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Monday, April 6, 2009

Former Iran minister sees imminent threat to mullah regime from youth, the economy

TEL AVIV — Former Iranian Justice Minister Mehdi Haeri Khorshidi described life in today's Iran and said the mullah regime in Teheran is on the verge of collapse.   

"I guarantee that within two years Iran's regime will collapse," Khorshidi, a Shi'ite scholar and former religious adviser to the Iranian prime minister, said.

Addressing a conference at Israel's Haifa University, Khorshidi said Teheran was experiencing a sharp economic decline as well as rising unrest among young Iranians.

At the conference on March 29, Khorshidi said the mullah regime has been rapidly losing popularity in Iran. He said both the elite and the middle class recognize the need for regime change.

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"We need no foreign element to replace the regime for us," Khorshidi said. "We can and must do it alone."

Khorshidi, who spent five years in jail for criticizing the mullahs, said academics, clerics and parliamentarians have already been bracing for the collapse of the regime. He said these Iranians want to end the corruption in the current government and establish a secular regime friendly to others in the Middle East, including Israel.

"Iran has powers that can stun and even defeat the government," Khorshidi said. "There are other elements that wish to separate state and religion. They see that as long as Islamic rule forcibly clings to the government, religion is connected with all that is bad, which harms [the religion]. These elements include religious persons, university lecturers, judges, and members of parliament."

In his lecture, Khorshidi described life in Iran today. He said the regime has taken over all sectors of the country and required loyalty tests for jobs and education.

"Fifty percent of the university openings are reserved for people associated with the government, and in order to be accepted in the remaining places, the candidates must undergo tests that are of political character and not at all related to the study material," Khorshidi said. Khorshidi said the regime has reserved its greatest fear for the huge youth population in Iran. So far, he said, the military and security forces have been effective in quelling unrest amid rampant inflation, reported at more than 50 percent per year.

"Due to the impossible financial state of affairs in Iran, along with the youths' desires, the only thing that preserves the regime is the military," Khorshidi said. "But how long can this situation continue?"

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