Leaked Video Raises Questions About Inner Coherence of Iran’s Regime Structure

ICC Note:

A video has been leaked which raises questions about Ayatollah Ali Khamenei’s rise to power and the inner coherence of the regime structure, according to reports. The Ayatollah has been singled out by protesters across Iran, and the video contains comments given in a closed door session in 1989 where the Ayatollah admits that his selection was illegal. That this video, a closely guarded regime secret, has been leaked at this time has caused some reporters to wonder if it is a sign of an increasingly divided and weakened regime. The Ayatollah’s hostility towards Christianity has greatly contributed to the persecution of Christians in Iran, further forcing the church to fearfully operate in hiding and in isolation.   

 

01/18/2018 Iran (Mohabat) –   For the first time, footage of that secret session has emerged, revealing that Khamenei was only given a caretaker role as supreme leader for a one-year period. He is also shown saying he was not qualified for the position and that his selection was unconstitutional.

The video leaked on January 8 has not only raised questions about Khamenei’s rise to the most powerful seat in the country but also his current leadership.

Khamenei has been singled out by antigovernment protesters across Iran who have chanted slogans like “Down with the dictator” and “Khamenei, time to step down,” and are disillusioned with economic hardship and the lack of political and social freedoms.

Shahed Alavi, the U.S.-based Iranian journalist who first shared the video of Khamenei, told RFE/RL’s Radio Farda that the footage was intended to bolster antiestablishment sentiment and question the authority of the supreme leader amid the protests in Iran.

“The person who people have accused of poor leadership and have demanded step down, admits himself that his leadership would make people shed tears of blood,” Alavi said.

Alavi was referring to Khamenei’s comment in the video in which he tells the assembly before his appointment that “we should shed tears of blood wailing for the Islamic society that has been forced to even propose me [as supreme leader].”

Alavi did not reveal who sent him the video, although he said it was from someone in Iran. He said the footage was of “historic importance.”

Nojavan, a website affiliated with Khamenei, released a statement on January 9 defending the assembly’s choice. It said the Assembly of Experts’ decision was “lawful” and “correct” and was conducted during “a national crisis.”

Naysan Rafati, an analyst at the International Crisis Group, says the timing of the leak is crucial. “Opponents of the Iranian government will likely focus on Khamenei’s self-critical statements and appointment to what was intended to be a caretaker position, as evidence of inter-regime wheeling and dealing that left Iran led by a man who by his own admission was unqualified,” he says.

Abolhassan Banisadr, Iran’s first president, tells Radio Farda from France that the video will give protesters justification to criticize Khamenei. “The unemployed youth protesting on the streets will think that they are right [to question his authority],” he says.

Banisadr says he believes only someone inside the clerical regime had access to the video and was the source of the leak.

Banisadr, who was president from 1980-81 before fleeing to exile in France, says the video shows that “politically, the regime has lost its inner coherence” and is riddled with division. “The video has existential significance for the regime,” he says. “They guarded it for nearly 40 years. Why have they leaked it? If the regime wasn’t divided, how could something like this be leaked?”

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