The first pillar was the system of velayat-e-faqih, or tutelage of the Islamic jurist, which laid the groundwork for the first fundamentalist Islamic state and was enshrined in the constitution.
The second pillar was the complete transfer of all power and authority to the Supreme Leader and from him to the theocracy of the ayatollahs and mullahs, who perversely claimed their authority came directly from God.
The third and final pillar, carefully designed by Khomeini, was the creation of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), his own version of the Gestapo, to carry out their revolutionary policies of violence and terror both at home and beyond Iran‘s borders spread.
Today, the theocracy of 80 million oppressed and impoverished Iranians is so hated that only two pillars remain, Velayat-e-Faqih and the IRGC. Everyone knows that a stool cannot exist with only two legs.
The IRGC controls around 70 percent of Iran’s economy, including its monetary and financial institutions. It pays no taxes and funnels resources into the pockets of the ruling elite. It also directs the regime’s secret campaign to build a nuclear weapon.
Khomenei acted swiftly to eliminate opposition to his clerical dictatorship, ruthlessly using the IRGC to assassinate tens of thousands of political opponents whom he said were guilty of “moharebeh,” or “waging war against God.” The secret massacre of over 30,000 supporters of the main democratic opposition movement, the People’s Mojahedin of Iran/Mojahedin e-Khalq (PMOI/MEK), in the second half of 1988 stands out as one of the worst crimes against humanity of the last century and will currently being actively investigated by the United Nations.
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As frightening as these numbers are, they are only a fraction of the estimated 120,000 political prisoners executed so far during Iran’s clerical dictatorship.
The IRGC created the Quds Force, its vicious entity responsible for extraterritorial operations, overseeing the theocratic regime’s proxy wars in Syria, Yemen, Lebanon, Gaza and Iraq, and planning, financing and initiating acts of terrorism worldwide.
In April 2019, President Trump designated the IRGC as a foreign terrorist organization (FTO), the first time the US designated an official military organization of a foreign state as an FTO.
In January 2020, Trump also ordered the elimination of senior Iranian Quds Force general Qassem Soleimani and his ally, Iraqi chief of staff Abu Mehdi Mohandes. A targeted drone strike killed the two terrorist godfathers at Baghdad airport.
Reporting only to Iran’s Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Khamenei, Soleimani was considered by many to be the second most powerful person in the Islamic Republic.
His death seriously undermined the IRGC and shattered a second pillar of theocratic dictatorship. Khamenei is appalled that the IRGC is beginning to crumble. There is mounting evidence that IRGC workers are fleeing because they have not received their wages. Recruitment collapses.
The question now is how much longer the organization can survive. Khamenei knows that if the IRGC collapses, so will his theocratic regime.
Disgust and hatred of the IRGC are widespread among the Iranian population. PMOI/MEK resistance units have been formed in towns and cities across Iran.
Young resistance fighters have lost their fear and have launched attacks on courthouses, government buildings and bases of the IRGC and the paramilitary Basij. Banners, posters and images of the Supreme Leader are regularly defaced.
The brave resistance units can take solace in the defeat of similar Revolutionary Guards divisions throughout history. In Roman times, the Praetorian Guard, like today’s IRGC, was the embodiment of power, greed and terror, serving as secret police, executioners and a riot control force.
By the first Roman Emperor Augustus in 27 BC. Founded to protect him and Rome, they grew to 15,000 men and became so powerful and corrupt that they turned on their leaders, assassinated 13 Roman emperors and even auctioned off the throne to the highest bidder. They were eventually defeated, disbanded and scattered by Constantine the Great, marking a key stage in the fall of the Roman Empire.
Hitler’s elite personal protection command, the Schutzstaffel or SS, was created in 1925 as a tiny squadron of fewer than 100 men that expanded during the Nazi era to include hundreds of thousands of brutal and feared thugs and murderers led by the psychopath Heinrich Himmler.
After the end of World War II, the SS was classified as a criminal organization in the Nuremberg trials and held responsible for most Nazi war crimes and the Holocaust. Hundreds of their leaders were executed.
The thugs and assassins who fill the ranks of the IRGC in Iran would do well to know that history has never treated such elite guard units with sympathy. They always end in shame and destruction. The growing hatred of the Iranian people for the IRGC is a clear signal that another pillar of the regime is beginning to collapse.
The hatred of the mullahs, combined with the collapse of the IRGC, will sound the final death knell for the perverse system of velayat-e-faqih, the cornerstone of Islamic fundamentalism.
The only chance of survival for the faltering theocratic dictatorship would be for Western accomplices to join the flawed nuclear deal by complying with the mullahs’ demands to lift sanctions and remove the IRGC from the international terrorist blacklists.
Surely the West must understand that only the final overthrow of the tyrannical mullahs will restore peace, justice and freedom to the Iranian people. We must give them our full support and let them know that the fall of the IRGC will be the key catalyst for the collapse of the Velayat-e-Faqih regime.
Struan Stevenson is Campaign for Iran Change Coordinator, an International Middle East Lecturer and President of the European Iraqi Freedom Association