Why Can't Arabs and Iranians Just Get Along?
foreignpolicy.com / John Limbert
03-Dec-2010 (9 comments)

Topping all these layers of religious and ethnic difference lie harsh political realities. The Arab states of the Persian Gulf are tradi tional monarchies dominated by ruling families; the Islamic Republic of Iran is a revolutionary, popu list state with republican forms resting on a theocratic base. And the last 60 years have not been kind to monarchies. The score card of crashed thrones is dramatic: Egypt (1952), Iraq (1958), Libya (1969), Ethiopia (1974), Afghanistan (1973), and Iran (1979). Who is next? Who can blame Persian Gulf rulers for feeling like an endangered species when their large non-Arab neighbor to the north -- born in a revolution that overthrew an Iranian king of kings -- not only follows what they see as heresy in religion, but espouses a political ideology that rejects the very idea of monarchy? Although the Islamic Republic has never been very good at diplomatic niceties, even those niceties it does practice cannot hide the fact that it rejects monarchs as illegitimate.

recommended by Darius Kadivar


Darius Kadivar

Anonymouse Jaan Who is "us" ? ... Or is it "Sucks" in Canada ?

by Darius Kadivar on

Oh I see you mean You S of A ... aka an IRANICAN definition of what U think Iranians at large think I suppose ...

Well Iran is not US of A ...

And it is simplistic to think that a nation and people can escape historical accountability ...

The Iranian Revolution was Not Highjacked it was merely a Mistake ...

Nothing awkward about a people to make mistakes. Nations equally cultured as ours made similar mistakes in the past be it the Germans in 1933 or the French during the Dark Years of German Occupation and the Pétain Collaborative regime.

But They Learned from those mistakes and Restored their Legitimate Institutions. If Iran was a Republic prior to the Islamic Revolution, I would have probably advocated the Restoration of the legitimate Republic and it's constitution.

It happens that we had a monarchy prior to the Devolution of '79 ... 

If He understood it early on:

Sokhanrani Dr. Bakhtiar be monasebat Mashrutiat

I don't see why the nation at large cannot after 30 years of tasting the Islamic Republic First hand and with the historical insights we have on what happened to us in hindsight ? ... 

Never late to acknowledge it even if I understand the romantic frustration to see that the "Glorious" Iranian Revolution won't go down in the history of mankind as a legitimate one like the French or American Ones have.

Mainly because it was anything BUT Iranian and from that point of view no wonder it appeals to the likes of Sargord !

Believe me You and other genuine Iranians deserve better than an artificial Jomhurykhah like solution to Iran's ills all the more that it is historically incoherent with Iran's constitutionalist history interrupted for the past 30 years due to our collective poor choice ...  

But indeed No one including me has to right to stop you from admiring and aspiring to an artificial concept :   

Hichi !!!



PS: Now if you are Canadian Iranian then Monarchy Until Further Notice Does Not "Suck" in Canada since whether you want it or not You are automatically a "Subject" of her Majesty ...  

PARLIAMENTARY DEMOCRACY: Should Australia Or Canada Become a Republic ?


Not sure all Canadians endorsed or continue to endorse De Gaulle's slogan "Vive Le Quebec Libre !" :

Christopher Plummer - CityLights' Brian Lineha

Hee Hee ... 



DK jaan monarchy is not for us!

by Anonymouse on

Akhe-e DK jaan, may any illness that you may or may not have fall smack on Sargord's head!  May he be sacrificed for you whenever necessary! Monarchy is not for us.

Just look at Pope and our VF for example.  See how dressed up and all glitzy they are and how sweat and rosewater smell our VF is?!  Their problem is whether Priests should wear condom and our problem is women can be killed with impunity because of sharia law.

When you walk in the streets of Iran and talk to people they say nothing is changed since they only removed Shah and put Khamanei instead of him. They equate monarchy with dictatorship.  The only thing we learned from monarchy is the ruthlessness and lack of compassion towards the "subjects".

And the old constitutional monarchy compromise is no longer on the table.  Shah could've used that option but as you know he rejected it until it it was too late.  So 1) since the option is no longer on the table and 2) the constitutional monarch at this time is just paying someone to live free on people's expense so that is even a worse option these days (deficits and all), then we should look elsewhere as in other forms of Governments.

Everything is sacred

Darius Kadivar

RG jaan I agree with you Israel is no exception to the rule

by Darius Kadivar on

Even if Israel is a Secular State (and notice a Republic aka Jomhury as a matter of fact) it is equally trapped in the Religious dichotomy to justify it's legitimacy as is the case with most regimes in the region regardless of whether they are Monarchies or Republics.

I believe that one of the major reasons is that we are all sharing a geographical landscape known as the Holy Land where the Three Monotheistic Religions ( Judaism, Christianity, Islam) were born and I am not including our own Zoroastrian Roots.

The "Holy" nature of the region added to the complex historical heritage that all the region's people share in common or at odd's with each other's aspirations be it culturally or religiously explain the difficulties of all regimes in the region to distinguish or operate the necessary distinction between Religion and State.

That is why the Middle East at large needs to go through what Europe went through and that is a Renaissance so to speak if it ever hopes to re emerge as a genuinely democratic subcontinent.



Good question DK, and I'd include Jews/Israel there too.

by Roozbeh_Gilani on

I believe that if you remove the ideologies of hate and division (Religious ideologies) and the motives behind these ideologies namely greed,deisre for money and power, then there should be no reason why the entire region can not live in relative peace and brotherhood. As an example, just take a look at Europe today vs what it was 70 years ago.

"Personal business must yield to collective interest."

Darius Kadivar

Anonymouse Jaan Precisely And that is why a Monarchy Can Never

by Darius Kadivar on

Become a Theocracy !

THEOCRACY VS ROYALTY ON SCREEN: Richard Burton and Peter O'Toole in "Becket" (1964)

FIRST THEOCRACY: Oliver Cromwell the King Killer (BBC)


Since the Monarchy unlike a Theocracy like the Vatican to this day, has proven to be Reformable into a democratic institution :


HISTORY FORUM: How Truly Democratic is The British Monarchy ?



ROYAL RHINOPLASTY: Stephen Fry On The Imperfections of the Monarchy and Why It Should Be Preserved 

And Not Just in Great Britain:

Be it In one form : 

HISTORY FORUM: Franco's Ghost- Spain's Painful Road Towards National Reconciliation

RESTORATION: Belgium King Baudouin takes Oath Amidst Republican Animosity (31st July ,1950)

Or Another: 

RESTORATION: King Simeon II of Bulgaria, The Republican Prince


For indeed Unlike the Queen of England, or other Constitutional Monarchs The Pope however elected by a selected few is an Absolute Monarch with undisputed powers:

THEOCRACY ON SCREEN: Anthony Quinn is Pope in "The Shoes of the Fisherman" (1968) 


THEOCRACY ON SCREEN: Rex Harrison as the Warrior Pope in "The Agony and The Ecstasy" (1965)



Replacing him often upon death is all the more difficult that he derives his powers directly from God very much like Divine Rulers of the Middle Ages.

Something that Modern Monarchies have long abolished since the Monarch is merely the embodiment of National Unity. And when I say "modern" that does not mean "recent". As a matter of fact in the case of England the "Divine" Rule of King's was already questioned in the Middle Ages when the nobles forced the King to Sign and promulgate the "Magna Carta". A Fundamental text which made it illegal to imprison or torture someone for their opinions or social rank and which subsequently led to what we know today as the Bill of Rights and implemented in all Democratic institutions including the American One:

RESTORATION: Britain's 'Glorious Revolution' of 1688 and the 'Bill of Rights'


Democratic aspirations are precisely Something that No Theocracy to date has been able to come to terms with:

HISTORY FORUM: secret files of the Inquisition: Episode One ( 5 Parts) 

Including Today's Vatican which still has to struggle with it's hierarchy in order to acknowledge a simple and necessary thing like the use of a Condom to avoid AIDS or accept Women to become Clerics ( unlike the Anglican Church, itself created  by King Henry VIII in opposition to the established Catholic doctrine defended by the Pope at the Vatican) which would make it compatible with modern standards and society at large.

It is precisely because the Monarchy's legitimacy depends on a bloodline that the institution had to adapt itself over the centuries and it became virtually possible to carve the Institution to fit the needs and demands of it's time regardless of the personality of the monarch or his or her successor. As such the Institution of the Monarchy evolved regardless of whether or not the Monarch in question was charismatic, strong or on the contrary proved weak or incompetent. As such the Royal Institution evolved in the hands of the People themselves and the nation's will at large who actively became the Architects of not only their own destiny but also that of their governing body which happened to be a Royal institution. Where as a Pope or Velayateh Fagih remain "Godly" and "sacred" attributions which cannot be questioned even from an ideological perspective nor reduced to a symbolic role because before representing Mankind let alone a nation they represent God's Will on Earth.

A Monarchy like any State including it's Republican Alter Ego remains a Man Made Institution, where as the Church (or Mosque in our case ) remains one which remains in God's Hands be it symbolically in the collective psyche of Believers. That explains why however hard you try Republican Ideals including Secular ideas can never be implemented to the fullest in a Theocracy where as in a Monarchy it can ( Constitutionalism being the implementation of Republican Ideals but within a Royal Framework) because ultimately the real legitimacy of the Monarch as head of State lies in the trust of his or her subjects often upon a social contract ( often known as a Constitution) regardless of their religious faith or political ideology and not from a Metaphysical Supra Natural Entity we call "God" or "Allah".

That is where Khatami and the Reformists à la soroush or à la Mohsen Kadivar got it and continue to get it wrong:


KhatamiDemocracy, & Islamic Republic



Even in Absolute Monarchies of the Middle Ages, the King or Queen couldn't care less about what you did in your private life as long as you paid your taxes.

Where as In a theocracy your private life is subject to control. That is why Theocracies actually share more in common with Totalitarian States be them Right Wing like Nazi Germany or Left Wing like Stalinist Russia than with Dictatorial regimes like Absolute Monarchies, Saudi Arabia being a Rare exception given that it's entire legitimacy derives from being so called descendants of the Prophet and their entire power and legitimacy derives from the fact that they see themselves as guardians of the Holy Mecca and all the religious and cultural symbolism that is attached to it. Also in the case of most Arabian Monarchies but also true for Republics in the region ( take Nasser in his time for instance) little or no distinction is made between Arab Culture and Islam. Where as in Iran or other European countries, one's nationality and culture is not reduced to one's faith.

That is one of the things that the Muslim world in particular has had a hard time coming to terms with ever since the Crusades some 1000 Years ago despite the fact that the World and Europe in particular have moved on while the Arab Islamic Mindset is still very much stuck in wanting to get even with the Western World it deems wrongly as a "monolithical neo colonialist and Christian" entity as an excuse to overlook their own shortcomings in terms of human rights and democracy.


COLUMBIA PRESENTS: Academic Excellence With Hamid Dabashi & Sadri Bros


HISTORY FORUM: Edward Saïd and Orientalism (In 4 Parts)


Unlike the above folks from Columbia I am happy to see that the likes of Shirin Ebadi seems to have made some progress in right direction:

FINALLY GETTING IT RIGHT: Shirin Ebadi say's "I Don't believe in an Islamic Declaration of Human Rights" 

Proving if needed that it is never late to learn and be open minded in terms of political options available:


HISTORY OF IDEAS: Ian Davidson on Voltaire's "English Exile"


In order to overcome a nation's ills :


UNIVERSAL LEGACY: UK Foreign Office Spokesman's speech on Cyrus The Great's Cylinder


My Humble Opinion,






DK jaan the difference between VF & monarchy is blood line.

by Anonymouse on

VF is like choosing a Pope except the Pope is not running any country, oh wait isn't Vatican a country by itself?! 

Everything is sacred

Darius Kadivar

Scene from Mustafah Akkad's classic Film The Message

by Darius Kadivar on

As an Anecdote regarding Persian Arab Rivalry see this scene from Mustafah Akkad's classic Film The Message:

Go to 3 Min 23 Seconds: Persian Sassanian King Yazdegerd III's response to the emissary of Muhamad:


Ironically the Syrian director producer Mustapha Akkad and his beautiful daughter were sadly victims of Al Quaeda's terrorist attacks in Jordan in 2005:


An Ironic end for a great director who had paid such a great cinematic tribute to Islam only to fall victim to Islamic Fundamentalism ...

Darius Kadivar

Limbert has a way of twisting realities to fit Reformists Agenda

by Darius Kadivar on

Mr. Limbert has a wonderful way of twisting realities in order to fit the views of those who still see the Islamic Republic as a Legitimate State and wish to draw parallels between the Secular French Revolution and the Islamic Revolution of 1979.

Shah on Persian Gulf in a Mike Wallace Interview from 1974:


What we saw in Iran was far from anything as progressive as the French Revolution itself highly shaped by the ideas of the Enlightened Philosophers of the 18th Century. Themselves inspired by the Parliamentary Democracy of the British Monarchy they hoped in vain to implement in France.

If the Islamic Revolution can find any European parallel in History I would think that Cromwell's Theocracy would be the closest I could think of. Was it not Cromwell who established a Republic with himself as it's "Lord Protector" ? We saw where his Theocracy and Religious Puritanism led on the Long Run ... A Restoration of the Son of the late Beheaded Monarch. 

We hardly beheaded our Royals like the British but merely exiled them. That in my humble opinion augurs a bright future for prospects of a Restoration of the Pahlavi's back on the Peacock Throne very much like the British did which triggered the beginning of a Genuine Parliamentary Democracy in Great Britain nearly a Century Prior to the American or French Revolutions. 

Maybe Mr. Limbert should try and step out of his wishful Republican ( aka Jomhurykhah) Mindset from time to time as see how much at odds the views of his reformist Friends are with the ideals of the Constitutionalist Revolution a century ago which aimed at giving Iran ( known as Persia at the Time) a Modern, secular and democratic State where the King or Queen Reigns But does Not Rule.

This is all the more true that Nearly ALL Republics in the Region ( to which Limbert refers to) brought to power either by a military coup or Popular Revolution to date have hardly led to a democratic system of government but rather Presidential Dynasties. The Mobarak's in Egypt ( whose son is running for the next elections), the Assad's in Syria, come to mind as recent examples.

As such I do not see much difference between these Regimes and the Monarchies which Limbert downplays as retrograde ...

Actually in many ways Monarchies like Jordan or Morocco today are far more flexible and open to progressive change towards a political system or status quo compatible with our "Western democratic Outlook" than well established Republics in the region which use "populism" and "religious" zeal to sustain their power.

Darius Kadivar

Maybe Limbert should explain how different is a Velayeteh Fagih

by Darius Kadivar on

From an Absolute Monarch and the Assembly of Experts any different from a Constitutional Assembly ? ...