A former pilot for the Iranian Air Force has defected to the Green Wave Movement that hopes to bring together all the Iranian democratic opposition groups. He did so to fight for regime change and testify that the military is ready to turn on the government. The Green Wave is drawing up plans to make that happen, warning the West that regional war will erupt if the regime is not taken down.
Lieutenant Behzad Masoumi Legwan was tortured in 2001 after he was accused of sedition. He was discharged from the military in 2007 and he began making plans to defect with the help of other dissident officers. He made contact with the Kurdish Democratic Party and the Green Wave Movement to prepare for his escape to Kurdistan in northern Iraq. Once there, the Iranian regime tried to get the Iraqis to arrest and hand him over to no avail, allowing him to arrive in France.
Legwan made his first public appearance alongside Mohammad Reza Heydari, the former Iranian consul in Norway who defected in January and became executive-director of the Green Embassies Campaign, as well as Amir Hossein Jahanchahi, the billionaire founding chairman of the Green Wave.
“It is a fact that the overwhelming majority of the officer corps are in no way obedient followers of the regime. On the contrary, they are looking for the first opportunity whereby they can openly display their true sentiments by standing shoulder-to-shoulder with the people of Iran,” Legwan said. He says that he has contacts in the Iranian military, including senior members of the air force and Revolutionary Guards.
Jahanchahi says that he doesn’t want the Green Wave to be a political party or organization, but a “constellation” containing all of the democratic opposition groups. His father was the finance minister when the Shah was overthrown. After Khomeini took power, Jahanchahi fled to Europe. He compares Ahmadinejad to Hitler and says all of the region’s instability is fomented by Iran.
“My position is very simple that the people who go to the streets in order to change the regime need the backing of people from inside the system. That’s why I am contacting and seeking the support of people who say ‘we will go with you’ when the time of protests comes,” he says.
Jahanchahi says that he and his colleagues are in a rush against time to bring down the regime before it sparks a “destructive regional war with unimaginable consequences for international peace and security.” He says that this scenario is unavoidable unless the regime falls because “if Israel does not attack, there will be war; but if Israel does attack, it would be the biggest gift the Ahmadinejad regime could ever receive and would send the entire region into war.”
The Green Wave specifically aims to reach out to dissident elements of the government and military in the hopes of getting them to switch sides. This is a very achievable goal as there is significant dissent in the Revolutionary Guards, the security force created to keep the regime in power. A documentary interviewed four former members of the Revolutionary Guards testifying to this fact. It’s also been reported that in the past six months, about 700 disloyal members of the Basiji militia and Revolutionary Guards have been killed for allegedly trafficking narcotics.
“The Iranian people are ready to accept the truth that this regime will not be changed by a velvet revolution. It has to be changed by force,” Jahanchahi states. His plan includes helping defectors escape the country, building a radio station to beam news into Iran, setting up an exile government, and funding strikes in the transportation sector. The objective is to “transform the cells of discontent into cells of resistance.”
The deteriorating situation in Iran opens the window for such action to take place. The bazaar merchants have turned against the regime, sporadic protests by students and activists continue, and there is a huge amount of worker discontent. The regime’s plan to cut subsidies for fuel and food is causing uproar and international sanctions are hurting. A secret report sent to Supreme Leader Khamenei in September warns of “significant risks of financial collapse within a year” if sanctions continue. It warns him that he must take “drastic measures to prevent a major crisis.”
The debate about U.S. policy towards Iran’s nuclear program and support for terrorism is almost always deduced to two options: Military action or a combination of diplomacy and sanctions. A much more appealing third option of supporting the opposition seems to be obvious to Iranians but is absent from the national debate. At the very least, such a strategy can enhance the chances of either option’s success. It is time that the American people require that our elected officials and potential presidential candidates outline how they’ll help the Iranian people win their freedom.