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Counting clerics

Neil MacFarquhar tries to count the votes on Iran’s Assembly of Experts, the only institution with the (theoretical) authority to remove the supreme leader. If these numbers are right, things could get interesting: The analysts say about a third of the Assembly members are loyal to [former President Ali Akbar Hashemi] Rafsanjani. Of the other ...

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Former Iranian prime minister and presidential candidate Mir Hossein Mousavi (L) meets with Iranian prominent reformist cleric, Grand Ayatollah Yusef Sanei (R), in the religious city of Qom, 120 kms south of Tehran on April 9, 2009. Mousavi met important Shiite clerics in Qom to get their support for the June presidential elections. AFP PHOTO/AMIR HESAMI (Photo credit should read AMIR HESAMI/AFP/Getty Images)

Neil MacFarquhar tries to count the votes on Iran’s Assembly of Experts, the only institution with the (theoretical) authority to remove the supreme leader. If these numbers are right, things could get interesting:

The analysts say about a third of the Assembly members are loyal to [former President Ali Akbar Hashemi] Rafsanjani. Of the other members, perhaps a quarter are considered loyal to Ayatollah Mesbah Yazdi, a mentor to Mr. Ahmadinejad and a staunchly conservative figure who has suggested that allowing the public a voice in elections serves only to sully God’s laws. The rest are viewed as independents who could vote either way.

This bit is also interesting:

Analysts suspect that Mr. Rafsanjani’s message to the rest of the religious establishment is that they are about to be eclipsed by the military, which supports the government.

There is a certain delicious irony to the idea that we’re hoping a bunch of black-robed clerics in Qom will challenge Ahmadinejad and Khamenei. Just a week ago, we would have been talking about the need for Iran to reduce the influence of the mullahs. Now, there’s an outside chance they could be the deus ex machina that helps bring Mousavi to power.

AMIR HESAMI/AFP/Getty Images

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