Questions for Reza Pahlavi
New York Times
28-Jun-2009 (7 comments)

You are said to be a leader of the Iranian exile groups working to overthrow the regime whose clerics and mullahs overthrew your father exactly 30 years ago in the Islamic Revolution and forced your family out of the country. What do you do on a day-by-day basis, exactly?
I am in contact with all sorts of groups that are committed to a secular, democratic alternative to the current regime. We believe in a democratic parliamentary system, where there’s a clear separation between church and state, or in this case, mosque and state.

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Darius Kadivar

Parham Very True

by Darius Kadivar on

I should also add that his Public Relations truly Sucks!

He has done some very good interviews in France but what I am wary of is that all this is a ONE MAN SHOW !

I mean sadly even the MKO has more credibility in terms of popular support.

Maryam just has to snap her fingers and she can gather 90 000 supporters from all over Europe (especially Germany) to gather for one day at VillePinte Sports Stadium and get all the cheers they need in front of the French TV cameras ...

RP's speaches and interviews however contrast greatly with the Political Rhetoric of the MKO leaders and that is something that the Journalists are now to a great degree noticing because he does not speak like a Fanatic.

But in all fairness I think that he has to accept surrounding himself with more thinkers and less Shahollahis, most of whom display a very amateurish approach to politics (even in terms of propaganda).

He does have a few "thinkers" arund him who indirectly support him like journalist Nourizadeh and Mohsen Sazegara ( a former founder of the Revolutionary guards) who has first hand experience if lets say they need someone to take hold of the Army if we see regime change ( although I don't trust Sazegara knowing his past allegiences and he may even be tempted to take the lead as President) but that is not enough and they are not necessarily people ready to assume political responsabilities.

Also personally as a Constitutional Monarchist ( even if RP is not the spokesmen of this party to which I am not a member either but only sympathizer) I like to look at the long term.

This is not about Winning an Election. Its about Restoring Faith in a political alternative to 30 years of incompetant but also treacherous rule of a truly un-Iranian domestic policy.

What program does he have to offer other than the Referendum ? Be it Economically, culturally and politically any such movement requires a "Project de Societé" like the French say. That is a Political vision.

It is all fine to say we will have a Referendum once the regime is toppled but you need to have something to offer in exchange. A pamphlet or a blueprint for change is not enough.

The fact that he advocates a kind of Solidarnosc Movement in itself is I think a good thing even if he is not alone to claim its leadership. 

But lets imagine he does succeed in toppling the regime and that people choose the Restoration of the Monarchy instead of a Secular Republic. RP's role will then have to be figurative in theory but how can that be given that he has already entered the political sphere (including right now by opposing the current regime) ? So what guarantee do we have that he will not occupy the vacuum of political leadership within the new domestic political landscape ( which will inevitably appear after the Regime Change) ?. What difference would that make with a Velayeteh Fagih (even if he were a Good Obedient, humanist  Guy unlike Khamenei) even if its Under a Secular Cloak ? These are legitimate and Practical questions to which I do not have an answer and to which RP needs to give satisfactory answers other than his good faith.  

Juan Carlos in Spain was faced with the same dillema except that he was imposed by a dying dictatorship and its founder General Fanco. But Carlos' political genius was to gradually step out of the political responsabilities after choosing a Prime Minister from within the existing Fascist Party ( at the time Suarez) of General Franco but who was of the same age as the King. By accepting to become Prime Minister of the King he indirectly forced the Francists to legitimize the Monarchy and this forced them to make concessions to the left wing parties and create a kind of coalition and allow not only Free elections but also the possibility of an alternative sharing of power which the French call Alternance. The  military  Coup in 83  was a gem of an opportunity for Juan Carlos to prove he was genuinly a democrat because he chose to side with the Democrats and parlimentarians. That was Truly what legitimized Juan Carlos' Reign more than anything else particularly in the face of public opinion and particularly the socialist and left wing opposition.

This is What I was hoping on behalf og the Reformist Camp and Khatami to understand back in 1996 that he would try to create the conditions for a national reconciliation including with the Monarchists :

Khatami Questioned by Zoroastrian thinker Farhang Mehr and former Minister of Education in Imperial Pahlavi Regime:

But Khatami dissapointed many and failed miserably.


That is why Many in Spain call themselves Juan Carlist and Not Monarchists.

But RP has to yet prove his capacity to not only rally the opposition but also gain the trust of those who naturally are Republican and would rather see him either as President for a short term or step out of the political scene after the Referendum.

Personally one of the reasons I advocate a Restoration ( after an internationally supervised Referendum of course) and therefore a Constitutional Monarchy is that we won't have to deal with an ambiguous situation like often in South American pseudo Democracies.

For instance The Peronists who for decades tried to create some kind of Presidential Dynasty after Eva Peron's Death. 

If People choose a Presidency with RP as President ( something that to date he has said he would turn down but would not oppose another candidate to run in his place) then that would mean that he will try to create a Pahlavist Party and therefore try and pass on a Political legecy which anyone could then claim to inherit ( since I doubt that her young and innocent daughters will truly be able to carry on such a Political burden on their own shoulders and no one would take them seriously).

But as Monarch he would be succeeded at best by his own eldest daughter who would then ONLY have a ceremonial duty as is the case in all European Monarchies. 

Given the nations experience and knowledge of the Constituitional Revolution of 1906 and the Coup of 1953  no one will want to see the absorbtion of power in the hands of the King or Queen anymore.

So from this Stand point the role of those who will draft the future Constitution will be determinant. For it will have to TRANSPARENTLY draw the lines between the Ceremonial Role of the King or Queen and institutionalize the Seperation of Powers.

This is precisely what Shahpour Bakhtiar was proposing as to the role of the Provisional Government :


This is something that RP also quoted in his book.

But Theory is Not Enough, as long as RP is a ONE MAN SHOW, it is difficult to fill in the vaccum in making suggestions and proposing solutions and debating them. For that he will have to create a government in exile in a near future very much like Khomeiny did with the Bazarghan and co.

Ironically The Dillemas faced by RP are exactly similar to those of the Revolutionaries in 79 ...

Except that this time it will be about truly implanting an enduring Secular Democracy.

These are legitimate questions to which RP needs to address at some point in a near future otherwise its just wishful thinking on his part ...

Creating an Opposition means doing Team Work and I have alas to yet see this on behalf of the  Secular Opposition ( Republican and Constitutional Monarchists Alike) to date.





by Parham on

I agree, but one has to look at the fact that these are the questions people ask too... If he's giving the same replies to them, no wonder he has a hard time capturing a larger audience than monarchists.

Now the funny/sad thing about all this, as I was thinking the other day, is that he's one of the few advocating democracy nowadays. I don't know if you've noticed, but we don't have many Iranians/figures advocating plain democracy! I actually think that's so sad, personally...



by Sassan (not verified) on

In fact, the Islamic revolution, if you study it fairly and with an objective eye, was one of the least bloody revolutions in history. But, of course, the mullahs succeeded so well in making it "seem" bloody. As former revolutionaries have admitted in public (Akbar Ganji), the Shah's misdeeds were grossly exaggerated to destablize his regime (as such, this illiterate reporter's claims of "billions" stolen by Pahlavis or massive bloodshed by the Shah is simply foolhardy).

The truth, in fact, is that much of the blood that was shed during the revolution was by the evil hands of the militant mullahs (Khomeini, Khamenei, Rafsanjani, Khalkali, etc). As Khomeini once said, "Our revolution is like a tree that needs the blood of martyrs to grow." That's why Palestinian thugs were imported to set Cinema Rex on fire. That's why Palestinian sharp-shooters were stationed above meydoon Jaleh (Black Friday) and fired onto Shah's army, which, caught off guard, returned fire, killing 116 people (not 4,408) as the mullahs famously claimed.

Even the act of appointing General Azhari as commander of martial law in 1978 was indicative of the Shah's desperate attempt to minimize bloodshed, for Azhari was a terribly weak man (in comparison to Gholam Ali Oveissi) and even had a heart-attack during the revolution.

In fact, after the Shah left Iran and while receiving medical assistance in New York, a former US Ambassador came to see the ailing king in the hospital. The Shah asked the Ambassador as to why the US had abandoned him, to which the Ambassador had no answer. The Ambassador's wife responded by asking the Shah as to why he didn't stay in Iran and fight for his throne, to which the Shah replied (and I'm paraphrasing here) that a dictator derives his power from his army. A king get his power from his subjects (his people). As such, he didn't think it right to sit on a throne that rested on the blood of his own people.

All in all, the objective conclusion is that the Shah was a decent man, a patriot who made many mistakes, but im my opinion, they were mistakes borne out of good intentions (not to mention that when you try to modernize a backward, but strategic nation, you're bound to make some very serious enemies, most of which were either traitors (Tudeh) or terrorists (Mujaheds, Fedayoun) or bloodsuckers (mullahs).

Frankly, if he was a little more of a bastard, he would have liquidated all three groups above, then perhaps we wouldn't be in this mess today! And this is coming from a guy whose parents marched in the streets of Tehran n 1978 against the Shah, not to mention that my father and uncle were desciples of Mossadegh and even had a very close friendship with Takhti.

Darius Kadivar

Anonymously because he advocates a Referendum

by Darius Kadivar on

so that the people decide on the choice they wish to make.

Its Called Democracy ... Not a GREEN Election.



by Anonymously on


ps: he doesn't even mention constitutional monarchy, but a "democratic parliamentary system." why can't he be straight-forward (ie, truthful) about it?!

Darius Kadivar

"Langue De Bois" Answers to Stereotyped Questions ...

by Darius Kadivar on

I agree but the Answers are as stereotyped as the Questions. I think the interviewer sounded stupid and lhe wanted to give blunt answers.

Personally I think that RP is not using the right strategy in that I think he should not be the ONLY Spokesman of what he advocates, that is a Constitutional Monarchy.

But who listens ? ...



A couple of points

by Parham on

I'm beginning to wonder when RP will NOT sound so off. For someone who says he supports democracy, he still makes considerable mistakes in the way he replies after all these years. Example:

"If they are in fact students of my father, his ultimate act of refusing suppressive bloodshed in favor of exile should be their test."

This, to me, seems to mean two things:
1- That his father did not shed blood during the course of the revolution (and before), which is false.
2- The statement seems to be based on the premise we hear often from hardcore monarchists that if the Shah had shed more blood during the revolution, we wouldn't be here.
See what I mean?