Unfailingly, tyrants want approval from those upon whom they stomp, a show of public support legitimizing their power. But they can never be sure if the support demanded would be genuine and so the logic of tyranny requires such show of support be rigged in advance.
The recent presidential election in Iran was staged as just another stylized charade of democracy, like previous ones, and irrespective of which of the four candidates won, the loser would remain the Iranian people.
But recognizing how broken the foundation of their tyranny is, how greatly lacking is public approval – how much the cleric-based regime is held to ridicule by the swelling ranks of opponents and disenchanted former supporters – the tyrants were unwilling to trust the rigged outcome of their own charade. They went about fixing the result so clumsily that the revulsion of the Iranians has overflowed into the streets of their cities.
Since 1979 Iran has been held in the tyrannical grip of the Shia Muslim version of the Russian Bolsheviks. Like their Russian counterparts, the turbaned Iranian Bolsheviks, led by the late Ayatollah Khomeini, rode the slipstream of a popular revolt against the monarchical rule of the late shah, Mohammad Reza Pahlavi. Being better organized and more ruthless, they seized power.
The 1979 revolution provided legitimacy to Khomeini and his clerical vanguard in the making of the Islamic Republic of Iran. However, the sheer brutality of the regime, the fascistic nature of the Islamist ideology and widespread corruption among the elite revealed over the years, had washed away the gloss of the republic some time ago.
Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, the farcically re-elected president of Iran, is the genuine face of the thuggish regime. He is the face that the real wielder of power, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei as the spiritual head of the Republic and successor of Khomeini, decided the world should see and deal with.
Iran’s tyrants likely will meet the same fate of Russia’s Bolsheviks, overthrown by their own people. The reason is simple.
More than two-thirds of Iranians were born after the 1979 revolution or were not yet adults then. They have known only the clenched-fist ineptness of the regime, the squandering of their future through war, support for terrorism and bigotry and expect more of the same unless the regime is overthrown.
Seyyed Hossein Khomeini, grandson of Khomeini, visited the holy city of Najaf in southern Iraq a few months after American troops liberated the country in April 2003 and gave a public interview.
He said, “There is absolutely no freedom in Iran, people are suffering from a totalitarian religious rule. Just like the Iraqis, the Iranians are desperate to be free and if all other methods fail they may welcome American military intervention.”
For three decades Iranians have been abused in the name of religion. It is the sort of abuse about which Albert Camus, the great French-Algerian writer, warned, noting politics “is not religion, or if it is, then it is nothing but the Inquisition.”
The recent election was designed to show the world Islamic democracy at work. But the quarrels among regime players let the Iranian people break through existing cracks in the regime’s facade to tell the world they are restless for freedom.