Will the Revolutionary Guards turn against Iran’s mullahs?

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August 16, 2018

Mohammed Al Shaikh

After the first round of US sanctions against Iran came into effect, US President Donald Trump expressed his willingness to negotiate with Iran. It is obvious that he will set new conditions for a new agreement, or so he hopes, which will fill the gaps that caused him to withdraw from the nuclear agreement, which was signed by his predecessor President Obama.

Trump’s most important concerns regarding the previous agreement has been that it does not address two crucial points related to Iran’s political activities in the region.

The first pertains to ballistic missiles, and the second pertains to its hostile behavior towards the region’s countries. This is in addition to stopping the development of nuclear reactors in a way that prevents Iran from possessing nuclear weapons.

Khamenei’s dilemma

Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei can probably stop the country’s activities related to ballistic missiles – even if tactically. As for its activities pertaining to interfering in the region’s affairs and playing the role of supporting the vulnerable, which is sometimes described by the Iranians as exporting the revolution, then this is a peremptory constitutional article that Khamenei has inherited from the founder of the Khomeini revolution. According to Iran’s clerics, amending Khomeini’s constitution is like changing religion or in a jurisprudential language is like changing the constant in religion.

Although they do not express this explicitly, they exalt Khomeini’s rank as being equal to that of the prophets or a purging angel. I have no doubt that Trump knows this and he also knows well that the clerical Iran cannot change these peremptory constitutional articles.

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Thus, this is behind Trump’s request, which I think is an intelligent tactic and a maneuver to draw sections of the Iranian people towards the US stance and show that Khamenei’s regime is in a critical dilemma. If it accepts to abandon the constitution and order amending it, it will be hammering the first nail in the coffin of the Khomeini republic and if it refuses the proposal, the sanctions will suffocate the regime and lead to its inevitable collapse.

Iran’s mullahs, both the hardliners and the reformists, cannot blend with the era and the conditions of survival. The aggressive tendency they adopt will not be accepted by today’s world by any means. The transformation of the regime in Iran from “the revolution” to the “state” is almost impossible – that is if it’s not exactly what is impossible.

Intellectuals in Iran are fully aware of this, but the Revolutionary Guard’s dominance over Iran’s political decision makes such a decision tantamount to a suicide operation for this military institution, which has grown so strong to the extent that all the Iranians are wary of it, including the clerics themselves as well as Ali Khamenei himself.

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A round of US sanctions on Iran has come into effect. The second round and other rounds that will be imposed after three months will be the most dangerous ones and are the ones, which will suffocate the Iranian economy to death. The Iranians cannot face their fate unless by abandoning their hostile attitude and by adopting a political approach that abandons violence and riots and that does not ignite strife and problems in neighboring countries.

Thus the mullahs are now in trouble, and even their best options are extremely bitter. That’s why I do not believe that the Iranians are capable of exiting this dark tunnel they’ve found themselves in unless the clerics are removed from power by a military coup and the Revolutionary Guard generals take over, otherwise Khomeini’s republic will inevitably collapse.

This article is also available in Arabic.


Mohammed Al Shaikh is a Saudi writer with al-Jazirah newspaper. He tweets @alshaikhmhmd.


This article was first published in  Alarabiya

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