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June 23rd, 2009
10:12 AM ET

Fmr. prince: Security forces join protesters in the streets

[cnn-photo-caption image= caption="Former Iranian Crown Prince Reza Pahlavi tells CNN there are reports some security forces have been joining protesters in the streets of Tehran."]

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad will be sworn in for a second term sometime between July 26 and August 19, state-run media reported Tuesday. Many Iranians who have disputed the official outcome of the June 12 vote have taken to the streets to protest the results.

Reza Pahlavi, the former crown prince of Iran, says there are reports some security forces have been joining protesters in the streets of Tehran. Pahlavi’s father was the shah of Iran who was deposed in the Iranian Revolution of 1979. He spoke to John Roberts on CNN’s “American Morning” Tuesday.

John Roberts: The Guardian Council has ruled that the election results will stand and if there were irregularities they are not enough to swing the outcome of the election. There will be no new elections. What do you expect the reaction on the ground will be?

Reza Pahlavi: As we have all monitored the evolution of the situation, the supreme leader who has always been the final decider has drawn pretty much the line in the sand last Friday. And as such, I think the campaign that we have seen is now moving towards the direction of defiance and is going to be a resistance that will have to be sustained if indeed there's any hope for democracy in my homeland one day.

Roberts: There's debate as well over how much support the United States should give the protesters and the reform movement there in Iran. The White House is worried that coming out too strong in support could do more harm than good. What do you think?

Pahlavi: Well John, this is beyond a camp or another. This is not a question of election results anymore. This has become a defiance against a regime that has denied every right to its citizenry. When the chants on the streets in Tehran and other major cities in Iran and across the country are turning to “Death to Khamenei,” I don't think it could get as clear as that back home. The regime is now under question. The legitimacy is lost. The legitimacy now stands with the people. But there are also matters of ethics and moral responsibility, if I may say also. Something that the regime is trying to create [is] confusion between what could be considered as interference as opposed to standing for human rights and justice.

Roberts: What do you think the White House should do? What should the White House be saying right now?

Pahlavi: I think my compatriots expect, especially from the President of the United States... I mean, after all, America has been perceived by many around the world as the flag bearer of freedom. And for its light to be the faintest in terms of advocating liberty would be a bit odd. My compatriots understand the sensitivity and the shrewdness of the president and the administration here in terms of not in fact giving an excuse to the regime. And we applaud that and we appreciate that.

However, as I said earlier, it is important for people to feel that nobody shies away when it comes to the matter of defending people's sovereign rights to self-determination and free speech. And I don't think on that account this regime has anything to say about that, not only vis-à-vis the U.S. president but any other person, who after all don’t only represent themselves but their respective nations. And I have never seen in the past 30 years as an Iranian so much solidarity from the average man and woman on the streets of so many countries around the world for our cause.

Roberts: The big question is how much solidarity there is in Iran and will there be a fracture in the security forces. You appeared yesterday at the National Press Club. You made an interesting claim about security forces in Iran. You said:

“We are already seeing signs of solidarity. We have already had stories upon stories of members of the security forces who after their shifts go back home, dress in civilian clothes, and rejoin the people on the street, while five hours ago they were there with their clubs. This is happening under our eyes.

Roberts: So Mr. Pahlavi, you're saying that the security forces are out there cracking people’s heads one moment but then they're going home, getting changed and joining the demonstrators? It's an extraordinary claim. Where's the proof of that?

Pahlavi: Well John, these are the reports that I have been receiving, not just last week alone, but this has been going on for quite a while. Understand one thing, it's not that complicated to understand. Most of the more senior members of the Revolutionary Guard, and I'm not talking about that section which is committed to the regime and benefit from it. I’m not saying everybody’s against the regime. Of course not. But a great number of these Revolutionary Guards – they were my age at the time of the revolution, okay? They went to the war front. They fought a war against an invading enemy in the case of the Iran-Iraq war.

They gave their lives to protect our homeland and our people. They believed in the message of the revolution as everybody was dreaming for betterment of the situation. But when it comes to a point where you treat your own people like this, there are many – there are many among the security forces that say this is not what we wanted. This is not what it was all about. We cannot stand for this anymore. So you can imagine that it becomes a choice between turning the guns on people who could be your own relatives as opposed to following instructions. It’s a matter of time before security forces of any regime that is totalitarian or repressive have a moment of conscience, which has already occurred.

Filed under: Iran
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  1. Betrayed#2

    The Millionaire Inside and Sharon (who changed her name fit in?) – you both raise interesting points that i'm surprised have not raised more commentary in this forum. But Millionaire – you may be a bit too confident in the US being all to handle "ALL" aggressors – isn't the US having trouble in Iraq SIX years later???

    June 24, 2009 at 2:43 pm |
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