Saturday, August 15, 2009

Khalaji's Who's Who in Khamenei's Iran

Mehdi Khalaji of the Washington Institute for Near East Policy has published an interesting, if brief, academic paper on The Militarization of the Iranian Judiciary. I found the segments below of particular interest, since relationships through ancestry and marriage count for a lot among the mullahs, but family trees are hard to come by:

Who is Sadeq Larijani [who may be the next minister of justice]?
Born in 1960 in Najaf, Iraq, Sadeq Larijani is the son of Grand Ayatollah Hashem Amoli and the son-in-law of Grand Ayatollah Hossein Vahid Khorasani, currently one of the most widely followed marjas, “sources of emulation” whose rulings are regarded as binding by devout Shiite believers. Larijani’s two older and well-known brothers — Ali Larijani, speaker of the Majlis (Iranian parliament) and former nuclear negotiator, and Mohammad Javad Larijani, the deputy head of the judiciary, former deputy foreign affairs minister, and mathematics graduate from the University of California, Berkeley — are also married into respected clerical families: Ali is the son-in-law of the late Morteza Motahhari, an ideologue of the Islamic government, and Mohammad Javad is the son-in-law of Hassan Hassanzadeh, an ayatollah in Qom. Khamenei, at one point the supervisor of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), became intimate with the Larijani family during Ali’s several-year post as deputy commander of the IRGC.
Sadeq justifies his lack of political experience in a short autobiography on his website. Because he “felt that the West’s cultural invasion was no less important than a military invasion,” he decided to prepare himself for “confronting the cultural invasion,” in part by learning English. ...
Sadeq first made a name for himself by criticizing religious intellectuals such as Abdulkarim Soroush and eventually became one of the main voices of the Islamic Republic. Larijani taught courses on Islamic ideology, both at the seminary in Qom and at various IRGC bases around the country.
In 2001, Sadeq Larijani was the youngest jurist ever to be appointed to the Guardian Council, the twelve-person body responsible for approving all laws passed by the Majlis and for supervising elections. In the course of his Guardian Council activities, he has tried to remain under the radar by avoiding public appearances and media interviews. He has also made every effort to keep his relationships with Khamenei, the intelligence apparatus, and the IRGC under wraps.

Militarizing Iran’s Institutions
In his twenty years in office, particularly in recent years, Khamenei has replaced military, political, economic, cultural, and clerical officials with a new generation of politicians and clerics who owe their political or religious credentials to him. The IRGC and intelligence apparatuses became the main avenues through which young ambitious men loyal to Khamenei could enter the political scene.
Although most of these new politicians and clerics are close to Khamenei, they are not traditional clerics with independent political and religious credentials, such as those who participated in the 1979 Revolution. Instead, most of the new generation began their careers in the military, the IRGC, and the intelligence services. Notable examples include Ahmad Khatami (no relation to former president Muhammad Khatami), an influential intelligence agent who is now a member of the Assembly of Experts and the Friday prayer Imam of Tehran; Ahmad Salek, Khamenei’s representative in both the Qods Force and IRGC intelligence and a member of the Militant Clerics Society of Tehran; Hossein Taeb, the commander of Basij militia and former head of IRGC intelligence; and Sadeq Larijani.

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