Rumors are rife that influential Iranian ex-President Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani is working hard behind the scenes to help resolve Iran's postelection crisis, possibly with an eye to a radical long-term solution.
Dubai-based Al-Arabiyah television
, which has been doing some provocative reporting and whose Tehran bureau has been ordered shut by Iranian authorities, has reported that Hashemi Rafsanjani met very recently with representatives of the Shi'ite world's highest authority, Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, who lives in neighboring Iraq.
Here's what Al-Arabiyah says:
"Iran's religious clerks in Qom and members of the Assembly of Experts [a clerical body that supervises the work of the supreme leader and names a replacement in the event of a supreme leader's death], headed by Ayatollah Rafsanjani, are mulling the formation of an alternative collective leadership to replace that of the supreme leader, sources in Qom told Al Arabiya on condition of anonymity."
It goes on to say:
"Members of the Assembly [of Experts] are reportedly considering forming a collective ruling body and scrapping the model of Ayatollah Khomeini as a way out of the civil crisis that has engulfed Tehran in a series of protests.
"The discussions have taken place in a series of secret meetings convened in the holy city of Qom and included Jawad al-Shahristani, the supreme representative of Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, who is the foremost Shiite leader in Iraq.
"An option being considered is the resignation of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad as Iran's president following condemnation by the United States and other European nations for violence and human rights violations against unarmed protestors."
-- Mazyar Mokfi/Andy Heil