FRANCE: Amid an unprecedented crisis after the downfall of the Ukrainian airliner, Iran’s supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei performed Friday prayers on January 17 by himself, for the first time in eight years. Jahan-e San’at, one of the newspapers founded by the regime, described Khamenei’s presence as:
“An attempt to psychologically rebuild the society,” adding “There was a high level of stress among people (…); mental rehabilitation was the leader’s main goal”.
However, the implicit meaning of this speech is the rebuilding of the disintegrating moral of the regime’s forces.
“Today, trust between the government and the people has reached its lowest point. If such an unprecedented event (regarding the shot down of the Ukrainian plane) had occurred anywhere else in the world, there would be many officers detained, while others of high rank would have already resigned from their positions”, published the official paper Arman, on January 18th.
Incredibly, forty minutes after his Friday prayer’s speech, Khamenei referred to this enormous tragedy of international interest just as “the little issue” that shook the whole world. He did not apologize for commanding the target of the Ukrainian flight with two missiles, which resulted in the death of 176 passengers and crew. Nor did he assume any responsibility for this “human error”.
Instead, he praised the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) commanders for “explaining to the people how the things went and telling the truth”. Regarding the performance of the forces under his command, he accused the “enemy” of “challenging the IRGC” by addressing this issue, when the IRGC’s main responsibility is to maintain Iran’s religious fascism.
The reason why the supreme leader does not mention those responsible for shooting the plane down is the extreme weakness and vulnerability of the regime. There is no room to dismiss or publicly reprimand a senior IRGC officer. The Iranian religious dictatorship is so insecure that it could not even consider this under the fear that any demonstration of weakness would end up increasing the bravery of the young people. Encouraging the popular opposition.
The sensitive and momentous situation
The first vice-president, Es’hagh Jahangiri, described the current tense situation:
“The country (read the Iranian regime) is in a sensitive and momentous situation. It may be stated with certainty that in the last forty years, there have never been such significant challenges to the country, at a time when social capital and public confidence have declined. The shock caused by the missile hitting the passenger plane has endangered people’s psychological and societal security”.
President Hassan Rouhani also referred to this sensitive situation.
“As the head of the Supreme National Security Council, I take care of the day-to-day. There is a bullet between war and peace and, as you should know, a bullet can make war” (Entekhab, January 16).
By “war”, Rouhani means the uprising of the young people in Iran and insurgents in Iraq and Lebanon, leading to an armed confrontation with the forces under Iran’s regime command.
In his speech, Khamenei described the young people who have protested for the plane crash as the deceived Persian media. He said the true “Iranian people” are those who had attended the funeral of Qassem Soleimani, not those protesting for the plane crash. He also said that the protesters who chant “neither Gaza, nor Lebanon, I would sacrifice my life for Iran” are not only willing to sacrifice their lives, but even their interests.
Meanwhile, in the mid-November uprising, 1,500 Iranian young protestors who were fighting for freedom and democracy were killed by the IRGC.
In conclusion, Khamenei’s disregard for the loss of 176 innocent lives in the Ukrainian flight crash, as well as the tragic death of 80 people in Kerman as a result of artificial congestion at the funeral of Qassem Soleimani, completely depicts the image of a decaying regime in revolt in Iran and the region.
About the author:
*Hamid Enayat is an Iranian analyst and writer based in Paris. He is also a human rights activist and has been a frequent writer on Iranian and regional issues for thirty years. He has been writing passionately on secularism and fundamental freedoms, and his analysis sheds light on various geopolitics and complex issues concerning the Middle East and Iran. Recently, he has also been collaborating with Media Express Press Agency.
Image: This is a file from the Farsnews.com website, which states in its footer, “Fars News Agency is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.” https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/2/2c/Ukraine_Air_Boeing_737_Crashes_in_Southern_Tehran_2020-01-08_08.jpg