The former Iranian President Hashemi Rafsanjani died on Sunday at the age of 82. Throughout his long career with the Iranian regime, Rafsanjani has been associated with some of its most controversial actions, including mass-casualty terror attacks, as well as assassinations of various exiled dissidents.
he had been linked in later years to the “reformists”, such as the current Iranian President Hasan Rouhani, it is clear that he has played large role in the regime for decades. He served as President from 1989-1997, parliamentary speaker, and served as head of the Assembly of Experts and the Expediency Council. Both bodies are considered two of the regime’s most important institutions, with the 88-member Assembly nominating the Supreme Leader and the Council being the body that advises the Supreme Leader.
Rafsanjani sought to return to the presidency in 2005, but was defeated by Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. He was one of Ahmadinejad’s sharpest critics. His shift to being more of a reformer has resulted in a bloc of Rafsanjani-Rouhani backed reformers in parliament and the Assembly of Experts. The loss of Rafsanjani is seen as a potential setback for Rouhani, who is running for re-election in May.
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“With the death of Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, one of the two pillars and key to the equilibrium of the religious fascism ruling Iran has collapsed and the regime in its entirety is approaching overthrow,” said Maryam Rajavi, President-elect of the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI).
She noted that Rafsanjani has played a critical role in the suppression of Iranian citizens, but also the exporting of terrorism outside of Iran’s borders. Rajavi also acknowledged Rafsanjani’s role in the quest for Iran’s regime to acquire nuclear weapons. In 2006, Rafsanjani was implicated by Argentinian investigators in one of the deadliest instances of Iranian terrorism abroad, the 1994 suicide truck bombing of the AMIA Jewish community center in Buenos Aires, that cost 85 people their lives.
The investigators issued arrest warrants for Rafsanjani, seven other senior Iranians and a Lebanese national, the Hezbollah terrorist chief Imad Mughniyah. At the request of Argentina, Interpol issued red notices or the equivalent of warrants for five of the Iranians and Mughniyah. None of the Iranians have been arrested to date. Rafsanjani and Iran denied Argentina’s allegations, blaming them on “Zionists”.
A German count in 1996 ruled that the Iranian regime under Rafsanjani was directly responsible for the Mykonos killings in 1992. Four Iranian Kurdish dissidents were killed in the restaurant. Reports by the U.S.-based Iran Human Rights Documentation Center said that the Mykonos killings were “designed to intimidate and disrupt the activities of political opponents of the regime.”
Swiss investigators accused the Iranian regime of responsibility for the death of Kazem Rajavi of the NCRI, who was shot in Geneva in 1990. Authorities issued an arrest warrant for Fallahijan, Rafsanjani’s intelligence minister. Other NCRI representatives were shot and killed throughout the 1990s.
“Rafsanjani, who had always been the regime’s number two, acted as its balancing factor and played a decisive role in its preservation. Now, the regime will lose its internal and external equilibrium,” said Rajavi.
The NCRI enjoys considerable support in Washington, including some of the current President-elect Donald Trump’s advisors. It hopes to see the end of the regime, and sees Rafsanjani’s death as moving closer to the end of the current Iranian government, which it describes as oppressive. The U.S. government first designated Iran as a state-sponsor of terrorism in 1984 and continues to describe Iran as the world’s leading terror-sponsor.