Iran dictatorships under Khomeini and Reza Shah and their heirs

Pahlavi Is Iran’s Version Of ‘The Man Who Wasn’t There’

By Struan StevensonStruan Stevenson, Originally published in International Business Times, May 21, 2024

The antics of Reza Pahlavi, the son of the deposed and detested Shah of Iran, remind me of a line from the poem “The Man Who Wasn’t There” by the American Hugh Mearns: “Yesterday, upon the stair, I met a man who wasn’t there. He wasn’t there again today. I wish, I wish he’d go away”.

The poem seems to perfectly encapsulate the way Pahlavi, the man who would be king, suddenly appears out of nowhere each time there is a crisis in Iran. After decades of silence, Pahlavi set off on a whirlwind international tour following the nationwide uprising in Iran in 2022-23.

Blatantly exploiting the cruel death in custody of the young Kurdish woman Mahsa Amini, Pahlavi spoke at a press conference in the Georgetown Institute for Women, Peace and Security in Washington D.C., in February 2023, where he promised to launch a charter of demands for a future Iran called ‘The Mahsa Charter’, whose text according to some of his own supporters had been edited by the Ministry of Intelligence and Security (MOIS) in Tehran.

Sniffing at the possibility of regime overthrow, the former crown prince claimed to have united a dubious coalition of exiled Persians, including obscure politicians, minor celebrities, and anti-regime football stars. The group, called the Georgetown coalition, disintegrated within weeks of being formed in a storm of acrimonious tweets and accusations, in which other members accused him of being intolerant of differing views and trying to impose his will on the so-called coalition.

Undeterred, ‘the man who wasn’t there’ jetted off around the world proclaiming himself as the rightful successor to the mullahs’ theocratic tyranny. The fact that millions protesting on the streets of Iran’s towns and cities were chanting “Down with the oppressor, be it the Shah or the Sheikh”, seems not to have caught his attention. The fact that the Iranian people want democracy and a secular republic, not an autocratic dictatorship like that of his father, has eluded ‘the man who wasn’t there’.

Following the first round of sham “elections” in Iran in March and the second round in May, when less than 7% of the voting population took part, ‘the man who wasn’t there’ sniffed another opportunity. Quick to exploit the mass boycott of the poll, he visited London and Paris, meeting with a handful of completely inconsequential Iranians, with no bearing on the situation in Iran. Pahlavi assured them that even the so-called “reformists who have been disillusioned with this regime and are seeking to establish links with the regime’s opponents, must have guarantees for their future following the regime’s collapse.”

This was in addition to his earlier proclamations that he was in contact with senior elements within the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) and that the IRGC would be needed to maintain and restore order during the transitional period and afterwards. This was akin to Winston Churchill suggesting he would retain the services of the SS after the defeat of Nazi Germany in 1945. READ MORE

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