Op-Ed: What could come next for Iran after the Islamic Republic?
By: Trita Parsi, @tritapa
Why has Iran been so successful? Why has it been able to so easily spread itself across the Middle East and beyond?
Before the Islamic revolution of 1979, Iran had a very different history. It was a society run by a Sunni ruling minority for at least a thousand years, through various dynasties. Then, in the early 18th century, the Persian-speaking Shia majority became the majority after the Safavid dynasty moved into Iran and began making Iran into a new Persian Empire.
The Persian-speaking Shia ruled for five hundred years, but they were not part of any empire. While Persia had been Christian for over five hundred years, Iran did not have a single Christian ruler. The Sunni ruling minority, whose history extends back all the way to the Sassanid Empire of the Sassanid period two millennia ago, had no interest in Islam. They converted to Islam out of economic necessity, and Iran became a Muslim state.
The Shia lived in Iran until the early 20th century when an Islamic Revolutionary Revolution began to sweep Iran. The revolution of 1979 did not occur by chance. Iranians had long had a plan to bring the Shia under their control.
When Saddam Hussein invaded Iran a century ago, the Shia people made their decision. They didn’t just “go away,” they took matters into their own hands, and they declared their independence from the Sunni ruling majority and formed an Shia state known as the Islamic Republic of Iran.
Iran became an Islamic Republic for the first time ever in 1979 when the Shia started declaring their independence from the Sunni-ruling majority of Iran. Iranian clerics were the first to proclaim “Death to America.” In the short span of two years, the Islamic revolution succeeded in gaining the sympathy of the Shia majority and establishing a new state known as Iran.
Iran today has the world’s third largest economy after the United Kingdom and China. It has the world’s fifth largest proven oil reserves and the world’s largest reserves of natural gas. Iran has the largest proven oil reserves in the entire Middle East. Its large oil reserves are the main reason for its success.
The fact that Iran has been able to achieve this success is perhaps the best demonstration that the “new