Thirty-one years after being anointed Supreme Leader of Iran, Ali Khamenei is still having to assure the public that his election by the Assembly of Experts on June 3 1989 as the Leader by the Assembly of Experts was flawless and correct.
In the latest missive posted on the Islamic Republic's Leader's website, a documentary features Ali Khamenei's voice proclaiming that "Ruhollah Khomeini" called him a suitable successor before his death, and went so far as to tell him directly, "You become the leader."
As it happens, Ali Khamenei was also the one to read out Ayatollah Khomeini’s will to the Assembly of Experts. No such provision was included in the will, which further emphasized that no other evidence for Khomeini’s final instruction would be valid – aside from audio and video statements or documents in Khomeini’s own handwriting.
How Did Khamenei's Appointment Come About?
In the Assembly of Experts, Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani quoted a remark by Khomenei that had supposedly been made in the wake of the removal of his original designated successor, Ayatollah Hossein Ali Montazeri. In this unconfirmed citation, Khomenei apparently identified Ali Khamenei as the right person to replace him.
The same unconfirmed quote was what persuaded the members of the Assembly of Experts to vote for Khamenei. But it was not until 2018, that anyone learned this leadership was supposed to be temporary with a maximum tenure of 10 years attached to it. Clearly, this has not been adhered to.
Over the past 31 years numerous other allegations have surfaced about the legitimacy of Ayatollah Khamenei's election as Supreme Leader of the Islamic Republic of Iran. The doubts have intensified in recent years.
A Shock Revelation - and a Serious Omission
In January 2018, a video of previously unheard talks in the Assembly of Experts was released, showing that the election of Ali Khamenei as the successor to the Leader of the Islamic Republic had been temporarily put on hold until the constitution was changed. The move was kept confidential at the suggestion of Rafsanjani.
In this explosive recording, Ali Khamenei says that he does not have the necessary leadership qualities, and that one should “cry for the society” who has him for a leader.
The release of this film was the biggest blow to Khamenei’s credibility to date and has led to questions about how he was elected as the second leader of the Islamic Republic – let alone supposedly nominated by Ayatollah Khamenei himself.
In an attempt to dispel the effects of the film, Ayatollah Khamenei's website retaliated by publishing an interview with Muhammad Reyshahri, an Iranian cleric who served as the Islamic Republic’s first Minister of Intelligence and a current member of the Assembly of Experts.
In the interview, Reyshahri says that not only did Ayatollah Khomeini tell Rafsanjani that Khamenei was the right person to succeed him, but that when another name was put forward for his consideration – when Ahmad Khomeini named Abdul-Karim Mousavi Ardebili – Khomeini reiterated Khameini’s name.
Reyshahri goes on to quote Ayatollah Khomeini's daughter as saying that her father had introduced Khamenei to the family as his successor in Jamaran; meaning his stated intention is not confined to the memory of Hashemi Rafsanjani.
But the video, released in 2018, fails to mention one half of what Khomeini’s daughter actually said in June 2013. In an open letter to Ayatollah Khamenei penned four years earlier, Seyedeh Zahra Mostafavi wrote that her father had always counted Hashemi Rafsanjani as his potential successor alongside Khamenei.
She wrote: "On the same day that I heard the Imam's confirmation of His Excellency [Khamenei]'s succession from him – and I have always stated this when necessary – I also heard the Imam's confirmation of Mr. Hashemi's suitability as well. After the name of His Excellency, the Imam also mentioned his name."
Public Funds Still Bolstering Leader's Insecurity
The sheer volume of documentary evidence undermining the election of Ayatollah Khamenei as leader of the Islamic Republic of Iran has prompted the equally massive expenditure of Iranian government funds on books, articles and other material to refute it and “prove” the validity of his appointment. The latest of these spurious offerings are the book Narration of Leadership and a documentary based on the writings of Yasser Jabraili: one of the founders of Fars News Agency, which is affiliated with the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps. These were published on Ayatollah Khamenei’s official website on the 31st anniversary of his leadership.
At the age of 81, Khamenei is still making efforts to dispel suspicions about the legitimacy of his election. None of those who sat with him and Khomeini, whose meetings were quoted by Hashemi Rafsanjani, are still alive and he is now the only living narrator of his own success story. For whatever reason, he himself seems to be dissatisfied with its credibility.