Iran’s parliamentary elections are imminent. And what is Iran doing to ensure the process proceeds as smooth as possible? As we thought: putting as many obstacles as possible in reformists’ (and women’s) paths to candidacy, while simultaneously fanning the flames of anti-Western sentiment (because nothing serves “rapprochement,” “engagement,” or a successful deal more than warning of Western “plots” and “meddling”).
It looks like Iran’s really going all out this time, using its expected extra income (as a result of the de-freezing and relief of sanctions) to pay Palestinians money to “martyr” themselves, as well as contributing to Syria’s civil war. But that’s not all: the coup de grace is a sum of $600,000 raised by Iran’s hardline media and other organizations (many of them associated with the Iranian government itself) for the very good cause of – wait for it – increasing the bounty on author Salman Rushdie’s head, even after an earlier Iranian administration distanced itself from calls for his death. As if that weren’t enough, a member of the editorial team of the Fars new agency – which is, of course, state-run – went on record to reiterate that “nobody can nullify” the Khomeini-issued 1989 fatwa calling for the author’s assassination.
In another occurrence this week, Iran’s escalated anti-Western rhetoric intersected with its moves to block the reformists’ political path (or, as the hardline establishment would describe it, the reformists’ attempts to “sneak back” into power), with a senior hardline politician accusing the BBC of “supporting” reformist candidates (by airing a documentary on the Shah’s “decadence” and “downfall” at the hands of the mullahs, perhaps?) – and accusing the reformist candidates themselves of being supported by “shadowy foreign groups,” BBC chief among them.
Withstanding the nuclear deal, which is supposed to represent a trend towards moderation, engagement and reform (business insider), or as President Obama stated “a rare chance to pursue a new path” (Whitehouse Press Office), Iran’s leadership continues to use the old path of anti-Western incitement as a rallying point to keep the hardliners in power, not to mention rig elections outright. Is the hardline regime in Tehran now so empowered that it has no opposition to speak of, quashing any hope of the reformist revolution whose seeds were sown in 2009?