Shah of State
Serving no more than eight years
By Baraitna Irani
June 16, 2003
The sudden proliferation of individuals and
organizations that advocate democracy for Iran should take note
of the recent precedence of Iraq. Irrespective of pros and cons
of the whole affair, or one's view of them, there are lessons to
Apart from the obvious destruction, anarchy and loss of sovereignty,
there are other lessons. The Iraqi Diaspora took it upon themselves
to appoint a group with a leader to go to Iraq, post Saddam Hossein,
to form an interim government and then submit to the wishes of
the Iraqis. All seemingly admirable goal.
However, they forgot
the Iraqi people who were skeptical of any solution hatched up
without their input. They also suspected, only too clearly, that
once the interim Government is formed they may not have a true
opportunity to effectively express their wishes in a meaningful
As events in Iraq, subsequently, so clearly demonstrated,
Mr. Chalabi, the "self" appointed leader, found to his
discredit that people who have lived under dictatorship or foreign
stooges rarely believe promises of democracy from outside.
Since conditions under Mr. Hossein's regime were such that the
appearance of an internal leader was impossible, Mr. Chalabi et
al must have thought that the acceptance of a leader from outside
Iraq, like that of Iran a quarter of a century ago, might have
They ignored the fact that Mr. Khomeini, irrespective
of one's views of him, had a long history of "struggle" against
the Iranian regime and, in addition, he enjoyed a sizeable following.
If there is any parallel to Mr. Khomeini, Mr. Hakim, the cleric
tutored in Iran, must be the one.
The diehard followers of Prince Reza Pahlavi might be heartened
by the above argument. However before they jump to any conclusions
they might do well to ponder the following:
1- That Prince Reza himself has repeatedly refused to accept any
position pending the outcome of a democratic decision of the Iranian
2- That conditions in Iran today are in no way, except the ultimate
dictatorship, comparable to those of Mr. Hossein's Iraq or the
late Shah's Iran. The present Iranian regime is a very odd system
that despite its totalitarianism, it seems that the dynamic of
the revolution itself, has produced multiple factions and leaders.
People inside Iran today, unlike those of Iraq or those of Iran
25 years ago, are not leaderless. Leaders outside should not put
themselves in competition with those inside.
3- While it is certainly true that Prince Reza has some following
in Iran, probably more than anybody else outside, it is by no means
clear that his standing with the masses in the country is anything
like his supporters outside would like us to believe.
4- Considering the skepticism of most Iranians, inside and out,
and in order to enhance the position and eventual leadership of
Prince Reza or whoever else from any other faction outside Iran,
for that matter; is it not better to declare: "no individual
outside Iran will accept any position such as Head of State, Head,
Deputy or assistant of any Ministry for a period of at least five
years after the ousting of the present regime"?
this declaration, an assurance is made that none of the individuals
involved have their own personal agenda or gains in mind. It will
ascertain and prove the sincerity of the individuals that their
efforts is for nothing, as they so often express, but for the freedom
of the Iranian people and the establishment of a democratic regime
in Iran. Under this scenario, it is not difficult to convince the
Iranian people to follow the appealing one motto of Union.
None of these individuals of course, and particularly Price Reza,
should deprive the nation of their expertise, knowledge and experience
that they have amassed during their struggle in exile. To this
end they should be encouraged to run for parliament or act in an
advisory or consultancy capacity whenever they return to Iran.
are many people who although believe in the sincerity of some of
the individuals (and most put Prince Reza right on top
of the list), but, nevertheless, fear the ever present probability
that once these individuals are in the perceived position of leadership,
they will use it to impose their own will on the nation. History
of nations, and especially ours, is full of this probability and
that is why many Iranians consider it, not a probability, but a
In the way of a side note, a scholar friend, sharing the belief
that the word and concept of "Shah" in Iran has a resonance
like no other, suggested that once the present Iranian regime is
ousted, the Head of State, no matter what the eventual system,
should be elected for two terms, not longer than a total of eight
years, and be known as the "Shah of State".
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