Iranian elections will weaken the hand of the regime
By Rob Roberts
If an Iranian uprising were to spark this time, ahead of the May 19th Iranian elections, the legitimacy of the Mullahs’ regime would be too weak to stall it. This message was delivered as a stark warning hitting at the heart of a debate at the NCRI (National Council of Resistance of Iran) webcast press conference on Thursday.
Chaired by Shahin Gobadi, a member of NCRI Foreign Affairs Committee, and entitled Prospects and Implications of the upcoming Iran Elections, Gobaldi along with guest panelists Ex-Foreign Minister (FM) of Italy Giulio Terzi, who is an outspoken critic on Europe’s role in appeasing the brutal Iranian regime, and representing the NCRI was Mohammad Mohaddessin, chair of its Foreign Affairs Committee.
Fragility of the Iranian regime
Discussing the Nuclear Deal (JCPOA) during the conference, the guest commentators agreed that although the deal remains flawed, it will effectively undermine the perceived autonomy of whichever Presidential candidate gets elected, in a campaign cycle that once again comes under fire and is being dubbed a sham.
Originally pitched as a deal to lift trade sanctions in return for Iran’s winding-down of its uranium enrichment program, the deal could in fact be the playing card that defines the hand of the incumbent President leading to the unraveling of the regime’s powerbase.
Mohaddessin unpicked the complex process for selecting candidates by which the Guardian Council stipulates that all political parties and people putting themselves forward for the electoral race must not violate Islamic principles.
But in reality the vetting is nothing more than a psychological exercise of allegiance to the Supreme Leader Khamenei. In practice, it ignores the democratic parts of the Iranian constitution, while playing up to its theocratic elements.
Election engineering and power play
So, with just two Presidential camps in the running and each given the approval of Khamenei, the current President Rouhani’s hand lies in his ability to call a bluff, given that in European circles he’s blindly perceived as moderate, yet combines brutality and deception in his domestic policies.
Which is in contrast to the ace up the sleeve that the conservative hardliner and protectionist candidate Ebrahim Raisi could deal, effectively wiping the Nuclear Deal dossier off the table – doing the Supreme Leader’s dirty work.
Either result though comes during a period when the regime is facing an unprecedented time of weakness. The NCRI’s Mohaddessin lamented the redundant choice of the candidates’ mandates to make a difference saying “whoever comes into power can’t enact reform even if [they] wanted to.”
Stimulating regime change
Both speakers thought that if Khamenei fails to make Raisi president, even though having a smaller base, there will be defections from within the regime over the division of power; however, this will translate into no real change in the main policies of the regime, including domestic suppression and exportation of fundamentalism in the region.
Ambassador Terzi didn’t hold back criticism, and nudged the conversation to Europe, saying that the EU leaders have a chance to recover footing in regards to holding the Iranian regime accountable.
Terzi also mentioned that whilst there are always strong declarations by EU leaders to criticize the actions of heads of state in Turkey, Syria and Russia, on Iran the tone remains low, which he calls the Iranian Exception.
Political freedoms and uprising
May 6, Tehran:It was agreed that the West should step up and stop turning a blind eye to end the regime’s ongoing gross violations of human rights, and that the press needs to work on telling things as they are.
Consensus was reached that the influence of young people is increasing in Iran and so they do have the power to bring about change. During election periods, the autocratic Mullahs’ regime goes as far as promoting the use of social media, including platforms like Telegram, Instagram and Facebook by candidates and their supporters. This is a level of tolerance that doesn’t filter outside of election cycles.
The regime systematically imprisons users of social media under the auspices of national security, and continues to fuel sectarian and ethnic tensions. Ambassador Terzi’s take-away from all this is that the May 19th Iran election will inevitably make the regime weaker, saying it has reached a tipping point.
The Oslo Times International News Network