The Shah Destroyed Our Constitution and Established Brutal Tyranny


The Shah Destroyed Our Constitution and Established Brutal Tyranny
by Masoud Kazemzadeh

Excerpts from 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

those interested in reading the article, could find it in any university library or e-collections of university libraries. It could also be purchased from Jstor for $34. or for $30 directly from the publisher:


How Mohammad Reza Shah Pahlavi Destroyed Our Constitution and Established Brutal Tyranny

According to Article 44 of the Fundamental Laws: "The person of the shah is exempted from responsibility. The ministers of state are responsible to the Majlis in all affairs." Article 66 made the relationship of the monarch and cabinet ministers even more explicit. It stated: "The ministers cannot use verbal or written orders of the shah to divest themselves of responsibility."

Mohammad Reza Shah Pahlavi's attacks on our Constitution:


As far back as December 1942, slightly over a year after taking the throne, the shah-then only 23 years old-had urged Prime Minister Qavam to resign and place the government under the military-over which the monarch already had some influence. Qavam, however, supported by the British Minister Sir Reader Bullard,7 had repelled the shah's first attempt "to dominate the government through his own trusted supporters (acting) as ministers."8


The monarch was not about to abandon his dream of continuing in his father's footsteps. In July 1943, the Office of Strategic Services (O.S.S.) told Washington that the shah had been energetically, though cautiously, strengthening ties with the officers of the army.9 In August, the same source reported that the shah had succeeded in taking control of the army. Although a high level commission had concluded that under Iran's constitution, the General Staff was subordinate to the minister of war (and thus under the control of the prime minister), the shah had refused to sign regulations implementing this decision. Instead the shah had ordered the minister of war to tell the press and the Majlis that he (the minister of war) was fully responsible for the army and the General Staff.'?


By September 1943, the monarch was issuing orders directly to the General Staff, thus undermining the constitutional authority of the minister of war." He justified this seizure of executive powers by contending that constitutional government was premature for Iran. In December 1944, the shah had said to the visiting Averell Harriman: "The country could not be truly democratic, which he desired, until the people had acquired sufficient education to understand the principle of democratic government and be able to form intelligent individual opinion."'12  context of the period

Still, in 1941 after sixteen years of absolute rule by Reza Shah, a large number of middle- and working-class Iranians were unwilling to easily surrender their newly found political freedoms. Workers in most factories and civil servants in the central government, for instance, had formed their own trade unions. Wages had been increased as a result of unionization. Workers discharged without cause could appeal their case through their union, the press, and even the Grievance Committee of the Majlis.'5 Consequently the shah may not have succeeded in seizing greater power without the support of the two Western powers who (with the departure of Soviet troops) were able to wield considerable influence in Iranian affairs by the summer of 1946.


According to the U.S. military attache in Tehran, a major advocate of United States involvement in Iranian affairs was the shah, whom he described as "extremely pro-American, even to the extent of urging . . . the United States to accept a valuable oil concession."27 In return the shah wished to be fully supported by the United States in his quest for absolute power. Reportedly the monarch had told Allen: "The Iranian people had not reached the stage where the king could only be a symbol. If he continued to exercise no substantive authority in Iranian affairs, the people would become unaware, after a time, of the value of a monarchy and unappreciative of the needs thereafter."28 Ambassador Allen initially turned down the shah's proposal to strengthen the court by reducing the constitutional powers of the prime minister. In the words of Allen: "I was not confident the shah was strong enough to succeed, did not think a king should be meddling in politics anyway, and was not certain where he would stop if he did succeed in whatever actions he might attempt. 29

In May 1946, Allen considered Prime Minister Qavam better equipped to achieve the main objective of the United States in Iran, which was "to prevent one more country from falling completely into the Moscow orbit."30 In the American ambassador's view, Qavam was "the most energetic and forceful man on the scene in Iran at the present time. If anyone can steer this ship of state through the dangerous waters it is now traversing, Qavam is the most likely instrument for the purpose."31

Consequently (as Allen reported it later to the State Department), on October 14, 1946, [U.S.] Ambassador Allen told the shah that he had "finally reached the conclusion that he [the shah] should force Qavam out and should make him leave the country or put him in jail if he caused trouble."37

Thus, the American ambassador in pursuit of his own country's interests and perhaps in his perception of what was best for Iran, delivered a devastating blow to Iran's infant constitutional government-a blow from which Iran has not yet recovered. Qavam himself unwittingly helped bring about his own doom. Having decided to delay elections for the XVth Majlis, Iran was without a parliament after March 1946. Consequently, Qavam was unable to enlist the support of the legislature, and through it the public, to prevent the shah's take-over of the executive branch. Under threat of arrest, Qavam succumbed to the shah and replaced six members of his cabinet with men more acceptable to the shah.44 Qavam's purge of his cabinet, which took place on October 16th, was correctly described by Ambassador Allen as "the turning point in Iranian history." This event alone, obviously, did not put an end to constitutional monarchy. Iran's return to autocracy was accomplished in stages. Within a period of two and one-half years-beginning with October 16, 1946-three different Western ambassadors gleefully referred to three specific instances of usurpation of power by the shah as "historical."


The second "historical" advance toward one-man rule occurred in December 1947. By that time Russian troops had been pressured out of Iran by the United States and the United Nations, the province of Azarbaijan had been brought back under central government authority (as a result of the joint effort of the shah and Qavam), the Tudeh party was put in disarray, the XVth Majlis (with a few exceptions) was packed with members of the so-called thousand families, and the Soviet oil concession had been rejected by the Majlis.45 It was at this juncture that the two Western ambassadors finally agreed with the shah's long-standing desire to discharge Prime Minister Qavam, who now seemed expendable.46 Using as a pretext an allegedly veiled criticism of himself by Qavam, the shah let it be known that continuation of Qavam's cabinet was intolerable. As a result on December 4, 1947, all members of the cabinet (except two who were absent from Tehran) resigned, leaving Qavam totally isolated.

Following the resignation of the cabinet, the XVth Majlis, dominated by the supporters of status quo, gave the prime minister a vote of no confidence.47 He was not only relieved of his duties, but was also refused the diplomatic passport normally granted to former officials. Instead, Qavam, the most powerful man in Iran only a year and a-half earlier, was allowed to leave the country on an ordinary passport.48 This was the first demonstration of the shah's ability to out-maneuver and defeat his potential rivals-even Qavam, the highly experienced Iranian politician under whom the shah's own father had once served. This was not an ordinary change of cabinet. Clearly, the shah had acted after securing the blessings of the British as well as the American ambassador. British dispatches mention that their ambassador, John Le Rougetel, had discussed the removal of Qavam with the shah on November 12, 1947.49 The tone of the following passage from the American ambassador's report indicates that he too was sympathetic with the move:

Thus December 1947 marked the second "historical" event that propelled Iran toward autocracy. In the words of the British ambassador: The fall of Qavam seems likely to mark the end of a phase in the development of Persian politics. Earlier in the year there had already been signs of increased political activity by the court. The shah had felt, since December 1946 (when the central government took control of Azarbaijan),t hat too much credit had been given Qavam and insufficientt o himself...

A most surprising aspect of the diplomatic records consulted was that neither the State Department nor the Foreign Office was under any illusions as to the consequences of reestablishing one-man rule in Iran.52 Ambassador Le Rougetel correctly predicted in December 1947 that henceforth the shah would exert a direct and increasing influence, backed by the military authorities, in the government of the country.53 In the United States, the decision to support an autocratic monarchy was preceded by a vigorous debate within the State Department. Some officials argued that an increase of power by the shah "might not be a bad thing since strong governments in countries bordering the Soviet Union have generally been better able to resist Soviet domination."

Time and again when the shah took a critical step toward autocratic rule, they either applauded and justified his action or maintained an approving silence, explaining their behavior as "non-interference." The position of the Foreign Office was similar. On November 1, 1947, the shah had solicited the British ambassador's advice regarding changes in the constitution.57 After much discussion with the Foreign Office, Ambassador Le Rougetel concurred that the composition of the XVth Majlis made it virtually impossible for the shah's government to reform the administration or to enact a constructive economic policy.58 No reference was made, however, to the fact that only a few weeks earlier the same Majlis had demonstrated its willingness to collaborate with the shah by deposing Prime Minister Qavam, who was the founder and leader of the political party through which most of the deputies had entered the Majlis. 


The third step toward the reestablishment of autocracy was taken in April 1949, when a constitutional assembly was hastily and undemocratically convened and the constitution amended to grant greater power to the shah. The assembly was precipitated, in part, by an assassination attempt on the shah two months earlier.

Confirming the forecast of Ambassador Wiley that henceforth "the shah will rule and not merely reign, the monarch reduced the powers of the prime minister further by personally presiding over cabinet meetings. Wiley, reporting on his conversation with a former Iranian prime minister, stated that the shah was dedicating himself to the minutiae of administration. n even the smallest detail he was communicating directive, even to section heads. He was . . . wasting his energy and time and undermining government coordination.The worst phase of the situation, according to [former Prime Minister] Ali Mansur, was the fact that the shah was so badly entoure. He was surrounded by sycophantic advisors who were constantly urging [upon] him the necessity of increasing his royal prerogatives, exercising authority and ruling in the pattern of his late father. He had been given the concept of regal strength on a basis of weakness of the government; namely, that the shah would be strong in the measure in which the government would be weak....



Having revised the constitution in his favor and taken direct command of the executive branch, the shah focused his attention on the legislative branch, with the intent of making it completely dependent upon himself. In September 1949, the U.S. ambassador reported that the shah had cast aside his plans for free elections for the XVlth Majlis because he believed that: corrupt and venal political influences were effectively working to take improper advantage of free elections. The shah was now convinced that with the great illiteracy among and backwardness of the great mass of Iranian people any application of electoral principles of Western democracies would be premature and bad. His Imperial Majesty63 was determined to have a Majlis with which he could work in harmony. He intended moreover to make considerable reforms of governmental structure but he wanted me to be completely assured that he had no idea whatsoever of setting up a dictatorship.64


Despite his assurances to Ambassador Wiley, the shah was indeed bent on setting up a dictatorship. Gradually he removed all semblance of independence from the Majlis, the judiciary, the press, political parties, trade unions, universities, professional associations, and even the chambers of commerce. Thus no institution or public figure remained who could question his decisions and actions. One would have thought Great Britain and the United States, being themselves democracies, would have expressed sympathy for constitutional government in Iran. But they decided that a "stable autocratic monarchy" better protected their interests in Iran than an "unstable constitutional monarchy."


more from Masoud Kazemzadeh

بقول هادی خرسندی

Kaveh Parsa

هادی خرسندی: در آن ایام تب آلوده یک سیاستمدار روشنفکر و لیبرال دمکرات به درد مملکت نمیخورد. جای مهر هم روی پیشانیش نبود. مملکت به نخست وزیرها و رئیس جمهورهایی که سابقۀ سینه زنی داشته باشند نیاز داشت نه این بابا که نمیدانست قبله از کدام طرف است......اگر بختیار موفق شده بود، انقلاب عظیمی که به رهبری قائد اعظم، امام خمینی کبیر در شرف تحقق بود، ناکام میماند و توده های چپ و مذهبی تا سال های سال در عزایش آه بیست و هشت مردادی میکشیدند. مقاله ها بود که نوشته میشد، شعرها بود که سروده میشد، تحلیل ها و تفسیرها بود که در بارۀ شکست بزرگ رقم میخورد. مسکو و پکن و نجف و دمشق پر میشد از ناراضیان فراری از ایران که در فراق انقلابی که رخ نداده بود و مملکتی که بر باد نرفته بود و شلاق هائی که پشت شان را زخم نکرده بود و گلوله هایی که نخورده بودند، اشک میریختند

و   بقول زنده یاد فریدون فرخزاد: خاک بر سر اون مردمی کنن که در طول تمام این سالها نفهمیدن که فرقی ست بین جانی و عالم.............حتی دنبال جانی رفتن، نماز خون شدن، ریش گذاشتن، برای اینکه صد تومن پول بگیرن، جهان میگذره، با صد تومن و بی صد تومن، برای من که ده سال دیگه بیشتر اینجا نیستم، ولی خیلی بد ه که آدم فاحشه مغزی باشه 

Veiled Prophet of Khorasan

I hate to

by Veiled Prophet of Khorasan on


agree with MK but he does have some valid good points. Shah did undermine democracy. He did establish absolute rule and a single party system. He also had contempt for Iranians and preferred an Americans over Iranian.

My father met him a number of times and we knew some of the ministers. Shah would not even look at them when he shook hands with them. On the other hand any American peon was treated with great reverence.

We were supposed to be his natural supporters. But my father had many sleepless nights. Fearing if Shah may get angry at him and toss him to jail. Maybe my father was extra paranoid but there is no question Shah did make such a climate. So when push came not even his natural supporters went to bat for him. If he had allowed civil institutions to flourish Khomeini would not have been so popular. All those stupid things like changing the calendar; Rastakhiz; Jashne Honar and endless pomp just made people angry. Without a way to release it. 

By banning writings of opposition he undermined himself. If he had let everyone know what different positions were at least they would have known what Khomeini really wanted. If you ban something you automatically give it credibility.

The IRI is making very similar mistakes and will go the same way. What I do not understand is this desire for total control. Shah; Khamenei all of them want absolute power. Why?

If you let people have some freedom you do yourself a favor. Let them complain and listen to them. Serve your term then step down and let someone else take power. Why not? Then if people are unhappy they just vote you out not kill you!


Brutal Tyranny ?

by amirparvizforsecularmonarchy on

And Winnie the Pooh was such a brutal tyrant, too right ?

And lets not forget Julia Child, the vegetable murderer and despot!  LOL


Masoud jan

by Parham on

You're more than welcome. I hope it will be helpful.
I'll give you a reply to your long message on Sanjabi on ROOG's blog.


Masoud Kazemzadeh

Dear Parham

by Masoud Kazemzadeh on

Parham jaan,

Thank you for correcting the phrase I used.

And thank you for the link to the Open Letter of JM leaders to the Shah in June 1977. I had never seen it being called "three-man pact." It is usually called the open letter to the Shah. Bazargan had actually a major hand in writing the first draft of it. But he refused to sign it. One possible reason was whether the four men should sign it (3 from JM and 1 from Nehzat Azadi) or should a large number of political activist sign it. Bazargan was apparently advocating a large number of prominent personalities sign it. Or he might have chickened out at the last minute.

I have written my personal views on Sanjabi extensively in the excellent blog by ROOG:


Thanks to you and ROOG on the image problem of JM. I will cut-and-paste your views and those of ROOG and sent them to my colleagues. I appreciate your sound advice and help.

Best regards,




by Parham on

"Educated in France in the forties" is really Bakhtiar! Poor guy... : )

To me, they come out as people who either only remained in Iran, or if they did get out (to go to the US!), they only remained among Iranians...

No offense meant to anyone.


Jebhe Melli's Image

by religionoutofgovernment on

Parham and Masoud,

As I promised, I am still analyzing Masoud's response, to be fair. I also do not want to belabor the issue. The fact is I agree with masoud on most issues.

My point of writing this post is that co-incidentally, last night, I was thinking about JM's image. Today you write your post exactly mirroring my thoughts from last night. Specifically, I was thinking about their outdated websites and the lists of names with Doctors and Mohandes titles which conjures up an image of bunch of out of touch elitists (rightly or wrongly). Nowadays, you don't even need foot soldiers and prisoner in Iran to be in the frontline. You need technology. The Facebook pages related to JM are pathetic and have very few members. Mousavi had a much better Bacebook page. Do you guys have any techies to consult? Do you realize how important that is? What about other ways of reaching people in Iran with your messages? Can one develop an extensive list of emails, fax numbers etc. The messages themselves are also boring and wordy. Again, they conjure up the image of bunch of old guys in suites, educated in France in the 40's, regurgitating the same old stuff. JM needs a make over for sure.


David ET

by Parham on

I checked, and the javascript problem is still not yet resolved. However, even though the size of the video hasn't changed, it is not on autoplay anymore, which is a blessing! : )

By the way, I found a new anomaly, you have a link to the site's home page on the home page itself!


Masoud jan

by Parham on

First things first, and this is only a detail, I think the correct expression is "went to bed with", not "slept with"-- and I know it wasn't you who used it first here, I'm only trying to prevent the repetition of the mistake outside of this thread in the future.

Anyway - your first question: The "three man pact" refers to the "alliance" Bakhtiar, Sanjabi & Forouhar made, also writing a letter to the Shah already in 1977, warning him about his despotic style.

Which brings me back to my question --that you didn't reply to-- namely, do you personally believe Sanjabi made a mistake by turning around in 1978 or not?

As for what you bring up in the rest of your message below -- yes, I do think JM suffers greatly from an image problem that it has created for itself. You see ROOG's criticism as "fohsh", I actually see it as something someone who cares about Jebhe Melli has written.

Somehow I think JM has believed that holding up the picture of Mossadegh will give it the image it needs to carry on -- which is, to a certain extent, true. However, obviously that won't be enough, as you yourself have noticed from messages here and some that you used to get on the old JM BB (which, I might add, were always "killed" by relentless attacks coming from the individual posting as "hamvatan" --who was, more or less always, supported by you back then).

The image I get from the outside (and I'm a sympathizer, AND I actually even know some of the people inside) is really a bunch of old people who don't care as much about the realities of the country as much as they do for their own self-image, who are spending more time fighting for (what they think is) their lost honor than the cause of democracy.

These are people who keep writing e'lamieh after e'lamieh, sign it all with their "doctor mohandess" titles (which also gives them a patronizing air), but when it comes to actions, you don't see much being done. The one person who ended up in jail was Kourosh Zaim, and he's on the side of the Jebhe Melli the others don't recognize!

Granted, Abbas Amir-Entezam has accomplished the prisoner of conscience part all these years, but then really, who are all the other people who keep signing these notices? (Keep in mind I'm speaking here as someone who's looking from the outside.)

Heck, even the web sites are old (and full of blinking gifs!), and the last news we got about JM was that there was infighting inside... The main web site can't even be read!. That should say something about how the party is run...

More, I'm beginning to wonder if JM really knows who its real opponents are. You yourself point to the Shahollahis in your message. I would actually say its opponents should be those who put a barrier to achieving democracy in Iran, and in my opinion, right now they are the "reformists" who do nothing but extend the lifeline of the Islamic Republic -- willingly or unwillingly. They actually remind me exactly of those who used to think of Khomeyni as a Gandhi back in 1978 -- they are very dangerous, perhaps even more dangerous than the hardliners. Yet somehow still a lot of people see them as facilitators of democracy and not the preventers that they are!

The Shahollahis, in my opinion, are just an intellectually bankrupt portion of our society who only gain ground by comparing the despotism of the Pahlavis to that of the IR, as you correctly stated.

Yet, in JM, we have the melli-mazhabis who are extremely close to the "reformists" prolonging the torture... Do you see what I mean? By wanting to have each and every faction of society under its umbrella, JM might be jeopardizing a lot at the same time. Those who ultimately want a dictatorship shouldn't count in a context of democracy...

Sure, the Sahabis were great people ("adam haye sharif"), but by associating with those who only talk softly yet want the prolongation of a brutal dictatorship, they only do harm to themselves, the people and their cause. Just like Sanjabi did way back (again in my opinion).

It's time that lines be drawn in the policies of the party, that there aren't shades of grey that could be used as weaknesses, and most of all, I think it's time for action by breathing a new current of youth into the JM veins.

David ET


by David ET on

Can you check on your Firefox to see if the problem is resolved? Thanks.

Masoud Kazemzadeh

Dear Parham

by Masoud Kazemzadeh on

Parham jaan,

What is the "three man pact"?


You have a valid point about "image" of JM if the questions on are good indications. I think that JM and INF-AO do not think we have an image problem. The self-image we hold is that we are the main party which fought bravely against two brutal dictatorial regime, and that everyone realizes this, and appreciate our struggle for independence, freedom, democracy, and human rights. JM-INF members believe that the attacks on Dr. Mossadegh and JM comes from shahollahis, hezbollahis, and a few Stalinists.

JM regards its struggles against the Shah 100% valid. It regards that the part of the revolution (lets call it the Iranian revolution) that was against the Shah was good, and the part of the revolution (lets call it the Islamic revolution) which Khomeini became powerful was bad. There was an area that the two intersected during which Khomeini was able to sideline JM and assume the majority support (i.e., September 1978-onwards) among the protesters.

I think the phrase "sleeping with Khomeini" is something that monarchists and supporters of Dr. Bakhtiar use. I do not hear that from ALL other forces.

Keep in mind that other than monarchists (who wanted to continue their brutal tyranny and plundering of Iran) oppose the whole struggle for independence, freedom, and democracy. Even if we would have been able to create Sweden in Iran, the monarchists would have been upset. The monarchists, of course, are happy that Khomeini was sooooooooooooooooo horrible that they look good in comparison with Khomeini. I think it was Shazde who said that monarchists own the fundamentalist a huge dent because now they do not look as bad.


Dr. Bakhtiar’s supporters use that in the debate against JM. I remember back around 30 years ago, JM members used to say that Bakhtiar "slept with the Shah and monarchists."


Ironically, 30 years ago, I used to say that that phrase is wrong, as today I say the phrase JM slept with Khomeini is wrong.

I think, we Iranians suffer from "historical amnesia." In 1978, people forgot about Khomeini’s opposition to land reform and female franchise. In 2010, people forget about the brutalities and utter repression and dictatorship of the Shah.

In my view, our scholars (historians, political scientists), intellectuals, journalists, and politicians failed in 1978 to tell the people about Khomeini’s utter reactionary and dictatorial policies. I hope we do NOT make similar mistake of being silent about the reactionary and dictatorial policies of the monarchists.





Dear Masoud

by Parham on

Again, thanks for your response. So I was completely wrong to think Bani-Sadr had run for the Islamic Republic Party! Huh.

About JM's strategy regarding him and other opposition members, as I said, it's really JM's prerogative to think up its strategy. However, why do I get the impression that JM doesn't think much of the impact of its image when it considers all the elements of that same strategy, I wonder...

I think this is also what applied to Sanjabi's case -- which brings me to a question. Do you, personally, believe Sanjabi made a mistake by turning his back to the three-man pact to side with the revolution or not?

Masoud Kazemzadeh

Parham jaan on Bani Sadr and Sanjabi

by Masoud Kazemzadeh on

Parham jaan,

Bani Sadr was a member of JM in the early 1960s. In 1963, the Shah put in jail about 6,000 members of JM. Bani Sadr was one of them. From early 1970s, Bani Sadr was NOT a member of JM. But he kept his connections with us.

Bani Sadr was a member of Khobregan which wrote the constitution. Five members of Khobregan voted against the principle of Velayat Faqih. Bani Sadr and Ayatollah Taleqani were among the five who opposed the position of vali faqih.


For the 1980 presidential election, the IRP’s candidate was Hassan Habibi. Bani Sadr was strongly opposed by the IRP. Bani Sadr kissed the hand of Khomeini, something that Bazargan did not do.

Some in JM supported Bani Sadr for the presidency while some JM members supported Admiral Dr. Madani. PMOI supported Bani Sadr. Bani Sadr also got some implicit support from Khomeini. Later on, Khomeini explicitly said that he did not support Bani Sadr.

Bani Sadr said a lot of bad stuff. However, Bani Sadr also did a lot of good stuff. Bani Sadr strongly stood up to Khomeini. He exposed the torture of political prisoners by the regime. In 1981, he risked his life in the struggle against Khomeini.

We should recognize that Iranians are composed of many diverse groups. There is very little consensus on anything of political substance. Bani Sadr does have some support. Should he ever become president or prime minister. My answer is "definitely no." But lets say, he has about 1% support among the people. He now supports a secular democratic republic. So, he is not undermining the secular democratic opposition. He could bring some religious minded people from small towns to the democratic opposition. That is good for the opposition and bad for the vf regime.

In the post-fundamentalist Iran, he could run form Majles from Hamedan (his hometown). Either he would win the election, or lose the election.

The questions is that in the struggle against the vf regime, we need to make as many allies as possible who do not pose a major threat to the democratic forces. Bani Sadr was very instrumental in the trial in Germany which convicted the agents of the regime in the assassinations of Dr. Sharafkandi and his friends.

Your definition of "opportunism" is not the definition that is commonly used in political discourse. It is not the definition that ROOG is using. ROOG is using the term as a fohsh. Meaning that he sold his principles for getting into personal power. FACT actually 100% refute that. If Sanjabi was opportunistic, then he would have worked with the Shah all those years. If he was opportunist, he would have accepted to become prime minister from the Shah. If he was opportunist, he would accept Khomeini’s offer to become a member of Shoray Enghelab. If he was opportunistic, he would remain silent when the popular thing was to support the summary executions of monarchists. If he was opportunistic, he would have not resigned on April 15, 1979 as a matter of principle (for due process of the law and human rights of the monarchists). Time and time again, Sanjabi stood up for PRINCIPLES. He stood up against dismissing female judges. Sanjabi and JM were the only entities that had the courage to do so in May 1979. JM actually called for a rally at the Univ of Tehran. The same with standing up to Khomeini in closing of Ayandegan.

Sanjabi and JM placed their lives and honor and principles as among the most trusted entities in the early days to stop and weaken Khomeini. These are historical facts.





Dear David

by Parham on

Thanks a lot! Except I was serious about that "autoplay" and the size of the video on the home page! : )
By the way, the java script on the home page doesn't work either. I checked, and I do have java enabled in my browser (I use Firefox), so there's something wrong with the script. That unfortunately gives a sloppy image of the web site to the viewer, i.m.o.

This is what I see when I go to your homepage (minus the music that I have no control on at first).


End Of An Era, Beginning Of A New One .....

by R2-D2 on

Masoud Jaan,

Hope you don't mind my getting a bit off the subject here - But, this weekend something extraordinary happened in Turkey:

The entire Joint Chiefs of Turkey Military (Army, Air Force, and Navy) resigned en masse in protest to the actions taken by the Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan recently -

For sometime now, a large number of senior military officers have been arrested with the charge of wanting to topple Erdoğan's Government - As you may remember, Turkey's military used to do this on a routine basis -

However, in the last election, the Justice and Development Party (AK Party), which is Erdoğan's Party, received 50% of the vote, but not the nercessary 2/3 which would have allowed them to re-write Turkey's Constitution by themselves -

As you may know, the AK Party has highly Islamist tendencies - The military in Turkey has been the vanguard and the protector of a Secular Society since the death of Mustafa Kemal (Ataturk) -

It's going to be interesting how things develop from this point on - One thing is for sure: The role of military has significantly diminished in Turkish Society in the past several years - Hopefully, the Turks wouldn't go the way of our beloved Iran :) !









Dear Masoud

by Parham on

Many thanks for your comprehensive reply.
I think you and I have had this discussion before -- a long time ago on the old JM BB.

First of all, what was being talked about in earlier messages here as a viable opposition to the Shah was the JM of 53-79, the period you didn't consider in your answer. In fact, the Shah wasn't in power after 1979!

Then you still seem to consider Bani-Sadr as a JM figure in the elections of the Islamic Republic. I remember in our first discussion you left it a moot point when I asked what about the Islamic Republic Party ("hezbe jomhurie eslami") under whose banner he was "running" at the time; whereas in fact he was the leader of that party, not a member of JM. I don't believe he even considered himself a JM affiliate at that point at all. In fact, has he ever really been a JM member or affiliate? What has he done other than using Mossadegh's good image here and there?

As for Bani-Sadr and his supporters (does he have any? Really??) being among the democratic crowd, I doubted that back then and I still doubt it. I think he has already failed that test and shown his abilities and depth of mind in that regard. He hasn't scored well at all on my book anyway. But then it's up to Jebhe Melli to know who they want to sharp-shoot with.

About Dr. Sanjabi, I define opportunism as seeing what's in front of one's nose as opposed to thirty years down the road. As he did exactly that in 1978, I cannot put any other qualification to the decision he took then by so easily turning his back to the pact he had made. Otherwise we all know that he had his differnces with Khomeyni later. In any case, as I said it too, it was already too late when all of that happened anyway. What's in question is the image that move later gave to the Jebhe Melli, and honestly, I think "religionoutofgovernment" has a point there.

Kind regards.


best to write a new constitution together

by MM on

wouldn't it best to gather with the other seculars to write a new constitution together, instead of doing it alone and then say here it is?

David ET


by David ET on

Very helpful suggestions. Thanks a lot. ALL DONE! 

The link was also added.

Masoud Kazemzadeh

JM, INF-AO and a new democratic constitution

by Masoud Kazemzadeh on

JM and INF-AO have not proposed a new constituion.  JM had supported the constitution that the Provisional Governemnt had authored in August 1979.  It was a demcoratic constitution.  It did not give any position to clerics.  It did not have VF, it did not have shoray Negahban, or Khobregan, or any other position for clerics of Khomeini.

The IRP opposed it and they changed it and added the dictatorial institutions to it.  When Abbas Amir-Entezam organized those who were opposed to the fundamentalist constitution, he became a target of the attacks by IRP.  He was accused of spying for the US, helping monarchists escape Iran, etc.

I personally, think it would be a good idea to write the best constitution possible for Iran by JM or INF-AO.  Then, organize other forces around this document.


My 2 cents,



Masoud Kazemzadeh

Parham, ROOG, etc

by Masoud Kazemzadeh on

I am grateful so many thoughtful comments in this blog. Instead of responding to each person, let me provide some answers to the general questions.


1. The "strength" of a party is measured in several ways. In the period under discussion (1978-1981):

1.1. Ultimately, (and certainly in a democratic setting) how many people would vote for it. Despite all obstacles in 1951-53 period and even under the terribly adverse situation in 1980, those associated with JM and liberalism did very well in elections. For example, in the Presidential election in 1980, Bani Sadr got 70 something percent of the vote and Dr. Madani got 25% of the vote. The candidate of the IRP (Islamic Republican Party), Hasan Habibi got only 5% of the vote. Some JM cadres supported Madani and some supported Bani Sadr (2 top Bani Sadr lieutenants who got executed in 1981 were members of JM). We do not know what percentage of Bani Sadr’s support came from JM voters. For the same of argument say at a minimum it was 10%. If one adds the 25 of Madani and 10 from Bani Sadr, we get 35% of those who voted were JM voters.

In March 1980 elections for Majles, the IRP and Khomeini were frieghted by the vote of liberals and did ALL they could to increase the vote of IRP. According to the calculations of Prof. Abrahamian, the IRP’s share of the vote was around 35% although they ended up getting 65% of the seats. About 5 or 6 JM members (e.g., Sanjabi, Ardalan, Madani, Qashqaei) got elected to Majles, but none of them were allowed to take their seats. About a third of the seats went to Nehzat Azadi and supporters of Bani Sadr.

The regime did not allow the counting for those districts where PMOI candidate was ahead and might have won. Those vote counting were cancelled.


The actual VOTES in 1980 do illustrate that huge segments of the population in actual votes, voted for JM, Nehzat Azadi, and Bani Sadr despite violence by the IRP-IRGC thugs.

1.2. Other factors such as the quality of leaders, numbers of cadres, also matter greatly. For example, the PMOI was highly organized but in actual elections they did not do very well. To some extent, this was true for the Fadaian. They had large numbers of young university students members, but they did not do well in elections.

1.3. JM’s leaders then (and now) are known to the public.

1.4. The major weakness of JM was organization and discipline. The top tier leaders of JM, are highly independent persons and they do not simply follow the decision of the top leader.

1.5. JM also lacked cadres at this time. Most young persons (18-30 year olds) who would constitute cadres were supporters of Fadaian, Peykar, PMOI, and IRP.



TODAY, things have changed greatly.

The political and ideological bankruptcy of the fundamentalist project in Iran has seriously undermined the IRI. Only the reformist wing of the fundamentalist project (Khatami, Mousavi, Karrubi) has something to say and they do have their supporters among the youth. To what extent the youth uses the reformist fundamentalists to merely express their opposition to the whole VF project and to some extent they are true believers of the reform of vf nezam remains to be seen.

The collapse of communism, also has had its impact on Iranian left. Today, communism simply does not have the appeal that it enjoyed in 1978-1981 period.

The PMOI also has lost much of its appeal among the population.

The monarchists are then and now pretty much the same: about 5 to 10 percent of the population. Most of them appear to have become more extremist, more tyrannical, more dictatorial, more fascistic.




I see the following groupings in Iran:

1. Pro-Democracy. This group includes JM, NAMIR, Iran Liberal Party, Hezb Mellat Iran, Bani Sadr’s supporters.

2. IRI. This includes the hard-liners, Rafsanjani faction, and reformists.

3. PMOI.

4. Marxists.

5. Monarchists.

6. Ethnic parties. The largest being the Democratic Party of Iranian Kurdistan.

7. The loyal opposition to IRI. This included Nehzat Azadi, and Melli Mazhabis.



in each group there are intense conflicts and competition.




On JM and NAMIR.

NAMIR members were JM members who left in December 1978. NAMIR leaders are genuinely democratic, Mossadeghi, secular, and decent.

Same with JM members.


Neither Dr. Bakhtiar nor Dr. Sanjabi was opportunistic. Both were principled men, both were brave, and both did what they thought was the best policy for Iran and Iran’s national interests.

The question is was it possible to save the situation and prevent Khomeini’s rise in December 1978. My answer is "NO."

The JM could have save the situation and brought a transition to democracy in June 1977 when the open letter to the Shah was signed by Sanjabi, Bakhtiar and Forouhar. JM was at this time the main opposition to the Shah. JM led the movement against the Shah’s tyranny until about August 1978. Due to a variety of factors including the Shah’s horrible policies and mass slaughter of the protesters, JM’s appeal reduced while Khomeini’s appeal INCREASED. By September 1978, Khomeini had the majority support among the protesters.

Had the Shah understood the situation and gave a damn about the national interests of Iran, he would have immediately accepted JM’s demands, leave Iran, and have the JM bring a transition to democracy. JM could have done this for certain by August 1978. Dr. Sanjabi was willing to take the responsibility as late as early November 1978. Amazingly the Shah refused to accept Sanjabi’s very very mild and reasonable demands.

By December 1978, when Dr. Bakhtiar became prime minister, it was simply not possible to prevent Khomeini’s rise to power without a huuuuuuuuuuuuuuuge bloodbath. In the video of interview with Bakhtiar that ROOG posted, Bakhtiar says that the generals "betrayed" him and now many of them are living in Los Angeles. Several of them were executed right away.

The Shah himself who had ordered the mass murder of about 2,900 protesters since 1977, did not accept the policy of blood-bath proposed by Admiral Habibollahi (the Commander-in-Chief of the Navy), and Gen. Nasiri (Head of SAVAK), and Shahriar Shafigh (son of Ashraf, shah’s twin sister).


By refusing to accept JM’s demands on time, the Shah is directly and totally responsible for the rise of Khomeini. By Nov 1978, although Sanjabi accepted the responsibility, it might have been too late. Nevertheless, Sanjabi accepted. It was the Shah that in Nov 1978 was not willing to leave in order to save Iran. The Shah placed his own megalomania and his own interests above those of Iran and the interest of the Iranian people.

After December 1978, JM was simply too weak to prevent Khomeini’s rise. It was a matter of time and modality. Perhaps the only way to prevent Khomeini’s rise was to engage in bloodbath of something like mass slaughter of hundreds of thousands or millions of people. JM is simply not the party to do such a thing. Even the Shah did not do such a thing. Even the armed forces general command did not do such a thing and declared its neutrality.


The notion that Dr. Bakhtiar wanted to be prime minister or that Dr. Sanjabi wanted to be prime minister is false. BOTH men were of principle. Neither was opportunist. It is both false and insult to throw such things at these great men who risked their lives under very perilous conditions to save Iran the best way each thought could be done.

Dr. Sanjabi rejected Khomeini’s offer to be a member of the Revolutionary Council because as a matter of principle he was against the Revolutionary Council.

JM has an actual PROOF of being 100% democratic action. We condemned the human rights violations of the Shah when he was in power. AND after the overthrow of the monarchy, when fascist Khomeini’s henchman Khalkhali was violating the due process of the law and executing monarchists (and many others, many of who were fully innocent) with total support from the criminal Khomeini, what did Dr. Sanjabi and JM do?????????????? JM and Dr. Sanjabi openly criticized and condemned the lack of due process and strongly condemned the executions. JM and some in Nehzat Azadi (Mehdi Bazargan) were the only groups that opposed the violations of due process and executions.

BOTH the Shah and terrorist Khomeini executed their opponents. JM and Dr. Sanjabi bravely criticized and condemned BOTH regimes for dictatorship and executions, and violations of human rights.

JM was among a few organizations that supported the women’s movement against compulsory veil in March 1979.

Dr. Sanjabi and the JM members RESIGNED from the provisional government on Farvardin 26, 1358, which is April 15, 1979. From Feb 11, 1979 when the monarchy was overthrown and April 15 is about 63 or so days

Dr. Sanjabi and JM were in the cabinet until April 15, 1979. Sanjabi resigned due to the violations of the due process in the revolutionary courts and interference in the work of the government by extremist forces.

JM was the sole political organization that OPPOSED and CONDEMNED Khomeini’s order to dismiss all female judges. JM organized a mass rally against Khomeini’s order in May 1979.

JM was one of few organizations that publically condemned Khomeini’s closing of Ayandegan in August 1979.

JM and Dr. Sanjabi openly called Khomeini "like fascist" is 1979.

In August-September 1979, JM openly and courageously condemned the dictatorial VF constitution and called for rallies against this reactionary dictatorial fundamentalist constitution.


In November 1979, JM openly condemned the terrorist Khomeini’s support for the terrorist action of the Daneshjooyan Khat Imam for taking and holding American hostage.


In December 1979, JM as the main pro-democracy organization of Iran openly declared the reactionary, dictatorial vf constitution as illegitimate and the "fake vote" as fake and unacceptable and illegitimate.


In 1981, JM condemned the reactionary and backward Qanon Qesas as reactionary and backward. We called upon the people to protest it.

The FACT of the matter is that Dr. Sanjabi fought against Khomeini as soon as he was engaging in dictatorial actions. Sanjabi risked his life in do so. It is therefore, wrong to call this brave man an opportunist.

We do know that Dr. Bakhiar’s policies did not succeed. We do know that Dr. Sanjabi’s policies did not succeed. It is true that there were also personality conflicts between these two great men. We cannot know what would have happened if they both (and both factions of JM) followed Bakhtiar’s policy of Sanjabi’s policy. Certainly JM would have been stronger if there was no split in Nov 1978.

Many supporters of Dr. Bakhtiar are now members of INF-AO. They are elected to INF-AO leadership positions.


Our primary enemy is the VF regime. The stronger the JM and INF are the higher the likelihood of us succeeding in overthrowing the vf regime and establishing democracy in Iran.

But today we are fighting against the vf regime. We need to gather the pro-democracy forces in a broad based alliance. As a first step, we need to bring together all the pro-democracy forces.

Vast numbers of Iranian people want a secular democratic republic. JM has been advocating this objective for at least 3 decades. Lets be honest, this is the sole system (democratic secular republic) that would work in Iran to bring democracy.

I hope this is helpful.




Vildemose / Parham - You are welcome

by MM on

And, thanks for your suggestions and corrections.


Found a couple more (

by Parham on

1- The link to your Facebook page/cause no longer works. The page says: "This cause no longer exists."

2- A suggestion: Never put a video or sound file on autoplay on a web page, especially the home page. This is one of the rules of good design. Other than the fact that it can cause problems for people who go to your page from work, it can be quite annoying. More, the size of that YouTube video doesn't allow anyone to see the amount of work put into it. It's such a shame for such a work of art!


And as a suggestion...

by Parham on

... I don't know what your rules are, or how you go about choosing the various links to different web sites on your links page, but I doubt it would hurt if you added this one as well.


Re: Dear Parham

by Parham on

Hello David! You're welcome for the correction. While you are at it, on the English page of your web site, in article 11, the sentence should read "prisoners of conscience" at the end, and not "conscious," as it's commonly mistaken.

David ET

Dear Parham

by David ET on

Thank you for brining it to our attention that the last link (Bahram Maskanian Secular Constitution) no longer works. Unfortunately as I just Googled,  I could not find any reference to it anymore, as his site may no longer be active. 

For now we will have to remove the link from //

With this experience and to prevent losing these important attempts that are results of hard workd of individuals, we will therefore post them in Iran Secular website as a backup resource. I just emailed him for more info.

If anyone has more luck in locating this document (may be cached) please send an email to

Thank You



by Parham on

Thank you for all the links. Just a note that the last one doesn't work.
I had no idea to this day that there were already drafts of the future constitution on the web!
Lots of good reading there...


 MM Jan: Thank you for

by vildemose on

 MM Jan: Thank you for those links. I had no idea...Now, I have to read them all....too lazy


"Politics is the art of looking for trouble, finding it everywhere, diagnosing it incorrectly and applying the wrong remedies." - Groucho Marx



by Aria on

Have no tolerance for criticism of Mossadegh.



by MM on

I like your suggestions, but I also think that a good vision starts with a secular constitution.  While I see lots of sugested secular constitutions in the web, e.g.:

قانون اساسی پیشنهادی ایران سکولار

قانون اساسی پيشنهادي حقوقدانان جنبش سبز   


مانیفست پيشنهادي جمشید آزادی نژاد 

قانون اساسي پيشنهادي كاوه شيرزاد


قانون اساسی پيشنهادي بینش نوین


قانون اساسی پيشنهادي اردشیر دولت


 قانون اساسي پيشنهادي بهرام مسکنییان



Maybe I have missed it, but I do not see one from JM.  i.e., JM needs to make it clear if they are still trying to work within the present constitution, as Mr Boroumand suggested in the video, or JM has also gone beyond the present and past constitutions and see a vision described in a set of well-defined secular laws for Iran.  A set of laws, based on human rights, freedom of speech/race/info/religion/gender, separation of religion/state and true election of the officials that we can all point to and say "that is the common denominator that binds us".

sorry about the formatting problems




J.M was khaen as much as Islamists...tudeh...MEK..etc.

by Siavash300 on

All shah's opponents were khaen. They put our nation in such a misery we are facing for last 32 years. They are as guilty as other groups.

خیانت شاخ و دم ندارد

These are the ones who cheerleadered Khomainie, encouraged him against shah,  welcomed khomaini upon his return to Tehran,  voted to barbaric republic, participated in khomainie's provisional government and back stabbed all Iranian people. They helped the barbaric republic to be stablized. Shame on them.