A new Iranian opposition group that takes its name from the late shah’s defunct political party is looking to dissuade the Joe Biden administration from striking any deal with Tehran.
The Los Angeles-based Iranian Resurgent Party registered this week as a foreign agent with the US Department of Justice. The group says its goal is to “unite and create solidarity amongst Iranian dissidents with the goal of regime change and creation of a secular democrat government in Iran.”
As part of their advocacy activities, the party’s volunteer organizers propose to recruit more members through “social media, Iranian TV programs, Iranian radio programs, publishing editorials, articles and books and organizing occasional public events.” The party also plans to promote peace in the region and the re-establishment of friendly relations with the United States and Israel.
The registration was filed by Bahman Brian Shahangian of Los Angeles, an IRP co-founder and the only current registered foreign agent on the account. He did not respond to Foreign Lobby Report’s request for comment.
As part of his individual filing, Shahangian described his role as “working to convince US politicians that establishing any kind of political and or economic
relationship with the current Iranian regime will help legitimize them and assist them in remaining in power by further suppressing the Iranians and spreading conflict in the region.” The Biden administration is currently considering its options on re-entering the 2015 nuclear deal with Iran that President Donald Trump exited in 2018.
The party describes itself in another one of its filings as a “newly formed political party in opposition of the Islamic Republic of Iran.” Its name however is a throw-back to the Rastakhiz Party, the political party founded by Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi in 1975 that replaced the multi-party political system in Imperial Iran. The creation of a single-party state is widely seen as having deepened political and fueled the 1979 revolution that toppled the monarchy.
“The shah required his supporters to join it, and it was just another indication that he was not going to open the political process to dissenting voices,” said Barabara Slavin, the director of the Atlantic Council’s Future of Iran Initiative. “And it disappeared, obviously, with the revolution.”
After the revolution, the shah and his family were forced into exile. His firstborn son, Reza Pahlavi, has spoken out against the current Iranian government and human rights abuses in the country. It’s not clear if Pahlavi, who lives in suburban Maryland, has anything to do with the new party. He did not respond to requests for comment.
Slavin said the choice of names was odd for a movement that purports to seek a “free, democratic and secular government.”
“It doesn’t have very democratic connotations,” Slavin said. “So if you’re arguing that the Islamic Republic should be replaced by a democracy, I would not use that name.”
The Iranian Resurgent Party joins several other Iranian opposition groups that seek regime change in Tehran.
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The National Council of Resistance of Iran, an umbrella organization dominated by the Mujahedin-e-Khalq (MEK), retains several lobbyists including former Attorney General Michael Mukasey. Also lobbying are the Komala Party of Iranian Kurdistan and the Iran Transition Council.