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Turning Point: Where is the Green Movement headed?

by MUHAMMAD SAHIMI in Los Angeles

02 Jan 2010 03:39196 Comments
mousavi_1425936c.jpg[ analysis ] The funeral of Grand Ayatollah Hossein Ali Montazeri on Dec. 21, and the Ashura demonstrations on Dec. 27, marked a turning point for Iran's democratic movement. The demonstrations showed that even after a violent six-month crackdown on peaceful protesters, political figures, journalists, and human right advocates, the Green Movement has not been weakened, but that it has strengthened and expanded to many cities and towns around the country. This is already a significant victory for the Green Movement. The question is: where is the Green Movement going to go from here?

First off, let's be realistic. Many Iranians would like to believe that the hardline regime is in its death throes. But such optimism must be tempered. The hardliners' ability to maintain power through force has not been diminished and is likely to outlast the Islamic Republic's crisis of legitimacy. The struggle for democracy in Iran is a Marathon, not a sprint. There is still a long way to go.

Reports indicate that the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC) has moved anti-riot armored vehicles into Tehran and other large cities. This means that although the Green Movement is much stronger than at its inception, the near future may not bring an all-out victory or defeat, but cycles of unrest and repression, unless the Movement takes its next steps carefully and realistically. What are those steps?

First and foremost, the Green Movement must continue to act in a nonviolent manner. The call for nonviolence has angered some. Perhaps they don't realize that the nonviolent nature of the Green Movement has been the most important reason for its success so far.

It should also be noted that there is a vast difference between self-defense -- which is legitimate -- and adopting violence as a tactic, which can only hurt the Green Movement. The former scenario means that the Movement defends itself -- physically, if necessary -- when attacked; the latter implies that the Movement goes on the offensive and employs force and violence. The two are not identical.

But how would violence hurt the Green Movement?

First, if violence is imposed on the hardliners, they will fight to the end, simply because they have no place to go. When Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi was being toppled thirty years ago, his core supporters could move to Europe or the United States -- and many did. There are no such options for the hardliners. They have no place to go. I doubt that even the government or people of Syria or Shiite-controlled areas of Lebanon or Iraq will be hospitable toward them.

Add to this the mentality of many of the top IRGC commanders who believe that they should have been killed more than two decades ago in the Iran-Iraq war and who look upon their survival as a sort of "bonus." Many have no fear of losing their lives, which makes them even more dangerous. They will not don women's clothing to escape Iran the way Abolhassan Banisadr, the Islamic Republic's first president, did after he was sacked in June 1981. I believe most, if not all of them would refuse exile, even if they had such an option (which they do not).

In September 2007 Ayatollah Ali Khamenei took the unusual step of abruptly replacing the top IRGC commander Major General Yahya Rahim Safavi and replacing him with Major General Mohammad Ali (Aziz) Jafari. Why? Because General Jafari firmly believes that the West wants to create a "velvet revolution" in Iran to overthrow the Islamic Republic. As one of his first acts, General Jafari decentralized the decision-making process for the IRGC commanders by creating 31 local command centers in the 31 provincial capitals around the country. He made it clear that he was taking that step to be better prepared to confront the "internal enemy." He said he viewed the "internal threat" more dangerous than the external one, another indication that the IRGC was prepared for battle.

Second, if the Green Movement turns to violence, we may see Tehran's equivalent of the 1989 Tienanmen Square massacre in China, when thousands were slaughtered by the Chinese army. Indeed, China has supplied the IRGC with the same anti-riot armored vehicles that it used on the students. We should keep in mind that the Chinese democratic movement was also very strong at the time (although provocations by foreign countries were also influential in those events); after the slaughter, however, the movement was essentially destroyed. In summary, the IRGC is ready to fight to the end, should the Green Movement resort to force.

Third, the fact that a Tienanmen-style event has not yet occurred, may indicate that even within the higher IRGC echelons there is a split on how to deal with the crisis. If the IRGC high command had been unified, we would have probably seen the use of violence on a much larger scale. At the same time, we have not witnessed the arrest of some key figures yet.

After former president Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani was supposedly defeated by Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in the second round of the 2005 presidential election, Ayatollah Khamenei reportedly told him, "If you had won the election, the IRGC would have assassinated you." So the fact that Rafsanjani and the people around him, who are deeply despised by many of the hardliners, have still not been arrested may be yet another strong indication that the IRGC high command is not unified. We should keep in mind that after Banisadr's 1981 ouster, Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini appointed Rafsanajani as the commander-in-chief of the armed forces until the end of the war, which enabled him to foster close relations with many of the young IRGC commanders who are now in high positions.

Similarly, despite much rhetoric against Mir Hossein Mousavi, Mehdi Karroubi, and former president Mohammad Khatami, they have not been arrested yet, even though the hardliners at the top of the IRGC command, such as Brigadier General Yadollah Javani (head of the political directorate of the IRGC), General Jafari, and Brigadier General Seyyed Masoud Jazayeri (deputy chief of staff of Iran's armed forces), have repeatedly called for their arrest, as well as the arrest of Ayatollah Mohammad Mousavi Khoeiniha, the leftist cleric who is viewed by the hardliners as the key figure behind the scene.

We should add to this the fact that the regular army has been totally silent. The only notable figure who has spoken out is the chief of staff of the armed forces, Major General Hassan Firoozabadi, a close friend of Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. During the Iran-Iraq war, Ayatollah Khamenei (who was the president at the time) frequently visited the war front and forged a friendship with some of the commanders, including General Firoozabadi [who is actually a physician]. But, aside from him, the regular army has been completely silent.

Fourth, violently confronting the IRGC and the Basij militia might lead to a civil war, pitting the people and possibly a large part of the regular army against the IRGC and Basij. Given that ethnic minorities make up a significant portion of the population, and have been suffering for decades (before and after the 1979 Revolution) as a result of cultural and economic discrimination at the hands of the central government, a large-scale confrontation between the people and the armed forces may stoke separatist tendencies among them. It is certainly true that the vast majority of the people consider themselves first and foremost Iranian, then a Turk, Kurd, Lor or other ethnicity, but there are also extremists among ethnic minorities who harbor separatist tendencies, and are supported by foreign powers, in particular Israel.

A group based in Baku, Republic of Azerbaijan, that refers to Iran's Azerbaijan provinces as "southern Azerbaijan," advocates a merger with the Republic of Azerbaijan -- never mind that it was the Republic that was actually part of Iran up until 1828. The group was treated with political significance by the George W. Bush administration.

Another group called the Ahwaz Liberation Organization, which says it wants to liberate "Arab Khuzestan" from Iran, is reportedly supported by British agents.

Then, there is the Jundallah group that claims to fight on behalf of the Baluchi people. Though it says that it harbors no separatist claims, one can never be sure what may happen if Iran is thrown into total chaos, particularly given the support that the United States is believed to have provided it. Add to this the fact that right-wing Israeli politicians, and even academics in the United States (such as Bernard Lewis of Princeton University), have spoken favorably about breaking Iran up for years. Israel, in particular, has been active in Iraq's Kurdistan for years.

We must keep in mind that more than three decades ago, when the 1979 Revolution was gathering steam, the Cold war was at its height, Iran was in the Western camp and shared a long border with the Soviet Union. Therefore, its territorial integrity was guaranteed. In the event of a conflict now, I am not sure that would be the case. Perhaps the only factor that can prevent such a potential danger is for the Green Movement to remain nonviolent.

It is often claimed by those who support economic sanctions against Iran that they can eventually lead to the downfall of the Islamic Republic. The example often cited to bolster their argument is South Africa. Aside from the fact that there have been many cases in which sanctions had no effect -- Iraq, Cuba and North Korea, to name just a few -- the apartheid regime gave up power in South Africa because the White minority came to realize that resisting the Black majority would be futile and lead to a loss of political and economic power anyway. At the same time, the African National Congress, led by Nelson Mandela and his comrades, had assured the White leaders that there would be no campaign of revenge against them. Sanctions actually played only a small part in bringing down the apartheid regime.

Similarly, the split in the IRGC high command, and the silence of the regular army, must be used to advantage. The rank and file of the armed forces and the Basij militia must come to the realization that the rule of the hardliners is no longer tenable, and that if the confrontation continues, they will eventually lose everything and be faced with nowhere to go. That will not be possible if the Green Movement turns violent. Only a nonviolent confrontation will be able to attract a great number of the armed forces.

Next, the Green Movement needs a national leadership team. It is true that the Movement has so far been a horizontal one, meaning every supporter has acted as a sort of local leader, but a national movement also needs national leaders. It is one thing to send e-mails and Tweets inviting people to take part in demonstrations, but what is really needed is to form a leadership team and prepare it for transition to a new stage of the struggle, or even for a new government. An important reason for the success of the 1979 Revolution was that it had a recognized leader and a leadership team [as opposed to what happened after the Revolution.]

Who are some of the possible candidates for the leadership team? Some say that the leaders will emerge from the ranks of the youth, particularly those in the universities. This is both idealistic and naïve. Iran is a complex country in one of the most turbulent regions of the world. It faces significant problems with the international community over such important issues as its nuclear program. These facts alone illustrate that Iran and the Green Movement need experienced leadership.

As always, there are the pretenders. The monarchists, for example, advocate Reza Pahlavi for this role. But he has lived his entire adult life outside Iran, and monarchy has no significant base of support in Iran. The Mojahedin Khalgh Organization (MKO) also likes to make claims to leadership. But in addition to its numerous acts of treason against Iran and Iranians, its structure is strikingly similar to the Islamic Republic: It has a Supreme Leader (Masoud Rajavi) and an Ahmadinejad-style "president" (Maryam Rajavi).

There are also pretenders to the leadership like Mohsen Sazegara and Mohsen Makhmalbaf, who keep sending messages "to the people Iran," as if they were the true leaders of the Green Movement, but in fact are trying to position themselves to become one. But Sazegara opposed voting in the June 12 election, had close relations with arch-hawks such as Michael Rubin [an advocate of sanctions and possibly war with Iran] at the American Enterprise Institute, a think tank that has been no friend to the Iranian people. He had close ties with the Washington Institute for Near East for Near East Policy, an offshoot of AIPAC, before gravitating toward the Green Movement out of pure opportunism.

This leaves us with the reformist leaders in Iran. Grand Ayatollah Montazeri was the true spiritual leader of the Movement before his untimely death, but there is no question, at least in my mind, that Mousavi, Karroubi, and Khatami currently symbolize the Green Movement. Among the three, Karroubi has been the most outspoken, Khatami the most cautious, and Mousavi the most prudent.

All three have grown with the Movement. Khatami no longer just alludes to the excesses of the regime, but has taken increasingly firmer positions against it. Mousavi no longer uses the language of the 1979 Revolution [except for tactical reasons sometimes], and has taken increasingly tougher positions as well. For him, just as for many Iranians, this is no longer about the rigged election, but the future of Iran. And, Karroubi, though always frank, has taken unprecedented positions in the history of the Islamic Republic. Just recently he said that the crimes committed on the day of Ashura were not even something the Shah ever did.

Up until recently, the jury was still out on whether the trio truly led the Green Movement. It was particularly unclear whether Mousavi was truly interested in fundamental changes, or even had what it took to stand up for anything. Two important points about Mousavi must be considered.

One, by all indications, he is recognized by most of the supporters of the Green Movement inside Iran, as well as the hardliners, as the symbol and the leader of the opposition. What some Iranians in the Diaspora -- particularly the monarchists -- claim is that "he is just an excuse." That is absurd. True, he was an excuse for many Iranians in the Diaspora, but I do not believe he was, or is for those living in Iran. The manner by which he has handled the assassination of his nephew on Ashura, refusing to issue a statement about it, saying there was no difference between his nephew and other martyrs of the Movement, has only added to the respect that most people in Iran have for him.

Second, Mousavi's role in the political killings of the 1980s is exaggerated. He was not in charge of the judiciary, nor did he control the Intelligence Ministry and the IRGC, which carried out the executions. He does bear a tremendous moral responsibility and at some point he must clarify his own thinking about the killings and his silence throughout the years. But, without meaning to take away any significance from those historical and catastrophic events, I believe that at the moment that is not the most urgent issue at hand.

In my view, Mousavi's most recent statement No. 17 issued on Thursday has truly demonstrated his political skill and has elevated him to the true national leader of the opposition. Some say that by implicitly recognizing Ahmadinejad's government he has in effect retreated. This is simplistic thinking and absurd for at least three reasons.

One, accepting a government as a reality is not the same as accepting its legitimacy as a product of an election free of fraud. The hardliners control all levers of power -- money, military, executive decision-making, the judiciary, and the propaganda machine that is the Voice and Visage of the Islamic Republic (the national radio and TV networks). The only real power that the Green Movement has is its infectious popularity.

Second, it is naïve to believe that the hardliners do not have any social base; they do. They are probably supported by up to 20 percent of the population -- and armed to the teeth. If we are to believe the various leaks out of the Interior Ministry right after the rigged June 12 presidential election, Ahmadinejad received about 11 million votes, representing 25 percent of eligible voters, which is also consistent with what the internal polls of the reformists had indicated.

Third, immediately after seemingly accepting the reality of Ahmadinejad's government and declaring that he was not afraid to die for the cause of the people and the Green Movement, Mousavi mentioned the "uncommon support" that Ahmadinejad received, meaning support by the IRGC and Ayatollah Khamenei himself. In other words, Mousavi was saying that without that support, the government will be immediately revealed to be shaky at best. In addition, Mousavi mocked Ahmadinejad's performance, and sarcastically pointed out that, although he and his comrades are accused of having links with foreign governments, it is Ahmadinejad who sent congratulatory letters to the leaders of the same nations. He also said pointedly that,

Suppose that through arrests and violence, silencing people and shutting down the [reformist] newspapers and [other] means of mass communication, calm and silence return to society. What are you [the hardliners] going to do about [the fact that] people's judgment about [the legitimacy of the] political establishment has changed? What are you going to do about the destruction of the legitimacy [of the political system]? What are you going to do about the world's rebuke and astonishment at [your] government's use of so much violence against your own people? What are you going to do about all the unsolved economic problems that due to the utter incompetence of the government continue to deteriorate? Based on what base of competence, national resolve [for supporting the government] and effective foreign policy are you going to remove the shadow of foreign powers that demand more concessions and [approve more] resolutions [at the United Nations Security Council]?

Thus, it is clear that Mousavi has only nodded to the fact that there is a government, however illegitimate, with much power behind it. Besides, this nod to the [illegitimate] government creates more divisions in the conservative camp. Many in that camp are not happy about what is happening, truly believe that the nation is in a deep crisis, and want to do something drastic about it.

Mousavi waited until after Wednesday's pro-government counter-demonstrations by the hardliners, in which he, his comrades, and the entire Green Movement were threatened with physical annihilation, to issue his statement. This was very clever and prudent. Mousavi's goal, as I have also emphasized in my analyses, is to keep the Movement peaceful, hopeful, and upbeat, which explains why he issued his statement after the counter-demonstrations.

Once the issue of the leadership has been settled -- and it seems to have been -- the next important issue is organization at the national level. The Green Movement demonstrated on Ashura that it was willing to pay any price to to resist the military-clerical dictatorship and advance democracy. Such an expression of readiness by the people must be reciprocated by the leadership by presenting them with ideas and solutions for the crisis -- one that reflects a national consensus. It is clear that the hardliners have been trying their best to prevent the emergence of such a consensus, but it is the task of a true national leadership to come up with a solution, regardless of the pressure and difficulties.

The first step toward developing such a consensus is, in my opinion, for Mousavi to place less emphasis on the religious aspects of his thinking; I say this as a practicing Muslim myself. No one can expect Mousavi to set aside his religious thinking and system of belief, but it is not unreasonable to expect him not to emphasize a "true religious government," even if he thinks that it can be democratic; instead he must emphasize those aspects of his thinking that foster national unity. Mousavi is a true patriot and, therefore, there is nothing wrong with emphasizing Iranian patriotism.

At the same time, the strength of the Green Movement should be its acceptance of different schools of thought. People from all walks of life with all shades of thinking support the Movement. On Ashura, people demonstrated their national unity, regardless of their different ideologies. I have no doubt that some may still believe that a "true" Islamic Republic (however it might be defined) can be democratic, but there are others, who probably outnumber the first group, who do not believe so. This fact must be recognized by the leadership and, in particular, by Mousavi. All Mousavi needs to do is think back to the 1979 Revolution. At that time too there was a national movement. Many practicing Muslims, such as the author, supported the Revolution precisely because we thought that it would lead to the establishment of a democratic government.

I perfectly understand Mousavi's caution. Religion still influences a significant segment of the population, particularly in small towns and villages. Why else would hardliners use violence on Ashura to force people to defend themselves, and then use their own violence as an excuse to stage counter-demonstrations (under the pretext that the religious tradition has been insulted) and call for physical elimination of the opposition? In sum then, Mousavi should de-emphasize a religious political structure, not reject religion all together.

If these principles are recognized, then, Mousavi's nine demands, as laid out in his statement No. 13 can be used as the basis for continuing to advance the Green Movement. The nine demands are,

1. Formation of a truth commission, such that its findings and verdicts are accepted by all sides, for investigating the violations of law and fraud during and after the election, and punishing those who were responsible.

2. Revising the election law in such a way that free and fair elections can be held.

3. Identifying and punishing those who were responsible for the crimes that have been committed in all organs of the government, including military, police, and the media.

4. Providing support and assistance to the victims of the post-election crackdown, especially the families of those who lost loved ones; releasing from prison all the campaign workers and political activists, dismissing the bogus charges against them, restoring their credibility and putting an end to all the threats being made against them.

5. Putting into practice Article 168 of the Constitution by defining precisely what constitutes a political offense, and using a jury when the alleged offenders are put on trial.

6. Guaranteeing freedom of the press, and changing the one-sided behavior of the Voice and Visage in order to eliminate all the limitations on its programs, so that the political parties can use the Voice and Visage to express their positions regarding various issues, and revising the law that governs the Voice and Visage, to make it responsive to people's demand.

7. Putting in practice Article 44 of the Constitution regarding privatization, so that private radio and television can also be created.

8. Passing legislation to forbid the military from intervening in political as well as economic affairs.

9. Releasing all the political prisoners.

Note that in his latest statement, Mousavi mentioned five of the nine demands as the starting point, but also said that other demands can be added.

By acting in such a prudent manner, Mousavi has put the onus on the hardliners and elevated himself to the level of a true national leader of the Green Movement. He has also made it clear that he wishes for the Green Movement to remain nonviolent. By advancing national unity and democratic principles, as well as de-emphasizing religious aspects of his thinking, Mousavi can be the best figure to lead Iran's march toward democracy.

Copyright © 2009 Tehran Bureau

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196 Comments

Dear Prof.: I do not know why you are muddying waters and propagating propaganda for the walking dead of the failed revolutions. Criminals like Mousavi, Karrubi, Montazeri, .... are neither capable of understanding what people want nor capable of delivering them within an islamic republic system.

Dear prof: your generation that included all these major and minor criminals, from Khomeini to Khamenei, from Mousavi to Karrubi, from Ganji to Sazgara, FAILED; and failed miserably. They even failed to provide a small fraction of the prosperity that the half-corrupt shah provided. And they failed to have a tiny fraction of the decency that the half-decent shah had.

The multi-headed monster, the revolution of 1979, was unleashed by none but people like mousavi and karrubi on people of iran. Monster heads were Khomeini and Khamenei and montazeri and rafsanjani, its heart was the islamic ideology, its numerous arms and legs were likes of mousavi and karrubi, baghi and ganji, sazgara and yazdi; and the threads of hair covering that despicable monster of deceit and murder and thievery were numerous intellectuals, islamists, and leftists who staged the revolution. All cooperating to allow that monster to suck iranian blood and essence for past 30 years, and to sell iran short for their bankrupt ideology of crime, be it in the name of islam or marxism, or any weird combination of the two.

Bloodied hands are bloodied hands, whether minor or major; would you have been as forgiving towards the late Shah or the late Hoveida? After all they both had far far less corruption, crimes, looting, and blood on their hands as any of the thugs that you try to hype.

Dear Prof. Your generation had their chance and they failed miserably; the end result, iran of the past 30 years, belongs to your generation; enjoy it while you still can; but as this iranian proverb says, "It is a mistake to the re-test the failure" (or "Aazmoodeh ra aazmoodan khataast") or the english proverb that "you cannot teach an old dog how to hunt" (no insult to the dog was intended here to compare the innocent dog to likes of mousavi). We do not want to re-test the walking dead of the past. Even if Mousavi is a changed person, which he is not if you listen carefully to his recent interviews where he constantly praises a criminal traitor like khomeini and remains committed to constitution of islamic republic and thus vali-faghih, we do not want to risk or recycle any walking dead and failure of the past. We, the new generation, want a breath of fresh air, likes of Majid Tavakoki, likes of whom we have so many in iran. Mousavi et al. are dead failures of the past and can only recycle the past under a new banner. Iran needs fundamental changes to be able to fulfill demands of the new generation. That snake oil does not sell anymore.

Past 30 years belongs to your generation and future belongs to my generation. We want more than what any of these hard and soft thugs or major and minor criminals can deliver. Khomeini, Khalkhali, Khamenei, Rafsanjani, Mesbah Yazdi, ... are all your generations' achievements. We want a fundamental change. Listen to Reza Pahlavi carefully to see how he envisions future iran. That is what new generation of iranians want, whether you like it or not, and whether you endorse it or not - a progressive iran run by a new generation of Iranian patriots, not a voice from 70s trying to recycle 7th century ideologues under a new banner, whether it is coming from Qom or Los Angeles.

Your generation failed miserably when they sold iran so cheaply to a foreign religion and foreign causes; they are all none but traitors; do you understand that? And my generation is just sick and tired of anything islamic or islamic republic. Please do not prescribe the recycled walking dead of the past for us. If likes of mousavi is all that there is for you to offer, then we still deserve the islamic republic until new "clean" leaders bloom from the rich land of iran.

Shahryar / January 2, 2010 11:27 PM

Dear Prof. Sahimi,

Thank you for a very interesting article; somebody has finally given a glimpse into the future that goes beyond "tipping points" or shallow assumptions of a revolution (as if revolutions are so simple).

There is no denying that Mousavi is an important figure in our quest for democracy. He has the revolutionary credentials to attract the conservative base while being pragmatic enough to enlist the support of the young and secular. The likes of Sazegara, Makhmalbaf and Rajavi are insults to the men and women who have fought on the front lines for this movement. I have more respect for Reza Pahlavi as he is putting a genuine effort in lobbying international powers to recognise and condemn the human rights abuses in Iran. However, like you have said yourself, he is disconnected from the realities of Iranian politics and could never lead such a movement. His future involvement is however another factor, which the Iranian people can decide for themselves.

What worries me greatly is that we could be making the same mistakes as before. 30 years ago, over 98% of our population voted for a Khomeini who promised democracy and other such freedoms, yet look where we are now. How can we be sure that Mousavi does not do a similar thing? He is a politician born out of the Islamic Republic. A leader should have a network of affiliates who can support him; Mousavi's network of affiliates come from within the regime. His experiences, knowledge and ideology all also come from within the regime. Come on - it took him 6 months and a lot of bloodshed to finally drop the "ideals of the revolution" jargon! He continues to be very reluctant.

I can only imagine Mousavi as a figurehead of this movement rather than a leader as you claim. His statement is very prudent and well thought through, but it is only a reflection of the movement's wider objectives and not his own. If he was a leader it would have been his own initiative to release such a statement (and probably many months ago) and not bow to the pressure coming from the movement. So by definition he is being led and not leading. When it comes to crunch time, where decisiveness is a must, Mousavi will wilt.

That is why I believe the Green movement is still leaderless. Good try for trying to identify one, but I believe we have a long time of searching ahead of us. As you say, this is a marathon and not a sprint.

Pak / January 3, 2010 1:03 AM

Many of us who are not Iranians read Tehran bureau because we have discovered it through PBS in the aftermath of the June election. It is riveting reading which is not covered in any depth by CNN, MSNBC or US newspapers. Dr Sahimi's articles are very informative for us to understand the history of Iran and it's politics. I hope that the mission of Tehran Bureau will continue to be educational.

outsider / January 3, 2010 1:53 AM

There are problems with your article, Dr. Sahimi.

First of all, there is reference to a report with photos of two armored water cannon vehicles being unloaded at Bandar Abbas. That report is short on sources and details, but these are definitely not the same type China used for crowd dispersal operations at Tienanmen Square in 1989. China predominantly used the Type 59-II main battle tank. To date, Iran has not mobilized any of its equivalent Safir-74 tanks for riot/crowd control purposes.

Second, it should be assumed that (if the story's true) these vehicles would be operated by NAJA (the Islamic Republic of Iran Police Force or IRIPF)- and not the IRGC.

Also, I believe I've seen Iran already in possession of water cannon vehicles being paraded at national army days. Admittedly, they are not as robust as the types in the latest report, and I may have mistaken them for chemical weapon decontamination vehicles. Still, it may very well be that Iran already has examples of these vehicles and, for some reason, they've yet to be utilized.

You state that Maj. Gen. Jafari was promoted to top IRGC commander for "internal threat" considerations, and that the IRGC was decentralized to reflect this. This is TOTALLY WRONG. Jafari was promoted based on his expertise at asymmetrical warfare strategies, and the decentralized structure of the IRGC was primarily established to counter a major land invasion by a considerably more powerful conventional power such as the United States.

You state that the reason the IRGC has not been mobilized for purposes of crowd/riot dispersal operations and used in the same manner as Tienanmen is that there is a split in the IRGC leadership. You've absolutely nothing to base this on. So far, and with notable exceptions in its execution, the IRIPF has attempted to rely on non-lethal and less-lethal means of riot/crowd control. This policy can be seen in the fact that so many officers were attacked and put at life-threatening risk during Ashura, yet no firearms discharging lethal rounds are evident in the many videos available to date. Give the Iranian police the benefit of the doubt: although not as well equipped or trained as Western police forces, who have decades of experience at this kind of thing over their own populations (and are not saddled with irregular security elements), Iranian police attempts at less-lethal and non-lethal riot/crowd dispersal cannot be denied.

The fact that the regular army is "silent" is actually a good sign; it remains under civilian control. Likewise, despite prominent IRGC calls for the arrests of top opposition leaders (based on internal security concerns), the fact that this has not happened (yet) is another positive sign of civilian control in effect over Iran's government.

Pirouz / January 3, 2010 1:58 AM

Instant classic from Shahryar.

He doesn't want "dead failures" from the 1970s recycling 7th century AD ideology, so he recommends "fundamental change" espoused by the firstborn son of a western-installed dictator from the 1940s who claimed the mantle of 6th century BC kingship!

I wonder what poor Majid Tavakoli would think of Shahryar's comment.

Ali from Tehran / January 3, 2010 2:14 AM

Long article...but very informative and worth reading.

Bijan / January 3, 2010 2:42 AM

Shahryar, I wish Iranians would learn the value of retirement.In the West people have come to the realization that those who are wretchedly inadequate politically need to stand aside and give way to new blood with new ideas.Our older genertion have not grasped this valuable lesson and unfortunately show no signs of such maturiry.Unfortunately, they have assumed monopoly over the political arena. 31 years of one failure after another and they still try to write a perscription using the old ingredients.How do you say we don't want you people anymore in Arabic? They sure do not understand Persian or English.YA AKHI, WE DO NOT WANT ANYTHING GREEN, BLUE, PINK, ORANGE.... THAT HAS ANY CONNECTION WITH ISLAM. O.K. ?

Shokat / January 3, 2010 2:56 AM

Excellent article Dr. Sahimi.
I was getting impatient to see such an article from you, although I was sure I would see it. It seems that some in our generation (the generation that Shahryar does not like!) can communicate telepathically!

kharmagass / January 3, 2010 3:00 AM

I agree with almost everything you say, but am perplexed by your attack on Sazegara and Makhmalbaf. You point, for example, to an unelaborated connection between Sazegara and M. Rubin (I have no idea whether it's true or not) as conclusive proof that Sazegara is somehow not a leader of the Green Movement. But you omit that he literally went to the brink of death in Iran to fight for democracy and human rights, and that he is widely respected because of that. Moreover, he has been a steady proponent of non-violent resistance, and at least for me, has done much to elucidate why non-violent resistance is so key to the Green Movement's hopes for success, including by referencing people to various books on non-violent resistance. Moreover, he has done much in his nightly broadcasts to help organize and guide a group of activists in Iran based on the experience of other nonviolent movements, without ever (as you suggest) implying that he believes he is the "leader" of the people. In short, I agree with you that Mir Hossein Mousavi is the leader of the Green Movement, but we should applaud Sazegara and Makhmalbaf as valuable "nodes" of the Green Movement, not baselessly attack them.

Anon / January 3, 2010 3:17 AM

@Shahryar
The "monster" was unleashed bu the shah and its despotic regime, and by the western reaction to the democratic revolution (the Iraq-Iran war, and the constant pressure and demonization of Iran in the following decades) who allowed Khomeini to destroy the 'democratic' part of it and centralize power.

I'm tired of the fascist-shahist ****; that's why Iranians deserve batons, because they never learn. Reza Pahlavi (like the Rajavis) is just another vulture waiting to fist on the suffering of others. I really can't get how a 50 year old man could be representative of the Iranian youth as you're blabbing, sitting on his throne of Los Angeles. And why people keep acknowledging incompetents as their kings, when the last worthy dynasty of Iran was the Safavid one. If you really feel the urge of a duce/fuhrer/rais/shah/rahbar/whateverautocratyoulike, at least don't choose an ******.

And by the way, patriotism is the last refuge of a scoundrel.

@Sahimi
While I agree with most of the article, I'm sure that Mousavi will put his personal aspirations in front of Iranians ones. And I don't see him as a "revolutionary" figure.

Monster / January 3, 2010 3:27 AM

The author is trying to convince the readers that:
1. The regime is too powerful and irresistible and the opposition better reach a negotiated settlement.
2. The leadership of the movement lies with the reformers (Mousavi, Karoubi, Khatami). There can be no other leadership as there are no other organized groups.
3. A violent confrontation is to be avoided as it will either benefit the regime or will cause disintegration of Iran.

First, let’s get some facts right:

1. The regime is portrayed as HARDLINERS and the opposition as REFORMERS. NOT TRUE. The regime is a Theocratic Dictatorship with two major factions: Hardliners and Reformers.
2. Hardliners are IRGC and the ruling Mullahs and their cronies, a form of military-industrial Fascism.
3. The Reformers are out of favor Mullahs and a Mafia like organization led by Rafsanjani. They are mostly those who became rich thru corruption when Rafsanjani and Khatami were in power. They do have influence and elements outside of Iran who have economic interests in the Islamic Republic and some even teach at the Universities in the West.
4. The OPPOSITION is the rest of the people and particularly the youth, who have nowhere to go, no money and no freedom. They want freedom and a democratic and secular government. They know that the Islamic Republic cannot be such a government by definition.

First, violent or non-violent struggle are methods to reach the same goals: Freedom and a Secular Democratic form of government and overthrow of the theocratic dictatorship of the Islamic Republic. What method is used depends on what he regime does. The more violent the regime reaction to demands by the people, the more violent the movement becomes. Now that the regime has employed lethal means, the situation has already escalated beyond non-violence.

The myth of separatists and disintegration is not credible. There are minorities who have been so severely oppressed by the Shiite Theocracy that they have had to resort to violent means already. Logically, what can avert disintegration is a secular democracy, not the continuation of the Shiite Islamist regime.

Second, the regime survives by creating economic advantages for its supporters and severe economic hardship for its opposition. Anything that can flatten the playing ground, such as targeted sanctions; in fact further weaken an already vulnerable regime.

Third, lack of leadership. This is not a disadvantage. In fact the Iranian freedom movement has the most modern form of leadership. The collective leadership that interacts, communicates and reaches consensus at the speed of light thru Internet. One example of that is the twitter #iranelection. The advantages of this form of leadership are obvious. It cannot be diverted for long and it cannot be stopped when individuals are killed, imprisoned or otherwise incapacitated.

The movement has entered a new phase that is alarming to the Reformers and their supporters. We expect to see articles like this and we expect to hear cries of wolves in sheep’s skin, but we shall move on. We are united, we know what we want and we shall not settle for anything less than a secular democracy with human rights guarantees enshrined in its constitution.

Maziar Irani / January 3, 2010 3:32 AM

To all who attacked me because I mentioned Reza Pahlsvi. I am very glad that I touched a nerve on the generation who sold iran short and run away! That means that I succeeded to teach a lesson in democracy when none opposed Reza Pahlavi for anything that he has said, yet dismissed him by the usual Khoemini-style rhetoric that the late Shah was the usual this and that but we were not competent enough to provide iranians with a fraction of shah's prosperity and decency. People just do not buy that anymore.

How do you judge a person? By his deeds, by his words, or by his association? If you dismiss RP for the sole reason of being son of the late Shah (who by the way, brought iran its BEST days in generations, and many many inside iran long for his days of reign with "may he rest in peace"), then you also need to dismiss dr. mosaddeq too, who was a Qajar prince with his family assets coming from confiscated land by his relatives, Qajar king. Mentioning Safavids as exemplary kings is a joke showing how little some are aware of the roots of the disaster that we are in.

The hatred that you display is as dead as 70s and has no room in new generation of iranians. New generation judge a person by deed and then by words, and in both regards RP is not even in the same league as likes of Mousavi. You have not criticized anything that RP has said, and you have not listened to what Majid Tavakoli said in his last remarks to see how close they are. Majid explicitly mentioned Qajar kings as example of incompetent rulers without mentioning any of pahlavi kings that have been demonized by the regime for 30 years.

What dr. Sahimi's generation thinks is of no consequence, be it a blanket hatred or pumping the bearded mousavi in place of another bearded president a.n., both made of the same cloth. That generation implemented their vision of iran 30 years ago by marching behind a mulla. What matters is that future belongs to next generation who has hatred only towards islamic republic, and not pahlavis whose crimes and corruptions were petty compared to what mullas and their tentacles, aka mousavi and alike, did to iran.

It is the future generation, the majority 30-year olds or less, who will decide if iran should be a constitutional monarchy or a secular republic. That is for the people to decide, one person one vote, not the generation who took us where we are, and then run away. Whatever that majority decided is what must others bow to.

Shahryar / January 3, 2010 4:51 AM

Dear Anon:

I am not attacking Sazegara. I value his contributions. I am only pointing out that, in my opinion, he is not suited to be a leader. He has changed positions too many times. So long as Bush was President, he was having good relations with Rubin and others at the AEI. Then, he opposed voting. Then, he saw what happened and jumped in. Then, he testifies in a court in which Iran is being sued. To see his connection with Michael Rubin, just Google the two together.

Shahryar:

All I would say in response is, Reza Pahlavi is only 6 years younger than me, i.e., he and I belong to the same generation! I have nothing against him, but everything against monarchy.

Maziar:

I am not proposing that a negotiated settlement should be, or should not be reached with the IRI. I am only pointing out the reality which tells me that there is nothing to be gained by using violence.

Monster:

Respectfully, I disagree with your assessment of Mousavi.

Shokat:

Fine. Enlighten us with your solution. Tell us what YOU think should be done, young man. Easy to criticize, not so easy to come up with practicable solutions!

Muhammad Sahimi / January 3, 2010 4:52 AM

People of Iran are tired of Islam. Green movement is an excuse to show their frustation with Islam.
I believe majority of people would convert if they were allowed.

gooya / January 3, 2010 5:59 AM

Good Article. However, your attack on Sazegara and Makhmalbaf is very distasteful. Your attack on Sazegara is particularly disgraceful and out of touch with reality. Sazegara is a true patriot who has risked his life both inside and outside of Iran for democracy and is deeply respected by many Iranians, especially the students and young people that make up the beating heart of this movement. He has no pretensions as you claim and has consistently captured the voice and the demands of the people with a clarity that most pundits had been missing until recently. He is an asset for the movement.

Cy / January 3, 2010 6:10 AM

For what it's worth (believe it or not), Reza Pahlavi and MKO (Rajavi) are not even a consideration among even those Iranians inside Iran who have issues with the Islamic Republic, and including the green movement of course.

And I doubt that they even have more of a 0.1% combined support among Iranians and people of Iranian origin outside of Iran, I think it is much less than 0.1%. They just get a lot of media exposure abroad due to being good potential Chalabis and Karzais. U.S. congress invited Maryam Rajavi in Congress and welcomed her as "sister Maryam". She was the only Iranian to be formally invited to congress.

I see some Iranians abroad don't have a clue about what the majority of Iranians think inside Iran. They should go to Iran and spend some time there, it will be eye opening for them.

Bahman / January 3, 2010 6:57 AM

A poster by the name of Shahryar wrote "What dr. Sahimi's generation thinks is of no consequence", "That generation implemented their vision of iran 30 years ago by marching behind a mulla."

Wrong, don't make uneducated generalizations and don't try to create confilcts between generations. You weren't there were you? Yes many were fed up with the royal family's corruption and wanted Iran to advance in many fronts, including civil and human rights. But that doesn't equate to your opinion that they backed the communists (they started the revolution of '79) or the mullas, or a revolution.

This is not a generational issue at all Shahryar, ask people who have been in Iran since the June elections and they will tell you that people of all walks of life and of diffent ages and generations support the green movement. And those who back Ahmad. and that group also are of different ages and generations. The younger generation needs the experience and wisdom of the older generation, at least the people of all other countries value that.

Bahman / January 3, 2010 7:15 AM

dear dr.sahimi;
aganin and again you wrote a magnificant article and i agree with almost all your assesments.
i do have a little problem with mr.moussavies role in 1979 assasinations of the oppositions leaders and his silence.living in the states for the past 39 yrs,i have finally come to the conclusions,that the jeffersonian democracy that many of us iranian-americans envisions for iran may never happen.the bad ones like the old west have to be killed for the good ones to emerge.
iran has always been either a monarchy or a chaotic democracy.i do not beleive that all those young men and women whom have sacrificed their lives to go out and demonstrate are looking.
mr.mossavi and all the green movement leaders must try to deliver somthing much better this time.iranians have paid enough for a decent govermnet.

fay moghtader / January 3, 2010 7:48 AM

Dr. Sahimi,

There is another problem to consider. What happens to the brainwashed hardcore bassij and IRCG after a regime change? Will they simply go home? will they engage in Iraq or Taliban like insurgency for their Hidden imam? Will there be suicide bombings in volleyball games as in pakistan last week???

Is that not a bigger threat than disintegration?


I agree that 20% of the Iran population is still fundamentalist religious (it is about the same % in the US with all its universitis and free press: ie. Evangelical Republicans). Exept in Iran they are more militant, more reckless and better armed.


@Shahryar,

Sorry but you appear to worship the pahlavis the way the pro gov rally crowd worships their Supreme Leader "without velayate faghih there will be Dictatorship"!!! Or the MKO with their "Iran Rajavi-rajavi Iran"!!!!!!

May be you meant to suggest Reza pahlavi run for office as preseident of free Iran, in which case I apologize. But as it's King?!!! Sorry but that is very outdated thinking.

@Pirouz

Thank you for your 2 cents again. I am glad even the regime has a voice on this forum

Keivan / January 3, 2010 9:13 AM

Dear Mr. Sahimi,
thanks for the most analytic view I have read so far. The most important point for me is first of all the ability to use the language to analyse the complicated cases like the events in Iran. This is the first point I am thankful for. And very upset to read texts with words like "running away" or "selling the country"...But even these texts are important to follow.
well, a few further points after the first reading of your text and commentaries:

*We are in a new phase of a long process of secularisation of Iranian Society. Revolution of Bahman1357 was one of the peaks only and now we are coming closer to the second peak. Three elements are interacting: a)national identity b)Islamic identity and c)Western influence...The solution will be a form combining all these three elements, and a group who can understand these and found the movement on these identity-forming elements of Iran today...The Leaders of Future Iran will be those who can personify these three lines together...That is why Mossadegh could have helped Iran much better than anyone else. But, I believe strongly, there are many like him now who have not yet reached his age but preparing themselves to step forward that on way and even better than.
Only a secular goverment based on democratic principles can allow this. Any try to exclude one of those lines will lead to instability of Iran. That is why those political groups who reject Islam must know a)They will have no place in Iran b)We can refuse or criticize but we can not exclude a religious group.And we are not allowed.
The only method to reach this balance of forces,either in one single person or in the whole society, is a non-violent process which will take necessarily a long time (you clarified this in your essay in a perfect way referring to Iran, pointing to what Moussavi can do now)
Iran needs Moussavi and Reza Pahlavi both(I am happy he (RP) has lived abroad to learn many new things, and these two can be helped by the Clergy...But all these together must be able to follow the Volk, the people, step by step, and they do this now. Moussavi and Shah, both after learning from mistakes, have learned to listen to demands of people. Moussavi is not forced to follow people, neither Shah. But they do. They can not mislead the movement, they can help or not. This generation is not blind, because
a)it does not follow any imported Ideology, it is a eruption resulted from the fusion of those three elements mentioned above, inside an old Volcano called Iran. b)the experience of the Bahman57 is not far, even if they were not old enough to have experienced it by themselves(which is good)but old enough to see the results and to listen to the former generation. c)Well-read.

So, their (or I allow myself to say)our Uprising is not based on feelings or Ideology, but on very clear demands shown through civil ways, through civil disobediences, to reach our civil liberties. Not forced from above, but based on our own understanding, an understanding strong enough in us to be ready to die for that.
None of us wants to die for Shah or Ayatollah, we are not ready to die for anybody. We are ready to fight till the end to see our civil rights respected and protected by a goverment which we choose. This is already clear for both Moussavi and Shah. They must serve the nation, not reverse. They will respected and paid for that as a very complicated job. If they are not good, they must be replaced.
A New generation is born, for the first time in History of our Homeland. Nobody can resist our force. Our methods are new for/in Iran

And this is also why the Regime does not know how to repress the movement effectively. They talk about assassinating the Leaders abroad. As they had done before. So:Old methods. But to kill whom? Which Leaders? They must kill all of us. Our movement is not based on a bunch of leaders to stop it through killing them.

But this is also why this movement and its methods are not really understood by many of Right or Left wings in Exile ( I am myself in Germany.)..The situation is like chess now, and persons like Mussavi, Karoubi and Khatami are professional players.

I will reread your essay. And I would like to read your former and further ones, if you send me a link.

thanks
Siavash Sartipi

Siavash / January 3, 2010 9:15 AM

Dear Shahryar,

The first comparison of AN's governance-by-clientage to the Qajars came in the televised debates between him and Messrs. Mousavi and Karroubi, referencing his method of planning and distributing state funds. Majid Tavakoli was picking up on that cogent Green theme.

Saying that the Pahlavis' crimes were petty compared to IRI's is a goofy way to promote your candidate. Do you think Iranians' choices are limited to petty criminals vs. major heisters?

If the Pahlavi progeny want to take credit for the fleeting prosperity created by the Oil Price Shock of the early 70s, then they should burden responsibility as well for the "petty" crimes and corruption to which you so sparingly refer.

But I have never heard the Pahlavis apologize for these minor transgressions, which included cooking Iranian citizens alive on metal beds rigged with electrical heating elements, or perforating their flesh with electrical drills.

But they only did this to a few hundred people, so what's a little bid of torture between friends?

Ali from Tehran / January 3, 2010 10:00 AM

Mr Sahimi,

While I agree with some of your points, it is unfortunate to see that you are repeating the allegations/lies of the IRI about Mr Banisadr: "They will not don women's clothing to escape Iran the way Abolhassan Banisadr, the Islamic Republic's first president, did after he was sacked in June 1981." This unfair/untrue statement and lack of respect reminds me of IRI's language:
I invite you to listen to his comments on these accusations & hear the truth: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BnajCuvyOT8

Ghaz / January 3, 2010 1:08 PM

Dear Prof. Sahimi,

You praise the success of the South Africans in dismantling apartheid but then go on to make demands that would prevent a repetition of such a success story in Iran.

Your first demand is to have a "truth commission" whose findings would be used to "punish those responsible". Demanding this is to misunderstand the very essence of truth commissions. The whole point of a truth commission is that it is non-adversarial in nature and does not mete out punishment but, quite to the contrary, gives amnesty to those reporting before it. Truth commissions in post-conflict societies have been found to be vastly superior to courts in producing more and more truthful information about past atrocities. The reason being that the perpetrator has an incentive to cooperate with a truth commission and share all his knowledge in order to obtain amnesty; whereas in an adversarial courtroom he is incentivized to withhold as much information as possible in order to escape punishment.

By making the hypothetical 'truth commission' of your first demand one that works more like an ordinary judicial body, you would prevent a full accounting of Iran's recent past as perpetrators will be less forthcoming in sharing their inside knowledge of past abuses. But, more egregiously, by offering punishment instead of amnesty you give the hardliners no incentive whatsoever in switching sides, laying down their weapons, and helping the Green movement. Instead, you encourage them to fight even more brutally until the bitter end, since under a Green regime they would have nothing to hope for except punishment and marginalization.

Misha

Misha / January 3, 2010 3:05 PM

Well said Dr Sahimi.

I partially agree with Maziar that a leaderless movement has its benefits, but this can not continue and hopefully when the movement gains more momentum, it needs leadership.

Mousavi is not a leader, and he has admitted it several times, but he can be a symbolic figure to hold on to.As the old saying, in the land of blind, a one eyed man is a king.

Shahryar,
All I can say is that any form of monarchy will never see a ballot. Believe it. time has moved! I have nothing against RP, but by the same token, nothing for him either. and even if Shah was not as bad as the current regime (which is disputable), that does not justify returning to any similar form of government.

Vey / January 3, 2010 3:20 PM

Mr. Sahimi I am a young woman.
You people suggested the Green movement does not have/need a leader and will create its own in the long run.Why don't you allow it to happen? Let us make our own decisions.The continuation of the Islamic Republic through reform is NOT an option for my generation.Specially as women.WE DO NOT WANT THIS MONSTER.We do not want those who were involved with it and have conveniently switched sides either.We want a new beginning in a democratic secular system.Be it a Republic or Monarchy.You mentioned you do not like Monarchy.You are one man with one vote.There are a great number of people who do.Just as there are those who believe in a future Republic for Iran.
One man/woman one vote.This can be achieved in a referendum once the monstrosity of the Islamic Republic is no longer.I have no doubt our great people will see to that.
So please to all Sazagaras, Gangies, Sahimies and the likes, step aside and let us take care of the misery your generation created for us.Show a little respect.

Shokat / January 3, 2010 4:01 PM

I've done some checking. I was right.

Iranian municipalities already possess armored water canon vehicles, complete with dual water cannons and front metal blade. So far, there isn't any evidence that they've been used. The examples I've seen are painted white with large NAJA (IRIPF) emblems on the sides.

Pirouz / January 3, 2010 4:09 PM

I am more than impressed by your highly accurate analysis. One of the best pieces I have read in the past months on what is going on in Iran. Many media contacts ask me on a daily basis what I think is going on at the moment. I will forward them your recent item as an quite exact description of the various layers of this inner-state conflict.

Thank you so much,
Ramin

Ramin / January 3, 2010 5:47 PM

I am very impressed by the level and quality of discourse exhibited on this Blog. My 2 cents:

RP is a non-starter, a joke, literally. His dad was certainly no Ataturk and had no respect for democracy, as evidenced by his Stalinistic creation of the Rastakhiz Party and his alteration of the calendar purely for self-aggrandizement, both of which encouraged the horrific fate Iranians eventually succumbed to.

The IRI is dead but not yet buried. I have evidence, in discussions with some young protesters, that 50,000 are prepared to die, if necessary, to get rid of the Islamic Republic once and for all. They are literally "the New Janbaz" and are not in this for the promise of 60 virgins. They made this statement to me with conviction, and the word has spread as I have heard this repeated in other (more elderly) circles. Moussavi has set the stage with his consistent display of bravery.

Non-violence is the ideal soluton, preferably via a General Strike. Today the banks were either ordered by Bank Markazi, or decided in collusion, to cease all new loans even to industry. Financial collapse is round the corner, which means there won't even be enough money to continue bribing the Baseej thugs who have caused most of the human damage.

'The End' may come as soon as 22 Bahman, assuming the presidential monkey, or the guy on whose shoulder he squats, isn't assassinated beforehand.

Strike, in Tehran / January 3, 2010 8:08 PM

Ramin:

Thank you. You are kind.

Pirouz:

Quite frankly, you just seem to be trying to find an excuse - any excuse - to justify what the IRI does. You allude to "civilian control" of the armed forces. What civilian control? You say General Jafari was appointed IRGC top commander because he is an expert on asymmetrical warefare. He is, but he was not appointed for that reason. When he was appointed, the doctrine of asymmetrical war was already well implemented, and the threat of foreign attack had greatly receded. And, since his appointment, he has constantly talked about "internal enemy." Why does it matter whether IRGC ALREADY had anti-riot armored vehicle or imported it recently from China (there are reports about it all over the internet)?

Shokat khaanoum:

My apologies. True, one person, one vote. I expressed my opinion, and you yours. I have nothing against yours. I just believe that you are out of touch.

Misha:

I did not suggest the formation of a truth commission, although I cetainly believe that it is a good idea. What I was pointing out was that we can learn from South Africa in making a peaceful transition.

Ghaz:

I meant no disrespect to Dr. Banisadr. I only pointed out a fact that is known to me. I have no problem with what Banisadr did. He did what he had to do.

Keivan:

Basij and the rank and file of the armed forces are people like you and me. In due time and with prudence they will realize that they also have a stake in a better, more open, more democratic Iran.


Muhammad Sahimi / January 3, 2010 8:37 PM

Dear Shokat, why would Iranians fight one monarchy for another monarchy? That makes absolutely no sense in a world ruled by logics.

Italian / January 3, 2010 8:40 PM

At the beginning of Green movement I said people are tired of Islam and the author disagree with me.
Now you can see that the slogans have changed, people do not want Islam and it has become part of their daily demand.

gooya / January 3, 2010 10:17 PM

It's up to the Iranians to decide what they want; Let's not write our prescription from sunny California. The lethal, stifling system is unreformable and it does not allow any room to exercise any freedom of any sort, at least in the confines of that system. The horrible process, demonization of the opposition, censorship and terror of IRI insures the further radicalization of the protesters.

Today the Secretary of state threatned the protestrs by characterizing them as Infidels or Mohareb, a crime which is punishable by death under the Islamic Republic laws.

kayla / January 3, 2010 10:43 PM

Dear Professor Sahimi:

Your analysis about leadership is accurate and highly professional, but what is important is the role of people and the way that leaders must lead them to be participate and Green movement continues on the streets.

HD / January 3, 2010 10:44 PM

Mr. Sahimi,

Do you hold a Doctorate? I do know you are a Chemical Engineer, but I would like to refer to you by your proper credentials. A matter of Protocol. Thank you.

On Saturday Deputy Foreign Minister of Israel Danny Ayalon made the two following statements,

"The regime in Iran today won't necessarily be in power in another year," he said, stressing that "the world is united against Iran."

he further stated,

"Washington, Beijing and Moscow agree that a nuclear Iran would destroy the current world order."

Allow me to remind the readers of a statement by Henry Kissinger a short while ago.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Gn3H1qt6LfQ&feature=related

Although I stand totally against the Barbaric Republic, I believe history has taught all of us a fundamental & valuable lesson. Foreign intervention does not lead to democracy. Foreign intervention is for the protection of foreign interests. I believe unlike 1979 and prior Iranians are in a position today to stand on their own feet to protect their own national interests. Iranians must not end up with the same ingredients that caused the events of 1979.

I am sure many readers just as I would like to hear your reaction to the above statements at these critical times. Thank you.

---------------------------------

God bless the United States, my home. God bless Persia the country the barbarians took away from me.

Sohrab / January 3, 2010 11:29 PM

Azadi Irani, Esteghlale Irani, Jomhori Irani

Na Sazaegara / January 3, 2010 11:42 PM

Excellent analysis Sir.

My basic understanding from your article was that you can not achieve great heights in life for anything unless "it will take time".
For people who think that political arena change in Iran or anywhere else can happen suddenly and sucsessfuly, "It Does Not"
We need to be patient, then, Victory will come.
All happiness and the best to all of you.

drifter / January 3, 2010 11:58 PM

Mr Sahimi,

While I agree with some of your points, it is unfortunate to see that you are repeating the allegations/lies of the IRI about Mr Banisadr: "They will not don women's clothing to escape Iran the way Abolhassan Banisadr, the Islamic Republic's first president, did after he was sacked in June 1981." This unfair/untrue statement and lack of respect reminds me of IRI's language:
I invite you to listen to his comments on these accusations & hear the truth: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BnajCuvyOT8

Ghaz / January 4, 2010 12:22 AM

@shahryar,
The writer offered an analysis. You on the other hand offer nothing. Just slogans of a different kind. You allude to Islam as a foreign religion and the 1979 revolution as a multi headed monster. What do you think christianity is in the US? Its a foreign religion? What about other forms of religion all over the globe? One way or another they were imported to other lands. And dont give me that nonsense about arabs destroying our culture and etc. That's only good for useless monarchists of all type to justify their moronic and useless political activities.
If you are of the opinion that Khatami, Mousavi or Karoubi are dead because of their participation in the revolution then that also applies to the other 98% of the population who totally supported the overthrow of the monarchy. That only leaves us with a very small minority who were supporters of the monarchy and who consider themselves clean since they were the targets of the revolution and obviously opposed it. The problem with you is that you have not come to terms with the former monarchs treachery, corruption, thievery and murder. First tell us, offer a rational social, political, historical, economical and cultural analysis of what happened in Iran since the advent of the qajar dynasty to the fall of the pahlavi dynasty then we will talk about the merits of your self serving and delusional slogans.

Mike / January 4, 2010 12:35 AM

The Iranins should pick up the 1357 reveloution and put it in a right demcratic track .

The 57 revolotion was hijacked by some religious groups and indivituals like : Beheshti ,khamenei ,Motahri ,Mofateh ,Rafsenjani .
31 years ago people wanted to have a democratic govrnoment which bieng elected through a free election and created a system which brought justice to all part of the society.
Unfourtuntely the problomes that Iranians are facing is because of all the misgidedness of indivituals and parties of certain factions which their personal intersts came first and they had false patriotism .
The intention of the people revoult in 1979 was to be free of any Eastern or Western influences and intrusions.
The Iranians should unite in order to make the Green Movement advance forward .
The ultimate goal of The Green movment should be a demcratic regime which supports all The Iranian intersts regardless of political ,religious or ethnic backgrounds in the united Iran .
In this movment there is no place for any foreign agents , powers,indivituals or parties which their actions could resuat in losing any Iranian territories . (It should be reminded that Bahrain was seprated from Iran due to the incapabilities of Pahalavi Monarky ) .
It is also good to give credit to the exsiting Iranian regime which created a strong and powerfull army which do not rely on any foreign powers.
There are some part of exsiting loyal islamic people whom work in the govrnoment that will eventually join the movment . These groups should be recognized and will be attrtacted by The Green Movment and work together to build democratic Iran.
I also warn The Green movment to be carfull of of the intensions of foreign powers which they are trying to break down Iran into smaller countries .
The war of Iran Iraq was a live example of this theorey.

Kaveh / January 4, 2010 12:53 AM

My point is that it is NOT a fact, it is a lie (as apparently this is known to you as a fact and I assume your source is the propaganda raised by the IRI & monarchists, I invite you to listen to the youtube link I posted in my latest comment). Writing such untrue statements, even if irrelevant to the goal of your article, makes readers like me doubtful about the credibility of the entire piece.
It is unfortunate as you are raising some good points too...

Ghaz / January 4, 2010 1:03 AM

@Misha:

Your explication of the necessary way a Truth Commission must be structured in order to get the hardliners to surrender their weapons and stop fighting was very helpful.

Furthering Keivan's point, I only wonder if offering a choice of amnesty and inclusion in a new society versus punishment and marginalization would work with religious fundamentalists (the IRGC and Basij)- I'm not aware that the Saudi experiment to deprogram jihadis has been a stunning success - but then, perhaps, since the IRGC & Basij do not appear to be driven purely by religion to do what they do (i.e., there is an economic motivation for their actions, provided by the IRI regime), they could be made to see that 1) they literally can't live on faith alone ("no work, no eat," at least for the Basiji and IRGC members who aren't wealthy) and 2) that they stand to realize much greater economic benefit by switching sides than by opposing a new system of governance.

The ongoing insurgencies in Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan perhaps point to the omission therein of amnesty-offering Truth Commissions by the country that opened those Pandora's boxes.

Wouldn't a necessary component of any solution to the problem of neutralizing cadres of armed fundamentalists be restructuring the Iranian economy to create the millions of jobs needed to absorb the Basiji and Iran's college graduates?

Would it be desirable in a post-IRI Iran to try to wrest control of Iran's economy from IRGC and clerical elites, though China has a fast-growing economy also dominated by government and military ownership, in order to avoid the Russian experience whereby significant portions of Soviet state-owned industry were sold below their value to a few "oligarchs?"

Though general strikes are a potentially powerful strategy, I sincerely hope for their sakes that people entertaining this maneuver have been saving their money and stockpiling food and fuel in advance of the event(s), though slowly so as to avoid tipping off the regime with sudden runs on the banks, stores and gas stations.

People looking on from outside are riveted by events in Iran, because of the justness of your cause and the tremendous potential Iran has among the community of nations if it can leverage the education and obvious skills of its people for good in the world.

Nougat / January 4, 2010 1:51 AM

I see some people keep postulating that Iranians are tired of Islam (for some reason these people are mostly monarchists).

My personal postulate is that Iranians are tired of clerical rule but not necessarily Islam. A majority of people in Iran ARE Muslims, although many might be Muslim by traditions rather than by faith (just like many Christians in Europe).

I remember an episode from last time I was in Iran (few years ago). Sitting in the bus an elderly cleric entered and was looking for a place to sit, I was about to offer my seat to him but to my surprise the guy next to me stopped me saying he don't deserve it. At the next stop another old (non-cleric) man entered and suddenly 5 people stood up and offered him their seat!

I am not religious in any way and would be happy to see all Iranians being like me, but the reality is that most Iranian are indeed Muslims and this should be respected. As Prof. Sahimi has said before, privatize Islam not demonize it.

Heidar / January 4, 2010 2:15 AM

Ghaz:

As far as I know, what I said is true. Banisadr himself cannot be the person who can deny it. An independent source should do. And, if that source emerges, I'll be happy to correct what I said.

But, once again, I did not mean the comment as a negative. All I meant was that the IRGC commanders will not go to any length just to escape. They will stay and fight.

Muhammad Sahimi / January 4, 2010 2:45 AM

Mike, you just do not make any sense; perhaps you are still imprisoned in 70s mind set and lies as dr. sahimi is.

You asked "What do you think christianity is in the US?"! The discussion is not about Christianity or US, it is about iran and I do not care about Christianity, it has no impact on my life, but islam does.

If you doubt that islam is an imposed foreign religion, then there is a serious problem with your knowledge of history.

If you think being Monarchist is a negative trait these days, then you are seriously mistaken; Monarchists are vindicated for the past 30 years or else you (if you are iranian) and 4 million others who lived in iran during the shah's regime would not have run away in his absence.

Yes, 98% of iranians were fooled in 1979, but only a tiny fraction (mousavi, khatami, karrubi, ...) were in position of responsibility and have a past history far far more shameful than the shah. Hoveida had the same excuse as some offer here for mousavi, but we know what kind of judgement he received. In Nuremberg, Germans who had elected Hitler were not condemned, but their leaders were while their excuse that they were simply following orders from the top were flatly rejected. It was Mousavi's choice ministers of intelligence and courts that lobbied Khomeini for a fatwa to murder prisoners en mass (see Montazeri's interview on YouTube).

Mike (if you are iranian), you not only need to replace your emotional hatred with rationality but need to understand what democracy means, or else YOU deserve a dictatorial monarchy (as you claim shah to have been) or a dictatorial republic (as islamic republic is). And using vulgarity in place of logic, as some have done here, places them in-line with torturers in Evin rather than democrats.

Democracy is not voting -- that we had in Shah's regime as well as in islamic republic. Democracy begins with providing a room for opposing views to be expressed and discussed followed by people's choice at the very end. That is what I am preaching in addition to flagging the trait of iranians who either turn someone into devil (like shah and anyone associated with him) or a saint (like khomeini and mousavi).

If Monarchists have so tiny support in iran as you imply, then why so many (islamic republic included) are so afraid of them? Maybe because Reza Pahlavi has cleanest record compared to any of these so-called green leaders, and offers the most progressive view of the future (compare his YouTube recent interview with that of Mousavi's) - that blanket hatred only leads to a repeat of the events of 1979.

Ali, you are repeating what khomeini claimed in 70s. I am well aware of shah's deficiencies, but my awareness is based on evidence rather than repeat of what others have claimed for personal agenda. Give me a proof of what you just claimed about torture in Shah's prisons, and I will gladly accept that. That is not to say that there was no torture, but to condemn lying which is a fundamental reason of why we are where we are.

The best reference for condition of shah's prisons is from those who were there and currently do not have a stake in current regime or personal or emotional agenda to lie. Likes of Makhmalbaf or Montazeri or Dashti, all describe torture in Shah's prisons that I find believable (and I condemn as strongly as possible) but there simply is not any evidence from any reliable source to support the extent of torture that you described. Some of the same people who have been in islamic republic prisons describe a single day in IRI prison equivalent to 10 years in Shah's prison (see YouTube). Lies are bad, with serious consequences, whether it is from shahi's or anti-shahis. It misleads us and leads us nowhere but a repeat of where we are.

Your information about oil income is also incorrect. Yes, there was a boost in 70s income due to, as you said, the oil shock; BUT did you know that islamic republic had the same level of income "in a single year" as shah's regime had "in his entire regime" (see YouTube or International database on web). Then why almost anything that you see (universities, banking system, roads, airports, nuclear site, manufacturing, agriculture like rice and tea and sugar, steel mill, appliances, modern army, navy, and air force, ...) are rooted in Pahlavi regime?

What I am afraid of is not absence of monarchy, but absence of opposing views that can lead to a rhyme of events of 1979. Unfortunately, people like dr. sahimi, despite his abundant intellect, have no independent emotion-free vision or insight to prevent falling into same trap as in 1979. It is a real shame to see people are screaming against dictatorship in the street and at the same time being blind to likes of Mousavi's past record and deaf to what he says in his recent YouTube videos where he endorses both the criminal khomeini and dictatorial constitution of islamic republic. That sounds like a repeat of 1979 more than a reach for freedom.

Shahryar / January 4, 2010 3:10 AM

Congratulations & thank you! Your article has generated so much interest and discussions. I believe the movement is ahead of the trio, and the trio either will change and "lead" or they will be replaced by another group/or person which the movement will generate, "if this movement is real". I totally agree with the non-violence as a base as you have suggested. Jalal

Jalal / January 4, 2010 3:45 AM

thank you MR sahimi , I would accept all accounts if you and i where dealing with some other dictatorship , not this one . I really believe the events in 27 of December where managed and was
controlled. i believe the government of MR ahmadinejad is in deep trouble and he loves the situation like this .they managed to close all reformist newspapers , they managed to get control over all active opposition by arresting or intimidating them . killing Relative to MR mosavie was to make sure there will be clashes .
I think they are hiding something much bigger under green movement .

homayoun / January 4, 2010 4:13 AM

So Shahryar, your choice is between 'bad' and 'worst'? Quite a laughable argument. And as far as I recall, there are millions green movement protesters who have a "cleaner record" than RP. All potentially eligible in a democratic system.

And while we're at citing historical examples and Nuremberg trials... in Italy the whole Savoia dynasty was banned for being accomplice (and not directly responsible for the fascist crimes as the Pahlavis; the direct instigators like Mussolini where hanged after being executed by a firing squad) with the regime.
Can we get a lesson from this too, or we should insult the memory of those who died fighting the Pahlavi's regime and take in account what Pahlavists (you don't even deserve the word "shahist" for supporting a dynasty of jokes) like more?

Pretty convenient for the "shahenshah" talking about human rights and democracy when you have no more a throne under your bottom.
And why not a Khamenei son: isn't the record of one of them as clean as RP's?

That's your argument. Face it and realize how inconsistent is.

Italian / January 4, 2010 4:19 AM

Dear Jalal,

I could not agree with your comments more. You are very right, this vibrant movement is ahead of analysts "if this is a real movement".
Biggest problem we are facing is, how to accomodate our present cancerous ruling class and common aparatus personnel.

drifter / January 4, 2010 4:48 AM

Shahryar:

With all due respect, you do not make any sense, and just repeat the cliche of the monarchists. You do not address any points by anybody, but just have hollow slogans. I usually do not respond to such comments, but you keep coming back with the same, regardless of what anyone says.

1. Let's say that 98% of the people were fooled in 1978-79, as you claim. The question is, why could a small group of revolutionaries fool such a large number of people? The answer? The Shah.

It was him that set up a dictatorship. It was him that eliminated all the secular groups, as well as moderate nationalist-religious group, such as Bazargan's Freedom Movement. It was him that abolished even the cartoonish Iran-e Novin and Mardom "parties," founded the neo-fascist Rastakhiz party, and declared that, "Whoever does not like this can get his/her passport and leave." It was him that killed the press and freedom of expression. It was him that killed hundreds of secular leftist intellectuals......
Had he not done those, the situation would have been totally different.

When he put Bazargan on a show trial in 1963, he said in his show trial, "We are the last group that speak to you peacefully. The next time people will fight you." Bazargan was right, and that was 16 years before the Shah was overthrown.

In the first statement that the FM issued in 1961, Bazargan and comrades said, "We are Iranian, we are muslim, and we are constitutionalist," meaning that they did not want to overthrow the Shah, but democratize his regime. But, the Shah could not tolerate any opposition.

2. It is not enough just to say that the Shah did this or that for the country. In terms of the work to build the infrastructure of the country, the IRI has done very important work. Yet, after 30 years, it is despised by a great majority. Why? For the same reason as that for the Shah. If doing things for the country were enough, Joseph Stalin, August Pinochets, Mao, Saddam Hussein, and Fidel Castro would be the best leaders, because they all did fundamental works for their nations. But, no one considers them as such!

3. The idea that Islam was imposed on Iran is ridiculous. Yes, the Sasanid was a great empire, but a completely corrupt and oppressive one. Why? The most important reason for it was that the mullahs of that era, the Mouba'dan, were hand-in-hand with the kings and were doing exactly what our era's mullahs are doing, and people were sick and tired of them. This actually went back to hundreds of years before the Sasanids, to "Ashkanian." This is so well-documented by historians. Why else such a great empire could be defeated by Arab nomads? Because the people were not willing to fight.

But, let's just say that what you say is true. So? Christians killed a million indigeneous people in central and south America, converted them to Christianity by force, destroyed their ancient civilizations, and colonized them. We don't hear the people of those areas bitch about it. They have moved on. Same with American Indians. Same with the entire African continent. Same with the Indian subcontinent. These are all very well documented. The idea that just because Islam came to Iran 1400 years ago as a result of a war, we should reject it, and try to set up a political system based on what Iran had 2000 years ago is so ridiculous and absurd. Moguls did far more destructions to Iran than Islam ever did.

At the same time, most of what we are proud of as Iranians, in terms of arts, culture, inventions, and magestic historical monouments belong to the post-Islam era. Why? Because Iranians accepted Islam, but preserved their identity. That is the greatest thing about the beloved Iran.

Besides, if religion is a private matter, why do you complain about its origin? Complain about its abuse by the ruling elite.

4. The struggle about democracy is not, as you keep claiming, about generations. But, let's say that it is. Well, then, your idol, Reza Pahlavi, is only 6 years younger than me. So, he and I belong to the same generation! What makes him so different from me and people like me?

You say his thinking? EXACTLY! Then, it is not about generations, but about one's views of the world.

5. I am opposed to monarchy; was, am, and will always be. I have full rights to express my opposition (which, however, I do based on well-documented facts, not slogans). You also have every right to express your views. I write under my full name in the open, and put my neck out to be criticized by people like you (I do not mind, because I believe in what I say). Well, you can do the same. That is the beauty of the internet. But, I do not see many monarchists do that. Why?

But, as I see it, you only repeat the cliche that is not supported by any credible history.

6. No, the Iran of 2009-2010 is vastly different from 1978-1979. Therefore, I am not worried about what kind of government may eventually emerge.

Muhammad Sahimi / January 4, 2010 5:32 AM

Dear Prof Sahimi, Thank you for your response but it seems that you yourself continuously theorize and mythicize without any factual support. Let me respond to your points although I know that you will not accept my rational, but maybe help you realize that there are opposing views, certainly in iran. Had I been the only one with this kind of views, neither you nor IRI needed to accuse the green for being combination of monarchists, marxists, and bahais as recent reports from iran say.

1. Give me the same means that ayatollah Khomeini had and I will deliver to you a revolution in Sweden in a month. These means were (a) Ability to lie to people and deceive them (b) 30 million gullible people who would believe you (c) Majority of deeply religious people who would not even think that likes of ayatollah khomeini could lie, let alone order executions and looting of the country. I have no doubt whatsoever (and you may too) that khomeini ordered murder of thousands (evidence: his hand-writings as well as Montazeri's autobio and interview), but I have seen good honest religious people in iran this past summer who sincerely believe that Khomeini never committed any crimes. That is how revolution happened. I can do the same in Sweden given the same conditions. Ask yourself: why did khomeini had to lie to people before revolution about the shah, AND why did he not deliver what he had promised after the revolution? That is why 98% of people followed him and revolted: deceived that shah was really as bad as he claimed shah to be AND promise of greener pastures in shah's absence.

2. That is exactly why I say you write emotionally rather than objectively. I do not say at all that shah was flawless. He was an earthly man, but far less flawed than any of so many men of god (take your pick: khomeini, khamenei, khalkhali, rafsanjani, karrubi, khatami, ...). If you are looking for a flawless person, you will not find him/her on earth. I wish shah had done better in all respects if earthly possible, but lining him up alongside likes of Mao and Stalin is an insult to iranians since that is how IRI justifies its existence that shah was much worse than what he really was. Mao killed 30 million chinese, imposed cultural revolution similar only to IRI system of inquisition of ideas, instigated deep plow that destroyed chinese agriculture, ..., and at the end in 1979 china was rated "behind iran" in development. Same can be said of Stalin (although he did pay attention to anything related to military). Saddam killed 200 to 300 thousands Shiites only in span of weeks. I am sorry, but this is well below someone as educated as you are not to see these differences.

I do have answers to the rest of your points, but as you see these issues are more than trivial to be able to address in a couple of sentences, so I defer them to some other comment if you so desire.

Shahryar / January 4, 2010 8:13 AM

Thank you, Mr. Sahimi. This was precisely what I voiced in my earlier email. Anyone who worships the Pahlavis worships dictatorship, and not even an 'enlightened' one. Iran is way past the resurrection of idols, prophets and kings. The movement is unstoppable, irrespective of who leads, because any 'leader' who emerges will have the burden of massive oversight by a population well aware of the dangers of another hijacking. Any successful leader will have to be a mixture of Mandela, Gandhi and Ataturk, otherwise he/she won't last 3, let alone 30, years.

Strike / January 4, 2010 9:05 AM

Mr. Sahimi

I Am agree with Maziar,
I should ask where and when Mousavi , Karoubi have mentioned that they are leading the green movement. he mentioned strongly that he has been surprised by vast and intensive reaction of people days after "election" .
These days many Islamo-Reformists talk about Green Movement and its "Nonviolent nature" , but no one talk about effectiveness of general strike. why> because they want a "controlled" movement only replace figures rather than essential democratic changes.
one clear pont in your article makes you inline with NIAC and other Mullahs' lobbyist on sanction. US and other trying target huge Rev Guard enterprises and carefully avoiding fuffering of population. what is your problem with sanctions on Rev Guards?

Mr. Mousavi and pro islamic republic "opposition" working hard and repeating same scasry story that this regime has to stay otherwise Iran will be on verge of catastrophic future. this scare tachtics only express that your do noy trust the true freedom seeking nature of Green Movement.

Cyrus / January 4, 2010 9:26 AM

Mr. Sahimi,

I too am extremely optimistic about Iran's future. We can debate the pros and cons of Mossadegh, the Pahlavis and conspiracy theories till the cows come home, but I believe the past 30 years have enabled Iranians to complete a multi-generational leap in their thinking. Islam has been revealed for what it is, any type of idolatry will be rejected by the vast majority of the increasingly educated and aware population, and the people will take charge of their own and of their nation's destiny.

Sure, foreign powers and neighbours will continue to try to exploit this nation's fabulous riches, and there will be major setbacks, but I believe the last horrific 30 years have had the same salutary effect on Iran that Ataturk had on Turkey and will ensure the move towards secularism and democracy. Ataturk established the roots of democracy by positive force and praiseworthy personal example, while the Mullahs have established the roots of a secular democracy by counter-productive force and abhorrent personal example: In the end the result is the same.

Long Live the Republic of Iran!

Strike / January 4, 2010 11:33 AM

Dear Shahryar,

Thanks for your considered response to my comments.

Concerning the methods of SAVAK, I draw your attention to Amnesty International Reports from the early to mid 70s.

Also, for an eyewitness account of the gore and brutality encountered in a liberated SAVAK safehouse in Tehran, refer to Chapter 4 ('The Carpet-Weavers') of Robert Fisk's magisterial book, "The Great War for Civilization: The Conquest of the Middle East."

Concerning the economic 'miracle' of the Pahlavi era, refer to Parviz Radji's crestfallen account ("In Service to the Peacock Throne: The Diaries of the Shah's Last Ambassador to London") of his discussions in the London embassy with one of the Shah's leading managers, who details how the auto and petrochemical sectors are hopelessly unproductive, and will never be able to compete internationally.

The last volume of Asadollah Alam's diaries also details the financial and economic mismanagement of Iran, although Alam characteristically blames it on his archrival Hoveida, and not on the monarch who, as the absolute hegemon, was entirely responsible for the performance of the government under his control.

And you can refer to Fred Halliday's survey, "Iran: Dictatorship and Development," to realize the effects of the Shah's despotic and megalomaniacal edicts on Iran's economy and finances.

Finally, I ask you to read Marvin Zonis' riveting character profiles of the Shah's leading men, in "The Political Elite of Iran", published in 1971. Bear in mind that this study was published before the oil price increase. It should be required reading for anyone who wishes to understand why despotic governments fail.

You misunderstand the reason why monarchist postings rankle me and a few others on this comments page. It is not my fear of democracy, to which we hopefully all aspire.

You are full entitled to voice your opinion on this page and in any forum. In a future Iran to which I aspire, your views and preferences should be freely expressed.

My concern is that detractors of the Greens would use the monarchists to tarnish the whole enterprise, which is, in the main, a movement spawned by highly intelligent non-ideological youth for civil rights, accountability, transparency and democracy, not a quixotic attempt at a royalist restoration.

If Reza Pahlavi was truly committed to democracy, his first step would be to abdicate the [de facto defunct] throne, and leave the question of re-instituting the monarchy to a future free referendum. If the monarchy and Pahlavi dynasty is as popular as you claim, he risks nothing by doing this.

Ali from Tehran / January 4, 2010 1:17 PM

It is absolutely fascinating and encouraging that a large number of Iranians are against religion, but this should have nothing to do with politics. In fact, mixing this attitude towards religion with politics could be very dangerous. Politics should be secular.

Instead, once this regime has gone, we can embark on educating the masses so that they realise the true nature of religion, as has already happened in Europe. If people were truly in touch with the young people of Iran they would realise that a lot of them are already completely indifferent to religion - and that's one thing you can thank the regime for!

Pak / January 4, 2010 1:29 PM


Dear Dr. Sahimi,

One thing worth mentioning is that anybody (in right mind) advocating monarchy here is referring to a constitutional one. As such, a monarchy is not so much different than a Republic. In fact, if one really believes in Reza Pahlavi as a future leader (I think he has been putting some great ideas forward recently and I'm not a monarchist) should rather propose him as a president (or prime minister for that reason) in a future government rather than a symbolic monarch. But, in any case, the fact of the matter is the type of government is something to be decided in a national referendum at a later time in life of this movement and should not be a dividing point among us.

Also you write "The idea that just because Islam came to Iran 1400 years ago as a result of a war, we should reject it...". No, that is not the reason we should reject it but the reason is we should opt for a secular system of government. That is the most important lesson learned from past 30 years. And that is the only way to guarantee that you can remain a "praticing Muslim" while others choose to be different.

Thank you for sharing your views with us.

Kia / January 4, 2010 1:33 PM

Mr. Sahimi,
If you put out an article, it is your duty to respond to people.

Mr. Sahimi ,if the Shah fooled 98% of the people, my response is I would have liked to meet the man. He was a genius. Just imagine if the Republicans had such a candidate. They could make a comeback tomorrow. What you are claiming is baseless. Such accomplishment is statistically impossible. What Iranian people lacked was education of all sorts. It takes generations to reach such level of maturity and although the man clearly did make mistakes at times (who doesn't) his overall performance was positive and to the benefit of his nation.
Take a look at your own people in the last 31 years. You have been an absolute failure. If a group of archaic mullahs managed to steal your revolution as you people claim it then where does that leave you? To put the blame of an entire country on one man is simple minded.
Let’s take your man Mousavi as an example: {Iranian opposition leader Mirhossein Mousavi said his country was in serious crisis and called for reforms, saying he was ready to die for the protest movement.}
Is this what you call leadership? I am ready to die? He is a Mullah in regular clothing. Today the Iranian youths require a level of leadership far more sophisticated than the likes of Mousavi or you are willing or capable of providing. You are not in touch with your people's needs. You are pushing another version of the Islamic Republic. Many are calling for the likes of you to stand aside. You should seriously consider it.
You mentioned the Shah killed’ hundreds ‘of secular leftist intellectuals. We would like you to put their names on internet. You have made an accusation regarding ‘hundreds ‘of human beings. Who are they? (All of the ‘hundreds’, please).
Dictatorships are not set up by individuals but by nations themselves. Just as democracies are. You are not addressing school kids. Once again, your line of reasoning is shallow.
You are right about Bazargan's trial, but do continue and tell the people what Bazargan confessed on his way. He regretted everything that he did. He said it was all a mistake. Didn’t he?
You mentioned, in terms of work to build the infrastructure of the country the I.R. has done very important work. Mr. Sahimi, you must be joking. 30 years and $800B later and what do they have to show for except what was already in existence from the Pahlavi era? I do apologize. Iran has Shahab 3 missiles based on 40 years old technology. Perhaps that is an accomplishment.
Mr. Sahimi Historian you are not. Islam was imposed by the power of sword. Who in his right mind as a citizen of a great empire would give up all of his worldly and heavenly possessions along with his language and culture to become second class subjects of a group of Bedouins across the desert? Does that make sense to you? Where can you look in the Islamic world and see something other than cruelty, blood, poverty and misery? Please try reading the other history book.
Who cares about what Christians did. Are you running out of reasoning? Let’s focus on Iran, please.
What makes Mr. Reza Pahlavi very different from you Mr. Sahimi is primarily his open mind and his unique ability to reason with and respect people of all political backgrounds.
A single minded approach such as yours for the benefit of the continuity of the Islamic Republic with a different window dressing is out dated and doomed to failure.
As I mentioned before, the Iranian youths demand a far more intellectual level of leadership than your idol Mousavi is capable of offering. You are absolutely right, it is about one's views of the world. 6 century vs. 21st.
Why do we not hear from monarchists as much as Islamists? It is called United States dollars sir. The Islamic Republic spends a fortune especially around your neck of the woods and worldwide to silence any opposing views.
Yes you are right, Iran of 2010 is vastly different than Iran of 1979. People have matured and have experienced the Islamists for what they are. No cliché or slogans Mr. Sahimi, the truth and nothing but. This is why it is common belief 2010 is the year we say goodbye and never again to this, as some of the people here have justifiably called, the Barbaric Republic. You claim you do not care for monarchy. That is O.K. As Ms. Shokat puts it beautifully, one man one vote. Isn’t democracy simply great? Although Mr. Shokat we should adopt the unislamist practice of one 'Person' one vote.
My congratulation to you and Shahryar and many others on this website who refuse to be herd as cattle.

Parang / January 4, 2010 4:50 PM

ف. م. سخن


اگر سال 57 بود باز هم پشت خمینی می ایستادیم!


يقه مان را گرفته بودند که شما که انقلاب کرديد قبل اش کتاب "ولايت فقيه" خمينی را نخوانده بوديد؟ گفتيم والله بالله ما با هفده هجده سال سن اين کتاب را چطور بايد گير می آورديم و می خوانديم؟ مگر می شد رفت کتابفروشی گفت آقا ببخشيد يک جلد کتاب ولايت فقيه آقای خمينی را می خواهم! می گرفتند پوست آدم را می کندند.

يکی از کتابفروش های شاه آباد رساله ی آقای خمينی را به صورت قاچاق برايم تهيه کرد، وقتی می خواست آن را به من بدهد، اول يک نگاه به سمت راست پياده رو، بعد يک نگاه به سمت چپ پياده رو، بعد يک نگاه به خيابان و ماشين ها انداخت، بعد کرکره مغازه را پايين کشيد و در مغازه را بست، بعد به بالاخانه ی کتابفروشی رفت، يک کتاب سبز زيتونی بدون اسم را که وسط ده جلد کتاب کارسازی شده بود پايين آورد، آن را در آورد، وسط يک جلد کتاب شعر مهدی سهيلی، يک جلد کتاب ر.اعتمادی قرار داد، به دست ام داد، مرا به خدا سپرد، گفت پسرم مراقب خودت باش، کسی تو را نگيرد، يک چيزی خواند و دور سرم فوت کرد، بعد کرکره را بالا داد.

من، مثل قاچاقچی های مواد مخدر که محموله ی خطرناکی را حمل می کنند، کتاب را به منزل رساندم، برای اين که اهل خانه کتاب را نبينند، در اتاق را قفل کردم، پرده ها را کشيدم، رساله ی آقا را از وسط کتاب های مهدی سهيلی و ر.اعتمادی بيرون آوردم، آن را ورق زدم با اين انتظار که در اين کتاب ممنوع چيزهايی خواهم خواند خواندنی و بسيار مهم، با کمال تعجب ديدم مشابه رساله های ديگر، سرشار از بحث فنی پيرامون آداب طهارت و غسل جنابت و مسائل بول و غائط است. آن وقت شما انتظار داشتی ما کتاب ولايت فقيه می خريديم و می خوانديم. تازه هم می خوانديم، تازه هم از مطالب و نظر واقعی آقای خمينی باخبر می شديم، بعد چه؟ فکر می کنی آن حرف های قشنگ قشنگ، آزادی، استقلال، جمهوری (حالا اسلامی يا دمکراتيک اسلامی يا دمکراتيک خالی يا هر چيز ديگری که اول و آخرش معلوم نبود چه خواهد بود)، بسته شدن زندان ها و شکنجه گاه ها، آزادی زندانيان سياسی، آزادی مطبوعات و احزاب، کوتاه کردن دست جنايتکاران و امپرياليست ها، آن قدر جذابيت نداشت که دنبال آقای خمينی راه بيفتيم و بخواهيم حکومت را سرنگون کنيم؟

با يک حالت خجالت و سرافکندگی هم اينها را می گفتيم که انگار آرزوی مان اين است يک بار ديگر به سال ۵۷ بازگرديم و اين بار در خانه مان بنشينيم و به تظاهرات نرويم و هر کس هم خواست برود بگوييم "احمق نشی، نری ها! بيست سال بعد ملت، بدبخت می شود و تو را به عنوان عامل انقلاب اسلامی لعن و نفرين می کند..."

گذشت و گذشت و گذشت تا شد سال ۸۸ و جنبش سبز به راه افتاد. رهبران اش کی؟ آقای موسوی، نخست وزير محبوب امام. رئيسِ ری شهریِ قاتل و شکنجه گرِ معروف. نخست وزيری که اکثر کشتارهای سهمگين زندانيان سياسی در دوران او اتفاق افتاد. آقای کروبی، رئيس بنياد شهيد. رئيس مجلس شورای اسلامی. يار محبوب امام. همان که در تشکيلات بنياد شهيد برای خود دستگاه بگير و ببند و سرکوب داشت. متفکرش کی؟ سرکار خانم زهرا رهنورد. فول پروفسور دانشگاه. نقاش و مجسمه ساز و نويسنده ی حکومت اسلامی در بدو تاسيس. "متفکرِ فعال" در زمينه ی تئوريزه کردن حجاب اسلامی و زن محجبه که امروز زنان ما هر چه بر سر و هر چه بر تن دارند حاصل "تفکرات" و "تعمقات" ايشان است. روزنامه نگارش کی؟ آقای عطاءالله مهاجرانی وزير سابق ارشاد. همان کسی که وظيفه ی وزارت خانه اش "ارشادِ اسلامیِ" مردم ايران بود. (اين جا که می رسيم عده ای روی علامت ضربدر اکسپلورر کليک می کنند، دو تا فحش به ما می دهند که اين باز دارد ساز مخالف می زند و می خواهد جلوی انقلاب سبز ما را بگيرد. اتفاقا روی سخن ام با شماست پسر و دختر عزيز. با شماست طرفدار انقلاب سبز).

و اين جنبش يک آيت الله و رهبر معنوی کم داشت که آيت الله العظمی آقای منتظری بعد از درگذشت شان صاحب اين مقام ناميده شد. همان آقای منتظری که موسس ولايت فقيه در حکومت اسلامی ايران بود.

بله. ما در سال ۵۷ اصلا به روی خودمان نمی آورديم که آقای خمينی در سال ۴۲ با حق رای زنان مخالفت می کرد و يکی از دلايل مخالفت ايشان با حکومت شاه همين بود. به روی خودمان نمی آورديم که آقای خمينی مخالف آزادی های اجتماعی بود که حکومت شاه به زنان و مردان ايرانی می داد. لابد فکر می کرديم اين آقای خمينی آن آقای خمينی نيست. فکر می کرديم آقای خمينی عوض شده است و ديگر مثل گذشته ها فکر نمی کند. ولی آقای خمينی هرگز چيزی بر ضد عقايد گذشته اش نگفته بود. آقای خمينی هيچ گاه از خودش انتقاد نکرده بود. اين تصور ما بود که آقای خمينی عوض شده است ولی او عوض نشده بود. تاريخ اين عوض نشدن را به بهای بسيار گزافی به ما ثابت کرد.

و اکنون: آيا شما ديده ايد يا شنيده ايد که آقای موسوی و همسر محترم اش رسما از گذشته ی خودشان انتقاد کنند؟ آيا شما ديده ايد يا شنيده ايد که آقای موسوی حداقل يک بار گفته باشد، آن چه وزير اطلاعات اش –ری شهری جنايتکار، همان که مستقيما با آيت الله العظمی شريعتمداری و آيت الله العظمی منتظری در افتاد، همان که کشيده بر گونه آيت الله العظمی شريعتمداری نواخت، همان که بانی اعتراف گيری و تواب سازی در زندان های ايران بود و خاطرات مستقيم او عليه شخص آيت الله العظمی منتظری با تيراژهای ميليونی چاپ و منتشر شد- باری، آيا شنيده ايد که آقای موسوی حداقل يک بار گفته باشد وزير جنايتکار اطلاعات اش، جنايت ها کرد، آدم ها کشت، خشت کج وزارت اطلاعات را بر زمين نهاد، و بابت اين اشتباه، بابت دو بار انتصاب او به مدت هفت سال و خرده ای به عنوان رئيس مخوف ترين تشکيلات اطلاعاتی از مردم و از کسانی که امروز به هواداری از او برخاسته اند عذرخواهی کند؟ يا حداقل خود را از جنايت های او به طور صريح مبرا بداند و آقای خمينی يا هر کس ديگری غير از خودش را مسئول بنامد؟ همان کاری که آقای منتظری کرد و محبوب ملت شد؟

آيا ديده ايد يا شنيده ايد که خانم پروفسور زهرا رهنورد، به خاطر تمام مقالاتی که در باره ی مزيت های حجاب اسلامی و زنان محجبه نوشت، به خاطر تمام سخنرانی ها و فعاليت هايی که برای انداختن يک تکه پارچه ی سياه بر سر زنان ايران کرد، به خاطر انديشه های محدودسازی که باعث شد فساد و فحشا در ايران به وضع دهشتناک کنونی برسد و از هر کشور آزاد غربی و اروپايی بيشتر باشد، به خاطر آن تفکرات و آن فعاليت ها و اين نتايج تلخ، دست کم خود را نقد کرده باشد؟ به راستی اگر کسانی که او را به عنوان يکی از صد متفکر بزرگ جهان انتخاب کردند، مقالات روزنامه های اطلاعات و اطلاعات بانوان ايشان به دست شان می افتاد چه می گفتند؟ آيا او را به عنوان يکی از صد متفکر انتخاب می کردند؟

نه. نگران نشويد. نمی گويم انقلاب سبز نکنيم. نمی گويم از آقای موسوی و همسرش حمايت نکنيم. تنها چيزی که می خواهم بگويم اين است که شما که رهبری افرادی با اين سوابق تيره و تار را پذيرفته ايد، بر ما خرده نگيريد که رهبری آقای خمينی را پذيرفتيم. و يک لحظه فکر کنيد که شما به عنوان جوان امروز، وقتی از رهبران سبز حمايت می کنيد، چقدر به سی سال بعد و آينده ای که اين رهبران می توانند برای شما و فرزندان تان درست کنند می انديشيد؟ ما هم در سال پنجاه و هفت به اندازه ی شما به سی سال بعد می انديشيديم. اين تنها چيزيست که می خواهم بگويم.

F. M. Sokhan / January 4, 2010 6:15 PM

Parang, re your appraisal of the Shah: "He was a genius".

The Shah was not a genius but a self-aggrandizing idiot who was not fit to clean his father's boots. You use the word 'genius' lightly, rather than applying the adjective to the 3 individuals I mentioned earlier (Ataturk, Ghandi, Mandela), among others.

Some here have argued that because the Shah killed/tortured fewer people than Khomeini, therefore the Shah was 'better'. What difference does it make, who was better or worse? The cold fact is that the Shah's mismanagement, corruption and arrogance created a fertile breeding ground for the disaster that followed. If the Shah had been a real genius like Ataturk, Khomeini's rule would never have seen the light of day. But the Shah was too busy trying to create the myth that he was somehow related to Cyrus the Great, while simultaneously trying to conceal the fact that his father rose from the rank of 'cannon-fodder' to rally and lead the nation brilliantly. Mohammad Reza even had a bed installed in the Sabgharanieh Palace to hide the fact that his dad was of humble origin and slept on the ground! Mohammad Reza was jealous of his father's achievements and sulked when anyone praised the latter! Such complexes .......

So, in summary, your guy is a 'genius' who alienated the entire nation, refused wise counsel, surrounded himself with 'yes-men', altered the national calendar (which would have caused national outrage even among far less religious Europeans), disbanded the 2-Party system, told anyone who didn't like it to leave the country, lectured America on its lack of democracy (viz. the Barbara Walters interview) and then cried when America ditched him, approved of a brutal SAVAK and then sacrificed General Nassiri to the dogs while he himself fled to safety, etc., etc.,.

Instead of congratulating Ms. Shokat and Shahryar "and many others on this website who refuse to be herded like cattle" you might wish to consider the fact that the 'cattle' are those who follow the disastrous old ways and refuse to recognize the profound changes that have occurred in the national psyche. The Times They Are A'Changing.

Strike, in Tehran / January 4, 2010 7:39 PM

Ali from Tehran: I hope your characterization of the green movement is correct. However, how do you reconcile their support of Mousavi who is hardly progressive?

Are you really posting from Tehran??

Kayla / January 4, 2010 10:27 PM

Despite the best efforts of the monarchists/pseudo-Marxists, zionists, secular atheistic fundamentalists, the neo-cons and a myriad of other 'barbarians' (those who inflicted two great wars which killed millions of people and the atheistic rulers of the old Soviet Union and China not responsible for deaths of millions). Did not some of the Christian churches not support slavery and the racist Apartheid regime in South Africa as well as using their faith to colonise large parts of the world. If Islam is indeed guilty of 'barbarism' then it is not the only faith, ideology or governing system guilty of such crimes. Whether its detractors like it or not Islam will endure. The only question is what form?

rezvan / January 4, 2010 10:28 PM

Faced with escalating turmoil, Iran's newly militarized regime now appears to be turning to the Tiananmen model to ensure its survival. The theocracy has signaled over the past week that it will exercise extraordinary military and judicial powers against opposition leaders, dissidents, street protesters and even sympathizers to end the growing turmoil. The regime's most urgent goal is to prevent opposition activists from turning next month's 11-day celebration marking the Shah's ouster in 1979 into a counterrevolution against his successors.

Faced with escalating turmoil, Iran's newly militarized regime now appears to be turning to the Tiananmen model to ensure its survival. The theocracy has signaled over the past week that it will exercise extraordinary military and judicial powers against opposition leaders, dissidents, street protesters and even sympathizers to end the growing turmoil. The regime's most urgent goal is to prevent opposition activists from turning next month's 11-day celebration marking the Shah's ouster in 1979 into a counterrevolution against his successors.

Faced with escalating turmoil, Iran's newly militarized regime now appears to be turning to the Tiananmen model to ensure its survival. The theocracy has signaled over the past week that it will exercise extraordinary military and judicial powers against opposition leaders, dissidents, street protesters and even sympathizers to end the growing turmoil. The regime's most urgent goal is to prevent opposition activists from turning next month's 11-day celebration marking the Shah's ouster in 1979 into a counterrevolution against his successors.

http://www.time.com/time/world/article/0,8599,1951381,00.html?xid=rss-topstories

Mr. Sahimi, do you still think the Islamic republic is reformable??

Kayla / January 4, 2010 10:36 PM

Watch the video of the woman who was run over by the gleeful basiji car:

http://www.iranian.com/main/blog/bahram9821-38

Mr. Sahimi: do you think the reime is reformable?

Kayla / January 4, 2010 10:42 PM

The judiciary is passing a legislation to shorten the waiting period for an "infidel" or "mohareb in Persian" to be shortend by 15 days. They want the protesters to be executed within 5 days instead of the 20 days period under the current laws
ی دولت با ارائه طرح دوفوریتی، خواستار تقلیل زمان اجرای حکم محارب از بیست روز به پنج روز شدند.
http://www.hammihannews.com/news/8314

http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/tehranbureau/2009/08/the-bloody-red-summer-of-1988.html

http://www.irna.ir/View/FullStory/?NewsId=875801

Execurtion of Political prisoners in1988:
http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/tehranbureau/2009/08/the-bloody-red-summer-of-1988.html

Kayla / January 5, 2010 12:29 AM

The regime are characterizing the protesters/detainees as "infidels" and "enemies of God" a al mass executions of 1988-987.

The judiciary is passing a legislation to shorten the waiting period for an "infidel" or "mohareb in Persian" to be shortend by 15 days. They want the protesters to be executed within 5 days instead of the 20 days period under the current laws
ی دولت با ارائه طرح دوفوریتی، خواستار تقلیل زمان اجرای حکم محارب از بیست روز به پنج روز شدند.
http://www.hammihannews.com/news/8314

http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/tehranbureau/2009/08/the-bloody-red-summer-of-1988.html

http://www.irna.ir/View/FullStory/?NewsId=875801

Execurtion of Political prisoners in1988:
http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/tehranbureau/2009/08/the-bloody-red-summer-of-1988.html

kayla / January 5, 2010 12:30 AM

simply to answer the question of the article.
Green Movement[capitalized] is headed for victory of Iranian people.

capt_ayhab / January 5, 2010 2:47 AM

I have read all comments on this page with great interest. I would like to say "khaste nabaashid" (an Iranian gratitude saying) to all who have put so much time and passion into this discussion.

Let us remember that we are all Iranian, we are all brothers and sisters, and we have a national heritage ripe with great wisdom... let us avoid namecalling and learn how to respect people with whom we do not necessarily agree.

Isn't the the big problem that the youth of Iran are seeking to resolve?

Losing an argument does not mean losing one's identity... being open to being wrong without trying to make others wrong is the maturity level a people need to develop before they can CREATE a true republican democracy.

All of those killings and executions were the result of a mental error that Iranians need to cure themselves of: if others disagree with us, or have opposing views, it does NOT make them an enemy! The result of a free society will be pluralism, and so we better learn how to respect differences of opinion and worldview (including religious and political)...

... I think that is the best thing each individual could do is to work on this "mental flaw"... cure it from yourself, cure its menace from within your family, community, and with others. LET'S LEARN TO RESPECT EACH OTHER, NO MATTER THE DIFFERENCES OF MENTAL OPINION.

The human being is far more than just their mental opinions.

And one more thing: learn from the past, and then let it go! We are a changed people, much wiser, much more educated, much more aware.

Let's give patience a chance.

And let's keep the discussion rolling, it is very healthy for us.

BLESS YOU ALL.

Iranian / January 5, 2010 6:58 AM

Dear Ali, Thank you for the references. I must say though that if your intention is to justify a position you can always find references to support that position, but if you seek the truth, whatever it is, I am totally on your side. In that case, as I said before, you need to see where the reference is coming from and if that person has any motivation or personal agenda. That is particularly difficult in anything controversial related to that period of iranian history. Your references are mostly rooted in islamists/leftists of 70s whose only objective was to unseat the shah, not to tell the truth, nor to bring democracy to iran. I know of some of your references and I will briefly comment on those. I am familiar with A. I. which I believe never visited iranian prisons (I believe red cross did, but I do not have any report from them); their information was based on islamists/leftists information which had outrageous claims that conflicts with later reports from the islamic republic. A.I. claimed that shah had 200 to 300 thousand political prisoners where Islamic republic specifies the total capacity of iranian prisons under 35,000 even when overcrowded. The number of political prisoners just prior to revolution was between 2 to 3 thousands - again based on islamic republic documents. So if they were wrong in the simple counting of numbers by a thousand times, you can imagine how wrong they could be in other matters.

As for Robert Fisk: journalists are good story tellers but terrible authenticators. If you accept what Robert Fisk says, then you should also accept what article after article by Judith Miller of equally prestigious NY Times said about Iraq, which turned out to be all untrue. Same goes for people around the shah, who competed for higher position of protege and/or hated him for personal reasons. I have not seen Parviz Radji's work, but you should balance it against Ardeshir Zahedi's book which is very pro-shah. Which one is telling the truth? Probably neither.

The problem with iranian authors is that each is one way or the other pro- or against the shah, which makes their work unreliable. The problem with foreign authors is their inherent unfamiliarity with iranian society. So, if you and I search for truth, we should be very careful about getting emotional about those who want to manipulate us (as so many did prior to revolution) for their own reasons versus those who want to give us reliable information. Truth about the shah, good or bad, is very useful in guiding us. Lies about him makes us repeat the same mistakes of 70s. I personally find works of less famous academics in the field, iranian or non-iranian, more reliable than amateurs or journalists or people of the royal court; likes of Katouzian, Abrahamian, Keddie, ... who present the shah in a balanced way rather than black or white.

As for Monarchists, you do not need to worry about them -- listen to what people are saying inside iran most often. They do not say "down with monarchy", they say "down with islamic republic," "down with dictator," and "independence, freedom, iranian republic," which are all well aligned with what I want for the country.

I also disagree with you that Reza Pahlavi should abdicate the thrown! Abdicate to whom? To islamic republic! He is continuously screaming that the decision belongs to the people of iran. Abdication is meaningful when people of iran are given the chance to replace the Monarchy with something better as I consider the islamic republic an illegitimate replacement for the monarchy.

Dear Prof. Sahimi, as this comment is getting too long, I just very briefly comment on your number 3 question:

By claiming that islam did not impose itself on iranians by force you just diminished your authority on the subject, specially when you provided corruption of sasanian in sparsely populated iran as the reason. Did sasanian kidnap, imprison, or rape girls just because they showed few strands of hair as IRI does? Did they interfere in anything as personal as the dress code? Did they capture and murder girls just because they were holding hands with boys as IRI does? Did they kill tens of thousands for being "moharreb ba khoda"? Did they loot the country and shipped to arabia or palestine or Phoenicia (Lebanon)? ... does all that mean that after 30 years that people of iran have seen all colors of corruption under the name of god and islam, iranians of today are equally ready to accept a new religion as they were 1400 years ago? So according to your theory, unhappy iranians of today not only would welcome an attack from esraeilis, but they are anxious to convert to Judaism and adopt Hebrew alphabet and take half of Hebrew vocabulary and throw "shalom" at each other from then on? You see how absurd your claim is that iranians welcomed arabs just because they were unhappy with Yazdgerd! If that was then true, it definitely must be true today! And Omar died, not in response to what he had done to iranians by an iranian hand, but due to high-intesity display of gratitude by Abu Lolo!

I would not bring in well known references from iranian and arab historians which totally contradict what you are presenting as "historical fact"; but allow me to quote someone whom I know you well respect, the Emam Hussein, who says:

ما از تبارِ قُریش هستیم و هواخواهان ما عرب، و دشمنان ما ایرانیها هستند. روشن است که هرعربی از هر ایرانی بهتر و بالاتر، و هر ایرانی از دشمنان ما هم بدتر است. ایرانیها راباید دستگیر کرد و به مدینه آورد، زنانشان را به فروش رسانید و مردانشان را به بردگی و غلامی اعراب گماشت
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سفینه البحار و مدینه الاحکام و الاثار" نوشته حاج شیخ عباس قمی صفحه ۱۶۴"

Now you tell me, was this Emam Hussein what iranians could possibly welcome to their homes?

Shahryar / January 5, 2010 7:19 AM

Thank you Shahriar.

You have completely enlightened me on the benefits of Monarchy. Iran needs a King. But I can not think of a single instance in our 2500 Persian Royal history when a dynasty was overthrown, gone for 30 years and then resumed again. Usually what happens is we get a new King and a new dynasty. So I would like to nominate myself as the new King of Iran. And as my first rulling I will change its name back to Persia, just to piss off Reza Shah fans.

But dont worry I still believe in democracy.

Long live Shah Ahvaz.

Ahvaz / January 5, 2010 8:29 AM

Interesting article and commentary. As someone above said, the discussion is healthy and it would be great to see a future Iran where all these views are expressed freely and respectfully.

Prof. Sahimi - you brought your personal views into this discussion, so I would like to ask you a personal question, out of my curiosity as a young Iranian-American: given what the Islamic dictatorship has done over the past 31 years, how do you feel about your prior support for the Revolution? Shahryar and many others hold you and your fellow revolutionaries responsible for a gross miscalculation. I am curious if you feel any remorse or regret?

And to Ali and Monster, while you may think you are cleverly shooting down idealistic and delusional neo-monarchic rants from Shahryar, you actually end up proving that you are not listening to what either the Green movement or Reza Pahlavi are saying. Who cares if he's the "western-educated son" of the former King? Does that automatically disqualify him from having a voice or being useful?

What we (i.e. the so-called Green movement that is comprised of anti-government folks of clearly different religio-political beliefs) know and agree on is that Islam and the IRGC/Basij must be purged from government - absolutely, and because their presence therein is incompatible with democratic government. But a constitutional monarchy? Since when is that system of government absolutely incompatible with democracy?

Prof. Sahimi, with all due respect, you stomp your feet and cry "no, no, I do not like monarchy, never did, never will" but what is your specific problem with "constitutional" (i.e. democratic) monarchy? Does the idea of Don Juan (Carlos), the Queen, and Reza Pahlavi watching a polo match in Tehran while democratically elected governments run their countries so abhor you? You talk of us letting go of the past and forgetting about monarchy, but why don't you let go of the past and stop associating Reza Pahlavi with the torturers of the Cold War.

Don't throw away 2500 years of monarchic tradition so easily, my fellow Iranis, and dismiss all constitutional-monarchists as delusional. Better to incorporate our common history into an evolved, modern day system that unifies the good people of Iran. A system that shows its character by respecting (read: not raping and torturing) those who disagree with it - yes, that would be you, the "25%" of god knows who the hell you are (or if you can even read this post) that actually voted for Ahmaghinejad. A system that is cleansed of the Revolutionary/Khomeinist/Rafsanjanist/Khameneist intestinal virus of which weak-willed hypocrites like Mousavi/Karroubi/Khatami are a strain.

np / January 5, 2010 12:32 PM

@Strike, in Tehran:

This is just comment about a detail in what you said, I'm not completely disagreeing with you.

I just find it quit weird that you put Ataturk in the same category as Ghandi and Mandela. What Ghandi and Mandela did was to advocate non-violence. But what Ataturk did was to create a pseudo-democracy, suppress/move/kill minorities and brainwash Turkish youth with extreme nationalism. Today Ataturk has the same god-like status in Turkey as Khomeini has among hardliners in Iran. A little critic of Ataturk will give you time in jail for "insulting Turkishness" (article 301).

I really do not hope that Ataturk is what inspires Iranian youth. I hope Iran will be a place where all minorities, religions and political parties are accepted. A true democracy, not a pseudo-democracy like Turkey.

Heidar / January 5, 2010 3:06 PM

Sound advice, Mr. Iranian, and very much appreciated. However, it is rather optimistic to expect people top respect each other while blood is flowing in the streets. Someone is to blame, whether it be the monarchists who created the conditions for the 30-year experiment with an 'Islamic' government, the Islamists themselves who promised to sit on the sidelines like Sistani but then made a grab for all the spoils, the U.S.A. which broke every fibre in its body trying to scuttle Khatemi's period of Glasnost, or even some of the students who, seeing the finishing line, are contemplating all-out war.

I personally have no respect for either the monarchists or for the supporters of an outdated religion. We probably can do worse than to initiate a period of democracy. The other 2 systems proved to be utter failures.

Strike / January 5, 2010 5:18 PM

Shahryar:

The quote from Emam Hossein is a fabrication (not by you). This is well-known.

You also dismiss easily anybody that does agree with you. Robert Fisk? good storyteller, but, ... Come on! The man is wonderful. Others? Either pro- or anti-Shah, hence unreliable. There is no one who does not have an opinion. And, once you do, it influences you. Take yoursel, for example. You are pro-Shah. Does that make you unreliable? That cannot be the basis for accepting or rejecting an argument.

np:

I write two types of pieces here. One is reporting on the most important developments. Then, I only report. The second type is like op-ed in newspapers where I analyze an issue. There, I analyze the issue according to my belief. Look at any credible newspaper or website in this country, and you will see that they all do the same. The New York Times, for example, has columnists on the right (Brooks) vs on the left (Krugman).

The monarchies that you allude to in Europe took several hundred years to transition to democracy. In Iran's case, monarchy was a dictatorship until the last moment when it was toppled. We cannot go back to monarchy, wait another 200 hundred years to hopefully get to democracy.

But, more importantly, I simply do not believe in any political system in which the head is not elected, period.

Muhammad Sahimi / January 5, 2010 7:13 PM

Obviously, all the comments above indicate that we need to make room for everyone who loves Iran. Those who love Iran are nationalists. (Sazegara and Makhbalbaf are among them.)

Nationalism is a form a secular religion itself and being an Iranian implies having a complex national identity. Any Iranian could have Shiia, Persian, Kurdish, Gilani, Arab, and other allegiances and still love Iran.

What we need for the future of Iran is a document like the American Declaration of Independence, which recognizes differences in Iranian identity and at the same time, might contain some religious ideals.

My question is: Could we trust Iran's potential leaders to be capable of a grand vision for their country? In order for any leader to be effective, they must truly grasp what might constructively move their people, on a deep level. I am speculating that the majority of Iranians have outlived the Shia myth of martyrdom and are ready to move on. This is one of the many powerful myths IRI has used to moves its agenda forward.

What does the Green Movement mean to all Iranians is a question to be answered yet. I hope Mousavi soon realizes that in order to transform Iran; he needs to move beyond his cautious statements and to be more daring.

Pirooz / January 5, 2010 8:05 PM

Strike this is why your country is stuck in time.People like you who refuse to move on.Point fingers,blame everyone but you.It is always "They" who did it.Well "They" is you.Democracy comes with inclusion. Change or your country will die with you as it has been for the last 31 years.There is no perfect system anywhere.Wake up.

Frank McCammon / January 5, 2010 8:21 PM

Every Iranian must read this: 23 years (bist o seh sal) by ALi Dashti.


Full PDF link:

English http://ali-dashti-23-years.tripod.com/

Farsi http://ali-dashti-23-years.tripod.com/23-y-p.htm

Ali Dashti's bio on Wikipedia and more links http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ali_Dashti


Please read this book with an open mind. It will absolutely blow you away.

Ahvaz / January 5, 2010 8:34 PM

Dear Shahryar,

You dismiss all of my sources above by ascribing to them a base motive or agenda. Amnesty International is leftist and unprofessional, journalists confabulate, Iranian authors are biased, etc.

Using your facile methods, any charge of human rights violations or economic misconduct against IRI and its elites can also be dismissed.

You claim above that Amnesty International never visited Iran's prisons and overestimated the number of political prisoners by a factor of 1000.

Not true. Amnesty International did visit Iran in both 1977 and 1978, and estimated the number of political prisoners at 2000, not the 300,000 figure you ascribe to them. The visits were arranged thru the Iranian embassy in London.

Concerning Robert Fisk, he narrates his own personal observations from a Savak safehouse. He merely relates what he sees, and is not passing on planted or "unauthenicated" stories narrated to him by others. So there is absolutely no comparison with neocon hacks like Judith Miller or Michael Gordon of the NYT.

Parviz Radji was a protege of Princess Ashraf, and can certainly not be dismissed as a bitter reject of the Pahlavi regime with an ax to grind.

Marvin Zonis' study profiling the Pahlavi regime elite was conducted under the auspices of the royal court itself, and published 8 years before the dynasty fell.

I doubt anything I write on this comments page will convince you to discard or temper your Pahlavi fetish, but if I can generate interest in other readers to expand their sources of information, my efforts here will not have been in vain.

Ali from Tehran / January 5, 2010 8:54 PM

Strike, Strike in Tehran.... Do you have an identity problem.As it seems you switch names to benefit the objective of your postings.As people have suggested, you are one man with one vote. Don't try to pretend you speak on behalf of the Iranian people.What you post is nothing but your personal views and they can go in either direction.Sahimi is the same no more.Iranians have a bad habit of making a God like character out of certain individual and when things go wrong and obviously things do go wrong, conveniently switch sides and blame everything on that person i.e. everything is Shah's fault. Bologne, it is our fault as a nation and it is about time we take a good look at ourselves or the next one will be the same.

Rita / January 5, 2010 10:53 PM

Heidar, I know Ataturk was ruthless in confronting his enemies, but the reason I placed him in the 'genius' category was that he went several steps further than Reza Shah the Great by refusing to be crowned king, establishing the first Turkish Parliament during the war of independence, sending women to be trained as pilots, etc.,. and all of this over 80 years ago and in a country that was divided, dirt poor and backward.

If people end up in jail for insulting Ataturk, well, that's not his fault. If people get killed for insulting Khomeini, well, that IS Khomeini's fault because he, unlike Ataturk, encouraged idolatry.

Strike, in Tehran / January 5, 2010 11:06 PM

@np:

Personally i would have loved to see a democratic Iran with a symbolic king, but that did not happened because shah Pahlavi would not let go! He threw away 2500 years of monarchy due to selfish reasons.

Let me be clear about a point, I do not have anything against Reza Pahlavi just because his father was a dictator. I just don't get why the monarchists are praising him as a god, ready to save the Iranians. I see three different possibilities:

1) Maybe the monarchists want a true absolute monarchy, but this is clearly beyond any form for democracy.

2) Or else they want a true democracy with Reza Shah as a politician where he might do something good for Iranians. Fine by me, but then abolish the idea of monarchy.

3) Or maybe they want to have a constitutional monarchy where the king is not allowed to interfere in politics. But if this is the preferred model, then why praise the guy as a god when you want to give him a position where he cannot do ANYTHING for Iranians. Only live like a wealthy king eating caviar all day long.

The first option is of course out of discussion. The third option makes little sense, since monarchy has been abolished for 31 years now. Why should Reza Pahlavi be the "symbolic" king? Why not the self proclaimed shah "Ahvaz" (the commenter above)?

Although I don't have anything against Reza Pahlavi, I don't see him as a "natural leader for Iran". I'm sure there are thousands of good candidates among the Iranian youth. (And for some reason he has no charisma what so ever, something both his father and even Khomeini had lots of. :) )

Heidar / January 6, 2010 12:01 AM

Mr. Heidar,
I am afraid your analysis is somewhat simplistic. All you need to do is a little research on your part. His father Mohammad Reza Shah did not start as a dictator. In fact he was quite a liberal. He was driven to become one due to a number of factors that involved foreign powers as well as Iranians and a world that was very much divided during the cold war. If you (Heidar) were the king of a backward country with very little resources, political and otherwise, your options would be just as limited. I am not going to pretend to you that the man did not make any mistakes, but to pretend he fooled 98% of Iranians as suggested by Sahimi is nothing but complete lie and an exaggerated analysis. I lived that era, I was in the streets and I had my grievances too. But to assume that Iranians were after Khomeini, the current way of life and an Islamic state is utter lie. People wanted more political freedom and participation in political affairs of the country and that is the bottom line. Iranians did not go out for financial reasons or for social reasons. In fact we were ahead of everyone else at that time in our neighborhood. I travelled to Turkey, drove through Turkey for business reasons and experienced just about everything that country could offer me at the time. People used to stand by the road side begging Iranians for cigarettes, money what have you (eastern side of Turkey. The Western side of that country has always been better off). Iranians had the financial ability to send their kids abroad for further education. I am sure they could afford it, don't you? Hundreds of thousands studied abroad including myself. You could call Iranian embassies abroad and ask for financial assistance and they would not hesitate to help you. You would get respect travelling all over the world. I went to communist countries, western European countries and Asian countries and my family and I were always received respectfully. They won't even look at you today without treating you as a terrorist suspect. I don't know how old you are, but it is quite apparent the Islamic Republic has fed a good line of lies to youngsters that post here. Sometimes I ask myself, is this country I lived in? Yes, the man was driven to dictatorship, but he loved his country and the progress that we made during Pahlavi era is unmatched. I tell people, at least have the courage to tell the truth. Reza Pahlavi is well known across the world in political circles. If your Ahvaz picks up the phone and call some President or monarch today, what kind of response would he get? NONE. We have not defeated the Islamic Republic yet and all these arguments aren't worth anything until these murderers step aside. It is only common sense that Reza Pahlavi in his present position can benefit the opposition a million times more than Ahvaz. On the day after, the Iranian people in a national referendum can decide on the government of their choosing. A Republic or a constitutional or Parliamentary monarchy. Don't worry about caviar. Those days are gone and besides, a President can eat just as much caviar as a monarch and live a rich life. However, a King can fulfill the needs of a traditional society such as ours by being a symbol of unity between people otherwise divided. Arab Iranians of the south and the Torkmans of the north. Azaries and Baluchies and many others in one of the worst neighborhoods of the world where a number of surrounding neighbors are aching to grab a piece of our country. It is not about making a man into a God like figure, but having a qualified candidate. Let us respect one another, focus on the removal of the Islamic Republic and have enough respect for our people's intelligence to pick the best system and the best man for the job. What is the problem? Those who go out of their way to muddy the waters do so out of the insecurity of their political position before the Iranian people. May God bless our country. Respectfully, Freydoon T.

Freydoon T. / January 6, 2010 3:19 AM

Thank you Heidar.

I would like to add that unlike Reza Pahlavi who has an Arab/Moslem name!!!!I, have a Pure Persian name: Tahmaseb. That alone qualifies me as a better Shah of persia. Dont you agree?

Kidding aside. How would monarchists feel if any one other than a Pahlavi proclaimed themselves King? How about Moussavi? Or the Great Great Grand son of Nader Shah e Afshar? why not the .G Grand daughter????? Are women not worthy of ruling Iran?

Ahvaz / January 6, 2010 5:28 AM

I have no intention whatsoever to weigh in with the actual topic of this heated discussion. I am just so absolutely puzzled as to who has ever given the authority and the right to some of the individuals participating in the discussion to speak with such stunning certainty for the whole Iranian nation or even for an entire generation as to what the nation or that generation wants or doesn't want, likes or hates, wants to keep or wants to get rid of. The "young" lady who keeps brandishing the illusory flag of "her" generation should remind herself that the bulk of the thugs who beat up and kill the innocent Iranians in the streets, and then go and write for FARS and IRNA and KAYHAN is also from "her" generation. What do you think the average age of the Basiji member is? The same goes for the gentleman who (most probably sitting in his comfortable intellectual armchair somewhere outside Iran)speaks for the whole nation and claims that Iranians are so absolutely (and collectively)sick and tired of the Islamic Republic that are now willing to sell each other wholesale back to Monarchy (Oh, but yes, not so cheap this time!)Have some shame and dignity and don't speak for anyone but for yourselves.

Parsa / January 6, 2010 5:31 AM


Heidar,

Mohammad Reza Pahlavi did not always have the charisma he developed it as he grew older. Give Reza some time he will develop the charisma!!! :)

But I agree with you on the monarchy possibilities (see my earlier comment above). Let Shah "Ahvaz" be the monarch if he wants, and have Reza Pahlavi run for prime minister. If he is really as popular as some claim, he gets his 4 years to prove himself and serve his country as he wishes. If he is not elected, it's end of the story.

Seriously, this should not be a point of strife among Iranians. Reza Pahlavi is welcomed to run in a democratic election if we ever get there and if he feels he is qualified. Else he can serve as the symbolic monarch if people vote him in at a national referendum.

And Dear Dr. Sahimi,

If a monarchy is implemented correctly, it will not take 200 years to achieve democracy. All that said, I, personally, do not see why we would need to go there again. Specially, with the bad taste that the old one has left in everybody's mouth and the tendancy in our culture to accept the king as the absolute monarch. If fact, I would appreciate if one of the people who feels so strongly on this to explain why the insistence to go back to monarchy while we all agree that monarch has to be a symbolic position anyway. Really, if you like the guy why not vote for him as the president?!

Kia / January 6, 2010 5:40 AM

@ Freydoon

"Reza Pahlavi in his present position can benefit the opposition a million times...

I respectfully disagree. There are the three ways the regime has tried to brand and diminish the greens mov't:

1. they are instigated by US/Israel/BBC

2. they are instigated by the Monafeghin (MKO)

3. they are instigated by the Monarchists

None are true!

having said that Reza P. as an Iranian citizen has every right to speak his mind...As a citzen.


parisa,
I agree with you.

Every one here,

As one of those people "sitting at his comfy chair abroad" I read and enjoy all your comments, and hope to learn from each and every one of them. I only wish our friends in Iran can some day do the same without fearing for their lives.

Ahvaz / January 6, 2010 7:32 AM

Parsa-
Thank you for posting your opinions from your fox hole.It must be very uncomfortable in there.

It is called democracy.People are entitled to their opinions and in most cases based on their experience and knowledge.What gives you the right to judge them? They did not judge you,did they?

You question the man about his views on the Islamic Republic.Quite respectfully I must say,unless you have been in a coma in the last few months you would not ask this very obvious question.

No one is advocationg a sell out but accommodation for valid democratic alternatives.Unless you have invented a time machine to return to the past it is only logical to move forward.
The chapter on dictators and dictatorship is fast closing in our country. All people have the right to share in the future of their country with a political system of their choice in a national referendum that should include Republicans, Monarchists, leftists ...... etc. etc.
Unless we find the courage to include and respect all concerned we can never taste freedom in our country.

Niloofar / January 6, 2010 8:08 AM

@ Freydoon T.,

You say: "... a King can fulfill the needs of a traditional society such as ours by being a symbol of unity between people otherwise divided. Arab Iranians of the south and the Torkmans of the north. Azaries and Baluchies..."

I thought the whole point of the Green Movement was to transition from traditional despotic modes of governance to a modern democratic polity, where unity would be consolidated by full-fledged citizenship, without regard for race, religion, lineage and creed.

The aura of kingship in the Iranian tradition derives from absolute, unquestioned, quasi-divine power (che farman e yazdan che farman e shah, zolollah, etc.). You can be sure that a titular king bereft of actual power would not enjoy that aura, and therefore a constitutional monarchy would defeat the traditional unifying purpose you expect of it.


@ Kia,

You are correct that Mohammad Reza Pahlavi developed charisma as he grew older. He was also athletic and ruggedly handsome. But Reza Pahlavi is already pudgy and middle-aged, and has all the charismatic and presence of a boiled potato.

Furthermore, Mohammad Reza's charisma grew in tandem with his consolidation of power, as he breached the constitution and assumed unlimited extra-legal power.

Perhaps, under a restored Pahlavi dynasty, poor Reza can hope to achieve some charisma in this way.

Ali from Tehran / January 6, 2010 10:19 AM

Dear Kia,

Another point I forgot in my earlier post:

Reza MkII still pretends to the throne, and has not formally abdicated.

This means he considers himself king of iran, and does not believe that MRP's televised apology for violating the pre-revolutionary constitution, or the Revolution of 1979 invalidated the Pahlavi family's right to rule.

Not a very inspiring start for a reportedly enlightened progressive democrat who believes in our people's right to choose their own destiny, is it?

Ali from Tehran / January 6, 2010 11:13 AM

Prof Sahimi,

I appreciate your response, and I understand the difference between factual reporting and op-ed (personally I prefer Maureen Dowd to Brooks or Krugman). My question still remains - since you introduced your personal opinions in an op-ed style, I would like to know more about them, including your pride/remorse about your positions on the Islamic revolution. If you do not want or feel you need to answer, that is fine.

More importantly, I am troubled by your continued obfuscation of the distinction between "monarchy" and "constitutional monarchy". I could not have been more clear in my post, yet you again refer to a pure monarchy and ascribe such a position to me. Whoever is suggesting a pure monarchy is delusional. What I am suggesting is different.

The bottom line is that everyone needs to be heard. After 31 years of dictatorship without free will (and for some, including you, 31 years + the Pahlavi years), it is crucial that all people feel like they have a vote. So, to that end, what is wrong with a simple ballot, where the choices are:

a) pure monarchy;
b) constitutional monarchy;
c) pure parliamentary (with no monarch);
d) parliamentary with supreme religious leader; and
e) pure religious leader.

If you are so sure that monarchy -- even if symbolic pursuant to a constitution which affords the monarch zero political rights -- is outdated and unfavored, then you will not fear a vote. You will presumably win, and then when the majority of voters -- in a free an fair election -- vote for a pure parliamentary system, the constitutional monarchists will have been heard, and will have to live with the decision. I am obviously in favor of const monarchy, but if anybody refused to respect a majority vote against, I would immediately support the other side (the majority side). There is no reason why such a ballot is not the best way to proceed to unify the country and allow for true democracy to play itself out.

And if the people vote against a const monarchy, so be it. Then Reza Pahlavi can run for president, which race he will likely lose. Then you end up in the same position that you wish for, except that all of the Reza Pahlavi supporters will have been heard. And that is the key.

Finally, to again clarify a misstatement in your last post, the "King" would not be a "leader of the political system." I wish you would just accept that and argue based on the assumption that this King has no more "political power" than Don Juan Carlos, Queen Elizabeth, or King Gustaf.

np / January 6, 2010 11:41 AM

Very strange reactions to my postings, I must say:

Frank: All I'm saying is that blame has to be shared for the situation my country is in today, so I don't see why you should advise me rudely to 'wake up'!

Rita: I'm Iranian but use a pseudonym. The reason I wrote 'in Tehran' was to emphasize that I actually am writing from Tehran. I don't use 'in Tehran' any more. Secondly, you should not twist my words: I never wrote that "everything was the Shah's fault" as you insinuate. My harsh criticisms of the Shah were in response to Shahryar and other monarchists. I am a student of history and only tried to emphasize that the Shah made too many mistakes. Elsewhere I wrote that the Americans made too many mistakes, and that the mullah reign has been absolutely abominable as a result. So I have tried to be fair, unlike your criticism of me.

It's a pity that some readers selectively judge writings and then react in knee-jerk fashion to only part of what was written.

A summary of my personal views: The majority of the nation is sick of Islamic (mis)rule, sick of U.S. hypocrisy, sick of nostalgia for the Pahlavi regime, and would merely like to give democracy a chance. If this view is controversial, so be it.

Strike / January 6, 2010 3:30 PM

All this monarchy talk is hilarious!

RP has about the same chance of becoming Shah (or even President) of Iran as Queen Elizabeth has of becoming Queen over America and India.

Can you imagine Americans wanting her as their ruling Queen? Or Indians?

Yet it's a fantasy of some of these off-the-wall members of Iran's diaspora.

I will say this of you- you're sure making things easy for the leadership and pro-government electorate of the Islamic Republic of Iran.

Pirouz / January 6, 2010 6:56 PM

NP:

I supported the 1979 Revolution for two reasons: (1) I was (am, and will be) opposed to monarchy, and (2) I support a democratic republic. I am a social democrat, was, am, and will always be. I believe that the 1979 Revolution was totally legitimate and had to happen. I feel no remorse in supporting it. A legitimate revolution is different from what happened afterwards. There was a political vacuum caused by the Pahlavis dictatorship, whereby all the moderate secular and Islamic groups had been wipped out and, therefore, the vacuum was filled by the clerics - another "gift" of the Pahlavis to us. The fact that the Revolution did not lead to what people like me wanted does not take away anything from its legitimacy. ONE TERRIBLE REGIME DOES NOT JUSTIFY ANOTHER TERRIBLE REGIME.

Constitutional monarchy is fine for you, but not for me. If the monarch is not going to have any power, why even bother having it? The Constitution of 1906 was also democratic, but the Pahlavis changed it, and then did not even implement it. Plus, we have no track record of it in Iran. As someone who believes in evolution, I believe that constitutional monarchy must evolve in Iran, but the time has passed. An important result of the Revolution has been introducing the concept of republicanism into Iran. I am a republican (not with R but with r), and support a democratic republic.

Muhammad Sahimi / January 6, 2010 7:58 PM

np, the problem with encouraging a 'constitutional monarchy' in Iran is that Iran is not mature enough to have one. The 'constitutional' monarch would pretty soon start behaving 'unconstitutionally'.

I'm glad you mentioned King Don Juan Carlos of Spain. Do you remember the coup d'etat by the Guardia Civil who in 1981 tried to install him as an absolute monarch? Well, if Spain had such trouble with the concept of a 'constitutional' monarchy, Heaven help Iran if it ever tries that approach: The temptation for him (or her?) to impose Martial Law at the first hint of trouble, egged on my the self-serving military, would be simply too great.

Iran doesn't need any more potential potentates. A Republic reduces that possibility, just as it has done so in Turkey.

Strike / January 6, 2010 8:40 PM


I pernosnally think, this disucssion about Pahlavi era is futile and divisive. Shah, good or bad, made mistakes or not, was/acted as an absolute monarch and that was wrong, perid. No defense can be made for that. Even if he was a god sent angel as monarch (for the sake of the argument), that does not justify his style of ruling, because, who can gurantee his son or grandson would be the same. The political ruler must be elected or all bets are off. I think the lesson learned from Pahlavi era, at this stage, is that we do not want absolute monarch, as shah was, and end of the story. Arguing about how much worse or better Pahlavi regime was compare to IRI will only evoke more emotions that will cause division among us.

Kia / January 6, 2010 9:40 PM

Strike you are entitled to your opinion.But please don't pretend you are posting from Tehran.People are sick and tired of pretenders.I am in touch with Tehran and know the daily limitations.I have been to Iran as recent as last year and know very well the two true contenders are indeed Republicans and Monarchists.It can go either way.I quite agree with those who call for a national referendum.It is high time we give our people the opportunity to speak their minds.

PoorDavood / January 6, 2010 10:15 PM

Strike,

You make good points about holding people accountable for the mistakes of the past. But you use the following language: "someone is to blame".

This blameful attitude will not help the birthing of a new Iran.

There is a huge difference between looking to blame, than looking for accountability, responsibility and learning of the lessons of mistakes.

So many people in Iranian history have made so many mistakes. How will it help our future if we expend our energy on combing the streets looking for people to blame and be angry with?

Anger is a phase we need to move through, and then out of.

If you ask me, we have too much political obsession in Iran... it tangles our minds, especially considering that so much of our national attention is obsessively focused on the past. I suggest reading a bit of Thomas Jefferson for a sane perspective on politics.

We Iranians could use some anger management... I hope there will be anger management clinics after the big change. Just look at how Iranians in the diaspora would get into violent fights over the flag (this past summer, during solidarity demonstrations for Iran). Otherwise, we may keep tripping up over recycled and old emotional patterns.

I think we, secular/republican/moderate Iranians who wish for a better Iran than what the IR has provided, should ask our SELVES: why is the IR such a vicious regime? What strand of our culture is contributing to its viciousness, its sado-masochism, and violence?

I've asked myself this, and I believe one answer is: we, Iranians, have not learned how to deal with our negative emotions... so we are prone to unleashing it on others, or seeking an external target to blame for our woes (this is a common trait among humanity, at this point of humanity's evolution... but a lot of our Iranian political problems come from this source, I believe).

While the IR seems to consist of exceptionally ignorant, fanatical and "lost" individuals, the IR isn't completely separate from the broader Iranian mentality, and subconscious emotional tendencies.

While this forum is about politics, and politics is the topic of the day, I am convinced that our people need to carry out psychological work to be a people more at peace.

I have faith that we have enough aware, intelligent and educated people, as well as a very rich wisdom tradition (we just need to tap into it), that our culture can be elevated, at this critical juncture in our nation's journey.

Peace,

Iranian

P.S. For an anger management resource, check out www.heartmath.org - I hope all Iranian psychologists who are reading this will make it part of their work to bring this kind of knowledge to the great people of Iran.

Iranian / January 6, 2010 10:31 PM

I have another thought about constitutional monarchy.

Since the Shah is to be purely symbolic anyway with no interference in politics (basically window dressing and Princess Di style charity/photoup events), then why not have a king that looks more like George Cloony? I am sorry but I have watched Reza Pahlavi on TV. Intelligent, nice man, and I like what he says, but frankly he doesn't exactly look Kingly! He looks more like a dentist. If I have a king to represent Iran, I want him to look more like Aragorn from Lord of the rings.


And on top of it, some one who doesn't have an Arab first name like Reza! Iranians are tired of Islam, and we dont need another King with an Arab/Islamic name, especially one named after a Shiaa Imam. We need a King with a strong Persian name to represent our pure Persian race. Vassalam.

Ahvaz / January 6, 2010 11:57 PM

Iranian,

Referring to your statement,” We Iranians could use some anger management...," I don't believe Iranians are particularly naive in managing their emotions. We are restless because our national identity is dangerously unstable.

I have doubts about your optimistic vision for the future of Iran as well. Unfortunately our intelligent and educated minds are either in prisons or live outside Iran. (not Reza Pahlavi)

Basically those who decide the future of Iran are working behind the scenes. Could you have ever imagined that Khomaini's campaign, to lead the Iran’s revolution, was funded by President Carter?

When in Tehran, I took the time to go to his mausoleum, which is as big as a soccer stadium. The place was empty unlike mausoleums of other saints. The walls were covered by his famous quotes, one shallower than the other. Standing there I wondered about the Iranians who believed in him and have made him into an idol of worship. Several months ago I met a journalist in Canada who told me she was one of them and now she regrets her stupidity.

Let’s hope we don’t make the next leader into an idol.

Pirooz

Pirooz / January 7, 2010 12:58 AM

Prof Sahimi:

Thanks for your explanation of your views on the Revolution. While it puzzles me me that you seem to shoulder more blame on the Pahlavis for the resulting Islamic dictatorship than on yourself (and your colleagues) who were the more proximate cause by supporting the Revolution that led to it, I will leave it be as I do not intend to try to change your mind.

Prof Sahimi, Strike et al:

I respect your opinions against a constitutional monarchy. What is the problem with what I am suggesting - a ballot where people vote yea or nay on whether to have that type of system? If as you believe (and I actually agree) a majority/plurality of the people will probably NOT vote for a constitutional monarchy, what is the harm? None. Instead, there is all to gain. Those in favor of const monarchy will have been heard, and will have less to gripe about afterward (and if Reza Pahlavi wants to also run for President, he can do that too -- everyone can run, no more ridiculous vetting of candidates). Similarly, those who believe in velayateh faghih can do their talking at the ballot box, hopefully to similarly shut up after they lose. Many countries have their fundamentalists and fringe political parties, and while we may abhor their views at times, we allow them to participate by running in elections (and usually losing).

Pirouz: your post is non-sensical. Reza Pahlavi is an Iranian and the son of the most recent monarchy. Queen Elizabeth is neither American nor Indian. And the dissimilarities in situations only start there, so not worth saying much more about your comment.

np / January 7, 2010 1:20 AM

These discussions are good to let off steam and a bit of hot air for the arrogant & bellicose monarchists. The question of any new political order is more than likely to be decided by those who hold the guns, without their support no party can rule. Currently the IRGC/army/Basij are aligned with AN/Khamanei. I do not see any inclination for them to change sides as this could easily cause the country to descend into civil conflict. It seems the security forces are gradually getting to grip with controlling the situation and in time the US and its allies will come round to making a deal with the AN government. This just means that reforms are likely to come from forces within the establishment once things are settled. It was interesting to note that just days after Mussawi put his proposals forward, the streets of Tehran were being cleansed of grafitti against him. Coincidence or a nod in the right direction by the regime!

rezvan / January 7, 2010 3:20 AM


Dear Niloofar,
Actually, my foxhole is really way too comfortable for my own comfort! Just a quick reminder though: I did not question the "man" about his opinion on the Islamic Republic. In fact, if I wanted to express my personal opinion about IR, I would have to repeat much of what he has, or many others have already said over and over. What I questioned was how from the hatred for the brutalities of the regime one could deduce the whole nation's renewed appetite for Monarchy. And else, all I was saying was that you can't keep saying what the whole nation wants, or even what a generation wants---quite specifically, in my opinion, to say "my generation is sick and tired of Islam, etc. " is simply irresponsible, considering the fact that a major hurdle before the movement against the Islamic dictatorship is unfortunately a sizable (and un-ignorable)presence of the YOUTHS who still firmly believe in Islam and are willing to pull the trigger on their own fellow Iranians in its name. Now, please don't go on a rant and say that I am defending Islam (because I am not) or have been in coma and have not seen what has happened to our country and our people in the last seven months.

Parsa / January 7, 2010 3:47 AM

rezvan we did not expect anything else from a supporter of the Islamic AN Republic that hold the guns.These discussions are good on your part to let off steam and a bit of hot air for the arrogant & bellicose Islamists.Your days are numbered, enjoy it while you can.People of Iran have spoken. Death to the dictator AN Islamic Republic.

Goodarz / January 7, 2010 4:02 AM

np, you are absolutely right. But we serve a better purpose by putting the question to all citizens through a national referendum by including all involved. We must allow people to weight all possibilities and pick the system/candidate they desire most. No person/group should be left behind even the Islamists. We owe it to our people and the political future of our country.

Why does the otherside twist the issues and refrain from cooperating? Because they know their position is weak and can be seriously jeopardized. So they refer to name calling, belittling and undermining to put it mildly.

Parang / January 7, 2010 4:15 AM

Dear Prof. Sahim: I must say upfront that I admire, as you said, for your "sticking your neck out" to voice your opinion; and I admit that your articles contain some useful information. But when it comes to opinion, logic, and vision, you lack the ability to convincingly rationalize your position; you selectively resort to anything and everything that suits you, be it praising a british journalist, or rejecting a religious text from Shia islam, post-fixed by statements such as "historical fact" and "well-known fabrication" without any proof.

I can see that you have a following; most, if not all, voices of 70s with the same fetish hatred of the shah, some pretending to be from Tehran, hoping that that would boost their weak logic, and some resorting to insults.

Dear Prof., your ideas circle around two concepts: unseating the shah, unaware that he is already unseated and passed away, and sticking theocracy to iranians, if not by the front door thru the Emam Khomeini as in 1979, but thru the back door thru Emamzadeh Mousavi; as if snake oil from Los Angeles has totally different properties than the one from Neauphle-le-Château.

So why do you engage in such heated fruitless discussions? You are neither capable of learning anything new beyond what you knew in 70s, nor have the ability to offer the rational to make anyone to agree with your positions. You still call the disastrous revolution of 1979 that at a minimum led to hundreds of thousands of deaths legitimate!

You have lived in western democracies but do not seam to value it. You do not see Americans constantly trashing the minority Libertarians or demonizing Thomas Jefferson because he held slaves, do you? So why are you so obsessed with and terrified of Monarchists? They have not been in charge for 30 years and may never ever be hereafter! If you really believe in democracy, isn't it the right of Monarchists to speak and then if they are in minority, they will NOT rule, and if they are in majority, they DESERVE to rule? Or is your kind of democracy an exclusive club as the islamic republic has been?

Dear Prof., you did not see such animosity towards Islam in 70s, did you? But now it has had the chance to show its true face for 30 years under a large cadre of Ayatollahs and Sheiks who claim to be experts in anything related to Islam and its implementation. So, islam is not a private matter anymore; if you disagree, tell that to all the mullas in iran rather than trying to convince those who have been robbed of their home by the islamists.

Dear Prof., if you follow the same path as in 1979, you will end up with the same result, maybe with a different shade, but the same in essence. Iran needs fundamental changes, and those changes will not come under anything resembling what we have had for the past 30 years. Iran needs an inclusive system, who would embrace EQUALLY men and women, religious and atheist, persian and non-persian, moslem and non-moslem, AND monarchist and non-monarchist; and not a band-aid that would only buy thieves and murderers another 30 years of time to loot iran and oppress iranians still further. If you truly believe in democracy, you should fiercely defend the rights of all, including monarchists that you disagree with, to speak and rule if iranians choose to by majority vote.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YaS8BbR0Q9w&feature=player_embedded

Shahryar / January 7, 2010 5:12 AM

Although I hope in time social democrats such as Dr. Sahimi will become strong enough to run Iran, at this juncture I don't believe there will be a huge difference if Rfsanjani/Mousavi team run the country or if Khamenehei/Ahmadinejad run it. At least the difference is not and has not been to the extent that we risk chaos in Iran.

kharmagas / January 7, 2010 5:27 AM

Goodarz

Rezvan is just another Arab suporter of Khamanei and Mr. AN

Ahvaz / January 7, 2010 7:36 AM

PoorDavood, instead of making baseless accusations ("Strike you are entitled to your opinion.But please don't pretend you are posting from Tehran.") had it ever occurred to you to ask the Blog owner? (Mr. Sahimi, you have my permission to reveal publicly whether I am or am not in fact posting from Tehran via a foreign domain).

PoorDavood: Are you capable of logical investigation, or are you simply presumptive and rude by nature? Show some maturity and grow up, for Heaven's sake.

Now, back to business: Mr. Sahimi, your above view (Muhammad Sahimi / January 6, 2010 7:58 PM) 1000 % mirrors my own. I was totally anti-Shah and pro-Revolution, but clearly devastated by the outcome. HOWEVER (and this is a big 'however') I believe that if it had occurred a decade later it would have been far worse, and far bloodier, if that is at all imaginable for those who haven't studied the French Revolutions, the October Revolution, the Kuomintang, Pol Pot, etc. '1979' was actually a coup d'etat, not a 'Revolution' in the sociological sense. It wasn't so much class warfare as musical chairs: I wandered around during and after the Revolution clean-shaven (be ghole eenha 'seh-teeghee') and wearing a suit and tie. People were good-humoured till Khomeini showed his true colours. This could never have happened in a genuine revolution.

For everyone else: Yes, these are my own views, I may be completely mad and I disclaim any responsibility for any wrong advice I may have given or may give in future. Now let's keep the debate going as many of you have much more knowledge than I and I truly appreciate this Blog (If I stop posting it means I'm in the Evin Hotel!).

Strike / January 7, 2010 9:09 AM

'Iranian', I respectfully disagree with your criticism of me for apportioning blame for the current situation to the Shah, the Americans and the Mullahs. You write: "This blameful attitude will not help the birthing of a new Iran."

Santayana wrote: "Those who do not learn from history are doomed to repeat it."

By analysing mistakes of the past (= 'apportioning blame' for the current catastrophic situation) one can better prepare oneself to avoid similar mistakes in future. We do not live in a void, and where we are today is the precise consequence of what we did yesterday, both right and wrong. If the nation, even as a Republic, selects leaders who go about their way in cavalier fashion and state (like Americans usually do) "Awe shucks, forget the past, let's move on", we'll be back under a dictatorship in the blink of an eye.

Strike / January 7, 2010 9:36 AM

Prof. Sahimi, I have a suggestion: Could you kindly allow posts to be published immediately? You can always delete any that are offensive. I don't know when you are awake or asleep, but obviuously there are periods of a few hours when nothing gets posted, which interrupts the flow and interchange of ideas. Just my 2 cents.

Strike / January 7, 2010 9:44 AM

Come on - blaming the Shah for the revolution is fair enough, but to blame him for the revolution's failures as well!? Give the guy a break. The only people to blame are the people involved - and the Shah was already dead by then. When people use the blame game to justify their actions, it proves their utter incompetence.

Pak / January 7, 2010 10:05 AM

Green means Go

Ju / January 7, 2010 10:44 AM

Parsa - Those Basigies you are referring to are in it for money.Take a good look at their leadership, basig and the Guards both and you will see the light.The extent of corruption is immense.As for monarchists, they are a valid part of our society and once again, all people of all political backgrounds should be included in a national referendum as it has been said time after time by a number of people. Iranians must be given a chance to pick the kind of government, any kind of government, they desire most.

Niloofar / January 7, 2010 4:19 PM

np:

To answer your question, I think it's necessary with a referendum on the issue. I will respect the outcome no matter it will be, although I probably would vote no to constitutional monarchy if had a vote (it should come by evolution, makes no sense to establish a symbolic constitutional monarch by a revolution).

My criticism above was more directed to extreme monarchists (most of the monarchists I've met), which praise Reza Pahlavi as a god-like figure that is the only natural leader of the country. My point is: if they are only interested in a constitutional monarchy, then why say he is a natural leader and will save the people. A person with a symbolic position cannot be called a leader nor save the people, although the country may benefit from him for other reasons.

I hope all this discussions will be relevant one day.

Heidar / January 7, 2010 5:14 PM

Shahryar:

Thank you for your indictment. I am all of that and more. I suggest that you stop reading my articles, if you really think I am who you describe. But, we all know that when people lack acceptable responses, they begin name calling, and you just did that.

How do you know that the people who agree with me are the older generation? Because they agree with me? Or, because they disagree with you?

Your anger toward my writing in which I mention the Pahlavis is understandable. You want to glorify them, to present them as god-like characters, as savior of Iran, and I simply do not go along. You want people to use 16 Azar occasion to demonstrate, but do not want them to know how the original event happened. You want to attack the Revolution, but do not want people to learn the conditions in Iran that gave rise to the Revolution. You want people to use Ashura to demonstrate, but you neither want to hear about Shiism, nor do you want people learn about other important Ashura demonstrations.

It is astonishing to me that people like you are willing to go to absurd lengths - such as saying 98% people were fooled in 1978-79(and in the process insult 98% of the population), but lack the courage to say that, yes, the Shah was a0 dictator and illegitimate due to the 1953 coup, and that is why we had a revolution. Such statements defy any social science logic and rationale. Events such as a revolution supported by 98% of the people are not created in a vacuum. They have solid foundations. The Shah himself acknowledged it, you don't? 98% of the people were fooled! Wow! So, what the heck did the Palavis do for 57 years? It is the foremost task of a government to educate the people politically so that they would not be fooled. That statement by itself suffices to show where you stand!

I am not terrified by monarchists, or any (non-existence) prospect of monarchy going back to Iran, simply because I respect what the majority wants. If that is what the majority wants, so be it. I'll go along, and express my opinion as well.

I am no fan of Mir Hossein Mousavi. But, the difference between people like you and me is that, as someone who lives outside the country, I consider it my duty to support whatever the people who live in Iran want. I reserve the right to have my opinion about them, but support whatever the people want. At this point in time, Mousavi, Karroubi, and Khatami are the leaders - or the symbols - of the struggle. I support them.

But, let's say that I do what you say. Why is this any worse than what you do? You also worship the Pahlavis and monarchy. Which one is worse, an Emamzadeh - who is earthly - or a God-like character that you advocate, Reza Pahlavi? I take the former any moment. We already have a God-like character, Khamenei.

Have a nice day.

Muhammad Sahimi / January 7, 2010 7:53 PM

I would love to see an intelligent article on the Iranian's identity: their tendency for making their leaders into idols of worship. It is time for us to discuss what we want and why we want it. If you have seen the documentary, Queen and I, you'll definately see the Pahlivi family and their followers as people belonging to another time and era.

Farah was interviewed after the film by a Monarchist. Assuming she was a good sampling of them, which I think she was, I was shocked by her unconditional devotion to Farah. Khomaini and Khamaneie also enjoy such devotion; they too have their followers and devotees.

The question is what percentage of people want monarchy, what percentage want mullharcy, and what percentage want a democratic republic? And there is those who pull the strings for their own economic gains.


Pirooz / January 7, 2010 8:29 PM


Dear Heidar,

You could not have said it any better: "A person with a symbolic position cannot be called a leader nor save the people". It would be really nice for one of strong supporters of him to fill us in on why insistence on monarchy. If you really believe in him as a leader and still insist on monarchy, either you have absolute monarch in mind which is completely out of line and unacceptable by any means or have your whole argument wrong. Maybe you only have a nostalgia for old times and using him as an excuse. I still say if you admire him so much vote for him as a presidential candidate. He got some potential there after all: He is educated, been involved in Iranian politics, albeit from sidelines, enjoys some degree of popularity, and has the international recognition. :)

Kia / January 7, 2010 11:10 PM

Dear Dr. Sahimi,

You make a point in your comment to Shahryar that I could not resist not respond to: "You want people to use Ashura to demonstrate, but you neither want to hear about Shiism, nor do you want people learn about other important Ashura demonstrations"

It is not really fair to say that because, we all know that, the reason we see people using Ashura to show their discontent with IRI is not, necessarily, the significance of Ashura itself, but only because that is one of the few occasions they are allowed to gather on he street as a mass. In other words, they are, justly, taking advantage of the opportunity. Given that, it is natural for any opposition supporter (weather religious or not) to encourage this type mass protest when the oprtunity arises even if they reject its religous significance.

More importantly, you are, maybe inadvertently, giving a religious flavor to the uprising which is not true. At least the Ashura timing is, in no way, a support for that. This might have been true in 1978 but not in 2009.

Kia / January 7, 2010 11:38 PM

I would assume that the defence of a constitutional monarchy would be this:

1. our entire history is built upon monarchy. it was a monarch who wrote something that resembles the first human rights charter; it was a monarch who created the largest empire the World has ever seen; it was a monarch who built Persepolis and Esfahan; it was under monarchy that our greatest philosophers, artists, poets and scientists flourished, and it was under monarchy that our nation was built and has survived to this day.

2. Iran is a hugely diverse society, both in terms of ethnicity and religion. A central figurehead (whether ceremonial or not) can unite our nation, unlike a system where the highest authority changes every 4-5 years and may place ethnic or religious sentiment above national sentiment.

3. A monarchy can project our nation's patriotism and pride onto other nations, while effectively containing nationalism through symbolism.

4. A monarchy can also oversee the welfare of the nation and ensure that the path of the country does not deviate (deviation is something we have experienced over the past 30 years). One thing we cannot accuse the Shah of is a bad foreign policy, for example. He was a true patriot in spite of his many faults. I couldn't say the same thing about our current leaders.

In spite of these benefits, my main concern, and the reason why I wouldn't personally vote for a constitutional monarchy, is because of the whole evolution argument, which Prof. Sahimi and others have already pointed out. One cannot impose a constitutional monarchy out of thin air without many complications; it isn't a simple process and it's just not feasible. If only the Shah realised this before it was too late...

Pak / January 8, 2010 1:19 AM

Believing in Ashura does not make one a devout Muslim. It is story that could move any one. And it is story that moves Iranians in particular. In my opinion, it gives expression to a unique aspect of their national identity and provides a venue to let out their pend-up emotions when there is no immediate solution at hand.

Pirooz / January 8, 2010 2:37 AM


Constitutional Monarchy (as outlined by Pak):

1. So what.

2. Counter productive. You pick a monarch who is only from one given ethnicity/religion. That is a cause of division not unity. The ethnicities not represented might feel left out or second class. And worse of all, this is fixed for ever (unless the monarch diversifyes his line's ethnicity through marriage which can not be a requirements for him). The rotation of head of state is better reconciliation of different ethnicities. Given the position is filled based on qualifications not ethnicity, the opportunity is given to each and every group.

3. This one, you make a good point.

4. In order to do that, the monarch needs some authority (political power) which contradicts the sympolic nature of it and in fact is dangerous (basis for dictatorship). Isn't this what Vellayat-faghih, in theory, was meant to be.

Kia / January 8, 2010 3:01 AM

Kia
The focus is on the choice of the people.Even RP has said he will honor the wish of the Iranian people even if they decide on no role for him.He is educated, in touch and a democrat.Yet, many choose to ignore our call for a national referendum.We must include all parties concerned in a natioanl referendum for Iranian people to choose a govermental system and candidate(s) of their choice.In this ultra democratic manner, no questioned will be left unanswered for Iranians in future. People decided, people voted and a government of the people for the people by the people is chosen by the majority of the population.What is so hard to cmprehend this unless the opposing party is unsure of itself? The politics of the future for Iran should not be about subtraction or division but addition and multiplication or we all lose.

Niloofar / January 8, 2010 3:04 AM


Niloofar, I agree.

Kia / January 8, 2010 4:46 AM

Pak, I was not planning to comment on this blog anymore, but since I saw your comment, I thought it would be appropriate to clarify as someone who has been accused of being monarchist as if we have been in heaven for the past 30 years that we lacked monarchy. Dr. Sahimi's problem is that he reduces everything to hatred of the shah and love of islam, and builds everything upon those two shaky pillars, not realizing that that is what took us where we are; and then he rejects all arguments either by phrases such as "proven" or never directly answers to any issue such as if monarchists should have a role in future iran "subject to approval of the majority". Please consider the following:

1. Britain is a monarchy and so is Saudi arabia - two vastly different worlds. US is a republic and so is Syria. Iran is Islamic republic and so is Pakistan. So what makes these systems work or not work is not the name but the nation and respect for law above personal gains; the biggest factor that Dr. Sahimi totally ignores. Iranian system does not have to be a copy of either of these, but has be one made for iran and iranians to work.

2. Islamic republic has essentially destroyed all organized opposition inside iran. The only remaining somewhat coherent opposition is outside in the form of MKO and RP. That is why Green is essentially leader-less.

3. Islamic republic has built onion-like layers of cavalry down to foot-soldiers to protect its existence. Top layer is made of Leader and President and their supporters. Below that are likes of Rafsanjani et al who blow in the direction of wind as it suits them. Below that are likes of Khatami, Karrubi, Mousavi. Below that are likes of Ganji, Soroush, Sazgara, late Montazeri. All these people want to maintain or reform the islamic republic rather than replace it. And below that are likes of Dr. Sahimi who want to replace a VIP club with another VIP club. A band-aid will only buy time, not cure the fundamental issues of deep corruptions of various sorts in iran.

4. Our problem is (a) how to get rid of islamic republic, (b) how to maintain a new system in the short run, (c) what to do in the long run.

Part (b) is not only very important but very much subject to misuse as anyone who comes in will organize the system to protect himself and his interest within the system rather than to protect the people or their interest. This is what happened to IRI if you compare what Khomeini said before and after the revolution.

5. My angle is to care about iran and iranians rather than satisfying one's hatred of monarchy or love of islam or vice versa. Our system should not necessarily be an all or nothing role for the monarch, the same way that reza shah and mohammad reza shah were vastly different kings, each good for his own time in my view; the future king does not need to be like either the king of arabia or queen of britain.

6. I consider everything related to the revolution and islamic republic illegitimate simply because it has not served the people in the slightest way. The situation in iran is very bad compared to pahlavis' period. This is not a time for joking or emotional satisfaction of 40-year old hatreds. However, one fundamental problem with the despicable and discriminatory constitution of islamic republic has been that even those few human rights articles in the constitution have been ignored - such as ban on torture, independent judiciary, defendants' entitlement to having lawyers and juries, freedom of press, etc. How should we prevent a repeat of same scenario. The ultimate arbiter for implementation of constitution is the Supreme Court in western countries; where in iran Supreme Court is part of the system and dysfunctional.

7. Dr. Sahimi has not been able to criticize anything that RP has been saying, he just has a never-ending "pedar koshtegi" with RP. That generation must step aside or change. This is not the time for personal vendetta. And there simply is no-one with a cleaner past record than RP (he himself, not his father), offering any better vision of future. Mousavi/Karrubi/Khatami are jokes with black records who can only distract iranians and lead them to another 30 years of struggle.

8. Thus RP can play two important role that no-body else is there to play today:

(a) unite all opposition who want fundamental change, not band-aid, to get rid of IRI. He can coordinate the opposition and development of a new progressive constitution, not in isolation, but with cooperation of like-minded advisors. No-one has been able to achieve this for 30 years now, and no other one is there to play that role today.

(b) In the short-run, he can be more than symbolic, one with "no executive power", but foreseeing power to guarantee implementation of major articles of constitution. A brand new system is highly subject to corruption and a new Supreme Court cannot function as in western countries for at least a couple of generations. RP does not have any financial motivation to behave like rafsanjani, and with his position secured, can be a good safe-keeper of major articles of the new constitution - a scare-crow if you will for the judiciary and implementation of the constitution. (c) In the long run - say 50 years - once a functional, transparent, and accountable system is really established and deeply rooted, I really do not care if the position of monarch is dissolved or not. RP does not have a son, so I would love to see the last monarch of iran being his daughter, something that can be really good for the country, and then dissolved.

I am of-course open to any alternate solutions, if anyone has any practical ones, that would deliver us a progressive in my life-time!

Shahryar / January 8, 2010 6:10 AM

Pak: "If only the Shah realised this before it was too late...".

Precisely. That's the exact reason my hero Ataturk rejected the nationwide call for him to be appointed King, and that is the exact reason why he is revered throughout Turkey while Mohammad Reza Pahlavi is despised by most of his people.

Another point: It's very difficult to remove an incompetent constitutional monarch in a 3rd world nation, whereas a republic gives its people a legal means to do so every 4 years.

Strike / January 8, 2010 8:35 AM

@Shahimi: "If the monarch is not going to have any power, why even bother having it?"
The whole point is a fascist rethoric, idolatry, and WE ALL KNOW IT. These people want a shah just for the sake of it, because their esteem of the Iranian nation sinks if they can't blab of imperial lion flags/shah making out with some princess/military parades.
I find instead that the Iranian struggle for democracy makes its recent history glorious, not some court gossip.


@Ahvaz: I'm totally with you.


@np: you propose ballots, but many other pointed too many times that RP has never abdicated his throne. So what's the point if he has already made his mind in no way respecting the previous one (that rejected the monarchy with a full consensus?)
And why just a democratic republic or a monarchy? Iranians should be allowed to choose any form of government, including an Islamic Republic, an absolute monarchy, Islamic-socialist republic, a military dictatorship. I would find intriguing the outcome: I'm pretty confident that the islamic republican system would still outcome monarchist votes, a humiliation they deserve.

Italian / January 8, 2010 2:50 PM

@Niloofar: as I said, RP has in no way honored the Iranian wish 30 years ago, so don't speak for his good faith when he can't do it by himself.

And by the way, a referendum 30 years ago made legit the actual form of government and a candidate of Iranian's choice. To quote and edit your own words: "People decided, people voted and a government of the people for the people by the people was chosen by the majority of the population. Why is so hard to comprehend this unless the opposing party is not even listening?"
What point of this lesson you did not learn?

RP can candidate himself as a citizen equal to me or you. I am willing to be a CITIZEN, not a SUBJECT of a ruler. Equal to, not subordinate (to anything, god or human). Can you understand (you or any monarchist/basiji) this plain concept or not?

Italian / January 8, 2010 3:15 PM

I return to this thread to find- more monarchial chatter!

This is hysterical. And so out of touch with modern Iran.

It's just so funny when, among the many other wild rumors on Twitter, there are tweets of RP posters being put up by the demonstrators. But even with all the financial backing that RP has, as well as the well greased propaganda machine, to date not one RP poster has been seen put up anywhere in Tehran and filmed on YouTube.

Doesn't that tell you folks something?

But hey, if fantasy's your gig, just go right on with it. But I will say it one more time: by so doing, you're making things awful easy for the political establishment of the IRI.

Pirouz / January 8, 2010 3:20 PM

I have some of these monarchists in my own family. Having many occasions to listen and reflect on their thinking process I would like to put forth my theory:

It is a fact that most Iranians feel less of themselves, comparing themselves to westerners. They feel defeated and backward. At the same time, they believe they have a rich culture and they want to be noticed in the world. Their general attitude, deep down, is that the westerners know something they don't and that is why they have been left behind. Ahmadi Nejud is trying to break that myth by challenging the west to manipulate people who fall for his seductive narrative.

The Monarchists I know hate Persian music of all kinds, they listen to opera or western classical music, they don't know who contemporary figures of Iranian culture are. And, when collecting art, they collect western work, etc. In brief, their identity is tied up in an "image," an image of a sophisticated, cultured Iranian: The Pahlavi family stands for that image. Ali Khamanei who is practically THE KING of Iran does not.

So for the monarchist the issue of who is Iran's next leader is an emotional issue, not rational. The issue is linked to their identity. The royal family gives them the self confidence and assurance that they are cultured. So don't bother arguing with them. The live in the past. Let's hope that they are in the minority, just as I hope the followers of Khamenei's cult are.

Priooz / January 8, 2010 6:41 PM

Dear Shahryar,

What serendipity!

You found the person with the cleanest record, the sharpest intellect, and the deepest pockets, to chaperon Iran from dark into light.

And this mo'jezeye-hezareye-sevom happens to be none other than the prodigal son of the former Shah!

Amazing coincidence!

Is there a Nobel Prize for politics? If there is, I am nominating you for 2010.

Ali from Tehran / January 8, 2010 9:04 PM


Monarchists never respond to any particular point. They are interested in slogans, and slogans only. When they do not have anything to say, they begin labeling people.

They also have difficulty reading, otherwise they would have seen that I have written at least 100 articles over the past 7 months in which I have harshly attacked all aspects of the Islamic Republic, and have said that Islam and any other religion are private matters and must stay out of governing. But, Shahryar still comes back and repeats his nonsense about me, Islam, ec., ONLY because I have said I am a practicing Muslim. I suppose the only way to "prove" to these people that we mean what we say is quit believing our belief and become anti-Islam, which goes to show what kind of "democracy" these "democracy lover monarchists" want. In their democracy religion cannot even be a private matter!

At the same time, as we say in Farsi, "dom-e khorous az laaye abaa daareh biroon miaad!' Shahryar cannot get himself to say that he believes, like all monarchists, that Iranian people are not ready for democracy (just as he believes that 98% of the people were fooled in 1979), so he advocates a Supreme Court (Iran already had a Supreme Court during the Shah, and has a Supreme Court now, except that it was and is abused!) that, however, "cannot function for TWO GENERATIONS." Read again! The time has been fixed! TWO, not ONE generation or shorter! So, what to do?

Shahryar envisions a 50 years period in which his monarch will have power. Aaha! Now we know what parlimantary democracy is! FIFTY YEARS, not 5, or 10, that is not a typo! That is how long it would take for Iranian people to become ready for true democracy!

Then, if monarchy is abolished, he does not care! Of course, by then the monarch will proclaim that people are still not ready! What this means is that, Shahryar wants to see in his life time the Pahlavis restored to power with the same structure as before the Revolution. And, why not? According to him, Mohammad Reza Shah "was good for his time."

If you believe this nonsense as a democracy, then I have the Brooklyn bridge to sell you!

These people cannot get themselves to accept anything wrong on the part of the Pahlavis. The most they concede is that "they were not flawless." It is like saying, "I am not perfect." Heck! This is not about being perfect or flawless, but about being a good leader with a track record that, on balance, is benefitial to people.

Reza Shah and his son were good for their time? Yes, so were Joseph Stalin, Mao, Saddam Hussein, Fiedel Castro, General Franko, and Augusto Pinochet! All of them did some good things for their country! By this argument, there has never been a bad dictator in history, except of course Khamenei and Khomeini, simply because they are called Islamist.

Shahryar claims that I have "pedar koshtegi" with Reza Pahlavi. He says "I cannot criticize what RP says." First of all, I have criticized him often in the past, FOR WHAT HE HAS SAID (see below). Secondly, I applaud anything positive that he may say (and he has said many positive things recently, even about Mousavi). So, I do not have any "pedar koshtegi" with him (even though his father's SAVAK killed my young cousin in 1978). I just do not see him as a leader.

1. He has no major education to speak of, other than getting a B.S. by correspondence from USC, where I teach, and where his father had donated $7 million to in 1973.

2. He has not worked for a single day in his entire life and instead has lived off the wealth that his father left him. I won't even get into how his father amassed that wealth.

3. He has lived his ENTIRE adult life outside Iran.

4. Before September 11, 2001, he was not even active. But, in the evening of that day, he advocated bombing Tehran in a radio program in Los Angeles, because he believed that the terrorists were from tyhe Islamic Republic! (this is documented, and I responded to it in an article in October 2001).

5. He has never acknowledged the illegitimacy of the 1953 coup, nor the crimes that his father had committed. He often says, "history should judge the 1953 coup," but attacks the 1979 Revolution. In other words, the event that occured 56 years ago must be juedged by history, but a much more recent event is already judged. That is the type of rationale, and honesty, that the man has

Need I say more?

Muhammad Sahimi / January 8, 2010 9:57 PM


Dear Shahriyar,

1. The question is not with RP personally, but with Monarchy, the system.

2. What you describe in 8 Is good but too idealistic. It requires a lot of trust on one person. Again, this is not to bash RP personally, but it is wrong to count on one individual to deliver the nation, give him the authority and even give him the title of Monarch. It's an imprudent move and prone to absolutism. A lesson we must have already learned from 1979.

3. Dr. Sahimi and his ideology is not just one person, it is a generation. it is a politically active, educated, and experienced generation that have to be included in any future of Iran if we want to rebuild the country. You can not just brush them off. Just for that reason, Monarchy is not the best uniting system (notice I would not say RP but say Monarchy). True, maybe they have some fixated hatred toward Monarchy, but it is the same type we would carry against IR for ever to come. Now would RP be elected as a president, I think he can serve as a better uniting figure. While republicans get the system they desire, monarchist can rally behind the republic based on their alliance with him. Based on that, I would really like to see RP to forgo the crown and officially make himself available to participate in Iran's future politics as a citizen. A prominent one with some royal following to play a role in future democratic government as an elected official.

4. I like the fact that you keep an open mind and are wiling to discuss other alternatives. I hope every Iranian does the same.

Kia / January 8, 2010 10:09 PM

Italian,
Why do you call yourself Italian? Are you ashamed to be Iranian?It simply does not make sense.

RP 30 years ago? He was not in politics at that time.What was he supposed to honor to the nation 30 years ago. I am very sorry but you do not make any sense.
There was no referendum 30 years ago to include people of all political backgrounds. It was a primitive yes or no questionnaire with Islamic thugs watching over the boxes.What is there to understand under those very typical theocratic circumstances.
RP has already declared himself as an everyday Iranian citizens.There is nothing new here on your part.

You resort to name calling which is reflective of your lack of logic.

Niloofar / January 9, 2010 12:00 AM

Dr. Sahamhi, well said. Even this point "He has not worked for a single day in his entire life," will disqualify him to be a candidate. The next leader needs to be tough, smart, and well educated: he still has to know how do deal with the thugs, the Basij, Pasdaren, and the corrupt Mullahs who will have a new make over. I hate to say this... but RP, at least, has to be as fast on his feet as AhmediNejud.

Priooz / January 9, 2010 3:07 AM

Dear niloofar, I'm neither ashamed nor proud of being an iranian because I don't see ethnicity/nationality as an accomplishment. If you can't make a sense of it you should question your logical skills.


Let's just assume for the sake of it that the referendum was biased by "islamic thugs watching over the boxes", as you're saying. Are you suggesting that monarchy would have had a chance 30 years ago in a clear referendum?
Am I getting this right?
If this is your argument, it was my fault to argue with faith.


By the way, my point was something else, but there's an italian saying: "there are none so deaf as those who will not hear."

Italian / January 9, 2010 3:26 AM

@Mr. Sahimi: chapeau

Italian / January 9, 2010 3:29 AM


Many here are criticizing monarchist for being anti-democratic. But then make comments like:

'Even this point "He has not worked for a single day in his entire life," will disqualify him to be a candidate.'

Is this the democracy you are prescribing?!!!!

Why waste time and energy, IR is already practicing such democracy, vetting the candidates as they see it fit....

I am sorry to see there are still people around that think this way. Either, they are confused about what democracy is or, as Shahryar put it, have "pedar-koshtegi" or hatred that blinds their senses.

Kia / January 9, 2010 5:16 AM

Mr. Sahimi,
You do have some valid points but I need to ask you a question with regard to your cousins. A while back you clearly stated your cousins, who were in MKO, were killed by IR. When asked about them you responded, "one of my brothers and several of my cousins were murdered (after the revolution)".You also mentioned you did not want to talk about them since the circumsatnces of their death was not quite clear.However,you are claiming one of your cousins has been killed by Savak now? With all due respect, your statements are contradictory and confusing.
You also say Reza Pahlavi has not worked a day in his life.I happen to know personally he puts in long hours every day in his line of work.What you are claiming is not true.I have no idea how much money he has and will not comment on what I don't know.But in all fairness, all the billion dollar claims were never proven by anyone including the central bank of Iran.If you have any proof why don't you expose it for everyone to see. Mr. Sahimi, there is an American saying, put up or shut up.I believe that is quite fair.If you have any proof expose him for it. The correspondence method of education is an accepted method in the United States. If it is not an accepted method by Mr. Sahimi, that is a separate issue.If USC has made it available to general public, one ought not use it as a means of put down. That is immature on your part.
You also mentioned he advocated bombing Tehran.That is an extremely serious charge as far as I am concerned and if true Reza Pahlavi must answer for it.Would you please provide us with evidence of this important matter as soon as possible.I would make every effort to make it public. Mr. Sahimi, the events of 1953 and his father's crimes as you say can be proven in a court of law in free Iran. History will judge either parties in the right time. I personally do not worry about that issue since you have all facts.Why would you?
I am sure everyone is looking forward to see your proof.

Jallili / January 9, 2010 5:29 AM

Dear Kia, Let me specifically ddress each of the items you referred to:

1. Fine, but who should decide that? Dr. Sahimi, OR the collective people of iran, one person one vote? If you think the latter, I am not only with you but I insist on that, albeit after an open discussion in which pros and cons can present their cases openly to the people of iran. Then and only then RP should abdicate to whatever people's choice is, but not now to the despicable islamic republic. It is a treason for him to abdicate to the islamic republic. Note the King of Greece has not yet abdicated!

2. See my answer below to Dr. Sahimi; but the whole idea of failure of revolution/islamic republic has far more multiple reasons behind it, it was based on fraud and deception at all levels rather than an educated choice for the sake of the country - I only give one example: how many people had read, discussed, and understood khomeini's Vali-Faghi book, or his Tahrir-al-Vasileh before they voted for islamic republic? I bet very very very few. Your concerns are my concerns too; the only solution is to be aware of them this time, discuss them upfront, and address them in explicit ways in advance.

3. Politically active would not help us. Dr. Sahimi's generation is the one who delivered us the revolution and the islamic republic. Obviously they were not wise enough then to see what was coming at them; why can they be any different this time? But of course, they should have one person one vote this time as well.

The problems of iran today are:
(a) The discriminatory constitution of Vali-Faghi,
(b) Lack of accountability even to that half-backed constitution,
(c) Wealth of the country spent on personal gains and extra-territorial objectives that do not benefit the population in need of jobs and other daily needs.

I offered my solution to these problems. Yes, it is a risky proposition, but at least in theory it addresses those issues. Either Dr. Sahimi (and alike) have a better solution that can address above three issues from here or not. If he has a better solution, then by all means, we should take the better/safer route. But Dr. Sahimi has no solution. His solution is "support Mousavi" and then come back in 8 years and have the same discussion all over again. Mousavi even disagrees with what people are screaming on the streets today. Mousavi will at best be another Khatami, with maybe relaxing the dress code for a few years or like -- the iranian problems are deeper than what likes of Mousavi can address who still deeply believe in Islamic Republic.

Dear Dr. Sahimi, You whole last comment is so childish and immature. Apparently any answer that does not suite you is not an answer. I explicitly answered your first 3 questions in some detail that can fit in a small comment. Beyond that I do not know how I can communicate with someone who wants to be intentionally so uniformed to put Reza Shah and Mao in the same sentence. This is really beneath you to pretend to be so uninformed not only of the history and difference between these characters, but unfamiliar with iran and iranians that reza shah took over. Don't you really know that if you eliminate reza shah from iranian history, with all likelihood, there would not even be any iran as we know today, let alone an iran that we can argue for its system of government.

Nonetheless, let me address your unrelated numbered issues that you raised.

1. Let's assume what you say is true. So what? What did the educated people like Doctor Yazdi, Engineer Bazargan, Doctor Ahamadi Nejad, Professor Abbasi, Doctor Velayati, ... did for iran? Did you yourself have the right judgement not to follow khomeini and offer an alternate solution then in 1979?

Patriotism does not need much of an education. On the other hand, an educated thief and criminal can only be far more dangerous.

2. So what? What did khomeini or Karrubi or Khatami did in their entire lives, except to depend on people's donations or looting wealth of the country? Would you have trusted him more if he had taken a job at MacDonald's and exposed himself to bullets of Islamic Republic agents?

3. So what? Isn't that also applicable to you almost equally, and a lot of other iranians abroad? Where do you draw the line? 30 years, 20 years, 10 years, 5 years, 2 years, 1 year, 1 month or what?

4. I am not in LA so I cannot say that I heard of his position then. But let's say that he did have an undesirable position then; fine a negative point for him then. He has corrected his position now, hasn't he? Or do you want to dismiss him because he said something undesirable 9 years ago in a single interview? In the latter case, there are a lot more serious reasons to dismiss likes of Mousavi/Karrubi/Khatami/etc by the same token, isn't there?

5. That is a controversial issue that has nothing to do with him. Coup or Counter-coup is not a settled issue (except in your mind) and had nothing to do with him. Are you trying to distract the discussion? Are you trying to say that Dr. Mosaddeq should have also trashed his Qajar ancestors to have had any credibility. Or that Amir Kabir was a traitor since he married into Qajar. Your ideas are so out-dated sir, and look more like "iraad bani-esraeeli" than a rationale. You must really be so desperate to throw in the kitchen sink into the discussion of a serious nature. I all your reasons for dismissing RP are of the nature that you just discussed, he must be far more qualified than I tought!

Don't you see that, as I said, you bring a lot of nonsense (your word, not mine) into discussion only to belittle RP, rather than argue HIS current views.

Dr. Sahimi: these childish arguments to settle old scores and satisfy your insatiable appetite for vendetta and vengeance would not help us. Your band-aid solution of "support Mousavi" will not help us. I gave you my solution, either you have a better solution or you don't (see my comment to Kia earlier in this comment). Waiting for another 5, 10, 20, 30 years for IRI to maybe reform is not a solution. We were at the same level of development as (the then dictatorial) South Korea when your buddies took over the country, and now you see where we are and where S. Korea is. Real people, specially lower and middle class, are suffering on a daily basis as we speak of vengeance.

While your whole focus is to set old scores and throw mud at the face of the little opposition that has remained, iranian boys and girls are being beaten, tortured, raped, and murdered in ISLAMIC REPUBLIC prisons. There is hardly any day in which few iranians are not executed. Please see YouTube's recent interview with Omid Memarian on how an iranian youth is welcomed in IRI's prisons; or see Nourizade's interview with a prison cook who quotes a female prisoner on how she had been raped night-after-night for 36 times by various interrogators and basijis. Your option is to wait and reform this despicable system at snail pace. I cannot disagree with you more, even if you have a lot more like-minded people around you than I.

Anonymous / January 9, 2010 5:38 AM

Since generational differences have come up, here are some observations from my weekly friendly soccer games with Iranians of all ages. (I have found you can get a glimpse of people's character by observing how they handle themselves in an emotionally charged soccer game)

(please excuse the gross generalization-I mean no disrespect); (most playeres are fresh off the boat)
So here it goes.

The 45+ age group:
EVERY ONE is the captain, referee AND manager. They have an opinion on EVERY thing including what is wrong with EVERY person and know EXACTLY what needs to happen to fix the situation. They are quick to point out others' shortcomings and mistakes, yet they have none of their own. Most of the arguing, bickering, and fighting is amongst this group, sometimes with the other team, but even worse with their own team.


The 30-45 YO age group:
This group has been taught to respect their elders and authority. They tend to look more submissive and passive. Just there to play their game, have fun and then leave. They tend to take too much crap from other groups (see above). may do some complaining between themselves later, in private. yours truely is in this group.

the 17-30 year group:
These kids are different. They are very headstrong. They dont seem to fear or respect the authority as much. They easily talk back to the older groups. They defend themselves well against their criticism. They push for their deserved place on the team and do not accept being discriminated against by authoritative older player. They are what we call in Persian "Bacheh Porru".

Then there are the 10-17 year olds:
These guys tell the above group "zeki". They border unruly.

---------------------
I know that unlike my generation, these kids 10-30YO) will not be subdued by the establishment. They are not all talk. They are not scared. They dont take any one's unjust crap. That's why Khamanai can not subdue them. These kids will bring down the regime, and know what to do with it after. watch.

Ahvaz


Ahvaz / January 9, 2010 6:08 AM


Kia, In democracy the candidates' characters, past experiences, leaderships skills, etc get discussed. Actually this is part of a democratic process. So it is natural to be concerned about a potential candidate if he has never had a serious job in his life.

Anonymous--This a forum for causal discussion. We are not deciding the future of Iran!!! You are getting rather heavy handed. Mr.Sahami's point "He has never acknowledged the illegitimacy of the 1953 coup, nor the crimes that his father had committed," is a very valid point.

When making an argument you will be more effective if you don't call people immature, childish even if you are convinced they are.

Mr.Sahami's article has generated a lot of discussion; there is no reason to make him a target for your frustration with the regime.

Pirooz / January 9, 2010 8:35 AM

One answer to Pahlavi restorationists comes from Majid Tavakoli himself, in the 16th Azar speech which led to his arrest:


جنبش دانشجویی همانگونه که در سال 32 و سال 57 و تا به امروز در تمام طول حیاط خویش در برابر استبداد و خودکامگی، در نفی ظلم وستم ایستاده، همچنان باید بایستد. و ظلم، ظلم است، چه محصول طاغوت شاهنشاهی باشد و چه حاکمیت ولایی نائب امامی.


Don't believe me? What a shame. Just click on the Youtube link below and listen to his comments from 06:14 onwards.


http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p1qePgdzdb8&feature=player_embedded


Doesn't sound like he is disowning the aims and efforts of the student activists of 1953 and 1979, does it now? What happened to the generational chasm some commentators are celebrating in this thread?


Young Majid Tavakoli's view of the student movement mirrors what Dr. Sahimi has been saying in his articles.

But don't cry, mini-Pahlavi. There will be a referendum and people will overwhelmingly choose monarchy, with you as king of course, because, according to Shahryar, Patterson, Anonymous, Jallili, et al:


1. After a careful computerized survey, it has been established that you have the cleanest record among the 72+ million citizens of Iran.

2. You are the firstborn son of MRP, which had the second cleanest record, God rest his CIA-installed soul.

3. You have very, very deep pockets (no doubt because of the royalties you derive from all your patents and inventions).

4. By virtuous coincidence, you are also the smartest, most educated guy around. Again, the results of computer analysis. (Yes, doubters, the PC was certified to be virus-free.)

5. You are extremely democratic, which is why you declared yourself Shahanshah after your dad's death, even prior to any plebiscite on restoring the Pahlavi dynasty.

6. The Iranian people are congenitally predisposed to a crowned boss. It gives traditional serfs like us a comforting feel of unity and sense of purpose.


So you suggested that the Americans bomb Tehran a little in retaliation for 9-11? So what? Just a minor blemish in an otherwise glorious Pahlavi record. And why should we judge you now when History can do it in its own good time?


Our moms and dads are penitent for having caused your dad's overthrow. They were fools. Please forgive them. Come back and chaperon us into the third millenium.


And if Majid Tavakoli doesn't like it, we will do a little Shaaban Jaffari number on him until he also sees the light (of the Aryans).

Ali from Tehran / January 9, 2010 2:20 PM

Dear Jalili:

One young cousin was killed in the Fall of 1978, a few in 1981. They do not contradict each other.

Here is what Reza Pahlavi said:

Terrorism is like an octopus (I agree with it). To kill the octopus one should attack its weakest point. The weakest point is its eyes. The eyes of terrorism octopus are in Tehran.

This was in the evening of September 11, 2001, when the U.S. was in shock, and was talking about attacking and destroying the entire Middle East, and Iran and the IRI had nothing to do with the attacks.

I was not the only one who condemned this. It was condemned widely. I put these exact words in an article and responded to it in October 2001. His supporters never deny it, nor did he (how could he? Everyone heard it!). But, I suppose our resident monarchist does not consider this important. "So what" is his response!

Anonymous, also known as Shahryar:

This is my last response.

Who is being childish here, you who responds and talks about your own past comments "anonymously," or me? Is this yet another manifestation of us being stupid, and you and your type outsmart us all, know everything? As I said before, at least I write with my full name and put my neck out to be labeled by your type all sorts of things.

As I said before, you dismiss everything when it comes to monarchy and the Pahlavis. Your best response to everything is "so what?" That is because, as much as you profess to hate religion, you have elevated the Pahlavis to God-like characters that can do no wrong.

You do not get the point about Reza Shah, Stalin and Mao, or pretend to. The claim that your type makes about Reza Shah (and his son) is that he did a lot of good things for Iran. I agree that he did some, but his rule was a dark, fascistic dictatorship that killed the progress that Iran had made politically after the Contitutional Revolution. His son did the same after the 1953 coup. (And by the way, unlike what you say, 1953 coup IS NOT A CONTROVERSIAL subject. This is another fabrication and rewriting of the history that your type does.)

So, if doing some good for the country makes the ruler good or great, then, Joseph Stalin also transformed the Soviet Union from a backward country to an industrialized world power (but killed 20 million in the process). Mao saved China from colonial powers and addiction to narcotics, and transformed it into a world power (but killed 20-30 million in the process). Saddam Hussein transformed Iraq to the most advanced country in the Arab world (but gased his countrymen and killed them in acid pools), before he foolishly attacked Iran. During the dictatorship of Augusto Pinochet in Chile (1973-1990) Chile's economy was doing great and the country was properous (but thousands were murdered and assassinated, and tens of thousands disappeared; read about the Condor Operation in South America). Fiedel Castro saved Cuba from the Mafia and US influence, and did a lot of good things for Cuba, including the most advanced educational and health care system in the Americas(but created a huge jail, and forced hundreds of thousands to leave Cuba).

All of these guys, who did do good things for their country, are known mainly by one thing: They were dictators. Why? Because, WITHOUT POLITICAL DEVELOPMENT AND DEMOCRACY THERE CAN BE NO LASTING TRUE ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT. Just look at where Iraq and Cuba are today! True democracy (not your "constitutional monarchy, "two-generation thing")is the bar, the criterion, the standard, by which a leader is judged.

My focus is not on the Pahlavis at all. It is you and your type that jump as soon as any criticism of the Pahlavis is put in writing. My focus here is how to report and analyze the present situation. It is you and your type that turn everything into a duel between the IRI and the Pahlavis. This article, for which you have come back many times and commented on, has nothing to do with the Pahlavis, does it? Yet you use it to glorify a corrupt, illegitimate dynasty, and fabricate and rewrite history

Why do I mention the Pahlavis? Because these days your type is fabricating and rewriting the history, in order to present the dictatorship of the Pahlavis in a "new light." We cannot move forward, unless we learn from the past. And we learn from the past only if we see it as it happened, not as a figment of our fantasies, imagination, or fabrication, or the way we would like to think about it.

The thing that your type does not understand, or rejects, is that the 1979 Revolution was not a conspiracy, and was not created in a vacuum. Claiming so would amount to rejecting social and political science. The Revolution had solid foundations.

The other point that your type does not understand, or reject, is that the fact that the Revolution did not result in what people envisioned does not take away its legitimacy. How many times should I repeat this: ONE TERRIBLE REGIME DOES NOT JUSTIFY ANOTHER TERRIBLE REGIME.

Those who supported the 1979 Revolution, like me, have acknowledged many times that it did not go the way we envisioned it, which is why we support fundamental changes to transform the system into a democratic secular republic (and that is my humble solution). But, unlike your type, we do not fabricate and rewrite the history of the past 30 years. In this web site alone, I have detailed all sorts of crimes that have happened over the past 30 years, in much more detail than most.

One good thing did come out all of this: We now know what your solution for "democracy" is, what type of "constitutional monarchy" you envision for at least two generations, and what type of "democracy" you have in mind - one in which Islam cannot even be a private matter. Some solution, some democracy!

Muhammad Sahimi / January 9, 2010 7:48 PM

Ali Italian U.K.
How can anyone be so slow in grasping the point?
How can anyone group of people be so limited?
You people reflect 30 years of your society's total failure.You look and do not see, listen but do not hear.You have no clue as to what democracy is all about.What makes a nation great and what makes it impoverished and backward like yours.If these people you mention are such intellectuals why is your society so backward? You are a total waste of time.Why these guys even bother with the likes of you is beyond me.People are not blind.I have looked into Iran of pre 1979 and Iran of 2010.You have destroyed your country.Why do you brag so much?At least try to achieve something before opening your mouth to put people down.

Frank / January 9, 2010 10:37 PM

Dear Frank,

Thanks for having "looked into" Iran.

It makes me feel so proud that a foreigner would take the time and trouble to "look into" my country.

I apologize for having destroyed Iran. Please don't take it personally, boss.

I'll try to achieve something before opening my mouth next time, boss.

Ali from Tehran / January 10, 2010 12:32 AM

"I have looked into Iran of pre 1979 and Iran of 2010.You have destroyed your country."

What a naive, simplistic and frankly (excuse the pun) asinine statement! The situation is so complicated that most objective people haven't been able to decide whether it was the monarchical tradition, meddling by British colonialists, the U.S.-instigated coup d'etat, Cold War politics or simply Iran's unimaginable natural resources that have "destroyed the country".

There is no single reason for the mess my country is in, because it's difficult to differentiate between 'action' and 'reaction'.

The fact of the matter is that the nation, finally, finally, seems to have decided it wants nothing more to do with potentates of any stripe. This 'awakening' was the greatest gift of the pseudo-Islamic Republic to the people. I look to the future with cautious optimism.

Strike / January 10, 2010 12:37 AM

Dear Frank, that's an argumentum ad hominem (precisely an association fallacy), so I will not linger over it.

Besos

Italian / January 10, 2010 1:56 AM

Sorry to be pedantic, but I have a few bones to pick...

Sahimi on Tehran Bureau:

"[Reza Pahlavi] advocated bombing Tehran in a radio program in Los Angeles, because he believed that the terrorists were from tyhe Islamic Republic!"

Sahimi in the 2001 article he referred to in one of his comments (http://www.iranian.com/Opinion/2001/November/Pahlavi2/index.html):

"In an illuminating act, Mr. Reza Pahlavi...[has declared] that terrorism is like an octopus...therefore...if the U.S. wishes to kill this octopus, it should start in Tehran. This presumably means that the U.S. should bomb Iran"

Notice the jump from the original "presumably means" to the definitive "advocated bombing" . Talk about clutching at straws. In no way did RP advocate bombing Iran; if he did, he would have said "the U.S. should bomb Iran". I would love to critique the rest of your 2001 article but this is not the place. But...

Borrowing your own term, we should not "reject social and political science". Therefore, we should recognise the social and political impact the islamic revolution had on islamic fundamentalism throughout the entire World (and not reject it based on 3 rashly constructed arguments as you have done - you forget that 9/11 and most other acts of terrorism have been inflicted upon, or justified because of, the USA and the West, which your points do not relate to whatsoever). The re-incarnation of islamic theocracy in Iran gave likes of Osama Bin Laden new hope and rallied a new generation of terrorists to fight the "Great Satan", with the occupation of the American embassy setting a precedent, as it showed that the "Great Satan" was not invincible. You are welcome to delve further into this academic research if you wish; for example, Professor Nasr, from Tufts University, has written extensively on this topic.

To accuse RP of advocating the bombing of Iran by foreign forces is baseless and unacceptable. Furthermore, you compare the Shah to dictators who, again borrowing your own term, have "killed 20-30 million" people. This is sensationalism to the extreme - something highly unexpected of an academic working at one of the best university's in the World. Prof. Sahimi - you are no better than the "Shahollahi" monarchists. While they worship the Pahlavi's as God-like, you s**t on them as if they were pure evil. While you say that "[monarchists] dismiss everything when it comes to monarchy and the Pahlavis", you do exactly the same thing! People are not speaking literally when they talk about generational differences. You have perfectly demonstrated what I believe they are actually talking about: political generations. You come from a tainted generation whose ideology is completely rigid and absolute. You hate monarchy, which is fully entitled, but you construct the must ridiculous arguments to justify your hate!

As I have said before, while your articles are of the highest value, your comments are not. I will take your advice and not expect a response.

P.S. many people, including myself, choose not to publish their real names simply because of internet security and protecting their online identity. You have full access to our email addresses if you are that desperate to know our names.

Pak / January 10, 2010 2:51 AM

Prof Sahimi,

I have told you many times that I disagree with some of your opinions but agree with most others. I have also told you that you discredit yourself by deviating from being the scholar that you are supposed to be and petulantly stomping your feet and taking extreme positions and lobbing baseless accusations. You have gotten yourself caught up in the exact Pahlavi vs. IR debate that you claim is irrelevant. I will not dignify your comparisons of the Pahlavis with Stalin and Pinochet with much of a response, except to say that whatever point you are making (i.e. that leaders can do some good while being mostly bad) can be made without using loaded comparisons that you know are going to incite a lot of backlash. Pres Bush and Netanyahu used to make these same comparisons between Ahmadi and Hitler, and I'm sure democrats like you, as I did, condemned those comparisons as gratuitous and senseless red meat for the fanatical base. You are stooping down to the level of your most biased and emotional readers with those comparisons. Don't insult us with this type of facile comparison, and do not for a second try to compare the crimes of Stalin and Pinochet with those of the Shah. You know full well that comparison is nonsense, so please stop inciting everybody with loaded comparisons and discrediting yourself.

Before continuing, let me correct a blatant error in your post about Reza Pahlavi -- Reza Pahlavi has indeed acknowledged the shortcomings of his father's regime. I have heard the words directly from his mouth, and you can find similar sentiments in his book L'Heure de Change. You may find these criticisms insufficient, but what do you want? For the guy to throw his father totally under the bus? You want him to lead the charge for a posthumous criminal investigation? Get real - it's not the easiest thing in the world to do to publicly criticize your father, who made decisions in a different time with the information that he had -- some good, some bad. Why you have such a borderline-psychotic fascination with him and his father escapes me. RP, unlike Mousavi and all the bearded amamehs that you support, has no blood on his hands, yet your thirst does not seem like it will get quenched unless he's persecuted. Get over it.

You love to generalize about "the monarchists" (and so do many others here whose posts are tough to take seriously) as if they are some sort of monolithic bloc - why, because it's easy and a cheap way to score points in a blog. I have heard some anecdotal evidence like "my family member is a monarchist and he said this so everyone must think that way" or "some old senile monarchist in LA said so, so that means they all must think that way" - if you know the first thing about the laws of evidence, you know that anecdotal evidence (aka "hearsay") is more or less useless. Beyond that, the generalizations are offensive. Neither I nor the "const monarchists" I know have never elevated the Pahlavis to god-like status, never denied that SAVAK tortured, never denied that the Shah made major mistakes, never denied the role of foreigners in the 1953 coup, etc. I have said many times I would vote for a constitutional monarchy but would respect the wish of the majority if they chose a simply parliamentary system without a king. Does that make me an evil monarchist? Does that make me outdated? I don't think so - I think it makes me the true, open-minded "democrat" that you claim to be. I get the feeling many of you are anti-democracy at heart - if hypothetically a majority voted for const monarchy, it sounds like Sahimi and many others here would not, like me, respect the will of the majority they disagree with. Instead, they would go on stomping their feet and stubbornly repeating "monarchy is bad" until they were blue in the face - probably until they could lead another "glorious" revolution like the one in 1979. That is sad and shows that Iranian thinking has not progressed to where it needs to be - even among the educated.

Here's the difference between those who think like me and those that think like you (and all the other writers on this blog who lose their head at the mere mention of a monarchy): I believe in freedom of choice, and you don't. Simple as that. I have said numerous times to let people decide - we MUST give a vote to BOTH the monarchists and the Islamists (Italian - you have many errors in most of your posts, among them misattributing to me that I would not want the Islamists to have a vote). Though I disagree with them, I want every fundo freak who believes in the "hidden Imam" to have a vote - more than that, I demand they get a vote! That's freedom, and that's the only way the resulting majority vote (likely for a non-monarchical parliamentary system) would be sustainable. But Sahimi and many others do not seem to even want to give the people the opportunity to vote for a monarchy. Why? Because they are "zoor goos" who smugly sit back and think they are 100% right, monarchy is 100% wrong, and they do not respect the views of anyone remotely linked to the monarchy.

I still have not heard one good argument in all these posts for why NOT to have a broad national referendum allowing everyone to vote for the system they want. Note I said a reason against "a vote", not a reason against "const monarchy" itself - I've seen many of those. This is such short-sighted thinking. To all of you who want neither a King nor a Rahbar, you should be encouraging a referendum more than me! It's against my interest because I actually WANT a const monarchy. But what I want more than anything is fairness, truth, and sustainability. You people -- if we had a referendum -- would be in the best position. The vote would likely show 10-15% for the const monarchy, and 10-15% for the Rahbar, leaving the majority voting for the parliament with neither -- YOU WIN. Do you get it yet? YOU WIN - AND EVERYONE WINS, BECAUSE THEY GOT A DAMNED VOTE. Do you remember one of the first slogans circulating for the so-called "Green movement"? It said "WHERE IS MY VOTE". Yes, Prof Sahimi and his followers, even those terrible, boogey-man monarchists count and, yes, they should get a vote. Nothing more, nothing less - 1 person 1 vote.

Prof Sahimi, despite my annoyance with your extreme and discriminatory anti-monarchy fetish, inability to accept even a modicum of responsibility (as an unrepentant revolutionary) for the resulting IR, and seemingly blind faith in criminals like Mousavi, I still enjoy your articles very much and think you have a wealth of knowledge to share. I wish you would open your mind a bit, put away some of your hangups, and advocate for a truly free Iran where everybody has a vote.

np / January 10, 2010 4:17 AM

np:

1. In due time, I support a referendum. Whether that will materialize in a way that monarchy will be part of it is a separate question (I doubt that it will be). If you read my comments above, you will see that I have already said it.

2. You are what I consider a reasonable man/woman. I respect your opinion (even if I don't agree with some of your points), your polite tone, and your intelligent comments. But, just as you ask people not to generalize, please do not do the same. You are rare. I live in Los Angeles, and have been attacked by too many monarchists for at least 15 years not to know. Why? Simply because I have said that the 1979 Revolution had solid foundation. It was not a conspiracy, nor was it because people were fooled. Now, let's say that I am wrong. All I have done is expressing my opinion. The response has always been attacks and labels because in the mind of the monarchists

supporter of the Revolution= supporter of whatever crime that has happened.

No, the two are not the same.

3. I am not after the Pahlavis. The issue comes up in two different ways:

(a) I write a historical piece (e.g., about 16 Azar, or Ashura day in 1963 and 1978), and that gets the monarchists (those who read TB) upset.

These are historical events that happened in the past. I describe them exactly as they happened. The facts can be checked. But, as I have said repeatedly, these monarchists (those who read TB) do not want people to know about the history of the crimes that have happened during the Pahlavis. They want people like me to do two things: (i) denounce the 1979 Revolution, and (ii) tell people to use these historical occasions to demonstrate against the hardliners (I support that), but not tell them what the historical roots are. I cannot do that. That would be against whatever I have believed in my life.

(b) Because the monarchists (those who read the TB) want people like me to dennounce the 1979 Revolution, but don't get it, they become upset and begin attacking me. The present article is about the Green Movement, and has nothing to do with the Shah or Reza Shah. In only one sentence I said that, IN MY OPINION (and I am fully entitled to my opinion), Reza Pahlavi is not qulified to be a leader of Iran. They attack me for saying that. They can say, "we do not agree with you" and focus on the rest - 99.99% of the article - but, no, that is not enough for them. They try to CONVINCE ME why I am wrong, and because I am not convinced (One does not change his/her political philosophy just because someone commented on an article), they begin labeling me.

Just read what Shahryar says, his labels, his baseless accusations, and his nonsense. This is how things get started on this subject. Any fair-minded person can see that.

Muhammad Sahimi / January 10, 2010 7:00 AM

Pak:

I am confused. You are the same as Shahryar, a.k.a. Anonymous? Because it was in response to him that I said I won't respond again, i.e., to him.

I do not have access to your e-mail (I do not manage or edit the site), nor do I care. In fact, the editor-in-chief can tell you that I have asked her to post ALL the comments about me and what I have said, provided that no profanity has been used (some have used it, but I won't name them). My point was, the same person, but under different pseudonyms, comes back and repeats the same.

At the same time, the security concerns that you have are even worse and stronger for me. Writing the articles in which I describe the crimes in the IRI puts my entire family in Iran in danger. Aside from my wife and 2 children, I do not have even a single relative in the US.

I did not change what I said in 2001 in 2010. It is only your interpretation. I responded to his interview then, and expressed the same opinion as above. Both then and now, I believe that he meant attacking Iran. I was not the only one who had that interpretation.

Muhammad Sahimi / January 10, 2010 7:13 AM

Thank you for this great response
mir housine mousavi

daniel / January 10, 2010 7:48 AM

I will repeat till I'm blue in the face:

Iran's problems are a combined result of:

1. Unimaginable wealth that makes the nation subject to colonialist (U.S.A., Britain) and neocolonialist (Russia, China) plots by nations seeking a major strategic economic and political prize. They don't give a damn about Iran's interests, only their own.

2. An almost unique geo-strategic location (16 land and sea borders) PLUS oversight of the gateway to half the world's oil and gas supplies, that attracts conspiracies like shit attracts flies.

3. A backward religion and the superstition of a large majority of even the foreign-educated population that emphasizes the Shi'ite nature of Islam (abhorred by the majority Sunnis). I see well educated Mohandeses uttering little prayers before starting their engines, while they would be better advised to ignore the prayers and drive more carefully so as to reduce the incredible 30,000 annual road deaths.

4. Misrule by the Qajar and Pahlavi kings (Reza Shah's excesses were fully understandable in the circumstances, IMHO, but M.-R. Pahlavi had no excuse for perpetrating an autocratic, corrupt, brutal and anti-democratic system of government that encouraged the inevitable "out of the frying pan and into the fire" chain reaction).

So let's stop blaming any single person or phenomenon for our current plight. We have to blame foreigners, their proxies, in-bred religious backwardness and especially our own insatiable greed for the mess we are in today. If we had even 5 % of the unity of the Jews we would be helping instead of fighting each other.

If this Blog, containing so many intellectuals, cannot debate fairly, then I hope all of us over 30 die as quickly as possible and leave the nation to a new generation that will hopefully start from scratch, learn from history and avoid our generation's mistakes.

Strike / January 10, 2010 8:07 AM

Dear Prof. Sahimi,

This is also my last response to you as well, as challenging you seems to be very disturbing to you, leading to slur and frustration where logic lacks. I did send the previous anonymous comment, not intentionally, but by mistake; so please don't rush to score another point for the slop that I hereby correct.

Let me say as loudly as I can: I am a Monarchist and have no regrets about it, and let me clearly summarize what Monarchy means to me: (a) I want an inclusive system, that even islamists and leftists that I detest can face each other, not on the street islamic republic style, but around the discussion tables in front of people of iran, and then in fair and just ballot boxes. I will gladly bow to the free and fair choice of the people, so should RP. (b) I want a system that ignores all sorts of discrimination: gender, religion, ethnicity. (c) I want a system with strong independent judiciary who can stand up to power rather than being an accomplice of its crimes. (d) I want a system very limited in power and responsibility, and starving for cash for self-sustainance. The wealth of the country should be spent only internally for progress of the country, specially in minor towns and villages. (e) A monarch, with no executive power, to oversee this process until it is well-established.

You have a better solution, without the Monarch? Let's hear it, and let people decide! You cannot say that, can you?

Sir, you DO NOT HAVE a solution, but a recycled patch work. You only dislike my solution because you want to re-defeat the defeated monarchy all over again. That is why you show signs of anger anytime you hear monarchy, aryan, persian, pre-islam, sasanian, and practically anything rooted in iran per se.

Sir, you are performing "taqiyeh" when you accuse me of "and what type of 'democracy' you have in mind - one in which Islam cannot even be a private matter. Some solution, some democracy!".

Where did I exactly say that? I only said that you should not tell me that (as I already accept religion to be a private matter) but to the rulers in tehran who have a verse ready to confront any nationalistic/secular slogan. I am not the one who does not believe in religion as a private matter, it is the ones who insisted on "islamic republic, not a word less, not a word more" and his followers, including you who supported it. So you have to say it to yourself first who violated that conjecture. Your quarrel is NOT with me but with your own past and its outcome.

Sir, I do not try to argue the same points over and over again as you failed to address the significance of the highlights of why you thought RP should be excluded, and failed to tell me if so many leaders of your "legitimate" revolution and Green movement suffer from the same deficiencies. But let me summarize what I understand you believe and leave the judgement to the readers:

(a) There is no difference between reza shah and Mao or Stalin. Any shade of grey is black and thus equal.

(b) There is no difference between late shah's regime and islamic republic for the same reason. In other words the sub-400 that shah has killed (according to IRI) is as bad as tens of thousands that islamic republic has killed so far. Some were killed then, so we might as well kill many orders more because we do not have a perfect system anyway. Not to mention half-a-million who were killed in the staged war, courtesy of Emam Khomeini. And you do not have any solution to remedy either, and when PM Bakhtiar offered one, you had to reject it because it still had the word monarchy in it.

(c) You do not appreciate the rise of reza shah and what his absence would have done to iran. If you could, you would eliminate reza shah from pages of history even at the risk of ending up with half-a-dozen Iranistans, each playing a tone similar to central asian republics. But what the heck, at least we would not have Pahlavis.

(d) You cannot bear hearing the mention of Monarchy but you have no prescription as an alternative except for supporting Mousavi and coming back in another 30 years for a fresh review. In the meantime, thousands will be tortured and killed, but so what, shah did that too even though it was comparatively infinitesimal?

Contrary to your criticism of RP, I do not criticize Mousavi with the same tone, such as I hate him because of his ugly beard, but by his past criminal deeds. You cannot accept the shah, but can accept Mousavi whose Intelligence ministry killed as many in a single day as shah did in his entire regime. You reject the shah for whatever reasons, but endorse Mousavi despite a much intense presence of the same whatever reasons. That puzzles me. Hint hint: hypocrisy!

You argue with me about my proposal that involves Monarchy. I argue with you not about Monarchy but about your lack of an alternative. How else should I tell you, that if you have a better solution that can incorporate all iranians behind the ballot boxes sooner in a free society, then I am all for it. Praying for a solution is not an option!

I will not re-discuss the bogus revolution of 79 or the counter-coup of 53 to avoid distractions and lengthy comment, but I must say that your emphatic conjecture that "WITHOUT POLITICAL DEVELOPMENT AND DEMOCRACY THERE CAN BE NO LASTING TRUE ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT" is not only incorrect but lacks evidence. NOBODY gives a nation political development out of the goodness of his/their heart, but because of the need of economic development. Look at China today. Look at Europe where industrial revolution was "followed by" political freedom. The only exceptions are the few colonial countries (India and US) and those only because their systems of governance were indeed continuation of economic needs of their colonial masters. Even in Iran, the apparent demand for political freedom in 1979 was due to economic developments of previous years, or else it would have been as narrow as it was in the early 20th century and could be easily defeated.

Shahryar / January 10, 2010 8:07 AM

Dear NP,

Just curious:

1. Why is it that IRI commits "crimes", while the Pahlavi clan simply makes "mistakes"? After all, making mistakes is just human nature, an opportunity to reflect and learn and improve, while committing crimes is, well, ... criminal. Mistakes can be acknowledged, or even gently admonished, but crimes have to be punished.

2. Why is it that the Pahlavi "mistakes", as you so blightly refer to them, have to be contextualized with such anodyne constructs as: "[he] made decisions in a different time with the information that he had". Is it not possible to selectively deploy 'context' to justify all other crimes committed before or since in Iran?

3. Iran was a constitutional monarchy during the Pahlavi period, although both Pahlavi kings trampled on the letter and spirit of the constitution, even though they had sworn an oath to respect it at their investiture. So why is it that those who advocate a relapse to constitutional monarchy invariably champion mini-Pahlavi as the optimal future king? If he is to benefit from his prime position in the Pahlavi lineage, ought he not to be held liable for its "mistakes" as well? Should dynastic succession only have benefits, with no drawbacks and no accountability for the heir-apparent? This is like expecting to inherit your father's estate while renouncing liability for his debts.

4. Many posters on this comments page, most eloquently 'Strike' above, advocate for a purely secular democratic republic, without any ceremonial heads or potentates, whether crowned or turbaned. This is not a controversial position, and is the dominant form of government in the modern 'free' world. Given that all four kings who came to power in Iran after the Constitutional Revolution died unlamented in exile, and three of them transgressed the Constitution, if we blind ourselves to the proven pitfalls of monarchy, isn't it at least valid to ask what beneficial purpose a king would serve in modern Iran? The answers that royalists give are either vague and fuzzy ('sense of unity', 'historical continuity', 'ancient pride', 'international prestige') or downright despotic and paternalistic ('supervise the correct formulation and implementation of the constitution and proper functioning of the courts with the help of like-minded advisors for 2 generations before abdicating').

As you seem to be the most measured advocate of a Pahlavi restoration on this page, I would appreciate your considered response to my 4 points above.

Ali from Tehran / January 10, 2010 1:25 PM

Prof. Sahimi:

1. No, I'm not the same as Shahryar. I must have misunderstood your point as I thought you were going to close down this comments page.

2. You are very noble for publishing your name. However, this is your choice and you are fully aware of the risks. Anyway, I was talking about internet security - identity fraud and so on - and not the threat coming from the regime. My family and I have already experienced a lifetime of such treats coming from the regime, so in effect I dug my own grave a long time ago.

3. As I have already demonstrated, you clearly did change what you said. In 2010 you said that RP advocated the bombing of Iran (this equates to a fact). In 2001 you said that he presumably advocated the bombing of Iran (this equates to YOUR interpretation). It is a very dangerous game to present opinions as facts and exposes your irrational hatred. Furthermore, thank you for deflecting everything I said previously by stating that you are not alone in your opinion. Nobody is alone in their opinions; is everyone right?

P.S. np actually did a better job at constructing the same argument as me, so I have taken into account your response to him/her.

Pak / January 10, 2010 5:05 PM

Everyone should be allowed to stand for election in the future Democratic Republic of Iran, whether Muslim, Communist, Bahai, monarchist or whatever. We need this tolerance to mature as a society.

The ultimate 'mature' and self-confident society is Britain: I recall Screaming Lord Sutch of the Official Monster Raving Loony Party winning a few hundred votes every election and by-election. His antics relaxed people and at times even embarrassed parties that took themselves too seriously, including F.M. David Owen whose downfall he caused.

Let's all lighten up. We're all to blame for this mess, so we all have to pull together to correct it. And we had better pull together fast because change is coming fast and we don't want to mess up another historical chance by fighting amongst each other, do we?

Strike / January 10, 2010 7:19 PM

You are right, Pak.

When mini-Pahlavi took to US airwaves in the immediate aftermath of the September 11 terror attacks and informed enraged Americans filled with bloodlust that:


"terrorism is like an octopus...therefore...if the U.S. wishes to kill this octopus, it should start in Tehran",


... what he meant was not bombing Iran in order to achieve regime change. Rather, he was hoping the US COngress would change the name of Persian carpets to 'Freedom' carpets, or at worst, blast Tehran with extremely loud punk-rock music until the terrorist masterminds of 9-11 surrendered, Noriega-style.


I can't imagine why Dr. Sahimi infers that mini-Pahlavi was clearly trying to goad the US into launching a retaliatory attack on Iran for 9-11, with the aim of regime change.

Ali from Tehran / January 10, 2010 7:55 PM

Ghorban Ali, It is not about winning or losing a point or two. It is about tolerance, pluralism and giving everyone a chance to participate in order to grow. Iranians are not concerned with 30, 60 or 100 years ago. That is history and historians can write about it and intellectuals can sit in judgment in future. Our concern 'today', emphasis on present time, is the Islamic Republic and the miserable situation of our country. We need to work hand in hand to overcome this hurdle. All of us have made drastic mistakes and precious lives have been lost as the result of them. Have we not wasted enough lives and time? Isn't 30 years long enough? This is where you and Sahimi fail in your comprehension. Rather than bringing people together, your focus is creation of division, especially among the younger generation in conjunction with the past. This is what many call trashing the past, serving no purpose but that of the Islamic Republic's at this critical time. You both need to mature in that department.

Niloofar / January 10, 2010 9:57 PM

The monarchist on this blog come across very elitist. That is precisely why they hit a nerve with me. Of course, Islamists hit another kind of nerve but for some reason they seem not having much presence on this blog.

I personally want a democratic secular Iran where even Reza Pahlavi has a chance to run for a position as a politician and even a potential leader.

However, I can't imagine the logistics. How on earth could he make the transition without the current constitution totally being abolished? Who is going to rewrite it? My guess is IF it is going to be revised, it will be revised by those who are active in Iranian politics, including members of the Green Movement.

My Opinion: At this point, to get the "Islam," out of the constitution, is a big challenge in itself, requiring a lot of bloodshed and sacrifice and a revolution. Therefore the prospect of a constitutional monarchy seems remote to me.

The Green Movement has not yet turned into a revolution. If it did, those who have been involved, and paid their dues, ultimately will have a say in its future. And we can't predict how that will look.

Pirooz / January 11, 2010 12:15 AM

Mademoiselle Niloofar,


Your wish is my command. Che farman e Yazdan che farman e Shahdokht.

Ali from Tehran / January 11, 2010 12:20 AM

Ali- For you to think my country would bomb Iran based on a couple of statements in someone's interview reflects an over simplification on your part.We have numerous means at our disposal, some known and some unknown to you to draw our own conclusion.
Pak has been kind enough to include the url to Mr. Sahimi's article. I suggest you read his article from A to Z. Some of his arguments have no validity today.
In connection to Mr. Pahlavi's statement, Mr. Sahimi says and I will quote it for you,"Therefore, they argue, if the U.S. wishes to kill this octopus, it should start in Tehran. This presumably means that the U.S. should bomb Iran (the U.S. has not fortunately taken Mr. Pahlavi's advice!). Ever since this declaration, Mr. Pahlavi's position has been fervently advocated by the monarchists via Iranian radio and television programs in Los Angeles." Mr. Sahimi clearly says,"This presumably means that the U.S. should bomb Iran". This is clearly Mr. Sahimi's assumption. Unless I do not understand my own language this is exactly what Mr. Sahimi says.
It is common knowledge to everyone Islamic Republic is the world's # 1 sponsor of terror.Why wouldn't anyone advise the United States to help end the existence of the Islamic Republic? Am I not seeing Iranians request help from President Obama? The U.S. reaction is always based on U.S. interests and you can count on it.
There is a world of difference between Iranians and Israelis. Israelis stand united to enhance their country whereas, Iranians are some of the most divided people I have ever seen in my life.What a shame on your part.You are going nowhere.Wait for another 30 years.

Frank / January 11, 2010 12:54 AM

I love you as an Iranian and don't you forget it.By the way, I am an everyday citizen.We just have different views.But we are fellow Iranians.

Anonymous / January 11, 2010 2:22 AM

Ali- I am sorry, I forgot to type my name.

Niloofar / January 11, 2010 2:23 AM

Frank, the omniscient American, is back again, taking time out of his hectic schedule to "look into" Iran (see earlier posts above) with "numerous means at [his] disposal, some known and some unknown to you", and predicting our country's future with amazing clarity.

Frank, each of your posts is a true gem.

Keep up the good work.

Ali from Tehran / January 11, 2010 2:23 AM

"It is common knowledge to everyone Islamic Republic is the world's # 1 sponsor of terror."
I disagree. You can in no way substantiate that sentence.
The world 1st sponsor of terror is the United States of America, who staged operation Ajax, sustained the Pahlavi autocracy and trained (through CIA) the SAVAK, sustained Saddam in one of the bloodiest war of the past century against Iran (with a half-milion deaths), funds/has funded the terrorist groups of jundallah, PJAK and MEK, places warships in the persian gulf, attacked all nearby countries, and continually threats Iran.
A video for dummies: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fy3KDYE5KQE
And this is just the USA-Iran diplomacy, I would need at least weeks to list all the crimes commited in each country of the world by the americans.
But you sure gave "a good look into" Iran, by missing the enormities of US in every part of the world.

And whatsmore, "the US is the only country that was condemned for international terrorism by the World Court" for its violence against Nicaragua.
http://www.chomsky.info/interviews/200111--02.htm

I suggest you read Killing Hope: U.S. Military and C.I.A. Interventions since World War II, an enlighting historical book by William Blum.

Italian / January 11, 2010 2:35 AM

Frank,

with all due respect you talk a lot, but you do not say much.

"The U.S. reaction is always based on U.S. interests", --thank you Captain Obvious.

" Iranians are some of the most divided people I have ever seen in my life."

--Again thank you Captain Obvious. But then again put a tea party member and a liberal democrat in the same room and see what happens.

"What a shame on your part.You are going nowhere.Wait for another 30 years."

Thank you for pointing out Iranians' shortcomings and divisions, and your encouraging words.

But luckily you are very wrong-- and ignorant. Iranians under the green movement are more united than I have ever seen.

Ahvaz / January 11, 2010 3:26 AM

Pirooz,
The Islamic Republic's constitution will be abolished no matter what future government gains ground in Iran other than one of continuation of the Islamic Republic.To assume Islam will be driven out of Iran is naive, but religion must be separated from politics for our country to prosper.Iranians should be free to choose and protected to practice any religion in any private or public place like any civilized society.We should never focus on one particular group even the Greens since that is the basis of yet another dictatorship.Iranian politics must be open to all within the boudaries of contitution to create an environment where Reza Pahlavi and Muhammad Sahimi and Pirooz can express their thoughts freely, without any reservation and where Iranian people like Jalali are allowed to make a final decision for the government of their choice. But to set limitations on people in advance is simply representative of those who fear their own deficiencies in the eyes of the general public.We must learn to respect one another and to guide each other to achieve our dream of a secular democracy in a form of Republic or Monarchy or any other. Let’s move forward.

Jalali / January 11, 2010 3:49 AM

@Ali from Tehran:
You do sarcasm like no body else! Thanks for the laughs. :)

Heidar / January 11, 2010 4:20 AM

Isn’t it captivating? We are so bad and yet most of the Iranians runaway from their glorious country with a single dream, to end up in our United States. Next time you walk around free Europe remember to thank an American for it. We have our faults like everyone else, but look at your country's contribution to humanity and look at mine. If it wasn't for us you would still be riding your camels and looking after your goats. Thank an American for your ability to communicate with me over the internet and the rest of your fellow countrymen in your heavenly country. Now let's go back to Israelis vs. Iran. A little over 60 years ago they started a tiny country and look at them today. They are ahead of 99% of the world in sciences with an economy 100 times more diverse than yours. You Iranians have a fundamental problem. You over look your own faults and put the blame on everyone else except yourselves. This is very evident in your arguments among yourselves too. We have aircraft carriers because we thought them through and built them to gain advantage. We have the biggest economy in the world for the same reason. We have one of the best standards of living in the world for the same reason. Shall I go on? In 1953 you were stepped on because you had a weak backward back water country. You still do. You want different, stop moaning and start doing something about it. As in unity, as in creativity and as in accomplishment. Americans don’t like losers. Don’t even think nuclear. We will obliterate you without even leaving our comfortable arm chairs.
Where did you say you are? In Italy? Why? There is your answer. Grow up little boy. Hold Ali’s hand .He needs looked after. Do you have any more Google dandies?

Italian Ali / January 11, 2010 5:01 AM

Frank, thanks a million for your Dick Cheney imitation:

"It is common knowledge to everyone Islamic Republic is the world's # 1 sponsor of terror."

Whoops! I thought it was Israel, Saudi Arabia, Pakistan and Afghanistan, all U.S. allies. Saudi Arabia itself provided all the financing, all the planning plus 18 of the 23 hijackers who destroyed your towers!

Ever read the brilliant "The Looming Tower" by Lawrence Wright, a historical account of the U.S.A.'s direct role in the creation and spread of Islamic Terrorism?

However much I detest the mullahs, the evidence does not permit anyone with half a brain to conclude anything other than the indisputable fact that the world's foremost sponsor of terrorism is .... the U.S.A..

Frank, get a life, please. You're wasting space with your Neocon-Zionist B.S..

Strike / January 11, 2010 7:41 AM

Frank,

Thank you for your tough talk and your evangelical neocon rant. Unfortunately, with your logic, the Poles were a bunch of weak backwards people as well who deserved to be crushed by the strong and mighty Nazzis.


Frank, Frank, Frank.
Here is one for you to take to your Tea Party buddies. You spent all that time and resources building those aircraft carriers and army. But now you have a "black African Muslim" as your president and commander in chief, in charge of all that. How does that make you feel Frank? And he is turning you into a "socialist France-like country"! OUCH. You took our democratic gov't from us in 1953, now you lost yours. Karma is a b***h aint it : )))

Ahvaz / January 11, 2010 9:32 AM

Italian Ali,

In answer to your praise of the U.S.:

Best aircraft carriers? For fighting WWI and WWII, maybe, but useless against asymmetrical warfare as even some Pentagon chiefs have admitted.

Praising Israel? You cannot have a single human cell in your entire body.

"The biggest economy in the world"? Yes, 25 % of global GDP (sinking annually) at the cost of 95 % of the world's debt (and rising annually). Note: The dinosaurs also looked large and fierce shortly before their extinction.

"one of the best standards of living in the world "??? Go tell that to the 47 million still without healthcare, to the 25 % unemployed (= real unemployment rate including all categories from U-1 to U-9), to the population subjected to the highest crime and drugs rate in the entire industrialized world, and to those Americans who get 15 days' annual holiday and 2 weeks' dismissal notice (compared with 45 days' vacation in Europe and 3 months' dismissal notice).

Regarding your: "Shall I go on?" ... Please feel free, be my guest.

Strike / January 11, 2010 11:03 AM

Frank,

Reference to your post above under the "Italian Ali" pseudo-pseudonym.

Interesting that this smart and mighty Israel you give paens to above needs an annual stipend of $3 billion dollars from the American taxpayer, plus an equal amount in loan guarantees from the US treasury, plus duty-free market access to the European Union, plus huge annual payouts from the zionist plutocracy in America and Europe, plus 200 or more nuclear and thermonuclear warheads, plus the largest, best equipped conventional armed forces in the Middle East, and still daily complains that it is in imminent danger of extinction.

Frank, I don't want to hold Italian's hand. I want to hold yours.

Shalom aleykhem.

Ali from Tehran / January 11, 2010 12:17 PM

Frank, what was that other thing you said earlier?
It was "Iranians are some of the most divided people I have ever seen in my life", wasn't it?

But look at you: with your unfounded claims you made all of them a whole again.
Thank you.

Italian / January 11, 2010 11:08 PM

All: may I ask a simple favor? May we move away from this anti-U.S./anti-Israel rhetoric and ignore inciteful comments from "Frank" and others like him? I was finding parts of this exchange very interesting and was continuing to post. I, and I assume many others, are not at all comfortable turning this into Fox News or MSNBC - this is a post about the so-called Green Movement and Iran, not the U.S. and Israel. All of these quasi-racist posts (against Jews, Iranians, and the rest) are an embarrassment. To my fellow patriots who take pride in our 2500 year history, including Cyrus the Great, please recall his lessons when formulating your opinions about Jews. If someone posts something racist or offensive, please dear readers do not answer and instead focus on the comments of Prof Sahimi and the other more rationale commentators. Thank you.

Ali from Tehran: in response to your specific questions to me:

1) and 2) You are right - a crime is a crime. I don't mean to equivocate. But we should be fair and truthful about the extent of crimes. I do not know for sure how many political prisoners or dissenters were actually killed while the Shah was in power (again, I agree, let's call them crimes, not bad decisions), but from all the sources I consult I am comfortable that it was incomparable to what has occurrd with the the Islamic Republic in power. Mousavi and Montazeri, repentant and changed as they may be, were leaders of the Islamic Republic. May I ask you and the other anti-monarchists why they are so quick to vilify the Pahlavis but so hesitant to treat the maniacal Khomeini, Rafsanjani, Montazeri, and Mousavi (who have presided over a system far more ruthless, corrupt, murderous and criminal than the Shah ever came close to) the same way? Actually, don't answer that, because I don't want to distract everyone with this topic any more, but just think about it and be fair. Me personally - I will be Machiavellian about this: I will allow Mousavi and the rest to be symbols of the "Green movement", but I won't for a second fool myself into thinking these are "great leaders" for the future or forget their crimes against the Iranian nation. Mousavi still praises Khomeini for god's sake! Sorry, but anyone who praises Khomeini is unfit to rule a country, in my opinion. Khomeini is much more akin to Hitler, Stalin, and Mao than the Shah, so I would pray for a future Iran where a politician claiming respect for Khomeini would be viewed the same way that an American would view a politician that proclaims respect for Hitler: entitled to an opinion and a vote, but sure to be in the extreme minority with no hope of ever winning an election.

3) What do you mean by "holding Reza Pahlavi liable" for his father's mistakes? That sounds silly. So no, I disagree with you - we are not buying a business where assets and liabilities flow through to the purchaser. Flawed comparison. If -- and I think this is very unlikely -- the Iranian voters chose a constitutional monarchy with RP at the head, we should treat RP with a blank slate before condemning him for his father's mistakes.

4) I am not going to waste everyone's time with my personal reasons in favor of const monarchy. Everyone can do that research on their own. Be reasonable and admit that there are good reasons, and look to countries that successfully implement such a system for those reasons in practice -- if you don't like the reasons, fine, but don't pretend there aren't any. Really, it doesn't matter what I think - I have my 1 vote, and I'll exercise it, and I won't force you to agree. If I want to start convincing people, I'll get into politics. I am not trying to force const monarchy down anyone's throats, and would be just fine with a purely parliamentary republic if that is what the people choose. I want the free vote, though, which includes "const monarchy" as a ballot choice. If I was going to deviate at all from my democratic principles, it would be to disqualify any candidate that proclaims respect for Khomenini (just kidding - but really, REALLY!, we're talking about Khomeini here!!)

Prof Sahimi and others - I'm sorry that the so-called "Monarchists in LA" have so tainted your outlook. I live in LA and know the people about whom you speak. I have trouble talking politics with those people even though we agree on const monarchy. I'm sure you also know irrational pro-Revolutionaries. But let's not throw out the baby with the bathwater. Furthermore, I do not equate all supporters of the Revolution with the IR criminals, but I have more respect for the Revolutionaries that I know who are fair and admit that they made a mistake in following Khomeini and accept some responsibility for the resulting IR (which is more than I hear from a lot of people on this post, including Prof Sahimi). They make these admissions without compromising their underlying belief that the Pahlavi regime was flawed and needed to be changed.

My hope for Iranians is to learn to debate more rationally and respectfully, because any form of democracy requires it. I agree that the toxic partisan debating in the U.S. also borders on incivility, but ultimately the U.S. has a history of peaceful transitions of government (yes, there are problems including the 2000 George Bush election, but I mean in general), so something must be going right. My intent with writing my opinions on this blog is not to debate Pahlavi vs. IR or parliament vs. const monarchy. What fool thinks they can change people's political opinions -- especially in an anonymous blog. My intent is to contribute to a more open-minded, balanced debate that steers away from absolutes and unfair criticims: "Monarchists are 100% bad" and "parliamentary democracy is the only system for Iran" and "Mousavi can be forgiven for his crimes while RP has to forever live with those of his father". Why don't we focus more on process -- how can we move forward from here? how can we limit the role of Islam/Rahbar/IRGC going forward? how can we get ourselves over the current const/political/religious/military barriers and even get to a vote? -- than on whether one person or another thinks const monarchy is good or bad. Just unify to the point of overcoming hurdles and getting to a vote, then start lobbying for your position and let the chips fall - yes, even if they fall in favor of a Const Monarchy or an Islamic Republic.

np / January 12, 2010 3:22 AM

Italian*
Ali Strike np

*Good.
What united you is your Persian pride. Your enemy is the Islamic Republic. Don't ever allow them to take your beautiful culture and history away from you.
Unite and free your country. You can resolve your political differences later, in your FREE time.

You only have each other. God be with you.

Frank / January 12, 2010 9:41 AM

Dear NP,


Thanks for your detailed and sober response above.


In response to your point (3) on mini-Pahlavi, please bear in mind that he proclaimed himself King upon his father's death, and has not rescinded the proclamation since.


He claimed the position as a birthright.


He did not claim the throne as the outcome of a democratic referendum on reinstalling a defunct dynasty. How then can he be considered his own man starting with a 'blank slate'?


To start with a clean slate would imply that there is no monarch and no system of constitutional monarchy, and that a decision on those issues would be left to a free referendum.


Anyone taking an oath of kingship before the referendum would be violating the democratic rights of Iranians.


When people such as mini-Pahlavi or Maryam Rajavi, who assign titles like king or president to themselves in absentia, profess a desire for democracy, you have to take their sweet-talk with a grain of salt.


Concerning your point (4), I am sure that you have good personal reasons for preferring a monarchy. The aim of posting comments is to share those reasons, in order to try to defend your views from detractors and convince the unbiased portion of the readership.


If we wanted to keep our reasons private, there would be no need to post at all.

Ali from Tehran / January 12, 2010 12:05 PM

Ali's point: "Anyone taking an oath of kingship before the referendum would be violating the democratic rights of Iranians."

Monarchist somehow don't want to admit that this sense of entitlement in itself undemocratic. Certainly, RP could run for a political or even leadership position,like any other Iranian citizen, IF the situation permits.

Instead, what is being implied by Monarchists is creation of a new constitution around the idea of RP's entitlement.


Priooz / January 12, 2010 7:51 PM

Pirooz said: "Monarchist somehow don't want to admit that this sense of entitlement in itself undemocratic."

I did not know that Holland, Britain, Sweden, Denmark, Norway, Spain, Luxembourg, ..., were all undemocratic. Maybe also Canada, Australia, New Zealand, ...!

Oh well, now I can place all these undemocratic countries next to Saudi Arabia and be very careful for the islamic REPUBLIC never to look like any of them. LOL!

Karim / January 12, 2010 11:36 PM

I ve heard the story of a Japanese soldier that was stranded on an Island in 1944. They found him alive 40 years later defending the island. He was still wearing his uniform and holding his weapon, comletly unaware that the war had ended long , long time ago.

Pirooz, Ali, Strike, Parang, np, Karim, Italian, Shahryar, Dr. Sahimi...
It seems a lot of us on this forum (myself included) are still fighting battles than ended decades ago. I for one am out. I promiss to myself that I will never read or comment on another Monarchy-antimonarchy statement. From now on I will spend my free time on more tangible topics.

Ahvaz

Ahvaz / January 13, 2010 3:03 AM

Everyone here should look on the bright side - the number of eloquent advocates for their respective positions bodes very well for the future of Iran, that there should be such a deep reservoir of erudite intellects upon which to draw to decide the country's future; if only, as NP said, these same talents could be turned to the questions of forward-looking political process, rather than debating the degree of criminality or culpability of the present versus various past Iranian governments.

Since so many profess to be among the diaspora in L.A., to paraphrase the sidewalk philosopher Rodney King, "Can't [you] all get along," at least long enough to take up the idea mentioned by numerous posters of holding a national referendum on which of multiple forms of future government the people would most prefer, provided sufficient time is allowed prior to the referendum for the various factions to vigorously debate and rigorously educate the populace on the practical impact on people's lives and the nation's economic growth, among other metrics, their form of governance would provide?

One of the glories of a mass movement with no apparent leader is its resilience; cut off one limb and another takes its place - could anyone comment, without jeopardizing the potential success thereof, on whether among the Green Movement's members there are people working on how to bring about the demands of the Greens, with the same vigor as this blog post attracts commentators? Perhaps this would make an interesting article by Prof. Sahimi?

One hopes, for the sake of the people braving physical confrontation, arrest and execution for (largely) peaceful demonstration against what they see as an oppressive regime, that Iran's best and brightest among the Greens have concrete plans for how to bring about their moving vision, including how to incentivize their counterparts in the IRGC, military, police and paramilitary to lay down their weapons, perhaps in exchange for amnesty for their past transgressions, and make common cause for a pluralistic, democratic republican future society - truly, it would be a grievous waste of blood, talent and capability for nothing good to come of the Green Movement but incremental changes along the margins.

Zed / January 13, 2010 3:34 AM

If we can glean any positives from all of this, it is my sense that all the opposing factions are beginning to understand each other's views and are gingerly tip-toeing towards the conclusion that, whatever our views, we Iranians all have to pull together or guarantee our nation's failure.

We on this thread have a common thread (!), which is that none of us are rabid Islamic Fundamentalists. That's a good starting point.

So, I believe, a lot of good has come out of this thread. Thank you, Prof. Sahimi.

Strike / January 14, 2010 9:13 AM

rezvan,

Islam will not endure as you wish it to. It will go extinct just like Judaism and Christianity are now. The rise in fundamentalism these days is just a reaction that will go away.

In particular, once humans understand intelligence and enhance it, the game is over. Whether you're taking 'smart' pills or genetically altering an embryo, there's a generation in the future of the world - including Iran - where the majority if not everybody will be geniuses, something only a few are now. Such a generation will be extremely secular, and adherents of bankrupt ideologies of desert nomads will be a ridiculed few.

Technology is advancing at an exponential rate, so fast that you will probably live to see this (unless you're very old or get into an accident).

GeneralOreo / January 15, 2010 6:36 AM

Iranian,

" if others disagree with us, or have opposing views, it does NOT make them an enemy! "

Sorry, if their views are about subjugating me then yes they're an enemy - whether it's communist or monarchists or muslim fascists.

Not all opinions must be respected, respect is earned.

Iranians can't have a plural democracy in the west simply because Islam plays an important part of their lives, and part of believing in Islam is believing in its values which don't allow for doubt or compromise or tolerance. Even the US is a sort of chrstian-fascist state, and still not a real free society.

GeneralOreo / January 15, 2010 6:52 AM

God bless the Shah!

I'm with all those Iranians saying you want his son back, another guy with an empty crown to bend your knees and necks to.

A quote from the genius Shah:

" Oriana Fallaci: I am beginning to suspect that women have counted for nothing in your life �

Mohammad Reza Shah: Here I am really afraid you've made a correct observation� women are important in a man's life only if they're beautiful and charming and keep their femininity and�this business of feminism, for instance. What do these feminists want? What do you want? You say equality. Oh! I don't want to seem rude, but�you're equal in the eyes of the law but not, excuse my saying so, in ability.

Oriana Fallaci: No, Majesty?

Mohammad Reza Shah: No. You've never produced a Michelangelo or a Bach. You've never even produced a great chef. And if you talk to me about opportunity, all I can say is 'are you joking? Have you ever lacked the opportunity to give history a great chef? You've produced nothing great, nothing! �You're schemers, you are evil. All of you.[7]"

http://www.payvand.com/news/06/mar/1067.html


And people talk about Iranians building a liberal democracy in the middle east. LOL!

GeneralOreo / January 15, 2010 7:13 AM

Frank/Italian Ali,

the US is getting its ass kicked by a bunch of rag-tag militas and cave dwellers.

So much for those aircraft carriers, eh? LOL.

better get used to this, your country is on its way out. The first order of business of any future administration will be going to china and kowtowing to whoever is in power there. :)


-----------

Back on topic...


It's amazing, absolutely amazing that Iranians here are discussing putting a monarchy (even an absolute one) on a referendum for vote. And you people blame America/Arabs for your problems? Sheesh.


Shahryar,

If the monarchist are the majority, they do NOT deserve to rule anymore then the islamists do if they were the majority. They would have the power and legitimacy (from the people) to rule, but not deserve as you put it, in any way.

And you have no idea how hilarious that the same person making the posts you are talks about Thomas jefferson! Did you just read one line from his wikipedia or something? Try reading his writings, maybe you'll learn something. Maybe.

Strike,

You poor thing. Action and reaction? The Iranian people are the ones responsible for the state of Iran, now and 30 years and 50 years and 100 years and a thousand yeas ago. What foreigners do to you, you have the choice of how to react. Not many in this world have the luxury of a smooth ride. Look at hong kong, china, india, and countless other countries miles ahead of Iran in every way. They too had foreigners interfere, but they're more rational and learn and evolve as oppose to hate and blame and cry and cut their noses to spite their faces.

Nothing complicated about it really, saying it's complicated is a nice cover and that's all.

You get credit for 'backward religon' but at the end of the day it's Iranians following that backward religion. Nobody forced those engineers to utter prayers before starting an engine.


Prof. Sahimi,

" the vacuum was filled by the clerics - another "gift" of the Pahlavis to us. "

Poor professor, blaming even the clerics on the shah!

The clerics were the gift of the Iranian people and their culture to themselves, just like the Shah.

The fact that everybody admits this green movement is driven by the young PROVES that the people supported khomeini. This isn't surprising, illiterate muslims supporting barbaric clerics? Of course.

It's amazing that even living decades outside Iran in (relatively) civilized nations hasn't taught Iranians a single thing.

An Iranian democracy sometimes in the next few yeas, if it ever happens, would be beyond hilarious. It would first be a failed one, like India. then maybe an insurgency like Pakistan. and who knows at what will people be blaming others for, and what debates result in Iranians ripping each others' throats out. I imagine a single atheist vs. islam debate at tehran university would result in a civil war. LOL.

One last thing - islam can't be "private" as you put it. Tell that to mohmmad and the hordes that invaded iran and other nations and enforced their culture/sharia. Or perhaps, as a devout muslims, try reading about your religion and the koran? Seriously.

GeneralOreo / January 15, 2010 9:15 AM

rezvan, forgot this gem:

" If Islam is indeed guilty of 'barbarism' then it is not the only faith, ideology or governing system guilty of such crimes. "

Do you have any idea how weak of a defense that is?

You're calling others barbarians for starting wars that killed millions too, as if what, muslims are pacifists? Read a bit on history on how their came to be so many muslims in the first place.

and thank whoever you worship that the world is focused on non-proliferation, or at least the US is, as a nuclear muslim world would pretty much be the end of the world, an end that if it does happen will be from the nukes of pakistan and maybe in the future iran.

GeneralOreo / January 16, 2010 12:34 AM

"What foreigners do to you, you have the choice of how to react."

That's really pathetic. Iran TODAY has the chance to react, but that wasn't the case 'yesterday' when the Brits and Yanks were busy destroying our democracy and installing puppet dictators who ruled through the SAVAK.

You really should try not to be so sickeningly condescending, unless you're a CIA remnant trying to appease his own conscience by blaming Iran's state on Iranians themselves and absolving foreign 'powers' of blame.

Nobody here is buying your snake oil.

Strike / January 16, 2010 12:58 AM

@GeneralOreo,


Ancient Persians were predominately Zoroastrian until their priests became too powerful, too corrupt and too intolerant. Only then did Persians leave Zoroastrianism in droves to accept Islam, with its promise of equality and brotherhood.

Now that Islamic priests (Mullahs) have hit the same low, we can expect another major shift. This is exactly what some "moderate" Ayatollahs have been worried about. They frequently express accurately that the "Gov't is driving our youth away from Islam". It seems this fact is bothering them more than any other issue such as human rights , free elections and women's rights (the essence of green movement).

So, I agree with you on the position of Islam in Iran.

Having said that, I have to say that your condescending tone and childish remarks regarding the people and future of Iran is not appreciated. It really doesn't contribute much, since NOONE can really predict the outcome of such a complex issue. Yet it speaks volumes about your level of maturity and intellect.

If you think you are such an expert in Iranian culture that permits you to pass such judgment on us, then please, tell us what country YOU are from so that we can at least put your comments into context.

Ahvaz / January 16, 2010 6:42 AM

GeneralOreo- boy

Good try boy, but you did not impress anyone.Next time try someting else other than Payvand for reference.You might as well use IR dailies. Not too smart on your part.

As for our country, watch and learn, boy.The rest does not concern you.

Ali,Striike,Shahryar,Dr. Sahimi and the rest are Iranian, entitled to their opinions and as you clearly proved it, light years ahead of you.

Other than that, you don't interest me, boy.

Niloofar / January 16, 2010 9:23 AM

Niloofar, could this be the same GeneralOreo who wrote... Prof. Sahimi, I respectfully request you to ban this jerk.

Strike / January 16, 2010 3:14 PM

Not sure if anybody is still reading this, but I'm curious if Strike is, then what does 'the same GeneralOreo who wrote...' means?

And Niloofar, that article is from a prominent Iranian women's rights activist, wife of hamid dabashi I think, citing an interview of the shah with none other then oriana fallaci.

really, attacking the website payvand doesn't help your case one bit.

GeneralOreo / January 24, 2010 5:14 PM

Also, Strike, the brits and yanks didn't destroy your democracy, you never had one dude. and if you did, the religious zealots ruling today would have used it to take over as the faithful vote for them in droves. You never had a chance. Even if this green movement works, you'll face a counter-movement that will make the tea-party nutcases look like renaissance philosophers, and you might even face an insurgency. To add to that, I doubt the majority of the iranian people would allow thinks like free speech to criticize islam, you'd be a democracy, but a paper-democracy or failed one like india.

GeneralOreo / January 24, 2010 5:25 PM

last post, really...

http://www.tnr.com/article/world/the-great-satan-myth

^interesting article on the US and Iran.


Sometimes I wonder, what if the imperialist west didn't educate so many Iranians? Would Iran be hoping to be anything today? The answer is no of course, you'd be like Afghanistan.

GeneralOreo / January 24, 2010 5:51 PM

This time this really is the last post...

Strike said:

" That's really pathetic. Iran TODAY has the chance to react, but that wasn't the case 'yesterday' when the Brits and Yanks were busy destroying our democracy and installing puppet dictators who ruled through the SAVAK. "

1- it installed IRANIAN 'puppets' (more like allies then puppets really, but pick whatever makes you feel better) and Iranians let them rule. Sorry, the responsibility is mostly on you.

2- By 'how to react' I meant not dwelling on that one injustice for half a freakin' century and moving on. Considering that many injustices were perpetuated by other foreigners, and the worst ones by Iranians to themselves, it's obvious this is just an excuse and a cover for other problems Iraniahs have, I'm guessing psychological.

GeneralOreo / January 24, 2010 8:44 PM

As far as I'm concerned as long as the IRI gets overthrown and secularism is established (either as a monarchy or simple a secular democracy), it's good as long as it punishes the criminals, keeps the streets safe, prospers well without relying on some other foreign land (like the US), and has a GOOD human rights record

Unknown231 / October 15, 2010 11:44 PM