Over the course of the past four decades, the people of Iran have grown accustomed to deciphering the contradictory rhetoric employed by the mullahs who have usurped their sovereignty. Through this bitter experience, they have come to understand that in order to discern the truth or even a fraction of it, they must reverse the promises and declarations made by the regime’s representatives by one hundred and eighty degrees.
For example, if the authorities claim that bread and flour prices will not increase, the public understands that this might lead to a situation where there is not enough food to go around. This is interpreted as the regime’s clandestine plan to siphon sustenance from people’s tables. Similarly, when the regime’s leaders deny the surge in gasoline prices, citizens anticipate fuel shortages and brace themselves for extended queues.
This pattern extends beyond economic concerns, encompassing the convoluted state of affairs surrounding the regime’s proxies, including the Revolutionary Guards (IRGC) and the Basij, as well as the suppressive state security forces.
Amidst this complex landscape, the regime’s true intentions remain elusive. Everyone is acutely aware that recurring waves of instability and turmoil have taken a toll on the IRGC, and the repressive forces find themselves teetering on the edge.
Taking this backdrop into consideration, on August 16, after several years, the regime’s supreme leader Ali Khamenei convened a meeting with the ‘commanders and officials of the IRGC’. In his customary style, characterized by an emphasis on ‘propaganda’ and ‘explanation’, he began by acknowledging the paramount challenge confronting the system.
This challenge revolves around the systemic failure of the regime’s propaganda machinery over the past four decades and the resulting seething resentment of the Iranian populace towards the regime. Khamenei candidly admitted that the regime has been unsuccessful in obscuring the revolutionary truths within the minds of the Iranian people.
These truths encompass a profound understanding of the root causes of societal problems, leading to a widespread consensus favoring regime change. With this acknowledgment as a backdrop, Khamenei turned his attention to the central theme of his address – the state of affairs within the IRGC.
He remarked, “One of the enemy’s foremost tactics is to distort the image of the IRGC and undermine the reputation of the Basij.”
Additionally, he highlighted the IRGC’s ‘multi-faceted’ involvement in transnational terrorism, which has left its imprint across the world, stretching from regional nations to far-flung corners like the Atlantic and Latin America. He portrayed the IRGC as an immense, fully-equipped entity – the largest anti-terrorist organization globally.
Khamenei rallied all IRGC commanders and remaining political officials under his sphere of influence, urging them not to falter or lose hope. He exhorted them to persevere, reminding them that they were nearing the zenith of their endeavor. “We mustn’t tire. Today is not a day for fatigue or despair,” he declared.
However, the underlying reality remains severely different from these declarations.
As the anniversary of the 2022 uprisings approaches, this meeting primarily serves as an exercise in ‘fostering hope’ and boosting the morale of the key pillar of the Supreme Leader’s authority, the IRGC, amidst the protests and uprisings by the Iranian populace.
Khamenei, more attuned than anyone else to the ‘weariness’ and ‘despondency’ permeating the ranks of the IRGC, is acutely aware of the internal turmoil that has plagued the IRGC due to the phenomenon of ‘infiltration’ over the recent years.
He recognizes the many commanders and officials who have, with each uprising, defected to the ranks of dissidents. He himself has come forth to try to mend the fractures. We must not forget the events of last December in Qom, when Hamid Abazari, an advisor to the commander-in-chief of the IRGC, candidly revealed that the commanders, who once battled at the frontlines, have been rendered impotent.
They now stand against the principles they once upheld and were meant to defend. They’ve turned against their masters and their own system. Particularly since the ongoing Iranian uprising continues to expose the deficiencies of IRGC and Basij centers, extinguishing the fears they tried to implant in the population.
The youthful generation, infused with vitality, continues to set examples. Day by day, the tally of funds channeled against Basij and law enforcement mercenaries, the trade of weaponry, and the settling of scores escalate across the nation.
Consequently, in the run-up to the anniversary of the 2022 uprising, the comments made by Khamenei during his assembly with IRGC leaders could, as the spokesperson of the People’s Mojahedin Organization of Iran (MEK/PMOI) aptly stated, be seen as ‘an inverted response to the immense disdain the Iranian people harbor for the IRGC and the Basij.’
Khamenei champions the IRGC with titles like ‘the world’s foremost anti-terrorist organization,’ but this stands in crude contrast to the general sentiment. It is the same sentiment that manifests in slogans like ‘Sepahi (referring to the IRGC members), Basiji, ISIS – you’re all the same!’ whenever the opportunity arises.