|“||Today, you are hated throughout the world. If you don't know this, you should. The peoples burn your flag. The Islamic peoples all over the world chant: 'Death to America!'||„|
|~ Ali Khamenei about America|
Sayyid Ali Hosseini Khamenei (April 19th, 1939 - ) is a Twelver Shia Marja' and the second and current Supreme Leader of Iran, in office since 1989. He was previously President of Iran from 1981 to 1989. Khamenei is the second-longest serving head of state in the Middle East (after Oman's Sultan Qaboos), as well as the second-longest serving Iranian leader of the last century, after Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi.
According to his official website, Khamenei was arrested six times before being sent into exile for three years during Mohammad Reza Pahlavi's reign. He was the target of an attempted assassination in June 1981 that paralysed his right arm.
Born to Seyyed Javad Khamenei, an Alim and Mujtahid born in Najaf, and Khadijeh Mirdamadi (daughter of Hashem Mirdamadi) in Mashhad, Khamenei is the second of eight children. Two of his brothers are also clerics; his younger brother, Hadi Khamenei, is a newspaper editor and cleric. His elder sister Fatemeh Hosseini Khamenei died in 2015, aged 89. He has an ethnic Azerbaijani background on his father's side, with one source claiming that his mother was an ethnic Persian speaker from Yazd. Some of his ancestors are from Tafresh in today's Markazi Province and migrated from their original home in Tafresh to Khamaneh near the Tabriz. Khamenei's great ancestor was Sayyid Hossein Tafreshi, a descendant of the Aftasi Sayyids, whose lineage supposedly reached to Sultan ul-Ulama Ahmad, known as Sultan Sayyid, a grandchild of Shia fourth Imam, Ali ibn Husayn.
His education began at the age of four, by learning Quran at Maktab; he spent his basic and advanced levels of seminary studies at the hawza of Mashhad, under mentors such as Sheikh Hashem Qazvini and Ayatollah Milani. Then, he went to Najaf in 1957, but soon returned to Mashhad due to his father's unwillingness to let him stay there. In 1958, he settled in Qom where he attended the classes of Seyyed Hossein Borujerdi and Ruhollah Khomeini. Like many other politically active clerics at the time, Khamenei was far more involved with politics than religious scholarship.
Khamenei was one of Iran's leaders during the Iranian Revolution as well as the subsequent Iran–Iraq War in the 1980s, and developed close ties with the now powerful Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps which he controls, and whose commanders are elected and dismissed by him. The Revolutionary Guards have been used to suppress opposition to him. Khamenei then went to serve as the third President of Iran from 1981 to 1989, while becoming a close ally of the first Supreme Leader, Ruhollah Khomeini. Eventually, after Khomeini had a disagreement with the then heir apparent Hussein Ali Montazeri, Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani claimed that Khomeini had chosen Khamenei as his successor while the Assembly of Experts deliberated to elect the next Supreme Leader. After Khomeini's death, Khameini was elected by the Assembly of Experts as the new Supreme Leader on June 4th, 1989, at the age of 49. He has been head of the servants of Astan Quds Razavi since 14 April 1979.
Today, as Supreme Leader, Khamenei is the head of state of Iran and the commander-in-chief of its armed forces. For this reason, he is considered the most powerful political authority in the country. As Supreme Leader, Khamenei can issue decrees and make the final decisions on the main policies of the government in many fields such as economy, the environment, foreign policy, and national planning in Iran. According to Karim Sadjadpour, Khamenei has either direct or indirect control over the executive, legislative and judicial branches of government, as well as the military and media. All candidates for the Assembly of Experts, the Presidency and the Majlis (Parliament) are vetted by the Guardian Council, whose members are selected directly or indirectly by the Supreme Leader of Iran. There have been also instances when the Guardian Council reversed its ban on particular people after being ordered to do so by Khamenei.
There have been major protests during Khamenei's reign, including the 1994 Qazvin Protests, the 1999 Iranian student protests, the 2009 Iranian presidential election protests the 2011–12 Iranian protests, and the 2017–18 Iranian protests. Journalists, bloggers, and other individuals have been put on trial in Iran for the charge of insulting Supreme Leader Khamenei, often in conjunction with blasphemy charges. Their sentences have included lashing and jail time, and some of them have died in custody. Regarding the nuclear program of Iran, Ali Khamenei had issued a fatwa in 2003 saying that the production, stockpiling, and use of all kinds of weapons of mass destruction is forbidden.
Following the assassination of Qasem Soleimani by an American drone strike in January 2020, Khamenei promised retribution against the United States, hinting at a possible war with the United States after decades of tension between the two countries.