EDITORIAL: Iran Regime’s Supreme Leader at the Heart of the Regime’s Deadly Crises

NCRI, 3 February 2020

As we approach the February 21st parliamentary elections in Iran, the internal crises of the mullahs’ regime are being directed toward the regime at its entirety and the supreme leader, Ali Khamenei.

The emergence and intensification of this crisis within the regime reflect the effects of the Iranian people’s uprising against the regime in 2018, 2019 and January 2020. The crisis has reached the regime’s inner circle, and the closest members of the clerical regime are also questioning the regime’s supreme leader. In the uprisings, and especially the one in January 2020, people’s slogans focused on Khamenei and the principle of the absolute rule of the clergy or “Velayat-e Faqih.” 

“Death to Khamenei,” “We didn’t sacrifice martyrs to compromise and praise the murderous leader,” and “Soleimani is a murderer, his leader is rejected,” and “Death to the oppressor, be it the Shah or the [Supreme] Leader” were the main slogans of the January 2020 uprising. While referring to the massacre of the November uprising by the order of Khamenei, the people chanted: “1500 are our martyrs of November.” 

In the mullahs’ regime, where no opposition has the right to be active, the better word for election is “selection.”.  Even members of the regime’s various factions must be vetted by the regime’s Guardian Council, appointed by the Supreme Leader; and all candidates must prove their absolute loyalty to the Supreme Leader to be allowed to participate. But every time, with the “engineering” and agreement of both main factions of the regime, a high rate of participation in the election is announced, to legitimize the Iranian regime.   

But this time the internal crises of the regime have intensified the conflict amongst the factions of the regime over the survival of the system. The regime is so weak and unstable that it is not even capable of withstanding its inner circle or what they call “family dissatisfaction” as candidates for more than half of the constituencies belong to only one faction.  

The most ridiculous position, however, belongs to the regime’s president Hassan Rouhani. On the one hand, he says there is no room for competition in this election and compares it with the selection in the Shah’s dictatorship. On the other hand, to “preserve the system,” he calls for participation in this selection.

Now, this longstanding social anger and hatred of the regime in its entirety has turned into a political crisis within the system, and the closest elements of the regime are questioning the legitimacy of the supreme leader.  

Mustafa Tajzadeh, a former head of the Interior Ministry, belonging to the so-called regime’s Line of the Imam [Khomeini] faction, which was the main pillar of suppression, torture, and executions in the 1980s, in a meeting called “Was the Islamic Revolution inevitable?” identified the supreme leader as the root of the regime’s problems in the constitution’s structure and said:  

“The absolute rule of the clergy should not have been included in the constitution” … “When a disease is so acute that it cannot be resolved except by surgery, every reasonable person goes through surgery to continue their lives. Because they know if they don’t, they will sooner or later get into trouble. The fact is that our system has reached a point where it cannot continue except after going through major surgeries. The most important surgery is constitutional reform. We must stand. The fact that I have some disagreement with my friends is that I now believe that the importance of being or not being in the parliament is that we have to tell the people that after 40 years if we do not amend our constitution our problems will not be resolved.”  

Mahmoud Sadeghi, a member of the regime’s Parliament, in response to the Guardian Council, while calling himself a supporter of the supreme leader and defending it, was again dismissed because he said: “I believe no official is immune from criticism and oversight.” “Based on my belief in the principle of the supreme leader, I believe the supreme leader is supreme in qualities. A person is not supreme, it is not a lifelong position since no one could maintain lifetime qualities.”  

These types of attacks against the supreme leader have increased so much that his circle had to defend him. In this regard, a mullah by the name of Hossein Rashidian, during the Friday prayers sermon on January 24, clearly spoke of people abandoning and insulting Khamenei. He said: “The first characteristic of a political hypocrite is that they abandon the leader. The second characteristic of them is that they insult the leader of the time.”

Another mullah, by the name of Elahi-e Rad, during a program aired by the state- television, even confessed to the hatred of some of the clerics toward Khamenei and explicitly said: “Some clerics do not defend the supreme leader and say it is none of my business.”  

At the same time, a cleric by the name of Mohammad-Mehdi Mandegari, during the Friday prayers sermon tried to persuade the regime’s supporters that the country’s crises and problems are not created by Khamenei. This position shows how much the regime’s elements and those Basiji militias are having a problem with Khamenei. “Do not be afraid of the enemies. The nation that supports the Supreme Leader won’t be intimidated by the Enemy. Yet if you abandon the leader you should be afraid of God. We have repeatedly said that the problems are neither related to the supreme leader nor related to the revolution nor the sacred system of the Islamic Republic. These problems are due to our choices. Our enemies want to change people’s opinions about the revolution and spread fear in people’s hearts. So, be careful,” he said.   

Questioning Khamenei by the regime’s elements and the forced defense of him by other elements shows that the ‘principle of the supreme clerical rule’ and the post of the supreme leader are at the heart of the crisis. A crisis that engulfs the entirety of the mullahs’ regime and goes deeper into the swamp of crises. The swamp that rapidly swallows the crippled regime and the regime finds no way out.  

This is the deadlock that even the Basijis and the regime’s Revolutionary Guards (IRGC) see as their regime’s evil destiny. They see a precipice at the end of the road the regime is on, which will result in its downfall. The religious fascism has now reached the end of the road … The mullahs’ rule has no way forward and no way back.  

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