A regime that neglects its own people is destined to self-destruct - opinion

By The Jerusalem Post (World News) | Created at 2024-07-04 02:35:20 | Updated at 2024-07-21 19:31:27 2 weeks ago
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The people of Iran, by boycotting the elections, have showcased their political maturity. 

By ERFAN FARD JULY 4, 2024 04:48
 Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting/West Asia News Agency/Reuters) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATES Masoud Pezeshkian (right) and Saeed Jalili ​attend an election debate at a television studio in Tehran, on Monday. (photo credit: Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting/West Asia News Agency/Reuters)

In Iran, a land plundered and commandeered by the Islamic Republic, the ballot box holds neither esteem nor respect. The populace finds itself powerless, their choices meaningless as the independence of their votes is systematically nullified. The regime’s propaganda machine operates under the guise of voting as a benevolence bestowed by the rulers, masking the reality of coercion.

Amid this widespread political boycott, the unrest within the protesting society and the deepening internal crisis have become starkly visible. This universal rejection of the presidential elections has demonstrated to the world that the Iranian populace remains unswayed by propaganda, proving that a stagnant regime cannot govern a society poised for movement.

With this display of bankrupt leadership, Iran has effectively bid farewell to the pretense of democratic governance.

Iranian society has come to realize that under this oppressive and repressive regime, their votes will not bring about any change; the status quo will remain unchanged. The slogans of the candidates as perceived by the Iranian public are just empty promises devoid of rational or logical basis.

The Iranian people feel no emotional connection or intellectual commitment to candidates like Jalili and Pezeshkian, who clearly lack the courage, political resolve, insight, and determination needed to fight tyranny. The other candidates merely serve as puppets of Khamenei, participating in the meticulously staged charade of the elections. The dictator has consolidated control over every lever of power – the presidency, the parliament, the forces of repression, and the propaganda apparatus – ensuring all operate under his direct command.

Presidential candidate Saeed Jalili votes at a polling station in a snap presidential election to choose a successor to Ebrahim Raisi following his death in a helicopter crash, in Tehran, Iran June 28, 2024. (credit: Stringer/WANA)

Khamenei himself epitomizes a dictator: irresponsible, cruel, and obtuse. He personifies a culture steeped in religious despotism, anchored in an archaic, destructive, and domineering Shi’ite ideology. Arbitrarily imposing his chosen successor on the people of Iran, he wields the nation’s power and wealth with absolute control. His dictatorial influence alone renders the ballot box meaningless and the supposed right to choose, a farce. With arrogance and disdain, he proclaims that while society may nominally select a candidate, the ultimate allegiance of the vote lies with the regime.

The Iranian people have endured a lot

The people of Iran, by boycotting the elections, have showcased their political maturity.

Over the past 45 years, they have gained a profound education in history and politics. Consequently, even though they are ensnared in a desert of fear, they have decisively turned their backs on this era and regime, unmoved by the candidates’ deceitful smiles or sardonic grins.

Since the springless winter of 1979, society has endured the rise of a horrific despotism, seemingly setting the stage for its eventual collapse. The minds of the Iranian people are now awakened, striving to break free from the chains that restrain them. Khamenei and his regime continue to block the path toward the institutionalization of democracy and human rights in Iran. Consequently, the Iranian populace is driven towards a national uprising, determined to transcend the rule of the mullahs.

Since 1979, the nation of Iran, particularly its younger generations, has recognized a significant regression. Authoritarianism and despotism, wielding brutal repression, have ascended to power. The ensuing chaos, fueled by both Islamic and communist terrorism, has allowed the violent and extremist ideology of Khomeinism to devastate the nation. This period marks a stark historical regression, with each subsequent government – whether conservative or reformist – driving Iran towards a precipice of decline and perpetuating instability.

The Iranian populace remains ensnared to the vilayat-e faqih (“the dictatorship of a jurist”), a governance system that perpetuates the despotism of ancient Islamic caliphates and Mongol rule. This has inflicted a profound cognitive dissonance on the Iranian people, as the relentless onslaught of a destructive regime continues to wound society and the state itself.

Anyone stepping up to the ballot box on Friday must confront the issue of Khamenei’s succession. In Shi’ite tradition, the discourse on imamah (“leadership by imams”) underscores the significance of hereditary succession. Khamenei is intent on appointing his son, Mojtaba, to follow in his footsteps, aiming to perpetuate his rule through familial lineage.

Despite the veneer of legality, Khamenei views himself as above the law, a perspective entrenched since 1979, which has effectively nullified the rule of law in Iran. This election cycle is no exception; it aligns seamlessly with Khamenei’s plans for succession, enshrined in the lawlessness that enables him to act with impunity under the guise of sanctity.

However, the inherent flaws of Khamenei’s governance and his administration’s inefficiency have rendered the regime’s façade both fragile and brittle. No one can bolster his waning power, and there appears to be no preventing the impending collapse of what is being termed “the pure Islamic regime” in Iran.

In contrast, groups such as the reformists (Islamic Left) – including participants of the 1979 revolt with a history of militant activities such as the Organization of Iranian People’s Fedai Guerrillas (OIPFG) and the Freedom Movement of Iran (FMI) – seek to maintain the current government and preserve the status quo. They act as barriers to systemic collapse, advocating for reforms that they hope will rejuvenate and sustain the government.

Despite the regime’s oppressive actions that strip away fundamental human rights, these reformists continue to peddle dreams and instill fear with hollow promises. Yet, they are acutely aware of the pervasive influence of Khamenei’s regime and the IRGC, which are omnipresent, infringing on rights and maintaining power through force, indicating that any transition of power could lead to severe violence.

Recent years have seen the inefficient and brutal regime in Iran face widespread sanctions from its own people, acknowledging its failure and recognizing that it has lost the people’s mandate. As a result, neither of the two similar candidates (Jalili or Pezeshkian) is likely to curtail the costs associated with the regime’s sponsorship of Islamic terrorism and terrorist activities. There is no foreseeable scope for change. The Iranian economy, environment, production, industry, and stock market are in ruins.

For 45 years, the people have endured this bankrupt regime, but they refuse to be mere pawns, serving only to prolong the life of the Islamic Republic’s rule. Fortunately, civil resistance in Iran has grown stronger, with those who have been consistently oppressed and humiliated now experiencing a new awakening.

This has instilled fear within the heart of the regime, which is terrified of collapse and insecure in its grip on power, making it, rightly, the target of this boycott and the nation’s estrangement.

In the eyes of the Iranian people, the authoritarian regime of the savage mullahs is nothing more than a paper tiger. A society devoid of physical security has realized that this regime, with its hands stained in blood and crime, relies solely on suppression, propaganda, and servitude to China and Russia. The people loudly declare that the political facade of the regime has been shattered. This political stalemate in Iran is seen as potentially good news for the Middle East.

However, the future remains uncertain for Iranians, plagued by numerous political and internal crises. One historical certainty is that the reign of a criminal authoritarian regime is unsustainable.

A regime that disregards the consent of its people, is indifferent to their suffering, and governs all aspects of their lives arbitrarily and beyond the law with an iron fist, inevitably breeds internal crises. Without the active participation of the people in the economy, politics, culture, and governance, no regime can fulfill its purpose effectively.

The writer is a counterterrorism analyst and Middle East studies researcher based in Washington, with a particular focus on Iran and ethnic conflicts in the region. His new book is The Black Shabbat, published in the US. You can follow him at erfanfard.com and on X @EQFARD.

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