Ayatollah Ali Khamenei

More than twenty are dead after protesters in Iran took to the streets to demonstrate against the country’s leaders.
So what is Iran doing to thwart a prospective end run around Iran by the President to Moscow? No surprise! Iran is playing
Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has been ill for quite some time, and over the years there have been speculations on his possible successor. The developments over the past year indicate that a possible successor is emerging.
The man who stepped into Khomeini's shoes almost three decades ago turned 77 on July 16th. Things have changed a lot since that first day when a man from outside the Grand Ayatollahs' club became Iran's leader.
100 years on, it seems naive to continue to believe that the division of the region via the Sykes-Picot agreement is still relevant when the reality on the ground tells an entirely different story. The West must take this into account if it hopes to find a solution to a conflict by which it is now also directly concerned.
Let's start with the last year's announcement for the Holocaust cartoon competition. Its organizers publicly stated that
From opposing the nuclear negotiations to impeaching key ministers, parliament made it increasingly difficult for Rouhani to fully realize his moderate political agenda -- until now.
We have yet to find any leader, and I challenge anyone to name one, who can rise to meet these awesome challenges we face today. A leader who stands above human frailty, shortcomings, and failings.
Iranians recently voted for a new parliament as well as Assembly of Experts, tasked with choosing the successor to Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. Moderate reformers did well in both bodies, vindicating the Obama administration's decision to try diplomacy after years of confrontation.
Judging by the coverage in major U.S. news outlets, the Islamic Republic's first elections since last summer's nuclear deal resulted in a resounding victory for the forces of democracy, moderation and closer ties with the outside world. The truth is starkly different.
Once again the Iranian people used the limited available democratic process, combined with unconventional tools and creative methods, to take another step towards political change. A slow process that started with the election of President Khatami and the birth of the reform movement in the 1990s continued through the 2009 election and post-election resistance, re-emerged in the 2013 election of moderate President Rouhani and again showed up in the two important elections last week. Iranians have been on a slow path to democracy and continue to progress -- with patience and with hope.
The message of these elections to global powers is that they should approach Iran with respect rather than with threats and drop anti-Iranian rhetoric. Iranians who went to the voting booths have a palpable sense of the indifference of the West to the existence of democracy and elections in Iran. They know that any claims by the West to respect public participation in Iran loses its credibility, because they see that Western allies in the region have zero democracy.
We all know that the Iranian elections will change nothing immediately, but we also know that these elections are the closest that the Iranian public can come to shaping the country's future. The real effects of the elections will be felt in the next few years, when the battle for the next supreme leader starts. What happened in the Iranian elections is thus even more significant than Hassan Rouhani's victory in the presidential elections of 2013.
Voting hours were extended several times due to high voter turnout.
It wouldn't be an Iranian election without an American interjection. As Iranians head to the polls on Friday for parliamentary elections, three Republican congressmen have taken it upon themselves to seek visas from Iran to serve as election monitors.
Riyadh's decision to execute Sheikh Nimr Baqir al-Nimr at the start of this month, the Iranian response, and the political fallout have raised the Middle East's sectarian temperatures to the highest level since the Iran-Iraq war of the 1980s.
While the Iranians rightly condemned Saudi Arabia, I find it quite ironic when they represent the murders as a "medieval act of savagery." It's as if the Saudi's, in executing Shiite clerics, held up a mirror to the Iranians in which they saw reflected back their own long-standing and brutal civil and human rights atrocities.
The conflicts in Syria, Iraq and Yemen cannot be resolved unless Iran is at the negotiating table.