Mohammad Khatami, President of the Islamic Republic of Iran from 1997 to 2005, continues to be an influential figure in Iranian politics, especially in the upheavals following the 2009 presidential election. 2005, the year in which Khatami was replaced by the radical populist Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, also marked the twentieth anniversary of Mikhail Gorbachev's appointment to the post of General Secretary of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union. Gorbachev and Khatami both attempted to breathe new life into the ideological polities that emerged from two of the most significant events of the twentieth century, the Great October Socialist Revolution of 1917 and Iran's Islamic Revolution of 1979, both of which proclaimed new forms of universalist utopian modernities claiming superiority to that of the West. Their institutional arrangements, ideological dynamics, historical goals, geopolitics and drive for change share much in common. Zhand Shakibi here offers the first comparative analysis of these two influential leaders based heavily on interviews, archives and memoirs. By taking Khatami and Gorbachev out of the narrow Iranian and Soviet contexts and comparing their leadership styles, political and historical outlooks and the domestic and geopolitical environments in which they found themselves, the author provides intriguing conclusions on why these men achieved the exact opposite of what they sought - in the one case, the collapse of the USSR and in the other, the domination of the institutions of the Islamic Republic by a coalition of conservatives and radical Islamists, which in the aftermath of the 2009 election, found itself under increasing pressure from so-called reformists and outright rejectionists of the Islamist Republic. The importance of this study lies in its demonstration of how similar political features in completely different political environments can produce common political outcomes. This book is a fascinating resource for political scientists, international relations specialists and historians of twentieth century politics. It also includes new analysis of the 2009 Iranian elections, providing fascinating insights for those who follow the unfolding of the Iranian political scene.
Khatami and Gorbachev
Politics of Change in the Islamic Republic of Iran and the USSR