Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Does Rafsanjani Have the Votes?

Linked from Huffington Post, there's info that Rafsanjani may be close to pulling together enough Assembly of Experts votes to pressure or remove Khamenei. It's on EurasiaNet, here's a quote:

Now that Ayatollah Khamenei has become inexorably connected to Ahmadinejad’s power grab, many clerics are coming around to the idea that the current system needs to be changed. Among those who are now believed to be arrayed against Ayatollah Khamenei is Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, the top Shi’a cleric in neighboring Iraq. Rafsanjani is known to have met with Grand Ayatollah al-Sistani’s representative in Iran, Javad Shahrestani.

A reformist website, Rooyeh, reported that Rafsanjani already had the support of nearly a majority of the Assembly of Experts, a body that constitutionally has the power to remove Ayatollah Khamenei. The report also indicated that Rafsanjani’s lobbying efforts were continuing to bring more clerics over to his side. Rafsanjani’s aim, the website added, is the establishment of a leadership council, comprising of three or more top religious leaders, to replace the institution of supreme leader. Shortly after it posted the report on Rafsanjani’s efforts to establish a new collective leadership, government officials pulled the plug on Rooyeh.

Bolding is mine. Another source linked by the Post said that he's already pulled together 40 AoE clerics to have the thing annulled.

And here's another shocker:

It says Khamenai has lung cancer and wanted to have his son as Supreme Leader (the position that Rafsanjani wants), and that the attempt to alter the election results was done in an attempt by Khamenei to eventually allow his son Mojtaba to replace him. It says that at the core the argument is not just about Mousavi but the overall system of government, as it's becoming a like Monarchy rather than a republic. So far, it says, most of the clerics have not accepted Ahmadinejad presidency, and quotes Ayatollah Javadi Amoly saying of the attack on Tehran University students, 'no Muslim will destroy another's property, they must be foreigners.'
How, ah, North Korean of him.

The big question up until now has been what's going on in Qom. Although these reports might be right, might be wrong, I think it's probably safe to say that Rafsanjani is getting some serious traction, especially on this "Council" concept. I can see the clerics being uncomfortable with another Supreme Leader but being fine with a Supreme Council, and I think the rest of Iran would probably prefer that state of affairs, too. (Especially with the elected Assembly having proven that they serve as the ultimate check on the Supreme Leaders' authority.)

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