Middle East Research and Information Project: Critical Coverage of the Middle East Since 1971

Iran

Going to War with the Coronavirus and Maintaining the State of Resistance in Iran

The Iranian government is fighting against the coronavirus pandemic not only with travel restrictions and social distancing rules, but also with ideological tools that promote unity and resistance. Through the production of posters and other media, Iran is creating connections between earlier battles, such as the Iran-Iraq war, and the current health crisis. Kevin Schwartz and Olmo Gölz trace the lineage of the iconography used in these images and the ideological efforts behind them.

Big Village Interactive Documentary Tells Small Stories of a Rebel Kurdish Village

After the 1979 Iranian revolution, Iranian Kurds fighting for autonomy moved to the village Gewredê in Iraq. The online, interactive documentary Big Village reconstructs life in Gewredê in the mid-1980s, as remembered by the residents. The viewer can click on interviews, pictures, videos and texts, which makes Big Village an excellent teaching tool for studying Kurdish history and the Iranian revolution. This article is in Middle East Report, issue 295, “Kurdistan, One and Many.”

The Gains and Risks of Kurdish Civic Activism in Iran

On July 13, 2020, two young Kurdish men, Diako Rasoulzadeh and Saber Sheikh-Abdollah, were executed by the Iranian government on fabricated charges of involvement in bombing a military parade in Mahabad in 2010. They were also members of Komala, a banned Kurdish...

The New Wave of Politics in the Struggle for Self-Determination in Rojhelat

In an attempt to decolonize Kurdistan, at least discursively, Kurds refer to the Kurdish region of Iran as Rojhelat, instead of Iranian Kurdistan. Rojhelat, meaning “the place where the sun rises,” refers to the eastern portion of Kurdistan—the Kurdish homeland that...

The Elusive Quest for a Kurdish State

Kurdish communities in the Middle East have been struggling for independence, autonomy and civil rights since at least the 1880s. While Kurdish movements across the region have suffered from fragmentation, the more formidable obstacle to fulfilling Kurdish aspirations are regional and global geopolitics. Djene Rhys Bajalan explains the many challenges, both historically and in the present day. This article is in Middle East Report, issue 295, “Kurdistan, One and Many.”

Big Village Interactive Documentary Tells Small Stories of a Rebel Kurdish Village

Peyman Jafari 08.4.2020

After the 1979 Iranian revolution, Iranian Kurds fighting for autonomy moved to the village Gewredê in Iraq. The online, interactive documentary Big Village reconstructs life in Gewredê in the mid-1980s, as remembered by the residents. The viewer can click on interviews, pictures, videos and texts, which makes Big Village an excellent teaching tool for studying Kurdish history and the Iranian revolution. Forthcoming in MER 295, “Kurdistan, One and Many.”

The Elusive Quest for a Kurdish State

Kurdish communities in the Middle East have been struggling for independence, autonomy and civil rights since at least the 1880s. While Kurdish movements across the region have suffered from fragmentation, the more formidable obstacle to fulfilling Kurdish aspirations are regional and global geopolitics. Djene Rhys Bajalan explains the many challenges, both historically and in the present day. This article is from the forthcoming issue of Middle East Report, “Kurdistan, One and Many.”

The Odyssey of Iranian Sociologists Under Pressure

US sanctions on Iran, along with the COVID-19 pandemic and domestic political restrictions, are shrinking the public sphere in Iran, including sociological research and study. The Iranian Sociological Association, a large organization working all across the country, is a research hub that engages the public and the government in tackling society’s problems. Shahrokni explains how its important role is, however, being undermined by immense internal and external pressures.

Rethinking US Policy Toward Iran: A Forum

While US relations with Iran have been adversarial since the 1979 Islamic revolution, President Donald Trump’s withdrawal from the Iran nuclear deal (JCPOA) in 2018 and his belligerent implementation of a “maximum pressure” policy has on more than one occasion risked...

Rethinking US Policy Toward Iran: A Forum

05.27.2020

The Trump administration’s aggressive stance toward Iran defines much of US policy toward the Middle East. Any effort to imagine new paths for US policy in the region will need to reformulate US-Iran relations. Middle East Report reached out to seven scholars and policy analysts for their thoughts on some critical questions. This forum is a preview of MERIP’s forthcoming issue, “Exit Empire – Imagining New Paths for US Policy.”

Voices from the Middle East: Doctors, COVID-19 Patients and Dilemmas of Treatment under Sanctions in Iran

Sima Shakhsari 04.17.2020

Caring for COVID-19 patients without the proper equipment and medicine is difficult anywhere. In Iran it is especially devastating to know that lives are being lost due to US sanctions. Two pediatricians at provincial hospitals in Iran describe their experiences.

Mutual Aid and Solidarity in Iran during the COVID-19 Pandemic

Maziyar Ghiabi 04.17.2020

In Iran, the state at first wavered in response to the spread of the coronavirus but eventually led a mass mobilization across the government and military to try to monitor, treat and contain COVID-19. Beyond the official response, charities, mosques and professional groups are responding to the rapid changes in public life with new forms of social organization and grassroots mutual aid.

Voices from the Middle East: US Sanctions on Iran Devastate the Health Sector

Kaveh Ehsani 03.31.2020

US sanctions against Iran, along with Iranian government policies, have created insurmountable obstacles for domestic drug manufacturers who are struggling to provide people with the health care they need, especially now as COVID-19 ravages Iran. An Iranian pharmaceutical company employee explains why procuring supplies has become so difficult.

The Making of a “Resistance Parliament” in Iran and the Challenges Ahead

Iran’s parliamentary elections in February handed the conservative supporters of the Supreme Leader a major victory. Abedini and Armin explain how and lay out why the regime is poorly positioned to deal with popular discontent, crushing US sanctions and the spreading coronavirus.

Iraqi Protesters Thwarted by Trump’s Iran Policy

Yousef K. Baker 02.11.2020

The recent US assassination of Iranian Maj. Gen. Soleimani has had dire consequences for the Iraqi protest movement and its calls for substantive changes in the Iraqi political system.

Protesting Clerical Welfarism in Iran’s Pious City

Mehdi Faraji 01.28.2019

Protests in Iran’s holy city of Qom reveal that social fragmentation in Iran runs so deep that even within a community as intimately related to religious learning and the state as Qom, the divisions and boundaries go beyond easy distinctions between regime and opposition, hardliner and reformer or secular and pious. The uneven nature of Iranian society, which is being exacerbated by international sanctions and ever-expanding modes of privatization and deregulation, has worked its way into all sectors of a society that is at once cognizant of this condition and also still divided.

Abadan

In fall 1978, Abadan’s oil refinery workers played a decisive role in the Iranian Revolution by joining the national mass strikes. Just two years later, Abadan and the adjoining port city of Khorramshahr were shelled by the invading Iraqi army and effectively destroyed during the Iran–Iraq war (1980–88), which scattered their population of over 600,000 as refugees across Iran and abroad.

The Psycho-Politics of Wellbeing

Iranians have repurposed, reconfigured and transliterated the psychiatric concepts of depression and trauma as depreshen and toroma. In this wide-ranging interview, Orkideh Behrouzan speaks with Sheila Carapico about the politics of Iranian mental health care policy, public discussion of the effects of 40 years of revolution and war and the ways in which a younger generation is forming identities through depreshen-talk. Behrouzan is a physician, medical anthropologist, scholar of science and technology and the author of Prozak Diaries: Psychiatry and Generational Memory in Iran. She teaches in the anthropology department at SOAS, University of London.

Iran Dispatch

Trumpism has discombobulated Iran. Revulsion against President Donald J. Trump’s rhetoric and policies has achieved the rare feat of unifying the disgruntled Iranian public and the fractious ruling elite. This nationalist backlash barely conceals the internal crises facing Iran at every level—social, political, environmental and economic.

How the Houthis Became “Shi‘a”

It is wrong to code what is happening in Yemen as a Sunni-Shi‘i conflict. The Houthis are not an Iranian proxy but a predominantly local political movement founded in long-standing, Yemen-centric grievances and power struggles. The cynical use of sectarian language casts the conflict in Yemen as part of an epochal, region-wide struggle rather than a local civil war made more deadly for Yemeni civilians by Saudi and Emirati intervention.

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