Will Iran’s Larijani brothers challenge Ahmadinejad?

Will Iran’s Larijani brothers challenge Ahmadinejad?

The brothers Larijani — often referred to as the Kennedys of Iran — are emerging as a powerful counterweight to President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad from within the conservative camp. And unlike other Ahmadinejad rivals, the Larijanis are fully endorsed by Iran’s Supreme Leader, Ayatullah Ali Khamenei.

The Aug. 15 appointment of Sadegh Larijani as head of Iran’s judiciary puts Larijanis in control of two out of the three branches of Iran’s government. Older brother Ali Larijani is speaker of parliament.

Over the past 30 years, the five sons of a senior cleric have been a major force in Iran’s power structure, either serving in or running for positions including the presidency and various diplomatic roles as well as posts in Cabinet ministries, the Council of Guardians, the legislature, the powerful National Security Council, the judiciary, Iran’s top broadcasting authority and even the Revolutionary Guards. Over the past year, they have consolidated their power. [continued…]

Militarization of the Iranian judiciary

In 2001, Sadeq Larijani was the youngest jurist ever to be appointed to the Guardian Council, the twelve-person body responsible for approving all laws passed by the Majlis and for supervising elections. In the course of his Guardian Council activities, he has tried to remain under the radar by avoiding public appearances and media interviews. He has also made every effort to keep his relationships with Khamenei, the intelligence apparatus, and the IRGC under wraps. [continued…]

Khomeini ally now leads Iran dissidents

Three decades ago, Moshen Sazegara quit his studies at the University of Illinois to join Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini’s return from exile to lead Iran’s Islamic revolution.

A close aide to Ayatollah Khomeini, Mr. Sazegara was a founder of Iran’s Revolutionary Guard, but an eventual falling-out with the clerical regime sent him back to the United States as an exile.

Today, he has become a global leader for Iranian dissidents who have risen up in opposition to President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and the clerics who have endorsed his disputed re-election. [continued…]

Clerics’ call for removal challenges Iran leader

A group of Iranian clerics has issued an anonymous letter calling Iran’s supreme leader a dictator and demanding his removal, the latest and perhaps strongest rhetorical attack on him yet in the country’s post-election turmoil.

While the impact of the clerics’ letter, posted late Saturday on opposition Web sites, may have been diluted by the withholding of their signatures, two Iranian experts vouched for its authenticity. Its publication followed other unusual verbal attacks on the leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, in recent days.

Last week a group of former lawmakers issued their own letter calling his qualifications into question. A day earlier, a member of the state body empowered to dismiss Ayatollah Khamenei called for an “emergency meeting” to address criticisms. [continued…]

Iran’s chilling show trials

Iran today is doing what all aging revolutionary regimes seem to do—transforming itself into the image of the very regime it displaced. Just as middle-aged men and women look in the mirror and are surprised to see their fathers and mothers looking back at them, revolutionaries are startled to see themselves inexorably turning into the tyrants they thought they had banished forever.

To put it another way, “Revolutions revolve—360 degrees.” This aphorism, invented years ago by Charles Issawi, the late Egyptian-born Middle East historian at Columbia, captures nicely in four words the typical lifecycle of the great revolutions.

So, even in the absence of hard reporting on the ground, we can tease out some useful insights about the situation in Iran by looking at the experiences of the French or Chinese or Russian revolutions. We should not expect a perfect match. Each of those revolutions had its own political, cultural, and temporal context which made it distinct. However, as Mark Twain observed, “The past does not repeat itself, but it rhymes.” So let’s look for rhymes. [continued…]

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