Iranian Supreme Leader Khamenei Transfers Power to Son
Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei

Iranian sources confirmed Saturday that "the duties and powers of the office of Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei have been transferred to his son Mojtaba Khamenei, who oversees several security and intelligence departments in Iran," according to a report posted on Twitter by Iranian journalist Mohamad Ahwaze.

The sources, wrote Ahwaze, "talk about the deterioration of the health of the Iranian leader, Khamenei, since last night and confirm that those close to Khamenei are very afraid for Khamenei's health condition this time."

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani was scheduled to meet with Khamenei on Friday, according to Ahwaze, but the meeting was canceled due to the deterioration of Khamenei's health.

According to the report, it is not clear whether the reason for the deterioration in his health is due to "his illness with prostate cancer or another disease, but since yesterday Khamenei's health is deteriorating, which led to the summoning of senior doctors from Masih Danchori Hospital in Tehran," Ahwaze wrote.

The 81-year-old Supreme Leader had prostate surgery six years ago, according to a report by the BBC in 2014.

The 82-member Assembly of Experts, which chooses the Supreme Leader, is comprised of a council of elected clerics who are charged with electing, supervising and if or when necessary, possibly even disqualifying the Supreme Leader. At present, the conservatives dominate the Assembly but there is also a group of moderates within the body as well.

According to the 2014 report, the conservatives believe the Supreme Leader is the representative of God on Earth and must be obeyed. The moderates believe in the divine role of the Supreme Leader, but hold he derives his power from the people, to whom he should be responsible.

There is no way to independently confirm the above information, but if true, it signals a brewing storm ahead in the Iranian government, barely a week after the Islamic Republic was rocked by the assassination of its top nuclear scientist.

UPDATE — Unconfirmed Reports: Ayatollah Ali Khamenei Is Dead

By David Israel,

Unconfirmed reports from Iran say the supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, returned his soul to his maker. According to the same reports, an official announcement will be made only after the transfer of powers to his son, Mojtaba Khamenei, are completed (Health Deteriorating, Iranian Supreme Leader Khamenei Transfers Power to Son).

Sayyid Ali Hosseini Khamenei, 81, was the supreme leader of Iran since 1989. He previously served as the president of Iran from 1981 to 1989. Khamenei is the longest serving head of state in the Middle East, as well as the second-longest serving Iranian leader of the last century, after Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi. Reports suggested that doctors from the Masih Daneshvari Hospital in Tehran were rushed to the supreme leader's home, and that some of his powers were being transferred to his son.

Mojtaba Khamenei played a leading role in orchestrating Ahmadinejad's electoral victory, and that he was a key figure in orchestrating the crackdown against anti-government protesters in June 2009. He is reputed to be in charge of the paramilitary, clandestine Basij. In 2009, Mehdi Karroubi, former chairman of the Iranian parliament and a reformist candidate in the 2009 presidential vote, explicitly accused Mojtaba Khamenei of participating in a conspiracy to rig the election.

Ayatollah Ali Khamenei's health has been poor, to the point where in January 2007 rumors of his illness or death spread throughout the country. Khamenei issued a statement declaring that "enemies of the Islamic system fabricated various rumors about death and health to demoralize the Iranian nation," but according to Iranian-American journalist Hooman Majd, he appeared to be "visibly weak" in the photos that were released with the statement.

On September 9, 2014, Khamenei underwent prostate surgery in what his doctors described in state news media as a "routine operation." According to a report by Le Figaro, Western intelligence sources said Khamenei had prostate cancer.

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