The Ayatollah Khomeini: The Cleric, The Emperor and The Great Satan

The Ayatollah Khomeini: The Cleric, The Emperor and The Great Satan

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His image has become iconic: the thin, bearded,
ascetic religious leader who had turned a once Western-friendly country into a theocratic
regime and a rogue state. I am talking of course about Ayatollah Ruhollah
Mostafavi Khomeini, the supreme leader of the Iranian revolution. From Tehran he would incite Iranians and Muslims
around the world to oppose the Great Satan, America. And America reciprocated the ‘favour’
by imposing draconian sanctions on Iran and by isolating his country. Pop culture also played its part by elevating
Khomeini and the Iranians to the status of top world bad guys, in second place only after
the Soviets. If, like me[TA1] , you grew up in the 1980s,
you are probably familiar with the faceless pilots taken down by Tom ‘Maverick’ Cruise
in the movie Top Gun. They fly ‘Mig’ fighter jets but they are
not the Soviets, so they must be Iranians. Or you may have watched and re-watched the
epic intro sequence to Naked Gun, where Leslie Nielsen beats the crap out of a group of anti-American
leaders, including an Ayatollah sporting a mohawk under his turban. Or, if you are a hopeless geek, you surely
remember that Batman issue when Khomeini hired the Joker as Iranian ambassador to the UN,
so he could kill the whole General Assembly with poison gas. But reality is not directed by Tony Scott,
may he RIP, nor scripted by DC Comics. That is why today we will look at the complex
experiences that shaped Ruhollah Khomeini into becoming a leading Cleric, who went to
oppose the Emperor of Iran and become a revolutionary aged almost 80. We will also learn how his relationship with
Satan – America – was more ambiguous than both parties wanted us to believe. The cleric [TA2]
The man who would become known as the Ayatollah Khomeini was born Ruhollah Mostafavi Musavi,
the youngest of six siblings. His date of birth is disputed, but we will
settle on the 24th of September 1902, and his place of birth was Khomeyn, a town in
what was then the Kingdom of Persia and later became Iran. Like the majority of the population in Iran
he was born into a family of the Shia Muslim faith, a family who claimed to be a descendant
from the prophet Mohammed. Ruhollah’s father Seyed Mustafa al-Shahid
al-Khomeini was a high-ranking cleric, bearing the title of Hojjat-al-Islam. Quick stop here, for some clarifications:
First of all, who are the Shias and what is the difference between them and the majority
Muslim sect, the Sunnis? These two factions share many spiritual beliefs
and religious practices, as their schism was political in nature. After the death of Mohammad in 632 his adviser
Abu Bakr became the first Caliph, or ‘successor of the Prophet’, tasked with leading the
Islamic nation. But his leadership was challenged by the followers
of Ali, the Prophet’s cousin and son-in-law. This latter faction originated the Shia sect,
who believe that the leadership of the Islamic nation belongs to the direct descendants of
the Prophet. On the other hand, Sunni Muslims believe that
the leadership of the community is not a birthright: it can, and it must, be earned. Then, let’s look at religious titles[TA3]
: a mullah indicates a religious leader or a teacher in a madrasa, or religious school. The honorific title of Hojjat-al-Islam or
“Proof of Islam” is given only to high ranking scholars, who once progress to the
next level are addressed as Ayatollahs. And back to the story. When Ruhollah was very small, his father died. According to some sources he was still an
infant, according to CIA declassified documents, he was five years old. We also know for sure that Ruhollah’s father
was assassinated, but sources differ on the how: maybe the killer was a bandit, but the
CIA source claims that he was killed by a local governor for taking part in the so called
Persian Constitutional Revolution of 1906[TA4] .[TA5]
Aged 16, Ruhollah had to experience another trauma when his mother died. The oldest of the siblings, his brother Mortaza,
then took charge of him and made sure that Ruhollah continued the family tradition by
studying in various Islamic schools. At nineteen, Ruhollah travelled to Arak, where
he studied religion under Ayatollah Abd al-Karim Ha’iri, a well-known Islamic scholar. In 1922 Ruhollah followed Ha’iri to the
Fayzieh madrasa in Qom, Iran’s intellectual centre for Islamic studies. Here Ruhollah distinguished himself in a variety
of studies which would shape his political career, including ethics, philosophy and law
– all subjects he would go on to teach. In 1932 Ruhollah married the daughter of a
prominent cleric from the capital Tehran, a marriage which gave him seven children,
two of which died in infancy. In 1937, his old master, Ayatollah Ha’iri’s
died. He continued to grow his reputation as a learned
scholar by becoming the assistant to another leading Ayatollah, Husayn Borujerdi. It was around this period that he started
to become known as Ruhollah Khomeini. Khomeini’s residence in Qom was mostly dedicated
to teaching and studying, but it may have been at this stage that he started to develop
a political concern. The mid-1930s were in fact the years in which
the Shah-an-sha, the King of Kings, Reza Pahlavi launched a series of reforms which could have
undermined the authority of the Shia clergy, such as opening the first university or emancipating
women, by demanding for their chadors, or veils, to be discarded.[TA6]
In 1944 Khomeini co-authored a book condemning the Shah, who by then had abdicated in favour
of his son, Mohammed Reza Pahlavi. But beyond that, we don’t have any other
anti-government activities on Khomeini’s record. The only thing we know for certain is that
throughout the 1940s and 1950s Khomeini continued teaching in Qom, becoming a nationally renowned
authority in Islamic jurisprudence. It wasn’t until 1962 that Khomeini would
raise his voice and become a scourge for the rule of the Shah. The Emperor[TA7]
The Shah-an-sha, or more simply the Shah, Mohammed Reza Pahlavi rose to power in 1941. His father Reza – just Reza, without the
Mohammed – had abdicated following a pre-emptive occupation of Iran by the UK and the USSR,
who wanted to prevent a German invasion. In the August of 1953 the Shah was forced
to flee by the supporters of Prime Minister Mohammad Mosaddeq. Minister Mosaddeq had successfully nationalised
oil production, which until now had been controlled by British companies. This of course did not make Britain happy,
who sought assistance from the US to remove Mosaddeq from power and reinstate the Shah. Formally, Pahlavi maintained the nationalisation
of oil production, but behind the scenes, he shared the profits with a US-led international
consortium. This is when the Shah became the strongest
ally of the US in the Middle East and central Asia. With the assistance of Washington the Shah
launched the ‘White Revolution’, a reform programme aimed at developing the Country’s
infrastructure. Most of all, this was a programme of modernisation
and Westernisation, which continued some of the work already started by Reza Sr. But nobody liked these reforms. Left-wing factions wanted more, they were
wary of the Shah’s dependence from the US and were angered by the unequal distribution
of oil revenues. The religious, conservative side criticised
the reforms for being too radical! You really cannot make everybody happy, can
you? But what brought everybody together in really
hating the Shah were the corruption in his government, his reliance on autocratic rule
and the power of the SAVAK – the feared secret police. As dissent escalated, so did the activities
of this sinister organisation, originally established, trained and funded with CIA support
as confirmed by a Senate Foreign Relations Committee report[TA8] .
At its peak the SAVAK had formally recruited 15,000 agents[TA9] , many of whom also managed
informal spy networks, therefore permeating all of society. In the early 1960s both factions opposing
the Shah – the secular left and conservative clerics – who would have normally opposed
each other, started to coalesce and found an inspiring leader in Khomeini, who had by
now escalated ranks and had become an Ayatollah. By now more than 60, instead of retiring like
any of us would do, this respected religious scholar decided to risk everything to gain
centre stage in a budding revolutionary movement. Khomeini’s outspoken opposition to the Government
escalated from 1962 to 1963, with a series of speeches and pamphlets which denounced
the Shah’s latest proposed reforms, which included women’s suffrage and the opening
of public offices to the non-Shia Bahai minority. According to a de-classified CIA report these
activities were a concerted effort of the Qom mullahs. Khomeini, well, he was a kind of a schmuck,
a figurehead, who had been put in place because “The clergy … believed they could control
him and manipulate his operations”. On the early hours of the 5th of June 1963,
the SAVAK came knocking in Qom. Khomeini was arrested. It happened during the month of Moharram,
a holy period dedicated to mourning according to Islam. The outrage was immediate, resulting in widespread
riots with high casualties in the capital city Tehran and in the town of Shiraz. Was this in the mullahs’ plans? They wanted to make a puppet out of Khomeini
but they had created a martyr and a true revolutionary leader who would not let himself be controlled. In November 1963, while still under house
arrest, Khomeini did something unexpected, and certainly not in character with the commonly
accepted view of him being a rabidly anti-American leader.[TA10]
He sent a message to the US Government, using as a conduit Professor Kamarei from the theology
department at Tehran university. I am going to quote again from the same CIA
report: “Khomeini explained that he was not opposed
to American interests in Iran. On the contrary, he thought the American presence
was necessary [TA11] as a counterbalance to Soviet and possibly British influence. Khomeini also explained his belief in cooperation
between Islam and other world religions, especially Christendom”
What was Washington’s response? I’d like to tell you, but the next paragraph
… it has been redacted [TA12]
[suggested transition: zoom on the redacted block of text:]
[TA13] Would the US Government have been opened to
cooperating with the Ayatollah? Another CIA memorandum issued in November
1978 (sorry to jump ahead here) is doubtful of Khomeini’s leadership skills, suggesting
that he may not be capable of controlling the revolution he himself had sparked, with
the risk of either a leftist faction or a military dictatorship taking power over the
Shah. Combined with the other comment about him
being a puppet of the Qom mullahs … it sounds like the CIA and the Government in general
were seriously underestimating this guy. Whatever opinion the US Government had of
him, the Ayatollah continued his rise as leader of the opposition. After being released in April 1964 he resumed
his incendiary sermons against the Shah. By now Pahlavi had had enough and in November
he expelled the Ayatollah. The exile had begun. A Leader in Exile
Initially Khomeini settled in Turkey, from where he continued his vocal attacks on Pahlavi,
calling him a pawn of the US and of Israel. By 1965 the Turkish, they also had had enough
and begged the Shah to take him back, but Khomeini preferred to settle in the city of
Najaf, a centre of Shia scholarship in Iraq. It was here that Khomeini formulated his doctrine
known as velayat-e faqih[TA14] , or ‘guardianhsip of the jurist’. This concept marks a departure from Shia founding
principles: according to this doctrine, when the divinely inspired descendant of the Prophet
is absent, religious and political leadership of the community can be assumed by the faqih,
the jurist, the expert in Islamic law. Which is exactly what Khomeini was … so
basically he was saying, ‘it’s OK if I become the leader of Iran’. His absence from the country did not prevent
him from stoking dissent. The Ayatollah took to recording his sermons
on audio cassettes, which were then smuggled into Iran. By the way, if you are 20 or younger, an audio
cassette was a plastic recording support about the size of a Blackberry phone, that could
store up to 2 hours of music or speech on a magnetic tape. By the way, if you are 20 or younger, a Blackberry
phone was what your parents used to take calls from the office before they came to their
senses. [TA15]
And if you are 20 or younger and watching a 22-minute video about the Ayatollah Khomeini
… well done you! Where was I? The tapes. These tapes found fertile ground, especially
amongst the lower classes in the expanding urban centres and amongst university students,
regardless if left-leaning or aligned to the religious right. You may ask: what was his agenda[TA16] , exactly? Point a: The Ayatollah opposed the Shah’s
efforts to give equal rights to women; B: he opposed his land reforms, deemed ineffective
in feeding the population; C: he wanted to free Iran from foreign influence,
especially that of the US and USSR; D: he protested the inclusion of religious
minorities in positions of power, especially the Bahai;
E: Finally, Khomeini was a vocal critic of the state of Israel, whom he accused of manipulating
the Shah. Over the 1970s dissent against Pahlavi grew
in its intensity. Khomeini kept attacking him from Najaf and
the Shah may have taken his revenge … in 1977 in fact Khomeini’s first born son,
Mostafa, died in mysterious circumstances. The death was due to a heart attack, but Khomeini
claimed that Mostafa had been killed by the Government. Return of the Cleric
In the late 1970’s Khomeini enjoyed a high standing amongst both conservative Muslims
and sympathisers of the Tudeh, the local communist party. When, on the 7th of January 1978 a state-controlled
newspaper questioned the Ayatollah’s patriotism and even his sexuality, protesters marched
in the streets of Tehran. The police fired on them and violence escalated. This marked the official beginning of the
Iranian Revolution[TA17] . For the following 13 months the police, the
armed forces and the SAVAK, faced protesters across the Country, killing them in the dozens
or hundreds. As customary in Shia Islam, each massacre
was celebrated by a mourning period of 40 days, followed by demonstrations. Violence would erupt again and so on, in 40
days cycles, Iran spiralled into chaos. The Shah, who by now was suffering of late
stage cancer, had little resolve to address the situation. Meanwhile in Iraq, Khomeini continued to rally
the opposition – that is until Saddam Hussein finally expelled him from Najaf. The Ayatollah moved to the outskirts of Paris,
and from there, he planned his return as triumphant leader of the revolutionary struggle. And apparently, it was from France that he
made his second attempt to seek an alliance or at least an understanding with the US. [TA18]
The aim of his messages was to reassure the US that a change of leadership in Iran would
not compromise their access to crude oil. In exchange, the Ayatollah asked the US government
to use their influence to hold back the Army from launching a coup. Did President Jimmy Carter comply? This is not clear. It is true that the military eventually did
not oppose the revolution, but this may have been due to simple opportunism. In January 1979, the Shah and his family left
Iran, officially to take a vacation, but in reality … this was a voluntary exile. On the 1st of February Ayatollah Ruhollah
Khomeini returned to Tehran, welcomed as a victorious leader by the crowd. Following a referendum, on the 1st of April
1979 Iran became officially an Islamic Republic and Khomeini became the Supreme Leader of
this Theocratic state. It was the end of more than 2000 years of
monarchy in Persia and Iran. The Guardianship of the Jurist
Before I continue with the momentous events of the 1980s, let me make an example of how
Khomeini now in power applied his doctrine of velayet-e faqih, the Guardianship of the
Jurist. So, the new constitution[TA19] declared Shia
Islam to be the official religion of Iran, being the faith of 90 percent of the population. It also acknowledges minority groups as official
religions, such as Sunni Muslims, Christianity, Zoroastrianism, and even Judaism – surprising,
I know, considering Khomeini’s anti-Zionist stance. However, the constitution excluded the Bahai
faith, making it effectively illegitimate. And this is not surprising, seeing how the
Shah’s pro-Bahai policy was one of the many reforms that triggered Khomeini into joining
the opposition. The Bahai religion formed as an offshoot of
Shia Islam in the mid-19th century, and it was viewed as heretical by senior mullahs.[TA20]
After the rise of Khomeini as supreme leader, up to 20,000 Bahai worshipers fled the Country
to avoid persecution, imprisonment or even execution[TA21] . By May 1983 at least 150
Bahai men and women had been hanged or shot by the revolutionary government. The persecution of the Bahai is just an example
of the repressive nature of the Revolutionary regime. First, his regime ousted from positions of
power the former secular allies. Then, it took political vengeance, with hundreds
of people who had worked for the shah’s regime reportedly executed. The remaining domestic opposition was then
suppressed, its members being systematically imprisoned or killed. Iranian women were required to wear the veil,
Western music and alcohol were banned, and the punishments prescribed by the Sharia,
the Islamic law, were reinstated. A new armed force, the Pasdaran, would make
sure that all aspects of the Sharia would be strictly enforced. Their power has grown over time, becoming
a sort of parallel police, army and air force, with a strict focus on enforcing Sharia law
and defending the values of the Islamic revolution. Had anything really changed since the times
of the SAVAK? The Great Satan
The first years of a revolutionary government are the most delicate ones, but the Islamic
Republic survived two major trials, the US Embassy hostage crisis [TA22] and the war
with Iraq[TA23] . On the 22nd of October the former Shah was
allowed entrance into the US to be treated for cancer. On the 4th of November, a mob of some 3000
protesters, mainly university students, stormed the US Embassy in Tehran and took hostage
about 63 staff members. What was Khomeini’s involvement in this
crisis? Very little actually: the storming was a result
of a spontaneous demonstration, so he had no idea it would take place and he could have
probably done without it … but once it started, well he sort of got along with it and offered
support to the protesters. It was in fact during the November of 1979
that he first started using in his speeches his now infamous phrase to describe the US:
“Americans are the Great Satan, the wounded snake”
But his government still had to negotiate with Satan. Talks with the Carter administration dragged
on for months, with Iran demanding that the Shah’s financial assets in the US be returned
to the Country, in exchange for the hostages. The US, in reply, froze ALL of Iranian assets
and filed a lawsuit with the International Court of Justice. In April 1980 Carter’s administration authorised
a military rescue operation – which became a failure before it had even started. Eight Special Forces helicopters had stealthily
entered Iran, but when three of them malfunctioned the mission was aborted. Sadly, on the way back, one of the choppers
crashed, causing the death of eight servicemen. The Secretary of State Cyrus Vance resigned. As per Carter, his Presidency was doomed. In May, the US and allies had imposed an embargo
on Iran, but the Government of Tehran still played hardball in negotiations. What tipped the scales was the 2nd calamity
that befell the young Republic: the start of the war with Iraq, 22nd of September 1980. Realising that Iran could not fight Saddam
in the chokehold of a trade embargo, Khomeini agreed to release the hostages on the 20th
of January 1981. The new US President, Ronald Reagan had been
inaugurated just 20 minutes earlier. The crisis had been resolved, but it had lasted
too long not sour the already frosty relationship between Iran and the US. Their interactions would remain hostile up
to this day. A deal with the Devil
For most of the 1980s, the Islamic Republic had to contend with a bloody war against Saddam’s
regime. The Iran-Iraq war, the longest of the XXth
century dragged on until July 1988, and it combined horrors from both World Wars because
of its use of trench warfare, poison gas and bombings on civilian targets. The Iraqi’s war aim was to gain control
over the Shatt-el-Arab, the confluence of the rivers Tigris and Euphrates, the only
access to the sea. They also had in mind to stop the spread of
the Shia Islamic revolution into their Sunni, secular state. Khomeini’s regime could not field an army
as modern and mechanized as Saddam’s, who could enjoy from the support of the US and
most Sunni Arab countries. What they could offer was numbers and fanaticism:
thousands of boy soldiers were indoctrinated by mullahs into launching suicidal human wave
attacks armed only with a plastic key[TA24] – the key that would open the gates of paradise
after their death as martyrs of the Revolution. But it turns out that human wave attacks do
not make strategic progresses. Tehran was in dire need of more complex tactics
and weapons systems, namely: long range missiles. Khomeini’s regime would procure them in
1985, in a way which shows how ambiguous and confusing the US-Iran relationship were: the
resulting mess became known as the Iran-Contra affair[TA25] .
Iran made the first step, with a secret request to Washington to buy up to 1500 long range
missiles. President Reagan and his National Security
Advisor Robert McFarlane saw a chance to kill two birds with one stone: first, grasp the
occasion to negotiate with Iran the release of seven Americans taken hostage by the Hezbollah,
the Lebanese Shia fighters loyal to Khomeini; second, make some cash through the arms sales
to fund the Contras anti-communist insurgents in Nicaragua. Along the way, Reagan and McFarlane killed
another bird, called “American rule of law” – their actions violated the trade embargo
on Iran, violated the Presidential promise not to negotiate with terrorists and violated
the recently passed Boland amendment which forbade the government from intervening in
Nicaragua. The last two years
But let’s get back to the war. Even with their new missiles the Iranians
were not able to break the frontline. The war ended in July 1988. Its result? A costly stalemate. Between half a million and a million dead,
half a million of invalid soldiers, 400 billion dollars of damaged infrastructures … for
almost no gain. Saddam in the end got his outlet to the sea,
only to return it to Iran in 1991 in exchange for their neutrality during the 1st Gulf War. But actually, Khomeini and his regime had
gained something from the conflict, albeit immaterial. The total war against an ethnically Arab,
Sunni, Secular enemy had consolidated the resolve and institutions of the young Revolutionary
government in a country that was non-Arab, Shia and theocratic. Only a few months after the end of the war,
in February 1989 the Ayatollah Khomeini made headlines again when he issued a fatwa against
writer Salman Rushdie, accusing him of tainting the name of the Prophet Mohammad in his novel
the Satanic Verses. A fatwa is a legal document issued by a mullah,
which in this case carried a death sentence against the writer – and a monetary reward. Salman Rushdie was forced to live into hiding
and to seek police protection. Khomeini’s condemnation of the Satanic Verses,
though, was short-lived. Four months later, on the 4th of June 1989,
Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini died, regarded as a hero or condemned as the ultimate villain,
both outside and within his country. His reputation as a ruthless leader, who would
not refrain from harming, exiling or killing opponents to achieve his goals is certainly
well-deserved. But isn’t that true of so many leaders around
the Globe? And wasn’t that true for the Shah Pahlavi
himself, or Saddam, or the rulers of Saudi Arabia – and yet they did and still have the
support of America and the West. Khomeini did open to America in at least two
occasions- and he may have been ignored or underestimated. On the other hand the Iran-Contra affair could
have been the occasion to thaw the frost. But it seems like Khomeini’s ill-advised
decision to back the protesters during the hostage crisis had made the relationship with
America impossible to mend. Now, Professor Mahmood Sariolghalam [TA26]
of Theran University espouses a geopolitical theory according to which America and Iran
should not antagonise each other, as Tehran is THE natural ally for the US in the region
– a foothold in this country would provide access to central Asia, the Gulf and its resources. It was the case in the past and who knows,
it may happen again in the future. But at least for the past 40 years, US and
Iranian foreign policy seem to have missed a trick.

100 thoughts on “The Ayatollah Khomeini: The Cleric, The Emperor and The Great Satan

  • Saira Menso Post author

    too many wrong points, and many more missing points.

  • Dale Macey Post author

    Ayatollah Assahola.

  • Kaiser Jerry Post author

    Not a fan of the shah either, but Khomeini is 100 times worse

  • no name Dyrseth Post author

    And the list of opposition group
    That the USA will replace Ayatollah kheimini with

    MEK iran

    The People's Mojahedin Organization of Iran, or the Mojahedin-e Khalq (Persian: سازمان مجاهدين خلق ايران‎, romanized: sâzmân-e mojâhedīn-e khalq-e īrân, abbreviated MEK, PMOI or MKO), is an Iranian political-militant organization[24][25][26] based on Islamic and socialist ideology. It advocates overthrowing the Islamic Republic of Iran leadership and installing its own government.[27][28][29] It was the "first Iranian organization to develop systematically a modern revolutionary interpretation of Islam – an interpretation that differed sharply from both the old conservative Islam of the traditional clergy and the new populist version formulated in the 1970s by Ayatollah Khomeini and his government".[30] The MEK is considered the Islamic Republic of Iran's biggest and most active political opposition group.[

    The European Union, Canada and the United States formerly listed the MEK as a terrorist organization. This designation has since been lifted, first by the Council of the European Union on 26 January 2009,[67][68][69] by the U.S. government on 21 September 2012, and lastly by the Canadian government on 20 December 2012.[70] The MEK is designated as a terrorist organization by Iran and Iraq.[62] In June 2004, the U.S. had designated members of the MEK as ‘protected persons’ under the Geneva Convention IV relative to the Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War,[71] which expired in 2009 after full sovereignty of Iraq.[72] Many experts,[73] various scholarly works, media outlets, UNHCR, HRW and the governments of the United States and France have described it as a cult built around its leaders Massoud and Maryam Rajavi.😭😂🙈

  • no name Dyrseth Post author

    It might have seemed like a barely consequential item amid another torrent of breaking news. But word that President Donald Trump’s lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, just attended the annual gathering of a controversial Iranian opposition group at its unlikely base in Albania should raise flags for many reasons, not least of which are concerns for Albania’s troubled and fragile democracy.

    If Albania is now unexpectedly drawn into one of today’s most dangerous geopolitical conflicts—the one pitting Iran against the United States, Saudi Arabia and other Gulf states—the timing couldn’t be worse. The country is in the midst of a full-blown political crisis that has at times turned violent and whose outcome is still uncertain. A member of NATO, Albania has also been trying unsuccessfully to join the European Union for years; its current domestic turmoil makes that goal even more distant. To make matters worse, Albania’s infighting has turned it into an inviting target for malicious actors seeking to take advantage of a distracted, divided nation.

    Giuliani, along with some other prominent figures, including former U.S. Sen. Joe Lieberman and British Conservative MP Matthew Offord, attended the annual “Free Iran” conference of the group known variously as the People’s Mojahedin Organization of Iran and Mujahedin-e Khalq, or MEK. A shadowy outfit committed to the overthrow of Iran’s theocratic regime, the MEK is often described as a cult and used to be classified by the State Department as a terrorist organization. Now, some of its leading backers work for Trump and his administration, putting Albania in the middle of the Iran file. Perhaps its biggest booster is John Bolton, Trump’s hawkish national security advisor, who wants the MEK to govern Iran.

    The MEK has a strange and contentious history. It emerged as an Islamist-Marxist organization and militia in Iran in the 1960s and was staunchly anti-American. It killed members of the Shah’s police and played a key role in toppling him during the 1979 revolution. But it fell out with Iran’s new Islamist authorities after they took power, and was exiled from the country in the early 1980s. When Iraq under Saddam Hussein then went to war against Iran, the MEK—now fervently opposed to the Islamic Republic—sided with Baghdad and ended up building a base of operations in Iraq near the Iranian border, from which it staged attacks inside Iran.

    The group was still ensconced in Iraq when U.S. forces invaded and toppled Saddam in 2003. As Iraq spiraled into chaos, Iranian agents started targeting the MEK. In one attack, in 2013, they massacred more than 50 MEK members. The Obama administration, which had removed the group from the State Department’s list of designated terrorist groups in 2012 after a long and expensive lobbying campaign in Washington by the MEK and its sympathizers, struck a deal to resettle some 3,000 MEK members in Albania, a country eager to maintain strong U.S. ties.

    Since moving to Albania, the MEK had received only minor international attention. That changed with the Trump administration. Key administration figures have advocated for the group, some as paid supporters, others out of ideological conviction. Bolton and Giuliani in particular have promoted it as a legitimate government-in-exile that should eventually replace the Islamic Republic, even though it has little support inside Iran.

    The Trump administration’s spotlight on the MEK is undoubtedly drawing the attention of Tehran at a perilous political moment in Albania. The Albanian government was plunged into crisis earlier this year when opposition parties withdrew from Parliament and demanded the resignation of Prime Minister Edi Rama, accusing him of corruption, election-rigging and ties to organized crime. Rama’s center-left Socialist Party holds a majority in Parliament, while the opposition is made up of parties to his left and right. Corruption has been endemic in Albania since the end of communist rule, but Rama generally enjoys the support of the U.S. and much of Europe.

    The MEK’s rise in visibility amid the Trump administration’s standoff with Iran could make Albania more vulnerable than ever to outside meddling.

    Tensions in Tirana erupted last month after Bild, a German newspaper, leaked conversations from prosecutors’ wiretaps that suggested Rama and the Socialist Party were plotting with criminal groups to manipulate elections in 2016. Rama and his party deny any wrongdoing.

    But their opponents took to the streets. Pitched battles ensued, with protesters lobbing Molotov cocktails and the police responding with water cannons. The situation got worse when the opposition declared it would boycott June’s municipal elections. President Ilir Meta then announced he was cancelling the vote and rescheduling it for October; without the opposition, he said, the elections would not be democratic.

    Rama’s governing party, however, refused to accept the president’s move and said it would launch impeachment proceedings against him for it. Then it went ahead with the ballot. The turnout, unsurprisingly, was minuscule. With the elections’ winners ready to take their new posts across the country, some outgoing mayors refused to relinquish their offices.

    The political scene remains tumultuous, full of tension, hyperbole and conspiracy. Meta has accused Rama of being a tool of the “deep state,” working with billionaire philanthropist George Soros to destabilize Albania and even establish a “dictatorship” encompassing Albania and Kosovo, “serving underground agendas.” The Albanian people, he told an interviewer, do not want to be a “colony in servitude of money-laundering and organized crime.” Instead, they want to be part of the democratic West, “to join NATO and the European Union.”

    A deadline is looming for Albania: In October, the European Council will make a decision about formally launching accession talks with Albania. The street battles, the name-calling and the conspiracy theories all support the views of skeptics who say Albania’s democracy is not mature or stable enough to join the EU.

    As if that wasn’t bad enough, trouble with Iran may be brewing over the MEK’s compound in Albania’s countryside, raising the risk of Iranian interference. Iran took notice of the gathering that Giuliani and others attended in Albania this week, with its state-backed media chastising the U.S. and other Western countries for siding with what it calls a terrorist organization. Iran has a well-established record of hunting down and assassinating dissidents across the Middle East and Europe.

    The MEK’s goal remains the overthrow of the Iranian regime, although it now says it has sworn off violence. The group’s rise in visibility amid the Trump administration’s standoff with Iran could make Albania more vulnerable than ever to outside meddling. The potential for a new crisis in Europe and within NATO, centered on Albania of all places, is very real.

  • PrivateSi Post author

    Let's see how biased this vid is…. As much as I hate hardcore Islam US militarism is a far greater threat to mankind… The US is THE GREAT SATAN, metaphorically….. The hell they create is a mixture of a Nazti New World Order (uber-work and totalitarian techno surveillance and control grid that makes an old fashioned secret police force seem +vely liberal) mixed with a bombed, charred, polluted world full of DEAD ZONES… Iran is by far the lesser of two evils standing up to THE global pariah and hegemonic mega-thief(dom)… just to counter any bias this vid may contain….

    After watching I say this was not too biased and as usual Informative and well presented.

  • A Proud European Post author

    16 and watching,lessgo!

  • Daniel Mirlach Post author

    I am 20 years old and have been following your videos recently starting with the story of Hassan the founder of the Assassins(Hashishen), your videos are informative, and you explain things quite clearly, I appreciate the research you do to provide quality learning, and representation of fact. You are doing a better job than my teachers did. Keep it up 👌🏻 I'll be watching

  • Sulayman Kindi Post author

    If you could do all that research, you could improve your horrid Arabic and Persian pronunciation. Really! Screeches on the ears!

  • Cedric Baccay Post author

    Can you please make a biographic for Cory Aquino: mother of Philippine democracy
    Please 🙂

  • RoAcH812 Post author

    this is one of my most favorite channels EVER on YouTube. I love the delivery of information on here. Simon makes it easy to remember

  • Ismail Yushaw Post author

    Hello Simon… when will you spare time and do a documentary on Qassim Sulaimani..

  • Ebuka Amailo Post author

    very good ….love from nigeria

  • 黑龍 - Hắc Long Post author

    01:30 Joker venom, it causes people to laugh to deaþ.

  • adr. marius Post author

    Oh wow, young people already don't know what a cassette is? the idea of this is so weird

  • Ebi Wright Post author

    I don't mean to be anal about it but Qom is actually pronounced "Gohm". A Q in Farsi is typically a throaty G sound. Otherwise great video!

  • Super Sonic Post author

    Can't even imagine sex with these men. They breed like rabbits- ughhh

  • Wise Guy Post author

    Democrats are spending a ton already on these pre-video commercials. The commercial was Bernie Sanders pushing the $15/hr minimum wage issue which given his staffers current situation….LOL! Hypocrite!

  • Zvico 69 Post author

    This one was great. In 20 min we had the background, the overall context, the rise and complexity of this story.
    Extremely educational. Thanks to Simon and Arnaldo.

  • Markus Nävergård Post author

    the clergy condeming pepole that works to progress the culture? no news there.

  • sonnythirteen Post author

    No mention of Ali’s efforts…

  • Peizxcv Post author

    Students, both high school and college, are the dumbest group you can find. They are willing to give up their life and family to overthrow a stable peaceful society for reasons they don't even grasp.

  • Trae Herren Post author

    WOOOOOOOO Simon! It's time for a video on the limousine riding, jet flying, Rolex wearing, diamond ring wearing, wheeling dealing, kiss stealing son of a gun… Ric The Nature Boy Flair! WOOOOOOOOOO

  • Emil Bronson Post author

    Is Simon a semite?

  • Tusk Post author

    Iran is no rogue stte its well established on the Chinese/Russian side and it isn't Ayatollah Khomeini's fault Iran is anti west really its because the west treated Iranians so bad that they had no choice but to rebel seriously you are angerring a lot of people by calling him emperor

  • the hillbilly gamer ! Post author

    I like hell the modern British scholar soft petals makes a puff piece when he's talking about an Islamic war criminal a Muslim leader he wouldn't be so generous and nice if it was a white man he was talkin about

  • Steen Andersen Post author

    I remember the story from Iran/Iraq war and forward, but not in such detail as this video provides. Good history lesson.

  • Eric Grenier Post author

    You should have given Reagan more credit for the release of the hostages.

  • Francisco Samir Post author

    Allota biasss

  • Nicole Nox Post author

    “If you are 20 or younger…” 🤣🤣🤣🤣🤣🤣🤣🤣🤣🤣🤣🤣🤣🤣🤣🤣🤣🤣🤣 funniest tangent ever!

  • SHADOWWOLF77 Post author

    Ayatollah guy would have been BFF with Hitler…
    If the Shah had only purged the clergy Iran would have been a modern free nation instead of a muslim backwater…
    His reign marked the absolute end of Persian civilization as it had existed up until then…

  • Mikhael Post author

    "Nica-RAH-gyuah!" (Nicaragua)

  • ehrldawg Post author

    1) The hostage rescue failure was the seed that created seal team 6.
    I read a book that came out about 10 years ago about the hostage crisis.
    2)after the shaw died,the low level soldiers involved in holding the hostages started to question why the Americans were still being held hostage.
    3)Supposedly,the Iranians of today;especially the young,are embarrassed about the whole hostage episode.

  • The1eyedKING Post author

    Religion ruins everything…like our country Iran.

  • Wasif Reza Post author

    Propaganda against Khomeini. That's all. He was against the immorality that was being spread in the name of modernisation.

  • Grey Bear Productions Post author

    Long live Khomeini! Long live Communism!

  • AC Milan Blog 1899 Channel Post author

    Just a correction, minorities do take a role in the Iranian government.

  • AC Milan Blog 1899 Channel Post author

    @23:00 you’re absolutely right

  • Mazen Sami Post author

    Being anti-isreal doesnt mean anti- judaism

  • EmoPro93 Post author

    So Sunni Islam Caliphs shall not be passed down via bloodline, laughs in Abbasids, Ottomans

  • Ferjani Rami Post author

    I use to think that the Islamist groups in iran used the communist revolution to their advantage

  • John Daker Post author

    This man is as bad as Hitler. He set back the Muslim world 1000 years, was responsible for countless deaths and the oppression of millions of women and homosexuals.

  • momv2pa Post author

    Simon has the best delivery of any narrator I have ever listened to. Love his take on things. I absolutely love these videos. Keep .em coming,,

  • 1wor1d Post author

    6:15 In fact Mohammad Mosaddeq was the first democratically elected leader in the Middle East, so who would kill democracy in Iran? Why the Americans through the C.I.A.
    Then in 1957 The U.S showed Iran how to build a nuclear reactor under the name of "Atoms For Peace" program. So now we have the U.S led sanctions against Iran for their nuclear program, the very program that the U.S promoted, funded, supplied equipment and showed the Iranians how to build. On top of this the U.S wants Iran to hold democratic elections, yet it was the U.S that destroyed democracy in Iran. The slogan "The Great Satan" doesn't seem so ludicrous anymore does it??

  • MAyA MAyA Post author

    I am not a pro iranian or something like that but then again you have no right to say satan to anyone i think your perception is that he did to Americas gameplan entirely f…. them off n this is the reaaon why people like you propogate abaout them so pls shutup yankee n take Care of yourself

  • taseer khalid Post author

    Simon I love you but the way you said his name in the begining made me laugh out loud. Cheers for trying tho!

  • majikslim82 Post author

    I love Simon's love for this barbaric religious leader. " he allows Judaism, odd considering his "anti-zoinist" stance " just call them what they are gay-slaughtering, jew-killing, woman beating scum.

  • M A Post author

    3:00 they were not supporters of ali, they simply persians, jews and musyrikin gang up together to destroy the muslim region by using ali

  • 1998goodboy Post author

    im about to turn 21, does that count O_o??

  • Penelope Post author

    Lmaoo chill Simon, just because we're 20-somethings doesn't mean that we're sheltered amish children

  • ashcon osku Post author

    His name isn't comainy. 😂

  • Gareth Oneill Post author

    The Migs in Top Gun clearly have a Red Star roundel on them. They're obviously from a communist country and not Iran.

  • Silent Sahara Post author

    it bugs when when simon's words don't match the captions. especially when he pronounces "80" as "seventy nine".

  • Ameen Khan Post author

    Whome are u reffering to with "the great satan"?

  • hongsien kwee Post author

    Zionism and Judaism is not the same………….Iran is against Zionism, not the Jews in general

  • Swol Team 6 Post author

    He must be an enigma, cause I feel I still know nothing about him.

  • Brett Post author

    11:32 Hahahaha! That. Was. AWESOME!

  • Micah Bell Post author

    The way you pronounced Nicaragua gave me hives but I don't blame you

  • Bradley Gretton Post author

    I'm 17, gotta get that knowledge. Thanks Biographics.

  • Not a Giraffe Post author

    Ayatollah's in Iran

  • Rebel AC Post author

    May Allah make his grave a pit of the pits of hell, Amen.

  • Kristina кристина Post author

    murrica always trying to appear to do the right thing but ends up taking a huge dump on everything, please stop interfering with world affaires u always make it worse .

  • G. W. Post author

    18:25 – I appreciate the mention of this helicopter crash. Too many men/women go unsung for their respective efforts.

  • Morgan Hall Post author

    Persepolis flashbacks intensify

  • Ian Grau-Fay Post author

    I was raised Bahai, met many Iranian refugees, apologists for the Iran Revolution are delusional.

  • Ahmed Ashfaque Post author

    "The Great Satan"

  • Ahmed Ashfaque Post author

    WRONG! Mullah is not a formal term the formal terminology is Maulana. Also Shiaism started after the death of the son of Ali Hussein. It did not start during Abu Bakr's term, Ali was one of Abu Bakr's main lieutenants and advisors. Ali himself favoured the selection of Abu Bakr, Umar and Uthman as he aided all of them in all their conquests and political moves. The Shias today come from the belief that Hassan should've succeeded Ali as the 5th Khalif, and Hussein as the 6th but the Ummayeds have already taken power after the assassination of Ali. So the discontent towards the Ummayeds the followers of Hussein started to become a different sect with the influence of Ibn Sabah, which I don't even expect you to know. But at least do better research you have made various errors here.

  • B_Jameson_Harris Post author

    A minor correction or clarification on Sharia law and its use. There are, perhaps unsurprisingly when you consider it, a wide range of schools of jurisprudence on terms of the understanding and use of Sharia law. The U.S. Constitution has different schools of jurisprudence and it is under 250 years old, how much more a broad body of laws that has been in existance for over a thousand years.

  • Rob Montgomery Post author

    Britain and America never cease to ruin the world, Mossadeq was elected through DEMOCRACY. This is something which both espouse as being "wonderful", yet they never seem to like it when a non-white country tries it out. (Chile, Iran, Lebanon, Syria, literally all of central america, etc.)

  • Remember The Journey Post author

    I LOVE YOUR CHANNEL SOOOOO MUCH!!!

  • gnjatowsky71 Post author

    who is Great Satan?

  • Ryan Smith Post author

    Going back to the point made about Mossadeq: while he was in office the Iranian economy had actually started to diversify itself. After the CIA backed coup and the reinstating of the Shah, the economy of Iran became totally dependent on oil to the tune of roughly 80% of GDP. There are obviously other factors that contributed to the dependence on oil, but the point still stands. (If my data is off, please correct me.)

  • Michael Seaton Post author

    This man ruined a great nation I hope one day Iran will heal from this dark chapter. The shah for all his faults loved his country it’s so sad

  • Jay SupmemeS Post author

    You have to admit, the plan to have the Joker destroy everyone in the GA of the UN, could have been a win-win situation for us regular people as well as Khomeini. Just sayin.

  • The Shadow Man Post author

    Thanks for explaining audio cassette to me, I never heard of it before *sarcasm*

  • natilyfe Post author

    Hates the USA…but goes there for cancer treatment…🤔

  • ???????? Post author

    Being 33 years of age I loved your part "if your 20 or younger…". Also great job an delivery as always

  • Roy McElwee Post author

    If you’re under 20 years old…. hilarious.

  • Chris Wall Post author

    that tape statement was brilliant. I am still laughing as I type this… 10 minutes later!

  • chemtrooper Post author

    Seriously though. If you’re 20 or younger and watching this with real interest. I am proud of you and you give me hope for the future.

  • chemtrooper Post author

    Please do Pablo Escobar!

  • russell climaco Post author

    Great satan. When you don't conform to US LEADERSHIP…

  • Kerem Pauwels Post author

    Lol I’m 14 and I’ve watched much wierder things than the ayatollah khomeini

  • Paslayas Post author

    And in July of 1979 the Sandinistas deposed the Somoza dictatorship. Two events that defined USA policy and presidency, Reaganism. Iran-Contra affairs. That's why you need to make a video on the Sandinistas

  • utbdoug Post author

    I was away getting food, came back wondering why Simon was talking about Colm Meaney.. Then I read the title lol

  • Poisonpinball Post author

    Under 20 gang???

  • IlmarKiisk Post author

    Thanks for making me feel old with the cassettes and Blackberrys.

  • Andrew Hawthorne Post author

    "Like Democrats. Carter didn't do anything in the terms of foreign policy through democratic diplomacy. Like Republicans. Reagan utilized bad policies and ideas by secretly selling weapons to Iran, under a trade embargo. In order to fund his dirty war in Nicaragua."
    -A.H. Roberts

  • Steve Steele Post author

    The time Pee Wee Herman called the police, couldn’t get their attention until he said, “I think they’re Iranians.”

  • That one Post author

    As an Iranian you comparing the Shah or Saudi Arabia to ayatollah is extremely funny to us iranains😂😂 because we flee Iran to live in Kuwait, Bahrain and Saudi Arabia

  • Cesar hernandez Post author

    Leon Degrelle!!!!!!

  • Orion Venero Post author

    Honestly, I would bet that most viewers are under 20.

  • Vid the Impaler Post author

    Not younger than 20, but i seriously struggled not burstimg out laughing on a transit bus, bravo informative inserpt.

  • Zach Leonard Post author

    You make me proud to be a 21 year old watching a YouTube video about the ayatollah khomeini

  • Mark Dezuba Post author

    Do one on Pee Wee Herman

  • blikje cola Post author

    I like youre beard 😗😗😎

  • Keylan Bankston Post author

    No lie. Literally all of my favorite YouTube channels are made by Simon……

    Thank you and the team for the consistent content..

    Yours truly, A white rapper lol

  • Abolhussein Amiri Post author

    Khomeini is a believer in the satanic cult of islam. So the greatest satan is allah, his instrument mohammad and now KHOMENEI

  • Bruce Wayne Post author

    Ayatollah Assahola…

  • msf 74 Post author

    I really like your awesome work (which is accurate to very high extent). BUT there are several point should be Cleared:-
    FIRSTLY; to understand why Iran is what it is today and why Khomeini had a certain doctrine, we should go back to the main turning points of Iran political/social history:
    A) the Shah modernization and westernization of the country(so called the White Revolution) which was met with rejection, as not being toward people (mainly Todah communist party) and as serious violation of religious laws and social traditions (religious groups). Take note that both factions (Todah and Religious) were huge and have enormous supporters among the population.
    B) the 1951 CIA backed Army coup against the nationalist PM Mosaddaq to re-Instal the Shah monarchy.
    Almost all parties see this as threat and violate of the country’s sovereignty by foreigners, also as dangerous intervention to undermine any last hope for democratic (more or less) and independent government.
    SECONDLY; there were no “heaven keys” given to soldiers throughout the Iraq-Iran war. This is probably an Iraqi propaganda against Iran as they have different religious dogmas (Sunni and Shia) and both known to beck things up against each other (either historically or fictionally).
    THIRDLY; most reviews of the Iranian revolution revolves around Ayatollah Khomeini only, like there were no millions of revolutionaries and supporters from whom many died during the revolution and many carried the goal of achieving an independent sovereign nation.
    The Iraq-Iran war and its consequences (sever economical, social, and religious division within the region) is what shaped the Middle East like what we see today.
    This is only a small peek of the complex situation in the Middle East, explaining it will take more than just a comment..

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