Historical Origins and Ideology
Iranian political scientist Dr. Mahmoud Afshar developed the Pan-Iranist ideology in the early 1920s in opposition to Pan-Turkism and Pan-Arabism, which were seen as potential threats to the territorial integrity of Iran. He also displayed a strong belief in the nationalist character of Iranian people throughout the country's long history.
Unlike similar movements of the time in other countries, Pan-Iranism was ethnically and linguistically inclusive and solely concerned with territorial nationalism, rather than ethnic or racial nationalism. On the eve of World War I, pan-Turkists focused on the Turkic-speaking lands of Iran, Caucasus and Central Asia. The ultimate purpose was to persuade these populations to secede from the larger political entities to which they belonged and join the new pan-Turkic homeland. It was the latter appeal to Iranian Azerbaijanis, which, contrary to Pan-Turkist intentions, caused a small group of Azerbaijani intellectuals to become the strongest advocates of the territorial integrity of Iran. After the constitutional revolution in Iran, a romantic nationalism was adopted by Azerbaijani Democrats as a reaction to the pan-Turkist irredentist policies threatening Iran's territorial integrity. It was during this period that Iranism and linguistic homogenization policies were proposed as a defensive nature against all others. Contrary to what one might expect, foremost among innovating this defensive nationalism were Iranian Azerbaijanis. They viewed that assuring the territorial integrity of the country was the first step in building a society based on law and a modern state. Through this framework, their political loyalty outweighed their ethnic and regional affiliations. The adoption of these integrationist policies paved the way for the emergence of the titular ethnic group's cultural nationalism.[10
The differences between Forouhar and Pezeshkpour lay mostly in organizational structure and policy, though there were specific ideological differences as well. Forouhar strongly believed in democracy and cooperation with other Iranian parties, including leftist-oriented groups, whereas Pezeshkpour believed in a more authoritarian approach and opposed alliances with non-nationalist organizations. However, alliances with other nationalist groups were rare or non-existent as most were officially banned (such as Mellat Iran). Under Pezeshkpour, the Pan-Iranist Party also took on a decidedly paramilitary structure, with members being assigned military ranks and titles. All active members, both male and female, wore uniforms to party functions. Forouhar also strongly opposed this, though this paramilitary nature was largely symbolic, and party members did not actually carry weapons. Ordinary members were not required to wear uniforms. Beginning in the late 1960s, Pezeshkpour also had several personal bodyguards who were assigned to protect him at all times.
The symbol of the party was a crossed out equal sign (=), signifying inequality. This was in reference to foreign powers such as Britain and the Soviet Union, and symbolized the Pan-Iranist view that Iran must uphold its national sovereignty and interests above all else. The philosophical meaning attributed to this symbol according to the party's literature was that, in reality, there is no equality amongst nations, and that each nation must struggle to rise above all others, otherwise risking oblivion. This symbolism and philosophy also played a crucial role in the division between Forouhar and Pezeshkpour.
Pezeshkpour was often criticized by other nationalists for having not supported Mossadegh, and for his role in the Shah's government as Speaker of Majlis, as this position had no real power. Nationalist leaders viewed the failure of his opposition to the separation of Bahrain as evidence that his function was strictly symbolic.
When Pezeshkpour set about restoring the party after returning to Iran, he and other former party leaders renounced the former paramilitary structure of the organization as well as its authoritarianism, instead proclaiming their commitment to plurality and democracy, as well as a willingness to cooperate with other opposition groups. They continue to maintain the original party symbolism.
In 1951, Mohsen Pezeshkpour and Dariush Forouhar came to a disagreement as to how the party should operate, and a division occurred. The Pezeskpour faction, which retained the party name, believed in working within the system of Mohammad Reza Pahlavi. The Forouhar faction, which adopted a new name, Mellat Iran (Nation of Iran Party), believed in working against the system. Mellat Iran was far more fervently nationalist than the former party, and strongly supported and was allied with the national movement of Mohammad Mossadegh, who had founded the National Front of Iran (Jebhe Melli) with other Iranian nationalist leaders.
After the British-American sponsored coup d'etat against Mossadegh, the Shah assumed dictatorial powers and outlawed almost all political groups, including Mellat Iran and the National Front. The Pan-Iranist Party soon became the official opposition in the Majlis, with Pezeshkpour as Speaker. However, in reality, the party had very little political power and influence and its position was primarily intended to be symbolic. Beginning in the late 1960s, under the government of Amir Abbas Hoveyda, Iran mostly became a one-party dictatorship under the Imperial Resurrection Party (Rastakhiz).
Pezeshkpour remained active in the Majlis and spoke out against British rule in Bahrain, which Iran claimed. He established a residence in the city of Khorramshahr, which at the time was home to some of the most exclusive neighborhoods in Iran, and which also became his base of operations. In Khuzestan the party was for the first time able to become a dominant influence, whereas in the rest of Iran, the party continued to have very little effect.
With the onset of revolution in 1978, Pezeshkpour and other politicians who had been allied with the Shah fled the country into exile Mohammad Reza Ameli Tehrani, a co-founder of the party, was sentenced to death by the Revolutionary Court, and subsequently executed in May 1979. Nationalist movements such as Mellat Iran and the National Front, which had been opposed to the Shah, remained in the country and played a crucial role in the revolutionary provisional government of Mehdi Bazargan. After the Islamic Revolution of 1979 which eventually saw the rise to power of Khomeini to the position of Supreme Leader after the collapse of the provisional government, all nationalist groups, as well as socialist and communist movements such as the Tudeh Party, were banned.
The Pan Iranist Party Flag
The Pan Iranist party flag is the same color as Iranian flag. An opposite sign in the middle of a white circle is formed on a green flag. All across the flag there is a black band or strip that represent the Pan Iranist mourning for the lost Lands of Iran.
The opposite sign has its special philosophy. The most important one is to oppose colonization,oppression,exploitation,and disintegration of Iranian territories.
The back ground color for the flag of Pan Iranist Guard is red.
It is noteworthy to add that after the transformation in 1978 and the change in the Lion and Sun flag, the party in a formal statement strongly objected to this act and declared that from then on ,the Lion and Sun flag is one of the official flags of the party and will be guarding it with soul and essence.