Iran: Surgery for an Ailing Imam

Surgery for an Ailing Imam

For a man who has been rumored to be dying of a heart condition or cancer for much of the past decade, the Ayatullah Ruhollah Khomeini, 89, has displayed remarkable longevity. Last week, though, doctors performed surgery on the religious leader to stop what was officially described as "bleeding in his digestive system." Providing a rare and somewhat bizarre glimpse at the Imam's private life, Iranian television actually broadcast scenes from the operating room.

Khomeini's illness has focused new attention on the question of his successor. Since he fired his appointed heir, Ayatullah Ali Montazeri, 65, in March, the spotlight has...

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