Our Unresolved National Dilemma

Our fatal mistake was relying on the power of clergy to get us to our aim


Our Unresolved National Dilemma
by areyo barzan

A few days ago our friend Shah4Iran has posted an article ["History will be kind"] about Reza Shah on this site. As always and not surprisingly the article invoked a lot of reactions. Reactions that again showed the subject of Pahlavi era and their services or betrayals to this country is still very alive in our nation’s subconscious. Indicating the fact that as a nation we still have not put the issue of Pahlavis to rest. Hence even those who were not around at that era have such strong emotions and opinions on the issue.

But may be this unrest of mind and burning issue about Pahlavis, who they were and what they did or failed to do, is not about them at all and is entirely about us.

About us as a nation, our mistakes, our immature decisions and our difficulty to come to terms with our shortcomings. Or more importantly it is about our inability to be honest with ourselves and our hesitance to accept our errors when due, with no BS.

As I explained at a grate extend in many of my previous articles about Iranians, I believe that as a nation we have many grate characteristics and a lot of achievements to be proud of. But just like other nations we also have our short comes and bad characteristics, the most destructive of which is the fact that both as a nation and as individuals WE NEVER MAKE MISTAKE. Or to put in a more realistic way we have grate difficulty with accepting our mistakes and quiet often this would cause us to either resort to extremes and completely disconnect from reality, or to resort to petty excuses, or even worse, to look for escape goats and try to put the blame on others. Just as long as we do not have to admit to our mistake and face up to our responsibilities we are happy.

That is why our problem with Pahlavis and the way we like to portray them has more to do with ourselves and our own internal dilemma rather than with them or how democratic they were or even what they did or did not do for Iran.

But since this is a vast subject I am going to break this discussion into two segments in the first segment here I am going to open the issue of Pahlavi and why it is still so alive and sensitive in our psyche.

In the next part of this article I will try to talk more about the issue of democracy and why in spite of several attempts in the past 100 years and many sacrifices we still have not got it and who really is to blame here

To be frank, the fact of the matter is that today the majority of those who participated in the 1979 disaster of a revolution and followed Khomeini to hell and not back yet, do now regret it and even though they do not want to admit it to others or even themselves deep down they know that they have made a stupid mistake and cocked it up big time. But as I told you before, as a nation we have difficulty facing our own monsters such as accepting our errors. So what we do instead?

We prefer to put the blame on others. Depending on our political orientation and school of thought we tend to blame Shah, Khomeini, Ali Shariati, BBC, MKO, Communists. President Carter, mullahs, The West oil cartels and so on and so forth. Just as long as it was not our mistake and somebody else’s we seem to be happy.

Now before expanding my discussion fist I would like select my target audience. As it is my personal belief that I can never enlighten those who do not want to be enlightened with the truth, I refrain from addressing people in either side of the extreme. Both those Shahollahis who think Pahlavis were saints never did any thing wrong and we owe everything we have to them, and those who on the other hand hate the Pahlavi for the sake of hating and blaming them for every thing that has gone wrong with this country or even in their personal and family life and blame them for everyone of their own wrong steps, even refusing to acknowledge the most obvious services by that father and son to this country, thinking that will somehow make them roshanfekr or reduce their guilt and responsibility or solve any of the problems in their pathetic lives. And for those who ask what services my answer is:

Well my friend if you do not know by it now then there is no point of me or any body else to highlight them for you as one can always awaken him who is in deepest sleep but can never awaken him who is pretending to be asleep.

On the other hand for those who are willing to put aside their personal grievances for the better good of our nation and are willing to have a look at the events of past 100 years with an open mind and without any prejudice I would like to concentrate on two important points here

My first point is one of our most fatal collective mistakes. This mistake was made by each and every one of us including Pahlavis, our intellectuals, our political activists and many others. A mistake that to date all of us refused to acknowledge. A mistake which resulted in defeat and destruction of Mashrooteh, downfall of Dr Mosaddegh and the disaster of 1979. The mistake which brings me to the importance of how we look at our own history and judge our selves rather than how will the history judge Pahlavis, Ghajaars or even mullahs.

Without further ado I can confidently tell you that our fatal mistake was relying on the power of clergy and trying to utilize this power as a tool to get us to our aim. A tool which we thought that could be used safely and put back on the shelf when it is no longer needed. This was simply because we all know the power of religious belief in our society and culture. But more importantly because we have all been aware the amount on influence that this group can exercise on the ordinary man in our street who did and still does believe in religion. This power might have deteriorated in the past 30 years but still can not be ignored and is not something that can be misused, dismissed or reckoned with faint heartedly.

All through our recent history we can see again an again that many political leaders have tried this course of action and all have failed spectacularly with dire consequences. As a few good examples I could mention the collaboration between Mashrooteh Revolutionaries and Modarres which resulted in forcing Mashroo-eh down our throat instead of Mashrooteh, or the collaboration between Pahlavis and some members of clergy which did not do them any favours and of course the partnership between Dr Mosaddegh and Kashani that did not do him any favour and in the end when Kashani decided not to support him Mosaddegh had to resort to seeking the support of Toodeh Party and the Russian Embassy in Tehran. And by the way for those who think I am making this up I recommend to them to go and read Mosaddegh’s own memoirs (Khateraat va Ta-allomaat e Mosaddegh).

But may be the most destructive and fatal of these errors was the one that was made by those groups and individuals who decided to back Khomeini and follow him to the hell that is IRI. To call him Imam and Rahbar and to promote him as the saviour of the country and champion of democracy. Again I am telling this as I was there on those days and have seen it first hand.

Groups like MKO, Jebhe Melli and even communists like Toodeh party and Cherik Haaye Fadaayee. They all decided to follow Khomeini and did it without even having a brief look at our history of the past hundred years. Just like the generation before them they thought that they could use Khomeini as a tool to get rid of shah and then they would be able to push him aside and take over easily.

People like Sanjaabi, Banisadr, Ghotb Zaadeh, Soroosh, Ibrahim Yazdi, Rajavi, Sazegaara and many more who surrounded Khomeini and even gave him the publicity by arranging interviews for him with international media, or groups like MKO who put their logo on the bottom of Khomeini’s portrait and message leaflets and called him Imam. All In spite of the fact that this has strategy already been tried and failed to deliver every single time through our history of past hundred years.

To be fair to him from the very beginning Khomeini was advocating “an Islamic Republic, not a word more and not a world less”. Now if we refused to listen to him and if were living in our own fantasy world that would not have been his problem.

Tell me now! how many of those who participated in 1979 mayhem knew the meaning of an Islamic Republic or even have paused for a moment to think that the two world “Islamic” and “republic” can NOT coexist just as the words delicious and sh**t can not (or may be for some do)

That brings me to my second point. Which is the fact that as a nation we made a fatal mistake regardless of who the Pahlavis were or how many schools hospitals and roads they build? Regardless of the fact Reza Shah brought Rail Road to Iran. Regardless of modernisation of Iran and eradicating head lice infected Maktab Khaneh ha and bacteria and disease infested Khzeeneh ha. Regardless of creation of OPEC by the Shah and preserving our interest in Persian Gulf and Caspian Sea. Regardless of the fact that it was easier for them to leave us in the state we were just like today’s Afghanistan and staff their foreign bank accounts just like the mullahs and their family are doing now.

But does it make the errors made by Pahlavi any less significant errors like their close association with the West which was not always to our best interest and did not consider our cultural sensitivities or founding of The Savak, constructing notorious prisons like Evin and torturing many of young activists inside them, instead of trying to listen to their concerns and to engage in a dialog with them.

Unforgivable Mistakes like suppression of speech and killing of freedom fighters indiscriminately instead of trying to listen to them and may be the biggest error trying to pick a war with the West over the price of oil when we knew vey well that he would not win and gambling the faith of the next generations over such suicide mission.

Yes Pahlavis were not perfect and in fact far from it. You can bet your bottom dollar that they made many mistakes and did many bad things along with many services. But at the end of the day it was us (YOU AND I) the people of Iran who chose to follow Khomeini without knowing who he was what he was standing for or even listening to what he was saying. Without even having a brief look at our history and trying to learn a lesson or two from it and for that the blame lays squarely on our door step

Those who do not learn from history are damned to repeat it

And finally for those who attempt to put all the blame on the West I say that when we do not care about our own interest how can we expect the West to care. After all in this game every man (or country) is for himself. As one Winston Churchill put it so elegantly some years ago “We do not have any permanent friend or enemies, only permanent interests.”

Now the question we need to ask ourselves is that over the past 100 years and especially in 1979 did we really serve our own and our future generation’s interest and did we do our self a favour or did we betray ourselves trough our reckless immature and impromptu actions.


more from areyo barzan
areyo barzan

Dear Dariush

by areyo barzan on

First of all let me to congratulate you on the extent of your knowledge about the history of the world and our nation.

It is always good to see people like you who know their history to such fine detail and more importantly look at the past events from a fair even handed point view.

Secondly I seem to have been a bit heavy handed in my response to our friend Bahmani, in which case I would like to offer my unreserved and sincere apology to Bruce, yourself and any other reader here whom I might have disappointed or offended. It was never my intention to turn this discussion into a personal tit for tat attack or to insult anyone.


I guess I am not an exception either and I still have got a lot to learn about being democratic and diplomatic in my approach to subject that I feel passionately about


And the award for the top comedy writer goes to ...

by anglophile on

Yes! you gussed it: Behrouz (Bruce) Bahmani!  Bruce (I-lost-my-family-lands-to-Reza-Shah) Bahmani started writing and sometimes acting comedy as from the tender age of 7. Unfortunately he received little or no recognition until in his mid thirties when thanks to JJ he found a free place to publish his hilarious work. He has been a sourc of great laughter to all his readers and has never ceased to inject chunks of comedy into his writn. Here you see examples of his comic genius: Reza Khan was not a King, He was a Col. He took power by force during the industrial revolution, from the Qajar dynasty, which was a real and legitimate monarchy. ROTFL or this one:  What Mohammad Reza Pahlavi tried to do was legitimize his father's theft of Iran from the Qajars, by pretending to be "Royal" by:

a) Putting on a formal coronation

b) Constantly staying in character and acting like a king

c) pulling every single stunt available to feign that the Pahlavi family was in fact a monarchy.


But no one will show the genius of Bruce's comedic writing than this piece:



"... the revolution was nothing more than a few who suddenly realized that the owners had left the keys in the car, and they merely walked in and took over. Blame it on the Shah if you want. But that's what really happened."


I am running short of abbs.


If illiteracy in history has ever been a blessing Bruce is a living legend to this claim. He is perhaps the first comedic writer who had turned his non existent knowledge of history in to an asset. He describes himself as half German and half Qashqai (named after Nissan cars) and true to the Qashqais-Germanic slave-master attitude, Bruce himself a half German had never forgiven Reza Shah for not keeping Tehran as the hub of pro Nazi espinoge operations. Well Ghashghais lost their supporters the Ghajars and their men of influence like Mossadegh who was having a warm and juicy relations with Qahsqai.


We wish to see more of comedic writings from Bruce and will never stop laughing till he is around.



Darius Kadivar

areyobarzan jan I can name 1&2 good things regarding the Qajars

by Darius Kadivar on

Introduction of Cinema ...




And Audio recording:


THE SHAH's SPEECH: Qajar King Muzzaferedin Shah's Audio Recorded Speech 


And in accepting the idea of a Constitution ( a first in 25 centuries of Absolutism) thanks to an ageing and dying Muzafferedin Shah :


PARLIAMENTARY DEMOCRACY: Mozaffaredin Shah Signs First Draft of the Constitution (1906)



But as I am sure you know were it not for his son's brutality in Bombing the Parliament and killing Iranians in the same way Gaddafi did in order to remain in Power, the Qajar's would have probably gone down in history as the first dynasty to have tried to bring some form of modernity to the Royal Institution aided in that by an American : William Morgan Shuster 


So it wouldn't be quite fair to dismiss the Qajars merely because of their shortcomings (and they had many) and alleged 'corruption' without acknowledging their contributions to shaping Iranian society and cultural identity in their own way.


Another point I would also like to make in this regard is the false understanding many who ignore ( or prefer to ignore) in regard to the Monarchy is the notion of Royal Succession and "Blue Blood".


I have often come across comments by fellow compatriots when seeing a photo of the beautiful Sarah Shahi come up with such comments as:

"Sarah Shahi for Queen"

or Worse:

"Sarah Shahi for President"


Beyond the poor attempt of making what they think is a "smart Joke" it often actually displays their total ignorance of the Royal Heritage and monarchical history in general.

Most people who end up making such comments happen to advocate a Jomhury ( aka a Republic) for Iran  and they think that they have succeeded in belittling the very concept of a Constitutional Monarchy by making such comments.

Anyone with a minimum of knowledge about how Monarchies operate would know that Sarah Shahi ( however 'beautiful') or Marjane Satrapi ( however 'ugly' ... Just kidding) cannot even claim to be first in line to the Throne without the head of their own Royal Household approving it.

As you know each royal Family therefore Dynasty has it's own heirs and rules of succession. All dynasties be it the The Qajars, Pahlavis etc  have their own Aristocracy and prince and princessses' abound.  In the case of the Qajar Kings given their numerous concubins and the fact that during their rule polygamy was not abolished many so called princes and princess' were born in their harems.

But that is not the point. Within each dynasty there are Salic laws of succession. This is true for the Iranian Dynasties as it true for other world monarchies.

If Sarah Shahi or Marjane Satrapi or anyone else ( our own Jahanshah Javid) wanted to claim the Throne of Iranzamin in the name of their royal families they will first have to convince and be allowed by their own Royal pedigrees to "run for Office"


I believe the Qajar's already have an official Royal heir, except that he is not claiming the throne. I believe the last heir was Prince Soltan Ali Mirza who died last may so his successor Prince Mohammad Ali Mirza Kadjar is currently the heir to the Peacock Throne and head of the Qajar Royal House according to the Salic Laws.

As such if anyone wants to claim their right to the throne they first have to convince their own Royal Houses of their Legitimacy.

Which makes it impossible for Sarah Shahi and or Marjane Satrapi to claim the throne.

The Notion of Blue Blood is not exclusive. The Royal Blood of One Family is not Superior or inferior to that of another Royal Family.

In otherwords the Pahlavi Princes are not anyway more or less Legitimate to the Qajar Princes and vice versa.

But within each Royal Family there are rules of succession which to date have remained Male Oriented.

For instance the late Prince Ali Reza Pahlavi was second in the order of succession to his elder brother Crown Prince Cyrus Reza Pahlav despite the fact that he had two elder Sisters : Farahnaz born to the shah's marriage to Shahbanou Farah and Princess Shahnaz ( who is even older than Crown Pricne Reza) born to the Shah's marriage to Princess Fawzia.

The 1906 Constitution also demands a male heir and under the current circumstances the daughters of Crown Prince Reza and Princess Yasmine cannot claim the throne unless the 1906 Constitution is amended as the British Laws of Succession which have only recently been changed to avoid such questions related to gender discrimination.


British Monarchy Removes Gender Rules Regarding Royal Succession


However the daughters of Crown Prince Reza are entitled to their Royal Status as Princess' even if their family is not ruling Iran. Therefore the notion of "Blue Blood" remains valid from a purely Monarchist Perspective.

If one doesn't believe in the very elitist concept of the monarchy they are free to dismiss it with the entire concept of the Monarchy all together. But if one accepts the idea of the Monarchy then the set of rules are clear.

If Princess Noor or anyother member of the Family have children of their own they will inherit that Royal title hence putting them in line to the Royal Succession.

But according to Jahangir Amuzager ( who wrote an excellent critic of Abbas Milani's book) the terms regarding the rules of succession in the 1906 Constitution are subject to interpretation and don't necessarily discriminate the Royal prerogative of a given heir to choose their successor. The Qajars have done it and so can the Pahlavis in choosing their heir to the throne.


So the Salic laws which are inherent to the concept of Monarchy prevail in the case of the Iranian Monarchy and the last two dynasties.

They may appear obsolete to the modern view but Monarchies don't follow "Fashionable" trends just for the sake of complying to a given generations desires. That is what makes monarchies timeless as opposed to Republics in their inception.


All this to say that when we are speaking in terms of Legitimacy we need to distinguish POLITICAL LEGITIMACY from HISTORICAL LEGITIMACY.


Historically speaking and in regard to the Royal Heritage the Qajars and Pahlavis are EQUALLY LEGITIMATE to the Peacock Throne of Iran.


But Monarchies also obey to another law and that is the idea of CONTINUITY.

Rarely if Never have Monarchies "Jumped" a Dynasty when Restored.


The British Restored Charles II on the Throne after his father Charles Ist was toppled by Cromwell who went as far as to Behead him in an act of Regicide.

We merely exiled our Monarchs but never killed them ( although the IRI did assassinate Prince Shahriar Chafiq, Princess Ashraf's son).

The British as a matter of fact experienced a Theocracy EXACTLY like Iran today with Cromwell who declared himself LORD PROTECTOR ( aka Vellayateh Fagih).

But when his regime was toppled the British put the former King's Son on the the Throne and Crowned him as Charles II.


Same for the Spanish. King Juan Carlos was not the only pretender to the Throne of Spain. He belonged to the Bourbon Branch and was the grandson of the former King Alphonse who was toppled and sent to exile. But there is also the Orleanais Branch in Spain which also claim the right to the Throne of Spain.

Yet before Restoring their Monarchy Spain saw the establishment of TWO Republics and went through a civil war which put Franco's dictatorship in Power.

THE SUN ALSO RISES: Shah of Iran and Queen Soraya visit Franco's Spain (1957)

Yet Spain restored it's Monarchy with Juan Carlos who was not even born In Spain but in Rome, Italy and was not even the son of the former King but actually his Grandson. And yet he was Crowned as King Juan Carlos Ist.

ROYALTY: Crown Prince Reza & King Juan Carlos of Spain

pictory:King of Spain State Visit to Imperial Iran (1976)


That is why when it comes to Monarchies the Rules of succession do matter.

I have no problem with People who don't like the Monarchy or wish to dismiss it on philosophical grounds but then they should avoid lecturing us Constitutionalists by trying to define something they clearly don't understand.


That's my only problem when I see debates between Monarchists and Republicans because the latter's don't merely express their animosity for the Monarchy but in addition claim to define it according to their own terms.


That's what prompts me to respond back by telling them to go and do their homework first: 


ROYAL FORUM: Explaining the Concept of a Constitutional Monarchy to a Staunch Republican


My Humble Opinion,




PS: I don't think Bruce Bahmani was claiming to be either a Monarchist or Republican in his comment but merely expressing his views as to why he felt the Pahlavi's were illegitimate for which I have offered my counter arguments as to why I think he missed the point. I think a civilized and polite discourse on these issues are healthy no matter how different our opinions on the issue of Royalty and particularly in regard to the Pahlavi Dynasties Legitimacy or not. I happen to believe that not only they were legitimate but that they should be restored.





Darius Kadivar

Bruce Jan well Qajars sought legitmacy and won over Zand Dynasty

by Darius Kadivar on

I agree with most of what you said Bruce except on the issue of Legitimacy.

If by "legitimacy" you mean "democratic" legitimacy that is the rule of the "majority" then indeed the Pahlavis seeked that but ultimately lost it in that they thought or hoped that the "majority" was on their side.

If you recall Being a "Revolutionary" even the word "Enghelab" were not taboo in Iran given that the Shah presented himself as a "Revolutionary" by associating himself with the "masses" in what he liked to call "Enghelabeh Shah va Mardom" aka "The White Revolution".

One of the ironies of living in Pahlavi Iran was that despite being run by a Monarchical System there was no censorship as to the use of word "Revolution" even during the Shah's time and if you remember films and tv series were full of references to what happened in Russia or France. I even recall the number of times "Dr. Zjivago" was screening in Cinema Aryana in Iran to great success or even films on Napoleon spearheading the French Revolution's ideals into an Imperial Framework and losing it ( like in the film Waterloo).

As such it is true that being a young dynasty the Pahlavis and particularly the Last Shah seeked to gain a Political legitimacy in the eyes of the people except that his idea of a "majority" was one of his own imagination. 

In democratic societies the Majority changes alternatively because public opinion shifts. One can evaluate that Majority through unbiased and independent opinion polls which in dictatorships are simply manipulated.

I don't think the Shah or even other dictators today have an illusion as to the fact that their public opinions are under their relative control they merely want to ignore that reality to justify their own position in history in the eyes of not just their own people but also foreign powers hostile to their reign.

But the Pahlavis did have a historical legitimacy equally as any other previous dynasty which preceded them.

Based on your argument the Qajars won't be any more legitimate given that  in 1794, Agha Mohammad Khan deposed Lotf 'Ali Khan, the last of the Zand dynasty, and re-asserted Persian sovereignty over parts of the Caucasus and then formally crowned himself shah. 


ALL DYNASTIES in history were founded by ousting the previous ones as such only the Aechamenids may be considered as the only truly legitimate Dynasty given that their foundation coincides with that of the Country's inception ( very much like the Senussi Dyansty in Libya which is barely 20 years old from 1951 to 1969 before being toppled by Qaddafi who towards the end of his rule even wanted to turn Libya into a kingdom with himself as King of Kings )

As such had let's say Khomeiny toppled the Shah and established his own Dynasty in 1979, I would not consider his regime illegitimate from a historical perspective ( let alone political) since like all previous rulers in our Land of Kings he would have established his own Dynasty and be in line with the historical bond which linked him to his ancestors.

But he chose not to ... 

Had he done that I think his regime would actually survive on the long run despite the last elections crackdown the point of which the Islamic republic lost total political legitimacy in the eyes of most Iranians.

So from a pure Monarchical perspective ALL Iranian Dynasties ARE LEGITIMATE.

The Shah like nearly all former Monarchs of Iran actually pays tribute to his predecessors in his Coronation Oath:


KING OF KINGS: Mohamed Reza Shah Pahlavi's Tribute to Iran's Past Kings and People (Nowruz 1977)


And as you may know there is a tacit unpronounced gentlemen agreement between Royal families not to question one another on the issue of historical Legitimacy. They at best may call their immediate predecessor as an Usurper of the Crown. That is what Ahmad Shah thought of Reza Khan when he took the Crown.  


Reza Shah's argument to topple the former Dynasty was to claim that they had lost their Political Legitimacy the day Muhamad Ali Shah very much like Qaddafi Bombed the Iranian Parliament and his people to smithereens with the help of foreign troops of General Liakov and the British. 

But Qajar Families were respectful of the Pahlavis once crowned by participating in the political life and joining the governments of the last two Pahlavi Kings.

Hence the Pahlavis Kings were right in their view and that of their followers to have toppled the former monarch given that their dynasty was no more politically legitimate and no more popular.

But political popularity and historical legitimacy are two different things.

One can argue that the last Shah did the same when he endorsed being put back on Power forcefully thanks to what historians have wrongly dubbed a "coup" when if fact it was Constitutionally speaking a counter coup.


THE PAST IS A FOREIGN COUNTRY: How Would You Evaluate Iran's Democracy Index in 1953 ?


But no matter how hard he tried to justify his return the last Shah was not able to rid himself of that controversial legacy of the so called "CIA sponsored Coup" disguised as a "Giameh Melli" (in the words of Ardeshir Zahedi).

So from a purely Political perspective what the Shah considered as Rule of the Majority took root with his own "controlled" Revolution of "Shah va Mardom".

The "Cosmetic" semantics defining this "Revolution" should not overlook the Genuine accomplishments of that Revolution which largely benefited Iranians thanks to Land distribution and all the other positive changes which ambitioned to pull Iran into the 20th Century and beyond in nearly all aspects of Iranian life:


pictory: Iran's Industrial Progress-Pahlavi Era Promotional Film (1970's)

pictory: Promotional Film on Women during Pahlavi Era (1970's)

TOP GUN: Grumman F-14 promotional film 1970's Iran

But the Revolution of 1979 demonstrated that no matter how earnest and sincere the Shah's efforts he was unable to gain the Political legitimacy in the hearts of his "subjects" ...

As such the Pahlavis were never able to establish themselves enduringly as a dynasty despite being according to Abbas Milani the Very first genuinely Iranian Dynasty in 600 years. 

But to claim that their Dynasty was not Legitimate is wrong given that they were as much Legitimate as their predecessors, no more no less.

Otherwise might as well consider that today's Queen ofEngland's Windsor dynasty ( of German Heritage) are not legitimate given thattheir ancestor William III of England toppled King James II of England (the legitimate heir to King Charles II who was previously restored after Crowmell's theocracy) who forcefully took the Throne and with the help of Foreign Forces from Holland in what became known as the Glorious Revolution of 1688 ( the point of which Parliamentary democracy took root).



RESTORATION: Britain's 'Glorious Revolution' of 1688 and the 'Bill of Rights'


As such the Current Windsors are far from being direct descendants of the founding fathers of the British Monarchy ... 


So similarly one can consider that The Windsor's ancestor's  "Glorious Revolution" is no more different an attempt for the current Royal Family to legitimize their rule than the Shah's "White Revolution" except that the latter spilled no blood to carry it out ( SAVAK intimidation and crimes set aside). 

As such the Shah hoped to pass on that "political" legitimacy to his heir by capitalizing on the achievements of his own Dynasty as opposed to that of his predecessors.

But he failed to get himself understood by his people or at least that generation who started their own revolution.

But one cannot pass judgement on the legitimacy of any given royal dynasty from the perspective of a democratic mindset for No Monarchical system is democratic by nature nor is it egalitarian because it never claimed to be.


ROYAL FORUM: Explaining the Concept of a Constitutional Monarchy to a Staunch Republican

Monarchies can Only be Benevolently Democratic in theory that is what fundamentally distinguishes monarchies from Republics despite the fact that in Practice monarchies often surpass Republics in democratic terms as confirmed by regular impartially drafted Democratic indexes:


Economist Intelligence Unit's Democracy Index 2010


But as much as Dynasties are historically legitimate they can never truly claim that they are democratically legitimate because in the end of the day it is a family which is chosen to represent it and embody the nation.

One can argue that it is unfair or Un egalitarian but that is the case for ALL current monarchies ( except Malaysia) 


Elected Monarchs of Malaysia


If it were otherwise British Parliamentarians would not be asked to make their Yearly Oath of allegience to the Crown and not only the Reigning Monarchy but also to her offsprings:




The sad fact is that we expected from the Pahlavis a fairly young yet genuinely Iranian Dynasty to fullfill the democratic Gap with other European Constitutional Monarchies overnight in order to consider them Politically legitimate.

That was a sign of impatience but also hypocrisy of our society at large and particularly our Intelligentsia including to this day:


Ebrahim Golestan: "The Shah's Coronation Made Me Wanna Vomit" (BBC)


Many of whom benefitted from the previous regime only to spit on them ...


This explains the silly excuse to look at the slightest shortcoming in the Last Shah's clumsy interviews and to magnify it to ridiculous proportions as if it was emblematic of what life was under his rule. 

Like for instance his comments on Women being less intelligent than men yet naming his wife Regent and giving so many rights to women as no other Iranian Monarch in 25 centuries:


WOMEN KNOW YOUR LIMITS: The Shah's Post Mortem Apologies to Barbara Walters and Oriana Fallaci


that only shows that OUR ANN TELECTUALS to this day are intellectually dishonest in terms of personal accountability but demand that from Constitutionalists to this day. 


When you think it took Britain 300 years to only recently come to grips with the notion of Gender Succession to the Throne: 


British Monarchy Removes Gender Rules Regarding Royal Succession 


All the more that the British unlike us don't even have a written constitution ( our 1906 was drafted on the Belgian Model):


Cyrus Amir-Mokri on Pros and Cons of 1906 Constitution


We can see in retrospect how unfair and unjust we Iranians were towards our last Dynasty.


Truth and Consequences : In 1979 educated people thought change of regime would bring fairness and equality by omeedvar


Hence why I humbly suggest (very much like the Shah's last Prime Minister clearly stated) why they should be restored :


RESTORATION: Shapour Bakhtiar advocates Restoring the Monarchy


For Despite the fact that IRI's Constitution may have been "Politically" Legitimate due to an improvised referandum:

Footage of the 1979 referendum of the Islamic Republic of Iran


The Islamic Republic was never Historically Legitimate eversince it's inception:


pictory: Bakhtiar Denounces Bazargan's Provisionary Government in exile (1979) 

All the more that it lost that Political legitimacy by committing unspeakable crimes which by far surpassed any committed by the previous regime in order to maintain it: HISTORY OF VIOLENCE: IRI's Reign of Terror Begins (BBC Report 1979)   Added to the fact that from it's inception, the Regime or "Turbaned" Dynasty was an Oxymoron to Iran's history:

Khomeini say’s No To Monarchy even if it has to be in the form of a Constitutional Monarchy| Iranian.com


All this to say that when we speak about Legitimacy we should not confuse POLITICAL LEGITIMACY ( often deriving from our Democratic aspirations ) with HISTORICAL LEGITIMACY !


As such the Pahlavis but even beyond them the very notion of a Monarchy is Far more HISTORICALLY LEGITIMATE than any Republic which we would seek to implement in Iran in the future ( even if that Republic were to be founded on legitimate Democratic grounds). 




My Humble Opinion,



PS: That said we will need to amend the Previous Constitution given the undemocratic nature of some of it's inherent laws so that it relates to the democratic aspirations of contemporary Iran. That is not an obstacle in itself neither to the legitimacy of the Monarchy nor to the democratic process in a fully accountable and politically transparent society.

But that does not merely depend on the Monarch nor the government but the Iranian society at large in it's ability to comprehend and digest the concept of a Constitutional Monarchy as other nations in the world which have understood it perfectly and have no problem living with it.

People don't go to bed in the UK, Spain, Sweden or Denmark dreaming of their Royal Family all night. They carry on with their lives and rejoice whenever a happy event or national holliday or wedding is an occasion to celebrate their historical ties with their Royal heritage.   Iranians are no less nor more stupid to understand this. If we can understand the concept of a Republic and Democracy then why not that of another System of government like a Constitutional Monarchy more in line with what we are as a nation and always have been ?  



Recommended watchings:



How Truly Democratic And Stable Is The British Monarchy?


ROYAL RHINOPLASTY: Stephen Fry On The Imperfections of the Monarchy and Why It Should Be Preserved


Mini lecture on the political philosophy of Edmund Burke (1729-1797) 

areyo barzan

Dear Bahmani

by areyo barzan on

I think you need to have another look at your history book and learn a thing or two about who Qhajars were, what they did and how they got into power on the first place.

If this is your way to show yourself as a modern and reformed monarchist I am afraid you are doing more harm than good, or may be  you are trying to discredit all the monarchists by pretending to be one and make erroneous uninformed statements


In case of Ghajars I give you three subjects to investigate on and please come back to me after you have read a few books.


First on Aghaa Mohammad Khan and how he ceased power from Zandyeeh what he did to Lotf Ali Khan or what he did to city of Kerman when it was captured (I recommend the book Khajeh-ye Taajdaar). Then you will see that Ghajars coming to power was not any more legitimate than Pahlavi’s.

Just because they managed to hold on to that power for a longer term it does not make them legitimate owners


In fact all thought the history of world monarchies one dynasty have ceased power from another thought war and conflict and  I am yet to see one dynasty who gave up power voluntarily.


Even in case of Cyrus and Akhamenian dynasty he ceased the power from his grand father (Asitagus) by war. So if we were going by your standard none of the kings are really legitimate as they were not elected by people in peaceful manner


The second subject would be treaties of Golestaan and Torkeman-Chay and their effect on this country and our sovereignty


And the third would be on what they did to one Mirza Taghi Khan Amir Kabir


Then I would like you to search an get me ten good things that the Qhajars did for Iran which changed the course of our nation’s destiny and hence enhanced our life today.


You see! Governing a country and building a nation takes much more than a birth right


To me however it is more important to know what has been done with that power when it was gained rather than how it was gained. Just as in case of Koorosh who went on to conquer Babylon free the slaves and issue the first declaration of human right.


Also in case of Pahlavies the history and my own observations, readings and investigations show that considering the economical, cultural  and the world geopolitical circumstances of the era and  not to mention our people's state of mind when Reza Khan took over, they did at least as much if not more good than harm.


However in this article my main focus was on our flaws and mistakes as a nation and our lack of will and inability to accept our errors when due, and change course accordingly, and once again you have proved me right.


As I said before we still have a long way to go and a lot to reform about ourselves before we can achieve any type of harmony or democracy



Pahlavis sought legitmacy and lost it

by bahmani on

Reza Khan was not a King, He was a Col. He took power by force during the industrial revolution, from the Qajar dynasty, which was a real and legitimate monarchy.

What Mohammad Reza Pahlavi tried to do was legitimize his father's theft of Iran from the Qajars, by pretending to be "Royal" by:

a) Putting on a formal coronation
b) Constantly staying in character and acting like a king
c) pulling every single stunt available to feign that the Pahlavi family was in fact a monarchy.

Certainly Khomeini, among many including Mossadegh (a Qajar Prince) did not buy any of this show.

In addition, the complete mis-management of Iran politically, the failure to see the future was in a secular democracy, and the utter failure to "Justly Rule" Iran, the repeated unmistakeable self inflicted failures that led to the downfall of the short lived, barely legitimate Pahlavi, and honestly, we can't really call it a dynasty now can we.

Just like we cannot call the total abdication of power, and running from yet another fight, an Islamic revolution. Let's all face this right now, the revolution was nothing more than a few who suddenly realized that the owners had left the keys in the car, and they merely walked in and took over. Blame it on the Shah if you want. But that's what really happened.

Any of us in a similar position would have put a bullet in Khomeini's head early on, or better yet, let him speak his witch doctor nonsensical best, and then counter it with real facts, the best science, and a far far better PR campaign.

That being said. The best future I can envision for Iran now, is one in which the grand tradition of monarchy and the link back to Cyrus the Great and ancient Persia, is one best exemplified with the presence of a King.

Simply put, we just work better as a nation and as a people when we have a King to carry on our traditions to be proud of, and a beautiful Queen to love.

In spite of Mohammad Reza Pahlavi's many flaws and mistakes, there was indeed a time when I certainly remember I felt proud of him as my King, and I recall the same reaction from just about everyone in Iran, and I certainly loved and still love Farah Pahlavi immensely.

If I have to pick who the next king of Iran should be, I can honestly live with Reza Pahlavi, since I know he has learned the lessons of his father's mistakes, and would never try to pull any of the shit his father pulled. With a full democracy in place, he would certainly make a great ceremonial King of Iran.

That being said, to be absolutely fair, I have no problem with the similar restoration of the Qajar dynasty. Because as inept as the last Qajar King was, in fact they were illegally removed from power, and putting them back on the throne, again a ceremonial one with zero powers, would right a wrong that hasn't been spoken about much.

Everyone has been so busy being impressed by Reza Khan ripping chadors from the heads of Iranian women, they forget the other bigger thing he ripped off from the Qajars.

To read more bahmani posts visit: //brucebahmani.blogspot.com/


I agree

by religionoutofgovernment on

You are one smart young man. We have always tended to search for the "perfect" leader or "Hezb". Of course, there is no perfect group or politician, not the Shah, not Mosaddegh or anyone else. We should make a secular democratic system our first priority, above any particular political affiliation. 

I find your writings refreshing, although many readers misunderstand you. I do disagree with you on one thing. I believe it is time for us to have democracy. We now have smart young people like you, instead of the leftist ideologues of 30 years ago. Some of those same ideologues, now in their 50's, are the ones who have difficulty grasping your "change from within" message.

Maryam Hojjat

Excellent factual points

by Maryam Hojjat on

I hope we have learned what to do after this IRR/IRI Sh*T.

Thanks aryo Barzan for great honest article.