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Persia’s future
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 rivalry 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 at all.

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 her glory; 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 Passion Play.

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 be active.

The gap between Liberal and Conservative is where IRI gets the air to survive. If these two closed ranks, IRI would suffocate.




Book of the day

Iranian Nationality and the Persian Language
by Shahrokh Meskoob

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