By Jubin Katiraie
Iran’s supreme leader Ali Khamenei’s Friday prayers’ sermon proved nothing but a show of weakness, by an establishment of losing power day after day in face of rapid social developments.
Although the first Friday sermon by the regime’s supreme leader after an eight-year lull, the most important point in the whole speech was that there was nothing new nor vital in it.
The most important items demanding immediate reference were surprisingly absent in the leader’s sermon. Not a word on the Iranian people’s general uprising against the regime, not a word on the 1500 death toll in crushing that uprising and the official silence as to casualty figures, not a word on the three-day cover-up of the shooting down of a civilian airliner over Tehran and so many “official” lies on the affair, and so on.
While there were speculations that Khamenei might suggest some way out of the current crises, he once again confirmed that there was no way out of the quagmire for the regime.
In fact, the situation speaks for itself:
Having lost his right arm in the region Qassem Soleimani, Khamenei and his regime have in no way the same ability of regional nuisance. A lot of steam has been taken out of the regime’s warmongering and saber-rattling in the region; launching a few rockets into Iraqi army bases housing US forces would in no way repair the image.
The Future of Iran and the Region Without #QassemSoleimani , Commander of the Quds Force https://t.co/2kENXGqG3U via @iranfocus
The death of Soleimani was seen by many as a turning point in the region and an irreparable blow to the clerical regime in #Iran.
— Iran Focus (@Iran_Focus) January 5, 2020
Then shooting down the Ukrainian airliner over Tehran got the regime into real internal trouble. Having crushed the November uprising in blood, the mullahs counted on a period of relative calm thanks to the terrorizing effect of their brutal repression. With the airliner’s catastrophe, all social classes got to the streets again against the government’s action. Even the state TV reporters, a number of senior government employees, public social figures such as artists announced their distaste with the regime and, in specific cases, even withdrew from activities officially announced by the government.
Khamenei’s counter-attack before today’s sermon did not prove effective either. Last week, he blamed Alania, as a “small but vicious European country”, to have harbored the Iranian opposition MEK, with the latter “conspiring” with the US against the “Islamic Republic.”
In fact, MEK’s resistance units have been giving the regime a hard time since the November uprising in Iran. Big posters of Khamenei and Soleimani were torn by the youth or set on fire across the country. Even IRGC’s mobilization centers (Bassij) were attacked by the youth with video-clips of the attacks shown on several social networks in support of the MEK by Iranians.
But the fact that two regime’s diplomats were expelled from Albania following Khamenei’s remarks was interpreted as a sign of utmost weakness on the part of the regime. The acting Albanian Foreign Minister emphasized that the two were expelled due to activities incompatible with their diplomatic status. Albania had already expelled Iran’s ambassador and another diplomat, in December 2018, for having planned a terrorist attack against the MEK in Albania.
Albania Takes Another Step Toward Countering #Iran’s Threats https://t.co/1xWhmrB3bK via @iranfocus#Albanian Government orders two #Iranian diplomats to leave the country within 72 hours, due to they pose “a serious threat” to Albania
— Iran Focus (@Iran_Focus) January 15, 2020
Khamenei’s speech today was yet another picture of the impasse in which his regime is: Because of severely deteriorating economic conditions, social unrest could not be overcome by sheer repression, so the regime had to revert to regional adventurism more than ever. Shooting down a US drone and attacking Saudi Arabian oil facilities as well as local attacks against US forces in Iraq were parts of this test of wills in which the regime saw no imminent danger. Khamenei had said more than once that “there would be no war,” counting on the fact that the US president would not engage in a war with Iran in an election year.
The death of Qassem Soleimani in a US drone attack in Baghdad resembled losing a queen in a regional game of chess. How long can the king survive the loss of the queen?