Following the nationwide protests in November 2019, the Iranian regime’s supreme leader Ali Khamenei decided to consolidate his regime by installing loyal followers who align with the regime’s ideology as his government ministers. Initially, he established a parliament with officials who were former Revolutionary Guards’ (IRGC) officers, as well as those from the notorious Ministry of Intelligence.
Before appointing Ebrahim Raisi as the new president last year, Khamenei explicitly stated, in one of his speeches, that the only government able to solve the country’s problems and difficulties is what he referred to as a Hezbollahi government. Barely a year later, the regime is overflowing with internal crisis and disputes which show that Khamenei’s plans and imagination to save the regime from an overthrow are on course for complete failure.
Not only has Raisi’s government failed to accomplish the regime’s preferred strategic plans, but it has failed in all tactical plans too. To understand the regime’s difficult circumstances, we should point to some issues that highlight the severity of its situation.
In the nuclear talks, despite all the promises that have been made to the regime’s panicked officials, nothing has been achieved and they are stuck in a stalemate situation. This has created a murky atmosphere against Raisi in the parliament and the regime’s MPs have accused him and his negotiating team of failing to adhere to the regime’s red lines in the talks.
Ali Khezrian, a member of the regime’s parliament, referred to some paragraphs in the draft of a potential agreement, saying that the redlines announced by Khamenei, and the code of the parliament, in order to lift the sanctions, were not observed in this draft and, subsequently, could not be approved by the parliament.
In a tweet on April 5, Khezrian said, “According to paragraphs 18, 19, and 25 of the re-enactment appendices, the verification of the lifting of US and European sanctions is their responsibility, and Iran is not involved in it. However, Iran’s nuclear activities following paragraph 20 of this annex shall be fully verified by the International Atomic Energy Agency.”
In opposition to the JCPOA talks, Nasrollah Pejmanfar, another MP, said, “Unfortunately, we have heard that this important issue has been ignored and the verification has been left to others and they just have to report it to us.”
Another MP, Mohammad Nabaivan, also opposed the nuclear talks, stating, “The agreement to revive the JCPOA in Vienna does not respect the red lines drawn by the government. Even assuming that the focus of the negotiations and the ceiling of our demands is the JCPOA.”
According to him, this agreement allows the United States to re-impose sanctions on Iran, with a possibility of applying a “snapback mechanism,” an immediate return of all sanctions.
Outside of the parliament, a number of the regime’s principlists, including Saeed Jalili and Hossein Shariatmadari, as well as members of a party called the Stability Front, the Coalition Party, and affiliated media outlets, have also opposed the talks. On the other hand, key elements of Khamenei’s factions, including members such as Ali Akbar Velayati and Mohsen Rezaei, agree with the negotiations.
As a result, this has shown the major confusion in Khamenei’s faction, which definitely will be not without negative effects. The regime’s Foreign Minister, Amir Abdollahian quoted IRGC leaders as saying that they had sacrificed and that the IRGC warned them that they should not be a barrier to the progress of negotiations and reaching an agreement.
The so-called internet ‘Protection Bill’
Regarding the internet protection bill, there are serious disputes between the government and the parliament. Six months after its introduction, the plan is still circulating between the parliament’s commission and floor, and even outlets of the Principlist faction are expressing serious opposition to the plan.
Another topic of contention is the elimination of the preferred currency and the dire economic situation in Iran. This has caused a serious conflict in Khamenei’s faction, especially between a number of members of the parliament and the government itself. Many outlets from both factions have also slammed the government, warning it of the real threat of economic collapse.
MP Ghani Nazari Khaneghah explained, “Now the people have major problems. The prices are now increasing hourly. We criticized the previous government because they could not control the price of the basic goods. Unfortunately, this government is moving in the same direction as the previous government.”
The disputes between the government and the parliament are so serious that, according to the state-run daily Bahar News, “Five ministers are standing in line for interrogation and impeachment.”
Touching on this subject, MP Jabbar Kouchakinejad said, “In my opinion, the first minister that should be impeached is the ‘Minister of Science’, because he has many problems, especially in the field of appointments. Now, there are many questions about the ministers of the Ministry of Agriculture Jihad, Industry, Mine and Trade, Labor, and the Minister of Economy, and this has been increased because these people are making constantly mistakes.”
He further added, “Deputies have many questions for these low-performing ministers. If the ministers continue this procedure, the parliament must take a more serious approach in the new year, that is, it must interrogate and investigate constantly and warn them, if necessary. If the president delays in changing the cabinet, the parliament will enter.”
The question that remains is whether Khamenei has been able to pursue a policy of consolidating the power in his favor. If so, what is the reason for his faction’s internal disunity in these fundamental cases mentioned above?
It appears that Khamenei’s miscalculation was he thought that by pursuing this policy, the people’s protests will diminish. However, since Raisi started his tenure public protests in Iran have intensified.