World View: Growing Power Struggle in Iran May Make Rafsanjani the Supreme Leader

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

  • Power struggle in Iran would follow death of Supreme Leader
  • Iran's negotiations with America represent a Rafsanjani victory over Khamenei
  • 'Death to America!' to be featured on Iran's American embassy anniversary
  • Saudi Arabia turns against U.S. over Russia / Iran negotiations

Power struggle in Iran would follow death of Supreme Leader

Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani
Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani

Iran's Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Seyed Ali Khamenei, has not been seen in public since October 5, and there are reports that his health is failing and that a power struggle is brewing. 

If there is change, a likely successor as the new Supreme Leader would be Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani. Like Khamenei, Rafsanjani was one of the survivors of the 1979 Great Islamic Revolution. When the original Supreme Leader (Ayatollah Rouhollah Khomeini) died in 1989, Khamenei beat out Rafsanjani for the role of new Supreme Leader. 

The two have been vigorous rivals since then, and in 2009, Rafsanjani was a leader of the opposition to the election of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. Rafsanjani is still a hardcore believer in the Islamic state, but he's considered a reformist leader and is a representative of the views of the younger generations that grew up after the Islamic Revolution and have no personal memory of it.

Iran is in a generational Awakening era, meaning that a generation has passed since the end of the last generational crisis war. The result is a "generation gap" between the survivors of the last crisis war and the younger generations growing up after the war. In America's Awakening era of the 1960s, the WWII survivors were concerned about stopping Communism in Vietnam, while the younger generation (the Boomers) were opposed to the Vietnam war and supported political and gender equality and compromise with the Soviet Union. 

Today, Iran is following a similar path. I've written many articles in the last few years about young women demanding to be allowed to dress without headscarves (just as young women in the 1960s wore miniskirts and hot pants). And there have been large anti-government student demonstrations for years, peaking in the 2009 election. 

Every Awakening era reaches a climax that ends in one of only two ways: The younger generation "wins," as happened in America when President Nixon resigned in 1974, or the older generation "wins," as happened in China in 1969 with the Tiananmen Square massacre. 

Despite the 2009 crackdown against the student protesters, all signs point to an Awakening era victory by the younger generation. If Rafsanjani replaces Khamenei as the Supreme Leader, that will signal the beginning of the Awakening era climax. YNet

Iran's negotiations with America represent a Rafsanjani victory over Khamenei

During the past few months, I've written about a possibly significant change in the rhetoric of Iran's Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Seyed Ali Khamenei. In particular, he's been using a phrase with enormous historic significance, "heroic flexibility," to justify a rapprochement with America. I've written that this change was forced on him by the rise of the younger post-Revolution generations in Iran's generational Awakening era. A series of analyses by the Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI) shows that the mechanism by which this occurred was through a series of political battles between Khamenei and Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani. 

Rafsanjani still holds hardcore beliefs in the Islamic state, but he has sided with the younger generation in supporting engagement with the U.S. in the spirit of "Islamic Realism" -- updating and adapting the values of the Islamic Revolution to the spirit of the times to conduct a dialogue with the U.S., instead of leading Iran down an extremist path for the sake of an ossified "false idealism." Rafsanjani has successfully created a schism in Khamenei's camp by forcing him to agree to direct talks with the U.S. and to become more flexible in other ideological issues. MEMRI and MEMRI

'Death to America!' to be featured on Iran's American embassy anniversary

The bitter political struggle between the camps of Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Seyed Ali Khamenei and Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani will be particularly apparent on Monday, November 4, which is the 34th anniversary of the takeover of the the American embassy in Tehran, leading to Iran's Great Islamic Revolution. The phrase "Death to America!" is a cornerstone of the Great Islamic Revolution, and every patriotic Iranian must be willing to chant this phrase on almost any occasion ("I do, and Death to America"). Rafsanjani has called for the elimination of this chant, because it accomplishes nothing and it prevents engagement with the U.S. However, the Khamenei camp says that the chant encourages nationalism, and opposing the chant is disrespectful to Iran and Islam: 

It is the enemies’ plan to isolate and disrespect the nation. It is the enemies’ plot that some have dreamed that the Imam was against Death to America. Are we in a leaderless state where some can dream and say that the Imam was against Death to America. The Supreme Leader does not allow these memories. 

Death to America is rooted in the Quran. This slogan means hatred of Yazid [the caliph who killed Imam Hossein during the transformational Battle of Karbala in 680].

During Monday's celebrations of the takeover of the American embassy, the pro-Khamenei camp has promised that "Death to America!" will be chanted with special gusto. MEMRI and AEI Iran Tracker

Saudi Arabia turns against U.S. over Russia / Iran negotiations

This Saudi cartoon portrays Russia, U.S., Iran and Syria as pals, above the corpses of Syrian victims (Al-Watan, Saudi Arabia / Memri)
This Saudi cartoon portrays Russia, U.S., Iran and Syria as pals, above the corpses of Syrian victims (Al-Watan, Saudi Arabia / Memri)

Starting with its policy of turning against Egypt's Hosni Mubarak when the Egyptian Revolution began in 2011, the Obama administration appears to be determined to do everything possible to alienate its one-time ally, Saudi Arabia. The Saudis were shocked as Syria's president Bashar al-Assad massacres hundreds of thousands of innocent Arab civilians and drives millions of them from their homes to neighboring countries. They were then deeply insulted and offended that the Obama administration is negotiating deals with Iran, Saudi Arabia's bitter enemy, and with Russia; deals that will leave al-Assad in power and essentially reward him for his genocidal massacre. 

The Saudis are very concerned about a deal between the U.S. and Iran that permits Iran to develop nuclear weapons. They're not concerned about Iran's use of them on Israel; they're concerned that they'll be used on Saudi Arabia, and those concerns are justified. The Saudis are looking for ways to derail negotiations between the U.S. and Iran. Debka, which sometimes gets things wrongs, quotes its intelligence sources as saying that the recent terrorist attack on Iran's Revolutionary Guards by Jaish al-Adl (the Army of Justice) that we reported a few days ago were actually arranged by the Saudis, working hand in glove with the government of Pakistan. If this is true, then we can expect retaliation from Iran, possibly creating a "war of terror" between the two countries. 

Long-time readers are aware that for years I've been saying that the approaching Clash of Civilizations world war would pit China, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, and others versus the U.S., India, Russia, and Iran. In recent months, Mideast geopolitics have been realigning to match this prediction. MEMRI and Debka

KEYS: Generational Dynamics, Ayatollah Seyed Ali Khamenei, Iran, Ayatollah Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, Saudi Arabia, Jaish al-Adl, the Army of Justice, Pakistan, Syria, Bashar al-Assad 

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