Bring on the Revolution, Says Reza Pahlavi
February 11, 2004
A quarter of a century after the Shah fled Iran, his son and heir to the Peacock Throne is convinced that his country is ripe for peaceful revolution.
However, the coming regime change is, he says, not being helped by visits from the Prince of Wales or by other Western overtures to Tehran.
Reza Pahlavi, 43, voiced his dim view of the Prince of Wales's trip in an interview with The Times yesterday. He urged the world to desist from dealing with what he depicts as a doomed Islamic republic.
"There is still confusion about supporting a reformist movement," the man who would be king said. "On one hand are the people of Iran; on the other there is the regime. You take your pick. Whose side do you want to be on?"
Sitting in a little Paris office with the royal tricolour behind him, the man known to his entourage as The Prince said that Iranians appreciated the concern of British royalty for Iranian earthquake victims, but that such contacts with Tehran helped to prop up the ayatollahs' state. "When you are in a very critical period, any kind of engagement could be seen as a gesture of appeasement. It would obviously be detrimental," he said.
Some may see his opinion as marginal. He has not seen Iran since the American-backed monarchy fell to a popular uprising in 1979. He was 18 and learning to fly in Texas at the time. For a few years he led a nomadic existence, but, since settling and studying in the United States in 1983, Mr Pahlavi, as he is known there, has devoted his life to the cause of a democratic Iran.
Nostalgia keeps the big Iranian diaspora -which is concentrated in Los Angeles and Paris -loyal to him. He has also emerged as a figurehead for the young in Iran. They are weary of the impotence of President Khatami and parliamentary reformers in the face of the Islamic Governing Council. Tehran students chanted Mr Pahlavi's name in the 1999 protests and there is evidence of support in Tehran on Persian-language satellite television from the US.
Mr Pahlavi looks and sounds more like a polished executive than a throneless "King of Kings" and uses a light touch to plead his case in elegant English and French.
He quotes from a crumpled printout from the Iranian Information Ministry, which says that 89 per cent of voters intend to boycott the elections next week to the Majlis (parliament).
Mr Pahlavi's grandfather, Reza Shah, was installed as ruler of Iran in a coup supported by Britain in 1921. He says that he would like to resume the throne "if the people so choose", but insists that his greatest preoccupation now is to use his name simply to encourage and promote better co-ordination between the opposition movements.
His aim is a "grand coalition" for democracy inside and outside Iran that could lead to a referendum. http://timesonline.co.uk/