Iranian See Crackdowns Ahead Of Presidential Election

Shahriar Kia Policy Analyst
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With only days left to the so-called presidential “election” in Iran, senior regime officials are extremely concerned about the issue of security. Here is a glimpse provided by the regime’s top figure.

“If we want the grandeur and sovereignty of the Islamic republic to be preserved and it remains immune (to the harms), all should participate in the elections,” Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei said, adding “The only way to confront the animosity of the enemy is the presence of people at the scene…If a dereliction is made and some pave the way for people’s disappointment, the country will definitely suffer.”

However, being the leading state sponsor of terrorism, Iran is not concerned about any security threats such as those recently feared in France during their presidential election. While French authorities dispatched over 50,000 armed forces to establish security as the country’s population flocked to the polls, officials in Tehran are terrified of their “election” resulting in major uprisings similar to that of 2009.

Iran’s police chief Hossein Ashtari had on April 22nd announced 300,000 security boots being deployed across the country. Of course, this reflect the number of police ordered to the streets. The mullahs are known to also deploy members of the Revolutionary Guards, the paramilitary Basij, Intelligence Ministry and plainclothes agents, and members of a conglomerate of other security and intelligence organizations. It is worth noting that the Iranian regime has 16 different security entities.

And this is a country where its regime claims to be safest state in the world without a single bombing, at a time when the region and many countries across the globe are struggling to rein in terrorist groups.

Iran’s mullahs are also known to resort to any and all crimes to maintain their establishment intact. Amnesty International issued its 2016/2017 report on April 11th saying with the exception of China, 55% of all executions across the globe were carried out in Iran. The so-called “moderate” incumbent President Hassan Rouhani, seeking a second term, presided over 3,000 executions during his four-year tenure.

Iran’s prisons also play a major role in establishing the mullahs’ interpretation of security. Mostafa Pour-Mohammadi, who played a key role in the 1988 massacre of over 30,000 political prisoners, and is now ironically Rouhani’s Justice Minister, issued a an annual report indicating 478,000 people entered Iran’s prisons from March 2016 to March 2017, according to the Mashreq website.

Despite all these efforts, however, Khamenei will never be able to guarantee full security as the Iranian society can be described as a powder keg. Tehran Mayor Mohammad Bagher Ghalibaf, a candidate in this year’s race, explained this vividly.

“Four percent of our society have everything, while the 96% don’t,” he said.

Ebrahim Raisi, head of the powerful charity foundation known as the Astan Quds Razavi and another leading figure of the notorious “Death Commission” leading the 1988 massacre, shed further light in this regard.

“In 2013 we had 11 million people living in the slums in city outskirts. Today, these numbers have raised to 16 million,” he said in the first televised debate. 5 million have increased during Rouhani’s tenure alone and this regime’s own economic experts describe such a phenomenon as a ticking time bomb.

This regime has remained intact through an iron fist and imposing a climate fear, consisting of continuous executions, massacres, killings, and tortures in prison, arrests and a variety of other domestic crackdown measures. Just recently on May 3rd seven individuals were sent to the gallows in a prison west of Tehran.

Ahmad Alamolhoda, Khamenei’s representative and Friday prayer imam in the city of Mashhad, described the regime’s status quo best in a recent prayer gathering.

“These days all political developments… render a very sensitive situation for us. We must be aware that… we are on the edge of a cliff… and we might be completely overthrown,” he said.

To add insult to injury is Tehran’s fear of this powder keg society being in contact with its organized opposition, seen in the Paris-based National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI). Mohammad Mohaddess, Chair of the NCRI Foreign Affairs Committee said in a recent online conference, “The choices for Khamenei are between the worse and the worse of the worse. This is the reality that Khamenei has to deal with. This is a totally new situation and new prospects and brings the regime closer to its downfall.”​