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:


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. For example, 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 would mean 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 the ally of the left, but the Iranian liberals were still afraid and made themselves the losers.


3. Mossadegh was afraid that Islamic forces would oppose republicanism. He had seen the time of Reza Khan's republicanism and the opposition of clergy to the idea. 


If Mossadegh had lived to see Ayatollah Khomeini, decades later, to go for a republic, to win an Islamic movement, he would be amazed, to see the irony that he had feared the clergy's strong opposition to a republic, thus avoiding to push for a republic.


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 were in such a movement, and the respected liberals had opposed it. Thus having seen all respectable liberals not joining such a movement was enough for him not seeing it 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 to 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 Jamal Abdol-Nasser did three years later, with Suez Canal and the monarchy in Egypt.


Sam Ghandchi

May 10, 1999






* The above article was first posted on SCI (soc.culture.iranian) Usenet newsgroup on May 10, 1999



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