Iran’s Rafsanjani – The Grey Eminence
In Iranian politics, few loom larger that Hashemi Rafsanjani. Yet for whom does he work—really?
As chairman of the Assembly of Experts, he oversees the selection, monitoring and dismissal of Iran’s Supreme Leader. As Chair of the Expediency Council, he settles legislative conflicts. As President of Iran from 1989-1997, he created a power base dating back to his study of theology with Ayatollah Khomeini. But that was then; what about now?
To grasp his role in this “election” requires a reflection on whose interests are best served by crises in the region. Serial crises are essential to sustain the plausibility of the much-touted Clash of Civilizations as a means to justify a “global war on terrorism.” When Mahmoud Ahmadenijad won out over Rafsanjani in a 2005 bid for the presidency, the result was a spokesperson with little political power but a high-profile platform.
In today’s media-saturated politics, candidates are akin to brands. Soon after their release in the market, each is identified with a message. Ahmadenijad was quickly branded the world’s most famous anti-Semite and Holocaust denier. As the academics say: Quo bono—who benefits? Which nation gained most from that branding? Iran? Or Israel?