In a letter published this month by Kalema, a website close to Iranian reformists, the leader of Iran’s Green Movement, Mir-Hossein Mousavi, raised two critical questions that have preoccupied the minds of a large number of Iranians.
The first question posed by Mousavi, who has been under house arrest for more than a decade, concerned Iran’s interventions in regional countries. Perhaps no one from among Iran’s elite has raised this question with a high degree of criticism, analysis and examination. The second question was related to the possible identity of Ali Khamenei’s successor, with Mousavi indicating that the supreme leader’s son, Mojtaba Khamenei, is being groomed to succeed his father.
The letter also effectively thwarted the regime’s narrative about popular protests in the Arab world. Mousavi believes that the so-called Arab Spring was a continuation of the 2009 Green Movement protests in Iran. The arrests of Mousavi and Mehdi Karroubi were motivated by the regime’s fear that the Arab Spring would spread to Iran, threatening its legitimacy. This assertion is diametrically opposed to the narrative of the Iranian regime, which claims that the Arab Spring was a continuation of the so-called Islamic Awakening that began in Iran in 1979. Mousavi believes that, by spreading this narrative, the regime hoped to stop the Arab Spring from spilling over into Iran, divert its internal crises outwards and achieve extraterritorial objectives.
Mousavi’s questioning is in line with Iranian dissatisfaction with the regime’s regional policies. This is reflected in the slogans chanted by Iranian protesters against Iran’s support for armed proxies in the Arab world, while the Iranian people suffer from deteriorating socioeconomic conditions.
In his letter, Mousavi called for the mounting popular anger to be taken advantage of in an attempt to change the direction of the revolution’s compass. His letter came at a time when Iran faces major challenges both at home and abroad. It appears that Mousavi is aware of the critical juncture facing the Iranian regime and is attempting to reunite the Iranian street behind the Green Movement.
The former prime minister has attempted to reflect the aspirations of the Iranian people, as well as of the other peoples in the region. He also distances himself from Iran’s confessional and sectarian affiliations by reiterating that the people have the right to choose the political system that best serves their interests. Mousavi also presents a radically different approach to Iranian foreign policy, one based on respecting national autonomy, sovereignty and the will of the people.
He also warned against appointing Mojtaba Khamenei as his father’s successor. Mousavi noted that “news about a succession conspiracy has been circulating in Iran for the past 13 years.” If the Khamenei family is not interested in succession, he asked, then why don’t they come out and deny such reports even once? Of course, the issue of the supreme leader’s successor is complicated and may be linked to influential apparatuses such as the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps and the Assembly of Experts. Mousavi’s warning suggests that the issue is being discussed within Khamenei’s inner circle. Mojtaba harbors ambitions of replacing his father, especially given his extensive clout within the regime’s most powerful decision-making circles.
Concerning Iran’s subversive role in the region, Mousavi provided a very important high-level acknowledgement that Iran is responsible for the current abysmal situation in parts of the Arab world, especially where uprisings have occurred, such as in Syria and Yemen.
In Mousavi’s view, Iran’s regime sought to deprive the revolutionary Arab movement — seeking freedom and justice — of its essence. He said the results are a tragedy: War in Syria; millions of displaced people; hundreds of thousands of casualties; infamy for the Lebanese Hezbollah; the emergence of Daesh; a war in Yemen; and Arab countries building strong ties with Israel.
He asserts that Iran used religious justifications, such as defending “holy shrines,” to deploy fighters to Syria. These fighters went on to commit the most heinous crimes. They butchered children and other innocent people to consolidate Bashar Assad’s regime.
The Tehran regime used the same approach at home, naming notorious thugs it used to attack young protesters with lethal weapons as “basira” (vision). The term “shrine defender” — used to describe the militias deployed at some religious shrines in Syria — bears military connotations centered on extraterritorial insurgency and strong Shiite sectarian symbolism. The IRGC’s Imam Hossein HQ is the most important center for coordinating and providing training for the so-called shrine defenders. In addition, it directs the wars in Syria and Iraq.
Mousavi notes that one of the Iranian regime’s primary characteristics is the creation of loopholes and pretexts to defend its subversive regional policies. He further observes that the regime has also failed to set a good example for the Arab countries subjected to Iranian interventions.
These Arab countries have also been gripped by sectarian infighting and widespread chaos. They have been divided into dangerous cantons and areas of influence, where several disputants with competing agendas project and compete for power. They have also become safe havens for terrorist outfits, which have resurfaced after being eliminated. As a result, Mousavi observed, there is a high rate of emigration, both from Iran and the Arab countries impacted by Tehran’s policies.
Another crucial point raised by Mousavi is the link between domestic and extraterritorial violence. He blamed Brig. Gen. Hossein Hamadani for the excessive violence in 2009. Before he was killed in Syria, he was responsible for horrendous crimes, Mousavi said. The significance of this link, he explained, is that the regime believes there is a connection between its strategic depth abroad and its domestic policies. As a result, he added, it has spared no effort in using excessive violence in both theaters.
The regime’s use of excessive violence at home and abroad, Mousavi suggested, is indicative of its crisis, the fragility of its options and its legitimacy being built on repression and violence, not on public satisfaction or approval. As a result, the regime’s future is at stake, especially given the growing speculation over Mojtaba succeeding his father. The supreme leader of Iran is both a ruler and a marja (religious reference point) for Shiites. Any succession plan, if implemented, would inflict another blow to the Shiite marjaya (consultative authority) and weaken it for the sake of personal gain and the narrow ambitions of Khamenei’s family.
In a nutshell, Mousavi has specifically addressed the regime’s quagmire, which reflects the deterioration and erosion of its legitimacy at home and abroad. Allowing Khamenei’s son to inherit the top position would reflect the regime’s aging and its intellectual bankruptcy. Khamenei became supreme leader through a ploy that thrust him into power despite his lack of religious credentials. The same thing could happen to his son or any other figure deemed trustworthy by the regime to protect the interests of the Iranian political system.
Iran’s regional policy, which has exhausted and depleted the country’s resources, has undermined the regime’s legitimacy — and also that of the Velayat-e Faqih theory itself. Protests have erupted across the region against the Iranian regime’s interventions, accusing it of pushing several regional countries into the realm of failure. All of this further undermines and exposes one of the revolution’s central themes and well-established ideological principles: Aiding the vulnerable.
Source » arabnews