Supreme Leader of Iran

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Supreme Leader of Iran
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| constituting_instrument = Constitution of Iran | formation = 3 December 1979| first = Ruhollah Khomeini| salary = weblink|}}}}{{Politics of Iran}}The Supreme Leader of Iran (), also referred to as Supreme Leader of the Islamic RevolutionArticle 89-91, Iranian Constitution (, {{transl|fa|rahbar-e mo'azzam-e enqelāb-e eslāmi}}), but officially called the Supreme Leadership Authority, (, {{transl|fa|maqām mo'azzam rahbari}}) is the head of state as well as the ultimate political and religious authority of the Islamic Republic of Iran. The armed forces, judiciary, state television, and other key government organizations are subject to the Supreme Leader. The current longtime officeholder, Ali Khamenei, has been issuing decrees and making the final decisions on economy, environment, foreign policy, education, national planning, and everything else in Iran.WEB,weblink Iran's Khamenei hits out at Rafsanjani in rare public rebuke, Middle East Eye, WEB,weblink Khamenei says Iran must go green - Al-Monitor: the Pulse of the Middle East, Al-Monitor, yes,weblink" title="">weblink 2015-12-22, WEB,weblink Exclusive: Iran pursues ballistic missile work, complicating nuclear talks, Louis Charbonneau and Parisa Hafezi, 16 May 2014, Reuters, WEB,weblink IranWire - Asking for a Miracle: Khamenei's Economic Plan, WEB,weblink PressTV-‘Economic issues, Iran's foremost problem’, WEB,weblink Khamenei outlines 14-point plan to increase population, kjenson, 22 May 2014, yes,weblink" title="">weblink 1 August 2017, WEB,weblink Iran: Executive, legislative branch officials endorse privatization plan,, WEB,weblink Khamenei slams Rouhani as Iran's regime adopted UN education agenda, 8 May 2017, WEB,weblink Khamenei Orders New Supervisory Body to Curtail Government - ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive, Asharq, Al-awsat, 25 September 2017, Khamenei also makes the final decisions on the amount of transparency in elections,WEB,weblink Leader outlines elections guidelines, calls for transparency, 15 October 2016, and has dismissed and reinstated presidential cabinet appointees.WEB,weblink BBC NEWS - Middle East - Iranian vice-president 'sacked', The Supreme Leader directly chooses the ministers of Defense, Intelligence and Foreign Affairs, as well as certain other ministers, such as the Science Minister.WEB,weblink Did Khamenei block Rouhani’s science minister?, mshabani, 23 October 2017, yes,weblink" title="">weblink 24 October 2017, Iran's regional policy is directly controlled by the office of the Supreme Leader with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs' task limited to protocol and ceremonial occasions. All of Iran's ambassadors to Arab countries, for example, are chosen by the Quds Corps, which directly report to the Supreme Leader.The office was established by the Constitution of Iran in 1979, pursuant to the concept of Guardianship of the Islamic Jurist.Article 5, Iranian Constitution According to the Constitution, the powers of government in the Islamic Republic of Iran are vested in the legislature, the judiciary, and the executive powers, functioning under the supervision of the Supreme Leader.Constitution of Iran Unofficial English translation hosted at University of Bern, Switzerland (with good summaries) The style "Supreme Leader" () is commonly used as a sign of respect – although the Constitution simply designates them as "Leader" (, {{transl|fa|rahbar}}).The Supreme Leader ranks above the President of Iran and personally appoints the heads of the military, the government, and the judiciary."Who's in Charge?" by Ervand Abrahamian London Review of Books, 6 November 2008 Originally the constitution required the Supreme Leader to be a Marja'-e taqlid, the highest-ranking cleric in the religious laws of Usuli Twelver Shia Islam. In 1989 however, the constitution was amended and simply asked for Islamic "scholarship", thus the Supreme Leader could be a lower-ranking cleric.Moin, Baqer, Khomeini, (2001), p.293"Article 109 [Leadership Qualifications](1) Following are the essential qualifications and conditions for the Leader:a. Scholarship, as required for performing the functions of religious leader in different fields.In its history, Iran only had two Supreme Leaders: Ruhollah Khomeini, who held the position from 1979 until his death in 1989, and Ali Khamenei, who has held the position since Khomeini's death.In theory, the Supreme Leader is elected and overseen by the Assembly of Experts. However, all candidates for membership at the Assembly of Experts (including the President and the Majlis (parliament)) are appointed by the Guardian Council, whose members in turn, are appointed by the Supreme Leader.WEB,weblink Rafsanjani breaks taboo over selection of Iran's next supreme leader, Reuters, 14 December 2015, 1 July 2016, Furthermore, all directly-elected members of the Assembly of Experts still require the Supreme Leader's approval even after the Guardian Council's vetting process.(see Article 108 of the constitution)WEB,weblink ICL - Iran - Constitution, Prof. Dr. Axel Tschentscher,, LL.M.,, Thereby, the Assembly has never questioned the Supreme Leader.WEB,weblink Everything you need to know about Iran’s Assembly of Experts election, 1 July 2016, There have been cases where incumbent Ali Khamenei publicly criticized members of the Assembly, resulting in their arrest and subsequent removal. There also have been cases where the Guardian Council repealed its ban on particular people after being directed to do so by Khamenei.WEB,weblink Iran reverses ban on reformist candidates, Staff and agencies, 24 May 2005, 1 July 2016, The Supreme Leader is legally considered "inviolable", with Iranians being routinely punished for questioning or insulting him.WEB,weblink Iran arrests 11 over SMS Khomeini insults, GlobalPost,weblink" title="">weblink 14 March 2016, WEB,weblink Iran arrests 11 over SMS Khomeini insults: report, The Daily Star, 22 September 2017, 4 February 2017,weblink

Mandate and status

The Supreme Leader of Iran is elected by the Assembly of Experts (, Majles-e Khobregan), which is also the only government body in charge of overseeing, choosing and dismissing Supreme Leaders of Iran.WEB,weblink The Assembly of Experts - The Iran Primer,, The Supreme Leader is the commander-in-chief of the armed forces and the {{citation needed span|provisional|date=April 2017}} head of the three branches of the state (the Judiciary, the Legislature, and the Executive).He oversees, appoints (or inaugurates) and can dismiss the following offices:

Incorporation in the Constitution


In March 1979, shortly after Ruhollah Khomeini’s return from exile and the overthrow of Iran's monarchy, a national referendum was held throughout Iran with the question "Islamic Republic, yes or no?".Duality by Design: The Iranian Electoral System By Yasmin Alem Although some groups objected to the wording and choice and boycotted the referendum, 98% of those voting voted "yes". Following this landslide victory, the constitution of Iran of 1906 was declared invalid and a new constitution for an Islamic state was created and ratified by referendum during the first week of December in 1979. According to Francis Fukuyama, the 1979 constitution is a "hybrid" of "theocratic and democratic elements" with much of it based on the ideas Khomeini presented in his work (Islamic Government: Governance of the Jurist) (Hukumat-e Islami).NEWS,weblink July 27, 2009, Iran, Islam and the Rule of Law, Francis, Fukuyama, Wall Street Journal, In the work, Khomeini argued that government must be run in accordance with traditional Islamic sharia, and for this to happen a leading Islamic jurist (faqih) must provide political "guardianship" (wilayat or velayat) over the people. The leading jurist were known as Marja'.The Constitution stresses the importance of the clergy in government, with Article 4 stating that “all civil, criminal, financial, economic, administrative, cultural, military, political, and all other statutes and regulations (must) be keeping with Islamic measures;…the Islamic legal scholars of the watch council (shura yi nigahban) will keep watch over this.”WEB,weblink ICL - Iran - Constitution, 1 July 2016, and the importance of the Supreme Leader. Article 5 states “during the absence of the removed Twelfth Imam (may God hasten his reappearance) government and leadership of the community in the Islamic Republic of Iran belong to the rightful God fearing… legal scholar (Faqih) who is recognized and acknowledged as the Islamic leader by the majority of the population.” Article 107 in the constitution mentions Imam Khomeini by name and praises him as the most learned and talented leader for emulation (marja-i taqlid). The responsibilities of the Supreme Leader are vaguely stated in the constitution, thus any ‘violation’ by the Supreme Leader would be dismissed almost immediately. As the rest of the clergy governed affairs on a daily basis, the Supreme Leader is capable of mandating a new decision as per the concept of Vilayat-e Faqih. (Halm, 120-121)


Shortly before Imam Khomeini's death a change was made in the constitution allowing a lower ranking Shia cleric to become Supreme Leader. Khomeini had a falling out with his successor Hussein-Ali Montazeri who disapproved of human rights abuses by the Islamic RepublicKeddie, Nikki R.; Yann Richard (2003). Modern Iran: Roots and Results of Revolution. New Haven, Connecticut: Yale University Press. p. 260. such as the mass execution of political prisoners in late summer and early autumn 1988. Montazeri was demoted as a marja and Khomeini chose a new successor, a relatively low-ranking member of the clergy, Ali Khamene'i. However Article 109 stipulated that the leader be `a source of imitation` (Marja-e taqlid). Khomeini wrote a letter to the president of the Assembly for Revising the Constitution, which was in session at the time, making the necessary arrangements to designate Khamene'i as his successor, and Article 109 was revised accordingly.Schirazi, Asghar, The Constitution of Iran : politics and the state in the Islamic Republic / by Asghar Schirazi, London ; New York : I.B. Tauris, 1997 p.73-75 "Khomeini is supposed to have written a letter to the Chairman of the assembly of Leadership Experts on 29.4.89 in which he emphasised that he had always been of the opinion that the marja'iyat was not a requirement for the office of leader.

Guardianship of the Islamic Jurist (Velayat-e faghih)

File:Ali Khamenei met with Hajj authorities 2018 09.jpg|thumb|Ayatollah Ali Khamenei met with HajjHajjThe constitution of Iran combines concepts of both democracy and theocracy, theocracy in the form of Khomeini's concept of vilayat-e faqih (Guardianship of the Islamic Jurist), as expressed in the Islamic Republic. According to Ayatollah Khomeini, the Guardianship of the Islamic Jurist was not restricted to orphans or mental incompetents, but applied to everyone in absence of the twelfth Imam. Jurists were the only rightful political/governmental leaders because "God had commanded Islamic government" and "no one knew religion better than the ulama" (Islamic clergy). They alone would preserve "Islamic order" and keep everyone from deviating from "the just path of Islam".Khomeini, Islam and Revolution, Writings and Declarations Of Imam Khomeini p.54 Prior to the revolution observant Shia Muslims selected their own leading faqih to emulate (known as a Marja'-i taqlid) according to their own decision making. The “congregation rather than the hierarchy decided how prominent the ayatollah was” thus allowing the public to possibly limit the influence of the Faqih.Nasr, Seyyed Vali Reza, The Shia Revival: How Conflicts within Islam Will Shape the Future, W. W. Norton & Company, Apr 17, 2007, p.?After the revolution Shia Muslims (or at least Iranian Shia) were commanded to show allegiance to the current vali-e faghih, Guardian Jurist or Supreme Leader. In this new system, the jurist oversaw all governmental affairs. The complete control exercised by the Faqih was not to be limited to the Iranian Revolution because the revolution and its Leader had international aspirations. As the constitution of the Islamic Republic states, it intends to establish an ideal and model society on the basis of Islamic norms. ... the Constitution provides the necessary basis for ensuring the continuation of the Revolution at home and abroad. In particular, in the development of international relations, the Constitution will strive with other Islamic and popular movements to prepare the way for the formation of a single world community (in accordance with the Koranic verse `This your community is a single community, and I am your Lord, so worship Me` [21:92]), and to assure the continuation of the struggle for the liberation of all deprived and oppressed peoples in the world.According to author Seyyed Vali Nasr, Khomeini appealed to the masses, during the pre-1979 period, by referring to them as the oppressed and with charisma and political ability was tremendously successful. He became a very popular role model for Shiites and hoped for the Iranian Revolution to be the first step to a much larger Islamic revolution, transcending Shia Islam, in the same way that Vladimir Lenin and Leon Trotsky wanted their revolution to be a world revolution, not just a Russian one.Nasr, Seyyed Vali Reza, The Shia Revival: How Conflicts within Islam Will Shape the Future, W. W. Norton & Company, Apr 17, 2007, p.137

Functions, powers, and duties of the Supreme Leader

(File:Ali Khamenei voting in the 2017 Presidential election20.jpg|thumb|Ali Khamenei voting in the 2017 Presidential election)File:Swedish PM Stefan Löfven meeting Iranian Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei 04.jpg|thumb|Ali Khamenei with Swedish Prime Minister Stefan LöfvenStefan LöfvenDuties and Powers given to the Supreme Leader by the Constitution, decrees and other laws are:
  1. Delineation of the general policies of the Islamic Republic of Iran in consultation with the Nation's Expediency Discernment Council.
  2. Supervision over the proper execution of the general policies of the systems.
  3. Resolving conflicts between the three branches of the
  4. Issuing decrees for national referendums.
  5. Assuming supreme command of the armed forces.
  6. Declaration of war and peace, and the mobilization of the armed forces.
  7. Ability to veto laws passed by the parliament.WEB,weblink Iran's Supreme Revolutionary, Reza, Aslan, 22 June 2009,,
  8. Appointment, dismissal, and acceptance of resignation of:
  9. Can dismiss and reinstate ministers.NEWS,weblink Iranian lawmakers warn Ahmadinejad to accept intelligence chief as political feud deepens, CP, 2017-05-21, yes,weblink" title="">weblink 2017-08-08, BOOK, Amir Saeed Vakil,Pouryya Askary, constitution in now law like order, 2004, 362,
  10. Resolving differences between the three wings of the armed forces and regulation of their relations.
  11. Resolving the problems, which cannot be solved by conventional methods, through the Nation's Expediency Discernment Council.
  12. Signing the decree formalizing the elections in Iran for the President of the Republic by the people.
  13. Dismissal of the President of the Republic, with due regard for the interests of the country, after the Supreme Court holds him guilty of the violation of his constitutional duties, or after an impeachment vote of the Islamic Consultative Assembly (Parliament) testifying to his incompetence on the basis of Article 89 of the Constitution.
  14. Pardoning or reducing the sentences of convicts, within the framework of Islamic criteria, on a recommendation (to that effect) from the head of the Judiciary. The Supreme Leader may delegate part of his duties and powers to another person.
  15. Confirms decisions of the Supreme National Security Council.§ 5 of Article 176
  16. Control over Special Clerical Court.WEB,weblink Inside Iran - The Structure Of Power In Iran - Terror And Tehran - FRONTLINE - PBS,,
  17. Can declare war and peace.

List of Supreme Leaders

ImageSize = width:800 height:auto barincrement:20PlotArea = top:10 bottom:50 right:130 left:20AlignBars = lateDateFormat = yyyyPeriod = from:1979 till:2019TimeAxis = orientation:horizontalScaleMajor = unit:year increment:5 start:1979Colors =
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from: 1979 till: 1989 color:Past text:"Ruhollah Khomeini" fontsize:10
from: 1989 till: end color:Actual text:"Ali Khamenei" fontsize:10

{| class="wikitable"! style="width:1%;"| {{Abbr|No.|Number}}! style="width:15%;"| Supreme Rule! style="width:5%;"| Portrait! style="width:25%;"| Name{{small|English · Persian · Signature}}! style="width:5%;"| Lifespan! style="width:10%;"| Place of birth! style="width:25%;"| Notes! 1({{Age in years and days12198903}})}}100px)Grand AyatollahSayyid}} Ruhollah Khomeini(File:Ruhollah Khomeini signature.png|80x80px)190222198939df=y}}Khomeyn, Markazi Province}}Leader of the 1979 Iranian Revolution, and founder of the Islamic Republic of Iran.}} ! 2({{age in years and days06|04}})}}100px)Grand AyatollahSayyid}} Ali Khamenei(File:Khamenei signature.png|80x80px)193919DATE=23 SEPTEMBER 2013, Mashhad, Razavi Khorasan Province}}Previously served as President of Iran from 1981 to 1989 until Khomeini's death.}}

See also



External links

{{commons cat|Supreme Leaders of Iran}} {{Iran topics}}{{Heads of state and government of Asia}}{{Ruhollah Khomeini}}{{Ali Khamenei}}

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