Who should lead?

Only Iranians in Iran have to steer their path to democracy


Who should lead?
by Hamid Karimianpour

The good news is that there are increasingly louder calls for democracy in Iran. The question is who should lead this democracy movement in the country?

Of course, the opposition groups abroad—such as, the Mojahedin (MEK), Saltanat Talab monarchists, the Tudeh Party, etc. — would like to believe that they are the ones who after thirty years of impatiently waiting, now finally have a chance to go back and rule. They have lived in foreign lands and witnessed the Western democracy in action, and have access to foreign capital as well as free media which can be beamed to Iran—so they are the ones, they hope, who are best positioned to win power after the Akhoonda. In my opinion, none of them are fit for this purpose, and their possible take over of the power in Iran, if it ever happens, will betray the very idea of a healthy democracy.

The reason is simple: it is the Iranians in Iran who are in need of a full-fledged democratic system and none of the traditional opposition parties outside Iran enjoys sufficient support of the Iranians inside Iran.

MEK constitute today nothing more than a fractured and weakened party. Their application of violence as a political means has alienated the international community as well as most Iranians who are supporters of peaceful reforms. Their reliance on Saddam Husein under the Iran-Iraq War is seen as a disloyalty to the Iran's national interests. Their revelations in 2007, of the Iranian nuclear facilities will not helped them in a possible power takeover in Iran either. The revelations may actually help Iran in the long run by preventing the IR from acquiring WMD (and so save Iran from much international trouble in the long-term). Yet for the large group of Iranians who favor the development of nuclear capability the revelations will stand as a signature of betrayal. It is unlikely that the MEK can ever win enough popular support to seize the power in Iran democratically.

Saltanat Talabans’ strength lies neither in their political ideology nor in their economic program, but in their distinctive culture which appeals to those Iranians who consider themselves of a higher class or a more prosperous background; thus leaving out the vast majority of average Iranians. In fact, the Saltanat Talabans’ culture is permeated with supremacist symbols, codes, and the notions of Aryan-ness and Ancient Persian Empire. These symbols are used as tools for political unification. Unfortunately, the notion of Aryan-ness has as a by-product the unintended effect of racially classifying the people of the world in categories of Aryans and non-Aryans, which is highly objectionable in today’s cosmopolitan world. This may also alienate some ethnic Iranians.

One of the weaknesses of the party’s leadership is Reza Pahlavi’s inexperience and lack of proper ties to the Iranian society. He left Iran as a teenager and has never been back to the country. He may be a shrewd guy but he has neither ever worked in Iran, nor ever had meaningful relationships with the average Iranians inside Iran on a professional basis. Reza Pahlavi has simply never been integrated in the Iranian political system and cannot represent the will of the Iranians who live in Iran.

At the root of the Saltanat Talabans’ political ideology lies a contradiction: they claim to be a progressive force, but they want to go forward by going back to a monarchy system. It makes no sense to install a Shah in Iran. Of course, many democratic countries, such as England and Norway, are based on a monarchy system. But their system has always been there and a change will require efforts and costs. If a system is already rid of the monarchy, there is little point for it to go back. One repairs a shabby bridge to save costs. But if the bridge is already fallen, it does not make sense to put the shabby debris back together and then repair them; one builds a whole new bridge. To restore the monarchy in Iran is especially problematic because due to lack of solid democratic experience in Iran a possible new Shah may be awarded more executive power than the European monarchs.

Ask for the leftist parties, not only they are out of fashion on a global basis, but the IR effectively eliminated them as a political force.

Only Iranians in Iran have to steer their path to democracy. They are making sacrifices for their cause, and only they know how best to promote their democratic aspirations. Of course, we can act as cheer leaders and render them moral support, but what makes one believe that after thirty years of a life in Western luxury, one can go back and run Iran?


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Darius Kadivar

From the Crown Prince's Own Lips ...

by Darius Kadivar on

Sept. 25, 2009, Reza Pahlavi and the Green Movement- NY

areyo barzan

Almost right

by areyo barzan on

Dear Hamid


I believe you have got it mostly right in your analysis. None of the opposition parties or leaders today is perfect and definitely none of them has got the support of whole or even the majority of Iranian community.


However that on its own is not a bad thing. One of the good out comes of this situation is that today Iranian people are not willing to accept any Tom, Dick or Harry as their leader without questioning, analysing and scrutinizing, and these have not been achieved easy or cheap.


Only if thirty years ago we have asked the same questions about Khomeini and other political parties instead of following them blindly to hell and back and if we did not try to stop any body else from asking the right questions we might not have been here today.


The fact that you and I have learned to be critical of all parties and leaders and think of no one as perferc and beyond questioning is not a simple matter and has not been achieved easily. This new shift in our collective mindset has to be recognized, celebrated and cherished at all costs.


However having said that we also need to know that we are only living is the real world. Of course we all prefer that knight in the shinning armour who knows it all to come and solve our problems overnight but the grim reality is that the current "leaders" are the only ones available who were brave enough to step into the public arena and try to contribute. Now if tomorrow another person with a better idea and will to lead steps into the stage then I am willing to listen to his or her point of view as well. but one thing that I simply can not do is to sit aside and wait for him


Its is true and only natural for none of these people or their ideologies to be perfect, however each of them have got some parts right and that is the reason for their number of supporters. This is why we need to get them all to unite over their shared points of view and use the best of each Idea to build a new system or as you stated bridge that would eventually leads us to democracy. If you pay close attention I am emphasising on the word  SYSTEM and not type of the government as I find that to be irrelevant.


May be if the nationalistic ideals of monarchist was combined with the social values of leftists which advocates taking care of poor and venerable and then we brought in the secularism of most of parties together with respect for all religions as a private matter without letting them to interfier in the politics and running of government in order to not alienate the religious section of our society who are not few, then we might get somewhere. But of course this would be not the perfect however would be the best and most practical solution, just like what is happening in western democracies. Then there maybe a hope for us.


May be the future governing system in Iran would not be about just one leader or one ideology but combination of the best from all of them and to achieve that we have let all of them to argue their case and put forward their proposal and more importantly trust our people to make the right choice.

At the end of the day, the shabby bridge to hell that is the IRI has to be brought down and we have to build another one in its place.

For me personally it is the strength of that bridge, who is welcome on it and where it leads to that are more important rather than its colour and name.


The reason that our previous attempts for democracy failed was because we did not know what it meant to have a democracy and that is the freedom for all and especially those people with whose ideas I AM NOT IN AGREEMENT to speak and argue their case.


So let them all speak but never hesitate to ask the hard question and never hesitate to have doubts


Who Should Lead

by Jeghele on

A realistic appraisal.

Only one thing: some think a current opposition to a bad establishment should be supported regardless, so long as it is anti-establishment. This was tried out thoughtlessly by the so-called intellectuals during Khomeini's revolt that led to 1979. Now we know what happened !

The existing establishment in Iran is rotten to the core and many times worse than the monarchy before 1979 and must go- and will go. Yet, we must remember that everytime history repeats itself the cost goes up - and Irasnians have already paid ( and are still paying ) a heavy price for blindly following a man and a trend just because it promised to remove a disfavoured regime. I like to see us all more tolerant of each other, united in the broad cause and move forward thoughtfully while fully supporting the incredible youth of Iran- who surely know where they are going and will determine their leader(s).

To some impatient friends: please don't brand me. I am just a student of history and neither leftist, monarchist or islamist. In fact, I don't care for any of there groups and do not think any of them to be worthy of leading a nation such as that in Iran today. 



Self-"Humiliatory"!!; Everyone can make up a word...

by Minoo66 on

A great piece of article for a 4th. grade student. Next time use a nickname.

These monarchists and their views should'nt be taken seriously.

They are bunch of rent -a-crowd.

My best advice to you is study more; much more. Don't worry; you'll have your turn.


If the monarchists take power!

by kharmagas on

Mr. Karimianpour, look at the bright side, if the monarchists take power,  AristoClown (the "free lance journalist") would be the perfect candidate for the ministry of guidance and profanity under RPII!  



by KouroshS on

I just don't get the following statement: 

The Notion of a Constitutional Monarchy is that of continuity. You may not like the idea, but try and understand it before spreading generalities based on Prejudice and ignorance !

The continuity of what? Where do you see any Ignorance and Prejudice?



Everyone raising whichever "flag" = Everyone for themselves

by Anonymouse on

Everything is sacred.


In a true democracy, everyone has a say

by didani on

According to the Iranian gov., American Iranians have dual citizenship. We all have our rainbow of opinions ... from MEK, Saltanat Talab monarchists, the Tudeh Party, greens, light greens (like myself). When supporting the Iranian uprising, EVERYONE should be allowed to raise his/her voice under whichever flag they choose. At the end its the voices of the people of Iran (the loudest) will determine the outcome. Hopefully they will pick democracy. Don't be bugged by intolerance, aim higher!



by T.S.azad on

well done

your write up is very eye opener

to get rid of the monarchy how many livies were lost it will be big mistake to install it back


DK again lots of blah, blah ,blah..........

by parchame3rang on

You probably have no real job otherwise you wouldn't be dropping your nonsensical and delusional comments everywhere. I guess we all know who butters your bread by now.

BTW,people of Ghazvin have made a petition and want RP's airplane to land there first. They want to be the first  group to welcome him back home. How is that for coexistance....

Hamid Karimianpour

Reply to Mr. Kadivar

by Hamid Karimianpour on

Hamid Karimianpour

 Mr. Kadivar,

 Thank you for your comments. I admit that I know a little more about Iran's history than Europe's. It may be true that the Europeans restored their monarchs several times and in several places, but it does not mean that we should do the same thing only because the Europeans did it.

The central point in my argument was that Reza Pahlavi does neither have the necessary qualifications (since he has never worked in the Iranian society) nor the support of the Iranian people (some opinion polls put his support at between 7%-12%). The vast majority of the Iranians inside Iran do not want to see the monarchy reinstalled.

The fact that England and Spain chose to reintroduce their kings does not change my view that a democracy MUST be developed naturally inside Iran and through a due process, and no one should hijack this right from the Iranians in Iran who are making sacrifices for their freedom and democratic aspirations.


Marjan Zahed Kindersley

"Follow me said the blind man and

by Marjan Zahed Kindersley on

he walked behind."

(something like that. Not sure if these are the exact lyrics - if correct from a Leonard Cohen song)


Agreed. And to add:Best way would be a form of propositional representation.


Clearly; Iran should not repeat the mistakes...

by faryarm on

Clearly; Iran should not repeat the mistakes of other countries, especially the ones it might look to as models of democracy.

That means that it can neither be an absolute monarchy, a velayateh faghih, or any of the current and deeply flawed "democtaric" systems where self serving , ambitious, poltical partisans run a vicious campaign with empty promises; a multi billion dollar vicious circle, where only the special interest and powerful can with thier lobbies direct policy.

What we need in iran is a system where the grass roots, regardless of their, social standing, identity, financial or political power can vote for agovernment that is comprised of people recognised for their personal ethics, integrity , accomplishment, and service to the community.

They should wield no individual power or influence, but only as an elected body. Theres should be no political canvassing and the voting should be carried out by secret ballot.

The candiates for such government should believe in the priciple of working for the common Justice.

Working to bring change and  unity by accepting their diversity of views whether from the left or right.

We will continue to be a conflicted country , of divided people as long as we do not recognise the importance of the needed UNITY in our DIVERSITY.


Darius Kadivar

It has Less to do about LEADING than CO-EXISTING ! ...

by Darius Kadivar on

Food For Thought:

REZA's CALL: An Iranian Solidarnosc... By Darius KADIVAR


Who "should" lead? S/he who "can"!

by Anonymouse on

Everything is sacred.

Darius Kadivar

Clearly You have NEVER Studied European History

by Darius Kadivar on

The British Monarchy was abolished after the Execution of Charles Ist by Oliver Cromwell who established a Theocracy Just like in Iran.

So How Come the British chose to Restore the Monarchy with the former King's Son : Charles II ?

Spain restored the "ancient" institution of the  Monarchy after more or less long periods of Republican Rule. Spain in 1976 restored Bourbonne Prince Juan Carlos as King of Spain after more than half a century of a dictatorship under General Franco.

Juan Carlos I of Spain Oath in Front of Parliament :


Belgium ( which constitution served to draft the 1906 constitution in Iran ) forced after WWII its King Leopold III to Abdicate in favor of his son:


because of his collaboration with the German Invaders. Yet after WWII they chose the Son Bedoin to become King instead and the Belgian King was allowed to be buried many years later in his home country due to his controversial role.

Baudouin des Belges Coronation Oath ( Amidst Cries of Protest by several Deputies shouting "Long Live the Republic")



The Notion of a Constitutional Monarchy is that of continuity. You may not like the idea, but try and understand it before spreading generalities based on Prejudice and ignorance !




Mr. Karimianpour

by ali_UK on

Thank you for your post.You articulated my thoughts and many other Iranians inside and out.

 In my opinion , you are absolutley correct about MEK .They have betrayed Iran and their supporters.They are a cult and the end justifies any means for them.

 In my opinion , you are absolutley correct about the monarchists in general and Reza Pahlavi in particular.

Your reasoning of

"...he has neither ever worked in Iran, nor ever had meaningful relationships with the average Iranians inside Iran on a professional basis. Reza Pahlavi has simply never been integrated in the Iranian political system...."

Is very much spot on.

Any movement needs a leader , even if it is symbolic.Who in your opinion offers ( inside Iran ) that to this movement.

Thank you again


The US will be seeking

by vildemose on

The US will be seeking bilateral talks with the IRI:


""Some have argued that the hardline consolidation at home is the ticket to compromise abroad. This argument is part and parcel of a pathology emanating from the traumatic history of foreign intervention in Iran. Ahmadinejad, for example, has gloated that what he alleges were “childish acts of interference” by the West in the election will let Iran “enter the global stage several times more powerful.” Conversely, it is often said in Iran that whoever makes a deal with powerful outside players, above all Washington, to end the Islamic Republic’s international isolation will tighten his grip on the state for good


So it may be the case that the hardliners are united in the belief that their toughness will impel the US to cut them a deal that will assure their political dominance for years to come. But, so far, the hardliners seem more concerned with eviscerating reformist and centrist forces than with cutting a deal""




"Democratic Republic of Iran" of the people and by the people...

by parchame3rang on

  You are so right in your analysis of the recent events. Most of these "opportunists" came to life after the recent upheaval in Iran and now they are under the impression that they have this moral authority to lead Iranians from here. People of Iran will chose their leader once they get there. For now, our obligation is to support our brave and courageous freedom fighters instead of bickering which group represents the real democratic movement.

Sabz Bashid