London, 27 May – Ninety-year-old Ahmad Jannati has been named the new head of Iran’s Assembly of Experts. Jannati is a close confidant of Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei and also sits as chairman of the Guardian Council – a body that approves all parliamentary laws. His appointment was confirmed when he received 51 of the 88 votes cast by other members of the Assembly of Experts.
The Assembly itself appoints the Supreme Leader of Iran, meaning the group dictates much of Iran’s foreign policy, the President of Iran is a talking head in comparison. Outside of politics, but not too far in theocratic Iran, Jannati founded Haghani School which is one of the most influential seminaries in the country.
Jannati is notorious for supporting the execution of his own son, Hossein Jannati, who joined the Iranian opposition group the People’s Mojahedin Organization of Iran (PMOI or MEK) in the 1980s. Shahin Gobadi of the National Council of Resistance of Iran, a group affiliated with the PMOI, said the appointment was a “sign of further contraction of the regime and clearly shows that the notion of reform within the clerical regime is a total myth. It also manifests the regime’s deadlock and the fact that it is devoid of any future”.
Gobadi said the appointment was part of designs engineered by Iranian Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei and “scores of members of the Assembly of Experts were forced to concede to it by coercion or through financial rewards”.
Jannati’s age makes the case that Iran’s ruling elite have no future. Gobadi noted that Supreme Leader Khamenei’s “clique” was shrinking. It appears however that the said clique does not want to go down without a fight. A further increase in the number of executions in Iranian prisons over the last few weeks and deploying thousands of troops to Iraq and Syria signals Iran’s government is playing their strongest and only cards available in the face of an economic ruin and regional instability.