Monarchy and the Prospects of Democracy in Iran: A Critique of Mr. Nooriala Article

Mr. Nooriala makes a large number of serious errors in his article. It is obvious that Mr. Nooriala is a not a political scientist and does not have any professional education in the theories of democracy, democratic transition, democratization, democratic consolidation, constitutional design, political culture, and the like. He is also not a historian and lacks the expertise in that area. Apparently, Mr. Nooriala is a poet. In this article, I present some of the political science theories to help Iranian political activists in their struggles.

Mr. Nooriala writes that it does not matter whether a constitution has a “ceremonial monarch” or a “ceremonial president” for Iran.

Almost all the political scientists and historians would tell him that he is wrong. Both in general, and for the specific case of Iran, the likelihood of democratic consolidation would be substantially increased with a ceremonial president and greatly decreased with a “ceremonial monarch” in the constitution.

Constitutional features, including very small features could make huge differences in political outcomes and the prospects of democratic consolidation. For the case of Iran, the feature of a permanent monarch in the constitution will be utter POISON for the prospects of transition to democracy as well as consolidation of democracy.

Many Iranian monarchists have been saying for a long time that as long as the system of the future constitution is a parliamentary democracy, it would not matter whether there is a king up there or a president up there as a ceremonial head of the country. Actually, political scientists would tell you that various “small” features of a constitution will have great determining influence on political outcomes, politics, and the prospects of democratic consolidation. In this essay, I will argue that for the case of Iran, with Iran’s actual history, the political attitudes of Iranian monarchists, the extreme fragmentation and polarization of our society, the notion of monarchy is terribly harmful for the prospects of democracy.

Before discussing contributions of political science on the relationships between constitutional features and prospects of democratic consolidation, let me provide a simple example in recent Iranian history. The writers of the VF constitution, put the simple feature in the VF constitution that the president could not run for a third consecutive term. Almost all astute observers of Iranian politics agree that between 1989 and 1997, President Rafsanjani was the most powerful figure among the ruling fundamentalist oligarchy. By and large, Supreme Leader Khamenei had remained quiet and stayed away from Rafsanjani although the vf constitution had granted great amounts of power to the position of Supreme Leader. On economic policy as well as foreign policy, Rafsanjani’s policies rather than those preferred by Khamenei were the policies of the IRI. In 1997, Rafsanjani wanted to change that small feature of the VF constitution, so that he could run for a third term. If that feature putting LIMIT on a third consecutive term was not in the VF constitution, Rafsanjani would have been “re-elected again” in 1997. Khamenei and other members of the oligarchy had enough power to stop Rafsanjani from CHANGING that feature of the constitution. The result was a real competition among various members of the fundamentalist oligarchy. Rafsanjani and his number 2 person in his party, Kargozaran Sazandegi, Karbaschi who was the Mayor of Tehran went all out to help Khatami to become president in 1997. That simple feature plus the until-then show elections, combined and undermined Khamenei being able to impose Ali Akbar Nategh Nouri as President. Khatami’s presidency brought back to power the formerly-known as Left fundamentalists and the currently-known Reformist fundamentalists (Khatami, Karrubi, Ayatollah Sadegh Khalkhali, Ali Akbar Mohtashami, …). Rafsanjani (with help from Khamenei and Jennati) had purged many of these elements from Majles and other positions of power. The Left fundamentalists wanted more state control over the economy and were the most hostile faction to the U.S. and Europe (almost all the leaders of the fundamentalist students who took Americans hostage in the U.S. Embassy are the Left fundamentalist now known as Reformists; for example, Abbas Abdi foreign policy adviser to Karrubi, Mohsen Mirdamadi the Secretary-General of Jebhe Mosharekat, Masomeh Ebtekar, Mohammad-Reza Khatami the younger brother of President Khatami).

So, if that small feature of preventing a person from running for a third consecutive term was not there, there would not be a Khatami presidency in 1997, and no Ahmadinejad presidency, and no Green Movement in the aftermath of the June 2009 presidency. Without that simple feature, Rafsanjani and Khamenie would competed behind the scenes for power and policy. So, although the VF Constitution had granted great power to the Supreme Leader and the position of President was subservient to that of the Supreme Leader, that fact that Rafsanjani could not run (and be) President in 1997, undermined the possibility of Rafsanjani becoming the powerful dictatorial permanent de facto ruler (until his death). In other words, if the position of presidency in the VF Constitution was permanent (no term limit) then that would have given Rafsanjani the possibility of perpetuating his position as the most powerful de facto ruler of Iran. In 1997, Khamenei was not able to impose his candidate Nategh Nouri as president. Today, Khamenei can and did impose his candidate Ahmadinejad as president. If Khamenei so wished, he could simply get rid of Ahmadinejad. Khamenei could not do that with Rafsanjani when he was president 1989-1997.

On the Relationship between Constitutional Design and Political Outcomes and Prospects of Democracy

There are advanced theories in Political science which explain the relationship between various constitutional forms and political outcomes. These are tendencies and there are a few “purple cows” or “black swans” that we can explain these as well.

SMDP and a strong Two-Party System

There are several major electoral systems. The Single Member District Plurality (the system in the U.S., UK, Canada, Australia, New Zealand) is based on the parliament having many small districts and the winner only needs a plurality of votes cast. In this constitutional feature, there is a very strong tendency to get a strong two party system (although the parties may be very weak as in the American case). It is extremely hard for third parties to have much representation. Over time, SMDP tends to produce low voter turn out.

To use the plurality rule for electing a President is a recipe for disaster. Many scholars argue that one of the main reasons for the failure of democratic consolidation in Latin America in the 1960s-1980s was their electoral system for choosing president.

PR and Multi-party system

The electoral system of PR (Proportional Representation) tends to produce a multiparty system. The PR system tends to produce high voter turn out and thus increase the democratic legitimacy of the system.


In this system (Single Member District Majority) one needs to get a majority of votes to win. If no one wins in the first round, then there is a second round for the top two vote-getters. In this system (e.g., France) there is a tendency to get two major parties along with two or more relatively strong medium size parties.

Hybrid systems

To avoid some of the disadvantages of each system, some countries have adopted a hybrid for of electoral system. In Germany, for example, half of the seats in the Bundestaag is elected via PR and another via SMDP. The German PR has a threshold of 5% for any representation. The PR system allows The German hybrid system allows representation for many parties in the PR section of the vote, but also eliminate the very small parties (assumed to be extremist who could be disruptive).

Unitary, Confederacy, Federal Systems and a Powerful and Political Supreme Court

All other factors being held equal, in a federal system (like the U.S.) we get a powerful and political supreme court. In unitary system, we do not need a powerful Supreme Court on political and constitutional matters. In a confederacy (e.g., EU or the UN), it depends on the various states to how much sovereignty they wish to delegate to a supranational court.

Common Law Tradition, Common Law Tradition plus Judicial Review, and “Napoleonic” Civil Code

Common Law plus Judicial Review tends to lead to a powerful and political supreme court. This feature has the potential to stop a temporary majority that wants to impose a “mob rule.” It can slow down major changes. It can stop or slow down “tyranny of majority.” The other two features could not prevent tyranny of majority.

The sole exception when it comes to life term is in the judiciary whereby judges with tenure could be provided life terms or long terms of office so that they could stand up to authoritarian kings, or presidents, or militaries, or parliaments. And of course if the judges make bad decisions (and they do make bad decisions), then their decisions could be appealed to a higher court. And finally, the highest court is composed of many people (e.g., 9 judges in the case of the U.S. Supreme Court); therefore, it is NOT a personal dictatorship. Also the members of the Supreme Court in Iran could be nominated by the Prime Minister and confirmed by the Majles. The checks and balances do not allow a court to be dictatorial, although many of their decisions will be wrong and bad.

Parliamentary Supremacy vs. Judicial Review

Judicial Review is more conducive for the protection of civil liberties as well as prevention of tyranny of majority.

Written Constitution with a Bill of Rights, vs. Unwritten Constitution

Written Constitution with a Bill of Rights is better for the prospects of democracy.

Political Culture

Political cultures that socialize the citizens to be citizens that they have power to determine their own destinies that they should respect the rights of others are highly conducive for transition to democracy as well as for the consolidation of democracy. This is called “civic culture.”

Political cultures that socialize that the people are subjects (monarchy) that they should avoid risks and politics and mind their own business, are harmful for democratization and consolidation of democracy. This is called “Subject Culture.”

Political culture that lacks knowledge about the national politics and only a little about local issues of family, clan, kin, are called “Parochial culture.” This is harmful for democratization.

Civic or democratic political culture does not fall from the sky. It needs to be taught and learned. One of the most, if not the most significant social class, articulating, perpetuating, and PRACTICING civic or democratic political culture is the educated modern middle class. The best place that the members of the educated modern middle class LEARN about government and democracy in at UNIVERSITIES in the democratic world. One learns about these when one takes classes in political science, law, philosophy, history and to lesser extend sociology and psychology. One of the main problems in Iran (and the Middle East) has been that one goes directly from high school to university where ALL one’s courses are in own’s own field (medicine, engineering, physics, literature, etc). Thus, unfortunately, the Iranian modern middle classes have not been exposed to scholarly literature on democracy.

One major obstacle to democracy in Iran has been the lack of courses on political science being taught to all the university students. So, we have physicians, engineers, teachers, etc who have NOT taken a single course all their lives on democracy.

It is no coincidence that most of our pro-democracy leaders have been educated in political science or law (outside Iran). They include Dr. Mossadegh, Dr. Hossein Fatemi, Dr. Sanjabi, Dr. Bakhtiar. Or those with fields close to such as sociology (e.g., Dr. Sedighi).

Another horrible feature of dictatorial political culture is existence of individuals who provide their services to whomever is in power. These individuals (who might be highly educated) provide their expertise and services to whoever is in power in Iran. Their utter lack of commitment to democracy, and their willingness to help the dictatorial rulers play a major role in perpetuating the tyrannical rulers. Unfortunately, there are large numbers of Iranians (and Iranian-Americans) who have helped appease the Shah and the VF regime. Many societies have had such people. Unfortunately, there are TOO many such opportunistic and immoral persons among Iranians. We have to ask why educated persons work for dictatorial rulers (whether the Shah or VF regime)? WHY are there are so many Iranian-Americans who are HELPING the VF regime with its propaganda in the U.S.??????? Why so few of us are willing to stand up to them and criticize these individuals and their groups???????? Is it because many Iranian Americans want to go on annual summer vacations to Iran and thus it is better to remain silent and not to criticize or condemn those individuals and groups that lobby on issues that benefit the VF regime???????

Now if for a trip to Iran one is willing to remain silent and not condemn the groups and individuals who help the VF regime, wouldn’t the same persons also do the same if another dictator is in power in Iran (e.g., Reza Pahlavi)???????

Iran suffers from extreme fragmentation and polarization. In such a polity, considering our political culture, what constitutional form has the highest likelihood of consolidation of democracy. When I have time, I will write a pamphlet discussing all these in great detail. Here I will briefly mention some of these.

The BEST form for Iran is a parliamentary system with ceremonial president. The Parliament would elect the President for a short term (e.g., 4 or 5). The Constitution should explicitly enumerate the civil liberties in the section on the Bill of Rights. We should NOT have parliamentary supremacy. We have to have an independent Supreme Court with the power of judicial review. The decisions of the Supreme Court could only be overturned by either a super-majority vote in the parliament (e.g., 75%) or referenda. This feature would on the one hand give power to the Supreme Court to prevent usurpation of power by the president or prime minister and on the other hand allow a mechanism to counter the Supreme Court from imposing its power in an absolute manner. The Supreme Court or a Constitutional Court would have the power of judicial review of government decisions including the decisions of the parliament and president with the power to declare acts under review consistent with the constitution or declare them as unconstitutional. Our electoral system should be based on the French system of SDMM with the second round between the top two vote-getters. This electoral system would be best for IRAN (but not many other countries). The reason is the extreme fragmentation and polarization of the Iranian politics. This electoral system prevents the extremist and disruptive groups. It rewards and have a huge incentive for cooperation in the second round. It will reward those who cooperate, and deprive of power those who do not. It also tends to make those in the middle to win by trying to gain the support of the most people. Therefore, it is most conducive for stable and moderate candidates and outcome. But it also allows all parties to run and provide solid proof on the social base of all the groups. Thus, the Majles will have deputies that actually represent a constituency that are elected by them and responsive to their daily needs. This would reward those deputies that work hard to remedy the problems of their constituents. Although PR is in many way the best form of electoral system, for Iran it would be poison by encouraging and rewarding extremist parties and persons who do not give a damn about solving the daily problems of any of the citizens. PR would work great for Sweden, Norway, and Finland, but not for Iran. In Iran, we need to have members of Majles that would resolve the problems and not to accentuate ideological and partisan divisions. Unfortunately, our political activists are terribly dogmatic and do not accept evidence and logic. Our activists (especially fundamentalists and monarchists) are terribly immune to rational arguments and evidence. The PR would perpetuates and accentuates these groups instead of those persons who want to actually solve problems and will listen to argument and choose the rational option.

Why Monarchy and Reza Pahlavi are POISON for the Prospects of Democratization and Democratic Consolidation in Iran

The position of monarch is an anti-democratic institution. A democratic institution is one that the people will elect periodically (for example every 4 years). A (ceremonial) person at the top who is elected every 4 years is a president. A monarch is there for all his (or her) LIFE. To create a position for LIFE is a terribly dangerous feature in any constitution. Writing a constitution, the framers should NOT think the person occupying that permanent position will be a angle and would not abuse the office in order to increase his or her powers. If people were angles, we would not need a constitution. We need a constitution in order to place LIMITS on power and individuals. One of the best features which can reduce the likelihood of dictatorship is to put LIMITS on how many years a person may occupy a certain position. Monarchy by its very nature is a permanent position not only for the person, but for his (or her descendants). Thus monarchy is a POISON for democracy.

A country that has monarchy may be a democratic country not because its has monarchy, but because its monarchy has no real power. In other words, it may be a democracy not because of monarchy but despite it.

Comparing Iran with European countries is a terribly false and dangerous comparison. European monarchies are democratic due to a variety of factors. In fact, the monarchs were an obstacle to democracy in Europe and not one of the factors for democracy. The so-called black swan is the case of Juan Carlos in Spain in the 1970s.

Europe has had several features that are absent in Iran (and the Middle East). Europe is indebted to the legacies of the Athenian democracy and Roman Republic rule of law. Since the Renaissance, Europeans went back to their Athenian and Roman roots. In Roman Republic, they had a period in their history that they elected the Senate, which made the laws. In Athens they had the history and the ideas of elections by the people to choose leaders and vote for laws. In OUR past, we LACK ideologies and histories conducive to democracy before 1900s. The Reformation also undermined the power of the Catholic Church. We have not had a Reformation, yet. And the Enlightenment era brought the ideas, ideology, and practice of rationality, logic and science without entanglement to tradition and religion.

But BEFORE the emergence of Renaissance, Reformation, and Enlightenment, the FEUDAL Europe lacked the pervasive absolutist monarchs (which existed in Iran, Ottoman, elsewhere). What accounts for the lack of absolutist monarchs in Europe for much of their histories? The answer is the combination of FEUDALISM and a particular geography. In feudalism, one person owns massive amount of land, the castle, the tools of productions, animals. The power of the feudal lord is not only economic, but also political, military, and judicial. What is significant is that all that power goes directly into the hands of the eldest son. Therefore, the power of the feudal lord perpetuates in stable manner in a CLASS. The feudal lords posses great amounts of political power in the realm. The King could not impose his will upon them (before the emergence of big canons in the 16th century). Thus, the feudal lords succeeded on imposing on the monarchs a recognition of a series of rights and powers. For example, King John in 1215 AD publicly accepted the rights of the feudal lords in the Magna Carta. Such agreements were numerous in many parts of northen Europe. The King could not impose taxes or go to war without the consent of the feudal lords. So what emerged in much of Europe was a layered society in which the feudal lords had great and permanent powers. The kings in feudal Europe were NOT absolutist monarchs. In feudal Europe, the feudal lords had enormous and permanent powers (economic, political, military, juridical). A system of laws, rules, customs, and culture emerged that crated a “constitutional” monarch. In many places, there were actual Upper Houses of the Lords. And in many places in Scandinavia, a person could only become king after he signed the oath accepting the constitutional features. With the Industrial revolution, the capitalist class emerged INDEPENDENTLY of the state in Britain, the Netherlands, and much of northen Europe as well as in the U.S. and Canada. One of the few places that the capitalist class grew in close connection to the state was in Germany and Japan. Barrington Moore, in his classical book on the origins of democracy and dictatorship points to the rise of the capitalist class in Germany (and Japan) in close connection with the state as a root cause of fascism. The emergence of capitalist class INDEPENDENT from the state in Britain and the U.S. is a main cause of democracy. Later on with advanced capitalism, we get a very large modern middle class in many polities. From the time of Aristotle’s The Politics, the political scientists have known the connection between the middle class and what Athenians called “mixed system” containing elements of democracy and aristocracy. Where a large and stable middle class exists, there exists a higher likelihood of democracy.

Europe experienced only a brief period under the so-called Absolutist monarchy era. But even then, the powers of the monarchs in Europe never approached the powers of the monarchs in Iran, Ottoman Empire, the Middle East before and after the Ottoman Empire, or China. The rise of the capitalist class along with new technologies of large powerful canons gave great power to the monarchs in Europe. Due to the geography and weather, Europe allowed the emergence and persistence of small and powerful feudal lords. The mountains, the good soil, the rain, allowed the feudal lords to build their castles on top of mountains or the peaks of high hills. The high walls of the castle would give the feudal lord the power the ability to resist the king and his armies. The feudal lord could hold on for months or years whereas its was terribly expensive for the king to keep tens of thousands of his soldiers fed and content for many many months. With the exception of the Roman Empire, with its fierce armed forces, Europe did not come under the centralized rule.

The powers of kings in Europe was highly circumscribed pretty much during their histories. There were only a few exceptions. There were, of course, many many attempts by the kings to subdue others and gain absolute powers. Due to many reasons, they failed most of the times. King Charles of England lost his head because he wanted to reduce the power of the parliament and he lost the power to the parliament. There were two bloody civil wars in the 17th century England. After the terribly bloody 17th century, the English monarchs were gradually forced to accept limits on their powers. Democracy emerged earlier in England compared to many others on the continent because England had a much smaller army. Being an island, England did not need to have a large army. Instead they had a powerful Navy. Also due to their overseas trades, England was getting great revenue from their trading ports. The small army meant that the king had a smaller army to also subdue the feudal lords.

In sum, in Europe the monarch simply could not defeat the feudal lords, and impose his or her absolute power during the feudal period most of the time. Once that possibility emerged during the 18th century, many European monarchs in fact did establish their absolute powers. Due to the rise of capitalism, the new class wanted to get rid of the numerous principalities and create stable, powerful LARGE states that they could travel and trade their products in peace and safety. The funds that the emerging capitalist classes provided the ambitious kings and princes along with the new technologies made the establishment of nation-states possible. However, the power of the feudal lords remained but reduced. But as the power of the capitalist class rose, they wanted a government responsive to their needs instead of the arbitrary powers of a king to do as he (or she wanted to do). The thinkers such as John Lock, Adam Smith and David Ricardo articulated the needs and wished of the new capitalist class (an early form appeared with Machiavelli articulating the need to have a nation-state). With the rise of John Stuart Mill, we have the rise of liberal democracy in full force, who articulated the wishes of the modern middle class for democracy, civil liberties, rationality, and science.

With the rise and spread of capitalism, and the expansion of the modern middle class, the monarchs in Europe have been forced to accept a mere ceremonial role. They could not do otherwise. Where they did not accept, the forces of modernity crushed them. Today, the monarchs in Europe are remnants of the past. Forces of modernity have reduced their political relevance.

In contrast to Europe, in Iran and the Middle East, geography and other factors have created a powerful and terribly violent monarchs. The Islamic laws of inheritance would divide all the properties, therefore, we could NOT have feudalism in Islam. For example, if one man had huge amount of land and villages, and the like, he may have looked on the surface like a feudal lord. However, as soon as he died, ALL his properties were divided among his wife (or wives) and children. So, if he had only one wife and 8 children, all the property would be divided among 9 people. According to Islamic law, the wife would get 1/8, and the rest of the property would be divided among sons and daughters with the sons getting twice that of the daughters. So, basically, in ONE generation, the landed property was gone. Now if the big landowner had 2 or 3 or 4 wives and had 7 or 8 kids from each wive, in just one generation that landed property would be divided among about 20+ individuals. Therefore, in Iran and the Middle East, we did not have a system like the European feudalism with a powerful social class possessing great assets and abilities capable of restraining an all-powerful monarch. The sole exception were the nomadic tribes. These nomadic tribes did posses some power to be autonomous from the monarch. By and large, the tribes did not play the stabilizing role that the feudal lords played in Europe. In 20th century, many wonderful sons (and daughters) of the various tribes did play a very positive role (e.g., Qashqai tribes, Tangestani tribe, Shia Kurdish tribes in Kermanshah associated produced Dr. Sanjabi and Dr. Ali Ardalan, and some but not all from the Bakhtiari tribes). Depending on the political proclivities of the tribal chief, they could play either a very good or a very negative role. But they were not as powerful as the feudal lords of Europe.

Thus, in Iran and the Middle East, we do not have the feudal class to restrain the king. Also capitalism in Iran and the Middle East has grown hand in hand with the government; therefore, we lack a capitalist class autonomous of the state that could restrain a king. With the massive state resources such as oil and gas, the state is so powerful that it also employs much of the modern middle class. To add more injury, the educational system does not teach the basics of democracy to the modern educated middle class. And our culture considers as “zerangi” [street smarts] those who sell their services to those in power.

The institution of monarchy (ceremonial or otherwise) is a permanent institution. Gradually, it gathers the most unethical, immoral, and power-hungry individuals around it. Considering the FACTS of the Pahlavi history, and considering the FACTS of the Iranian monarchists, and considering the FACT that the monarchists constitute a small minority of the population, it would be democratic suicide to promote any alliance with the monarchists.

1. ALL indications are that the monarchists constitute a small proportion of the population. Based on my observations, the monarchists are about 5-10 percent of the population.

There is not a single credible poll of any kind that shows that the monarchists have the support of 50% of the respondents. Of course Reza Pahlavi and any monarchist with half a brain know this. Reza Pahlavi and the monarchists know that they constitute a minority of the population; therefore, Reza Pahlavi and monarchists know that in any referendum they will LOSE. The question is KNOWING full well that they are a minority in the population, WHY does Reza Pahlavi not abdicate and instead insist on having the alternative of monarchy and the demand for a referendum on monarchy????????????

Does this shows that there is a LOGICAL possibility that Reza Pahlavi and the monarchists want power (regardless of the fact that all the indications are that they constitute a small minority of the population)? Reza Pahlavi CLAIMS that he is for a constitutional monarchy (what Mr. Nooriala calls “ceremonial” monarchy). Khomeini in Paris also CLAIMED that he does NOT want power, that he wants democracy, that he supports freedom even for Marxists, that clerics should not be presidents, that he would not accept any positions of power. As soon as he came to Iran and gained power, he reversed all his promises and claims in Paris. Both Mohammad Reza Pahlavi and Reza Shah Pahlavi had claimed that they would support the 1906 Constitution. But once they gained power, and could do so, they undermined the constitution, and ruled tyrannically. WHAT GUARANTEE IS THERE THAT REZA PAHLAVI WOULD NOT BE LYING JUST LIKE HIS FATHER AND GRANDFATHER DID???????

Reza Pahlavi has all the incentives in the world to lie and no incentive to be honest. If Reza Pahlavi said that he wants rule like his father and grandfather, he would ONLY have the support of the monarchists. But by LYING the same way as Khomeini did and other Pahlavi kings did, then he thinks that he might have a chance to fool the simple-minded folks (the same way Khomeini did).

As any sane person has bothered to talk with actual Iranian monarchists or take a few hours and read what they write on this site and elsewhere, one thing becomes crystal clear: the overwhelming majority of the monarchists support a very violent dictatorial system. They are monarchists because they support the brutal tyrannies of Reza Shah Pahlavi and Mohammad Reza Shah Pahlavi. The so-called “constitutional” monarchists constitute a very small proportion of the monarchists. And if you push them, even many of these so-called constitutional monarchists exhibit a dictatorial tendency (but try to hide it).

I am not going to waste our precious time on the childish notion of whether monarchy in Iran means the monarchy of Reza Pahlavi or the notion that any Iranian can be the next king!!!!!!!!! Discussing the alternative of monarchy in Iran is discussing the restoration of the Pahlavi dynasty and the placing Mr. Reza Pahlavi on the throne.

The relevant questions are:

1. Is it wise for those who want to have democracy in Iran to include an anti-democratic institution of monarchy in the constitution? Or is it wise for those who want democracy in Iran to have a constitution which would have the democratic institution of elected president by an elected parliament?

2. If the monarchists constituted a majority of the population, would it be wise for the democratic forces to ally with them as “lesser of the two evils”? Fortunately, the monarchists do NOT constitute a majority of the population. If the monarchists constituted a majority of the population, we have to kiss democracy in Iran good buy.

3. Fortunately ALL the indications show that the democratic forces are either a plurality or a majority. The question for the democratic forces is how to organize the secular republican democratic forces. It appears to me that the first step is to organize the democratic forces. At this stage, any collaboration with dictatorial forces such as the monarchists is HARMFUL for the organizing of the pro-democracy forces.

4. The institution of monarchy by its very nature is not a violation of human rights. But the institution of monarchy by its very nature is an anti-democratic institution.

5. If Reza Pahlavi believes in democracy, he should condemn the brutal tyrannical rule of Reza Shah Pahlavi and Mohammad Reza Shah Pahlavi, then oppose the anti-democratic institution of monarchy in general, and then abdicate. In his interviews, Mr. Reza Pahlavi, at most, says that some mistakes were made. This fact alone, disqualifies Mr. Pahlavi as a democrat. A democrat should have no problem condemning those who brutally crushed democrats such as Mossadegh and established a terribly brutal dictatorship.

The actual documented history shows that Mr. Reza Pahlavi’s father went to the British and Americans soon after the occupation of Iran and told them that he would serve their interests if they supported him establishing his personal dictatorship. See

Habib Ladjevardi, “The Origins of U.S. Support for an Autocratic Iran,” International Journal of Middle East Studies, Vol. 15, No. 2 (May, 1983), pp. 225-239.

Excerpts are available at:

6. A good leader is one who is willing to sacrifice his own personal advantage for the greater good of the people. Such leaders (Mossadegh, Fatemi, Amir-Entezam, Nasreen Soutudeh) have gone to prison and endured horrendous pain and sacrificed so much so that the Iranian people could benefit from these sacrifices. Is Reza Pahlavi willing to sacrifice his claim to kingship, and instead support democracy for the sake of unity and strengthening the democratic opposition to the vf regime? If he is not willing to sacrifice a claim today, and instead pursues a policy that helps the VF regime by dividing the opposition, why would he not pursue the policy of a coup against democratic forces if he could in order to gain actual power or increase his power in the future?

Responses to some of Mr. Nooriala’s questions.

Reza Pahlavi and the monarchists have the right to express their opinions, have their political parties, and the like. As democrats, myself and other members of Jebhe Melli not only do not have a any problem with that, but we will defend their human rights in the secular and democratic republic that the JM and other pro-democracy forces would like to establish after the overthrow of the vf dictatorship. In JM, we defend the human rights of all groups and individuals, including the dictatorial groups such as the monarchists.

While we defend the human rights of the monarchists, we oppose the anti-democratic institution of monarchy. We are consistent for all such dictatorial groups. For example, we are against the dictatorial fundamentalists (supporters of nezam velayat faghih). In the democratic secular republic that JM wishes to help establish, we will defend the human rights of fundamentalists (who have not personally committed any crimes of torture or killing) at the same time that we oppose their ideas, policies, and alternative.

What should the pro-democracy individuals and groups do at this historical juncture? In my opinion, the main enemies of the democratic opposition are the VF regime and groups like NIAC, CASMII, and AIC. Therefore, we should primarily concentrate our efforts countering the vf regime. Secondarily, in my opinion, we should counter groups like NIAC. Thirdly, we should do all we can to help the pro-democracy groups such as Jebhe Melli, NAMIR, Liberal Party of Iran. Fourth, when the pro-democracy groups are attacked by dictatorial groups such as the monarchists, we should attack them back.

Mr. Nooriala for a long time has been spending his time attacking JM, which is Iran’s oldest, main, and the largest pro-democracy group. It is Mr. Nooriala’s right to do so and JM members fully defend his right to criticize us. Mr. Nooriala has also been collaborating with the dictatorial monarchists. This is also his right. In my opinion, the activities of Mr. Nooriala has been harmful for the prospects of democracy in Iran. The Pahlavi dynasty has been a terribly tyrannical regime. Their supporters continue to be terribly dictatorial. They and Reza Pahlavi want to restore the anti-democratic institution of monarchy.


In conclusion, if we want democracy we have to support a constitutional design with the highest likelihood of democratic consolidation. This means that those features that harm the prospects of democracy such as the anti-democratic institution of monarchy or any other permanent position should be avoided.

The Pahlavis are intensely hated (for good reasons) by vast numbers of the Iranian people. Reza Shah and Mohammad Reza Shah were brought to power to serve the colonial interests of the UK and the U.S. They were terribly tyrannical. There was no freedom of the press, of political parties, of free elections under the Pahlavi regime’s tyranny. They constitute a minority of the population. Despite their small numbers due to the massive amount of money and resources available to them (perhaps CIA money), they are loud and have larger voice than their numbers would warrant. They are thus one of the obstacles for the transition to democracy in Iran today as they will be an obstacle to consolidation of democracy in the post-vf regime tomorrow.

Theories of political science, history, and common sense tell us that if we want democracy, we need to make democrats as powerful as possible and the anti-democrats as weak as possible. THESE are the cold hard facts that Mr. Nooriala does not understand.

Further readings:

Barrington Moore’s classic book:

My summary of various theories of democracy at various levels of analysis:

Meet Iranian Singles

Iranian Singles

Recipient Of The Serena Shim Award

Serena Shim Award
Meet your Persian Love Today!
Meet your Persian Love Today!