Kurdistan, Federalism and Iranian National Sentiments
The topic of federalism may seem not to be much of an issue in a country like the U.S. but viewing the world as a huge federation has come up again and again in science fiction, as a possible global structure of future politics.
Some people think of bureaucracy of federal institutions in the U.S. as a reason to think of federalism, as a factor hampering post-industrial development, rather than acknowledging the significant role federalism has played, in creating the necessary checks and balances in the U.S.
In fact, dropping federalism in favor of centralism, because of issues of bureaucracy, is a grave error. The bureaucracy is the problem that needs to be fixed, and not the checks and balances. The inertia of state institutions is worse in centralized capitalist countries, in contrast to the federal states, although not as bad as the socialist countries.
To eradicate bureaucracy, post-industrial information efficiency and technologies is needed, to streamline the obsolete government procedures, that are the cause of bureaucracy and not the federal redundancies that ensure checks and balances, and do not have to be bureaucratic.
The issue of federalism is of paramount importance to the Futurist Iran. This is why I wrote a detailed paper about the history of development of central government in Iran and the role of Kurdistan. Kurdistan highlights the need for federalism better than any other area of Iran.
Although my paper on Kurdistan, reviews Iran's history, it was not written as a history text, and I wrote it to show why federalism is the only way to avoid a breakup like Yugoslavia, in Iran, and to spearhead Iran, to participate in the global development as a federation. Federalism could have saved Yugoslavia from getting torn apart, following its liberation.
We are not living in the 1940's, and the main fear from centralist states, is not that they can rule for decades after decades. On the contrary, the main fear from centralist states, is that they cause breakup of the regions they rule, by pushing people to the edge to choose secession. We are not in a world that national minorities would put up with dictatorship.
We are living in a world that minorities actually do *separate* their ways, and can easily enter a direct relation with the global economy without a need to go true a bigger nation state, and calling national minorities as "separatist", or similar remarks, only makes them more determined to secede, rather than scaring them away from proclaiming their rights.
For example, if Kurdistan of Iraq, which has oil, creates an independent state, and if Iranian regime remains a dictatorship like the Islamic Republic of Iran, I have no doubt that Iranian Kurds will feel attracted to the new Kurdish state, although historically, Iranian Kurdistan has developed as part of Iran, and not as part of other four sections of the Ottoman Kurdistan and Iranian Kurds share the market of Iran with the other citizens of Iran, and Kurdistan of Iran is *not* like Khuzestan that has oil.
In other words, even though it will *not* be to the advantage of Iranian Kurdistan to join a state of Greater Kurdistan, but dictatorship of the Iranian centralized state can force the Kurdish people to choose separation.
I should note that even Iranian Persian Empire's Satraps were more like a federalist system, than like a centralist state of France, and many of the authors, monarchist, leftist, and nationalist who still cannot come to terms with federalism, misunderstand Iran's history, and are not helping Iran's future. I have noted this in my papers on federalism.
I have reviewed the astute works of Madison on this topic, which are excellent studies on the subject matter. The protection in Madison’s federalist papers is mainly against monarchy (British Monarchy). This is why he is so specific about nobility and even sees this criteria as the measure to call his respective system a republic.
There is no attempt by Madison to prove legitimacy for a federal system. The Confederacy is the reality, and the attempt is to show that this federalism is not *absolute*, and that it is also a *national* government. Thus the focus of Madison's paper is on how to implement the federal and state governments in a way to ensure the cohesiveness of the national government.
The issue that Madison is dealing with is the *implementation* of federal organs and state organs, and showing them *both* as necessary institutions, and rebuts claims that these organs of checks and balances are not needed because of being redundant, and he tries to show their existence as a guarantee against tyranny. For him the issue is implementation and not legitimacy, as federation is how the Union is, when it is formed, a conglomeration of separate states.
Now in our case for Iran, the legitimacy of a federal system is not a given. In other words, except for Kurdistan, we are not seeing separate states coming forward with their own aspirations for statehood, at least not at this time. This is why I have tried to substantiate Why Federalism for Kurdistan and Rest of Iran, from a theoretical standpoint.
Basically from the pre-Islamic shAhanshAhi system, which meant satraps each ruled by a king and all kings ruled by king of the kings (shah of the shahs), to the post-Islamic continuation of satraps in new forms, even thru the changes of Moghols era, we see a semi-federal development in Iran.
Even though in Iran, we never had such acceptance of legitimacy of federalism established, and although after mashrootia't, in Iran's 1906 Constitution, the French centralized model was adopted, I think a study like that of Madison's work on *implementation* issues, can still be done about Iran. From the first day of majles-e shorAy-e melli of mashrootia't to the present, the interaction of local and national organs can be reviewed.
Instead of looking at the states, one can review the anjomanhAy-e iiyAlati and velAyati, which were more of a French version of distribution of power in a central state (like the mayor elections in Europe), than federalism as one sees in the U.S. However, I think such review of distributed power in Iran, can help us to come up with constitutional guidelines for federalist local and national organs in Iran.
The work of Madison is a legal work about the structures of checks and balances. We need Iranian lawyers to do this kind of work about implementation issues of federalism in Iran. Unfortunately I have not seen any work of this kind in the Iranian political circles.
I think mostly, even those who claim to be OK with federalism, are content with electoral structures of France for Iran, which is a democratic election system in a centralized government, and is *not* a real federal system. In my opinion, theoretically two areas need to be tackled, with reference to the issue of federalism in Iran:
1. To continue to argue for federalism in the Iranian political circles, and groups, similar to what I have done in my papers noted above, and to add similar studies about various provinces of Iran, and not just provinces like Azerbaijan and Baluchestan, meaning specific studies of provinces like Khorasan, Mazandaran, Gilan, Khoozestan, Hormozgan, and others.
2. To do serious study of legal codes of Iran's past constitutions, and other civil laws, and implementation details of laws, as relates to the branches of government, and their interaction at local, city, provincial, and national levels.
I may differ with many people on details of Iranian history, which is fine. Even centuries after the French Revolution, the French historians and politicians hardly agree on detailed analysis of the French Revolution. But being able to come to terms with calling for a federal state for future Iran, is not an argument about history, and it is a practical issue.
Missing to stress on the important issue of federalism, in any political platform for future Iran, can cause what its opponents fear most, and that is the breakup of Iran, like what happened in Yugoslavia. It is important to create the consensus on federalism among Iranian political thinkers, before it is too late, to avoid the fate of Yugoslavia, in many parts of Iran that are populated by the Iranian national minorities.
The issue of Kurds and federalism is one of those issues that touches on the region, and IRI wants to broadcast a view that non-Kurd Iranian political groups do not want federalism, and tries to depict the proponents of federalism as separatists, whereas the majority of Iranian opposition today is beginning to side with federalism, and the Fars ultranationalists are a very small minority.
As I have explained on numerous times, those acting as nationalists calling the federalist programs as separatist, are more Islamic Republic proponents rather than being Iranian nationalists, and their fear is that accepting federalism, would open the way for asking for more democratic rights for the whole of Iran by all Iranians.
It is IRI misusing
ultranationalist facade, just as they did during the Iraq War, to justify the
IRI despotism. Ultranationalist slogans are a preposterous flag for Islamists,
when they have had no respect for national demands of all Iranians all these
years, and when they have been pushing Islamism on Iran trying to eliminate even
Iran, a New Year celebration that Kurds celebrate, as much as any other part
Iranians, if not more.
Recently in Iran, the Islamic Republic agents issued a fake communiqué, against the rights of Iranian nationalities in education, forging the signature of Jebhe Melli leaders . The forged document has been condemned by Jebhe Melli leadership inside Iran. Thus it is important to know how IRI is trying to attack the Kurdish movement with such despicable ultra-nationalist fabrications.
As I have explained in the chapter on globalization, nationalism in this day and
age, is as obsolete as Communism. Of course this does not mean that
national sentiments will die away or are undesired. As I have explained in
a paper on Iranian National
Sentiments, national sentiments will continue to exist the same way that
love of family has continued to exists although the political power of family
and tribe has faded in human civilization. National sentiment is not the
same as nationalism, which is a phenomena of Modern Times symbolized by the
The reality is that the slaughter of leftists by IRI in 1981 and 1988, and the murder of leftists by the Shah's regime, were because the left had been the most ardent part of the opposition to monarchy in the 50's, 60's, and 70's, and to IRI in 80's and 90's. This is why they killed even the activists who only had one year jail terms, and were inside the IRI prisons in 1988, by Khomeini's decree.
IRI despondently accepted the peace with Saddam, on Saddam's terms. Khomeini committed a mass murder of the leftists and others in September 1988 to ensure to keep the society silent after signing the peace accord. And IRI did not stop at killing the leftists, and even slaughtered Foruhars and others later, people who were never leftists.
Let me note that my own disagreement with the left is not because of their struggle against IRI and Shah's despotism. In fact, in that regard, I support them fully, and I think they have given the most number of sacrifices in Iran's movement for democracy, both during the Shah and during IRI, and this is why the intelligence agents of Shah and IRI have the most hatred for the leftists.
My disagreement with the left is because I think their program is obsolete at the time of post-industrial development and globalization. I have written my views about the left in the past, in details and do not need to repeat. Nonetheless I should note that one of the main forces in Iranian pro-democracy movement that has worked hard for federalism has been Komala, which I explained in Komala and Kurdistan.
Hoping for a Futurist, Federal, Democratic, and Secular Republic in Iran,
Sam Ghandchi, Editor/Publisher
August 17, 2004
This article is Chapter 6 of the new edition of Futurist Iran book
Does Federalism Allow States To Deny Human Rights