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Iran’s Succession Crisis Is a Legitimacy Crisis

Iran’s presidency is a hollow office, save for its proximity to Supreme Leader Khamenei. That matters, because the specter of succession has been haunting Iranian politics ever since the octogenarian Khamenei was diagnosed with cancer.

STANFORD – Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi, who died in a helicopter crash on May 19, was an insubstantial man in an insignificant job. Absolute power in Iran rests not with the president but with Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei and the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps, the pretorian force that controls, indeed embodies, the Islamic regime’s repressive apparatus. The IRGC is also an economic juggernaut that controls the commanding heights of the country’s economy.