LEADERSHIP TEAM APPROPRIATE FOR
THE TRANSITIONAL PERIODS IN IRAN
1848 was a year of destiny in Europe. In country after country, oppressive regimes were challenged. These rebellions were eventually suppressed but in the long term, the seeds of change had been sown. Once people imagined freedom, the wheels of inevitable change were set in motion. In the decades that followed, Europe was transformed in the image of 1848.
Today, the people of Iran have their own 1848. They, too, are demanding greater control over the personal choices they make, a democratic and secular government, and codes of conduct that merge tradition and progress in a productive way. Just like the Renaissance of Europe that swept away the oppressive remnants of the Middle Ages, a cultural rebirth is forthcoming that will reintroduce the tolerance and wisdom of legendary leaders such as Cyrus the Great. Iran is moving toward an active and informed citizen, evolving wise leaders, and beginning to build democratic institutions. The revolution and evolution in Iran shall begin similar changes in the region.
The Iranian citizen rebirth is questioning many of previous given sets of beliefs, rules, values, and assumptions. It is inspired to free inquiry and criticism and a new confidence in the possibilities of human thoughts, creativity, and better quality of life. Some of the beliefs, customs, and attitudes are historical which needs to be reevaluated and reset overtime through education and examination critically. This is what can be called the emerging enlightened era of Iran.
The recent movement in Iran has shaken the core of the regime and many past religious taboos. A strong belief for true political, economic, and social changes are evolving thoughtfully. It has been the fight of women historically, especially for the past 44 year, and now is led by women who are in the prisons and on the streets with the support and sacrifices of their young male counterparts.
Gamaan foundation conducted a comprehensive survey in January 2023 of 158,000 respondents from inside Iran and 42,000 from 130 countries of Iranians outside of Iran. Majority of respondents are forecasting positive changes and will vote No to Islamic republic. 81% inside Iran will vote No in a referendum to Islamic republic while outside of Iran is 99%. 67% from inside of Iran believe the uprising will lead to change in regime, while outside of Iran is 90%. The past several months of active uprising and sacrifices has put the regime on the defensive as these data show. To move forward successfully requires an opposition leadership that is organize, inclusive, compromising, with a viable strategic plan.
We propose the below organizational approach which is breaking with some of the past cultural experiences and reflect the rebirth. Therefore, in the following we explain our perspectives on what would be an appropriate leadership structure.
- A leadership team will represent a diverse and broader segment of the society that is needed in this era. It is the character of the Iranian people and opposition groups, especially in Iran, and therefore it will bring a higher number of people to actively engage. A team leadership will be able to develop better ideas, strategies, and tactics compared to an individual. It seems a leadership team that is representing majority of Iranian citizens is evolving these days. This a very good progress.
- A leadership team will break from the past history of Iran who are expecting a man to rescue/lead them. There are a significant number of people who do not trust one person, given the experience of Khomeini. Breaking from that past cultural history is needed. Considering the current uprising is a renaissance in Iran with potential positive externality effects in other Islamic countries. This means fundamental changes and breaking from the past which has many characteristics of a renaissance.
- Serving as pioneering agents of change, women have a unique, powerful, and leading role to play in the evolving political, economic, social condition of Iran. In addition, significant contributions and sacrifices is being made daily by majority of Iranian. The vocal and courageous contributions of many dissenters (i.e., Nasrin Sotoudeh, Narges Mohammdi, Jafar Panhias, Merdad Maysami, etc.) demonstrate the wide range of talented people who are poised to lead towards the rebirth in Iran. There are many capable and well qualified leaders, activities, and professionals among more than 8 million Iranian who are ready to serve from outside of Iran.
- A leadership team composed of 7 or 9 people would be the right size for leadership team. The team should be unified and efficient in decision making. Based on the Gamaan Foundation (GF) survey data shows that a team leadership composed of 7 or 9 is appropriate. GF has provided a list of 35 potential leadership team members. Among the top 20 highest vote recipients 13 are men and 7 are women. However, we think it is essential that majority of the leadership team member be women. It will be in the spirit of rebirth with higher potential for compromise which will lead to successes. Recent history of women leaders (i.e. Angela Merkel, Chancellor of Germany; Cristina Fernández de Kirchner, President of Argentina; Julia Gillard, Prime Minister of Australia; Tarja Halonen, President of Finland, etc.) in democratic countries has shown to be very successful. Those leaders have shown how to lead effectively.
- Individual leadership with name and branding will to be more efficient. However, individual leadership will leave a large segment of the opposition out and therefore will not lead to expected changes. Also, because of the awesome responsibilities and challenges of the transitional period it is high risk for any one person to take the responsibly and being able to manage it well.
In conclusion, a team leadership is a necessary organizational structure and shall be composed of women majority who have made the most sacrifices and is in accordance with the societies rebirth and its slogan, Women, Life, Freedom. The year 2023/1402 shall be the year of destiny for Iran – most likely for the region – like it was in 1848 for Europe!
Scholars for Freedom in Iran