Part I: Shah & Mossadegh
June 17, 2005
This is not about the Shah or Mossadegh. This is
about Shahis and Mossadeghis.
There is a half-century old rivalry among the followers of the
Shah and Mosaddegh. Even though both men have passed away, the
lives on as bitterly and as divisively as ever. These two groups,
who comprise the vast majority of mainstream Persian population,
have opposed each other so successfully over the years that they
have effectively paralyzed each other. In doing so, they have also
crippled the Persian political process. As a result, a great nation
is in ruins and her noble people are suffering greatly.
Each side considers the other to be gullible fools, at best,
and treacherous liars, at worst. Their only comfort is that the
other side did not win, and their only hope is to change the other
side’s mind. Under the circumstances, that is not much of
a comfort, and this is not a realistic hope.
It’s a tragedy. But, it doesn’t have to be this way
I may be a rare commodity in this debate because, first, I have
changed sides more than once. I’m thoroughly familiar with
both arguments- from within and without. Second, I am fortunate
enough to have personally known key supporters on both sides. They
are both good people. I don’t despise either man or their
supporters. I have now moved past the issues and found a higher
cause to struggle for.
Allow me to share my opinion of each side- their nature & their
arguments, and offer a solution.
Neither the Shah nor Mosaddegh were traitors. They both loved
Persia, devoted their whole lives to her, and wanted nothing but
each in his own way. The events that led to, and followed their
epic clash, were too intense for either man, or the nation to handle.
There was too much at stake, and too much hurt too digest. Each
side transferred their frustration to the other, and a bitter rivalry
ensued, crippling both sides.
The political process in Persia froze
in time on August 19th, 1953. It was then only a matter of time
before some fringe element in society would take over. It could’ve
been the communists, militarists, Islamists, or new ideologies
like MKO, or it could have been just chaos, civil war and disintegration.
As it were, the mullahs took over the void. Not surprisingly, it
turned out to be an unnatural, alien, imposed order that doesn’t
represent the society at all.
As for the arguments centered around these men and the events,
frankly, they do not matter in the big picture anymore. The divide
was not really about particular events or personalities. These
were catalysts as democracy came of age in an ancient, complex
society. We choose to think of a nation split over the Shah or
Mosaddegh. That’s because we like drama. The nation was,
and still is, divided between Conservatives and Liberals. The rest
is pure Persian
If you agree with this, then you may feel hopeful because this
is normal, or at least common. In the next progression, you may
even appreciate that this is not such a bad thing after all. Conservatives
and Liberals are the two natural players in a healthy political
system. Like two pontoons on either side of a ship, they keep it
from listing out off balance. As it says in Qabus Nameh, “two
hands can lift what one hand can not, and two eyes may see what
one eye may not”.
There is just one problem: we have the
right players, but no system. We have the pontoons, but no ship
to fix them to. We have the two hands and the two eyes, but no
body that can use them.
Shahis are the Conservatives. Mosaddeghis are the Liberals. The
system we speak of is, of course, a Constitution. The Constitution
is more important than Shah or Mosaddegh, Conservative or Liberal.
Without it, one or the other will take over, sooner or later. Checks
and balances will disappear, and the system will implode. This
is exactly what happened in Persia. In the absence of a Constitution
held as the highest law of the land by both sides, they self-destructed.
(Incidentally, this would happen in any country without the stabilizing
effect of a respected constitution).
The only solution to Persia’s problems today is for Conservatives
and Liberals to come together under the umbrella of a common Constitution.
Come together not to agree with, or even understand, the other’s
views, but to form a protective framework in which they can both
The gap between Liberal and Conservative is where IRI gets the
air to survive. If these two closed ranks, IRI would suffocate.