Sam Ghandchiسام قندچي Mossadegh's Error, Second Edition
Sam Ghandchi
اشتباه مصدق، ویرایش دوم

Postscript 10/12/2018: This article was first written about 20 years ago and was posted on SCI (soc.culture.iranian) Usenet newsgroup on May 10, 1999, the Persian translation and postscript are new. Mossadegh followed the tradition of Iran's Constitutional Movement which neither had any intention to end the Monarchy nor was willing to disallow religious authorities from obtaining positions in Iran's modern secular state. Personalities such as Ayatollah Hassan Modarres and later Ayatollah Abol-Ghasem Kashani despite holding high level positions in Iran's Shiite religious hierarchy, held positions of power in Iran's modern state. There were rare individuals in Iran's nationalist movement and Jebhe Melli, such as Hossein Fatemi who supported forming a republic and even considered Ali Akbar Dehkhoda as the future president of Iran and this way challenged the noted two tenets of traditional Iranian politics. As we know, Hossein Fatemi was executed by Shah's order after the 1953 coup in Iran. Of course, decades later, Ayatollah Khomeini adopting a republic, even though in words and not in deeds, ended the first taboo of seeing monarchy to be eternal, and the current Iranian secular opposition to the rule of clergy is ending the second taboo of allowing clergy who hold positions in religious organization to take office in the secular state.


جبهه ملی


I believe Mossadegh's error was that he did not take the next step, when Shah escaped from Iran. I think his next step should have been to announce a referendum to choose between monarchy and republic.
I think why he did not make a move towards a republic had the following reasons, but I believe he should have made such a move, nevertheless, as this was why he was finally defeated.
1. Mossadegh thought that the West did not want a republic in Iran and thus this would be attacked by the West. In reality, the West really would work with Republic or Monarchy, if successful, and if they entered cooperation and negotiations with the West and not just challenge the West and avoid cooperation. An example of proper negotiations and cooperation with the West was demonstrated in 1946 by Ahmad Qavam about Azerbaijan and Kurdistan. Also in the Middle East region, the West had accepted the Republic in Turkey and later accepted republics, and overthrows of monarchies, in Egypt, Iraq, etc.
2. Mossadegh knew such a move meant that he would become the ally of Iranian leftists and the Soviet Union, as they were the only ones asking for a republic for decades (except for a short episode of Reza Khan's republicanism, which again had the left's support).
But Mossadegh and Iranian liberals in general were always more scared of the left than of monarchy. It is interesting that decades later, Ayatollah Khomeini, in his bid for an Islamic version of a republic, was not afraid to be ally of the left, but Iranian liberals were still afraid and made themselves the losers.
3. Mossadegh was afraid that Islamic forces would oppose republicanism. He had seen the times of Reza Khan's republicanism and opposition of the clergy to the idea.
If Mossadegh had lived to see Ayatollah Khomeini, decades later, to go for a republic, in words not in deeds, to win power for an Islamic movement, he would have been amazed, to observe the irony of history that he had feared the clergy's strong opposition to a republic, thus avoiding to push for a republic, whereas the clergy themselves made such a decision in 1979 which ironically helped them to win power in Iran.
At any rate, Ayatollah Kashani left his support of Mossadegh, despite Mossadegh distancing himself from the left and from the idea of a republic.
4. Mossadegh had seen the time of Reza Shah's republican movement and how only people like Ali Dashti joined that movement, and the respected liberals of Iran had opposed or ignored it. Thus having seen all leading liberals not joining such a movement, was enough for him, not considering such an option as an alternative of forces of independence in Iran.
Mossadegh could not see that a demand for a secular republic could be a genuine liberal demand and not just an imperialist ploy or a communist tactical demand. And if successful, finally even the West would have come to terms with it.
I think Mossadegh should have broken with the existing liberal traditions of Iran and pushed for a republic following the nationalization of oil, just like what Gamal Abdel Nasser did three years later, with Suez Canal and the monarchy in Egypt, and later Anwar el-Sadat who was Nasser's right hand became the best friend of the United States.

Hoping for a democratic and secular
futurist republic in Iran,


Sam Ghandchi


October 12, 2018

*This article was originally written and posted about 20 years ago on SCI (soc.culture.iranian) Usenet newsgroup on May 10, 1999, the Persian translation and postscript are new.



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