April 2017

George Friedman's Insights on North Korea

Who will be Iran's next supreme leader?

04 17 2017a

Sadeq Larijani; possibly Iran’s next Supreme Leader

There is increasing talk in Iran as to who will replace Supreme Leader Khamenei when he dies.  The death of Khamenei will mark the biggest political change in the Islamic Republic in the last 30 years.

The supreme leader is the most powerful person in Iran, with absolute authority over all segments of the state.  Iran’s supreme leader is 77 years old. Rumors that he suffers from cancer have circulated for the past few years.   We know from Iran’s state-run news agency (published photos of him recovering from prostate surgery), that he is battling cancer.

04 17 2017b

Supreme leader Khamenei when he was in the hospital for prostate surgery

More recently, we know that the Iranian government is treating his succession with urgency; there is talk that the Supreme leader himself is vetting potential leaders.  A new person in that position could dramatically alter the course and tone of Iran’s foreign and domestic policies. In the hours following Khamenei’s death, the Speaker of the Assembly of Experts will assemble an emergency session to choose a successor. The next supreme leader is likely to be one of three men: Sadeq Larijani, Mahmoud Hashemi Shahroudi, or Ebrahim Raisi.

The favorite is the current head of Iran’s judiciary, Larijani, 56, who was born in Najaf, Iraq, to an influential family: He is an elected member of the Assembly of Experts.

Larijani has exhibited an absolute devotion to the supreme leader. He has never claimed the status of grand ayatollah, thus showing veneration to Khamenei’s authority. And he supports the notion that the Assembly of Experts should exercise minimal supervision over the supreme leader, an extreme view within the seminary.  Khamenei has described Larijani as a “learned, brave, cerebral, revolutionary mujtahid [an authoritative interpreter of Islamic law] and devout scholar” and has compensated him for his faithfulness by promoting him to key positions.

As head of the judiciary, he demonstrated his conformist zeal, fervently attacking Rouhani for supporting the nuclear deal. Further adding to his influence, Larijani chairs the board of trustees of Imam Sadiq University, which trains civil officers for key political positions in the Islamic Republic. His involvement in such pivotal institutions has given him a deep understanding of Iran’s maze of power.

When it comes to relations with the USA, Iran will continue its guarded and no-nonsense strategy, cooperating on some issues (for example, helping with the fight against the Islamic State) while spurning to do so on others (for example, maintaining its hostility toward Israel). And as long as the United States sustains its end of the nuclear deal; Iran will continue to maintain a limited and fractured relationship with America. It is silly to hope that pressure from the Trump administration will produce any political change in Iran.

When watching nations and geopolitical trends ALWAYS keep in mind that the spirt world is at toiling behind the scenes, often demons are motivating and influencing world leaders to make certain decisions. It reminds me of the lying spirit that swayed King Ahab as recorded in 1 Kings 22. In 1 Kings 22 we are told of a council of war between the kings of Israel and Judah. Treacherous King Ahab and the good Jewish King Jehoshaphat were planning war against Syria to regain land that Israel had lost. At the council, God’s prophet Micaiah was brought before the two kings, he revealed an perceptive vision from the throne of God and how the world of angels and demons can sway world leaders:

Micaiah viewed God sitting on His throne and the spiritual host of heaven around Him. “Then a spirit came forward and stood before the LORD, and said, ‘I will persuade him [Ahab].’ The LORD said to him, ‘In what way?’ So he said, ‘I will go out and be a lying spirit in the mouth of all his prophets’” (verses 21-22). God was allowing Ahab to be persuaded by his advisors (influenced by a lying spirit) to engage in a battle that would lead to Ahab’s death.

The lesson for us is that at times lying demonic spirits work through government advisors [types of false prophets] to prevail upon leaders to make foolish decisions. The Bible tells us there is a parallel world where demons seek to confuse and influence world leaders.  With this background; I cannot help but to consider that demon spirits will be involved in the sequence of discussions that will lead to who will be the next Supreme Leader of Iran.—Steven LeBlanc

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