January 27, 2014

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The post-Khamenei era (RAMIN PARHAM, SAEED GHASSEMINEJAD, 01/26/2014, Jerusalem Post)

How will the IRGC move in the post-Khamenei era? The options are threefold: First, that IRGC commanders stay neutral, not intervening in the process of selecting a new supreme leader, while safeguarding the stability of the regime in the transitional period. However, well aware of the possibility of being ousted by the new leadership and its entourage, high-ranking IRGC commanders, all indebted to Khamenei for their current positions, risk more than just their wealth and power.

The post-Khamenei era could well become for them a matter of life or death. Thus IRGC commanders have both the ability and the incentive to weigh in, with all their means, in the selection process of the new leader.

The second scenario is that IRGC commanders do intervene, installing their own pick for the supreme spot.

At the moment, the best option for them is Mojtaba Khamenei, son of the current leader. Symbolic as it might be, the ambitious heir has already started teaching his own seminars, known as "kharej," interpreted as a sign of established religious credentials, a scholarly credit his own father did not have prior to his accession to leadership. However, it is no secret that Mojtaba's most valuable credentials are his close ties with the IRGC and its related security apparatus.

Following in his father's footsteps, Mojtaba Khamenei is personally involved in military programs and intelligence affairs. Also well known are the strong bonds between Mojtaba and Qasem Soleimani - the commander of the IRGC's Qods Force and the most powerful operative in the Middle East according to Western sources.

The final scenario is that IRGC commanders stage a coup against the clerical establishment. After over 30 years of disastrous management of the country in all aspects, IRGC commanders are well aware of the profound unpopularity of the clerical establishment. It would thus not be unlikely for the IRGC to plan to present itself as the savior of both the country and the people from the catastrophic reign of corrupt and unpopular mullahs. This in turn may well guarantee the IRGC's own power, at least in the short run. Such an ambitious move would, of course, face many obstacles, primarily within the IRGC itself, making it a possible yet perilous move.
Posted by at January 27, 2014 3:34 PM
  
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