By Hamid Enayat
In an article published in Iran’s Basij Militia university student newspaper, we read: “The explosion in Natanz is materialistic, and everyone can see it with their own eyes. But no one sees the dangerous neutron explosion by the hypocrites (mujahedin) in the hearts and minds of the youth. Speaking for 40 years, the enemy says in his language that he wants nothing but the overthrow of the Islamic Republic. The hypocrites (Mujahedin) that Imam Khomeini warned against 41 years ago. Especially after Rajavi’s speech in Amjadiyeh (Tehran’s soccer stadium), which attended by hundreds of thousands of young people who were deceived and excited, Imam said referring to Rajavi: ‘Our enemy is neither the United States nor the Soviet Union nor anyone else, the enemy is here in Tehran!'” (1981)
“Much greater destruction is on the way” is the keyword to understand the destructive impact of most of the regime’s internal and international policies, if not all. In his Persian New Year message, Khamenei announces he wants to move towards a contractionary approach because his regime experienced two widespread and nationwide uprisings of 2017 and 2019. These uprisings took the regime by surprise. Khamenei had to order his guards to open fire at the demonstrators, killing at least 1,500. More than anyone else, Khamenei knows due to the regime’s colossal mismanagement at all levels, Iranian society has become a barrel of gunpowder, which can explode at any moment to shake the foundations of his government.
Khamenei is well aware of the formation of resistance units. Their anti-regime activities include burning posters of Khomeini and Soleimani every day in Iran. The army of the unemployed and the hungry is growing, and so another uprising is on the way. The miserable state of the economy has been instrumental to the gradual disappearance of the middle class. Considering the above and other socio-economic factors, another major uprising is inevitable.
This imminent threat forced Khamenei to ask the Guardian Council (a Khamenei affiliated group of people who verify the candidates’ legitimacy in all Iran’s elections) to disqualify most so-called reformist candidates from the 2018 parliamentary election. As a result, the majority of Iran’s present parliament are those who are affiliated with Khamenei. Khamenei seems to be poised to repeat the same process in Iran’s upcoming June presidential election. He repeatedly mentioned that his preferred president possesses Ghasem Soleimani’s mindset.
Khamenei is taking a significant risk if he goes ahead with his plan. If so, many of those so-called reformists who hold different government positions will transform themselves into opposition to this same regime and its leader, Khamenei. A case in point is Faezeh Rafsanjani, who has been part of the regime for years, and her family have called for a boycott of the elections, saying that voting is useless.
Khamenei believes that perhaps with the help of the Revolutionary Guards in suppressing the people, even more than before, he will be able to contain or extinguish the explosive volcano of society. Khamenei is oblivious that the people of Iran have gone through the 2017 and 2019 massive uprisings. Furthermore, after the 2019 uprising, the activities of the resistance units have expanded. According to the above article, “We are witnessing now that different insurgent weapons such as Winchester, Colt, Clashincoff, and Uzi have become abundant inside the country.” At present, the regime can contain sporadic and less populated gatherings and demonstrations. Still, it will be capable of cracking down a similar widespread uprising similar to the one in 2019. According to this article, the police force no longer controls the availability of weapons in Iran.
Khamenei is currently caught in a series of economic and social crises and is incapable of offering any solution except repression and oppression. In Iran, unemployment is raging; poverty is rampant, 80% of the population is above the poverty line. On the other hand, to be able to use his repressive force to the max, Khamenei needs a uniform and undeterred system of government. He needs to be in total control with no opposition.
For Khamenei, the survival of his regime is a fundamental principle. To achieve this goal, he may need to show a willingness to negotiate a 2021 version of the 2015 JCPOA. Iran’s ballistic missile programs, regional terrorism, and human rights will be included. If so, Khamenei prefers to direct all the negotiations on behalf of Iran and have a head of government (president) that believes in Velayat-e-Faghih (religious supremacy) eliminate any chance for any plan to remove him from the supreme power. Based on such logic, Khamenei is moving towards a government with no opposition to his leadership.
In parallel with the internal repression, Khamenei needs the continuation of “terrorism and interference in the region’s countries” to survive. In this regard, he must have a uniform government that follows his will. An analyst close to the regime said in recent weeks that in this explosive situation, the regime should give up the dream of an Islamic caliphate, that is, regional interventions.
Khamenei, however, thinks that he can prevent the barrel of discontent from exploding with various and sometimes very inhumane maneuvers. When the Coronavirus entered Iran, Khamenei said it should be turned into an opportunity and considered a blessing. No preventive protocols manifested to slow down the spread of the virus in Iran. Khamenei had hoped to make COVID-19 a day-to-day concern for the people of Iran and a diversion from their dire economic and living conditions. For this reason, he issued a fatwa (religious decree) that reputable vaccines from the USA, Britain, and France should not be imported to Iran.
The insufficient number of less-reputable Chinese or Sputnik vaccines prevents Iranian society from reaching this boiling point of dismay and dissatisfaction. Khamenei believes that it is still possible to use the destructive Coronavirus against the people’s will and keep their minds distracted from the challenges facing Iran. However, Iran’s society is approaching the post-COVID-19 point, where Khamenei and his regime are going to be held accountable for an array of crimes, including the astonishingly high number of COVID-19 fatalities, the 1988 massacre of more than 30,000 political prisoners, and their role in the killing of the Syrian people.