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Farrokh Negahdar on Mousavi’s 17th Statement: Relevance

Farrokh Negahdar on Mousavi’s 17th Statement: Relevance

About the Author: Farrokh Negahdar (1946) was born into a middle-class family of civil servants. He was an activist and, thereafter, a leader of the Iranian student movement during the 60s. He was imprisoned for about 10 years (1968-1978) and was a member of the founding group of the Fadaian Organisation. From 1978 and onwards, he was a member of its leadership.

Farrokh Negahdar was elected as leader of the Organisation of Iranian People’s Fadaian (Majority) (OIPFM, www.fadai.org), in May 1982 and held the position until August 1990. He has been living abroad, in exile, since May 1983. He is married and has one son, 28.

Negahdar is a well-known, left-wing politician and influential political theorist in the areas of decision-making, policy process and policy analysis in Iran. A selection of his works, which covers the period of 1990-1997, is published in ‘Democracy for Iran’ (1997). The second volume of his work is published on the internet (http://www.iran-emrooz.net). Farrokh Negahdar is one of the most credible and demanded political analysts on Iranian domestic and foreign policies.

Farrokh Negahdar is a graduate of the University of London. He has a BSc in Economics and Politics and two masters, one of which is in Public Policy and Education. His dissertation describes the invention of policy analysis models via the employment of the basic concepts of microeconomics as metaphors in the areas of policy-making and policy analysis.

Negahdar is one of the founders and an elected member of the leadership of the United Republicans of Iran (www.jomhouri.com), a broad-church alliance of those who support freedom in Iran.

Source: Jaras
Date: Sunday, January 3, 2010

It was more than obvious that in the days leading to Ashura, all discussions in the highest ranking office of power came down to one thing: that the “green gang” must be firmly stopped. [However] The story of ‘Tearing Imam Khomeini’s picture’ did not do the trick, and so they started a new plot. This time the story was ‘disrespecting Ashura’. This latter idea was quickly approved by the supreme leader’s men and was issued to officials in charge in the government. On Wednesday, they poured to the streets, with their faces red and twisted in anger, yelling like animals, ‘demanding execution.’ Simple folks, and mercenaries, young and old, opened their mouths swearing in return for a mere sandwich and juice. Meanwhile, Ahmad Jannati [1] talks of his nostalgia for the early years of the revolution and says how sad that laws don’t allow it, otherwise we would have sent all of them to the gallows just like before [in the early years of the revolution.] <!–more–>

Countless many held their breath with eyeballs ready to pop out [from fear] and whispered “how many people do they want to execute?” “How many of us should die [before something changes?]” “Would they detain me as well?” “What would they do to my loved ones?” “Is this the end of the road for the green movement?” Murmurs and rumors started creating a stench. Nobody talked of hope. Fear and anxiety took over the land.

It was the morning of the 10th of month of Day.[2] The atmosphere was one overwhelmed with fear and blood, without a glimmer of hope for reconciliation, where even the words ‘reconciliation’ and ‘hope’ smelled dreadful. Anxiety and fear from another bloody incident like that of days of Ashura were overtaking the city. But there was suddenly a voice that said: “this is not the last supper” and “there’s still room for reconciliation”. He said that the day of reckoning is not upon us, that there is still time and that the solution lies only in reason and thoughtfulness. A voice came out that saved the minds from simmering [in fear] and the hearts from the cold [of hopelessness.]

What Mr. Mousavi did was a good and tactful act, and it worked. Anxiety subsided, and talks and discussions started anew with everyone asking whether he has backed off or is still insisting on his promise. There were talks of whether his words have any influence or not? His words became that glimmer of hope, a spark in the darkness. To all those poor deceived souls who yelled: “This month is the month of blood” he said: “Don’t take us for Masoud Rajavi, leader of MKO, and don’t go down his path.”

To me, Mousavi‘s perspective towards the authorities brought to life Tennessee Williams’s view of the Pollitt’s in his creation ‘Cat On a Hot Tin Roof.’ Mousavi sees and knows that times have changed, and time for change has inevitably arrived, but that the dynasty has rotten from the inside and is not capable to keep up with change anymore.

This understanding [in the 17th statement] takes away anxiety from Mr. Mousavi’s vision and replaces it with strength, control and tenacious self-confidence. However this understanding is not Mousavi’s only source of inspiration. There are many who have the same or even deeper understanding than that of Mousavi and see the reflection of bitter times of Pollitt better than Mousavi does. However these men, despite their better understanding, cannot wash away the fear from their faces and their minds. Their difference with Mousavi is not one rooted in their understanding. The secret of Mousavi’s power is that he has “the trust of the nation.” He is well aware that the nation trusts him. Dr. Mosadegh had this awareness too, so did Ayatollah Khomeini. All three men came to feel and know that “I have the heart of the nation in my fist; Hopes of silent people is my support.”

In the camp of those who cry for bloodshed and violence, on the other side of line that separates us from them, among the likes of Jannati, Ahmad Khatami, and even Ahmad Tavakolli, some yell: “we would color all of Iran with blood no matter what the price”. Same people when they get together though, only share blame game, putting the fault on one another. They fight back and forth amongst themselves pointing fingers that if ‘you’ were not amongst ‘us’, we would not have been here. It was the same in the Shah’s system during his last days in power. No one was respected for wisdom, if respected at all, and no one was labeled with good deeds. Everyone was a thief and a traitor, a hypocrite. Everyone was suspicious of everybody else, and everyone was an agent or a spy. The story of the authorities in general is the story of the Pollitt family.

Like Behnoud [3] says “take a look at your children. Which one of them has a nature that could commit such malice?” You are torn apart from the inside. You have lost. Your hands are trembling. You are from the family of the same crowd that was standing on Lenin’s tomb on the day Andropov’s body was put to the grave; the group of men whose leader, Chernenko, was standing with trembling hands. Your coup is the same as the coup of the military men against Gorbachev. When they were reading the coup’s announcement from the television, the hands of their leaders too was trembling.

Take a look at speeches of Ali Larijani, head of the parliament, on Tuesday in the parliament building. He has a habit of mixing his reason with his support of the rulers, and then talking politics. He never walked on the path of the likes of Montazeri and Mousavi. Never did he start to mix his reason with the hopes of people instead and then talk politics. But this time the tone of his speech was out of tune with his usual habit. He left his reason behind the door [of the parliament] and blindly followed the order of the ruler. His tone was revealing that he has been shouted at from higher ranks that he should put away reason and tact and do only what ‘we’ tell you to: ‘You are either with us, or against us’. If you are not with us, you are with Shah’s men, and the MKO’s men. It is too obvious that Larijani well understands that this ‘kill him, kill her’ slogans would only bring the end. I have no doubt that he knows very well that ruling the hearts and minds, and promoting the theory of following blindly by putting away the voice of reason are hollow acts that are brainless and ridiculous. But nevertheless he still suppresses his reason and his conscious and follows orders, and even says that he would make his parliament ready to die [for the supreme leader.]

Take the recent gibberish of Monouchehr Mottaki [4] for example. Is he really slow with matters of foreign policy to such extents? How do you know so many dead-end routes? Why do you have to bear being such a small man? Isn’t there any other way to lead the foreign policy affairs than that suggested by the office of the supreme leader? Don’t you see that the ‘chain in command’ treats you the same way that the leaders of the MKO treated their close allies during the so called ‘revolution of ideologies’? Is this not any different than the game that the ‘office of supreme Leader of Imam [Khomeini]’ played with Ayatollah Montazeri? Isn’t what you do the same as those who sacrificed their reason and conscious for their leaders, like Tony Blair and Colin Powell did for Bush and Cheney?

Only one fourth of those in this system [that currently rules Iran] are the likes of Rajavi and Cheney. Another quarter of them are those who sold out their voice of reason. But the last two quarters are those addressed in Mousavi’s 17th statement as ‘the other half of the Islamic Republic’. This half hears the inevitable footsteps of time, and knows that the other half is torn apart from the inside. This is the half that grasps the value inherent in the trust of nation and does not want to rely on anything but that trust. This half knows that this trust is not a blinded trust, it is not the sort of trust that people had in Ayatollah Khomeini. It knows that their supporters are way more alert, way more committed to demands of right and justice, and way more diverse than supporters of Ayatollah Khomeini. Before anything else, the value in Mousavi’s [17th] statement is in the sort of connection that it creates with his supporters and people. The statement clearly shows that preserving the trust and support of people, people who are extremely watchful and aware, is the number one key to power and success. This is a perspective that was not as prominent in Khatami’s vision.

Mousavi’s statement was issued in response to a confused and disturbed atmosphere that included on one extreme those who were falling in love with dreams of ‘collapse [of the nation]’ and on another those who were trembling in fear that the movement would turn violent and commit ‘mass killings [of government supporters.]’ The statement strips both veils and clears the view. It stands strong and says: collapse or killings are neither the solution now, nor are they even imminent or inevitable. Mousavi’s statement sees the only way out in thoughtful politics, and acceptance of shared responsibilities towards the people and the country. Mousavi’s statement advises the officials to avoid blaming people for their problems. Do not put the two sides of this nation at war with one another. This war would never commence. Don’t meddle; nothing would come out of it.

We are not to be distracted by the minimum and maximum of demands in the statement. What is important is that Mousavi says that “solutions” exists and there are many of them too. Don’t be afraid.

Developments during the past two days illustrate that the 17th statement of Mousavi has indeed turned the game to the favor of the goals sought in the green movement. The 17th statement saves the green part of our society from sleeping in bed with [ideas of] collapse and from falling astray to a long winter [of hopelessness.] The 17th statement blew a new life into the sort of demands the movement should seek and gave a new breath to the hope of resistance for reforms. So far the 17th statement has made cracks in the ‘party in power’, but the ‘office’ of the supreme leader has not shown any sign of weakness. We have no insight on what is happening inside the office, but we are certain that this statement has made the hands of zealous radicals tremble from committing more atrocities.

17th statement has successfully demonstrated that denial of the legitimacy of the government, does not translate to denial of its responsibilities as well. Lack of legitimacy does not reduce the responsibilities of the government towards the people. The statement attempts and succeeds to divert the eyes of those in misery from the ruling party to a preserving of fundamental features that compose the very same government; fundamentals like its demanding nature, commitment to non-violence and laws. The fact that illusions around ‘the coming of collapse’, ‘preparing for bloodshed’ have subsided, is proof that the attempt has indeed been successful. Further proof is that all around the country discussions on the minimums and maximums of the demands in the statement have moderated demands [of the movement.] Mousavi’s 17th statement and its influence in the society is a sign of convergence of numerous lines of the green movement, and covers the demands of wide variety of layers with all sort of social and political appetites whereas prior to this last one, Mr. Mousavi’s statements mostly reflected demands of dissidents. Different reactions to this last statement show that different attitudes [in our society] are putting more trust in Mousavi’s capabilities, and competence to follow up with the demands [of people.]


[1] Ahmad Jannati is the speaker at Friday sermons, head of the Guardian Council and an avid supporter of Ahmadinejad.
[2] Date corresponds to December 31, 2009. The timing is of little significance as this day is not celebrated in Iran.
[3] Masoud Behnoud is a well-known opposition member, writer and journalist, who, after a life of journalism in Iran, is now an active contributor to BBC Persian.
[4] Manouchehr Mottaki is the current minister of foreign affairs.

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