BEHIND THE IRAN HEADLINES Series, January 26, 2024, Alireza Jafarzadeh, NCRI-US Deputy Director
As Iran’s society is simmering in outrage over the cowardly executions of anti-regime protesters Mohammad Ghobadlou and Farhad Salimi, there are increasing signs that the revolting spectacle billed as March 1st “elections” for Majlis and Assembly of Experts will be massively boycotted.
Further highlighting the regime’s internal political fragility, state media has announced Hassan Rouhani’s disqualification from running for the Assembly of Experts. Disqualifying Rouhani is very telling, as he has served the regime for two terms as president, five terms as a member of the Majlis, and nearly two decades as a member of the same Assembly of Experts from which he is now disqualified.
The regime’s familiar tactics are already in play, from parading unveiled women who support extremist clerics to staging intense factional debates on tightly controlled state TV. The objective is clear: to persuade a disillusioned populace that change within the existing system remains possible. Yet, after four decades of this deceit, the Iranian people have grown indifferent towards these elections, yearning instead for an actual revolution and a complete overthrow of the theocratic regime.
The intensity of ad campaigns, threatening speeches by Supreme Leader Khamenei and senior clerics, and cautionary state media articles betray the regime’s awareness of an impending nationwide boycott, likely surpassing those in 2020 and 2021, further eroding its legitimacy.
Khamenei and his officials know they face no threat of foreign invasion. Their real fear lies in a more formidable foe: a restive society and a rebellious, freedom-seeking generation organized in Resistance Units, determined to dismantle the religious dictatorship and establish a democratic, secular republic.