Iran: old recipes from the devil’s kitchen
The kitchen is the same, as is the chef. The ingredients are also the same. But when the witches’ brew is served at the restaurant Chez Ayatollah, potential customers reject it in disgust. This is the image that comes to mind as the Islamic Republic of Iran struggles to crush the latest popular uprising.
Since its creation 43 years ago, the Khomeinist regime has used the same recipe with the same ingredients to save its skin: kill a few hundred, arrest a few thousand, bribe the army and security forces, intimidate celebrities, ban foreign journalists, release the militias. , blaming “Zionist and CIA agents”, and inventing armed “secessionist” gangs and ISIS attackers coming to dismember Iran and kill innocent Shiites.
The recipe has been used against the current uprising, so far, without extinguishing the fire of anger raised by a large part of the Iranian people, especially the youth.
As of this writing, we have the names of 385 protesters killed, including 40 women and 32 children, and 7 security guards. Another 12,500 people were arrested according to statistics presented to the International Committee of the Red Cross. An attack on a ‘holy shrine’ in Shiraz was portrayed as an ISIS operation against Shiite worshippers, and the city of Zahedan’s transformation into a war zone was recounted as a response to terrorists invading Iran. Iran from Pakistan.
None of this, however, has made up for the lack of credibility plaguing the Islamic Republic.
“People just don’t believe what our authorities are saying,” complains Masud Pezeshkian, a former member of the Islamic Majlis.
Because the old recipe is clearly not working, most of the regime’s clergy, military, business and propaganda heavyweights have remained silent or equivocal in their comments on the protests. This time, they don’t march to the usual drum calls as an increasingly distraught “Supreme Leader” plays a lone mandolin as the city burns.
So what to do?
This is the question many are beginning to ask within the ruling clique.
One idea, never stated in direct terms, is to move away from the one-man rule of the ayatollah towards “collective leadership”.
A triumvirate, consisting of the president of the Islamic Republic, the speaker of the ersatz parliament and the head of the Islamic judiciary, held high-profile meetings, which is normally supposed to happen once in a blue moon.
Also, for the first time, people are starting to at least hint at possible constitutional changes to merge the positions of the Supreme Leader with that of the President or for three or five mullahs to form a “high orientation council”.
Some groups, inside or on the fringes of the establishment, call on the Islamic Revolutionary Guards to take power and open “a new chapter of the revolution”. To desperately seek a Bonaparte is also to seduce some in the exiled opposition.
However, there are other recipes.
One is to get the two now-defunct 2009 ‘Green Movement’ leaders out of house arrest and offer the discredited ‘New York Boys’ led by former President Hassan Rouhani a side chair. near the High Table in hopes of uniting the fragmented Khomeini constituency. The “New York Boys” could also strike a deal with the United States while the Biden administration is still, more or less, in charge in Washington.
Some members of the establishment promote the Leninist tactic of “one step back, two steps forward”, which means offering concessions now and imposing stricter control later. Thus, the deeply hated Morality Police were pulled from the streets, ostensibly due to a “labour shortage”.
And more and more women are allowed to move around without the compulsory hijab even in the heart of Tehran.
The 20% increase in salaries for the army, the Islamic Revolutionary Gard and various security forces is part of the same package, while more modest increases in pensions are designed to mobilize the elderly who are expected to retain fond memories of the revolution.
Another idea is to call for a referendum on constitutional reform to divert the energies of the uprising with full assurance that referendums offer a safe way for dictators to reimpose their authority and help illusion mongers sell unicorns. .
However, the challenge facing the regime may be far greater than its enemies hope and its friends fear.
Living in another time zone unrelated to reality, the Khomeini regime is deeply anachronistic. He boasts of having conquered the world for the Khomienist version of Islam when no nation has bought or is likely to buy this package. As even the Lebanese branch of Hezbollah digs new and bigger pockets to be filled with a share of gold from oil and gas joint ventures with the ‘Zionist enemy’, the Supreme Leader’s prophecy that Israel evaporates reminiscent of snake oil dealers.
While living in another time, the Khomeinist regime also thinks of living on another planet.
He does not realize that Iran is located in the middle of the deepest political fault line in the world, surrounded by enemies, false friends and contemptuous neighbors. The Supreme Leader boasts of his imaginary triple alliance with China and Russia to “end American domination”. But the fact is that neither China nor Russia is ready to put a dime in the Khomeini begging bowl.
The Khomienist system is also challenged by a growing generational gap.
Iran has a predominantly young population who want to live here and not in a distant past of false purity or an imaginary future of martyrdom and paradise. He wants to be happy; have fun, create, work, travel around the world in short, enjoy a normal life. Yet the Supreme Leader repeats that he will never allow Iran to “become a normal country”.
Wise leaders become an ally of historical and generational change for the benefit not only of their people but also of themselves. Reckless leaders turn change into an enemy of themselves and their people, making both losers.
While weathering the current storm, the Khomeini system is on life support and on borrowed time.
Even in new versions, the old devil’s kitchen recipe will not whet the appetite of the Iranian people.