Iran is facing elections in the middle of this month and they could be some of the most important elections for the country in many years. According to expert Arash Saleh, the representative of the Democratic Party of Iranian Kurdistan to the USA, “these rounds of elections are specifically important because, whoever becomes president, during his presidency the Islamic Republic may go through a transitional process.”
What he means is that the Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei is now 82 years old and because Iranian presidents tend to serve two four-year terms, it is possible the ayatollah could pass away during that time. “Recently strong rumors have been circulating pertaining the health of Ali Khamenei, the current leader,” says Saleh. He notes that Iran’s power centers revolve around Khamenei’s office, “which is the office of Vali-e-Faqih and is controlled by Khamenei`s son Mujtaba.” He also notes the importance of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), “which is solely controlled and commanded by Vali-e-Faqih.”
Saleh points out that Khamenei’s office is represented throughout the IRGC via clerics. “This makes IRGC an ideological military group strongly akin to ISIS with the exception that it has mutated into a more modern and effective version that has a strong presence in all sectors of Iran.” Saleh, who is Kurdish, is part of a Kurdish political party that has opposed the regime in Iran for many years and also been persecuted by the regime. He notes how the IRGC has increasingly taken control of every aspect of Iran, from sport to culture, and the private and public sectors. “The IRGC wants to make sure that the right person is picked after Khamenei is dead. They wanted the person to be a real reflection of the Vali-e-Faqih theory.
“The [office of Khamenei] and the IRGC are trying to have all main hinges of power to prepare the country for the transition…The hard core of power is trying to make the political power as homogenous as it can get in order to assure a smooth transitional period.” This means that the choice of the president is important as well. “The ability of the system to plan its transition by institutionalization of electoral engineering should put an end to the myth of reformability of the regime and of the possibility of any change from within its fractions,” says Saleh.
His point is that there is an illusion outside of Iran that portrays the regime as particularly complex and a system of “moderates” and “hardliners.” In fact, what appears to have happened is that the IRGC and its elements have increased their power and stranglehold on Iran. They leave increasingly less possibilities for change and less of a window for critique. This means that this election in Iran may cement their control and increase it. Whatever protests existed in the past, such as 2009 or the protests in 2019, illustrate that there is widespread opposition to this system. However those voices have been suppressed, arrested and persecuted.
Source » jpost