Any successful approach toward Iran must take into account that real political power resides with Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, Supreme Leader of Iran. On C-SPAN’s Book TV, Karim Sadjadpour discussed his monograph Reading Khamenei: The World View of Iran's Most Powerful Leader, and policy implications for the United States.
A central tenet of Khamanei’s strategy, Sadjadpour explained, is to position Iran as the champion of the downtrodden and dispossessed throughout the Middle East. His writings and speeches are replete with the rhetoric of “justice.”
Sadjadpour argued that Khamenei has great ambivalence about mending Iran’s relationship with the West and the U.S. in particular. Thus far, he has straddled the line between accommodation and confrontation with the West. He refuses to compromise when Iran is pressured, since he believes this projects weakness and will invite even more pressure, but he does not seek an all out confrontation. Ultimately, Sadjadpour argued, Khamenei may desire an adversarial relationship with the U.S. to sustain the regime’s legitimacy.