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Monday, 24 October 2016

Iran: Inside the battle to succeed supreme leader Khamenei

Iran: Inside the battle to succeed supreme leader Khamenei:

"The final judgment may rest with God. But there is a lot of manoeuvring in Tehran to influence the decision on who will be Iran’s next supreme leader. There is no public succession plan for the most powerful position in the Islamic republic, which has been entrusted since 1989 to Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. Discussion of the subject is all but forbidden while the 77-year-old remains active, delivering speeches and attending military parades.

Nevertheless Iran’s landmark deal with the US and other major powers to scrap its nuclear programme — triggering a lifting of nuclear-related sanctions imposed on the country since 2011— is being interpreted by many in terms of what it may mean for a post-Khamenei Iran and who might run the country.

Reformists want to build on the progress they believe has been made by the centrist Hassan Rouhani, president since 2013, and are pushing for a moderate candidate. Hardliners are determined to do all in their power to stop them. A large number of other interests, from the Revolutionary Guards to the clerics in the holy cities of Qom and Mashhad, will have a say. Some are even privately suggesting that the position, introduced after the 1979 Islamic revolution to have a senior cleric in charge of the country, may no longer be necessary — raising questions over the future of the theocratic state.

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