Why Khamenei's alleged transfer of power to son signals seismic change for Iran

Edited By: Gravitas desk WION
New Delhi, India Updated: Dec 08, 2020, 11:52 PM(IST)

Iran's Ayatollah Ali Khamenei (File photo) Photograph:( Reuters )

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Iran's supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei may have transferred power to his son, according to reports. The leader reportedly did this because of his declining health

Iran's supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei may have transferred power to his son, according to reports. The leader reportedly did this because of his declining health. The following Twitter thread has got the world talking.


On the December 5, a journalist from Iran made three huge claims - Khamenei's power and duties have been transferred to his son Mojtaba, that Khamenei had to cancel a recent meeting with Iranian president Hasan Rouhani because of his poor health, and that the Iranian supreme leader has prostrate cancer.

The Iranian news agency has denied the claims of power transfer and WION has not been able to independently verify it. The supreme leader is the be-all and end-all of Iran. If the claim of Ayatollah transferring power is indeed true, then it is nothing short of a seismic change in Iran.

Also read: Iran's Khamenei calls for 'punishing' those behind scientist's killing

Iran's constitution institutionalises rule by islamic clerics, and Khamenei is Iran's second Ayatollah. “Ayatollah” means the sign of god. Over the years, it has become synonymous to dictatorship in Iran. Ayatollah Ali Khamenei is Iran's spiritual head, and has the final say in everything that happens in the country. He has made Iran the centre of Shia theology, and has moulded the country into what it looks like today.

Khamenei is against free elections and open press, and he has weakened Iran's presidency, by giving Iran's Revolutionary Guard all the power it has today. Khamenei had decided to pursue a nuclear energy programme. He has always been suspicious of the west in general, and the United States in particular.

In the late 90s, Khamenei blocked then-president Mohammad Khatami's push for detente with the west. He did not oppose the 2015 nuclear deal. But criticised president Rouhani for expecting that Washington would uphold it.

When Trump withdrew from the deal 3 years later - the ayatollah remarked- “I said from the first day- do not trust America”. Iran's deceased general- Qasem Soleimani was Khamenei's close friend, and he has promised  “severe revenge” for Soleimani's assassination.

Khamenei believes Israel should be eliminated and calls it a “cancerous tumour”. The ayatollah also questions the reality of the holocaust.


In the past, he has issued fatwa against author - Salman Rushdie. And very recently, he played down COVID-19. 

“It’s not something extraordinary”, the Islamic scholar said. In short, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei stands for conservatism: Hardline politics and the legitimisation of clerical rule- based on shiite thought.

Also read: Iran official denies Khamenei's failing health rumours

Khamenei has monopolised the interpretation of the Islamic law. And has committed to maintaining clerical rule in Iran- one that was ushered in by his predecessor- Iran's first ayatollah - Ruhollah Khomeini - a man known for his focus on Islamic tradition, and rejection of western ideas.

The two men get the credit for making Iran one of the most powerful, and unpredictable nations in the neighbourhood.

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