The Islamic regime is one of those rare species that doesn’t fit in any defined form of government. The peculiarity of the regime stems from its octopus nature, in the sense that it has several tentacles, all needed to survive. The tentacles, like those of an octopus, all have one goal–to keep the system alive. With this ultimate goal in mind, the tentacles have stretched themselves to every aspect of the system, to every corner of the land and to every tiny part of daily and private life of individuals to ensure power does not escape form their grips. They do this even if they hate one another and often their disagreements surface. However, even these disagreements serve as a means of perpetuating the life of the regime by canalizing discontent among populations who have become like a dormant volcano that can explode at any moment.
Since Rouhani was selected by the ruling cast as the one to replace the disastrous previous choice, we have been increasingly witnessing the infighting between his camp, labeled as reformists, and the revolutionary guards and their allies, labeled as hardliners. However, considering the extent of censorship, repression and intimidation, the only conclusion one can draw form the seeming quarrels within the clan is that their sole purpose has been to mislead the populations and give them the false hope that things might change and somehow by miracle their basic rights will be restored.
This being said, there is one notable difference between the octopus and the regime in that each of the regime’s tentacles tries to have the upper hand, so no other arm can ever completely take over and thus limit their privileges. They have each other in check at all times to prevent this from happening. And they have no mercy for one another when this balance is threatened, as we saw in the case of Mousavi and Karroubi.
Let’s not be duped. Mousavi and Karroubi both believed in the system and didn’t intend by any means to undermine it. A brief review of both men’s past shows they were too close to the core of the Islamic regime to fundamentally deviate from it. They were, however, carried away by the masses that seized the moment not only to show their discontent with the regime, but also to force democratic changes on it. The violent repression that followed the infamous 2009 elections, and sadly continues to the present day, was a clear evidence of how badly the regime had been shaken and how far it would go in order to remain in power. However, repression is not the only means that regime uses for its survival. Being an ardent convert of Machiavelli school, despite all the arrogant rhetoric, the regime is ready to submit itself to the most humiliating compromises whenever it feels weakened. We saw such a compromise with Khomeini and we witnessed it again with Khamenei.
However, no matter from which angle we look at the Geneva accord, it is far more humiliating than the one that ended Iran-Iraq war, or any accord of the 20th century that the country had to sing onto from the position of weakness, and yet the regime accepted it. Why? First and foremost for the obvious reason that the sanctions had limited its ambitions in the region. They want, like Saudi Arabia in its recent military campaign in Yemen, to show their muscles in order to spread their Shiite empire. They also need money to bribe, arm, train and support their allies in the region. There is also the dire economic situation and the exasperated ordinary people who, despite brutal repression, are not afraid of voicing their discontent. The most recent workers and teachers unrest that has spread throughout the country is a reflection of the extent of economic hardship. And let’s not forget that the main beneficiaries of the Geneva accords are the ruling cast and their affiliates who are in control of the country’s economy. It is a given that no new investment or trade deal will materialize without them having the lion share of the profits. So for the next several months until the dust begins to settle and the flow of foreign money begins to find its way to Iran, the regimes tentacles will increase their rivalries to make sure they have the upper hand when the time comes to pocket the new wealth. Both the ruling cast and the foreign investors well understand each other’s greed and the effectiveness of bribery.
Subscribe to The Iranian newsletter
Sign up for our daily newsletter to get the top news stories delivered to your inbox.