Arash Norouzi

The Mossadegh Project | August 19, 2023                   


As we commemorate the 70th anniversary of the overthrow of a nationalist government in Iran, we might also reflect on its broader implications — seven continuous decades of authoritarian rule.

Another milestone is also near — one year since the tragic death of a young woman which sparked the Woman, Life, Freedom movement. As the struggle evolves, each new phase builds upon the former. In a sense, all the protests are connected, and can be traced all the way back to the 1979 revolution. Without 1979, all the crimes and atrocities of the past 44 years could not have manifested.

Time, after all, is a continuum. Just as day flows into night, every event is a link in a continuous chain. The revolution could not have occurred if the Iranian people were satisfied with their situation. Their unrest birthed the revolution.

One of the endless debates about Iran is whether 1979 would have happened without 1953. It’s impossible to say, but we do know one thing for certain: one event followed another. History unfolds sequentially, and somehow or another, Iran ended up in its current predicament as a consequence of what came before.

There are always many factors in a nation’s destiny, some more consequential than others. It can never be proven that 1953 was decisive in determining Iran’s present fate. It also cannot be proven that it was not.

Let’s assume that the current regime falls and Iran becomes a thriving democracy, the envy of the world. The long national nightmare is over. Or is it?

That all depends on whether it lasts — “A republic, if you can keep it.” As we speak, the United States of America is hanging on to its 247 year old constitutional democracy by a thread, threatened from the inside by a fascist cult. Political violence, conspiracies, and election denialism have all been mainstreamed. Some even threaten civil war. Even if Iran were liberated, there’s no guarantee it would not one day backslide into that familiar cycle of authoritarianism and tyranny.

The lesson of the past is the old cliché: absolute power corrupts absolutely. All nations, especially ones like Iran, must remain hyper vigilant about protecting its freedoms and institutions. Teach every generation of Iranians their history, how foreign powers dominated them, and how their own countrymen subjugated them, over and over again, every time they gained the upper hand. How easy it is to lose your freedom, and how hard it is to regain.

Our commitment to civil society, with a representative government and efficient system of justice, should be fundamental and absolute. This is the way to ensure that history does not repeat.

“If I sit silently, I have sinned”: A guiding principle
The untold story behind Dr. Mohammad Mossadegh's famous quote “If I sit silently, I have sinned”

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Related links:

IRAN PROTESTS 2022: Woman, Life, Freedom

CIA: Mossadegh Unlikely To Fall | Aug. 19, 1953 Draft Study

2021: The Year of the American Coup | by Arash Norouzi

MOSSADEGH t-shirts — “If I sit silently, I have sinned”

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