Perhaps one of the greatest ironies about the Iranian Revolution, and the subsequent revolutionary government that followed, was that it was highly conservative and remains highly conservative. What was revolutionary was simply the break with Iran’s millennia-long monarchical traditions, and the establishment of a more theocratic regime in its place, however, otherwise Iran has been actively resisting further change rather than engendering it.
In a recent interview with Radio Farda, Crown Prince Reza Pahlavi accused the Iranian government of being resistant to change and called for a complete overhaul of the national order.
“Iran needs an overall change,” he said, “All Iranians want change, and it is time for change. The Green Movement in 2009 was a clear refection that the people of Iran were, and still are, quite unhappy with the Islamic regime and its constitution.”
The Green Movement ultimately failed, although exactly why is of some debate amongst Iranian intellectuals and observers. Some blamed a lack of intervention from the Obama administration (“Millions of people were shouting in the streets of Tehran, addressing the U.S. president, ‘Obama, are you with us or with the regime?’ ” reported the Crown Prince), while Prince Reza himself believed that the Green Movement was betrayed by its leading figure, former Prime Minister Mir Hossein Mousavi, praised and promoted Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini’s tenure as a golden age during his presidency campaign.
The topic of the latest presidency elections in Iran were also of concern to the Prince, who regarded the process as nothing more than a show for the people. To him, the recent election is not even worthy of the name and gives it more legitimacy than perhaps it deserves.
“How can one call an election free, democratic, and healthy when the candidates are arbitrarily filtered by the Guardian Council?” he asked. “…Choosing between two candidates, one bad and the other worse, is not a real election.”
Before Iran can enjoy free elections — as well as free speech, a free press, free political parties –, it will need a constitutional reform. However, according to Prince Reza, even attempts at that are half-hearted at best and vapid at worst. Even those who claim to be in favour of reforms have tended to hesitate and withdraw under the shadow of the powerful Supreme Leader. It seems that simply reforming the current system just will not cut it.
“The only system capable of guaranteeing people their rights is a democratic and secular system. In the framework of a secular and democratic regime, the rights of all people, including different ethnicities and minorities, will be respected,” insisted Prince Reza.
What Iran needs is a complete change of regime. However, stresses the Prince, such a regime change should be peaceful.
“Iran can reach its democratic goals through civil disobedience, nonviolent and peaceful actions. We should only wait for the right moment.”
As for himself, Prince Reza is ready to lead the charge himself if the Iranian people ask for it. Many people have already approached him to ask what he can do to help them in their struggle for freedom, and he himself knows of many within the government and the armed forces who are unhappy with the current regime, yet unwilling to take part in civil strife against fellow Iranians. It remains to be seen whether Iran will be able to muster the will and momentum to engender such a change, especially given the strong resistance within the Islamic Republic to any threats to its power.
However, it seems the Prince is hopeful, and that the resentment towards the current theocratic-republic grows with each year.