March 1, 2007


An ill wind in Iran (Pepe Escobar , 3/02/07, Asia Times)

The Western consultant's top sources also told him the Supreme Leader "will not be replaced, but a triumvirate/council will replace him, consisting of Khatami, Rafsanjani and Kharroubi". Former president Mohammad Khatami is a reformist. Mehdi Kharroubi - the Majlis (parliament) Speaker - is a moderate. And former president Hashemi Rafsanjani, a Machiavellian pragmatist, is in fact the next notable in the line of succession, according to the current rules (he would be chosen by the Council of Experts, of which he is the top member).

Were such a triumvirate to become a reality, it would represent a constitutional nightmare. According to the Iranian political analyst, "It would require an amendment to the constitution. The talk of a council replacing the leader is not new but it is chock full of legal and religious issues."

The whole arrangement, nonetheless, is feasible. Khamenei rose to power basically because of an unconstitutional white coup after ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini's death in 1989. The new "coup" would in fact extinguish fears among the Iranian elite that wily Rafsanjani - even though he is correctly positioned from a legal point of view - could be allowed the same overarching position as Khomeini, the father of the Islamic Revolution in 1979. Rafsanjani is overwhelmingly regarded by the clerical establishment as not exactly a paragon of virtue.

The key merit of the triumvirate solution would be the isolation of Ahmadinejad. Khatami coined the "dialogue of civilizations" and Rafsanjani is in favor of normalization of relations with the United States. In the Western consultant's assessment, "only a wave of populism caused by a US attack can rescue Ahmadinejad from being chucked out pretty soon".

The Western consultant corroborates insistent speculation in sectors of the Iranian press, and already reported by Asia Times Online (see Ahmadinejad be damned, January 19), according to which Ahmadinejad has fallen from favor among the ruling elites.

While it's significant that the likely successors are not hard-liners, the triumvirate model hasn't worked out too well in other Republics, has it?

Posted by Orrin Judd at March 1, 2007 7:44 AM

The next Supremo will be whoever strikes fastest and hardest. That's the way gangsterism (and the jailhouse) works. The best hope for the nation as a whole is for an Iranian Franco or Pinochet to be that man.

Posted by: jim hamlen at March 1, 2007 10:38 AM

Hmm, Rafsanjani is not a hard liner? Isn't he the one who came here to Cambridge and proudly announced that his country executes homosexuals?

Posted by: D Hart at March 1, 2007 1:26 PM

And? What does not tolerating deviance have to do with it?

Posted by: oj at March 1, 2007 1:31 PM