Rafsanjani, Iran’s Wiliest Revolutionary, Dies

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During his four-decade political career, Iran’s former President Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani earned many nicknames. He was called the Shark, both for his smooth, hairless cheeks (reflecting his Mongol ancestry) and the killer political instincts that helped him manipulate one of the most turbulent revolutions in modern times. After the 1979 ouster of the Shah, Rafsanjani amassed so much power in fifteen years—as the speaker of parliament, President, a wartime Commander-in-Chief, and Friday Prayer Leader—that he was dubbed Akbar Shah, which means “great king.” After a revolution that ended millennia of monarchy, it was not always meant as a compliment.

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