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The Principlists (Persian: اصولگرایان, translit. Osul-Garâyân, lit. followers of principles or fundamentalists) also interchangeably known as the Iranian Conservatives and formerly referred to as the Right or Right-wing, are one of two main political camps inside post-revolutionary Iran, the other being Reformists. The term ‘hardliners’ that some western sources use in the Iranian political context, usually refers to the faction, despite the fact it includes also more centrist tendencies.
Within Iranian politics, a principlist refers to the conservative supporters of the Supreme Leader of Iran and advocates for protecting the ideological 'principles' of the Islamic Revolution’s early days. According to Hossein Mousavian, "The Principlists constitute the main right-wing/conservative political movement in Iran. They are more religiously oriented and more closely affiliated with the Qom-based clerical establishment than their moderate and reformist rivals".
A declaration issued by The Two Societies, which serves as the Principlists "manifesto", focuses on loyalty to Islam and the Iranian Revolution, obedience to the Supreme Leader of Iran, and devotion to the principle of Vilayat Faqih.
- Ultra conservatives—also known as neoconservatives—consists of laymen representing the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) collectively. These conservatives support the Islamist government and are more aggressive and openly confrontational toward the West.
- Traditional conservatives are a political faction that helped form the Revolutionary government and can point to personal ties with Ruhollah Khomeini. These conservatives support the Islamist government and advocate for clerical rule.
|1997||Ali Akbar Nategh-Nouri||7,248,317||24.87||2nd|
|Mohammad Bagher Ghalibaf||4,095,827||13.93||4th|
|Mohammad Bagher Ghalibaf||6,077,292||16.56||2nd|
|Ali Akbar Velayati||2,268,753||6.18||6th|
Parties and organizations
- The Two Societies (Unofficial)
- Front of Followers of the Line of the Imam and the Leader (founded in the 1990s)
- Coordination Council of Islamic Revolution Forces (founded 2000)
- Front of Transformationalist Principlists (founded 2005)
- Resistance Front of Islamic Iran (founded 2011)
- Popular Front of Islamic Revolution Forces (founded 2016)
- Alliance of Builders of Islamic Iran (2003, 2004)
- Coalition of Iran's Independent Volunteers (2004)
- Coalition of the Pleasant Scent of Servitude (2006)
- Principlists Pervasive Coalition (2008)
- United Front of Principlists (2008, 2012)
- Insight and Islamic Awakening Front (2012)
- Principlists Grand Coalition (2016)
- Service list (2017)
- Bodaghi, Ehsan (4 May 2017). "'National dialogue' initiative indicates shifting political sands in Iran". Al-Monitor. Retrieved 17 June 2017.
- Rohollah Faghihi (4 November 2016), "Iran's parliament shows its true colors", Al-Monitor, retrieved 25 May 2017
- Mehdi Mozaffari (2007), "What is Islamism? History and Definition of a Concept", Totalitarian Movements and Political Religions, Routledge, 8 (1): 17–33, doi:10.1080/14690760601121622,
In fact, Iranian ‘Islamists’ of our day call themselves ‘Usul gara’, which literally means ‘fundamentalist’, but in a positive sense. It designates a ‘person of principles’ who is the ‘true Muslim’.
- Behrooz Ghamari-Tabrizi (2013), "Women's Rights, Shari'a Law, and the Secularization of Islam in Iran", International Journal of Politics Culture and Society, New York: Springer Science+Business Media, 26 (3): 237–253, doi:10.1007/s10767-013-9143-x,
“Principlism” or osul-gera’i first appeared in the Iranian political lexicon during the second-term presidency of Mohammad Khatami as an alternative to eslāh-talabi or reformism. Although principlists do not share a uniform political platform, they all believed that the reformist movement would lead the Republic towards secularism. One of the most common elements of their political philosophy is the comprehensiveness of the shari‘a. The responsibility of the Islamic state is to determine ways of implementing the mandates of Islam, rather than the reformist project of reinterpreting the shari‘a to correspond to the demands of contemporary society.
- Mohseni, Payam (2016). "Factionalism, Privatization, and the Political economy of regime transformation". In Brumberg, Daniel; Farhi, Farideh. Power and Change in Iran: Politics of Contention and Conciliation. Indiana Series in Middle East Studies. Indiana University Press. p. 47. ISBN 978-0253020680.
- Melody Mohebi (2014), The Formation of Civil Society in Modern Iran: Public Intellectuals and the State, Palgrave Macmillan, pp. 129–131, ISBN 978-1-137-40110-6
- Robert J. Reardon (2012), Containing Iran: Strategies for Addressing the Iranian Nuclear Challenge, RAND Corporation, pp. 81–82, ISBN 083307637X
- Mehdi Moslem (2002), Factional Politics in Post-Khomeini Iran, Syracuse University Press, p. 135, ISBN 9780815629788
- "Freedom in the World: Iran", Freedom House, 2017, retrieved 25 May 2017
- "Iran conservatives tighten grip on top oversight body", Agence France-Presse, Yahoo, 14 August 2017, retrieved 14 August 2017
- Axworthy, Michael (2016), Revolutionary Iran: A History of the Islamic Republic, Oxford University Press, p. 430, ISBN 9780190468965
- Kevan Harris (2017). A Social Revolution: Politics and the Welfare State in Iran. Univ of California Press. p. 157. ISBN 9780520280816.
This discourse was eventually tagged with the Persian neologism osulgarāi, a word that can be translated into English as “fundamentalist,” since osul means “doctrine,” “root,” or “tenet.” According to several Iranian journalists, state-funded media were aware of the negative connotation of this particular word in Western countries. Preferring not to be lumped in with Sunni Salafism, the English-language media in Iran opted to use the term “principlist,” which cought on more generally.
- Said Amir Arjomand; Nathan J. Brown (2013). The Rule of Law, Islam, and Constitutional Politics in Egypt and Iran. SUNY Press. p. 150. ISBN 978-1-4384-4597-7.
“Conservative” is no longer a preferred term in Iranian political discourse. Usulgara', which can be clumsily translated as “principlist” is the term now used to refer to an array of forces that previously identified themselves as conservative, fundamentalist, neo-fundamentalist, or traditionalist. It developed to counter the term eslahgara, or reformist, and is applied to a camp of not necessarily congrous groups and individuals.
- Randjbar-Daemi, Siavush (2012). "Glossary of the most commonly-used Persian terms and abbreviations". Intra-State Relations in the Islamic Republic of Iran: The Presidency and the Struggle for Political Authority, 1989-2009 (Ph.D. thesis). Martin, Vanessa (Supervisor). Royal Holloway, University of London. p. 11. Open access material licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.
- Haddad Adel, Gholamali; Elmi, Mohammad Jafar; Taromi-Rad, Hassan. "Jāme'e-ye Rowhāniyyat-e Mobārez". Political Parties: Selected Entries from Encyclopaedia of the World of Islam. EWI Press. p. 108. ISBN 9781908433022.
- Robin B. Wright, ed. (2010), The Iran Primer: Power, Politics, and U.S. Policy, US Institute of Peace Press, p. 37, ISBN 1601270844
- Masoud Kazemzadeh (2008), "Intra-Elite Factionalism and the 2004 Majles Elections in Iran", Middle Eastern Studies, 44 (2): 189–214, doi:10.1080/00263200701874867,
In Western sources, the term ‘hard-liners’ is used to refer to the faction under the leadership of Supreme Leader Ali Khamanehi. Members of this group prefer to call themselves ‘Osul-gara’. The word ‘osul’ means ‘fundamentals’, or ‘principles’ or ‘tenets’. And the suffix ‘gara’ means ‘those who uphold or promote’. The more radical elements in the hard-line camp prefer to call themselves ‘Ommat Hezbollah’. ‘Ommat’ is a technical Arabic-Islamic term referring to people who are Muslim. ‘Hezbollah’ literally means ‘Party of Allah’. Before the rise of Ahmadinejad to the presidency in 2005, many official sources in the Islamic Republic referred to this group as ‘mohafezeh-kar’ (‘conservative’). Between 1997 and 2006, many Iranians inside Iran used the terms ‘eqtedar-gara’ (authoritarian) and ‘tamamiyat-khah’ (totalitarian) for what many Western observers have termed ‘hard-liners’. Members of the reformist faction of the fundamentalist oligarchy called the hard-liners ‘eqtedar-gara’.
- Banafsheh Keynoush (2012), "Iran after Ahmadinejad", Survival: Global Politics and Strategy, New York: Springer Science+Business Media, 54 (3): 127–146, doi:10.1080/00396338.2012.690988,
What is important, however, is that the principlist camp now increasingly represents not just hardliners but also more centre-right factions.
- Etel Solingen, ed. (2012), Sanctions, Statecraft, and Nuclear Proliferation, Cambridge University Press, p. 222, ISBN 9781107010444
- Ladane Nasseri; Kambiz Foroohar; Yeganeh Salehi (June 16, 2013). "Iranians Celebrate Surprise Rohani Win as Reason for Hope". Bloomberg. Retrieved March 10, 2015.
- Seyed Hossein Mousavian (2012), The Iranian Nuclear Crisis: A Memoir, Brookings Institution Press, p. 486, ISBN 9780870033025
- SHAUL, BAKHASH (12 September 2011). "Iran's Conservatives: The Headstrong New Bloc". Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars. Tehran Bureau. Retrieved March 10, 2015.
- "Poll Results of Popular Leaning Towards Principlists and Reformists", Iranian Students Polling Agency (ISPA) (in Persian), 28 April 2017, retrieved 1 June 2017 – via Khabaronline
- Sherrill, Clifton. "After Khamenei: Who Will Succeed Iran's Supreme Leader?". Orbis. 55 (4): 631–47.
- Thaler et. al (2010). Mullahs, Guards, and Bonyads: An Exploration of Iranian Leadership Dynamics. Sacramento, CA: RAND Corporation. ISBN 978-0-8330-4773-1.
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