The Son of the Iran’s Former Crown Prince Talks at Hudson Institute
Year 2020: The Beginning of a Revolution

Key points in this article:

  • The son of the Iran’s former Crown Prince son and pro-democracy activist, Reza Pahlavi, talks at the Hudson Institute in the U.S.
  • Iran is a totalitarian state, he said, and expressed his support for the Iranian people.
  • The current government must quickly undertake reforms, or else the U.S. strategy will realize.

Protests continue throughout Iran. It all began last November, when the Iranian government raised petrol prices without warning, which sparked a series of anti-government protests, further intensified after Iran shot down a Ukrainian passenger plane.

On the other hand, Soleimani’s funeral procession drew over a million mourners, revealing a gaping divide between those who support the government and the protesters who oppose it.

Analysts say that the division is so deep that the situation could turn into a civil conflict at any moment.

Iran’s next legislative election is scheduled for 21 February. Of the 290 members of the current legislature, 90 are moderates who push for an open society and economy. But Iran announced that they will prohibit those 90 members from running for the next election.

Iran might be trying to consolidate the government as protection against the anti-government forces doing so. But this decision to oppress the people’s freedom and opinion will steer the country further away from democracy, inevitably resulting in further domestic and international backlash.

On 15 January, Reza Pahlavi, the son of the last Shah of Iran, spoke at the Hudson Institute in Washington D.C.

Pahlavi is the most prominent Iranian opposition figure and those who call for his return want him to lead a new government replacing the current one.

Below are the main points on Pahlavi’s conversation.


1. Iran’s Crimes

  • In 1979, within weeks of its inception, the regime murdered hundreds of individuals based on religion, ethnicity, profession, culture or belief. That same year, it took 52 American diplomats hostage and held them for 444 days.
  • In 1983, it arranged an attack on American Marines in Lebanon, killing 241 servicemen in their barracks.
  • In 1988, on orders from Ayatollah Khomeini, it executed thousands of young Iranians for their purported leftist political beliefs.
  • In 1994, it coordinated the bombing of a Jewish center in Buenos Aires, killing 85 people and injuring more than 300.
  • in 2009, it brutally repressed a wave of massive, non-violent public demonstrations during the Green Movement, murdering many innocents in the streets.
  • In the years that followed, its IRGC Quds Forces led efforts to preserve at any cost the blood-soaked dictatorship of Bashar al-Assad.
  • Last November, it massacred an estimated 1,500 protesters and detained at least 7,000 others.
  • For much of these 40-odd years, the leaders of the free world have sought to engage this regime both in trade and in diplomacy. All have failed. It has long been time to recognize that this is not a normal regime and that it will not change its behavior.
  • With this regime, there is no reasonable prospect of sustainable de-escalation. To my compatriots, this regime is an anti-Iranian occupying force with no regard for the history, the culture or national interests of Iran and Iranians.
  • And to the U.S., this regime is the greatest single menace to peace, stability and prosperity in the Middle East.
  • For years, my compatriots have been risking their lives to confront this regime. In offering the regime negotiations without preconditions, you neglect the people’s demand for unconditional support.
  • International attention and solidarity are vital to any movement seeking to overthrow a totalitarian regime.
  • I look forward to discussing a new path, one that focuses on engaging the true sovereigns of Iran, the people of Iran.
  • This regime deserves every form of maximum pressure, but my people deserve every ounce of maximum support.


2. The People And Military Are Starting To Feel Disillusioned With The Government

In the Q&A, Pahlavi spoke on the following points:

  • There is not enough media coverage. The media didn’t report that many people of Iran were opposed to holding a memorial service for Soleimani, and that they were burning pictures of Soleimani in protest.
  • What can prompt a massive defection or stand-down from a position of being stuck with the regime against the people, based on my overall strategy of a nonviolent campaign of civil disobedience, is to allow for that exit strategy and for those forces to join with the people. I think people smell the opportunity for the first time in 40 years this time. The people have had it. Today’s generation of young Iranians cannot take it anymore. We are beginning to see the end of this regime.
  • The people of Iran need to know that there is light at the end of the tunnel. Imagine what they can do if they start having real support for a change.
  • Bring in the X factor that has never been considered for 40 years, and that is the people of Iran. Have a dialogue with the representatives of the Iranian people. The best way to de-escalate is by not relying on this regime anymore.
  • More and more members of the military forces and paramilitary forces will say, the time has finally come for us to lay down our arms and join our brethren on the streets.
  • With Afghanistan and Iraq, the consequence was actually a foreign intervention that changed the circumstances. The difference with Iran is that nobody other than the people of Iran are asking for change to begin with. I think that the most important thing for all of us Iranians is that Iran should not be a matter of partisan politics. It is about freedom. It is about human rights.
  • Why not form a government-in-exile? I don’t think that’s a practical avenue. The ultimate decision has to be left at the hand of the people of Iran through a constitutional process, which has to occur in Iran. That means the election of a constitutional assembly.


What Was The Iranian Revolution?

In the 1979 Revolution the Pahlavi dynasty, which was a U.S. puppet government, fell. The Iranian Revolution, or Khomeini Revolution, was a movement that sought to overthrow the Shah, revive the Islamic religion, and oppose Israel.

Ayatollah Khomeini thought that the Western form of government, which tried to reinstate the Pahlavi dynasty that rejected Islam in politics, could threaten the people’s religious values. He thus aimed at creating a virtuous society founded on the Islamic values. It was similar to Plato’s concept of an ideal society led by a philosopher king.


Iran Becomes China’s Puppet Government

But according to Iran specialists, in the 40 years since the Revolution, not only has their dream of rectifying social inequality and creating a prosperous society failed, their religion too is shifting towards fundamentalism. And the government financially and systematically supports the fundamentalist ulamas on Islamic doctrine.

Shiites are generally known for their flexible interpretation of the Qur’an and other scriptures to suit the changing times, but this is being steered in a reactionary direction, and the people are suffering as a consequence.

Four decades ago, during the Cold War, the U.S. founded the Pahlavi dynasty to ensure that Iran would not fall into the hands of the Soviet Union. The current government, however, has become a puppet government to China that ignores the inhumane treatment their fellow Muslims are suffering in Xinjiang Uyghur.

Failure in state administration and an intolerant interpretation of Islam has resulted in the deprivation of freedom. Their dream of creating an ideal nation has failed. And now we are seeing the totalitarian shadows of China lurking underneath.


Iran Must Undertake Reforms Now

While some reforms are slowly taking place, such as allowing women to watch soccer games, there is also the glaring truth that the number of deaths at the hands of the government has not diminished.

People don’t tolerate a government that oppresses freedom.

Master Ryuho Okawa, founder and CEO of Happy Science, recorded the spiritual message of Soleimani the day after his death. In it, the spirit said that the U.S. is planning to turn the people’s loyalty away from the government. But the truth is, people’s loyalty has already started to turn away.

The ideal of establishing a country based on religion was a good dream, but if things don’t go as planned, you need to listen to the people’s voices and make adjustments to state administration. That is what democracy is about.

Iran must make national reforms before outside pressures force it onto them. (Hanako Cho)

The Son of the Iran’s Former Crown Prince Talks at Hudson Institute
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