Iran’s 42-year old Islamic Republic is currently going through a serious test of its existentialism. Transition is in the offing as the citizens of Iran discuss what might take place after the passing away of the country’s 82-year old Supreme Leader Ali Khameini. He has been the dictator of the country for the past three decades and more.
The relevance of the hardline Judiciary Chief of Iran, Ebrahim Raisi’s election to be the president of the country is in the hands of the Khameini regime to preserve the revolutionary front in the country and the advantage he stands to gain should a power vacuum suddenly take place in the event of Khameini’s death. After all, Khameini was the President of Iran when the country was being led by Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini and quickly moved in to replace him when he passed on.
The coming succession on the horizon may not take place on smooth levels due to the fact that Khameini doesn’t possess the same kind of charisma that Khomeini possessed and enjoyed during his lifetime. In a short time, before he died in 1989, Khomeini made it known that Khameini should replace him when he died. Even the people among the top class who did not like Khomeini appreciated him for his revolutionary relevance and the religious power he held. They didn’t even mind Khameini: Iran was already ridden with lots of factions by then but most senior officials in the country viewed Khameini as a colorless and weak person but still a good compromise.
Khameini however seemed to have grand ambitions. In 1994, he made efforts to assert the kind of religious credentials his predecessor had but ultimately faced widespread ridicule and rejection. His subsequent rule then hinged more on the force now than his intellectual prowess. This simply means that, after his demise, the little influence he has in the country will just vanish since nobody needs to fear him.
Raisi currently may seem to be the likely successor but a lot could go wrong. The Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) could simply spoil plans. Other candidates in mind such as Mojtaba Khameini could cause problems by also trying to be the successor. Compromises might need the council of leadership instead of a single person which will then lead to the creation of a new type of factionalism at the apex of the country’s politics. Iranians might then use this power struggle as a chance to call for an abolishment of the Islamic Republic.