These measures – some of which have been announced, while others will emerge in coming weeks – will further enrage most Iranians, who are already alienated from the regime. The ranks of the enragés include many senior clerics, and in recent weeks the regime has assaulted their mosques, beaten and arrested their followers and even family members, and shut down their websites and Facebook pages. The regime’s critics are not going quietly. The Ayatollah Ali Mohammad Dastgheib, for example, who is a member of the Assembly of Experts that chooses the supreme leader, has recently challenged Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei’s legitimacy, saying that “the only duties of someone selected by the Assembly of Experts are ‘…to coordinate the efforts of the three branches of government and to prevent the violation of citizens’ rights by the three branches.’ This bold claim means that the supreme leader’s powers are much more limited than is currently the case. Dastgheib asserts, ‘This person…has no right to interfere in the affairs of the people.’”
Other senior clerics have taken similar positions, and Khamenei is traveling today to the holy city of Qom, where he will meet with many of them in an attempt to shore up his waning legitimacy. Matters have gone too far, too many people have been killed, tortured, and humiliated to expect the Qom clerical establishment to fully embrace Khamenei. Remarkably, at least some of these men of the turban are prepared for martyrdom rather than accept Khamenei’s tyranny. I doubt we will see a mass rejection of Khamenei in Qom, however, and in all likelihood many will support the supreme leader, and those who reject him will face harsh treatment when the leader returns to the capital.
Thus the vice of oppression tightens more forcefully on all levels of Iranian society, as the regime uses the only method that can keep Khamenei and Ahmadinejad in power: the iron fist, combined with foreign adventure (about which more in my next blog).
Can it last? The regime would surely fall in short order if its opponents received a modicum of real support from the West, but no such support seems to be forthcoming from the feckless men and women who mistakenly fancy themselves to be real leaders, and who one day will have earned a shameful page in the history of this period.
And so the agony of Iran continues, until the inevitable explosion of righteous wrath finally destroys this evil regime.