Iran's exiled Prince Reza Pahlavi has addressed the nation over protests in the country, calling for a coordinated front to organize anti-government activities.
During a press conference in Washington on Friday, Pahlavi said the current regime will fall in the near future but the transition to a new country needs a center to guide and concentrate democratic forces against the Islamic Republic.
He began a short speech expressing sympathy with the families of the victims who died in the collapse of Abadan’s Metropol building last month, which triggered protests in the southwestern province of Khuzestan and several other cities. He also paid tribute to victims of protests in the first half of May when the government raised food prices that led to days of demonstrations in towns and small cities.
Although the Pahlavi dynasty was toppled more than 43 years ago, many protesters in Iran chant slogans in support of monarchy, the dynasty and its founder Reza Shah, who began Iran’s modernization one hundred years ago. The popular support has elevated the political standing of the prince, but he has not campaigned for claiming the throne.
Corruption and mismanagement
Reza Pahlavi added that inefficiency and corruption in the Islamic Republic are not limited to one entity, city, or one group and is not limited to a particular period, noting that the whole country is suffering from disasters.
He mentioned the downing of Ukrainian Airlines Flight PS752 in January 2020 by the Revolutionary Guard and pointed at restrictions in the import of vaccines in the fist half of 2021 that led to thousands of unnecessary deaths, as examples of the disasters resulting from wrong policies or mismanagement of the government.
Khamenei ruled out importing United States- and British-made Covid-19 vaccines in January 2021, arguing that Iran was well placed to develop its own vaccines or should take them from more “reliable” sources. At the time, the US-German Pfizer, US-made Moderna and the British-made AstraZeneca were the only vaccines approved internationally.
Pahlavi added that today the biggest opposition and alternative to Islamic Republic is the Iranian people, who deserve to live in the best country and will reach their goal.
The exiled prince said the people are more united than ever and are standing with empty hands against their corrupted enemy. The priority of the country at this juncture is forming a central authority that can organize the protests to pave the path to victory against the Islamic Republic.
Calling on the army to stand with the people
He also urged the armed forces and officials who oppose the Islamic Republic but are working within the government to help disrupt the repression machine, saying a regime that cannot provide food for its people will not survive, and warned all those who are cooperating with the Islamic Republic’s crackdown to join the people.
His most forceful comment came when he said, “The current regime in Iran will be gone one day; even the USSR with so many nuclear warheads was toppled. Don’t bet on a losing horse, and don’t think you will be able to evade justice later,” he added.
The exiled prince went on to address the country’s traditional army, the Artesh, appreciating them for protecting the people against foreign enemies, and telling them that now it is time to protect the people from the common enemy within.
The traditional army’s command is dominated by the ideological Revolutionary Guard which is loyal to Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei, but many still hope the army can play a role one day to support the people.
He also called on Iranian expatriates to help the world hear the demands of the Iranian people, through sharing news from Iran in different languages and informing the governments of their countries about ongoing events in Iran.
“The most important thing I do in response to the Iranian people’s trust is to reinforce their voices. I don’t tell them what to do. I’m not a political leader,” Pahlavi said.
Underlining that those who live in the country know what they need better than anyone else, he stated, “The smart slogans the people chant indicate that they have identified both the problem and the solution.”
He added that Iran’s future is bright as all Iranians no matter their ethnicity are standing together in unity and solidarity, saying that “Our unity today guarantees our prosperity tomorrow.”