Former President of Iran Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani (1989-1997), a giant of the 1979 Islamic Revolution and arguably the richest man in the country is about to enter political oblivion. Called “kouseh,” Farsi for “shark,” by his countrymen, he seems to be running out of options to remain a political force in Iran. Rafsanjani, labeled by U.S. intelligence analysts as a pragmatic conservative, willing to support a so-called “grand bargain” with the West, is actually a firm believer in the use of terror as a tool of foreign policy. The coordinated Iranian-Hezbollah terror bombings in Argentina: the 1992 attack on the Israeli Embassy and the 1994 mass murder at the Argentine Israeli Mutual Association both occurred during his presidency.


Rafsanjani and Khamenei are political rivals. The Supreme Leader sees Rafsanjani as a “threat to the throne” because of the latter’s revolutionary credentials and talent for political maneuver. Consequently, in recent years, Khamenei made certain that Rafsanjani’s career took a tailspin. The Council of Guardians, which has responsibility for all of Iran’s elections, disqualified Rafsanjani as a candidate for the presidency in 2014. Rafsanjani also recently lost the Chair of the Assembly of Experts.

The Assembly of Experts theoretically chooses the next leader of the Islamic Republic. Khamenei and Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) want to make certain that Rafsanjani have no role in the selection of the next Supreme Leader. Pressure on Rafsanjani now is reaching the breaking point as both his son Mehdi and daughter Faezeh are in trouble with the law. His daughter, Faezeh, due to her political activism, is often accused of political disloyalty to the regime. Additionally, his son Mehdi may serve time in jail for the crimes of embezzlement and bribery.

The unkindest cut of all that regime hardliners will never forgive is that “the shark” toyed with the idea of throwing his support to the “Green Movement,” following the disputed 2009 elections which re-elected former President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to a second term as President.