Media speculations vs. Iran’s next supreme leader

Politics Materials 14 October 2016 11:16 (UTC +04:00)

Baku, Azerbaijan, Oct. 13

By Farhad Daneshvar – Trend:

Addressing concerns about appointing a possible successor for Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has long been a challenge for those interested about developments in the Islamic Republic.

From time to time, political analysts in Iran and abroad give rise to speculations about the successor of the supreme leader on various occasions.

Appointing the successor of the supreme leader became a matter of speculation since Ayatollah Ali Khamenei underwent a successful prostate surgery in September 2014.

Although it was announced that there was no concern about his health, discussions about the next supreme leader remained as a main topic of conversation since then.

In a very recent move, a group of Persian media outlets based outside Iran, came up with a new candidate for the role of supreme leader, Ebrahim Raisi.

Ebrahim Rais-Sadat, commonly known as Ebrahim Raisi, is an Iranian cleric and the current chief custodian of the Astan Quds Razavi, a charitable organization holding trusteeship of the eighth Shia Imam’s shrine.

Raisi in the meantime, serves as the prosecutor of the Special Court of the Clergy and is a member of the Assembly of Experts, a powerful clerical body that oversees the work of supreme leader and appoints his successor.

Media speculations about Ebrahim Raisi stirred up since a group of Iranian media over the past several weeks described him as an "Ayatollah" rather than "Hojatoleslam", a title more fitting for Raisi, according to local religious practices.

The term Ayatollah in Shia religious seminaries is mostly described as a high-ranking cleric who is expert in Islamic studies while Hojatoleslam is the next lower rank.

According to the Iranian constitution the country’s supreme leader should be a deeply knowledgeable and experienced cleric.

It comes as no surprise that media and political observers show such a keen interest in identifying candidates for the role of supreme leader as he will be the Islamic Republic’s highest authority outranking all politicians, including the president.

A group of members of the Assembly of Experts is charged with putting potential candidates for supreme leader on a list which is not made public.

The speculations, so far, have suggested that the list would contain a group of key figures including former President Ayatollah Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, former heads of the judiciary, Ayatollah Mahmoud Hashemi Shahroudi and Mohammad Yazdi, as well as current judiciary chief Sadeq Larijani.

Mojtaba Khamenei, the son of the current supreme leader is also a possible candidate.

And the most recent one is Ebrahim Raisi. It appears that the endless speculations will continue to dominate headlines from time to time as no one knows when the country will need a new supreme leader and who he will be.

The 77-year-old Ayatollah Khamenei who has ruled Iran since 1989 succeeded the founder of the Islamic Republic of Iran, Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini.