Iran: The Upcoming Elections And Khamenei’s Roadmap – OpEd


The two significant uprisings of 2017 and 2019 in Iran are the keys to understanding the roadmap of Iran’s Supreme Leader regarding Iran’s upcoming presidential election. These two uprisings were formed from unprecedented poverty, high prices, and inflation. The magnitude and the nature of these uprisings took the Iranian regime by surprise. In the 2019 uprising, Khamenei could only survive by ordering direct fire and killing 1,500 young insurgents. 

Rouhani has repeatedly acknowledged that Iran’s president was only after the 2017 uprising in Iran that former U.S. President Trump dared to abandon the JCPOA (Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action). According to some information I have received from Iranian intelligence, after the 2019 uprising, Trump dared to allow Ghasem Soleimani, Iran’s number 2 man, to be assassinated. The army of the hungry and the unemployed were actively present in these two uprisings. Within Tehran circles, it is believed that the Iranian regime was expecting the next uprising to take place in the summer of 2020, a revolt that could have overthrown the regime. Each new wave of protests was more potent than the previous one and was threatening the regime further. But Corona arrived. Khamenei considered the Coronavirus to be a blessing and an opportunity for its government. Corona and the ensuing massacre were Khamenei’s wish to prevent the rebellious youth from heading for another uprising by creating despair. For this reason, he did not take any effective measures to prevent the spread of the disease and the resulting deaths.

Furthermore, he also issued a fatwa (religious decree) banning reputable vaccines from France, Britain, and the United States. However, the Baloch people’s recent uprising in early March 2021 showed that the Coronavirus had not stopped people from protests and uprisings. Because of these two uprisings and their consequences and Iran’s Supreme Leader deteriorating regional influence, Western countries claim that the balance of power has changed. Therefore, another agreement should be negotiated based on these new realities. In June 2019, Mehr News Agency quoted the information from the Office of the Supreme Leader of Iran, that Ayatollah Khamenei said in a meeting with a group of students: “If you the youths could facilitate the formation of a young fundamentalist government, many of our worries will dissipate.” Similar to many other dictators throughout history, Iran’s dictator pursues a contractionary policy in its last stage of existence. The dictator plans to assemble all its like-minded and loyal people. As in the parliamentary elections on March 23, 2019, the Guardian Council disqualified all so-called reformist candidates, and the majority of those who were chosen were very close to Khamenei’s ideology.

In his Persian New Year speech, Khamenei said that the coming election should not be a symbol of bipolarity. In this regard, Khamenei said: “Regarding the coming election, our dear people should make the elections a symbol of national unity. Do not make the election of duality, division, and bipolarity. Put aside these false divisions of left and right and the like.” (Khamenei – April 1, 2021) 

In simple terms, similar to Iran’s 2020 Parliamentary election, Khamenei intends to allow those loyal to him and his goals to be the candidates. Based on this intention, in the upcoming elections in June 2021, the Guardian Council will disqualify all other candidates. Khatami and Ahmadinejad, two former presidents, also want to run in this election, and undoubtedly, they will be disqualified. Khamenei’s approach to the presidential election will further discredit and weaken him, even among his close allies within the regime. In the same speech, Khamenei magnifies the attributes of the next president as:

  1. To be effective
  2. Must believe in Velayat-e-Faghih ( supreme leader supremacy)
  3. Should possess a decisive and revolutionary personality, should not compromise.
  4. For a person to be able to remedy our problems, he must act swiftly and be determined.

“Of course, finding such a person is not easy for all people.”

But the culmination of Khamenei’s speech in this speech is that he says, “Dear nation, know that the U.S. intelligence and intelligence services, as well as the Zionist regime, have been trying for some time to weaken the June elections, or in fact accuse the organizers or the respected Guardian Council of meddling with the elections. These countries want to make you believe that your vote does not affect improving the situation; why do you even bother to vote? They are using cyberspace to the fullest and to the maximum” (Khamenei – April 1, 2021).

Khamenei is in a deadlock. On the one hand, he needs a well-participated election because he believes this could cure all his incurable problems. On the other hand, he believes that this election will face the least number of participants and place the United States and Israel’s fault.

Regarding the JCPOA, Khamenei deliberately ignored the protests and uprisings of the last four years and intentionally underrated Iranian society’s explosive situation. He adds:” The Americans say today is different from 2014 and 2015 when the JCPOA was agreed upon, and so there should be changes to the JCPOA. I agree that the situation has changed since, but Iran should benefit from these changes.”

Khamenei realizes that the new U.S. administration, which was supposed to return to the 2015 JCPOA on the very first day of Biden’s arrival in the White House and lift the sanctions, has not done so. He states: “No one in Iran should violate our policy regarding any changes to JCPOA. Everyone should follow this policy. First, the Americans should lift all sanctions. Next, we will test and see if the sanctions have actually been removed. If all the sanctions were removed, in the true sense of the word, then we will return to our obligations” (Khamenei – April 1, 2021).

Of course, this is just a bluff and by no means mirrors the new realities in the region and the balance of power. Khamenei claims that he is in no rush to reach a new agreement with the western countries. He intends to prolong this matter until the appointment of the regime’s new president. Khamenei is well aware of the danger of sanctions and how the sanctions have crippled his financial supports to Iran’s proxy groups in different countries of the region. 

On the other hand, he is well aware of the Iranian society’s explosive situation and the fact that a widespread uprising is about to happen. However, Khamenei prefers to wait until his preferred president in Iran is installed first and then decides to return to the Western countries’ negotiation table. This is just an assumption and a wish. 

The oppressed Iranian people’s demands for a better life and their dismay of the regime and its mullahs are coming to the surface. Khamenei has no choice but to face another uprising, the one that will lead to the collapse of its regime.

Hamid Enayat

Hamid Enayat is an Iranian human rights activist and analyst based in Europe.

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