The Iranian


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Sehaty Foreign Exchange


March 5, 2001

No liberator

This writing is in response to Elaine Sciolino's article in The New York Times on February 15, 2001, titled "Journal in Exile: Man Who Would Be Shah Seeks Job Ruling Iran."

I am sympathetic toward Mr. Reza Pahlavi, as I am toward all unemployed persons. However, finding a job with no work experience in his forty years as a prince, as implied in the article, is rather difficult, especially in today's economic environment.

To his dismay, the specific position he is seeking, as quoted from his National Press Club talk, "to become a constitutional monarch," is totally impossible. After having lost $25 million of his "family fortune," he says that, "only one-fourth of his fortune is left." The source of this questionable, though not explained, "fortune" could most likely be his late father's wealth, accumulated during years of his pathetic rule in Iran. I am confident that Mr. Pahlavi and his family, including the next generation, can live comfortably in the style they are used to with the remaining assets.

It is not my intention to give credence or allude to the legitimacy of the present oligarchy in Iran. This oligarchy is ruled by the ultra-right religious conservatives, specifically under the label of Islamic Republic. However, I can assure Mr. Pahlavi and his dubious supporters that the vast majority of Iranians living in Iran, especially the younger, educated generation under 30 years of age, contrary to the statement in the article about having "nostalgia for the monarchy," believe that the best outcome of the revolution twenty-plus years ago, was the uprooting of the monarchy system.

The monarchy was the type of government that had plagued Iran through its 2,500-year history. Unfortunately, this system was glorified by the court cronies and historians, either because of subsidies they received, or out of fear. The replacement of the last autocratic monarchy by a republican system, literally the best form of government in existence today, was a blessing for Iran, though, it developed into an unintended consequence which established a home made Islamic variety of republic. In true political terminology of "republic," the "Islamic Republic" is an oxymoron.

The present dissatisfaction and disappointment among the people living in Iran, and not necessarily including all the expatriates, should not be construed to be from the loss of the monarchy. Curiously, it is caused by the fact that the present theocratic system, controlled effectively by a certain ultra-right conservative religious group, claiming their "God-given ordinance", has transformed the so-called republic into a new harsh autocracy. They have subverted the will of the nation for a true democracy, and for all practical purposes, eliminated civil liberties. The similarity between the claims for governing by the "birthright" versus "Divine ordinance," and the titles assigned to the governors, such as "Shadow of Allah," pertaining to the Shah, and "Ayattolah" for the supreme leader of today, are striking.

My suggestion to Mr. Pahlavi and his handful of allies, who are trying to test the waters for sailing back and sending a trial balloon via satellite messages to Iran, is to get in touch with reality and get out of the daydreaming state. The majority of the Iranian people, disillusioned as they are with the present regime, will never consider another Shah as their liberator.

To console Mr. Pahlavi, I suggest that he look around and find out how fortunate he is to live lavishly with his Iranian born wife, an American-educated lawyer, and his children in the United States, regrettably "without a chauffeur and a private plane." I believe he is far better off as he is than to continue hoping to fulfill his "birthright."

In conclusion, the following question has inevitably crossed my mind: Could the latest publicity and promotions by prestigious media and organizations, such as the New York Times, and the National Press Club, be related to a possible green light that the new Republican administration might have given on the subject of Mr. Pahlavi's reinstatement? Let us hope we are not about to make another blunder in our foreign policy toward Iran, as we have done in the past.

Fereidoon Matin
Pleasant Hill, California


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