Iran’s exiled Prince Reza Pahlavi has called for an end to Western negotiations with the country’s “regime of terror” and insisted that “maximum support” be given to the Iranian people, who he said are the “true sovereigns of Iran.”
Speaking at the Hudson Institute in Washington D.C. on Jan. 15, the exiled prince insisted that negotiating with the country’s regime was a “betrayal” of the Iranian people and instead called for an open dialogue with the representatives of the Iranian people to help them achieve freedom.
“In offering the regime negotiations without preconditions, you neglect the people’s demand for unconditional support,” he said.
“In fact, you betrayed them by accommodating their oppressors. International attention and solidarity are vital to any movement seeking to overthrow a totalitarian regime. The Iranian people’s struggle is no exception. This is precisely why the regime’s proxies and apologists in the Western media and policy communities work diligently to frustrate any form of support for the free world, whether by advocating cuts in funding for civil education or human rights initiatives or by peddling the absurd argument that even speaking of the regime’s crimes will undermine democratic progress.”
“Today, 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,” he added.
Pahlavi said that Iran’s “reign of terror” traced back nearly 40 years and cited several incidents in which the regime had repressed and murdered its people, including the recent shooting down of Ukrainian International Airlines flight 752, which killed all 176 passengers on board, of which 82 were Iranian nationals.
“Hasn’t there been enough water under the bridge for us to assess that this regime cannot be trusted? It has never been transparent. It has never been honest,” the exiled prince said.
“It has proven time and again that it’s willing to sacrifice the lives of millions of Iranian people just to maintain itself in power. And the message you’ll be sending to a nation that is trying to get free from this regime that we are still insisting on having some dialogue with them,” he said.
“It’s not an encouraging message. It can only be interpreted as something, to put it bluntly, discouraging. And by saying that—and I think the time has come to finally realize that expecting the regime to change anything different than what it’s done for the past 40 years is literally a waste of time.”
Pahlavi insisted that people of Iran, who he called the “x-factor,” were crucial to achieving freedom in the country, adding that in 40 years, they had “never been considered.”
“Have a dialogue with the representatives of the Iranian people of the secular democratic forces. Have them be offering you the ways that they can help themselves achieve that freedom because, as I said before, we have the shared values of freedom and human rights. And we are part of the solution, but we have never been, until now, a factor as a nation.”
“Because history has shown us that regimes don’t survive, but peoples are eternal. And it’s the people factor that counts here, not regime factor. We’re no longer in the 20th century. We are in the 21st century. It’s a big difference than that era, where raison d’etat or detente or some realpolitik was the order of the day—not anymore. You can’t stop the people. You can only help them. And this is what it boils down to.”
Elsewhere in his talk, Pahlavi, who lives in Maryland, noted that the recent protests in his country where unlike anything he’s seen since the 1979 Iranian revolution and said that Iranians could “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. They want to have an opportunity for a better future. They want to be on the path of modernity and freedom. The only thing that stands between them and the free world is this regime.”
Widespread protests had gripped the region since Nov. 15 when authorities announced a new petrol-rationing scheme which would see gasoline prices hike up to 50 percent.
Authorities said the new scheme aims to redistribute money to the country’s neediest citizens. However, it quickly faced a backlash from citizens throughout the country who took to the streets to call for an end to the Islamic Republic’s government.
“I don’t think people are going in the streets, risking their lives, just because they’re disputing an electric bill. It’s much more than that. And it’s a right to self-determination that was their cry from day one, and has yet to be achieved in Iran,” Pahlavi added.
More recently, hundreds and thousands of Iranians took to the streets to protest after the paramilitary Revolutionary Guard admitted to shooting down the Ukraine flight 752 by accident, despite initially blaming it on a mechanical failure.