Hashemi-Rafsanjani, ?Ali-Akbar (1934-)

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˓Ali-Akbar Hashemi-Rafsanjani was born in Rafsanjan, Kerman province, Iran, in 1934 and was educated in Qom Seminary as one of Ruhollah Khomeini's students. (The Ayatollayh Khomeini became the revolutionary leader of Iran in 1979.) Rafsanjani was one of the exiled Khomeini's chief agents, opposed to the rule of Mohammad Reza Shah Pahlavi, and was arrested on several occasions. He spent three years in prison (1975–1977). Upon the overthrow of the shah in 1979, Rafsanjani was appointed to the Revolutionary Council. His loyalty to Khomeini, combined with political skills, resulted in his elevation to the leadership of the Iranian parliament.

Rafsanjani orchestrated the arms-for-hostages deal with members of the administration of the U.S. president Ronald Reagan, an action that later set into motion the Iran-Contra scandal in the United States. After the death of Khomeini in 1989, Rafsanjani emerged as the pragmatist president of Iran (1989–1997) and declared a plan of economic reform, known as an "adjustment program," that included unifying exchange rates, privatizing the economy, and canceling subsidies. Rafsanjani kept Iran from direct involvement in hostilities during the Persian Gulf War in 1991. After the war he continued to carve out a middle ground between his more conservative religious colleagues' calls for Iranian insularity and his own inclination toward oligarchic modernization. He also worked to renew close ties with Middle Eastern neighbors and the countries of Europe. Rafsanjani was accused by a federal court in Germany of ordering the murders of certain opponents who were gunned down in a Berlin restaurant. Rafsanjani was reelected to the presidency in 1993 but stepped down in 1997 and became the leader of the Expediency Council after completing his second term as president.

See alsoIran, Islamic Republic of ; Revolution: Revolution in Iran .

Majid Mohammadi