fbpx

Q&A: Iranian Activist Parchizadeh discusses political fallout from floods in Iran

[additional-authors]
April 9, 2019

Dr. Reza Parchizadeh is an Iranian-born political theorist and anti-Iranian regime activist based in Pennsylvania who in recent years has been among the vocal voices of young Iranian Americans exposing the corruption, incompetence, unhinged cruelty and sponsorship of terrorism by the current Iranian regime. Last year, Parchizadeh, who is also director of an online think tank promoting regime change in Iran, circulated a letter of appreciation to President Trump thanking him for his powerful No Ruz message to the people of Iran. The letter was signed by 120 Iranian and non-Iranian American journalists, scholars, political activists and others who oppose the current Iranian regime and submitted to the White House.

In recent weeks horrendous storms and floods striking many cities and villages through Iran have killed hundreds, injured hundreds, left thousands homeless and without the basic necessities of survival. This horrific natural disaster and the Iranian regime’s total failure to help the victims of the flood has received little to no press in western media outlets. I recently sat down with Parchizadeh to discuss the impact of the floods in Iran as well as the incompetence and the neglect of the regime in helping the people suffering after this disaster. He also shed light on other pressing issues related to the Iran Deal and other Middle East policy issues. The following is a portion of my conversation with him…

Can you please share with us the nature of this disastrous flood that has stricken the Iranian city of Shiraz recent and extent of damages as well as loss of life as of today?

Devastating floods have overwhelmed vast regions in various provinces across Iran such as Golestan, Mazandaran and Semnan to the north, Khuzestan and Fars to the south, Kermanshah, Ilam, Lorestan and Kohkilouyeh and Boyer-Ahmad to the west, as well as the capital city of Tehran. According to the official Iranian sources, so far many places, including historical and cultural sites, have been either damaged or destroyed, and over 60 people and close to 5,000 heads of cattle have lost their lives. However, given the fact that the regime’s sources never announce the real figures due to political reasons, we can’t know for sure whether these numbers are correct or not. Unofficial accounts talk of thousands of casualties so far. The case of Lorestan, where complete towns and villages were wiped out by the floods, has proved to be the most tragic so far.

Why hasn’t the regime’s authorities done anything to help the victims in what looks to be a humanitarian crisis?

The authorities put most of the military and the civil sector on the alert. The regime particularly exploited the occasion to showcase the Revolutionary Guards as the saviors of the people. The Guards blew up a couple of locations across the country to divert the flow of the flood, which only aggravated the situation. In that regard, there can be seen a strange pattern of behavior. It looks like the regime not only does not try to rectify the situation, but also takes measures to actively exacerbate it. Like, they opened the floodgates on major dams across the country, and they did not call out for international humanitarian aid. This can have political purposes. On the one hand, the regime breaks the back of the already-stricken and discontented populace so that they won’t be able to rise against it; on the other, it will blame the humanitarian disaster on the West, especially the United States, for the sanctions.

In your opinion how could have the regime’s authorities have prevented such a horrific loss of life and property as a result of the floods in Iran?

The present disaster is a manifest outcome of forty years of the Islamist regime’s misrule and mismanagement of Iran. For instance, the regime would only green-light projects that were meant to fill the coffers of the regime’s elites and affiliates across Iran instead of developing the country and contributing to public welfare. Add to that the capital that the regime spends overseas on war, sectarianism, terrorism, and export of ideology and revolution. As I have said elsewhere, “Rather than being a form of national government in a traditional sense, the Islamic Republic is a religious-military cult that regards Iran only as a source of capital and occasionally manpower to advance its goal of an Islamist global revolution.” Simply put, in the span of four decades the regime has been continuously depleting Iran as a non-renewable resource. We are clearly witnessing the cataclysmic outcome now.

How are average Iranians in other parts of Iran stepping up to help their countrymen in the flood areas during this crisis despite the Iranian regime’s lack of support for the people suffering?

Unfortunately, as the floods coincided with Nowruz – the Persian New Year, popular help was at its lowest. That is because people usually go on a vacation during Nowruz. As such, many of those who could have helped were themselves caught in the floods. Nevertheless, according to the Red Crescent of Iran, the popular donations have exceeded that of the government budget with regard to flood relief: people across the country donated nearly 4 million dollars while the government only allocated 3 million dollars. Iranians abroad also eagerly want to help, but they are concerned they might inadvertently violate the sanctions on the regime. As such, they have been calling to the Red Cross and the Red Crescent to come up with viable ways to convey aid to the afflicted people in Iran.

As you know the Iranian regime has been calling for Israel’s destruction for 40 years and supporting terrorist who wish to destroy Israel for 40 years. To what extent do you believe Israel would be able to help average Iranians during this natural disaster if a democratic and free government were in power in Iran today?

Israel has one of the most efficient water management systems in the world. In an article I wrote for The Times of Israel last year, whose English version later appeared in Kayhan London, I explained how far back the cooperation between the two nations on the issue of water management goes. Before the Islamists took over in Iran in 1979, Israelis had long been helping Iranians with regard to water management and water distribution. I am sure if there were friendly relationships between the two countries now, Israel could help a great deal with preventing the flood in Iran in the first place.

John Kerry and members of Obama’s administration in 2015 were saying that the Iran Deal would help “open up” Iran to the world and give the Iranian regime money to re-build their country and infrastructure, schools. hospitals, etc. Has this really happened or was this just the Obama administration selling the America public lies about the regime in Tehran?

Israel has one of the most efficient water management systems in the world. In an article I wrote for The Times of Israel last year, whose English version later appeared in Kayhan London, I explained how far back the cooperation between the two nations on the issue of water management goes. Before the Islamists took over in Iran in 1979, Israelis had long been helping Iranians with regard to water management and water distribution. I am sure if there were friendly relationships between the two countries now, Israel could help a great deal with preventing the flood in Iran in the first place.

Aside from U.S. Secretary of State Pompeo and President Trump who have directly addressed the people of Iran, Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu has been the only other world leader directly speaking to the people of Iran and offering a hand in friendship. In your opinion how effective has his direct online video statements to the people of Iran been and what response have you heard from average folks in Iran who have seen the videos?

Bibi’s messages have indeed had a wonderful effect. Average Iranian’s don’t share the Islamist regime’s anti-Semitism and ideological antipathy towards Israel. The deep historical and cultural ties between the two nations are still there. However, patriotic Iranians have always been concerned about the fact that in the clash between Israel and the Islamist regime, the territorial integrity of their beloved homeland might be threatened by Israel. That has made it extremely difficult for Iranian dissidents to support Israel in her fight against the regime in Tehran. However, Bibi has greatly managed to dispel that concern through his direct messages of goodwill to the people of Iran. As such, I will say Bibi has been able to effect a major coup in public relations between Israel and Iran. My only concern is that his messages have become less frequent recently. Iranian people would like to hear more from him.

You are not Jewish, so what response as an Iranian do you offer the vast majority of America’s Jews who were supportive of the Obama administration’s 2015 Iran Deal and even today still continue to support Democratic presidential candidates who want America to re-join the Iran Deal if President Trump is not re-elected? Why was the deal a mistake?

My message to them is that if they are concerned about peace, democracy, human rights and the Iranian people, they must be extremely wary of any deals with the regime, as it will only utilize the deal to augment violence and destruction. The apocalyptic Islamist regime in Iran will never become normalized, as its normalization will seal its fate and prove its doom. If American Jews are sympathetic towards the afflicted people of Iran, they need to consider supporting regime change and installing democracy in Iran. President Trump looks like he wants that, and that is why most Iranians are fond of him and support him. The Islamist regime is falling in any case. If anyone wants the gratefulness, appreciation and friendship of the future Iran, now is the time for them to support the people’s cause by loudly calling for regime change in Iran.

In your honest opinion do you foresee the people of Iran rising up anytime soon to overthrow this regime in Iran which has been brutalizing them?

The people of Iran have been protesting against the regime since day one. I myself participated in two major uprisings in 1999 and 2009 when I was still in Iran. For the first I was arrested, beaten up and expelled from university; for the second I was banned from perusing my doctoral studies at University of Tehran. As I have said somewhere else, the security apparatus of the regime is tightly monitoring all the movements inside the country. Any movement with the intention of regime change, or even making any kind of meaningful change, will be harshly crushed. Honestly, the beleaguered people of Iran are in desperate need of international intervention. We would not want to repeat the disastrous experience of Syria by pushing the people towards blind uprisings while there is no solid international support. As I have always said, the most certain and viable form of intervention is that a US-led military coalition topples the regime and helps the people to install a democracy in Iran.

How receptive do you think younger average Iranians will be in the future when it comes to Iran having relations or trade with Israel if there is regime change in Iran? Or will there still be hesitancy on their part to interact with Israelis?

The majority of the people will be absolutely positive. They love Israel. Remember the deep historical and biblical ties, like Cyrus the Great liberating the exiled Jews from the Babylonian captivity and helping them to rebuild their community and holy places. Before Israel was founded, Iran housed the largest Jewish population in the Middle East. And even after many Jews immigrated to Israel, Iran still houses the second largest Jewish community in the region. I would very much like to conclude our conversation with an anecdote. The other day I was watching a video clip of an Iranian-Israeli restaurant owner in Tel Aviv who had meticulously reconstructed everything in his restaurant to look like Iran. He had immigrated to Israel when he was a teen. And he was proud of being an Israeli citizen and happy to have a prosperous life and business there. However, he said he always felt a void somewhere deep in his heart, which he thought should someday be filled with the smell and taste of Iran. I can tell you many Iranians in and out of Iran share that feeling. And that is what will eventually bring them together again, no matter where they are in the world.

Did you enjoy this article?
You'll love our roundtable.

Editor's Picks

Latest Articles

Are We Going to Stop for Lunch?

So far, the American Jewish community has been exceptional in its support for Israel. But there is a long road ahead, and the question remains: will we continue with this support?

More news and opinions than at a
Shabbat dinner, right in your inbox.

More news and opinions than at a Shabbat dinner, right in your inbox.

More news and opinions than at a Shabbat dinner, right in your inbox.