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Iran’s former president, who was set to a key role in selecting next supreme leader, dies

Behnam Ben Taleblu
8th January 2017 - Quoted by Carol Morello - The Washington Post

Former Iranian president Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, one of the most influential figures in Iran since the Islamic revolution and a driving force for reform, has died at the age of 82 after suffering an apparent heart attack, state media reported Sunday.

Though his power had waned since he served two terms as president from 1989 to 1997, Rafsanjani retained significant clout on the Assembly of Experts that will choose a successor to Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, who is 77 and has been treated for prostate cancer. Rafsanjani’s absence also could have an impact on presidential elections in May, when President Hassan Rouhani, who is considered a pragmatist, will seek reelection.

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“Although Rafsanjani has long been identified as a pragmatist, he was an integral part of the Islamic republic’s security apparatus, one which tortured dissidents, conducted foreign assassinations and terrorist attacks, and helped cover the Iranian nuclear program in a shroud of secrecy while soliciting foreign assistance and material,” said Behnam Ben Taleblu, an Iran analyst with the Foundation for Defense of Democracies.

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iran, rafsanjani