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What is Next for the Islamic Republic of Iran?

May 22 @ 12:00 PM - 1:00 PM

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Sarah: Good afternoon, and welcome to yet another topical and timely EMET webinar. On Sunday, a helicopter crashed in the densely forested, mountainous terrain over northern Iran. Inside this helicopter were Iranian President, Ebrahim Raisi, Foreign Minister, Hossein Amir Abdollahian, and six others. All are confirmed dead. As you are aware, Iran has been suffering under the suffocating grip of a brutal and autocratic Shia theocracy for the last 45 years. Draconian hijab laws were introduced shortly after the 1979 Islamic Revolution. The laws mandated that a woman’s hair, body, arms, legs, and ankles be hidden under a hijab.

In September 2022, Mahsa Jina Amini was arrested by the Iranian morality police and treated brutally. Her crime was revealing some of her hair from beneath her hijab. Her subsequent death triggered a wave of massive protests throughout 30 of the 31 provinces of Iran. The protests resulted in the murder of at least 537 people, including 71 children and adolescents. The 2022 protests followed the huge demonstrations of 2009 and 2019. Tens of thousands of Iranians have been arrested, raped, and tortured during these brutal crackdowns by the Iranian regime.

The rule of Ebrahim Raisi was particularly bloody. Mr. Raisi was the presiding prosecutor in the 1988 death commissions. During that time, thousands of political dissents disappeared from Iranian detention facilities across the country. They were executed extra-judicially based on an order issued by Iran’s Supreme Leader. Many were subject to cruel, inhumane and degrading punishments before being killed. Not only did Mr. Raisi enact these fatal decrees, but he actually went to the execution square to witness the hangings. He sentenced so many people to be executed, they had to be lifted six at a time by crane to be hanged.

We are incredibly grateful to have Vahid Beheshti with us today. Vahid is a person of tremendous intellectual honesty and profound moral courage. Vahid is an author, journalist, and activist. He has risked his life attempting to free his people from the suffocating yoke of the Shiite theocracy. Vahid staged a personal sit-in in front of the United Kingdom’s Foreign Office in London. He spent more than a year working to pressure politicians to designate the Iranian regime’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) as a terrorist organization. He held a 72-day hunger strike to advance this objective.

Following Hamas’ October 7th invasion, Vahid Beheshti displayed an Israeli flag in solidarity with the only democracy in the Middle East. Because of this, he was chased and attacked by Hamas supporters. The police had to intervene to stop the mob which included a knife-wielding attacker threatening to behead Beheshti. Today we have the honor of hearing from a real hero. Vahid, how did you first get involved in the struggle to free the good people of Iran from the yoke of this theocracy?

Vahid: Hi, Sarah. Hello to the audience of this great webinar. I would like to thank EMET for giving me the opportunity to discuss the Iranian regime and what we can do about it. I was thirteen years old when I first took action to oppose the regime. I created a group from the kids who played together on our streets. At eight o’clock, as it was getting dark outside, we would write anti-regime slogans on buildings in the streets around our house. We did this for a few weeks before our dads found out about it. This was in 1980. It was a time when the regime responded brutally to any opposition. I remember my dad slapped me when he found out. When I grew up, he apologized for hitting me. I told him I did not blame him because the whole family would have been arrested had the authorities found out what I was doing. The story illustrates that I have been working against the regime from the time I was a child. They executed all my cousins and my family that were involved in fighting them. That is how I started.

I was arrested twice by the regime when I was twenty years old. The second time was after a physical fight between me, two of my friends and about fifteen IRGC agents. I ended up in prison and I am lucky to be alive today. I escaped Iran 26 years ago and came to England to continue my activism. Over the past eighteen years, my opposition to the regime has been especially intense. This is particularly true in the year and a half since the beginning of the Mahsa Jina Amini revolution movement. My wife, myself and a few friends are very active in the field of human rights, and we are focused on the IRGC.

We know the IRGC is the core of human rights violations in Iran. They are the source of repression of Iranians, especially Iranian women. We are working to get them placed on the terror list in the UK. If we succeed in this, we will have taken a big step forward. That is why we had so many meetings with Members of Parliament and other policymakers in the UK. In January 2023, there was a moment we thought the UK government would agree to proscribe the IRGC but it did not happen. After that, the door closed on us and we received no further communication from the Foreign Office, or any other body in the UK government. That was the moment I decided to go on a hunger strike.

I began my hunger strike on February 25, 2023. As you mentioned, it lasted for 72 days. I lost more than twenty kilograms and was hospitalized on day 72. I spent two weeks in hospital and one week in a safe house. While in hospital, I found out one of the clerics close to the IRGC had issued a fatwa for my head. That is why I moved to a safe house. The London Counter-Terrorism Unit did everything in their power to convince me not to return to my camp outside the Foreign Office. In the end, they failed. I returned to my camp and continued my hunger strike.

I traveled to Ukraine. I went to Ukraine and met with politicians and communities there. After that, I traveled to Israel. I am the only Iranian to have given a speech to members of the Knesset. A few weeks ago, I gave a speech to Congress in Washington, D.C. I attended more than 30 meetings with people from different offices in the House and the Senate. The focus of the meetings was the existential threat posed by the Iranian regime. I am going to discuss why I sacrifice so much to expose the Iranian regime.

There is a reason I have been living on the street outside of the Foreign Office. I persevere even in spite of increased risks to my personal safety since October 7th. I persevere because I see the existential threat to us from the Iranian fascist regime. The regime is not just threatening Israel. Their goal is not just the elimination of the state of Israel. Their ultimate goal is to turn our modern world into an Islamic state, or caliphate. They admit this openly. They believe they have a divine mission. They are brainwashing their own people and they are brainwashing the youth in Europe, America, Canada, and other places. They are doing this to achieve their ultimate goal. You cannot stay quiet when you recognize the goals and nature of this regime. When you are aware of their principles, goals, tactics, and strategy, you have to speak out. They are coming to destroy us and people like me have to risk their lives to try and stop them. Over the past eighteen years, it has been really hard for European representatives and MPs in the UK to grasp the level of danger presented by the regime.

After October 7th, they called me and admitted I was right. They witnessed the level of brutality and barbarism from Hamas and they know the Iranian regime was behind it. Hamas, Hezbollah, the Houthis are nothing without the Iranian regime. Iran has also created, funded and armed another eighteen proxies around Israel. Each of them costs at least 100 million dollars a year. Iran has money and resources, and they are working actively toward achieving their goal of hegemony. They are not deterred by negotiations, nuclear agreement or peace agreements.

They believe their divine mission is to complete Prophet Muhammad’s goal of turning the whole world into an Islamic state. They have a rich country with gold, gas and oil and they have multiple proxies. As such, they have everything they need to complete the Prophet’s mission. That is what they believe. If we do not recognize the nature of the regime, we will not be able to fight them. Ali Khamenei, the supreme leader of the Iranian regime, was the first person to translate the books of Muslim Brotherhood into Farsi. If you study their books, you will see their goal is the same as that of Ali Khamenei. The goals of Hassan al-Banna, the Muslim Brotherhood’s founder, is the same as that of Ali Khamenei.

The top commander of the IRGC has claimed that they have to destroy the current world order to build their Islamist world. They have a mission, and they are coming after us. I am trying to explain this to our leaders in Europe and in America. I am trying to make them realize this is a serious threat for us. Let me provide an analogy. In 1979, there was an Islamist occupation in Iran. Had someone predicted this two- or three years earlier, no one would have believed them. No-one would have believed they would hang people in the streets of Tehran and Masad because of their political views or beliefs. We would have laughed at them, but it happened. In 1976, if someone had predicted the regime would be flogging and stoning women within three years, no one would have believed them. They would not have believed women would be flogged and stoned for not wearing the hijab or for having sex outside of marriage. It happened and it continues to happen.

Twelve years ago, my wife warned the European Parliament that they needed to act soon or it would be too late. On October 7th, they witnessed what we had been trying so hard to communicate. Israel is not the only victim of Iranian aggression and influence. Many Western countries have experienced chaos on their university campuses and on their streets. This is not the result of one- or two years’ work by the Iranian regime. This follows years of Iran deliberately infiltrating Islamist ideology into our societies. We have been in a deep coma and we have to stand up against the negligence of the entire world. We have to stand up and we have to act soon. That is why I am putting myself in this situation.

Eight years ago, I called the Iranian regime the octopus of terrorism. Four months ago, I told Israeli ministers in the Knesset to stop wasting their time on Iranian proxies and to focus on the head of the octopus. I told the members of the Knesset they cannot afford to wait before dealing with Iran directly. Of course, Israel has a responsibility to clear its borders. Israel is surrounded by Hamas, Hezbollah, and Syria. Iran turned Syria into a military zone to facilitate the distribution of military equipment to all the terrorist groups attacking Israel and Israel must defeat these terrorist groups. However, the first priority should be to deal with the head of the octopus. We are facing an existential threat from the Iranian regime. Since October 7th, we have started to comprehend the extent of the threat but I do not think we have much time because they are coming for us.

How do we deal with the Iranian regime? Defeating the regime appears to be a difficult and complicated mission. 2,500 years ago, Sun Tzu said we have to strike at the weakness of our enemy and avoid their strengths. I know the regime very well and their strategy, nature, principles, goals and tactics are paradoxical.

What is the strength of the Iranian regime? They are very good at proxy wars. As far as I know, they have created at least eighteen armed proxies in the region of the Middle-East. They have also created many unarmed proxies in London, different cities of Europe, Canada, America, and elsewhere. They are experts in proxy war. They invest a lot in proxy war and it is their strength. They have been working on influencing European and American societies for 35 to 40 years already.

Their Achilles heel, on the other hand, is inside Iran. They have no legitimacy in Iran and 80 million Iranians are thirsty for freedom and democracy. These Iranians are counting the seconds until the fall of the regime. Since 2009, the people have protested many times but they have been brutally suppressed. They have not yet succeeded in overthrowing the regime. More than 90% of Iranians do not support the regime. There are divisions even within the regime. There are fractures inside the IRGC and Basij. There is even a big division within their morality police. These divisions have been exacerbated by the crash which killed Ebrahim Raisi, Hossein Amir Abdollahian, and seven others.

As I mentioned, their weakness and Achilles heel is inside Iran and that is the place where we have to tackle them. Their weakness is not on the borders of Israel, nor in the middle of Europe. We have to support the Iranian people. The Iranian people are the secret to overthrowing this brutal regime and freeing the region from this octopus of terrorism. The way in which we can best support the Iranian people is very simple. We should not be afraid to attack IRGC sites inside of Iran. We should not be afraid to target the highest officials of the regime and their nuclear sites inside Iran. This is what I said in the Knesset.

The agents of the regime, wearing masks of the Iranian opposition, attacked me for my statements. They accused me of calling for the carpet bombing of Iran. They accused me of acting as the servant of Bibi Netanyahu and calling for the murder of innocent Iranians. I replied that I did not call for the murder of innocent Iranians. I am Iranian myself and I have sacrificed a lot for Iran. I clarified that I was calling for precise targeting of IRGC sites, nuclear sites and houses of high officials. I was severely attacked for two weeks until the Iranian people themselves hung a big banner in the heart of Tehran. The banner was five or six meters long and it was written in both Farsi and English. The banner said, “Vahid Beheshti is our voice, we stand with Israel.” That was the first banner, which went up in the middle of Tehran.

The second banner went up in Tehran about four weeks after the first. I think the second banner was even more interesting. The banner said that, “Vahid Beheshti brought the message of the children of Cyrus the Great to Israel.” Underneath that, they wrote, “Bibi, we are ready.” They meant they were ready for Israel to strike IRGC sites, nuclear sites, and the house of high officials inside of Iran. The Iranian people would embrace such attacks and they are waiting for them. A few weeks ago, Israel targeted the building next to the regime’s embassy in Damascus. Iran then launched 400 drones toward Israel. At that time, the Iranian people were saying, “Israel, you hit them. Leave the rest for us in the street. You hit them. Do not be afraid.” We started the response and the Iranians are waiting for our help. They are a great military of 80 million people and they are waiting for our support. We can support them by convincing our policy and decision-makers to assist Israel in helping the Iranian people. We are fighting a common war against a common enemy. We have a common interest and we have to work together. Of course, we should appreciate the IDF and the Israeli government for what they are doing. The world may not understand yet what they are doing. They are fighting for us all. They are fighting for our liberty, our freedom, and our democracy. If the world does not understand this, we have to leave them behind and rely on each other. We have work to do and we cannot wait for them.

Yesterday the United Nations Security Council observed a one-minute silence for the Butcher of Tehran. It was unbelievable. Raisi was responsible for the execution of 30,000 political prisoners. In the summer of 1988, Raisi was the leader of the five-person death squad in Iran. The death squads issued death sentences for 30,000 people after two, three or four-minute court sessions. The official number of political prisoners executed at that time was 5,000. The actual number was close to 30,000. The United Nations observed one minute of silence for this mass murderer.

I wrote a tweet yesterday saying that the people of Iran and Israel have no hope of support or fairness from major international institutions, especially the UN and the Red Cross. They have lost any form of credibility. They have betrayed their mission and the reasons for their initial creation. They continue to receive funds from countries around the world but we have no faith in them whatsoever. We have each other and we have to work together. There is a great price for this great mission, for this great goal.

I could continue to talk about this subject forever but I will stop now and take questions.

Sarah: Thank you for your bravery. I have many questions. Behind you, are pictures of beautiful young people who paid the ultimate price. Because of your huge network in Iran, you are more aware than anyone of what happened to them. What percentage of Iranians do you believe would like to overthrow the Islamic Republic? We know the Islamic Republic has all the weapons and the people have none. What would it take to overthrow the regime?

Vahid: I can comfortably say that more than 90% of Iranians would like to overthrow the regime. That percentage translates to 80 million Iranians. The numbers include people even inside the regime. I have been a journalist for around nineteen years and I have sources inside the regime. There are people there waiting for the right moment to reveal their opposition. They have to be sure the uprising will succeed. If not, they will be risking their lives and the lives of their families for nothing.

So, I can comfortably say that more than 90% of Iranians are against the regime. Not only do they oppose their brutal rulers, but they are ready to actively overthrow them. BBC World released a report about three weeks ago. The report revealed that the regime murdered sixteen-year-old Nika Shakarami. They raped her before killing her and then threw her body from the fifth floor of a building.

I will explain how we should go about defeating the regime. We need to give the people military support. By this I mean we must target IRGC sites, nuclear sites, and the houses of their high officials. We need to work quickly. Every day the regime remains in power, more lives are lost, and more damage is done to our society, our communities and our values.

Sarah: At this point, do you feel that there are cracks within the IRGC and the Basij?

Vahid: The cracks are not in the IRGC or in Basij, but in different bodies of the government. The Iranian regime is struggling with a huge internal crisis. The recent crash which killed the regime’s president and foreign Minister, accentuated that crisis. These were two people who were very important to Ali Khamenei. He invested a lot in rigging the previous election. Raisi was built by Ali Khamenei. The regime anticipated Raisi remaining in his seat for at least another five or six years. This would have allowed them to focus on other areas. Now they have a big crisis and that means we have an opportunity. We have to help Iranians to overthrow the regime, for themself, for us, and for the whole world.

Sarah: Now that Raisi is dead, what are the succession plans? How much room is there for free and fair elections? Will the Supreme Leader appoint and dictate a council? Are the rumors true that the next president might be Khamenei’s son?

Vahid: No. That rumor is absolutely false, fake news. Khamenei’s son, Mojtaba Khamenei, is being groomed for the seat of Supreme Leader. He is undergoing intense training and education for the role of the next Supreme Leader. That is why you do not see him anywhere. I do not buy the speculation that Khamenei eliminated Raisi and his foreign minister. Khamenei did not need to eliminate Raisi. Raisi was not a candidate for Khamenei’s replacement. He was not in competition with his son.

Khamenei is facing big challenges and crises at the moment. Firstly, he needs to find a replacement for Raisi. Let me explain a little bit about the Iranian regime. The Iranian regime is not a normal government. The regime is separate from the government. Ali Khamenei and the IRGC make all the decisions. They collaborate and create all of the policies. The president and foreign Minister are puppets of the regime and they do not have power.

However, the seat of the president is important to different mafia groups in Iran. The mafia group with ties to the president gains access to the Supreme Leader. The seat of the president also provides opportunities for corruption and for stealing Iranian wealth. So, there is a big internal fight between mafia groups right now. They are fighting for the seat of Ebrahim Raisi. They are fighting to determine Iran’s next president.

Having to conduct a new presidential election to replace Raisi, is another crisis for Khamenei. The previous election was held a few weeks ago. The percentage of people in Tehran who participated in that election was reported to be around 7%. In actuality, believe the participation rate was only around 1% or 2% of the population. The only people participating in the elections are the people benefiting from the regime and those connected to it. I think there are around two or three million people in that category. The regime transports them from city to city to vote in the elections in each of them.

By their own constitution, they have to hold a presidential election within 50 days. As such, they are going to have to hold the next election within the next 46 days. The regime has a big problem when it comes to the election. Khamenei needs to ensure his candidate wins. I am not sure but I think that candidate might be Vice President, Mohammad Mokhber because he is closest to Ali Khamenei. It may also be Saeed Jalili, since he is another hard-liner. They are not going to allow anyone from the reformist wing of the regime to win the election. They need the hardliners to occupy the seat of the president but there is an internal conflict between them. There is the stream of Ali Shamkhani, of Mohsen Rezaee, of Sadegh Mahsouli and of Hossein Taeb. Each of these streams represents a different mafia in Iran and the fight between them is an internal one.

While Raisi’s death created a crisis for the regime, it provided a big boost for Iranian society. The regime had suppressed the Mahsa Amini movement but the opposition is now re-energized. We all saw the videos of Iranian people drinking and dancing in celebration of Raisi’s death. They are even creating new movements on social media. They are happy and excited.

I recently told Congress that the Islam Republic of Iran is the weakest it has been since 1979. I said the same to members of the Knesset before that. Three days ago, the Iranian regime became even weaker with the death of Raisi and the others who died in the helicopter crash. This is not the time for us to relax. This is the time for us to work even harder than we did before.

Sarah: Right. We know that when rigid, brutal, autocratic regimes are threatened, they often react even more brutally against their populations. These people are incredibly courageous. I am sure the Iranian government can track down the people making the protest videos but they are willing to risk everything. I assume the military might be more secular and more divided than in the regime. Do you think there is a possibility they will support the citizens against the government?

Vahid: The Islamic Republic of Iran Army (the Artesh) will definitely join the Iranian people if they are confident that the regime will be overthrown. The Artesh is not the same as the IRGC.

Sarah: People need arms and weapons to rise up against the regime. It would be very difficult to overthrow the regime without arms.

Vahid: That is why I suggested targeting the IRGC first. Once we target the IRGC, people will go there and get the tools they need.

Sarah: I will now hand over to my wonderful legislative director, Joseph Epstein, I am sure he has some questions of his own.

Joseph Epstein: Thank you, Sarah. And thank you again, Vahid, for joining us today. The Supreme Leader, Ali Khamenei, is 85 years old and has health problems. Previously it was expected that Raisi would take Khamenei’s place as Supreme Leader. Now, the front runner is Mojtaba, his son. What are the differences between Mojtaba and Raisi? Who is Mojtaba as a person?

Vahid: Let me tell you something. They created that rumor themselves. They are not showing the world and the international community what they are actually planning. They have big rooms and think tanks for strategizing and they created that rumor. I said that two years ago, Raisi was never a candidate for the seat of Supreme Leader. He had no charisma and no education. The members of the Basiji and the IRGC would never accept Raisi as Supreme Leader of Iran. They would only follow someone educated and more connected to Ali Khamenei. Mojtaba Khamenei has been isolated. He is being kept away from everything while he is under intense training for the Supreme Leader position. Once Khamenei dies, no will be able to compete with Mojtaba Khamenei for his seat.

For years now, the Supreme Leader seat has been saved for Mojtaba Khamenei. Raisi’s role was that of Ali Khamenei’s puppet. Raisi’s expertise was in killing people and not much else. That is why he is called the Butcher of Tehran and why I call him The Butcher of Iran. Raisi was the best person to work with Mojtaba Khamenei but the regime never intended for him to become the Supreme Leader. The regime created that rumor to distract attention from Mojtaba. They want to keep Mojtaba safe and secure till the appropriate time arises.

Joseph: Who is Mojtaba Khamenei? What do we know about him so far?

Vahid: Mojtaba Khamenei’s name first became known during the suppression of the Green Movement in 2009. I understand Mojtaba is very brutal. Before then, no one really cared about him. In 2009, we discovered that Mojtaba directed the IRGC to suppress and kill people in the Green Movement. Mojtaba has a great connection with the IRGC. Their leaders and top commanders obey him. Behind the scenes, he meets constantly with the high officials of the regime who are faithful to his dad. They recognize Khamenei as the true believer of the system of velayat-e faqih, the system that they created.

Joseph: You mentioned velayat-e faqih. Velayat-e faqih which translates to guardianship of the Islamic jurist. Can you explain more about it?

Vahid: Velayat-e faqih is the ideology of the Muslim Brotherhood. I am a proud Muslim. As far as I understand, however, there are at least 72 known definitions of Islam. I follow the same definition as the one observed by the previous King of Iran, King Mohammad Reza Pahlavi. He and his dad followed the Islam of Rumi. This is the Islam based on love, acceptance, and collaboration. It is based on love, peace, and acceptance. The version of Islam we believe in, tells us to focus on ourselves. It teaches us not to interfere in the politics of ruling countries, or to try and change others.

The velayat-e faqih version of Islam is very different. It instructs its followers to assume complete power and control everything in society. Velayat-e faqih is the ruling ideology behind the regime in Iran and justifies the rule of clergy over the state. It transfers all political and religious authority to the Shia clergy and makes all of the state’s key decisions subject to approval of a supreme clerical leader. The Supreme Leader provides guardianship over the nation and ensures top-down Islamisation of the state.

Their mission is to turn the entire world into an Islamic state. According to them, our beliefs are wrong. Anyone who does not follow their version of Islam is going to hell. They are the only group going to heaven and their divine mission to force us to follow them. Velayat-e faqih allows followers to use force, lies, deception, rape, torture and murder to achieve the goal of transforming the modern world into an Islamic state.

Ruhollah Khomeini was the previous Supreme Leader of the regime. He extracted his ideology from the books of the Muslim Brotherhood. According to his version of Islam, there is no distinction between Sunni and Shia Muslims. They are all Islamists working together to transform the modern world into an Islamic state.

Most Shias believe their twelfth Saint or Imam is still alive. He is a direct descendent of Prophet Muhammad, He has been alive for 1400 years and is waiting for the right moment to appear. His name is Mahdi and he is the Prophet’s twelfth and final divinely appointed successor. They believe Mahdi will appear when corruption and evil conquers the whole world. In the interim, they have to do as much as they can to prepare the world for the appearance of the twelfth Saint. This is the excuse Khomeini provided for injecting Islam into government and politics.

We believe in the absence of Mahdi. We believe we may not interfere in government or in politics because the Imam, the saint, is not here and it is haram for us. Before establishing velayat-e faqih. Khomeini said, “For how long are we going to wait for the Mahdi, for the twelfth Imam? He may not appear for another 100 years. So, we have to act and prepare the world for his appearance.” That is the evolution of the velayat-e faqih ideology.

I will take a minute to explain what happened in Iran in 1979. Major Western leaders gathered in Guadeloupe, France to participate in a three-day session. The leaders included, Helmut Schmidt, from Germany, James Callaghan, from the UK, Jimmy Carter, from America, and Giscard d’Estaing, from France. During that session, they decided to change the regime in Iran. Two days after that session, Ayatollah Khomeini emerged as the leader of the revolutionary movement. The reigning Shah of Iran was the leader of the reformist movement. By replacing the Shah with the Ayatollah, they turned the reformist movement into a revolutionary one with Ayatollah Khomeini as its leader. Two days after the session in Guadalupe, every newspaper shop in France displayed a two by five-meter picture of Ayatollah Khomeini. Underneath the picture was the caption, “The man who shakes the world.”

They created and disseminated the picture of Ayatollah Khomeini for two reasons. The first reason was that the Shah increased oil prices. The second reason was the Cold War with the Soviet Union. They thought that Islamist rule in Iran would serve as a bulwark against communism. For this reason, they galvanized a revolutionary movement and handed the country over to a fanatical Islamist cleric. The project was a failure. Less than one year after the 1979 Islamism occupation, the regime attacked the American Embassy. For 444 days, they held 66 diplomats as hostages. The regime moved from the hands of Western leaders to the hands of the Soviet Union. That is where we are now. We are still dealing with the impact of this mistake by the West.

Joseph: If you could give President Biden advice on US policy toward Iran, what would you tell him?

Vahid: I would not waste my time giving advice to President Biden because he is not open to listening. President Biden is in a deep coma. I would not waste my energy on this administration. I am saving my time and energy to give advice to the next administration. I came to the US and talked to different members of Congress but not to talk to members of this administration. I do not have any hope for this administration. They continue to believe they can sway this brutal regime with talks and negotiations. There is no point in me talking to people who do not recognize the nature, tactics, goals and principles of the regime. This administration is on the wrong path. They are wasting their time and they are falling into the trap the regime laid for them.

Look at Iran’s hostage-taking policy. For 45 years Iran has paralyzed us with their hostage-taking strategy. They brazenly take our citizens hostage. Then they force us to sit around a table, and they demand billions from us. Three weeks before October the 7th, the US released six billion dollars for five hostages. Of course, this incentivized the regime and they instructed Hamas to take many Israeli hostages. This strategy has worked for them for 45 years. We have the wrong advisors and the wrong policies.

Iran knows exactly how to influence our policymakers and our decision-makers. They have lobbyist groups whose staff have titles of professor, and doctor. They provide information and advice to our policymakers that are against our own interests. As a result, we are drafting legislation and formulating policies favoring the regime. That is where we are now but there is hope. There is a great deal of hope that the regime becomes weaker and the Iranian people become stronger. Israel knows what they are doing. Of course, they are under great pressure, but they recognize the threat and are doing everything in their power to counter it. We are not far off from destroying and overthrowing this regime, but we need to work harder and we need to work together.

Sarah: Thank you so much, Vahid. This was an amazing webinar. We work very hard at EMET. In addition to offering these webinars, we write and publish and we are on Capitol Hill. Ambassador Yoram Ettinger is on Capitol Hill with EMET as we speak. He is the former Minister of Congressional Affairs with the Israeli Embassy under Yitzhak Shamir and a great man.

We played a key role in getting the Anti-Semitism Awareness Act to pass the House vote and we are working to get it through the Senate. We are also working to pass sanctions on the International Criminal Court. We have a lot of work ahead of us and all of it requires funding. So, we would really appreciate your financial support for EMET’s work. Please also support the wonderful work of Vahid Beheshti. It is an honor and a privilege to know you, Vahid.

Vahid: Thank you for all the great work that you guys are doing. We have to do this. There is no other choice. Bye-bye. God bless you.

Sarah: God bless.


On Sunday, a helicopter carrying Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi as well as the Iranian Foreign Minister, Hossein Amir-Abdollahian crashed, resulting in their confirmed fatalities, as well as those of six other people.

One would like to believe that this might be the beginning of a new era of freedom for the Iranian people who have had to endure 45 years under an oppressive, authoritarian theocracy.

Although the helicopter flew over heavily forested, mountainous terrain, and there was heavy fog, this did not prevent the former Iranian Foreign Minister Javid Zarif from blaming “The Great Satan”, the United States for the crash. Ayatollah Ali Khomeini has said “There will be no disruptions to the operations of the country”, and will appoint the First Vice President, Mohammad Mokhiber as President.

What can the United States and the international community do, at this point, to assist the millions of Iranians who passionately resent this evil regime?

Come listen to Vahid Beheshti, who will help us navigate through this sensitive juncture and finally be able to assist the muted voices of millions upon millions of oppressed Iranians who deeply despise their regime.

About the Speaker: Vahid Beheshti is a former Iranian political prisoner, and former member of the opposition party of Iran who has dedicated the past 18 years of his life towards fighting the Iranian regime. Mr. Beheshti currently resides in London where the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) and Hamas supporters have tried to attack him. Mr. Beheshti risked his life twice in the past year to overthrow the regime, camping out in front of the United Kingdom’s Foreign Office. He has engaged in a 72-day hunger strike with the goal of having the IRGC designated as a terrorist organization, for which he has had to be hospitalized. Mr. Beheshti, because he had displayed an Israeli flag during a Palestinian protest in London, was chased by a mob of Hamas supporters, and one knife-wielding Hamas supporter had threatened to behead him, (who has been apprehended by the British police). Mr. Beheshti is the first member of the Iranian opposition to have spoken at the Israeli Knesset, which he has repeatedly spoken about as “the only democracy in the Middle East”.

Mr. Beheshti is convinced that Iran has been at the heart of waging a continuous and systemic war to eliminate the state of Israel since the Islamic Revolution of 1979; that the Islamic Republic of Iran is the prime destabilizing force in the Middle East; that it has hegemonic designs for Europe and the United States; and that domestically the Islamic Republic in a very weak position with “18 million Iranians on the ground who are thirsty for freedom.”

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May 22
12:00 PM - 1:00 PM
Webinar Category:


Vahid Beheshti
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