My Iranian monarchist friends seem to have a new hero: General Abdel Fatah Al Sisi.
And why has an Egyptian General turned into a hero for Iranian monarchists? Because I have come across quite a few of the latter who believe that the Iranian military should have done to Ayatollah Khomeini what Al Sisi did to the Islamist government in Egypt: to overthrow them by force not long after coming to power. To “save” Iran from the Islamists just like Al Sisi did in Egypt.
This is a complex argument. First and foremost soon after Ayatollah Khomeini came to power, Iraq invaded Iran. There were not many Iranian Generals who were prepared to turn their guns against their own instead of the enemy Saddam Hossein. Furthermore, unlike Egypt, the Islamists in Iran killed a great portion of senior members of the military from the previous regime, thus reducing the chances of a military intervention among them.
Removing Ayatollah Khomeini soon after his rise to power could have made the Islamists more popular.
If anything, it is staying in power which has done far more to discredit and delegitimize Islamists in Iranian politics.
What about now? what if an Iranian Al Sisi (meaning a pro-West nationalist) rises among Iran’s armed forces and removes the current regime ?
In my opinion, after 35 years of mostly unpopular Islamist rule in Iran (vs only one year of Islamist rule in Egypt) the idea that such a move could perhaps turn out to be popular can not be ruled out, as long as it’s followed by democratic elections.
Why do I say “could perhaps turn out to be popular”?
The answer, provided in the form of another question (its an old Jewish debating technique): when is the last time a military intervention in politics in the Middle East was soon followed by genuine democratic elections?