Sam Ghandchiسام قندچيFall of the Shah Revisited
It has been over 20 years since the 1979 fall of the Shah in Iran and the Western theorists are still struggling to understand what happened. Many of them, blaming the rapid modernization of Iran, under the Shah, for the event. None of them wanted to believe the simple explanation of secular democratic forces of Iran, who always maintained that the West had always gone against its own principles of democracy and progress when supporting the Shah, in his repression of the democratic, progressive, and secular forces.
And the Shah and his advisers, who supported the Islamists, such as Shariati for a long time as a way to further suppress the secular forces, and closing the associations of democratic forces of Iran, allowed the mosque to become the center of social life in Iran, and all these due to the fear of Soviet Communism. But the Soviet Union was still around, when the Iranian Revolution of 1979 succeeded, and ironically not the Communists, but rather the Islamic Fundamentalists, took over the power in Iran, and ended the monarchy, and pushed all other secular forces out of the political scene of Iran.
From a regional perspective, the U.S. and its European allies did the same everywhere in the Middle East, supporting the backward monarchists and Islamic Fundamentalists, to counter the Communist threat. Afghanistan was not an exception, it was the rule in the Middle East. Even in Iran, as long as the Shah was not overthrown by Communists, and the Islamic forces would be the ones taking over the power, the change seemed OK to the U.S. analysts.
The events of September 11th, for the first time after 22 years, are revealing this sad reality, that has been in the making for over three decades. If the British government allowed Nazi Germany to grow for 10 years, because of the Communist threat, this time the West had allowed the train of Islamic Fundamentalism to move unbridled for over 20 years, and it is just now that these new Naziís are hitting the appeasing West in the heart of the West itself, in New York and Washington, and are claiming the whole world as their next station.
The best alternative of the West is to support the secular forces against the religious fundamentalist forces of the Middle East, and wherever the option is between the secular dictatorial and secular democratic forces, the West should support the democratic forces, even if the democratic forces are not the closest to the Western powers themselves. In short, the West should be truthful to its own principles and values, and should support the independent, democratic, and progressive forces of the Middle East, rather than continuing the policies of supporting a fundamentalist or a dictatorial force, simply because of that force being its ally.
The path of independent secular democratic and futurist forces is the only way in the Middle East, for the birth of true partners of Western democracies. The Saudi family, or the UAE sheikhs, or moderate Ayatollahs of Iran, not only are vulnerable and will fall in competition with Taliban, they cannot unite the Middle Eastern nations for a serious alternative program, challenging Islamic Fundamentalism. They are as sterile as the Russian Tsars, in face of Soviet Communism.
Hoping for a democratic and secular futurist republic in Iran,

Sam Ghandchi, Editor/Publisher
November 3, 2001

* The above article was first posted on Jebhe BB on Nov 3, 2001