In the life cycle of a regime, the leadership starts devouring itself when it believes its end is near.
It becomes intolerant of dissent, especially within its own ranks. Factions point fingers of blame at one another. Each faction tries to portray itself as ideologically pure, and its rivals as dangerous deviants. Each faction airs the dirty laundry of the other. In an attempt to create unity, the regime stirs up outside threats and picks more fights than usual with its foreign adversaries.
In regime after regime, this cycle has repeated itself over the centuries. And now it is unfolding before us in Iran.
The Islamic Republic is starting to devour itself.
It’s a wonderful sight to watch — if you know what to look for. And once you know, you can exploit the regime’s internal differences with a modest amount of effort. That’s called leverage.
Now Supreme Leader Khamenei’s admonitions for regime leaders to keep their allegations of corruption, malfeasance and ideological impurity quiet. He knows his system is collapsing.
It did no good for the regime to abduct and isolate its former comrades-turned-rivals, Green Movement leaders Mir Hossein Mousavi and Mehdi Karroubi. Instead, those moderate reformers lost control of the mass opposition movement. The protesters became more radicalized, calling not for reform, but for the overthrow of the Islamic Republic.
With the Green Movement leaders out of the way, the mullahs began turning on one another. The first target: Ayatollah Hashemi Rafsanjani. The regime quickly isolated Rafsanjani, neutralized him politically, and disgraced him as he was forced to resign amid swirling corruption allegations.
Next, all-out warfare broke out between Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei and President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. The president’s brand of Islam, according to Ayatollah Khamenei, is too nationalistic. Too Persian. Not Islamic enough.
Then came a bizarre April 17 resignation and un-resignation of the regime’s chief political enforcer, Intelligence Minister Heydar Moslehi.
Ahmadinejad immediately accepted Moslehi’s resignation – an acceptance that regime propaganda channels such as IRNA and Press TV rapidly reported.
But Supreme Leader Khamenei refused to accept the intelligence chief’s resignation, so Moslehi un-resigned. (See AFP report in English.)
The original reports were not of Moslehi’s resignation, but of Ahmadinejad’s acceptance of Moslehi’s resignation. The Ahmadinejad camp spread the story in an attempt to neutralize the intelligence chief.
It is unlikely that the regime’s propaganda organs would have published the story had the Supreme Leader been aware of the resignation; the story looks like an Ahmadinejad attempt to present Khamenei with a fait accompli.
Accompanying the planted story of Ahmadinejad’s acceptance of the intelligence chief’s resignation was piece warning people not to “assassinate” Ahmadinejad, either physically or politically. The article also complained about other regime leaders’ allegations of corruption in the Ahmadinejad faction, warning that Ahmadinejad might have to take down the accusers as well.
Iran Press ran the story from its original source in Dolatyar.IR, a government site that belongs to the Ahmadinejad faction. The URL is no longer valid and was most likely removed after Moslehi’s reinstatement. IranChannel copied the article before it was taken down, and has produced a translation into English. The article contained the following points:
- Ahmadinejad knows the ayatollahs are after him and his allies;
- Ahmadinejad likens the ayatollahs to the Green Movement “slime” and the Mujahideen e Khalq armed insurgents;
- Ahmadinejad is sensitive to the ayatollahs’ corruption allegations against his allies;
- Ahmadinejad will counterattack with his own allegations of ayatollah corruption.
Supporters of freedom in Iran should monitor official statements and the official and semi-official media for corruption accusations among the ruling factions, and give them as much publicity as possible. The regime is becoming unhinged. Let’s all do our part to give it a push.