Monday, August 28, 2006

Reza Pahlavi on Iran: 'A race against time'

August 27, 2006 Newsweek International--Reza Pahlavi was just a teenager in 1979 when an Islamic revolution in Iran ousted his father, the shah. In the years since, Pahlavi, who now lives in Maryland, has been involved with activists both inside Iran and abroad who seek to overthrow the mullahs from power. As the Iranian government continued to stonewall on the nuclear issue—with the United States calling for sanctions despite Iran's offer to "talk seriously"—NEWSWEEK's Rachel Makabi spoke to Pahlavi, 46, to get his thoughts on the standoff, the effectiveness of U.S. policy toward Iran and his ongoing work with Iranian dissidents. Excerpts:

Makabi: What do you make of Iran's latest nuclear proposal?
Pahlavi: The regime's response to [U.N.] Security Council Resolution 1696 was predictable, as it was simply a variation of double talk—a tactic they have now mastered to an art form... Will it get the bomb first, thereby bullying the world into appeasement, or will there be an actual convergence of domestic and international pressures [on the regime]?

What do you think will happen if China or Russia resists imposing sanctions? Accepting the regime's rejection of the Security Council's demand for an immediate enrichment freeze will erode the prestige and moral authority of the United Nations, which for some time has been in need of rehabilitation. As permanent members, Russia and China bear important responsibility to not weaken the words, actions and authority of the Security Council.

Are you in favor of military intervention?
We need to steer away from the mind-set that either we have to diplomatically negotiate or talk about any kind of military intervention. Neither one can solve the situation. What's obvious is to invest in the people of Iran themselves because you have the most natural ally among the Iranians.

Do you think the regime is close to collapse?
It is completely at odds with what the people of Iran stand for. There is a generational battle taking place. There is a flight of capital from Iran; the people of Iran are clear as to the consequences. They look at it as a whole—our country is going down and all of our resources are being badly managed by corrupt officials. The people of Iran are committed to putting an end to it. This regime will not survive—I have no doubt about that, but it should be at the hands of the Iranian people and not foreign intervention. Right now, we need to help the people help themselves.

What would be the ideal government to replace the existing one?
We will have a constitutional assembly, and within that debate, the Iranian people will determine a final form of government. Our issue is to make sure we have a secular, democratic system.