The Forgotten Independents in the Iranian Politics


by religionoutofgovernment

It is hard not to notice the constant quarrels amongst different political individuals on IC. Indeed, this is a true reflection of the divisions and animosities of different parties and political factions of the Iranian diaspora. Groups such as Royalists, Islamists, Communists and Melliun consider themselves the natural heir of Iran's political future because of their "political sacrifice in the past". They use emotional stories of their political prisoners to create a charged and emotional atmosphere, instead of discussing the merits of their political ideologies. Each believes to have a monopoly of the "right political ideas". They refuse to form a collation and vow to never cooperate in a future democratic Iran. They believe they have the right to exclude each other from a future free and democratic Iran. They all forget that each is actually a minority. The independents have always been and are the majority in Iran. Because of a lack of political freedoms in Iran, the Independents have never been heard and never had a voice.

I contend that without a voice for the Independents, it is impossible to have a democratic and free political system. The independents are those who keep the political parties and their fridge lunatics and antidemocratic factions in check. The independents create the political atmosphere of tolerance and inclusion. Without a voice for the independents, each political party and groups will pursue its inherent exclusionary policy that we are witnessing today. The independents provide a democratic system the checks and balances that become an obstacle to the inherent un-democratic tendencies of all political parties. All Iranian political parties and movement have an undemocratic past.

Our history of the last century is a perfect explanation of the reasons behind the widespread political discord and hostility in Iranian political landscape. Historically, we had 4 political movements in Iran, the Islamists, the Monarchists, the Communists and the Mellis. All of the current political parties and groups have one way or another originated from these original "big 4". In the absence of a voice for the independence majority, the first three have clearly been undemocratic and the fourth has have undemocratic elements and movements within it.

1) THE ISLAMISTS ….. well, need I say more?

2) THE MONARCHISTS. Those monarchists who advocated a ruling monarch supported the tyrannical and undemocratic regime of the Pahlvi era and created the perfect environment for the Mullas to take over. Here, I am not arguing the social freedoms and infrastructure progress of the Pahlavis.

3) THE COMMUNISTS. Their history is that of the Tudeh party. Their treasonous past is one of support from the USSR and its policies in Iran including cessation of Azarbaijan, , opposing Mossadegh and supporting the Islamic Revolution and Khomeini. Yes, I know you communists on IC "are different" but we also have the history of many other countries who tried the one party system, abolishing private enterprise who created a different form of tyranny and dictatorship. The undemocratic nature of the Iranian communist parties is evident to all.

All the above 3 have been EXCLUSIONARY in all their political past. They have tried to seize power by excluding the rest.

4) MELLIUN. At the time of Mossadegh, he truly was an INCLUSIONARY force. However, the lack of a voice for the independents and many other factors brought his demise. However, let's not forget that the Jebhe Melli of his time also included religious elements which later formed Nehzate Azadi. These elements were critical in bringing Khomeini to power. For 15 years Bazargan, Yazdi Ghotbzadeh et al. acted as the political wing of the mullas. In addition, JB itself and Mr Sanjabi and Forouhar supported Khomeini at the time of revolution. The JB of today believes they have some inherent right to Iran's political future because they own Mossadegh's legacy. In fact, according to Bakhtiar (in his interview with Harvard Iran History) Mossadegh never considered himself a member of any political party including JB. He used to get furious when they referred to him as a member of JM!! Is it possible that he wanted to be an INDEPENDENT???

I believe, despite all their undemocratic pasts, all parties should be included in a democratic system. A strong voice of the independents, equipped with the power of their votes, will strip all parties of their undemocratic tendencies and will keep their lunatics at the very far fringes of the right or left. The monarchists who want dictatorship, the Islamist who want to mix religion with politics, the Communists who want to ban entrepreneurship and create a one party Utopia, and the "JM"s with their elitist attitudes, will all be included in a DEMOCRATIC and INCLUSIONARY system but will never have the absolute power to rule and exclude each other.

Who are the Independents? They are the ordinary Iranians who want a free and civil society. They want free votes. They want social freedoms and better life for their children. They want freedom of speech. They want no political prisoners and freedom of the press. They want accountability of their politicians. They may like a monarch but will never support a ruling one. They may consider themselves "leftist" and fight for the rights of the workers, but do not want to give up a multiparty democratic system. They are Muslims who want to practice ether religion at home not at schools and government buildings. They are Mellis who no longer worship Mossadegh and admit to his shortcomings and also agree that all others have the right to be politically active.

I also submit to you that without an independent force there will be no coalition of the Iranian opposition. The independents will be able to bring these fighting factions together. The realization that none of these groups will ever have a monopoly on power, and that their numbers are minuscule compared to the independents majority will force them to submit to the will of the rest of us.

So I say, INDEPENDENTS, lets rise and be heard. This is the way to freedom and democracy in our country.


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Veiled Prophet of Khorasan

Mehraban is right

by Veiled Prophet of Khorasan on


I want to be normal in the most normal sense. Not frothing at the mouth screaming "death to ***". Not stoning people or following cults. Not bombing anyone. Not harassing people for their religion or hijab.

Not yelling "Palestine" the whole day. Not rehashing 1953. Not filled with hate for anyone. Is this so hard to get for self proclaimed intellectuals. Forget the kind of government just as long as it is normal. I wish we never had any *** intellectuals.

I know most people want to be normal. But I note many people on IC are radicals.  With no patience for other ideas. Well go on and vent while the world moves on. I will work join with any normal and reasonable people.


I am not surprised

by religionoutofgovernment on

i am not surprised you two don't really understand what I am talking about. And really my blog is for a coalition for domocracy seeking a multiparty, western style democratic system. Clearly, if you are for class warfare and single party system you need to move on to a different blog. However, as I said, there are those on the left who are willing to be active in such a western style democratic political system. They should be welcomed in any coalition, although I and many others disagree with their political views. And yes, I did mean to lump all Melli-mazhabi and  disgrunted mullas together. No most of Iranian people are not Islamists, they are regular folks wanting social, economic and religious freedoms. And yes they are independent, ie do not identify themselves with any particular party or group. Many may happen to be Muslim but others are bahais, athiests ets. 


generalisation style...

by Roozbeh_Gilani on

1)first of all you lump a group of people together as " Islamists", and simply dismiss them!! Tell us , who are these "islamists"? Would you class Rafsanjani, ahmadinezhad, khamaei with someone like Taaleghani and call them all "islamist"? Would your "islamsists" also include devout ordinary Iranian muslims? In which case you just dismissed vast majority of Iranains from your list of "independents"..

2) Your definition of "Monarchists" did put a smile on my face! Come on, this site is full of Monarchists. Some are  decent folks indeed, some are a bit crazy, a lot frighten me as they talk like neo-nazis. All of them, I'd say are very misguided, naive, out of touch and have not visited Iran for quite some time.

3) Your definition of communists made me laugh loud (really no offence meant). Your generalising the entire iran's left as "communists", and by association "stalinsist", "Tudehi",  is very similar to the other fella Fred, who seems to think all on iranian left are wearing black since kim il sung's death! This my friend is a SAVAK style of mentality that both yourself and Fred are denying advocation of. This is precisely the kind of mentality which brought VF regime to power. This cold war mentality is very much alive and kicking amongst the Iranian exile community, but believe me, Iranian youth back home are too intelligent tho think this way.

Finally, there is no such thing as "independent" in politics.   

"Personal business must yield to collective interest."


Iranian Working Class, as the most significant force for

by Hooshang Tarreh-Gol on

Independent Political Action in Iran.

Too bad you people are allergic to working class, or you would have understood such social significance.

G. Rahmanian

اين حيات خفيف و خائنانه

G. Rahmanian

Why would Bazargan refer to himself in those terms? What kind of betrayal did he mean? Why didn't he, as a good nationalist, tell Iranians what Khomeini was all about, the way Ayatollah Taleghani did? Why is it that these nationalists do not trust people?



by religionoutofgovernment on

I am not going to start a discussion with everyone of the "political groups" who feel offended by my blog. I am actually calling for all to work together. However, I will say this, Nehzate Azadi did support Khoemeini in the Khordad 1342 events. Following that, Nehzate Azadi popularized the concept of Political Islam. They indeed were key in mainstreaming and trivializing the disaster we call "mixing religion and politics". Also read the following, not to be convinced or to continue this line of discussion, just to undersand my pint of view:


Now going back to the original point of this blog, I ask you why wouldn't you form a coalition with RP, the secular Melli's and the left? Will you commit to a democratic system based on popular vote? Will you respect the silent, independent majority? Will you promise to keep your religion at home and respect others such as the Bahai's Athiests and others? 


Some of your history is inaccurate

by Mammad on

You say,

let's not forget that the Jebhe Melli of his time also included
religious elements which later formed Nehzate Azadi. These elements were
critical in bringing Khomeini to power. For 15 years Bazargan, Yazdi
Ghotbzadeh et al. acted as the political wing of the mullas.

First of all, so what that the National Front contained the religious elements? They were nationalist-religious elements, those for whom Iran was first and foremost, people like Bazargan, Ayatollahs Sayyed Mahmoud Taleghani and Abolfazl Zanjani, Dr. Yadollah Sahabi and his son Ezzatollah. That tradition continues to date. Some of the most important political figures currently in jail are of the same type.

Secondly, Bazargan and his group in Iran did not act as the political wing of Ayatollah Khomeini. I challenge you to provide one piece of document that indicates that. In his trial by Shah's military court, Bazargan warned the Shah about the coming revolution. He told him to be a king not a ruler. He told him that his group was the last group talking to him and opposing his regime peacefully.In the first statement that his Liberation Movement issued in 1961, it was emphasized that the group was "constitutionalist," meaning, (1) they wanted to act within the Constitution, and (2) they did not want to overthrow the Shah. These are all documented. But, kojaa bood goosh-e shenavaa?

In fact, Bazargan and his comrades who were in Iran did not have any great affinity for Khomeini. Neither Bazargan nor Ayatollah Taleghani trusted Khomeini (there are documents showing this). Taleghani clearly stated that the rouhaniat should not be trusted, and this was from a rouhani himself. Bazargan met with Khomeini in Paris in the Fall of 1978, returned to Tehran and reported to his comrades that "Khomeini does not know much about the current world." His letter to Khomeini says exactly the same.

Third, but Bazargan and his comrades worked with Khomeini when the revolution heated up, because the political vacuum that the Shah had created was dangerous, and the Bazargan group thought that it was their nationalist duty to try to put some control on what was happening. They were also afraid that the communists would take over.

Fourth, the best evidence for the third is a review of what happened from Fall 1978 to Fall 1979, the entire period in which Bazargan and his comrades worked with Khomeini. During his entire short premiership Bazargan complained about the intervention of the mullahs, the extremist acts taken by Khomeini's zealous supporters, etc. On several occasions he wanted to resign. And, after the U.S. embassy was overran, Bazargan and his comrades joined the opposition, less than a year after the victory of the revolution.

So, while I agree with many of the points you have made, we must, in my opinion, be honest with history in order to learn the correct and right lesson from it.



The Great Iranian Tragedy

by religionoutofgovernment on

FG, MM, Mehrban, and Omeedvar, thank you for your comments. Unfortunately the uncompromising positions of different political groups has become a great tragedy in Iranian politics. The Independents have always been present in the Iranian political landscape, but they have become more vocal, bold and educated. They now comprise vast majority of the political prisoners, bloggers, writers, poets, artists and activists. In fact, vast majority of the people in the streets in the 2008 Green Movement WERE INEPENDENTS.  They were simply using the Mousavi bandwagon to express their discontent. Their prominence is also precisely the reason we are not getting the "revolution" the political types are hoping for. These independents do not trust any of the political parties for good reasons. While the people are sacrificing their lives, these self-righteous, know-it-alls are quarrelling and bickering.

Here is my overview but please change or add your own:

1. The Islamists: As much as I personally detest religion, I cannot fathom a regime change without a role for the people with religious tendencies. We actually need some Mullas to join the opposition. These are the ones who see an end to Islam in Iran if the current regime continues. Yes some of these guys, including some of the Greens, were original Khomeini supporters, but so were the Communists and Jebhe Melli. If we are going to forgive Mr. Sanjabi, then we need to also forgive former regime members, as long as they commit to a new democractic regime.

2. Jebhe Melli. They seem to be willing to an alliance with the communists, but will not talk to the Islamists or the monarchists. Masoud Kazemzadeh in a recent IC post stated they learned from history that those 2 groups brought tyranny and cannot be trusted. I guess Mr. Kazemzadeh is willing to risk the next 32 years of our country's history to a communist tyranny? What he doesn't realize is that it is not any particular group in a coalition that will bring tyranny, it is the exclusionary mentality that will bring tyranny. Like I said, if you can forgive Sanjabi, you sould be able to forgive the rest. Unless, you are acting as a revolutionary judge and prosecutor and have single handedly convicted them all of crimes! 

3. The Monrchists. There are those who have hatred for anyone who participated in the revolution. I guess they hate most Iranians! However, RP himself again and again has denounced any dictatorship and belives in the end of ruling manorchies. In a recent interview with VOA, he announced his readiness to work with any group including Mousavi and Karroubi as long as they agree that the regime needs to be changed. I am not a monarchist, but this seems quite reasonable to me. Frankly, I could not care less if we did or did not have a regning, powerless monarch. We have to realize that based on numbers, he does have many followers both inside and outside Iran. He simply cannot be ignored. 

4. The communists.
Those believing in an end to capitalism, restricting free flow of capital, turning over the factories to "councils of worker'  will always remain in the fringes of the political spectrum. They have no support now and as such do not deserve much consideration. If they did have popular support, then I would have stated differently. However, there are left-leaning political activists who will play a role in the future politcial process. As log as they agree to a multiparty system and respect personal property and ownership and are willing to participate in western style democratic system, then they sould also be welcome in a coalition.



Silent Majority

by omeedvar on


I agree with you that vast majority of Iranians are independant, and do not belong to any hezb or party. In the last two decades, I have met many foreign nationals who told me they have had Iranian friends, colleagues, or have visited Iran in the past. Their experience is that majority of Iranians are kind, civilized, smart and freindly people; and do not belong to present gang who run the country today. They asked me, why don't the silent majority of Iranians unite, do something, and change their situation for better one?



by Mehrban on

I remember an interview with an Iranian young man and the interviewer asked him what do you want for your future that you don't have now.  He said I just want to be NORMAL.  

Okay now I will get all sorts of intellectuals here asking; but what is normal.


Thank you for your important blog.  



by MM on

Your blog points to an underlying danger in just shouting "regime change" without thinking about changing into what.  Personally, I think that all parties should be allowed to participate as long as a set of common denominators, based on law and order, are agreed on:

1. Implementation of the UN charter of human rights.

2. Freedom of "religion/speech/race/gender/information".

3. Free elections without pre-selection of candidates.

The danger in being an independent is that as soon as you deviate from XXX's talking points, you get accused of being a crap-duster, regime-enhancer and the other labels that we have all heard of. 

So, the first step is the unification of all factions under a set of rules that we all agree on and sign to respect.  A civility in behavior is a plus, though.  Otherwise, we will continue with our political saga.


This suggests one danger Iran should avoid when IRI is gone

by FG on

A proportional representation electoral system which makes sectarism, factionalism and all divisive parties more viable because they only need 5 percent of the vote.

Meanwhile, moderate parties or (centrists) have votes siphoned away.  Being less cohesive ideologically, they tend to split into too many centrist parties and independent candidates with the result that many of these parties cause lost centrist votes by failing to qualify for the 5 percent minimu.

Thus extremist parties, having a contrasting tendency to stick together, win via divide and conquer and wasted centrist votes.

Proportional rep has been a disaster for Israel (where it aids Lukud and hard liners), post-Tito Yugoslavia (Milosevic fed on the system), Bosnia today, Iraq today, Germany in 1933, Japan in the late 20's,Spain in the mid-thirties.

In some cases (France) it led to weak Popular Front governments made up of too many incompatible parties to function effectively.  More often, it brought down democracies and replaced them with totalitarian fascist states.

In prolonged crises, like the Great Depression, extremists do especially well as people defect from centrist parties and move to "viable" extreme right and extreme "left" parties.

All electoral systems have their drawbacks and advantages.   The two key advantages of a plurality system (each seat elected independently on a winner-take-all basis) is that it encourages moving to the center because that's how you win. It naturally handicaps the most extreme parties who can't get enough votes without broadening their constituency.