Iran’s supreme leader has appointed former president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to the Expediency Council, the country’s top political arbitration body headed by an avid critic of the outgoing president.
OH MY GOD HE’S STILL IN POWER AND PROBABLY JUST SECONDS AWAY FROM NUKING YOU AND EVERYONE YOU EVER LOVED AND wait, what the hell is the “Expediency Council”?
You can relax, because the “Expediency Discernment Council of the System” is basically an advisory committee for the Supreme Leader. The Constitution of the Islamic Republic of Iran, as ratified in 1979, created the office of Supreme Leader, who would be chosen by an elected Assembly of Experts and would serve until death or removal by the Assembly. Underneath that office, and in charge of the day-to-day operations of the country though not in charge of its military or foreign policy, is the President, popularly elected to as many as two consecutive four-year terms plus one additional, non-consecutive term. Apart from the Assembly of Experts there is the Majlis or parliament, and the Guardian Council, which is comprised of 12 leading legal experts (6 appointed by the Majlis and 6 by the Supreme Leader) whose job is to vet and approve/reject all candidates for national office (Majlis and President) as well as to serve as a veto on any legislation passed by the Majlis that is deemed un-Islamic. The Supreme Leader is the final authority on what is permissible under Islamic law, but the Guardian Council is the first check.
The Expediency Council was established by a revision to the constitution in 1988, to mediate disputes between the Majlis and Guardian Council but also to serve as an advisory council for the Supreme Leader. By law its membership includes the president, the speaker of the Majlis, and several other members appointed by the Supreme Leader (I’m not sure what the current size is, but probably around 40 members). It’s a powerful body collectively, since it has the ear of the Supreme Leader and substantial (though mostly informal) powers of oversight over the rest of the government, but no one member is all that significant. When you add in the fact that the council is chaired by former President Hashemi Rafsanjani, who apparently hates Ahmadinejad’s rotten guts, there’s really nothing to worry about from this. It’s probably Khamenei’s way of keeping Ahmadinejad, with whom he had a very love-hate relationship, inside the political apparatus, because Khamenei seems to like the guy but also because Ahmadinejad’s brand of dumb populism has some appeal to the masses.