The revulsion of Iranians for the political system that has imprisoned them for three decades was triggered by the disputed results of the June 12 election.
Once, however, the opposition took to the streets and the regime spilled blood to intimidate the people, it became transparently clear the revulsion a majority of Iranians are displaying is not over details of the rigged election. It is directed at the bloody-minded theocracy oppressing them, and its overthrow most Iranians want.
Those with the misfortune of living inside totalitarian regimes know – except for their apologists and the delusional lib-left crowd in the West – elections held by tyrants are fraudulent exercises in coercing what amounts to accepting rape as love.
Tyrants by nature and logic of their position are intolerant of dissent, and crush dissenters as apostates against the official doctrine.
In the Islamic Republic of Iran its founder, Ayatollah Khomeini, set the example of how to treat dissenters. Some were lucky as was Abolhassan Banisadr, the Republic’s first president, to escape alive to France; others met the fate of Sadegh Ghotbzadeh, appointed foreign minister and executed in 1982 on charges of treason.
In 1989 before his death Khomeini demoted and placed under house arrest his designated successor, Grand Ayatollah Hossein Ali Montazeri, for questioning the direction in which the regime was headed. Ali Khamenei, a nonentity in the traditional Shiite religious hierarchy, was then appointed by Khomeini to succeed him and protect his totalitarian legacy.
Khomeini’s legacy, probably now irreparably broken, allowed constitutionally for the marginal role of electoral politics under supervision of the supreme religious leader. It can now only be held together for however long by brute force of the revolutionary guards loyal to the regime.
On the Friday after June 12 election, Ayatollah Khamenei came out in public to lead the main weekly prayer at the grounds of Tehran University. He gave notice to dissenters within the regime and the opposition on the street the election results stand, and questioning it any further could be tantamount to treason.
According to Amir Taheri – probably the most astute observer of Iranian politics writing in London’s Sunday Times – Khamenei’s June 19 speech meant the end of the marginal democratic charade as ‘Iran was transformed from an Islamic republic into an Islamic emirate.’
I have attended Friday prayer on the grounds of Tehran University where Khamenei spoke, and where regime loyalists gather to ritually chant ‘Marg bar (death to) Amrika (America).’ This chant barely resonates beyond loyalist gatherings.
It takes more than ordinary courage, however, for people in a totalitarian system to chant ‘Marg bar diktator (dictator)’ which has been resonating in streets and from rooftops across Iran this past week.
Khamenei put into play, perhaps unintentionally, the regime’s endgame. Ahmadinejad is exposed for what he is, Khamenei’s stick with which to discipline the internal quarrels of discontented elements within the regime.
But Khamenei without Khomeini’s stature – like Stalin after Lenin – can survive politically only as long as he commands his thugs with guns, and the military watches from a neutral distance.
There will be many more twists before this brutal regime dies, but die it must when most Iranians turned dissidents overcome their fear and do their version of storming the Bastille.