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Khamenei’s son Mojtaba,a power broker with big ambitions

There are few anecdotes about him,and pictures,at least ones that have appeared in public...

There are few anecdotes about him,and pictures,at least ones that have appeared in public,are scarce. But Mojtaba Khamenei,the son of Iran’s supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei wields considerable power and is a key figure in orchestrating the crackdown against anti-Government protesters,analysts say.

The younger Khamenei operates tucked behind an elaborate security structure,an overlapping world that stretches from Iran’s Revolutionary Guard corps to the motorcycle-riding Basiji militiamen. Analysts and former dissidents describe him as the gatekeeper for his father,a reclusive son whose political instincts were sharpened in a post-revolutionary Iran where affiliations with security and intelligence services were just as important as Islamic ideology.

The anxiety in the streets of Tehran today is the fresh round of struggle between hardliners and reformists that began more than 20 years ago over the legacy of the 1979 Islamic Revolution. And at the centre,or at least very close to it,is Mojtaba Khamenei. Analysts say the ultra-conservative cleric is being positioned to succeed his father but would face tough opposition. Mojtaba Khamenei’s influence became evident when he gave key support to Ahmadinejad in the 2005 presidential election. The Khameneis are now backing Ahmadinejad against Moussavi.

“This coup taking place is a political liquidation against the old guard by reckless people like Mojtaba and Ahmadinejad,” said Mehdi Khalaji,an expert on Iran with the Washington Institute for Near East Policy.

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Mojtaba is a secretive man who doesn’t want to “be on people’s tongues”,said Mohsen Sazegara,an Iranian journalist and former Government official. “Nobody knows much about him.”

The younger Khamenei is the “most influential person in his father’s court”,said Ali Afshari,a dissident and reformist who spent three years in jail for running pro-democracy programmes. “The question is,what happens when his father is gone? Mojtaba needs to hold on to the security apparatus.”

Analysts say Mojtaba Khamenei lacks the religious and political stature to overcome the Opposition he would face in the Assembly of Experts,the body charged with selecting the supreme leader.

First published on: 26-06-2009 at 02:53:06 am
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