One good thing came out of the presidential election process in Iran – candid words about the internal situation in Iran.
Usually, Iran boasts successes, and blames all faults on the US, Israel and the west. During the election process, especially thanks to the televised debates, we had a straightforward exchange of opinions on the situation in Iran.
In the first televised debates, the issue of unemployment, poverty and the dire economic situation were expanded upon at length, painting a bleak picture of current Iran (see al-monitor & washingtoninstitute). Of special interest though, are Rouhani’s declarations highlighting Iran’s internal challenges.
During some of the rallies, Rouhani addressed the issue of the “extremists” in Iran, criticizing the rule of the security forces, clerics and others (see washingtonpost).
In a few contexts, Rouhani addressed the problem of IRGC’s control and strangle hold on Iran. He accused the IRGC (see theguardian) of trying to sabotage the nuclear agreement by launching ballistic missiles with provocative anti-Israeli messages on them. The Guardian sums up with “It was a rare criticism of the guards’ conduct in public, which underscored the president’s frustration about Iran’s parallel, unelected bodies that act independently of his government”.
Rouhani spoke of tax discrimination, according to which some of the wealthiest capitals in Iran are exempt from tax. He stated: “We want the law for all institutions, we don’t want institutions exempted from tax. How come it’s good for people to pay tax, not for you?”. The theguardian comments that Rouhani was referring to Raisi, who is the custodian of the wealthiest charity in the Muslim world, which is exempt from tax, but the washingtonpost adds that he referred also to charitable organizations linked to the supreme leader himself.
Rouhani also highlighted the dismal human rights situation in Iran. In a public rally, Rouhani addressed the issue of the notorious history of executions and oppression, like “the people of Iran will announce in this election that they don’t accept those who only hung and imprisoned people for the past 38 years” (see iranhumanrights), rebuking Raisi for his record of execution and imprisonment. He also referred to the segregation and gender discrimination, stating “one day they met and decided to put up walls and fences along Tehran’s sidewalks to separate male and female pedestrians, just like when they segregated the staff in their offices”. Although Rouhani avoided direct references to the opposition leaders held under house arrest, the chants “Moussavi, Karroubi must be released” were heard loud and clear at his rallies (see nytimes). Rouhani did say “the whole country had been held under house arrest”.
As expanded by the washingtonexaminer, the elections are taking place while the Iranian regime is in the midst of social, economic and political crisis. The elections will not bring any significant change, nor freedom or fairness. The Islamic revolution has apparently not succeeded in its main task. It is interesting though that in this election campaign the usual “off limits” of open criticism and attacks against the clergy became a reality.