Shapour Bakhtiar was a True Democrat, an Intellectual and ultimately a Martyr who died in the name struggling in the name of his beliefs.
He was unfortunately also an often clumsy politician for leading and opposition in exile, not because he lacked credentials but because he would say exactly what he believed in to the dismay of many professional and often cynical and coldminded politicians. He was driven by a passion for Freedom and Democracy for his homeland and fellow compatriots which put him at odds with some of his closest advisors as well as political companions.
He wrote an autobiography in French entitled Ma Fidelité which could be translated as My Beliefs://www.amazon.fr/Ma-fid%C3%A9lit%C3%A9-Bakhtiar/dp/2226015612/ref=sr_1_8?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1198675184&sr=8-8 Published shortly after of before two assassination attempts against his life in the outskirts of Paris. It summed up his life in the context of his life long political struggles. Albeit mistakes sometimes due to a personal stubborness or the historical context of his time that left him little choice but understandable in the light of all the beliefs he had and tried to apply as coherantly possible to his actions, Bakhtiar's moral legacy remains strong nearly 17 years after his murder. Despite having been in Prison during the Shah's Era, and for his allegience to the Political and moral Legacy of Dr. Mossadeg he accepted the post of Prime Minister from the Man who had put him in Prison: the Shah himself. Named too lately, the goverment of Prime Minister Bakhtiar struggled to survive for 37 Days: //iranian.com/CyrusKadivar/2003/March/37days/ He was abandoned by his own Party the National Front which joined the Revolutionaries and the Mullahs certainly in the name of Real Politics than genuine conviction. The Forouhars: Dariush and Parvin alas proved to become victimes of their own momentarial pact with the Devil by confusing their own secular ideals with Religious Theocrats. As Much as the Forouhars Bakhtiar was a patriot but unlike the Forouhars he was without doubt a visionary far in advance for his time. In Exile Bakhtiar was caught between his personal convictions as a democrat and his responsabilities as an opposition leader who had to satisfy huge dilemma's including support for Iraq during the War with Iran (which unlike the MKO lasted for a very short period) and finding common ground between different opposition forces ranging from Monarchists ( radical or Constituional ), former leftists as well as secular Republicans. See actress and future Oscar Nominee Shohreh Aghdashloo introduce one of Shapour Bakhtiar's conferences in LA : //www.youtube.com/watch?v=lMvWKRtbs9A Bakhtiar was also to become a Role Model and close advisor for the former Crown Prince of Iran Reza Pahlavi and was also to visit the Shah's tomb in Cairo to pay respect to the former monarch shortly after his demise. Had he been nominated Prime Minister much earlier in the early days of the Crisis in Iran, his government would certainly have had greater chances of restoring calm and authority while avoiding bloodshed. Alas that was not to be the case and what appears with the passage of time is that Bakhtiar's shortlived government proved to serve as an example of what a moderate and pragmatic administration could have looked like had his ideas of secularism ( be it Constitutional or Republican) could have looked like in a peaceful Iran where Law and Justice would prevail over anarchy and religious or authocratic Rule. History will remember Bakhtiar as a genuine patriot and certainly a democrat in practice. Married to a French national during his student days in Paris, he was influenced by the French values of Democracy and Resistance and he was to join the French Resitance during WWII and fought the Fascists in Spain during the Spanish Civil War. In many ways he was also influenced by the Enlighting French Philosophers " Les Lumieres " such as Voltaire and Rousseau that shaped his political and moral convictions. This proved at times a handicap to the Politician he was enforced on becoming but certainly not on the genuine democrat he was. Bakhtiar years before the Forouhars, in the early 90's was executed along with his secretary by Islamic Republics Death Squads who cut their thoats. His Assassins are still on the Run ( partly thanks to the former French Governments indulgence). But Bakhtiar's moral and political legacy live on. Will Reza Pahlavi who in many ways has benefited from Bakhtiar's teachings prove to live up to the ideals of the former and last Prime Minister of Imperial Iran ? The answer to that question can only be answered with time and by the man who also happens by birth to be heir to Iran's Peacock Throne be it as a catalyst for change or future Constitutional King. What is certain is the Bakhtiar's Political thinking and struggle for which he gave his life in the process will remain as a reference not of Martyrism but of Death in the Struggle for a Secular and Democtatic Iran where Freedom cannot be achieved without an unconditional support for Human Rights. However the British are despised by Iranians, nevertheless maybe in a comparative study of Iran's contemporary history and that of Great Britian and of France, Shapour Bakhtiar will have his Statue Raised in Front of the Iranian Majlis as a Reminder of the Nation's Struggle for Liberty, Equality and Fraternity (France) as those of Cromwell or Winston Churchill in Front of Westminister. VIVE LA LIBERTE !
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