(New York, NY) –– Presidential elections will be held in Iran on May 19. No matter the outcome, total political and military power will continue to rest in the hands of Iran’s supreme leader, due to a system of rules established 38 years ago by Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, the Counter Extremism Project (CEP) said in its latest analysis report, Khomeinism.
Khomeini—founder of the Islamic Republic of Iran and the country’s first supreme leader—placed all of Iran’s state and religious institutions under the control of a single autocratic cleric. In 1979 Khomeini famously said, “If you do not surrender to the nation, the nation will put you in your place.” Since then, Iranians who challenge the authority of the supreme leader face ostracism, lengthy prison sentences, or worse. His successor, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, has carried that doctrine forward, using the institutions established under Khomeini to disqualify more than 1,600 candidates from participating in this year’s elections, repressing domestic dissent, cracking down on religious minorities, and supporting terror proxies as part of a strategy for regional domination.
The two leading contenders for president of Iran, incumbent Hassan Rouhani and Ebrahim Raisi, embrace Khomeini’s teachings and world view. While in office, Rouhani has denigrated the United States and Israel, praised Hezbollah and other terrorist proxies, and backed Iran’s regional adventurism. “We will spare no effort to defend the Islamic Revolution and maintain its revolutionary path,” Rouhani said. “We should preserve his [Ayatollah Khomeini’s] precious legacies.”
Raisi, as a prosecutor, demonstrated loyalty to Iran’s revolutionary principles by sentencing thousands of dissidents and political prisoners to death. “The real nature of arrogance fits well in the remark of Imam Khomeini, as he said USA is the grand evil,” Raisi said. “Today the hands of American politicians are stained with the blood of oppressed and defenseless people of Yemen, Syria, Iraq, and Afghanistan.”
Khomeini considered the United States “the foremost enemy of Islam,” casting it as the root cause of Iran’s troubles and the leader of an international anti-Islamic front, with Israel a close second. Iran helped create Lebanese terror group Hezbollah in the 1980s and since Khomeini’s death in 1989, Iran has actively supported Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ), which have carried out suicide bombings and other terrorist attacks in Israel, the West Bank, and the Gaza Strip. U.S. military officials have also blamed Iran and its proxies for the deaths of more than 500 U.S. soldiers in Iraq between 2005 and 2011.