Who is the next Khamenei?


[A report by VOA Persian about the successor to Khamenei. Issues and forces that will influence choosing Iran’s next leader are discussed.]


TV anchor says: Ahmad Khatami, member of Assembly of Experts, has announced that this institute is preparing a list of people who can be the successor to Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, leader of the Islamic Republic of Iran. Recently, Ayatollah Janati has also quoted the leader of Islamic Republic as saying that Assembly of Experts must remain revolutionary, must think revolutionary, and act revolutionary. How many assemblies of Experts will act independently in electing the future leader [of Iran], and what forces will seek to influence this decision? In this regard, Gita Aryan has asked the opinions of several experts.

Reporter puts it: Once Iran was considered an important ally of America, to the extent that in the 1970s, Jimmy Carter, the then U.S. president, called it the “island of stability” in the chaotic corner of the world. But this island of stability, with its unique army in the region, shook, and [Shah] was replaced by his opponents. The writings in past 40 years about the revolution and the reign of Mohammad Reza Pahlavi could not satisfy the curiosity of Andrew Scott Cooper. The Fall of Heaven is the outcome of his trip to Iran, extensive research in Qom among the clerics, and interviewing those involved in the revolution. He wanted to know that during the revolution, what was happening in Shah’s palace, and in Shah’s and his people’s mind. Cooper thinks that Shah and William Sullivan, the then U.S. Ambassador to Iran, both very much undermined Ruhollah Khomeini. In not-too-distant future, a successor to Ayatollah Ali Khamenei will be chosen.

Andrew Cooper states: No one wants to see the U.S. repeat its past mistake. But we should keep the channels of interaction open. We should see who the next person is. If he is from among the revolutionaries, he must have learned the lesson from Shah about what not to do when in power. We must have in mind that we are dealing with experienced people.

A reporter poses another question: Now the question is to what extent Qom has a role in choosing the next leader.

Andrew Cooper explains: I don’t think that all religious authorities are of the same opinion about the regime’s performance. I think that in future, a religious authority with characteristics of Imam Musa Sadr will rise to question the regime’s performance.

The reporter says: To Behnam Taleblu, senior expert in think-tank of Defense of Democracies, not only Qom doesn’t have any power any longer, but [Iran’s] Bazar is also replaced with another force.

Behnam Taleblu talks about the new alliance in Iranian politics: There is a new alliance at work, and it is now between the clergies and IRGC that the future of the country will be determined and successor to Ayatollah Khamenei will be chosen. It is highly unlikely for Bazar to have a place in such affairs.

The reporter says: After 38 years, the slogan “Death to America” still continues. But how much longer?

Behnam Taleblu asserts: The anti-American feelings have always existed among the revolutionaries who gained the power, and unofficially it has become normal. And being anti-American is one of the pillars of Islamic Revolution. Those who chanted the slogan of “Death to America” back then – whether they really believed in it or they had to accept it – and those who are a part of the regime still believe that the revolution is still going on.

The reporter states: Today, the West’s hope is in the reformists. The first one was Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani during past decades. But Mr. Taleblu sees him as the worst member of the Islamic Republic.

Behnam Taleblu talks about Rafsanjani: In my opinion, those who represent reformism in Iran deserve someone better than Rafsanjani. Europe economically compromised with him. But at the same time, many figures like Farokhzad, Shahpoor Bakhtiar, Ghasemloo, Sharafkandi, and tens of other people were assassinated in Europe, and there were two attacks in Argentina, which were attributed to Rafsanjani’s office. I don’t think that the west has learned any lessons from Rafsanjani’s era.

Reporter concludes: Both of these experts point to another force in Iran: the youth population. The youths have no experience or memory of 1979 revolution and have not accepted its values.

Gita Arayan, VOA Persian