Crisis of legitimacy for the mullahs

by: Amil Imani
June 7th, 2005

In recent years, the US State Department has called the Islamic Republic of Iran the world's "most active state sponsor of terrorism." The Islamic Republic has been in a state of war with the world since its inception 26 years ago. The Islamic Republic is waging a war of construction, the war to build up an Islamic empire and to change the whole face of the earth. They are also at war with the Iranian people. As a matter of fact, the first victims of the Islamic Republic's appetite for the destruction of the civilized world were the Iranian people themselves.

There are many factors accounting for the longevity of the Islamic regime in Iran. The first factor which has helped the regime to stay alive, despite its immense hatred by the majority of the Iranian people, has been the sale of its vast oil and natural-gas reserves. Soaring crude oil prices, along with consumer demand, literally has filled the Mullahs’ pockets with billions of dollars.

Another factor has been the assassinations and imprisonments of the intellectuals, writers and journalists by vigilante groups or the pressure groups, such as Ansar-i Hizbullah (Defenders of the Party of God), The "Sa’id Imami Gang, Fida’iyan-i Islam (Devotees of Islam), Students Following the Line of the Imam, Hujjatiyyah (Charitable Society of the Mahdi) and the "Mehdi Hashemi Gang". Vigilante groups have posed threats, using intimidation and fear undergird the stability of the regime. The Islamic Republic has come to stay.

The Chairman of the Expediency Discernment Council of the System, Ali Akbar Hashem Rafsanjani, perhaps is the key element of the survival of the regime. The Western media call him pragmatic, moderate, and a deal-maker, yet, he is among the most ruthless "pragmatic" dictators the world has ever seen. He is a brutal man who has no mercy on his enemies. He allows nothing to stand in his way when his mind is made up. This former pistachio farmer has accumulated billions of dollars by stealing money from Iran's resources.

Due to the above factors, a revolution against the Islamic Republic seems almost impossible. Any uprising attempt is at once nipped in the bud by the Basijis (the militia political police) and the pressure groups. This feared body has the power of life and death and its members have the right to shoot a counter revolutionary without trial.

The Islamic Republic of Iran has become synonymous with collapse, revolt and a dangerously unstable and unpredictable place in the world. After 26 years of the Iranian revolution, the lava of revolution has not yet cooled. The headiest days may still be ahead, when the enthusiasm of youth is going to be the ultimate force which will help to bring down the Islamic regime. People are hoping the simultaneous uprising of the youth of the nation and a strike by the workers, will bring the Islamic Republic to its knees.

The legitimacy of the Islamic Republic is now under serious challenge.
Students and workers are protesting in Tehran and across Iran, by the thousands. The middle classes have expressed their disgust with the regime by voting in every recent election for the most anti-regime candidate on the ballot. Yet, this is still not a fair battle. The mullahs still have all the money and power and the people are still hungry and poor.

While economic disasters invariably lead to political turmoil and uncertainty, the Islamic regime sees nothing wrong in the plight of working class. The onset of recession and slump, despite the oil wealth enriching the regime, certainly leads to questioning and a significant political radicalization amongst certain layers of Iranian society, especially young people. Despite the huge rifts which exist among the opposition, these groups will inevitably have to come together for their common goals.

In 1999, a victory of the student movement over a vicious and barbaric act by the Islamic vigilante group, Ansar-i Hizbullah, along with Basiji forces, which were backed directly by the Supreme Leader ‘Ali Khamene’i, gave an enormous boost of confidence to the millions of exploited and oppressed people across Iran.

The July 9, 1999 brutal attack by the Ansar-i Hezbullah and the militia forces, on a student dormitory at 4:00 a.m., resulted in breaking windows, setting rooms on fire, clubbing students and throwing students out of the second story dormitory's window. Overnight, the attack rejuvenated the student movement. This attack sent students into action by the thousands, overtaking streets, staging sit-ins in major cities throughout Iran for six consecutive days.

Even though the regime was able to squash the student movement in 1999, the hunger for freedom and the spirit of reformism it revealed have by no means been brought under control. Although the ruling regime was severely shaken, it was not removed. The Islamic Republic is still walking a tight-rope between concession and repression. The spirit of freedom among the Iranian people lives on.

Amil Imani is a poet, writer, literary translator, essayist, novelist, and a political activist who speaks out for the struggling people of his native land, Iran.

Amil Imani