Glaring similarity between 2024 elections in U.S. and Iran

This year is an important election year in both Iran and the U.S. For the former, it involves electing a new parliament and members for the Assembly of Experts on March 1; for the latter, it involves electing the next president on Nov. 5. However, a unique process being used in both countries by those currently in power seeks to manipulate their authority to minimize any future role for their political opponents.

In Iran, the primary authority is its “Supreme Leader” who rules for life. This has been the case ever since the shah of Iran was forced out of office and a theocracy was established in 1979. Because Supreme Leaders seem to enjoy longevity, during the past 45 years, there have only been two Supreme Leaders – Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, who died in 1989, and Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.

Underneath the Supreme Leader is the 12-member Guardian Council. Its members include six legal experts on constitutional law and six clerics on Islamic law. Lest one might think the clerics freely exercise independent authority, they are all selected by the Supreme Leader who can remove them from the Council at any time for any reason.

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The Council has three authorities: 1) to exercise veto power over legislation passed by the parliament, if necessary; 2) to supervise elections; and 3) to approve or disqualify candidates running for local, parliamentary or presidential office.

As mentioned earlier, not only will parliamentary seats be decided on March 1 but so too will positions on the Assembly of Experts – the deliberative body empowered to appoint the Supreme Leader. Candidates for the Assembly of Experts are approved by the Guardian Council. Thus, it should be clear, the Supreme Leader, either directly or indirectly, has enormous influence over who can run for any political office.

Recently, in preparation for elections, the Guardian Council disqualified former President Hassan Rouhani as a candidate for the Assembly of Experts. This came as a surprise as Rouhani served two terms as the country’s seventh president, five terms in the parliament and over two decades on the Assembly of Experts – all under the tutelage of the current Supreme Leader.

Excluding Rouhani from running for an additional term is viewed as an effort by Khamenei to purge and consolidate his power base for the challenges that lie ahead. Whether Rouhani has failed to toe the line, causing Khamenei to question his loyalty, we do not know. But Khamenei is clearly using his authority as Supreme Leader to decide – allegedly on behalf of the Iranian people – who shall run and who shall not.

As Deputy Director Alireza Jafarzadeh of the NCRI, an opposition group in France seeking removal of Iran’s theocratic leadership, noted, the March 1 election is a sham that will probably be boycotted by those Iranians recognizing it as such. Most Iranians know this and are not fooled by the hand their Supreme Leader plays in the election. It is projected 75% of them will not vote.

Although not as direct, Democrats seem to be playing their hand in controlling our upcoming presidential election. One need only look at what former President Donald Trump, who is most likely on course to secure the Republican Party’s nomination, is experiencing.

Democrats who impeached Trump while he was in office now have Democrat attorney general proxies doing all they can to disqualify him from running this year. Democrats, rightfully so, fear the Trump train is on track to win, absent a derailment. They are looking to provide that derailment as evidenced by a total of 91 criminal felony counts filed in two state courts and in two different federal courts against him. A conviction on any of these charges could possibly lead to imprisonment. Additionally, a civil suit finding of fraud in New York appears – at least for the moment – to be taking the wind out of the sails of Trump’s business empire.

A question has arisen about two Trump prosecutors meeting separately with White House legal staff before filing their actions as no conceivable reason existed for them to do so. This then begs the issue whether the filings of criminal counts against Trump were coordinated beforehand with the Biden administration in an effort similar to that of Iran’s Khamenei to remove the competition.

Such a ploy by Khamenei is not surprising. Based on Biden’s weaponization of federal agencies, his designation of pro-life Catholics as domestic terrorists and efforts to favor teachers over parents in raising their children, perhaps we should not be surprised that he has stooped to this level as well.

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