As one reads the historical events surrounding the 1979 revolution, there are many characters whose actions played a role in the grievous outcome of this revolution. One such character who acted in a very opportunistic manner, sabotaging a pro-constitution and pro-democracy legacy, was Mr. Sanjabi, the leader of Jebhe Melli.
The history of what happened is well written and I am not going to recite the events. We are all aware of Dr. Bakhtiar dismissal by the JM and their pro-Khomeini stance. We have read Mr. Sanjabi’s 3 point Paris proclamation which deviated from the principles of secular democracy. His actions were no more noble than that statement. They were every bit deceitful and opportunistic.
In the few decades prior to the 1979 fiasco, there were 4 main political alternatives:
1) The Shah
2) The Mulla’s and religious rule
3) Tudeh party and other communists
4) JM with a democratic legacy of Mosaddegh
As you can see from the list, Jebhe Melli had clearly established itself as the only democratic alternative. I believe there are several principles that defined a viable democratic alternative:
1) Democracy 2) Secularism 3) Following the constitution.
It is hard to argue with JM’s pro-democracy and pro 1906 constitution position. I also contend that JM was as secular as they could have been. Mosaddegh rejected the demands of Kashani, JM did not side with Khomeini in 1963 and they had an inclusive membership which included the likes of Maleki.
Why were the actions of Sanjabi so detrimental to JM? Because he undermined all three of these principles. Why is this important now? Because JM has lost its legacy based on the above 3 principles. It no longer has the position of the only viable democratic alternative.
One cannot justify the ignorance of JM about the Mullas. JM knew very well the likes of Fazlollah Nouri, Kashani, Fadaian Eslam and even Khomeini. Their agenda had been issues such as (banning) women’s voting rights, Hejab for women, opposing land reform and persecution of the Bahai’s. Weren’t these demands made to Mossadegh as a prime minister by Kashani? Didn’t they issue fatwas against women’s suffrage when they thought Mossadegh might be giving them voting rights? Didn’t Khomeini demand the same issues of land reform and women’s suffrage in the 1963 events? Didn’t JM at that time vote not to support Khomeini (Yekrangi) ? Didn’t JM members listen to the garbage tapes of Shariati and Jalal al Ahmad circulating before the revolution? Didn’t they read Khomeini’s Velayate Faghih? Fast forward to 1978-79 and the same Khomeini is now pro-democracy and will hand over the government to JM? Wishful thinking, as Mr. Boroumand saw in the smile of Mr. Sanjabi which he describes as “Ablahane” (see the videos).
I don’t know how one can ignore the conflict between Sanjabi and bakhtiar, which was never resolved. Sanjabi was a man who told Boroumand he was going to USE Khomeini to get to power. When the Shah offered him to become prime minister, he could not deny the inevitable involvement of Khomeini in any future government (Harvard iran Oral History project, Tape 25, his words). He clearly wanted to reach his goals using any means, including sleeping with Khomeini. I call this opportunism and Machiavellianism.
In contrast, Dr. Bakhtiar was a man of principles. Yes, he also disliked the Shah and his tyranny, but knew very well the mullas were going to be worse. He believed and fought for the 1906 Monarchist constitution, as did JM prior to that time. He believed in Secular Democracy when Sanjabi was talking about an “Islamic and National movement” in his 3 part Paris declaration. The contrast in vision, knowledge, character and legacy are undeniable.
When Bakhtiar freed all political prisoners, gave freedom of the press, abolished SAVAK and had a totally democratic government that JM had wanted for years, Mr Sanjabi and the crew back-stabbed him. In the meantime pro-democracy rallies in support of Bakhtiar were reaching hundreds of thousands in numbers (Yekrangi), but Mr. Sanjabi was busy attending the Ashura rally in which the pictures of Mosaddegh were being torn.
The real question is whether JM realizes these issues are important in the minds of Iranian people and choses to democratically address the past. Or whether it will continue with the same dogmatic approach to glorifying everything related to an ideological organization. This is what you expect from MKO not JM.