Shaul Bakhash is Robinson Professor of History at George Mason University and the author of The Reign of the Ayatollahs: Iran and the Islamic Revolution. (September 2005)

Letter from Evin Prison

The Iranian journalist Akbar Ganji was arrested in Tehran in April 2000 and, after a series of trials, was sentenced to six years in prison for his political writings, for allegedly spreading propaganda against the Islamic Republic, and for collecting confidential information harmful to national security. By now he has …

The Eyptian Gamble

Michael Doran’s book on the shaping of Egypt’s foreign policy concentrates on the brief but eventful four-year period between the end of World War II and the Arab-Israeli war of 1948. Yet the book, he notes, “is haunted by the specter of Gamal Abd al-Nasser.” For a decade and a …

Iran’s Unlikely President

Mohammad Khatami became Iran’s new president in May 1997, winning a surprising victory over a more traditional candidate favored by the clerical establishment. Khatami attracted voters with a campaign in which he emphasized the need to strengthen the rule of law and the institutions of civil society, and to protect …

Letter from an Iranian Prisoner

INTRODUCTION Shaul Bakhash In a letter composed shortly before his arrest on January 27 by agents of Iran’s Ministry of Intelligence, or state security, Faraj Sarkuhi, the Iranian writer and editor of the literary journal Adineh, writes: “I await imminent arrest or an incident whereby I will be murdered and …

Prisoners of the Ayatollah

Ehsan Naraghi, an Iranian, and Roger Cooper, an Englishman, both served time in Khomeini’s prisons, Naraghi for nearly three years and Cooper for over five. Naraghi is a prominent intellectual and sociologist who has written widely on Iranian and third world social and cultural issues. Cooper lived and worked in …

Intimate Enemies

Islam and Christianity, Bernard Lewis writes in his new book, have been called “sister religions,” because of their shared Judaic, Hellenistic, and Middle Eastern heritage. Yet throughout thirteen centuries they have most often been in combat. They were both “old acquaintances” and “intimate enemies, whose continuing conflict derived a special …

Secrets of the Shah’s Court

In 1975 Asadollah Alam, the minister of the imperial court and an intimate of the Shah of Iran, noted in his diary that Iran was everywhere triumphant. Oil revenues were pouring in. The economy was booming. The Shah was firmly in control. The powerful industrial states, from Germany to Japan, …

In Search of the Arab Soul

To write a history of the Arabs as distinct from that of the other peoples with whom their affairs have been inextricably entwined is no easy matter. Since the seventh century and the advent of Islam, when the Arabs emerged from the Arabian Peninsula to conquer an empire in the …

How Saddam Is Dividing the Arab World

When Saddam Hussein invaded Kuwait on August 2, he cynically did so in the name of Arabism and of all “zealous Arabs who believe the Arab nation is one nation.” He justified his grab for Kuwait’s oil resources and financial assets as a means of restoring “Arab” wealth to its …

The Survivor

In the upheaval in Arab alliances brought about by the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait, none has been more striking than the decision of Syria’s leader, Hafiz al-Asad, to throw in his lot with Saudi Arabia, Egypt, and the conservative Arab states. If the “radical” Asad has ended up in the …

What Khomeini Did

Millions of frenzied Iranians greeted Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini when he returned in triumph to Iran in February 1979 to claim the leadership of the revolution he had set in motion. Frenzied millions mourned his passing last month, snatching at the shroud covering him in order to have a shred, a …

The Flying Dutchman

On January 16, 1979, with Iran exploding in riot and revolution, the Shah left his country never to return. He had a standing invitation from the American government to live out his exile in the United States. But he was bitter at the US for failing adequately to support him …

Islam and Power Politics

After the arrest and trial of the members of the al-Jihad group who plotted and carried out the assassination of Egypt’s president, Anwar Sadat, in October 1981, Egyptian journals became the forum for an informal debate between the men in the dock in a Cairo courtroom and leading members of …

The Riddle of Terrorism

The issue of terrorism, Walter Laqueur remarks, attracts an inordinate amount of attention in the US. Compared to the major problems of our time, such as global debt and third world hunger, terrorism, he writes, has been “a side-show.” It has directly affected the lives of only a handful of …

Iran and the Americans

In the fall of 1985, R.K. Ramazani, a historian at the University of Virginia, urged in an article in Foreign Policy that the United States “bury the hatchet” with Iran and seek a reconciliation with the Islamic Republic. He emphasized, of course, the strategic importance of improving relations with a …

Reign of Terror

Considered as a book, Terrorism: How the West Can Win is something of a mishmash. Thirty-eight brief essays (some only two or three pages long) by thirty-eight different contributors do not provide the ideal setting for a sustained argument on the problem of terrorism and ways of combating it. Nor …

A Big Bungle

The recent debate over American policy toward the Marcos regime in the Philippines echoes the earlier debate over American policy toward the crumbling regime of the Shah of Iran in 1978 and 1979. There are important and generally overlooked differences in the two situations; but there are also striking parallels.

The Outcasts of Iran

In a recent essay entitled, “Confronting Cultural Suicide,”[^1] published while in exile in Paris, the Iranian novelist and playwright Gholam-Hosain Saedi argues that the regime in Iran seems intent on doing more than snuffing out the lives and liberties of its citizens. In view of its demonstrated hostility to literature, …

The Revolution Against Itself

When Abol-Hassan Bani-Sadr, the first president of Iran’s Islamic Republic, and Massoud Rajavi, the leader of the Mojahedin-e Khalq guerrilla organization, fled Iran in July 1981 and arrived in Paris to establish their National Resistance Council and a government in exile, both men believed the fall of Ayatollah Khomeini to …

Fall and Decline

Revolution, like death, seems to concentrate the mind wonderfully—at least the minds of publishers. Since the Iranian upheaval, both commercial and university presses have run off a spate of books on Iran, a country not previously the object of much publishing attention. In a short time, we have had at …

Who Lost Iran?

In the spring of 1980, Michael Ledeen and William Lewis published an article in the Washington Quarterly describing the attempt of the Carter administration, in the second half of 1978 and early 1979, to work out a policy to deal with the rising revolutionary tide in Iran. They have now …

Why the War Will Get Worse

On September 17, the Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein Takriti unilaterally abrogated the Iran-Iraq frontier agreement of 1975. Claiming that he was asserting Iraq’s territorial claims, he sent his troops across the frontier to seize Iranian territory and his bombers to strike at Iranian airfields. While frontier questions are of course …

The Iranian Revolution

The history of the Iranian revolution has been a history of misperceptions. The Shah was thought to run a tightly controlled autocracy and to command the most powerful military machine in the Persian Gulf region. Yet it required no more than thirteen months of largely peaceful demonstrations, Xeroxed leaflets, and …