By Nima Sharif
In every democratic society the word ‘opposition’ references those who disagree with some or all policies of the ruling party. But in a country such as Iran, where every dissident voice is silenced in the most inhumane and vicious way (see what happened to Sattar Beheshti), the word opposition can only mean one thing: seeking “regime change.”
After thirty years of continuous repression while experiencing all types of make-believe reformers and regime supporters posing as opposition, we can’t fool ourselves no more. There is no opposition inside the regime. After all the massacres, executions and wars and deprivation of the most basic rights from the Iranian people, anyone left in the ruling crowd is the regime.
No one can claim to be critical of the regime and yet associate with it in any way. Anyone claiming to be the opposition has to draw lines separating self from Tehran rulers.
The first and foremost important characteristic of an Iranian opposition movement, one that is seeking to replace the current regime with a democratic alternative, is opposition to the principle of Velayat-e Faghih (Absolute Rule of Clergy). The principle is what keeps Ali Khamenei in power after he inherited the post from his predecessor Ayatollah Khomeini who founded the Islamic Republic following the overthrow of Mohammad-Reza Shah’s monarchy.
Velayat-e Faghih in itself is a type of monarchy. The ruler is not chosen by popular vote, only by a few clerics designated by the previous ruler (Khomeini in this case). And the post is a lifelong position.
Obviously, all elections and democratic postures by the regime are simple charades to fool some unaware observers to think that some sort of a western-style people’s vote is involved in ruling the country. But, as everyone saw in 2009, as soon as the Velayat-e Faghid just tried to go a little further in his election masquerade, the whole country exploded in dissent. And as we saw, the top mostly heard chants of all during the demonstrations was a call to “end the principle of the Velayat-e Faghih.”
The Iranian regime has exploited the word opposition to divert attentions from the real solution for the Iranian dilemma. There are currently lobbyists in Washington whose objectives are to advance the policies of the Iranian mullahs and gather support for them but they pose as ‘opposition.’ That makes it easy for them to maneuver while the regime itself is not defendable. Also, this muddies the waters making it difficult to find the real opposition to the regime.
Therefore, anyone who claims to be in opposition to the Iranian regime has to clarify his position. Is he calling for ‘regime change’ in Iran or does he want to stay within the framework of the current regime with the principle of Velayat-e Faghih kept intact? We can all be sure that the latter is no opposition.
This article was published at Stop Fundamentalism and reprinted with permission.