BY Heshmat Alavi
Iran is on the verge of two critical and definitive elections that many view as a mandate over the entire regime, and a window on what is to come in the very tumultuous future. As far as the Iranian people are concerned this elections farce lacks even the slightest credibility. The result, whatever it may be, will weaken the ruling establishment, fuel domestic divides and disputes, and redouble public detestation over the corrupt ruling elite.
The ruling elite sitting on the throne in Tehran completely annul the people’s sovereignty and their freedom of choice. These elections, being nothing but a sham, are tools to somehow portray as acceptable the medieval caliphate structure to the 21st century. This stage has increasingly become the scene for rivals eliminating and literally sacking the competition. Despite the fact that all candidates had sworn their utter loyalty to the supreme leader and have their hands drenched in the regime’s crimes, the majority were disqualified after rigorous screening and vetting. The reaction seen from Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, naively termed by various monitors as a moderate, proves once again he neither has the will to change the status quo, nor the ability. His objective, despite his deceptive remarks, is none other than maintaining the mullahs’ rule in its entirety, and his own position.
The crisis engulfing this regime following the setback suffered in succumbing to the nuclear pact sealed with the West has reached the very top brass. The hegemony and grip once enjoyed by supreme leader Ali Khamenei has become very tainted and easily challenged these days. Public remarks over his predecessor, once a taboo, are now considered ordinary discussion. Forming a committee consisting of senior Revolutionary Guards commanders, Khamenei personally orchestrated the ruthless sacking process of his rivals. The irony is despite all his effort, the crisis in Iran is mounting. Senior regime officials are warning over a “sedition more dangerous than 2009”, a reference to the nationwide uprising after the controversial elections of that year. From their perspective, public mutiny is a clear and present danger in the powder keg we call Iran.
Friday’s sham elections are faced with increasing hatred from the public in their view of the ruling mullahs and their rival factions. As seen in all previous elections, the regime will resort to massive fraud to balloon the very dismal voter turnout. This year, however, even the mullahs’ own inner circle are forecasting the pols rendering no positive results for the long run. To this end, Khamenei has resorted to issuing ridiculous fatwas describing voting as a religious duty and binding, and casting a white ballot – a sign of protest – as unlawful. Desperate for the people to pour into the polling stations, Khamenei has set aside previously untouchable regulations and said, “Women’s participation in the elections is not bound to their husband’s consent.” His objective is to have the regimes germane and their families take part in the shame elections.
As a result, following the nuclear setback, despite expectations raised by many in the West, Khamenei has escalated domestic crackdown, launched a crusade of deploying thousands of fighters to Syria and focused efforts to maintain his supremacy over the parliament and Assembly of Experts. Nonetheless, these elections will not render any victors from inside the regime, ending as lose-lose for the entire ruling establishment. Increasing public hatred for the regime on one hand, escalating domestic disputes on the other.
Heshmat Alavi is a political activist and supporter for regime change in Iran. He writes on Iran and the Middle East. He tweets at @HeshmatAlavi