February 3, 2011 / 5:43 PM / 9 years ago

Iranian group to target Iran energy to weaken govt

* Green Wave aims to destabilise Iran via energy sector

* Reveals no details but plans move in next 12 months

* Says govt too strong to be ousted by unrest like elsewhere

By John Irish

PARIS, Feb 3 (Reuters) - An Iranian opposition group said on Thursday it hoped to bring the government “to its knees” by disrupting the strategic energy sector in a country where popular uprisings like those under way elsewhere are not viable.

Set up in March 2010, the Green Wave movement is headed by exiled Iranian businessman Amir Jahanshahi, who told reporters he believed the powerful Revolutionary Guard could be turned to help topple President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s government.

Jahanshahi, whose father was a finance minister during the shah’s rule, has seen his group gain momentum and legitimacy over the last year after defections by several Iranian diplomats and former air force officer Behzad Masoumi Legwan.

At a news conference in Paris, he accused Ahmadinejad of plundering Iran and vowed to start implementing his destabilisation plan, without giving any details of it.

“In the next 12 months, there will be action taken to destabilise the energy sector, which has been plundered by Ahmadinejad and his entourage for personal profit and to finance terrorist groups overseas,” Jahanshahi said.

“I take responsibility for everything that will happen in the energy sector, but I can’t say more.”

He said his movement did not need help from external forces.

Jahanshahi has now been joined by a group known as the “Circle of the People” led by Mohammad Reza Madhi, a former general in the Revolutionary Guard, also at the news conference. Madhi said that he had once headed a committee tasked with keeping the regime in place and that now, as an opponent, he could count on about 20,000 backers in Iran’s Revolutionary Guard, army, intelligence services and the religious hierarchy.

He said he left Iran in February 2008 and stayed in contact with Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei until the 2009 elections.

“I realised then that the regime would not evolve,” he said. “(I joined the Green Wave) because no other organisation has the capacity to link the internal opposition with the overseas elements,” he said, speaking through an interpreter.

ARAB CONTAGION

Iran’s foreign ministry said on Monday that it hoped mass anti-government protests in Egypt would spawn a more Islamic Middle East that would stand up to Israel and the United States. . But Tehran also fears such uprisings in the Arab world could revive anti-government unrest that jolted Iran after the disputed re-election of Ahmadinejad in 2009.

The Revolutionary Guard quelled the mass protests against a vote that the authorities insisted was the healthiest for three decades.

“What (has) happened in Egypt and other Arab countries is very different,” Jahanshahi said. “Contagion originally came from Iran which showed the way two years ago, but the brutality and force of the regime stopped it.

“The contagion from the Arab world will not succeed in Iran if beforehand we haven’t put the regime to its knees. It is too powerful for the people to spontaneously overthrow it,” he said.

State-organised rallies are scheduled across Iran on Feb. 11 to mark the anniversary of the 1979 Islamic Revolution.

“Ahmadinejad’s regime is very strong and I will not ask the Iranian people (to go on the streets) because we don’t have today the organisation to change the regime,” said Jahanshahi.

“We waited 32 years, we will wait may be another year, six months or two years. Our job is not for February.”

Reporting by John Irish; editing by Mark Heinrich

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