Reza Pahlavi, the son of the late Shah of Iran, speaks during an interview in Washington, DC, September 27, 2022. (Olivier Douliery/AFP)
Reza Pahlavi, the Washington-based exiled son of Iran’s toppled Shah, has called for increased support for opposition movements in Iran to continue to work toward regime change through sanctions and street protests.
Reza Pahlavi claimed to Radio Free Europe that he and other opposition activists were speaking on behalf of Iranians. “They want us to deliver their message to the world. It’s our duty and our mission,” he said.
Speaking at the Munich Security Conference, Pahlavi told Reuters that “It’s important we have to have a component of domestic pressure on the regime because external pressure by sanctions weakens the system but it is not enough to do the job.”
“We are to looking at means on how we can support the movement back home,” Pahlavi said. “There is a lot of discussion on maximum pressure and more sanctions, but parallel to maximum pressure there needs to be maximum support.”
Pahlavi explained the immediate focus must be to ensure Iranians have access to the Internet, help finance labor strikes through a fund, and find ways to ease money transfers to Iran.
Reuters noted that it remains unclear how much support Pahlavi has on the ground in Iran, however, and that many Iranians remember the legacy of his father the Shah’s secret police, SAVAK.
SAVAK was known for its suppression of dissidents under the US-backed Shah’s rule, and was known for its use of torture, in particular against Marxist activists.
The AP reported in 2019 that the “SAVAK, a Farsi acronym for the Organization of Intelligence and Security of the Nation, was formed in 1957. The agency, created with the help of the CIA and Israel’s Mossad, initially targeted communists and leftists in the wake of the 1953 CIA-backed coup that overthrew elected Prime Minister Mohammed Mosaddegh.”
The New York Times reported in 1979 that according to CIA operative Jesse Leaf, “the CIA sent an operative to teach interrogation methods to SAVAK, the Shah’s secret police,” and that “the training included instruction in torture, and the techniques were copied from the Nazis.”
At an anti-Iranian government rally in the US city of Los Angeles last week, Harvard professor and computational geneticist Dr. Pardis Sabeti tweeted a photo of herself at the rally with her father, Parviz Sabeti, the former deputy chief of SAVAK.
Dr. Pardis Sabeti received the TIME100 Impact Award in Singapore last October, where she called for freedom in Iran and dedicated her achievement to Mahsa Amini, the 22-year-old Iranian woman whose death in police custody last month sparked a wave of protests in the country against the government.