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The Firebrand Rafsanjani | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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Ali Akbar Rafsanjani, the head of the Expediency Discernment Council and the Assembly of Experts, has now become a firebrand in the eyes of the Iranian Supreme Leader; it is difficult for the flame of the Islamic Republic of Iran to continue to flare without this firebrand and whoever tries to grab it will be burnt.

Therefore, the Supreme Leader of Iran, Ali Khamenei, must cooperate with Rafsanjani as he is the one in control of the fire. Following the announcement that Rafsanjani’s children were barred from traveling [outside of Iran], the Iranian news agency later denied the news. It did not take long before Khamenei reconciled with him through his Friday sermon in which he said that Rafsanjani is “the Sayyed of Sayyeds.” But on Sunday the Iranian authorities detained Rafsanjani’s daughter, Faezah, and four of her relatives after they took part in demonstrations in support of Mousavi. Tehran justified the arrest saying that it was “to protect them”. They were soon released.

Such contradictory comments and actions demonstrate that there is confusion in making the right decisions in dealing with Rafsanjani. This is evidence of the man’s power and the danger of declaring war against him even if this is carried out by the Supreme Leader. It seems that Rafsanjani’s power is coming to light, as the information discovered by our colleague Manal Lutfi on Sunday states that he is leading action in Qom and this indicates that the battle for power has begun – the results of which are beginning to loom on the horizon. The fact that Rafsanjani has gone to Qom is proof that he wants to engage in a decisive battle against the concept of Wilayat al Faqih and this is something that only he can do along with the scholars of Qom whose edicts have a great impact upon their followers in Iran.

It is clear that Rafsanjani’s public silence – the danger of which I referred to in a previous article – aims to secure a larger number of points against the action carried out by the Guardian Jurist in dealing with the current crisis and the crises before it that affected the fate of the Islamic Revolution and its everyday realities.

As we mentioned before, the Supreme Leader’s support of Ahmadinejad was a fatal error as the Supreme Leader has now become a part of the battle between Ahmadinejad and the demonstrators, or protestors, rather than an arbitrator, as his words have been ignored with the Iranians taking to the street even after his most recent speech, let alone the lives that have been lost. All of this is working in Rafsanjani’s interest to convince the scholars of Qom to take a decisive stand regarding the concept of Wilayat al Faqih, thus benefiting from what is happening on the streets of Tehran, what the Iranians are being subjected to, the way the crisis has been mishandled, and the reality that is making all these people stand against another four years of Ahmadinejad.

According to sources referred to in an Asharq Al-Awsat report that was published Monday, Rafsanjani has many ideas including “forming a collective leadership council, or continuing to pressure the Supreme Leader until he agrees to take the elections to a second round.” This means that Rafsanjani has shifted the battle for power to an important stage.

These possibilities mean that the concept of Wilayat al Faqih is facing a real challenge, especially as the Supreme Leader’s sanctity has been tainted with the Iranians taking to the streets after his Friday sermon, and continuing to shout “death to the dictator” on the rooftops of their homes at night.

Therefore we must watch carefully to see what Rafsanjani will do next.