Revolution Day in Iran: Nothing to celebrate!
As the regime in Tehran is commemorating the revolution of 1979, which overthrew the imperial order and established the Islamic Republic, one can’t help wondering what there is to celebrate.
Forty-one years after the revolution, the Islamic Republic is ideologically and, increasingly, economically bankrupt. Bankruptcy, however, does not necessarily equal collapse and perhaps it is survival, although in a persistent vegetative state, which the regime celebrates.
Iranian Brigadier-General Hossein Nejat, cultural deputy of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), illustrated the ideological bankruptcy of the regime in his analysis of November 2019 protests against the government’s removal of fuel subsidies that turned into riots.
“In the course of the past 40 years, the West has changed its methods of overthrowing [the Islamic Republic],” Nejat said. “The new regime change method is through social movements based on the poor: Illiterate people, who live in the outskirts [of major population centres] and [whose minds] are polluted in the cyberspace.”
The regime, which in the words of Grand Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, belongs to the “shantytown dwellers” and not “palace dwellers,” is considering the economically disadvantaged as foreign agents.
Remarkably, Nejat does not explain why people are poor and illiterate four decades after the establishment of the Islamic Republic. Nor does he explain what enrages the poor on the internet: Video footage of the son of the Iran’s former ambassador to Caracas who lights his Cuban cigar with a $100 bill.
Under the pressure of US economic sanctions, the Islamic Republic is gradually moving towards economic bankruptcy. In particular, Iran’s oil exports are reportedly down to 10%, which leaves a $20 billion gap in next year’s budget.
The regime has kept inflation at 40% and regime officials congratulate themselves that there is “no famine” in Iran. However, there is no guarantee that Iran will not experience hyperinflation, as Venezuela has, and the regime is indeed preparing itself for such a scenario.
This is the persistent vegetative state that the regime celebrated on Revolution Day.
Even that vegetative state is endangered and there is no guarantee that it can be sustained. Addressing crowds at Azadi Square on February 11, Iranian President Hassan Rohani, whose political allies are barred from running in the February 21 parliamentary elections, warned: “Had the previous regime tolerated free and fair national elections, there would be no revolution.”
Revolution, Rohani emphasised, only happened because “the gate of election was closed.” Rohani urged the people to vote: “Let us not turn away from ballots and elections. We must go to the ballots under any circumstance.”
The “gate of election,” however, remains closed under the Islamic Republic. How else can one characterise the Guardian Council’s systematic disqualification of candidates, including supporters of Rohani’s and outgoing parliamentary Speaker Ali Larijani? Why should voters even bother to vote and who should they vote for? To quote Rohani, what kind of choice is it if all the candidates belong to the same faction?
Rohani’s Revolution Day address was transmitted live by Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting, which showed endless crowds at Azadi Square. The same sickening show of burning flags and chanting death to this and that foreign government.
However, video footage from an Iranian parachutist landing at the square during Rohani’s speech shows a very different picture: Empty streets and slightly higher population density in front of Rohani’s podium. The Iranian public knows there is not much to celebrate and so does Rohani.