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Sayyid Ali Hosseini Khamenei is the second and current Supreme Leader of Iran, in office since 1989.[7][8] He was previously President of Iran from 1981 to 1989. Khamenei is the second longest-serving head of state in the Middle East (after Oman’s Sultan Qaboos), as well as the second longest-serving Iranian leader of the last century, after Shah Mohammed Reza Pahlavi.[9] According to his official website, Khamenei was arrested six times before being sent into exile for three years during Mohammad Reza Pahlavi’s reign.[10] He was the target of an attempted assassination in June 1981 that paralysed his right arm.[11][12] Khamenei was one of Iran’s leaders during the Iran–Iraq War in the 1980s, and developed close ties with the now-powerful Revolutionary Guards which he controls, and whose commanders are elected and dismissed by him. The Revolutionary Guards have been used to suppress opposition to Khamenei.[13][14] Khamenei then went to serve as the third President of Iran from 1981 to 1989 while becoming a close ally to Khomeini. Eventually, after Khomeini had a fall off with then heir-apparent Hussein Ali Montazeri, Rafsanjani claimed that Khomeini had chosen Khamenei as his successor while the Assembly of Experts deliberated to elect the next Supreme Leader. Khamenei succeeded the first Supreme Leader, Ruhollah Khomeini, after Khomeini’s death, being elected as the new Supreme Leader by the Assembly of Experts on 4 June 1989 at the age of 49. Khamenei is head of the servants of Astan Quds Razavi from 14 April 1979.[15] Today, as Supreme Leader, Khamenei is the head of state of Iran and the commander-in-chief of its armed forces. For this reason, he is considered the most powerful political authority in the country.[16][17] As Supreme Leader, Khamenei can issue decrees and make the final decisions on the main policies of the government in many fields such as economy, the environment, foreign policy, national planning in Iran.[18][19][20][21][22][23] According to Karim Sadjadpour, Khamenei has either direct or indirect control over the executive, legislative and judicial branches of government, as well as the military and media.[9] All candidates to the Assembly of Experts, the President and the Majlis (Parliament), are vetted by the Guardian Council, whose members are selected directly or indirectly by the Supreme Leader of Iran.[24] There have been also instances when the Guardian Council reversed its ban of particular people after being ordered to do so by Khamenei.[25] There have been major protests during Khamenei’s reign, including the 1994 Qazvin Protests[26] the 1999 Iranian student protests, the 2009 Iranian presidential election protests[27][28][29] as well as the 2011–12 Iranian protests, among others. Several journalist, bloggers, and other individuals were put on trial in Iran for the charge of insulting the Supreme Leader Khamenei, often in conjunction with blasphemy charges. Sentencing included lashing and jail time, and some of those arrested on these charges have died in custody.[30][31] Regarding the controversial nuclear program of Iran, Ali Khamenei had issued a fatwa on 2003 saying that the production, stockpiling, and use of all kinds of weapons of mass destruction is forbidden.

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