LONDON, 12 Apr. (IPS) "There can be no change in Iran unless the present theocratic-based Constitution of the regime is radically changed into a real democracy", says Mr. Mohammad Mohsen Sazegara, a veteran Iranian political dissident, adding that, "however, no real reform could take place from within the system", referring to the failure of President Mohammad Khatami’s efforts to introduce some reforms, even limited.
Speaking to Iran Press Service in London, where he is going medical check up, the 49 years-old Sazegara, a former Islamist revolutionary who helped the creation of the Revolutionary Guards and a devote supporter of the late Grand Ayatollah Roohollah Khomeini and the regime he initiated says there could be no real democracy without a secular system based on a parliamentary system.
"No democratic regime can take its legitimacy from religion only. However, democracy has become a necessity, not a luxury, for the Iranians. None of the major difficulties we face in the economic, social, cultural and foreign relations fields could be solved without implementing democracy as a fist stone and in turn, this could not be achieved without a fundamental change in the present Constitution", Mr. Sazegara, a journalist sentenced to one year imprisonment argued.
"The other major issue facing the regime is its foreign policy based on "Palestinisation" in the one hand and antagonism with the United States instead of policy based on national interests", Mr. Mohammad Mohsen Sazegara said
In his view, the regime’s major handicap is both unemployment and a heavy centralised administration that, for the time being, is relieved because of high oil prices.
"The other major issue facing the regime is its foreign policy based on "Palestinisation" in the one hand and antagonism with the United States instead of policy based on national interests", he says.
Here are large excerpts of the hour-long interview.
Iran Press Service – What you say is exactly what the Iranian people has also realised and wishes. How do you see the future of this regime?
Mohammad Mohsen Sazegara – The basic condition for this regime to survive is to change the present theocratic Constitution, the separation of the three powers with total independence of the Judiciary and public media, free political parties, press, unions. Democracy is no corns or tail, religious or atheist. It is what it means and nothing more than that.
IPS – The conservative have won the Majles elections. They also control the Judiciary and in the mean time, the government of Mr. Khatami had never a real voice in major decisions. Two questions in one: Why the conservatives wanted to control the Majles at any cost and how do you see the future?
MMS – Power game. The sixth Majles, no matter its impotence, but on the surface, in speeches from the so-called reformists, the reports and investigations from various committees had some unprecedented achievements that the ruling conservatives could not tolerate….
IPS - …. But when the reformist lawmakers who were rejected by the Council of the Guardians staged a sit-in, the bulk of the people and most particularly the students did not supported their protest movement. In another word, the people sealed the fate of both President Khatami and the reformists. If this is the case, what the reformists would do in the future?
MMS – In the past six years, the reformists were the grey colour between black and white, covering the gap between the people and the Islamic Republic. In case the reformists would succeed, the path to democratisation would be better paved, the process accelerated and generalised.
Now, to answer your second question, the reformers must chose between going to the people or the hegemonists (conservatives). Our women, students, young generations have already made their decision by separating their position from that of the leadership, including the Second Khordad Coalition that supported President Khatami. In my view, the future of the regime depends of a strong opposition that can in turn express clearly the real needs of all sectors of the Iranian people.
IPS – In the absence of any kind of opposition you mention, which force would be able to pretend to such legitimacy?
MMS – First of all this opposition must have a clear program, a flag, that of secularism, joining the international community and freedoms. In my view, those who would raise this flag would emerge in due time.
IPS – To continue survive, the conservative have reached the conclusion that they must talk to the Americans. Is that correct?
MMS – Some says so. Some are afraid of the prospect of an entente between Iranian and American militarists creating an atmosphere like that of 1953 (the year the CIA and the Intelligence Service triggered the revolt against Dr Mohammad Mosadeq, the then nationalist Prime Minister). Some among the monopolists might think of such a scenario in order to survive.
Personally, I think that our era being that of the rule of democracy and human rights has no place for dictatorial regimes. Competitions among international, globalised companies, regional conglomerations on the expenses on national borders, free float of investments, information and news etc. create an insurmountable obstacle for a regime like that of velayate faqih that we have now in Iran, a system that run against all these concepts.
Now, if the present rulers want to change, even by adopting the Chinese model, they must do away with the velayat faqih and theocracy, meaning starting by de-Khomeinisation, they would then face their real power base. This is something they cannot and would not.
IPS – And then how to survive, as they have proven that they are ready for changes?
MMS – The answer depends to their clairvoyance. They still have the occasion to a smooth hand over of the power to an opposition that is ready to let them live in peace. But if they fail to grab this occasion, as they say in Spain, "everything is possible in Toledo!". ENDS SAZEGARA INTERVIEW 12404