Time to bury Iran’s religious state in favor of a secular state

On May 20, 2020, these writers argued in this same column that as the great gap widens between a priestly state in Iran on the one hand and a secular society on the other, the time has come to bury the former and mark the beginning of the full development of the latter. Because in the long run, Iran, as a Huntington core state at the geographic heart of history, has all the historical preconditions necessary to become a modern culturally and economically developed nation-state.

Furthermore, we argue that there is no case in modern history of a totalitarian regime regressing from ideology to reality, from revolutionary principle to normality. Concluding that the technocratic apparatus of the state will inevitably come into conflict with the ideological cult that governs the fate of its deliquescent revolution, we called on a determined, pragmatic, and patriotic minority to give this ancient nation a new state. Finally, we imagine that such a minority could and should take the form of a technocratic-military coalition.

It has been almost a year and a half since the publication of that tribune here in The Jerusalem Post. Since then, all major events have supported our argument and the urgency of our recommendations.

The advent of the government of Ebrahim Raïsi, a man described by well-informed people as a near-illiterate psychopath directly involved in mass murder in the 1980s, may well be the best indicator of what we recognized then and reiterate now. Reducing itself to its narrowest base of clientelism, the regime has lined up what remains of its staunch ideological cult, a pathetic gallery of semi-literate thugs, charmers, eunuchs, wizards, and sorcerers. And as the loot is rapidly shrinking, the pathetic gang is faced with the daunting task of providing its own burdensome security, while silencing the increasingly vociferous anger of the sans-culottes. And time is running …

As the Labor Ministry’s Poverty Observatory recently reported, “26.5 million Iranians live in absolute poverty, while last year’s pandemic has destroyed 75% of the income of the lowest deciles.”

A MURAL depicting the late leader of Iran, Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, looms over a Tehran street. (credit: MAJID ASGARIPOUR / WANA (WEST ASIA NEWS AGENCY) VIA REUTERS)

Although the inflation rate is officially well above 40%, the continuation of this trend towards the 60% threshold “could well cause an economic collapse with its cohort of social and security consequences,” according to the president of the Iran-China Chamber of Commerce.

In another recent and alarming report, the Planning and Budget Organization warned that if sanctions are not lifted, falling GDP over the next two to three years will put the state “on the brink of bankruptcy.” In short, what looms on the Iranian horizon in the medium term is a failed state.

“The rulers,” Richelieu once said, “are the slaves of their resources.” As resources shrink, the clash between the technocratic apparatus and the clique of eunuchs and thugs that rule the country becomes a question of when.

Therefore, within the time frame just described, a systemic collapse is the most likely outcome for the ruling cult. As figures of the opposition, we maintain, once again, that in the face of such a dire situation, the most desirable pragmatic solution is the one that materializes in a technocratic-military takeover of power: a provisional government of salut public.

The dark socio-economic landscape can turn dire, in biblical proportions, when the environmental disasters that are brewing are taken into account: Using sophisticated processing of time series satellite images, the Intel Laboratory recently reported that “Tehran, its 13 million in “population growth and critical infrastructure” are at risk from one of the fastest land subsidence rates in the world, 25 cm per year. If nothing is done, Iran will be physically beheaded, millions thrown into migration and the region in chaos. And time is running …

Thus, as opposition figures, we once again argue that Persia’s overwhelming challenges require a home-grown iron fist approach: As the systemic collapse of the regime approaches, the interim public health government becomes a question of national survival. With its technocratic-military backbone; its legitimacy derived from its decisions; And your program dictated by needs, your priority will be the safety of metropolitan areas, with a shopping list of rainbow-like concerns that will have no place in your speech.

Recent history and the emergence of “illiberal democracies” in culturally advanced countries endowed with a European tradition demonstrate that social, economic and political openings can rarely be concomitant.

The public health government that we are calling for will have to prepare for the emergence of democracy, rather than practice it amid the coming storm. It goes without saying that the supreme leader’s physical and mental conditions can only exacerbate the criticality of our approach and precipitate the organization of the collapse we anticipate.

The reason is as simple as it is deeply rooted in our region: as the Shiite Nebuchadnezzar’s mental and physical conditions deteriorate faster than those of Persia under his “devastating abomination”; with his “eunuchs, charmers, magicians and sorcerers” unable to tell him the mystery of his pathological dreams; all may face the same biblical fate of being “ripped apart limb by limb and their houses razed to the ground,” when chaos sets in and angry sans-culottes take matters into their own empty but vengeful hands.

What is brewing in Persia is creative destruction.

Dr. Ramin Parham is a prominent political intellectual who writes extensively in Persian, French, and English on Iranian affairs. Djavad Khadem, a former cabinet minister to former Iranian Prime Minister Shapour Bakhtiar in 1979, former coordinator of the Operation Nojeh coup plot, and founder of Unity for Democracy in Iran, is an international adviser on Iranian affairs.


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