In his speech on June 4, Iranian regime Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei shed light on his concerns through one very specific and telling sentence: “Do not allow anyone depict the status quo as if the establishment has reached a dead-end!”
But the facts on the ground show that the regime is in fact stuck in a dead-end with no way out. A look at the different crises enguling the mullahs provides a better understanding of how desperate Khamenei and his Revolutionary Guards (IRGC) are becoming despite their brouhaha in the face of the international community.
The Iranian society is described by experts as a powder keg about to explode. Popular hatred of the mullahs’ regime has reached an unprecedented level and we are witnessing this rage flaring in cities and towns across the country daily.
Just last month, the cities of Izeh, Masjed Soleyman, Shahrekord, Ardabil, Tehran, Quchan, Iranshahr and many others were the scenes of protesters taking to the streets over skyrocketing prices and unbridled inflation, especially when it comes to food staples.
Teachers, considered one of the humblest branches of any society, have been holding nationwide gatherings protesting the regime’s plundering policies that have left them unable to make ends meet in their retirement after decades of hard work.
And more recently, grieving locals in the city of Abadan were joined by others in Khorramshahr and many more cities following the May 23 collapsing of the 10-story Metropol tower that has left at least 42 killed. Activists are reporting there are many more bodies under the rubble, and some are saying over 150 workers are buried in the basement while authorities are discussing ending the relief effort.
As anger grows, there is an increasing number of reports of ordinary people attacking members of the state police and other security forces in different cities using assault rifles and knives. This goes parallel to senior officials of the regime’s security apparatus voicing grave concern over the vast distribution of weapons across the country. This is the very “earthquake” that the mullahs’ regime fears, knowing that the society has reached a point of no return, and the impact of their suppressive tactics are fading.
Last year, Khamenei installed Ebrahim Raisi, notorious for his decades-long role in the regime’s executions and the summer 1988 massacre of political prisoners, as president. Khamenei sought to silence the society with Raisi at the helm, only to see the Iranian public increasing their protests in response.
Economically, this regime is literally destroying Iran’s domestic production and making the country nearly completely dependent on imports. This goes in line with escalating corruption that is leading the Iranian economy into an abyss of unknown proportions.
Despite an initial surge in oil exports to China, the war in Ukraine has made Russian oil the preferred choice of the Chinese and leaving Iran’s heavier oil less desirable and once again the mullahs face the burden of sanctions.
In response, the regime is printing more money to a point where its own former Central Bank chief is describing the Raisi cabinet as the “sultan of printing money.” Around 1.4 Quadrillion rials have been printed in the past few months alone. This is equal to around $4.48 billion.
With the regime raising the price of bread recently, Khamenei is obviously desperate for cash to fuel his regime’s initiatives – nuclear weapons, ballistic missiles and drones, terrorism, and domestic crackdown – while knowing such policies can and will ignite new protests and nationwide uprisings in the not-so-distant future.
At the same time, the regime is faced with intensifying international crises. Economists and experts with ties to Iran’s regime are constantly warning that the only way out of the current socio-economic deadlock is to revive the 2015 nuclear deal. But after more than a year since the talks resumed in Vienna, the prospects of reaching an agreement over Iran’s nuclear program are worse than ever. A recent report by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) stresses that Tehran has failed to come clean on outstanding questions despite long-running efforts to get Iranian officials to explain the presence of nuclear material at several sites.
As the regime continues to grapple with its crises, Khamenei will face hard choices, none of which look bright.