Standing On The Right Side Of History – OpEd


Iran’s history over the past two hundred years has repeatedly demonstrated the monarchy’s propensity for authoritarianism and the destruction of democratic institutions.

During the reign of Reza, the founder of the Pahlavi dynasty, and especially during the reign of the Shah, who was deposed by the 1979 revolution, all the democratic institutions that had emerged from the Iranian revolution of 1907 were destroyed. Under the Shah’s rule, all political parties were banned, with the exception of the Rastakhiz Party, so that anyone who wanted to be politically active had to be a member of that party. Thus, through the destruction of all democratic institutions and the suppression of freedom fighters by the Shah, Qyatollah Khomeini, the founder of the Islamic Republic, was able to establish his religious authoritarianism, taking advantage of a huge political vacuum. 

From the point of view of the model of governance, Khomeini can be considered as the immediate crown prince of the Shah. There followed forty-three years of unprecedented repression of the people and their political, economic and cultural demands. Since the beginning of the popular uprising in Iran, a central slogan of the Iranian revolution has been “Death to Khamenei” and “Death to the dictator, be he king or ruler”. A way for the people to make their political choice clear. It was by marking the red line between the people and two dictatorships that this revolution was able to withstand unprecedented repression.

Invitation from Reza Pahlavi

One may wonder why, without having participated even once in the uprising and therefore without any legitimacy, Reza Pahlavi was invited to participate in the Munich conference. Similarly, the fact that his name is presented as an alternative to the clerical regime of the mullahs by some media is surprising. At best, this clearly signifies ignorance of the sacrifices of the younger Iranian generation to establish a democratic government. At worst, it could be seen as a form of complicity of the media in giving way to lobbies (state and corporate) more interested in future negotiations with a dictatorship than with a democracy.

Distorting the alternative

When a revolution is on the verge of overthrowing a regime, when the world believes in it and when the outcome seems closer than ever, there is the crucial question of a credible and desired alternative. From a strictly diplomatic point of view, the regime and the supporters of the appeasement policy prefer the current regime to a democratic alternative in Iran. Very logically, they therefore undertake the methodical decredibilization of the only real political alternative that exists; the NCRI (National Council of Resistance of Iran), a body bringing together all the oppositions to the dictatorships, all trends, all ethnicities populating Iran for over 40 years!

The objective of the Iranian state’s lobbyists is simple: to prove to the media that there is no serious alternative. Therefore, in order to maintain order and stability in economic and commercial exchanges, it is preferable to help the current regime to maintain itself… Or how to praise the benefits and values of democracy in speeches but work underhand to maintain one of the worst dictatorships that this world carries at the moment.

Over the past forty years, the only movement that has demonstrated coherent political organisation, including internationally, while remaining active on the ground in fierce opposition to the mullahs, is the NCRI, a council founded on the basis of gender equality and fighting against all forms of dictatorship, monarchical or religious.

Attempt to invalidate the valid alternative

Since the beginning of the revolution, Iran’s notorious Ministry of Intelligence has claimed that the alternative to the mullahs’ regime, the National Council of Resistance of Iran, does not have the support of the people. This allegation has been widely used abroad by the regime’s lobbies and those with concrete interests in denying the regime’s downfall. But this can only mislead public opinion abroad. The Iranian people, especially the younger generation, know, despite all the censorship, that if this alternative did not have a popular base, it could never have withstood the cruelty of the mullahs for more than forty years. More than 30,000 political prisoners were massacred in Iran in 1988, mainly from the People’s Mojahedin Organisation of Iran (PMOI), which is strongly represented in the NCRI. Yet this movement continued to resist the mullahs. 

Since then, the NCRI has been working on revealing the truth, organizing a future political life and keeping the troops together on the ground. Thus, the resistance units scattered throughout Iran, which are the backbone of this revolution, are under the leadership of the NCRI. And this is what has made the continuation of this revolution possible. Let us be clear. If this alternative did not have a popular base, it could not have continued the struggle against the dictatorship despite 30,000 arrests and at least 750 deaths!

Standing on the right side of history

The ongoing revolution includes all classes, strata and political tendencies. The Shah, the Mullahs and their remnants have no place in the people’s camp. The red line with the dictatorship of the Shah and the Mullahs is the only real political demarcation line to finally reach democracy. Anyone who distorts it will certainly not be in the people’s camp. For there are now only two camps in Iran: that of the dictators of all kinds and that of the people. And history has taught us time and again that, no matter how long it takes, the people always win in the end. It is now up to the parties involved to make their choice, on the right or wrong side of history…

Hamid Enayat

Hamid Enayat is an Iranian human rights activist and analyst based in Europe.

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