Exiled Crown Prince campaigns to bring Arab Spring to Iran
Friday, March 2nd, 2012 by The Telegraph - Damien McElroy
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Reza Pahlavi, the son and heir to the last Shah, wants to revive the opposition by uniting critics of the regime behind a common platform. He sees Friday’s elections for the Iranian Majlis, or parliament, as an opportunity.
Calls for a boycott are circulating widely inside the country and activists hope to push the turnout to a record low.
There have also been warnings from hardliners that President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad was prepared to use the interior ministry to rig the ballot boxes.
“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,” the prince said.
“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.”
The vote will also, the prince points out, be the first since the Arab Spring movement transformed the Middle East. At 17, the prince left Iran for America and has been in exile since his father was deposed in 1979. A lifetime of opposition to the Islamic regime has left him open to any form of government that would supplant the current system, including a constitutional monarchy, a Westminster-style democracy or a French-modelled presidency.
The prince is vehemently opposed to a military strike on Iran’s nuclear facilities. As an alternative, he calls for tighter sanctions to be combined with overt support for the opposition.
“I don’t think anyone in their right mind thinks you could stop the regime from developing nuclear weapons,” he said.
“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.”