Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei
The legitimacy of the bedrock principle underlying the Islamic Republic of Iran-the so-called velayat-e motlaqeh-ye faqih, or absolute political authority of an expert in Islamic jurisprudence-has been the subject of serious debate for many years (1). The issue assumed a more complicated dimension when Khomeini died in 1989. His successor, the present Supreme Leader of Iran, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, lacks the religious credentials of a Khomeini and enjoys little credibility among the high-ranking Shiite and non-Shiite seminary scholars. At best, he is a scholar of the third rank, which confronts him with serious jurisprudential problems.
At the same time, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei is now 71 years old and according to many sources, he is suffering from various physical and mental sicknesses such as prostate cancer, and paranoia. He has lost a hand and perhaps more in the bombing events in 1989.
Some of the persons who are mentioned as his possible replacement are: Mahmoud Hasehmi Sharoodi , Sadegh Larijani and Mojtaba Khamenei, Hashemi Rafsanjani, Mesbah Yazadi and Sayyed Hassan Khomeini (2).
If we suppose that the regime remains in power and the Velayate Faghih persists, the most important questions for finding the replacement to the present leader are: who are the influential elements in determining the leader? What elements elected the present one and who are playing the same role at present?
When Khomeini died, the Council of Experts [Majles Khobreghan] that had 86 members was active and it voted in favor of Ali Khamenei. However this was only in the surface. The group that was actually pulling the strings in the country was: Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, Ali Khamenei and Seyyed Ahmad Khomeini, that had the military and intelligence and the Majles and the administration under their control. Rafsanjani invoked a memory of the late leader in which (as Rafsanjani claimed) Khomeini had opted for Ali Khamenei as his replacement(3). Such a memory could remain just a memory if the influential group did not intend to make Ali Khamenei the replacement of Khomeini.
So, there was a legal procedure but it was used by the real power brokers to elect the leader. Now, at the time of the present leader, we should see who are the elements that hold the power and if necessary they can select the leader and impose him to the legal apparatus (Assembly of Experts] . Who is now holding the military, intelligence and security forces in the present day Iran? It seems that the most important power centers in the present circumstances in Iran are: the Supreme Leader (Ali Khamenei), his Office and close companions (Bayat-e Rahbari), the IRGC, and Security and intelligence forces.
The present Assembly of Experts is even more obedient than the one existed at the time of Khomeini’s death. The present collection of its members are handpicked and screened by the Guardian Council and through the process of “Nezarate Estesvabi” [interventionist supervision]. They are all special supporters of Ali Khamenei. Very few persons among them have the potential to rebel. It takes only one telephone from the security apparatus to almost all of them to make their minds.
Although at the moment Rafsanjani is at the head of the Assembly of Experts but he is not running the show. In fact, Ayatollah Mohammad Yazdi , the deputy of the Assembly, has acted against Rafsanjani in many occasions. The Assembly wrote a letter to the leader during the high days of the Green Movement in 2010 and supported him and in fact rejected Rafsanjani’s overtures. Under these conditions, Rafsanjani is out completely.
Hashemi Sharouidi is not a great player and he has not a big role in running the country and he was not instrumental in suppressing the opponents during the 2010 developments. He has lived in Iraq for a long time and he hardly speaks Persian. Sadegh Larijani is yet to prove himself. He is not a complicated Mullah and his performance in the government has not attracted the satisfaction of power centers in Iran.
Hassan Khomeini, due to his reputation of opting for the Iranian reformists, does not have any chance under present conditions. The only situation that can offer chances to him in Iran is a major shift in the political system of Iran (one that allows the reformists to have a role in the government). At present the existing trend is towards elimination of the reformists, not strengthening them.
That lives us with Mesbah Yazdi and Mojtaba, the son of the present leader and it seems Mojataba is the in the process of getting more importance. Gholam-ali Haddad Adel, a former speaker of parliament and father in law of Mojtaba Khamenei, has said that Mojtaba has four main characteristics: praying, innocence, obedience to God and teaching the advanced level in the seminaries. (3). this was in fact, a support for his leadership. For the same reason, following the fraudulent June 2009 elections in Iran and second term of Ahmadinejad’s presidency, people shouted slogans against Mojataba Khamenei in the streets.
Noting the role of Hashemi Rafsanjani in the selection of Ali Khamenei as the leader, it is important to find a person to play the same role for the replacement of Ali Khamenei and Hadad Adel may well be a good candidate for this role. Mojtaba is a student of Ayatollah Mohammad Taghi Mesbah Yazdi , Hashemi Shahroudi and Mohammad Bagher Kharrazi. Therefore he is among the persons who believe:
It seems Mojtaba is the only person among the present possible candidates that can continue the political line of the present leader and will not put the country in the process of the changing the mechanisms that exist in Iran especially for the military (IRGC) and security (police and intelligence) apparatus. In Iran no one can take the place of the leader without very strong relations with the military-security forces. The IRGC and the parallel revolutionary security organizations have a massive presence in all fields of life in the Islamic Republic of Iran and no one can be the leader without connections to those sources. Mojtaba, in addition to be the son of the leader and having his support, has strong relations with these institutions through persons like Hussein Taeb (deputy of the IRGC in Intelligence and close friend of Mojtaba), Mohammad Mohammadi Gholpayeghani (the Chief of Staff of Ali Khamenei and father in law of Khamenei’s eldest daughter), Asghar Hejazi (the security chief of Leadership office).
... Payvand News - 03/04/11 ... --