Archive for the ‘Iranian elections’ category

Khamenei ally is accusing ‘Iran’s liberal enemies of delaying the Mahdi’s appearance’

April 21, 2017

Khamenei ally is accusing ‘Iran’s liberal enemies of delaying the Mahdi’s appearance’, Alarabiya, Saleh Hamid, April 21, 2017

(Please see also, Iran: Possible US and Iranian Opposition Cooperation to Counter the Threat of Mullahs’ Rule. — DM)

Saidi is known for making controversial statements about the sanctification of Khamenei’s regime. (Archives)

“[T]he Guardianship of the Islamist Jurist does not require legitimacy from the people, since it represents the divine judgement, and the people must accept the orders of the Islamic Jurist, as they accept the orders of the infallible Imam”.

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A representative of Iran’s Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei in the Revolutionary Guard, Ali Saidi, said in a speech that the Khomeini revolution in Iran paved the way for the emergence of Imam Mahdi, which is the last stage before his appearance, but that “there are enemies delaying his arrival.”

According to Islamic theology, the Mahdi is the prophesied redeemer of Islam who will rule for a number of years before the Day of Judgement.

Saidi has accused secularist and liberal front in Iran, of delaying the emergence of the Mahdi.

The official Iranian news agency IRNA quoted Saidi as saying at a meeting of the Revolutionary Guards clerics’ last Wednesday. Saidi recognized two “specific enemies one being an external enemy embodied in the United States of America and the others being internal enemies represented by the liberals and seculars in Iran.”

Saidi is known for making controversial statements about the sanctification of Khamenei’s regime. Last June, at a sermon in the province of Gilan northern of Iran, Saidi claimed that Khamenei “communicates with a divine source through revelation, occultism and diligence”.

FILE – In this June 15, 2009 file photo, a demonstrator wears a mask in the party’s color of green, due to fears of being identified, as hundreds of thousands of supporters of leading opposition presidential candidate Mir Hossein Mousavi, who claims there was voting fraud in election, turn out to protest the result of the election at a mass rally in Azadi (Freedom) square in Tehran, Iran. ( AP Photo/Ben Curtis, File)

He also said that “the Guardianship of the Islamist Jurist does not require legitimacy from the people, since it represents the divine judgement, and the people must accept the orders of the Islamic Jurist, as they accept the orders of the infallible Imam”.

Saidi also courted criticism for another controversial statement about Iranian influence and expansion in the region, when he said in a speech that “Iran’s strategic influence extends from Bahrain to Iraq, Yemen, Lebanon, the shores of the Mediterranean and even Latin America”.

On Tuesday, the European Union extended sanctions for another year against 82 Iranian figures, including Saidi, for serious human rights violations.

Saidi played a key role in suppressing the green movement protests following Iran’s presidential elections in 2009. The oppositional director Mohamed Nouri Zad broadcasted a tape in which guard leaders spoke, including Saidi, about details of the suppressing the protests that began in June 2009 against the presumed manipulation of the votes that led Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to win a second term.

Iran: Possible US and Iranian Opposition Cooperation to Counter the Threat of Mullahs’ Rule

April 21, 2017

Iran: Possible US and Iranian Opposition Cooperation to Counter the Threat of Mullahs’ Rule, Iran Focus, April 20, 2017

(Please see also, Iran’s Top Judge Warns of Enemy Schemes for Election. Might the “enemy schemes” of the Iranian dissidents who met with Sen. McCain be among those referenced there? — DM)

Senator McCain’s visit to Albania to visit dissidents and Maryam Rajavi could perhaps be a step in the direction of cooperation between the US government and the main Iranian opposition. It is true that the NCRI is receiving more and more support from lawmakers in the West, and from all over the world, and it is making the Iranian regime nervous. Cooperation between the US and the Iranian opposition, which has large networks of people all over Iran, will be a positive move for the people of Iran. No one knows more about the Iranian regime and its activities than the main opposition group and it will help the US get foreign policy to counter the regime’s threat right.

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London, 20 Apr – Last week, Senator John McCain went to Albania where he met a number of the former residents of the Camp Liberty base. The dissidents were finally released from the former US military base last year and many of them have now made Albania their permanent residence. The dissidents at Camp Liberty had been victim to numerous attacks planned by the Iranian regime.

However, they have now all finally been released from Camp Liberty and have the freedom to continue their activism, must to the dismay of the Iranian regime.

Senator McCain also met with the leader of the People’s Mojahedin Organization of Iran (PMOI/MEK) and the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI), Maryam Rajavi.

It was no surprise that the mullahs were unhappy about this encounter and claimed it was part of a conspiracy against the Islamic Republic. There were also threats that the US would be made to “pay” for the “mistakes” it has made. This predictable anger is nothing but proof that the Iranian regime is extremely weak and terrified of opposition.

For years, the Iranian regime has attempted to destroy the opposition via various methods including force, violence, false allegations and slander. It is clear that the opposition groups, especially the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI), pose a very real threat to the mullahs’ rule.

The threat has got even more real now that the Trump administration is in place. While President Obama was in office, the Iranian regime enjoyed free reign over the Middle East. Obama did not dare call the regime out on its malign activities, let alone sanction it.

In his presidency so far, Trump has put Iran “on notice” after it conducted testing of ballistic missiles and has issued numerous sanctions on Iranian individuals and entities. The Trump administration is also weighing up whether or not to designate the IRGC (Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps) as a FTO (Foreign Terrorist Organisation). However, the biggest message was sent to Iran when it launched a strike on its ally in Syria. As well as saying that the United States will not put up with such evil acts (the chemical weapons attack that killed dozens of civilians), it was a challenge to Iran’s position as the main backer of the Syrian regime.

Senator McCain’s visit to Albania to visit dissidents and Maryam Rajavi could perhaps be a step in the direction of cooperation between the US government and the main Iranian opposition. It is true that the NCRI is receiving more and more support from lawmakers in the West, and from all over the world, and it is making the Iranian regime nervous. Cooperation between the US and the Iranian opposition, which has large networks of people all over Iran, will be a positive move for the people of Iran. No one knows more about the Iranian regime and its activities than the main opposition group and it will help the US get foreign policy to counter the regime’s threat right.

Iran’s Top Judge Warns of Enemy Schemes for Election

April 20, 2017

Iran’s Top Judge Warns of Enemy Schemes for Election, Tasnim News Agency, April 20, 2017

(Apparently, the external Resistance Movement and the internal dissidents are causing the Mad Mullahs concern. Please see also, Iran’s Stage-Managed Elections. — DM)

In an address to a meeting of judicial officials on Thursday, Ayatollah Amoli Larijani highlighted the enemies’ outright hostility to Iran, pointing to the huge investment they have made for undermining the Islamic Republic and to the rising number of anti-Iranian media outlets.

“They (enemies) may also want to deal a blow to the (Iranian) Establishment during the elections,” the top judge added.

He then called on the judicial authorities and prosecutors to work in cooperation with the police and security forces to foil attempts at creating tensions and chaos.

Iran’s presidential election is planned to be held on May 19.

Iranians will also cast their ballots in the City and Village Councils elections on the same day.

On Wednesday, Leader of the Islamic Revolution Ayatollah Seyed Ali Khamenei warned of the enemies’ attempts to damage the process of election by publishing tempting stories in their media outlets, stressing that the Iranian nation will foil such plots with the same vigilance it has shown in the past.

The election should be held with high turnout and in healthy and secure conditions, Ayatollah Khamenei emphasized, saying that way polls would provide the country with immunity.

Iran’s Stage-Managed Elections

April 15, 2017

Iran’s Stage-Managed Elections, American ThinkerReza Shafiee, April 15, 2017

(What can President Trump do to promote regime change in Iran? What can he do to support the resistance, in and outside Iran? What, if anything will he do?– DM)

Iran’s history has shown that people are willing to risk and speak openly when they have outside support and sympathy. The United States’ policies with regard to human rights have an instant effect in hearts and minds of ordinary citizens in Iran. What happened in Iran in 2009 is not a distant memory. The Obama administration’s flawed policy set off a chain reactions in the region which still reverberates in Syria, Yemen and Iraq. By focusing just on getting the nuclear deal done with the mullahs in Tehran, it actually left out other pressing issues such supporting the Iranian people and indirectly preventing the carnage in the neighboring countries. 

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Every four years, Iranian citizen witness a show called ‘elections.’ These have nothing in common with genuine democratic elections; they’re facades. The upcoming May 19 elections are no exception.

A closer look at the candidates proves that they are no different from one another and all have a clear track record of participation in suppression of Iranian people over the past four decades. They have won the approval to enter the race by the mullahs for just this reason.

The two more serious ones are: Hassan Rouhani, the incumbent president; and Ebrahim Raisi, custodian of Iran’s wealthiest charity, Astan Quds Razavi in Iran’s holiest shrine of Imam Reza in Mashhad, northeastern Iran. Having charge of such vast amount of wealth, it’s a given that Raisi enjoys Supreme Leader Khamenei’s full trust. Both candidates are cut from the same cloth and are committed to principle to Supreme Guardianship (Velayat-e faqih), meaning, the rule of the ayatollahs

So who are they? Let’s start with the second one.

Ebrahim Raiai a member of “Death Commission” and close confident of Ali Khamenei

He was a low-level cleric who climbed the ladder in the mullahs’ hierarchy just for his undeniable services to the late Khomeini in slaughtering of 30,000 political prisoners in summer of 1988. (In Iran, we don’t refer to Khomeini as “Ayatollah,” just Khomeini is enough.  The title has been stolen and abused by the ruling mullahs in Iran.) The prisoners were mainly members and sympathizers of the Iranian opposition People’s Mojahedin Organizations of Iran (PMOI/MEK).

The “Death Commission” was a four-member body with the sole task of carrying out Khomeini’s fatwa against dissidents. In his hand-written decree, Khomeini openly ordered the commission to kill the political prisoners, the majority of whom had been already imprisoned.

Ayatollah Hossein-Ali Montazeri, Khomeini’s handpicked successor was later sacked over his quarrel with Khomeini for the indiscriminate killings. In a shocking 28-year-old audio file of one the meetings of Death Commission leaked in August by his son Ahmad, Montazeri called the killings a “crime that future generations will certainly not forget” and declared: “It is committed in the name of the Islamic Republic and carried out by you.”

Ahmad Montazeri has regarded Ebrahim Raisi’s standing for presidential elections a ‘joke’ and ‘an insult to Iranian people’. Raisi’s record does not stop at just his role in the massacre of political prisoners in 1988, but what he did overrides any other tasks he has undertaken in Islamic Republic’s killing machine.

Canada’s Parliament adopted the following motion on June 5th, 2013 on the events of 1988 in Iran: “That the House condemn the mass murder of political prisoners in Iran in the summer of 1988 as a crime against humanity, honors the memory of the victims buried in mass graves at Khavaran cemetery and other locations in Iran, and establishes Sept. 1 as a day of solidarity with political prisoners in Iran.”

Now let’s look at the other candidate:

Hassan Rouhani is no saint

Make no mistake about Rouhani being a saint by comparison. He is not far behind Raisi when it comes to cruelty. For starters, Mostafa Pour-Mohammadi, his justice minister, is none other than another member of the same notorious Death Commission. Last summer when Pour-Mohammadi was pressed to answer for the massacre of 1988, he proudly said: “I carried out God’s will and I have not lost sleep over what I did.”

The rate of executions during Rouhani’s presidency has been unprecedented in past 25 years in Iran, according to Ahmed Shaheed, who was Iran’s last UN Special Rapporteur for human rights. During Rouhani’s tenure, around 3000 executions were carried out.

When asked about hangings during his presidency, Rouhani simply said: “They were carried out according to God’s laws.”

Amnesty International’s report for 2016 indicates that with the exception of China, Iran carried out 55 percent of all executions worldwide.

Rouhani has always said that he has been in a decision making-position throughout the life of the Islamic Republic. He personally was in a commanding position when the 1999 student uprisings were crushed in Iran.

The European Union extended its sanctions on Iranian regime’s offices for participating in suppression of Iranian citizens.

EU documents state that they target persons complicit in “torture, cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment, or the indiscriminate, excessive and increasing application of the death penalty, including public executions, stoning, hangings or executions of juvenile offenders.”

As U.S. Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley mentioned recently: “Peace and security cannot be achieved in isolation from human rights.” The long-suffering people of Iran, Syria, and Iraq bear witness that “human rights abuses are not the byproduct of conflict; they are the cause of conflict, or they are the fuel that feeds the conflict.”

There’s also a third candidate worth looking at:

Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is back in the race

The trio of Rouhani, Raisi and Ahmadinejad in Iran’s upcoming elections is more than a mere joke: It has a plain and clear message – that of Khamenei’s extreme weakness in controlling his goons. The humorous Iranian people have already made jokes about the three and this bagatelle called elections. Social media is full of them.

Khamenei ordered Ahmadinejad to stay away from elections. By disobeying his master’s direct order he is demonstrating the Supreme Leader’s unprecedented lack of control over his establishment. Khamenei offered an explicit warning in September that his candidacy would be a “polarizing situation” that would be “harmful to the country.”

That is a reference to the disputed election in 2009 which ignited massive street demonstrations and subsequent arrests of thousands of protesters and the killing of hundreds of others by the Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC).

Final thoughts     

Iran’s history has shown that people are willing to risk and speak openly when they have outside support and sympathy. The United States’ policies with regard to human rights have an instant effect in hearts and minds of ordinary citizens in Iran. What happened in Iran in 2009 is not a distant memory. The Obama administration’s flawed policy set off a chain reactions in the region which still reverberates in Syria, Yemen and Iraq. By focusing just on getting the nuclear deal done with the mullahs in Tehran, it actually left out other pressing issues such supporting the Iranian people and indirectly preventing the carnage in the neighboring countries.

The elections in Iran – for parliament or president – have been designed or “engineered,” as the word has been widely used, by the regime’s inner circles, for both internal and external consumption. However after the nuclear deal with the West, it has become a high priority for the regime to show popular support at home and project it as an image to the rest of the world as a regime fully in control and ready to do business. It is no secret that the regime has no popular support in Iran.

Ebrahim Rasis, Hassan Rounhani, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and their likes should not be allowed to escape the consequences of their crimes against humanity. Known human rights criminals such as entire ruling mullah class in Iran should not go unpunished. They should soon see the inside of International Criminal Court.

Reza Shafiee is a member of Foreign Affairs Committee of the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI) 

 

How US Airstrike on Syria Impacts Iran’s Presidential Election

April 12, 2017

How US Airstrike on Syria Impacts Iran’s Presidential Election, Iran News Update, April 12, 2017

What all of these viewpoints have in common, is that the U.S. attack on Syria rocked both of Iran’s factions and increased their political disputes. 

However, the main issue is that the entire Iranian regime has suffered a major blow after this groundbreaking development.

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The impact of the U.S. attack on the Shayrat airfield in Syria was immediately evident in terms of its effect on Iran’s presidential election.

In an attempt to take advantage of the airstrike, various factions are trying to spin it to their favor, and use it against their opponents.

On Saturday, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani remarked, “Today, more than ever before, we must unite because it is not clear what visions the people in power now in the U.S. have for the region and the world. We must be very aware and plan very carefully, to be ready for a variety of probabilities. Good elections are the power of Iran and our nation…”

Controlled by the faction loyal to Iranian Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei, Iran’s state TV censored these remarks from Rouhani’s speech. To understand why they were censored, one must look to an article published by the Kayhan daily, which is known to also be controlled by Khamenei. The piece reads, “A Western leaning current (referring to Rouhani’s faction) that has no achievements to boast about, legitimize their continued presence by claiming the possibility of a U.S. attack is very serious if others come to power and are not willing to engage with the U.S.”

According to the Arya website, Rouhani’s faction stated, “If Iran resorts to adequate political statements and refrains from providing pretexts to [U.S. President Donald] Trump, the government will be able to contain Trump’s America.”

The Aftab News website reported this statement, “Iran’s opponents seek a quick and emotional response by us to events such as the U.S. missile attack against Syria. However, Iran understand what its opponents are after and should prepare itself from within against foreign threats. No doubt this is why the Americans have scheduled their next measure against Iran after the May presidential election.”

Tasnim news agency, affiliated with the Revolutionary Guards Quds Force, wrote, “[The U.S. attack on Syria] is a type of message meant to create a climate of fear, that with Trump in the White House all forecasted predictions have changed and the results will be changing. The necessary individuals able to prevent such developments must be elected.”

What all of these viewpoints have in common, is that the U.S. attack on Syria rocked both of Iran’s factions and increased their political disputes.

However, the main issue is that the entire Iranian regime has suffered a major blow after this groundbreaking development.

Iran’s Elections: A Breaking Crisis?

April 1, 2017

Iran’s Elections: A Breaking Crisis? American ThinkerShahriar Kia, April 1, 2017

(If and to the extent that this analysis is correct, we should provide clandestine assistance to the Iranian resistance, both in and outside Iran. In view of the hostility between the current Iranian regime and the Arab League, it might well be willing to do its part. — DM)

The 12th presidential election in Iran will be held on May 19th. These polls are taking place at a time when the regime in Tehran, and especially Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei, are facing three distinct crises.

a)  Khamenei, suffering from prostate cancer, sees his days as numbered and must designate a successor. From March 2015 he has held various sessions with senior regime and Revolutionary Guards (IRGC) officials for this very purpose. Khamenei insists that his successor be clarified prior to his death.

b)  A major policy overhaul in Washington following the end of Obama’s tenure. This has terrified Iran and placed this regime in intense isolation on the international stage and across the region in the face of Arab and Islamic countries.

c)  The presidential election crisis in May.

Khamenei, witnessing his establishment coming to its knees during the 2009 uprisings, is extremely concerned about a repeat scenario. In such circumstances, the possibility of his entire regime crumbling at the hands of a revolting population is very serious and even likely. Khamenei is weighing how to properly engineer the elections while not providing any pretext for popular upheaval.

In contrast to the viewpoints of various parties in the West, the rifts inside Khamenei’s faction and those supporting Iranian President Hassan Rouhani does not arise from a difference between two so-called “moderate” and/or “hardline” mentalities. The fact is that the sham election is a dispute over two solutions aimed at safeguarding and maintaining a religious dictatorship in power, furthering their expansionism and ambitions.

Both factions, including Khamenei and the current formerly represented by the influential Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, believe in resorting to a domestic crackdown, obtaining nuclear weapons, meddling in the internal affairs of other countries such as Iraq and Syria, and using instability and terrorism leverage as a tool to pursue their foreign policy. The only difference is how to advance in their goal to realize these objectives. Therefore, when we are talking about two factions, we must not mistakenly compare the Iranian regime with today’s advanced democracies.

Khamenei is considered very weak due to the current crises his regime is facing. In contrast to last year, when he constantly lashed out at Rouhani for the deal sealed to curb Iran’s nuclear program and similar initiatives sought for other purposes, Khamenei refused to mention Iran’s current political crises. Furthermore, following the major U.S,-Iran policy change, Khamenei has set aside his stereotype threats against the U.S. and maintained a state of hesitancy in his remarks.

Khamenei and Election Engineering

Candidates for Iran’s presidential elections will register from April 11th to the 16th. The ultraconservative Guardian Council, a 12-man body directly and indirectly appointed by Khamenei himself, will weigh the candidates’ qualifications from April 17th to the 27th. The elections are scheduled for May 19th.

Iran’s presidential elections always feature a large number of candidates. However, the main candidates from the two main factions must receive Khamenei’s explicit or implicit approval.

“Rouhani’s candidacy was confirmed after gaining the approval of the establishment’s senior officials,” according to the Ebtekar daily.

By establishing the “Popular Party of Revolutionary Forces” and the membership of the same individuals who elevated firebrand Mahmoud Ahmadinejad as president from the ballot boxes back in 2005, Khamenei has revealed signs of how he has engineered the upcoming elections.

In his “Nowruz” message marking the Iranian calendar New Year, Khamenei came to admit his role in the results of the 2009 presidential election.

“I entered the 2009 [presidential election] and stood firm,” he said. In his remarks, Khamenei warned about the May election by stipulating, “I will stand firm and intervene.”

It is worth noting the IRGC command, and especially Quds Force chief Qassem Suleimani, are seeking the candidacy of Ibrahim Reisi, who is also considered one of Khamenei’s options as his successor. Khamenei has yet to reach a final decision over Reisi’s candidacy in the May elections. If he registers as a candidate and fails to become president, his chances of succeeding Khamenei will be severely undermined. And if Khamenei seeks to select Reisi as the next president at all costs, he faces the severe possibility of instigating nationwide uprisings.

What is the Forecast?

Naturally, due to the numerous different elements facing Khamenei and his regime’s factions, forecasting even the near future is quite a challenging task. However, there are three different scenarios facing Khamenei:

1) Eliminating Rouhani and selecting a candidate meeting his standards, and that of the IRGC.

2) Rouhani is severely weakened after losing Rafsanjani, considered a major pillar in the regime’s apparatus. He will be reappointed as president on the condition of succumbing to the hegemony of Khamenei and the IRGC.

3) Rouhani views Khamenei weak in the balance of power and stands as a major opponent against his faction.

Of course, Khamenei prefers to realize the first scenario. If concerns of nationwide uprisings cancel this possibility, he will give in to the second scenario.

Although Rouhani is in favor of the third scenario, considering the society’s powder keg conditions and losing the support of Rafsanjani, such a turn of events would be considered dangerous for both the regime’s factions. This outcome can bring an end to the public’s fear of the regime’s domestic crackdown machine and ignite a new nationwide uprising. This is a red line for both of Iran’s factions.

Those supporting Khamenei, and especially the IRGC, seek to eliminate Rouhani from these elections. However, Khamenei cannot take very bold measures and officially oppose Rouhani’s candidacy. When confirming Rouhani’s candidacy, Khamenei asked him to hold coordinating meetings with Sulemani and IRGC chief Mohammad Ali Jafari. This request brings us closer to the second scenario.

However, the Iranian people and their organized opposition, symbolized in the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI), consider such elections under the mullahs’ regime as baseless and demand free and fair elections held under the United Nations auspices. Such polls are only possible through regime change in Iran and establishing a democratic system.

Iran in Crisis

March 5, 2017

Iran in Crisis, American ThinkerHeshmat Alavi, March 5, 2017

(Please see also, Mullahs’ Nightmare: Huge Demonstration Breaks Out In Tehran. — DM)

Forecasting what lies ahead is truly impossible, making Khamenei and his entire regime extremely concerned, trekking this path very carefully and with a low profile. As we witnessed with the inauguration of Ronald Reagan, Iran immediately released the 52 hostages held for 444 days.

This regime understands the language of force very carefully. And yet, there is no need to use military force to inflict a significant blow and make Tehran understand the international community means business. Blacklisting Iran’s IRGC as a terrorist organization by the U.S. at this timing would be the nail in the coffin for the mullahs.

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The recent dust storms that wreaked havoc in southwest Iran signaled only one of the many crises the mullahs are facing less than three months before critical elections. Tehran has been hit with severe blows during the Munich Security Conference, contrasting interests with Russia, the recent escalating row with Turkey, and most importantly, a new U.S. administration in Washington.

These crises have crippling effects on the mullahs’ apparatus, especially at a time when Iranian Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei sees his regime facing a changing balance of power in the international community, and is faced with a major decision of selecting the regime’s so-called president.

Iran and Ahvaz

The dust storms crisis in Ahwaz, resulting from the mullahs’ own destructive desertification policies, caused severe disruptions in water and power services and people pouring into the streets in major protests.

The regime, and especially the Revolutionary Guards (IRGC), has for decades pursued a desertification policy of constructing dams, drying lagoons, digging deep oil wells beneath underground water sources with resulting catastrophic environmental disasters. Various estimates indicate the continuation of such a trend will literally transform two-thirds of Iran into desert lands in the next decade. This will place 14 to 15 million people at the mercy not only dust storms but also salt storms.

Iran and the Munich Security Conference

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif attended this conference with a series of objectives in mind, only to face a completely unexpected scene. U.S. Vice President Mike Pence described Iran as the world’s leading state sponsor of terrorism. Saudi Arabia Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir said the mullahs are the source of threats and instability throughout the Middle East. Turkey went one step further and said Tehran is the heart of sectarianism and spreads such plots across the region, and all traces in Syria lead to Iran’s terrorism and sectarian measures.

This resembles a vast international coalition against Tehran, inflicting yet another blow to the mullahs following a new administration taking control of the White House. These developments are very costly for Khamenei and the entire regime.

In comparison to the early 2000s when the U.S. launched wars against Afghanistan and Iraq, Iran was the main benefactor. The current balance of power now is quite different, as seen in Munich. While there is talk of an Arab NATO, any coalition formed now in the Middle East will be completely against Iran’s interests.

Iran and Russia

Following a disastrous joint campaign in Syria, for the first time Russia is reportedly supporting a safe zone in Syria. Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Mikhail Bogdanov said contacts have been made with the Syrian regime to establish safe zones in Syria. These are the first remarks made by any Russian official on the issue of safe zones in Syria.

Moscow’s increasing contrast in interest with Iran over Syria has the potential of playing a major role in regional relations. Russia certainly doesn’t consider Bashar Assad remaining in power as a red line, a viewpoint far different from that of Iran. Moscow is also ready to sacrifice its interests in Syria in a larger and more suitable bargain with the Trump administration over far more important global interests.

Iran and Turkey

Yes, Ankara and Tehran enjoy a vast economic partnership. However, recent shifts in geopolitical realities have led to significant tensions. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan accused the mullahs of resorting to “Persian nationalism” in an effort to split Iraq and Syria.

Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu accused Iran of seeking to undermine Bahrain and Saudi Arabia as part of Tehran’s “sectarian policy.” Cavusoglu used his speech in Munich to say, “Iran is trying to create two Shia states in Syria and Iraq. This is very dangerous. It must be stopped.”

Tehran considers Ankara’s soldiers in Iraq and Syria as a major obstacle in its effort to expand its regional influence.

U.S. president Donald Trump’s strong approach vis-à-vis Iran and the possibility of him supporting the establishment of a Turkish-administered northern Syria safe zone may have also played a major part in fuming bilateral tensions between these two Middle East powers.

Erdogan has obviously realized completely the new White House in Washington intends to adopt a much more aggressive stance against Tehran. This is another sign of changing tides brewing troubles for Iran’s mullahs.

Iran and Presidential Elections

With new reports about his ailing health, Khamenei is extremely concerned about his predecessor. One such signal is the candidacy of Ibrahim Reisi, current head of the colossal Astan Quds Razavi political empire and a staunch loyalist to Khamenei’s faction, for the presidency. With former Iranian president Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani out of the picture, Khamenei may seek to seal his legacy by placing Reisi against Iranian president Hassan Rouhani in the upcoming May elections.

This is literally Khamenei playing with fire, as Reisi is considered a hardline figure and such an appointment may spark 2009-like protests across the country, as the country has become a scene of massive social challenges. Rouhani himself doesn’t enjoy any social base support, especially after four years of lies and nearly 3,000 executions.

Final Thoughts

This places the entire regime in a very fragile situation. From the internal crises of Ahwaz, the upcoming elections and the formation of a significant international front threatening the Iranian regime’s strategic interests.

Forecasting what lies ahead is truly impossible, making Khamenei and his entire regime extremely concerned, trekking this path very carefully and with a low profile. As we witnessed with the inauguration of Ronald Reagan, Iran immediately released the 52 hostages held for 444 days.

This regime understands the language of force very carefully. And yet, there is no need to use military force to inflict a significant blow and make Tehran understand the international community means business. Blacklisting Iran’s IRGC as a terrorist organization by the U.S. at this timing would be the nail in the coffin for the mullahs.