With growing rifts in Iran’s leadership, and the increase in public dissent, the international community is waiting to see what will develop in Iran.
The May 19th presidential election sparked an outbreak of protests, which were escalated by investors who had placed their savings in institutions linked to the state and/or the Revolutionary Guards (IRGC).
For the past year, the network associated with the Iranian opposition, People’s Mojahedin Organization of Iran (PMOI/MEK), has focused its effort on raising awareness inside the country, especially among the youth.
It is troubling that the perpetrators of the massacre during the summer of 1988, where at least 30,000 political prisoners in dozens of prisons throughout Iran were executed, still hold offices in today’s regime.
Mostafa Pour-Mohammadi is the minister of justice in President Hassan Rouhani’s cabinet. Conservative cleric Ebrahim Raisi was the favored candidate of Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei in the election, as well as being groomed to succeed Khamenei in the regime’s ultimate leadership post. Both men were members of the four-man “Death Commission” presiding over the executions.
Revelations made by the PMOI/MEK network inside Iran exposed those involved in the 1988 massacre. This placed Khamenei in a position of risking a major uprising that might be worse than that of 2009, or allow Hassan Rouhani another term as president. However, Rouhani’s second term will be no different from his first.
Recently, Khamenei and his faction have issued indirect threats against Rouhani, showing the great divide in Iran’s leadership. Also considered by many to be aimed at Rouhani was IRGC Quds Force chief Qassem Soleimani lashing out at those targeting the Guards. He said, “In the Islamic Republic, we’re all responsible towards martyrs, society, religion and our country. The biggest betrayal is to cast doubt toward the foundations of this system… none today must weaken the corps.” This is believed by some to be a reference to Rouhani’s remarks against the IRGC through the elections process, and after presidential campaign.
Adding to this, the Trump administration is weighing the option of blacklisting the IRGC as a foreign terrorist organization, and perhaps seeking regime change through supporting the Iranian opposition.
Newt Gingrich, former speaker of the House of Representatives, who has a close relationship with President Trump, said at a recent Iranian opposition rally near Paris, “Iran must be free. The dictatorship must be destroyed. Containment is appeasement, and appeasement is surrender. The only practical goal is to support a movement to free Iran. Any other goal will leave a dictatorship finding ways to get around any agreement and to lie about everything.”
A prominent Saudi figure also showed support of such an initiative. Former Saudi intelligence chief, Turki Faisal said, “The Iranian people are the first victims of [the mullahs’] dictatorship.” He added, “Your effort in challenging this regime is legitimate and your resistance for the liberation of the Iranian people of all ethnicities, including Arabs, Kurds, Baluchis, Turks and Fars of the mullahs’ evil, as [Iranian opposition leader Maryam] Rajavi said, is a legitimate struggle.”
Evidence that regime change may be in the future for Iran is seen in these emerging developments, both domestically and abroad.