[Op-ed written in June 2017… are rejected by all major US newspapers to which it was submitted]
Debriefed on the latest Iranian elections by his US and European colleagues, an alien correspondent on earth reporting from Tehran in late May 2017 E.C., would have wired his outer-space chief-editor… “Progressive voters in a Shia desert lost in the Milky-Way, officially known as Islamic Iran, won by a wide margin over conservatives, thus paving the way for further reforms led by moderates…” And so would go the serenade of our alien reporter, standing outside Rohani’s office at moonlight, singing the official refrain: beauty is in the eyes of the democratic beholder!
Having wrapped up his report from Tehran, our alien correspondent on Earth would have then moved to Paris to cover the latest edition of the country’s parliamentary elections where, would he say… “Progressive candidates are marching to the Parliament to pave the way for the newly elected liberal President to implement his center-right agenda of reforms…”
Reading both reports from Planet Earth, the cosmic audience of our alien correspondent would draw the conclusion that a vibrant democracy is shaping the socio-political landscape of both Islamic Iran and secular France in ways that are meaningfully similar if not identical. In the absence of any alternative view, the fake analogy would continue giving substance to the fiction that French and Iranian democracies, although at different stages of structural reforms, obey the same fundamental rules and rituals.
In the noisy sphere of fake news, only a handful of cynics would know that the whole analogy is nothing but a fiction.
Democracy in Iran under clerical rule is a fiction, with sovereignty being constitutionally an exclusive divine right embodied by the executive tutorship of the faqih in direct theological lineage of Shia Imams, heirs of the Prophet’s House.
Republic in Iran under exclusive Shia rule is a fiction, since res publica bears no meaning in what is ideologically and substantially a res privata.
Free, fair and competitive elections in Iran are a fiction, indeed the most scripted piece of manufactured consent in the Shia regime’s much publicized mythology. In the absence of political freedom and of such basic procedures as voters’ registration per voting district… none of the criteria of a democratic consultation is upheld while staging what resembles more a Shia theatrical drama than an electoral process.
Reforming Iran through such drama is a fiction, since some of the most basic problems of the country would have otherwise been solved with over 30 elections and referendum held in nearly 38 years of exclusive Shia hold on power. That’s an average of 0.78 election per year since 1979! You don’t solve problems by inking your index!
And you don’t solve problems with those who created them in the first place!
Free elections in the so-called Islamic Iran are a fiction, since any truly free election in Iran would immediately dissolve the Islamic adjective hanging to ancient Persia’s name in an intellectual imposture since 1979: any free election in Persia would atomize the Islamic Republic of Iran in less time that is needed to ink it in!
Democratic elections are about freely competing political offers presented to freely expressed political demands. The Shia State in Iran has monopolized the offer while repressing demands. In such conditions, and no matter how astutely are its foxy scriptwriters, free and fair elections are a fiction.
The core of the Shia power elite in Iran is exclusively made up of a sect. A sect is an introverted entity more inclined to maintain its internal cohesion than its external adaptation to the surrounding world. Disconnected from a reality which it considers as deviant or heretic, sectarian rules tend to follow a suicidal path of behavior. Be it in Waco or in Tehran. Thus, qualifying the Custodians of the Shrines of Mecca and Medina as takfiri or unbelievers, as the Shia sect in Iran does, is not a marginal side-effect of a passing fever that could be overcome by a pseudo-electoral therapy! It is the official hard-core policy of a sectarian State which considers itself as the true recipient of authentic Islam. What does Tehran’s involvement in Syria, not to mention Yemen, have to do with Iranian national interests? Nothing! The multi-billion dollars involvement to keep a secular national-socialist power in Damascus only makes sense when analyzed within the framework of the Shia State’s sectarian interests: maintaining the logistical route to a Shia sect in Lebanon, namely Hezbollah, as Tehran’s strategic investment north of Israel.
Nothing will change in the middle-eastern chaos so long as the root problem has not been addressed: the Islamic Revolution in Iran.
The change will not come through fake elections depicted as democratic consultations by western and alien journalists.
“…The present inability, political, journalistic and scholarly alike, to recognize the importance of the factor of religion in the current affairs of the Muslim world and [the] consequent recourse to the language of progressive and conservative [in] explaining Muslim political phenomena, is about as accurate and enlightening as an account of a cricket match by a baseball correspondent.” Bernard Lewis, for his part, had sounded the alarm in his landmark Return of Islam as far back as in 1976!
The solution to the current crisis lies in its geopolitical and civilizational heart: the necessary return of Iran in the birthplace of modern-time political Islam.
The rebirth of Iranian national interests, conceived as antithetical and antidotal to Shia sectarian interests, is a necessity that politics must turn into a likely possibility. The West does have its role in the process, as it did, back in 1978/79, in the process of making Khomeini a global figure of spiritual kindness! The primary responsibility however, lies on the Iranian elites: a national entente between patriots inside and outside Iran, from the ranks of the Iranian Armed Forces to those of intellectuals, scholars, entrepreneurs and technocrats, would be the first step in the right direction.
Fiction on this path is not an option!
*Ramin Parham is an Iranian writer, author of several essays in French and multiple articles for US, European, Russian, Israeli and Persian publications.