Can the IRI Be Changed from Within?


by AnonymousHaha


Since Soraya's blog was shut for unknown reasons, I will post my answer here. I will also start by posting your Original Entry.

Mammad Wrote:

Peaceful changes in Iran

by Mammad on


I had decided that I would not respond to you, because, in my view, you are only interested in "winning" an argument, rather than debating, learning, and teaching. A person who is interested in winning only would be willing to say anything to win. However, I decided to respond to this comment of yours, because, aside from your usual slogans, misrepresentation, etc., you asked a good question: How do I think change must come to Iran.

Over the past two weeks I have published two articles about Iran on the internet and in print. In these article I have discussed my thoughts about how to make changes in Iran.

1. So long as there is an external threat to Iran's national security, the hardliners will use it to suppress all the groups that want deep changes for the better in Iran. This is what happens in any country under similar conditions. After the 9/11 events the Bush administration shoved down our throats the Patriotic Act, started eavesdropping on US citizens, checking mails and internet. Most critics of invasion of Iraq were silenced by attacks as unpatriots, etc. This is too well-known to ignore. Only when all the lies and deceptions became clear, the antiwar movement recovered. The same is true about Iran.

Therefore, the first step is removal of the threat. That is, preventing US military attacks on Iran.

2. Once the threat is diminished, the real work starts. Civil society groups, NGO, political parties, etc. should be built in Iran. They already exist, but only in embryonic state. We have labor movement, university student movement, feminist movement, reinterpretation of secondary Islamic teachings movement, etc. These are the backbone and pillars for building a democratic movement.

3. Political discipline should emerge. Political parties should accept members, and party discipline should be developed, which means a person who is a member of political party A would vote for the candidates of political party A. Again, these exist but in embryonic state.

4. The West should lift all sanctions on Iran. It is clear that they won't sell Iran weapons, but there is no reason for 95% of the present sanctions. A thriving economy that helps build up Iran's middle class will be a great help. Sanctions only hurt ordinary people. Sanctions can also lead to war, as in the case of Iraq.

5. People-to-people exchanges, NGO-to-NGO exchanges, should increase between Iran and the West. This would help preventing development of lies and exaggerations about Iran, which would contribute to peace.

6. As these are established, the democratic movement gets stronger. Then,

(a) The first goal should be the illegal aspects of what is done in Iran, within the present constitution. Vetting of the candidates for elections by the Guardian Council must be abolished. Revolutionary courts and the special courts for the clergy must be abolished. The Cultural Revolution Council must be abolished. The press law should go back to what it was 10 years ago, which was much better than today's. etc.

(b) Once these goals are achieved, then demands for deeper changes come to the surface. The authority of the Rahbar should become limited. The commander-in-chief of the armed forces must be the elected president. The Ministry of Intelligence must be controlled by the president. The military must become depoliticized. Rahbar should be elected by popular vote for a fixed period of time.

(c) Once these are achieved, the demands for the next and final changes come up: There is no need for Rahbar and it must be abolished.

(d) Demanding for any of these changes does exclude demands for the others, but a movement must have realistic achievable goals, not idealistic positions.

7. So, unlike many, I do not expect deep changes to come over night. It has to be done step-by-step. Development of democracy is a process, not a project that starts on a specific date and ends on a specific date. We have struggled for democracy since the 19th century. We can wait another 5-10 years.

8. Unlike you, I do not believe in superficial alliances or coalitions of various groups in exile. Alliance or colation, whether tactical or strategic, should be based on a minimum set of mutually acceptable principles. Just opposing the IRI is not enough. In exile, most are opposed to the IRI; it is a given. Therefore, there has to be more ground than that for alliance or coalition. For a republican like me, it is impossible to be in a coalition with monarchists.

9. I am not naive about the process. Clearly a price must be paid. When Akbar Gangi goes to jail for six years, he has demonstated that he is willing to pay the price. When Shirin Ebadi is constantly threatened, but continues her work, she indicates that she is willing to pay the price. The issue is not having any loss, or jail, or not getting hurt.. The question is MINIMISING the loss.

Now, you can view me any way you want. I absolutely do not care, and respect your opinion. But, if you want to respond, it has to be in a respectful way, without accusation, labeling, sarcasm, wisecracking, etc. It also must be without "gotchyu". People can make honest mistake. People can honestly forget something that they might have said or done in the past. That should not be an excuse to jump on them. It has to be without slogans. This is supposed to be a serious debate.

If you can do it, I'll respond. If not, I won't respond.



Question For Mammad

by AnonymousHaha on


I have a fews questions.

1) Can you name an instance in history where a governments grip on society such as the IRI's was removed by all the steps you proposed? I am talking about a governments that we could classify as dictatorships,semi fascist or totaleterian.

Please exclude the soviet union as it does not count for various reasons.

2) If you do find such an instance in history, did it take 10 to 15 years as you indicate below? If not 10-15 years, how long did it take?

3) During the Khatami years, there were no sanctions and the so called "conservatives", with amazing ease, silenced the so called "reformist" in no time. Assuming sanctions are lifted, what mechanism will gaurantee your second step below i.e " Civil society groups, NGO, political parties, etc. should be built in
Iran" to insure we have a viable "democratic movement" as you propose. Specifically, how will the Basijis, revolutionary gaurds and the Bonyads who rely so much on the system as it is now will be persuaded, peacfully, to give up their power and influence and control of Iran's resources?

Please explain.


Mammad Responded:

Answers for AnonymousHaha

by Mammad on

1. The best example is south Africa. Although South Africans struggled to get rid of apartheid for a long time, but it was only in late 1970s that the political organizations and other necessities that I described were ready to take on the regime. By 1990 the regime was gone.

2. Why does the Soviet Union not count? The movement for change was born in 1983. It existed before, but when Mikhail Suslov became the leader, it became strong. By 1988-1989 it had changed the system.

3. Czechoslovakia in 1967-1968. In less than a year we had the Prague Spring, full of freedom. It was only the Soviets' tanks that crushed it.

4. The Solidarity movement in Poland: In less than a decade not only the communist dictatorship was gone, it also triggered changes in the rest of Eastern Europe.

5. Argentina: The Generals overthrew the democratic government in 1976 (with the US blessing), and started a campaign of terror. By 1983 the regime was gone. Argentina has been a democracy ever since. It happened mainly through the efforts of political groups, and in particular mothers of those killed or disappeared.

6. Chile: In this case it took 17 years, but that was only because General Agusto Pinoche, with the US blessing, continued to use a campaign of intimidation, and the democratic movement did not want violence, just the way I described.

How many more do you want? I can give you a long list.

You also mis-stated the Khatami era, because,

1. Full sanctions against Iran were imposed in 1995, announced by Bill Clinton at a meeting of AIPAC.

2. When Khatami was elected, the US was actually ready to attack Iran, over the allegations, never proven, that Iran had a role in Khobar explosions.

3. The Khatami era was the embryonic stage. Yes, political "parties" did exist, but only superficially, since they did not, and still do not, have large membership, there was, and there still is, no party discipline, and NGOs only started to form. In fact, the reformists did not even have a program of change; they were not ready to lead.

4. There was not, and there still is not, the type of extensive people-to-people exchanges that I am talking about. The best evidence for it is the admission by Robert Gates, the US Defense Secretary, who said just three weeks ago that a lot of Americans should go to Iran to become more familiar with Iran.

People like me, who are at major research universities in the US, accept excellent Iranian students to come here to do Ph.D. every year, but they often do not get visa, purely because they are Iranian. This year, I have accepted three new students to join my research group, all outstanding students. Let's see how many of them get visa. Last year, I accepted four, only one of them got visa, AFTER A ONE YEAR DELAY FOR SECURITY CHECKS! ONE YEAR!

Now that I have responded to you, and have also described the way I believe people should organize, why don't you enlighten us with your way of doing things. Why don't you describe your way. I like to read it.


1) You list South Africa as the "best example". However, South Africa was under intense international sanctions and pressure. Much more intense than Iran is now. So Your best example is disqualified because of the reasons you yourself gave i.e. No Sanctions should be imposed on the IRI. More importantly, South Africa proves the exact opposite of what you claim i.e. that if you put intense sanctions (which will not work in the IRI case becase to many people want the oil) it will help the opposition.

2) Soviet Union does not count because it went bankrupt on its own while in competition with the USA and could no longer support its sattelite states. Does the IRI control multiple states? The Soviet Union was an Empire- No comparison to the IRI.

3) All the Other countries you listed may be an example but they all are missing one ingredient that the IRI has. OIL. The IRI has been surviving on oil. The Checz, Poles, Argentina did not have black gold to support them (Checz & Poles were Soviet sattelites as well). The IRI has lots of it and can pay off enough people to survive as an entity as long as it wants to while the oil is around. Why give up power when you can control so much money?

You failed to answer how these entities that sprang from the Islamic Revolution, which have so much power and influence, will give up power (Bonyads, Basij & Revolutionary Gaurds) when they are in control of all these petro dollars.

You somehow wish for all these different miracle like steps to take place (LIKE THE BIG BANG THEORY) for these power centers suddenly to give up their power through social arm twisting and debate without resort to the use of force.

And off course You and Q blame everything on the US (and the west). How convenient! Even the Khatami years you blame on US Sanctions? Come on Mammad. Is there anything you don't blame on the US and Zionists?

The only ammusing thing here is that Prof. Stephen Shalom was my Poli Sci professor at William Paterson. I had him for two classes. Very nice guy and very smart. It was all during the First Gulf War. I did not agree with him on many of the issues. The faculty at William Paterson (which also consisted of many ultra lefty loons and admitted communists) had decided and declared that Saddam had every right to invade Kuwait. It was fun listening to them.


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Great Article

by Zion on

Thanks. A shame it is not featured.


Re: Mammad

by jamshid on

I agree with almost every point you made in your argument on how to change Iran. However, there is a major flaw with your argumentation, and its starts from the first point you made.

You argued that removing the military threat is the first step. I agree. But what if the IRI continues to behave in a way that would invite confrontation? What if they find one excuse after another to threaten the West and to maintain the status quo? Wouldn't Iran remain under military threat for another three decades?

Most of your other points sound good but not feasible unless the IRI is ALREADY changed.

In my opinion, the first step is neither changing US's behavior nor IRI's. They will not change.

The first step starts with the people of Iran. We must find the common grounds between ALL oppositions to the IRI. This includes republicans, monarchists, jebheye melli, melli mazhabis, leftists, pro-secular clerics who oppose the IRI, even elements from within the IRI, and most importantly the silent majority which belongs to none of these groups.

What do they want? What are the things they all agree upon? 

The next step is to invite all Iranian scholars, writers, leaders as well as common people to discuss these common grounds and contribute to refining them.

Once the common grounds are discussed, refined and established, then all Iranians should be invited to support its articles.

The next step is to again invite Iranian scholars in Iran and abroad to write up a blue print of what a government replacing the IRI would look like. All religious, political, economical, ethnicity, and other important national issues should be covered without ceremony (without taarof.) They should be covered soley based on the common grounds agreed upon in the first step.

The third step is to ask all those who oppose the IRI to contribute in writing up a blue print for the overthrow of the IRI regime. This can include the creation of a national front which could serve as the voice of Iranians, exposing IRI's criminal, moral and economical crimes, preparing the people of Iran for a unified and focused civil disobedience campaign, committing the world powers not to attack Iran, and instead help the cause of Iranians for freedom and democarcy, and so on.

The last step is execution of these plans.

This does not require to accomplish the impossible, i.e., pressuring US to change its behavior (NIAC's goal), or the IRI to change its behavior (reformists' goal). Nor does it require that a vast majority agree with such movement. However, it requires us the people to change our behavior by:

1. setting aside our past and our divisions, and instead focusing on the future and our common grounds.

2. coming up with actual detailed blue prints of goals, methods and plans, instead of just talk.

3. focusing on getting the slient majority in Iran to join such movement, instead of focusing on the minorities (leftists, monarchists, jebheye melli, melli mazhabis and ALL other groups who are nothing but a minority.)

Your eighth point touched up some of these issues. However, you weakened it by stating "For a republican like me, it is impossible to be in a coalition with monarchists."

The bad news is that some monarchists could say the same thing about you. A member of jebheye melli could say the same thing about BOTH of you, and so on. In fact, this is what has gone for three decades. The results? one word, "failure."

Therefore in the movement that I talked about, there is no room for such inflexible individuals who are attached to their ideals more so than to their own people. They should simply step aside and allow others who so far have only been observers to step in. 

What Iran needs today is new blood, a new national ideology, a new way of looking at things, a new message, and a new group of selfless individuals with new ideas to step in.

Rosie T.


by Rosie T. on

Thorougly enjoyed your post.   Brilliant scintillating wit.  Concise, incisive. Afarin!  Unfortunately it will start a riot here. Please use your EXTRAORDINARY powers of  insight and wit to convey your views in a more productive way. 


Thank you Anonymous hahaha.

by shabnam (not verified) on

Thank you Anonymous hahaha. Many are in profound denial of the realties on the ground in Iran. It is sad to see this type of coping mechanism has afflicted even the academics who are trained to be objective and trained to "control method for confounding variables" in designing replicable research/experiments/theoritical model. Following the scientific research method, Mammad's hypothesis and theories collapse under the weight of all political and social theortical model.

On the issue of looming attack either by Israel or the U.S.: I'm utterly dumb founded. When was the last time either country claimed "bringing democracy" to Iran was the underlying cause of that decision? Why don't Iranian ever blame the warmongering and the militant goals and foreign policies/causes of the Islamic Republic, which directly run counter to what's good for the region and the world??

Even if America and Israel were wiped off the map tomorrow, there will be massive bloodshed when the Iranian people decide once and for to take their destinies in their own hands and kick the mullahs out of power. It is a hard cold fact. There are too many scores to settle.

I'm also dismayed when I see the American left still is trying to set the agenda for the future of Iran. When will they stop? Haven't they done enough damage to Iran already???


Common Ignorance

by Anonymous Iranian (not verified) on

Part of the reason the IRI has survived thus far (keep in mind, i did say PART), is that the US has served as a bona fide enemy at all times for the IRI government. Whenever there are short comings in society America has been a willing accomplice in sharing the blame for most problems. A country that's awash in oil and natural gas does not depend on foreign assistance for its survival. However, for its people to survive and thrive it is in need of foreign investment. The sanctions in place such ILSA (passed in 1995), and also sanctions and trade embargos setup in 1979 during the hostage crisis have only served to strengthen the hand of IRI government. Anything from plane crashes to the price of bread and meat to the economy in general is blamed on the US. As a result when you talk to the common person, they do have grievances towards America. They see America is hypocritical in its approach with Iran. They find it hard America is an advocate for democracy yet has done everything in its power to cripple and stifle the Iranian economy, something which all Iranians depend on. As a result, people are unwittingly aligned with the government, much in the same way they would be if Iran were militarily attacked. What America in general and the neocons in particular have been either too blind or simply ignorant to realize is, the value of patriotism. Iranians as a result of being surrounded by American forces and under economic sanctions for the past 29 years have developed a seige mentality. Something which only helps the IRI.
I say get rid of the sanctions. Create an atmosphere in the media where foreigners will line up to apply for Iranian visas. Let Iranians come and visit and study. Make the level of exchange to a point where the idea of freedom and western tolerance and democracy is transmitted on a people-to-people level to Iran. Nothing can be more powerful than a grassroots movement. Much of the IRI strength and longevity rests in the ignorance and simply not knowing better of its common folk. Eliminating sanctions and increasing contacts is the only way to get rid of that. Because the IRI will then have no one else to blame but themselves for their shortcommings.

Rosie T.

Haha, Mammad, Mama, I thought... REVISED REVISED

by Rosie T. on

that Reform Movement failed in no small part bacause of flanking of Iran on both sides by US military which caused hardliner backlash. Am I deluded?  If not, in this case Mammad is correct and the, or a,  first step is to stop US military pressure.  However please note, Mammad, that this must happen from WITHOUT as well as WITHIN Iran.  Granted,it's a tall order but if it must be accomplished, so be it. 

Also, I thought civil society does not mean merely political organizations and such.  I thought it refers to all organizations, cultural, ecological, social such as day care e.g., which are organized by the people rather than the government or traditional capitalist ventures.  That's vague I know, so if I'm WRONG, tell me, and if I'm right, you can provide a clearer definition.  But don't lose any sleep over it because, semantics aside, let me tell you the substance of my thoughts:


Now for the good part, take a deep breath and bear with me:

I once saw here last year a photo essay on GARDENING in Iran.  They have community-based gardens with extraordinarily  innovative methods.  Such community-based endeavours are an example of civil society. At the time many people on the website were starting to ask BUT WHAT CAN WE DO?, however, that discussion fell flat due to all the crap and garbage posted in the absence of any moderation.

Nevertheless, as I pondered this question, when I saw that photo essay on gardening, it occured to me in a flash:  THAT's  something we can really do!

We can encourage Iranians in Iran (and elsewhere) to organize campaigns to get these "civl society" groups and artists, etc. to flood the Internet and other media world-wide with beautiful photos and information about such activities: Gardens, fashion design, art galleries, community-organized day care centers, and artists, scientists why not?  and other creative innovative parties.  For example the gardeners flood the I'net but also target gardening magazines world-wide in the proper language, the community-run daycare centers take PICTURES (visuals ALWAYS important) of these cute kids and flood the I'net but also parenting and education magazines. the fashion designers target the I'net but also fashion magazines. Etc. etc. Activist outlets of all political persuasions are very important to target as these people generally lead the movements, but ALL media of all times are important.  I am speaking of a DELUGE. I thought this kind of campaign would fall below the radar of the Regime's censorship because it seems so innocuous--I mean sending photos of your fashion designs to Vogue?  Is it absolutely not allowed?--and it would show people the beauty and genius and HUMANITY of Persian culture (a knowlege particularly absent in the US, at least the Euros know that Persia is Iran and it is not Iraq and it is old) and it would make Iran seem like a HOPEFUL place where the nightmare CAN end.

Then as this type of consciousness is raised, people world-wide and within the U.S. wou;d feel motivated to organize and apply pressure to the US and to cut the crap.  So if I'm right in agreeing with Mammad that stopping US military ipressure is the, or A, primary goal, (why do I keep saying "if"?, of COURSE he's right, it's BASIC, whether I'm right about the Reform Movement or not), this one  piece of the puzzle could be accomplished from WITHIN Iran, WITHIN the US, and world-wide. That's after all what the new technologies (and we're on one right now) are FOR,  PLANETARY cooperation. evolutiom, and change.

If Obama wins, of course it will be easier (though no cakewalk, I fear) to apply such pressure on the US, if McCain wins that sucks but maybe not, and so in either case the gardeners must keep gardening and sending their brilliant photos and descriptions of their innovations and community-based organization to the gardening magazines all over the world.  Because, as for McCain, often when a situation becomes unbearable (as it probably will with his Hundred Years War), people organize better and faster.

What do you think?  Do you think I'm off the wall?  I have a background in the arts, public relations. education and community-based single-issue activism (i.e. civil society). I think it's very important to look at the softer and more subtle aspects of political change, if I may be so bold as to venture, the more FEMININE aspects of political change.  Or perhaps I should say the more "yin" ones to avoid causing conniptions among cetain stripes of  feminists who have attacked me here from time to time for being male chauvinist). 

Now for the bbest part, take a VERY deep breath and bear with me:.

The trajectory of "Western" (whatever that means) Civilization over 5000 years, IMHO, has been the linear development of "yang" or "male", ie., patriarchal technologies from the time our common ancestors, the Indo-Europeans, emerged from the steppe with their chariots and weaponry, all leading progressively from catapults to musket to the One Great Big Dick (pardon my French, don't delete me)--nuclear bombs, which are now capable of destoying "Mother" Earth (Gaia) in the blink of an eye (see Stanley Kubrick's films, "2001 a Space Oddysey" where the ancestral apes dance around a great phallic obelisk. and "Dr. Strangelove or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love The Bomb", which ends with a beautiful ballet of nuclear bombs/dicks shooting their wads of clouds of cum (don't flag me) andwhich  has but one woman in it amidst scores of male politicians and diplomats, who is a prostitute  servicing a politico john, who appears for a only moment as he receives a call about the nuclear crisis)/

 So, Big Dick technologies having reached this critical point, meaningful  political change, which is now a PLANETARY process,cannot occur if exclusively traditional Western ("yang") tools and thought processes are used.  Traditional "yang" politics, that is linear, syllogistic,  patriarchal, is crucial, but it must be wedded to the "yin", to art, feeling, ecology, etc.  In my opinion the Internet is the antidote which has arisen from the very trajectory of Big Dick technology, which has sprung from that very technology (from TV on all these technologies started in the military) and which [rovides a way out. "Yang" technology has arrived at its critical mass where it will either kill everyone on the (yin) planet or with the "soft" technologies of media well used, create an enormous global change, as all things contain the seed of and must engender their opposite (Taoism yin/yang , I Ching, Hegel) or cease to exist. In other words, we are at this very moment in the "matrix", which literally means "womb" and this new technology is both product of, and antidote to, the one from which it sprung). 

Or to put it as succinctly as possible, hey guys, stop being so guy-guy all the time and start thinking out of the box into the circle too. This is not JUST a locker room we're in, it is also a womb. 

If you haven't understood me, if my post made you uncomfortable, it's OKAY.  Just respond to the usual "yang" politcal questions such as the relationship of the Iraq War to the fall of Khatami, I really need to know.  The rest can wait.  I've shot MY wad and I feel better ow and hopefully I've planted a seed--semen litrally meaning seed-in some of you,  which sooner or later may grow..uh..perhaps a garden?  That's all I'd expect for now, just a seed  And anyway,.  just what did YOU expect from ME?  Ater all, I AM a GIRL. (As is Soraya but that's a whole other kettle of fish).  :o )

 P.S. Actually, I'm so swimming with the fishes (goldfishes?). really. that I have to read outloud every single thing I read and write of ;ogical complexity or it will flow right through my head like...water. This post I'm writing right now, all your posts on this thread, etc.etc ad infinitum. Reading out loud, right now.  I'm dumb you see.  And what's wrong with that?   LOL