Iranian regime officials warn about Khamenei’s hollow decision-making structure


In a stark exposition of the current state of Iran’s political landscape, the governmental newspaper Etemad has illuminated the metaphorical “taxidermy” of the country’s electoral system and parliamentary representation under the current regime. Before the widely boycotted parliamentary elections, Etemad articulated a concerning scenario, writing, “What is recently evident in the country’s electoral scene, from the process of disqualifications in the Assembly of Experts and the parliament, testifies to a danger beyond mere stage-setting and ‘taxidermy’ of the 2021 presidential elections… It has gone beyond merely hollowing out the interior and empty volumes, insisting that not even the appearance is to be preserved.”

From the inception of the mullahs’ regime, the president and the government have been perceived largely as mere facilitators for the Supreme Leader’s will. Recently, former President Hassan Rouhani conceded the nominal power of the presidency within this system, admitting that all his actions and appointments required Khamenei’s approval: “I checked all government ministers without exception with the leadership” (ILNA news agency, March 27, 2024).

The judiciary, too, has been instrumental in executing the Supreme Leader’s orders for executions, killings, and intimidation, aimed at maintaining control over societal unrest.

A few months ago, the Telegram channel “Uprising to Overthrow” revealed that Foreign Minister Hossein Amirabdollahian lamented the “weakening of the authority and position of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.” He requested that “orders be issued for all bodies to coordinate their foreign relations with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.” However, Khamenei’s office, in response to this minister’s demands, redirected him to Parliament Speaker Mohammad Bagher Ghalibaf, essentially instructing him not to overstep his bounds.

On the subject of the Supreme Leader’s dictatorship, a recent interview with former Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif highlighted that all components and institutions of the regime are merely pawns in Khamenei’s hands, tasked solely with executing “the Supreme Leader’s directives,” essentially spreading crisis and terrorism as state policy.

Zarif, previously, had acknowledged the necessity of synchronizing diplomacy with military strategies, essentially admitting that “diplomacy” in the regime serves solely to facilitate the goals of Qasem Soleimani, the former head of the IRGC Quds Force who was killed in a 2020 drone strike in Iraq. He stated, “I had the honor of deep friendship and cooperation with Hajj Qasem for more than two decades, a relationship that not only did not fade until his martyrdom but always deepened” (Iran newspaper, April 29, 2021).

However, in a recent interview, Zarif, while showcasing his loyalty to Khamenei, revealed that everything is determined by the dictator himself, with others merely executing his orders. He remarked, “I believe the Foreign Ministry should be part of the decision-making system, and I accept the Supreme Leader’s opinion that the Foreign Ministry is the executor. But at least let it be the executor and not completely irrelevant in foreign policy” (Jamaran government site, March 24).

Zarif further disclosed that for years, even since the Khatami era, “sensitive foreign policy files” such as those concerning Afghanistan, Syria, Iraq, and Yemen, which are directly related to the regime’s strategy of exporting terrorism and regional warmongering, have been transferred from the ministry to other branches directly under the Supreme Leader’s control.

Thus, it’s evident that despite being ousted and humiliated by their masters in several instances, the so-called reformists, deeply complicit in the regime’s crimes, have never truly pursued genuine reforms. Instead, they have played decorative roles to make the regime’s atrocities presentable to foreign counterparts. While presenting a facade of change and reform internationally, they remained the regime’s loyal soldiers, donning suits instead of military uniforms.

The entire regime can be envisaged as a monstrous taxidermy, with only the Supreme Leader actively making decisions and speaking out, while the rest are but subservient pawns. This grim portrayal underscores the profound crisis of legitimacy and representation within Iran’s regime, calling for a reevaluation of the current state of affairs and the need for genuine reform and democratization.