Key Figures and Leaders

Featured Leadership

  • Mohammad Kawtharani

    Lebanese Hezbollah's Representative in Iraq

    Mohammad Hussein Kawtharani is Lebanese Hezbollah’s representative in Iraq. Kawtharani assumed greater responsibility in overseeing Iraq’s Shia militias since the death of former Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) Quds Force Commander Qassem Soleimani. The U.S. Treasury Department sanctioned Kawtharani in 2013, describing him as the “individual in charge of Hizballah’s activities in Iraq.”

  • Mohammad Moghiseh

    The Iranian Supreme Court’s New Hanging Judge

    Mohammad Moghiseh is an Iranian judge infamous for violating defendants’ human rights and sentencing them to death or long prison terms on trumped-up charges.

  • 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.”

  • Hassan Rouhani

    Former President of Iran

    Hassan Rouhani has emerged victorious with 57% of the vote in the May 2017 Iranian election, defeating his primary hardline challenger Ebrahim Raisi and the five other candidates permitted to run out of over 1600 applicants. Western media accounts of the Iranian election (See here, here, here, here, here, here and here for a small sampling) incorrectly sought to portray Rouhani as a “moderate” or “reformist,” and erroneously concluded that his reelection would be a harbinger of domestic social reforms and a more conciliatory approach to foreign policy. Characterizations of Rouhani’s “moderation” ignored the reality of Rouhani’s true nature as a loyal servant of Iran’s Islamic Revolution who is dedicated to the preservation of its repressive, theocratic regime.

  • Hojatoleslam Mahmoud Alavi

    Former Intelligence Minister of Iran

    Hojatoleslam Mahmoud Alavi’s career has spanned Iran’s armed, deep, and elected states. He has been a legislator, a member of the Assembly of Experts, an appointee of Iran’s supreme leader, and most recently former intelligence minister. Alavi is unique in that he has maintained his credibility as a national security decision-maker while simultaneously railing against the securitization of society. At times, this has caused him political problems. This profile will explore Alavi’s trajectory across Iran’s multiple power centers.

  • Major General Qassem Soleimani

    Former Commander of the IRGC's Quds Force.

    Major General Qassem Soleimani arose from humble origins to become the commander of Iran’s elite Quds Force, the external expeditionary wing of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) that oversees and carries out intelligence operations, terrorist plots, and unconventional warfare outside of Iran. The Quds Force, whose name refers to Iran’s desire to liberate al-Quds (Jerusalem) from Israeli control, is primarily tasked with spearheading the export of Iran’s Islamic Revolution throughout the Middle East and coordinating the activities of the loyal terrorist proxies and militias that Iran has cultivated around the region.

  • Mohammad Hejazi

    Former Deputy Commander of the IRGC's Quds Force

    Following the death of Qassem Soleimani in a U.S. airstrike, his deputy Esmail Qaani was appointed to command Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps’ Quds Force (IRGC-QF). Two weeks later, Brigadier General Mohammad Hejazi - a shadowy officer with a storied career in the IRGC - became Qaani’s vice-commander. Following his appointment, sources claimed that Hejazi would assume much of the Quds Force field command responsibilities.

  • Ayatollah Ali Khamenei

    Supreme Leader of Iran

    Under the Islamic Republic of Iran’s velayat-e faqih (guardianship of the jurist) system of government, the Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, is the most powerful political official in Iran. His powers include “constitutional authority over the judiciary, the regular armed forces and the elite Revolutionary Guards, and the state-controlled media.” Given the power vested in Ayatollah Khamenei's position, understanding his political and ideological views—"In His Own Words"— is crucial to understanding the Iranian regime’s current domestic and foreign policies.

  • Who Will Be Iran's Next Supreme Leader?

    Iran’s constitution provides broad guidance on the characteristics sought in candidates for the position of supreme leader. Article 5 stipulates that the ideal individual be: “just, pious, knowledgeable about his era, courageous, a capable and efficient administrator…” Article 109 elaborates that the individual should have “[s]cholarship, as required for performing the functions of religious leader in different fields; required justice and piety in leading the Islamic community; and right political and social perspicacity, prudence, courage, administrative facilities, and adequate capability for leadership.” It’s this conglomerate of religious, administrative, and political qualities that will prove pivotal in determining the right figure for the job.