Iran Rising: The Survival and Future of the Islamic Republic, Princeton University Press: Princeton, USA (2019). pp 325
"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 favour 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 neighbours, 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 the 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.
Amin Saikal is Distinguished Professor of Political Science, Public Policy Fellow, and Director of the Centre for Arab and Islamic Studies (the Middle East and Central Asia) at the Australian National University. He is the author of The Rise and Fall of the Shah (Princeton) and Modern Afghanistan (IB Tauris)." Princeton Univeristy Press
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'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
'Saikal . . . offers a critical but not unsympathetic perspective on the ‘unique and multi-dimensional, and at times tragic, theopolitical story’ of Iran. . . . Saikal’s convincing bottom line is that open confrontation with Iran is unwise and unlikely to be productive, whereas a policy of careful engagement, while risky, could enable progress on the margins. The author’s careful, analytic approach privileges trade statistics and governmental communiqués over stories of human interest; as such, this is for readers who seek an understanding of strategic considerations, rather than a sense of what daily life is like for the Iranian population.'--Publishers Weekly
'Amin Saikal's lucid analysis of this sophisticated, resilient, multifaceted, sometimes alarming but always fascinating country is comprehensive, balanced, and deeply informative. While fully alive to the governing regime's shortcomings, he makes clear how dangerously counterproductive to regional peace and security is the Trump administration's unremitting determination to bring it down.'—Gareth Evans, former Australian Foreign Minister and president emeritus of the International Crisis Group
'A deft, accessible, and in-depth account of the Islamic Republic, Iran Rising helps us to better understand an important country that continues to defy easy classification.'—Mehran Kamrava, author of The Impossibility of Palestine