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Date TimeJuly 08, 2019
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The Godfather of the Islamic Republic of Iran
Amid Iran’s tantrums over the Trump administration’s maximum pressure campaign, a consequential anniversary which marked three decades since Ali Khamenei’s ascension to the supreme leadership has gone largely unnoticed. After Sultan Qaboos bin Said al Said of Oman, Ayatollah Khamenei is the second-longest serving head of state in the Middle East and, according to one recent estimate, ranks fifth in longevity of current non-monarchical world leaders. His thirty-year reign at the helm of Iran reveals a dual Machiavellian modus-operandi as supreme leader—puppeteer for the elected and patron for the unelected—and explains the current power dynamic in Tehran.The Puppeteer-in-ChiefAs supreme leader, Ali Khamenei has often been a referee among Iran’s warring political factions—fearing that absolute power competes absolutely—and in the process cementing his own authority. Thus, under his administration, Iran’s presidency has been a political death sentence.Early on, Khamenei, as president, learned at the knee of Ruhollah Khomeini how to exercise authority. According to a CIA estimate prepared in December 1983, Khomeini often served as an arbiter between Khamenei and Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, then-speaker of parliament, because of their intense personal rivalry. It concluded that Khomeini “permits neither to achieve a decisive advantage over the other.”




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