As I’m writing this blogpost a referendum is undergoing in Greece which will determine the fate of the government of Alexis Tsipras and probably the future of the European Union and the Euro currency. There has been lots of discussion surrounding this, but what has really caught my attention in this is that how much Tsipras reminds me of my own national hero, Mohammad Mosaddegh, who fought for freedom and democracy domestically and for independence and nationalization of Iran’s oil with foreign adversaries and was removed in a coup by the CIA.
Like Tsipras, Mosaddegh is famous for a controversial and historic referendum. Mosaddegh’s rule was in turmoil domestically and outside the country, and he knew that the parliament was about to remove him from power soon. That’s why he held a referendum about the dissolution of the parliament, and to give himself temporary power to pass the laws necessary. The referendum was successful with 99% of the votes.
This remains Mosaddegh’s most controversial move to this, which many people including some reformists call undemocratic and unconstitutional. But the truth is that the parliament was handpicked by the Shah, Iran’s dictator, and they were about to overthrow the democratically elected Prime Minister of Iran, and there is nothing undemocratic about turning to people’s votes, and getting a democratic mandate to push your agenda.
I believe these two referendums mirror each other really interestingly because they both represent a democratically elected Prime Minister who has been given a Sophie’s choice of either abandoning his main campaign promise or to go down at the hand of his enemies, and he has chosen a third way, to renew his democratic mandate.
But the ways Tsipras reminds me of Mosaddegh are not limited to only their use of referendum. The way they both face the foreign powers holding the fate of their countries at hand is very similar.
In negotiations with the USA and the UK, Mosaddegh was willing to reach any compromise as long as it didn’t violate his main goal, to truly and not nominally nationalize oil. Tsipras wants to keep his promise of ending the inhuman austerity measure and removing the burden of economic recovery from the shoulders of the poor and the workers and the rest. Both these men are falsely portrayed as stubborn, while they are flexible yet unwilling to completely surrender.
The governments of the UK and the USA didn’t want to reach a compromise with Mosaddegh. Their real dream was regime change. Today everyone knows that Germany’s real goal is regime change in Athens. That’s the main reason both Mosaddegh and Tsipras didn’t reach a deal.
Finally both men are demonized by the western media unfairly. Tsipras was called a “far left” from day one, but in truth he has shown to be disciplined pragmatist, although he does have far left allies in his Syriza party and in the country. Mosaddegh was called a mad man and someone who would pave the way for a communist regime in Iran. But in truth both Mosaddegh and Tsipras are reformists whose main “radicalism” is standing up for the interest of their electorate.
Of course, Mosaddegh is – in my opinion – the greatest Iranian who ever lived and a turning point in our history, but we don’t know if Tsipras will be able to play such a role. But I think he has the potential, and one day we might call Tsipras the Mosaddegh of the 21st century.
Alexis Tsipras: Attributed to www.kremlin.ru, from the website of the President of the Russian Federation and is copyrighted. This file is licenced under theCreative Commons
Mohammad Mosaddegh, in the public domain in Iran, via Wikipedia