Sunday, February 28, 2016

The Media's Lies About the Mullahs’ 'Elections' - Dr. Majid Rafizadeh

by Dr. Majid Rafizadeh

The truth about Iran's "reformers."

The mainstream liberal media seems to be deliberately misleading the public about the truth of the two upcoming major elections in the Islamic Republic. The media has called these elections "consequential," "significant," and "critical" in defining the next leadership of the Iranian regime and its domestic and foreign policies.

If one had no prior knowledge of Iran and read all the recent analysis about the Islamic Republic he or she could be forgiven is they believed Iran is governed by a democratic, open-minded, civilized and fair political system.

Either the mainstream media is guilty of extreme guile by pursuing an agenda to deliberately mislead the American public or sheer stupidity by failing to grasp the complexities and nuances of Iran’s politics. 

Here are the facts about Iran’s political system and the upcoming elections.

The first elections are linked to the Assembly of Experts that consists of 86 clerics. Before a candidate is permitted to run, they are vetted by the hardline organization, the Council of Guardians. The twelve members of the Guardian Council are appointed directly (six members) and also indirectly (6 are nominated by the head of Judiciary, which, in turn, is appointed by the Supreme Leader).

Simply put, the twelve members of the Guardian Council owe their positions to the Supreme Leader (Ayatollah Khamenei) and reject any candidate for the Assembly of Experts whose viewpoints do not align with Khamenei’s.

By law, the sole responsibility of the Assembly of Experts is to appoint Iran’s Supreme Leader. In other words, for the last 28 years this political body has been sitting idly by and getting high salaries while waiting for Khamenei to die.  But in practice do they really appoint the next Supreme Leader?

The only time that the Assembly of Experts appointed a Supreme Leader was in 1989 when Khomeini - the founder of the Islamic Republic - died. According to former President Rafsanjani’s writings, it took the 86 members only a couple of hours to appoint Khamenei.

Khamenei was groomed by IRGC leaders and the Ayatollah Khomeini to become the next Supreme Leader and in preparation for his appointment the IRGC even beforehand removed the article in the constitution which required the Supreme Leader to be Grand Ayatollah since Khamenei was not a Grand Ayatollah at the time.

In essence, the Assembly of Experts approved Khamenei because IRGC and Khomenei already picked him and when Khamenei dies, the next Supreme Leader will also be chosen in a similar manner and rubber stamped by the Assembly of Experts.

The second upcoming elections are the elections for the parliament. The mainstream media portrays Iran’s parliament as dynamic. But, in the last 35 years, Iran’s parliament has always sought the Supreme Leader’s approval or disapproval in order to pass or reject significant bills such as those linked to the nuclear deal.

As with the Assembly of Experts, candidates for the parliament must always be approved by the Guardian Council beforehand. But even when the Guardian Council made a “mistake” in the Khatami era and allowed reformists to gain seats in parliament the reformists were immediately constrained by IRGC forces; their newspapers were closed, some of their members were shot dead, and many of them were imprisoned when they showed that they might not align with the IRGC and Supreme Leader’s agenda.

Although the current parliament is controlled by the hardliners they did not create problems for the current Iranian President, Rouhani (the so-called moderate), regarding the nuclear deal. They passed it because that’s what the Supreme Leader and the IRGC leaders wanted in order to get economic relief.  In fact, even before Rouhani became President, Khamenei and IRGC leaders were preparing the political establishment to make a deal for the removal of economic sanctions. So, it was all orchestrated prior to bringing it to Rouhani.

It is crucial to look beyond the surface and realize that when it comes to major decisions - such as choosing the next leadership and the nuclear deal - Khamenei and the IRGC always have the final say. The IRGC that was created by Khomeini and empowered by Khamenei has indeed evolved to be a major decision-maker of the Islamic Republic.

Yet armchair experts hired by the mainstream media in the West - journalists, policy analysts and politicians - keep chattering on about how Iran’s elections are going to result in fundamental changes and breakthroughs in the country's policies. These talking heads provided the same simplistic and unsophisticated analysis before with the Arab Spring and viewers should judge them by their track record.

In closing, either these commentators who write about Iran do not have any clue about Iran’s political establishments or they are purposefully attempting to mislead the public for their own agenda.

Dr. Majid Rafizadeh, an Iranian-American political scientist and scholar, is president of the International American Council and serves on the board of the Harvard International Review at Harvard University. Rafizadeh is also a former senior fellow at the Nonviolence International Organization based in Washington, DC and is a member of the Gulf Project at Columbia University. He can be reached at Follow Rafizadeh at @majidrafizadeh.


Copyright - Original materials copyright (c) by the authors.

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