Fereydoun Hoveyda Speaks His Heart and Mind on the Issues
Extracts of an Interview with Mark Dankof
Mark Dankof states: it was left to Mr. Hoveyda to willingly remain in Iran to defend his own personal honor and legacy on behalf of the Iranian nation before the legal and moral equivalent of a lynch mob. History will record that he did so successfully, as chronicled in Dr. Abbas Milani’s blockbuster of a book, The Persian Sphinx.
. . . . At one level, the 1979 Islamic Revolution was the outcome of a personal struggle between two men, Shah Muhammed Reza Pahlavi and Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini.
Each of them partially represented one of the key, basic, contradictory trends that agitated the nation since the early years of the twentieth century—secularist modernization on the one hand, in juxtaposition with religious orthodoxy and traditionalism on the other.
In my new book coming out this fall, The Shah and the Ayatollah: Iranian Mythology and Islamic Revolution, I discuss many of the angles and the pieces of this complex puzzle that are largely unknown to the Western world and mind. These include the fact that the Iranian mindset has not changed over the centuries. Its identity has survived the Greek hordes under Alexander the Great, along with the Arab and Mongol invasions. This sense of permanence might appear to provide some semblance of stability, yet in another way, Iranians are prisoners of this permanence and its accompanying world view. The book will cover key areas for Western education and discernment in these matters. These include the influence of Zoroastrianism and its concept of ‘savior’; the historical pattern of change of leadership set by the legend of ‘Jamshid and Zahak’; the ‘Rostam Syndrome’ in dichotomous relationship to the Western ‘Oedipal complex’ mythology; the resemblance of the ‘Hidden Imam’ in Iranian Shiite doctrine to the ‘Shayoans’ in the Zoroastrian belief system; the ‘Tripartite ideology’ of Indo-Europeans and the ‘caste system’ as a model of social organization; the Modernization movements in Iran and their 20th century failures; the ‘repetition-compulsion’ character of Iranian history; the influence of Sigmund Freud’s ‘Fate Neurosis’ as a possible influence on the character of Iranian society; the influence of Shiite Islamic mythology on Iranians; the mainstream Shiite concept of Government as belonging to the ‘Hidden Imam’; Khomeini’s special interpretation of the Shiite concept of Government; the differences between Shiite and Sunni Islam; the significance of the rumors that Khomeini was the ‘Hidden Imam’; the legends and myths about the 12 Shiite Imams and their resemblance to ancient mythology; and the whole notion of whether or not there is a ‘curse’ on Iran’s history.
“At this point, there are two points I wish to emphasize for your readers. One is that the Iranian revolution was, in fact, started by ‘secular liberals.’ It was ‘hijacked’ by Khomeini and the Islamic mullahs. The revolution should be considered in the context of the fight between secular, reformist elements in Iranian society on the one hand, and Islamic radicals seeking an iron grip on the Iranian people and nation. What happened in 1978-79 was a unique combination of historical and political circumstances with mythical and religious beliefs.
Second, I do look at the future of Iran. I believe there is a bright future for Iran, based on showing Iranians how, with the help of their ancient mythology, they can replace Islamic theocracy with a truly democratic government rooted in tolerance and dialogue.”
One must remember that it was the Americans who put pressure on the Shah to leave Iran.
“For example, the place and role of the ‘father’ in Iranian society is very different from that of other Middle Eastern patriarchs and tribal chieftains, as it is a divergence from the Western model as well. Iran’s ‘father myth’ is the exact opposite of the Oedipus legend. You will recall that Dr. Abbas Milani discussed this in the book about my brother, The Persian Sphinx. He mentions that in the Western Oedipus myth, the son kills the father. But in the Iranian Shahnameh, the father, Rostam, kills his son, Sohrab. It is a metaphor for the victory of the patriarch.
The Iranian ‘father’ is an omnipotent autocratic figure whose authority cannot be questioned by his offspring. His absolute power is ingrained in Iranian mythology and is a major key in understanding what has happened in that nation.”
In the 1970s, he was training Iranians in his terrorist camps in Lebanon and helped Khomeini gain power in Iran. He lent his PLO representative in Paris to Khomeini. Ghotbzadeh became the Ayatollah’s spokesman in exile and later, his foreign minister in Tehran. Arafat’s Palestinian fighters participated in demonstrations against the Shah’s regime. In 1979, they were around the mullahs, in charge of security in the ministries and other public buildings. Arafat became the first foreign dignitary to visit and kiss the hand of the Ayatollah before joining forces with Saddam Hussein in the war against Iran! This is the caliber of man and human being we are talking about here, who brings misery and bloodbath to Palestinian, Lebanese, Iranian, American, and Israeli victims alike.”
On the Legacy of Shah Mohammed Reza Pahlavi
On Crown Prince Reza Pahlavi
On the Legacy of Amir Abbas Hoveyda
Now in terms of my brother’s death, he understood that he must remain in Iran, to defend his record and to continue there as a positive presence for reform for the people of that country. He also believed, mistakenly, that there would be a fair trial in which he would demonstrate that he had nothing to hide, and plenty to testify about in terms of his role and motives in history. It is this legacy of remaining, and testifying, at the ultimate cost of his life, that will forever distinguish my brother from Shah Mohammed Reza Pahlavi and the others in his Court who fled for themselves and gave up the Ship.”