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Opinion

Shah of State
Serving no more than eight years

By Baraitna Irani
June 16, 2003
The Iranian

The sudden proliferation of individuals and organizations that advocate democracy for Iran should take note of the recent precedence of Iraq. Irrespective of pros and cons of the whole affair, or one's view of them, there are lessons to be learned.

Apart from the obvious destruction, anarchy and loss of sovereignty, there are other lessons. The Iraqi Diaspora took it upon themselves to appoint a group with a leader to go to Iraq, post Saddam Hossein, to form an interim government and then submit to the wishes of the Iraqis. All seemingly admirable goal.

However, they forgot the Iraqi people who were skeptical of any solution hatched up without their input. They also suspected, only too clearly, that once the interim Government is formed they may not have a true opportunity to effectively express their wishes in a meaningful fashion.

As events in Iraq, subsequently, so clearly demonstrated, Mr. Chalabi, the "self" appointed leader, found to his discredit that people who have lived under dictatorship or foreign stooges rarely believe promises of democracy from outside.

Since conditions under Mr. Hossein's regime were such that the appearance of an internal leader was impossible, Mr. Chalabi et al must have thought that the acceptance of a leader from outside Iraq, like that of Iran a quarter of a century ago, might have been plausible.

They ignored the fact that Mr. Khomeini, irrespective of one's views of him, had a long history of "struggle" against the Iranian regime and, in addition, he enjoyed a sizeable following. If there is any parallel to Mr. Khomeini, Mr. Hakim, the cleric tutored in Iran, must be the one.

The diehard followers of Prince Reza Pahlavi might be heartened by the above argument. However before they jump to any conclusions they might do well to ponder the following:

1- That Prince Reza himself has repeatedly refused to accept any position pending the outcome of a democratic decision of the Iranian people.

2- That conditions in Iran today are in no way, except the ultimate dictatorship, comparable to those of Mr. Hossein's Iraq or the late Shah's Iran. The present Iranian regime is a very odd system that despite its totalitarianism, it seems that the dynamic of the revolution itself, has produced multiple factions and leaders. People inside Iran today, unlike those of Iraq or those of Iran 25 years ago, are not leaderless. Leaders outside should not put themselves in competition with those inside.

3- While it is certainly true that Prince Reza has some following in Iran, probably more than anybody else outside, it is by no means clear that his standing with the masses in the country is anything like his supporters outside would like us to believe.

4- Considering the skepticism of most Iranians, inside and out, and in order to enhance the position and eventual leadership of Prince Reza or whoever else from any other faction outside Iran, for that matter; is it not better to declare: "no individual outside Iran will accept any position such as Head of State, Head, Deputy or assistant of any Ministry for a period of at least five years after the ousting of the present regime"?

By making this declaration, an assurance is made that none of the individuals involved have their own personal agenda or gains in mind. It will ascertain and prove the sincerity of the individuals that their efforts is for nothing, as they so often express, but for the freedom of the Iranian people and the establishment of a democratic regime in Iran. Under this scenario, it is not difficult to convince the Iranian people to follow the appealing one motto of Union.

None of these individuals of course, and particularly Price Reza, should deprive the nation of their expertise, knowledge and experience that they have amassed during their struggle in exile. To this end they should be encouraged to run for parliament or act in an advisory or consultancy capacity whenever they return to Iran.

There are many people who although believe in the sincerity of some of the individuals (and most put Prince Reza right on top of the list), but, nevertheless, fear the ever present probability that once these individuals are in the perceived position of leadership, they will use it to impose their own will on the nation. History of nations, and especially ours, is full of this probability and that is why many Iranians consider it, not a probability, but a certainty.

In the way of a side note, a scholar friend, sharing the belief that the word and concept of "Shah" in Iran has a resonance like no other, suggested that once the present Iranian regime is ousted, the Head of State, no matter what the eventual system, should be elected for two terms, not longer than a total of eight years, and be known as the "Shah of State".

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