Iranian Monarchists Allying with MelliMazhabis
The Iranian Monarchists and the MelliMazhabis may seem like strange bedfellows, but it is becoming more and more clear that they may be heading for an alliance. MelliMazhabis were such an important part of Khomeini's forces at the time of 1979, that the leading MelliMazhabi figure, Mohandes Bazargan, became the first prime minister of IRI (Islamic Republic of Iran). Nonetheless it is undeniable that every time IRI was relieved from serious opposition, the MelliMazhabis would get the boot.
First was the visit of Hossein Khomeini to the U.S. and his attendance of the AEI conference with Michael A. Ledeen, on Sept 26th, and especially his call for US military intervention in Iran. Later, on October 6, 2003, when MelliMazhabis were trying hard to get Aghajari win the Nobel Prize, I was surprised to see one of the high ranking monarchists, Shaheen Fatemi, whom I highly respect personally, supported nomination of Aghajari for Noble Peace Prize. And after Shirin Ebadi won the Nobel Prize, MelliMazhabis are trying to depict the event as a win for IRI reformists; and monarchists for the time being do not seem concerned. And finally the news of the meeting of Reza Pahlavi and Hossein Khomeini.
What is really going on? Are the Monarchists forming an alliance with the MelliMazhabis? If so, what is the goal of this alliance? Is the goal to remove IRI and replace it with a secular regime? Is it to form a monarchy with some concessions to MelliMazhabis? Or is it to preserve IRI but to give some concessions to the monarchy?
It seems to me that the alliance does not have any goal of its own, and each party is looking at it with its own objective.
The MelliMazhabis are using Reza Pahlavi to scare IRI to get more concessions, just as they have been doing it for years to make a scarecrow out of monarchy in the IRI parliament, on one hand to make monarchy seem as a viable force in Iranian pro-democracy movement and on the other hand to show themselves as if they are the reason for people not asking for return of monarchy.
And the monarchists are looking at MelliMazhabis as a force that can help them to come to power, and correctly see it as a disposable force, contrary to MKO. In other words, they think once the Pahlavi regime is restored, a few top Ayatollahs will be bought the same way it was done at the time of the Shah, and the bulk of MelliMazhabis can be dumped by the monarchy, as it was done during the Shah's regime.
Thus neither the monarchists nor the MelliMazhabis are looking for a secular alternative, when getting close to form an alliance. However, they are both dreaming and have not understood the Iranian people, who are looking for a secular republic and will not settle down for a MelliMazhabi IRI, or for a modified monarchy that accommodates the religious reformists. These may be good alternatives for monarchists and MelliMazhabis, but not for the people who have fought the theocracy for 24 years.
It is ironic those of secular republicans who had been working hard for the heart of MelliMazhabis, are now in competition with the monarchists for this faction of IRI, when they keep calling for unity of republicans. The current development will be a good lesson for them to see that what is important to MelliMazhabis is not the republic, but it is the mixing of religion and state in their favorite government, whether IRI or monarchy.
Moreover current events will be a good lesson for those who still look up to MelliMazhabis to bring democracy to Iran, to see that this force is not sincere about republic, and as long as it can keep Islam mixed with the state, it will work with anyone including the monarchists and the U.S. And finally these developments can show to many who support monarchy as the path to secularism in Iran, that in practice secularism is the first sacrificial lamb for the monarchists when going for power, as they had done in the past monarchy, when Iran did not have separation of state and religion.
Secularism is the lesson of a century of modern movement in Iran, and particularly sacrificing it after the 24 years of IRI theocracy, will be a disservice to Iranian people, regardless of what excuse is used to justify it. Pahlavi monarchy was never a secular system and the concessions to mollahs to stop the left from coming to power, was how the mosque became the center of Shah's overthrow, rather than saving his regime. The same way again working with mollahs and keeping them in the post-IRI regime, will only mean the same error that monarchy had done before, when thanks to the concessions to the clergy by the Shah, the mollahs were the ones running Iranian judiciary all those years before the Revolution.
Melli Mazhabis and monarchy are not the alternative for Iran. It is great that the Iranians are now discussing the constitution of a future secular republic, and we are not limiting ourselves to some minimum platform to unite, to end up with another dictatorial regime mixing religion and state. Please join the following thread on Jebhe Melli Bulletin Board to discuss the post-IRI Constitution for a Secular Republic for Iran:
Discussion about Proposed Future Constitution
Hoping for a Futurist, Federal, Democratic, and Secular Republic in Iran,
Sam Ghandchi, Publisher/Editor
Oct 31, 2003