Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei is currently hospitalized in serious condition at a hospital in Tehran, according to unofficial reports.
Khamenei is suffering from prostate cancer that has reportedly spread to the rest of his body.
Who are the candidates who could replace him?
There are many candidates to succeed Khamenei at the top spot in the Islamic Republic. On August 21, the chairman of the Council of Experts Ayatollah Reza Mahdavi-Kani passed away at the age of 83. In the council there are 86 members that are chosen every eight years, and they choose the supreme leader. For now, the temporary head of the Council of Experts is Ayatollah Hashsemi Shahroudi. Shahroudi is considered a moderate but close to Khamenei. He was at the head of the Iranian justice system for ten years, from 1999 to 2009. He is one of the heads of the Shi’ite religion, which allows him to issue fatwas.
On March 15 the Council of Experts will hold a meeting on whether to select Shahroudi as the chairman until the end of his term that would extend a year. In 2016, members of the council will choose a new chairmen from among the candidates, and this will constitute a real test for Ayatollah Shahroudi. If he is chosen again for a second term, this will be a step up in attaining the role of Khamenei’s successor.
Other candidates for the position of supreme leader are Ayatollah Sadeq Amoli Larijani (54), brother of Parliament Speaker Ali Larijani. In addition, Hashemi Rafsanjani (81) would be able to handle the job, and so too the current President Hassan Rouhani (66), although the chances of the latter are slim because he is a moderate, and his religious achievements will not be enough for the job.