Iran’s Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei has reappointed Ahmad Jannati, 95, for another six-year term as head of the Guardian Council. If he is still alive by then, he will complete his term when he turns 101. According to Khamenei’s decree, issued on Saturday, two other clerics, Mohammad-Reza Modarresi Yazdi and Mehdi Shabzendedar Jahromi were also reinstated to their positions in the council. The Guardian Council, sometimes referred to as the Constitutional Council, is made up of Islamic Shariah experts responsible for checking legislation approved by the Iranian parliament against the Constitution and Shariah and approving candidates for various elections in Iran.
The Guardian Council is made up of twelve members, six clerics chosen by the supreme leader of the regime, namely Khamenei, as well as six jurists appointed by the judiciary and elected by parliament. Therefore, six members are appointed by Khamenei and the other six are elected by the judiciary, whose head is also appointed by Khamenei. Doing the math, in reality, it is safe to say that the twelve members of the council are appointed by Khamenei.
According to Abbas Ali Kadkhodai, one of the Council’s jurists, “Jannati is the oldest jurist in the Guardian Council. I have worked closely with him for over two decades. There are other jurists and lawyers who have a history of cooperation with Ayatollah Jannati more than me. All the jurists and experts who are in contact with him recognize his high political intelligence and his activities in political affairs.
However, ordinary Iranians ridicule the former cleric, who stumbles while quoting verses from the Quran, and call him “the cleric who does not die” and a “dinosaur”. Dozens of photoshopped images of Jannati during the Ice Ages, holding a dinosaur or sitting behind Napoleon on his horse can be found on the Internet.
Learn more about Jannati
Ahmad Jannati was born in 1926. He was appointed by Khomeini to this council in 1980 and has been a member of the powerful organization for more than four decades. A partial list of his positions in the regime includes;
Secretary of the Islamic Propaganda Coordinating Council
Head of the Islamic Propaganda Organization
Temporary Imamate of Qom, Kermanshah and Tehran
Representation at the Assembly of Experts
Opportunity Council Membership
Member of the Constitutional Review Board
Membership of the Supreme Council of the Cultural Revolution
Broadcasting Commission Membership
Membership in the Supreme Council of the World Assembly of Ahl al-Bayt
Representation in Bosnia and Herzegovina Affairs
Regarding his role in Iran’s Revolutionary Courts and issuing sentences, he said, “We were supposed to become judges, and we were zero miles (I didn’t know anything about laws). We had not read the law. Eventually they told us there was no choice, you go here, and a court was held here, and these criminals were brought in, and we tried them… Many people also didn’t know what to do. People like me had never been trained… When we were active in the Revolutionary Tribunal, we wondered whether or not to execute certain people; the imam (founder of the Khomeini regime) had said that one should not delay the execution of a person whose crime is certain… The only thing that was necessary was to identify that the person had not been executed by mistake.
The Council of Guardians, an instrument of corruption and repression
The budget of the Guardian Council has reached 277 billion tomans for 2022, compared to about 24 billion tomans in the 2018 budget bill. This is more than ten times in 4 years. It should be noted that until 2011, the budget of the Council of Guardians had an average growth of three to four percent. Yet, from 2011, this growth became double digits, and even in 2015, the budget of this institution saw a 99% increase. The interesting point is that in 2015, when there were no elections, and the Guardian Council’s budget should have been reduced from 2014, it faced a 21% growth, and this problem repeated itself in 2016 and 2017.
A day before Iran’s February 2020 parliamentary elections, the US Treasury Department sanctioned Ahmad Jannati, the chairman of the Guardian Council, and four other Council members, including Abbas-Ali Kadkhodaei, Siamak Rahpeik, Mohammad Hassan Sadeghi Moghaddam and Mohammad Yazdi. for preventing free and fair elections in Iran. The Treasury had announced that the decision had been taken in response to the disqualification of thousands of candidates for the legislative elections in Iran. The statement points out that the Council of Guardians, whose members are appointed by the Supreme Leader, disqualifies candidates who do not share the views of the regime and therefore make a fair and free election impossible.
Why Jannati, 95, was renamed by Khamenei
The reappointment of 95-year-old Jannati as head of the Guardian Council is indicative of the fact that the council is just a show and another instrument of repression of the Iranian people. Many analysts believe that although Khamenei is aware of Jannati’s age and dysfunction, Iranian society is so unstable and the state of the economy and social issues so fragile that Khamenei dares not bring any change to the status quo.