July 28, 2021

“The cut is deepening between an Iranian youth who aspires to a Western way of life and an elite in turban or in uniform”

DAt the beginning of August, when the heat plagued Tehran, Ebrahim Raïssi, black turban of the descendants of the Prophet screwed on the top of the head, will take office as President of Iran. This 60-year-old ayatollah with a long and sad face seems for a long time to carry on his shoulders the weight of a regime that is now particularly unpopular: the Islamic Republic is going through a deep crisis of legitimacy.

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On June 18, presidential election day, there was no “Election”, says American political scientist Karim Sadjadpour, on the Carnegie Middle East Center website, there have been “Selection”. The only serious authorized candidate, Raïssi was appointed by his master thinker, protector and godfather, Guide Ali Khamenei, 82 years old, true leader of the Iranian theocracy. Words of experts for once unanimous with regard to Iran: Khamenei, by ensuring the promotion of Raïssi at the head of the government, is in fact preparing his own succession. The passage through the presidency would foreshadow the advent of the disciple to the supreme office.

In power since 1989, Le Guide wants to ensure that the Islamic Republic is in the hands of the ultra-conservatives at a difficult time in the history of this 42-year-old regime. The country should soon sign in Vienna a document marking the return of the United States to the agreement on the control of Tehran’s nuclear program.

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Against the backdrop of a disastrous economic situation, Iran is struggling to fight against Covid-19 – recording the most catastrophic health situation in the region. Finally, with Khamenei will fade a generation of leaders belonging to that of the founding fathers of the Islamic Republic. Moment of transition: continuity must be guaranteed.

A high political cost

This is not the end of the conflicts between the different groups making up the Iranian nomenklatura, as Bernard Hourcade masterfully explained in an article for the site Orient XXI, June 17. But the camp of the ultra-conservatives – the Guide and the fraction of the clergy who are loyal to him; the army of the guardians of the revolution and the economic complex that it has appropriated – now controls all the centers of power: presidency, justice and Parliament. Almost all the institutions of the Islamic Republic are aligned under the leadership of Khamenei and the guards. The transition from one Guide to another can take place. This turn of the screw has, however, a high political cost.

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