March 30, 2016


Who will be the next chair of Iran's Assembly of Experts?  (Rohollah Faghihi, March 30, 2016, Al Monitor)

Many assume that Rafsanjani, who headed the Assembly of Experts in the past, will be a candidate, but according to a well-placed Iranian source who spoke to Al-Monitor on condition of anonymity, the ayatollah will not be trying his luck unless "he senses that danger is approaching."

Indeed, a few days after the February polling, Yaser Hashemi, Rafsanjani's youngest son, said, "If he [Rafsanjani] determines that another person has the capacity to be chairman, it is highly unlikely that he will run." In fact, according to Al-Monitor's source, Rafsanjani and the moderates have asked Ayatollah Ebrahim Amini to step forward and seek the assembly's chairmanship.

Amini, 91, is a former Qom Friday prayer leader and is highly respected among all factions. That he appeared on both the Principlists' and Rafsanjani's ticket for the February elections serves as an indicator of his stature. Amini has moderate views and is close to Rafsanjani. Indeed, after the 2013 presidential elections, Rafsanjani offered him the leadership of the Expediency Council's Center for Strategic Research, which Hassan Rouhani headed until assuming the presidency that year.

Of note, Amini has been critical of the Principlist and former President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, publicly lamenting his actions on several occasions. In one instance, Amini, indirectly referring to what he characterized as Ahmadinejad's dishonesty with Iranians, remarked, "Why do you say there is no problem in the country? Lying leads people not to have trust in government officials."

Moreover, Amini is a supporter of Seyyed Hassan Khomeini, grandson of the Islamic Republic's founder, Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini. "I urged Seyyed Hassan Khomeini to run for the [Assembly of Experts] elections, and I think the assembly will be more effective with his presence," Amini revealed.

Darush Ghanbari, a political analyst and former member of parliament, told Al-Monitor, "Ayatollah Rafsanjani deserves to be the chairman, because he obtained the most votes in the elections. Nonetheless, if Ayatollah Rafsanjani backs Ayatollah Amini, which is possible, his chances will be great. Plus, Ayatollah Amini is well respected among all of the clerics in the assembly."

Posted by at March 30, 2016 5:03 PM