of Democratic Monarchy for Iran
Although I have
written on numerous occasions that a secular republic in Iran is
*not* a guarantee of democracy, nonetheless, I have always emphasized
that a monarchy for Iran *is* a guarantee for despotism, and the
myth of democratic monarchy for Iran, by giving examples of Spain
or England, can only deceive those who do not understand the Iranian
For a while
I thought Reza Pahlavi's main intention was human rights in Iran,
and not the return of monarchy. This is why I hoped that he would
distance himself from those
wanting to bring back Shah's dictatorship, and would *abdicate*
the throne, and announce the end of Iranian monarchy.
I even wrote
for his work on human rights, and in an open letter to him, I suggested
that he be the first to call for a secular republic in Iran, and
initiate a constitution conference for the future, to plan a democratic
constitution to avoid another dictatorship, after the fall of Islamic
Republic of Iran (IRI).
All my suggestions
to Mr. Reza Pahlavi were based on the assumption that he would *abdicate*
the throne, and when he did not abdicate, and actually added his
reliance on those who want to bring back Shah's despotism, the initiative
for forming the unity of Iranian movement passed Reza Pahlavi.
Around the time
of July 9, 2003 (18-Tir anniversary), when there were numerous calls
to him from Iranian political activists to abdicate, he just ignored
them all, and this is how his dual role for the Iranian movement
ended, and since he has been fading away in the Iranian political
scene. It is noteworthy that in contrast, unity *for* a secular
republic, and *not*
unity of republican, is in progress, and it is having its own leaders.
talk of referendum proved to be a way to legitimize his quest for
return of the Iranian monarchy. He says people can choose his mythical
democratic monarchy in that referendum, and he will abide by it.
Well, if one was going to abide by a referendum, there was one held
over 20 years ago, which overwhelmingly discarded the monarchy in
Iran. And if he does not accept that result, why should he accept
the result, if monarchy loses again, in another referendum! He can
claim again the referendum not to be a legitimate one, and the saga
can continue until the monarchy wins.
And if monarchy
wins in these hypothetical referenda, would monarchy allow the people
every few years, to make such a decision again by holding referenda?
In other words, would the monarchy be willing to institutionalize
it, that say every four years, people be given a right to decide
if they want to keep the monarchy or change it to something else.
If today we argue that those who made the decision in the previous
referendum, did not have the right to decide for those who are now
living in Iran, and are eligible to vote, then isn't it reasonable
to expect to have such referenda about the system every few years?
I wrote to Reza
Pahlavi in my open letter that
if he sincerely believed in democracy and human rights, he should
call the end of Iranian monarchy and be the first one to criticize
Shah's regime for its violations of human rights, and to condemn
Shah's using of Islamists,
to offset the victory of the democratic forces of Iran, which is
how IRI was created.
The truth of
the matter is that these are all political games. If Reza Pahlavi
really believed in being an ordinary Iranian citizen, he would have
abdicated the throne a along time ago, to be in the same status
as any other ordinary citizen, with the same political rights. People
do not go to the poles to decide not to be allowed to elect anymore
their leaders anymore. If Reza Pahlavi be allowed to pass his political
office by inheritance, thru this referendum, others can also get
such privilege to do so, as it was during feudal times, and in Iran
and elsewhere, when many state offices were also hereditary and
not just the office of the king. And from the other direction, why
his child should have the right to become a king but the children
of others should not have such a right. What in this rule is equal
opportunity of citizens, and selection by qualifications?
How the Myth is Blocking Real Unity of
Pahlavi's myth of democratic monarchy has blocked the unity for
a secular republic in Iran. This has been the most important factor
to impede the progress of formation of the leadership for Iranian
pro-democracy movement to remove IRI.
It is true that
anyone is free to think and advocate what they believe, including
Reza Pahlavi, who wants to advocate this myth. But at the same time
anyone including me, has a right to show how this diversion is thwarting
the change of regime to a democratic secular republic in Iran. Freedom
of speech does not mean that only Reza Pahlavi can have the right
to advocate his quest. Moreover, my critic is not anything personal
about him. My discussion is about political issues, that are pertinent
to secularism and human rights for Iran's future.
The real nature
of monarchy in Iran is not defined by what Reza Pahlavi says about
"democratic monarchy", when he is living abroad. Even
Ayatollah Khomeini when living abroad spoke of "democratic
Islamism", but later in Iran said democracy is a Western concept
and Islam is fundamentally opposed to it. The reality of monarchy
and Islamism in Iran, is independent of what the myth-makers promise.
Iranian monarchy will not become a Swedish monarchy by nice talks
and PR (public relations). In fact, for bad systems, the worst happens
to people, when the system is sold, by the words of public relations
of a sweet salesmen.
monarchists of Iran, including Reza Pahlavi, in the last 22 years,
have never blamed the fall of monarchy on the failure of that system
dictatorship and corruptions. A system which considered opposing
ideas as traitorous and called the opposition as subversives. They
blamed their failure on foreigners, leftists, democrats, and again
and a gain blamed their failure on treason and collaboration of
some of their generals with mollahs, etc., but never cared to blame
the monarchy's Savak, dictatorship, and corruption for its demise.
If one compares
the leading Iranian figures associated with the failed Iranian monarchy,
with some leading Russian figures associated with the failed Soviet
Union, e.g. Yeltsin, it is easy to see how the latter clearly blamed
the dictatorial and corrupt communism for the failure and fall of
the Soviet system, whereas the former blamed anything else, but
despotic system of Iranian monarchy.
was part of the central committee of Soviet Communism, he was the
first to blow the whistle on its dictatorial and corrupt system.
Iranian monarchists with a short phrase of "mistakes have happened"
free themselves from talking about the past atrocities of monarchy
in Iran and until they do as the x-Soviets did, all of Reza Pahlavi's
talks of referendum are nothing, but a tactic to bring the same
type of monarchy, back to power in Iran.
is using more liberal-minded monarchists like Prof.
Shaheen Fatemi to create a democratic mirage for Iranian monarchy,
while at the same time his men announce that he does not have any
spokesmen, and continues all these games of double-talk, to use
even an honest man like Prof. Fatemi, when those in Reza Pahlavi's
*in* circle, are the same old dictators and their progeny, who ran
the show during the Shah, and today do not stop making personal
attacks, even on people like Prof Fatemi, when they have *political*
differences. So if this is how they treat a monarchist like Prof
Fatemi, one can guess how others should expect to be treated by
these dictatorial forces.
I think that
anybody has a right to be a monarchist. Just like anybody has a
right to be an Islamist, and advocate it, but anybody also has a
right to be a critic of them and challenge monarchism and Islamism
without the fear of being harassed by their henchmen, from Sha'boon
Bimokh (a wellknown monarchist thug who now lives in L.A.) to Allah
Karam (a wellknown IRI thug who worked with the former during the
Shah and now works for IRI).
I have to say
what a catastrophe it would be if monarchy ever returns to Iran.
The same way that the likes of Sepahbod Zahedi were followed by
the likes of Ardeshir Zahedi, the progeny of them are keeping the
line of succession in the ranks of Iranian monarchy today although
not on the front.
Monarchy and Statism
with pre-Islamic Iran, and the beautiful Iranian cultural heritage,
should not make us lose sight of the fact that Iran's monarchy throughout
the Persian history has been one of the main pillars of despotism
in the Middle East.
of state ownership of water in the past, and state ownership of
oil in modern times, is one reason for strength of state central
power in Iran.
Even today with
the pressure of the non-centralized forces of different Shia Ayatollahs,
the Iranian state has not broken apart, something that quickly happened
in Lebanon following the collapse of its previous regime. This shows
the strength of state power in Iran. The state ownership makes the
state in a way the main owner of the country. It is more the state
that pays the people, than people paying the state by taxes. The
state remains the biggest landowner and the biggest capitalist in
Pahlavi has lived in the West for so long, he still has not settled
the issue of his own succession when he has daughters and not sons.
One may wonder why he does not take the initiative to change the
law of Iranian monarchy to allow women the right to succeed. The
answer is very simple, he wants to keep the image of permanence
of monarchy in people's mind, and any change can damage the eternalness
of the monarchy state which is what they like to project.
Every time an
Iranian dynasty changed, the suitor would act as the Naieb (deputy)
of the former dynasty for some time. Nader Shah did that with regards
to Safavids, and Reza Shah did it with regards to Qajars. Why? Because
they do not want the mentality of change to enter the mind of their
supporters who should think of it as timeless. So although changes
have been pushed on Iranian monarchy, whether by Iranian people's
movements or by the foreign powers, if left by themselves, Iranian
kings would not wish any changes in the Iranian social psyche and
prefer to project their dynasties with unchanging timelessness.
One may ask
the reason of monarchy's emphasis on projecting timelessness? My
answer is that Iran has had many powerful decentralizing forces
in its make-up.
The most prominent
one used to be the nomadic tribes (ashAyer), which are still a strong
decentralizing element in Iran's social life. The other force is
the enormous number of nationalities and religious minorities, including
orders such as Sufis, Izadis, etc. In modern times, political thought
has also grown into a decentralizing element. I think with the exception
of Turkey, Iran has had more types of political groups than all
its neighbors. The leftists were hundred flavors, Muslim activists
the same, nationalists the same, modernists (tajadood-garAs) the
same way. Such strong decentralizing elements were controlled by
the strength of a powerful central state depicting itself as an
Also in modern
times, education, health, and social services have been primarily
state-owned in countries like Iran, because they have been introduced
As the world
standards were being scaled up in these arenas, and following people's
pressure from below, the main owner of the country, the state, became
the deliverer for such services. In the case of education, being
a *must* for industrial development, the state had no choice, but
to make it happen, when Iran entered the partial industrial development,
even before Reza Shah, at the time of Amir Kabir.
its legitimacy from its historical roots of Persian Empires, where
their "natural" way to deal with diversity was centralism,
although the Persian Satraps of Ancient Persian Empire were more
like federalism than centralism of French monarchy, centrist model
which was followed by the modern monarchies of Iran. Central state
power is how monarchy moves in the direction of despotism.
Even more than
20 years after the overthrow of the Pahlavi's, Reza Pahlavi does
not even try to fool the opposition abroad, by taking a strong position
against the acts of Savak. Why? Because Savak was the most suitable
organization for despotism of Iranian Monarchy. The iron beds that
were used by Shahpoor-e Zolaktaf of Sasanids were very similar to
the torture tools of Savak. Reza Pahlavi knows that he is going
to need those executioners if he comes to power, and thus his window-dressing
in the democratic West is very limited.
One may argue
that 70% of the above factors are also true for a republic, and
my response is that yes that is true, and such a danger exists,
and this is why I am very doubtful of using Keynesian economics
to design Iran's economic plans, although for a country like Spain,
with its European surroundings, and background, I would not be as
This is why
a republic by itself does not guarantee democracy in Iran, and the
specifics of the future constitution, and the vigilance of political
parties to practice them, are very critical factors in establishing
a real democracy in Iran.
The main threat
of falling back to monarchy is not just from the monarchists. Even
dynastical republics like Azerbaijan and Syria are a danger to be
avoided in the new Iranian constitution. Any sincere monarchist
of the past, who claims to care for secularism, human rights and
democracy in Iran, as his/her first step, should repudiate any monarchy
platform for the future of Iran.
Monarchy and Secularism
As far as the
issue of secularism, the dilemma of monarchists is not just the
fact that 1906 Constitution, which monarchists support, assumes
the Shi'a religion as the official religion of Iran, and accepts
the veto of 5 mojteheds (grand Shi'a ayatollahs), as the final say
on all laws of the land.
distance from full secularism is basically due to the erroneous
assessment they have of the fall
of Shah's regime.
think that Iran had progressed too fast during the Shah, and they
think that had been the reason for Shah's fall, and they are taking
a step backward in their current plans for Iran's future, especially
with regards to the Western values such as secularism, and this
is why they try so hard to give concessions to Shi'a ayatollahs
and to show their following of Shi'a occasions all around the year.
In short, monarchy
is the worst poison to advocate for Iran because it fails to bring
about full secularism after the sacrifices people have given to
fight the Islamist state all these 24 years.
will never be a Sweden and monarchy is the gateway to open tyranny
compromising secularism to block the democratic forces, because
monarchy fears real democratic forces and shares this fear with
the Islamists who prefer to block the advancement of secularism.
I have explained
the issue of secularism
in Iran, in another article, and do not need to get into more details
Monarchy and Human Rights
If Reza Pahlavi
was honest about his dedication to human rights and democracy, he
would have fully condemn the atrocities under the Shah. Once he
spoke good of Dr. Mossadegh about 10 years ago, and some of his
associates reminded him not to do that again, and today, when even
the Islamic Republic, is disregarding Khomeini's vicious attacks
on Mossadegh, and pays respects to Mossadegh's tomb, Reza Pahlavi
is way behind IRI in this charade, because of the limitations of
the position of Iranian monarchy in dealing with its atrocities
of the past.
should have called the end of the system of monarchy for Iran, which
is nothing but the prospect for another era of dictatorship. He
should have participated in formulation of a constitution for a
democratic republic, to work with others to make sure all the necessary
checks and balances are predicted in the future constitution, and
in doing so, I am sure the dictatorial forces would have flown away
from his surrounding, and some of them would have looked for another
This is how
a real unity of Iranians based on the possibilities of the future,
and not "glory" of the past, with a real focus on human
rights, could have been formed, and not using human rights slogans,
to return the despotic monarchy. The unity of Iranians around Islamism
or Monarchism belongs to the pre-industrial past of Iran, and ever
since mashrootiat (1906 Constitutional Movement), the advanced forces
of Iran, have called for the unity of Iranians around democracy,
civil society, and law and other possibilities of the future, and
not the glory of the past
Persianism or Shiism.
unity, is not much different from what Khomeini advocated, who talked
of unity to use the other forces to remove the regime, without clearly
stating *what* regime was planned to replace the removed regime!
And a referendum to legitimize monarchy by emotional voting after
fall of IRI, is not an alternative, just as it was not in 1979!
The goal is
*not* to unite the Iranian *opposition*. The goal is to *unite*
Iranian *people* and any unity with the Monarchists, reduces the
chances for uniting the Iranian people, who see the reality of Iranian
monarchy to be a powerful anti-human rights system. The majority
of *Iranians*, and not the *British* or *Swedish* or *Spanish* people,
want a secular republic with respects for human rights. Iranians
are not looking for a Juan Carlos.
not want to pay for a figure-head. We want *accountable* positions,
and are tired of the figure head games which Khatami and Khamaene'i
have played, when questioned on human rights violations, and they
have played the game better than all constitutional monarchies,
which for better or worse, we never had under the Pahlavis.
could have pulled up his sleeves and started democratic organizations
in the US, where he lives, to show if he is capable of creating
any democratic organization, before Iranian people would trust him
as an ordinary citizen for a *democratic* leadership of the whole
Iran. Abdicating the throne would have shown if he had the confidence
to do it on his own. But he decided to keep his position as a future
king and just talk of human rights and referendum to legitimize
his bid for the return of the monarchy.
Reza Pahlavi and the U.S.
True that nobody
stops those royalists in France, to call themselves constitutional
monarchists 200 years after the fall of monarchy, and the two constitutional
monarch candidates of Iraq, can dream on as long as they want, but
if US and UK try to push such a so-called constitutional monarchy
on Iranian people, they will only get back the hate of Iranians,
the hate Iranians had for US and UK all during the Shah's time.
activists do not want to become the launch pad for Pahlavi Dynasty
to get back to the throne, and then Pahlavis' only loyalty again
to be to their foreign masters, who bring them back to power, and
to the Savakis who kill and murder for the monarchy, and have never
had any respect for human rights.
people and freedom-fighters who have been killed by IRI all these
years, for speaking up for democracy and human rights in Iran, will
then become the morgheh aza va aroosi (chicken of both funeral and
wedding), and will go back to Evin prison, and the first to kill
them will be the Savakis of the Pahlavi monarchy, who are even making
threats to pro-Democracy activists abroad right now, in meetings
and forums, before they have even returned to power again.
all these years avoided to create an organization abroad, because
if it turned out to be a dictatorial organization, it would be written
on his record. But how does he want the people to trust him with
the organization of the whole country of Iran, when the only record
of Pahlavi's organization is that of Reza Shah and Mohammad Reza
Shah, which was a complete despotic political organization of the
We do not want
a constitutional monarch. Even as late as April 1977, there was
a chance for the Shah to become a constitutional monarch, when in
his speech, he said "people I have heard your voice".
But a few months later, he ordered a military government and shot
the demonstrators on the street. People go for moderating a monarchy
when it exists, not twenty four years after its fall. It is time
to ask the United State government to announce in no uncertain terms
that U.S. forces are not going to be the launch pad for Reza Pahlavi
to come back to power in Iran.
RP has stopped
even responding to Iranian democratic forces, that have repeatedly
asked him to hear us, that we do *not* want the return of monarchy,
and until he *abdicates* the throne, he has no right to speak on
behalf of Iranian people whose human rights have been violated by
both the monarchy and IRI.
does not respond to the Iranian intellectuals, the same way Shah
always ignored to hear our voice, and finally the people had to
come out with their feet to the streets, to say that they do not
want his system.
Is Reza Pahlavi
hoping for the U.S. help like the Shah, and then when failing, is
he going to blame the U.S. again, rather than himself, for not responding
to the call of Iranian intellectuals, before the situation gets
more critical? Is he thinking the U.S. press and officials are going
to make the change in Iran, or he believes in the Iranians, and
if the latter then why doesn't he spend his time to answer to Iranians
who have repeatedly asked him to abdicate the throne?
of monarchists have already left the monarchy platform, and have
called for conservative republican political parties based on free
market economy, but Reza Pahlavi is listening more and more to dictatorial
shahollAhis, who are the reason why Iran is where it is today.
is not a theoretical academic issue for Iranians. It is a symbol
of despotism. Even today, the whole complain of Iranian people about
IRI has been the fact that VF (Valie-Faghih) and GC (Guardian Council)
under IRI act like offices of monarchy, and people even call the
VF Khamene'i as the new Shah, to show their dissatisfaction with
This is what
the connotation of monarchy and Shah is in Persian. In other words,
the word new Shah people use for Khamene'i, is to show their hate
for the unelected VF position, then how could people want the return
of monarchy, when their main opposition to IRI is the partial monarchy
of VF position of Khamene'i.
any honest observer of Iran, it is obvious that Iranian people do
not want the return of monarchy. How can this obvious fact be hidden
from the eyes of U.S. experts. Reza Pahlavi is after his vested
interest of returning Pahlavi monarchy to the throne, with the U.S.
help, and he tries to use a formula of referendum for republic vs
monarchy to deceive people, and this fact has actually turned off
the people from even supporting the referendum slogan.
Savaki beneficiaries are writing their dreams of return of monarchy
for Iran, and a few U.S. officials may still believe them, but the
reality is that such dreams are nothing but nightmare for the Iranian
people, and the fear of people from any such eventualities has helped
IRI to stay in power all these years.
Reza Pahlavi's Dual Role Tactic Not Working
Ever since Reza
Pahlavi chose a new tactic of a dual role of calling himself a private
citizen, while not abdicating as the inheritor of Iran's Pahlavi
throne, he created a confusion for both republicans and monarchists,
but at the same time he created a unique role for himself in the
Iranian opposition movement by choosing this new tactic, whereas
before this tactic, he was not of any significance in the pro-democracy
movement of Iran.. He started speaking about human rights abuses
in Iran, and about serving Iran's pro-Democracy movement, and abiding
by people's decision in a referendum regardless of whether Iranians
choose a republic or a monarchy. Nonetheless he still kept his title
to the throne.
The reason the
movement finally stopped to respond to Reza Pahlavi's dual role,
was when on the anniversary of 18-Tir around July 9, 2003; numerous
organizations and leading figures of Iran's opposition asked RP
to abdicate, if he was sincere in calling himself a private citizen,
and Reza Pahlavi ignored all their calls, and took the high ground
of repeating the etehAd (unity) slogan without even responding to
Let me also
note that many of the so-called Iranian monarchists are really neither
monarchist nor political, and are basically former technocrats,
the same way many Iranian singers abroad are artists of Shah's time
and are erroneously referred to as monarchists, and they have more
in common with the secular republican opposition, than with the
dictatorial forces of Reza Pahlavi's *in* circle, the ones who want
to bring back Mohammad Reza Shah's despotic regime.
were *not* political intellectuals, albeit the pro-Shah ones, but
were and *are* simply the technocrats of the time of the Shah, who
shared only the economic and technical aspirations of the Shah's
time, and at best tolerated the repressive political system of Shah's
monarchy, including its Savak. They were technocrats who were thrown
out of the system with Shah's regime falling apart and in fact,
they share with the political intellectuals of Iran, the desire
for a modern system in Iran.
In other words,
as far as Iranian *political* intellectuals are concerned, they
have all been republican all these years, although some being futurist,
democrat, secular, liberal, socialist, religious, or other shades
of the political spectrum. Except for a very small handful of Savak
functionaries, there are no one political intellectuals asking for
*return* of the monarchy.
Return of monarchy,
calling it constitutional party or RP party, *means* nothing but
return of *past* monarchy, because *past* monarchy is the *only*
platform for monarchy. We do not know of any individual or group
or family striving for start of a *new* monarchy in Iran.
what made Reza Pahlavi special, is what he did for over five years,
when approaching the movement not as the next king, but sitting
between two seats as a king and a private citizen. This new strategy
helped him to ascend in the opposition's leadership role and it
is ironic that those who were responsible for this successful strategy,
seems like are no longer in his *in* circle. In the previous years
prior to the dual role, just calling himself the next king, Reza
Pahlavi failed to gain any status in the Iranian opposition. Reza
Pahlavi's dual role ended in July 2003, when he did not respond
to the calls of main political activists of Iran to abdicate, if
he was sincere in calling himself an ordinary citizen. Reza Pahlavi,
instead of abdicating, reinforced the shahollAhis in his *in* circle.
He is now back to those days of his single role and is rapidly fading
from the leadership of Iranian pro-democracy movement.
Unity for a Secular Republic
Unity of Republicans
In sum, as shown
above, it is a proven fact that Iranian monarchy will *not* be democratic
and the myth of democratic monarchy is just used to return the despotic
The reason I
call for a secular republic in Iran is not because of having any
illusion of thinking such a republic would guarantee democracy in
Iran. On the contrary, anyone knowing Turkey and similar dictatorial
secular republics can witness that such an illusion is very far
from the truth.
In other words,
with the monarchy, we will surely have despotism but with a secular
republic, we may end up in a democracy or in despotism, depending
on how we handle the constitution and the practice of implementing
This is why
I emphasize that people
should make sure that our secular republic does not end up in a
dictatorship and thus the need for a thorough work on the constitution
of future secular republic of Iran, to create a democratic blue
print to strive for, as well as cultural and social work to maintain
democracy in Iran.
The above is
the reason why I *oppose* the programs of unity
of republicans of Iran, which is *not* the same as Unity for
a Secular Republic, because many of the current republicans of Iran,
are neither for democracy nor for secularism.
many of those ranked as so-called monarchist, are now forming new
republican groups, with free market economy and secularism in their
platforms, and they are the ones who will be the real allies for
in the unity for a secular republic and not many of the mellimazhabis,
who are not even thorough republicans and are busy making deals
with the Iranian monarchists. Deals that are compromising secularism
in the post-IRI regime.
Written: Dec 25, 2003
Republished: February 18, 2007