The Supreme Leader
- Ayatollah Ali Khamenei is Iran’s most powerful official. As supreme leader, he has constitutional authority or substantial influence over the executive, legislative and judicial branches of government as well as the military and media.
- Khamenei lacks the religious credentials and popular support of his predecessor, revolutionary leader Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini. As a result, Khamenei has been more insecure and vulnerable to criticism from religious and political circles.
- Khamenei had tried to cultivate the image of a magnanimous guide above the political fray. But his support of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in the disputed 2009 elections—amid mass protests and unprecedented political fissures—further undermined his legitimacy and support.
- Khamenei is primarily interested in protecting his power and ensuring the survival of the Islamic theocracy, which he believes is based on justice, independence, self-sufficiency and piety.
- Khamenei’s foreign policy is driven by animosity to the United States and Israel. It is unclear whether he could abandon this position without undermining the raison d’etre of the Islamic system.
- Prospects for reconciliation with the United States are low while Khamenei remains in power. At the same time, any engagement policy Iran that aims to ignore or bypass Khamenei is equally unlikely to succeed.
- In both the domestic and international context, Khamenei is averse to compromise under pressure, fearful of projecting weakness and inviting greater pressure.
- Khamenei worries about opposition to his rule among top clerics in Qom, but opposition within the Revolutionary Guards would be far more dangerous for him.
- Khamenei has not appointed an heir apparent and there are no obvious successors, should he die or be removed from power. The supreme leader could be replaced with a shura (consultative) council, although the selection of a council could face many problems.
|The Supreme Leader.pdf||175.15 KB|
The Islamists Are Coming
The Islamists Are Coming, edited by Robin Wright, surveys the rise of Islamist groups in the wake of the Arab Spring. Often lumped together, the more than 50 Islamist parties with millions of followers now constitute a whole new spectrum—separate from either militants or secular parties. They will shape the new order in the world’s most volatile region more than any other political bloc. Yet they have diverse goals and different constituencies. Sometimes they are even rivals.
"The Iran Primer"--Book Overview
“The Iran Primer” brings together 50 top experts—Western and Iranian—in comprehensive but concise overviews of Iran’s politics, economy, military, foreign policy, and nuclear program. Each link connects to a complete chapter on one of 62 subjects in 10 categories. Printable PDF attachments also are at the bottom. Timely analysis is added weekly. The book also chronicles U.S.-Iran relations under six U.S. presidents. It probes five policy options. And it offers timelines, bios of top leaders, and data on nuclear sites and specific sanctions resolutions. And it provides context and analysis for what lies ahead. Click here to order the book.