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A critical understanding of Khomeini through his words during the Iran-Iraq war (1980-88)

Research output: ThesisDoctoral Thesis

Unpublished
Publication date1/01/2020
Number of pages194
QualificationPhD
Awarding Institution
Supervisors/Advisors
Publisher
  • Lancaster University
Original languageEnglish

Abstract

The 1980-88 Iran-Iraq war is recognised as one of the longest wars of the 20th century. During that time, it is estimated that around half a million people were killed (Kurzman, 2013). From the beginning, Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini saw the conflict as an opportunity to expand the Islamic Revolution into Iraq’s territories. Hence, when after the liberation of Khorramshahr in May 1982, President Saddam Hussain called for a ceasefire, but Khomeini rejected it. While, several excellent pieces of research already have studied the Iran-Iraq war and Khomeini’s ideology (Harmon and Todd, 2009; Moein, 2009; Willett, 2003 Hiro,
1990; Masters, 1991 Bakhash, 2004; Razouxand and Elliott, 2015), by linking between Khomeini's words and his ideology during the war, this thesis makes a new contribution to the field. By making comparisons between Khomeini’s thoughts before and after the revolution with his words during the Iran-Iraq war, it can be seen how his discourse during the Iran-Iraq war was shaped. Also, such a comparison helps us understand the complexities of Khomeini’s doctrines and its evolution.

To do this, I built a corpus of 118,000 words of Khomeini, and it includes all of Khomeini’s words during the war. This thesis studies how and why Khomeini insisted on the continuation of the Iran-Iraq war. Also, by fixing the Iran-Iraq war as a focal point to study Khomeini’s thoughts, his view towards matters such as nationalism and sectarianism become apparent. The study shows that Khomeini did not use nationalist nor sectarian language during the war. Additionally, this thesis uses a combination of Critical Discourse
Analysis (CDA), and Conceptual Metaphor Theory (CMT) as theoretical framework. Various studies have used such a combination as a theoretical framework (Charteris-Black, 2004 and Lukeš and Hart, 2007), however, this combination is mostly used to examine the linguistic
aspect of the language. By contrast, this thesis intends to use the theoretical framework in broader political and social context. Namely, this research uses CMT and CDA to discover the political, not linguistic, features of Khomeini’s discourse. Also, based on research theoretical framework, this thesis develops a new synthesis of methodological tools including intertextuality, metaphor analysis and predication strategy.