The death of Rafsanjani brings to end a political career that has dominated the history of the Islamic Republic of Iran.
Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani was born on 25th August 1934 in Rafsanjan- Iran. From the time Khomeini took power in Iran in 1979, Rafsanjani held high office in his Government. He was Minister of the Interior of Iran from 6th November 1979 to 12th August 1980 when he became the Leader of the Parliament, which post he held until 1989 when he became the fourth president of Iran until 1997. In addition, he was the Chairman of the Expediency Discernment Council until his death and the Chairman of the Assembly of Experts from 2007 to 2011.
Rafsanjani was a leader and person of great influence in Iran from the beginning, including the vital years of consolidation during the war with Iraq, 1980-1988. Hence, it was only his death on 8th January 2017 aged 82 that brought his political career in the Islamic Republic of Iran to an end. Thus, the announcement of the death of the former Iranian President Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani on Sunday 8th January had a powerful impact on many political groups inside Iran, mainly the Reformists who run the Green Movement in Iran in 2009.
Rafsanjani supported the Green Movement in 2009, which support caused the official leaders of the Regime (who are close to Khamenei) to accuse Rafsanjani of having connection with the political unrest in Tehran in 2009. Therefore, Rafsanjani was given the title of leader of sedition by the Iranian leaders who belong to the Khamenei faction.
The former President of Iran, Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, has been one of the most powerful figures in Iranian politics for the past four decades. Rafsanjani supported the move made by Ruhollah Khomeini in 1979 to hijack the People’s Revolution against the Iranian Monarchy, which had resulted in the Shah leaving Iran in 1979 (Lee Sustar and Saman Sepehriwa said in their report ‘Iran: Rebellion and reaction’: http://isreview.org/issue/67/iran-rebellion-and-reaction).
In the 1980s, Rafsanjani soon became one of the key figures in the regime and served alongside Ahmad Khomeini, Beheshti, Motaheri, Taleghani and Khamenei as a key conservative politician who filled a variety of prominent roles. After the death of Khomeini in 1989, ‘’Rafsanjani became the strongest man in the Islamic Republic of Iran, so, he argued that Khamenei was the best candidate to take Khomeini place’’, Shadi Amin, the director of Justice for Iran said.
Shadi Amin also added that, Rafsanjani from his first entry into politics, was involved with the murder of dissidents who took part in the 1979 Revolution, such as the execution of considerable numbers of members of Leftists groups like Tudeh Party and other political groups, plus involvement in crimes against humanity in Ahwaz/ Mohammereh (Khorramshahr City), against Kurds, Baluch and later on against the Mujahedeen Movement. In addition, Rafsanjani’s political history became associated with the 8-year war with Iraq from 1980 to 1988 started due to disputed Maritime Boundaries and borders, areas which both Iraq and Iran laid claim to.
According to the Ahwazi right groups,”Rafsanjani was behind the massacre in Mohammerah in 1979, as well as the infernal project, which is the largest project against Ahwazi Arab people, such as confiscating Arab land and the displacement of Arab population under the pretext of agricultural projects in the framework of the sugar cane project. Rafsanjani’s projects were caused many Arabs to leave their land in rural and urban areas’’
Rafsanjani’s famous words about the overthrow of the leader of Iraq were preamble for him to increase his power in the Iranian regime. Speaking in 1981, early in the war he said that ‘’we prefer Saddam to be overthrown by Iraqi people through getting support from the Islamic Republic of Iran’’ (Khabar Online, the Iranian News Agency on 20th March 2012: http://www.khabaronline.ir/detail/204637/Politics/parties).
Therefore, the agreement between Iran and Iraq should be signed with the Iraqi people after victory and closing down the Iraqi Baath regime, Rafsanjani claimed that the overthrow of the Ba’ath regime in Iraq was a political aim for the Iranian regime; hence, we will not retreat from the goal (Khabar Online, 2012). However, it was Rafsanjani who, in 1988, convinced Khomeini to sign the United Nations Resolution 598 to agree a cease-fire in the war, because Iraq had become much stronger and tried to control all of Al-Ahwaz (Khuzestan) again.
After the death of Khomeini, the founder of the Islamic Republic, in 1989, Rafsanjani and Khamenei became the two key people in the regime. Rafsanjani became the President and Khamenei became the Supreme Leader of the regime through getting support from Rafsanjani. Both Rafsanjani and Khamenei began to assassinate their opposition living outside of Iran, such as Shapour Bakhtiar in France; Sadeq Sharafkandi and Dr Abdul Rahman Ghassemlou; serial killings against intellectuals and the regime critics inside Iran until Khatami’s presidency in 1999. For example, the Forouhar murder in 1998 by the Iranian intelligence services, Shadi Amin added that.
Shadi Amin also added that, despite the close relationship between Rafsanjani and Khomeini from 1979, their ideas began to diverge considerably in the 1990s and 2000s. There were sharp differences between Khamenei and Rafsanjani in the 2005 election when Mahmoud Ahmadinejad beat Rafsanjani to become President of Iran, and the disagreements between them continued after the unrest in Iran in 2009 against the backdrop of former President Ahmadinejad being returned for a second term. Rafsanjani joined the ranks of the reform movement and disagreed with Supreme leader Ali Khamenei, criticising the practices of using power against political opponents.
The Khamenei faction not only targeted Rafsanjani, the head of the Expediency Council, but also targeted his followers and family. In 2010, the Iranian judiciary issued an arrest warrant for Mehdi Hashemi, the son of Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, and accused him of spying for foreigners and destabilise the economy and vandalised. Therefore, Mehdi Hashemi was arrested on his return from the UK in 2012 (BBC, 15th March 2015: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-middle-east-31899684).
On 23rd September 2012, Faiza Rafsanjani was arrested and was sentenced to six months in prison on charges of making propaganda against the Iranian regime (Source: Entekhab 2012: http://www.entekhab.ir/fa/news/77476/).
In September 2016, Rafsanjani accused Khamenei of exercising policy marginalisation against him, in order to try to sabotage and defame him through the conservative media run by the Revolutionary Guards. At the same time, the Khamenei faction accused Rafsanjani of working on weakening the Iranian regime.
In fact, Rafsanjani was sentenced to prison several times in the reign of the Shah of Iran, was commander of the war between Iraq – Iran for eight years, and after the war was elected as President of the Iranian Republic for eight years (1989-1997), supported Khatami from 1997 to 2005, enables Hasan Rowhani to become President in 2013, all of which caused Rafsanjani to be described as the “Iranian political fox”.
Hence, the death of Rafsanjani is beneficial for Khamenei because he will be free of the dominance of a rival inside the regime. Therefore, Habin Jabor added that ‘’ due to the death of Rafsanjani, the Iranian regime has changed from bipolar to monopolar system under Khamenei’s control’’.
By: Kamil Alboshoka (An Ahwazi Human Rights Activist)
Note: The views expressed in this article are belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Ahwaz Monitor.