Iranian Opposition Speaker: ‘Khamenei is greedy and corrupt’
Published in German weekly magazine “Stern” on January 10 2010
Source (German): http://stern.de/politik/ausland/iranischer-oppositionssprecher-chamenei-ist-geldgierig-und-korrupt-1533978.html
English translation kindly provided by Elli
What is the current situation in Iran? The regime is corrupt, the president is finished, and the Mullah-regime is not going to survive this year. This is at least claimed by an exiled opposition member and Mousavi adviser, Mohsen Makhmalbaf, in an interview with the German magazine „Stern“.
Mr. Makhmalbaf, why did you support the Islamic Revolution when you were young?
I was 17 years old at that time. Like the young generation today, I wanted to overthrow a completely corrupt system. But I was disappointed already after five years. Now, after more than thirty years, I do not have any more illusions.
What exactly disappointed you?
In the beginning, we thought that the idea of an Islamic Revolution was good, that Khomeini was good, that only the people surrounding him were the problem. But this changed quickly, since especially the artists among us soon got to see that this ideology is incompatible with freedom. After a few years, we knew that the revolution was headed in a wrong direction. The new rulers took the money to their pockets just as the old ones had done. A king, the Shah, had to leave, and the next clan of kings bags even more money than before. These were often people from an underprivileged background. Like Ahmadinejad…
Very little is being heard about him. What is up with him?
He does not play a role anymore, he is just a mouthpiece of the real leader of Iran, Khamenei. Since he confirmed Ahmadinejad as President, the protest is only directed at Khamenei.
Is Khamenei corrupt as well?
Everyone is constantly talking about the wealth of Ahmadinejad and Rafsanjani, but no one is talking about Khamenei, although he makes more money than anyone else. All arms deals with Russia and China are controlled by him and his clan. These transactions amount to billions of dollars. And the oil that is delivered in return, also worth billions, brings him profits as well.
Do the Iranians know this?
Unfortunately, they do not. Khamenei likes to act the humble, modestly living religious leader. Like Khomeini did before him. In reality he is a completely corrupt and greedy dictator who has diverted at least 36 billions of dollars for himself and his family.
How do you know this?
On my website I published an article, titled „The secrets of Khamenei’s life“, which is based on accounts from secret service members who went into exile and from former employees. […] (Some details from the original article are given here.)
Will the Green movement be stopped by the mass arrests of the last days?
Never. The Green movement is not based on the leadership of certain individuals. It is based on a whole generation. Who can arrest millions of young people? The young Iranians do not want to wait any longer. They do not want to attain democracy in a hundred years, they want it now. And their requests are becoming stronger all the time. They will not be satisfied with toppling a few people, now many want to overthrow the whole system. I also believe that the regime will be destroyed in less than one year.
In the West, we believe that Ahmadinejad’s power is based on the support of the poor. Is that true?
No, not at all. This is an error often made by foreign journalists. Under his presidency, oil revenue has increased more than fourfold, but nothing has reached the poor. To the contrary, they have less and less, while everything is becoming more expensive. Where has all the money gone?
Recently we saw tens of thousands of people protesting in favour of the government. What kind of people are they?
These are nothing other than paid actors, like in a film. They receive money for cheering in the streets.
Recently a spectacular video has emerged from Sirjan, a town in Southern Iran. It shows how police officers are attacked by an angry crowd who then rescue two men from the gallows. What does this reaction tell you about the atmosphere in Iran?
Half a year ago people would have been standing by and watching the execution silently. But now the hatred of the police is so strong that people do not put up with it anymore. It is also telling that the video immediately appeared on Facebook, where people can be targeted more effectively than via Youtube. Facebook has now become the most important place for exchanging information inside Iran. It allows to audience can be targeted more
The official information is that the two men who had been sentenced to death were caught later and were executed. Is this credible?
No, it sounds like propaganda by the regime.
What is the role of religion in Iran today? Is it still as powerful as thirty years ago?
Not at all. The countries all around are becoming more and more religious, but it is going the opposite way in Iran: we made horrible experiences with a political religion. Many people have had enough, they believe that religion is a private affair, that Islam should be kept out of politics. One of our central requirements is that politics should not be based on religious power, our aim is that of secularisation.
Is this realizable or is it only a dream?
We are convinced that we have a real chance. After thirty years of religious dictatorship, terror in the name of God, and rape in prisons, the reputation of religion has been severely damaged. Iran becomes more and more disconnected from religion with every day that the regime stays in power.
Every day brings us closer to a secular state.
If tomorrow Israel attacked Iran’s nuclear facilities, how would the population react?
We do not want a nuclear bomb, only Khamenei wants it. But an attack by Israel would strengthen Khamenei, he would be backed by the people again, because nobody wants to be attacked by Israel.
What is your attitude towards tougher sanctions?
We support some types of sanctions, intelligent sanctions that target the regime, the Revolutionary Guards. These people exploit the rest of the population, they control everything. Most Iranians would agree to smart sanctions. But if the whole population were affected by the sanctions, most people would say: The government is killing us, and the other countries punish us for it.
What is the difference between the current movement and that of thirty year ago, which also had the aim of toppling a hated regime?
Then we only knew what we did not want, which was the Shah and his corrupt system. Today we know exactly what we want: democracy.