah movement emerged to confront the zionist occupiers. From October 1983 to May 2000, the Hizbullah revolutionaries confronted the zionist occupiers and drove them to what is referred to as the ‘international border’. Then in the summer of 2006, the zionists were delivered another crushing defeat sending them scurrying to seek protection behind the United Nations Protection Forces. Today, the zionists occupy Sheba Farms that will also soon be liberated from their clutches.
Iran’s revolutionary ideas were then exported to Palestine where Hamas and Palestine Islamic Jihad emerged to confront the zionist occupiers. The resistance in Gaza is the direct result of the spread of revolutionary ideas from Iran. Even many Israeli commentators admit that Israel has lost militarily against Hamas and Islamic Jihad. In frustration, Israel has killed tens of thousands of innocent Palestinian civilians.
There are two other locales where Iran’s revolutionary ideas have spread: Iraq and Yemen. In Syria, Iran’s Revolutionary Guards have played a crucial role in preventing the collapse of the government in Damascus that has faced a US-zionist-Saudi-backed conspiracy for more than 12 years.
Iran’s revolutionary ideas have even spread to South America, to the very backyard of the US. For more than century, the US had maintained South America as its exclusive sphere of influence to exploit its resources. No more. Several countries, among them Venezuela, Nicaragua and Bolivia have broken out of the stranglehold of US hegemony and are charting an independent course. This would not have been possible without Iran’s active cooperation.
The eclipse and impending demise of the US-led unipolar world order is the direct result of the spread of Iran’s revolutionary ideas. What this indicates is that when there is muttaqi (sincere) leadership, and determination underpinned by Islamic principles of justice and fairness, then there is no reason why small numbers of people cannot defeat heavily-armed bullying powers.