Democratic Republic of Iran جمهوری دموکراتیک ایران

The Only Way Forward

Q&A: Mohammad Reza Heidari on why diplomats like himself and other Iranian government officials are now opposed to the state

insideIRAN.orgMohammad Reza Heidari, a high-ranking Iranian diplomat in Norway, announced in December that he was quitting the foreign ministry and not returning to Tehran. He now lives in Norway, where he spoke with insideIRAN.org

Q: Why did you leave your post at the Iranian embassy in Norway and cut off ties with the Islamic Republic?

A: This did not happen over night. My friends and I followed the events of Iran as diplomats. My colleagues and I always talked about the progress other countries have made and compared that to the situation in Iran. Then we had the June 12 election. Everyone was shocked by the level of cheating. On election day, I was in charge of the ballot box at the embassy and I never thought this was going to happen. Large numbers of Iranian expats voted in the election and Moussavi won in our precinct. Then the government in Iran reacted violently to people inside the country who were asking that their votes to be counted. These horrific scenes and seeing for ourselves the government killing our youth on the streets made me resign my post in order to motivate the Iranian people to continue their fight.

Q: Are there people in Iran benefiting from the government but are now against the system out of moral objections to the actions of the government? How large is this group? Are they growing in number?

A. Even the founders of the Islamic Republic, people like Moussavi and Karroubi who worked in the highest echelons of the system for many years, admit that this is a government that tries to make people dependent on its existence. Almost all my colleagues reached the same conclusion. They see no future in the path the government has chosen. The vast majority of experts who work for Iran’s foreign policy apparatus have objections to what has been happening. Many of them have fled the country. Some have resigned quietly and some are resigning their posts as we speak. I think more complicated issues will challenge the regime and hopefully, this year will be their final year and the Iranian people will taste freedom.

Q. Is there widespread dissatisfaction only in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs or is there widespread dissatisfaction in the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps or the Ministry of Intelligence?

A. This is true about every institution in the government. When they send diplomats on foreign missions, they send us through multiple layers of security screenings. We were among those who served during the Iran—Iraq war. I have friends in the IRGC, the basij, the Ministry of Intelligence, Iran’s radio and television, and other places who are against the government. They have to cooperate with the government because if they do otherwise, they will face many severe challenges. This issue requires a national will. Strikes are on the way. Teachers, who went on strike, have started the right thing. Iranian laborers are on the same path.

Q: How fearful is the Iranian government?

They have gathered a bunch of commoners around them to protect themselves. They try to associate the Green Movement with the rich and then tie them to Western countries. They are terrified. I am from the lower classes and I worked for the government for many years. All my friends are the same. The government has to spend large sums of money to feed people and bus them into cities in order to generate crowds for pro-government demonstrations. But they are still unable to address the basic causes of widespread dissatisfaction.

Q: The dissatisfaction you are talking about is just simply dissatisfaction with the government or are these friends of yours in the government questioning the very legitimacy of the regime?

The legitimacy of the regime was gradually destroyed by the actions of the regime since the June 12 election. The current government does not have legitimacy and it is only a body to carry out the responsibilities of the executive branch. With the crimes they committed, torture and rape, the regime has lost its legitimacy. They have been able to remain in power only through terrorizing the masses and using their coercive apparatus. New challenges such as sanctions are going to make matters much worse.

Q: The rhetoric of the EU has gotten much harsher towards Iran. What is the reason behind that?

A: European countries have always been interested in their national interests. They did not care about what happened in Iran. But now, they realize a stable Iran is more suitable for investments and it would also prevent the flight of so many Iranians seeking asylum in Europe. The Europeans are tired of a regime that supports terrorism and is a major obstacle to peace in the Middle East. This Iranian government does not serve their long-term interests.

Q: What do you think about possible sanctions against Iran?

A: Sanctions must be smart and targeted and only go after the ruling elite. These sanctions should not affect the Iranian people. Countries should not issue visas for the leaders of Iran and their families. Companies should be banned from dealing with the IRGC. The last issue I would like to mention is human rights. Western countries must make human rights the priority. Iran has made such a big deal of the nuclear program to divert attention from its human rights abuse.

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Filed under: iran election, Iran News, Iranian protests, Iranian University Protests, revolution, reza heidari, ایران iran

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