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Iran: Elections and Coup d'Etat

Be sure to head over and read Ali Alfoneh's Iran's Parliamentary Elections and the Revolutionary Guards' Creeping Coup d'Etat at AEI.

While the Council of Guardians has relegated reformists to minority status in the forthcoming election, it is more important for those seeking to understand the future direction of the Iranian government to examine the candidates who are allowed to compete. For several months, Iranian leaders have called upon Revolutionary Guardsmen and Basij Resistance Force militiamen to stand for election to counter the reformist presence.

Each year, the Islamic Republic commemorates "Basij Week" and the "Week of the Sacred Defense" to remind the Iranian people that the Islamic Republic is in a permanent state of war against enemies, real or imagined. The crisis atmosphere legitimizes the political elites and provides an occasion to communicate important messages to the regime's support base. Addressing members of the Basij in the northeastern Iranian province of Khorasan, Ayatollah Seyyed Ahmad Alam al-Hoda declared:

The idea that the Guards and the Basij as military forces should not intervene in politics . . . is the idea of the enemies of God, and of corrupt [political] movements who consider the Basij an obstacle in their path. . . . Non-intervention in politics equates to secularization of the Basij. The very essence of the Basij is one of religion, conviction, piety and belief in God.
Alam al-Hoda then called the eighth imam, whose shrine is in Khorasan, "the first Basij commander in [the] history of the world" and suggested that the "main obligation of the Basij as the guardian of the Revolution is the fight against internal threats . . . hypocrites and malignant movements."