How Deep Is Iran’s State?

The Battle Over Khamenei’s Successor

Rouhani during a news conference in Tehran, Iran, May 2017. REUTERS


In “Iran’s Next Supreme Leader” (May/June 2017), Sanam Vakil and Hossein Rassam convincingly argue that the death of Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, will mark a turning point in the Islamic Republic. They are right that Khamenei desperately wants a smooth transition and is insisting that someone personally and ideologically close to him take over the helm once he dies. 

But Vakil and Rassam err when they contend that “the deep state”—defined as “an intricate security, intelligence, and economic superstructure composed of underlings who are fiercely loyal to him”—will “safeguard the Islamic Republic long after he is gone.” The problem with this argument is that the deep state is hardly invincible, and those in the regime who are aching for reform, including President Hassan Rouhani and his circle, are hardly impotent. In fact, the reformists consider Khamenei’s departure a golden

Loading, please wait...

To read the full article

Related Articles

This site uses cookies to improve your user experience. Click here to learn more.