The Islamic Republic’s Assembly of Experts, the deliberative body empowered to appoint the Supreme Leader, has renewed its loyalty to Iran’s ruler Ali Khamenei.
The Secretariat of the Assembly -- also translated as the Assembly of Experts of the Leadership or as the Council of Experts – issued a statement on Wednesday, reiterating obsequious remarks about Khamenei.
In their statement, the members of the assembly described Khamenei as a force of “solidarity and national unity," and decried the slogans and slurs that are chanted against him during popular protests for over five months.
Members of the Assembly are elected from the inner circle of the regime and people very close to the Khamenei, which explains their full loyalty. The assembly – which is in charge of supervising, dismissing and electing the Supreme Leader – can run for election after being vetted by the Guardian Council, whose members are, in turn, appointed either directly or indirectly by the Supreme Leader.
The Guardian Council is composed of six Islamic law experts, selected by the Supreme Leader, and six jurists, nominated by the Chief Justice, who in turn, is also appointed by the Supreme Leader. Therefore, it is a self-serving closed-circuit system that ensures all key constitutional position are occupied by loyalists.
Interestingly enough, the head of both bodies is hardliner cleric Ahmad Jannati, who turned 96 on Wednesday, a day after he was re-elected as the chairman of the Assembly of Experts for another two years. First Deputy Chairman of the assembly is President Ebrahim Raisi.
Ahmad Jannati, the chairman of the Assembly of Experts and the Guardian Council
The assembly’s statement repeatedly glorified Khamenei, claiming that the "unprecedented large volume of propaganda and insults" against him indicates that the enemy understands his important role in “guidance and management of society.”
The statement also reiterated calls for the preservation of "hijab" -- or Islamic dress code -- as a clear message of the Islamic revolution and one of the "elements of the identity of the Islamic Republic of Iran". The current wave of protests, the boldest the regime has ever faced in the 43 years of its existence, was ignited when hijab enforcement patrols arrested Mahsa Amini violently that led to her death at hospital due to severe trauma on her head.
Iran’s ruler Ali Khamenei speaking to some members of the Assembly of Experts in Tehran on February 23, 2023
In a meeting with the chairman and some members of the Assembly of Experts in Tehran on Thursday, Khamenei said that the Islamic establishment “opposes those who believe in the Western secularism and opposes the leaders of liberal democracy, who have hatched a plot to dominate over and plunder the world’s resources behind the false flag of freedom and democracy,” he said.
According to a confidential letter obtained by Iran International in recent days, the Revolutionary Guard (IRGC) has asked the government not to disclose the budget of institutions such as the Hijab police, which are criticized by the people.
The regime has heavy-handedly suppressed protesters, executing four young men, killing well over 500, including more than 70 children, and arresting around 20,000 in the past five months.
On Monday, an estimated crowd of about 20 to 30 thousand people held a rally in Brussels outside the European Council to call on EU countries to designate Iran’s Revolutionary Guard as a terrorist organization. Thousands of Iranians from all over Europe held a massive rally in Strasbourg in January for the same purpose. Also on Monday, the EU sanctioned 32 Islamic Republic officials, including culture and education ministers, deputy IRGC commander, and several MPs. The move can be seen as a measure to justify the fact that the EU is not yet ready to designate the entirety of the IRGC.