Key Figures and Leaders

Featured Leadership

  • Mokhber

    Mohammad Mokhber

    First Vice President of Iran

    Mohammad Mokhber Dezfuli currently serves as the Interim President and First Vice President of the Islamic Republic, succeeding President Ebrahim Raisi following his untimely death. Before this position, his leadership roles at massive business conglomerates—the Mostazafan Foundation and the Execution for Imam Khomeini’s Order (EIKO)—implicated him in the corruption at the heart of Supreme Leader Khamenei’s domestic political strategy. The Supreme Leader appointed him as the head of EIKO to oversee a large patronage network and implement Khamenei’s vision of a resistance economy to neutralize international sanctions. Furthermore, in these positions he oversaw efforts to punish regime enemies by seizing their property. His current role in the elected branch of government has been used to perpetuate corruption, implement a resistance economy, and punish regime enemies, a pattern which will likely continue as his career advances.

  • Mohammad Reza Fallahzadeh

    Deputy Commander of the IRGC’s Quds Force

    Mohammad Reza Fallahzadeh’s career has straddled both the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) and Iran’s government as a provincial governor. His service in the Quds Force has included battlefield experience in Syria, and eventually he rose to the level of deputy commander. 

  • Mohammad-Reza Ashtiani

    Islamic Republic of Iran Minister of Defense

    In August 2021, the Islamic Consultative Assembly ratified President Ebrahim Raisi’s selection for Defense Minister, Brigadier General Mohammad-Reza Ashtiani. The Ministry of Defense and Armed Forces Logistics (MODAFL) is responsible for the planning, logistics, and funding of the armed forces, and its General Staff, which directly answers to the Supreme Leader, exercises control over the forces.

  • 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.

  • Rear Admiral Ali Shamkhani

    Former Secretary of Iran’s Supreme National Security Council Rear Admiral Ali Shamkhani

    Ali Shamkhani, the former 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.

  • 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.

  • Saeed Jalili

    Former Secretary of the Supreme National Security Council

    Through his close relationship with Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei, Saeed Jalili has proven an influential figure within the politics of the Islamic Republic of Iran, particularly as a proponent of the regime’s aggressive foreign policy and nuclear program. He built his reputation as a zealous ideologue on the world stage when he was appointed as President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s nuclear negotiator.  Over the course of his career, he has adopted the role of hardline ideological enforcer for Khamenei’s office, applying pressure to the administration of Hassan Rouhani when it was seen as falling out of line with the Supreme Leader’s directives. Through his extremely ideological posturing, Jalili has also been able to cultivate a significant support base amongst the small but radical social constituency of the Islamic Republic, not least among younger generations of the Basij paramilitary force and so-called hezbollahi youth.  Though he has maintained a relatively behind-the-scenes profile in recent years, Jalili has remained politically involved through his connections and the ascension of his protégés to higher office. By declaring his intention to run for president on May 30, 2024 to succeed Ebrahim Raisi following his unexpected death, he offers Khamenei a loyal choice and the opportunity to signal an even more antagonistic turn in the regime’s foreign policy. 

  • Shahram Irani

    Artesh Navy Commander

    In August 2021, Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei appointed Admiral Shahram Irani as the Artesh Navy commander. The Artesh and the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) constitute the bifurcated military system in the Islamic Republic.

  • 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.