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Front pages of Iranian newspapers announce the death of former President Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, Iran, Jan. 9, 2017 (AP photo by Vahid Salemi).

How Rafsanjani Became the Pragmatic Voice of Iran’s Revolution

Tuesday, Jan. 17, 2017

Revolutions, by their intrinsic idealism, generate ideological extremism and destructive policies. Like the lava of an active volcano that indiscriminately burns everything in its path, revolutionary extremism devours what stands in its way. The 1979 Islamic Revolution in Iran was no exception. It brought to power idealistic and self-righteous revolutionaries with the mission to establish an Islamic order in Iran and beyond.

Opponents of this agenda, many of whom operated outside of the new system, have been brutally suppressed. Individuals within the governing elite have attempted, with varying degrees of success, to soften this revolutionary extremism and gradually reform the system. The late Ayatollah Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, a founding father of the Islamic Republic and president from 1989 to 1997, was among them. His fingerprints remain conspicuously visible in just about every aspect of Iranian politics. ...

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