Struan Stevenson, The Scotsman, 4 February 2020
After a murderous crackdown on nationwide anti-government protests in Iran, infighting has broken out between different factions of the ruling elite as they try desperately to cling to power, writes Struan Stevenson.
The nationwide uprising last November that saw millions of mostly young Iranians take to the streets of cities, towns and villages across Iran has temporarily subsided. Sporadic outbursts of protest still take place, as thousands mourn their family members murdered by the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC), the fascist regime’s Gestapo, during their ruthless crackdown on the uprising.
Thousands more were wounded and dragged from their hospital beds by the IRGC to join the estimated 20,000 imprisoned for taking part in the riots. Daily reports of prisoners being denied medical attention and dying under torture leak from behind the regime’s grim prison walls. Iran is now a powderkeg of unrest.
The slightest spark will ignite a revolution, which will drive the theocratic regime from office and restore freedom to Iran’s 80 million enraged citizens. It is the lull before the inevitable storm.
Rouhani no ‘moderate’
Recognising that their days are numbered, the infighting between various factions of the ruling elite has intensified. Desperate to cling to power, the mullahs, who have stolen the Iranian people’s wealth, wrecked the economy, spread murder and mayhem across the Middle East and brutalised their own population, are now engaged in a blame game, accusing each other of causing the crisis.
The psychotic Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, who for three days lied about the shooting down of the Ukrainian jetliner with 176 people on board, has ordered his Guardian Council, which supervises elections, to turn its fire on supporters of Hassan Rouhani, the Iranian President.
Although the Western media has often portrayed Rouhani as a so-called ‘moderate’, he is anything but. Since Rouhani took office in 2013 he has presided over the execution of more than 4,000 people, many of them political prisoners, including numerous women and even children.
Iran is now the world’s leading per capita executioner under Rouhani’s ‘moderate’ presidency. He even appointed Alireza Avaei as his Justice Minister. Avaie is a listed terrorist in the West and is notorious for his role as a key executioner of political prisoners during a massacre in 1988, when over 30,000 supporters of the People’s Mojahedin of Iran/Mojahedin e-Khalq (PMOI/MEK) opposition movement were hanged, in batches of over 150 each day, on the orders of Iran’s then Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomenei.
Like warring Mafia families
The Guardian Council, on the orders of Ali Khamenei, has now disqualified 90 members of the regime’s current parliament from standing for re-election in the forthcoming parliamentary contest.
This has enraged Rouhani and his followers who are trying to carve out a larger slice of Iran’s dwindling cake for themselves and their cronies. It is reminiscent of the vicious territorial wars fought between the powerful Sicilian Mafia families in the 1980s and it is a sure sign that the teetering regime is on its last legs.
Rouhani’s threat to distort the election result by using his Interior Ministry’s control of the process to stuff ballot boxes may create the very spark that ignites the downfall of this gangster government.
Meanwhile, diplomatic efforts to avert the regime’s imminent collapse are accelerating. With their economy in freefall, Iran’s Foreign Minister, Mohamad Javad Zarif, has given the clearest evidence yet of the mullahs’ weakness, by telling Der Spiegel that even after the elimination of Iran’s top terrorist General Qasem Soleimani, his country is still willing to negotiate with the Americans, provided they immediately remove economic sanctions.
This humiliating climbdown by Zarif has caused outrage from some of the opposing factions in Tehran, with Mojtaba Zolnouri, head of the Iranian parliament’s national security commission, asking why his government was begging for concessions from America after it had assassinated their homicidal hero Soleimani. Another incensed MP, Amir Hossein Ghazizadeh Hashemi, asked: “Which country’s foreign minister are you, Mr Zarif? Which nation? Which government? This nation wants revenge on the killers of Haj Qasem … don’t you have modesty?!”
US Republicans and Democrats condemn Iran
The likelihood of any return to the negotiating table by the Americans is zero. On 28 January, the US House of Representatives unanimously passed a resolution, entitled “Supporting the rights of the people of Iran to free expression, condemning the Iranian authorities for their crackdown on legitimate protests, and for other purposes”.
The resolution, which gained bi-partisan support in the House, was sponsored by Democratic Congressman Ted Deutch of Florida. It highlighted the “lethal force” used by the IRGC during their crackdown on protesters and concluded with the statement: “The House of Representatives stands with the people of Iran that are engaged in legitimate and peaceful protests against an oppressive, corrupt regime.”
It is time the EU followed America’s example. The twin pillars which have propped up the Iranian regime are violent oppression at home and the export of terror abroad. Those pillars are now crumbling.
The EU should echo America’s call of support for the Iranian people. A new revolution is coming and the brave PMOI/MEK resistance units who planned and abetted the recent uprising are preparing the ground for the theocratic regime’s overthrow.
The EU must ensure that they are on the right side of history. The current lull before the storm may be their last chance to do so.
Struan Stevenson is the coordinator of the Campaign for Iran Change (CiC). He was a member of the European Parliament representing Scotland (1999-2014), president of the Parliament’s Delegation for Relations with Iraq (2009-14) and chairman of the Friends of a Free Iran Intergroup (2004-14). He is an international lecturer on the Middle East and president of the European Iraqi Freedom Association (EIFA).