I say to the west: the oil that flows in your pipelines is not more important than the blood that flows in the veins of Iranians.
It is evident that a lot of mistakes and excesses have been committed before the revolution. I don't deny it, on the contrary - there was evidently a lack of political liberty.
Mohammad Khatami was elected because he promised reform, that was then, four years has gone by, and there has only been "talk" of a progressive movement. Today the situation is different, because he could not deliver his promises. And, with his position as President, he doesn't have any power, nor does he have any control over the radio or the television. Worse, Mr. Khatami was unable to take firm positions when facing the hard-line elements in the régime. To the slightest jolt, he always aligned himself with the régime.
I say, listen to the Iranians. During twenty-two years, you forgot the Iranians, they are close to 70 millions today who hanker for liberty. I say to the west: the oil that flows in your pipelines is not more important than the blood that flows in the veins of Iranians.
It is evident that a lot of mistakes and excesses have been committed before the revolution. I don't deny it, on the contrary - there was evidently a lack of political liberty. I don't deny either that the revolt was popular, but those that spearheaded the revolution didn't want this result, Iran has regressed for twenty-two years. I prefer to speak of the future, history will judge what happened in the past.
Our youth are, on a daily basis, pushing the envelope in their quest for self-empowerment... My call for civic duty is embedded in my profound desire to ensure that the old [victim] psyche be forever abandoned and replaced by a new sense of national pride in self-determination and rule.
A regime that has a Constitution which denies the sovereignty of the people and where candidates are selected by the regime and the Parliament can not vote into laws its own proposed bills, is not a system representative of the people. This regime interprets divine laws as it pleases and elections are like those held under the Soviet or Saddam's regime. All this is to make the world believe that they enjoy a certain degree of legitimacy. Elections must be boycotted. To vote for this regime is to prolong its survival. Not to turn out will be the demonstration that the people rejects this theocracy. What the people is asking for is a secular Constitution based on the Universal Charter of Human Rights. Reformists couldn't do anything. We have lost ten years. Time has come for change.
The free world must put pressure on Iran. It should no longer give in to the nuclear blackmail of a terrorist regime that is seeking to acquire the [atomic] bomb. The outside world should play the card of Iranians themselves, talking, no longer to the jailers, but to those who are jailed. One should no longer fall into the trap of changing seats for the cards are the same even if different ones are put on the table every now and then. What is necessary is a democratic civil disobedience campaign supported by the international community. From now on, the confrontation is inevitable.
Violence is useless. Civil disobedience is a necessary and effective tool to get the job done. The system must be paralyzed and national reconciliation facilitated. A police State can not control a massive uprising. Iranians, in particular the youth, are aware of what is going on in the world. The regime is archaic. The country is on the brink of explosion. But this should not happen in anarchy. What we want is a democratic and peaceful implosion. If the champion of reforms, Mohammad Khatami, couldn't do anything, it is not Ali Akbar Rafsanjani, the most detested and most corrupt individual in the country, who can bring about change. What we have is a paralyzed mafia regime.
What we now see in Afghanistan and Iraq must teach us a lesson. The Iranian problem has a peaceful solution to it.
As long as this regime will exist, none of the main world problems, peace between Israelis and Palestinians, religious fanaticism, terrorism and the proliferation of WMDs will be able to be solved.
Almost 50 million of the country’s 70 million population are young people under 30 years. They have access to information about what is going on in the world. They understand just how bad are the things now occurring in Iran. I think soon my countrymen will realize that the present regime does not care about ordinary people but cares exclusively for itself. Besides, we have opposition cells throughout the world, since many Iranians left their homeland after the revolution. With them, as well as with the opposition inside the country, we are in close contact.
The current regime is trumping the Shiite-Sunni card, pitting national minorities at each other’s throat. However Iran is a country which for centuries accorded welcome to people of different nationalities and faiths. So when we come to power, national minorities will have their rights guaranteed. The present regime creates too many complexities like terrorism, economic instability, nuclear menace, extremism. When it clears the stage, 90 percent of world problems will be resolved.
Before the revolution of 1979, Western countries sold nuclear technology to Iran. Today we are face to face with a totalitarian regime that supports terrorism and promotes a radical vision of Islam. Access to the nuclear weapons would enable this regime to fortify its position in the region and to establish control on both banks of the Persian Gulf, as well as over the flow of oil. In this way the regime would be able to achieve what the Soviet Union never succeeded in accomplishing: controlling of the world economy. The nuclear weapons would guarantee the survival of the regime.
Most foreign governments are wrong in assuming that they are dealing with a conventional state. For Iranian leaders, national interest does not mean anything, and accordingly the economic incentives would be ineffective. From their point of view, Hezbollah in Lebanon or Hamas in Palestine are much more important than the interests of the Sunnite or other minorities in Iran.
As long as this regime will exist, none of the main world problems, peace between Israelis and Palestinians, religious fanaticism, terrorism and the proliferation of WMDs will be able to be solved. It is a race against the clock. Will Iran become democratized before the regime gets the nuclear weapon? That’s where the crux of the matter is. The West must support democratic movements like it did in South Africa, in Eastern Europe or in Latin America.
Comparing Iran and Iraq is like mistaking an apple for an orange! In any case, we are not asking for foreign intervention, which would be counter-productive. When after September 11, America discovered that they had a problem with Saddam Hussein, they forgot who was the main guilty party for fanaticism and radicalism. For the past 27 years the whole world has been sending fire fighters to put out the blazes. Some day or other, someone will have to take on the person who has the tinderbox: the Islamic Republic of Iran.
I do not want to minimize the responsibilities of Saddam Hussein. But it must be seen that the majority of problems that the world is faced with today – the price of oil, terrorism, proliferation, and radicalism – are linked in one way or another to the Islamic Republic.
The regime's response to [U.N.] Security Council Resolution 1696 was predictable, as it was simply a variation of double talk-a tactic they have now mastered to an art form. What does the regime's offer to "seriously talk" really mean? Will it seriously discuss its violations of human rights at home? Will it seriously discuss its patronage of regional militancy? I think not. [This] is a race against time. Will it get the bomb first, thereby bullying the world into appeasement, or will there be an actual convergence of domestic and international pressures [on the regime]?
[The Islamic Republic] is completely at odds with what the people of Iran stand for. There is a generational battle taking place. There is a flight of capital from Iran; the people of Iran are clear as to the consequences. They look at it as a whole-our country is going down and all of our resources are being badly managed by corrupt officials. The people of Iran are committed to putting an end to it. This regime will not survive-I have no doubt about that, but it should be at the hands of the Iranian people and not foreign intervention. Right now, we need to help the people help themselves.
What you see today is a clear example of what happens when religion is directly involved with the government. One should not confuse secularism with something that may sound like you are against religion. It is in everyone's interest to have a clear line of separation.
One has to look at the fundamental nature of the clerical regime in order to understand its true and ultimate intentions. Since its advent in 1979, the regime’s leaders – starting with Khomeini himself – set out to export their radical ideology to the region and beyond. The primary mission (raison d’être) of the regime is to convert other regimes to its own mold with the goal of establish a modern-day Islamic Shi’ite Caliphate. It is so stated and defined in its Constitution as well as that of the Pasdaran’s (Revolutionary Guards).
The regime maintains its suffocating grip over the citizens by using brute force and repression of dissent. Gruesome acts of public executions are barbaric methods and chilling reminders of the fate of dissenters in Iran. Through fear and humiliation, the regime commands submission. Public stoning of women and the execution of underage youth are revolting reminders of the regime’s callous disregard for human life, dignity and civility.
I have vociferously rejected and expressed my opposition to any kind of military action against my homeland! There is a much better way – far less costly and more legitimate – to put an end to the principal source of militancy in our region: Supporting the people of Iran, as the most natural ally to the free world in their quest to rid themselves of the clerical regime. A combination of domestic pressure coupled with a cohesive international economic and diplomatic pressure will enable the people of Iran, an “army in place,” to rid themselves of the regime. It however very much concerns me that due to the mounting domestic problems the regime is faced with, it may in fact invite and seek such a confrontation.
The regime plays on the nationalistic argument of Iran’s sovereign right to the technology. They need to be reminded that Iran had that right before they came to power. As a matter a fact, it is their behavior which is the cause for Iran today to be denied the privilege. For a regime that has violated just about any international charter and regulations, they cannot invoke the NPT only when it suits their purpose, and violate it by the same token when it does not. But let us understand the ultimate logic behind the regime’s quest for the bomb. Be it via manufacturing or acquisition, the clerical regime views the bomb as its key to survival. Why? Because it will serve as a counterweight to the inferiority of its conventional military capabilities against the West. Under a nuclear umbrella, the regime would be able to continue its support of terrorism, undermine the region, holding it hostage with the ultimate goal to institutionalize itself.
From my point of view, whether Kurdish, Arab, Balouch or Azari, whether Shia, Sunni, Christian or Jewish, every Iranian citizen has to feel and be equal under the law, with full protection and practical sense of common ownership and belonging to the nation. The only way to guarantee this is through the rule of law and practice of a democratic, secular Constitution based on the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. This is what I subscribe to, and have pledged to attain for my homeland.
I dream of helping liberate my homeland from this transient medieval system of clerical rule. It is the Iranian people whose dream and decision will determine the final form of our future constitution and government. Having said that, and in view of my homelands culture and history, I am confident that a modern constitutional monarchy, similar to that of Japan, Spain, UK and Sweden, will be perfectly capable in institutionalizing democracy and help usher in modernity, progress and development.
The current regime is, by any measure, the standard-bearer and global poster child for militancy, brute autocracy and corruption. If they are in fact students of my father, his ultimate act of refusing suppressive bloodshed in favor of exile should be their test.
Government clerics who enter the holy city of Ghom and its seminaries backed by money and not-so-hidden coercive powers of the state are a thorn in the side of independent clerics who are more interested in faith and morality than power. In the younger, more popular days of this theocracy the schism was not obvious. Now, with masses of people on the streets, crushed by the orders of the head government cleric, the rift is wide open. The grand ayatollahs can no longer keep quiet about rape and torture in jails in the name of Islam. Unlike government mullahs, these senior clerics get their support from the people, so they can never be far away from popular feelings.
It's now plain for the world to see how the supreme leader and his fellow power-hungry, mid-level clerics have been abusing the peoples' faith to maintain the big lie that they derive their legitimacy from Islam. Gone is the delusion that one man, Mr. Khamenei, can appropriate the powers of state in the name of God. So the supreme leader has lost his theocratic claim to legitimacy just as his favorite president has lost his claim to popular legitimacy. Because many in the armed forces and Revolutionary Guards are followers of religious leaders who question Mr. Khamenei, he cannot even count on presiding over a typical military dictatorship for long.
The regime's ban on coverage by international media, its treatment of reporters and draconian restrictions on their activities and maligning them as agents of imperialism is actually testimony to the effectiveness of these media.
Once Iran is liberated, and my fellow compatriots are free to elect their leaders and decide on their democratic political system of choice, my foreseeable mission will be accomplished. From that day on, my role will be determined by my compatriots. I will thus serve them in whatever capacity they see fit.
Mr. Ahmadinejad cheats, lies, steals and stuffs the ballot box. Unafraid of the threats of the supreme leader to shut up and accept fraud, Mr. Mousavi shows the courage to reclaim the ballot box for a fair and impartial recount. Of course there is a huge difference between the two. But you must understand his delicate position. Right now, in order to ensure the survival of the popular struggle, he cannot just say or do whatever he wants.
Let me remind you that Iran was not denied the right to have a civilian nuclear program before the clerical regime's appearance. In fact, the very same countries who are today imposing sanctions on Iran were competing with each other in selling our country nuclear technology and reactors. Actually, no foreign government has actually said that Iran does not have the sovereign right to the technology and peaceful civilian use of it. The problem lies with the nature of the regime and its dubious intentions. The world has good reason to distrust a regime that has sponsored terrorism abroad while repressing its own society for years. Troubling statements emanating from some key individuals in leadership positions have added more fuel to the fire. My position is simple: As a signatory to the Non-Proliferation Treaty, Iran has the sovereign right to develop its own civilian nuclear program. But future democratic governments will have to examine the scope and feasibility of such programs in the context of our energy needs, while ensuring the full trust of the international community.
I will leave it to history and historians to judge my father’s reign. But most of all it is up to all those Iranians who have the benefit of perspective and in the same way are in a position to compare things.
For three decades the regime has been effective in squashing its citizenry and monopolizing all communications with the outside world. That must end. Let us remember that the iron curtain could also not have fallen without the tacit support of the free world. Iranians too deserve this same kind of help.
Make no mistake; the people of Iran will not risk their lives for a candidate, but rather for the dream of human rights, freedom, democracy and ultimately a better life. Like all great enduring movements, this is about ideas, and for this reason the most profound slogan being chanted is: “We don’t want our votes back! We want our country back!”
What we now have in Iran is a religious dictator. Instead, I propose a secular parliamentary democracy, in which there would be a clear separation between the state and religion. Whether that would ultimately be a parliamentary monarchy or a republic will need to be decided at the end of this path by means of a national referendum.
The regime has cleverly tried to play the nationalistic card, arguing for the nation’s sovereign rights to nuclear energy. Indeed, no one in the world has challenged Iran’s sovereign right to nuclear energy; rather it has demanded more transparency in order to demonstrate its lack of ambition beyond the peaceful use of nuclear technology. This transparency is what the regime is lacking.
The regime has completely disregarded its own kind. The crackdown during Ashura, one of the holiest days in Shia Islam, was an unprecedented offense to people's deepest beliefs. So they cannot appeal to their own religious base. Even conservatives realize that by now.
The regime is not reformable. We tried it for 20 years. The central issue is to do away with the theocracy. A secular government is a prerequisite to democracy. It's in the best interest of the clerical establishment, too: the sanctity of religion has been most damaged by religious governance. The regime has been presenting everyone secular as anti-religion. The violence has been committed in the name of religion.
My preoccupation is not running for office. We are trying to liberate our country first. Then I am ready to serve my compatriots in whatever capacity. If they want me to play a more important role, so be it.
My father voluntarily left the country to avoid bloodshed. He ordered the Army not to engage in skirmishes with the population. The transition happened rather peacefully. The difference now is the regime is calling on all possible coercive forces including civilian guns-for-hire. They are trying to hang on more violently as we go along. But despite the crackdown, you must admire the degree of discipline for people not to retaliate with violence. That's amazing.
External sanctions against the regime do not suffice. You have to bring into your calculation … an element of pressure from within... And the only way [to] do that is by strengthening the hand of the people inside the country.
The latest slogans in Iran say ‘Obama, Obama are you with them or with us.’ What does that really mean? It means we expect more solidarity and support... Why do you think the demonstrators on the streets, at the risk of their own lives and limbs, are holding signs in English. It’s not to practice their English, as one of our human rights activists here has been saying. This is obviously meant for outside world, particularly the United States.
Of course [the opposition] can be supported! I mean, for God’s sake, from Solidarity in Poland to the ANC in South Africa… there was a great degree of support. But they [the Poles and South Africans] did it. It was not some foreign country doing it.
I don't think [Ahmadinejad is] a “mad man.” He's an individual who is very committed to his view and ideology. There's almost a sort of apocalyptic mentality that reigns here and he's not alone in it. Unfortunately, there are a few people who may sign up for that kind of a point of view. The problem is that we have this kind of regime represented by such individuals who have taken, first-and-foremost, the Iranian people hostage for the past 30 years and who are completely uninterested about the state of our own citizens. They are only interested to use Iran as a base from which to launch what was from the very beginning the exploitation of a theocracy and Islamic ideology across the planet as a challenge to the rest of the world... I think you should take him very seriously. The last time the world was not quite sure about the final threat was at the time of Hitler in Nazi Germany and we know the rest of the story. If we look at these kind of regimes that have been completely merciless vis-à-vis their own population; who have been brutally shooting our youth on the streets simply because they ask for their freedom; and are willing to stop at nothing to intimidate the whole world to submit to their demand, I think we should take it very seriously.
Today, you see a generation of young Iranians who are committed to fight even if it means risking and losing their lives to ultimately get rid of this regime and achieve full freedom. This is no longer a debate over more moderation or for awhile being fooled by the idea that there is any reform possible by this regime -- not only from the domestic perspective but from the international perspective. Today, the fight is led by people who are committed to a campaign of hidden resistance. The discipline of non-violence has been for the most part observed by the protestors and I think at the end of the day, this movement could culminate into something that could be a well-organized or orchestrated campaign of resistance: perhaps even labor strikes that could in fact bring the regime to its knees and ultimately cause its demise. This is the best way for Iran to not only achieve its goal of freedom, which would immediately have a positive impact and ramification not only in our area, but on the rest of the world. It is the ultimate guarantee by bringing in democracy and secularism as a means to preserve our cultural and religious identities and to guarantee self-determination and human rights. Iran is a country that has always and throughout its glorious history been contributing to world civilization as opposed to a clerical regime that is asking for its demise under a very utopian ideology that only a few at the top believe in, and not the rest of the population.
Is the choice between forms of regimes -- democratic regimes that is, that we find often in the free world, particularly in the West -- a path through which Iran can find its salvation? Here I understand fundamentally that some of the values that are embedded in Western society -- liberty, equality, freedom of speech, freedom of religion, freedom of assembly, media, labor unions, human rights, a democratic establishment, a checks and balance system, a separation of religion from government -- are opposed to any system that is based on an ideology that is totalitarian or that is against fascist or discriminatory vis-à-vis a great portion of its own citizens. Obviously, if you give that choice to people, the choice is clear. I think that is the choice that the Iranian people today are faced with and it goes without saying that obviously they are up for the former rather than the latter if given the opportunity.
What has been clear all these years is that the regime from the get-go was antagonistic; was trying to and continues to try to foment instability -- ultimately to force the region to succumb to some kind of a modern-day Shiite caliphate under Iranian regional hegemony; all of it perhaps backed by the very deterrent we talked about at the beginning of the interview: forcing the world to submit to that as a fait accompli. I find it a little bit difficult for a lot of people to sort of agree to some kind of a fait accompli and say, “Well, there's no way we can change the course of events and Iran will undoubtedly under this regime demand to have its way.” The question is the regime that is in Iran – the regime that has now taken our country hostage and is willing to do anything for its own survival -- and not to be confused with Iran as a country.
Despite the fact that the regime is trying to tighten its screws; and despite the fact that the regime is increasing its violence against its own people in an attempt to intimidate them into submission; and despite the fact that the regime is spending millions and millions of dollars financing its own war machine at the expense of hungry people or workers who haven't been paid their salaries for months, Iran continues to finance groups like Hezbollah in Lebanon and other places. And despite all of this, there's more disenchantment within the ranks in the regime. There are more indications of defections from within some of its coercive forces, all of which indicates a very delicate and fragile situation within the regime that has not been so vulnerable ever since its creation. That is, I think, an opportunity -- not only for the people, but I think in a way for the rest of the world. If we miss this opportunity and allow this regime to regroup and continue on its path, then we have with our own hands contributed to the regime’s survival and then we have to live with the consequences.
I think [Israel attacking Iran] would be a very disastrous event if it were to occur. I have long stated that I think this would be a lose-lose proposition by and large, especially when there's a much better alternative in play, which will be much less costly and far more legitimate than trying to bring any change as a result of any kind of external measures, particularly of the violent and military kind. You have in place the best natural army in the world: namely, the Iranian people themselves, who have bravely fought this fight for years, without any help or support from anyone in the international community. Today, they are already committed to that struggle and I think this is a much better way to put pressure on the regime and abide by international rules. It's a much better way to help the Iranian people bring about whatever changes they want in Iran and nothing is being done about this while everybody contemplates striking the country just because they don’t have faith in diplomacy, which was doomed from the very beginning. I think there's still a chance for a lot of serious fundamental change that will bring an end to all the threats if Iran wants to change from this regime to a democratic nation. If it invests time and effort in helping the movement of the young people in Iran today and be supportive of their demands; be supportive of what they want; engage them after 30 years of limiting engagement to only members of the regime and its representatives. I don't think that's far too much to ask for those of us who are fighting for freedom. What I am saying is that in my opinion, not using this opportunity and going straight to conflict would be historically criminal. That option has to be given its chance but the time is limited and the window of opportunity is now. I hope that many key governments will decide to commit some of their policies to give a chance for this movement to succeed before jumping to conclusions that the only familiars we're left with are either capitulation or attacking Iran.
… the [Obama] administration has spent, in my view, too much time, in maintaining its extended hand of engagement toward the regime without getting anything in return. Meanwhile, the clock has been ticking. Some countries in the area are becoming more antsy about the imminence of Iran's ability to be equipped with weapons of mass destruction. Obviously, the rhetoric and language from some key countries would be to mention the fact we are exploring this and this is an option on the table. I could not say otherwise. But that doesn't mean to me that there is a major change of policy. We need to think a little bit outside the box and perhaps look at other avenues. It's not limited to the character of this administration because successive, previous administrations have fallen systematically into the same “loophole” -- and I'm not even saying the same “trap.” Einstein said, if I'm not mistaken, that “thinking that doing more of the same will produce a different outcome is a sign of insanity.” When I look at the overall diplomacy of the free world, particularly of the U.S., I can only see a repeat pattern of the same attempts made while hoping to obtain a different result. Something's got to change.
I hope it will take less than five years to have a fundamental change if our movement is successful and I believe it has every potential to be successful. But as I said and I hate to be repetitive, the time is really now. Because as much as the Iranian people can be empowered, and therefore heartened and therefore optimistic toward their future -- and I'm specifically speaking about today's generation -- these are tomorrow's leaders in Iran. These are the kids, the daughters, the sons of a previous generation who are left there to fight and fend for themselves with no possible help so far available to them and yes, they are resilient in their struggle. This could turn quickly to cynicism and deception if they think the world has abandoned them. Remember what the slogans were on the streets of Tehran one year ago. There were signs in different languages -- in English, in French -- and this was not for some Iranians practicing their language skills among themselves. They were clearly aimed at the West. And among those slogans were “Obama, Obama, are you with us or with them?” That warrants a response. We have yet to hear that response. That means Iranians could turn more radical as a result of their deception; as a result of their cynicism; and that doesn't bode well, not only for Iran but for the world. And it will be a testimony to the fact that no real help is ever given to nations that want to struggle for liberty because perhaps there are some other interests that no one really wants to talk about. If that is not true, then we need to see a genuine attempt to help the society. We are not asking the world to determine our fate—that is the business of the Iranian people alone. All we are asking is that today it is time to engage with the people of Iran; with the freedom movements; with those who are struggling for their rights for self-determination and liberty. We are fighting against those who have denied us these rights and it's about time that we are heard and have our “day in court,” as the saying goes. This is an opportunity that we are facing right now as I speak to you. It's right in front of us. It's right under our noses literally, and I have yet to see a concrete policy -- whether it's the U.S. government or some of its other allies in the region or in Europe -- that will indicate that beyond attempting a few diplomatic negotiating tactics and besides posturing for the possibility of conflict, there is any real effort made to go beyond the regime and its representatives and try to connect and try to see how they can be of help to the Iranian people without having to attack our country and bomb our homeland.
The choice of future government should be left to the Iranian people to decide in a free election... What form it ultimately takes is up to them. The essential point to me is that there is no way we can achieve our aspirations as a nation unless we have a secular regime, as opposed to this theocracy... Without a clear separation of the state and religion you cannot have the beginning of any form of democratic system.
As quoted in Peter Godspeed, 'It is my duty', Canada National Post, September 24, 2010.
We know the country, its potential, its resources, where it was and where it could have been. We should be at the level of a Taiwan or a South Korea today, not ranked 150th in the world, even though we are an oil-producing country... We should not have our Iranian rap artists say the regime is promising us yellow cake when we don't even have bread to eat.
As quoted in Peter Godspeed, 'It is my duty', Canada National Post, September 24, 2010.
I don't doubt ever that this regime will end... There is no question about that. The question is when and at what cost and how can we help expedite the process to reduce the toll and the cost to our nation.
As quoted in Peter Godspeed, 'It is my duty', Canada National Post, September 24, 2010.
Sanctions in themselves can not be enough, because if you weaken society, while you weaken the regime, it has less means to really combat [the government]. If [the opposition] is reinforced and reinvigorated, then the whole dynamics of the situation is changed.
As quoted in Peter Godspeed, 'It is my duty', Canada National Post, September 24, 2010.
Sometimes people ask me who are the future leaders of Iran... I say I don't know who they are, but I know that they exist by the thousands. They are the artists and engineers; they are poets and businessmen; they are entrepreneurs and they are there -- waiting to inherit this future... And it is, by God, our obligation, our duty to the nation, to help them the best way possible to minimize the toll and the cost of change.
As quoted in Peter Godspeed, 'It is my duty', Canada National Post, September 24, 2010.
I believe we can find unanimity among a diverse group of forces for the elimination of a system in which the regime tries everything to claim legitimacy... We are waiting for this boycott to show that the regime is only hanging on by sheer terror. The last time Iran voted, the regime was not even willing to tolerate its own candidates. There is no more faith in its system.
I don’t think anyone in their right mind thinks you could stop the regime from developing nuclear weapons... What you would do is delay it but then give the regime the scope to retaliate. This would be poison. The cost would be huge for the people of Iran. Instead of bringing the state to the point of an uncontrolled explosion with no plan in mind, there is a better alternative... We propose a national congress that clearly sets out our proposals for changing the regime... You can support this, or try your chances with military action without a clear idea of the outcome.
There was excess [during the Shah's reign] by some members of the Iranian SAVAK [secret police], there was a lot of repression, there were unnecessary acts such as torture that I never condone and in fact condemn.
Barack Obama is hell-bent on engaging the Iranian regime just to prove that he’s not George Bush. That doesn’t help the problem. That’s not what people expected in Iran... The people of Iran are asking for help, and Obama cares about showing Khamenei that he can reason with him. That was Jimmy Carter’s mentality in 1979 and that’s still the mentality in 2012.
Of course Iranians don’t hate Israel. The regime wants you to think so. Our nations share a biblical relationship since the times of Cyrus, who helped the Jewish people in their hour of need. This is our hour of need. We’re asking Israel’s help to free us from our tyrannical regime. Are you going to help us, or are you going to bomb us?
[The current Iranian regime is like] a combination of Hitler, the Soviets and apartheid which treats minorities and even women in a fascist manner. Yet the world seems to do nothing about it. This is odd to me.
… a military strike would only delay Iran’s efforts to become a nuclear power, and we would still have the same regime in place. In order to fundamentally resolve the issue, we need to support the forces within Iran that want to topple the regime.
The international community invested much effort and hope in the Reformists, but they’re pre-screened, pre-approved loyal opposition. More and more of their supporters are realizing it’s futile to promote change from within because Iran’s paramilitary mafia still occupy the top of the pyramid. Khamenei controls every apparatus of state: legislature, politics, information and military.
In the name of Almighty God, in accordance with the Iranian Constitution and its amendments, I solemnly declare that from this day, 9 Aban 1359 (31 October 1980), as I enter my twenty-first year, I am ready to assume my responsibilities and obligations as king of Iran... From today... I solemnly swear before the glorious Iranian tricolor flag, and on the Holy Koran, that in my high office I will dedicate my whole life to protecting the independence, national sovereignty and legitimate rights of the Iranian people.
Kibbeh Palace, Cairo, Oct. 31, 1980, as quoted in Farah Pahlavi (2004) An Enduring Love: My Life with the Shah, p. 433.
My dear countrymen and women, sisters and brothers, this supreme responsibility has been entrusted to me after the sad passing of my illustrious father, in one of the darkest periods in our history, at the very time when our national and spiritual principles, our historical and cultural values, our civilization, are threatened from within; at the very time when anarchy, economic collapse, and the decline of our international prestige have given rise to the violation of our territorial integrity, which we condemn. I am well aware that none of you, whose national pride and patriotic spirit are inborn, that none of you who are deeply attached to your national identity, your faith, the sacred principles of true Islam, your historical values, and your cultural heritage, has wanted such a disaster to come about. That is why, understanding your suffering and sensing your unshed tears, I join your pain. I know that, like me, you can see the calm dawn of a new day rising through this darkness. I know that deep in your souls and hearts you have the firm conviction that, as in the past, our history, which is several thousands of years old, will repeat itself and the nightmare will end. Light will follow darkness. Strengthened by our bitter experiences, we will all join together in a great national effort, the reconstruction of our country. With the help of the right reforms and the active participation of all, we will realize our ideals. We will rebuild a new Iran, where equality, liberty, and justice prevail. Inspired by the true faith of Islam founded on spirituality, love, and mercy, we will make Iran a proud and prosperous country, having the place it deserves in the concert of nations.
Kibbeh Palace, Cairo, Oct. 31, 1980, as quoted in Farah Pahlavi (2004) An Enduring Love: My Life with the Shah, p. 434.
I salute all Iranian women and men of goodwill wherever they may be. I ask them all to keep their unshakeable faith in the future, to defend Iran's independence, their national identity and their faith, without flinching under all circumstances. I ask all patriots living in Iran or abroad to close ranks once again to save our homeland. I entrust to Almighty God the future of the great people of Iran, whose glorious history will, I know, be perpetuated with honor. I humbly ask Almighty God to grant us all this mercy, and to help us accomplish our national duty by accepting our responsibility to all humanity, despite the many obstacles that block our path. God Save Iran!
Kibbeh Palace, Cairo, Oct. 31, 1980, as quoted in Farah Pahlavi (2004) An Enduring Love: My Life with the Shah, p. 435.
The Iranian youth keep defending their right to live their age and the epoch in which they are born; that is to say in a world flourished by science and learning, and not mourning and martyrdom.
How can assured destruction deter those who glorify self-destruction and call it martyrdom? Just as suicide bombing has changed domestic security policies, dealing with the nuclearization of this new kind of “other-worldly” state requires a different approach in international relations. Far from acting to avoid assured destruction, they invite it with tireless exaltation of martyrdom!
President Reagan knew that he would not get behavior change from the Soviet regime unless he seemed serious about changing it. The actual change was a happy byproduct, which spelled the end of the Marxist mystique. East-European youth backpacked their way to the West to tell fellow students about the wide chasm between the deceptive promise of Marxism and its wretched reality. Long lines to take Marxist courses disappeared in Universities, from Buenos Aires to Paris. Similarly, I am convinced once the people bring down the clerical regime, with Iranian journalists, intellectuals and students free to travel, they will have the same shattering impact on the appeal of Islamist theocracy throughout the Moslem world.
I never miss a chance to reject military action against my homeland. I am against war. I hope you are too, and I can not believe that you would be for surrender. Thus, we are left with regime change vs. behavior change. And as indicated earlier, that is a false choice. So what is the right choice? Like most totalitarian leaders, Iran’s Supreme Islamist leader wakes up every morning wondering if the morale and ideological glue of his security forces will hold. To strengthen their spine, he feels he has to take tough, uncompromising stands against his ideological adversaries – liberal democracies in general, and the United States and Israel in particular. The reckless self-righteousness of his “other-worldly” ideology will continue this course, until a final collision. This behavior will not change unless he wakes up one morning with an even greater fear: seeing the Iranian people joining hands and rising up against his theocratic tyranny. Unlike forgetful analysts in the West, he knows the Iranian people have changed their regimes many times before, when they had far less reasons to do so. He watches carefully for the signs of history repeating itself. Once he sees those signs, and only then, will he change his behavior. That is why idealism and realism, behavior change and regime change do not require different policies but the same: empowering the Iranian people. This is my political mission in life. I ask for your support, and thank you sincerely for sharing some of your valuable time with me.
To the realpolitik cynics who say Islamist theocracy is a reality we have to live with, I respond: funny – they never said they can live with YOU! To those who say the theocrats can reform if we are nice to them, I say you do not know the difference between Islamist revolution and secular ones. Those who believe they speak with the absolute authority of Allah demand absolute submission.
From Iran's different faiths, ethnic groups and social sectors, from the left to the right of the political spectrum, from my brave countrymen and women struggling for human dignity and freedom, this is the message I carry to you: As you face our oppressors, do not turn your back to us. We are your best friends in the struggle against a common enemy, the enemy of peace on earth.
Western classical music, to be sure, is not part of traditional Iranian culture, and yes it’s elitist. But the fact that the Tehran symphony Orchestra and the Roudaki Hall have survived the vagaries of these past three decades is yet another evidence that the forces of darkness, the cult of death, martyrdom and superstition has not conquered the spirit of our nation.
Our youth have defied and derided a regime which is not mindful of their future but is obsessed with the hereafter. The Iranian youth keep defending their right to live their age and the epoch in which they are born; that is to say in a world flourished by science and learning, and not mourning and martyrdom.
My country, Iran, is youthful in its demographic properties, rich with a multi millennia culture and an alive and vibrant society. In our defiance of the ruling theocracy, my compatriots need and deserve all the moral help and support they can get in order to bring about fundamental change by establishing a system of governance that is in keeping with the imperatives of our time: a secular democracy in place of the current ruling theocracy.
Let me be clear: the upcoming Majles elections in Iran is nothing but a sham, and the Iranian people – whether they are compelled by a variety of reasons to take part, or whether they are able to withstand enormous pressure and boycott the elections – know full well that, no matter who gets into the next Majles, they are unlikely to truly represent their will, desire and vision for Iran. Consequently, the next Majles will continue to remain a mere pawn in the hands of the “Supreme Leader” and his cohorts.
… a good university where one can study in peace and freedom may seem common place to you. But not so for many thousands of students in my homeland whose eager young minds remain constrained and constantly shackled by a closed and dogmatic atmosphere that has been ruthlessly imposed on them by an unpopular dictatorship. Consequently, universities in my country are not places for critical learning, and students are not given the kind of opportunities that they need to freely debate contemporary issues or contemplate the shape of the future in the manner that is common practice here in the West.
In the big picture, over the years, every time the regime has been really pressured, both from inside and outside, it has backed off from its virulent disposition. However, as soon as such pressures have subsided, it has regrouped into its natural form of being antagonistic to the free world, wanting to continue on its inherent mission of exporting a radical ideology around the planet. This is why I keep asking this question from policy makers here, in Europe and elsewhere: Why aren’t you utilizing the people’s force of leverage to achieve your goals without betraying our national cause for freedom? Because in reality, so far you have played into the hands of this regime without obtaining any results, and you have done so to the detriment of my compatriots.
I encourage investment in technologies that increase communication with the Iranian people. America in particular needs to increase the available mediums of dialogue with the Iranian people by strengthening the ability of the Iranian people to access news and information and to overcome the electronic censorship and monitoring efforts of the Iranian regime... This renewed dialogue would allow the world to demonstrate its solidarity with the democracy-seeking Iranian people. It would also improve the accuracy of the information received from Iran. But perhaps most importantly, improving these technologies would allow the Green Movement within Iran to communicate, organize and mobilize much more efficiently.
There is no doubt in my mind that the advent of Khomeini’s Islamic Republic in 1979, which turned my homeland into the cradle of modern day Islamic radicalism, was instrumental in opening the flood gates for the spread of militant anti-Western Islamic tendencies, not just in the Middle East region, but throughout the Islamic world. Moreover, it turned one of the World’s richest and most strategic countries into a launching pad for spreading state-sponsored terrorism in addition to becoming the Godfather of numerous sub-state entities that are today destabilizing the entire Middle East region.
When one looks at Ayatollah Khomeini’s vision of an Islamic Government, one realizes that it actually had little to do with the traditional thinking of the Shi’ite establishment. I say this in the sense that his concept of the “Velayate Faghih” (Guardianship of the Islamic Jurists) has in effect violated at least two of the most cardinal principles of the Shi’ite faith. The first being that, the only time divine rule could be envisaged to have domain over us on Earth is upon the reappearance of the 12th Imam, who is considered a “Ma’soum” (or non-sinner). Until then, it is not the role of the clerics to govern society in the name of religion. The second being the principle of “Takassore Maraje’”, or the plurality of sources of emulation, in other words multiple high ranking clerical leaders, as opposed to a single source such as the Pope in Catholicism.
The ruling clerics have repeatedly accused those of us striving for a secular alternative of leading a campaign against religion. This is, of course, not true. On the contrary, I would argue that it is in fact in the interest of religion and the clergy itself to have a separation of religion from government. Many of our high-ranking, non-governmental clergymen have attested to this fact for many years. Since the advent of Islam in Iran, the biggest harm done, not only to people, but to the faith itself, has been under this so-called Islamic regime – which I frankly prefer to call the anti-Islamic regime!
Last summer, the people of Iran achieved something unprecedented in the history of the 31-year-old Islamic Republic. For the first time, the Iranian people coordinated mass-scale demonstrations against this totalitarian theocratic regime. These demonstrations and protests continue even today, questioning – well beyond the election results of last June – the very legitimacy of the regime and the so-called Supreme Leader Khamenei.
The first and most tangible result of the Green Movement is that the world, today, has a far better understanding of the true nature of the Islamic Republic on the one hand, and the true wishes and aspirations of the Iranian people on the other. The black veil has been torn off the face of the regime. Ultimately, I am confident my country will be liberated from this darkness. The Iranian people will prevail. This regime will fall at the hands of its own people. If you recall nothing of my comments this evening, remember this: the struggle of the Iranian people for democracy, human rights and dignity continues, whether you hear about it on the news in this country or not. It will continue until we prevail, thanks to our heroic youth whose eyes are firmly on the future, not the past.
The cataclysmic shift the clerical regime brought to my homeland and the region over 30 years ago was immediate. The destabilization of the Middle East began as soon as the revolutionary regime of Iran established itself and set out to implement its foremost mission: to export its brand of Islamic rule and Revolution beyond Iran’s borders, targeting the Middle East first.
It is critical to understand that the clerical regime sought – and continues to seek – to challenge America and its regional allies as a convenient way for it to deflect attention from its abhorrent policies of ongoing repression and terror against my fellow Iranians. While our precious national resources are being utilized by the clerical regime to export revolution, the Iranian people are being left without access to basic necessities, rapidly losing a standard of living that was once the envy of many around the world, and they live in a state of perpetual tyranny.
It took little time for most Iranians, including those who believed in and contributed to “Khomeini’s revolution”, to become disillusioned. Resistance and the earliest forms of defiance of the regime soon began in war-torn Iran. It began first among the courageous women of Iran who have endured the harshest treatment since the arrival of the regime. Today, it is the very children of those brave parents whose blood is been spilled on the streets of Iran.
Contrast the world’s thirty-years of silence on the tyranny of this regime to the extremely loud and well-organized protests frequently directed at my father’s government in the 1970s. The difference could not be more distinct or disturbing. Then, the world seemed quite attuned to and concerned with the issue of human rights in my country. Today, with thirty-years worth of full graveyards and more on death row than ever before in Iran, the global silence on the stunning human rights atrocities committed by this supposedly religious regime has been astonishing and disappointing. It is quite frustrating for me and for many of my compatriots to conclude that the global standard on human rights seems to be capriciously administered and certainly has been discounted for Iranians since the establishment of the world’s only modern day theocracy.
Time is of the essence, the clock is ticking and our window is closing. Diplomacy cannot be open-ended. War should be avoided. Capitulation is unthinkable. There can only be one real solution: the moment has come for the world to invest in the people of Iran themselves. Change from within, and at the hands of the Iranian people, is the only legitimate, and the least costly solution. I know my compatriots are doing all they can, with great passion, sense of duty and sacrifice. Do heed their call, and let them know that they are not alone. To the students of Johns Hopkins I encourage you to raise awareness on this campus and join with other student movements across the world that are bringing visibility to the human rights abuses and lack of freedom in Iran. To the faculty and media, I encourage you to analyze and write about the disastrous governance of this regime and the demands of our freedom-seeking citizens and our civil society. There is much to cover. If we all unite in our voices and efforts, Iran will one day – and hopefully very soon – return from this dark journey into the light.
At this crucial moment in the life of our country, I would like to offer my blood to save the inviolability of our dear native land.
Reza Pahlavi's request to join in the Iran-Iraq war, 1980, as quoted in Farah Pahlavi (2004) An Enduring Love: My Life with the Shah, p. 396.
I calculated the amount of time I spent with my father during my entire life... the total amount of time I had with him, if you add up the hours, was about two months. My father was a busy man... we had very few opportunities to really sit down and talk as father and son.
As quoted in Marvin Zonis (1991), Majestic Failure: The Fall of the Shah, p. 57.