Prince Reza Pahlavi-Last Episode of a Dual Role


Ever since Prince Reza Pahlavi  chose a new strategy 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 the new strategy.   He spoke about human rights abuses in Iran and about serving Iran's pro-Democracy movement and abiding by people's decision regardless of whether Iranians choose a republic or a monarchy.  Nonetheless he still kept his title to the throne. 


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, whereas in the previous years, just calling himself the next king, had failed to gain him such a status.


Reza Pahlavi's dual role is ending whether he abdicates or not. If he abdicates, it is better for him as an individual, he may find a role in Iran's secular republican movement which is what will determine the future of Iran. If he does not, he will fade away. The same way he has been fading away in the last 4 months, and yes he will then just be the leader of a few monarchist groups, like before choosing the new strategy, and the reality is that today the monarchist groups are more and more becoming a peripheral force, and many of them are becoming republican.  Nonetheless the monarchist groups will always exist the same way there are royalists still in France two hundred years after the Revolution in France.


Reza Pahlavi's tactic of speaking as a private citizen came to an end four months ago. There was a time that he could end the story by abdicating his role as a King but he did not.  Reza Pahlavi's followers are now attacking republicans for the failure of July 9th movement of four months ago. It is very sad to see the group Constitutional Movement of Iran (CMI-FL) has just issued a communiqué blaming Tabarzadi and calling him suspicious when reviewing the failure of this year's July 9th anniversary (18-Tir). The last one to blame is in fact Tabarzadi not just because he is the victim of the failure and in jail, contrary to the monarchists who are sitting outside Iran, but also because Tabarzadi was the only major Iranian opposition leader who was  still calling for cooperation with monarchists in a united front and was still focusing on the call for a referendum on July 9th, 2003. 


The reason the movement finally stopped to respond to Reza Pahlavi's dual role was when numerous organizations and leading figures of Iran's opposition asked him 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 the critics. 


Iranians have a bad memory of the same etehAd (unity) slogan by Khomeini when he would refuse to come out with responses to questions of opposition groups, once in 1978 and then again in 1980 and the result was the massacres of 1981 and later 1988.  So Iranians have paid dearly for the etehAd slogan and the frequent asking of Prince Reza Pahlavi on the issue of his dual role was answered by the slogan for a referendum. 


As far as the demand for referendum, Tabrazadi still stuck with the call for referendum whereas many others in the opposition said the referendum is a meaningless demand as far as deciding for monarchy, because the main topic in Iran as far as a referendum is concerned is to decide to separate religion and state and not putting monarchy on ballot.  Nobody can stop any political force to call for referendum of their desire but it does not mean the society will have referendum on every issue every day.  Communists may like to have a referendum to decide if Iran should adopt Communism and they can call for it.  But to an unbiased observer it is clear that nobody's issue for a referendum in Iran today is to decide between monarchy and republic.  Iranians have no problem with republic.  Their problem is with human rights abuses and mixture of Islam and state and retrogression and the rule of akhounds which people want to end. 


Even if Reza Pahlavi abdicated, monarchists would find someone else, maybe his brother or others will be the candidate for the monarchy. And as I had discussed in the past, monarchists will always exist in Iran.  But just as before choosing the new strategy by Reza Pahlavi, when the monarchists were a peripheral force, they will be the same after the end of this strategy.  If Prince Reza Pahlavi does not abdicate, basically he will fade away from the bigger role he started to play when starting the dual role of a king and private citizen, and in the role of a king he will be the leader of some of the monarchist groups.  In fact, in such a single role, the monarchists and republicans will cooperate more, because it is clear where each of them stands and the issue of monarchy-vs-republic will not be the main issue of Iranian circles anymore, because nobody will think the other is trying to use deception to get to the top of the whole movement.


Now whether we like it or not, the monarchy versus republic has become a central issue in Iranian political circles because of Prince Reza Pahlavi starting the dual role, and the reason the monarchy-vs-republic became the main issue of Iranian politics was because some republicans thought Reza Pahlavi had chosen the new strategy to deceive the Iranian people.  Personally I do not think he had chosen this strategy to deceive the Iranian people and I also think he is sincerely interested in human rights and democracy in Iran and I wrote about it at the time.  But Reza Pahlavi needed to *abdicate the throne* to put this distraction of monarchy-republican fight to rest, if he wanted to take the bigger role of leading the Iranian opposition.  But as long as he took a dual role, this controversy would not die out, and would block the unity of Iranian forces as it did four months ago. 


True that republican versus monarchist will be among one of the issues of Iranian politics just like Islamism versus secularism.  But the paramount place of this controversy will end with Prince Reza Pahlavi ending the dual role and in fact by not abdicating despite all the calls, Prince Reza Pahlavi has chosen to be more and more the spokesperson of the monarchy and this is why he is fading away from the grander role of leading the whole of Iranian opposition and will be more and more limited to leading the monarchist groups as time goes.


Finally I need to emphasize that the task of a political party is to *take power* and not just to be journalists writing critics of those who hold power. In the U.S. this *is* what the Democratic Party does when Republicans are in power and vice versa, both trying to *take power*. There is nothing wrong with wanting to take power and I think it is clear a Party is not the same as state. What was wrong with Russia of 1917 and Iran of 1979 was not the Communist Party or Islamists wanting to take power. What was wrong was that Communists in Russia and the Islamists in Iran were *not* a democratic force in their ideology and politics and when they took power, they established a dictatorship. Wanting to take power is not a wrong goal for a political party. We should hope the party that takes power is not a despotic party. This is what happened when in a democratic Weimar Republic of Germany, Hitler's Nazi Party won power *democratically*. Thus the challenge is to make sure society keeps institutions of judgment by the people so that when a wrong choice has been made by the people, people can recall their vote peacefully and not by bloodshed.

Hoping for a Futurist, Federal, Democratic, and Secular Republic in Iran,


Sam Ghandchi, Publisher/Editor
IRANSCOPE Portal Iranian Site of Iran News and Iranian Culture
Sept 14, 2003





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