On Friday 26thFebruary, elections were held in Iran.Winners of the 290 seats in the ‘Islamic Consultative Assembly’ (parliament) and the 86-member ‘Assembly of Experts’ (the body tasked with selecting Iran’s Supreme leader and supervising his conduct), were the usual elderly, bearded, homophobic, misogynistic, sociopaths that have run this oppressive theocratic regime since the fall of the Shah. The outcome was certain. The election was a fraud and its result had been fixed from the outset. The Iraqi constitution states that a Guardian Council comprising six theologians appointed by the Supreme leader and a further six jurists appointed by the Head of the Judiciary, who is also incidentally appointed by the Supreme Leader, are allowed to vet candidates for the elections. Of the 12,123 candidates who registered to stand for election to the Iranian parliament, 7,403 were rejected, deemed to be from the so-called ‘moderate’ wing of Iranian politics by supporting the current President Hassan Rouhani. Only 165 candidates were allowed to contest the 86 seats in the ‘Assembly of Experts’ for the same reason.

Just how ‘moderate’ Rouhani is can be judged from the 2,400 people who have been executed in Iran since he took office over two years ago. Iran now executes more people per capita than any other country in the world. Nevertheless, the Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, regards Rouhani’s growing international profile with deep suspicion, seeing in him a potential threat to his own hardline leadership. Khamenei’s legacy of exporting terror to Iraq, Syria, Yemen, Lebanon and Palestine and challenging Saudi Arabia for dominance in the Middle East is teetering on the verge of breakdown, as the military cost escalates and the price of oil collapses. There have been countless demonstrations in Iran, where ordinary people protest at the rising cost of food and fuel in a faltering economy. But Khamenei, fearful of another uprising similar to the mass demonstrations that took place after the second fraudulent election of Rouhani’s predecessor Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in 2009, reacts by using brute force, arbitrary arrests, imprisonment, torture and public hangings to subdue social unrest. 

Khamenei is allegedly suffering from advanced prostate cancer and is clearly keen to anoint a successor before he departs from the scene. For this reason he is desperate to weed out potential heirs whom he considers even slightly suspect. He has consequently ordered the expulsion from candidacy to the ‘Assembly of Experts’ of Hassan Khomenei, an Islamic scholar and 43 year-old grandson of the founder of the Islamic Republic Ayatollah Khomeini. The Supreme Leader regards his support for Rouhani as toxic and ordered his name struck from the list. 

For many in Iran, this has been the final straw. Millions of young people, fed up with their country’s status as a global pariah, boycotted the rigged election. One street trader in Tehran tweeted that the government had filled a box with scorpions and asked them to choose one, which they were reluctant to do as “all scorpions bite”. In Iran, like other totalitarian states, many people do not take part in the elections, but official results always declare the participation of the majority! This year the regime was that even its own supporters were unwilling to vote due to the disqualification of so many candidates that Khamenei issued a religious fatwa, making voting an Islamic duty and presenting a blank ballot paper would be considered a sin. This was quite unprecedented and illustrated perfectly how the Supreme Leader misuses religion to suit his own ends.

Khamenei’s fascist regime is one of the most oppressive in the world. Its record of systematic human rights abuse is unparalleled with the exception perhaps of North Korea. Friday’s general election is a sham, designed to show the world that the Islamic Republic somehow manages to retain a vestige of democracy. The Iranian people themselves have seen through this barefaced subterfuge and the turbaned tyrants who took their seats in the newly elected parliament and ‘Assembly of Experts’ have no credibility or integrity inside or outside Iran. Western governments should be very careful how they handle these scorpions. There is a famous Egyptian proverb that states: “Because we focused on the snake, we missed the scorpion.” The West should not miss the Iranian scorpion.