Iran’s Present Leaders

Iran's political system is complex, with multiple layers of leadership. Ahmadinejad is the current president of Iran, but his role is much less powerful then the president in, for example, the U.S.


The Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei, a cleric, is the most important leader in Iran.



ali_khameni web

Ali Khamanei, Supreme Leader
The Supreme Leader is the agent of Shia Islam and holds absolute power on the basis that he can best interpret Islamic law. He appoints six members of the Guardian Council, all the members of the Expediency Council, the heads of the armed forces and judiciary, the Friday prayer leaders and the directors of TV and Radio. Since coming to power in 1989, Ali Khamanei has rigorously upheld the conservative values of the revolution and has been a firm opponent of the Reformist movement. His authority has been severely challenged by the street protests in the aftermath of the disputed elections and by the criticism of very senior figures in the political establishment such as Hashemi Rafsanjani.

Mahmoud-Ahmadinejad web Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, President
Though elected every four years by popular vote, nevertheless the candidate must still be approved by the Supreme Leader and the Guardian Council. So though nominally the president appoints a cabinet and is in charge of all aspects of government, especially the economy, the Supreme Leader can always intervene. President Ahmadinejad won his first term as a populist, promising to restore the fervency of the 1979 revolution and put oil money on the tables of the poor. His fervency was embarrassing on the international stage, and resented at home while his economic policies have stoked inflation. So this year he was widely expected to lose at the ballot box. The announcement he had won sparked off massive protests at all levels. Ahmadinejad begins his second term in office in a severely weakened position. Hundreds of thousands believe he stole their vote and senior members of the political establishment refuse to recognize the legitimacy of his governmen
Rafsanjani web Hashemi Rafsanjani, Chairman of the Assembly of Experts and Expediency Council
The immensely wealthy Hashemi Rafsanjani is a major architect of the Islamic Republic, especially since the late 1980’s. It was he who persuaded the late Ayatollah Khomeini to end the disastrous war with Iraq; it was he who managed the meeting that saw Ali Khamanei appointed Supreme Leader in 1989; and it was he who freed up the economy in the 1990’s. Now as the chairman of the Assembly of Experts, he still exercises great power. For this 86 member body is responsible for appointing the Supreme Leader if he dies or resigns, and to dismiss him if he proves incompetent. Members are elected every eight years, and all candidates are vetted by the Guardian Council. They meet twice a year. 
Larijani web Ali Larijani, Speaker of Parliament
Iran’s 290 parliamentarians have two problems. First they must be approved by the conservative Guardian Council before they can even be elected, which means hundreds are removed from the lists, and secondly all their legislation must be approved by that same Guardian Council. Despite these restrictions, Ali Larijani, formerly Iran’s chief nuclear negotiator, is a much respected figure in the political establishment who cannot be ignored
jannat webi Ahmad Jannati, Chairman of the Guardian Council
 Vetting all all presidential, parliamentary and Assembly of Expert candidates, and all legislation the Guardian Council is a very powerful body. It is made up of six theologians appointed by the Supreme Leader and six jurists nominated by the judiciary and approved by Parliament. Members serve for six years. Ahmad Jannati, who has been the group’s chairman since 1988, is a well known conservative who has been very active in promoting the values of the revolution, and opposing its perceived enemies, especially the USA and Israel. He is also a member of the Assembly of Experts .
sadeeq Sadeq Larijani, Head of Judiciary
 Last year, Sadeq Larijani replaced Hashemi Shahroudi as the head of the judiciary. Already a jurist in the influential Guardian Council, Larijani has a close relationship with the intelligence services and the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps. He lectures both at Qom and Revolutionary Guard bases on Islamic ideology and is a keen opponent of intellectuals like Abdulkarim Soroush who call for religion to be less central in government. The head of the judiciary has the immense power. After the Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Khamanei, Sadeq Larijani will have the final say on all the cases in the judicial system deemed to threaten the Islamic Republic –including the cases of Christians such as Maryam Rustampoor and Marzieh Amirizadeh. Sadeq Larijani comes from a powerful family. He is the son of Ayatollah Amoli and son in law of Ayatollah Khorasani, he is also the brother of Ali Larijani, well known as Iran’s fomer negotiator on the nuclear issue and now the speaker of parliament, and his other brother, Mohammad Larijani is at present the deputy head of the judiciary. There is nothing in Sadeq Larijani’s background to indicate he will be moderate in his dealings with Christians.

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