Exclusive: Iran’s Reza Pahlavi pessimistic on nuclear deal but optimistic about future of ties with Saudi Arabia, Israel 

Short Url
Updated 31 May 2021

Exclusive: Iran’s Reza Pahlavi pessimistic on nuclear deal but optimistic about future of ties with Saudi Arabia, Israel 

Exclusive: Iran’s Reza Pahlavi pessimistic on nuclear deal but optimistic about future of ties with Saudi Arabia, Israel 
  • Appearing on Frankly Speaking, Pahlavi warns that current US talks with Tehran are futile as regime only responds to increased pressure
  • Pahlavi praises Saudi Vision 2030 reforms and Abraham Accords, says such opportunities are the dream of every Iranian today

DUBAI: Reza Pahlavi, the crown prince of Iran in exile, sees the outcome of the talks on a new nuclear deal as “futile” as long as the current regime is in place in Tehran.

“Regardless of what is trying to be negotiated here, the net outcome is that it’s futile. The regime is simply using whatever it has as a means of blackmail — forcing the world to deal with it so it can continue maintaining its grip on the geopolitics of our region,” he told Arab News.

In a wide-ranging interview kicking off a second season of Frankly Speaking, Pahlavi also talked about future Iranian relationships with Saudi Arabia and other Middle East states, including Israel, once the ayatollah regime has been ended, and the desire on the part of most Iranians to return to a normal post-theocratic life.

He insisted that he does not have ambitions to be a new “shah” in Iran, and that it would be up to Iranians to choose what kind of government they want to live under.

“I’m not running for any office. My only mission in life is to get to that finish line, which is the liberation of Iran and, post this regime, to have an opportunity to establish a new secular, democratic system … That day will be the end of my political mission in life,” he said.

Pahlavi, the eldest son of the late shah, was heir apparent to the throne until the Iranian Revolution in 1979.

Since then, he has lived mostly in the US as an activist/advocate against the regime.




Reza Pahlavi, the eldest son of the late shah, sees the outcome of the talks on a new nuclear deal as “futile”. (Screengrab) 

Pahlavi had a hard message for US President Joe Biden amid indirect talks between Washington and Tehran on a new version of the 2015 Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action to regulate Iran’s nuclear industry and re-establish economic links to the rest of the world.

“This regime can’t change its behavior because its entire existence depends on its viral state of wanting to export an ideology and dominate the region either directly or via proxies,” said Pahlavi.

“We’ve seen in fact that (US sanctions), for the most part, increased pressure on the regime and forced it to curtail its ability to do whatever it wanted to do. Any relaxation (of pressure) emboldens (the regime) and enables it to further its constant state of creating instability in the region.”

Pahlavi believes that if economic sanctions are lifted, it would only increase the potential for Iran to fund terrorism in the region, where it has orchestrated attacks on Saudi Arabia and other countries through its militias in Yemen, Iraq, Syria and Lebanon.

“I think we’ve seen that happen already once during the Obama administration, where a tremendous amount of money was released to the regime and none of it was spent on the people of Iran,” he said.

Pahlavi looks forward to a new era of good relations between Iran and its neighbors, including Saudi Arabia, after a change of regime in Tehran.

“Look at the way the relationship was before the revolution. When King Faisal of Saudi Arabia passed away, there was a seven-day mourning period in Iran. That’s the extent of what the relationship was,” Pahlavi said.

“The people haven’t changed; the regime has. And as a result of its negative impact in the region, we can certainly anticipate a future where mutual respect and cordial relationship will be conducive to better trade, better commerce, more opportunities and (improvement of) people’s lives, standard of living, healthcare, regional stability, security coordination and many (other) things.”




In a wide-ranging Frankly Speaking interview, Reza Pahlavi also talked about future Iranian relationships with Saudi Arabia and other Middle East states. (Screengrab)

Pahlavi praised the Vision 2030 strategy to diversify the Saudi economy and liberalize social and cultural life, as well as the Abraham Accords between Israel and some Middle East countries.

“Other nations are moving forward (in order) not to depend on oil as a major source of revenue, readjusting their economies and having plans for the future, and all of that in conjunction and cooperation with each other. That’s the model to follow,” he said.

“I can’t be more happy to see that evolution, and the Abraham Accords, and everything that comes after, because we’re in the direction of progress and regional cooperation and opportunities.”

Pahlavi contrasted the role Iran used to play in the Gulf before the revolution with the situation now, where the country and its people are increasingly isolated.

“There was a time when people in Dubai were dreaming of coming to Tehran to go to our supermarkets and shop in our stores. Today the dream of every Tehrani is to go the furthest move away from Iran,” he said.

Pahlavi insisted that there is no deep-seated hatred on the part of Iranians for Arabs, Israelis or Americans, pointing out that students in Tehran had recently refused to take part in regime-organized demonstrations against foreign countries.

“A nation like Iran, which has a long history of civilization, of culture, of tolerance within itself, has never had an issue of antagonism vis-a-vis any other culture or nation,” he said.

The regime’s theocratic rule has also alienated more Iranians from religion, Pahlavi added. “I think religious governance has created a situation where people are steering away from religion. In fact, there’s much more apathy vis-a-vis any religious sentiment as a result of this regime directly trying to force a politicized religion and impose it on the public,” he said.

“Iranians have learned it the hard way, and I think today you see that even those who are pious in Iran don’t want this regime because they see the damage that it causes to people’s faith and to the clerical establishment.”

The Iranian people are emerging from their own “Islamic Inquisition,” he said, referring to the religious extremism of 16th-century Europe.

Pahlavi also attacked the influence of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, which controls much of the country’s economic infrastructure in alliance with the regime, as revealed in recent leaked comments by Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif.

Pahlavi said: “I was glad that somebody from the regime itself is dismantling this naive expectation by the Western world that moderates will be able to resolve the issues should they be in a position of control. It’s a totalitarian system at the end, depending on the decision of one supreme leader.”

He has advocated a democratic and secular system of government for his country, either with an elected president or a constitutional monarchy.

“It’s for the people of Iran to ultimately decide the final form, so long as the content is democratic, which is why I’ve asked my fellow compatriots — whether republicans or monarchists — in the future to put forth their best model or proposition as to what the final form could be,” he said.

“Once the regime collapses, we anticipate a period of transition where a temporary government will have to manage the country’s affairs while a constituent assembly will draft a new constitution, put to debate all these issues that are to be discussed, so that the people of Iran ultimately have a choice of how and what would determine the future.”

According to Pahlavi, greater regional cooperation would help the Middle East overcome many of the profound challenges it faces, such as climate change and water shortages.

“Long before we can resolve the political crisis, we should worry about the water crisis that exists in our area. This isn’t only Iran but many other countries also suffering from water crisis problems,” he said.

“If Iran today was a different Iran, you wouldn’t have missiles being shipped to Yemen. We’d have scientists, including Israeli experts who are the best in the field, working at resolving the water crisis for our respective countries.”

 

 

*Twitter: @frankkanedubai


TankerTrackers says third tanker carrying fuel to Lebanon underway

TankerTrackers says third tanker carrying fuel to Lebanon underway
Updated 55 min 58 sec ago

TankerTrackers says third tanker carrying fuel to Lebanon underway

TankerTrackers says third tanker carrying fuel to Lebanon underway
  • The first tanker ship carried the fuel to Syria and from there it was taken into Lebanon on tanker trucks on Thursday
  • Mikati said on Friday the Iranian fuel shipments constitute a breach of Lebanon’s sovereignty

DUBAI: A third tanker has sailed from Iran carrying Iranian fuel for distribution in Lebanon, TankerTrackers.com reported on Twitter on Sunday.
Lebanese Prime Minister Najib Mikati said on Friday the Iranian fuel shipments, imported by the Hezbollah movement, constitute a breach of Lebanon’s sovereignty.
The Iran-aligned group says the shipments should ease a crippling energy crisis in Lebanon.
The first tanker ship carried the fuel to Syria and from there it was taken into Lebanon on tanker trucks on Thursday.
Both Syria and Iran are under US sanctions.


Iran museums reopen after year-long COVID-19 break

Iran museums reopen after year-long COVID-19 break
Updated 19 September 2021

Iran museums reopen after year-long COVID-19 break

Iran museums reopen after year-long COVID-19 break
  • A country with a millennia-long history, Iran has an abundance of 746 museums
  • Iran’s museums attracted more than 21 million visitors in the year before the outbreak of COVID-19

TEHRAN: Iran reopened museums in Tehran and other cities Sunday after a more than year-long closure because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Museums in Tehran and other large cities that are no longer red-coded, meaning the risk of contracting the virus was very high, reopened on Sunday,” the director of Iran’s museums, Mohammad-Reza Kargar, said.
“Tourists and visitors are welcome to return while observing (sanitary) measures.”
A country with a millennia-long history, Iran has an abundance of 746 museums, including 170 in the capital.
“We are absolutely delighted, and we think the people are too because they were fed up with staying home, and visiting museums improves their mood,” Kargar said in his tourism and heritage ministry office.
“We have safety protocols in place of course, and the number of visitors will be dependent on the space at our sites so the public stays safe and healthy.”
Kargar said only students, researchers and staff were allowed into museums during the past 14 months.
Iran’s museums attracted more than 21 million visitors in the year before the outbreak of COVID-19 that forced museums to close in May 2020.
On Sunday, the National Museum of Iran with its magnificent collection of treasures dating back to the Bronze and Iron ages was still deserted.
“We have to wait for the news to spread and schools to reopen for people to come back,” explained Firouzeh Sepidnameh, head of the museum’s pre-Islamic collections.
Iran, the worst-hit country in the Middle East, has confirmed more than 5.4 million cases of coronavirus, including 117,000 deaths, according to figures issued Sunday by the health ministry.
Out of a population of 83 million, 29 million Iranians have received a first dose of vaccination and almost 14 million have been fully vaccinated against the virus.


UN ‘strongly condemns’ Houthi execution of 9 civilians

UN ‘strongly condemns’ Houthi execution of 9 civilians
Updated 10 min 1 sec ago

UN ‘strongly condemns’ Houthi execution of 9 civilians

UN ‘strongly condemns’ Houthi execution of 9 civilians
  • Secretary-General Antonio Guterres: Men shot in public did not receive fair trial
  • The US Embassy to Yemen also condemned the “brutal” executions and called for such “barbarism” to end

NEW YORK: UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres condemned the Houthis on Sunday for executing nine civilians without a fair trial, one of whom was 15 at the time of detention.

Guterres’s spokesman said that the UN chief “deeply regrets” the Houthi executions and “strongly condemns these actions which are a result of judicial proceedings that do not appear to have fulfilled the requirements of fair trial and due process under international law.”

The nine men were shot in the back after they were forced to lie on the floor in public. They were charged with involvement in the killing of the Houthi leader Saleh Al-Samad in 2018 by an Arab Coalition air strike.

The group were accused of putting SIM cards in the pockets of Al-Samad’s guards, helping the coalition locate him.

Al-Samad, then president of the Houthi Supreme Political Council, was visiting Hodeidah in April 2018 to incite residents to join the war when the coalition hit his convoy, killing him along with six others, and inflicting a heavy blow to the Houthis.

Guterres said he opposes the use of the death penalty in all circumstances and reiterated that “international law sets stringent conditions for the application of the death penalty, including compliance with fair trial and due process standards as stipulated under international law.”

The UN chief called on all parties and authorities to adopt a moratorium on carrying out of the death penalty.

He also urged all everyine to cease violence in Yemen, and work with the UN to revive peace talks.

The US Embassy to Yemen also condemned the “brutal” executions and called for such “barbarism” to end.

Charge d'Affaires Cathy Westley said that “This outrageous action is another example of the Houthis indifference to basic human rights and follows only days after their attack on the commercial port of Mocha.”


UAE daily COVID-19 cases at lowest in over a year

UAE daily COVID-19 cases at lowest in over a year
Updated 19 September 2021

UAE daily COVID-19 cases at lowest in over a year

UAE daily COVID-19 cases at lowest in over a year
  • The UAE government earlier introduced a booster shot drive for fully vaccinated individuals

DUBAI: Daily coronavirus cases in the UAE were at their lowest in over a year on Sunday, with the Gulf state’s high vaccination rate among its population ensuring community immunity against the highly transmissible disease.

The Ministry of Health and Prevention  (MoHAP) confirmed that 391 people had tested positive in the last 24 hours, the lowest since Aug. 30 last year with 362 cases, as well as two deaths due to COVID-19 complications.

The number of people who have tested positive in the UAE since the pandemic started stands at 732,690 with 2,075 fatalities.

MoHAP earlier said 91.93 percent of its almost 10 million population have received at least a dose of the COVID-19 vaccine – one of the fastest vaccination campaigns in the world – while 81.08 percent of residents and citizens have been fully vaccinated.

The UAE government earlier introduced a booster shot drive for individuals who were inoculated particularly with the Sinopharm vaccine to increase immunity against the virus.

A total 19,412,656 doses have been administered so far, for a vaccine distribution rate equivalent to 196.28 doses per 100 people.

The continued decline in COVID-19 numbers in the UAE has prompted Abu Dhabi to lift COVID-19 testing requirements for residents before they are allowed entry into the emirate.

The COVID-19 checkpoint at the Abu Dhabi-Dubai was removed just after midnight on Sunday.

The decision follows the announcement of a decreased COVID-19 infection rate in the emirate of 0.2 percent of total tests and the activation of the green pass system to enter some public places, the Abu Dhabi Emergency, Crisis and Disasters Committee said in a statement.

The committee also approved home quarantine without the use of wristbands for international travellers and those in contact with positive cases.

COVID-19 positive individuals in the emirate are however still required to wear a wristband as part of monitoring to ensure compliance with precautionary measures.


Oman to open mosques for Friday prayers to those vaccinated

Oman to open mosques for Friday prayers to those vaccinated
Updated 19 September 2021

Oman to open mosques for Friday prayers to those vaccinated

Oman to open mosques for Friday prayers to those vaccinated
  • Those who meet the requirement can apply for a permit online to attend Friday prayers

DUBAI: Oman will allow people who received two doses of the covid-19 vaccine to perform Friday prayers at mosques from next month, the sultanate said Sunday. 

The country’s Ministry of Endowments and Religious Affairs that those who meet the requirement can apply for a permit online to attend Friday prayers. 

The ministry also said it will form a team of volunteers to verify that those entering the mosque have taken two doses of the coronavirus vaccine.

The mosques and its annexes will be operated at 50 percent of their capacity while maintaining social distancing will remain a must. Attendees will also be required to being their own prayer rug and wear a mask.