Home News Iran Politics Iran Regime’s Challenge Over Khamenei’s Successor and the Increasing Executions

Iran Regime’s Challenge Over Khamenei’s Successor and the Increasing Executions

With the Iranian regime’s Supreme Leader, Ali Khamenei’s health fading, regime officials are in conflict over who should be his successor, along with concerns over the increase in executions in Iran.

Since Ebrahim Raisi became the Iranian regime’s president last year, human rights violations and acts of repression have grown, along with the increase of executions in Iran.

According to human rights organizations, more than 5000 people have been sentenced to death across Iran. State-run media have reported that the regime has recently executed 22 people over a two-day period, September 6 and 7. Twelve prisoners were executed on September 6, and another 10 prisoners were hanged on September 7 in Minab, Bandar Abbas, and Gohardasht prisons.

The regime’s henchmen also hanged a 22-year-old prisoner, Ghafoor Nejatpour, in Gonbad Kavoos prison on September 8.

Families of death row prisoners, who were incarcerated for mostly drug-related offenses, are now protesting for several days in front of the regime’s judiciary to stop the regime from conducting mass executions. This is a rare event in the regime’s history, showing that the Iranian people are sick of the state-sponsored violence, occurring with the correlation of raising resistance and political discontent in the nation.

Whenever the regime’s authorities fear protests, the number of executions increases. Following the nationwide protests of 2019, and again when the coronavirus restrictions were lifted, the regime increased the number of executions to prevent further protests.

Increasing prices, lack of water, food, and energy, and the regime’s decision to cut off grain, medicine, and petrol subsidies, are just some of the factors that have forced the regime to quell the people’s demands with brutality.

It should be noted that the people sentenced to death for drug offenses are among the poorest and most marginalized parts of society, which currently accounts for most of Iranian society given the appalling crises they are facing. Statistics published by the World Bank show that the absolute poverty population in Iran grew significantly between 2012 and 2018.

This international organization has defined absolute poverty based on a daily income of $1.9 per person (based on the purchasing power parity index at constant 2011 prices).

Based on this, in 2013, the ratio of absolute poverty to the total population in Iran was 0.2%, but this figure increased to 0.6% in 2018, which is the latest statistics published by the World Bank. This means that absolute poverty in Iran has now tripled, compared to the beginning of Raisi’s government.

Another issue that has raised skepticism about the rising number of executions is the regime’s supreme leader Ali Khamenei’s health condition and the regime’s conflicts about his successor.

Over the past years, the regime’s officials have often stated that a list of his successors has been generated by the Assembly of Experts, the legal body that selects the supreme leader according to the constitution. However, no name has been officially announced.

Some names have appeared in the regime’s media and public conversations. One of them is Mojtaba Khamenei, the son of the supreme leader. Over the past years, he has worked behind the scenes and was his father’s right hand, as well as the manager of the regime’s various security organizations. He later became less public and gave very few public speeches. His main problem in becoming the supreme leader is the objection of many of the regime’s clerics, who do not recognize him as a religious leader.

The next candidate is the current president Ebrahim Raisi, but due to his notoriety, especially his direct involvement in the 1988 Massacre of political prisoners, he will face many obstacles to becoming the next leader. Over the past year, he tried to whitewash his bad reputation as a crusader against corruption, but in every protest, the people have uncovered his true face.

Another name that has appeared many times is Hassan Khomeini, the most famous grandchild of the regime’s founder Ruhollah Khomeini, who apparently has the support of many of the regime’s clerics, especially on the side of the ‘reformist’ faction.

Instead of a particular leader, the next candidate who could take over control of the country is the regime’s Revolutionary Guards (IRGC). Founded by Khomeini and cultivated by Khamenei, this organization is now the most powerful economical, security-focused, and military organization in the country.

However, after losing Ghasem Soleimani, who was eliminated by the previous US government in his secret trip to Iraq, this organization has lost its main figure to take full control of the country.

The conclusion of the matter shows us that the regime is facing a growing critical situation, parallel to its challenging nuclear case and the JCPOA negotiations. Competition within all the regime’s factions, especially in the camp of the hard-liners is on the rise, and in the past years, Khamenei has lost his control over many of them.

Indeed, the knives are out, and they will rip the regime in parts if Khamenei dies. In the 10th session of the official meeting of the Council of Experts, 30 of its 88 members were absent.

One of the famous absentees of this meeting was Javadi Amoli Larijani, who had a disagreement with Khamenei’s faction over the disqualification of his brother by the Guardian Council.

As it seems, the issue of Mojtaba Khamenei was supposed to be brought up in this meeting, and they would inform Khamenei of the results of their inquiries.

Despite Khamenei’s will, in its final statement, the Council of Experts considered the issue of Mojtaba Khamenei’s succession as dubious and meaningless and emphasized meritorious and correct selection. It should be noted that introducing Mojtaba as the next supreme leader, would be not in favor of the regime and would likely inflame dangerous disputes.

Over the coming months, the regime will face many crossroads. The regime’s main concern about the successor of Khamenei is because of the existence of well-organized opposition groups, the National Council Resistance of Iran (NCRI), and the People’s Mojahedin Organization of Iran (PMOI/MEK).

This Resistance was the main reason for the one-night selection of Khamenei as supreme leader, following the death of Khomeini in 1989, and this time it will be the main challenge of the regime yet again. The only main difference, compared to that time, is that none of the alternatives have the power of Khomeini and Khamenei, and the regime has now faced many nationwide protests and lost its credibility and trust of the people. That is the real reason why the regime has increased its executions.

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