Often, this conversation takes place:
– What is the alternative to the Iranian Islamic regime?
The forthright reply is:
– None. The Iranian oppositions are either a suicidal pretence or a pathetic charade.
Today, the country is run by one herd of Shiite dogmatists, born and bred in the bosom of the country, pretending to be free from any foreign power’s influence. However, their Islamist-nationalistic brand of totalitarian state, military dictatorship, colonialism and fraud are by far worse than any Shah anyone can name.
To the date, fear, apathy, cowardice, self-interest, hypocrisy, and denunciation are social atrocities that have produced ghastly results on the social fabric. They have transcended generations, social classes, and education levels to serve a closely knitted elite waving Islamic flag. The religious jiggery-pokery is nothing but feudal behaviours committed to feed the dregs of society with obscurantism.
A sophisticated mind, stranger to Iranian issues, would logically imagine a political body able to unite a multitude around an alternative to such a rotten regime.
Then, why do the Iranian folks, so proud of their millennial heritage, ready to give lessons in civilisation and civility to the others, bow to a barbaric and failed governance?
In over forty years, the theocracy has strengthened the nefarious activities of the organized-crime syndicate and has been highly effective in convincing the people to submit voluntarily to their servitude. The move towards absolutism has been smooth.
In Iran, only sponsored and supervised gatherings by the religious bodies are acceptable. Out of the religious control, collective legitimate demands and mutterings of individual disapprovals are crushed. Thus, the institutionalised ruthlessness has inevitably created a highly toxic social situation in which a diverse but knitted civil society cannot be shaped. Some believe that the USA administration should have been investing in bolstering Iranian civil society. But, the Iranian people brought the Islamic Republic into power, it is for them to work out the alternative.
At last, in the last couple of years, the regime’s crass mismanagement and corruption have grown some street protests and sit-ins.
The protesters’ demands are specific to their trade, profession or the shortage of basic commodities such as fuel or water. Their call does not evolve to be rid of the master–slave bonds with the regime. They humbly beg for the payment of their overdue wages; they appeal to their torturers for mercy. Nothing comes out of their demands; they are met by live bullets and mass arrests.
Sadly, no protest is backed by any other social or economic group to muster enough power to produce a long lasting effect on softening the regime.
Lately, school teachers, weary of their unpaid poor salaries, conducted peaceful strikes across the country. They were not supported by actions from others in demand such as factory workers in similar situations.
Human right defenders are taking their first faltering steps. They are in a dire need of public support that has not materialised. Far too many educated people, within or outside the country, are waiting with heavy legs and drowsy minds for the self-destruction of the ayatollahs, and the auto-realisation of an alternate political system to their taste.
Some are expecting the Mehdi / Messi to materialise, others plead with foreign powers and international bodies to intervene.
The strength and the cogency to press for change and welfare lay in the innermost of the people toiling collectively. A messianic hope, or a miraculous benefactor disregarding own interests, does not belong to the real world. There ain’t no such thing as a free lunch.
To shield themselves from social mediocrities, deceit and nepotism, most people have grown a carapace. A wall of indifference to the surroundings is built to separate their public from private spheres. The people are so inured to the violence and corruption, that they defend the bullies and liars.
If an alternative to the Islamic Republic were to be envisaged, it could be hatched abroad with strong ties in the country, creating two way fruitful exchanges. But, the poor social interactions among unimaginative and apathetic actors, makes this perspective a fanciful and far-fetched expectation.
The dysfunctional Iranian oppositions in the West are no match to the systematic Islamist rule in Tehran. Their pretence in the quests of alternatives is amateurish and insubstantial. In politics, their clumsy missteps, even foolishness, are beyond comprehension.
Ruefully, the review of the oppositions starts with a few words on Reza Pahlavi (monarchists) and the MEK (leftists-Islamists). As alternatives to the regime, neither Reza nor the MEK are valuable assets, nor have the necessary steam for a kick off. Losers of the Islamic revolution, both are old hats, the rancid legacies from the 1979 Revolution.
Reza and the Pompous Dreamers
Reza is the son of the last Shah, lacking personality and intellectual strength to satisfy his ambition to legitimise a dynasty contested since the 1920s.
He daydreams of a saviour that would give him a chance for a triumphant return to the country. Reza is a crown prince with no kingdom, as futile as a general without an army.
His most fervent supporters are social-climber monarchists, more anxious to make good money in their country of adoption than being political change-makers. In their time off running their businesses, they chant nationalist slogans with passion for the restoration of the Great Persian Empire. Puffed up with the arrogant superiority of the Persianess, they are certain of holding “The Absolute Truth” about Iran.
The largest bulk of oppositions is composed of Iranian-Americans monarchists in splinter groups, aiming to establish democracy, re-establish monarchy and provide equality for all in Iran.
Actually, no one knows how. The monarchists are blind and deaf in reading history. The results of four decades of cogitations are reruns of platitudes: patronising, stale and totally inept.
In the process of every US presidential election, they grab the opportunity to attach a rickety-rackety wooden cart to the GOP’s Pullman: In accordance with the American values enshrined in the US Constitution, the US foreign policy can assist the people of Iran in electing leaders who are committed to ensuring that the human rights abuses under the Islamic Republic regime end.
In other words: let the USA do the job for us, then we can return and take it from where we left it in 1979.
To the date, we have enough lies on our plates with the Iranian ayatollahs, no need to replace them with the American ayatollahs. It’s six of one and half dozen of the other.
On the domestic scene, Reza Pahlavi is not taken for an entity worth of mention. However, in the preaches of many ayatollahs to their childish audience, portraying the devilish late Shah is still a favourite subject. For them, the monarchists are still believed to be a real threat to their security.
The Shiite hierarchy, like any totalitarian state, is pathetically trying to wipe out monarchies from people’s memories, rewriting history to suit its vanity. But, the present will one day return to haunt them.
The Money-grubbing Traitors
The MEK is made of lefties-Islamist militarist militants, bullies, and intolerant with the Iranians outside their sect. They are believed to have fraudulently earned big money in years they were based in Iraq.
Depending on the amount of monies MEK had spent on organising closed, but lavish rallies, the Westerner may hear or not from National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI /MEK). Maryam Rajavi, the self-proclaimed leader of the MEK, pays well any has-been Western politician to have a few pictures taken with her for publication in the many websites they own.
Time and again, the Western governments have made a fool of themselves by including the MEK, then excluding them from the “Terrorist Lists”. In today’s western mood, they are not terrorists, only an accepted nuisance in Europe and a somewhat marginal tool for use in American politics.
To the date, we do have the Mafiosi infesting Qom and Mashhad. The IRCG and the bassijis pamper these hoodlums and racketeers wearing the turban. No need to replace them with the MEK gang. A repeat of six of one and half dozen of the other.
In the hate games, a favourite pastime of most Iranians on all political moves, the MEK have succeeded to unite everyone against themselves. They are not seen as an important force that could potentially undermine totalitarian regimes from within. This is a sole prowess of unity in the Iranian politics for a long time.
On the domestic scene, the MEK are called the Hypocrites / منافقین by the regime, blamed for all kinds of crimes, and occasionally its members are assassinated wherever in the world. The public has kept a bitter memory of having to fight them in the Iran-Iraq war, where the MEK stood with Saddam Hussein’s forces.
However, Tehran’s regime avoids recalling a little detail: in the early days of Khomeini’s faltering steps into power, the MEK were the efficient and reliable associates badly needed to shore up the theocratic power, but not to share it.
As soon as the situation turned in their favour, the clerics mercilessly chased the MEK. The mass executions of 1988 was ordered by Khamenei and carried out by his henchmen, one of them Ebrahim Raisi, the present president of Iran. The massacres marked the culmination of the ayatollahs’ callous disregard of the value of human life.
Apathy and Heritage
The Islamic regime portrays itself as the flag-bearer of peace and justice, a total break from despicable authoritarian Shahs. However, the men wearing turban have surpassed the crowned ones in viciousness, people’s rights violation, and deceit.
When citizens’ lives are in peril from the regime, or they seek a life more adapted to their personal needs, they leave the country. They have done so for more than one and a half centuries.
To the date, the number of the Iranians exiled/refugees in the world is a guesstimate of well over five million and growing. Since the 1980s, in the harbouring countries, the succeeding waves of migrants have produced a second and a third generation of citizens, at the least doubling this number.
The exercise of their profession and care for the family occupies almost all the time of most citizens from Iranian descent in their second homes. The country’s issues are secondary and treated with apathy. What is garnered from gossipy chats or the occasional media reports feeds a limited interest in the daily businesses of the country.
Therefore, the first generation’s references to the country, are their memories before the migration, a collection of the past images. The succeeding generations do with the narrations of their parents in which myth and reality are mixed, happy moments embellished, and misfortunes muted.
Only, a small percentage of diaspora keeps themselves informed of events in the country with earnest intent, bypassing the limits of the family’s stories with reading.
But, all exiled Iranians wear their cultural heritage and/or their Iranianess like a badge of pride, haughtily displayed for the foreigners to see.
Trying to circumscribe the content of the heritage with tangible elements is spinning one’s wheels, since, the heritage and culture are made of personal ideas and feelings tinted with nostalgia for the legacies of 1970 and 1980. After decades, things that were real are dead or have been altered beyond recognition.
However, observing the exiled Iranians’ behaviour, two qualifiers are indeed part of the cultural heritage/Iranianess: a strong instinctive distrust of one’s own fellow citizen and an inflamed negative reaction to anyone daring to challenge the clichés, paradoxes and sometimes the illogical bits contained in the personal version of culture, heritage and traditions.
An Ocean of Coteries
In four decades, the Iranian culture and traditions have prevented the oppositions in the West to create any form of strong lobby, political coalition, freedom fighters organization, or anything one may like to call them.
The Iranians do not have the culture of contradictory argumentation. One has either to accept the lordly views expressed in a gathering or leave. Debates among people from different horizons are carefully avoided, and controversial points briskly dismissed.
Thus, discussing a collective political view stays within the limits of the closed circle, with dulcet tones to soothe the ear.
The coteries of friends and parents voice their own brand of politics of spin. After the first exaggerated enthusiasm, thoughts stagnate, and before long, bored folks duck out. The whole thing ends up in tatters.
In the West, congregations of armchair-critics of the Islamic Republic are filled with a handful of self-satisfied experts giving speeches on exporting democratic values to Iran, and a cheering audience present on invitation only.
The Iranian protocol for exchanging endless Ta’arofs and civilities demand one to sit tight, refrain from asking pointed questions, clap when needed, and listen politely to monotone prattles on over-ambitious aims.
The protocol is breached when contradictory views are expressed during the meeting. The culprit of such churlishness is the target of insults, slander, character assassination and debasement.
However, the same people supporting the speakers with manifold Ta’arofs, backbite them profusely with delectation, in hushed voices, after the meeting.
Civility and churlishness are the facets of the same coin heritage/Iranianess; to backbite / غیبت کردن is part of the coin’s alloy.
There is a plethora of tiny groups that fight each other rather than unite against the regime. They replicate many of the worst practices among the ayatollahs and their paranoid and megalomaniac behaviours. They fail to contemplate a move toward building a humane and positive society in diversity.
Even if what follows might be a utopia beyond our grasp, one’s country is a conception held together by public spiritedness, human decency, the resistance against a cruel system, collective courage, and the unfailing support for individual bravery. The country has to be reinvented by every generation and acted upon by the men and women together. No utopia has been reached successfully, but has been worth of the efforts.
Parochial mentalities of the Iranian coteries can only produce soap bubbles, brittle and ephemeral. Consequently, reflecting on the possibility of liaisons between the Iranian oppositions inside the country and those abroad is a far-fetched idea, even amusingly silly.
Colliding Free Electrons
Keeping away from the old hats, that is the MEK and the monarchists, and out of the ocean of coteries, there are a few hundred of individuals, free electrons, denouncing the Islamic Republic’s violation of human rights, gross failures, and corruption.
Activists, dissidents, detractors, journalists, academics, writers, artists, photographers, defenders of human rights… fill in a list of intellectually honest fighters for noble causes.
When the free electrons collide over political Islam, they are bound to be panned, and their messages go unheard.
No matter their natural talent and professionalism in their chosen domain, they are alone in challenging the Islamist regime in Tehran. However, inhabited by the instinctive distrust of one’s own fellow citizen, they collide with painful consequences. Little positive energy is produced from their works, as only a handful of people, mostly in the West, come to know them.
The academics and think-tank employees do not have the vocabulary or the natural skills to address all Iranians in their diversity. Writing academic articles and debating Iran’s regime and society by referring to the theories of well-known Western figures of political philosophers such as Gramsci, de Tocqueville, etc., is useless to a majority of folks in Iran.
The people struggling with poor economic conditions and bleak futures are not impressed by the abstruse, theory-driven analysis of the street protests or the geostrategic games of the international players.
The best way to rid the Iranian totalitarian regime is to show the citizens in every village, not just to a handful in cities, what the rest of the world is really like.
The folks need a short clear message, near home. A message of hope that its practicalities will affect their future lives and includes the Iranians in their diversities, transcending religion and ethnic minorities.
Human rights defenders are not heard in Iran. The regime has not given a damn to their cries and the public has been apathetic to the repeats of the violations of basic rights.
Woefully, and as yet, no one has witnessed a street protest for any violation of the human rights. Televised coerce confession of prisoners, is watched likewise a TV reality show in the West; public hangings have bystanders quietly interested and commenting as if they were road accidents; stoning had (or has? The law has not been abrogated) its own active public.
Is one’s neighbour, from a religious or ethnic minority, arbitrarily arrested and his properties stolen? Let’s look away and ostracise his household; maybe he has something to hide.
In forty three years, the lists of the prisoners and their lawyers, all victims of false accusations and miscarriage of justice in kangaroo courts (aka Revolutionary/Islamic), blacken hundreds of pages.
In the West, miles of shelves can be filled with thousands of petitions and well-documented pleas for the release of prisoners of opinion falsely accused as “criminals”.
However, there is no name to write under the heading: released by the regime under popular pressure.
If not hanged, political prisoners are released once in a while under tight surveillance.
The best bargains for the regime are the dual-nationals. For each of them the theocratic system obtains a substantial ransom in exchange. The Islamic Judiciary is a squad of cut-throats and villainous human traffickers.
The Islamic Republic has been lucky over the past four decades to have dealt with the oppositions made by moving sands or shooting stars. There is no cement to stabilise and bind them together. No opposition, old hats, coteries or free electrons can pioneer a new relationship between the state and the society on its own.
Neither a young population, nor the scholarly education of the many in Iran affect things for an alternative to the regime.
New ideas must be challenged to mature and a consensus found and acted upon. Any alternative needs determination and people of principle ready to take their message to the millions in the provinces. If these things are daftly impossible, we want to hear the objections and understand the causes of the impossibilities.
A Bleak Future for Iran
As days go by, Iran is more and more sucked into the gruesome complexity of the Russian and Chinese orbits and interferences. Tehran offers them whatever is left of the country’s natural resources, and the weight the country carries from its geographical position in the Middle-East. The Islamic Republic implores their assistance to shore up its shaky power, and akin a beggar, it will sing when ordered.
The Velayat-e Faqih can only survive by adjusting its deeply entrenched dogmatism to the plans drawn in Moscow and Beijing.
Russian and Chinese methods of propaganda and censorship combined with their digital savoir-faire would be precious assets to the ayatollahs against their own people. The nets spreading out by these two powers are trapping the country in decades to come, no matter if a change of regime took place.
The ideological spite and petty grudge toward the USA have darkened the perspectives of the Iranian people. The moron bigots of Tehran are wrapped around Putin’s little finger. They blatantly flip-flop with their own principles and superstitions.
The perils of China’s “debt-trap diplomacy”, certain to the nth degree, is already driving the country further into political opacity and repression. Tehran is scared stiff of Chinese power games, but greed has overwhelmed reason long ago.
These are not conjectures, but a matter of course. The clergy’s perfidy and cowardice equal their imbecility in pursuing their own dogmatic ambitions, regardless of the nation’s prosperity. Their best options are to produce missiles, enrich uranium, keep hostages, and send death squads to kill…. and brag.
For them, a lie is an alternate truth, and if necessary a made-up hadith or an out of the context surah should ensure its veracity.
The nuclear development is the country’s cancer and already metastasize from their original sites, a metaphoric view of the plights ahead. If a deal on nuclear was to be reached, it would only give a short breathing space for all involved before hell breaks. Why would anyone trust blindfolded the promises of either USA or Iran?
As things stand today, Iran is an environmental disaster. The water shortages have passed the point of no return. Pesticides are omnipresent. The opaque economy defrauds its own people and creates the occasions to cheat the international players to the financial benefits of the Islamists bodies. Favouritism and mediocrity are one’s best aces for a job.
There would be a huge price to pay for the Iranians, yet to be born, to find a favourable geo-strategic equilibrium befitting the country’s weight in international affairs and, most important of all to mop up the ayatollahs’ mess.
But for any change to take place, the Iranians should first make up their minds as to what they want: a country that feels good to live in, or the present one in which corrupt and ruthless men wearing turban and brandishing the Koran instil fear.
However, years of living under totalitarian dictatorships has left the people no choice but to live large in whatever small ways they can. Any opposition movement, if it were not a pathetic charade, must overcome this sad and sorry state of affairs.
For decades, from our families in Iran we have heard to the nth degree of certitude, this unfounded belief: things gonna be alright, Inshallah.
Well, they have not. The Messianic miracles are the stuff of bedtime tales. The suicidal pretence and the pathetic charade of the oppositions are portmanteaux filled with poor judgment and political insignificance.
Since the exponential spreading use of the social media, the characteristics of the diaspora are emphasized for the worse. The vulgar display of self-promotion in truly gargantuan in proportion has added to the existing confusion and aborted any constructive exchange of views.
Bickering on social media and trading expletives with their detractors instead of encouraging civil debates, refusing to admit to and correct errors and rebuffing well-reasoned, cogent criticism are the hallmarks of the online behaviour of the majority of the opposition celebrities. Social media hashtags are triggers for a flash in the pan, alike the cut poppies in June, faded in the heat on the dot.
Woefully, the challengers to the totalitarian state and military dictatorship of the ayatollahs are the moving sands with little or no understanding of how to practically run a country.
Chances are that the population disgruntled and frustrated by the failure of clergy would culminate into a horrifying firework display. An internal implosion without prospect is a civil-war without an end, a collective suicide, the cruellest of all alternatives.