JARAS: Protesters still remember the psychological and mental effects of the violence that followed last year’s controversial presidential elections. Still, whenever a scene of that violence appears on TV or the protests are recalled in any ways, those who witnessed this violence cry involuntarily. People still talk about the victims and still, hundreds of prisoners yearn for change. On the other side, however, plain-cloth forces, the Basijis and the IRGC forces plan their further crackdown with batons, electric shocks, tear gas, daggers and firearms in their bases and still, Iranian Supreme Leader is their most powerful supporter. As the Supreme Commander, he has not so far hesitated to order to crackdown and from Tir 18th, 1378 to the 2009 elections aftermath, suppressive forces have encountered the civilians under his permission.
His growing reliance on militants has virtually promoted their role in the country’s decision-makings and their involvement has passed over political sphere and reached to economic, social and cultural areas. Many observers believe Ayatollah Khamenei has degraded to a puppet at the militants’ hands. Critics of the Iranian leadership believe his involving the militants in political decision-makings and allowing them to suppress the protests have violated constitution principles and led the country towards a militant-affiliated dictatorship. In its serial reports on criticizing Iranian leadership, JARAS explores the contradiction between his function in regard to the militants with constitution principles and examines its influence on Iranian foreign policy.
Under the Militants’ Umbrella
Among those who appear as the leader’s constant company, are so many called “commander”. He has pushed aside his old-time comrades such as Ayatollah Hashemi Rafsanjani and Hojatoleslam Nategh Noori and kept close a bunch of military and security commanders. Analysts say changing the Islamic Republic Leader’s top advisors has left him surrounded by militants. Various reasons have been offered for this change, the most dominant of which is Khamenei, in fear of losing his position, sees himself in need of militants and relying on them and is willing to do whatever it takes in this regard. This reliance reached its peak during the aftermath of last year’s presidential elections when he devolved the issue to the militants and chose their method of suppression to solve the problem instead of reaching out to political mechanisms. This resulted in direct confrontation between the militants and the civilians which lasted for months. Eventually, the opposition called off its public protests due to the acceleration of governmental violence.
During military forces’ encounter with civilians that left hundreds dead or injured, Khamenei constantly defended violence and called the protestors intrigant and enemy agent. Although he ordered prosecuting the violations in few cases such as Khordad 25th, 1388 nighttime assault to Tehran University dormitory by the police or sending all the protestors to Kahrizak torturing camp, none of the perpetrators of these incidents has been introduced to court so far. Observers believe there’s no chance the perpetrators face justice since these incidents were all part of the crackdown and endorsed by the Supreme Leader. Given the fact that according to article 4 of principle 110, armed-force supreme command is in the authority domain of leadership, and according to article 6 of this principle appointment and deposal as well as approving the resignation of joint chief, the IRGC general commander and military and disciplinary higher commanders are within the range of his responsibilities, Khamenei, as the observers say, is the actual perpetrator of the post-elections political crackdown and he has violated the law that prohibits the involvement of military forces in politics by inciting them to suppress the protestors.
Financial Spoils for Political Involvement
Ayatollah Khomeini repeatedly warned the military not to get involved in politics. His successor, however, dismissed this warning and gradually got them involved. He first involved the IRGC’s high commanders in massive financial projects to make sure of their continuous accompaniment and then used them as key players in political area. Opponents believe that after receiving green light for getting involved in politics, these militants started engineering elections and sent their desirable forces to city councils and parliament as well as presidency through organizational votes known as “garrison party” in Iranian political literature. Last year’s controversial presidential elections, as the opponents suggest, was the heyday of their power. Aiming at demonstrating the military involvement, the candidates and parties opposing the elections results named it “electoral coup” and gradually offered more evidence that all indicated this involvement.
The release of an audio of a speech by a high-ranking Sarallah quarters commander as well as the release of a confidential military-security document belonging to Supreme National Security Council revealed the militants’ pre-planned efforts to pave their way into political decision-makings. It also proved that the reformists’ previous warnings towards the empowerment of the militants were not unreasonable. Observers, however, believe that political achievements were a platform for militants towards their easy access to financial rents. From this viewpoint, militants, fearing that reformists taking the office would result in their deprival of financial rents, conducted election-engineering and now that their electoral coup has succeeded, they consider themselves deserving the advantages of serving the ruling conservative forces.
From the very next morning after the elections day, massive financial projected were conceded to the IRGC-affiliated companies. Opposition leaders express their concern about the militants’ taking over the country. In a recent interview, pointing to the IRGC’s control over all massive financial projects in the country, Mahdi Karrubi said: “the elections results were manipulated and engineered by the IRGC and Basij as well as other individuals. Therefore, possession and monopoly of all affairs in the country, including politics, economy, culture, sports, arts, etc are considered as the outcome of the 10th round of presidential elections. Militants’ involvement in all affairs of the country takes place in a time when the Principle 150 of the Constitution emphasizes that “the IRGC, which was formed in the early days of the revolution’s victory, will maintain its existence to guard the revolution and its outcome”. Citing this principle, observers believe that the militants’ involvement in the political and economic affairs of the country is a result of bad management and violating the Constitution by the Supreme Leader who, in fear of losing his position, is ready to blackmail the militants.
The Responsibility to Sanction and Isolation
The Islamic Republic’s aggressive foreign policy during the past 5 years has resulted in 4 UN resolutions. It has also provoked a sense of Iranophobia among other countries, especially in the Middle East. This has led to difficulties for Iranian citizens to freely access the outside world. According to a poll by American institiute “PEW” five months ago, majority of people in 16 out of 22 countries all over the world approves military action on Iran and considers it a proper solution to Iranian nuclear issue. As observers agree, although this poll may include political orientations, it yields the seriousness of Iran’s situation in international arena.
Although some expected direct negotiation with Tehran with Obama in the office, last year’s presidential elections pushed the Americans backwards and even increased their pressure on Iran. Under these circumstances, Ayatollah Khamenei, as the main decision-maker of the Islamic Republic’s foreign policy, still insists on an aggressive approach which is criticized by the majority reformists.
In his letter to Ayatollah Khamenei 3 years ago, Ahmad Zeid Abadi, a critic journalist, warned him about the consequences of this aggressive policy and said that in case a right decision wasn’t made on the nuclear issue, the country would fall into a highly critical situation. Meanwhile, observers believe that the adoption of aggressive policies during the past 5 years is a result of the militants’ dominance over the affairs of the country because they can exploit the best in war-like situations. Opposition leaders believe the militants welcome economic sanctions because they can enjoy governmental rents to take control of the market and achieve massive profits.
In an interview, Mehdi Karrubi expressed: “A part of the government and the IRGC wants the sanctions because they achieve enormous profits and the only persons who suffer are the public”. According to principle 113 of the Constitution, “Supreme Leader is the highest official of the country”; therefore, observers take him responsible for the international sanctions imposed on the country as well as the consequences that follow them. Ayatollah Khamenei’s critics also believe that since he supports the aggressive policies of the government, he is responsible for the unconventional behavior of the government officials in international communities. If the government actions jeopardize the peace and security of the region, he’ll be responsible as well.