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Former supporter of the Iranian regime: The people will overthrow it

How can the Iranian people of today create the free and democratic Iran of tomorrow? "Our Middle East: An Insider's View" with host Dan Diker and guest Mohsen Sazegara, Ep. 23

How can the revolution succeed? What does the Iranian opposition actually believe?

In this week’s episode of “Our Middle East,” Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs president and host Dan Diker talks with Mohsen Sazegara, 68, a senior leader of the Iran Transition Council, to get an inside look at the state of the opposition.

Born in Tehran, he studied technology in Iran, the United States and London. A former supporter of the 1979 Islamic Revolution, Sazegara was one of the founders of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) afterwards. He held several government posts in the 1980s, prior to the Iran-Iraq war, and sought reform. After becoming disillusioned with the revolution and Islamist rule, Sazegara left the government and has become a prominent pro-democracy activist in and outside Iran.

The younger generation has changed

If before 1979 the younger generation spoke of anti-imperialism and liberation, the discourse among the youth of today is of “democracy, human rights and gender justice,” in the words of Sazegara.

The problem, in his opinion, is that the government believes in an old paradigm of a leftist Communist revolutionary idea of Islam and of returning to a time when Islamic law ruled society.

The vision of tomorrow’s Iran: Federalist democracy? 

Diker asks Sazegara about his vision for Iran.

“The Iran of tomorrow will be a secular democracy based on human rights, working with the world and participating in the trend of globalization in the world,” he responds.

Liberalism and the rights of the individual human being were absent in his generation, but the opposition is now working toward a democracy with a market economy, Sazegara elaborates.

Diker clarifies, “What we are talking about here is moving from the Islamic Republic of Iran to the Federal Democratic Republic of Iran.” 

Sazegara says that although he can’t promise exactly how centrist or federalist the future of Iran will be, as that would have to be decided by the people, the opposition agrees on the principle of “government of the people, by the people, for the people and being run by the people.” 

How will the revolution happen? 

With such a grand vision, the question is how will it happen. How can the Iranian people free themselves from the regime?

In Sazegara’s opinion, the only way that the revolution will succeed is through civil disobedience. He says that civil disobedience has worked in more than 60 countries and that the opposition can and should use a variety of tactics such as strikes, protests, cutting of hair, defection, etc., focusing primarily on the energy and transportation sectors.

What are the guiding principles of the resistance? Why have there been so many defections from the regime? Why won’t a liberal West outlaw the IRGC across the board and stand up to the Iranian government?

The opinions and facts presented in this article are those of the author, and neither JNS nor its partners assume any responsibility for them.
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