Back

Might The Riots Trip Iran’s Leaders?

Good news. The street riots in Tehran have evolved into efforts at a palace coup worthy of the Borgias. Grand Ayatollah Sayyid Ali Khamenei, in an effort to ward off a potential challenge coming from Ayatollah Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, had five members of Rafsanjani’s family arrested including his daughter.

It was a warning to Rafsanjani that he had better not align himself with the opposition. But it well may have the opposite effect.


Good news. The street riots in Tehran have evolved into efforts at a palace coup worthy of the Borgias. Grand Ayatollah Sayyid Ali Khamenei, in an effort to ward off a potential challenge coming from Ayatollah Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, had five members of Rafsanjani’s family arrested including his daughter.

It was a warning to Rafsanjani that he had better not align himself with the opposition. But it well may have the opposite effect.

Rafsanjani heads up the cleric-led Assembly of Experts, 86 Islamic scholars charged with electing and supervising Khamenei, the Supreme Leader of Iran. The Assembly can also remove Khamenei from power, although it is questionable whether Rafsanjani has the votes to do so. Rafsanjani also heads up the Expediency Council whose responsibility is to adjudicate disagreements between parliament and the Guardian Council, the 12-member group with wide-ranging powers over the Iran’s laws and governance.

Iran’s fire-breathing president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who serves at Khamenei’s pleasure, has publicly accused Rafsanjani of corruption thus foolishly giving Rafsanjani, himself a former Iranian president, little alternative but to strike back.

To complicate matters for Khamenei, despite a confirmation of election results by the Iranian Guard Council, Mohsen Rezai, a former head of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) and currently a candidate for president, also challenged the election results. Since Rezai is still very influential in the IRGC, the event is significant.

A rumor circulating around Tehran is that Khamenei and Ahmadinejad had imported Hezbollah and Hamas goons to join the Basij militia in breaking up election protests. If these rumors prove true, the implications would be tremendous. The idea that Arabs were brought in to suppress Iranians would virtually seal Khamenei and Ahmadinejad’s fate.

In short, what we are seeing is only the beginning. I don’t know what the short-term implications of “the rioting” are but the long-term implications are clear. Khamenei and Ahmadinejad’s days are numbered. They have sparked a veritable revolution.

The headlines from Iran suggest that Rafsanjani defers to Khamenei and that the movement can no longer put tens of thousands of protester in the street.

What has been unleashed in Iran has been momentarily subdued by the arrest of more than 2,000 people and a heavy dose of intimidation, but it cannot be put back into the box. The rooftops of Iran buzz with protest. The cars drive with lights on during the daytime as a sign of protest even in the face of smashed windows and slashed tires courtesy of the Baij militia. People are willing to risk their lives. The revolution has found its first martyr in the person of Neda Agha-Soltan, the young woman shot dead by government forces in the streets of Tehran.

History teaches us that revolutions don’t always succeed at first blush. Whether today or tomorrow, relative or otherwise, the long march to freedom has begun.

Publications

The day after: A plan for Gaza
Published on March 7, 2024
Congress’ Path Forward in a Post-JCPOA World
Published on November 1, 2021
How the Afghan Withdrawal Impacts U.S.-China Competition
Published on September 17, 2021
Beyond Iran, the US and Israel Must Work Together to Counter China
Published on September 9, 2021
With the Election of Iran’s Raisi, the JCPOA Is in Hot Water
Published on July 8, 2021
FOXNews interview with JINSA Senior Policy Analyst Erielle Davidson on U.S./Israel tension...
Published on June 1, 2021
NewsMax interview with JINSA Senior Policy Analyst Erielle Davidson on Hamas
Published on May 24, 2021
No, John Oliver, Israel Isn’t An Apartheid State
Published on May 20, 2021
Biden’s Iran Deal and the Politics of Desperation
Published on May 18, 2021
The Truth about the Sheikh Jarrah Eviction
Published on May 12, 2021
Conditioning Aid to Israel is Flawed Foreign Policy
Published on April 30, 2021
It’s Time for President Biden to Get Tough on the International Criminal Court
Published on April 26, 2021
China’s Iran Deal Is Just the Beginning
Published on April 6, 2021
Sudan’s Normalization With Israel Is a Win for Everyone
Published on February 26, 2021
America Must Reform Approach to Innovation Within US Defense Sector
Published on February 12, 2021
If Biden Wins, He Should Continue to Put ‘Maximum Pressure’ on Iran
Published on November 2, 2020
Hassan Rouhani Wants the US to Surrender, but the Pressure is on Tehran
Published on October 22, 2020
Would Sanctions Relief Help Ordinary Iranians, or Go to Terrorist Groups?
Published on October 16, 2020
Don’t Buy Into UN Fearmongering on the Iran Deal
Published on August 20, 2020
It’s Time to Invoke Snapback Sanctions on Iran
Published on August 15, 2020
Jordan Will Gain Nothing From Confrontation Against Israel
Published on June 30, 2020