(New York, N.Y.) — Understanding the leaders of the Islamic Republic of Iran is key to understanding the danger posed by the Iranian regime. This is why United Against Nuclear Iran (UANI) is creating comprehensive resources on new Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi and members of his expanding hardline cabinet.
In these resources, UANI details the new cabinet members backgrounds and careers and explains their connections to Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and the regime, and what can be expected from each as they serve in their new roles.
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In August 2021, the Islamic Consultative Assembly ratified the appointment of Ahmad Vahidi, former Defense Minister and Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) Qods Force commander, as Interior Minister. 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.
In August 2021, the Islamic Consultative Assembly ratified President 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. Ashtiani is a senior officer in the Army, also known as the Artesh, the 420,000-strong regular military institution that operates alongside the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC). The U.S. Treasury in 2020 designated Ashtiani, who at the time was the Armed Forces General Staff deputy commander, alongside seven other senior officials who have “advanced the regime’s destabilizing objectives.”
In August 2021, President Raisi appointed Mohammad Eslami to serve as Director of the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran (AEOI). Eslami has held leadership positions in military and defense, aviation and engineering, but lacks direct experience in the nuclear energy field. In 2008, the United Nations designated Eslami while he served as director of the Defense Industries Training and Research Institute as “a person linked to Iran’s proliferation sensitive nuclear activities or development of nuclear weapons delivery.
In August 2021, President Raisi proposed Hossein Amir-Abdollahian to serve as his Foreign Minister and he was ratified by the Islamic Consultative Assembly on August 25, 2021. Known in Western media as a hawkish diplomat, Amir-Abdollahian is close to the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) and presents himself as the diplomatic face of the IRGC in the Middle East.
In August 2021, President Raisi nominated Javad Oji as his Oil Minister, one of the most important posts in the Islamic Republic given the state’s reliance on the oil and gas industry. A technocrat by background, Oji served as deputy oil minister under former President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, and in recent years has acted as a senior executive in energy companies controlled by conglomerates answering to Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. The U.S. designated Oji in November 2020 for acting as a key component of the Supreme Leader’s patronage network. The Islamic Consultative Assembly has ratified Oji as Oil Minister.
In August 2021, the Islamic Consultative Assembly ratified President Raisi’s selection for Minister of Intelligence and Security, Esmail Khatib, a mid-ranking cleric who has attained the title of Hojjat ol-Eslam, which means “proof of Islam.” Khatib has decades of experience in Iran’s civilian intelligence apparatus, holding senior positions in the Ministry of Intelligence and Security (MOIS) and the Judiciary branch’s counter-intelligence department. Khatib’s credentials date back to his seminary studies at Qom, where he studied under the disciples of the founder of the Islamic Republic, Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini.
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.