No to Jebhe Melli & Monarchy
The fall of the Shah's monarchy and the subsequent fall of the Soviet and Eastern Block shattered two paths of Iran's political platforms, that is the path of monarchy and the left. This situation benefited two forces of the old Iranian opposition to IRI, namely MojAhedin Khalgh and Jebhe Melli. There has been written enough about mojAhedin, and neither them, nor anybody else, thinks of them, as the main force of Iranian opposition anymore, and they are viewed as just one of the forces of Iranian opposition to IRI. But the other group, namely Jebhe Melli, has gotten an imagination, as if it is the main force of Iranian opposition, and they think of themselves as the alternative for Iran's future.
Jebhe Melli tries to make alliances with various leftist, or Nehzate AzAdi, or other groups, to make themselves look like the leadership of the Iranian Republicans. Nothing is farther from the truth, because they are neither the main force of Iranian opposition, nor have they *ever* been a thorough republican force. Before the fall of the Shah, as early as the end of the Qajar Dynasty, it was Reza Khan and the likes of Ali Dashti who went for a Republic, while Dr. Mossadegh continued supporting the Qajar monarchy, albeit as a constitutional monarchy.
After Reza Khan changed his republican plan, and went for a monarchy of his own, still the opposition of Mossadegh to Reza Shah, was to block him from having all three branches of government, and basically asked for the new Pahlavi monarchy to be a constitutional monarchy. In the later years, Mossadegh and Jebhe Melli basically asked for "shah saltanat konad na hokoomat" (king should be a monarch and not a ruler), and this became the motto of Jebhe Melli all thru the years of 1949 to 1978.
Jebhe Melli was *never* a republican organization during the Shah's regime, and even people like Dr. Hossein Fatemi in Jebhe, who were republicans, were never supported by the majority of Jebhe. Jebhe along with the main part of Iranian clergy, was not a republican force. In fact, all those years, for over half a century, the only republican forces in Iran, were the leftists, and the majority of Iranian intellectuals were leftist.
The Jebhe and the Islamists were *not* republican, and as far as secularism, Jebhe did not even challenge the veto of five mojteheds in the old constitution of Iran, and always worked closely with the Shi'a clergy, and considered eslAmiat and Iraniat as the two bases of unity of Iran. When the likes of Ahmad Kasravi were murdered, Jebhe basically kept silent, and continued working closely with the clergy.
In the last years of the Shah, Ayatollah Khomeini went for an "Islamic Republic", and only in the last stages of the 1979 revolution, Jebhe Melli broke up, and one part headed by Dr. Shahpour Bakhtiar stayed with the monarchy, and the other part of Jebhe, finally gave up its efforts of moderating the monarchy, and supported Khomeini's plan of "Islamic Republic".
Ever since the start of IRI, Jebhe Melli has become a republican force, but only in the sense of trying to moderate the Islamic Republic, supporting one IRI faction after another, within the so-called reformist factions of IRI, and *not* being a thorough secular republican force, calling for an end to Shi'a clergy's interference in Iranian state. And lately after the end of Iraq War, some factions of Jebhe are interested to work with the proposals of Hojatoleslam Hashemi Rafsanjani with regards to the U.S.-IRI relations.
Jebhe Melli has been calling for the removal of the VF (IRI Supreme Leader) in the Islamic Republic. They have never called for removal of Shi'a clergy from the judicial or other branches of government in Iran. Furthermore, Jebhe Melli still does not support federalism in Iran, and their economic plan for Iran, as far as the oil industry is concerned, which comprises over 90% of Iran's economy, is still supporting the state ownership, the state ownership which has always been the pillar of dictatorship in Iran.
Jebhe Melli is one of the forces of Iranian opposition along with other forces, but surely they do not represent the Iranian people, and they have no right to speak on behalf of the Iranian people to any other country, and if they give any impression that they are the main force of Iranian opposition, that would be a total misrepresentation of reality. The fact is that Jebhe Melli, just like the Pahlavi monarchy, or the left, or mojAhedin, is another force of the old Iranian opposition. The new opposition to IRI, is none of these forces, and none of them has a right to speak on behalf of the Iranian people by themselves.
None of the above forces are the ones who organized the students rallies of last November (16-Azar) in Iran.. If the demonstrators raised the picture of Mossadegh, it is because they see Mossadegh as one of our national heroes, and not because they support Jebhe Melli, which is basically an obsolete force, just like the Pahlavi monarchy.
As far as the Pahlavi monarchy, I have already written enough. The plan of Prince Reza Pahlavi for a referendum to choose between the Pahlavi monarchy and a secular republic is meaningless, because the Pahlavi monarchy was already overthrown in 1979. If his basis of referendum for Pahlavi monarchy is accepted, because he considers the overthrow not to be legitimate, a Prince from Qajar dynasty can also come forward, and say that he does not consider the overthrow of Qajar Dynasty by Reza Khan as legitimate, and can ask for a referendum for the people to decide if they want Qajar Dynasty or Pahlavi or a secular republic.
The reality is that Pahlavi monarchy and Mossadegh and Qajar dynasty and mojAhedin and the left all belong to Iran's history. Iranians have already passed all of them and are looking to the future. Iranians want a secular republic and all these forces can be part of the new efforts, if they drop their dreams of dynasties, reformed semi-religious and semi-socialist republics, and unite for creating a modern secular republic.
And one cannot say from now who will be the leader of such a coalition, and nobody has a right to talk on behalf of Iranian people to other states, until the united organization of Iranian opposition is formed. Maybe the leaders are already inside Iran. Those who have been outside of IRI all these years, but have fought for a modern secular republic in Iran.
All those who want to have a secular republic, need to unite, and whatever has been their history, whether being a monarchist or a leftist, or a Jebheii, or anything else, does not matter. What matters is if they care to make a *modern* secular republic, and not end up with another backward obsolete republic like IRI.
Hoping for a Futurist, Federal, Democratic, and Secular Republic in Iran,
Sam Ghandchi, Publisher/Editor
April 19, 2003
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