Speaking to FNA, Professor Mauriello named independence as one of the most important achievements of the Islamic Revolution led by Imam Khomeini, saying not only the countries in the West Asian region, but also those in as far as Caribbean benefit from Iran’s independence.
“The fact that Iran was capable basically alone to help Damascus win a civil war in which Syria faced forces backed by Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Turkey, Qatar, the US and others is a testament to the value of independence… More recently, the fact that Iran was capable of sending its tankers to the Caribbean, in the very backyard of the US, to help Venezuela face the “maximum pressure” and unilateral sanctions also imposed on Iran is a proof of the benefits of independence well beyond the region”, he added.
Rafaele Mauriello received his Ph.D. in Islamic Civilization: History and Philology from the University of Rome. He is an award-wining author whose researches are mainly about International Relations, Islam, and the Hispanic World. He is currently an Assistant Professor at Allameh Tabataba'i University in Tehran (Iran), and an invited Lecturer in Geopolitics and Global Security at the Sapienza, University of Rome.
Below is the full text of the interview:
Q: The Islamic Republic of Iran has once again become one of the most important players in the West Asian region. How do you believe the Islamic Republic of Iran founded by Imam Khomeini is playing a key role in the region?
A: Independence is one of the most important elements that characterizes the Islamic Republic of Iran in the region. The diverse social and political movement that coalesced around Imam Khomeini as leader of the revolution had independence as a key shared element. The Founder of the Islamic Republic started his political opposition to Reza Pahlavi precisely because of a bill which was intended to give US nationals immunity vis-à-vis Iranian law. In this respect, independence goes hand in hand with sovereignty. Looking at the wider historical perspective, Imam Khomeini acted in line with an established tradition of opposition to foreign interference in Iranian (and more generally Muslims’) internal affairs elaborated within the Shia religious establishment at least since the famous tobacco movement of 1890-1892 against the Qajar authorities, when the ulema successfully led the opposition to a concession that had given a British company the control over growth, sale and export of tobacco in Iran. Addressing current affairs, the fact that Iran was capable basically alone to help Damascus win a civil war in which Syria faced forces backed by Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Turkey, Qatar, the US and others is a testament to the value of independence. Russia also had a major role, but intervened only later in the crisis. More recently, the fact that Iran was capable of sending its tankers to the Caribbean, in the very backyard of the US, to help Venezuela face the “maximum pressure” and unilateral sanctions also imposed on Iran is a proof of the benefits of independence well beyond the region.
Q: Apart from Iran, do you think if Imam Khomeini affected the West Asian region, too? If so, in which ways?
A: The activity and thought of Imam Khomeini should be understood in a wider intellectual, social and religious renaissance that Shia Islam witnessed starting around the 50s of the 20th century in the wider West Asian region, with figures such as Musa al-Sadr, Muhammad Hussain Fadlallah, Muhammad Baqir al-Sadr, Ali Shariati and others. Imam Khomeini was a senior among them. He was intellectually very audacious and his specific contribution is to be recognized in the novel elaboration of a theory of the Islamic state, based on an innovative reading of the legitimacy of political power in Shia Islam. His ideas had the fate to be applied and tested with the establishment of the Islamic Republic of Iran and have had a profound impact on the region and beyond, both in terms of the way they spurred a theoretical debate about the relation between religion, politics and modernity but also in terms of a renewed or reframed social and political conscience of the different and dispersed Shia communities in the region, in which figures such as Musa al-Sadr in Lebanon and Muhammad Baqir al-Sadr in Iraq also played a significant role. More generally, the establishment of the Islamic Republic of Iran represented a major shift in geopolitics and international relations, both at the regional and global level.