Son's release puts Iran's last founding father back in the big time

 

The release from jail of a son of Iran's conservative former President, Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, has sparked a new round of speculation about the veteran politician's future.

The current President, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, is barred from running for a third consecutive term. The successful candidate who will emerge from the ballot box in June next year, after screening by the Guardian Council of the Constitution, is certain to be a conservative – of either the pragmatic or hardline variety – and must have the blessing of the supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.

Mr Rafsanjani, a former political rival of Mr Ahmadinejad, has been marginalised by the leadership since losing to Mr Ahmadinejad in 2005 and has seen his reputation undermined by corruption allegations.

But the pragmatic conservative, now aged 78, remains influential and is calling for a government of national unity to deal with the economic crisis that has worsened with the imposition of international sanctions over Iran's nuclear ambitions.

Mr Rafsanjani's children were linked to protests by the opposition Green Movement, whose leaders Mir-Hussein Moussavi and Mehdi Karroubi remain under house arrest following demonstrations after Mr Ahmadinejad won re-election in 2009. His son and daughter were both jailed in September on charges of spreading anti-state propaganda, in what was seen as a warning to their father from the hardliners. But Mr Rafsanjani's son, Mehdi Hashemi, was released from Iran's notorious Evin prison on Sunday after two months spent in solitary confinement, thanks to his family posting bail of 100 billion Iranian rial (£5m).

Gholam Hossein Esmaili, the head of Iran's prisons organisation, said yesterday that the indictment for his trial would be sent "soon" to the court. Mr Rafsanjani's daughter, Faezeh, remains in jail however, serving a six-month sentence. "I think there was a deal with the supreme leader that would allow Rafsanjani to retain his remaining position and wealth in return for his children paying a nominal price for their support for the Green Movement," said Barbara Slavin, an Iran specialist and senior fellow at the Atlantic Council in Washington.

"Clearly the leader recognises the need for greater unity at a time of unprecedented economic crisis and potential opportunity regarding a deal with the US," she said. "If such a deal can be reached, the regime needs its last remaining founding father –Rafsanjani – wholeheartedly on its side."

However, Karim Sadjadpour, an Iranian analyst from the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace in Washington, said he believed Mr Rafsanjani was a "spent force" in Iranian politics. He interpreted the release of Mehdi Hashemi as demonstrating how little the security establishment views him as a threat. "It's telling that Moussavi and Karroubi remain in prison," he added.

Mr Sadjadpour also said he believed Mehdi Rafsanjani was not imprisoned because he was a pro-democracy activist "but because a new generation of revolutionaries want to control the vast oil weath which the Rafsanjani family once controlled."

Meanwhile, Mr Ahmadinejad has his own candidate in mind to succeed him: his controversial former chief of staff Esfandiar Rahim Mashaei, who is accused by hardliners of being a "deviationist" aiming to challenge the authority of the ruling clerics.

n Iran's Foreign Minister said that a way must be found to end the deadlock with major powers over its nuclear programme. Ali Akbar Salehi was quoted as saying by the Iranian Students' News Agency: "The two sides [Iran and world powers] have reached a conclusion that they must exit the current stalemate."

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
News
ebooksNow available in paperback
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Media Telesales Executive - OTE £25,000

£14500 - £16000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an opportunity to join ...

Recruitment Genius: Female Care Worker

£7 - £8 per hour: Recruitment Genius: This expanding, vibrant charity which su...

Recruitment Genius: Parts Supervisor & Advisor - Automotive

£16500 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: One of the South East's leading...

Recruitment Genius: Housing Assistant

£16819 - £21063 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an opportunity to join ...

Day In a Page

Refugee crisis: David Cameron lowered the flag for the dead king of Saudi Arabia - will he do the same honour for little Aylan Kurdi?

Cameron lowered the flag for the dead king of Saudi Arabia...

But will he do the same honour for little Aylan Kurdi, asks Robert Fisk
Our leaders lack courage in this refugee crisis. We are shamed by our European neighbours

Our leaders lack courage in this refugee crisis. We are shamed by our European neighbours

Humanity must be at the heart of politics, says Jeremy Corbyn
Joe Biden's 'tease tour': Could the US Vice-President be testing the water for a presidential run?

Joe Biden's 'tease tour'

Could the US Vice-President be testing the water for a presidential run?
Britain's 24-hour culture: With the 'leisured society' a distant dream we're working longer and less regular hours than ever

Britain's 24-hour culture

With the 'leisured society' a distant dream we're working longer and less regular hours than ever
Diplomacy board game: Treachery is the way to win - which makes it just like the real thing

The addictive nature of Diplomacy

Bullying, betrayal, aggression – it may be just a board game, but the family that plays Diplomacy may never look at each other in the same way again
Lady Chatterley's Lover: Racy underwear for fans of DH Lawrence's equally racy tome

Fashion: Ooh, Lady Chatterley!

Take inspiration from DH Lawrence's racy tome with equally racy underwear
8 best children's clocks

Tick-tock: 8 best children's clocks

Whether you’re teaching them to tell the time or putting the finishing touches to a nursery, there’s a ticker for that
Charlie Austin: Queens Park Rangers striker says ‘If the move is not right, I’m not going’

Charlie Austin: ‘If the move is not right, I’m not going’

After hitting 18 goals in the Premier League last season, the QPR striker was the great non-deal of transfer deadline day. But he says he'd preferred another shot at promotion
Isis profits from destruction of antiquities by selling relics to dealers - and then blowing up the buildings they come from to conceal the evidence of looting

How Isis profits from destruction of antiquities

Robert Fisk on the terrorist group's manipulation of the market to increase the price of artefacts
Labour leadership: Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea

'If we lose touch we’ll end up with two decades of the Tories'

In an exclusive interview, Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea
Tunisia fears its Arab Spring could be reversed as the new regime becomes as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor

The Arab Spring reversed

Tunisian protesters fear that a new law will whitewash corrupt businessmen and officials, but they are finding that the new regime is becoming as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor
King Arthur: Legendary figure was real and lived most of his life in Strathclyde, academic claims

Academic claims King Arthur was real - and reveals where he lived

Dr Andrew Breeze says the legendary figure did exist – but was a general, not a king
Who is Oliver Bonas and how has he captured middle-class hearts?

Who is Oliver Bonas?

It's the first high-street store to pay its staff the living wage, and it saw out the recession in style
Earth has 'lost more than half its trees' since humans first started cutting them down

Axe-wielding Man fells half the world’s trees – leaving us just 422 each

However, the number of trees may be eight times higher than previously thought
60 years of Scalextric: Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones

60 years of Scalextric

Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones