Former reformist President Mohammad Khatami has apologized to Iranians for "the country's current situation," however, he stressed that the Islamic Republic "is not on the verge of collapse."
In a statement released on his website on Sunday August 5, Khatami said that the suggestion of the regime being on the verge of collapse is part of a psychological offensive, alluding to what the regime calls “foreign enemies”.
Khatami’s statement is somewhat unexpected, as he has been marginalized for many years and banned from appearing in the media.
In his statement Khatami appears to be critical of President Hassan Rouhani’s administration and fellow reformists, while not saying much about conservatives and hardliners who have even restricted his movements. "The government's passivity and the reformists' confusion vis-à-vis this propaganda is surprising", he said.
" A group outside Iran and another group inside the country have been trying to eliminate reformists," he said, adding, "there is no room for a regime change in Iran as long as the reforms are alive."
But "are the reforms really alive," some social media users including journalist Shahram Rafizadeh have asked.
Khatami said "They are using social networks telling Iranian youths that 'it's all over', at the same time they do everything to tarnish reformists' image."
He was alluding to slogans in recent anti-government demonstrations in Iran particularly chanted by young demonstrators: "Reformists, conservatives, It's all over!"
Khatami further reassured the nation that "the regime will not collapse," using the term "order" as euphemism for the word "regime". He added that "the regime still has a power base among a large part of the society."
However, Khatami admitted that "threats to change the regime have become more elaborate as breath-taking economic problems become more widespread."
Apparently referring to protest demonstrations in various Iranian cities during the past week, Khatami said "A large part of the society does not demand revolution, revolt, or regime change. Instead, they demand security and prosperity."
Khatami said this, while one of the most popular Persian hashtags on social media in recent months has been "barandazam" (I want a regime change), and in the latest round of public protests that started last week most slogans target the government as a whole, Ayatollah Khamenei and clerical rule in general.
Khatami further added in his remarks that the people's "trust in the government" has been vanishing, adding that reformists can offer key solutions. The remark has been interpreted on social media as a desperate attempt by someone who has been pushed aside by the regime to return to its inner circle.
During the past decade, Khatami has been banned from travelling abroad, public speaking and at times even from going to public events as a spectator.
Meanwhile, critics, including former reformists and regime insiders such as Abolfazl Qadiani have questioned the feasibility of reforms in Iran while "the regime has a totalitarian structure and one person as supreme leader holds all the political power."