There was a common refrain to many of the chants from crowds of students and other critics of the regime: that Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and his high-brass in the Revolutionary Guards should now resign because of their incompetence.
This is dangerous territory for Iran’s rulers. Accusations that the leader is mismanaging the country (and fomenting corruption) plays to a fury that unites the reformist camp with many more conservative Iranians. At both ends of the political spectrum, there’s intense frustration that the Islamic Republic never delivered, and that neighbors like Turkey, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates put themselves on the map in a way that Iranians always aspired to, either politically or economically…
Only the day before Soleimani’s death, BBC Persian reported that 100 conservative activists warned Khamenei that he needed to enact exactly these kinds of profound structural reforms to prevent the overthrow of religious rule. There are also parts of the conservative camp that frequently warn about the dangers of corruption devouring the system from within.
In the immediate case of the airliner, the failings of the state’s management systems have been excruciatingly exposed. Iranians are furious that their top officials attempted a clumsy cover-up.