Conflict Among Regime’s Factions as Iran’s Socio-Economic Crisis Continues to Escalate
Friday Prayer speeches, which are led by officials of Iranian regime supreme leader Ali Khamenei, reflect the Iranian regime’s policy focus and directions. The Friday Prayers this week reflected the chaos and uncertainty surrounding critical domestic and foreign policy problems.”This plan is still being considered,” Ahmad Khatami, deputy-Speaker of the Assembly of Experts and Tehran’s Friday Prayer leader, said of the controversial internet filtering plan. “Why are you speaking critically? Why are we speaking with anger?” Khatami’s comments reflect a pervasive sense of desperation and frustration among regime leaders as they try to reconcile the widening divides among the elite on important policy matters.
The censoring of the internet is just one of the many areas where regime officials are at odds. Officials from the government can’t seem to agree on anything, from the budget bill to monetary policies to the continuing nuclear talks in Vienna.”They want to generate a clash between the Majlis and the people,” Hamidreza Haji Babaei, who opposes the idea to abolish the fixed currency rate, said of the plan to change the rial-to-dollar exchange rate. The year 1401 (starting in March 2022) is the year of the people, the year of livelihoods.” Another MP responded by accusing Haji Babaei of attempting to present himself as a popular hero.
Similar debates erupted in the Majlis over the internet censorship bill. “You will be wrecking the Majlis and getting on the society’s nerves,” one MP cautioned if the bill is approved. “Why are we trying to ruin ourselves?” questioned another MP. Others, meanwhile, warned that if the internet is not regulated, the MEK will “destroy the government and the Majlis.” Others warned of rising social unrest in Iran, as well as the presence of security officers at every turn. “People’s fear and excessive stupidity are revealing itself in opposition to the internet,” the state-run Mardom Salari newspaper observed.
Even the Russian invasion of Ukraine has wreaked havoc on the regime’s inner workings. On one hand, regime president Ebrahim Raisi, foreign ministry officials, and Ali Shamkhani, the Supreme National Security Council secretary, publicly embrace Russia’s aggression against Ukraine.
Heshmatollah Falahatpisheh, the former chairman of the Majlis Security and Foreign Policy Commission, on the other hand, slammed the government’s position and warned that the regime would be “the only loser” in the battle. The state-run Jahan-e Sanat newspaper described the situation of confusion as “many knots that can’t be untied and have been compounded” in a February 21 article. and are perplexing both the government and the Majlis.”
Khamenei chose to consolidate his rule last year by elevating Raisi to the presidency. Having a cohesive vision, it appears, would enable Khamenei to better cope with the crises that his regime has faced, as well as allow him to deal with Iran’s restive people.
Six months into Raisi’s presidency, however, infighting among factions and officials has only become worse, and the administration has yet to put together a united front in the face of the numerous obstacles it faces. Meanwhile, the Iranian Resistance becomes more organized and aggressive, and protests continue to expand in number and size. These are unmistakable symptoms of a regime on the verge of losing power.