Monarchists and international terrorism
By Mohammad Sahimi
November 2, 2001
The monarchists, especially their "Shahollahi" brand, have
been saying for years that we Iranians should unite. They have been preaching
this by all means in their possession: In their newspapers, weeklies, radio
and television programs, and speeches. Recent events, beginning with the
September 11 terrorist attacks and culminating with the demonstrations in
Iran after the football games, have finally revealed the type of unity monarchists
Ever since the terrorist attack on the U.S., the far right in this country
has been talking about "ending" states that support terrorism,
by bombing, invading and occupying them for a long time. In an illuminating
act, Mr. Reza Pahlavi, the "Ghebleh Alam" of the monarchists,
has formed a tacit united front with the far right in the U.S. by declaring
that terrorism is like an octopus (surprisingly, I agree!) whose weakness
is its eyes -- in Tehran.
Therefore, they argue, if the U.S. wishes to kill this octopus, it should
start in Tehran. This presumably means that the U.S. should bomb Iran (the
U.S. has not fortunately taken Mr. Pahlavi's advice!). Ever since this declaration,
Mr. Pahlavi's position has been fervently advocated by the monarchists via
Iranian radio and television programs in Los Angeles.
To endear himself to his American audience, and also to demonstrate his
leadership qualities to his Iranian followers (the few thousand who reside
in the U.S. and Europe), he has further stated that, (1) terrorism of the
type that happened on September 11 started with the Iranian Revolution in
1979, and that (2) just as the U.S. and the West helped the people of South
Africa and Bosnia liberate their countries, they should also help the Iranian
people to do the same.
These statements by Mr. Pahlavi not only reveal the type of united front
he and his followers are after -- that is, one with the far right in the
U.S. which is anti-foreigner, not to mention the fact that it has been preaching
that all Muslims not born here should be expelled from the U.S., and that
Islam should be outlawed in this hemisphere), but also demonstrate once
again the two pillars of the way the Pahlavi dynasty and its followers analyze
issues and operate accordingly. Let me explain.
One pillar of the monarchists' thinking is that they conveniently forget
history whenever it suites their interests; a cardinal sin for any serious
person, let alone politicians. For example, regarding the origin of terrorism
and its relation to Iran, I can provide anybody who is interested with the
history of internal terrorism in Iran -- by which I mean use of violence
against political opponents, or against innocent people with political goals
-- and demonstrate how it was mastered by Reza Shah.
However, I prefer to consider for now only the type of criminal terrorism
that took place on September 11, since I would like to demonstrate how Mr.
Pahlavi has "forgotten" some basic facts:
(i) In September 1970, the late King Hossein of Jordan , with the covert
and overt support of his close ally and friend Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi,
massacred thousands of Palestinians and drove the Palestine Liberation Organization
(PLO) into Lebanon. This event, known as Black September, provided the impetus
for the subsequent hijacking of many passenger airliners by the PLO in the
1970s, long before the Iranian Revolution. It is universally recognized
that hijacking of airliners began after Black September.
(ii) In 1967, the Shah visited west Berlin. During anti-Shah demonstrations
there, an Iranian student was shot and killed by the German police. This
event was, according to many German political scientists and historians,
a prime reason for the rise of the Maoist Baader-Meinhof group in Germany
that was involved in many terrorist acts. One of the most famous terrorist
hijackings took place in the 1970s when Baader-Meinhof terrorists demanded
the release of Andreas Baader from a German jail in return for releasing
an airliner and its passengers (Germany refused to go along;, the hijacking
was a failure, and Andreas Baader committed suicide in jail).
(iii) Aside from these two cases, one of the earliest hijackings and
acts of state-sponsored terrorism was carried out by the government of the
Shah himself. On October 9, 1970, an Iran Air Boeing 727 carrying 44 persons
was "hijacked" and flown to Baghdad. It turned out a few days
later that the "hijackers" were in fact agents of SAVAK the Shah's
secret police. Posing as supporters of General Teymour Bakhtiar, who had
taken asylum in Iraq, the agents murdered Bakhtiar, a man who had served
the Shah's regime for many years.
Therefore, we can see the direct and indirect role the Shah and his regime
played in the rise of hijacking of passenger airlines, and international
and state-sponsored terrorism. I therefore leave it to my fair-minded Iranian
compatriots to decide for themselves the accuracy of Mr. Pahlavi's statement
about the origin of international terrorism.
Regarding South Africa and the alleged U.S. and Western support of its
people, Mr. Pahlavi has again conveniently forgotten two basic historical
facts. One was that the Shah and his regime had close political, economical
and military relations with the racist Apartheid regime in South Africa,
and that Iran under the Shah sold oil to that regime, at a time when almost
all other oil producers refused to do so.
The second forgotten fact about liberation from Apartheid is that in
the 1980s, when the African National Congress of South Africa was getting
close to overthrowing the ruling White regime, the far right in this country
(Mr. Pahlavi's soulmates), led by the Reagan Administration, was doing its
best to prevent this by opposing the economic sanctions imposed on that
regime by most other countries of the world.
This was done under the guise of "constructive engagement"
according to which the far right was trying to "convince" the
South African White supremacists to voluntarily give up power! The liberation
of South Africa was the fruit of the struggle of its Black majority and
progressives among its White minority, and the popularity of Nelson Mandela
and his movement, not the alleged support by the U.S., the West and their
puppets. This is clearly manifested in Nelson Mandela and his government's
political independence from the West.
As for Bosnia, all I would say is this: From 1992-1995, when the innocent
people of Bosnia were being murdered by Serbian fascists, the West did nothing
meaningful to defend them. At the same time, Mr. Pahlavi's Iranian handlers
were saying everywhere that victory by the Bosnian Muslims would mean "another
Islamic Republic" -- this time in Europe -- and therefore not helping
them is justified!
The second pillar of the way the Pahlavi dynasty and its supporters operate
is that, they always rely on foreign powers to gain power. In addition,
since they themselves have no legitimacy, they always have a hard time accepting
the legitimacy of others. That is why in their view it is always "kaar
kaar-re Englisi haast." Reza Shah was put in power, and also removed
from it, by the British empire. The Shah was put back in power by the CIA
and the British MI6.
Now, Mr. Pahlavi, who sees no hope for himself ever coming to power by
a popular movement, is pleading with the West to put him in power. Apparently,
Mr. Pahlavi would rather rule a destroyed country than not ruling it at
all. Perhaps, since Mr. Pahlavi has never held a paid job in his entire
life, and has been fed by his father's vast wealth that was taken away from
our people in Iran, he simply is not capable of imagining the implications
of his statements and the ruins they could have brought to Iran, had the
U.S. taken his advice, not to mention the anti-Iranian hysteria in this
Recent demosntrations in Iran after the World Cup qualifying football
games, and the way the monarchist television and radio stations in Los Angeles
have taken advantage of them with their interpretations, have also revealed
another facet of their mentality and the type of united front they are searching
for. The monarchists claim that these demonstrations are in response to
their invitation to the people to demonstrate after the games. This absurd
claim shows once again what many of us have known for a long time, that
monarchists live in their own world which has nothing to do with reality.
To see this, consider the following simple fact: The monarchists in Los
Angeles cannot bring out even 2,000-3,000 of their followers to the front
lawn of the Federal Building in Westwood to demonstrate, and Los Angeles
is the city where hardcore monarchists live. Yet, magically, the monarchists
believe they have a powerful and compelling message which brings out tens
of thousands of demonstrators in Tehran! Admittedly, the monarchists have
probably contributed to one aspect of these demonstrations, namely, inciting
people's emotions by shamelessly claiming that our football players had
been "ordered" to lose the match with Bahrain.
Since most of the monarchists, especially their leaders, have not been
to Iran for many years, they do not have the slightest clue to the present
socio-political movement in Iran, particularly in regards to the youth and
university students. Seventy percent of Iran's population is under 30 years
of age, and has no memory of the monarchy, even if its era had represented
a time of prosperity and democratic freedom, let alone the fact that the
1953-1979 represents a time of political darkness in Iran.
At the dawn of 21st century -- the era of democratic governments -- monarchists
still dream about a king for Iran, the most backward form of government.
Worse, they claim with a straight face that the Iranian people are longing
for it. Perhaps, they have been emboldened by the fact that the U.S. has
been trying to resurrect Mohammad Zaher Shah, the former king of Afghanistan,
from his political grave to head an Afghan coalition government. Our monarchists
apparently believe that, "az in namad kolaahi ham baraaye aanhaa doukhteh
khaahad shod," hence demonstrating once again their wishful thinking.
Even a glance at the situation in Afghanistan reveals the sharp contrast
between there and Iran:
(i) Zaher Shah was overthrown by a military coup, not a popular revolution,
such as what we had in Iran.
(ii) Six years before he was overthrown, Zaher Shah himself made a transition
from an absolute monarch to a constitutional one, hence starting a transition
to a democratic government. In contrast, the Shah heard our people's revolutionary
voice only 3 months before he was overthrown!
(iii) In sharp contrast with the Shah's family, Zaher Shah's family was
neither hated by the Afghan people, nor was it a completely corrupt dynasty.
(iv) In the tribal system of Afghanistan, a grand old man, such as Zaher
Shah, is far more respected than a young man, especially one such as Mr.
Pahlavi who has spent all of his adult life in the U.S. and does not have
the slightest idea about Iran and its people. Mr. Pahlavi does not even
"remember" the contemporary history of Iran, because otherwise
he would not have made his outrageous claims about terrorism and its relation
to the Iranian Revolution.
(v) Even among the people of Afghanistan, a country ruined completely
by 22 years of war, there is great resistance against having Zaher Shah
going back there as their king.
(vi) Zaher Shah himself has said that he does not believe that it is
practical to bring back the monarchy to Afghanistan!
Having pointed these out, I would like to ask those monarchists who live
in our real world -- not those who live in their own fantasies -- which
one of the above points is equally true about Mr. Pahlavi and the monarchy
in Iran? Despite these rather obvious facts, our monarchists are already
distributing among themselves the various cabinet posts in the future Pahlavi
As an independent thinker, as someone who travels to Iran at least twice
a year, someone who teaches in several universities both in Tehran and other
cities of Iran, and someone who has many students in several universities
around Iran, I can state with some credibility that our people in Iran are
far more politically sophisticated to listen to dinosaurs and newcomers
(signers, actors, football commentators, authors of detective novels, etc.)
in Los Angeles who were heaping praise on the Shah and his dark regime three
These events demonstrate once again that the united front that the monarchists
advocate is with the far right, both here in the U.S. and in Iran. The unity
of their thinking with Iran's far right is NOT accidental. Both groups incite
demonstrators to be violent: The monarchists do it because they want to
be able to claim that they have followers inside Iran, and the far right,
because it can then justify repressing the people.
Both groups view the reformist movement in Iran as their enemy because
they see its victory as being tantamount to their own political demise.
Both groups always blame foreign powers for their troubles. Monarchists
believe that they were thrown out of power because the West conspired against
them, and Iran's far right claims foreign powers are behind the reform movement.
Most importantly, both groups have badly missed the point: The typical
Iranian who lives in Iran, even in the most remote area, is politically
far ahead of both groups and knows well that they both are hungry for power,
and that the last thing they care about is a democratic system of government
in Iran that respects people and their rights.