Assuming that Mark’s cheerful report is true, it’s still not clear at all what it means. I have a very hard time believing that anything out of Rafsanjani is anything more than tactical: he wants more power for himself and his cronies, not a true opening of the system.
Now, maybe that’s what would occur anyway were Rafsanjani to succeed: overthrowing the Supreme Leader by clerics might make it clear that the clerics themselves could be pushed aside, but that could take a very long time.
Put another way, the Eurasianet report suggests that Rafsanjani’s aim might be replacing the system of a Supreme Leader with a more “collective leadership.” To me, that sounds like Khruschev, not Gorbachev or Yeltsin. It sure beats the hell out of Stalin, though.
In any event, if reformers are putting their money on Rafsanjani, that’s the political equivalent of a sucker’s bet.