The US Congress described the National Iranian Congress (NIC) as the most influential opposition group in the country. Its founder, Amir-Abbas Fakhravar, has been in opposition to the regime since he was a student and he has been thrown in jail 19 times for his views. His torture in prison has not deterred him from pursuing his mission to expose the regime as a Russian product that only seeks to expand in the region at the expense of the Iranian people. In 2006, Fakhravar managed to flee to the US where he established contacts with senior officials.
He told Asharq Al-Awsat that former US President Barack Obama betrayed the Iranians, the Middle East and the whole world. Had it not been for him, the current regime would have collapsed. Fakhravar, 42, is currently close to the administration of President Donald Trump and he makes frequent visits to Congress to inform them of the real developments inside Iran.
Fakhravar first came at odds with the Iranian regime when he delivered a speech when he was a student of 16 years, asking: “Why doesn’t the regime benefit from the talents of the new generation to fix the country’s problems?” That question landed him eight months of solitary confinement in a prison in northwestern Iran. There, he mocked the supreme leader, saying: “Contrary to what he claims, I do not believe we have freedom in this country.” This landed him another prison sentence where he came under severe torture.
In 1999, he released a book, “The Greenest Eyes on Earth,” that earned him international fame. This, in turn, earned him an eight-year term in jail. He never finished the sentence and instead managed to escape to the US, where he later released another book, “Comrade Ayatollah.”
In the book, he highlights the role played by the Soviet Union in the Iranian revolution and Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei’s eventual ascension to power. Over three million copies of the publication were sold in the black market in Iran. The book includes hundreds of documents that reveal that Iran’s mullahs are not spiritual leaders, but in fact Soviet agents of the KGB intelligence agency. They received training in Moscow in the 1960s and 70s and the book includes documents to verify these assertions.
“I obtained the documents from the KJB archive, as well as the CIA and Israeli Mossad and even the Iranian intelligence itself. I did not use a single Iranian opposition document,” Fakhravar told Asharq Al-Awsat.
“After the book was released, several Khamenei supporters, Basij and Iranian Revolutionary Guards members contacted me to thank me for opening their eyes because they believed the regime was holy,” he added.
The recent anti-regime protests have demonstrated the weakness of the regime, he said, while stressing that the demonstrations are still ongoing.
He also asserted that Khamenei and his family had fled to Russia, to which Russian officials said that he was currently in Turkey.
Several hundred other senior Iranian officials have also fled the country, stated Fakhravar.
How can a regime claim to be so stable when something as simple as a social media call for protest could make it falter? he asked.
The opposition figure said that his movement had worked from as far back as 1999 to try to achieve change in Iran. Despite the failure of demonstrations in 1999 and 2009, “we have hope in the new protests.” Fakhravar attributed his optimism to the new US administration after Obama “betrayed the 2009 movement.”
Trump in a tweet said that he will support the people if they took to the streets once again.
“We want the president to back the people and prevent the regime from committing a bloodbath,” declared Fakhravar, revealing that he had contacted the administration to urge it for its support. Trump’s tweet was the result of Fakhravar’s efforts.
“This gave hope to the people that the situation this time around would be different,” he claimed.
Moreover, he said that his book, “Comrade Ayatollah,” also helped shed light to the Iranians on the developments going on behind the scenes in their country. “This was demonstrated in how several members of the Basij and Revolutionary Guards refused to confront the protesters, while several Guards personnel actually fearlessly tore up their membership cards,” he remarked.
Asked if Russian President Vladimir Putin would allow the Iranian regime to falter, Fakhravar replied that he will help it stay in power and protesters were heard chanting: “The Russian embassy is a center for the spies.” In the past, the chants used to be directed against the American embassy, but the Iranians now know the real story behind the revolution and regime.
“Russia and China will support the regime until the end and they will not leave our country alone,” he noted.
“We are struggling to achieve democracy and freedom and we stand against the mullah regime and their Russian protectors,” he declared.
He revealed that the opposition had presented a new Iranian constitution to the US Congress. The opposition stressed that a new Iran would not be a state sponsor of terrorism or seek to control other countries.
“We want freedom and democracy and we want to be good neighbors in the region,” Fakhravar said.
The demonstrations, he added, have not stopped and protesters have been instructed to write anti-regime slogans on walls throughout the country.
He warned that the situation could escalate into an armed conflict if the regime chose to use force to suppress the protesters, who could easily acquire weapons from border regions.
Fakhravar firmly believed that the protesters, if successful, could change the region and the world.
“The regime is not as smart as the new generation of Iranian youths,” he stressed to Asharq Al-Awsat.
On whether President Hassan Rouhani aspires to become the new supreme leader, Fakhravar replied that up until last month, this dream was feasible.
“His recent budget, however, revealed that the funds are going to the spiritual leaders and powerful officials. Rouhani was lining himself to be the new supreme leader, but the recent protests destroyed that dream.”