Friday, May 23, 2008

Credible Opposition is the Islamic Regime's Achilles Heel

What is the regime's Achilles heel or may be I should use the Persian equivalent, what is the Esfandiyar's Eye of the Islamic Republic?

I believe the overwhelming majority of Iranians want change. If the Islamic regime was overthrown tomorrow, there would be the biggest mass street parties the world has ever seen in Iran. Yet the majority of Iranians both inside and outside Iran remain passive observers of the events. While in their hearts they want to see the back of the mullahs, they are still hesitant in actively playing their part. What is the reason? Rather than lecturing those who fall in this category and coming across as lofty and arrogant towards them, or simply keeping within our own circles, those of us who are active in some way or another should genuinely listen to what the silent majority have to say. As someone reminded me many years ago at school, God has given us two ears and only one tongue, we should therefore listen twice as much as we talk.

The two overriding replies I get when I ask this question are:

1- Who do we replace the mullahs with?
2- We can't do anything, its a waste of time. If the mullahs are to be overthrown, the "great powers" will decide and do it, not us.

Perhaps I should do this post in two parts, but in a way the two are interconnected. Let me start with what I have labelled as reply number two. There are good reasons for this, deep rooted in our recent history. Our nation has struggled against rival super powers of the time, the British and the Russians, who wanted to split the country along their own zones of influence. A weak incompetent Qajar dynasty, backed by Shiite clerics whose sole purpose was to keep the population backward and illiterate, ensured that the Iranians as a nation were too weak to decide their own destiny against the British and the Tsarist Russian superpowers of the time.

When against all odds, Iran produced a hero by the name of Reza Shah the Great, and once again Iran was ruled by an Iranian dynasty, we were just about to find our rightful place amongst other nations. In less than two decades, our wounded pride was restored, we made great advances towards modernising our country and perhaps most important of all, our Iranian identity, trampled on by centuries of foreign invaders and non-Iranian rulers, flourished again. But just when we were finding our feet on the ground again and the foundations of a modern secular Iran was being set, the Allied forces invaded Iran and the British, who hated Reza Shah for having cut off their influence in the country, forced his abdication and exile and even tried to restore the Qajar dynasty.

This deep set Iranian conspiracy theory that the super powers decide our future was best captured and told by the great Iranian novelist and satirist, Iraj Pezeshkzad, in his masterpiece of contemporary Persian literature, My Uncle Napoleon. So much so that the phrase 'Uncle Napoleon way of thinking' or 'Uncle Napoleon syndrome' has become a distinct reference in the modern day Persian language.

Yet despite this My Uncle Napoleon Syndrome(MUNS), Iran has produced three major revolutions and upheavals in the last 100 years. One must remember that the MUNS is only prevalent during the periods of defeat. Thus the same people who took part in some of the biggest street protests in 1979 and toppled 2500 years tradition of monarchy in Iran, once they realised what a mistake it was, started to deny their contribution in the revolution and instead claimed it was the British and the Americans who had engineered the Islamic revolution.

Going back to reply number one, 'Who do we replace the mullahs with?'. Nothing scares the regime more than a credible opposition and nothing puts off the silent majority more than a phony opposition. If the 1999 student uprising across 19 Iranian cities shook the foundations of the Islamic Republic, the unfortunate emergence of the LA TV stations and the kind of comical opposition that was beamed to the Iranian people as the alternative to the Islamic Republic stopped the momentum of the new pro-democracy movement from becoming a mass movement and the protests from reaching the critical mass needed for a regime change.

This is why I pointed out some of this phony opposition in my interview with the Front Page magazine. Paper organisations or to be more up to date, web based non-entities who call themselves "Parties" and have more members in their "central committees" than actual supporters through out the world, led by Don Quixote fruit cakes who never fool the Iranian people inside Iran but do manage to fool some well wishing and well meaning outsiders by their preposterous claims of extensive organisational networks inside Iran, what they like to call 'hasteh' :)

The credible opposition will not come about from hotel conferences of old political groups in London and Paris either. As I told one of the organisers of these conferences, if you put a lot of zeros in one room, the output will still be zero. I have been active for 28 years against the theocratic rule in Iran, I have followed Iran related news every day since the start of the 1979 revolution, I have made the effort to travel and meet face to face with people across the spectrum of the Iranian politics and gauge their appeal, effectiveness, IQ and authenticity and whether they have the potential to mobilize the silent majority. I am no academic, but I trust my instincts and my empirical observations. When I was asked about the outcome of these conferences, this is what I said:
'speeches will be made, they will sing their own praises that they have gathered under one roof, they will elect a co-ordinating committee of around 16 people and then it will all fizzle out, because they will never have the initiative to carry any actions. '

Those who asked me were surprised how accurate my predictions were but I was surprised that they expected anything else.

The credible opposition will come from within Iran but not from within the regime. For people will not trust those who are in bed with the clerics. The credible opposition will not be formed overnight in Iran either, it will not be a homogeneous single organisation and it will not immediately and publicly declare its goal as the overthrow of the Islamic regime. It has to win small concessions step by step, gain people's confidence and ensure that the momentum is maintained. Its success will depend on whether it will correctly judge the mood of the people and their readiness and make the right decisions on a case by case basis.

The continuous conflict between the aspirations of the Iranian people for freedom and the outdated repressive ways of the Islamic Republic makes me confident that this credible opposition will come about.

Meanwhile those of us outside Iran should not present ourselves as the alternative to the current regime but promote every genuine secular and pro-democracy voice inside Iran.
We should be credible, tell the truth as it is, not exaggerate and we should not create Dir-Yassin effects amongst the silent majority.

Making the silent majority active and political should not be made synonymous with becoming a revolutionary immediately and demanding the overthrow of the Islamic regime, it should really be something that deals firstly with the individuals relationship to his or her immediate surrounding.

We should actively solicit the international public opinion and use it as a lever to prevent Western politicians from doing deals with the mullahs and bolster the regime. Having the international support of the people around the world will strengthen us immensely.

The combination of credible effective opposition with international support will once again give confidence to the Iranian people that they are not alone, they can make a difference and they do not have to wait passively for the super powers to decide when this dark regressive period in our history is finally over.


Bahramerad said...

Well done mate.
I am with you all the way.
This is a good analysis and a good outlook of what must be done.
I hope to see that day before I die.

Anonymous said...


I like your first sentence, that was cool. But as far as everything else, I think you have the right idea but your animosity towards the IRI adulterates your perspective. There should be no doubt that many of the current governmental clerics and earlier revolutionaries are criminals, but our distaste for them shouldn't be incorporated into an opposition strategy.

I know that you deplore any opposition from within the regime, but we should understand that it would be the most effective.

Iranians are not going to respond to some ideological opposition movement against Islam; there needs to be a pragmatic element.

They are not upset with Islamic government, they are upset with this Islamic government; they do not denounce Islam like most expats do.

They need an opposition party that will say "stop suspecting all our women of prostitution and allow them to get a hotel room without a man. Allow our women to leave the country without their husbands permission."

A party that will say, "mandatory Islamic curriculum in our schools is not a part of our history and diminishes our nations capacity to compete economically and politically with other nations. We have to invest more in our children than just Islam and engineering."

An opposition movement should not be built around how to extract power from the clerics, but how to empower the people - and that begins with redressing the Iranian education system. Allow our students to take the koncur more than once instead of consigning them to a future based on their first test score. Allow them to study the liberal arts, political and economic philosophy.

Iranians need to hear their leaders talking about issues that actually effect their lives; not about Palestine and Israel, not about imperialism, not about Islam and other abstract issues.

Tell them that if you have a drug addicted member in your family we will send him/her to rehab free and confidentially. And if the addicted person is the breadwinner of the family, we will pay his/her family income until he/she recovers.

These are just a few things. If we make fundamental reforms, beginning with education, everything else you want (like secularism) will naturally follow these reforms.

My point is that we have to be dispassionate, patient, and strategic, because being passionate, hasty, and willful just won't cut it - unless you want to put the MEK into power:)

be salamat,

Azarmehr said...

The evidence shows that after the huge disappointment with Khatami, the Iranian people have shunned anyone who appears critical of the regime while still working with the regime. Take the example of reformist MPs who staged a sit in yje Majlis, expecting the people to support them, and yet nothing happened.

People like Abdi and many other architects of the reform from within all admit that reform from within is dead and buried. Still you pin your hopes on it from your armchair in America!

I don't know where you read the 'opposition against Islam', but then again its typical of you not to read or listen carefully and yet rant on about your own perception of what others are saying. Read again the bit about two ears and one tongue.

I do agree however that the opposition should not just be about being against everything but it should also say what it is for and how it would affect people's lives for the better.

But neither you nor I is the credible opposition that I am talking about, we can not formulate policies from here, we should promote those who stand up to the mullahs inside Iran.

Anonymous said...

Barmakid is very right, except about your first sentence.

The expression of Achilles Heel is used to refer to one's own weakness from within. Not some opposition outside of the regime.


Anonymous said...

Actually, my chair doesn't have any arms. And I'm not just going to support anyone who's against the "mullahs" - that sounds like a strategy a cabal of schoolyard kids came up with during recess.

Why does everything have to boil down to "you are not in Iran therefore your ideas don't matter." Get a grip; you haven't been to Iran in nearly three decades. You are just as disconnected from modern Iranian society as you are from reality:)

Sohrab said...

What about oil and natural gas? Are there any elephant fields left? What would happen to the Mullahs when it runs out?

This could be a far more fatal "esfandiar's eye."

Barmakid - despite your claims to the contrary, you are not an objective observer of Iran. Everything comes back to preserving the IRI with you and that reveals an excessive emotional engagement with the regime, if you ask me.

Azarmehr said...

Like I said you should read and listen carefully first before you let your verbal diarrhoea come the better of you.

If you read my comment to the end I said myself:
"But neither you nor I is the credible opposition that I am talking about".

I strongly suspect Behnam is also you because he too seems to just make uneducated comments:
'The expression of Achilles Heel is used to refer to one's own weakness from within.'
what nonsense, typical of low quality graduates of this day and age.

Azarmehr said...


You are right in pointing out that running out of oil and gas, petrol etc. will be fatal for the regime, and certainly this should be used as a lever against the regime but what afterwards? We still need a credible opposition so that it will be an orderly transfer of power and not lead to chaos.

Anonymous said...

First of all, I am not Behnam (although I thank you for your input Behnam). And second, Azarmehr, Behnam is precisely correct when he says that an Achilles Heel refers to a weakness from within. How could you not know that? I wonder where you graduated from; University of Dahat?

Sohrab, it is not my prerogative to convince you of my objectivity (you have already made your conclusion anyways). The problem is, you and your cohorts group everyone with the IRI if they don't advocate revolution.

You claim I have an "excessive emotional engagement" with the IRI because I'm concerned with their preservation. I am not concerned with their preservation as much as I am with the unpredictable and usually undesirable outcomes of revolutions.

In fact, you have such an excessive emotional engagement with overthrowing the mullahs and reinstating the Shah that you, like Azarmehr, have disconnected yourself from contemporary Iranian society - not to mention from any form of objective analysis.

These debates can never go past who supports the IRI and who's in bed with them with people like you and Azarmehr. If you note my first post on this thread I made no attacks and attempted to have a good discussion about opposition movements; but of course it devolved to labeling and name calling.

be salamat,

p.s. they just found an elephant field in Iran and contracted its production out to an Indian company. In other words, Long Live the IRI!! Can I make it anymore explicit for you Sohrab?

Azarmehr said...


There you go once again you show your inability to read anything thoroughly. Your friend/yourself, Behnam, claims Achilles Heel refer to [ONE'S OWN] weakness from within, which is complete bollocks. Achilles Heel or Cheshm Esfandiar as we say in Persian refers to a vulnerable weak area and it was used in the right context in the post and everyone including you/Behnam understood what was meant and what I was talking about.

You should not express your opinion as fact either, your imagination that the contemporary Iranian society have any enthusiasm for an opposition which is part of the Islamic establishment is as detached from reality as your imagination that during a holiday trip to Shiraz you could have organised women to burn their scarves at the ballot box.

Anonymous said...

I have visited this blog occasionally to have a good laugh at what idiots like you are up to.

You don't have a clue what you are talking about. I think if you ever visit our country Iran, you will be in for a big shock. All your thoughts over the past 25 years will crumble down and you may even realise what a waste of time you have been.

The mullahs flourish because of uneducated people like you and they portray people like you as opposition. They create fear in people and point them towards your garbage.

The most laughable of your blogs was probably the one about the IRI spy that was taking pictures of you in front of the BBC. For god sake, get a brain !

The other one was about a photo of a nationalist Iranian lady holding an Iranian flag in support of the national team. And you thought she was an IRI sympathiser. These things show how little you know about Iran and what the real issues are.

btw, I am right here in London and my true name is Behnam. I don't have a clue who Barmakid is, but I can tell that his views are much closer to reality than yours.

Try to reply without insulting and accusing. I know it is difficult for you, but at least try.


Azarmehr said...

Of course if you are in London, I would be too happy to meet you :)

Anonymous said...

The question is, who did carry out the bombing? The idea that a whole lot of explosives stored in the mosque suddenly exploded sounds more outlandish than the idea that fascist freaks in the Anjomane Padeshahi carried it out. It was interesting that shortly after the attack, amateur videos appeared on YouTube showing pictures of Reza Pahlavi pasted up around Shiraz - of course, they could have been put up by the regime, if you believe it bothers to play such games. I don't believe for one moment that Bahais, Christians or Sunnis would carry out such an operation. Shiraz is well outside the operational zone of the ethnic-based groups like the Jund'ullah. The Mujahideen would hardly carry out an attack at the time when they were hoping to persuaded English courts to lift their proscription. And I don't think this was an inside job, given that it was aimed at Bassijis in the mosque. So who was it? An anti-Islamic (I don't mean just anti-mullah, but violently anti-Muslim with an extreme hatred of Arabs) extremist group like Anjomane Padeshi is a possible culprit. The shame is that such attacks rarely benefit any genuine anti-regime opposition. We'll get the usual forced confessions and collusion with foreign governments, which will be worthless. And the regime's bid to take legal action will fall at the first hurdle.

Anonymous said...

To be quite honest with you, you are known for your aggressive behaviour and accusing anyone who disagrees with you of being an IRI supporter. On this basis, I am a bit worried to meet up with you for now. Perhaps some time in the future.


Azarmehr said...

No don't listen to all these rumours, I am really a nice chap. Have the courage to meet me face to face and let me see what your problem is.

Anonymous said...

To be honest, I am also a bit scared of you, Potkin. That's why I am anonymous. You can appear to be aggressively sectarian and on top of that you are a big guy. I feel intimidated by you, even though I hate the mullah regime. There are a range of opinions - communists, liberals, monarchists, republicans, women, trade unionists, religious and ethnic minorities - which are all waged against the regime, but sometimes it seems you are condemning certain groups because they don't appeal to your ideology. It's a shame, because you are eloquent in English and you are obviously passionate and dedicated to overthrowing this regime.

Anonymous said...

You see. This is the sort of attitude. You see this as a problem with me, right?


Azarmehr said...


You are a coward and I have nothing to say to you any more. You live in London and you are scared to meet me face to face, even in a public place!!! What does that say about your pathetic timid character?

To the other anonymous who said I was sectarian, just to prove you wrong, let me tell you when Fooladvand was arrested in London, I went to see him in Paddington Green police station, and I corresponded with my MP protesting at his wrongful arrest:

Not because I agreed with him, because I don't agree with him at all, but because I thought an Iranian was wrongfully arrested. Now you tell me whether yourself or many Iranians would stand up for someone whose ideology does not appeal to them?

Anonymous said...

You went to see Fooladvand because you are a sucker. You went there becuase you have many things in common with him. You went there because you thought it may bring some publicity for you.

Look at it this way: why would I want to see you? to be insulted and spent my time with someone who is confused and bitter?

Behnam ?

Azarmehr said...

How did going to see Fooladvand bring any publicity for me, you huge idiot? Did I have a press release about it? Did you know until now?

But yes you are right I do have something in common with him, he is Iranian, even if I thought you were wrongfully arrested, and I had the time, I would try and go and see how you were.

Anonymous said...

Interresting post :-)

I'm not iranian myself, but have been enough in touch with iranians to conclude that the mainproblems are the lack of a credible opposition and that most serious debates turns into a kindergarden mudfight just like this commentsection.
Your hopes for the future sounds nice and positive but I don't share your optimism.

While the expats are busy saying that it's those inside iran that should do the changes, and those inside iran are saying that it's those outside that should do something (because those still inside iran would be in big danger if they try) and communists are accusing monarkists for being mujahedeens and the monarkist acuse mujahedeens for being communists and so on, everything just stand still and the mullahs can do whatever they want.

The more iranians are busy fighting eachother / themselves and everyone are arguing that the other part is controlled by foreign powers, the less change will come from iranians, and the bigger risk that some foreign power will make those changes that are unavoidable, simply because the mullahs have to be stoppped, one way or another.

Your 30 years plan for change sounds nice, but other parts of the world don't have same patience as you have.

Btw. Do you have an explanation for why it haven't been possible until now to come up with a real opposition? That have always been a mystery for me.

Best of luck to you and to all other iranians.

Azarmehr said...

Its a valid question. I am outside UK at the moment, and just quickly checking my emails, so I be brief, perhaps soon I will do a full post and give you my humble opinion, re your question.

But basically, the political groups lost their credibility. Those who at some stage supported the clerics lost their credibility and those who supported the monarchy didnt know how to be opposition, it was all new to them.

I think Dr. Bakhtiar was a credible opposition but he was killed by IR agents with the full help of the French government at the time.

There is however definitely a pro-democracy movement taking shape in Iran but they need to get organised and the activists outside Iran need to understand what their function should be.

But more later..

Anonymous said...

Hello all,

Azarmehr, it seems as if behnam is ruffling your feathers, no? Behnam, he's not that big anymore - I saw him on that al jazeera clip. Go meet with him, but leave your chaghoo at home :)

By the way, may I suggest the revitalization of the Tudeh party - the best party Iran ever had:)


p.s. Let us all celebrate the election of Barrack Obama as the democratic nominee for president! There should be no doubt that he will be the next president of the United states (sorry winston) and it will have a huge impact on Iran.

Anonymous said...

I have never been on al jazeera. In fact I have never been on TV and am not politically active.

Yes, resurrecting the Tudeh Party will be such a good idea.

I think I know where you are coming from :))


Azarmehr said...

Another example of two idiots getting their wires crossed yet again.

Now Behnam(?) thinks Barmakid was talking about him

Anonymous said...

I may have misread Barmakid's comments, however that doesn't give an olagh like you to call me an idiot. Get yourself some manners. You sad bitter loser.

Iran in its history has always had traitors like you but they sold their soul for a lot of money and not for a few hundred dollars pocket money. Cheap !


Azarmehr said...

Shut up korre khar, you are so scared and timid you are even scared of meeting me face to face in London.

You misread everythung, because you are a misfit, go and live in an Islamic country and stop abusing the priviliges this country provides you.

Anonymous said...

I think you should go and live somewhere that you can easily insult people and get away with it.

This country believes in reasoning and logic and is bastion of democracy. You are a better fit in Dubai or Saudia Arabia where you can get paid off handsomely.