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Documentary Reveals Attempts To Groom Raeesi As Next Iranian Leader

Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei talks to Ebrahim Raeesi, the new head of the judiciary in Tehran, March 7, 2019

A new Radio Farda video documentary released this week, suggests that Judiciary Chief Ebrahim Raeesi is most certainly being groomed as the Islamic Republic's next Supreme Leader.

The documentary which is in Persian is titled: From Executioner to Supreme Leader.

The video does not have a narrator and tells its story through comments made by a selected handful of authoritative political activists and human rights lawyers and presents strong evidence to support its hypothesis about Raeesi's future.

Most of the story about the prospects for Raeesi's future is told by Paris-based Iranian political activist Mohammad Javad Akbarain, while, political activist and former political prisoner Iraj Mesdaghi, Amnesty International Iran Desk officer Raha Bahraini and prominent international human rights lawyer Abdolkarim Lahiji provide background about Raeesi's damning career as a thug.

Akbarain affirms that there are many reasons to believe that some people are grooming Raeesi as the Islamic Republic's next leader. The evidence starts from a banner on Supreme Leader Khamenei's website that presents Raeesi as the symbol of the Islamic Revolution's "second step" or second phase, an idea Khamenei brought forward on the 40th anniversary of the revolution in 2019.

Other evidence presented by Akbarain and Mesdaghi includes the fact that Raeesi (Raisi) has started to teach advanced divinity classes at the seminary; a practice that signals a cleric's promotion to the rank of ayatollah. Interestingly, Khamenei's son Mojtaba, who is said to be another contestant for the post of Supreme Leader, also started teaching similar course since 2017.

A major document, and probably the most important document proving the case, is a picture that shows Raeesi sitting in a chair preaching to a group of military and civilian officials including former Qods Force Commander Qassem Soleimani in 2017. The setting in the picture is strikingly similar to that of Khamenei's meeting with his aides.

The next proof of Raeesi's ambitions or his handlers' grooming attempts is his presence in numerous ceremonies including inaugurating or visiting projects that have nothing to do with his position as the head of the Judiciary.

And finally, the last piece of evidence is Raeesi being positioned next to Khamenei during the funeral of Qassem Soleimani. The body language of the two men is also telling the same story of introducing the next leader.

In the meantime, a large part of the documentary is dedicated to Raeesi's track record as a man who was appointed by Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini as Prosecutor of Hamadan and Karaj simultaneously at the age of 19.

The highlight of his career is acting as a member of the death committee that ordered the murder of thousands of political prisoners in Iran in 1988, and summary trial and execution of Mojahedin-e Khalq (MEK) members who had attacked Iran form their base in Iraq in the same year.

Subsequently, he became the deputy judiciary chief under Mahmud Shahroudi and Sadeq Amoli Larijani. Critics including President Hassan Rouhani have charged that while he was in the best position to fight financial corruption in, he did not do so, and instead accused others of corruption when he was a candidate for presidency in 2017.

At the end of the documentary, Akbarain says that despite all that has been done to put Raeesi forward as the next leader of the Islamic Republic, he is not likely to win the position because the situation has changed since the time he started his ascendance in the 1980s. Now the a significant segment of the population has turned its back to the Islamic Republic and modern media has brought the past of many regime insiders into the limelight.

But the most important reason why Raeesi has far less chance to become the next leader, says Akbarain, is that in the initial plan a charismatic military man was to pledge allegiance to Raeesi and push him to the throne, but the plan did not work as charismatic general, Qassem Soleimani was killed in January.

Nonetheless, Akbarain concludes that when Khamenei was appointed leader in 1989, there was still hope in the future of the Islamic Republic. Akbarain asked: "With the Islamic Republic' bad record in all these years, the question is: Will there be a future for it at all?"