Iran pitches cleric as next Shia leader

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The wax statues are detailed likenesses of the men's faces, hands and beards (AFP, Qassem Zein)
ALeqM5jKO  T8EQjIoz6zKYDMMtmeNVvdw?docIdphoto 1336747875424 1 0&ampsizexs - Iran Pitches Cleric as nest Shia Leder.
ALeqM5itjZf XNnv40LeZCaxbyLIzwkXxg?docIdphoto 1336748072152 1 0&ampsizexs - Iran Pitches Cleric as nest Shia Leder.
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PTI | May 13, 2012, 04.24AM IST spacer - Iran Pitches Cleric as nest Shia Leder.
NEW YORK: Iran, the world's largest Shia nation, is pushing a Tehran-based hard-line cleric Ayatollah Mahmoud Hashemi Shahroudi to become Iraq's next supreme spiritual leader, heightening fears in the Gulf.

Shahroudi, 63, is being positioned to succeed Iraq's top spiritual leader Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, triggering fears in an already shaky region that Iran's long-term goal is to transplant its Islamic Revolution to Iraq, New York Times reported.

Iraqi-born Shahroudi has spent most of career leading the Iranian judiciary and remains a top government official.

The Times said with Iranian financing, Shahroudi for has for months been building a patronage network across Iraq, underwriting scholarships for students and distributing information.