This story from Business Insider presents a fairly informative list of possible successors to Supreme Leader Khamenei, for whenever his passing may be. The story’s author consults Ali Alfoneh, who is an expert on Iran and its leadership. Alfoneh is author of Iran Unveiled: How the Revolutionary Guards Is Transforming Iran from Theocracy into Military Dictatorship. From my own research I consider Alfoneh truly an expert on Iran, but obviously he does not know about the Signposts.
The story gives a list of possible successors as well as scenarios. What follows is my own assessment of the choices given in the story, from the Signpost perspective.
Ayatollah Mohammad Yazdi (pictured here) – Ideologically, Ayatollah Yazdi would be a fine candidate, and sure to march Iran towards the Second Signpost. The problem is his advanced age of 83, which makes him 8 years older than Khamenei. On the other hand, if the Iranian leadership knows the war will start soon, the voting Council of Experts may not care about his age. In an interesting development two days ago, this same Ayatollah Yazdi was elected as head of the Assembly of Experts – the body that will elect the next supreme leader.
Ayatollah Mahmoud Shahroudi (pictured here) – Ideologically conservative and very likely to lead Iran into the Second Signpost, Shahroudi at age 66 is a strong candidate for Supreme Leader.
Ayatollah Sadeq Larijani – Relatively inexperienced, and relatively young at age 54, this is Alfoneh’s dark horse candidate, i.e. if he wins it would be a surprise. However, he would also lead Iran into the Second Signpost.
Hassan Khomeini – Though he is Ayatollah Khomeini’s grandson, he is not an Ayatollah. It is highly unlikely he would be chosen.
Ayatollah Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani – This is the man who has been a supporter of the Green Movement which would put the brake on any invasion by Iran. If the Second Signpost is to proceed, Rafsanjani would be a highly unlikely candidate.
Ayatollah Mohammad Taghi Mesbah Yazdi (pictured here) – Idealogically, Ayatollah Yazdi would be the perfect choice to lead Iran into the Second Signpost. He is considered the most conservative (that means most likely to invade the Middle East) cleric. Remember former President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and his views and statements? Yazdi is his spiritual mentor. He may be considered too radical to win the Council’s vote. The other problem is his age of 81, which makes him 6 years older than Khamenei. On the other hand, if the Iranian leadership knows the war will start soon, the Council may not care about his age.
Mojtaba Khamenei – Though he is a son of the current supreme leader, he is not an Ayatollah. It is highly unlikely he would be chosen.
Rafsanjani’s idea of a “leadership council” – Just like with Rafsanjani himself, this alternative is highly unlikely in light of Daniel 8.
The IRGC seizes power – This is an interesting scenario, but not likely. Remember, the Persian ram runs out with two horns, two leaders, and two bases of power. According to Signpost theory, the first horn is the supreme leader. The second is most likely the leadership of the IRGC. I agree with Alfoneh in the article saying that the IRGC replacing the supreme leader is unlikely. Not only due to the Signposts, but as studies on Iran have indicated, the IRGC looks to the supreme leader as their spiritual guide.
According to the Signposts, Iran is to invade and occupy the Middle East. All indications show this as happening soon. If supreme leader Khamenei does not last long enough, a successor would be needed. It would seem the two Yazdi’s and Shahroudi would make the best ideological candidates for continuing the path to the Second Signpost. Shahroudi, though may be the most likely candidate, in my opinion, due to his younger age and for not being known as the most extreme.