Iran's Power in the Shadows

The country's supreme religious leader keeps a low profile—and may be the U.S.s best hope for avoiding another war

The most powerful man in Iran avoids the gilded trappings of office. While many of the officials who serve under him build Caspian Sea villas and travel in caravans of shiny new SUVs, Ayatullah Ali Khamenei, the country's supreme religious leader, conducts himself with the modesty of a small-town mullah. He receives visitors in spare, undecorated offices in downtown Tehran and often runs meetings seated on the floor and wearing a plain black robe. Billboards with his portrait are ubiquitous in the capital, depicting Khamenei more as a rumpled civil servant than a revolutionary, with thick glasses and rough, checkered scarf....

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