Iranian media has been showing photos of a very frail Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and Iranians are wondering whether their Supreme Leader is fading.
It is the Supreme Leader who makes the sole decision about the Islamic Republic’s nuclear development policies.
Last month Iran’s the country’s top leader made a surprise announcement that he was asking for the country’s prayers because he was due to have surgery.
The operation on his prostate, according to his spokespeople, was to last “only 30 minutes” and was carried out “under local anesthesia.”
Nevertheless, the Supreme Leader has looked pale and frail in media images ever since, with every leader in his government seen visiting his bedside.
Questions are being bandied about over who will succeed him – and analysts say the questions are becoming more serious as the days pass.
Iran has had only two Supreme Leaders since the 1979 revolution, and any instability due to a vacuum at the top could mean a national security issue.
The Supreme Leader is elected by the Assembly of Experts, which is primarily comprised of religious officials. The country’s elite Revolutionary Guards, however, are also expected to influence any choice for Khamenei’s successor, when the issue becomes relevant.
When the Assembly met in early September, Khamenei called for unity. “There are differences in taste on political issues, on political issues small and large,” he said. “But these differences cannot destroy the unity of the country or empathy within the country. Everyone should be together.”
Hana Levi Julian