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Dream on
Monarchists and international terrorism

By Mohammad Sahimi
November 2, 2001
The Iranian

The monarchists, especially their "Shahollahi" brand, have been saying for years that we Iranians should unite. They have been preaching this by all means in their possession: In their newspapers, weeklies, radio and television programs, and speeches. Recent events, beginning with the September 11 terrorist attacks and culminating with the demonstrations in Iran after the football games, have finally revealed the type of unity monarchists are after.

Ever since the terrorist attack on the U.S., the far right in this country has been talking about "ending" states that support terrorism, by bombing, invading and occupying them for a long time. In an illuminating act, Mr. Reza Pahlavi, the "Ghebleh Alam" of the monarchists, has formed a tacit united front with the far right in the U.S. by declaring that terrorism is like an octopus (surprisingly, I agree!) whose weakness is its eyes -- in Tehran.

Therefore, they argue, if the U.S. wishes to kill this octopus, it should start in Tehran. This presumably means that the U.S. should bomb Iran (the U.S. has not fortunately taken Mr. Pahlavi's advice!). Ever since this declaration, Mr. Pahlavi's position has been fervently advocated by the monarchists via Iranian radio and television programs in Los Angeles.

To endear himself to his American audience, and also to demonstrate his leadership qualities to his Iranian followers (the few thousand who reside in the U.S. and Europe), he has further stated that, (1) terrorism of the type that happened on September 11 started with the Iranian Revolution in 1979, and that (2) just as the U.S. and the West helped the people of South Africa and Bosnia liberate their countries, they should also help the Iranian people to do the same.

These statements by Mr. Pahlavi not only reveal the type of united front he and his followers are after -- that is, one with the far right in the U.S. which is anti-foreigner, not to mention the fact that it has been preaching that all Muslims not born here should be expelled from the U.S., and that Islam should be outlawed in this hemisphere), but also demonstrate once again the two pillars of the way the Pahlavi dynasty and its followers analyze issues and operate accordingly. Let me explain.

One pillar of the monarchists' thinking is that they conveniently forget history whenever it suites their interests; a cardinal sin for any serious person, let alone politicians. For example, regarding the origin of terrorism and its relation to Iran, I can provide anybody who is interested with the history of internal terrorism in Iran -- by which I mean use of violence against political opponents, or against innocent people with political goals -- and demonstrate how it was mastered by Reza Shah.

However, I prefer to consider for now only the type of criminal terrorism that took place on September 11, since I would like to demonstrate how Mr. Pahlavi has "forgotten" some basic facts:

(i) In September 1970, the late King Hossein of Jordan , with the covert and overt support of his close ally and friend Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi, massacred thousands of Palestinians and drove the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) into Lebanon. This event, known as Black September, provided the impetus for the subsequent hijacking of many passenger airliners by the PLO in the 1970s, long before the Iranian Revolution. It is universally recognized that hijacking of airliners began after Black September.

(ii) In 1967, the Shah visited west Berlin. During anti-Shah demonstrations there, an Iranian student was shot and killed by the German police. This event was, according to many German political scientists and historians, a prime reason for the rise of the Maoist Baader-Meinhof group in Germany that was involved in many terrorist acts. One of the most famous terrorist hijackings took place in the 1970s when Baader-Meinhof terrorists demanded the release of Andreas Baader from a German jail in return for releasing an airliner and its passengers (Germany refused to go along;, the hijacking was a failure, and Andreas Baader committed suicide in jail).

(iii) Aside from these two cases, one of the earliest hijackings and acts of state-sponsored terrorism was carried out by the government of the Shah himself. On October 9, 1970, an Iran Air Boeing 727 carrying 44 persons was "hijacked" and flown to Baghdad. It turned out a few days later that the "hijackers" were in fact agents of SAVAK the Shah's secret police. Posing as supporters of General Teymour Bakhtiar, who had taken asylum in Iraq, the agents murdered Bakhtiar, a man who had served the Shah's regime for many years.

Therefore, we can see the direct and indirect role the Shah and his regime played in the rise of hijacking of passenger airlines, and international and state-sponsored terrorism. I therefore leave it to my fair-minded Iranian compatriots to decide for themselves the accuracy of Mr. Pahlavi's statement about the origin of international terrorism.

Regarding South Africa and the alleged U.S. and Western support of its people, Mr. Pahlavi has again conveniently forgotten two basic historical facts. One was that the Shah and his regime had close political, economical and military relations with the racist Apartheid regime in South Africa, and that Iran under the Shah sold oil to that regime, at a time when almost all other oil producers refused to do so.

The second forgotten fact about liberation from Apartheid is that in the 1980s, when the African National Congress of South Africa was getting close to overthrowing the ruling White regime, the far right in this country (Mr. Pahlavi's soulmates), led by the Reagan Administration, was doing its best to prevent this by opposing the economic sanctions imposed on that regime by most other countries of the world.

This was done under the guise of "constructive engagement" according to which the far right was trying to "convince" the South African White supremacists to voluntarily give up power! The liberation of South Africa was the fruit of the struggle of its Black majority and progressives among its White minority, and the popularity of Nelson Mandela and his movement, not the alleged support by the U.S., the West and their puppets. This is clearly manifested in Nelson Mandela and his government's political independence from the West.

As for Bosnia, all I would say is this: From 1992-1995, when the innocent people of Bosnia were being murdered by Serbian fascists, the West did nothing meaningful to defend them. At the same time, Mr. Pahlavi's Iranian handlers were saying everywhere that victory by the Bosnian Muslims would mean "another Islamic Republic" -- this time in Europe -- and therefore not helping them is justified!

The second pillar of the way the Pahlavi dynasty and its supporters operate is that, they always rely on foreign powers to gain power. In addition, since they themselves have no legitimacy, they always have a hard time accepting the legitimacy of others. That is why in their view it is always "kaar kaar-re Englisi haast." Reza Shah was put in power, and also removed from it, by the British empire. The Shah was put back in power by the CIA and the British MI6.

Now, Mr. Pahlavi, who sees no hope for himself ever coming to power by a popular movement, is pleading with the West to put him in power. Apparently, Mr. Pahlavi would rather rule a destroyed country than not ruling it at all. Perhaps, since Mr. Pahlavi has never held a paid job in his entire life, and has been fed by his father's vast wealth that was taken away from our people in Iran, he simply is not capable of imagining the implications of his statements and the ruins they could have brought to Iran, had the U.S. taken his advice, not to mention the anti-Iranian hysteria in this country.

Recent demosntrations in Iran after the World Cup qualifying football games, and the way the monarchist television and radio stations in Los Angeles have taken advantage of them with their interpretations, have also revealed another facet of their mentality and the type of united front they are searching for. The monarchists claim that these demonstrations are in response to their invitation to the people to demonstrate after the games. This absurd claim shows once again what many of us have known for a long time, that monarchists live in their own world which has nothing to do with reality.

To see this, consider the following simple fact: The monarchists in Los Angeles cannot bring out even 2,000-3,000 of their followers to the front lawn of the Federal Building in Westwood to demonstrate, and Los Angeles is the city where hardcore monarchists live. Yet, magically, the monarchists believe they have a powerful and compelling message which brings out tens of thousands of demonstrators in Tehran! Admittedly, the monarchists have probably contributed to one aspect of these demonstrations, namely, inciting people's emotions by shamelessly claiming that our football players had been "ordered" to lose the match with Bahrain.

Since most of the monarchists, especially their leaders, have not been to Iran for many years, they do not have the slightest clue to the present socio-political movement in Iran, particularly in regards to the youth and university students. Seventy percent of Iran's population is under 30 years of age, and has no memory of the monarchy, even if its era had represented a time of prosperity and democratic freedom, let alone the fact that the 1953-1979 represents a time of political darkness in Iran.

At the dawn of 21st century -- the era of democratic governments -- monarchists still dream about a king for Iran, the most backward form of government. Worse, they claim with a straight face that the Iranian people are longing for it. Perhaps, they have been emboldened by the fact that the U.S. has been trying to resurrect Mohammad Zaher Shah, the former king of Afghanistan, from his political grave to head an Afghan coalition government. Our monarchists apparently believe that, "az in namad kolaahi ham baraaye aanhaa doukhteh khaahad shod," hence demonstrating once again their wishful thinking.

Even a glance at the situation in Afghanistan reveals the sharp contrast between there and Iran:

(i) Zaher Shah was overthrown by a military coup, not a popular revolution, such as what we had in Iran.

(ii) Six years before he was overthrown, Zaher Shah himself made a transition from an absolute monarch to a constitutional one, hence starting a transition to a democratic government. In contrast, the Shah heard our people's revolutionary voice only 3 months before he was overthrown!

(iii) In sharp contrast with the Shah's family, Zaher Shah's family was neither hated by the Afghan people, nor was it a completely corrupt dynasty.

(iv) In the tribal system of Afghanistan, a grand old man, such as Zaher Shah, is far more respected than a young man, especially one such as Mr. Pahlavi who has spent all of his adult life in the U.S. and does not have the slightest idea about Iran and its people. Mr. Pahlavi does not even "remember" the contemporary history of Iran, because otherwise he would not have made his outrageous claims about terrorism and its relation to the Iranian Revolution.

(v) Even among the people of Afghanistan, a country ruined completely by 22 years of war, there is great resistance against having Zaher Shah going back there as their king.

(vi) Zaher Shah himself has said that he does not believe that it is practical to bring back the monarchy to Afghanistan!

Having pointed these out, I would like to ask those monarchists who live in our real world -- not those who live in their own fantasies -- which one of the above points is equally true about Mr. Pahlavi and the monarchy in Iran? Despite these rather obvious facts, our monarchists are already distributing among themselves the various cabinet posts in the future Pahlavi regime!

As an independent thinker, as someone who travels to Iran at least twice a year, someone who teaches in several universities both in Tehran and other cities of Iran, and someone who has many students in several universities around Iran, I can state with some credibility that our people in Iran are far more politically sophisticated to listen to dinosaurs and newcomers (signers, actors, football commentators, authors of detective novels, etc.) in Los Angeles who were heaping praise on the Shah and his dark regime three decades ago.

These events demonstrate once again that the united front that the monarchists advocate is with the far right, both here in the U.S. and in Iran. The unity of their thinking with Iran's far right is NOT accidental. Both groups incite demonstrators to be violent: The monarchists do it because they want to be able to claim that they have followers inside Iran, and the far right, because it can then justify repressing the people.

Both groups view the reformist movement in Iran as their enemy because they see its victory as being tantamount to their own political demise. Both groups always blame foreign powers for their troubles. Monarchists believe that they were thrown out of power because the West conspired against them, and Iran's far right claims foreign powers are behind the reform movement.

Most importantly, both groups have badly missed the point: The typical Iranian who lives in Iran, even in the most remote area, is politically far ahead of both groups and knows well that they both are hungry for power, and that the last thing they care about is a democratic system of government in Iran that respects people and their rights.

Comment for The Iranian letters section

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