Rafsanjani Seeking to End Role of “Supreme Leader”?
TEHRAN, Iran – A backstage struggle among Iran's ruling clerics burst into the open Sunday when the government said it had arrested the daughter and other relatives of an ayatollah who is one of the country's most powerful men.
Folks, this is huge. Huge. A report from Saudi Arabia's al-Arabiya, Iranian clerics seek supreme leader alternative, indicates that Rafsanjani is seeking to eliminate the Supreme Leader. Not just the man, but the position and role presiding over Iranian politics and the Iranian society.Read the rest.Religious leaders are considering an alternative to the supreme leader structure after at least 13 people were killed in the latest unrest to shake Tehran and family members of Ayatollah Rafsanjani were arrested amid calls by former President Mohammad Khatami for the release of all protesters. Iran's religious clerks in Qom and members of the Assembly of Experts, headed by former President Mahmoud Ahmedinejad, are mulling the formation of an alternative collective leadership to replace that of the supreme leader, sources in Qom told Al Arabiya on condition of anonymity.Skipping down a bit, here's what they seem to have in mind, obviously a bit sketchy at this point.Members of the assembly are reportedly considering forming a collective ruling body and scrapping the model of Ayatollah Khomeini as a way out of the civil crisis that has engulfed Tehran in a series of protests, The discussions have taken place in a series of secret meetings convened in the holy city of Qom and included Jawad al-Shahristani, the supreme representative of Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, who is the foremost Shiite leader in Iraq. An option being considered is the resignation of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad as Iran's president following condemnation by the United States and other European nations for violence and human rights violations against unarmed protestors.This is a huge development. One of the biggest questions I and others have had since the Iranian protests/revolt/revolution began was whether Mousavi would be any different in tangible effect (Hizballah & Hamas support, etc.) than Ahmadinejad and whether Rafsanjani was seeking to sack 'Supreme' Leader Khamenei simply to acquire the powerful position for himself. That question perhaps may have been answered today. My ears first perked up when word made it through the grapevines over the weekend that Rafsanjani had been meeting with other Ayatollahs and clerics in Qom, and had among them a representative of Iraq's Ayatollah Ali Sistani. Why? Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani in 2007 made two very critical statements: that "I am a servant of all Iraqis, there is no difference between a Sunni, a Shiite or a Kurd or a Christian," and that Islam can exist within a democracy without theological conflict. You will never hear such words slip past the lips of Iran's Ayatollah Khamenei. Ever. Sistani's presence at the Rafsanjani talks in Qom, Iran, through a representative brings therefore added significance. And the al-Arabiya report above seems to suggest that Rafsanjani is not seeking Sistani's support for superficial reasons.