The Guardian Council, which regulates law and elections, delivered its final decision on the eligible candidates to run in the upcoming fraudulent elections on 18 June. The National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI), and the People’s Mujahedin of Iran (PMOI / MEK Iran), reported that many top regime officials, including Ali Larijani, a former Majlis (parliament) speaker, a former Revolutionary Guards commander, and a close confidant of the regime’s supreme leader Ali Khamenei, were disqualified by the Council.
The Guardian Council’s members are appointed by Khamenei and the judiciary chief, who himself is appointed by Khamenei. Its selections are a direct reflection of Khamenei’s wishes for the regime’s survival.
Following Larijani’s dismissal, Ebrahim Raisi, the regime’s current judiciary leader and a notorious killer of thousands of Iranian dissidents, is the only viable candidate left in the race. Even regime insiders recognize that the new line-up has almost ensured Raisi as the dictatorship’s next president.
Since the fundamentalists’ rule began in 1979, Raisi has held various roles in the judiciary. The “1988 massacre,” a weeks-long purge of Iran’s prisons that resulted in the execution of over 30,000 political detainees, is the climax of his career.
Raisi was a member of the regime’s “death commission,” a trio of officials who called inmates one by one and sealed their destiny in minutes-long tribunals that culminated in a journey to the execution of the prisoner did not confess of his or her opposition to the mullahs’ dictatorial rule. Raisi has consistently claimed his pride in his part in the massacre of 1988.
In fact, presidential elections in Iran have nothing to do with the Iranian people choosing their leaders. They exist purely to legitimize Khamenei’s dictatorship, and the results reflect the power balance between various regime factions, all of which are linked to the fundamentalists’ atrocities over the last four decades.
The dictatorship is only able to keep power with brutal oppression and social control as it has become clear that the regime is in a complicated situation, owing to the tumultuous situation of an 80-million-strong society that no longer wishes the mullahs to rule. The government has faced many rounds of large protests since the previous presidential elections, including two nationwide uprisings in 2018 and 2019, in which the people called explicitly for a regime change.
As a result, it is clear that Khamenei is preparing to seal all cracks in his regime and unite it around a mass murderer who will carry out his every command and oppress the population with an iron grip.
The time has arrived for the West to abandon appeasement and take a more active approach. The regime’s fraudulent election must be recognized as illegitimate and unjust.
This approach would also put an end to the regime’s strategy of allowing past and current crimes to go unpunished, and hold the regime’s leaders accountable. Ultimately, it would support the Iranian people in their demand for regime change and the restoration of freedom and democracy for their homeland.