Ali Khamenei in January 2021, on the first anniversary of Qassem Soleimani's killing by the US.

Iran Hardliners Demand 'Absolute Obedience' To Khamenei

Saturday, 12/02/2023
Mardo Soghom

Chief Editor of Iran International English website

A hardline politician recently suggested that that an absolute ruler in Iran is not enough, “absolute obedience” is needed, referring to the Supreme Leader.

The statement comes after more questions have risen about how the parliament has become a rubber stamp and hardliners dominating the government get their power from Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei’s office. Consequently, questions also arise as to what the constitutional powers of the Supreme Leader are and do elections and elected offices mean anything, when he can dictate his will.

Hardline cleric Morteza Aqa-Tehrani, the chairman of the central council of ultraconservative Paydari Party recently quoted the party's founding father, Ayatollah Mohammad Taqi Mesbah-Yazdi as having called for the nation's absolute obedience to Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei.

Aqa-Tehrani quoted Mesbah as saying, "The absolute rule of the Supreme Leader is not enough as the theory of government under the Islamic Republic. The system also needs absolute obedience of the people to the supreme leader."

Hardliner politician Morteza Aqa-Tehrani

The statement effectively would render the legislative system in Iran meaningless. According to the ultraconservative party, Khamenei can make any decision, and the people will have no choice other than obeying what he decrees. What makes Aqa-Tehrani’s statement more dangerous is that his party is poised to gain absolute majority in the March parliamentary elections that are being heavily engineered to give a monopoly of power to hardliners.

Commentator Abbas Abdi writing in Tehran’s reformist daily Etemad on Saturday argued that those who speak about “absolute obedience” to the Supreme Leader, in fact are doing a disservice to him. A modern state cannot be governed on that basis because the world has changed in the past 200 years and now governing a country needs expertise in different fields, he stated. Those who insist on absolute obedience in fact leave the Supreme Leader in a lonely position, vulnerable to all things that can go wrong and make him a target for blame.

Mr. Khamenei has already entered the unenviable position of being seen as responsible for a once rich and promising developing country that is now on the verge of becoming a failed state. Anti-regime protests in recent years have demonstrated that increasingly many people have turned against Khamenei, seeing him as responsible for a failed state and an impediment to a better life.

Prominent Tehran commentator Abbas Abdi

Iran’s economy, straddled with unsurmountable inefficiencies of nepotism and political control, has little hope of resuming development and progress. Sitting on the world’s second largest natural gas resources, Iran faces domestic shortages, let alone an ability to export.

Crude oil exports, limited by US sanctions, are not even enough to help bridge a 50-percent budget gap. The country needs $160 billion to overhaul and modernize its energy sector, according to oil minister Javad Owji, but its annual crude exports barely reach $22 billion. Iran resembles a football player who has lost track of the ball and no matter how fast he runs, it seems too late to catch up.

Iranians see this hopeless situation as the result of Khamenei’s 34-year rule, and his hardline loyalists resort to more praise and demands of full obedience, while many see his days numbered at the old age of 84.

Recently, former President Hassan Rouhani publicly referred to the inevitable, the death of the leader, and hinted at the need to look forward. This week, a senior cleric revealed that a small committee is looking into appointing a deputy leader. But the day after Khamenei’s eventual passing is what many whisper about. Who would replace him. Will there be a nasty power struggle, or even a “collective leadership” to replace the Supreme Leader? What will the Revolutionary Guard do? Will they push their own candidate, or they will start an internal power struggle?

Abdi referring to “absolute obedience” wrote, “I would like to say that those who make this statement are essentially pursuing their own agendas. By seemingly expressing support for the velayat-e faqih (Supreme Leader), they aim to advance their projects. Lacking intellectual courage and self-sufficiency, they seek to promote their plans through this statement.”

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