Tehran regime has lost its legitimacy
Iran’s politicians and state-owned news outlets will dedicate significant coverage this week to the commemoration of the founder of the Islamic Republic, Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, who died on June 3, 1989.
These ceremonies are part of the regime’s propaganda machine, an attempt to show that the theocratic establishment still enjoys legitimacy not only inside Iran but also in other countries 40 years after its establishment. Many who take part are either members of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps or government employees forced to attend or run the risk of losing their job, income and livelihood.
As they do every year, the regime will try to show that Khomeini still enjoys significant respect. Ceremonies are organized and broadcast in countries such as Lebanon, Iraq, Spain, India and even China, although the regime is always the paymaster.
The ruling clerics aim to show their loyalists that their system of governance enjoys popularity in Iran and abroad. But the reality on the ground is that the Islamic revolution of 1979 has gone bankrupt, as protests continue against high inflation, rising food prices and economic mismanagement. The economic situation is dire for most Iranians.
This misalignment between the fortunes of the ruling mullahs and the ordinary population has contributed to frequent demonstrations.
Many people blame government corruption for a significant portion of the hardships they face.
Khomeini’s theocratic establishment damaged the clergy’s popularity and reputation in society as well as the image of Islam as Tehran became the top sponsor and supporter for terror, radical and militia groups across the region
Dr. Majid Rafizadeh
Many ordinary Iranians are also frustrated with the regime’s foreign policies, demanding that it stop squandering the nation’s wealth of the nation on terrorist and militia groups, and other dictators, in Syria, Iraq, Lebanon and Yemen.
Without a doubt, the founding father of the Islamic Republic created a fundamental transformation in the political system, from a secular, Western-friendly state to a system of governance that combines constitutional and theocratic attributes.
This not only significantly altered the social, political, and domestic affairs of the nation, but has also had significant impact on the geopolitical and strategic chessboard of the Middle East.
Khomeini also significantly changed the traditional Shiite theology, which called for a separation of religion and state.
Although the Iranian regime attempts to show that Khomeini’s rise to power had a positive impact on Shia Islam, it actually had a detrimental effect. His policies, paradoxically, reduced religiosity among the next generation of Iranians. While before Khomeini came to power, the clergy were generally respected in Iran as spiritual and holy men, Khomeini’s theocratic establishment damaged the clergy’s popularity and reputation in society as well as the image of Islam as Tehran became the top sponsor and supporter for terror, radical and militia groups across the region.
Currently, many Iranian people have a negative view of the Shiite clergy and blame them for the political, social and economic crisis.
In a nutshell, the Iranian regime is using the commemoration of its founder to advance its propaganda. But, the regime has lost legitimacy and popularity in Iran and abroad.
• Dr. Majid Rafizadeh is a Harvard-educated Iranian-American political scientist. He is a leading expert on Iran and US foreign policy, a businessman and president of the International American Council. Twitter: @Dr_Rafizadeh