Key Figures and Leaders

Featured Leadership

  • Abolqasem Salavati

    The Judge of Death

    Abolqasem (also spelled ‘Abolghassem’) Salavati is an Iranian judge infamous for violating the human rights of defendants and sentencing them to death or long prison terms on trumped-up charges. He is nicknamed “The Hanging Judge” and “The Judge of Death.”

  • Ahmad Vahidi

    Islamic Republic of Iran Minister of Interior

    In August 2021, the Islamic Consultative Assembly ratified the appointment of Ahmad Vahidi, former Defense Minister and Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) Quds Force commander, as Interior Minister.  The Interior Ministry heads the Interior Security Council of the Supreme National Security Council, leading some to label the ministry as the most strategically important in the Islamic Republic, especially given the mass protest events in the country since 2017. Additionally, there is an Interpol Red Notice for Vahidi’s arrest related to his alleged involvement in the 1994 bombing of the Jewish AMIA center in Buenos Aires that killed 85 people.

  • Ahmad-Reza Radan

    Commander of the Islamic Republic of Iran’s Law Enforcement Command

    In January 2023, Iran’s Supreme Leader elevated Ahmad-Reza Radan as the commander of the Islamic Republic of Iran’s Law Enforcement Command (LEC), which is the national police. Radan is a notorious figure, whose career has progressed in tandem with the process of increasing securitization within the Islamic Republic. His ascendance reflects the Iranian system’s desire to suppress the profound revolutionary sentiments among Iranians, and its inability to reform.

  • Ali Akbar Velayati

    Foreign Policy Advisor to Iran’s Supreme Leader

    Ali Akbar Velayati has held prominent leadership posts in the Islamic Republic since its inception. Rising from a member of parliament to foreign minister and later foreign policy advisor to Iran’s supreme leader, Velayati’s ascent can be attributed to his patron Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. Some observers view him as Tehran’s true foreign minister without the title.

  • Ali Baqeri-Kani

    Deputy Foreign Minister

    In September 2021, Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian appointed Ali Baqeri-Kani as the director of the Foreign Ministry Political Directorate. His predecessor, Abbas Araqchi, directed the nuclear negotiations that resulted in the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA).  Baqeri-Kani previously served as a lead nuclear negotiator during Ahmadinejad administration in the late 2000s and early 2010s so is likely to perform a similar role.

  • Alireza Zakani

    Mayor of Tehran

    Alireza Zakani is a controversial figure within the Islamic Republic. Known for his brash communicative style, record of corruption, and indecent personal conduct by the regime’s standards, Zakani appears to be too much of a political liability to be elevated to the presidency. However, behind this mixed public persona, Zakani is a ruthless regime hardliner who rose to prominence through the Student Basij Organization (SBO), a notorious Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) militia responsible for violently repressing protests on university campuses and indoctrinating young Iranians. In the last two decades, he has held a prominent role in supporting former President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, expressing hardline dissatisfaction over the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), and cracking down against political dissent. 

  • Amir Ali Hajizadeh

    Commander of the IRGC’s Aerospace Force

    As commander of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps’ Aerospace Force (IRGC-AF), Amir Ali Hajizadeh plays a critical role in the development, proliferation, and use of Iran’s drone and missile programs. Since the death of Qassem Soleimani, the late commander of the IRGC’s Quds Force, Hajizadeh has presided over a more active and assertive IRGC-AF. The longevity of his tenure is a sign of the confidence that Iran’s Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, has in his abilities.

  • 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.

  • Ayatollah Ali Khamenei

    Supreme Leader of the Islamic Republic of Iran

    The Constitution of the Islamic Republic of Iran is based on the concept of velayat-e faqih (Guardianship of the Islamic Jurist), which grants a learned Islamic jurist (faqih) – a cleric tasked with interpretation of sharia (divine Islamic law) – with the role of Supreme Leader.