Comments made by Iran's hardliners, amid a serious popular challenge to the regime, reveal that they still have no true grasp of what is going on in the country.
Some hardliners, like Iran's Interior Minister Ahmad Vahidi appear to be repeating what they hear from others or in the news.
Vahidi told reporters about a fact-finding committee to investigate the ongoing protests, but he said dissidents cannot be part of the investigation. He added that what the government is facing are "riots" rather than "protests".
The committee, comprised of security organizations and "independent" lawyers, will be tasked with "finding the players," among the “rioters” meaning that it is not really a fact-finding committee but a chase and crackdown group. Previously Vahidi had talked about an investigative group which was supposed to uphold the rights of those who have sustained losses during the protests.
The only thing he knew was that it is a ‘fact-finding committee’, a term he must have heard in the news from the UN about establishing an international fact-finding mission to probe into violations of human rights in Iran during the protests since mid-September.
Furthermore, he spoke about independent lawyers at a time when more than two dozen are in jail for trying to represent and help human rights activists including other lawyers.
Senior IRGC officer and interior minister Vahidi
Lawmaker Shahryar Heidari of the Majles National Security Committee has told ILNA that the committee set up by Vahidi is going to be "useless".
Meanwhile, figures Vahidi presented on casualties among protesters contradicted what other officials have said. He mentioned 200 individuals who were killed "during the riots,” while IRGC's General Hajizadeh put the number of those killed at "more than 300". Human rights organizations say there are between 450-500 verified cases of deaths.
In another development, one of Vahidi’s deputies, Majid Mir Ahmadi, has made outlandish remarks about the protests in an interview. Mir Ahmadi said some "rioters" receive 500 million rials ($1400) for attacking each security officer. He added that some female protesters were assigned to offer indecent proposals to young men to spend a few nights with them if they promised to take part in the "riots".
Hassanzadeh, commander of the IRGC in Tehran
In yet another report, Hassan Hassanzadeh, the commander of the IRGC Headquarters in Tehran said the United States has spent 55 trillion dollars to establish media in Arab states and countries around Iran to steer the protests (It is not a typo. He really said $55 trillion).
Reformist activist Feyzollah Arabsorkhi reminded him in a tweet that the United States' annual Gross Domestic Product is only 25 trillion dollars.
This shows either the lack of basic education on the part of senior IRGC officers or their ability to utter fantastic lies.
On the more pragmatic side, Majles Speaker Mohammad Bagher Ghalibaf appears to have retreated from his idea of introducing a "new form of governance” for Iran as the reformist website Etemad Online reported. According to the website, after several highly controversial speeches that were welcomed by some optimistic Iranians, he has finally said that what he meant by new governance was a plan to abide by Iran's forgotten constitution.
While almost every official and politician praises the constitution as the ultimate guide, it appears to have been shelved after Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei took office in 1989. Two of the precepts of the constitution that are much talked about recently are articles that allow peaceful protests and holding referendum about core political disputes in the country.
This comes while conservative politician Hossein Kanani Moghaddam said in an interview that "Talking about a new form of governance without amending the constitution is a joke, particularly in a situation in which people are so pessimistic that they refuse to buy the arguments of any politician or state official."