Reza Pahlavi was just 17 when his father, the shah, fled the country in 1979. Since then, the former crown prince of Iran has become a thorn in the side of the theocratic regime, particularly after the disputed presidential election last June. With new protests looming, he spoke recently with NEWSWEEK’s Jerry Guo.
Do you have insiders who keep you in the loop on the regime’s thinking?
I have lines of contact. Access to information has been very restricted by the regime, but we can affirm the discontent goes well beyond Tehran and the major cities. They didn’t have enough manpower to cope with the demonstrations surrounding Ashura [in December]. They had to shuttle security forces from one town to another.
But isn’t it commonly assumed that the countryside is more pro-regime?
The regime has completely disregarded its own kind. The crackdown during Ashura, one of the holiest days in Shia Islam, was an unprecedented offense to people’s deepest beliefs. So they cannot appeal to their own religious base. Even conservatives realize that by now.