Iran's exiled crown prince Reza Pahlavi has warned that the country's leadership seeks a conflict and called on the armed forces to help the people stop a march to conflict.
The escalating tensions in the region following the imposition of renewed sanctions by the US has seen the Tehran regime look for scapegoats for the increasing economic hardship experienced by citizens.
Mr Pahlavi, who is based in Washington and works as an activist for democratic reform in his homeland, has told The National that Iranians won't back Tehran's aggressive stance towards the US and the region.
"This regime wants war, especially now that they are weakened and are cornered," he said. "They will use any excuse to start a war to maintain their power.
"The regime will not achieve their objective if the people of Iran stand up and refuse to participate. My compatriots in the armed forces must realise that the regime is using them, not to defend our country as a military should, but to defend the regime and its wealth and its power. Therefore, the impetus is on the people to deny the regime the support it seeks in this manufactured conflict."
After a slump in Iran's oil exports by as much as 90 per cent, the regime faces increasing economic pressure as unemployment rises and living standards drop.
"This regime wants war, the people do not," Mr Pahlavi added. "The people of Iran want to remove this oppressive regime and rebuild our country as a peaceful, secular democracy. They feel the pressure from my compatriots who are building the movement to overthrow them and reestablish a secular democracy. In order to counter the force of freedom, they want to create distraction and wage war."
The effects of an outbreak of conflict would be damaging for Iran and far from shoring up the regime's position would inspire Iranians to revolt against the leadership.
"War is the worst scenario, which is why the regime wants it," he said. "The regime does not care who lives or dies, they do not care if our nation and people are devastated. That is why we will remove them."
Iran rebuffed efforts by President Emmanuel Macron to set up a phone call between President Donald Trump and President Hassan Rouhani at last week's United Nations General Assembly gathering in New York. French officials said that Mr Trump called Mr Rouhani's hotel room but the Iranian leader was unable to take the call.
According to reports, Mr Macron set four outline points for the phone calls. These were: Iran will never acquire a nuclear weapon, will fully comply with nuclear obligations, refrain from any aggression and will seek genuine peace and respect in the region. In return the US would lift all the sanctions re-imposed since 2017.
Iran's Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei refused to grant permission for the call and on Wednesday crowed that the US had begged Iran to enter into dialogue.
Mr Pahlavi said Iranian hunger for the overthrow of the hardliners was only growing amid such discord.
"For 40 years I have been clear to my compatriots: we must only rely on ourselves. Change in our country, rebuilding our society and our nation is in our hands. We must not rely on any other country," he said. "Other nations’ policies will change as will their objectives. If their policies happen to benefit our cause, fine, but only we are Iranians and only we can reclaim and rebuild our nation."