The area surrounding Berlin's iconic Victory Column was a sea of protesters on September 16, 2023; many held aloft images of Reza Pahlavi, the Crown Prince of Iran. The gathering marked the first anniversary of the tragic death of Mahsa Amini, a 22-year-old Iranian woman who died in the custody of Iran regime's morality police. Reza Pahlavi, the exiled son of Iran's last shah, has been a vocal critic of the Iranian regime. (Photo by Michael Kuenne/REUTERS./

By Kayhan Life Staff

Prince Reza Pahlavi urged the international community to support Iranians “in our struggle for freedom for the sake of peace” in the first of a two-part interview on the Arabic-language “Yalla” show with Hayvi Bouzo.

Prince Reza Pahlavi called on the international community to seize the “opportunity to bring a lasting change that will change the shape of the entire region.”

He emphasized that a free Iran “that is truly representative of the people will seek to have the best possible neighborly relationship with our Arab neighbors, with Israel, with Turkey, with Pakistan” to maximize the potential for collective prosperity. He added that instead of spending on foreign conflicts, resources could be used to improve the lives of citizens and address water scarcity affecting the region.

The interview comes amid an escalating crisis in the Middle East. US Secretary of State Antony Blinken warned last week that “we’ve not seen a situation as dangerous as the one we’re facing now across the region since at least 1973.” Blinken made the remarks during a joint press conference with NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg. U.S. officials have described the regime in Iran as the “world’s largest exporter of terrorism.”

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Speaking in Qatar, Blinken said the “attacks in Syria and Iraq, attacks on Israel from Lebanon, attacks on international shipping in the Red Sea, attacks in Jordan that killed three U.S. service members, and of course the attack on Israel on October 7th” were all carried out by groups “trained, armed, funded, informed by the regime in Iran.”

Meanwhile, in Iran, people are grappling with a deepening economic malaise. Not a day goes by without protests by different sectors of society. The regime worries that mass discontent will affect the turnout at the parliamentary elections, which are weeks away. According to NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg, the Iranian regime’s strategy is to tighten its grip by increasing repression at home and terror abroad.

In his interview with “Yalla,”  the Prince emphasized the importance of international support in bringing about regime change in Iran and pointed out that pro-democracy activists in South Africa and Russia in decades past could not have succeeded without a serious level of international support. But he also warned that the West should not repeat the mistake of its invasion of Iraq in 2003 and the overthrow of leader Saddam Hussein,

“The mistake that occurred in Iraq and post Saddam Hussein was a disaster. Half of the forces that were sent back home ended up becoming ISIS fighters. We don’t want that scenario.’

In the interview, the Prince recommended a two-pronged approach by the international community: imposing maximum pressure on the regime, while empowering the Iranian people at the same time. He suggested implementing existing sanctions, which have been ignored, and given the regime access to funds. He also urged the international community to increase diplomatic pressure by restricting the travel of regime officials and their families and expelling their diplomats.

Highlighting the significance and duration of the women’s movement in Iran, which has gained global attention and support, the Prince emphasized that civil disobedience could play a critical role in pressuring the regime and shaping the country’s future.   To empower the Iranian people, the Prince emphasized that “the international community could provide them with a more level playing field.”

In addition to providing access to communication and the Internet, he proposed that “frozen assets of the regime, which is after all the Iranian people’s money,” be repurposed to support labor strikes inside Iran.

Journalist Hayvi Bouzo asked: “You are the most prominent opposition to the Islamic Republic, and you’ve said that your life’s mission would be accomplished when Iran is free. How do you get there today?”

The Prince replied that his “only focus at this point is to be able to help this transition by bringing together the maximum number of like-minded people” in a coalition willing to change the regime to one that the Iranians ultimately choose. “Right now, we’re in the phase of struggle to overthrow this regime.”

He also highlighted the need to create a path for a peaceful transition after the regime’s fall. He stressed that the military and paramilitary forces needed to be incorporated into the transition process, “but there has to be a calculation of, how do you incorporate the bulk of these elements?”

This is not the first time that the Prince has called on the military and the armed forces to “join with the people and become their shield of protection against the remnants of the regime who are desperately trying to hold on to power.” In the Yalla interview, he referred to them as “the greatest X factor for supporting the transition and maintaining law and order” while a National Assembly is elected. The National Assembly will debate and draw up the country’s future laws and constitution and lay the foundation for a free and fair referendum.

The “Yalla” was launched in 2022 by Len Khodorkovsky, a former US State Department official, and Hayvi Bouzo.  It features stories and conducts interviews with notable people from the region and outside who have left a footprint in the Middle East. Previous guests included former U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, the first Emirati Astronaut Hazaa Al Mansoori, and the former U.S. Special Representative for Iran and Senior Policy Advisor to the Secretary of State Brian Hook.

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