Seyyed Ali Khamenei

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Supreme Leader of Iran

"The powers dominating our world do not value anything but power and we must speak with them in the only language they understand, the language of strength."

"This regime (Israel) is an infectious tumour for the entire Islamic world.."

"The Palestinian issue is not an internal Israeli matter. It involves the interests of the whole Islamic world, including Iran. All should strive to return that piece of land to Islamic hands."


Background

You were born in 1939 in Mashhad, the great holy city of eastern Iran, to an Azeri(Caspian Turkish) family. You spent much of your young adult life training in the Shiite seminaries of Najaf and Qom. You first met the great Khomeini while attending theology lectures in Qom, where he lectured on Islamic Mysticism. You joined his underground Islamic Movement in 1962. For the next seven years, you organized underground pro-Islamic, anti-Shah groups, getting thrown in prison many times for your activities. In 1974, SAVAK, the Shah's secret police, arrested you and tortured you at their headquarters, releasing you a year later.


Revolution

One of the founders of the Islamic Republic Party in 1978, you became a member of the Revolutionary Council, after the Islamic Revolution the following year. From then until mid-1980, you held many positions, including Deputy Defense Minister, Commander of the Revolutionary Guards, Friday Prayer Leader of Tehran, Majlis (Parliament) member, and advisor to the Supreme Defense Council. In June of 1981, you were injured by a bomb planted by the terrorist group PMOI and lost the use of your right arm. In September of 1981, you were elected Secretary General of the Islamic Republic Party and then President of the Islamic Republic of Iran.. After the death of the great Imam Khomeini in 1989, the Assembly of Experts honored you with the position of Rahbar, the very powerful position of supreme religious leader of Iran.

Your appointment was not without its difficulties, however. The Islamic Constitution produced by Khomeini in 1979 stipulated that the Rahbar must be the most powerful and respected Shiite cleric in Iran, holding the position of Marja-e Taqlid, or "Grand Ayatollah." You were one step below that upon your appointment, being an elite Ayatollah. To secure your appointment, the Guardian Council actually forced parliament to amend the constitution, allowing a non-Marja to hold the position. Soon thereafter, the Assembly of Experts attempted to bolster your standing by appointing you a Marja themselves. This seriously damaged the credibility of Iran's Shiite establishment throughout the Islamic world, and even though you are thus technically a Grand Ayatollah, you are wise enough not to flout the fact often. In August 2009, your qualification to rule was called into question by unnamed reformist lawmakers and Iranian clerics who sent letters demanding your removal. Luckily, you have a lot of loyalists within the Iranian government who will not allow this to happen.

Rahbar

You exert influence on the government through your appointments to the Supreme Defense Council, as member of the Council of Experts, and as head of the Cultural Revolution Council. These jobs give you a hold on the army, appointments, and the press. You impose your will on parliament through the Guardian Councils, whose members are all confirmed believers in the Revolution.

You are a “moderate” Iranian leader despite your deeply religious and revolutionary roots. You want to end your country's international isolation and believe that Iran must open up to foreign aid and investment. You also recognize the importance of the economy to your political future. While you hold a great deal of hatred for the US after half a lifetime of fighting its puppet ruler, the Shah, you recognize that sometimes concessions must be made. Although you publicly encourage your followers to oppose the “Great Satan,” you played a key role in the release of the Western hostages. This concession was made to improve relations with the United States at a particularly delicate time. Although you are wise enough to recognize America's power and not antagonize it unduly, you have consistently rejected any talk of official dialogue with the US or Israel, and it is unlikely that you will change this opinion even at this critical juncture. Your hold over power has been increased lately as a result of the election of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, rumored to have been a religious volunteer during the revolution, to the Iranian presidency. Ahmadinejad’s bellicose rhetoric has diverted international attention from you, but his inflammatory statements have frustrated Iranians who have come to realize that he has damaged Iran's international credibility, particularly in terms of revoked foreign investments and the possibility that his bellicose speeches have actually made it more likely that Israeli would attack Iran directly. To tamp down his rhetoric you actually took out a page in a Tehran newspaper in early 2007, reminding Ahmadinejad that his position is largely ceremonial and he had better leave important matters of policy to the experts. 2009 was a turbulent year, with huge crowds of opposition protesters demonstrating in the streets of Tehran in the days before the June presidential election. You denied accusations that the vote reelecting Ahmadinejad was rigged, and threatened dissenters with violent oppression. For now, the threat to the status quo has been neutralized, although there is still significant popular support for the opposition. You blame the US and Israel for fomenting the post-election unrest.

When the newly inaugurated President Obama expressed hopes for improved relations with Iran, you rebuffed his outreach saying, “Should you change, our behaviour will change, too.” In late 2009, three US hikers crossed into Iran’s borders, an act your government considers to be espionage. The hikers have yet to be released from prison, a humanitarian crisis that further strains US-Iranian relations.

You became much more vulnerable through your support of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in the disputed 2009 Presidential elections, and through your actions against Iranians who protested the election results. Your legitimacy among the Iranian people was badly tarnished, as your support of Ahmadinejad and your urging that all Iranians accept Ahmadinejad’s election led to riots, which you emphatically put down. Your future will be extremely interesting, as given the uprisings across the region, the assumption that your term as Supreme Leader would be a life-long term can no longer be taken as a given. Considering the state of the nuclear arms issue and the mistrust and frustration within the people of Iran, the future remains quite uncertain not only for you, but also for the nation of Iran as a whole.


Nuclear Program

Iran's enemies have concluded that the nuclear power program your government has pursued since 2002 is the precursor to a nuclear weapons program, while Iran has contended that this program is purely for civilian applications, meant to alleviate Iranian society's overdependence on fossil fuel-derived power. Ahmadinejad's inflammatory calls for the destruction of Israel have ultimately only made the Jewish state more aggressive towards this nuclear program: Israel, or America, will almost surely attack Iran if they are convinced this program is about to produce nuclear weaponry. In early 2007 the UN Security Council endorsed new sanctions aimed at discouraging Iran’s nuclear program and American naval forces were deployed to the Persian Gulf in great numbers in a naked show of American strength.

Your role in this program is not publicly known, but as the effective dictator of Iran you are certainly involved in it at some level. Your negotiators have done a good job of stalling on nuclear talks up to the present, but with new sanctions and enemy forces mobilizing you are running out of time to reveal the truth about your nuclear agenda. In pragmatic terms it is quite likely that you would like nuclear weapons, for the simple reason that nuclear weapons have reliably deterred American aggression in the past (North Korea, China, Russia). In the run-up to nuclear weapons, however, you must pursue an aggressive new policy in the region to ensure your regime's security.

In a 2010 agreement brokered by Brazil and Turkey, Iran agreed to trade 1,200kg of low-enriched uranium to Turkey in exchange for higher-enriched nuclear fuel for a medical research reactor. This agreement failed to alleviate Western anxiety over Iran’s nuclear ambitions, as Iran has stated that it will continue to enrich its own uranium. The US and its allies are pushing for a fourth round of sanctions aimed at further preventing Iran’s nuclear development, which they probably won’t be able to stop completely, but hope to be able to significantly slow. To be fair, the US has not done much to alleviate your fears that it, or Israel, will attack Iran. The US Defense Department said that it has not ruled out military action on Iran, although it clearly does not desire this outcome.


Regional Policies

Your government has attempted to gain regional allies capable of striking back at Israeli and American interests asymmetrically, by promoting armed movements capable of killing Israelis and American troops in Iraq should either of these countries decide to forcibly interdict your nuclear program. To directly deter America, you have forged strong relations with the new Shiite Iraqi government, inviting Iraq's president to Tehran in November 2006. The Iraqi government (including the autonomous Kurdish municipality in the north) let Iran station intelligence officers throughout the country, allowing Iran to monitor the situation as well as advancing its interests. In a less official capacity, you dispatched agents to arm Shiite militias sympathetic to Iran, who thanks to you, have become significant powers in Iraq’s south. In the event of confrontation with America, these militias could probably succeed in cutting off American forces in Baghdad from support in the Persian Gulf, making them virtual sitting ducks for the many armed groups in and around central Iraq.

Regarding Israel, you feel the Zionist entity is an illegal occupying force on Muslim land, and you would like to see it destroyed. In practical terms this is an old rhetorical strategy for the Iranian government, and a cheap way to score points with Sunni Arabs who would otherwise distrust Iran's Shiite government. You have made good on this threat by pursuing Iran’s nuclear program and financially and militarily funding Hamas. Israel may intercept these aid shipments, but is has not deterred your support.

Since Khomeini’s days in power, your government has openly funded and mentored the Lebanese Shiite militia-turned-political party, Hezbollah. In 2006 Israel and Hezbollah went to war against each other (destroying Lebanon's infrastructure in the process), and it became clear in successive engagements that your regime had armed Hezbollah. Despite Israel’s vastly superior military, they could not destroy Hezbollah, and the Shiite militants proved they were capable of striking Israel’s major cities. After the war, Iran fully rearmed Hezbollah, warning the Israelis that any preemptive strike upon Iran will make them think of the 2006 war as a pleasant dream in comparison to what Hezbollah will do to northern Israel.


Roleplaying Notes

You are the Supreme Leader of what, in your opinion, is the world’s only truly godly country. It is your charge to promote freedom and faith over godless autocracy and soulless modernization.

Unfortunately, many Iranians do not see the wisdom of the political order your mentor, Ruhollah Khomeini, gifted to the Iranian people. His notion of Islamic government was a revolution in human political history, and you are deeply honored to currently helm and protect this perfect system from your misguided enemies. You are convinced that today’s youth are being led astray as a result of Western subversion—after your generation expelled the Shah and his American and Zionist masters, an entire generation grew up blissfully unaware of how dangerous the West truly is. You must make it clear to all that ignorant attempts to overthrow God’s law will not succeed, even if this means repressing your own countrymen. The rise in opposition protests following the 2009 presidential elections is of great concern to you, and you must work to muffle the voices of dissent, through force, while working to uphold the legitimacy of your rule. Internationally, you are forced to play a ruthless game: while Ahmadinejad has been busy drawing public attention to himself, you have been busy behind the scenes strengthening alliances with other forces opposed to American global dominance, like Hezbollah in Lebanon, the new socialist regimes of Latin America, and North Korea.

Should Israel or the US destroy your regime, you would certainly die at the hands of the imposed Western puppet. Iran’s nuclear campaign is an important part of this race for survival: you must seek a nuclear deterrent, both to stave off what you are convinced is an impending American attack, and to use as a bargaining chip against western economic aggression in the future. You operate with the understanding that America and Israel only understand force; you will not rest until Iran is strong enough to completely dissuade any of their imperialist schemes.

Sources

http://topics.nytimes.com/top/reference/timestopics/people/k/ali_khamenei/index.html?scp=1-spot&sq=Ali%20Khamenei&st=cse

http://english.aljazeera.net/news/middleeast/2010/05/2010517165252328379.html

http://english.aljazeera.net/news/middleeast/2010/05/201052211147511757.html

http://english.aljazeera.net/news/middleeast/2010/03/2010321144114106942.html

http://www.nytimes.com/2009/08/17/world/middleeast/17iran.html?_r=3&hp

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