Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has met with organisers of events to mark the first anniversary of the killing of senior Iranian military commander General Qasem Soleimani in a US drone attack in Iraq in January this year, Iranian media reported.
It was Khamenei’s first public appearance since rumours of his deteriorating health started circulating earlier this month. Last week it was reported that Khamenei may have transferred power to his 51-year-old son, Sayyid Mojtaba Hosseini Khamenei, who currently oversees several security and intelligence departments in the country.
Photos of the meeting posted on Khamenei’s official website showed him wearing a face mask and social distancing while meeting with members of Soleimani's family.
Khamenei later fired off a series of tweets threatening vengeance on those who killed Soleimani "at the right time."
Those who ordered the murder of General Soleimani as well as those who carried this out should be punished. This revenge will certainly happen at the right time.— Khamenei.ir (@khamenei_ir) December 16, 2020
Millions attending Martyrs Soleimani & Abu Mahdi’s funerals in Iraq & Iran was the 1st severe slap to the US. But the worse one is overcoming the hegemony of Arrogance & expelling the US from the region. Of course, revenge will be taken on those who ordered it & the murderers.— Khamenei.ir (@khamenei_ir) December 16, 2020
Khamenei, who is 81 now, has been serving as supreme leader since 1989, with the final say on all state matters. His health has been the subject of speculation for the past decade.
If he does step down, his long-term successor would be chosen by the Assembly of Experts, which currently consists of 88 ayatollahs.
Earlier this year, the Washington Institute for Near East Policy think tank said it is likely that the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps would also seek a role in the succession, due to its influence on the Assembly of Experts.