Reza Pahlavi, American Invasion of Iran, and Federalism: A Critique of Dr. Ramin Kamran’s Article
Professor Ramin Kamran is one of Iran’s very top pro-democracy intellectuals. I have great respect for his intellect, great knowledge of our history, sophisticated political analyses, and his consistent struggle for democracy. I agree with at least 90% of what I have read of his articles.
I have several disagreements with his latest article published at Iranian.com. Dr. Kamran basically argues that the debate over inviting the U.S. military invasion of Iran is over (and that those advocating it have totally lost), and that the alternative of monarchy is dead due to Mr. Reza Pahlavi’s support for federalism. In this essay, I will argue that those supporting American military invasion are real, and constitute serious groups and individuals as well as constituting a large proportion of the population. I further argue that the demand for federalism and autonomy are also are serious. I also argue that the alternative of monarchy is not dead. I hope that I am wrong and that Dr. Kamran is correct. But if my analysis is correct, what should be the policies of the pro-democracy groups and forces.
U.S. Military Invasion of Iran and "Nationality-Based Federalism"
The most honest, open, and sophisticated arguments for asking for the U.S. military invasion of Iran have been presented by the Democratic Party of Iranian Kurdestan (DPIK) and its affiliates and supporters. In May 2003, the DPIK official responsible for relations with the U.S. met with American officials at the Pentagon and discussed contingency plans for military cooperation. Mr. Mostapha Hejri, the Secretary-General of the DPIK, has publicly stated that he would welcome military support from Western powers including providing a no-fly zone over Iranian Kurdestan in case of military operation by the IRI against Kurdish activists. DPIK has publicly issued statements that if there is a U.S. war with the IRI, the DPIK will not side with IRI.
A new group calling itself Democratic Party of Kurdestan (they have dropped any mention of Iran in their name) appears to be pursuing the same thing.
The DPIK, is one of the very few REAL political parties in Iran. It has real structure, elected leaders, cadres, supporters, and a real social base inside Iran among Sunni Kurds (about 5 or 6 % of the Iranian population) as well as among Kurds outside Iran. It has had a competent Pishmargah guerrilla organization, with a history of actual serious armed struggle. The social base of the DPIK is in the province of Kurdestan, the Sunni parts of the province of Kermanshahan, and the eastern Sunni Kurdish regions of the Eastern Azerbaijan province.
There are apparently 4 different factions called Komeleh. The main one has been cooperating very very closely with the DPIK in recent years. Komala will not side with IRI in case there is a war with the U.S.
A substantial numbers of Sunni Kurds support various Kurdish parties such as the DPIK, DPK, Komeleh, and also PJAK. There are also many Kurds who are Iranian nationalists and democrats as well as some who are close to Reformists.
One should add that Shia Kurds (about 2 or 3 percent of Iranian population), most of whom live in Kermanshahan province are strong supporters of Iranian nationalist and pro-democracy parties such as JM. Examples include Dr. Sanjabi and Dr. Ali Ardalan, both whom served as Secretary-General of JM.
For a sophisticated argument for asking for American military invasion of Iran see the article by Mr. Nasser Iranpour published on the official website of the DPIK:
Mr. Iranpour’s weird and false insults on JM and Dr. Mossadegh not withstanding, his arguments on why the DPIK has the right and responsibility to ask for Western military assistance, including a no-fly zone, is very very sophisticated.
Regular Iranian Americans Support For American Military Operations Against IRI
In a recent poll of Iranian-American, about 57 of the respondents said that they would support American military operations if the IRI killed massive numbers of Iranian people. This proportion is very significant. Some polls have indicated that about two-thirds of Iranian-Americans travel to Iran once every few years. Such Iran-Americans have the best of both worlds. One the one hand they live in free and wealthy country and they can go and visit Iran any time they so desire. If there is a war, there might be negative reactions towards Iranian Americans. So, to support an American invasion of Iran is for them a punishment of the vf regime and help for the defenseless Iranian people being brutalized by the fundamentalists although this comes to many as a personal cost.
Perhaps, for the overwhelming majority of the Iranian people inside Iran who are brutalized on a daily basis by the fundamentalists, an American invasion may be considered a liberation. Akbar Ganji reported that while he was a prisoner in Evin, some of his guards were asking him when the U.S. would come and liberate Iran!!!!!!!! Ganji was surprised that even some in the regime hope for an American military invasion.
I have no idea what percentage of the Iranian people inside or outside Iran support or oppose American invasion. I do know that many Iranians support an American invasion. They include apolitical types, as well as leftists, monarchists, .....
Monarchist Support for American Military Invasion
Mr. Reza Pahlavi publicly claims that he is against any American military operations on the vf regime. My opinion is that Reza Pahlavi is lying. My opinion is that behind-the-scenes he lobbies the U.S. to invade Iran. I suspect that the late Dariush Homayun, the founder and leader of the Mashrooteh (monarchist) Party, knew more than he was willing to publish.
There was a very serious fight between Dariush Homayun’s Hezb Mashrooteh with Reza Pahlavi (RP). Dariush Homayun’s public criticisms of Mr. Reza Pahlavi:
Ali Keshtgar (not the famous Ali Keshtgar formerly of Fadaian-Aksariyat, and then Mihan) who was a close associate of Dariush Homayun also made very harsh attacks on Reza Pahlavi before Hamayun died. Here is Ali Keshtgar’s views:
Basically, Hamayoun was publicly and strongly criticizing Mr. Reza Pahlavi on the issues of war (implicitly) and federalism (explicitly):
1. War with IRI.
Homayun implicitly (not explicitly) is saying that Reza Pahlavi supports the U.S. plans of war with Iran. Homayun says that in case of any military conflict, he and Hezb Mashrooteh will support the IRI. Homayun is hinting that Mr. Reza Pahlavi sides with the U.S. in plans for war against IRI.
2. Dariush Homayun (and Hezb Mashrooteh) explicitly and harshly condemns Reza Pahlavi on the issue of federalism. Reza Pahlavi had done several things on this. For example, RP issued a join public statement with a Kurdish group. Supporters of DPIK and Komala are members of this group (which also includes Kurds from Iraq, Turkey and Syria). This shows that RP is willing to make a coalition with DPIK and Komala. To make the alliance, Mr. Reza Pahlavi is agreeing to put the issue of federalism (based on nationality) open to public vote.
3. Homayun is criticizing Mr. Reza Pahlavi wanting to overthrow the IRI at ANY price (including war with the U.S. and federalism and alliance with Kurdish groups). Homayun said that his support for the territorial integrity of Iran overrides he support for monarchy.
4. Before he died, Homayun was publicly getting closer and closer to Mir-Hussein Mousavi. Homayun was basically distancing Hezb Mashrooteh from Mr. Pahlavi and monarchy, and moving it toward supporting Mousavi. Homayun was willing to work with Mousavi, as well as with the vf regime instead of working with others to overthrow the regime if that meant federalism leading to disintegration of Iran.
The Obama administration does not want to attack Iran before the Nov. 2012 election. Unless of course their intelligence would indicate that the IRI is close to develop a functioning nuclear bomb. But after the election, he is free to do as he wishes, which also means a war. In my opinion, if Gov. Romney is elected president, then there is an almost 100% likelihood of the U.S. making military attack to overthrow the fundamentalist regime.
If the fundamentalist regime is close to getting nuclear bomb and the U.S. did not do anything serious about it, then the Israelis would bomb the nuclear facilities. This is bad for all concerned except the Israelis. The Israelis fear nukes in the hands of this regime and could bomb the nuclear facilities every few months to postpone the ability of the regime to complete their nuclear bomb. The regime would use the Israeli attacks as pretext to harshly attack all opposition. Mousavi and Karrubi will totally support the regime in that event.
If there is an American military attack, the most likely scenarios would be for the U.S. to use massive missile, and airplane bombings of all the main IRGC, Basij, Ministry of Intelligence, and command and control. I do NOT think that the U.S. would use the Iraqi model of massive land invasion. One option is the Afghanistan model also employed in Libya. Another option is massive bombardment of the coercive apparatuses of the fundamentalist regime with the hope of mass uprising of the people to overthrow the regime.
If the U.S. used the Afghanistan model, the U.S. needs armed Iranians to closely cooperate with it the way the Northern Alliance of Afghanistan did (Ahmad Shah Masoud’s group). These will include DPIK, Komala, Reza Pahlavi, and the PMOI. Some Baluch elements might also be used. Reza Pahlavi does not have armed supporters, but he could play similar role to that of Hamed Karzai.
The vf regime is developing nuclear weapons. The U.S. will not accept this fanatical regime to have nuclear bombs. Obama will try non-military methods to stop the regime from getting nukes. But sooner or later, if these methods did not work, then Obama would have to use military methods. Romney would immediately use the military invasion. These are the REALITIES.
In my opinion, Reza Pahlavi has made his policy already. Reza Pahlavi is going to side with the U.S. and this means that he has to sit down with Kurdish groups. This is very hard for some monarchists, but that is what RP is doing. Dariush Homayun publicly attacked him and left his side. We have to see what other monarchists will do when more of the behind-the-scenes comes out. In my opinion, the reason Reza Pahlavi has to lie is that he is afraid of the same reaction from some monarchists that Dariush Homayun had.
If Gov. Romney were to win the election, we might have a war as soon as summer 2013 or as late as fall 2014. I predict that there will be an official American effort to make an alliance among Reza Pahlavi, DPIK, Komeleh, and perhaps the PMOI. I predict that individuals such as Dr. Alireza Nourizadeh and Dr. Rob Sobhani would play main roles. I also predict that individuals like Mr. Nooriala and would support such a coalition.
One plan might be to have Reza Pahlavi play the role of Hamid Karzai (without any elections) and the DPIK, Komeleh, and PMOI play the part of the Northern Alliance. DPIK and Komeleh would demand autonomy for Kurdestan. Considering their strength, they would probably get it. The so-called "federalism based on nationality" that the DPIK is talking about is NOT the federalism of the U.S., or India, or Germany. It is close to what is called CONFEDERACY. Reza Pahlavi and DPIK say it will be decided by the vote of the people. DPIK has said that Kurdestan should be autonomous (khodmokhtari). The DPIK explicitly wants the "right of self-determination" [hagh taaen sarnevesht]. This means that the people in Kurdestan have the right to vote and if the majority of the Kurdish people so voted then Kurdestan will be autonomous within a confederal Iran, or to become a totally independent country, or to remain part of Iran as a province.
I do not think that there is any doubt that there are many Kurds who want to have one big Kurdish state comprising Kurdish areas in Iran, Iraq, Turkey, and Syria. I am not certain what is the ultimate goal of the DPIK or Komeleh.
The Pro-Democracy Bloc
The major pro-democracy groups are JM, INF-OA, NAMIR, Iran Liberal Party. The semi-democratic parties are Melli-Mazhabis. There are also several democratic socialist groups.
JM and INF-OA primary objective is regime change: that is a change of regime from the ruling fundamentalist dictatorship to a secular democratic republic.
In the aftermath of the fraudulent election, JM policy has been to support the Green Movement, and especially the secular elements. JM has supported Mousavi or Karrubi in their resistance to Khamenei. But JM is NOT their followers. JM’s goal is the establishment of a secular democratic republic. This means regime change. The goal of Mousavi and Karrubi is to preserve and prolong the rule of velayat faghih by making some minor reforms. In other words the long-term and medium-term goals of JM and reformists are in serious contradiction. However, for the short-term, both oppose the hard-line faction. So, to the extent Mousavi and Karrubi (and Khatami and Rafsanjani) stand up to Khamenei, JM will lend them its support. For all practical purposes, Khamenei has eliminated Mousavi and Karrubi, and has co-opted Rafsanjani and Khatami.
JM (and other pro-democracy forces) will have three options by the early next year:
(1) side with the fundamentalist regime;
(2) side with the U.S.; or
(3) remain neutral.
I argue that it is to the interest of Iran that we choose option 3 (remain neutral) in the war between the U.S. and the fundamentalist terrorist regime. The fundamentalist regime has been on the path towards war with the U.S. The ONLY solution is for an end of the Nezam Velayat Faghih. One should place the blame 100% on the regime and the person of Khamenei. In the case of a U.S. war with the regime, the U.S. will go for regime change (like they did in Afghanistan and Iraq). In my opinion, when the U.S. destroys the IRGC, Basij, the people will rise up and overthrow the regime. The people hate the regime. Our social base and our own views are different than those of Kurds and monarchists. INF-AO simply will not sit down with America officials in plans for invasion of Iran. On the contrary, Reza Pahlavi, Kurdish groups, and PMOI would easily do this.
Therefore, only option 3 is in the interests of Iran, and would makes sense for JM to follow it.
I suggest that we should form a bloc of forces that:
a. oppose the vf regime;
b. remain neutral in the war between the U.S. (and its allies RP, DPIK, Komeleh, PMOI) on the one hand, and the terrorist regime on the other hand;
c. after the initial American attacks on the coercive apparatuses of the terrorist regime is over, we call upon the Iranian people to rise up and overthrow the regime
d. explicitly support a secular, democratic, republic
What Other Forces May Do?
I think the leftist forces will divide into three groups. One large group (perhaps around 40-60%) would take the same position as the pro-democracy bloc. I think another group (perhaps around 20-30% would support or join the RP-DPIK, Komeleh-PMOI bloc. I think a small group (perhaps 10-20%) composed mostly of Tudeh and Aksariyat would side with the Vf regime.
What Would Reformist Greens May Do?
I think Rafsanjani and Khatami would definitely join Khamanei. I think that Mousavi and Karrubi would also join Khamenei. I think the so-called "Radical Reformists" (e.g., many of them write for Rooz Online) may join the pro-democracy bloc.
Balance of Forces
I think the hard-line faction has the support of the 10% of the population. I think that the Reformist faction of the fundamentalist oligarchy has about 10% support among the population. I think monarchists have about 5-10%. The Kurdish groups around 5%. The PMOI around 5%.
In other words, the RP-KDPI-Komeleh-PMOI bloc has about 20% support among the population. And the fundamentalist regime (both hard-line and reformist) has about the same 20%.
Perhaps 10-20% of the population is genuinely apolitical and does not have any interest in any group. The rest of the population, around 50% of the population, constitute the support base of the pro-democracy groups, semi-democratic groups (Melli Mazhabi, Nehzat Azadi), and leftists.
In my opinion, if there is a war, about 5% of the population that is not fundamentalist may side with the fundamentalists in their view "to protect Iran from a foreign invasion and groups like monarchists, Kurds, and the PMOI."
If there is a war, I guess somewhere between 5% and 20% of the population may join the RP-KDPI-Komeleh-PMOI bloc.
In my opinion, if the vf regime were severely weakened after the American bombings are done, the masses will rise up. The larger the number of the people who rise up, the higher the likelihood of the immediate collapse of the vf regime. Under this scenario, the pro-democracy bloc will be the logical group to form a provisional government. The higher the level of organization and cooperation of the pro-democracy bloc, the higher the likelihood of the success of this scenario. If prominent Reformists leave the vf regime and join the pro-democracy bloc, the chances for immediate collapse and success of mass uprising would be greatly increased. If the pro-democracy groups actually succeed in forming a broad-based bloc, the likelihood and the number of Reformists willing to leave the vf regime and join the pro-democracy bloc would be increased.
However, if the vf regime was able to survive the initial bombings and suppress the mass uprisings, and suppress the pro-democracy bloc, then there will be a protracted war. The U.S. could easily bomb the vf regime’s coercive apparatuses in Kurdestan province, and the Kurdish groups could easily establish a liberated zone in Kurdestan. With American no-fly-zone over Kurdestan, the Kurdish groups could easily maintain control in Kurdestan and allow the formation of a government there. The Libyan model could be used in this case. We will witness a long period of bloody war between the 20-25% on the side of the regime and 20-25% on the side of the RP-DPIK-Komeleh-PMOI on the ground along with American missile and aerial bombings. I suspect that the regime would bring Lebanese Hezbollah to help it. In all likelihood what happened in Libya will also happen in Iran: at the end the vf regime will fall. How long would it take? And How many will die? Future will tell.
In conclusion, the future is in OUR hands, to some extent. I do not think there is any doubt that the vf regime is developing nuclear bombs. I also do not think that the U.S. would accept the fundamentalist terrorist regime possessing nukes. Therefore, war is inevitable. That part is not in our hands. But the rest is in OUR hands. We, the democratic forces, can:
1. Organize better;
2. Form a coalition among pro-democracy forces;
3. Form a broader coalition with other forces (e.g., semi-democratic groups, leftists, and some Reformists);
4. Discuss how we will politically reconstruct Iran after the war, such as our plans for national reconciliation, decentralization while protecting territorial integrity of Iran, .... .
The BEST future for Iran is if we, the democratic forces, succeed. We need to be realistic and understand the realities of the world and Iran. Merely condemning this group or that group is not sufficient. There are a series of bad, horrible, and horrendous options confronting the Iranian people. We are the best hope among a number of horrible options. If we succeed there will be a mass uprising taking days or weeks, followed by the establishment of democracy and prosperity in Iran. If we do not succeed, there could be a very long and bloody civil war, with the disintegration of Iran and the re-establishment of the Pahlavi dictatorship on whatever is left of Iran a very likely outcome.
Lets hope that this time around, the pro-democracy groups win.
Dr. Mohammad Ali Mehrasa, on ethnic-based federalism
Dr. Mehrasa is a member of the Central Committee of the INF-OA
Dr. Houmayun Mehmaneche, on unity for democracy and coalition making
Dr. Mehmanech is a member of the Executive Committee of the INF-OA
Kambiz Ghaemmagham on unity from theory to practice
Mr. Ghaemmagham is a member of the Executive Committee of the INF-OA
Dr. Mohsen Ghaemmagham on Democratic Party of Kurdestan
Dr.Ghaemmagham is a member of the Central Committee of the INF-OA
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