Iran’s likely next supreme leader a hardline ideologue


The candidate Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and the Revolutionary Guards are grooming to ascend to the post of supreme leader is one of the most reactionary members of Iran’s ruling elite, notes Ray Takeyh, a senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations. Ibrahim Raisi [left] has spent his entire career in the Islamic Republic’s enforcement arm, serving as prosecutor general, head of the General Inspection Office and lead prosecutor of the Special Court of the Clergy, which is responsible for disciplining mullahs who stray from the official line, he writes for The Washington Post:

In one of his most notorious acts, he served as a member of the “Death Commission”* that, in the summer of 1988, oversaw the massacre of thousands of political prisoners on trumped-up charges….Iran’s supreme leader recently appointed Raisi to head one of Iran’s largest charitable foundations, Astan Quds Razavi. The foundation manages the Imam Reza Shrine in Mashhad, which is visited by millions of pilgrims each year, operates many other enterprises and has vast land holdings. Though difficult to estimate with precision, the endowment’s value is reported to be upward of $15 billion.

This appointment not only enhances Raisi’s national profile but also puts at his disposal enormous funds that he can use to nurture his own network of supporters and constituents. Khamenei, in essence, has opened the gates of the Islamic Republic’s murky financial universe to Raisi, adds Takeyh, the co-author of “The Pragmatic Superpower: Winning the Cold War in the Middle East.”

For Khamenei and his praetorian guards, the most important question is not just the survival of the regime but also its revolutionary values. They are determined that Iran will not become another China, which they see as having relinquished its ideological inheritance for the sake of commerce. The 2009 uprising may be a faded memory in Washington, but it was a watershed event for the guardians of the theocracy. Under Khamenei’s watchful eye, Iran is being transformed into a police state. The logical extension of these developments is a supreme leader who comes from the heart of Iran’s repressive organs. RTWT

*For further details, see the work of the Boroumand Foundation, a grantee of the National Endowment for Democracy.

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