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New Judiciary Appointment Expands Network Of Top Officials Related To Khamenei

Ali Bagheri (left) has replaced Mohammad-Javad Larijani as new head of Iran Judiciary's Human Rights Headquarters. FILE PHOTO.
Ali Bagheri (left) has replaced Mohammad-Javad Larijani as new head of Iran Judiciary's Human Rights Headquarters. FILE PHOTO.

The network of officials chosen from among Iranian Supreme Leader's relatives, the allies of his son, and his trusted office staff has grown further by the appointment of a younger hardliner, with family ties to the citadel of power.

On December 29 Judiciary Chief Ebrahim Raeesi (Raisi), now one of Khamenei's most trusted men and a possible successor, appointed Ali Bagheri-Kani as the new Head of Judiciary's Human Rights Headquarters.

The Human Rights Headquarters, which was established in 2005, is in fact a diplomatic apparatus responsible for defending the country's human rights performance at international organizations and forums.

Ali Bagheri-Kani has replaced Mohammad-Javad Larijani, the youngest of the three Larijani brothers, who headed the Human Rights Headquarters for 14 years.

The 54-year-old former diplomat was a member of Saeed Jalili's nuclear negotiating team during Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's presidency and the head of Jalili's presidential campaign in 2013.

Bagheri-Kani who for a while served as Deputy Foreign Minister for Europe is one of the so-called younger-generation mid-level officials of the regime that Khamenei refers to as the "pious youth" and "revolutionary managers".

Similar to his predecessor, Bagheri-Kani is an advocate of "Islamic human rights" which the Iranian hardliner say should challenge Western human rights concepts, which is dismissed as a "tool to exert pressure" on "independent" Islamic countries, as a former Iranian diplomat, Hamid-Reza Asefi, once said.

Bagheri-Kani comes from an influential clerical family and his brother Mesbah ol-Hoda is married to Khamenei's daughter Hoda. His father Mohammad-Baqer Bagheri-Kani is a former member of the Expediency Council and his uncle Ayatollah Mohammad-Reza Mahdavi-Kani once headed the Council.

The family wields huge influence and has for years controlled a top educational institution, the Imam Sadeq Institute of which the Imam Sadeq University is an affiliate. Khamenei's daughter Hoda and her husband Mesbah ol-Hoda are both alumni of the university and have held positions there.

In recent years several others who are related to Khamenei's family by blood or marriage have been appointed to high positions in government including Sadeq Vaez-Zadeh and Komeil Khojasteh.

Vaez-Zadeh, Khamenei's own cousin who is a member of the Expediency Council and the Supreme Cultural Revolution Council, plays an important role in drawing the country's macro-policies on the basis of Khamenei's long-term vision for Iran. Vaez-Zadeh's father, Ayatollah Mohammad Vaez-Zadeh is the secretary-general of the World Forum for Proximity of Islamic Schools of Thought, an important regime propaganda machine.

Khamenei's brother-in-law, Komeil Khojasteh, is in charge of Tebyan Cultural Institute, one of the biggest and best-known cultural institutes in Iran, also a regime propaganda machine.

The family of the former hardline Parliament Speaker Gholam-Ali Haddad-Adel who is represented in Khamenei's household by their daughter Zahra, now has even more political influence than before. Zahra is married to Khamenei's second and most influential son Mojtaba.

Khamenei is allegedly grooming Mojtaba as his successor. He wields huge power in the Supreme Leader's office despite never having been elected or appointed to a government post. In protests and rallies people often chant slogans against him, wishing him death so that he never becomes his father's successor.

Hardliers no doubt will be content to see Baqeri-Qani appointed to the human rights outfit. He is known as a confrontational figure, much like his predecessor Larijani with a bit of more exposure to the West and younger.

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    Reza Haqiqatnezhad

    Reza Haqiqatnezhad was a well-known journalist in Iran until he left the country a few years ago and he is now a political analyst at Radio Farda.