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Iran’s government and current political divisions

Iran’s government and current political divisions

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Matthew Duss explains Iran's current government and the political divisions that define it.
Matthew Duss explains Iran's current government and the political divisions that define it.

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Published by: Center for American Progress on Apr 11, 2012
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Appenix | .americanproress.or43
 The structure of the Iranian government
Unelected bodies
The supreme leader,
or
Rahbare Mo’azzame Enghelab
(leader o he revoluion),sands a he op o he Islamic Republic o Iran, having he nal say on all polii-cal and religious maters. He is also he commander in chie o Iran’s armed orces.Te curren supreme leader, Ayaollah Ali Khamenei, is he second since he cre-aion o he Islamic Republic in 1979. Te rs was Ayaollah Ruhollah Khomeini,one o he leaders o he revoluion and he ounder o he Islamic Republic.Unlike his predecessor, Khamenei is no known or his religious scholarship.
1
 He was seleced as successor shorly beore Khomeini’s deah, when he long-inended successor, Ayaollah Monazeri, had a alling ou wih Khomeini overMonazeri’s criicisms o he auhoriarian excesses o he regime. BecauseKhamenei was no a senior cleric a he ime o his selecion, his ascen required achange o he consiuion enabling a lesser cleric o serve as supreme leader. Hislack o religious credenials has been a coninuing source o poliical vulnerabiliy and personal insecuriy.
The most learned cleric
 , or
 
 faqih
 , acs as he earhly represenaive o he 12himam, whose evenual reurn will inaugurae an era o peace and jusice, accord-ing o Shia eschaology. Te aqih
 
has he nal say on maters o sae based on heguardianship o he mos learned juris, or
Velaya-e faqih
 , he poliical-religiousdocrine on which he Islamic Republic is based. Ayaollah Khomeini developedand promulgaed his docrine in a series o lecures while in exile in Naja inneighboring Iraq in he lae 1960s and early 1970s. As wih oher rends in Shia scholarship a he ime such as ha o Iraqi AyaollahMuhammad Baqr al-Sadr, ounder o Iraq’s Da’wa Pary, Khomeini’s ideas broke wih
Appendix: Iran’s government andcurrent political divisions
 
Shia radiion (in which clerics avoided over involvemen in poliics) by advocainga much more prominen leadership role or clerics in poliical maters. As supremeleader, however, Ayaollah Khomeini had ormal powers comparable o a consi-uional monarch. Bu afer a series o consiuional amendmens hasily adopedshorly beore Khomeini’s deah, he posiion became more powerul and eecively independen o any ormal checks and balances under Ayaollah Ali Khamenei.
The Council of Guardians
is made up o 12 persons, six clerics appoined by hesupreme leader and six legal scholars seleced by he head o he judiciary (who ishimsel appoined by he supreme leader) and approved by he Majlis (he IranianParliamen), o serve or six-year erms. Te council has veo power over all legisla-ion and sricly ves candidaes or poliical oce, eecively acing as a check onIran’s democraic insiuions.
The Expediency Discernment Council
was creaed by Ayaollah Khomeini in 1988o manage dispues beween he Majlis and he Guardian Council. Shorly beorehis deah in 1989, Khomeini ordered a consiuional revision process ha wouldocially esablish he council.
2
I currenly consiss o 28 members, all o whomare appoined by he supreme leader o serve ve-year erms. Since 2002, he
SupremeLeaderAssemblyof ExpertsExpediencyCouncilRevolutionaryGuardsGuardianCouncilSupreme NationalSecurity CouncilPresidentBasij Quds ForceMilitaryVice Presidents MinistersMajles (Parliament)
UnelectedElected
FIGURE 4
The Iranian system of government
44Center or American Proress | Strenthenin America’s Options on Iran
 
council has been headed by Ayaollah Akbar Hashemi Rasanjani. On March 14,2012, Supreme Leader Khamanei announced Rasanjani’s reappoinmen.
3
The head of the judiciary
is asked wih ensuring ha Islamic law is enorcedhroughou he judiciary sysem. He is appoined by he supreme leader or ave-year erm and in urn appoins he chie jusice o he Supreme Cour and hechie prosecuor. Te curren head is Sadeq Larijani, he younger broher o MajlisSpeaker Ali Larijani.
Elected bodies
The president
 
is eleced or a our-year erm and is limied o wo erms. Toughhe oce has a high public prole, is power is severely consrained by he consi-uion, and he presiden’s auhoriy exends mainly o domesic and economicaairs. Te curren presiden, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, was able o injec himsel ino oreign policy only when he had he backing o he supreme leader. Now haKhamenei has wihdrawn his suppor, Ahmadinejad has ound himsel increas-ingly isolaed. In Ocober 2011 Khamenei proposed possibly abolishing he oceo he presiden, bu i’s unclear wheher he will pursue his.
4
The Cabinet of Ministers
 
is made up o 24 minisers, chosen by he presiden andconrmed by Iran’s Parliamen, he Majlis. Te supreme leader has he abiliy ochoose or dismiss cabine minisers as he sees .
5
Vice presidents
 
oversee various aspecs o he presiden’s agenda. Te consiu-ion empowers he presiden o Iran o appoin as many or as ew vice presidensas he requires. Currenly here are 12 vice presidens serving under Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.
Parliament
,
or he
 Majlis
 , was rs creaed as a resul o Irans consiuional revolu-ion in 1906, wih boh an upper and lower house. Afer he 1979 Iranian revoluion,he lower house was abolished. Te parliamen is currenly made up o 290 repre-senaives, eleced every our years. Boh Majlis candidaes and he legislaion heMajlis produces are subjec o he approval o he Guardian Council. Te currenMajlis speaker is Ali Larijani. For he 2012 Majlis elecions, he council rejeced hecandidacy o 45 percen o some 5,200 applicans. Reasons or rejecion includedallegaions o “no believing in Islam,” “no being a praciioner o Islam,” “no beingloyal o he Consiuion,” and “no being loyal o he
Velaya-e Faqih
.
6
Appenix | .americanproress.or45

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