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Iran Election 2021: Khamenei’s Need to Unipolar the Regime and Its Consequences

To consolidate his regime, Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei used the Guardian Council to disqualify most of Iran’s sham presidential election candidates. Those eliminated from the farce election were not just from the rival faction. The Guardian Council disqualified even Ali Larijani, one of Khamenei’s closest men, the regime’s Parliament Speaker for three consecutive terms.   

Following the Guardian Council’s decision to eliminate all candidates, the regime’s infightings intensified. Thus, it is safe to say that Khamenei shot himself in the leg by disqualifying those loyal to him and his regime. 

“The current approach shows the tendency towards complete unification of the system. The existing problems, especially the country’s economic crisis, are too large for a single faction or political group to manage,” wrote the state-run Jomhuri-e Eslami on Saturday. 

Khamenei is fully aware of the consequences of his decision to pursue the contraction policy. But he has no other choice since the regime is facing a restive society. 

As Jomhuri-e Eslami’s editorial on Saturday acknowledged, “The country’s problem is not limited to the economic crisis. Cultural, social, and even political crises are no less dangerous than economic crises, if not more serious and dangerous. These crises are not visible because the real economic problem in people’s daily lives has not allowed other crises to appear. Cultural, social, and political elites and experts, especially sociologists, are fully aware of this fact and aware of the dangers of these crises.” 

But will Khamenei succeed in making his regime unipolar? 

Khamenei has tried many times in the past to unipolar his regime but has seen the opposite result. For instance, in 2009, Khamenei paid a heavy price and selected Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. But Ahmadinejad became rogue and disobeyed Khamenei on several occasions. 

In his latest attempt to unify his regime, Khamenei did not allow Larijani to participate in the sham election. Since Larijani had the support of a number of mullahs and Shi’ite clerics in Qom, his elimination has intensified the regime’s infighting. 

 “Due to the widespread disqualification of presidential candidates, everyone knows that this election will be unprofessional, non-competitive, and will have a low voter turnout,” Seminary Teachers Association in Qom said in a statement on Wednesday. 

When it comes to Iran’s restive society, Khamenei’s maneuvers will not work.  “The unfavorable conditions of the country today are the product of internal contradictions in governance. If one tries to blame it on one person or one faction, they are deceiving themselves. The continuation of these contradictions, both in domestic and foreign policy, will paralyze the [regime], and all of us will pay the price,” Jomhuri-e Eslami wrote in this regard. 

Thus, Khamenei’s recent actions will only increase the regime’s infightings because the rival faction will do anything possible to keep their positions and abilities to plunder the national wealth.   

Khamenei has lost his trans-factional position, and he will be the target of the rival faction’s accusations. 

Socially, Khamenei himself has removed the barriers between himself and the people and placed himself in the direct target of restive society. 

With Ebrahim Raisi as its president, the regime will certainly face more international isolation, and its last drops of hope of reviving the appeasement policy will dry. Because dialoguing with a criminal such as Raisi, who is blacklisted for human rights violations and played a key role in the 1988 massacre of 30,000 political prisoners, requires a heavy price. 

Who is Ebrahim Raisi, a candidate in Iran presidential election and an executioner in 1988 massacre

As a part of his contraction policy, Khamenei will have to increase the export of terrorism. His role in intensifying the conflict in Gaza is an example of this need to export terrorism and chaos abroad. To fund his regime’s illicit activities, he has to plunder people’s wealth. 

Simultaneous with the increasing plundering of people, Khamenei has to increase oppressive measures. The very first message of Khamenei’s decision to pull Raisi out of the ballot box to the public is the regime’s willingness to increase oppression. The recent mass execution of 6 prisoners is a testament to Khamenei’s decision to increase oppression. 

But increasing oppression and plundering people’s wealth will only increase society’s restiveness. 

“We cannot deceive ourselves; people are unsatisfied. The problem is not just economic. People have been tolerating the situation. We cannot keep people satisfied people with poverty. Sadly, people could hardly receive medical care or medication. People’s problems are not limited to livelihood issues. They are truly angry,” state-run Mostaghel daily warned on Sunday.