On September 18, Iranian Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei virtually visited representatives of ‘Student Unions.’ In his remark, he affirmed that establishing a ‘young and hezbollahi government’ is the only way to ensure the theocracy’s survival. In other words, Khamenei showed his intention to shape the upcoming government through the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC).
“I have repeatedly said that I believe in such a government… However, this word does not mean just a thirty-some-year-old young person becomes the government’s chief… The young and hezbollahi government means a practical, ready, and spritely government that cures dilemmas and can pass the country from hard paths,” Mehr news agency, affiliated to the Ministry of Intelligence and Security (MOIS), quoted Khamenei as saying on the same day.
Khamenei also declared his required symbol for such a government. He implicitly revealed his previous plan to appoint former commander of the IRGC-Quds Force (IRGC-QF) Qassem Soleimani, who was killed in a drone attack in Baghdad on January 3, 2020.
“Some are young, hardworking, and cheerful despite old ages like ‘great martyr’ Haj Qassem Soleimani. He was above 60 years old. However, I would preserve him at his position even for another 10 years if he was not martyred,” Khamenei added.
Removals and New Appointments for Shrinking the State
Khamenei has time and again announced that he sees contraction as the leading way to rescue the government from this status quo and extend the Islamic Republic’s lifetime. According to this method, while domestic and international crises have surrounded the Iranian government, Khamenei beats the drum for more contraction.
In this context, he removed his rivals from the Parliament (Majlis) via the Guardian Council, and he approximately formed a slick Majlis whose members unquestionably obey the Supreme Leader’s orders. Meanwhile, the 2020 Parliamentary elections turned into an absolute scandal and faced public apathy. In fact, Khamenei reduced the state’s social base by purging ‘reformists.’
Sham Presidential Election
Following the Parliamentary elections, Khamenei openly displayed his intention to appoint one of his loyalists as the next president. In this regard, the Majlis passed the plan of ‘Special and Public Conditions for Presidential Candidates,’ paving the path for the victory of Khamenei’s required candidate. The Supreme Leader’s hasty efforts even prompted state-run media outlets to mock him implicitly.
“Some are telling a joke, saying, ‘The approved plan just lacks the first letter of a candidate’s name.’ I feel some pursue young followers, not young pioneers,” said Mohammad Javad Azari-Jahromi, the Minister of Information and Communication Technology (ICT), in an interview with Entekhab website on December 17.
Furthermore, President Hassan Rouhani’s allies severely attacked Majlis Speaker Mohammad Bagher Ghalibaf and his effort for the presidency. “Wow, Majlis reformed the presidential law for Ghalibaf… Believe, if they could, they would write the presidential candidate must be a general, doctor, pilot, Tehran mayor, and Majlis Speaker—referring to Ghalibaf’s previous positions—otherwise, he cannot register,” wrote Asr-e Iran website on December 19.
“Mullah Nasreddin threw the arrow, then drew a circle around it to say that his arrow had exactly hit the target. Our parliamentary friends first specify their candidate, then write the law in this context,” the website added.
Khamenei’s Faction Threatens ‘Reformists’ with Changing Constitution, Holding Referendum
Khamenei’s allies, who are concerned about losing the presidential seat, sounded alarm bells and warned MPs to change the constitution if it was necessary. This indicates that the Supreme Leader would do whatever it takes to appoint his required candidate to the presidency easily.
“The people must specify conditions for presidential candidacy and all they must vote for. This issue is out of the Majlis’ authority. This act is considered changing the constitution. Any change in the constitution must be approved by the people and through a referendum,” wrote Arman daily affiliated to Rouhani’s allies on December 21.
“MPs are tasked with passing new articles in the framework of the constitution, not above it. It is impossible to limit the people’s right to choose with a political and factional opinion,” the daily added.
In this respect, Hassan Rouhani seized the opportunity and blamed his rivals for changing the constitution. He also threatened Khamenei’s agents with holding a referendum over the Majlis’s approvals and constitution changes.
Obviously, political rivalries have intensified among Iranian officials. On the cusp of the Presidential election, they have begun to reveal some untold stories about systematic corruption, ruthless crimes, and probably financial, moral, and other scandals.
In such circumstances, the amplification of political rivalries only weakens the bond between the Islamic Republic’s loyalists and the government and spreads distrust even among the ayatollahs’ base. Moreover, infighting among officials would incite citizens to openly express their disappointment toward the entire ruling system, paving the path for potential protests.