Clerics being replaced by a new generation, says experts
Tehran, 11 Feb. (AKI) - Senior clerics in Iran are being challenged by a new generation of hardline political leaders, according to a US report.
According to The Washington Post, the new generation of leaders consists of former military commanders, filmmakers and mayors. It claims many of them are younger than 50 and only a few of them clerics.
The dramatic changes in Iranian politics were confirmed last month when scores of clerics and their supporters were disqualified from seeking election to parliament in March.
The Washington Post says this rising generation has the support of Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, supreme leader in Iran's political system, who backs the government's assertive foreign and nuclear policies.
"These newcomers are pushing the followers of the imam out of power," cleric and political veteran Rasoul Montajabnia, told the paper. "We are being dealt with disloyally."
Analysts told the Washington Post that the purging of those clerics strengthens Iran's president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and will produce a smaller political class that is less tolerant of internal dissent.
"The newcomers don't have the same power base as the old guard," said Mehrdad Serjooie, a political analyst and former journalist.
"They have no reputation dating from the time of the revolution, no direct access to oil money and no important supporters.
"The old factions often could operate more independently because they were powerful in their own right," Serjooie said. "The new generation depends more on the leader."
Khamenei two weeks ago publicly vetoed a decision by Ahmadinejad to ignore certain laws passed by parliament. "This was a signal to show who is in charge," Serjooie said.
1) Clerics being replaced by a new generation, says experts