22 June 2009

Iran: Rafsanjani Set to "Outflank" Khamenei

This, if true, is huge news. According to EurasiaNet, Iran's hardliners sense "that a shoe is about to drop."

Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani -- Iran’s savviest political operator and an arch-enemy of Ayatollah Khamenei’s -- has kept out of the public spotlight since the rigged June 12 presidential election triggered the political crisis. The widespread belief is that Rafsanjani has been in the holy city of Qom, working to assemble a religious and political coalition to topple the supreme leader and President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

Apparently, the hardliners in Khamenei's camp are more worried about Rfsanjani than about the popular uprising. And so they should:

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 [. . . .]
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.

We'll know more later in the week. As it stands. Mousavi has called for a nation-wide strike on Tuesday the 23rd. More demonstrations are planned for the upcoming days, ostensibly as a display of mourning for the victims of the past week's brutalities.

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