About Prince RP & Rob Sobhani
I think if the following article about Rob Sobhani is true, Prince Reza Pahlavi will lose a lot of credibility:
Those in the U.S. think tanks who think they know Iranians and are trying to make leaders for Iranians really do not know Iranians. Their Iranian counterparts who tried to make Montazeri a leader in Iran failed miserably. Iranians do not follow any leader-makers especially if the ones doing that are foreign think tanks. Iranians choose their own leaders and this is why even decades after the CIA coup of 1953, still Iranians consider Mossadegh as their leader and not the Shah. And as far as Iranian activists, the best we can do is to input democratic and independent thinking and hope that people will choose a democrat like Mossadegh this time around and not someone like Khomeini. Iranians want the U.S. blessing and support for regime change in Iran, but do not want the think tanks to decide our fate.
Why Prince Reza Pahlavi has credibility with Iranians is because of his support of human rights and not because Iranians want the return of monarchy. RP stood up by Iranians when Iranians were victims of IRI and at the same time were attacked by INS in L.A. in Dec 2002 and RP published a one page open letter to President Bush and paid to print it in major US papers. These are the kind of things people care about when thinking of RP and not the anti-democratic record of Shah's regime. Of course, RP's family is the reason he gets press, but since he has used it to speak for human rights in Iran, people care for what he has had to say when calling for *democracy* in Iran and not calling for return of nightmare of Savak in Iran.
The above are the reasons for the support he has had. And those who support him are not the backward shahollAhis in L.A. who still come to meetings with jAvid Shah slogans. Those days are long passed and those shahollAhis who go to meetings abroad and push all these Javid Shah nonsense are killing RP's support and not helping it. These are the kind of people who raped the wife of Dr. Hossein Fatemi in front of him, and killed him days after the 1953 coup. Iranians have no respect for these violators of human rights and never want any of that nightmare to come back to Iran.
Recently RP had a trip to Toronto.
Reading the news of the event,
I think it was one more reason that Reza Pahlavi can see that the
ShahollAhis are the only ones he will lose if he abdicates the throne. People
are not going to go to the movies again and wait for soroode shAhanshAhi (Shah's
anthem) before being allowed to
watch their favorite movie. These backward shahollAhis who come to a lecture and stand up with jAvid Shah are like the komakazes who do not know times have changed and they
will always be there but it is a waste of time to work to have their support. If
I were Reza Pahlavi, I would ask these ShahollAhis not to support me:-))
The reality is that this is one more proof that the clock is ticking for Prince Reza Pahlavi to announce his abdication of the throne if he wants to help the pro-democracy movement in Iran and have any significance in it. As far as the U.S, I think they already have adopted Saddam Hussein's Iran policy which was to use MKO as a pressure force and at the same time to call Rafsanjani as brother rafsanjani and rafsanjani calling Saddam brother Saddam. I do not know if they will call Brother Bremer soon this way but the idea is the same:-)) U.S. knows pretty well what the forces are, just as they advised Mohammad Zaher Shah to drop his bid for monarchy, before the Loya Jirga say it loud and clear. They only think of MKO as a military force to use to pressure IRI to get concessions.
As far as RP, U.S. knows that the technocrats who have been with the past monarchy are not a group to drop, but that force already is coming to terms with the reality of Iran's political development, that monarchy is yesterday. Already two Iranian monarchist groups have announced that they are going the path of republic.
Frankly I think if this trend continues, pretty soon the only ones around RP will be the shahollAhis abroad, who are dreaming of getting back their houses in Iran. I am happy that they are trying to get back their houses in Iran, because it is scaring a lot of hezbollAhis who have confiscated the houses of these people in Iran, and are afraid that something like what happened to the Kurdish houses in Iraq, that were given by Saddam to Arabs, to happen to them, when they will get nothing for the money they paid, when original owners are back:-)) Most of these hezbollAhis because of their connections to IRI, got the houses of these people at very low prices. But I heard many of the owners of these houses are selling them at discounted prices and making big bucks and are getting out. Whoever is the last owner before the original owners come back after a regime change will be *it*:-)))
Let me go back to the topic. I really think that the two groups of monarchists leaving the ranks of monarchists does not mean they were the best people around. But it means that those who have a mind are seeing this trend. And the U.S is not a fool to go and put its forces behind RP. They are using RP also as another pressure point to get concessions from IRI. But as far as alternative, I think US also knows well that Iran will be a republic and will never go back to a monarchy. This does not mean that there will not be any royalists in Iran. Look at Iraq, already there are two contenders for the post of King in Iraq. So Iran will have such peripheral groups but they will not have any significance..
Even France after 200 years still has
some royalists dreaming of the return of monarchy and they have every right to
have such ideals as long as they are not going to use a foreign force to push it
on the French people who have decided for centuries that monarchy with all its
good and bad belongs to their past..
Thus RP has a choice as an individual to take the path of a republic or he can become someone like the two King contenders in Iraq. I hope he takes the first option, because I truly believe that he is sincere, and he really wants to help the Iranian movement for human rights and democracy, and I truly think he can contribute to a secular republic in Iran, but if he keeps thinking to be the next Shah and tries to make deals with this mollah and that mollah, or using the U.S. backing, he will only lose his credibility more and more, and will not be doing what he has been doing for HR.
BTW I think RP's attitude has not been bad in the report from Toronto. I think he has been faced with two groups. The guy who is asking for 2nd khordad recognition is as wrong and nostalgic as the other nostalgic group who have attacked him with jAvid Shah slogans and RP is right to say that let's look at the future.
As far as 28-mordad, etc, I think the issue is really not history. The issue now is that monarchy is just wasting the time of Iranian opposition. Because it is splitting it on something which is not real. The Iranian opposition is basically split on the issue of human rights and RP can actually help the success of a democratic path because he has sided with HR all these years, whereas some other forces have not advanced all these years. RP and most of the monarchist opposition have changed with respect to HR in the last 24 years, mostly because of living in democratic countries and that is good news and they can be critical in helping the Iranian republican movement to stay committed to its ideals of democracy. But the reality as I noted is that the real Iranian opposition is for a secular *republic* and anything else will only distract it..
There are a few items that come up over and over again in the democratic opposition with regards to RP and waste a lot of our energy for nothing. These are my thoughts on those issues:
1. One is calling RP as Prince Reza Pahlavi. This is a title he has. Some people say his father and grandfather have gotten this title by killing pro-democracy movement of their time. My answer is that Lord Bertrand Russell was a Lord. I do not know if his ancestors had killed to be Lords or not. He used his title to get more publicity for his progressive ideas and so much power to him. Some feminists are not comfortable with the term "Mr.". I think we should drop these petty things. Why do I call RP, Prince Reza Pahlavi? I think this is something that can be used for the opposite of how it has originated. Whether we like it or not, his title gets a lot of press to interview him and it was the same case with Prince Nordom Sihanouk who used his title to do something good for Cambodia. So basically if any of Pahlavi or Qajar princes or princesses can use his or her title to help Iran's pro-Democracy movement today, I would say more power to them. So the issue is what they use their title for. Title is like money. Soros uses his money to do something good and hezbollAhis try to put him down not because he is rich but because they do not like what he does with his money and they call him Jew this and that. In contrast, I like what Soros does and when Islamists write "Jew Soros did so and so", I respond with "long live all the Jews".
2. Some folks insult anybody with a monarchist background by all kinds of name callings. This is wrong. It is again judging people by their family. True the press does make judgments by family to call those with a prince title, and it is OK for democratic forces to use these titles which are a family thing to push for HR in Iran, but as progressive people, we should judge people by what *they* have done and not by their family lineage.
3. I am not saying all monarchists have changed. Some shahollAhis are as backward as they were during the Shah. But as a whole, I believe that monarchists have learned a lot more about HR than the IRI reformists. We like to admire those in IRI prisons. Not that I doubt them. But we had many people like Lajevardi and many others in IRI who came out of Shah's prisons and later were worse than those in the same IRI who had never gone to prison, that is those who had always lived in the West. I remember in Iran after the revolution, that those from *all* lines of thought who had lived in the West, were more democratic than their counterparts who had lived in Iran or were prisoners. Most of the monarchists in the last 24 years have lived abroad and IMO this makes a big difference. This is all unfortunate and I am not trying to bring down the value of heroism of those in prison or those working so hard to bring down the dictatorship, but unfortunately even in the experiences of France of 1789, one sees the same sad reality of despotism of those who had fought the dictatorship in dungeons of the past regime. So let's not judge people because of being royalists or past royalist. The despotism is something that Iranian society has had and after Shah's regime, it was inherited by IRI, and let's hope after IRI, it is not inherited by the next regime, whatever flag that next regime may have. The dictatorship of Robespierre' s and Cromwell' s was not because of being royalists.
4. I do not think that all monarchists of yesterday are nicer today. I am saying that monarchy is finished for the people inside Iran and for those monarchists living abroad, they have had a lot of exposure to democratic life in the West and they could never function as another Hoveyda or Alam and this is why the monarchist organizations abroad, as the Iranian situation gets acute, and differences come up, they are going for republic, rather than trying to constitutionally moderate a nonexistent monarchy. We do not have an existing monarchy for people to look for ways to find alternatives within it, to moderate it as a monarchy. The genie has been out of the bottle for a long time and people are not going to take the hard path of moderating a system which does not exist. Prince RP avoids to make political decisions, hoping to remain as hands-off, but these do not work. The issue of Iran has been and is human rights and democracy and Prince RP's support due to his siding with HR, and not because of his association with monarchy, which is causing all kinds of quagmires for him, to take a direct leadership role, whereas many republican leaders have already taken such active role in this crucial moment of our history.
5. I do not think Prince RP is dishonest. I think why he is not ending this monarchy bid is because he is believing some shahollAhis who tell him that he will lose an important part of the movement in Iran if he does that. He does not know that his support in Iran will increase if he drops the monarchy bid. Why he has support in Iran is not because the people want monarchy. It is exactly because of the work he has done for HR. If he had been a prince sitting on his seat and waiting to get a crown like those two monarchy contenders of Iraq, he would not even be discussed now. Those shahollAhis who tell him that his support is because people want monarchy, are misleading Prince RP.
Only history will pass him because what is on the mind of Iranians is to get a *secular* republic established and move on and the problem is not how many options one wants to put on a ballot, the problem is that the main part of opposition has to get united and it can only get united for a *secular* republic not because of any history talk but because this is what the majority of *Iranians* and not the *British* or *Swedish* or *Spanish* people want. Iranians are not looking for a Juan Carlos.
In fact, the opposite is true that the doubts people have about Prince RP are when issues of those around him and their role in the past monarchy come up. That is when people ask what X or Y has done for HR or people note that X or Y has been a Savaki under the Shah, and these issues are when RP loses support. So are these communicated to him? I doubt it. And I believe more dialogue between him and the democratic forces is needed, and not throwing insults, to get him to hear the people's calling. Monarchy bid is damaging and splitting the Iranian pro-Democracy movement and the sooner Prince RP abdicates the throne, the more it will help the success of Iran's opposition.
And if he does not abdicate the
throne soon enough, Prince RP will more and more become a peripheral force in
the pro-Democracy movement of Iran. I cannot make such decisions for him
or anybody else. People make their own decisions and this is how some
politicians who at one time are so significant in history suddenly the times
pass them. I think now is one of those times for Prince RP and because in my
view, I see him a very honest and sincere person, I have taken the time to write
Sam Ghandchi, Publisher/Editor
June 4, 2003