By Armin Baldwin
Elections are typically tumultuous for the Iranian regime, especially as its existence is the very antithesis of democracy, but with February parliamentary elections on the horizon, Iran is facing a plethora of domestic and international crises that it cannot hope to resolve.
These problems, as always, are manifesting in more infighting among regime officials from different factions who disagree about how they can save the regime and how to squander the country’s wealth.
Now, regime officials are trying to hide their involvement in things, like the fuel price increase and the violent crackdown on the uprising that followed, by placing the blame on their rivals and exposing yet more regime-endorsed corruption.
This becomes clear when you look at the remarks made by officials and state-run media in recent weeks. The Guardian Council, the body that oversees elections, has been warning officials to “speak wisely” and not be affected by pressure.
These rifts between those at the top lay the foundation for social unrest, as it did in the 2009 nationwide uprisings and the 2017-2018 protests. The regime’s infighting is at a peak, compared with those times, and the people are in a more explosive state.
To make matters worse for the mullahs, the recent protests in November and January, directly targeted Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei and Khamenei has now lost Quds Force chief Qasem Soleimani. The regime was also revealed to have shot down a Ukrainian plane, killing all 176 civilians on-board
All in all, the regime is in a terrible situation. If Khamenei was not so weak, he could have postponed the elections in order to stabilise the regime, but he knows that things will only worsen in the coming months.
That’s why he has decided to proceed with the elections, despite these crises, while trying to minimize damage to the regime by disqualifying candidates and other underhand measures. He cannot cancel or postpone the elections because that would be tantamount to admitting that the regime is in crisis, something Khamenei does not want to do.
The People’s Mojahedin Organization of Iran (PMOI/MEK) wrote: “Therefore, Khamenei and his regime are headed for even more turbulent times. “Lest the enemies take advantage and achieve their desires,” Khamenei warned in his Friday prayer sermon last week. And who is the enemy? Clearly, Khamenei means the people of Iran and their resistance movement, whose voice for regime change is growing louder every day and echoing in every city and street of Iran.”