In an interview with the “Manoto” channel broadcast from London, the former crown prince of Iran’s shah, Reza Pahlavi, said that he could not “represent the Iranian people before external powers without a clear popular mandate,” according to a translation by The Atlantic Council think tank, which said in a report. The prince’s statement apparently led to the launch of “a campaign on Iranian social media authorizing the crown prince to speak on behalf of the Iranian people in international forums.”
And the Iranians exchanged names (#from_bah_shahzadeh_rezapahloy_wakalt_midhem) and (#from_wakalat_midham), meaning “Reza Pahlavi represents me” and “I grant you authorization.” Arash Azizi, author of the American Research Center report, says that “thousands of people shared the hashtag,” but the Iranian prince “denied that he had anything to do with the launch of the campaign.”
To date, a petition on the campaign site change.org indicates that nearly 400,000 people have signed a posting authorization on the grassroots causes signature-gathering site.
And the authorization says, “Given the revolution taking place in Iran, and given that Prince Reza Pahlavi asked the people to delegate him to lead the movement (the demonstrations), this request helps the people in Iran to express their opinions.”
The site allows anyone who wants to sign – regardless of nationality or geographical location, and it seems that it is possible to sign more than once.
Ali Azadi, a US-based Iranian sympathizer of Pahlavi, says he “signed” because he believed the prince was the right person to represent the movement internationally.
“The prince has legitimacy by virtue of his status as heir to the Shah, and many Iranians love him,” Azadi added.
The opposition and the regime are in agreement this time
Al-Hurra’s tracking of the two hashtags on Twitter indicates that there are many tweets whose owners say they authorize the prince to speak on behalf of the protesters, or to lead the movement.
The report of the Atlantic Council website indicates that Iranian celebrities, such as Dariush Iqbali, the well-known Iranian singer, Ali Karimi, the former prominent soccer player, and other actors and singers such as Ibi, Shohri Aghdasholo, Hamid Farrukh Nejad, Shahin Najafi, and sports champions such as Taekwondo champion Kimia Alizadeh, They supported authorizing the son of the former shah to speak for the Iranians.
“To Prince Reza Pahlavi, for the sake of a free and prosperous Iran, I give you the mandate to (lead) the transitional period and call for a referendum in the period following the fall of the child-murderer regime,” Karimi said on Twitter.
Karimi’s tweet got about 150,000 likes and was retweeted about 45,000 times.
On his Instagram, Dariush Iqbali said that “the Iranian revolution is entering a new phase,” and that he sees Reza Pahlavi as “a suitable person to represent the opposition and support demands for liberation from the regime on an international level.” His post received more than 300,000 likes.
Perhaps most poignantly, according to the Atlantic Council website, many relatives of those killed by the security forces have declared their support for Pahlavi, including Nasrin Chakrami, the mother of Nika, a sixteen-year-old protester who was killed during the protests, and Manouchehr Bakhtiari, whose son was killed. , Pouya, during the November 2019 protests, and Peyman Kolipur, whose brother Pegman was also killed in the 2019 protests.
Some protesters recently executed by the regime, including Mohammad Hosseini, have also supported Pahlavi in their social media posts, according to the website. Supporters also include Amir Hossein Moradi, a protester and former death row prisoner who was saved from execution after the movement unified Advocacy of millions of Iranians to support him.
In addition, current political prisoners, such as Muhammad Danieli and Reza Norouzi, have announced their support for Pahlavi, according to the Atlantic Council, which says that Pahlavi’s candidacy may help unify the Iranian opposition, but the Iranian opposition has another opinion, according to Iranian activists who spoke to Al-Hurra.
The opposition, Iman Kilzahar (a pseudonym), says that she did not “want to get involved in the ridiculous controversy surrounding this campaign under her real name.”
But Kilzahar, who works as a university professor in the United States and is active within the Mujahedin-e-Khalq movement, says, “This authorization campaign has caused splits within the opposition and weakened its unity. It is considered a self-promotional campaign trying to climb on the Iranian revolution in favor of the Shah.”
And while she said that she was “not sure of the influence of the regime to launch this campaign,” she believes that “the campaign is certainly beneficial to the regime, as it makes the debate turn inside the opposition, and it is a well-known tactic that the regime has used before to distract the opposition with its internal disputes.”
“The call for authorization is a joke,” says the former Iranian diplomat, Syed Hadi Syed Afqihi, adding that it “causes ridicule and ridicule inside Iran.”
Afqihi, a supporter of the Iranian regime, added, “The Pahlavi call spreads outside Iran and has no presence inside Iran. Even abroad, there are five million Iranians who are not all enemies of the revolution and do not support Pahlavi.”
According to Afqihi, Tehran is not worried about Pahlavi, and that “Iran is on the path of development and development despite these calls for ridicule and despite the media and cyber war being waged against it.”
It is not possible to verify the numbers of supporters of Reza Pahlavi’s authorization, and the authorization itself changes from one formula to another, between “opposition leadership”, “leadership of the transitional period”, and “representation of protesters abroad”.--
The authorization itself carries no “official value” and merely indicates “the great popularity that Pahlavi enjoys outside and inside Iran,” says US-based Iranian journalist Nima Tamadon.-
“What happened seems to be a great misunderstanding, as Pahlavi did not ask for authorization, and what he said in the meeting he had been saying for years, which is that he does not want to jump on the desires of the Iranian people without official popular authorization,” Tamdun added to the “Al-Hurra” website.
This is not achieved “on social media, but rather through a referendum,” says Tamadun, adding, “I believe that Pahlavi is a real danger to the regime in Tehran, as he is the only one whose name was chanted by some demonstrators inside Iran, and he has great popularity and is able to move the crowd, just as he is Popular among a number of young people who were born after the fall of his father, the Shah.
Tamdun continues, “Nevertheless, he did not ask or indicate his need for a campaign on social media, and only said, in response to a question about the reason that prevents him from confronting opposition representation, that he will not do this without the authorization of the Iranian people.”
The Atlantic Council website quotes Khachiyar Dahimi, a Tehran-based thinker, as saying that “if there was a referendum today and Reza Pahlavi was on the ballot paper, he would easily win because people don’t know anyone else but him.”
Despite all this, the Iranian demonstrators are still holding large protests that have been going on for months, and the regime is harshly confronting them, without a clear leadership.
The Iranian-American researcher, Amanda Sahar Darso, says that the lack of leadership for the demonstrations gave them a “popular character that aroused the world’s interest as the real pulse of youth.”
However, Darso admits that there are challenges facing the demonstrators, who do not have a leadership capable of planning and coordination inside and outside Iran, stressing, “The demonstrations are not reformist, but rather demand a change of the system as a whole, and this is a big and difficult goal.”
And she adds to the “Al-Hurra” website that “the Iranian circles that you know prefer a person from inside Iran.”
The Atlantic Council think tank says that the problem of the shape of the regime that will succeed the current regime has been facing Iranian protesters for a long time, as “the lack of organization and unity among the Iranian opposition is a familiar and enduring problem.”
With this, the center says, the ongoing protests since the death of Mahsa Amini on September 16, 2022 have led to an unprecedented mood of solidarity, even though many differences still exist.
On January 1, a small first step was taken to form a sort of coalition, according to the think tank, as a group of well-known Iranian figures abroad posted a coordinated message on their social media accounts, wishing that 2023 would be “a year of the Iranian nation’s victory and freedom.” and justice in Iran.
Supporters of the message include, but are not limited to, Pahlavi himself, journalist and women’s rights activist Masih Alinejad, grassroots activist President and spokesperson for the Association of Families of Victims of the ill-fated Ukrainian Flight PS752, Hamid Ismailiyun, and Nobel Prize laureate Shirin Ebadi.
And Pahlavi, or Prince Reza Pahlavi II, is the son of Shah Reza Pahlavi, whose rule ended with the success of the Islamic Revolution in Iran in 1979, which transformed the monarchy into an Islamic republic.
He is the son of the Shah’s third wife, Farah Diba, born in Tehran in 1960 and currently living in the United States.
Although he possesses liberal propositions, he did not criticize or denounce the dictatorial policies of his father and grandfather, and the Atlantic Council describes him as having “remained above the political battles” of the opposition forces throughout the last period, and although he does not refuse to call him “Prince”, he seems closer to supporting ” Republican system.
The council says that “his strong support for Iran’s territorial integrity proved attractive to many even those who oppose him, as Pahlavi offered his services as a pilot to participate in his country’s war against Iraq in the eighties,” according to the council, which said that Tehran rejected the offer.
In exchange for the hashtag authorizing the Emir, the hashtag “From the agency of their namid”, meaning “I do not authorize him”, was circulated, in addition to the circulation of phrases such as “No to the Shah, No to the Supreme Leader, Death to the oppressor.”
One of the tweets read, “Do you think that someone who describes his daughter as a princess believes in a referendum?”
The Atlantic Council says some Iranian demonstrators have held signs also saying that Reza Pahlavi does not represent them.
The council’s report states that others have warned that “the last time there was blind enthusiasm for a revolutionary leader – a reference to Khomeini in 1979 – things did not end well.”