The End of Iran’s “Neither East nor West” Ethos

Nahid Siamdoust (University of Texas/Austin)

For nearly a century, Iran strived to achieve independence from foreign powers, both Russia to the east and European powers and the US to the west. With the revolution of 1979, Ayatollah Khomeini declared that Iran would be treading its own Islamic-Republican path of independence that adhered to “neither east nor west.” While the Islamic Republic managed to shed the yoke of American imperialism to a great extent, the US-led late capitalist system wherein the US controls the global banking system and has imposed “extreme sanctions” on Iran has steered the country ever closer to the eastern powers of Russia and China. Furthermore, with the greater alignment between the authoritarian political systems of these countries and Iran, the revolution is farther than ever from its stated goals of independence and (political) freedom. In retrospect, we can see that the 2009 Green Uprising was a last gasp to salvage the revolutionary ideal of an independent Iranian Islamic republicanism.