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Opinion

Beating Reza about the Bush
Is Pahlavi an Ahmad Chalabi in the making?

By Kasra Ardavan
April 22, 2003
The Iraniana

The Pentagon has flown Ahmad Chalabi, the President of the Iraqi National Congress, together with some seven hundred of the American trained free Iraqi fighters into Nasiriya in southern Iraq. It was clear that Americans had won the race to plant their candidate to lead the post-Saddam Iraq, before other opposition groups had even began to pack their bags.

Although Chalabi had his foot first on the ground, he has not won the universal support of the Iraq's fragmented opposition dotted around the world. Chalabi is too close to the American Administration to be viewed as an independent future leader of his homeland.

Whether Chalabi becomes the next Iraqi President is not the issue here. It is a matter that, we are told, will have to be resolved in a democratic fashion in the months to come. The question which we, the Iranian exiles, need to ask is this: Are we going to have our future saviour flown from the United States to establish a bridgehead in some remote spot in Iran or is he/she going to emerge from within the existing opposition already inside the country?

As the most vocal and visual symbol of external opposition to the present regime in Iran, Pahalvi has all the hallmarks of a desirable candidate for a Pentagon chartered flight of the kind that carried Chalabi and his team to their homeland.  It is therefore not too unreasonable to ask: Is Pahlavi a Chalabi in the making?

As the pro-monarchy camp is preparing for lavish parties to celebrate the V.I. day (Victory in Iraq) hoping that it will a prelude to the V.P. day (Victory in Persia - monarchists prefer to see themselves coming from Persia and not Iran, lest it might be confused with Iraq), their hero, Pahlavi, is threading a very narrow path through the dense maze of political plots and pitfalls.

While he is careful to avoid sounding gung-ho and jingoistic, he is wary of disappointing the Bush administration in his drive to fully follow their lead to 'free' the Middle East from its rogue rulers. His supporters, however, are much less cautious. If the adage "judge a leader by his followers" is to have any truth, then Pahlavi's disciples are giving us clues to his thinking and that of his inner circle of spin-doctors.

From the one-man political comedies of the Los Angeles TV stations to the self-promoting articles of the seemingly more sophisticated journalists, all have no hesitation to declare their loyalty to the cause of the Washington's neo-conservative administration, yearning for a sequel to the present campaign in 'Mesopotamia' (a preferred term by the 'Persian' monarchists), codenamed Operation Persian Freedom.

Which prompts us to ask this age-old question one more time: Is history about to repeat itself? It was Karl Marx, the scourge of the royalists all over the world, who famously suggested that it does. Is Marx going to be vindicated - thanks to Pahlavi's subservience to yet another right wing Republican administration in the White House? The same role that Pahlavi's father played opposite the duo of Nixon-Kissinger some three decades earlier, he is now about to perform before the Bush-Cheney Junta (courtesy of Gore Vidal!).

Pahlavi's reluctance to denounce his rival republican contenders and his flirtation with the idea of referendum has already angered a number of monarchist opposition groups to the extent that one such grouping, on their website, have dubbed him as traitor and an American puppet (rastakhiz.org). The extent of disappointment with Pahlavi's non-committal strategy to the monarchist cause and his disregard for the very constitution that entitled him to be recognised as the successor to his father's throne, has also prompted a number of number of monarchist ideologues to publish scathing criticism of his conduct.

On the pages of the same website you can find extracts from a recent work of the eminent constitutionalist scholar and the royalist historian, Shojaeddin Shafa. In this work, named si goftar, Shafa criticizes Pahlavi's breach of his constitutional restraints and points out that he has no right to campaign for a national referendum as this is a matter to be decided by a constitutionally elected parliament and not by a monarch in waiting.

Shafa is also bitterly critical of some of Pahlavi's former and present inner circle of confidants and spin-doctors and alleges intimate relations between them (spin-doctors) and the American intelligence community as well as their unscrupulous demands for funding by the same.

If Pahlavi's advisors are not directing him on the same path, as Chalabi seems to have been directed, then Pahlavi's not making any effort to abate his critics mounting concerns. It appears that he is toying with the idea of being a Prince and a potential President at the same time while leaving it to a future referendum to decide his role.

Although Pahlavi may have been encouraged by the recent political comeback of the heir to the Bulgarian throne as an elected President, he seems to have conveniently ignored the fact that President Sax-Coburg of Bulgaria did not apply for the top job on a monarchist ticket. There are a growing number of monarchist 'old-guards' who want to see nothing short of return to the old days of Aryamehr kingdom and they are already showing increasing signs of despair in their chosen leader's approach to materialize their dream.

It is about time that Pahlavi got straight with his audiences and intended supporters by clarifying his position and allegiances. While Pahlavi is anxiously waiting to see what Washington's planners are hatching for his homeland, he may be losing more than the support of die-hard loyalists, by giving a new meaning to the catchphrase "beating about the Bush."

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