Forty-one years ago, in 1979, the founder of the Islamic Republic of Iran, Ruhollah Khomeini, robbed the Iranian people of the democracy and freedom they stood up for. During these 41 years, the theocracy brought nothing but suppression, torture, execution, destruction and poverty for Iran and terrorism and proxy wars for the region.
However, the Iranian regime never achieved strategic stability and the Iranian people never truly accepted the legitimacy of the theocracy, which espouses a brand of Islam that Iranians do not adhere to. This is now true more than ever in the 41st anniversary of the regime.
The regime’s Supreme Leader, Khamenei and the President, Rouhani have both recently indicated that they are facing very “sensitive” times and that the country is going through its hardest economic and political crises.
According to the regime’s analysts, Iranians have lost all their trust in the regime.
“Lack of confidence in the government can lead to the loss of social backing and national disenchantment,” the state-run Etemad Daily wrote on December 5, 2019 adding that the government has zero followers.
The country’s economy has collapsed, and poverty, high prices, unemployment, and inflation have left more than 70 percent of the population below the poverty line.
According to Mohsen Safaei Farahani, a former reformist MP, around 70 percent of Iranians need government subsidies.
“According to government statistics, about 70 percent of poor people need government subsidies which means that most of these citizens who took to the streets (to protest) live under the line of poverty and are hungry,” he said in comments carried by Etemad Daily on December 29.
In its report for the second week of February 2020, Iran’s Center of Statistics reported that in the first nine months of the Persian year, Iran’s economic growth, including oil, was down by 7.6 percent. The country’s economic growth for the past nine months, excluding oil, has reached zero. Negative economic growth means that the economy is shrinking, and that the country’s wealth has declined compared to the same period last year.
On January 12, Iran’s Arman Melli newspaper quoted economic analyst Davoud Ali Babaei, as saying that “inflation had reached about 40 percent”.
The International Monetary Fund also said that Iran’s economy had shrunk by 10% and that unemployed had increased.
Regime loses support among its elites
As a result, the Iranian regime is losing support even among its own elites.
Citing the disillusionment of the regime’s forces, Khamenei told a gathering of IRGC commanders that “There are always cases of abandonment… and the IRGC is no exception.”
“We have had desertions, it’s everywhere and it always exists,” he said on October 2, 2019.
The most obvious sign of these “desertions” was the “22 Bahman” state organized marches which take place every year on February 11 to mark the 1979 revolution. Every year, thousands are bussed in from across Iran to take part in the “celebrations”. The regime considers this a show of force that proves its legitimacy.
Reuters said that tens of thousands of people took part in this year’s gatherings across Iran, according to state-run TV, which means a few thousand in every major city.
And according to a top cleric in the regime, Seyed Hossein Mousavi Tabrizi, not even 100,000 people take part in the weekly Friday prayers that is used by the Iranian regime as a tribune to relay the Supreme Leader’s positions. That would mean that on average around 100 people take part in each of these gatherings.
Angry Iranians boycott elections
Now with parliamentary elections coming up in February 21, ordinary Iranians are also using the opportunity to show that they don’t want the theocracy and will not take part.
Dozens of videos on social media show Iranians tearing up the election posters of the regime’s Majlis candidates, saying that they want regime change. They say that taking part in elections is a nod to the regime’s killing of 1,500 civilians and protesters in recent November 2019 nationwide protests.
According to Ahmad Naderi, the head of Tehran University’s Social Studies Institute, only 24 percent of Iranians in Tehran will take part in election according to recent poll.
In comments carried by the IRGC affiliated Fars News Agency, he said that 93 percent of those who took part in the poll said that they were dissatisfied with current conditions in the country.
Another poll by a semi-official Telegram channel, which has since been removed, showed that from the near 137,000 Iranians who voted, 83% would boycott elections.
This comes at a time when the Iranian regime is desperate for votes and Khamenei has practically begged the public to vote, “even if they didn’t like him”.