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Monday, December 14, 2015

ANALYSIS/OPINION:

Since the signing of the nuclear deal with world powers, which will soon unleash tens of billions of frozen dollars for Iran and allow them to acquire nuclear weapons in the future, the Shia theocracy has been battling against U.S. and Western interests at every turn. The real face of the real Islamic State seems to be one of continued support for terrorism and a quest for hegemony in the Middle East. The Iranian, Russian and Syrian axis in the region is morphing into a powerful force to challenge American interests for decades to come.

Amid this replay of “The Empire Strikes Back,” a battle for leadership succession is brewing as the Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, battling prostate cancer, nears the end of his reign. The real question is whether the new Iranian leader will come from the conservative hardliners who have gained influence in recent years in Iran’s legislative bodies at Khamenei’s direction, or from a new moderate side of Iranian politics.


Former President Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani has publicly stated that the assembly of experts, a group of influential Iranian clerics, is examining the succession issue, according to the Guardian. “The assembly of experts will act when a new leader needs to be appointed. They are preparing for that now and are examining the options,” Mr. Rafsanjani, a powerful ally of moderate President Hassan Rouhani, was quoted as saying by ILNA news agency on Sunday. “They have appointed a group to list the qualified people that will be put to a vote (in the assembly) when an incident happens.”

An upcoming election for the assembly will put this issue front and center and the outcome could give visibility to Iran’s future support for terrorism and geopolitical mischief for decades. The group of 82 clerics is charged with selecting and supervising the new leader and has an approximate 10-year election cycle.


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