By Mahin Horri
Ahead of the parliamentary elections, scheduled for next year, Iran’s regime has carried out the first wave of disqualifications, eliminating several current members of the Majlis(parliament). This move has shattered the illusion of the so-called “reformists” within the regime, who had been harboring hopes of making a comeback to politics after being purged from the Majlis in 2021.
They had believed that Iranian regime supreme leader Ali Khamenei, in order to display his influence, would at least give them a minimal role. However, upon his order, they were disqualified, not by the Guardian Council, but by the Executive Election Board of the Ministry of Interior, so that the task of removing the rest would be easier and smoother for the Guardian Council, the body that makes sure the legislative body and its decisions are in line with the regime’s ideology and overarching policies.
Khamenei is thus taking advantage of the war in Gaza to advance his own project of contracting power within the tight circle of his loyalists, which he had initiated by appointing Ebrahim Raisi as president.
This policy can be clearly seen in Friday prayers, where Khamenei’s representatives shed crocodile tears for the victims of Gaza while at the same time expressing their satisfaction at the ongoing war.
They simultaneously engaged in tantrums regarding the war in Gaza and launched attacks and insults against the leaders of countries that have not aligned themselves with Khamenei’s deceitful tactics. This was done to create an atmosphere of excitement for the parliamentary and Assembly of Experts elections.
Ahmad Khatami, the speakers of Friday sermons, who reflect the views of Khamenei, criticized the “Arab governments” by asking, “Why have you resorted to deadly silence? Why don’t you at least, demand an end to the bombings?” He made reference to the regime’s sham elections and said, “The enemy’s strategy in all elections is to hold lackluster elections… But you Hezbollahis are fully present on the scene to magnificently organize the elections.”
Alireza Arafi, the Friday prayers leader of Qom, followed a similar pattern and expressed happiness over the horrific magnitude of the tragedy, destruction, and killings in Gaza. He said, “This new phase and the formation of a new front within Palestine and the resistance axis are great achievements that are worth all these hardships and difficulties for the Palestinian and the Islamic nations.”
He brought up the topic of elections and emphasized the “sensitive conditions in the region.” He emphasized, “Increased participation is the Islamic, national, revolutionary, faith-based, and ethical duty of all of us. Let us both participate and call for participation and let us create more opportunities for participation… Even a single vote, even a one percent increase in votes, can have a significant impact on the hopeful progress of the country and the shining discourse of the Islamic Revolution in the region, Iran, and the world.”
Other figures, such as Mohammad Mokhtari, the Friday prayer leader in Birjand, referred to the disqualified candidates who are currently present in the “Revolutionary Parliament” as a “group of foreign mercenaries.” He said, “We are still vulnerable in elections… First, we must reach a point where the movement of the revolution does not stop every four or eight years, and a group of foreign mercenaries does not bring votes. Then, we can empower the resistance front and save the Middle East and Islamic nations.”
The Iranian Resistance believes that the main objective of Khamenei’s warmongering in the region is to prevent the inevitable uprising of the Iranian people. However, at the same time, he wants to use the Gaza conflict to achieve other goals, one of which is engineering the elections of the parliament and the Assembly of Experts, especially considering the serious issue of Khamenei’s succession is also at stake.