The sham election crisis and the inflamed atmosphere of Iranian society

On Friday, June 18, 2021, a presidential election will take place in an Iran struggling with instability and confusion.  According to the Iranian regime's officials, this election is expected to be one of the most stagnant and sluggish elections in the last four decades.

Over the past century, the Iranian people have experienced four major movements in search of democracy: the 1906 Constitutional Revolution, the Mossadegh National Movement in the early 1950s, the 1979 anti-monarchist revolution, and the resistance to the current regime since the 1980s.  It's only the last of the four movements, though, that has seen unparalleled repression and dictatorship.

In 1988, the Ayatollah Khomenei regime brutally massacred an estimated 30,000 people for opposing the regime.  It emerged in 2016 that Ayatollah Montazeri, who was to have been Khomenei's successor, addressed the perpetrators, one of whom was Ayatollah Khamenei's chosen presidential candidate, Ebrahim Raisi, saying: "In my view, the biggest crime in the Islamic Republic, for which history will condemn us, has been committed at your hands, and they'll write your names as criminals in history."

Iranians refused to elect Raisi in 2017.  However, Khamenei is being forced to push him into office, to unify the Velayat-e-Faqih system (that is, the Islamic Revolution's form of government) and strengthen his faltering regime.

The impact of the election on JCPOA and Khamenei's project

To save his system, Khamenei blames the government and Rouhani for all the problems.  The economic crisis, unemployment, and poverty have put society in an explosive state.  In such circumstances, Khamenei seeks a way out of this crisis by establishing a unipolar regime totally aligned with him and a nuclear Iran, an ambitious idea he designed and planned long ago.

For the first step, Khamenei disrupted the International Atomic Agency (IAEA)'s oversight work.  He created many obstacles to providing video information to IAEA, making it conditional on lifting sanctions and returning the United States to the JCPOA.  Khamenei knows that the international community will not accept his terms.  He is just buying time so he can consolidate his regime preparatory to obtaining a nuclear weapon.

On June 7, IAEA director-general Rafael Mariano Grossi stated:

Since my last report, Iran has provided no new information in relation to one location; has not answered any of the Agency's questions nor provided any information in relations to two other locations; and provided a written statement on a fourth location without any substantiating documentation. 

Because Khamenei understands that the 2015 JCPOA is dead, he's got a 2021 JCPOA lined up.  The regime's Resalat newspaper quoted an independent newspaper, saying, "The United States and its powerful European allies are working to include the issue of continuing talks to address the two issues of the ballistic missile program and the Islamic Republic's behavior in the region."

Therefore, Khamenei sees obtaining nuclear weapons as the secret to his regime's survival.  That's why he wants Raisi as president: he knows that Raisi, considered one of the most brutal men in Iran, will help him achieve that goal by consolidating power and working with him to hide a sped-up nuclear program from the international community.

But Khamenei knows better than anyone else that he is sitting on a powder keg of Iranian anger.  The expected low turnout in the Iranian elections will have far-reaching consequences for the Middle East.

The AP reported on June 16 that "for Raisi himself, the immediate danger may be coming from inside Iran itself.  Anger over its ailing economy has seen nationwide protests erupt twice in recent years and spin out of control."  Therefore, Khamenei wants to arm his regime against the uprising of the Iranian people and its organized resistance for justice and freedom in Iran.

Human rights groups fear a Raisi presidency because of his long history of brutality in Iran.  Thus:

The rights group's [Amnesty International's] Iran researcher Raha Bahreini told AFP that Raisi should be "criminally investigated for the crimes against humanity of murder, enforced disappearance and torture", including by foreign countries under the principle of universal jurisdiction.

Now, in the inflamed and explosive atmosphere of Iranian society, Raisi's advertising banners have caused anger and hatred among the people.  They're being torn and burned every day in the cities.

The Iranian people are no longer willing to go along peacefully with predetermined sham elections.  They understand that Khamenei is propping up an unpopular regime by installing a brutal man in the presidency.  They consider it their national and historical duty to boycott the elections and topple this regime.

Hassan Mahmoudi is a social analyst, researcher, independent observer, and commentator of Middle Eastern and Iranian politics.  He tweets under @hassan_mahmou1.

Image: Burning an Ebrahim Raisi campaign poster.  YouTube screen grab.

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