In the past few days we have witnessed several passive and empty Iranian reactions from all levels, with regards to the official US disclosure of an Iranian plot to assassinate the Saudi Ambassador to Washington, but there is one Iranian statement that is worth careful reading.
In a speech broadcasted on Iranian television last Sunday, Iran’s Supreme Leader said that his country might abolish the post of the directly elected president. He added in his speech, delivered in the western province of Kermanshah, that “the current political system of the country is presidential, and the president is elected directly by the people. This is a good and effective system.” However, Khamenei then clarified himself by saying “but if one day, possibly in the distant future, it is felt that a parliamentary system is more suited for electing those responsible for the executive branch, then there would be no problems in making changes in the system”.
The question here is: What is the meaning of this statement, and what are its implications? Some might say that the Supreme Leader’s statement is part of a silent battle between Khamenei and President Ahmadinejad, and this is true. But this statement also means that the Supreme Leader has initiated the repositioning of Iran, albeit internally not externally. Iran would abolish the direct election of the president in order to prevent the reformists attaining the Iranian presidency, just as it currently prevents anyone from gaining power who is not completely loyal to the Supreme Leader, through the votes of the people.
This is the first positive effect of the international community playing a home game with the Iranian regime, which I have previously talked about. What we should notice here is that amidst Iran’s cheers for the so-called Arab Spring, the Supreme Leader wants to restrict Iran’s president, and deprive the Iranian people of reformist characters, especially after the events of the Green Revolution. Of course, it is well known that Iran’s brand of democracy is fake, and this is the opinion of the bulk of Iranians. Likewise, the Supreme Leader is threatening to abolish the directly elected presidential post to ensure that no personalities arrive in power with ambitions of challenging with the Walih al-Faqih. The consequence of this of course is that the Supreme Leader is not only concerned with control over foreign policy, but now he wants control of every strategic decision, internally and externally.
It is suffice here to consider that many reports have indicated that the decision to assassinate the Saudi Ambassador in Washington was taken in Iran, but away from Ahmadinejad’s circles. It is well known of course that the Quds Force does not fall within the remit of the Iranian President, but rather the Supreme Leader, and the same applies to relations with the West, defending Hezbollah, or the nuclear issue. Thus, an immediate political reading would say that the Iranian Supreme Leader is now aware of the threat coming from abroad, and Iran must reposition itself and rearrange its cards. Yet this will not take place inside Iraq or Lebanon, or with regards to its relationship with Syria, but rather inside Iran itself. It is clear that the Supreme Leader and his inner circle have begun to sense the danger of changes in the region, the most important being the decline of Iran’s main ally, the Bashar al-Assad regime.
The Iranian regime is beginning to feel the impact of its foreign losses, and the magnitude of their severity. Thus it has begun to reposition itself, but internally not externally. The fall of the al-Assad regime alone would cause an internal political earthquake for the Iranian regime, and this is a frightening scenario for Tehran.