Inside the Green Revolution – by Jacob Laksin


As a student dissident in Iran, Amir Fakhravar was jailed and tortured for his pro-democracy political activism. Since moving to the United States in 2006, he has continued to take part in Iran’s opposition movement. He serves as the secretary general of the Confederation of Iranian Students and the president of the Iranian Enterprise Institute. Last week, Fakhravar’s 18-year-old-brother, Arash, was arrested by the Iranian regime. After three days of absence, the Fakhravar family learned that Arash had been arrested, beaten up and taken to the Islamic Revolutionary Court in Tehran, then placed in solitary confinement in an undisclosed location. Amir Fakhravar spoke to Front Page about his brother’s arrest, Iran’s growing “green revolution,” and the best strategy for ending the mullahs’ three-decade rule.


FP: Can you tell us what happened with your brother Arash? What do you know of his current whereabouts?

Fakhravar: Arash is in the very middle of this fight. He became politically active in high school and now he goes to all the anti-government demonstrations. My mother always says, “Please talk to him.” But my response is: This is what he has chosen. We need to pay the price for freedom. The day after the Ashura festival, the intelligence services called my mother in Tehran. They said, “We know all about your son. He’s been involved in protests, making videos. Be careful or they will arrest him.” The day after the phone call, they arrested him. My mother didn’t know anything for three days. She called the police, but they didn’t know anything. So she went to the Revolutionary Court with my sister and they saw him there. He was beaten up and blindfolded, wearing a bloody shirt and handcuffs. They tried to take a picture but could not. Right now, he is still in the hands of the Revolutionary Court.

DSC01294In the line of fire: Amir Fakhravar’s 18-year-old brother Arash is among the thousands of opposition demonstrators beaten up and arrested by the Iranian government.

FP: What are you doing to free Arash and what can those outside of Iran do to help?

Fakhravar: His best chance of survival is organizing a media campaign for his release. In Iran, my family cannot do anything. But from the outside we can do quite a lot. We created a Facebook page for him that now has 2,000 members. We can also write letters to the news media and human-rights groups to cover his case. This is probably the best thing we can do. We need to put more pressure on the government. They are afraid of free information.

FP: Your brother, like you, is active in the “green revolution” in Iran. How do you see what is happening inside the country right now?

Fakhravar: What has happened is that something many thought was a small movement has become a revolution. After the summer election, the government tried to strike fear into the people, but millions came out into the streets in Iran’s major cities. After seven months, they are showing that they are not going to give up. The recent death of Ayatollah Montazeri was a good excuse for this new generation to oppose the government because he had fought [Ayatollah] Khomeini for twenty years. The latest demonstrations have taken place during the Ashura festival, which is a symbol of the Islamic Republic and Shiism. This is a sign that they want to get rid of the mullahs and they are not afraid anymore. [Politician and presidential challenger] Mir Hossein Mousavi has said it best: We are not leading these people. They are leading themselves.

FP: So where does the leadership come from?

Fakhravar: This movement doesn’t have a leader, but things like Facebook help. We use social media to help organize events inside Iran. For instance, we are planning a demonstration in February to coincide with the 31st anniversary of the Iranian revolution. Earlier this year, I was giving a speech before Congress and I said, “Iranians don’t want a war. All we need are cell phones, cameras and computers.” Some of the Senators laughed at that. But it has happened. We are close to a cyber revolution in Iran.

FP: What are the aims of this revolution? What do the participants hope to achieve?

Fakhravar: Most of the demonstrators are young – 70 percent are under the age of 35 – and they are not motivated by partisan politics. They are not communists or Marxists or monarchists; they are not involved with political parties and they don’t want to be. Via the internet, they know a lot about American culture – perhaps more than many people here – and they want the things it represents: life, liberty, the pursuit of happiness. They are secular and they want a country where Islam is kept separate from the government. A free, secular, democratic Iran – that is their dream

FP: What do you make of the “pro-government” rallies that have been held in recent days? The government has tried to portray them as representing the true voice of the Iranian people.

Fakhravar: Actually, this what my brother was protesting when he was arrested. He was at a counter protest. For thirty years, the Iranian government has used petrodollars to create the illusion of popular support. These protests are designed to show that the government is strong and that it has real legitimacy. But the protests are staged. What happens is that the government will bus in people, usually poorer people from the countryside. They will give them food, and arrange for them to see the sites. For some of those people, it was their chance to see Tehran for the first time. They are being used to create these protests. But it’s not working. They had one of the pro-government protests in a big city near Tehran. Just 150 people showed up.

FP: How would you rate the Obama administration’s response to the protests in Iran? President Obama, for instance, has condemned the brutality of the regime, but the U.S. has not meaningfully supported the opposition.

Fakhravar: I think Obama just did not have any idea of what to do about Iran. So he decided that the U.S. would not become involved and would watch the situation unfold. This is not a football game, Mr. President. The Iranian government is killing the people, but during the past seven months the United States has done nothing positive to support them. It has done something negative, though. The Obama administration recognized the Ahmadinejad government as legitimately elected, which it is not. It also said it wanted to hold talks with Ahmadinejad. That was the wrong decision. It gave the regime legitimacy and hurt the democratic movement a lot.

FP: What should the administration do?

Fakhravar: First, it needs new advisors on Iran. Second, it needs to pass sanctions. By that I mean smart sanctions. The kind of targeted sanctions against the Revolutionary Guard that have been proposed will not be effective and will probably be watered down by China and Russia. Smart sanctions – on oil and gasoline – can help us. Petrodollars are the lifeline of the Iranian regime. If they can’t pay the salaries of the Revolutionary Guard, within two months they will be powerless because most of the Revolutionary Guard don’t believe in the mullahs. They believe in money. Right now, they are killing people for money. Take away the money away and you can collapse the regime.

FP: Some observers have called for a preemptive strike on Iranian nuclear facilities. Do you think that’s the right strategy?

Fakhravar: Not right now. At this moment, I believe it would be unhelpful. When you have an army in the streets – like Iran’s new generation – it is a sign that the mullahs’ reign is over. A strike on Iran would allow the regime to play the victim and would give it legitimacy. That is the last thing we need. To those who support a strike, my message is: Give us time. This June, there were four million people on the street in Tehran. It was the biggest anti-government protest in Iran’s history. Even during the 1979 revolution, you did not see that many people in the street. This is the Iranians’ fight against the mullahs, and they believe they can bring them down. If they had a little help from free countries, especially the United States, they could succeed right now.

  • Gamal

    Overthrowing the Iranian regime is our last chance to avoid nuclear terror on scale heretofore never imagined.

  • johncarens

    President Obama is weak and feckless, with a gruel-thin world-view about freedom and liberty. His instinct is to create “consensus” (-with him facilitating, of course), even where no “consensus” can ever exist, such as in a dictatorial theocracy. Then, he can stand betwixt and bestride the combatants, like Jimmy Carter did, and have his picture taken with the Iranian equivalents of Begin and Sadat (never minding the fact that, in this scenario, there is no Menachem Begin). That's all our pipsqueak of a president cares about: The photo op.

    If he were as clever a statesman as he claims, however, he would be funding the counterrevolutionaries through back-channels, just as Reagan did in Nicaragua, and doing it in a flood-the-field manner. If Mr. Fakhravar is correct, the regime will fold like a cheap camera.

    But, sadly, Obama and his administration are “stability” fetishists. Like the grotesque Jimmy Carter and hapless Bill Clinton, the President just wants to keep all of the plates spinning until he leaves office. And, if he can do this and create a diminution of American power, so much the better for his street-creds amongst the Hate-America-First crowd who populate his political base.

    Gamal is correct, though. The Iranian regime has been responsible for much of the world-wide terror over the last thirty years, and you can bet you sweet bippy they will touch off a nuclear device the minute they have one — or threaten anyone, anywhere, anytime with impunity. And you can kiss the phantom “Peace Process” goodbye.

  • Bagaudae

    I have a question more so than a comment. The green symbol on Arash Fakhravar’s shirt in the picture attached to this piece appears to be Zoroastrian. Is it? Does it represent something more than just a “Persian” icon of the pre-Islamic past?

  • USMCSniper

    Washington Times:

    From the perspective of human life and happiness, a big “environmental footprint” is an enormous positive. This is why people in India and China are striving to increase theirs: to build better roads, more cars and computers, new factories and power plants and hospitals.

    But for environmentalism, the size of your “footprint” is the measure of your guilt. Nature, according to green philosophy, is something to be left alone–to be preserved untouched by human activity. Their notion of an “environmental footprint” is intended as a measure of how much you “disturb” nature, with disturbing nature viewed as a sin requiring atonement. Just as the Christian concept of original sin conveys the message that human beings are stained with evil simply for having been born, the green concept of an “environmental footprint” implies that you should feel guilty for your very existence.

    It should hardly be any surprise, then, that nothing you do to try to lighten your “footprint” will ever be deemed satisfactory. So long as you are still pursuing life-sustaining activities, whatever you do to reduce your impact on nature in one respect (e.g., cloth diapers) will simply lead to other impacts in other respects (e.g., water use)–like some perverse game of green whack-a-mole–and will be attacked and condemned by greens outraged at whatever “footprint” remains. So long as you still have some “footprint,” further penance is required; so long as you are still alive, no degree of sacrifice can erase your guilt.

    The only way to leave no “footprint” would be to die–a conclusion that is not lost on many green ideologues. Consider the premise of the nonfiction bestseller titled “The World Without Us,” which fantasizes about how the earth would “recover” if all humanity suddenly became extinct. Or consider the chilling, anti-human conclusion of an op-ed discussing cloth versus disposable diapers: “From the earth’s point of view, it’s not all that important which kind of diapers you use. The important decision was having the baby.”

    The next time you trustingly adopt a “green solution” like fluorescent lights, cloth diapers or wind farms, only to be puzzled when met with still further condemnation and calls for even more sacrifices, remember what counts as a final solution for these ideologues.

    The only rational response to such a philosophy is to challenge it at its core. We must acknowledge that it is the essence of human survival to reshape nature for our own benefit, and that far from being a sin, it is our highest virtue. Don’t be fooled by the cries that industrial civilization is “unsustainable.” This cry dates to at least the 19th century, but is belied by the facts. Since the Industrial Revolution, population and life expectancy, to say nothing of the enjoyment of life, have steadily grown.

    It is time to recognize environmentalism as a philosophy of guilt and sacrifice–and to reject it in favor of a philosophy that proudly upholds the value of human life.

  • Steve Chavez

    I have always said that there needs to be a protest “For Women Only.” The men can watch from the sidelines. Many of these women are wifes, sisters, mothers of the Republican Guard and they surely aren't that brainwashed to shoot but if they are ordered to clamp down, that is when the tide will turn. You surely don't want a group of pissed off women who will deny ALL services to their Republican Man when they return home.

    I also wrote that there needs to be a martyr: A female martyr or a group of them. NEDA was a catylst to international outrage. Can you imagine a group of martyrs? This does not mean I seek death but freedom sometimes needs giving up ones life for that freedom. They are brave and will be heroes and Martyrs.

    Did you notice how quickly the Iranian takeover of an oil well was resolved? This was about two weeks ago and there were excuses by Iran to leave the area. They crossed the line in the sand and they were called on it which means Iraqi and U.S. protests were actually plans to takeover the area through force which meant killing Iranians which then could have led to an invasion of Iran. They said “Uncle” and left.

    The IAEA is powerless to stop any country from building a nuclear program. Pakistan, India, and North Korea surprised the world. You also have to remember that the IAEA is led by an Arab who probably grew up a Jew-hater and secretly wants Israel “wiped of the map” too so he, and others, will allow Iran to build a nuke and then they will fake their outrage when it is tested above ground. Israel knows this farce from the IAEA and they can't wait to much longer.

    If the “Green Revolution” is successful, what will happen to nuclear sites? Will they also insist that they need a nuclear reactor for energy? Will they allow the Russian's to continue to aid in the program or will the new leadership let Western governments takeover and run the reactors?

    I wrote last week: “The Volcano is about to BLOW!”

    Let's just sit back and watch the fireworks as there will be a new Independence Day to celebrate!

  • paul1149

    Helping overthrow these bloody tyrants would in one stroke send the war on terror into hyperdrive and save American lives to boot. But the geniuses running the U.S, who are charged with our security, can't seem to discover that most simple fact. What a despicable, reprehensible lot run this nation. Maybe we can relearn from the brave Iranians what it is to cherish truth and freedom.

    May God have mercy and bless.

  • parisadanaie

    Obama is smarter than listening to Amir Abbas Fakhravar, who is another friendly opposition agent from Islamic Republic in Iran. He left Iran freely by Airplane from Iran with Government's permission and approval., (He Did Not Escape the prison) . FakhrAvar, Stop the Fakharavar version 2 BS.
    Leave the youth alone in Iran, They are smarter to trust a fake activists like you.

  • wowplaya2000

    Interesting. Thanks for the blog post, I've been following your blogs for a while and find them quite informative.

    I'll just take this time to inform everyone of a contest I'm starting.

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  • sam000


    How stupid you can be!,
    Fakhravar repeats the streets in IRAN, and this is what we want,

    The Greens and Moussavi want to keep the regime alive, they want to change Ahmadinejad only, but what we want is the destruction of the Islamic regime.

  • eerie steve

    okay horowitz I got it I got that point.

    Iran needs more help,

    Now watch this:

    Mullah Omar! Contact the CIA and negotiate. Prince Bin Laden has brought you nothing but three Islamic Republics overthrown and, *80's sarcastic laugh* ho-ho-ho I got the dinks to approve erupting India and Pakistan into Nuclear war so our new Western Leader not only gets the mountains, but gets to be the one to bring “free” healthcare by building disposal resin based carbon fiber sand solar energy genterating pipe which leaves the House of Saud alone, but really does build that Caliphate for you…

    End the Cat epidemic in Rome by introducing Coy dogs (C is for Cardinal, that's good enough for me!). What's better than the Great Satan? Well the Great Satan that works for you idiot. Effectively yes, I get it, you guys are God because you have more Dhimmi. Well why then are all the Kuwaitis in American engineering classes really are that stupid?

    How about this Dhimmi? I start in an school in the great lakes area and build momentum by taking out local hot spots. Cities naturally between known drug traffic havens. I turn drug den into “little kid military institution” and really do to young Americans what you do to young children in all the world.

    I bring in Moslem only students, and we are talking from the house of saud, and I show them how its done. For every ryu fireball there is the near to impossible dragon punch and then there is Ken, Ryu's cooler and stronger brother. I want that dragon punch which not only turns you black, but that black blue like you have been flamed bruised.

    You want hell? Well the art of war says to bring everything or bring nothing. Right about now, I think everyone would agree you have brought everything short of nuking Israel. Well sh!t the Apache are willing to sell the Jews out, how about a reservation system yet every Jew haven in America is like Disneyland where you not only get free college, but 3rd world Moslems get to transfer their dhimmi for good grades. Do things like Jew-Bucks, and trust me on this one, as long as the Jews get to move to a warm climate with Condos, America will go along just for the tax revenue. When the house of saud fails out of college, they can go to Jewland and get paid in Jewbucks for every A received. The slaves of the house of saud and their derivatives don't get good grades, well no big deal. The house of saud did get to have fun in Jewland after all…

    Oh, and just make the house of saud a protectorate like the Swiss and the Pope. Trust me again, just keep their monuments clean and do raffles for free vacations to New new holyLand and even the gays will be on board. I mean let's face it. The new world experiment didn't work out, so let's try a newer yet rebranded effort.

    oh and if al-Qaeda really has nukes in this country, fucking launch 'em off. I'm an indian, and unlike Ward Churchill I really do practice this native americanism. Rather die on my feet than live like a coward. And if I am wrong, may al-Qaeda launch every nuke they got in their arsenal to prove me wrong.

    Oh well, they are wrong, no nukes, so I will prove my dhimmi by becoming a school teacher and really showing Detroit what war is.

  • Ali

    Fakhravar is no Green. He has been selling his sole to the devil (Richard Perle) for years now.