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Iran: View from Tehran "Changes within the System are Impossible"

A reliable EA source passes on these insights from a well-placed contact:

Today an Iranian friend called.

According to him, the Government did effectively scare the people by killing and arresting them and relentlessly summoning political activists or journalists to court. It also is promoting itself through intense propaganda.

Oppositional administrative structures are virtually destroyed, which was one of the reasons for the tohubohu [confusion] on 22 Bahman [11 February, the anniversary of the Revolution]. Nevertheless the people resist, and growing rifts are visible within the regime's body. The number of people, even very religious ones, who doubt the Government's pretentions, is growing day by day. Meanwhile many have realised that changes within the system are impossible, and even parts of the clergy favour a separation of state and religion.

He said "hormat-e hokumat shekast" (the ruler's honour is broken --- just think of people's reaction to the Supreme Leader's attempted fatwa on the ceremonies of Chahrshanbeh Suri). Apparently Ahmadinejad and his mafia possess documents relating to the Supreme Leader, which force Khamenei to abide by their wishes.

He deemed Ayatollah Mahdavi Kani's support for Rafsanjani as essential and favoured a tripartite tactic of oil sanctions, political challenge, and popular resistance to bring down this regime, even though it would be hard for the Iranian people. Without sanctions the govt would have enough income to maintain its pressure on dissidents, i.e., the Iranian majority.

This friend is very religious and has good contacts to the ruling classes. He reported also that Sepah [Revolutionary Guard] is smuggling money out from the country via Dubai.

Reader Comments (46)

I am in Tehran and everyone that I know who somehow thought the regime can be reformed have changed their minds.

Mullahs are worried as they instinctively know when to quit falling regimes.

Regime will fall quickly under Its own weight, if it is cut off from oil income.

March 22, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterMaziar Irani

RE : “Changes within the System are Impossible””

Perhaps it is this realization - that is required for change to become possible??.


March 22, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterBarry


Many Iranian readers of this site saw this “writing on the wall” many months ago. Many of us commented that the current system could not be reformed and that the only viable solution was the dissolution of the entire system of government. You do not need to be a brain surgeon to know you cannot resuscitate a dead that has been dead for over 31 years. The Nay Sayers, however, called us expat and out of touch with the reality on the ground in Iran.

The 1979 revolution for democracy and political freedom was never ever materialized. And the sooner we accept this fact the faster we can achieve the goal that has eluded us for a century.

The non-Iranian readers need to know that prior to 1979 Iranians had every type freedom Western societies enjoyed except political freedom. By that I mean we only did not have freedom of forming political parties and there was no election. Outside of this people were free to choose other aspects of their lives. The 1979 was supposed to afford people the political freedom and instead not only did not bring political freedom it robbed people of their individual freedom. How could a police state be possibly reformed? Furthermore, the past 31 years has shown reformists and principlists are two peas in the same pod.

The report in this post is the most welcomed news of the past 31 years. It is about time Iranians wake up and smell the tea. One wasted generation is one too many.

March 22, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterMegan

[...] (Enduring America) | March 22, 2010 Scott Lucas [...]

Megan, I couldn't have said it better. Shame that people call us out of touch expats instead of welcoming our bird-view of the situation.

March 22, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterArmin

Ataollah Mohajerani has published in Sharq al Awsat an article "AN, a puppet in the hands of Sepah", Persian version here:

No substantial information or justification for this headline, but an interesting comparison with the Turkish army's diminishing role in politics and a reference to article 150 of the IRI Constitution, according to which:
"The Islamic Revolution Guards Corps, organized in the early days of the triumph of the Revolution, is to be maintained so that it may continue in its role of guarding the Revolution and its achievements. The scope of the duties of this Corps, and its areas of responsibility, in relation to the duties and areas of responsibility of the other armed forces, are to be determined by law, with emphasis on brotherly cooperation and harmony among them."

Obviously all the post-electoral killings and arrests are justified by this "guarding the Revolution and its achievements", as Mohajerani notes, adding that the IRGC announced already BEFORE the elections that it would oppress a "velvet revolution". He also refers to Ayatollah Montazeri, who said two months before his death that "We witness today a velayat (rule) of Sepah, not a velayate faghih".

Instead of acting as a military guard, and contrary to Khomeini's advices the Sepah started to take over political positions after Khatami's victory in 1997, so that AN is today a puppet in its hands.

March 22, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterArshama

Strangely enough Peyke Iran has posted the discussion of an Eyd-didani (traditional Nowruz visit), in which a former supporter of the regime, or rather an indifferent elderly man (Azeri?) harshly condemns it, saying that "they" have seized everything in the name of Islamic saints, leaving the rest to the people, and that even Khomeini had cheated the people on behalf of the oil income:

A summary transcription is added, but it would be interesting to have all details and to translate them. Is there perhaps someone, who could do us this favour?


March 22, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterArshama

Megan (re your post 3),
This one's for you :-)
Exiled Iranian pop star Ebi in presidential warning

March 22, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterCatherine


Firstly, reforming a police state is NOT beyond imagination. It certainly happened in Spain, Greece and South-Korea. It could have happen in Iran on 25 of Khordad, had the SL and the establishment were cleaver enough.
The Principle of Democracy should be learned by the grassroots. This learning process takes time and during the last 10 months we have learned a lot.

I am sure both of us agree that a nation can not be bombed into democracy. So it is unfair and undemocratic to say I (an expat) have been always right, but the +3million people who turned up for the 25 of Khordad demo, just asking for their votes to be counted and nothing more, were wrong.
I have always enjoyed reading your comments and most of the time I agree; but this time I have to disagree.

Best regards,

March 22, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterKasra

Kasra, the uprising in South-Korea was a revolution not an evolution. And please explain what you mean by reform? How can a government be reformed if it's leading people are to be tried for crimes against humanity? What is your opinion on this, matter?

If you mean reform as in that every member of parliament and minister should be re-checked on their qualifications, I am with you.

I find the incompetence of Iran's authorities equally important as freedom of speech and political activity. Iran is where it is, because businesses, companies, government are run by people who lack the basic qualification for their position.

Many of them are chosen because of their ties to certain people. Khamenei is clever enough, he's just not in the position to give in because that will mean that even more dirt under the carpet will be exposed. The unexposed dirt will eventually lead to his/and people around him removal and trial anyway.

Would you agree that people such as Khamenei, Ahmadinejad, certain Sepah commanders are to be tried in order for peace and justice to settle down?

March 22, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterArmin

Hi Armin,

In the long run, yes, I agree with a South-African style fact-finding & reconciliation court. And yes everyone, including Khamenei & co as well as Mousavi & Karroubi should explain the truth about the pass 31 yeas. But, that is a long term objective:

For the immediate term, the key is in finding a compromise. Look, we can get excited as much as we like about beating the hell out of the murderous regime. But how can that help our democratic ideals: A democratic country where capital punishment is abolished.

Unlike Shah, Khamenei & co have no place on earth to run away. If we push them to a corner, they will fight their corner like hell; And that means a lot more lives will be lost. I am sure neither of us wants that.

The reason even the religious people are beginning to submit to the Green movement’s approach, is that SoG have remained peaceful and its leader (Mousavi) have always tried to find a peaceful solution; a way out.

So the way forward:
1) Internally, continued expansion of Green movement’s ideals beyond the middle-class/educated to working class and religious
2) Externally, Oil and political sanctions.
3) Externally, Clear shift from Nukes to Human Rights.

As suggested in the first comment above, which my sources also confirm, the regime would fall under its own weight, if the above are implemented.

Once again, our victory depends on our ability to compromise, even if that is a Chile/Pinochet type compromise.


March 22, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterKasra

Division on top

It looks to me that the group who made Coup de tat was well unified at the time. This group consisting of Khamenei (father and son), Mesbah Yazdi, Sepah (including Ahmadinejad) were confident that by stealing the election and having Ayatolah Khamenei behind them everything will go well and people with a little resistance will accept them as their legitimate government in a matter of days. They were totally wrong and people’s demonstrations by millions surprised them big time. In my opinion people’s resistance changed everything for the suppressing regime and people in Iran as follows:

1- Khamenie’s speech of 22nd of Khordad was his first biggest mistake, because it clearly put him in the camp of the coup and against people. The huge demonstrations right after his speech took his legitimacy away from him and divided the coup group to two fractions of ultra hard liners (Sepah, Mesbah Yazdi, Ahmadinejad) and hard liners (Khamenei, Larijani brothers). Now the ultra hard liners were looking for more power at the top because khamenei was clearly much weaker and has lost his power with the people. Ahmadinejad’s appointment of Moshaei and his resistance for one week against Khamenei is the first outcome of this separation. From this point on this fraction would like to take over the power by force, arrest and killings of more and more people. This would empower them and weakens Khamenei at the same time because people will see all of these happening under his watch. This fraction would love to have Mesbah Yazdi in power much better than Khamenei and that is why he announces his Fatwa in support of Ahmadinejad and in their circle they promote him as the next Valieh Faghih.
2- Weaken Khmamenie fraction now is relying more on Majlis and Larijani brothers to curb down the ultra hard liner’s power. Recent vote on subsidies in Majlis is also related to this separation.
3- It looks to me that Rafsanjani is well aware of this. His constant arguments that sees Khamenei as the only source to get the regime out of this situation is also in this regards. He would like to modify the regime with Khamenei and not with the ultra hard liners because he sees his collapse and total loss of power if they take over. For him minimum requirements of the green movement are quite enough (his daughter Faezeh says that his father’s aim is the same greens and he needs more time to achieve it).
4- The green movement at the beginning was only asking for people’s vote but the suppression and people’s resistance has radicalized it. Slogans like “dead to dictator”, “Mojtaba you will die but you will not see the leadership, “dead to Khamenei” and etc has changed to a force for democracy and separation of state and religion. Today Karoubi and Mousavi can not stop at “where is my vote” any more because people want much more than that. They want “Republic of Iran” now.
5- Khamenei’s fatwa for Charshanbeh Souri was his second biggest mistake and people’s response to it all over Iran showed that he has basically lost all of his legitimacy for ever.
6- All of the above shows to me that the regime can not govern any more and people do not accept them any more either, so we are looking at a power earthquake in Iran sooner or later.

March 22, 2010 | Unregistered Commenterkamran

I agree with both Megan and Armin
Megan is right, 31 years ago other than the lack of political freedom (which I think under the Soviet threat of ripping Iran a part and Islamic terrorism threat, political freedom would had been a suicidal idea) there were all other freedoms, equal business opportunity for all Iranians and Iran's economy was growing double digit during the Shah.
Kasra, regime change does not have to be a bloody one and that's why we need an oil sanction. When regime can not afford to pay it's thugs and others who support the regime for the salary and benefits, they too will turn against the system.
many within the IRGC members also care about their countries and are looking for an excuse to side with people, but when they think about the paycheck and the fact that regime can easily replace them w/someone else & jail them ...
Regime will survive as long as billions of dollars in oil revenue pays the guards and Basiji forces as well as support form outside the country
I have bee calling for oil sanctions as the only peaceful way to bring down the regime since the post-election uprising started
I have always said that the regime is not reformable and will fall with or without reform, because the demands of Iranian people are beyond any changes that could be made within the current system
Iranian people are much more educated and civilized now than 31 years ago and I am sure that they can go through a peaceful regime change and successfully establish a secular democratic government

March 22, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterCyrus

kasra- i disagree. within time i think that youll see that no negotiation is possible. the regime is so bad that any compromise will weaken it and therefor no real compromise will be meet. we are fighting an islamic mafia, regime change is the only real option, unless people are going to be lured again like in 79 and go for moussavi and her zeinab zahra. these are IR people regardless and someone who puts khomeinis picture on his table clearly lacks the understanding of human right and democracy. democracy is only possible within a secular (truly secular) system.

March 22, 2010 | Unregistered Commenterarman

I completely agree with Kamran here
The IRGC mafia and Ahmadinejad and Khamenei as their representatives are one and the reformist clan another mafia both fighting for power while more than anything they both are trying very hard to save the Islamic Republic
formation of a real democracy is only possible if there is enough political freedom to allow the formation of secular political parties and since both the reformists and conservatives are in strong opposition w/ secularism, establishment of a real democracy will only be possible when the entire system collapse

Even Karoubi stated in his norooz statement that if the savior ship the regime supporters are talking about only carries a small number of top figures, then it's nothing but a small boat and better be sunk (regime change)

You can clearly see that the reformists have lost their faith in the reform of the system

IR is nothing but a mafia ran system very similar to the Taliban and the only reason it has kept an image of a republic for so long is because of the developments of the country from the Pahlavi era along with the flow of oil revenue to maintain it. In reality with the past 5 years oil revenue alone more than the double of Iran's oil revenue during the entire pre-1979 history, they have only destroyed the country in all different fashions

March 22, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterCyrus

cyrus- i dont think kamran said that the democracy is only possible in a secular system.

March 22, 2010 | Unregistered Commenterarman

Arman is right, my bad, didn't read his comment completely
that I disagree w/ Kamran
democracy is only possible under a secular system
you can't rule 75,000,000 people in a 21st century country w/ all different Islamic and non-Islamic perspectives based on the religious laws designed to mind control individual Arabs of 1,400 years ago

there has never been a religious democracy in the world and there will never be, religion is something personal and in some ways social, but can not be mixed with politics

March 22, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterCyrus

my bad again,
I got confused between Arman and Kamran. I meant to 100% agree w/ Arman, not Kamran

March 22, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterCyrus

an i agree with cyrus :-)

March 22, 2010 | Unregistered Commenterarman

Cyrus-republic doesnt mean democracy, the most democratic states in the world are const. monarchies. the only reason people think only a republic is a democratic one is because americans think they are a good democracy (not the case), im afraid the only true democracies are found in north europe.

March 22, 2010 | Unregistered Commenterarman

north korea is also a republic and so is IR.

March 22, 2010 | Unregistered Commenterarman

For any followers of Astrology, here is an amusing article re Iran and the Pope

If nothing else I like his amusing reference to Ahmadinejad

"It will be way more irritating than sand in his lubricant" - is that a problem in Iran. I know there is a lot of sand in the ME :)


March 22, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterBarry

To me this is a debate that is not going to get us anywhere now. Obviously we have to try our best for secular democracy, but we are not going to say no to other transitional alternatives as long as they are practical and are going to help us to get to our secular democracy sooner rather than later. We should not force our will if the society is not ready for it. I for one, do not know how far people will go on this.

March 22, 2010 | Unregistered Commenterkamran

Any country called "People's Republic of XXXXXX" is usually the least democratic countries of all.

Could anybody explain to me any connection between SEPAH and Mezbah-Yazdi.???


March 22, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterBarry

I also agree with that, but it all depends on the public support. Unfortunately, the majority are so brainwashed that they think monarchy will turn to dictatorship, we need to get to the point of free political atmosphere that we can educate people about all different political systems and then let them chose during a national referendum
after the fall of IR, a temporary government must take control of the administration until new political parties expend and demonstrate their visions and plans for the people

March 22, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterCyrus

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