On Friday morning, professor Mohammad Tabaar of Texas A&M College gave a digital speak to about 25 college students within the Close to Japanese Languages and Civilizations Division entitled “The Political and Social Historical past of Up to date Iran.”
The central proposition of his speak was that typical knowledge — which holds that factional, political and strategic selections made by some teams in Iran are pushed by Islamic ideology — is flawed. In truth, he argued, the reverse is true: Factional political dilemmas and issues drive ideology and its function in Iranian politics. The identical, he mentioned, was true for the Supreme Chief of Iran, Ayatollah Khomeini.
“It was not his ideology that formed his politics, it was his politics that formed his ideology,” mentioned Tabaar.
Tabaar is an affiliate professor of worldwide affairs at Texas A&M College’s Bush Faculty of Authorities and a fellow at Rice College’s Baker Institute for Public Coverage. His analysis areas embody the politics of ideology and home sources of worldwide safety.
Tabaar described how even immediately, inner political divisions drive ideology, each non secular and in any other case. One instance he drew upon is the present U.S. sanctions on Iran.
“As a result of these sanctions are benefiting sure factions inside Iran such because the revolutionary guard, they’re welcomed,” Tabaar mentioned. “And though these sanctions are undermining the state, they’re empowering the revolutionary guard, and that’s the reason they don’t seem to be efficient. They use these sanctions to get rid of their inner rivals.”
Kahveh Zahiroleslam ’24, an attendee who can also be taking an L1 Persian class, mentioned that he was notably struck by the “unseen inner unrest [in Iran]” that Tabaar described.
“I used to be unaware as to the methods during which the regime and different political factions inside Iran manipulated ideology to be able to serve political ends,” he mentioned.
Within the speak, Tabaar targeted on two moments in Iranian historical past that he described as examples of this reversed positioning of politics and beliefs: the U.S. Embassy hostage disaster in 1980 and the Iran-Iraq Battle.
The disaster in 1980 was the product of anti-American sentiment however solely occurred as a result of the three foremost political teams in Iran on the time — leftists, nationalists and clerics — had been all vying for energy and utilizing vitriol in direction of America as a method of rising to energy, Tabaar mentioned.
In consequence, these teams competed with one another, resulting in the seizure of the embassy. That is an instance, in response to Tabaar, of how ideology is secondary to political concerns, as anti-Americanism was used as a device to realize political energy. For example this, Tabaar identified that earlier than the hostage disaster, main Iranians weren’t all strictly anti-American, with even Khomeini reportedly being sympathetic to the People.
The Iran-Iraq Battle serves as one other instance of how ideology is secondary to political concerns, in response to Tabaar.
“It was the competitors between the nationalists and the Islamists and between the revolutionary guard and the army that formed the struggle,” Tabaar mentioned. “At each stage Khomeini used faith to compete along with his rivals.”
“It was a pleasure to attend Professor Tabaar’s speak,” attendee Alexander Williams GRD ’26 wrote in an electronic mail to the Information. “I’m not a political scientist, and never notably conversant in the literature on the 1979 Revolution, however his reframing of faith and politics in Iran because the ‘politics of Islam’ reasonably than ‘political Islam’ appears to be an essential corrective for modern U.S.-based understandings of the function of faith in Iranian historical past and state coverage.”
The Close to Japanese Languages and Civilizations Division at Yale is the oldest within the nation at 173 years outdated.
Philip Mousavizadeh | email@example.com