Iran’s relationship with the rest of the world is based on understanding the textbooks’ vision on world order and their analyses of the conditions of international relations at the regional level.
The textbooks have two categorizations in relation to world order. The first categorization divides the world into: (1) wealthy and powerful countries; and (2) countries that claim to be treated unjustly on the international scene and consider themselves oppressed. The first category includes the governments of developed countries, which are seeking world domination or hegemony and have been or are “colonialist” and who are the main source of oppression on the international scene.
The second category includes mainly the developing and the underdeveloped countries. The countries in the first category have colonialist goals and profit-seeking motives and are opposed to the development and independence of the countries in the second category. Thus, the alignments and trends, as well as the contemporary history of the world, are largely determined through the struggles of these two antagonistic poles. From this perspective, the textbooks are defined from the standpoint of a country, which, as an “oppressed” country, has always been exposed to and threatened by the oppressive policies of the powerful countries.
Another approach exists for defining the world order, which has been formed based on the religious differences of countries and their belonging to or connection with several of the world’s principal civilizations. Within this framework, the world is divided mainly into the two camps of “Islamic countries” and “non-Islamic countries.” In the historical and geopolitical context, this second categorization is repeated throughout and becomes the subject of political analysis. On this basis, the textbooks see the Islamic Republic as a part of the family of Islamic countries, which are culturally and geopolitically different from Western civilization and other countries of the world.
4.1. Iran and the West
Iran’s relation with the West during the last two centuries of Iranian history, in the political and economic dimensions as well as in terms of civilizations, occupies an important place in the textbooks. The widespread presence of this subject signifies—among other things—the historic, geopolitical, and cultural importance of relations with the West, particularly given Iran’s conditions today. The West (Europe, North America, and Russia) is regularly criticized from four angles:
The first criticism of the West concerns the history of interference of European countries and the United States in Iran. In the course of its relations with Iran from two centuries ago until 1979, the West has continuously played a negative and destructive role. The textbooks highlight the West’s numerous political interferences in Iran since the end of the 18th century in a detailed and critical tone. The West is introduced, from the nationalistic perspective, as the “enemy” of the political independence of Iran, and, from the religious perspective, as an agent to weaken Islamist movements. The two opposing poles of independence (from the West) and dependence (on the West) have a determinant and structural presence. The era of the Pahlavi Dynasty (1925-1979) was the time of direct influence of the West in Iran as well as the era of Iran’s political, economic, and cultural dependence on the West. From an historical perspective, the criticism of the West includes various periods. In the first period of growth of Iran’s relations with the West in the beginning of the 18th century, criticisms are leveled against Britain, France, and Russia due to their “colonial policies.” However, since the coup d’état of 1953, the United States becomes the principal “interfering” power. Reflecting the sentiments in society, the textbooks adopt an anti-American tone.
“After the Majles [Parliament] was closed, Russia in the north and Britain in the south committed many aggressions and cruel acts. For example, the Russians hung a group of people in Khorasan and Azerbaijan. They also riddled the Shrine of Imam Reza with bullets.” (Grade 8 History textbook, p. 42)
“Britain’s colonialist government had been able to establish a new royal dynasty by the name of “Pahlavi Dynasty” and put an illiterate and forceful individual on the throne.” (Grade 8 Farsi textbook, p. 6)
“The start of the Pahlavi Dynasty is, in reality, a new era in the history of Iran. This new era marked also a new chapter, known as “New Colonialism,” in the pillaging and plundering of our country by foreigners.” (Grade 11 Farsi textbook, p. 86)
“During the rule of Mohammad Reza Shah [the second and last king of the Pahlavi Dynasty] America’s interference and influence in Iran increased. People were deprived of freedom and their religious beliefs were not respected.” (Grade 5 Social Studies textbook, p. 127)
“The Shah returned and, once again, American presence in Iran was so prevalent and strong that for 25 years, Iran was considered their most reliable political and military base in the world. The oil revenues, which had been cut off for some time, again started to pour into the pockets of American, British and other Western petroleum companies.” (Grade 11 History textbook, p. 109)
The second dimension of the critical stance towards the West is about the policies of the U.S. and European countries after the victory of the Revolution in 1979 and the establishment of the Islamic Republic. In many instances, the West is accused of conspiring against the Islamic regime. Many of Iran’s post-1979 political crises have resulted from Western—especially American—provocations and interferences. The West (especially the U.S.) is perceived as the enemy of the Islamic Revolution and Islamist movements. One of the most important goals of the Islamic Revolution is fighting the West’s hegemony. “The Islamic Revolution of Iran put a stop to the superpowers’ control and influence in Iran and, by making other Muslims aware of the power of Islam, endangered the West’s interests in many parts of the world, especially in the Islamic countries. This is why the conspiracies of oppressive and forceful governments against the Islamic Revolution continued after the victory of the Islamic Revolution.” (Grade 8 History textbook, p. 93)
The textbooks perceive the ideology of the Iranian Revolution in clear opposition to the interests and culture of the Western countries. The Islamic Republic of Iran is a country compelled to confront the West’s “conspiracies” constantly. Accordingly, the 1979 Revolution is part of an extensive anti-Western stance where the West’s confrontation with Iran is “unavoidable.”
“This revolution was an independent movement which triumphed with the slogan of ‘Neither East, Nor West,’ without dependence on the U.S. or the Soviet Union, and against their will. With the effect it had on the people of the oppressed countries—especially the world’s Muslims, this revolution had shaken the very foundations of the oppressors’ power, and, for this reason, from the beginning, it became the target of the enmity and conspiracies of the superpowers.” (Grade 11 History textbook, p. 155)
“After the victory of the Islamic Revolution, our enemies, especially the United States, continued to conspire against Iran.” (Grade 5 Social Studies textbook, p. 132)
“The most important achievement of the Revolution was, ‘Independence, Freedom, The Islamic Republic,’ which the people had called for since the beginning of the movement in their demonstrations and slogans. The foreigners’ influence, which had paralyzed Iran for nearly 100 years, was gone.” (Grade 8 History textbook, p. 81)
“The documents that fell into the hands of the university students revealed that the United States, with the help of its own agents at that time, had played a role in many of the conspiracies that took place in Tehran and other parts of Iran. The same documents also revealed the names of some of the individuals who had secret contact with America’s secret agents in order to strike a blow against the Revolution. The news of the takeover of the U.S. Embassy in Tehran and of the taking of dozens of its employees as hostages spread all over the world and took the U.S. completely by surprise.” (Grade 11 History textbook, p. 157)
The third dimension of the critical view of the West has to do with the colonial history of European countries and the unjust relations of the Western countries with the rest of the world, especially the Islamic Middle Eastern countries. The textbooks consider the existing world order “unjust” and see the interests of the region’s Islamic countries and the developing countries in opposition to Western countries’ interests. The discourse is based on a set of polarized oppositions between poverty and wealth, developed and underdeveloped, Islamic countries and foreigners, the oppressed and global oppression, the plunderers and the plundered, Islamic and non-Islamic, the West and the Third World. Opposition to Western countries is reflected in the literature textbooks, both through the literary criticism of developing countries (e.g., Latin American literature, through the works of Chilean poet Pablo Neruda) and critical Western writers (e.g., Harriet Beecher Stowe, the American writer who shed light on the plight of African-Americans in her book Uncle Tom’s Cabin).
“Also, given the complicated situation of today’s world in which groups in certain countries, by using all their capabilities and every mean at their disposal, are seeking to suppress the Mahdaviyat thinkingxxvi and are suppressing those who demand justice in the various parts of the world, especially in Palestine and its environs, intensively and with all their might in order to shape the future of the world to their own liking and to stop the predictions believed by the heavenly religions from coming true. The existence of Islamic government can bring about the possibility of confronting these conspiracies and aggressions and prepare extensive plans for the resistance and survival of Muslims against the oppressors.” (Grade 11 Religion and Life textbook, p. 153)
“In 1976 Democrats won the U.S. presidential election and Carter became president. Democrats were aware of the hatred of most of the people of the world towards the U.S. and the regimes put in place by and dependent on it. Therefore, in order to lower the intensity of this hatred and not allow the Soviets to use it to further their own influence, the Democrats decided to reduce the intensity of the suppression and dictatorialism of the governments dependent upon them in the Third World and by speaking of democracy and an open political atmosphere, decrease the pressure on and suppression of the people of these countries, which were on the verge of explosion. This is how the Carter administration chose the “defense of human rights” as its slogan and asked dictatorial governments to reduce their violence somewhat.” (Grade 11 History textbook, p. 136)
The fourth dimension of the tension with the West has to do with culture and civilization. The West is the birthplace of modernity and modern society and, from this angle, Islamist discourse, which is inclined to view the world through the lens of religion and religious traditions, naturally considers itself opposed to Western culture and values. In a way, the belief is in a clash of civilizations between the West and the Islamic world and in the important cultural contrasts between these two civilizations. In encounters with the West, certain contrasts to democracy, cultural matters, and women’s issues are apparent. The Grade 8 Koran textbook contains a quote from a German girl named Dorothea (or her adopted Islamic name, Hudai) who lives in Italy and who has converted to Islam. “On the third day of the month of Ramadan, I converted to Islam. I became a Muslim and, since that day, as God is my witness, I have not regretted this decision even for one moment. Of course, I must add that, until then, I had no idea how distant the non-Muslim Westerners are from Islam.” (p. 77)
“At that time, they used all the means of propaganda at their disposal, such as Seda va Sima, [the official Iranian National Radio and Television Station] and the media in order to portray people as old-fashioned and pretend that Europeanization is a sign of growth and progress.” (Grade 8 History textbook, p. 81)
“The appearance of audiovisual and written means of communication, such as fixed and mobile telephones, radio, television, satellite, and the Internet, on the one hand, and of new means of transportation, such as automobiles, trains, planes, on the other, has expanded communication among people in various parts of the globe to such an extent that it is as though people everywhere know one another like the people in a village. This is how the concept of the ‘global village’ came about.
What has happened is a social reality and now we live in such a world. With the revelation of this reality, the dominant superpowers have drawn up plans to make their preferred culture, thinking, and way of life global and then impose it on the rest of the people of the world. This agenda is called ‘globalization.’
In order to reach this goal, they receive support from very complex, open, as well as secret, capabilities and sources. Large radio and television networks, satellites, the Internet, movies, books and publications, as well as extensive information and intelligence organizations are the tools for spreading the culture of the great powers, particularly the U.S. support for these tools is furnished by the military, political, and economic power of the U.S., which is preparing the ground for the spreading of American culture, morality, and traditions by creating fear, dependence, submission or greed. For example, after the U.S. invaded Afghanistan and Iraq, it launched dozens of television networks in order to impose its own culture and morality on these two countries’ Muslim people.
What is important and calls for clear-sightedness is that we know that, given the extensive and complex power of communications, modern propaganda methods are the most important and effective tools for cultural assimilation. On the one hand, very indirectly and through the words of the nations, they enlarge the divide between the generations to such an extent that the new generation will feel it can no longer communicate with its own culture. On the other hand, they present the elements of their own culture, such as clothes, architectural style, cuisine, social activities, and even their lifestyles, and, generally their own way of life, in the most attractive propagandistic packaging possible so that, in addition to attracting the attention of these nations, they can make them follow their way of thinking…” (Grade 11 Religion and Life textbook, p. 133)
From the political standpoint and the perspective of Middle Eastern and Iranian history, the discourse of the textbooks can be considered “anti-Western.” The “foreigners” referred to in the textbooks are none other than the Western countries and the U.S., which are continuously conspiring against the interests, national resources, wealth, and cultural values of the Muslim countries and which are considered potential and actual enemies. The history, social studies, and religious studies textbooks have the highest number of criticisms of the West whereas geography, science, and literature textbooks rarely resort to political or ideological invective against the West.
However, “anti-Western” prejudices do not appear regularly in the textbooks. For example, the History and Geography textbooks have a more truthful approach. Alongside the “colonialist and oppressive” West, another image exists that highlights its cultural products, and scientific and technological advances. Overall, Western science and technology and certain components of Western culture (such as classical literature) are ever-present in the textbooks. Many European and American scholars, literary and cultural figures appear in a positive way, especially in science textbooks.xxvii In spite of this neutral viewpoint, students are asked to be careful in using Western science and communicating with the Western scientific world. “In issues and matters about and involving Iran, Islam, and Islamic countries, having command of a foreign language is not enough because foreign sources written by people who have little or no knowledge of Iranian and Islamic culture cannot be trusted.” (Grade 7 Farsi textbook, p. 47)
The last point is that the West does not have equal value with Christianity or Christian culture. At times, the textbooks connect criticism of the West from the standpoint of culture and value system, especially regarding women and women’s issues, with the weakening of Christian culture.
The stance towards the West is the same contradiction with which Islamist movements and traditional culture have been struggling for the last two centuries. What sort of relationship should Iran have with the West and what should Iran take away from it? In what contexts should Iran accept changes and what part of the Iranian culture should be preserved? How should Iran confront the trend of the growing influence of Western culture and lifestyle? These questions have been asked repeatedly for the last two centuries and the view reflects the reproduction of identity crisis, which have come about with the entry of non-Western civilizations into the modern world.
4.2. The Israeli-Palestinian Conflict
When it comes to attitudes towards and perceptions of the West, Israel occupies an important place. In the discourse of the curriculum, which is largely a reflection of the regional policies of the Islamic Republic, the government of Israel is called “The Regime Occupying Jerusalem” and the land of Israel is referred to as “Occupied Palestine.” Any mention of the name and geographic boundaries of Israel is avoided even in the maps in the history or geography books.
Geography, Grade 6, p. 11. NOTE: In this map, Israel is referred to as the Occupied Palestine.
Israel is considered the “enemy” of Islamic countries and Muslims, and the “agent” of the U.S. and Western countries. Israel is “absolute evil” and many of Iran’s political issues and crises are in connection with this country. The history of the Islamist movements’ hostile encounter with Israel goes back many years. The textbooks contain numerous quotes against Israel from Iranian political leaders since the 1960s. Among these historical references is the stance taken by Ayatollah Khomeini during the 1960s crisis and the heightening of his differences with the rule of Mohammad Reza Pahlavi. “Israel does not want this country to have any scholars. Israel does not want this country to have the Koran. Israel does not want this country to have religious scholars. Israel does not want this country to have Islamic rules. At the hands of its evil agents, Israel attacked the [Feyzieh] Seminary. They attack us. They attack you, the nation. [Israel] wants to take over your country. [It] wants to destroy your agriculture and commerce. [It] wants there to be no wealth in this country. [It] wants to take all our wealth at the hands of its agent. Such things are meant to be barriers or obstacles on [their] way. [Israel] breaks these barriers. The Koran is a barrier in the way: It must be broken. The clergy is a barrier in the way: It must be broken. The Feyzieh Seminaryxxviii is a barrier in the way; It must be destroyed. Religious scholars may become barriers later: They must fall from the rooftops and their heads and hands must be broken so that Israel’s interests are served. [In] obeying Israel, our government [the Shah’s government], insults us…” (Grade 11 History textbook, p. 113) In History, Social Studies, Religious Studies, and Farsi textbooks the subject of Israel and sharp criticisms of it are presented in various forms.
“With the coming of the month of Muharram,xxix in his guidance to the religious speakers, Imam Khomeini emphasized that, at times such as these, remaining silent is tantamount to confirmation of the tyrannical regime and helping the enemies of Islam: ‘Warn the people about the danger associated with Israel and its agents…’” (Grade 11 History textbook, p. 116)
“With the revelation of the secret relations between the Shah and Israel by Ayatollah Khomeini in the course of the uprising of June 5  and thereafter, a new chapter began in the Iranian people’s struggle with domestic authoritarianism and foreign colonialism. In addition to bringing into the fray large cross-sections of the Muslims of Iran—who were sensitive to the usurpation of the holy land of Palestine—on the international level it caused an outpouring of sympathy towards, as well as expanding links, with the Iranian people’s Islamic movement. (Grade 11 History textbook, p. 115)
“After it brought its confrontation with the nation to a head by murdering a number of people on June 5, 1963, the Shah’s regime quickly expanded the violent activities of its police as well as its information, intelligence, and security forces for the purpose of fighting the revolutionary movement. SAVAK [the Shah’s secret police]—that is, the Organization for Security and Intelligence—was strengthened very quickly, was equipped with various implements for torture and spying and information- and intelligence-gathering methods, and was given modern buildings and bases in all the cities. The intelligence agencies of the U.S. (CIA) and Israel (MOSSAD) provided assistance in strengthening and expanding this organization as well.” (Grade 11 History textbook, p. 126)
The textbooks discuss Israel’s conflicts with Palestine and Arabs in various forms. This is how the issue of Palestine is set forth in a lesson on family in the Grade 6 Social Science textbook: “Many of your brothers and sisters in the Occupied Palestine have lost their mothers, fathers, and other members of their family due to the violence of the tyrannical and cruel soldiers of the Regime Occupying the Holy Land. They strive to avenge themselves and their families against the occupiers.” (p. 13) The Grade 6 Social Science textbook discusses Palestine in a homework section thus: “What suggestions did Imam Khomeini have on sympathizing with and standing by the Muslim people of Palestine in their fight against the Regime Occupying the Holy Land? You can also consult with your parents and use your school library about this subject.” (ibid., p.77) Another example from the Grade 10 Farsi textbook includes a section on foreign literature and literature of “resistance” with two poems from contemporary Palestinian poets Mahmoud Darweesh and Ibrahim Gabra. (p. 74) In the Grade 8 Farsi textbook, a story appears titled “Palestinian Teacher,” on the daily struggles and confrontations of adolescent Palestinians with Israeli soldiers in the occupied lands. The lesson is an account told by Khaled, a six-year old Palestinian child arrested by Israeli soldiers during a street fight with them (see below picture). “In the blink of an eye, Khaled jumped out of the circle of soldiers who where surrounding him and took his brother in his arms. Later he told his brother, ‘The next time you should come too and throw stones at them. Don’t be afraid! O.K.?’ Mohammad shook his head and said, ‘I will come too so we can hit them with stones.’ At this very moment, the Israeli soldier hit Mohammad’s head with the stock of his gun and the child’s warm blood was sprinkled on Khaled’s hands.” (Grade 3, ‘Reading’ literature textbook, p. 112)
‘Reading’ literature textbook, Grade 3, p 112
The textbooks present the Israeli-Palestinian conflict as the single most important issue of Islamic countries and the region. Palestine is considered the grounds for unity and linkage among Muslims.
“The land of Palestine carries memories of the divine prophets and, in the course of history, has always been a holy land for Muslims. In addition, based on Islamic teachings, Muslims must support the oppressed nation of Palestine. Therefore, supporting the freedom of Jerusalem and Palestine counts as one of the Islamic Republic’s basic principles and the Iranian people together, united, and of one mind, demand justice for Palestinians.” (Grade 11 Farsi textbook, p. 160)
“God willing, the day will come when the Muslims will all be united and free Palestine and rescue the Holy Land from the clutches of the enemies of Islam.” (Grade 3 Social Studies textbook, p. 57)
4.3. Iran and the Region
Overall, the textbooks exhibit an amicable and peaceful attitude towards the region’s Muslim countries. The political and religious differences of the past and the present, especially regarding Sunni countries, are not mentioned. Instead, there is mostly talk of the union and alliance of the Islamic ommat (community of Muslims) in confronting “enemies” and foreigners.
The view of the region is based on two fundamental facts. The first is the frequent reference to the Islamic identity of the region’s countries and the fact that they belong to the Islamic civilization. In the discourse of the textbooks, there exists a hypothetical form of “natural” alliance and an overall linkage among the region’s Muslims, which can be transformed into their source of power. In actuality, however, the textbooks attribute the Muslims’ problems as a result of their lack of unity because they are geographically spread over a large area. The Muslims’ lack of unity helps in furthering the expansion of the West’s influence.
“Is it possible for geographic boundaries to limit the brotherhood and the shared responsibilities of Muslims? Can a country rich in resources and with high income ignore the poor, the hungry, and the unemployed in the other Islamic countries? Can a free and developed Islamic country remain inattentive to Islamic countries that are colonized and are in chains? Muslims must live with each other with utmost sincerity and in brotherhood and stand unified in the face of blasphemy and global oppression, which is the common enemy of all Muslims. In such a case, the enemy of Islam and Muslims would be humiliated and could never invade a part of the great land of Islam, plunder the wealth of Muslims, and crush their honor, self-respect, and authentic culture.” (Grade 7 Islamic Culture and Religious Studies textbook, p. 64)
“In his historic speech in which he issued the order for the formation of the basij [paramilitary group] for the Oppressed, he [Imam Khomeini] also said: ‘Muslims of the world arise and rescue yourselves from the clutches of murderous oppressors. Learned Muslims, wake up from the slumber of negligence and free Islam and Islamic countries from the hands of colonists and their dependents.’” (Grade 7 Islamic Culture and Religious Studies textbook, p. 65)
The ambiguity in the textbooks’ discourse has to do with the intended audience of this political agenda. The textbooks sometimes speak of Muslim countries or Islamic governments. They also sometimes speak of Muslims and the Islamic ommat (community of Muslims). The reason for this ambiguity is the nature of relations with Muslim countries and the sometimes implicit criticism of the regional countries that act as Western allies and are in conflict with the Islamic Republic’s “anti-Western” stance. The use of the terms “committed leaders of the Islamic countries” and “committed Islamic countries” may be a reference to governments with Islamic tendencies whose relations with the West are not amicable and close. In a geopolitical analysis of the region, academic subjects regularly refer to the interference of “foreign countries,” especially the U.S., and speak of them as the enemies of Islam or agents of discord, backwardness, and dependence. In this approach, the region’s most important problem is a confrontation between Muslims or Islamic countries and the Western countries as Israel’s allies.
“The Islamic world must be united, be of one mind, and coherent and not allow foreigners to interfere in the affairs of Islamic countries… Given their vast Islamic vision, the world’s Muslims and the committed leaders of Islamic countries have the duty to consider the world of Islam as one, and to strengthen the bonds of brotherhood and cooperation amongst themselves, and set aside petty differences for the greater good of the Islamic world. They must fight the agents of discord, resolve their issues and petty differences with optimism and goodwill, and strive with all their might not to allow any discord or problems ensue within the world of Islam and among Muslims… If one of the Islamic countries, due to pride and selfishness or the provocation of foreigners, invades another Islamic country and war ensues, all Muslims, and especially their leaders, have the duty to resolve their differences immediately, restore peace and harmony, and liberate the world of Islam from the worst danger, that is, infighting, discord, and separation…” (Grade 7 Islamic Culture and Religious Studies textbook, p. 66)
“In every land, a group of Muslims have set certain boundaries for themselves and, unfortunately, they only notice their own people and pay no attention to other Muslims outside of their borders and may even call them foreigners. Islam and the Holy Koran do not accept this incorrect perception and consider the world’s Muslims—wherever they may be and whichever language they may speak—as one Islamic ommat. Geographic and racial boundaries cannot separate the world’s Muslims. Even if they are ruled by different regimes, the Islamic lands are not foreigners to one another and all Muslims have a common responsibility towards Islam, and the great society and the united and great community of Islam. Committed leaders of Islamic countries cannot—and must not—consider other Islamic countries as foreigners and be inattentive to them…” (Grade 7 Islamic Culture and Religious Studies textbook, p. 63)
4.4. Attitudes towards Neighboring Countries
Iran and its neighbors agree on many issues. The revolutionary discourse of the 1980s regarding the necessity to export the Islamic Revolution is less intense. Historically, Iran has had tense relationships with its neighboring countries. The number of wars and political crises in past centuries bears witness to this important geopolitical reality. Iran’s present borders comprise only a part of the civilization that, in the distant and recent past, spanned larger lands to the north, east, and west. The textbooks, (especially the history books) refer to past crises, wars, and struggles between Iran, Turkey, and the northern neighbors of the Caspian Sea and Central Asia, and to the gradual “reduction” of Iran’s territory. However, when focusing on the present, this tension-filled past is forgotten. Attitudes towards these countries are friendly and peaceful and show no hostility. The geography textbooks discuss neighboring countries and have photos of them, while the Farsi textbooks have works by the Persian-speaking poets of Tajikistan and Afghanistan.
There are two exceptions, though. The first concerns Russia and its crisis-laden relations with Iran in both the distant and recent past, and its repeated interferences in Iranian affairs. The textbooks do not only refer to the distant past, but also to the events of the post-World War II years, the Soviet Union’s support of the independence movements in Azerbaijan and Kurdistan, and the U.S.S.R.’s role with the Toudeh (Communist) Party of Iran. “In order to obstruct the work of the Mossadegh government, the two countries of Great Britain and the U.S.S.R. used their internal agents within Iran as well. The most important of these agents were the members of the Toudeh Party, who considered service to the Soviet Union their only duty.” (Grade 8 History textbook, p. 56)
The second exception, Iraq, is a special case because of Saddam Hussein’s invasion of Iran in 1980 and the eight-year war that ensued. For various reasons, especially in connection with the victims of this bloody war, Saddam Hussein’s Iraq is the subject of intense criticism. As in other cases, the West is the main, but behind-the-scene, instigator of events and Saddam Hussein’s government is dependent upon the West. “With the triumph of the Islamic Revolution, not only had the superpowers lost their influence and interests in Iran, but they were also extremely anxious about the expansion of the Islamic Revolution into the other Islamic countries and, for this reason, they did not avoid using any conspiracy in order to strike a blow against the Revolution. After it became clear that internal strife and the destructive actions of small factions could not block the Revolution’s path, the superpowers encouraged and provoked Iraq—Iran’s neighbor—to start a widespread war with Iran.” (Grade 11 History textbook, p. 154)
The subject of the U.S. armed forces and the allies’ occupation of Iraq appears in a neutral manner. “The U.S. government attacked Iraq in 2003. After the military occupation of this country, the Ba’ath party and Saddam Hussein’s dictatorial regime fell.” (Grade 7 Social Science textbook, p. 49)
The attitude towards the region has three strategies: The first strategy is the unity of Muslims among all Muslims and the creation of a global Islamic union. At a minimum, this imaginary union will be supplied through the ties, links, and the good relations among Islamic countries. At a maximum, it will include the union of Muslims for creating a supranational Islamic movement. The second strategy is the Islamic Republic as the center of the Islamic countries. The textbooks frequently speak of post-1979 Iran as the governmental model for other Islamic countries based on the Islamic agenda. The Islamic Republic is considered the center of the struggle with the “common enemy” and the protector of the region’s Islamic movements, especially for defending the rights of Palestinians. The third strategy is the struggle to prevent the expansion of the West’s “influence” in the political, cultural, and economic arenas. Since it is not possible for the discourse on identity to spread without the existence of a “common enemy,” discussing Iran’s opposition to the U.S., the West, and Israel, especially in its political dimension, plays an important role in justifying this agenda. These three strategies possess a certain organic logic and show the direction of the Islamic Republic’s political agenda.