Former Iranian President Rafsanjani dies

Former Iranian president Rafsanjani dies after being hospitalized, Tasnim news agency has reported

Ismaeel Naar
Ismaeel Naar - Al Arabiya English
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Former Iranian president Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani has died in hospital on Sunday after suffering a heart attack, Iran’s ISNA and Fars news agencies reported.

Rafsanjani, who was 82, served as Iran’s president twice and was a pivotal figure in the revolution that led to an Islamic republic in 1979.

In his political career, he also headed the Expediency Council, a body which is intended to resolve disputes between the parliament and the Guardian Council, garnering him the unofficial title of “Iran’s broker”.

He was also a member of the Assembly of Experts, the clerical body that selects the supreme leader.

Rafsanjani is survived by five children, including a son named Mehdi currently serving a 10-year prison term for financial and security crimes.

Considered by many as the voice of moderates in Iran, analysts say Iranian President Hassan Rowhani and his allies have lost a major player who could have brokered issues with hardliners in government.

"The moderates are now deprived of their most influential political leader, who was on of the founding fathers of Iran’s revolution, part of Iran’s political establishment and swung his considerable political weight behind the moderates," said Iran expert and Al Arabiya English columnist Dr. Majid Rafizadeh.

Although Rafsanjani's death might be seen as a victory for the hardliners, Rafizadeh says this does not mean that moderates will depart Iran’s politics.

"Rowhani will more likely replace Rafsanjani in being the leading force behind the moderate camp. More importantly, Khamenei and hardliners will still need the moderates to pursue their economic interests with the West," he said.


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Iranian President Hassan Rowhani (R) chats with former president Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani during a session of the Assembly of Experts in Tehran on September 3, 2013. (AFP)
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