Sunday, June 11, 2006

TIME: 10 questions for Reza Pahlavi

TIME-As the oldest son of the Shah of Iran, Reza Pahlavi's youth in Tehran's sumptuous palace — and his prospects for the throne — ended at age 17, when the 1979 Islamic revolution drove his family into exile. Between meetings with French politicians last week, Pahlavi, now 45, sat down with Time's Vivienne Walt in his mother's Paris residence to describe the best way to oust the Tehran regime — and return him home.

How can the opposition defeat the regime? A campaign of civil disobedience is the only way to force the regime to retreat — national strikes, demonstrations, a refusal to cooperate. What [Supreme Leader Ayatullah Ali] Khamenei fears most is not economic sanctions or military strikes. It's people on the streets

What do you want the U.S. and Europe to do? If there was a first item on the shopping list, it would be communication to bypass the regime's blocking of weblogs and so on. This could change the whole dynamic of what can evolve inside Iran. Communication has been very restricted. That explains why many movements like the labor strike, student protests and acts of civil disobedience have been limited and sectarian. If you can communicate with people, they can organize on a much more mass scale.

What about the latest incentives offered to Iran by the U.S. and Europe to halt its nuclear program? The focus has been so much on the nuclear issue that they have lost track of the big picture. If by some miracle, you can resolve the nuclear issue and you have quid pro quos of security guarantees for the Islamic regime, what does that mean? Giving the regime carte blanche? What about conventional terrorism?

What's the chance of restoring the monarchy? It is for Iranians to decide. As long as the next regime is based on democracy and human rights, the form does not matter. I have absolute conviction that a parliamentary monarchy is just as equipped as, if not better than, a republican system. But 95% of a future constitution would be the same, with all the checks and balances and principles built into the system. The tiny difference is whether you call the head of state Your Majesty or Mr. President.