By Amin Saikal
Princeton University Press
“Scholarly portrait of a nation that resists easy categorization—and containment. . . . Useful reading for students of contemporary geopolitics, in which Iran has proven a constant, often destabilizing presence.”—Kirkus
On the fortieth anniversary of the 1978–79 Iranian revolution, a definitive political picture of the Islamic Republic
When Iranians overthrew their monarchy, rejecting a pro-Western shah in favor of an Islamic regime, many observers predicted that revolutionary turmoil would paralyze the country for decades to come. Yet forty years after the 1978–79 revolution, Iran has emerged as a critical player in the Middle East and the wider world, as demonstrated in part by the 2015 international nuclear agreement. In Iran Rising, renowned Iran specialist Amin Saikal describes how the country has managed to survive despite ongoing domestic struggles, Western sanctions, and countless other serious challenges.
Saikal explores Iran’s recent history, beginning with the revolution, which set in motion a number of developments, including war with Iraq, precarious relations with Arab neighbors, and hostilities with Israel and the United States. He highlights the regime’s agility as it navigated a complex relationship with Afghanistan during the Soviet invasion, survived the Gulf wars, and handled fallout from the Iraqi and Syrian crises. Such success, Saikal maintains, stems from a distinctive political order, comprising both a supreme Islamic leader and an elected president and national assembly, which can fuse religious and nationalist assertiveness with pragmatic policy actions at home and abroad.
But Iran’s accomplishments, including its nuclear development and ability to fight ISIS, have cost its people, who are desperately pressuring the ruling clerics for economic and social reforms—changes that might in turn influence the country’s foreign policy. Amid heightened global anxiety over alliances, terrorism, and nuclear threats, Iran Rising offers essential reading for understanding a country that, more than ever, is a force to watch.
About the Author
Amin Saikal is Professor of Political Science and Director of the Centre for Arab and Islamic Studies (the Middle East and Central Asia) at the Australian National University.
Professor Saikal has been a Visiting Fellow at Princeton University, Cambridge University, and the Institute of Development Studies at the University of Sussex, Visiting Professor at Zayed University as well as a Rockefeller Foundation Fellow in International Relations (1983 – 1988). He was awarded the Order of Australia (AM) in January 2006 for his services to international community and education as well as an advisor and author. He is the author of numerous works on the Middle East, Central Asia, and Russia. His latest books include: Zone of Crisis: Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iran and Iraq, London: I.B. Tauris, 2014; Democracy and Reform in the Middle East and Asia: Social Protest and Authoritarian Rule After the Arab Spring, London: I.B. Tauris, 2014 (co-editor); American Democracy Promotion in a Changing Middle East: from Bush to Obama, London: Routledge, 2012 (co-editor); Modern Afghanistan: A History of Struggle and Survival, London: I B Tauris, 2012; The Rise and Fall of the Shah: Iran from Autocracy to Religious Rule, Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2009; Islam and the West: Conflict or Cooperation?, London: Palgrave, 2003. He has also published numerous scholarly articles in international journals, and chapters in edited volumes.