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from issue no. 06/07 - 2008

The role of Rafsanjani

Conservative, realist, modern, resolute

by Giovanni Cubeddu

Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani

Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani

In summer the heat in Tehran is much more bearable than one imagines. The megalopolis has 17 million inhabitants, and is a chaotic and continuous racing around, but without traffic jams, of cars and motorcycles for which the traffic light is rather more advice than anything else. But where we meet Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani silence reigns, protected by insurmountable walls and a lush garden, in a completely marble palace (unique in the world) from the time of the Qajar dynasty. The Shah Reza Pahlavi formerly used it for State ceremonies. The dome was built replicating that of the beautiful mosque of Sheikh Lotfallah in Isfahan, and inside it the floral decorations and images drawn from the poems of Persian seer Ferdouzi enthrall the viewer. It is the seat of the “Council of Discernment of the Supreme Good of the Order of the Islamic Republic”, which Rafsanjani presides over today, as well as the “Assembly of Experts.” They are both vital organs in the complex Iranian constitutional architecture that followed the Islamic revolution. Put simply, the Council of Discernment mediates the conflicts between Parliament and the Council of Guardians (the institution responsible for assessing the adherence of juridical norms to the religious law and of candidates to public office) and is an advisory body of the Supreme Leader; the Assembly, made up of eighty-six clerics elected by universal suffrage who meet once a year, elects from among its ranks the Supreme Leader, assesses his work, and may also ask for his replacement (the meetings of the Assembly are secret, so that no public indiscretion could eventually weaken the pronouncements of the Leader).
The fourteen year-old Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, the son of a family of well-off pistachio growers, went to the holy city of Qom in 1948 in expectation of religious studies, but following the lessons of Ruhollah Khomeini changed the course of his life. And it led him to roles of great responsibility, civil, military, and religious (currently he has the degree of Ayatollah). The whole world has known Rafsanjani from 1989 to 1997 as president of Iran, a pragmatic leader, conservative and modern at the same time, who knows how to implement decisive resolutions.
Under Tehran’s ringroad, which one crosses to enter the district of the embassies, in Neauphle le Chateau street (the French city where Imam Khomeini spent his exile), the municipality wanted the pylons to be decorated with religious mottos and passages of Koranic sura. On one is written: “And really, even in circumstances strained to the extreme, there is a comfort”. All traffic is a carousel full of hopes that turn around it, and that Hashemi Rafsanjani knows by heart.

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