You'd think that Iranians who thrive on disagreeing, arguing, and disbelieving anyone trying to make the slightest point (as you will no doubt see in the comments after this piece), would have perfected some sort of logical process to distill it by now.
Given the conditions these past 29 years, which have been riper than a honeydew (kharbozeh?) melon in the late-summer Esfahan sun, you'd think that by now, some sort of conclusive voice of the opposition, would have been heard, over all the praying and braying.
But even after 29 years it's still eerily silent.
It certainly seems so, only until Reza Pahlavi or his secretary's office surfaces periodically and attempts to makes those same silly noises again. Then it all begins anew.
Whenever RP suggests the slightest action, the entire legion of "opposition groups", rise up with their safe, loud defiance to a throne-less king, regardless of how much sense he might actually be making.
I've read his book, and if we judge the man (or his staff) by his printed word (which is technically a binding contract by the way), then as I read it, he may in fact be possibly useful, in some distant future with all the obvious safeguards, as a powerless monarch of Iran. What I think RP suggests (how's that for a disclaimer!), is he would merely request that a free Iran to decide his fate. By free he of course means state-of-the-art free, not the current "free to be as moslem as you want" free. Like it or not, Kingdoms are our 2500 year-old tradition. Just look at the outpouring protest against the film 300. I mean let's face it folks, as inventions go, we are pretty much the Ibn Sina of Kingdomry. We certainly did not invent mass rule or democracy.
Is there really anything wrong with a Prince Charles-ish RP living harmlessly (did I say powerless?) in Saad-Abad again, and periodically hosting the King and Queen of Denmark on a paparazzi filled ski trip to Dizin, comparing and contrasting Iran's snow to Gstaad. And in the process negotiating a lucrative Pastry contract for the Naderi Bakery in Tehran? Plus think of all the charity work he could accomplish! Imagine him touring (yet another) Bam earthquake, or Indonesian Tsunami disaster, or bringing Iranian financial aid to starving Africa.
But back to the opposition:
Tudeh, Jebheh-Melli, Mojahedeen, Fadayeen, "The Peoples'" this, and "The Peoples'" that. Factions, splinters, and chips off of really old blocks, all pissed off at life and the living around them, all run by out of touch elders who had the slightest brush with privilege during this now long forgotten past, guilt-ridden by squandered, slipped chances at destiny, either in 1953, or 1979. And they have ALL been pissing aimlessly but never into the same fire pit, for 29 years. To absolutely no avail.
The reason? It is both unclear and obvious at the same time. To be fair, they ALL have great ideas, solutions, and suggestions. Their varied platforms are as pristine as beautiful Persian miniature paintings, but guarded jealously, only for the private viewing pleasure of A-list by invitation onlys.
So, how is it that with all these great ideas and options, not a single one has been able to even bubble to the surface? 29 years of stagnation, is becoming a murkier swamp, it's water teetering on lifelessness and sterility.
Coalition, Cohesion, and Unity:
3 words that you will not find very prominent, in the broad spectrum of Iranian opposition groups. Dissecting the way other countries' opposition groups in exile do it, when facing an unpopular government (at least unpopular with the opposition groups!), the one common denominator seems to be in forming a coalition or united opposition to the ruling government. This is the nuance missing from Iranian opposition groups. Either out of vehement disagreement with one another, or the simple obstinate pride one often gets with principled aged folks, the various groups have NEVER ONCE contemplated unity as an option. Even I was able to find this in the first chapter of "How to form a Coalition of Opposition Groups for Dummies". The concept of strength through collaborative cohesion is strangely absent yet obvious and evident.
Assignments and Thesis:
So, here's what needs to happen, in my view. RP should call (and pay for) a 3-day "Convention of Iranian Opposition Groups". I suggest a Friday, Saturday and Sunday. In DC or Virginia at a reasonably priced Hotel ballroom. Each, Every, and ALL groups must be invited, complete with a printed (real, no e-mails) mailed formal invitation, and pre-stamped RSVP card. Most importantly, invitations must be extended respectfully to the government of Iran and the US. The proceedings should include an opening remarks either by RP, to re-state his goal, titled, "Me and My Option", and one or 2 more by what I call "Coherent Iranian Voices". People who can be heard, and in their oratory set a positive and productive tone for the conference.
Each group must select a topic, or problem they wish to argue solutions for. Each group will make their presentation in like 15 minutes, during which they define the current problem they feel strongly about, and then clearly suggest a reasonable, workable solution. Each presentation will be submitted in written form to the conference, which will publish the entire collection at the end of the conference and distribute copies to each attending group, as well as the public. In the adjacent convention hall, the attending groups will be given tables from which they can continue discussions, debate and arguments. Expect spilt Chaie, Shirini, and even a fistfight or two.
The benefits of this civilized (but still inherently risky) approach are obvious. When the government of Iran is at once, faced with its many very real problems, and immediately provided with applicable, reasonable solutions, there really isn't much room to argue against implementing them. If there is, they can certainly try to argue against their reasoning. But if Reason is as present in the government of Iran as they claim it is, this could be the moment of change everyone has been hoping for.
To be cynical, the government could simply ignore the conference, and refuse to attend. And this is to be expected. But this would be a mistake that I doubt their intelligence (and PR) would allow them to make. Because, the arguments for once, would have been presented in a positive way, with the unified strength of free logic, (and full media coverage). And to refuse to discuss proven flaws of your system, and worse, to refuse to accept solutions that would fix the problems, would be really dumb. And no one is that dumb.
It is clear that Revolutionary forces, must now give in to Evolutionary forces. There are so many things in this modern era, that are fundamentally (funny enough) wrong with Islamic Fundamentalism, that I doubt that the current government, even believes any of it themselves anymore. Plus, Islam obviously needs an honorable broadband internet connection to reformation anyway. There is not a single mullah (of consequence) who has not secretly wished in his heart, he could re-adjust the Ghoran a tad here, and a tad there, to accommodate modernity. Islam simply has no choice if it wants to stay relevant. The Great Islamic Inquisition phase of "Convert or Die" simply won't fly anymore. (get it?)
So see you at the convention! I'll be the one holding my breath!
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