Ayatollah Mohammed Yazdi.
(photo credit: REUTERS)
Iran has selected a new figure to head its national Assembly of Experts, a body that governs the tenure of the Supreme leader, state news agency FARS reported on Tuesday.
Ayatollah Mohammad Yazdi, a cleric who had served as the head of Iran's Judiciary branch between 1989 and 1999, was among other candidates considered for the position, both of whom are senior clerics in the Islamic Republic's regime and hold the title of Ayatollah.
Yazdi's selection to this new position comes in light of reports that the current Supreme leader, Ayatollah Khamenei, who suffers from stage four prostate cancer, was hospitalized last week after his health began deteriorating rapidly.
Last week, western experts observing the top cleric's medical condition from afar suggested that Khamenei's disease has reached terminal levels and that he has about two years to live, an assertion that Tehran denies vehemently, regarding such postulations as "Israeli driven lies" and refuting them by showcasing the Supreme Leader's apparent recent attendance of a meeting with environmentalists this week in order to address the issue of Iran's natural resources.
"He carries about his work very normally. His business is as usual, work as usual," said Mohammad Marandi, the Ayatollah's chief surgeon.
Iran has been fending off accusations that Khamenei is on his death-bed amid foreign speculation of who might replace him. The country, an Islamic Republic at whose helm is an Islamic scholar who prescribes law according to his expertise, would be left with a gap in its leadership if the current leader were to die without a clear replacement.
Such a development would create a difficult situation at a time when Iran is vying for regional and international influence. Tehran is currently involved in the fight against both the Islamic State group in Iraq and anti-Assad rebel forces, including the al-Qaida affiliated Jabhat al-Nusra, in Syria. Meanwhile, it has also been engaged in a diplomatic process with the United States aimed at reaching a deal concerning its nuclear energy program, which many countries, including Israel, consider to be covertly geared toward developing a nuclear weapon.
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