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Analysis

THE HATED MULLAHS

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Guest Post by Struan Stevenson – Struan Stevenson is the Coordinator of the Campaign for Iran Change (CiC). He was a member of the European Parliament representing Scotland (1999-2014), president of the Parliament’s Delegation for Relations with Iraq (2009-14) and chairman of the Friends of a Free Iran Intergroup (2004-14).  Struan is also Chair of the ‘In Search of Justice’ (ISJ)

A recent video, shot clandestinely from an office window in Tehran, shows a turbaned mullah dejectedly trying to hail a taxi, as cab after cab ignores him. In an open act of defiance, one cab even stops near the mullah to pick up a woman who, in the eyes of the regime, would be described as improperly dressed for not wearing the full veil. The fact that the video has gone viral is the clearest sign yet of the seething hatred of the mullahs by the Iranian population. The clerical regime’s concept of Velayat-e Faqih, or the rule of the jurists, introduced following the 1979 revolution, which effectively transferred all political and religious authority to the Shi’ia clergy, subject to the final approval of the Supreme Leader, currently Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, is loathed by the beleaguered people of Iran. Senior clerics have even admitted publicly that it is now dangerous to appear on the street in their mullahs’ attire of turban and long gown or cloak. Several have been attacked in recent weeks.

The Iranian regime is in a dangerously unstable state. The mullahs have wrecked the Iranian economy, financed and sustained proxy wars across the Middle East, accelerated their program to develop a nuclear weaponand sponsored acts of terrorism worldwide. Their corrupt ineptitude has led to an estimated 510,000 deaths from the coronavirus pandemic. 80 million Iranians are now facing abject poverty and destitution andrepeated protests and uprisings are a clear indication that a major revolt is evolving. 40% of the Iranian population now live below the extreme international poverty line of $1 per day. They face starvation and a daily struggle to survive. For this to happen in what was once a rich and successful country is a disgrace. As extreme poverty deepens, the venal corruption of the mullahs and their Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) protectors, becomes increasingly apparent. Senior mullahs, members of the judiciary and IRGC officers now live in excessive luxury. A powerful system of political patronage, nepotism, cronyism, plundering and embezzlement, sustains the elite and cripples the economy, effectively stealing bread from the mouths of the people.

Raging against this tyranny, active resistance units of the main democratic opposition movement, the People’s Mojahedin of Iran/Mojahedin-eKhalq (PMOI/MEK), inspired by their exiled leader Mrs Maryam Rajavi, have sprung up in every town and city in Iran. In late January, specialist units from the resistance managed to hack simultaneously into dozens of TV and radio stations across Iran, interrupting national networks to call for the downfall of Ayatollah Khamenei and the mullahs’ criminal regime and to flash images of Mrs Rajavi and her husband Massoud Rajavi on TV screens. This has caused panic amongst the ruling elite and a surge of support for the opposition PMOI/MEK. So sophisticated was the nationwide hack that parts of the network are still not working and engineers are struggling to recover their systems.

The TV and radio hacks are symptomatic of the searing rage of the predominantly young population, who have lost their fear of the regime and are ready to erupt in a nationwide insurrection that will drive the hated mullahs from power and restore freedom, justice and democracy. In a bid to counter this threat, Khamenei clearly thought that the sham election last year of Ebrahim Raisi, as president of Iran, would send a hard-line signal to the Iranian people and to the West. It was a serious miscalculation. In January, 463 international human rights experts, jurists and dignitaries, including a former president of the International Criminal Court (ICC) and 18 Nobel laureates, sent a letter to the UN Human Rights Council, calling for Raisi to be indicted for crimes against humanity and genocide for his key involvement in the 1988 massacre of over 30,000 political prisoners. Raisi’s bogus elevation to the role of president has simply drawn attention to his criminal and murderous past and to that of his colleagues.

A dossier of evidence compiled by survivors of the massacre and families of victims, has now been handed to the police in the UK, calling for Raisi’s arrest under universal jurisdiction. Meanwhile a senior Iranian diplomat is serving 20years in a Belgian jail for his commanding role in a state-sponsored plotto bomb a rally attended by Mrs Rajavi near Paris in 2018. In Sweden,Hamid Noury, one of Raisi’s henchmen during the 1988 massacre, is on trial for crimes against humanity.With the mullahs’ facing justice on many fronts and with mounting crises at home and abroad, the theocratic regime is at its most vulnerable state in four decades.

This is a critical moment for the West to send a message of support to the Iranian population and to confound the appeasers who cling,desperately, to the hope that the defunct nuclear deal can somehow beresurrected by ending sanctions against Iran and enabling the mullahs tore-double corruption and to re-double funding for their proxy wars in Syria,Yemen, Lebanon, Iraqand Gaza, as well as their sponsorship of international terrorism and their aggressive attacks on commercial shipping in the Gulf. That approach would represent an abject betrayal of the Iranian people.

Last October, former Vice President Mike Pence, in one of his first publicappearances in America since the US presidential elections, outlined his forthright support for the PMOI/MEK and Mrs Rajavi. Pence condemned Ebrahim Raisi, calling for his trial for crimes against humanity for the massacre of 30,000 political prisoners in 1988. He said that the election ofEbrahim Raisi as president was a sign that the regime is in a state of desperation and weakness. He said all indications are that the authoritarian regime in Iran knows that its days are numbered.

Mike Pence went on to say that one of the great lies that the mullahs spread is to try to convince the world that there is no alternative to their corrupt and brutal regime, and therefore the current situation must be accepted. Pence mentioned that on the contrary, there is a well-organized and well-prepared alternative, that has all the competencies and enjoys the support of the Iranian people. This alternative is the PMOI/MEK. Pence said Mrs Rajavi’s ten-point plan for Iran’s future guarantees freedom of expression, freedom of assembly and freedom for all Iranians to elect their own leaders and coexist peacefully with all independent countries in the region.

As the hated mullahs wait forlornly for a taxi, they would be well advised to remove their turbans and gowns, pack their bags and quietly disappear into history.

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