Monday, September 24, 2012

Rafsanjani Scions Arrested

Over the past few days, both the son and daughter of Iran's former president Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani have been arrested on political charges.  Rafsanjani is often called a centrist within Iran's political spectrum, but might better be seen as a pragmatist for both his own political career and his approach to Iran's political and economic development.  He has been a useful foil for President Ahmadinejad, who has mercilessly attacked the senior states as emblematic of a corrupt establishment, and wound up backing Mir Hussein Moussavi and ultimately the Green Movement in the 2009 presidential election.

As Tehran Bureau reports:
"Though earlier this year, President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad extended an olive branch to his predecessor, the attacks on Rafsanjani from the camp of Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei did not subside. His own reticence and his network of political connections -- the extent of which is extremely difficult to determine -- afford him direct protection. But (son and daughter) Mehdi and Faezeh, who are perceived as the more vociferous manifestations of his political persona, have for the last three years been repeatedly targeted for attacks by his opponents."
It is possible that the ongoing harassment of Rafsanjani is because he is a threat, not to hardline control of the presidency in 2013, but to Khamene'i's influence over the clerical apparatus of government.  Last year Rafsanjani was forced out as head of the Assembly of Experts, which elects the Leader.  Rumor has it that Rafsanjani wouldn't mind the top job himself should Khamene'i die while Rafsanjani is still healthy, though that is looking increasingly unlikely.  Khamene'i, however is rumored to be interested in being succeeded by his son Mojtaba.  That would make a mockery of the institution's religious justification, but it wouldn't be the first time something about the "Islamic Republic" has been thoroughly politicized.  Of course, there's also a great deal of kremlinology in all this, and it could even be as simple as elements of the regime fearing the Hashemi kids as political players in their own right.



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