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A Possible Successor To Khamenei Has Gone Abroad For Medical Treatment

Iran's head of Expediency Discernment Council, Mahmoud Hashemi Shahroudi, undated.

The chairman of the Islamic Republic’s influential Expediency Discernment Council, EDC, ayatollah Mahmoud Hashemi Shahroudi has traveled abroad to “complete the course of his medical treatment”, his son has announced.

In an interview with a local website, Rasa, Ala Hashemi Shahroudi reported, “My father has gone abroad to continue his medical treatment and soon will be back”.

Meanwhile, he insisted that 69-year old Hashemi Shahroudi is in “totally healthy” condition.

However, Hashemi Shahroudi’s son has not disclosed his father’s illness or which country he has gone to.

He was hospitalized in Tehran earlier in the year, where the Islamic Republic’s Supreme Leader, ayatollah Ali Khamenei visited him on Saturday, May 13.

Reportedly, he was suffering from an undisclosed type of cancer but, his personal physician. Dr. Mohammad Sadeq Fazeli said at the time “Ayatollah Hashemi Sharoudi underwent surgery since he was suffering from a relatively endemic gastronomical disorder”.

Hashemi Shahroudi known for his ten years as the head of judiciary (1999-2009) was born in Najaf, Iraq and came to Iran after the Islamic revolution.

He is currently the chairman of EDC (a body in charge of resolving disputes between the Guardians Council and majlis or parliament) and deputy speaker of the Assembly of Experts, a legal body in charge of supervising the performance of the Islamic Republic’s leader and electing his successor, if needed.

Meanwhile, Hashemi Shahroudi has been named as one of the candidates who have a chance to replace 78-year old Khamenei.

The rumors about a successor for Khamenei were based on his poor health and became more credible when he underwent prostate surgery in 2014.

Nevertheless, there are analysts who believe the Iraqi born Hashemi Shahroudi has aimed higher, vying for the leadership of Shi’ites all over the world and replacing Iran born 87-year old grand ayatollah Ali Sistani based in Najaf.

In early November, Reuters reported that ayatollah Hashemi Shahroudi, flew to the holy city of Najaf in southern Iraq in early September. His entourage included a sizable security detail and the former chief-commander of the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps.

According to Reuters, he spent several days on a charm offensive meeting officials, clerics and seminary students at his office near the golden dome shrine of Imam Ali, the third holiest Shi‘ite site, after Mecca and Medina.

His aim was apparently to raise his profile as a replacement for the top Shi‘ite cleric and most powerful man in Iraq: the 87-year old Ayatollah Ali Sistani, according to current and former Iraqi officials, Reuters reported.

According to Reuters, Hashemi Shahroudi could prove a controversial replacement for Sistani. Senior clergy in Najaf are wary of Iran trying to expand its influence and Shahroudi is viewed with some suspicion, although he could still build support among [seminary] students.

Since Sistani has distanced himself from Iranian politics, some of his followers may not want a replacement who is close to Tehran, Reuters reiterated.