Iranian opposition sources warn that in south-west Iran, security forces opened fire on Arab-majority protestors, killing several individuals. Demonstrators were raising their concerns about chronic shortages of water and electricity. They warn that life under the Ayatollah’s republic was already unbearable; now the absence of water and power – during some of the hottest weather on record – threatens to make life unlivable.

Unfortunately, in a rigged election contest, the regime has selected a man who founded his reputation upon the mass murder of protestors; Ebrahim Raisi. Acting upon Ayatollah Khomeini’s instructions, in 1988 Raisi participated in a “death committee”, which handled summary trials for countless thousands of detained left-wing activists. When asked a series of questions, any of these who didn’t declare their undying loyalty to Khomeini were immediately marched out and hung by the neck. Raisi has recently described this as one of his proudest moments, as well as being a great achievement for the regime.

In an August 1988 audio recording, the designated successor of Khomeini, Ayatollah Hossein Ali Montazeri can be heard telling Raisi: “I believe this is the greatest crime committed in the Islamic Republic since the [1979] revolution and history will condemn us for it…. History will write you down as criminals.” Unsurprisingly, Montazeri was immediately demoted and lived out the rest of his life under house arrest.

Many of Iran’s presidents have been harsh despots; but out of all of them, Raisi is arguably the figure who, more than any, has devoted his life to the mass murder of innocent citizens, having played a key judicial role in brutal crackdowns over the last three decades. It is virtually guaranteed in Iran that each new year will bring with it fresh mass protests and civil discontent. So the future bodes very ill under such a murderous figure.

Worse still, Ayatollah Khamenei has been living on borrowed time for many years now, and nobody expects him to live much longer. The removal of all other credible presidential candidates, in order to secure Raisi’s victory is seen as preparation for Raisi’s accession to the Supreme Leader role, as soon as this becomes free. This would grant Raisi absolute power, with which to oppress citizens and meddle in neighbouring states. Thirty years of misrule by Khamenei has been a disaster for the region, but it seems that things may get worse; and if Iranians rise up in anger,  then Raisi has signalled very clearly from his past behaviour how he would deal with such a challenge.

When President Biden is negotiating with Iranian officials over the nuclear issue, he should keep all these things in mind; as well as considering how Iran today dominates Syria, Iraq and Lebanon – as well as plotting on multiple occasions, to abolish the governing system in Bahrain and other Gulf states. This is not a regime which will keep its promises. This is not a regime which the West should be normalizing relations with. And this is not a regime which can ever be trusted to act as a responsible and humane member of the international community.

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