Key Figures and Leaders

Featured Leadership

  • Mojtaba Khamenei: The Supreme Leader’s Gatekeeper & Guardian

    Mojtaba Khamenei

    The Supreme Leader’s Gatekeeper & Guardian

    Mojtaba Khamenei has emerged as an enigmatic but powerful figure in the Iranian system. Mojtaba is the second-eldest son of Ali Khamenei. His power stems not only from his family connection but also from the role he plays in the Office of the Supreme Leader. Mojtaba occupies a similar role to that of Ahmad Khomeini during Ruhollah Khomeini’s supreme leadership—a combination of aide-de-camp, confidant, gatekeeper, and power broker. Mojtaba has become so influential in the Iranian establishment, that some analysts consider him to be a contender to succeed his father as supreme leader.

  • Ayatollah Ebrahim Raisi

    President of Iran

    Ayatollah Ebrahim Raisi has steadily risen through the ranks of the Islamic Republic of Iran. Spending most of his career in the judiciary, Raisi’s ascendance can be explained by three factors: promotion by Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, an influential family network, and a knack for leveraging state positions to feed his ambition. Raisi has spent his career developing his image as an anti-corruption crusader. In recent years, Raisi has emerged as a leading candidate to succeed Khamenei.

  • Asghar Mir-Hejazi

    The Supreme Leader’s Enforcer

    Asghar Mir-Hejazi is one of the most influential actors in Iran’s establishment. But he flies under the radar of most Western coverage of Iran. This is because he represents the very essence of Iran’s deep state. Mir-Hejazi’s power stems from the longevity of his closeness to Iran’s supreme leader. His rise through the ranks of Iran’s intelligence community and the Office of the Supreme Leader have wielded him considerable stature in Tehran.

  • Ayatollah Ahmad Jannati

    Chairman of Iran’s Assembly of Experts and Secretary of the Guardian Council

    Ahmad Jannati is a 95-year-old ayatollah and politician with close ties to both the founder of the Islamic Republic, Ruhollah Khomeini, and his successor Ali Khamenei, the current supreme leader.

  • Rear Admiral Ali Shamkhani

    Secretary of Iran's Supreme National Security Council

    Ali Shamkhani, the secretary of the Supreme National Security Council (SNSC), is one of Iran’s leading strategists. His credentials span the spectrum of Tehran’s various power centers, including the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), the Islamic Republic’s regular military (Artesh), and the Ministry of Defense and Logistics (MODAFL), to name a few. There is evidence to suggest that Shamkhani has become more influential recently, particularly following the death of former IRGC- Quds Force Commander Qassem Soleimani. This profile will explore Shamkhani’s experience at the helm of multiple organs within Iran’s armed, deep, and elected states, which provide him with a unique perspective that other regime officials lack.

  • Mohammad Bagher Ghalibaf

    Speaker of Iran's Parliament

    On May 28, 2020, Iran’s parliament elected Mohammad Bagher Ghalibaf as speaker. Ghalibaf takes over from Ali Larijani, who was the longest-serving speaker in the history of the Islamic Republic. Parliament’s authority has eroded in recent years. The institution of a new gas policy in 2019, which circumvented the legislative chamber, is one such example. But the speaker remains relevant because he is a powerful political broker in the legislature and also holds seats on Iran’s Supreme National Security Council (SNSC) and the Supreme Economic Coordination Council.

  • Gholamhossein Mohseni-Ejei

    The New Head of Iran’s Judiciary

    On July 1, 2021, Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei appointed Gholamhossein Mohseni-Ejei, who has made a name for himself as a ruthless enforcer of the Islamic Republic with no regard for human rights, as the new head of the Judiciary branch. He succeeded Ebrahim Raisi after the latter was elected President of Iran.

  • Sadegh Amoli Larijani

    Chairman of Iran’s Expediency Council

    Sadegh Larijani’s career in Iranian politics includes a decade as head of the judiciary (2009-2019); multiple election victories for the Assembly of Experts; membership on the Guardian Council, which ended abruptly in 2021; and his current chairmanship of the Expediency Council. Given his extensive knowledge of Islamic jurisprudence and administrative experience, he had been viewed by observers as a possible successor to the supreme leader of Iran. However, corruption allegations following the end of his career in the judiciary and the marginalization of the Larijani dynasty in Iranian politics have reduced his standing.

  • Major General Mohammad Bagheri

    Chief of Staff of Iran’s Armed Forces

    Major General Mohammad Hossein Bagheri is the chief of staff of Iran’s Armed Forces. The chief of staff is considered the highest ranking military officer in the Islamic Republic and is responsible for the coordination and supervision of Iran’s regular army (Artesh) and the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC).

  • Major General Hossein Salami

    Commander-in-Chief of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps

    Major General Hossein Salami has risen through the ranks of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) since its inception after the 1979 Islamic Revolution in Iran. He served on the battlefield during the Iran-Iraq War, spent part of his career in the IRGC’s academic establishment, commanded its Air Force, served as its second-in-command, and finally was promoted to the top position as commander-in-chief in 2019.