Prince Reza Pahlavi Needs to Call for A Constitution Conference
Unfortunately after 24 years, the progressive and democratic forces of Iran have not been able to come forward with an alternative for Iran to take power, and time has already passed for doing it, because the US-Iraq War can spread to Iran any minute, and our nation will face the choice of supporting the Islamic Republic or the U.S. rule; and these are both bad options.
Some people may argue for the first option, meaning to unite with IRI in such a war, claiming that independence is more important than freedom, and thus work with IRI, the IRI which has violated the human rights and freedom of every Iranian for quarter of a century, with all its stoning and amputations, murder of dissidents, rapes and imprisonments. On the other hand, some others may argue for joining the U.S., thinking that a U.S.-assigned government will be our way of achieving freedom and human rights, forgetting that the 1953 coup and governments assigned by the West, did not usher in a democratic government in Iran.
So we are at a juncture in the destiny of our nation that we may face this choice any minute, and the provocations of IRI during the current Iraq War, trying to create a Shi'a state in Southern Iraq, may cause a US-Iran War to be forced on Iran and Iranians, sooner than we can imagine, the same way IRI provoked the attack of Iraq on Iran, imagining that IRI mollahs were going to take over their favorite Iraqi cities of Najaf and Karbala. This is a sad situation because if we had two to three more years, perhaps new democratic alternatives could have become a force strong enough to take power in such a situation. But the time is not on our side.
I think at this moment, it is the best we take the initiative to form a Constitution Conference for Iran, before a U.S. conference of the type of Berlin (Afghanestan), or London (Iraq), is formed for Iran. Let me emphasize that by proposing to take the initiative, I do not mean to be hostile to the U.S., but I do mean that we Iranians should take the initiative to form this conference for our own future, rather than watch and see the U.S. to take the leadership role in such a grave undertaking, or to end up supporting IRI.
Iraqi people, less than Afghans, accept U.S. leadership, but the Iraqis should have worked harder in the past, to form such alternative, and get it recognized by the world. They should blame themselves for not doing it, when the time was running out. We Iranians are now in a similar situation.
In our case of Iran, any U.S. rule will end up in a failure, and will only cause loss for both Americans and Iranians, with little achievement, but if we do not take the initiative and form the conference, it will be done by the U.S., just like the case of Afghanestan and Iraq. We should see that now is the time to do this, or we may lose the initiative for good, and the choices for the Iranian people will become the U.S. rule or IRI.
I wish that Reza Pahlavi, who cares for human rights, had fully condemned despotism of Shah's regime and its Savak, and had abdicated the throne, and had joined the secular republican alternative for a democratic future of Iran, but that has not happened. Also obviously his plan for referendum will not work in current circumstances, if a U.S.-Iran war happens.
Let me note here that my reason to do away with monarchy is not much of fear of Pahlavi Dynasty, the same way that Qajar Dynasty basically did not have much of a chance of consolidation, at the time of Ahmad Shah, because it had lost any organization of itself. In fact, people like Rahim Safavi are in a position like Reza Khan Mirpanj to start a new monarchy. And I have explained many times why Iranian monarchy can never become like Swedish monarchy, whether it is the continuation of Qajar or Pahlavi or a new one started by the likes of Masoud Rajavi or Rahim Safavi.
Nonetheless, I admire what Prince Reza Pahlavi has done for human rights in Iran and I have written about it too. I think Prince Reza Pahlavi is in a similar situation as Ahmad Shah and I think the following points are noteworthy:
1. Ahmad Shah *was*
democratic-minded and also independence-minded, when in Switzerland, although
contrary to Prince Reza Pahlavi, he alienated himself from the UK. It is good
that Prince Reza Pahlavi has not alienated himself from the U.S. and is talking
to the U.S. officials, the press, US Congress, and the international
organizations about human rights in Iran, supporting a democracy for Iran.
2. Ahmad Shah should have been the first to criticize the anti-secularism of having Shi'a as the official religion of Iran, as well as the veto of 5 mojteheds in Iran's 1906 Constitution. He should have been the first to condemn the lack of secularism in Iran . Similarly Prince Reza Pahlavi should ask, in no uncertain terms, for the Shi'a clergy to stay out of all three branches of the government in Iran.
3. Ahmad Shah should have been the first one to condemn despotism of Qajars and bombardment of Iran's parliament (betoop bastan-e majles) by his father, Mohammad Ali Shah, which was a very fresh memory for the democrats of Iran in the early 1900s, if he wanted to get the support of the democratic-minded Iranians, and the same goes for Prince Reza Pahlavi. That does not mean condemning his father as a father, which is a personal relationship, but it means condemning the despotism of Mohammad Reza Shah's politics and regime.
4. I had hoped Prince Reza Pahlavi to join the efforts to create a secular republic alternative for Iran. The mistake of Ahmad Shah was that when he understood how important democracy and modernism is, he did not raise the flag of republic.
I think Prince Reza Pahlavi can play a role like that of Prince Sihanouk of Cambodia and if he does that, he will always be remembered with reverence in our history. I wrote an open letter to Prince Reza Pahlavi two years ago, to move in the direction of the above, and if he had moved in this direction then, our movement to establish a futurist, federal, democratic, and secular state would have been two years ahead:
But regardless of the above wishes, we are now at a juncture in our history that we may face the choice between a U.S. rule or IRI any minute. I do not see the forces of democratic opposition in a position to create a viable organization in the next two years. Also forces like MKO need to be liquidated. The repeated dishonest methods of MKO in relations to various individuals and forces in the opposition has caused a mistrust for all of MKO among the democratic opposition, and even the honest people in that organization will have a hard time to gain the trust of the Iranian opposition.
Of course, there are honest people who had joined MKO, not for love of Saddam, but to fight IRI dictatorship, and they should be respected. I do not see MKO in its current state to be much of help to the democratic alternative for the future of Iran, nonetheless, I do not think one should write the MKO off, and I think a relation based on human rights conditions is the right approach, to support the honest people who are still in that organization.
I think at this time, Prince Reza Pahlavi is in the best position to call for a Constitution Conference to convene, a conference to work on the future constitution of Iran. The end result can be one, two, or more constitutions. I think unless the monarchists for the most part get convinced to join the secular republic alternative, the choice will end up to be at least two constitutions. Even that is a lot better than not having any proposed constitution to the Iranian people, and people be left with old monarchy or the old IRI, as choices of monarchy and republic for Iran.
One thing that both monarchists and republicans agree is that nobody wants to recreate the past monarchy or the past republic of Iran and thus they both see the need to write a new constitution.
I do not think any other force, including MojAhedin, Jebhe Melli, or the leftists are in a position to call such a conference. Personally if Prince Reza Pahlavi calls the Constitution Conference, I will join it. Frankly I have worked with so many republican groups, individuals, and forces, and can say that they are not any better than the monarchists, in their respect for democracy, when working in an organization together, and Prince Reza Pahlavi has shown that he can be very effective to drive a plan for future of Iran, when he drove the plan for referendum, movement for civil disobedience, and advocating human rights issues of Iran, without ending up on the lap of some moderated IRI-related force, and he has shown a lot more respect for human rights and democracy.
Hoping for a Futurist, Federal, Democratic, and Secular Republic in Iran,
Sam Ghandchi, Publisher/Editor
March 30, 2003
P.S. April 6, 2003-Notes About My CC Proposal
**1. What will I do if the Constitution Conference ends up with a Monarchist Constitution?
I think I have previously answered even a bigger question about what I would do even if all Iranian people voted for monarchy, and resembled it to voting for Hitler in the Weimar Republic, and said that I will condemn it from day one, and will say this is the mistake of majority of Iranians and I will fight it. Here is my article:
So my wish for the Conference is to come out with *one* constitution and that be for a secular republic. If it comes out with one constitution and that be a monarchist constitution, then obviously I will oppose it. If it comes out with two constitutions, one for a republic and one for a monarchy, I would support proposing the result to the Iranian people, and if the vote ends up to be for monarchy, I already said that I will condemn it, and fight it even if it is the wish of majority of Iranian people. And as far as monarchy, I have written many other articles beside my open letter to Prince Reza Pahlavi:
Furthermore, as I have written before, I never wrote that U.S. strategy is to invade Iran. People can see all my writings since Bush's State of the Union over a year ago, where I said basically U.S. is after getting more concessions from IRI. But I think the provocations by IRI in the Shi'a regions in this Iraq War are provoking a war with the U.S. I never thought that Iraq's strategy in 1979/80 was to invade Iran either, but I think IRI provoked that 8-year war which caused all our sufferings.
**2. Honest people from all shades of political spectrum, who go into this process, will find out how much of their current plans for Iran are just obsolete, and they may learn something new.
Today one sees so many people who think they have a platform for Iran, either repeating the same things they have been offering for decades, the same plans that had failed in 1979, or have just added a few points from some new discussions, without really understanding the depth of the positions to do it right to have a constitutional value. And one sees them still supporting state economy and central statism, disregarding the fact that the basis of dictatorship in Iran *is* the state economy! Unfortunately many think that just the platforms of the monarchists are obsolete. For example, republican platforms that still believe in existence of so-called progressive clergy, and support their presence in the future state of Iran, and do not speak of removing the Shi'a clergy from all three branches of government in Iran, are not supporting a democratic future for Iran, and if they call their platform a secular republic, they are fooling themselves about its democratic content, the same way Nasser in Egypt and Baathists in Syria and Iraq thought their constitutions were going to bring democracy to the Middle East. There is a similar issue about federalism and opposing central statism, that are essential to be in Iran's future constitution, to say that we have a plan for a democracy for the future. I have already written on these topics so many times.
**3. As far as MKO, I did not say to exclude them from this process.
I wrote the following, "Also forces like MKO need to be liquidated. The repeated dishonest methods of MKO in relations to various individuals and forces in the opposition, has caused a mistrust for all of MKO among the democratic opposition, and even the honest people in that organization will have a hard time to gain the trust of the Iranian opposition. Of course, there are honest people who had joined MKO, not for love of Saddam, but to fight IRI dictatorship, and they should be respected. I do not see MKO in its current state to be much of help to the democratic alternative for the future of Iran, nonetheless, I do not think one should write the MKO off, and I think a relation based on human rights conditions is the right approach, to support the honest people who are still in that organization."
**4. If anybody thinks that they already have a constitution and there is no such work needed, I do not even care to discuss with them. As I have written, I do not think any group or individual has it.
**5. If anybody thinks any other individual or group is better than Prince Reza Pahlavi to make this call, whether as a group or as an individuals, whether with a republican or a monarchist background, please let me know.
**6. Let's hope we do not wait till the U.S. or Europeans set up a conference to decide our destiny and then all those bickering today, try to be the first to be included in that.
**7. Finally if anybody still hopes for Khatami to reduce repression in Iran and allow the process for forming the alternative to happen within Khatami's state, they are dreaming, but I would appreciate it if they come forward and clearly say what their hopes for the IRI reformists are.
**8. I was asked why I am writing while Prince Reza Pahlavi has not responded to my Open Letter of 2 years ago. My response is that if I wanted to get a reply to a letter, I would not write open letter:-) The response to open letters is the actions those who are called for, take in their organizational work or in their press releases. A lot of work has resulted from all the discussions I started about platform of the future and one can see the impact among different republican groups and monarchists and their support for thinking of the future rather than focusing on the past and nowadays everybody has a manshoor:-))
**9. I think most those who think of themselves as authorities for the movement are way way below Reza Pahlavi in their understanding of the current issues of Iran and the world and they think too highly of themselves. We are not at the time of Mossadegh when Mossadegh was right and Shah was wrong. We are in a different time when the monarchists have advanced a lot more in their programs and plans and the so-called republicans darjA zadehand, and they think the plans of the time of Mossadegh are answer to today's world issues. I think the republican forces like MKO, Jebhe, and the leftists, in many respects, have platforms that are more obsolete, than the monarchists, and they think only the monarchist programs are anti-democratic and anti-progress. The reality is that in many respects, the platforms of the republicans are more obsolete, and they forget their own plans end up in another Egypt, Turkey, Syria, or North Korea, which are supposedly republics, but are not democracies. It is not accidental and it is not just cultural factors that the constitution of those countries has ended up in such dictatorships. The constitutions of those so-called republics have been anti-democratic and anti-progress, and this is why one can see the son of Hafez Asad to become the ruler of dictatorial Syrian republic, and the son of Kim Il Sung to become the ruler of the dictatorial North Korean Republic. Simply put, Mossadeghism is another wrong way to look for solution for Iran, just as leftism was. These are old obsolete programs that cannot respond to the global economy, and the world situation today, and it is a regret that many old leftists have exchanged Marxism now with Mossadeghist populism, that at best will make another Egypt out of Iran.
**10. About the wealth of Pahlavi family
I really do not know what to say about legitimacy of inherited wealth of Reza Pahlavi. Most of our top activists were rich family-wise too. For example, Mossadegh was a Qajar or Nasser Ghashghaii had money of his tribe. Bakhtiar had roots in tribes and so did Dr. Sanjabi who was one of the people I respect a lot. He was elected actually to majles by the support of Sanjabi tribe. Was Mossadegh's wealth legitimate? I do not know, but he used it for a good cause. I knew/know some of his team who said that he paid them out of his own pocket. BTW, this part I am not sure if it was good, when they were in power. I think they should have been paid by the government when working for the government, and not by the PM. Again I do not know all the details of these, and am not a historian. Someone like Dr. Masoud Kazemzadeh, who knows all details of history of that period, can make a better judgment about it. But I still think Mossadegh used his money for a good cause, and his goal was to have his team stay independent of money considerations, when he was leading the nationalist movement. Perhaps, if I had the same resources, I would do the same. Fortunately/unfortunately I do not have to deal with such a dilemma and have always had to work for the living.
Now how much of their wealth, which was mostly inheritance, was legitimate? I do not know.
Frankly this is the last thing on my mind to think about. I am not saying it is wrong to question and discuss it. I am just saying it is the last thing on my mind at this time. If that is not enough, somebody with more knowledge than me, about such legal matters, needs to answer. I am not that knowledgeable about such historical and legal topics, including frozen assets of Iran. The above is my view about how to look at inheritance and wealth issues. There are people who know the specific historical details and legal decisions on such matters. It is better that they answer than me. But as far as Prince Reza Pahlavi and what he has done for Iran. I have written before in my defense of Prince Reza Pahlavi, and had published it long time ago:
I also had written similar articles, years ago, in defense of Iranian liberals, when discussing with some leftists:
**11-As far as the three issues that I noted about obsolete programs, namely having clergy in the three branches of state, state economy, and federalism, here is how I see Jebhe Melli in this regard:
The sad reality is that on all the three important issues, it is not just the leftists like aksariat that have such positions, but it is most of Jebhe as well, and this is why one sees the alliance based on such unity in papers that basically advocate these obsolete positions, and the IRI lobbyists thought originates from this alliance, and in fact all these positions from Palestine and Zionism to the roohAniate "moteraghi" and state economy, and anti-federalism of the lobbyist groups and papers, originates from the source of political organizations like Jebhe and aksariat. Still Jebhe Melli believes in state control of oil industry, which is basically 90 percent of Iran's economy. This is why I say their platform is more backward than most of the monarchists. Sometimes I think if the Shah's regime was not a dictatorship, he was perhaps more progressive than all these forces that we call progressive movement, whether nationalist, leftist, or mazhabi and maybe if he had left them all free to advertise, perhaps his technocrats would win in the competition, because the opposition is so backward in its outlook, even after 24 years of time to study and learn. I know next they will call me monarchist as usual, because they do not want to see how backward their platforms are:
On all three of those points, they are the same:
I. On the Shi'a clergy. The Jebhe still sees Shariati as progressive and believes in roohAniate moterAghi and the irAniat and eslAmiat as basis of unity in Iran, all the same things they said about roohaniat before the revolution. Here are the words of Ramin Naseh on this and the other Jebhe leaders would not be much different. In fact, the latter would clearly say to support IRI in the event of US-IRI war, and supports all the montazeri, etc, that are known positions of Jebhe before the revolution, thinking eslAmiat and irAniat as two bases of Iran's unity and looking up to roohAniate moteraghi for it:
Even Dariush Homayoun and monarchists are way more advanced with regards to dropping Islamic clergy, although I should say RP with all his recent positions on secularism, still falls short of taking a full position on Shi'a clergy. But Dariush Homayoun does.
II. State Economy:
As far as state economy, please see a new article from the same source entitled "khosoosikardane bAnkhA" where it is fighting IRI about privatization of banks and advocates more statism. Unfortunately I cannot find it now but please just look at the site of Pishgamann of Ramin Naseh to find it:
III. As far as federalism, I already have written an article about HMI and federalism. Most of Jebhe also has the same position. Of course not all Jebhe are the same and people have different positions, but what I have written about HMI, I believe is the position of majority of Jebhe:
P.S. April 19, 2003
My Second Open Letter to Prince Reza Pahlavi
No to Jebhe Melli & Monarchy