A while ago, commenting on the wisdom of the restoration of the monarchy, Abolhasan Banisadr, the exiled ex-President of the Islamic Republic, declared that Iranians do not want to return to their old vomit. I believe a great many Iranians including myself share with him a similar repugnance towards the revisiting of old disgorgements. On the other hand, Mr Banisadr’s political record indicates that he cannot tell the difference between abdominal rejects and a gourmet dinner. Fighting with such an appetite to establish a mediaeval clerical dictatorship, he could not have opted for an older vomit.
Mr Banisadr also cannot bring himself to admit that in spite of the revolution and twenty-eight years of relentless convulsion, the old vomit has not only not disappeared from the Iranian scene, it has become increasingly more noxious and widespread. In fact, on the eve of the revolution the same old attitudes that Iranians were dreaming of eradicating, the same old vile habits have jumped back into new jars with different colours and impressive sounding new labels.
Like his predecessor, the current president of the Islamic Republic also likes to blame the past for his failure to deliver on his promises of a better future. On his recent trip to New York, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad sanctimoniously upbraided Americans for imposing the Shah. If the Shah however was imposed, and was the virus the propaganda machine of the Islamic Republic at every opportunity declares he was – how come since his departure the country not only has not recovered, but also has deteriorated dramatically? If the Shah was an agent of foreign powers and the mullah’s regime the true guarantor of Iranian independence why have Iranians not felt freer, safer, prouder and healthier (physically and morally) since the establishment of the Islamic Republic? Statistics are there; the number of dead, maimed, addicts, prostitutes and political-economic refugees are there.
Mr Ahmadinejad, if you could get down from your ideological high horse for a moment and invoke some common sense, perhaps through the manipulation of your ubiquitous rosary, you might be able to see that the Shah was forced out of the country exactly when he was becoming the mainstay of our true national independence. The great powers saw him more and more as an obstacle in the way of their economic and political domination of our country.
Our problem was not with the Shah, who after all had ‘heard the voice of the revolution’ or the immemorial monarchical system. Our problem was with an attitude. Contrary to Mr Banisadr’s claim however, this attitude was not part and parcel of the monarchy but imbedded in the collective behaviour of many of our countrymen.
During the revolutionary turmoil of 1979, no matter what kind of inchoate demands the multitude of people in the streets of Tehran and other Iranian cities were screaming out, what they were after was a change of attitude. The urgent desire for this change was the corollary of country’s economic and cultural development. In assessing recent Iranian history, nothing is more mindless than thinking that it was the fast pace of modernization that led to the revolution. Time and again we are told that Iran was going forward too fast. One should rather reflect on the basis of what ethical and human values this moving forward was being carried out. Iranians revolted not against the fast pace of development, but against uprooting of their identity and against a moral bankruptcy whose main beneficiaries were those Iranians with fat bank accounts in Switzerland and other financial havens.
The old rotten attitude of putting one’s selfish short-term interest above the good of the nation became endemic amongst the ruling establishment prior to the revolution. This poisonous attitude was responsible for driving a wedge between the Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi and his nation. Iranians mistakenly identified many shortcomings and aberrations with the Shah himself. They felt betrayed and alienated from their monarch.
Today, amongst the exiled Iranian opposition, variants of the same selfish attitude persist. Many of its so called prominent members are shouting at the top of their voices for a regime change in Iran without willing in any way to alter their own loathsome habits and behaviour. They are fighting an acrimonious fight amongst each other over issues they have no mandate to consider let alone settle.
Indeed, a return to monarchy is dangerous for the narrow interests of those who thrive on anarchy and opportunism. Mr Banisadr who in justification of the veil is known to have said that women’s hair radiates a special seductive ray cannot but oppose any type of government that marches towards progress and enlightenment. As far as the rest of the country is concerned however our nation is faced with an unprecedented crisis. We are inching closer and closer to the point of no return. Our country is not only in danger of foreign intervention, but also is threatened by the nightmare of domestic disintegration.
Today a great number of Iranians unburdened by fanatical blinkers and deeply worried about the destiny of their homeland share a similar vision for breaking out of the present deadlock. To these people a new emergency measure that unites all the opposition under the active leadership of Reza Pahlavi seems increasingly like the only viable option for the survival of Iran’s national integrity.
Tragically on the edge of the precipice and in the midst of one of their most crucial historical periods, Iranians are again separated from their king. They are separated by the unendearing miles of exile. They are separated by the relentless blast of the propaganda machine of the Islamic Republic. They are separated by the constant canker of an otiose and faithless opposition.
Iranians are fast running out of time waiting for the representative of their most ancient political tradition to ignite a new hope and spearhead a new plan of action for defeating the clerical dictatorship. Iranians urgently need to hear Reza Pahlavi’s reassurance that although he belongs to an old political tradition, he represents a new and fresh approach. Reza Pahlavi cannot fulfil this mission without pulling together all his possible resources and coming forward with all the strength called for by the urgent nature of the situation. He has to concentrate more on gaining the trust of the Iranian people than on addressing himself to this or that international audience.
Our past defeats as the opposition force to the mullahs, should teach us to seriously clean up the proverbial old vomit from our modus operandi. Today we cannot stand on ceremony with tendencies and attitudes that time and again have landed us in the ruins of humiliation and defeat. Today our choice is clear. Either we can work together under a united and strong leadership, holding hands in solidarity like brothers and sisters to secure the survival and freedom of our homeland or we shall (in words of Martin Luther King) ‘all perish together as fools’. History will judge the effectiveness of Reza Pahlavi’s leadership on how strongly and clearly he can convey his vital message of hope and unity to the Iranian people. He is faced with the monumental task of truly earning the greatness of the titles passed down to him by inheritance.