Revolution of the Middle East History Revolution Middle East Sohrabi, Historicizing Revolutions (Coursework Sample)
I will need you to complete and answer questions that are related to the books "UNDERSTANDING IRAN" BY William Polk and "A revolution Undone" by H.A. Hellyer. I will attach the questions in a word document. if you are stuck on a couple, please let me know and we can either skip that one or figure it out. The answers do not need to be long, they just need to be to the point and have the facts.
History Revolution Middle East
The course investigates contemporary issues in the Middle East as shaped by a series of revolutionary episodes.
William Polk, Understanding Iran.H.A. Hellyer, A Revolution Undone.
Sohrabi, Historicizing Revolutions
What was the dominant 'revolutionary paradigm' between 1789 and 1917?
What process is typical of a constitutional revolution? In other words, what do the revolutionaries seek to achieve?
How are social revolutions similar to constitutional revolutions? How do they differ?
Describe the stages of the two types of revolution. What is the key stage in a constitutional revolution?
What social groups or 'structure' is key in determining the outcome of a revolution?
What academic took a 'structuralist' approach to revolution? What does the term structure imply?
Who asserts the ideological or agency approach to revolution? Give an example of a revolutionary ideology.
How does Sohrabi distinguish his approach to ideology from earlier ones.
Read the article by Skocpol and decide which approach you think the more persuasive, structure or agency?
William Polk, Understanding Iran, Pages, 1-87.
1. What lesson does Polk draw from the wars between the Persians and the Greeks?
2. How was political leadership in the Sassanian Empire different from its predecessors?
3. How often did the Romans invade Iran? What finally brought peace?
4. What was the effect in Iran of Mongol and Timur invasions? What legacy of those invasions lingers in Iran to this day?
5. Explain the appeal of Shaikh Safii?
6. Why was Shiism adopted as the state religion under the Safavids? How did it fit Iranian traditions?
7. What was the significance of the naqqali?
8. What was the fundamental urban institution? Why?
9. What are the six themes that permeate Iranian history in the modern period?
10. What is the cautionary tale for Iranian rulers in the epic Shahnameh?
11. Describe Ibn Khaldun’s theory of state formation?
12. Outline Iranian social structure in the early modern period?
13. How does Polk account for the fall of the Safavids? Does it fit Ibn Khaldun’s theory?
14. What was the Qajar relationship with the religious establishment (ulama)?
15. How does Shiism differ from Sunnism? How was this difference manifested?
16. What characteristics defined the mujtahid and ayatollahs? Did these characteristics have an impact on politics?
17. What were the causes of the first Iranian jihad against Europeans?
18. What was the cause of the first Iranian manifestation of nationalism?
19. What groups resisted modernization in the 19th c.? Why?
20. What was the most effective weapon against the British tobacco concession? How did this alter the political constitution? Why was Nasir al-Din assassinated in 1896?
From Political Revolution through Social Revolution, Pages 87-127
1. What groups made up the revolutionary coalition of 1904? What was their tactics? Which were traditional and which modern?
2. What groups reacted against the revolutionary coalition? What were the weaknesses of the revolutionary parliament (majles-e shouray-e milli)?
3. Polk describes the events of 1906 a political revolution, do you agree?
4. International actors were significant in shaping the constitutional revolution of 1906. Identify these and assess how their involvement determined the course of the revolution.
5. What percentage of the income from oil was given to the Iranian nation? Who monopolized the rest?
6. What was the innovative measure of the majlis to reform finances? Why did the reform not succeed?
7. The intervention of counter-revolutionary forces in 1911 was carried out by what forces or groups?
8. After the First World War the Iranian constitutionalists (Sayyid Zia is mentioned) were defeated by Reza Shah. How does Polk account for the success of this coup?
9. Describe the ‘social revolution’ effected by Reza Shah’s reforms.
10. What groups were involved in Iranian politics between the end of the Second World War and 1953? How does Polk characterize politics in this period of relative pluarality?
11. The CIA/MI6 coup of 1953 was, like many Cold War conflicts, the result of a complete misreading or misunderstanding of Iranian politics. What were Iran’s motives for nationalizing AIOC?
12. List the US policies that endangered the regime of the Shah. Which policies of the Shah helped foment a revolutionary opposition?
13. Why did the ‘Plan Organization’ and the ‘White Revolution’ fail to create regime stability?
14. How does Polk describe the dynamics of state failure and revolution of 1978-1979?
15. The international context was again important in determining the course of the revolution. What was the US prime foreign policy consideration, according to Polk, in the years before the revolution?
16. As an American policy maker in government, Polk is an able observer of US foreign policy in the Middle East, what was his assessment of US policy decision-making?
The Revolutionary Regime, Pages, 128-167
1. What crippled the option of liberal democracy in Iran, according to Polk?
2. Who were the moderates in 1979? Why could they not direct the course of the revolution?
3. Using the language of the French Revolution, who were the leaders of the Jacobin, The Terror?
4. What powers were given to the Guide (marje-e taghlid)?
5. What were the motives or tactics of the komitehs when they seized the American Embassy?
6. What’s the significance of the term ‘second revolution’? What does it represent?
7. What were the inspirational models of the moderates, the uqqal, and why were they unable to create a liberal regime? Give examples, with names.
8. Give a similar assessment of the Mojahidin.
9. What was the primary cause of the Terror that seized Iran in 1981, according to Polk? How many died?
10. How did the Iran-Iraq war help cement the power of the revolutionary regime?
11. How did the revolutionary regime institutionalize its support among the population?
12. What factors have worked against democratization and liberalization since the death of Khomeini in 1989?
13. Why did the revolutionary generation of Iranians, desiring greater freedoms, elect Ahmadinejad instead of the moderate Rafsanjani in 2005?
14. The opposition to the hard liners in contemporary Iran is mostly made up of what groups?
The United States and Iran Today
1. According to Polk, who is to blame for the present nuclear crisis between Iran and the US?
Hellyer, A Revolution Undone
1. Hellyer sees the revolution as an on-going process. In which direction does he propose we should align in a confrontation that is often simply viewed as one between authoritarian deep state and the religious right wing?
1. What were the two main forces that confronted each other on 25 January? Identify the elements of each.
2. What is the nature of the social contract in the Arab World? How did the revolution change that contract?
3. What events or factors led to mass support for the protesters after 25 January 2011?
4. Discuss the positive and negative aspects of Facebook in the revolution?
5. What organizations gave the revolutionaries the muscle to resist state violence.
6. As Hellyer says, the revolutionaries only took shape as a distinct group after February 11, 2011. Why were they the weakest of the political groups?
7. The organizational coherence of the MB has been over-stated. What were the major divisions within the organization? How did these divisions shape their engagement in some of the crucial events of the revolution?
8. Outline Hellyer’s critique of the policy decisions of the MB. Why did its decision to evolve from a movement to a political party seal its fate?
9. In 2011 the military appeared on the side of the people and the revolutionaries against Mubarak. Why did the military (SCAF) not pursue a reformist agenda alongside the revolutionaries?
10. The MB similarly excluded the revolutionaries. Why was Islamist culture anti-revolutionary?
11. Explain the political dynamic that resulted in two conservative candidates – old regime and MB – appearing on the ticket of the first revolutionary elections for the presidency.
12. Who was behind and what was the effect of the violent clashes at Maspero, Muhammad Mahmoud, and with the Ultras at the football match in Port Said?
1. Draw a distinction between Islamists and conservative Muslims. Are their politics different?
2. What are the two historic positions of Muslims in relation to political power? How does Hellyer characterize the position of the majority of Muslim scholars (‘ulama’)?
3. Most Egyptians are religious. Are most in favour of a theocratic state? What kind of government or politics do Egyptians want?
4. What is the most likely explanation for the inept performance of the Muslim Brotherhood on the public stage?
5. About what percentage of the electorate voted for Mursi? Did this have an impact on Mursi’s policies?
6. What is Hellyer’s criticism of Western media coverage of the Mursi government?
7. What fault does he find with the secular/liberal/revolutionary opposition to Mursi?
8. Much of the debate on the Egyptian revolution is who to blame for its failure to carry through the democratic experiment – revolutionaries, Muslim Brotherhood, or remnants of the old regime. Which is to blame?
9. Which members of the international community worked to bring about a consensus between Mursi and the opposition in 2013? What part did the USA play?
10. Who initiated Tamarod? Who sustained, organized, and mobilized its protests?
11. Were the events of 3 July a coup or a revolution? Why was the answer to this question crucial?
12. Hellyer speaks of political narratives and zero-sum calculations. Why was there so little room for the sort of compromise he felt was needed realize revolutionary ambitions. Why was the ‘plausible alternative’ he spoke of in the introduction – an alternative to the corrupt old regime and the religious right – so difficult to formulate?
1. What qualities did Sisi possess to mobilize a base of support? How did the war on terror narrative serve that end?
2. Explain the process whereby the expected move for new presidential and parliamentary elections was replaced by the war on terror? Who was responsible for this shift?
3. Who was responsible for failing to act on the proposed Baradei agreement in August 2013, shortly before the Rab’a mass killing?
4. Outline the assessment by observers of the Rab’a incident.
5. Based on the reports pages 167-8 tally protestor and police deaths in demonstrations between 2011 and 2013. What proportion of these were revolutionary protestors against Muslim Brotherhood supporters. Can you identify when the revolutionaries and Muslim Brotherhood diverged in the revolutionary course of events?
6. Describe Sisi’s character and how this might account for his style of politics.
7. Describe the Sisi regime, its approach to governance and dissent, and what this bodes for the revolutionary ambitions of 2011?
8. Account for the rise of the radical Islamists in the Sinai (often described as a branch of ISIS or ISIL). Why did they turn to insurgency after the fall of Mursi? In other words, how did those events increase the currency of the militant as opposed to gradualist version of Islamism?
9. What is Hellyer’s assessment of Egypt’s future in light of these events?
Revolution of the Middle East
History Revolution Middle East
Sohrabi, Historicizing Revolutions
* Constitutionalism was the dominant 'revolutionary paradigm' between 1789 and 1917.
* The revolutionaries intended to achieve a change in the constitutional laws that disregarded the democracy and religion of the country. They also wanted to make changes that will reduce the power of the autocratic Pahlavi dynasty and eventually overthrow it (Sohrabi, 1995).
* Socialist revolutions (2 stages) usually demand sudden and complete changes that can overthrow the government regimes, whereas constitutional revolutions (4 stages) are slow and gradual. The legal revolution aims at indirect domination by creating elective representatives that can weaken the regime with time. However, the two revolutionaries have the same goal, which is to overthrow an oppressive government.
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