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Sunday, September 16, 2007

Iranian Sisyphus - Mustafa El-Labbad

Although Rafsanjani had effectively served as co-pilot from Khomeini's death in 1989 until the presidential elections of 2005, and although he holds the posts of chairman of the Assembly of Experts and head of the Council of Guardians, his influence now barely exceeds that of a speaker of a major party in parliament, in this case the moderate conservatives. In large part this is due to the rising power of the Revolutionary Guard, which stands in the way of Rafsanjani's return to centre stage. In sum, his relatively restricted powers in the two positions he currently occupies are insufficient to lever him back into the co-pilot's seat or even a higher position yet.

Rafsanjani has tasted almost all the senior offices in the Islamic Republic of Iran. He's been minister, speaker of parliament, president, head of the Council of Guardians and, now, chairman of the Assembly of Experts. However, if he has set his sights on it, the position of supreme leader remains well out of reach. He has risen again within the fold of senior Iranian decision-makers, in spite of his relatively advanced years and his reverberating defeat in the presidential elections against Ahmadinejad. However, his rise is reminiscent of Sisyphus, the legendary Hellenic king doomed for all eternity to push a rock up a hill only for it to go tumbling down to the bottom again.

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