Mourners hold posters of former Iranian President Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani during his funeral in Tehran, Iran, Tuesday, Jan. 10, 2017. (AP Photo/Vahid Salemi)
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Iran's Revolutionary Guard Corps looks set to entrench their power and shift the country to more hard-line, isolationist policies for years to come following the death of influential powerbroker Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani.With an upcoming presidential election in May and a question mark over the health of Iran's most powerful figure, Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, analysts say the Guard will soon have opportunities to tighten its grip on the levers of power.Rafsanjani, who died Sunday aged 82, had criticized the Guard's expanding economic interests, which range from oil and gas to telecommunications and construction, its role in the crackdown on protests after disputed 2009 presidential elections and the country's missile program that the Guard oversees.Analysts expect the Revolutionary Guard to play a significant role.One possible candidate is Ayatollah Mahmoud Hashemi Shahroudi, 68, a former head of the judiciary who is now deputy head of the Assembly of Experts.Shahroudi is favored by Khamenei, experts say, and, crucially, is thought to have the backing of the Revolutionary Guard.Some analysts say, however, that given the increasing power of the Revolutionary Guard it is perhaps less significant who actually becomes the next supreme leader.
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