Iran presidential Autopsy
Tehran May 2014, and the years after …
Iran elected her president in June 2013. A president for a change in the doomed state of the country.
The supreme Guide, Ali Khamenei and his cronies wanted someone to fulfil their goals. Hassan Rouhani, a fine product of the Islamic hierarchy’s hypocrisy and falsehood was to be elected. He would have the looks needed for the hope for change. With his smile, he would conquer the hearts of the Western media which wouldn’t give a monkey’s about Ahmadinejad’s stupidities anymore. The elections were scripts finely tuned and all regime cronies and citizens obediently played their role.
In these columns, we never believed in the “democratic” process for the presidential elections and said it clearly. A year on, Rouhani, the wolf in the sheep’s skin, has all the records of mismanagement: double-digit rises in unemployment (40%), inflation (yo-yoing 30-45%), corruption (n/a), foolish projects (moving Capital city) and ridiculous decisions (free food baskets for all). Iranian media on the Internet is available for readers to judge for themselves. Today Iran, depressed, looks like a vast refugee camp, living on hand-outs. Why bother with such trifles? After all, The Leader is the one that counts. He orders “Economic of Resistance”, a concept similar to the notion that the “earth is flat”, and all, even those with a couple of PhDs in economics, praise him for his expertise. Can we rest assured? Oh certainly! Nuclear facilities are on the top for uranium enrichment; our deputies to the parliament are convinced that enriched uranium is a must for agriculture; Bashar al-Assad stays in power thanks to Iranians’ support and money. The Iranian media boasts of a friendly biker’s parade in Damascus; it has no pity for millions of Syrian refugees.
Gloom, loss of hope and misery in today’s Iranian society is even more gripping than it was a year ago, as an excellent article by Simon Tisdall describes it. Those who voted willingly for Hassan Rouhani with some hope for a change were, once more, deluding themselves. Iranian presidents are dolls in the hands of Velayat-e Faghih. Mohammad Khatami’s two presidential mandates starting in the late 1990s should have been a lesson for all those who were too optimistic to be realistic. Later, his few cosmetic changes were wiped out or perverted to fit the tastes of despotic ayatollahs.
Iran‘s theocracy is never to change its nature. Ayatollahs’ rule feeds on tyranny, violence, deceit and superstition. It honours infamy to the point that no limit is left for decency. Sleaze triumphs over courage. Ignorance is cultivated. Hatred is the driving force behind individual and collective decisions.
All this is too obvious from the process of presidential elections and its aftermath. A year ago in late spring of 2013, after the candidates’ names were known to the public, reports of a mild wind of hope by electing Hassan Rouhani were in the air. People took their stand: those who have lived long enough to witness by themselves the tricks and deceits of the Velayat-e Faghih, from the early days in the 1980s, advised a total boycott. The word was stay home! But then once more voting polls were crowded. People voted: some out of conviction, others because they were ordered to vote, or were paid to vote.
The tragedy of the Iranian social and political shambles lies in simple observations.
First observation: deny your own misjudgement and mistake. Those who enthusiastically participate in a collective action, be it a voting or a manifestation, would never admit that they participated in them, if the outcome is sour and unpleasant. Quite the contrary, they would assert that they did all they could against it.
Many, far too many, Iranians I met in the early days of the Iranian Revolution of 1979, became overnight fervent followers of Khomeini and his cronies. Against all logic and sound analysis, they denied the right of questioning to the critics. Today, they are older; as I am. They claim to have been opposed to the ayatollahs and boast that they had taken an active stand against the regime from the minute they heard about it in 1978. If, today, you were to listen to collective beliefs and individual tales, the large manifestations and overwhelming crowds that chanted for Islamic revolution at the time never existed, or the crowd were made of foreign elements and paid deprived from the country’s backyard.
In January 1979, when Shapour Bakhtiar took office as Shah’s last prime minister, he was spat on and even defamed by his own party sympathiser and activists. Today, many, far too many, have his picture on their desk and gloat about their support for him. If all these claims were true, Shapour Bakhtiar would have had a real chance of standing against theocracy.
Second observation: in Iran it is far easier to buy votes or to start a demonstration with a free lunch for all, than have two dozen people participating in a decent debate.
When reading about events in 1952-1953, keep in mind that those who devised Operation Ajax had no difficulty in implementing it. The mood changed overnight, from backing Mossadegh on day one, then overthrowing him on day two. Rumour has it that the price of buying the support of an enthusiastic crowd for Shah’s return was twenty thousand toman. The price of two chickens in the north of Tehran today.
The Presidential Autopsy
2013-2014: Tehran and even provincial tales are filled with hearsay details of how people were bought to vote for Hassan Rouhani. Not all are poppycock accounts. Paying voters is a documented phenomenon in Iranian politics. But along with those bought, there are people who voted from conviction for Hassan Rouhani. Today any observer of Iranian politics would have a hard time finding voters who would concede that he/she had cast their own vote to Rouhani. No one would acknowledge his/her poor judgement. Many of our readers who took unkindly to us in 2013 for our call to boycott the masquerade of the elections expressed their firm intention of voting for Rouhani. These days, they are writing to us once more – this time to tell the stories of the acts of villainy from ayatollah agents in rigging the elections. The conclusion reads: “I did not vote for the bastard.”
After all, perhaps they did vote, perhaps they did not vote. I wouldn’t know for sure. But there is one thing I am convinced of. My fellow citizens are all too happy to be forgetful of their own blunders. To save one’s face it is so simple and comfortable to blame the next-door neighbour for all errors, big or small. جنده
Uprooting theocracy in our country is a bedtime nursery rhyme. Our democracy, our freedom, is not to be born in the coming decades, unless … we learn to cherish our vote, a precious thing that is not to be sold for a price or be cast on an impulse from dreamland. We also have to ponder on our agility in changing our minds, as a weathercock yields to the wind’s direction. For now, all ideas of us living a better life in our country are nipped in the bud by our own passive acceptance of despotism, by our practice of corruption at all levels.
Once more, we snivel, feeling miserable. We have illiterate people, we have people that can write and read, and we have many with PhDs from Ivy League universities, some even teaching in them. What we do not have are a dozen men and women who would think together with common sense and realism, putting the interests of the country first. We are unable to organise credible political groups and we shy away from analysing our failures and shortcomings with fairness and hindsight. Being able to read, write and even produce a thesis is all honourable but is not telling about openness of mind, learning to live with others and having the guts to stand by one’s beliefs. Sending the ayatollahs back to their dens needs collective courage, solidarity and resolve. As long as we are pathetically nostalgic of past dictators and fantasise about good old times, we go on wallowing in despair.