What is Blocking Unity of Iranians?
Almost everybody sees that Iranian opposition has not been able to unite Iranians to remove Islamic Republic of Iran despite the weakness of IRI and despite the existence of a powerful mass opposition to IRI and the existence of powerful Iranian political individuals and groups. Almost everybody thought that if an organization or a coalition of all opposition groups came to existence, it will have the support of the Iranian people and could become an alternative.
The reality is that even the smallest united leadership that has been formed in a few instances in the last few months, not only has not been able to get the popular support, but even some of the components of these united fronts have lost some of their constituency because of their participation in these coalitions. If it was a little bit of such impact, one could expect it, and discount it as normal aberration, but it is more than just a bit to relate it to forming a united front with other forces.
The above reality may seem to be counter to the desire for unity among the Iranian people, and one may doubt the real interest of Iranian people for unity. Nonetheless I see a different reason working here, which I call fear of MKO and monarchy, which has helped IRI apologists and lobbyists.
I believe that in the last 20 years, one thing is being proven over and over again, that if people have the slightest doubt about any united front having any hidden relation to MKO or Monarchists, such a coalition will fail to attract popular support, and ordinary socially-conscious individuals will separate themselves from such united fronts. In other words, such unity with those forces, kills the unity of the people rather than adding to it.
For example, if a TV station or a call for a demonstration or any similar activity has any sign of including these two forces, it will lose the support of genuine popular opposition and thus the end result will be having less participants, rather than attracting more. Therefore, such *unity* plans do not really mean uniting Iranian people, and the end result will be *less* popular support than more.
I am not writing this to deny the right of anybody to be an MKO or a Monarchist and them being active as such, but I am writing my observation that such a coalition of IRI opposition will not be able to attract popular support. The ordinary people when they hear of monarchists' presence, they say well if US is going to bring back the Shah, we will deal with it when it happens, but we will not put ourselves at risk in the fight between them and IRI.
And when they hear MKO, they remember a cult that even instructs its own members to self-burn for the sake of its leaders, and they will not want to put themselves at risk, even to participate in a simple demonstration when they suspect MKO elements in the leadership of a rally.
As far as monarchists, I think they can exist but they will basically damage the opposition rather than helping it, and if there be any signs of US pushing the return of monarchy, the US will be isolated from the Iranian pro-Democracy movement; and as far as Reza Pahlavi, unless he abdicates the throne and clearly takes a position on despotism of Shah's regime and Savak, he cannot really be of help to the pro-Democracy movement, and his involvement in a united front is more of a liability than asset.
As for MKO, it should be dissolved and democratic-minded individuals who had been in there in the past, should clearly speak about violations of human rights by this cult and should either join democratic organizations, or form a *democratic* organization of their own with a clear position on MKO and its dictatorial practices, and clearly talk about their working for the Saddam's invasion of Iran, and should condemn violations of human rights by MKO cult, all these years, in no uncertain terms.
The goal is *not* to unite Iranian *opposition*. The goal is to *unite* Iranian *people* and any unity with MKO and Monarchists reduces the chances for uniting the Iranian people.
Frankly I think why the pro-Democracy forces have not been able to unite the Iranian *people* is because of MKO and monarchists. If these two forces did not exist, the opposition would have ended the IRI a long time ago. In other words these two forces have damaged the opposition more than helping it, although they have been speaking against IRI in the press in Europe and the US, more than any other force of the opposition.
Even in the US, the reason IRI lobbyists get support, is because they tell people that the opposition is MKO and monarchists, and the pro-IRI apologists gain support this way, because people have *fear* of MKO coming to power and monarchy returning to power.
I just hope these two forces get liquidated soon. But my conclusion is that until that has happened, anybody with the remotest affinity with these two forces will weaken any leadership council of opposition.
For example, a very honest group of people that started with a communiqué recently, because of assigning spokespersons who were viewed as MKO sympathizers, lost their popular support very quickly.
I am sure many people may call this paranoia, but this *fear* is real. Iranian people are *scared* of the forces of MKO and monarchists and do not want to help any coalition to get even close to power, if they see it to include these two forces. The moment they see that, the genuine people become *passive*, and at best keep distance and act disinterested with a wait-and-see attitude.
I think if monarchist leaders and Reza Pahlavi really care for Iran and Iranians, they should drop the monarchy agenda fully, and announce it in no unclear terms. As far as MKO, if there are still any honest people in their leadership, who care for Iran and Iranians, they should call for the immediate end of MKO.
For the rest of opposition, I believe they should say in very *clear* terms that they fully reject MKO and monarchy, otherwise they will lose their constituency even to IRI apologists and lobbyists. IRI apologists try to convince people that the opposition is the launch pad of MKO or monarchy, and thus they get the support of genuine freedom-loving people, who would otherwise support the Iranian pro-Democracy movement.
Iran and Iranians can unite quickly for a secular republic if these two forces are basically dropped from the political unity plans.
Of course, just like people who will still want an Islamic Republic, even after IRI is gone, there will always be monarchists and cults like MKO, but they will be peripheral and will neither be the main force controlling the state, nor will they be the main force of the regime's opposition.
We should just say farewell to MKO and monarchy before it is too late for Iranian pro-Democracy movement to form its own secular republic. All talks of referendum etc is just talk. The point is that as long as Iranian opinion leaders and people think there is a presence of monarchists and MKO, they will *not* seriously support any coalition to lead the removal of IRI, and the movement will not gain the necessary critical mass. This is pretty much a *reality*, although hard to see for those who have some vested interest in these two groups.
MKO cult members and the monarchists may be real mad to hear that they are the reason for IRI still being here, but I hope they can start to see what is happening. IRI has not been strong for a long time and hardly even has a reliable international supporter. And internally it has been a total mess.
What has helped IRI to stay in power has not been the fear of people from IRI guns. Iranian people stood up to Shah's guns with open chest. What has kept this regime is the *fear* of the Iranian people for the return of Pahlavi monarchy or the coming to power of the MKO cult.
Go and ask Iranians in their home, in private, in Iran, and they will tell you the truth of their reluctance to fully support any leadership coalition, until they know for sure it will not be the launch pad for MKO and monarchy.
The reality is that without Saddam's support for MKO and without the US support for monarchy, these two forces are really not that important in the political life of Iran anymore, and the former was finished with fall of Saddam and the US support for monarchy in Iran is basically finished, and sooner or later the unity of Iranian people around a secular republic will be formed, because there are already enough leaders within the pro-Democracy movement who are known to be rejecting MKO and monarchy, and have gained the trust of Iranian people during the struggle of all these years, and they will be the core of the unity of Iranian people for a secular republic.
Hopefully we will see the end to the impact of the *fear* factor of MKO and monarchists, for trusting new coalitions when people feared a behind-the-scene leadership of the coalitions by MKO and monarchists, especially when MKO with Saddam's financial power, created so many fronts in Europe which were supposedly not MKO.
Let me emphasize that monarchists and cults like MKO will continue to exist, but will become peripheral forces like many other insignificant groups such as the Shah Maghsoud cult, and they will not be considered as part of the democratic secular republican coalition which will take the center stage to remove IRI from Iran.
Sam Ghandchi, Publisher/Editor
July 10, 2003
For my other articles on Alternatives for Iran, please see:
Postscript 7/10/03 BTW, among the former monarchists, one example of the people whom I think have understood the need to go beyond monarchy are people of Azadegan Foundation. For example one can see the writings of Dr. Assad Homayoun, which are pretty interesting and modern, and I believe he is a very respectable individual. Also unlike people like Farhad Hamzehloo or Arman Nouri, the folks from Azadegan Foundation are not hostile towards those who are still monarchist, nonetheless, they have reached the conclusion that monarchy is history in Iran, and they have done some work of research about secular republican platform for Iran, and have contributed to modern secular republican thinking. And as I noted, my point here is not about individuals. I think some current monarchists like Shaheen Fatemi are a lot more quality people than individuals like Farhad Hamzehloo who has left the ranks of monarchists. My discussion here is about platform and not individuals.