Rafsanjani and Iranian politicsThomas Erdbrink, the New York Times reporter in Iran offered this analysis of the political meaning to the death of Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani.
Look for changes in politics leading up to the next presidential election and the possible selection of a new supreme leader.
Death of Iran’s Rafsanjani Removes Influential Voice Against Hard-Liners
With the death of Ayatollah Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani… Iran’s political factions knew immediately that any space by reformers to maneuver had just significantly decreased.
Change had come, and it did not favor those seeking to turn Iran into a less revolutionary country with more tolerance and outreach to the West — especially the United States.
Mr. Rafsanjani, a former president who helped found the Islamic republic, had been the one man too large to be sidelined by conservative hard-liners. Now he was suddenly gone… and with no one influential enough to fill his shoes…
Mr. Rafsanjani said things others would not dare to say, all agreed, and his voice had at least created some tolerance for debates…
“It is a very powerful reminder that Iran is at the beginning of a major leadership transition that will play a very psychological role in Iran’s politics,” said Vali R. Nasr, a Middle East scholar who is dean of the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies…
Two of Mr. Rafsanjani’s most important protégés — Hassan Rouhani, the current president, and Mohammad Khatami, a former president — both owe their political careers to him. But Mr. Rouhani, up for re-election this year, is fighting for his political life. Mr. Khatami, who has been sidelined by conservative adversaries for years, is now even weaker…
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