With the demise of President Ebrahim Raisi, Iran’s first vice chairman, Mohammad Mokhber, turns into performing president. Mr. Mokhber is a conservative political operative with an extended historical past of involvement in massive enterprise conglomerates carefully tied to Iran’s supreme chief, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.

In an announcement on Monday, Mr. Khamenei mentioned that Mr. Mokhber should work with the heads of the legislature and judiciary to carry elections for a brand new president inside 50 days.

Vice presidents in Iran are usually low profile, working extra as gamers inside the authorities than as public figures.

“Iran’s vice presidents have historically not been contenders to succeed their bosses,” mentioned Robin Wright, a joint fellow on the U.S. Institute of Peace and the Wilson Middle in Washington. “The larger query,” she added, “is who will the regime enable to run for the workplace.”

Mr. Mokhber is round 68 years outdated and have become first vice chairman in August 2021. He’s initially from Khuzestan Province in Iran’s southwest, bordering Iraq and the Persian Gulf. He was a deputy governor there, and throughout the Iran-Iraq struggle within the Eighties served as a member of the Revolutionary Guards medical corps.

One in all Mr. Mokhber’s comparatively few high-profile appearances got here when he and three different senior Iranian officers went to Moscow in October 2022 to finish a sale of Iranian drones and ballistic missiles to Russia, to be used within the struggle in Ukraine.

Mr. Raisi selected him as vice chairman after Mr. Mokhber held senior positions in a few of Iran’s strongest organizations, together with the Mostazafan Basis, Sina Financial institution and Setad, a conglomerate solely managed by Ayatollah Khamenei that has billions of {dollars} in belongings and was concerned — not solely efficiently — in efforts to make and distribute a Covid-19 vaccine.

All three organizations are a part of an opaque community of economic entities which are tied to the Iranian state, though they aren’t instantly state-owned. They’re additionally related to tasks which are priorities for the supreme chief and his interior circle.

Mr. Mokhber’s involvement means that he has been a profitable behind-the-scenes participant who’s conversant in the financing networks which are essential to the official Iranian energy construction.

The Mostazafan Basis, the place Mr. Mokhber labored within the early 2000s, is formally a charity however is described by the U.S. Treasury as “a key patronage community for the supreme chief” that features holdings in key sectors of Iran’s financial system, together with finance, power, development and mining. It’s the topic of sanctions by the U.S. Treasury as a result of it’s managed by Mr. Khamenei, and the Treasury mentioned it was created partially “to confiscate and handle property, together with that initially belonging to spiritual minorities” in Iran, together with Baha’is and Jews.

The Treasury says the muse funnels a few of its cash to people and entities within the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps which have been concerned in terrorism and human rights abuses.

The Sina Financial institution has confronted sanctions by the U.S. Treasury and the European Union for financing Iran’s nuclear and ballistic missile program.

Mr. Mokhber seems to have risen to the highest of Iran’s political management partially due to the shut relationship he developed with Iran’s supreme chief, relationship from at the very least 2007 when he joined the management of Setad. Inside a number of months of his appointment to Setad, Mr. Mokhber had based the Barakat Basis, which has quite a few firms underneath its aegis together with a significant Iranian medical and pharmaceutical firm.

Whereas his relationship with the supreme chief will probably be essential whereas elections are being organized, analysts say {that a} a lot bigger group of high-ranking officers round Mr. Khamenei will decide how this delicate interval in Iran will probably be dealt with.

“The regime is at a tipping level — politically, economically, and even militarily,” Ms. Wright mentioned, noting Iran’s large-scale aerial assault on Israel final month that was practically solely intercepted, which she referred to as “a humiliating failure.” Low turnout in parliamentary elections in March was additionally an indication of hassle for Iran’s theocracy, she added.

“It is rather nervous about its future and the sturdiness of its core ideology,” she mentioned.

Leily Nikounazar contributed reporting.


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