According to observers of Iran’s political scene, the Iranian regime is facing a deficit of legitimacy among the Iranian people. This was obvious in the sparse turnout on the anniversary of the 1979 revolution that brought the mullahs to power.
So deserted were the streets that the regime ordered its media to take long-shot images and videos of the empty streets. The boycott reflected the public’s widespread opposition to the mullahs. The few who did show up were the regime’s functionaries or members of the armed forces and other state institutions, who are forced to take part or risk losing their jobs or perks.
But even they were reluctant to take to the streets. While ordinary Iranians had a field day mocking the regime’s tactics to sugarcoat the snub on social media, in his belated remarks a week after the anniversary, turned the truth on its head during a meeting with his cronies on February 17.
“This year’s ceremony was remarkable, and the crowd was bigger than in previous years. In some areas, the crowds were double last year. Some said it was 50 percent more than last year. It was the same in all cities,” Khamenei boasted, adding, “In the years after the revolution, we are ahead of the rest of the world in terms of scientific progress. This is not my judgment, it is the judgment of international centers. The speed of our progress is many times greater; some have said 10 times, some said 13 times the world average.”
Such hyperbole comes at a time when a multitude of irremediable crises has encircled the regime from all sides. Inflation has surpassed 50 percent and, according to regime officials, more than 60 percent of the population live below the poverty line.
And about 20 million are pushed to slums on the outskirts of big cities due to the excessive costs of housing and living in appalling conditions. In an attempt to console himself and the demoralized audience, Khamenei rambled on. “This move was truly admirable. Despite the problems plaguing the people, the Coronavirus, the livelihood problems, the propaganda by foreigners, who are being aided by some internal elements, and while we are besieged by all these obstacles and problems, the nation carried out this great march,” a recalcitrant Khamenei said.
His reference to the propaganda was an implicit reference to the disruption of the regime’s state Radio and TV on January 27.
The MEK/PMOI’s Resistance Units disrupted 25 radio and tv programs, airing a second tape, featuring pictures and a video of the Iranian Resistance’s leaders.
This was repeated with the disruption of the loudspeakers of Bazaar Reza in Mashhad, Iran’s second-largest city ad followed a few days later in four other cities south and west of Tehran.
Iranians who have suffered under the regime’s information censorship for more than four decades enthusiastically welcomed the crack in the wall of media censorship as the news of the disruptions spread like wildfire.
The leaked audiotape of a conversation between the IRGC’s top brass about corruption within the force a few days later added insult to injury, particularly since it involved the eliminated IRGC’s notorious Quds Force commander Qassem Soleimani, whose legacy the regime had desperately tried to glorify.