Democratic Republic of Iran جمهوری دموکراتیک ایران

The Only Way Forward

Mohammad Reza Heidari explains why more Iranian diplomats will defect in opposition to Ahmadinejad

Mohammad Reza Heidari, a former 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 Oslo, where he spoke with insideIRAN.org

Q: You were the first Iranian diplomat to defect after the June 12 election and created the “Green Embassy.” There are two more diplomats who recently resigned and joined the Green Embassy. Was this a coordinated move? Were you aware of this? Are there going to be more defections and resignations?

A: Yes, plenty more. I have information that there are many people in the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps and within the security apparatus of the regime who are resigning as we speak. Some of them have moved to Turkey seeking asylum and have turned themselves in at the UN compound there. Some of them are under house arrest in Iran. These are men who fought in the war alongside us but are now alienated by the behavior of the IRGC. No one can hear their voices, though.

Their families are under pressure. Iran has become a massive jail for all Iranians. People in Iran are unhappy and are paying for their protests.

I was in touch with these gentlemen for the past six months. This was a group effort. I didn’t just decide overnight to defect on my own. My friends and I had discussions about this. We talked about who would volunteer to do this first and when. There are always fears about government retribution. This is a very dangerous move. We discussed all this. We decided to make a move to express our dissatisfaction with the status quo. On the day of Ashura, I decided to defect first to protest the government’s brutality. There were many more resignations before me but the regime would not allow them to speak up and reach the world media. Mr. Abolfazl Eslami in the embassy in Japan and Mr. Ranjbar in the interest section in the United States had already resigned their posts and joined the movement. They did not receive media coverage and thus remained unknown. We all believe that fundamental changes are needed in Iran.

Q: Why has the government become more sensitive about these resignations recently?

A: Those who left many years ago left because they could no longer deal with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and with the system. They wanted to live their lives. But now, our resignations are different, and are expressions of protest to the government. We oppose the killing of our people. This is political now, and it is an important point. According to numbers that I have, five Iranian diplomats left the embassy in Sweden and sought asylum there. And the Islamic Republic didn’t care. They are worried now because we were the products of the regime. These diplomats were from IRGC or martyrs’ families. Now they are worried about losing them.

Q: Tabnak, a conservative site close to former IRGC commander Mohsen Rezai, accused you and other diplomats of leaving your posts at the end of your mission solely because you did not want to leave your good lives in the West and return to Iran. Is that true?

A: These are all fabrications. Tabnak is part of this imploding system. We diplomats had the best lives in Iran. Our children went to the best schools in the county. We had high incomes. Every three to four years we were sent abroad. If we were to resign for some sort of financial gain, we wouldn’t have made such a big deal, we would have just minded our own business and gone on with our lives. Many diplomats have resigned in the past thirty years. They remained silent and nothing happened. I witnessed this with my own eyes when the head of the Iranian consulate in West Berlin and all his staff resigned and no one heard about it. They all have German passports now and live there. There were diplomats who sought asylum in Sweden quietly and no one ever found out. If we were after financial gains and personal interests, we would have remained quiet and would have pursued calm and prosperous lives.

Q: Last week, Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei told President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to avoid interfering in the duties of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs by appointing special envoys. Then, Manouchehr Mottaki, the minister of foreign affairs, criticized Ahmadinejad’s appointees. Is there a major rift between the president and his foreign minister?

A: Mottaki was in charge of Parliamentary Speaker Larijani’s campaign for president (against Ahmadinejad), yet he was appointed as Ahmadinejad’s foreign minister. The president was forced by the Supreme Leader to appoint Mottaki. The Supreme Leader also forced Ahmadinejad to pick the Leader’s preferred men for the Ministries of Intelligence and Interior, two of the most sensitive posts in Iran. Ahmadinejad had to accept this. They had problems from the very first year. Ahmadinejad and Mottaki had problems over appointing ambassadors.

Mr. Mojtaba Hashemi-Samareh, Ahmadinejad’s senior advisor, was the inspector general of the Foreign Ministry many years back. He interfered in everything. Mottaki was always upset. We did not have ambassadors to a large number of embassies and had to work with chargé d’affaires. Ahmadinejad and his supporters are very suspicious of Iranians abroad. They believe that the Foreign Ministry failed to do its job and allowed expats to create problems in Iran. Ahmadinejad really doesn’t care about Khamenei. He wants to do what he wants in the Foreign Ministry without the Supreme Leader’s supervision.

Q: It seems that Ahmadinejad backed down and pulled back his special envoys. Is this a victory for Khamenei or a sign of Ahmadinejad’s loyalty to the Supreme Leader?

A: Ahmadinejad has shown that he does not back down even when there is pressure from Khamenei. He refused to fire Esfandiar Rahim-Mashaie and instead appointed him to more positions. Mr. Mashaie has multiple jobs now! Ahmadinejad does not care about the Supreme Leader and cares about his ideology and his interests.

Q: Is Iran’s Foreign Minister Mottaki going to resign? What would happen if he does?

A: If Mottaki proves not to be a coward, which is unlikely, and resign, then things will be different. He is not a minister. He has limited or no power in his own ministry. His ambassadors refuse to report to him and instead report directly to the president. What kind of a minister is this? He will stay to keep his post. If he is replaced, Ahmadinejad will probably pick Mr. Hashemi-Samareh or Saeed Jalili. Both men served in the Foreign Ministry during the Rafsanjani years as inspector general and director of internal affairs, respectively. After Ahmadinejad became president, both men were promoted to much higher ranks. Hashemi-Samareh was fired during Rafsanjani in a humiliating way and he is now trying to take revenge.

Q: But these men cannot get through the parliament! What happens then?

A: It is possible that Ahmadinejad’s picks will fail to receive the parliament’s vote of confidence. Then, the president can appoint an interim director for the ministry, something he would love to do!

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

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.

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

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Brave Women Of Iran

A special note we would like to share with the brave and beautiful women of Iran; You have shown extraordinary courage, passion, pride, humility and humanity in the face of great injustice. The world has taken notice and we are all humbled by your strength and determination. If you are the future, then we all are comforted by how bright it will shine.

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