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“Legatration, War and Crisis Management in the Premises of the Islamic Republic”

2011 December 05

Reza Parchizadeh

December 5, 2011

The ransacking of the British embassy in Tehran on November 29, 2011 by the Islamist hardliners backed by the Islamic Republic is reminiscent of the storming the American embassy and its occupation on November 4, 1979, and the ensuing 444-day hostage crisis; which in turn led to the resignation of the conservative provisional government of Mehdi Bazargan (1907-1995) of the Islamist-Nationalist Freedom Front and the rise to power of the hardline Islamic Republic Party – whose many members, such as Seyed Ali Khamenei and Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanji, attained high offices in Iran in later years – on the domestic scene; and the placing of heavy sanctions by the United States and its allies on Iran and their wholehearted support of Saddam Hussein’s catastrophic war against Iran in the international arena.

Islamist hardliners storm UK embassy in Tehran on November 29, 2011 (courtesy of Associated Press)

That event was only a subsidiary incident in the roaring river of the revolution, which was planned and executed by one of the fractions of the patchwork of the revolutionary forces, namely, the “Students of the Line of Imam [Khomeini]” – whose many members are now dubbed “Reformists” in the political premises of Iran; and a larger sector of the body of the immature Islamic Republic played no crucial role whatsoever in the sparking of that affair. However, immediately after the occurrence of the incident, Ayatollah Khomeini (1902-1989), through the mediation of the Islamic Republic left wing’s éminence grise, Seyed Mohammad Mousavi Khouiiniha, sanctioned it by bestowing his blessings upon it and declaring his full support of it; and, by doing this, made the crisis management of that incident and its ensuing events a principal policy of the Islamic Republic in the years to come. Thus, storming a foreign embassy on Iranian soil for the first time was in fact an incident that resulted in the creation of an established pattern in the political premises of the Islamic Republic, which is, endemic but acute crisis creation and then crisis management for the fulfillment of untenable political demands.

That how a course of action which, for the crisis and predicament it brings about, would be regarded as precarious and perilous by almost any body politic, was met with pleasure and celebration in the premises of the Islamic Republic, could itself be the all-reflecting mirror of the certain worldviews of the leaders of this regime, which has its roots in the “ideomythological” characteristics of the Islamic Republic as a whole: the Islamic Republic, as I have argued many times before, is an “extra-judicial” regime. From its central “logocentric” principle, the “Absolute Guardianship of the Jurist”, down to its less substantial elements and attitudes, the Islamic Republic is all in all extra-judicial. In due time, this regime even makes null and void the very laws that it has enacted itself, and solves its judicial problems through the arbitration of extra-judicial bodies such as the Guardian Council and the Expediency Discernment Council. Similarly, in the public arena, it immediately mobilizes its plainclothes myrmidons or occasionally paramilitary troops whenever feeling necessary. Therefore, such a regime that cannot squeeze itself into the tight attire of law is inevitably bound to make the best of the only expediency it finds in store, i.e., apocalyptic behavior: crisis creation and crisis management.

Students of Line of Imam storm US embassy in Tehran on November 4, 1979

Since the revolution of 1979 in Iran, the helmsmen of the Islamic Republic have clearly demonstrated that they have a prodigious enthusiasm for steering their vessel in rough seas and uncharted territories that test the nerves. For instance, despite the occasional green lights of Iran’s last constitutional prime minister, Shapour Bakhtiar (1914-1991), to the Islamists, both when Khomeini was in France and when he returned to Iran, they apparently evaded from coming to terms with him for sharing power or transferring it through a “legal” process; and, though the monarchy was in effect defunct by that time, they never consented to replace the former regime without the total destruction of the already-extant civil and civic institutes through relentless armed struggle and elimination of many former officials. Only after the opponents had been overwhelmingly overcome and summarily executed or made to escape – when there had remained virtually no opposition – did the Islamists agree to hold a referendum to choose the type of the government that was to rule Iran thenceforth, and that only with one option: an Islamic Republic.

In the same line, during the initial years of Saddam’s war against Iran in the early 1980s, when the siege of Abadan was lifted and the occupied Khorramshahr (both cities in the southwest of Iran on Iran-Iraq border) was liberated by the Iranian forces and the Iraqi army was pushed back to the borderline between Iran and Iraq and the United Nations issued resolutions insisting on a ceasefire between the two hostile parties, the leaders of the Islamic Republic single-mindedly persisted on the continuation of the war so that, in the crisis brought about by it, they could fortify their leviathanic empire and then awaken the behemoth of the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) to rise from the deep of chaos and ruthlessly guard it. Today, the IRGC and its subsidiary Basij corps constitute the seven-knot scourge of the Islamic Republic that frequently lands on the backs of the Iranian civil rights activists both inside and outside of Iran; for, the truth is, crisis creation and crisis management is also the very policy that the Islamic Republic has always implemented to contain the popular civil rights movements in Iran: through sheer violence, this regime brings the most pacific demonstrations of the Iranian people down to crisis and chaos, and then suppresses them.

Police and Basij militia clubbing protestors to outcome of presidential elections of June 2009 in Iran

Therefore, in all the above-mentioned cases, “crisis” which leads to “extra-judicial” conduct plays the most significant role in bringing about a situation where a certain body politic can seize power; for, judicial conduct which is predicated on adherence to a legalistic frame does not allow for galloping and charging without restraint of political and social individuals and entities; and it is only amid crisis that civil institutes atrophy and dictatorship becomes possible; as in ancient Rome, where the realm was ruled by a triumvirate under the aegis of the senate, in times of crisis (usually at war), absolute power was entrusted to one of the triumvirs to quickly pacify the situation, and then again restore it to the senate. Incidentally, it was during one of these emergencies that Julius Caesar seized power and did not lay it down, becoming the de facto dictator of Rome and going as far as to shake the foundations of the republic.

That the Islamic Republic which keeps a tight rein on the realm and the folks and has left no significant independent civil institute operative within the Iranian society still tends to seize more power through crisis creation is an indication of the fact that the patience of Leader Ali Khamenei and his cohorts is at an end to finally enact the long-awaited “absoluteness” of guardianship which has been entrusted to him by the constitution of the Islamic Republic; an event that will predictably usher in a new season of pruning in the regime – if we don’t say that the pruning has already been started by airing the chants of removing the office of the president from the constitution and by arresting the close associates of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad; which in turn will make the already-thin stem of the Islamic Republic even slimmer and its branches even sparser. This paradoxical quality is the essence of absolutism: by ever growing in might, it ever dwindles in mass; but, till it withers and falls to the ground, it will keep blocking the light.

It is exactly due to this fact that whenas a great number of political, cultural and human rights activists are rowing hard and fast to pull Iran away from the tide of war, the Islamic Republic intentionally augments the tempest and, by doing so, douses the flickering lights in the far distance. In this situation, from the war that will probably ensue the crisis, two benefits are supposed for the Islamic Republic in the short run: first, it will find a propitious moment to totally suppress the remainder of the domestic dissenters and critics – either democratic or despotic – amidst the crisis; second, by resorting to anti-war sensations, it will showcase itself as betrayed and raped in the eyes of the people of the world in order to buy legitimacy for itself. As I said before, the existence of the Islamic Republic is predicated on crisis: it feeds on and thrives in crisis.

British royal insignia is knocked down by an Islamist hardliner during storming of UK embassy in Tehran on November 29, 2011 (courtesy of Mehr News)

To return to the storming of embassies, there is a technical term in many political dictionaries called “defenestration”, meaning, throwing an opponent out of the window, which, with regard to the height of the building, usually results in the death of those thrown out. The most famous instances of defenestration took place in two distant dates but in the same site, which is Prague: one in 1419, when seven town officials were tossed down through the window of the Town Hall, which in turn led to the religious Hussite War; the other in 1618, when two imperial governors and their secretary were thrown down from the window of Prague Castle, sparking the Thirty Years War in Europe. As it seems, the leaders of the Islamic Republic have also resolved to make some contribution to the world of scholarship by coining a somewhat similar term for political dictionaries, namely, “legatration (legatio+penetration)”!


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