Khamenei Said to Be Frail and in Bed


khameneiImages of Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei appearing frail and in bed have raised questions about the seriousness of his condition, and who might eventually succeed him, Reuters reports.

In early September, Khamenei made a surprise announcement that he was having surgery and asked people to pray for his health. What followed was unprecedented in the 35-year history of the Islamic Republic. Top officials including President Hassan Rouhani, the head of the judiciary and the speaker of parliament went to the 75-year-old Supreme Leader’s bedside, with each visit reported with photos on Iranian news sites. Even former president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who has had a tense relationship with Khamenei in recent years, went for a visit.

Rumors about Khamenei have circulated for years. But there has never been such a media blitz on the health of the Supreme Leader, who holds substantial influence or constitutional authority over the executive, legislative and judicial branches of government as well as the military and media.

Reuters reports that the head of the surgical team said Khamenei had an operation on his prostate which lasted less than half an hour and only local anesthetic had been used. He was completely awake and speaking during the procedure, the surgeon said. But if Khamenei’s health deteriorates, the traditional clergy and the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps – Iran’s top military force and an economic powerhouse – will need to settle on a successor quickly if the country is to avoid a period of political instability, experts say.

So far, Iran has had only two Supreme Leaders since the 1979 revolution, with Khamenei succeeding the Islamic Republic’s founder Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini in 1989. Supreme Leaders are elected by the Assembly of Experts, which is made up mostly of the clerical old guard. But it is clear that the Revolutionary Guards will also play a major role, experts say.

{Andy Newscenter}