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Iran (Gorbachev MkII)


8 July

Soviet Foreign Minister Eduard Schevardnadze visits Tehran to meet with the head of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, General Mohsen Rezaee. Publicly, this is to discuss Lebanese hostages, but the meeting incorporates the potential for a thawing of Iranian-Soviet relations, something Iran is willing to consider due to the Soviet Union shutting down the export of armaments to Iraq. Schevardnadze expresses to Rezaee that the USSR wishes to remove its forces from Afghanistan as soon as it is possible, but is concerned that Pakistan might fill the void, and that this would pose a problem to both Iran and the Soviets. He also expresses the willingness of the Soviets to begin shipping arms to Iran, provided they receive an iron-clad guarantee that these weapons will not find their way into the hands of the mujahideen.

8 August

A US Army lieutenant, stationed in Virginia, is arrested by the Federal Bureau of Investigation after it is determined that he was a key participant in a weapons smuggling ring. He has been primarily passing missile components to the Iranian regime of Ayatollah Khomeini and will be charged, along with nine others, with espionage offences. KGB Director Viktor Chebrikov is instructed to begin an investigation of other potential arms links between the USA and Iran, ostensibly to prevent the United States from entering a weapons market that the USSR intends to dominate.

29 August

President of Syria Hafez Assad flies into Teheran to meet with Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, the supreme leader of Iran. He oversees one thousand new battalions of Revolutionary Guards. Iran has lost $6 billion in revenue during the last year due to the fall of oil prices.

1 September

After a number of delays required in finalising all details of the trade, the Iranians receive their first shipment of natural gas from the Soviet Union.

17 November

In a clear signal of a growing rapprochement between Iran and the USSR, Soviet President Andrei Gromyko undertakes a two-day state visit to Teheran. He talks with President Ali Khamenei, who is one of the closest confidants of the Ayatollah Khomeini. Gromyko reports back to the Politburo that the Ayatollah is ailing, but that he has met with Ayatollah Hussein Ali Montazeri, the named successor as spiritual leader of Iran. He reports that there are intrigues by Khamenei and Speaker of the Majlis, Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani to oust Montazeri from influence.

25 November

Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, Imam of Iran, enters hospital, a trip from which he shall not return. The French and East German government offers medical assistance, but the 84-year-old’s doctors advise that he will not recover. A photo smuggled out of Iran shows that Khomeini has lost all his hair.

6 December

Imam Ruhollah Khomeini of Iran dies in Teheran, as Iranian citizens pour into the streets in expressions of grief. He is buried in accordance with Islamic custom. He is succeeded by Grand Ayatollah Hossein Ali Montazeri, the only one of the marja who has accepted Khomeini’s concept of velayat-e faqih. Montazeri will immediately move to dilute the power of his Speaker, Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, but is insufficiently powerful to remove him. President Ali Khamenei also has reason to be concerned.


2 January

The French President, Laurent Fabius, announces intentions to “make serious steps” in an attempt to repair relations between Teheran and Paris. As a first step, France will pay back loans made by the Shah to France in 1975.

8 January

Supreme Leader of Iran, Grand Ayatollah Hossain Ali Montazeri, agrees to allow continued negotiations with France and the Soviet Union, but expresses misgivings about the role of reformists in advancing changes in foreign policy for the Islamic Republic.

25 January

Senator Arlen Specter (R-PA) calls for direct US intervention against Iran after two Lebanese men are arrested while in West German customs carrying bomb-making equipment. He states that they are directly connected with Iran and that the United States should take more steps to protect itself from terrorist attack.

4 February

US President Ronald Reagan flies to West Germany, where he meets with Chancellor Helmut Kohl and representatives of the Iranian government, including the Speaker of the Majlis, Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani. Reagan presents the Iranian leader with a Bible, while Rafsanjani presents Reagan with the Koran. During a subsequent press conference, which the Iranians do not attend, Reagan states that “all the ancestors of Abraham, all the people of the Book, should be brothers”. He also congratulates Grand Ayatollah Montazeri for his willingness to engage with the outside world.

19 February

Iranian Supreme Leader, the Grand Ayatollah Montazeri, gives a public address at the Jamaran Mosque outside Teheran, marking the eighth anniversary of the overthrow of the Shah. He states that the nation stands on the verge of success and that “the children and old men cheer the fall and ruination of the regime of Saddam Hussein”. He confirms that a representative of the Iraqi government will be arriving in the coming week to negotiate “the terms of our victory”.

24 February

Iraq’s Foreign Minister and Acting Prime Minister, Tariq Aziz, arrives in Teheran to meet with Foreign Minister of Iran, Dr. Ali Akbar Velayati. It is the first government-to-government contact in many years between the two countries, but there are immediate rumours that Iran is insisting upon an agreement in principle to allow a partition of Iraq as a precondition for a truce. It will later emerge they have insisted upon the creation of a Shia Arab state of about five million people.

4 March

The talks between Iran and Iraq break down after Iran fails to obtain the concessions it demands from Iraqi Deputy Premier Tariq Aziz. Aziz suggests to the international community that Iran will not be happy until it has established a puppet Islamic fundamentalist state in the south of his nation. General Maher Abdul Rashid orders his forces to engage the enemy without mercy.

9 March

The UN Security Council passes a motion on Iran and Iraq, warning that their collective forces will intervene to reinforce a ceasefire and to prevent further Iranian advances into Iraqi territory. They warn Iran to cease moving forward, and Iraq not to respond.

10 March

Iranian President Ali Hoseyni Khamenei states that his nation is taking the orders of the UN Security Council into consideration and will make clear its position on the ceasefire demand within the next week. However, satellite observation of Iranian troops will make it clear prior to any announcement that Iran intends to honour at least a temporary ceasefire.

16 March

Iran and Iraq sign a formal ceasefire, bringing to an end their long war. Representatives from both nations and the major powers agree to meet in Geneva and to talk until a peace treaty can be agreed upon between the two countries. Iran makes clear that it is not prepared to stomach a status quo ante bellum.

24 March

Iran’s Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Hossain Montazeri confirms that the war between Iran and Iraq is over, and that the terms for the future of the region will be decided by Iran in conjunction with United Nations members. He refuses to offer any further information, but agrees to talk to representatives of the Security Council regarding a “reasonable settlement”.

8 July

French President Laurent Fabius criticises Iran, ordering police to cordon off the Iranian embassy in Paris. He states proof of operations by Iranian intelligence agents, designed to undermine the “Zionist-ruled” French state. He demands that an Iranian intelligence officer be removed from the country.

26 July

France terminates diplomatic relations with Iran, causing Tehran to dispatch Deputy Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Mohtashami to Paris. French workers have left the city, or moved into the nearby Italian Embassy. US President George Bush declares strong support for President Fabius and activates that the Gulf Cooperation Taskforce components at Khor Fakkan (UAE) and Mina al Ahmadi (Kuwait) to increase their supervision of Iranian shipping.

1 August

Demonstrations against the “enemies of Islam” by Iranian pilgrims in Mecca for the Hajj lead to violent exchanges with Saudi security forces, with over five hundred killed. Ayatollah Hossain Ali Montazeri calls for vengeance, demanding that Saudis rise up and overthrow the royal family. King Fahd states that the action was a deliberate plot to destabilise his country.

2 August

Mobs attack the Saudi embassy in Tehran as Ayatollah Hossain Ali Montazeri declares that Wahhabism remains a heretical form of Islam. He condemns Saudi Arabia for allowing the US military to operate within its neutral zone and criticises the Persian Gulf states for submitting to “American imperialism”. Senate Majority Leader Robert Byrd warns that the ongoing role of the US in the Persian Gulf is an “opportunity for embarrassment in a treacherous and unstable region”.

12 August

Protestors jam Tehran’s Revolution Avenue as parliamentary speaker Hashemi Rafsanjani pledges his nation will “avenge the blood” of the Iranian pilgrims killed in Mecca. Ayatollah Hossain Ali Montazeri calls the Saudi royal family “inept and spineless” and states that “it is the will of Allah that, at the opportune time, we will deal with and uproot these agents of the Great Satan”. To indicate its position, Iran will once again conduct war games in the Strait of Hormuz for the first time since the 1985 crisis.

13 August

The USSR announces a deal with Iran to create a second rail link to the country through Central Asia to assist a trade in petrochemicals and steel. It appears to confirm a significant shift in superpower policy in the region, with Soviet loyalties moving from Baghdad to Tehran. It is also revealed today that British Prime Minister Neil Kinnock has declined a Pentagon request to send a British naval contingent to the Persian Gulf to reinforce the US position.

5 September

With Iran contained by the US Navy, Saudi Arabian Interior Minister, Prince Naif, takes off the gloves to attack on behalf of his family. He calls Ayatollah Montazeri of Iran a “conspirator” and “the leader of criminals”. Meanwhile, members of the US Congress begin to express concern that the country could be headed to war in violation of the 1973 War Powers Resolution, an idea which President George Bush actively denies.

11 October

The Iranian speaker, Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, is criticised by Ayatollah Hossain Ali Montazeri for his associations with the United States during the Reagan Administration. He is also blamed for the recent stand-off with the US, which ended with embarrassment for the Iranian regime. Montazeri states that he will not remove Rafsanjani from his position, but makes him the subject of a “special investigation to determine if he had succumbed to carnal instincts and deviant paths”. While eventually he will be exonerated, Rafsanjani will spend the next twelve months battling judicial scrutiny.


11 March

A car bomb in Tehran kills three people. No organisation claims responsibility for the attack; however, questions are raised by international press as to whether or not this might be part of a greater plan by Azeri nationalists to destabilise the USSR and Iran and create their own “Greater Azerbaijan”.

5 May

After a series of talks aimed at reaching some level of understanding, King Fahd of Saudi Arabia announces the termination of diplomatic ties with Iran. He also states that the visa quota to allow Iranian Muslims to complete the Hajj will be cut by seventy percent, supposedly to reduce crowding and increase the safety of pilgrims. In response to the increased tensions, US Congressional leaders decide to increase direct funding for their Gulf Cooperation Taskforce by $800 million in the next budgetary year.

13 June

One of the former Prime Ministers of Iran and leading intellectual, Mehdi Bazargan, publishes an open letter to Grand Ayatollah Hossain Ali Montazeri. It criticises the late Ayatollah Khomeini for “allowing despotism worthy of the Pharaohs, collaborating with the Zionists, encouraging hatred and bankrupting our treasury”. He questions Iran’s involvement in Sumeria and expressing the hope that what is occurring there is “martyrdom” and not “trafficking in the blood of innocence”.

19 June

There are increased tensions within the Iranian government as Grand Ayatollah Hossain Ali Montazeri announces that the current President, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, will not contest the next election in 1989, having served two consecutive terms. He also announces that he is assuming the title of commander-in-chief from Khamenei. He suggests that Prime Minister Mir Hossein Mousavi would make an ideal candidate as a successor to Khamenei due to his successful management of the national economy, but that the parliamentary chairman Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani is also a potential candidate if he can resolve the current investigation.

2 July

Ayatollah Hossein Ali Montazeri announces that Iran will review its government and constitution in order to remove “systematic contradictions”. He admits that this may mean the reorganisation of some governmental organisations, such as the Basij-e Mostaz’afin, which no longer fulfil “conditions of necessity” and encouraging policies which would encourage the return of educated citizens from abroad. This would include greater legislative powers, the abolition of the Revolutionary Courts and regulated recognition of human rights.

6 July

Iranian President Ali Khamenei clarifies recent statements by Ayatollah Hossein Ali Montazeri, stating that his nation remains committed to eliminating US “interference” in the Persian Gulf region. He condemns US sanctions, seizures of assets, military hostility and support for Israel, stating that America has “a criminal and mischievous nature”.

16 July

Grand Ayatollah Hossain Ali Montazeri of Iran, in response to criticism of a soft-line on the United States’ presence in the region, condemns those who “speak peace to Satan and his criminals”, and advocates attacks on “America’s financial, political and military lackeys”. He orders the speedboat fleets of the Revolutionary Guards to “harass but not confront” US warships patrolling in the area. Montazeri states that the continued US naval presence in the Persian Gulf is legally questionable and suggests that the United States should activate the War Powers Resolution or pull its forces out.

30 July

Iranian President Ali Khamenei, in a meeting with UN Secretary General Javier Perez de Cuellar, declares his country has decided to “move towards the restoration of stability in the Persian Gulf region”. Many are interpreting the peace moves of Grand Ayatollah Montazeri as a renunciation of the idea of exporting Islamic revolution through force and point to plans to end intake in the Basij-e militia over the next three months. According to the CIA, the plan was agreed upon by Montazeri, Prime Minister Mir Hussein Mousavi, former speaker Rafsanjani and Ahmed Khomeini, son of the late supreme leader, in a meeting on 16 June. US Secretary of State James Baker states that, “if the Iranian problems go away”, the $150 million spent each year on maintaining such an enormous flotilla in the Persian Gulf “will inevitably go down”.

6 August

The investigation into the Iranian speaker, Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, clears him of any wrongdoing. Nobody is surprised, given his increasing integration back into the decision-making process within the Islamic Republic. He immediately suggests publicly that it is time for Iran to begin to forge a new relationship with the United States if their President, George Bush, is prepared to release the assets impounded when relations were severed in 1980. Bush states he has “no interest in quid pro quos”, but that “if they’re willing and ready to talk about normalisation, then I think it’s time we did so”.

15 August

An Iranian gunboat is destroyed on approach to US naval vessels in the Persian Gulf during a minor skirmish in which the behaviour of the boat is determined to be “imminently hostile”. Iranian news reports that eleven people have been killed, but it will later be confirmed that there were three fatalities. US President George Bush states that the action was “regrettable”, and Secretary of State James Baker states that “the US remains committed to seeking a path towards reconciliation with the Islamic Republic” and suggests that the action might have been unauthorised by the commanders on the scene, “the result of grave errors by fallible humans”.

28 August

After days of discussion and controversy, US President George Bush states that no action will be taken over the destruction of an Iranian patrol boat, arguing that “the mistake, while regrettable, was not the result of negligence or culpability”, but “the action of an error in judgement by a junior officer in a stressful and hostile environment”.

17 October

Iranian Speaker Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani tells the National Consultative Assembly that “the Soviets have ended their criminality and the United States their attempts at devouring the world”. However, he warns that any approach to Washington must be made on the basis of “recognition of the sovereignty of Islam”. He also declares that Iran is preparing for an “open consultation” on a review of its constitution by the Assembly of Experts.

25 December

The Chairman of Iran’s Assembly of Experts, Ayatollah Ali Meshkini, announces a constitutional reform committee, to be convened in the Islamic Republic in May next year. It is revealed that Grand Ayatollah Hossain Ali Montazeri has supported the idea that the post-Khomeini situation needs to be formalised. Meshkini also announces that Iran will be establishing a prison review board, which will also look at prisoner amnesties.

6 January

Britain and France indicate their willingness to resume diplomatic contact with Iran after three Western prisoners are released, without notice, from Teheran’s prisons and flown home. There is general suprise at the action of the Islamic Republic, but it is interpreted in light of recent discussions about constitutional reform.


6 January

Britain and France indicate their willingness to resume diplomatic contact with Iran after three Western prisoners are released, without notice, from Teheran’s prisons and flown home. There is general suprise at the action of the Islamic Republic, but it is interpreted in light of recent discussions about constitutional reform.

23 February

An Iranian cleric offers a $5 million bounty on the head of author Salman Rushdie over his recent publication, The Satanic Verses, after a protest outside the American Cultural Centre in Islamabad turns violent and six people are killed. The book has been banned in Bangladesh, India and Sri Lanka. While not endorsing the bounty, stating “payment to kill is not a religious act”, Ayatollah Hussein-Ali Montazeri declares that Rushdie will wear “the retribution of God as an apostate blasphemer”, and Rushdie responds by expressing “profound regret” for any hurt caused to Muslims.

4 March

Ayatollah Ali Montazeri of Iran acknowledges that the Islamic Republic erred in isolating the country from the rest of the world, but that he will remain “aloof” from the United States and oppose “colonialism”. He states, after questions on the Rushdie novel, that it is an example of “conspiracy to destroy Muslim culture” and that he will continue to “ensure the independence and dignity of Iran”.

11 March

Citing that the moment is ripe for improved Soviet-Iranian ties, Soviet Foreign Minister Alexander Yakovlev arrives in Tehran. He comments on the recent Satanic Verses controversy and states his “full understanding” of why the book had been criticised and said it contained “language offensive to many peoples”. He suggests that the death threat against Rushdie has no value to Soviet Muslims, because either they are Sunni or it does not come with the imprimatur of a Grand Ayatollah.

8 June

Iranian President Ali Khamenei convenes a constitutional convention to formalise the post-Khomeini power structure and governmental bodies. He asserts that the new Constitution will be completed prior to his planned retirement on 13 October and that he expresses hope that the presidency might pass to Ahmad Khomeini, the 44-year-old son of the late Ayatollah. The declaration is seen to be a direct repudiation of the wishes of Ayatollah Montazeri, who has named two others as preferred potential successors.

14 June

Grand Ayatollah Hossain Ali Montazeri of Iran states that he welcomes the son of former supreme leader, Ahmed Khomeini, as a candidate for President on the retirement of incumbent Ali Khameini. There appears to be three clear candidates to inherit the powers of the head of state now, including Prime Minister Mousavi and Chairman Rafsanjani as potential candidates and Montazeri instructs they should all be approved to stand by the Council of Guardians.

21 June

Iranian Prime Minister Mir Hossein Mousavi asks that he not be considered at this time by the Council of Guardians to run for Presidency of Iran, leading most Western speculators to project the election of Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani. With only a little over a month to go, there is little likelihood that his considerable influence within the country can be overcome by the son of the late Ayatollah Khomeini.

See Also

timelines/iran_from_gorbachev_mk2.txt · Last modified: 2019/03/29 15:13 (external edit)