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Anniversary of a Turning Point

by MUHAMMAD SAHIMI in Los Angeles

10 Jul 2010 14:3519 Comments
18+TIR_kooy_+(31).jpgThe student uprising of July 9, 1999, and its powerful reverberations.

July 9 marked the 11th anniversary of the uprising of Iranian university students that began in the dormitories of the University of Tehran and spread to several campuses around the nation. It shook the foundations of the Islamic Republic and demonstrated that, despite the vast purges of progressive faculty that took place in the 1980s under the guise of "Cultural Revolution" and the hardliners' tremendous efforts to control students' political activities and very thoughts, the universities' grand, decades-old tradition as centers of resistance to oppression survived.


After the purges of the 1980s, as well as the execution of thousands of political prisoners, Iran's universities were relatively quiet for a few years. All the secular leftist and nationalist university organizations, as well as the Muslim Students Society -- aligned with the Mojahedin Khalgh Organization -- had been banned and their leaders jailed, executed, or, at the very least, expelled from school. The Muslim Student Association (MSA), and their umbrella organization, Daftar-e Tahkim Vahdat (Office for Consolidation Unity, or OCU), founded in September 1979, were strongly supportive of the political establishment during the 1980s.

I remember very well a visit I made to my alma mater, the Faculty of Engineering (FOE) of the University of Tehran, in summer 1989, only a month after the death of Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini. I conversed with a professor under whom I had studied before the 1979 Revolution. I remarked to him that the FOE no longer seemed to be a hotbed of political activity and opposition to the ruling establishment. He responded, "They broke the students' backs, and we also had a bloody war with Iraq. It will take a few years to recover. But they will come back." They did, and with a vengeance. In fact, 1991, just two years after my visit, turned out to mark a pivotal point in Iran's political evolution.

A leading cleric, the leftist Ayatollah Sayyed Mohammad Mousavi Khoeiniha, spiritual advisor of the students who took American diplomats hostage in November 1979 and a close associate of Khomeini's, founded the first Reformist newspaper, Salaam, in February 1991. Its editor was Abbas Abdi, a leading figure among the Islamic leftist students who had overrun the U.S. Embassy and later an outspoken Reformist who was jailed for his views. The paper's name was chosen by Ahmad Khomeini, the ayatollah's son.

SOROUSH-150x150.jpgIn November 1991, Kian, a monthly magazine, was launched by Mostafa Rokh-Sefat, Mahmoud (Mashallah) Shamsolvaezzin, and Reza Tehrani. The founders were influenced by the political philosophy of Dr. Abdolkarim Soroush (born Hossein Haaj Farajollah Dabbagh), a chemist by training and one of the most influential Islamic thinkers and reformers in the world (pictured). Many of the Reformist journalists who emerged amid the "Tehran Spring" of 1997-2000, during former President Mohammad Khatami's first term in office, worked with Salaam, Kian, or both. The hardliners shut down Kian in 1998 and Salaam in 1999. The closure of the latter played a pivotal role in the student uprising, as I will describe.

In 1991, as well, the Organization of the Islamic Revolution Mojahedin (OIRM), a leftist Islamic group, reemerged after being dormant since 1985. The OIRM had played a pivotal role in the formation of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps in 1979. Several years later, an internal struggle between the group's left and right wings had led the rightists to split off and the leftist faction to fall silent.

With its 1991 revival, OIRM began publishing Asr-e Maa (Our Era), a biweekly devoted to political and ideological matters. There were other publications in which Reformists and democrats were also active, such as Iran-e Farda, put out by the Nationalist-Religious Coalition. Such publications marked the first significant signs of popular discontent with the ruling establishment and, naturally, the university campuses were not immune.

While these were positive developments for those interested in democracy, there were countervailing developments as well. The Guardian Council, the constitutional body that supervises most elections in Iran, bestowed upon itself the power to vet all candidates. The first test of this power came in spring 1992 when the council disqualified en masse almost all the leftist candidates for the 4th Majles (parliament), allowing the right wing to take complete control of the body. This contributed to the rising concerns, even among those who had supported the Revolution.

During the early 1990s, weekly sessions known as the Wednesday Meetings brought together many now well-known Reformists and activists, such as human rights advocate Emad Baghi; Dr. Saeed Hajjarian, a leading Reformist strategist; investigative journalist Akbar Ganji; and Dr. Mohsen Aminzadeh, deputy foreign minister in the Khatami administration, who was jailed after last year's rigged presidential election. The group was known as Ashaab-e Cheharshanbeh (roughly, Wednesday's Comrades). The meetings, which took place in a Tehran restaurant, were devoted to discussion of the political issues faced by Iran and how to help the country address them. The activists were concerned about how the conservatives had taken absolute control of the Majles and seemed intent on establishing a complete dictatorship and a single-voiced society. Smaller such meetings also took place at the Kian central office. These discussions bore fruit in the form of Reformist policy ideas. Indeed, it is widely believed that it was members of the Wednesday Meetings that developed the Reformist platform on which Khatami ran for office in 1997.

Mousavi Khoeiniha, the founder of Salaam, was, and still is, a leading member of the Rouhaniyoun (Association of the Combatant Clerics, or ACC), the leftist group that split in May 1988 from the Rouhaniyat (Society of Militant Clergy, or SMC). When the split occurred, the SMC accused the ACC of acting like the Khawarij, the rigid, zealous Muslims who rebelled against Imam Ali, the Shiites' first Imam and a most revered figure in Shiism -- implying that Khomeini was the Ali of the present day. But the label of Khawarij did not stick. The ACC had Khomeini's blessing.

Salaam soon gave a voice to nonclerical Islamic leftists as well, activists such as Dr. Mohsen Mirdamadi, secretary-general of the Islamic Iran Participation Front (the leading Reformist group), who is now in jail; Dr. Alireza Alavitabar, an important Islamic leftist intellectual; Ebrahim Asgharzadeh, one of the three top leaders of the students who overran the U.S. Embassy; and Rajabali Mazruei, a member of the Reformist-controlled 6th Majles They all had worked with Khoeiniha at the Center for Strategic Studies, which he then headed. Salaam had a broad readership, comprising those of many different outlooks who shared a common concern about the nation's direction. I say with pride that I read practically every issue of Salaam from its birth to its demise in July 1999. I had my family buy it every day in Tehran and mail the issues to me every two weeks. I also distributed my copies to whomever wanted to read them.

An editorial in Salaam's second issue, in February 1991, made clear what type of newspaper it would be and where on the political spectrum it would stand:

We hope that God Almighty will prompt you to help us, so that we can stage a war together on the enemies of the nation -- as demanded by the people -- launch on attack on the White House that is blackened with tyranny and crimes -- as favored by God -- on the capitalists, the indifferent well-to-do, the reactionaries, stupid people disguised as religious ones, those who sleep in their luxurious villas without caring for the sufferings and pains of the deprived and, in short, assault the pro-America elements with the weapons that we have in our hands [pens], as recommended by our Imam [Khomeini].

This brand of unabashed leftism was attractive to many. It also indicated the level of discontent that was surfacing against the right wing.

For most of its existence, Salaam's circulation was only 100,000. Accepting no advertisements, it was always full of analytical articles, criticisms of the establishment, historical reviews, and discussion of important international events. Soon it began to clash with the administration of former President Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, criticizing his "reconstruction" policy after the end of the Iran-Iraq War that had resulted in wasteful spending and vast corruption. In March 1996, it was even temporarily banned for criticizing Rafsanjani too harshly.

Meanwhile, the OCU, the student activists' umbrella organization, was beginning to distance itself from the ruling elite. Its original leaders -- Mirdamadi, Asgharzadeh, Habibollah Bitaraf of the FOE, and others in the 11-member leadership council that they had formed after the U.S. Embassy takeover -- were now in their thirties. They had weathered the war-torn 1980s and wanted a more open society. The OCU began criticizing Rafsanjani as well. The campuses were making a comeback.

Salaam, through its in-depth analyses, made important contributions to the birth of the Reformist movement, both on the campuses and in the broader society, and to the election of Khatami in May 1997. It was Khoeiniha who first suggested that he run, after Mir Hossein Mousavi had turned down the invitation. According to Khoeiniha, Khatami was at first angry, even furious, at the invitation but, after calming down and thinking about it, he accepted the idea. Salaam then began to act as the mouthpiece of the Khatami campaign. Its daily circulation shot up to 500,000, a remarkable number. All that time, it was clear who the true behind-the-scenes power was: none other than Khoeiniha. The OCU also played a crucial role in Khatami's victory.

Under the Khatami administration, press restrictions were loosened. Minister of Culture and Islamic Guidance Ata'ollah Mohajerani instituted a policy of tasahol and tasamoh (roughly, leniency) toward cultural activities in general. Many new newspapers, weeklies, and other publications were launched during the ensuing "Tehran Spring." Practically no day passed without some revelation about past crimes and political corruption. The press played a particularly important role in shedding light on the infamous Chain Murders. The universities were also full of political activities. Reformists and intellectuals gave speeches to student groups, and all sorts of open debates were taking place on the campuses.

Closing Salaam and Attacking the Dormitories

TUdorm18Tir.jpgRecognizing the potency and popularity of both the Reformist press and the OCU, the hardliners attempted to break, or at least rein in, both. First, the conservative-dominated 5th Majles began considering a new draconian press law. On Monday, July 5, 1999, the day before the vote on the legislation was scheduled, Salaam published a letter written a few years earlier by Saeed Emami, notorious leader of the gang of Ministry of Intelligence agents who committed the Chain Murders. The letter, indicating that the legislation was Emami's idea, ignited a storm of protest. The hardliners, not knowing how to react, were on the defensive.

The next day, the Special Court for the Clergy, an illegal, extra-constitutional court that has been used since the early days of the Revolution for controlling dissident clerics, ordered Salaam> closed. On Thursday, July 8, students in the dormitories of the University of Tehran responded with a demonstration. The call to protest had apparently been issued by a student, Farrokh Shafiei, who was later arrested and jailed for 30 months. After the demonstration, the students returned to their dormitories.

That the students protested the closure of Salaam was not unprecedented, of course. What was new was that police forces, the vigilante group Ansaar-e Hezbollah, and plainclothes agents attacked students in the dormitories at 11:00 p.m. that night, ransacking everything and throwing several students out of windows. Even the dormitories of the foreign students were attacked. The violence continued into the early hours of July 10. At least 300 students, and possibly as many as 1,400, were arrested. Word quickly spread of the assault on the dormitories, prompting even larger demonstrations, both in Tehran and elsewhere, particularly Tabriz. Suddenly, the nation was in deep crisis.

The Special Court of Clergy that ordered Salaam's closure is under the direct supervision of Ayatollah Sayyed Ali Khamenei. The commander of the national police, Brigadier General Hedayatollah Lotfian (also a Revolutionary Guard commander), and the commander of the Tehran police, Farhad Nazari, also reported to Khamenei. The students thus turned their anger toward the ayatollah who, though he condemned the attacks, refused to sack the two commanders responsible.

On the morning of Friday, July 9, students began protesting in Vali-Asr Square, about two miles from the University of Tehran dormitories. They moved south down Vali-Asr Street toward the office and home of Khamenei, also a distance of two miles. The Revolutionary Guards went on high alert. Dr. Hajjarian, then deputy chair of the Tehran City Council, said that he was in Khatami's office when a phone call came in from the Guards' top commander, Brigadier General Yahya Rahimi Safavi, to Mohammad Ali Abtahi, Khatami's chief of staff. Safavi warned that if the students crossed Jomhouri Eslami Street, halfway between Vali-Asr Square and Khamenei's headquarters, the Guards would begin shooting and would not hesitate to kill. Abtahi and Hajjarian rushed to the scene and, after much negotiation and pleading, convinced the students to turn back toward their campus.

The Reformists committed a grave mistake by not supporting the protesting students as strongly as they could. Although Minister of Interior Abdolvahed Mousavi Lari and his principal deputy, Mostafa Tajzadeh, both members of the Supreme National Security Council (SNSC), rushed to the scene, sympathized with the students, and condemned the attacks -- as did Khatami -- the students had rightly expected much firmer backing. Khatami suggested that the attacks were the price that the people and his government were paying for pursuing the Chain Murders. The weak support offered by the Reformists created a rift with the OCU, which eventually led to the student group splitting from the Reformist coalition.

There was credible evidence that the attacks on the students had been organized in advance, as part of a plan to topple the Khatami government. Khatami himself said as much in a speech about a month later, declaring that the violence had been perpetrated by those who wanted to get rid of the Reformist movement. Three hardline Guard commanders in particular had played central roles in the dormitory assault: Brigadier General Mohammad Bagher Zolghadr, then deputy Guard commander, now an advisor to judiciary chief Sadegh Larijani; Brigadier General Mohammad Reza Naghdi, a notorious officer implicated in many crimes, now commander of the Basij militia; and Brigadier General Hossein Nejat, then in the Guards' intelligence unit, now deputy secretary-general of the SNSC for domestic security.

Once it became clear that the Reformists would not go all out to defend the students nor prosecute the main culprits in the attack, the protests gradually faded, dying out after five days. But every year, anniversary commemorations of the event are held at campuses around the nation, sometimes leading to protests and violence. Last year, on the uprising's tenth anniversary, the dormitories of the University of Tehran and Amir Kabir University (also in Tehran), as well as dormitories in Esfahan and Shiraz, were attacked, with damage more severe than that in 1999. On June 15, just three days after the rigged presidential election, the University of Tehran dormitories were savagely attacked once again. At least five students were confirmed dead. After a video of the attacks surfaced, even the hardliners were embarrassed.

The Aftermath

2heljlj.jpgIn the wake of the student uprising, Mousavi Khoeiniha was put on trial. In addition to the prosecutor's own charges, he had been sued by four people: Mahmoud Ahmadinejad; Hamid Reza Taraghi, a leading member of the right-wing Islamic Coalition Party; Kamran Daneshjoo, the current minister of science, research, and technology who has been accused of plagiarism; and Mohammad Darvish-Zadeh, a deputy to the 5th Majles from the city of Dezfool. Khoeiniha was "convicted," fined, and given a suspended sentence. He refused to attend the trial, describing it as illegitimate. Salaam was banned for five years. After the ban's expiration, Khoeiniha refused to begin publishing it again.

Farhad Nazari, many policemen, and several members of the Ansaar-e Hezbollah were put on trial, but found not guilty. One enlisted soldier, Orooj-Ali Birzadeh, was convicted of stealing an electric razor from a dormitory room.

Eleven years after the uprising, it is still not clear how many people were killed. At least two people are confirmed dead. One was Ezatollah Ebrahimnejad, a graduate of Ahwaz University's law school who was visiting friends at the dormitory when the attacks occurred. His murderer was never identified. His family was represented by Shirin Ebadi, the 2003 Nobel Peace Laureate, and Mohsen Rohami. They were told that there is actually a criminal case against Ebrahimnejad for having thrown rocks at the security forces.

Fereshteh Alizadeh, an activist at Tehran's all-female Al-Zahra University disappeared in the clash between the protestors and the attackers, and was never seen again. There are credible reports that she was arrested by the security forces, killed, and buried in Khavaran Cemetery, east of Tehran, where many of the political prisoners executed in 1988 are interred. Her mother suffered a heart attack and also passed away.

Another student, Saeed Zinali, was arrested at home and was never heard from again. His family was told that he had been arrested by the Guards' intelligence unit, which refused to confirm or deny the report. Last year, his mother pleaded with the security forces to at least tell her where he was buried, if in fact he was killed in jail.

A high school student, Tami Hamifar, is presumed to have been killed during the clashes between the police and protestors. Akbar Mohammadi, a student arrested along with his brother, Manouchehr, passed away on July 30, 2006. Akbar was first given a death sentence, which was later reduced to 15 years. Eventually released, he was rearrested. He went on a hunger strike, and ultimately died in jail.

2808LD3.jpgMany of the arrested students were given long prison terms. Ahmad Batebi, for example, was first sentenced to death, reportedly after the Economist published a picture on its cover that showed him holding the bloody shirt of a fellow student. His sentence was then reduced to 15 years. After nine years in jail, he was released for medical reasons. He left Iran secretly. He now works for the Persian program of Voice of America television. At least a few students remain in jail.

The Reformists' failure to stand up to the hardliners had a devastating effect. Twenty-four Guard commanders, including then Brigadier General Mohammad Ali (Aziz) Jafari, now a major general and the Guards' top commander, wrote a letter to Khatami, threatening that if he did not end the pursuit of his Reformist policies, they would be forced to take strong action. It read in part,

Your Excellency, Mr. Khatami, look at the international media and radio broadcasts. Does the sound of their merriment not reach your ear? Dear Mr. President, if you do not make a revolutionary decision today, and fail to fulfill your Islamic and national duty, tomorrow will be too late and the damage will be more irreversible than can be imagined.... With all due respect, we inform you that our patience is at an end, and we do not think it is possible to tolerate any more if [the issue is] not addressed.

Along with General Jafari, other signatories include Brigadier General Mohammad Bagher Ghalibaf, now Tehran's mayor; Brigadier General Qasem Soleiman, now commander of the Qods forces, the Guards' special forces that operate outside of Iran's borders; and Brigadier General Ali Fazli, commander of the Guards' Sayyed ol-Shohada division when the last year's election protests erupted, now deputy commander of the Basij. This letter was crucial in establishing the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps as a force to be reckoned with in Iran's political scene.

Right before the first anniversary of the uprising, police chiefs Lotfian and Nazari were removed from their respective commands. Nothing ever happened to Naghdi. He was quiet for some time, but reemerged last year with his appointment as Basij commander.

The Tehran Spring ended several months later in April 2000 after the Reformists won an overwhelming majority in the 6th Majles, and Khamenei angrily denounced the Reformist newspapers. In the two days following his speech, 16 newspapers were closed by the judiciary.

The OCU, which had been strongly supportive of the Reformists, began distancing itself from them after the uprising. While the Reformists swept the elections for the 6th Majles in March 2000, the OCU had its own parliamentary faction including such notable figures as Dr. Fatemeh Haghighatjoo (now living in the United States), Dr. Ali Tajernia (a dentist by education who has been given a long jail term), Davood Soleimani (currently in jail), Ali Akbar Mousavi Khoeini (now also a U.S. resident), and Elyas Hazrati (editor of the daily E'temad). By 2003, the OCU was strongly criticizing the Reformists and Khatami. It boycotted the presidential elections of 2005. But in 2009, after much deliberation, it supported Mehdi Karroubi for the presidency.

This past Thursday, July 8, Mir Hossein Mousavi said that if the culprits behind the attacks on the dormitories in 1999 had been tried in open court and properly punished, the vicious dormitory attacks of June 15, 2009, would not have occurred.

Copyright © 2010 Tehran Bureau

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Thanks for your informative argument! I was wondering if you can shed more light about what Mir Hossein Mousavi did or did not do during this historical period and particular events that you have so aptly analyzed?

MrZand / July 10, 2010 11:36 PM

These related issues and their proponents are at this stage marginalized.

The issues of importance today revolve around sanctions, economic considerations and the possibility of war.

Pirouz / July 11, 2010 4:48 AM

Does anyone know why Mr Hossein Mousavi declined to accept the presidential nomination that Khatami eventually accepted?

Typical and somewhat casual bio information tells us that Mousavi 'retired' from politics for 20 years before agreeing to run for the most recent elections. Additionally, with the Azad University dispute airing in public, we learn that Mousavi is a founding member. Also, Rafsanjani seems to support the current reformists and Mousavi.

And, Mr Hossein Mousavi, with each public statement, becomes bolder, more specific and more straightforward in his criticism of the Ahmadjinedad and his faction. Meanwhile, Speaker Larijani continues his 'war' against the president.

To those new to Iran politics, this kind of 'evolving' information seems curiouser and curiouser with each day of revelations. Who, exactly, IS Mir Hossein Mousavi, and where does Supreme Leader Khamenei fit into this puzzle? Please, Dr. Sahimi, do provide a lineup of the players, information about where each stands, and how this all fits together to create the current situation.

Thank you very much for sharing your knowledge.

Sincerely Observer

Observer / July 11, 2010 11:31 AM

this is informative argument in its core.. the era of reformists which i had a fortune to follow day-by-day was one of so the most democratic era since the 1979 revolution. I dont want to repeat all of these as that had been noted by this writer. undeoutedly, the civil socety groups in particular the students stood firmly against the clerics-governed system and backed the reformists and unfortunately, in return, the reformists stood silent on what is taking place... the same holds true for now.

the Green movement which represents a social network, diverse and broad-based civil socitey Organisations are united their ain to seprate the goverment from the theocractic governance but the de-fact, older revolutioneries who tend to be in most times, un-organised, weak, having no strategy, participated in past crimes at the onset of 1980s are there and as result give a lip service to the movement... Mosavi is good example, all Iranians stood behind him back in June, 2009, and according to this writer he did a EXCELLENT job ......ask your self!!!!! the writer can by-pass this but it is true...

abdikadir / July 11, 2010 1:15 PM

I suppose any question about Mousavi, the West's darling in the current 'revolution', his background, responsibilities after the Islamic revolution, etc. is right and justified. I hope that Prof. Sahimi can and want to respond.

I have talked, in Iran and a couple of months before the election, to citizens who have told me it really won't matter who will win this 'election'. Mousavi, Karroubi, neither of them would promote democracy and human rights if in power. They are part of the system, which is a bloody dictatorship.

Fahad / July 12, 2010 12:06 AM

The author seems to be living in an alternate world when it comes to analyzing the events; like where he says:

"The founders were influenced by the political philosophy of Dr. Abdolkarim Soroush (born Hossein Haaj Farajollah Dabbagh), a chemist by training and one of the most influential Islamic thinkers and reformers in the world". What? LOL!

Likes of Soroush are neither philosopher nor influential but charlatan fanatic islamist thugs who are responsible for screwing universities and bringing us where we are. Now that they cannot sell their snake oil inside iran, Soroush (and the rest of them: Gaji, Mohajerani, Bazargan, Kadivar, ...) is testing his fortunes abroad and apparently has had some success with likes of m. sahimi who still does not really understand what these doctors did to the country. All of these doctors in this article are in fact traitors ThD's (Doctor of Thuggery) and I hope that they would pay dearly for their past treasons before they get a second opportunity in deciding the future of iran.

Shams / July 12, 2010 1:50 AM


Contrary to your statement - I think the history above is relevant to today's issues. It is in large part the actions taken back then by the thuggish band of Islamic terrorists ruling Iran that has brought sanctions against Iran today and may yet lead to war.

These thugs (like any mafia organization) are mainly interested in prolonging their own survival at the expense of the Iranian people, guided by an outdated, failed, fanatical and cult-ish ideology (e.g awaiting the return of the Mahdi from his hidden well). If further economic and military calamities befall Iran it will be the responsibility of these same thugs for governing the country, and guiding its international standing, so disastrously.

Agha Irani / July 12, 2010 4:38 AM

Dear Shams, sometimes posting comments on TehranBureau under the names of 'Gloria' and 'Shahyrar',

Welcome back, androgynous buddy!

I sorely missed your hackneyed, vituperative charm: "likes of", "charlatan", "snake oil", "where we are", ...

Please tell mini-Pahlavi (Reza joon) not to fret; we won't give Green intellectuals the "second opportunity" you so fear.

Second chances will remain the exclusive preserve of the decidedly nonacademic, uncredentialed Pahlavi family.

Ali from Tehran / July 12, 2010 5:10 AM

It truly hurts to see once a prosperous country reduced to a candidate for POSTCARDS FROM HELL by the Foreign Policy magazine. May I congratulate the Islamist Iran for their accomplishments in the last 31 years.


And whenever Iran qualifies for top 10 anything, Mr. Ahmadinejad is quick to follow.



Somehow they forgot to include mullah Khamenei and the remaining accomplished leaders of the Barbaric Republic in the last 31 years.

Way to go boys, your credentials speak volumes.

Niloofar / July 13, 2010 10:50 PM


I forgot to include this link. My thoughts exactly.


Niloofar / July 14, 2010 6:15 PM

How disturbing to see our "leading intellectuals" continue to celebrate the ideology and spirit of a perverted demonic fraud like Khomeini. The same leading lights who so blithely led the country toward its "glorious revolution" now have the audacity to claim the moral highground and speak as if they are the conscience of Iran. Moreover, their selective memories and dangerous states of denial allow them to believe that they are the answers to the problems they created. Sorry guys - you are not the ones we've been waiting for. No matter how many hackneyed wannabes out there masked as intellectuals try to act as mouthpieces and apologists for these criminals, obfuscating the issues and attempting to shift blame by launching irrelevant attacks at everyone but themselves including Reza Pahlavi (oh yes, sure, a middle aged yuppie in suburban Virginia is now the problem, not Khomeini, the most unholy Koran, and the amamehs that follow like sheep), it doesn't change history. This generation of "intellectuals" and their cronies will go down in Iran's history as some of the sickest and most feckless losers we have ever witnessed. Discarded as destroyers of our country yes, but forgotten never. The sooner we get politicians and writers who have the honesty and decency to lead honorably by rejecting the ideology of Khomeini and Islam, and calling him and everyone who supported him by the criminal label they deserve rather than cleverly covering up and rationalizing their sins, the sooner this country can move forward.

np / July 17, 2010 8:43 PM


Nobody claims that mini-Pahlavi (or 'Reza joon' as his mom calls him when noone is around) is the problem.

The question contested between the likes of me and your restorationist ilk is whether mini-Pahlavi is part of the solution.

Shams (aka "Shahryar" and/or "Gloria") has enough of a history on this board -- as indeed do you, my cherished, dyspeptic late-bloomer -- to expose his true motives for trashing the entire Green movement leadership in Iran.

It's rather fresh of those espousing hereditary entitlement for the Pahlavi clan to trash the claims of other benighted fellows who claim a religious right to rule, isn't it?

Ali from Tehran / July 19, 2010 2:01 AM


I think Mr. Pahlavi is indeed part of the solution. I listened to him as early as today and he comes across as a person with many valid and democratic ideas. He is a person with enough contacts and influence in the political world to get our voices heard. But the outcome is based on our group effort. Mr. Ali, if you can play the role better than he, do so for everyone's sake. If you do not find yourself in that position perhaps it is wise to stand aside and exercise a little humility. Why do you always have to belittle everyone? That is a sign of deep insecurity on your part. I am sure your Mom called you a few things in private when she changed your diapers. Are you an exception Mr. Ali? The future of Iran must be determined by the people of Iran, if Iran is to emerge as a democratic country. A fact that Mr. Pahlavi is very much aware of and takes time to remind everyone at every opportune moment. Why is it so hard for us to give the man a helping hand and a little credit? Why is it so hard for us to admit our own faults? The future of Iran starts with individual Iranians and their conduct. Can we put our differences aside and save our country before it is too late?

Faramarz / July 22, 2010 1:24 PM

Dear Faramarz,

You say: "The future of Iran must be determined by the people of Iran, if Iran is to emerge as a democratic country."

No objections there.

But you also say of mini-Pahlavi: "He is a person with enough contacts and influence in the political world to get our voices heard."

I assume the contacts and influence-peddlers of the "political world" you refer to are Iranians domiciled in Iran?

If not, you would be sorely contradicting yourself.

Are you channeling Niloofar? She is a wizard at negating her own points in a single paragraph.

And your Freudian analysis of the maternal source of my childhood insecurities was spot on!

Ali from Tehran / July 22, 2010 11:04 PM

Ali Joon - My mother stills calls me "joon". I know you hate most things earthly, except for your own voice and your beloved Mr. Khomeini, but to now expand your hatred toward mother-son love is amazing, even for you. Is the problem that you weren't called "joon" enough as a child? If so, please accept my salutation to you in earnest. Allow me to heal you.

Moving on, as usual, you are misinterpreting and confusing yourself. I read Faramarz's post and do not see any contradiction whatsoever. In fact, he seems to be espousing the same rational, opportunistic position that I am, which is to use the resources we have as means, including Reza Pahlavi, who whether you like it or not has resources for and value to the democratic movement. Neither Faramarz, Reza Pahlavi, nor I talked about "reinstating" him as King - that is a silly comment, and a typical red herring on your part. Moreover, you and your cronies advocate the same opportunism when it comes to Mousavi, Karroubi and the same -- i.e., use them as short term means despite their past sins.

The difference between our approaches lies in your lack of rationality -- while you browbeat me and others to "confess" to the Shah's errors, which I and countless other rationalists have done, without hyperbole, you and your holy Islamists can't even bear to utter one negative word about your lovely, psychopathic, genocidal, pedophilic, Mr. Khomeini. That silence causes you to lose crediblity and, more importantly, any sense of moral highground. Perhaps the difference is that I do not associate my criticism of the Shah with heavenly retribution, while your and yours dare not speak ill lest you risk the loss of your Allah-given pleasures in paradise.

np / July 23, 2010 11:43 PM

Dear All:
Professor Sahimi is on his summer vocation and you can write every thing you want. Be careful, He will come soon.

HD / July 24, 2010 7:30 PM

Dear NP,

I'm allergic to milk, don't like honey, and abhor sewn-up virgins; therefore not interested in Paradise.

But if by a great stroke of misfortune I find myself alloted to spend eternity there, I'll gladly trade places with you.

In your post above, you say:

"Neither Faramarz, Reza Pahlavi, nor I talked about 'reinstating' him as King - that is a silly comment and a typical red herring on your part."

But I can refer to your own post of January 5 @ 12:32PM, on the comments thread of Dr. Sahimi's 'Turning Point' article. There your position differs:

"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."

Yes, but surely you will respond by trying to explain the difference between constitutional monarchy and absolute kingship to my dense mind.

But Iran was formally a constitutional monarchy before the Revolution also. So no difference there. Same family, same system of constitutional monarchy. Ergo, a restoration.

Why don't you let Faramarz answer on his own? Afraid he isn't up to it?

Ali from Tehran / July 24, 2010 10:54 PM

Ali Joon,

You are learning, which makes me happy. Before, when you would make errors (as you have a special knack for doing), you would get extremely defensive and hurl insults at anybody who called you out. Now, you make errors, and at least you recognize them shortly after you make them! Baby steps, baby.

Aside from the fact that it is creepy that you save all my posts and quote me so often (I know, I know, it's lonely down there in your mom's basement), your quotes are (as usual) taken out of context. Fox News has nothing on you. Neither does the IRIB. You can try until you are blue in the face to prove that my goal in life is to magically restore Reza Pahlavi as the King of Iran, and it won't work. What a wierd obsession-fascination you have?

The only thing you are right about is that I don't have your facile, knee jerk allergy to constitutional monarchy. I believe in democracy - if the voters of Iran want constitutional monarchy, I would support it. If they don't, I support that too. But I don't go wasting my time crying about constitutional monarchy - if executed properly, empirically we know it can work. Your constant reference to how Iran had it (in theory) but it didn't work misses the point - blame it on execution, not the system itself. Do you understand yet? Do you need me to go slower?

You, on the other hand, along with your know-it-all Islamist bed buddies, think that YOU, not the people, have the right to impose your preferred system of government on Iran. YOU, whose myopic and misguided ideals ushered in the the last 30 years of hell in Iran, think that YOU should be the ones to decide that const monarchy is absolutely bad for Iran. And what gives you any credibility? You have none. You and everyone like you who calls Khomeini an "Imam", who wants fraudulent "Islam" to have a role in the government and its laws, and who bends over backwards to sanctify Mousavi and wash away his sins, are the problem, not the solution. The silver lining is that by irreparably damaging your credibility, you/your mullahs/your Mousavis help ensure that the youth in Iran (the future rulers) reject your ideology. Unintentional as it may be, we should still be grateful.

I can only imagine the lies and distortions that you have in store for your next post. Likely with some of my quotes sprinkled in. May your Imam be with you.

np / July 25, 2010 2:12 AM

Dear NP,

In defence of constitutional monarchy for Iran, you say:

"[B}lame it on execution, not the system itself. Do you understand yet? Do you need me to go slower?

Go as fast as the genes your birth mom bequeathed you permit, but NP proposes not only the same govt. system as before the revolution, he also recommends the same executors, the Pahlavi family.

Yes, I know your line that mini-Pahlavi is different: a pure democrat at heart who is selflessly dedicating himself to the liberation and prosperity of Iran. But just so did Khomeini comport himself when in Parisian exile.

As for blaming the evils of a system on its faulty execution rather than its founding principles, that sounds eerily like far leftists' defence of Communism after the fall of the Soviet states.

You end most posts with feigned concern for my credibility. No need to worry. Much like the Pahlavi clan, my credibility is coated with ceramic-ingrained teflon.

Again, go home and let Faramarz fight his own battles. Not all royalists are handicapped enough to need your botched rescues.

Ali from Tehran / July 25, 2010 5:51 PM