Especial tease from Washington Institue's "Know Your Foe Files"
Even under the most despotic regimes, modern Iran has long been governed with some degree of consensus among elite factions.
Leaders have conceded to or co-opted rivals when necessary to maintain their grip on power, and the current regime is no exception. Yet determining the nature of such consensus and its effect on Iranian decisionmaking is particularly complicated today, due in no small part to the unique nature of the Islamic Republic. The combination of regular national elections and velayat-e faqih —the doctrine that grants the Supreme Leader lifelong authority as ruling jurist—has lent an air of unpredictability to the regime’s behavior.
To better understand Iranian decisionmaking, one must first look at Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei’s background. He was by no means a typical cleric—his acquaintances, interests, and ambitions were shaped more by intellectual currents than by clerical tradition.
After the 1979 revolution, such interests developed into an enthusiasm for military affairs that would greatly influence his approach to consolidating power in later years
Pic - The Assembly has never been known to challenge any of the Supreme Leader's decisions