After the Shah was deposed, a constitution was enacted in Iran which set out the details of their government.
It pretty much takes the form of a parliamentary system, with a President and elected legislature. But I’ve always just assumed that all of it is for appearances sake. A dog and pony show to placate the rubes.
The reason why is due to the fact that, try as they might to cloak their government in the guise of a functioning democracy, real power is wielded by a single man. No one is able to do jack unless the Supreme Leader approves. Every position of any note, from high ranking military commanders to the people who run the media to the head judge in the country, is appointed by this guy.
All new laws have to be approved by something called the Guardian Council. People running for parliament have to be approved by the G.C. before being allowed to take their posts. And who makes up this unelected body? It consists of six people hand picked by S.L. and another six hand picked by the head judge. And, in the paragraph above, who did I mention picks the head judge?
It is possible that some form of dispute can arise between the Guardian Council and parliament, although that seems extremely unlikely. But, should it happen, then the dispute is decided by the Expediency Council. And who appoints every single member of the E.C? If you can’t guess, then you haven’t been paying attention.
Besides having a title that sounds exactly like a comic book villain that Captain America would have fought, who is the Supreme Leader? A cleric. A religious leader. Iran is in the iron grip of a theocracy. The only people in the entire country who have direct control over the citizenry, from the military officers who control the guns to the media moguls who control the news, serve at the pleasure of a religious fanatic.
Right now there is a big hullaboo in the Western media about a disputed election in Iran, something that Prof. Reynolds keeps writing blog posts about. (Follow this link and keep scrolling.) People who complain about the recent election results are being attacked and killed out in broad daylight. Foreign journalists are luckier in that they are just being attacked, since none of them have yet died. Politicians, journalists and activists that are considered to be “reformist” (whatever that is supposed to mean) are being arrested and jailed. And all of this is because one candidate for President, which had to be approved by the hand picked lickspittles of the Supreme Leader before he is even allowed to run for office, is defeated by another candidate who also had to be approved by the lickspittles.
It is being called The Uprising, which seems to be rather grandiose to me. So people are upset that one toothless pawn was selected over another equally worthless tool due to blatant election fraud. What difference can it possibly make?
I suppose the people in protest are just upset because they can’t ignore the indescribably obvious fact that they are living in a dictatorship, where their votes and wishes mean nothing. Why this should come as a surprise to them puzzles me. Haven’t they been paying attention over the past three decades? A religious leader is in control of the apparatus of governance!
There is going to be nothing but cosmetic change in Iran until they get rid of the Supreme Leader. That simply isn’t going to happen, due in no small part to the Islamic conviction that religion should have a direct control over everyone’s daily lives, including government.
No matter how pissed off the voters get, they aren’t going to storm whatever opulent palace this cleric calls home and parade his head through the streets on a pike. Because that is the only way any reform can possibly happen. Unless, of course, some outside agency forcibly deposes the fanatic.
Where is Captain America when you need him?