As I reported in my column last week, growing county-wide Iran uprisings will very plausibly lead to a near-term regime change. Such an occurrence will create a leadership vacuum of great global consequence in which stakes to the U.S. will be crucial. What and who will fill that void? Another Syria? Another Iraq? Or will new leadership support economic prosperity, human rights, and regional security?
Vast numbers of anti-regime protesters are loudly voicing “Reza Shah, rest in peace,” “Reza Reza Pahlavi” and “Bring back the Shah,” the deceased father of Crown Prince Reza Pahlavi, who was removed from leadership four decades ago. The prince, who left Iran two years before that 1978-1979 revolution for jet fighter training with the U.S. Air Force, has since emerged as a leading critic of Iran’s Islamic Republic government. He explains in this exclusive Newsmax interview why he is now assembling a cabinet to establish a replacement government to fill what he regards to be an “inevitable” responsibility.
Prince Reza Pahlavi, why do you believe that the current protests will inevitably lead to a regime change?
Crown Prince Pahlavi: First, it’s important to realize that this current protest movement is far broader and deeper than the one that occurred primarily in Tehran in 2008. This one which began in small towns has spread to impoverished populations throughout the country. People in more than 80 cities are rebelling against rampant government corruption, humanitarian abuses, and religious oppression.
There is also an important demographic cultural component to this uprising. Iran has a very young majority who want to experience opportunities similar to American lifestyles they observe with iPhones on international social media.
Many of these young peoples' parents and grandparents will recall that in 1934 my grandfather banned mandatory hajibs dictated by mullahs, and that likewise, my father was a strong supporter of women equality — including voting rights. During his debate with President Carter, Ronald Reagan praised my father for his staunchly pro-West position, stating, ‘The Shah of Iran was our best ally.’
What can and should the U.S. and our free world allies do to help bring about a peaceful resolution to this far-reaching dilemma?
Crown Prince Pahlavi: It is important for free-world leaders to recognize that the Iranian standoff is fundamentally a war between different ideologies. It is not possible to negotiate with a hostile ideology. The regime’s entire existence relies upon fomenting unrest to remain in power.
Despite promises of hope, the first year of the Rouhani regime has brought about more executions and prisoners than had occurred under the presidency of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. Ironically, these regime policies have been to kill the living and to worship the dead.
Ultimately, the Iranian people must solve our own problems. Our civil society must learn how to empower itself. These sectors must include teachers, students, environmentalists, human rights activists, workers, journalists, and artists who are now divorced from the existing political system. They cannot continue to allow themselves to be silenced.
Do you favor continuing the Obama administration’s Comprehensive Plan of Action…more frequently referred to as the “Iran nuclear deal”?
Crown Prince Pahlavi: I conditionally supported the deal when it was originally proposed because I believed it would eliminate the immediate danger of a military conflict which is a lose/lose proposition…not an outcome of interest to Iran or to the world. I now believe that rather than accomplishing this benefit, it simply delays the problem.
The Iran agreement is also terribly flawed by not incorporating human rights protections. This is an area where American pressure upon the regime could have been extremely helpful.
As Iranian people now realize, the release of Iran sanctions didn’t bring about needed improvements for the people. Instead, the regime has and is sending money to Syria and other radical countries to gain domination over the Middle East. They can no longer hide behind sanctions for dismal economic conditions. What is their excuse now? This corruption has been going on for half a century. People are asking when their problems will be addressed.
America can help to empower a stable, just, and humane society for our Iranian people through moral support for reforms, and by not ignoring us. It is particularly urgent to aid us in establishing a free media and an open Internet which demand government transparency. Such access to communications has driven dramatic changes in global societies over recent decades.
Unfortunately, many world leaders have been shying away from any expectations of possible change. It is a terrible oversight to write off Iran’s future as hopeless. No country in the region has stronger potential to become a free democracy with equal citizens, not just on paper, but in our hearts and heads. Such an eventuality is essential not only for Iran’s future, but also for the future of a volatile world we share.
Prince Reza Pahlavi, thank you.
Larry Bell is an endowed professor of space architecture at the University of Houston where he founded the Sasakawa International Center for Space Architecture (SICSA) and the graduate program in space architecture. He is the author of "Scared Witless: Prophets and Profits of Climate Doom" (2015) and "Climate of Corruption: Politics and Power Behind the Global Warming Hoax" (2012). He is currently working on a new book with Buzz Aldrin, "Beyond Footprints and Flagpoles." Read more of his reports — Click Here Now.
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