|Party Like It's 632|
|Turning towards Mecca|
Ayatollah Ali Hosseini Khamenei (Persian: سید علی حسینی خامنهای) (pronounced "cha-meh-NAY") is the Supreme Leader of Iran, serving since June 4th, 1989, the day after Ruhollah Khomeini's death. He was once the President of Iran in the 1980s, before the clergy picked him to succeed Khomeini. The nature of his job highlights the "Islamic" part of the "Islamic Republic of Iran" and plays down the "republic" part: he can overrule any acts of the Iranian legislature and president. As a proponent of revolution, he translated several of Sayyid Qutb's most important volumes into Persian. He lacks Khomeini's charisma or clerical standing, and compensates by being something of a recluse, keeping himself mostly detached from day-to-day politics, giving no press conferences or interviews, and leaving the Iranian President as the face of the Islamic Republic. This is partly to maintain the appearance of democracy, as Khamenei privately admitted, during his feud with Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, that he does not want to interfere with procedural democracy and wants to avoid at least appearing like an autocrat to the average Iranian.
Despite all the bluster of Iran getting nukes (or having nukes; nobody seems to make up their minds anymore), Khamenei has issued a fatwa saying the production, stockpiling and use of nuclear weapons was forbidden under Islam in Iran . However, one should be reminded that this fatwa could be read as contradicting with the literal Quranic interpretation of Sura 8:60 which states "And prepare against them whatever you are able of power and of steeds of war by which you may terrify the enemy of Allah and your enemy and others besides them whom you do not know [but] whom Allah knows. And whatever you spend in the cause of Allah will be fully repaid to you, and you will not be wronged". The Islamic Republic has since signed the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, something only Israel, India and Pakistan have not done in the region.
He hates criticism directed at him, however. According to law, "spreading libel against officials, institutions, organizations and individuals in the country or insulting legal or real persons who are lawfully respected, even by means of pictures or caricatures" is not allowed. Therefore, opposition journalists Ahmad Zeidabadi, Mohsen Sazegara, Mohammad Nourizad, and Akbar Ganji were arrested and investigated for spreading critical articles containing unproven charges against Khamenei's policies as the leader and some organizations. He once rejected a 2000 bill presented by the Iranian parliament that aimed to reform the country's press law, and the Guardian Council (which approves of parliamentary candidates) disqualified thousands of 2004 electoral parliamentary candidates who wanted freedom of the press.
Just so you know he fully lives up to the "Supreme Leader" title, we will count the ways. He has a shitstorm of commissars stationed in strategic posts throughout government bureaucracies, dedicated to inspecting and observing the administrations; it's how he knew who to disqualify of all those candidates mentioned above. The leaders of the Islamic Revolutionary Guards, a hardline agency of Muslim Iranians, are directly appointed by, and publicly deferential to Khamenei. They have been rising rapidly and alarmingly, to the point where they've achieved status as a state-within-a-state, with their own army, navy, air force, subordinate militias, and political wing. Largely due to the Dinner Jacket's ridiculousness, the Guards are now the second anchor in the Iranian regime, just after the Supreme Leader. The weak, conservative-dominated parliament is headed by Khamenei loyalist Ali Larijani, whose brother, Sadegh Larijani, also a Khamenei loyalist, is appointed as the head of the judiciary system. Most glaringly, he played a part in Ahmadinejad's bogus landslide 2009 re-election by encouraging the Guards to issue fuck-all on the protesters. Nevertheless, he's had to slap Ahmadinejad every so often when the latter proved too damn dumb for his tastes.
Relationship to Rouhani
Following the election of Hassan Rouhani, Khamenei's been uncharacteristically tolerant of the attempts at diplomacy that Rouhani's been spearheading with the West. He has indicated he didn't like Rouhani's direct phone call with Barack Obama, but he's stayed away from doing anything else. In fact, he actually endorsed Rouhani for the presidency, preferring the moderate to the hardliners surrounding him, which is rather smart of Khamenei, since Iran is suffering from economic sanctions directed by the West. He needs whatever silver lining he can get so Iran is free of economic turmoil, and Rouhani is that silver lining. He's said he trusts Rouhani enough to give the latter full authority to negotiate on Iran's nuclear program with America. We are not looking forward to the future if the diplomacy doesn't work out.
Beef with Israel
Khamenei has continued the long-standing policy of funding anti-Israel groups, particularly the fellow Shiite Hezbollah and hence high-ranking Hezbollah members have sung his praises. He is also fairly unambiguous with the "marg bar Israel" (literally: Death to Israel). And whoever operates his Twitter account said the following in 2010:
“”Israel Is A Hideous Entity In the Middle East Which Will Undoubtedly Be Annihilated.
As it goes with all religious nuts, and in a feat to embarrass himself even more, Khamenei made a prophecy that the Jewish State of Israel would not live to see year 2040.