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Unrest in Iran will continue until religious rule ends

Ever since the 1979 Iranian Revolution created the Islamic Republic of Iran, replacing Iran’s 2,500-year-old monarchy with a clerical regime, the supreme leader has been both the head of state and the highest ranking religious authority in Iran.

The Constitution grants the supreme leader’s office almost unlimited power. Today, Khamenei — like his well-known predecessor Ayatollah Khomeini, whose reign ended when he died in 1989 — wields enormous control over Iran’s military, judiciary, treasury, media, foreign policy, presidential cabinet and legislative process.

The executive branch, in contrast, is rather weak. The president is limited to enforcing or changing the Constitution, meaning he can appoint ministers and ambassadors, for example — but he cannot, say, repeal laws that discriminate against women and ethnic minorities.

Khamenei’s power is also financial. A major portion of Iran’s national budget goes to the office of the supreme leader and its affiliated institutions. This funding is not subject to government oversight, and no one but Khamenei himself knows how much money he receives.

Nor does anyone control how he spends it. Since the 1979 revolution, the office of the supreme leader has laid out billions of dollars to expand the influence of his faith, Shia Islam, across the Middle East.

Source: Salon: in-depth news, politics, business, technology & culture > Politics

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