May 1, 2006


Exclusive: Shah of Iran's Heir Plans Overthrow of Regime (Human Events, May 01, 2006)

Reza Pahlavi, son of the late Shah of Iran, told the editors of HUMAN EVENTS last week that in the next two to three months he hopes to finalize the organization of a movement aimed at overthrowing the Islamic regime in Tehran and replacing it with a democratic government.

He believes the cause is urgent because of the prospect that Iran may soon develop a nuclear weapon or the U.S. may use military force to preempt that. He hopes to offer a way out of this dilemma: a revolution sparked by massive civil disobedience in which the masses in the streets are backed by elements of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard.

Pahlavi, who lives in exile in the United States, said he has been in contact with elements of the Revolutionary Guard that would be willing to play such a role, and activists who could help spark the civil disobedience.

He also said that the U.S. and other governments can help by imposing “smart sanctions” on the leaders of Iranian regime, but he categorically opposes U.S. military intervention.

After the revolution he envisions, Pahlavi said, he would be willing to become a constitutional monarch in Iran if an Iranian constitutional convention offered him that role. “I’m ready to serve in that capacity,” he said. “If the people so choose, it would be my greatest honor.” [...]

Assume you’re directly advising Condoleezza Rice and George Bush. Bush is going to be in office for two more years. How can they help you and your people get rid of this regime in the next two years?

We have to find a combination of internal elements working with exterior elements within the Iranian opposition and a coordination of such a movement with a number of key countries who in concert will act on this plan to make it happen.

You want to see a systematically organized general strike, people going into the streets against the government in Tehran?

Well look, civil disobedience, we can find examples of it from Argentina to India.

That’s what you want. That’s your tool.

That’s one of the tools. The other thing is the military and paramilitary power. Understand one thing: The basic powerbase of this regime is the Revolutionary Guards, at the end of the day.

They report to [Ayatollah] Khamenei, not to Ahmadinejad?

It’s a mixed bag. Ultimately, Khamenei is the supreme leader. But let’s face it, Khamenei doesn’t have single-handed control. In fact, Khamenei went all the way to take the risk of alienating some of the Revolutionary Guards by publicly referring to the talks between [U.S. Ambassador to Iraq] Zalmay Khalilzad and Iranians over the Iraqi issue. What was he trying to do there? He was much more concerned about the rising disenchantment inside Iran. He wanted to just pour ice water on their head, by saying, “Oh, we’re talking to the Americans”—at the risk of alienating his own militia.

That explains the psychology of the regime. It also explains that the whole militia is not under one core unit. It’s a whole mafia. There are various families of Revolutionary Guards. Each has its own portfolio and agenda. Some are behind Al Qaeda. Some are involved in Syria. Some are involved in Bekaa Valley. Some are involved in Iraq, etc. And they have their own independent means of finances. They don’t have to report back to the government. They have their own bases of income, free ports, what have you.

You think you can exploit this to turn some elements of the Revolutionary Guards against the regime?

Yes, for a number of reasons. Because like in any totalitarian system, they know that at the end they’ll fall. The question is, how do they negotiate their exit strategy? No. 2 is because a lot of their families are not as wealthy as we think. There are some preferred ones, but many are still having to make ends meet. We have ranked officers who have to drive taxicabs at three o’clock in the morning, as a major or colonel returning from base, because they don’t have enough money to pay the rent. The disenchantment is there.

So what you see happening is a general strike, people going into the streets, refusing to work, calling for the overthrow of the regime, and then their being backed—

Sustained. Sustained.

And then being sustained by significant elements of the Revolutionary Guards who say, “You’re gone”?

And I’m talking about a blitzkrieg of media supporting, like the BBC did before the revolution, which was practically announcing the night before where there would be a demonstration the next day. This is not myth, it is fact.

Are you in contact with some of the commanders of these [elements]?

Absolutely. Absolutely. And in fact, they keep on saying that we are being under-utilized, we have a role to play, we know the time for it, but we cannot just take the initiative. They are in No Man’s Land. You have to understand.

Are you the person who puts together the master plan? Are you the commander-in-chief of this counteraction?

Look, I think I can be effective, and the reason I have stayed behind until now was because I wanted to exhaust every avenue of possibility so that the opposition can gather itself and collectively work on a common agenda. Within the next two or three months, we’ll know if the result of two or three years of intense effort is going to pay off.

Two or three months?

Two or three months. This summer.

A good first step would be to start making more public appearances and appeals with Hossein Khomeini. Together they could help avoid many of the problems Iraq has had because we hadn't set up a government in exile via Ayatollah Sistani and Ahmed Chalabi.

MORE (via Pepys):
-Iran: Let the democratic process work (Hamid Dabashi, 4/28/06, Speaking Freely: Asia Times Online)

The deeply fragmented class divisions within the Islamic Republic also indicate that should the US attack Iran, it is the poorest and most disfranchised, the 15 million militarized poor who voted for Ahmadinejad - namely the Pasdars, the Basijis and the Hezbollah - who will be immediately mobilized for the protracted guerrilla warfare that will ensue, while the middle-class audience of expatriate, mostly Los Angeles-based, propaganda against the Islamic Republic will all run for cover.

Those analysts, Americans or expatriate Iranians, posing to defend the cause of democracy and/or human rights in Iran from the safe distance of US think-tanks, promising that Iranian people are all pro-American and thus will welcome the US Army, will have to be held accountable for their dangerous delusions should the US attack Iran and tens of thousands of Iranians and Americans are maimed and killed - with women in particular yet again the most under-reported victims of such crimes against humanity.

The emerging assumption that Ahmadinejad is yet another Adolf Hitler is factually false and rhetorically lame. His outlandish remarks about the Holocaust and Israel notwithstanding, Ahmadinejad is deeply in trouble and severely challenged from within the clerical establishment itself. The tug-of-war that is currently under way inside the leading organs of the Islamic Republic has very much sidestepped Ahmadinejad.

He is not a player in the high-power clerical clique. By virtue of the mandate the Iranian electorate handed him and the modicum of integrity invested in his office because of its previous occupant, he carries certain limited authority, but not much power. [...]

The only sensible solution to the current crisis is to keep US and Israeli hands off the Islamic Republic, withdraw any military plan, suspend all financial aid to self-serving, ill-informed expatriate opposition groups, or those that discredit the legitimate oppositional forces inside Iran - and thus allow the democratic process to work itself out.

It's inane to speak of an invasion or mass civilian casualties, but quite right that Iran's democratic process will dispense with Ahmadinejad posthaste.

-Why war comes when no one wants it (Spengler, 5/02/06, Asia Times)

Robert Musil's great novel The Man Without Qualities portrays Austrian aristocrats preparing the emperor's semicentenary in the months before August 1914, when their world would come to a ghastly end. [1] The reader, of course, knows this, but the protagonists don't. It is hard to read news from Washington these days without recalling Musil's work. War will come, even though President George W Bush wants it as little as did Emperor Franz Josef.

Neither Washington nor Tehran wants military confrontation. Nevertheless it will come, just as many great wars came despite the desire of the belligerents to avoid them. Washington knows that an attack on Iran's nuclear installations would crush its plans for regional stability. It still hopes for a deal behind the back of President Mahmud Ahmadinejad, or destabilization of the theocratic regime. Iran hopes to bluff its way into an empire stretching from the southern shore of the Caspian Sea in the north to the oil-rich Shi'ite provinces of Saudi Arabia in the south, and to a Hezbollah-controlled Lebanon in the west.

Spengler knows better than to take seriously the notion of a Persian led empire in the Middle East and to imagine that instability in the region is against our interests.

Posted by Orrin Judd at May 1, 2006 7:57 PM

I hope what Pahlavi says is true, but I would counsel him that lots of Czarist exiles in Paris in the '20s also thought they were in contact with counter-revolutionary elements back home.

Posted by: PapayaSF at May 2, 2006 12:36 AM

good first step would be to start making more public appearances and appeals with Hossein Khomeini. Together they could help avoid many of the problems Iraq has had because we hadn't set up a government in exile via Ayatollah Sistani and Ahmed Chalabi.

This strategy is probably the most sound of all at this time.

Actually, there was a movement to form an exiled gov of Iraq. One of the Chief organizers was Saad Jabr, an Iraqi national living in the UK. He and his group couldn't get it up to radar height so it went nowhere.

Posted by: Tom Wall at May 2, 2006 12:50 AM