Formal systems and informal networks : Iranian power politics in principle and practice
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This work explains the structure and function of the contemporary Iranian government by examining the government's formal political, religious and national security structures and the informal networks that empower and constrain the individuals who fill formal regime positions. The research argues that the Islamic Republic of Iran should be understood as a solar system in which the Supreme Leader resides at the center and oversees all other government bodies. These bodies have their own responsibilities and power, but ultimately answer to the Supreme Leader. The work outlines the current Iranian political landscape by examining the dominant ideological currents. It analyzes informal networks using the examples of three relevant actors: President Hassan Ruhani, Majles Speaker Ali Larijani and Supreme Leader Advisor Ali-Akbar Velayati. The paper concludes with predictions for evolutions in Iranian policy in the remainder of the first Ruhani Administration.