Profile: Iran appoints new security council chief

    ANALYTICS  31 May 2023 - 10:45

    Rear Admiral Ali Akbar Ahmadian, a senior officer in the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), was appointed to be secretary of the Supreme National Security Council (SNSC), the highest body in charge of foreign policy and national security, on May 22.

    He replaced Ali Shamkhani, a former rear admiral and defence minister who had held the position from 2013 to 2023. The reshuffle marked the latest consolidation of the IRGC in positions of power, according to The Iran Primer.

    Both Ahmadian and Shamkhani fought in the 1980-1988 war with Iraq and quickly rose through the ranks. Their trajectories intersected in the 1990s, when Ahmadian served as Shamkhani’s deputy in the IRGC Navy. Both earned the trust of Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, who named Shamkhani to be his representative on the SNSC in 2013 and did the same with Ahmadian in 2023.

    But the two military men were different in several ways. Unlike Shamkhani, Ahmadian had little to no experience with foreign policy or domestic security issues. He spent nearly his entire career in military settings. Shamkhani was not committed to any political camp. Widely considered a pragmatist, he served under three presidents – a reformist, a centrist, and a hardliner.

    In contrast, Ahmadian was a “hard-nosed” commander, according to the Tehran Times. He was “a quiet, cagey and taciturn general whose actions speak louder than words.” Ahmadian reportedly sidelined reformist commanders in the IRGC.

    His appointment to the SNSC, which has only 12 permanent members, could strengthen hardliners in debates. Mohammad Kosari, a member of parliament, expected Ahmadian to push reforms. He is “completely a soldier” of the supreme leader, the lawmaker told local media.

    Ahmadian’s appointment could “further strengthen the IRGC in Iran, a process accelerated after President Ebrahim Raisi was elected president in 2021,” Danny Citrinowicz, a fellow at the Institute for National Security Studies in Tel Aviv, told The Iran Primer

    Four of Raisi’s 19 cabinet nominees were members of the IRGC, and at least three others had connections to it. Raisi’s predecessor, Hassan Rouhani (2013-2021), had tried to keep the IRGC out of the political realm and reduce its outsized role in the economy. The following is a profile of Ahmadian.


    Accounts of Ahmadian’s life vary. He was born in 1961 or 1962 in Shahr-e Babak in southeast Kerman province. He was reportedly admitted to Tehran University’s dentistry program around 1980 but joined the IRGC after Iraq invaded that year.

    He served with Qassem Soleimani, who went on to become a national hero and command the elite Qods Force from 1997 until he was killed in a U.S. drone strike in 2020. But the nature of their relationship was unclear. Ahmadian participated in a 1982 operation that led to the expulsion of Iraqi forces from southwestern Khuzestan province. He quickly climbed the ranks and became the IRGC Navy’s chief of staff in 1985.

    After the war ended in 1988, Ahmadian served under Shamkhani as deputy commander of the IRGC Navy. Ahmadian promoted asymmetric tactics as a way to counter superior forces, including the US Navy stationed in the Persian Gulf. In the late 1980s or 1990s, he completed his dentistry studies and later a graduate degree in strategic management from the Supreme National Defense University of Iran. He also reportedly received a master’s degree in defence sciences.

    Ahmadian became commander of the IRGC Navy in 1997. In an open letter, he and 23 other senior IRGC commanders demanded that President Mohammad Khatami (1997-2005) crackdown on the 1999 student protests in Tehran. “We declare that our patience has come to an end, and we will not permit ourselves any more tolerance in the face of your inaction,” they warned.

    In 2000, Supreme Leader Khamenei appointed Ahmadian as chief of the IRGC Joint Staff. During two years of his seven-year term, he was simultaneously the dean of Imam Hossein University, which is linked to the IRGC, from 2005 to 2007. Khamenei appointed Ahmadian to be chief of the IRGC Strategic Studies Center in 2007.

    Ahmadian developed a military doctrine based on asymmetric tactics and Shiism. In 2007, Ahmadian was sanctioned by the United Nations, the United States, and the European Union in 2007 for his role in nuclear and ballistic missile activities. 

    In 2022, Khamenei appointed Ahmadian to the Expediency Council, a body that resolves constitutional disputes between the Parliament and the Guardian Council. He continued to head the IRGC Strategic Studies Center until his appointment as secretary of the SNSC in May 2023.


    Subscribe to our Telegram channel

Read also

Separatist “statesmen” arrested by Azerbaijan in Garabagh Time to answer for crimes

03 October 2023 - 16:44

Will Ankara blast mark new era of Türkiye – PKK standoff? Fresh urgency for peace

03 October 2023 - 15:06

Star forum at the start: Betting on space - Baku's long-term strategy Review by Caliber.Az

03 October 2023 - 12:48

Briefcase without handles Oskanyan's secret recipe to rescue Armenia

03 October 2023 - 16:09

Saudi–Israeli normalisation may inflame another regional nuclear dispute Transformational peace or long-term conflict?

02 October 2023 - 18:00

Baku speeding up measures to reintegrate Armenians of Garabagh region New reintegration portal comes online

02 October 2023 - 15:48
Latest news

    Spanish king asks PM to form new government following failed first attempt

    04 October 2023 - 07:57

    US house of representatives ousts McCarthy as speaker in unprecedented move

    04 October 2023 - 06:56

    Multiple deaths after Italian bus carrying tourists falls from Venice overpass

    04 October 2023 - 05:58

    Parents of US school shooter to stand trial for negligent behaviour towards gun safety

    04 October 2023 - 05:03

    Ukraine receiving Turkish Baykar Akinci heavy-strike drones could tilt battlefield scales

    04 October 2023 - 03:57

    How West's dependence on Russia does not stop with natural gas

    04 October 2023 - 02:57

    Pentagon announces significant price increase for F-35 jet program

    04 October 2023 - 02:03

    What to know about Pope Francis' summit of bishops regarding future of church

    04 October 2023 - 00:56

    How Nobel-prize winning research enabled lightspeed COVID-19 vaccine development

    03 October 2023 - 23:57

    Teenager carries out fatal shooting in popular Thai mall

    03 October 2023 - 22:57

    Abducted New York girl found alive together with ransom-note leaving kidnapper

    03 October 2023 - 22:03

    Italian premier: Situation with migrants - intractable

    03 October 2023 - 20:59

    Azerbaijani musicians take part in Polish Music Festival

    03 October 2023 - 20:49

    Armenian official rules out unfriendly actions towards Russia

    03 October 2023 - 20:37

    Azerbaijan detains separatist leader Arayik Harutyunyan

    03 October 2023 - 20:35

    Azerbaijan detains separatist Garabagh ex-leaders Bako Sahakyan, Arkady Gukasyan, David Ishkhanyan

    03 October 2023 - 20:33

    Azerbaijan to produce Azersky-2 satellite

    03 October 2023 - 20:23

    Azerbaijan sterilises funds worth $2 billion since 2022 - top banker

    03 October 2023 - 20:11

    Iran kicks off large-scale drone exercises

    03 October 2023 - 19:57

    Estonia opens office in Armenia to help displaced people from Garabagh

    03 October 2023 - 19:43

    Azerbaijan to partake in 17th Youth Delphic Games of CIS nations

    03 October 2023 - 19:29

    Azerbaijan licenses two TV channels to broadcast to Garabagh

    03 October 2023 - 19:14

    Iranian leader warns Saudis against "betting on losing horse" Israel

    03 October 2023 - 19:00

    China offers to collaborate on lunar mission as deadlines loom

    03 October 2023 - 18:50

    Azerbaijan unveils volume of electricity generated by Sugovushan hydroelectric power plant

    03 October 2023 - 18:38

    Baku congratulates counterparts on anniversary of Organization of Turkic States

    03 October 2023 - 18:27

    EU approves budget revision with 50 billion euros for Ukraine

    03 October 2023 - 18:15

    Kremlin: Armenia’s decision to ratify Rome Statute - incorrect

    03 October 2023 - 18:10

    Lithuania’s opposition leader demands resignation of army commander

    03 October 2023 - 18:03

    FM: Azerbaijan restoring religious, cultural heritage destroyed by Armenia


    03 October 2023 - 17:54

    Serbian president takes the blame for situation in Kosovo

    03 October 2023 - 17:47

    Khazri-2023 joint tactical exercise underway


    03 October 2023 - 17:43

    Belarus sets up commission to control exports to Russia

    03 October 2023 - 17:40

    Elon Musk facing defamation lawsuit in Texas

    03 October 2023 - 17:33

    The Hitavada: No reports on harm to Garabagh Armenians after Azerbaijan's anti-terrorist mesaures

    03 October 2023 - 17:26

    Iran yet to make final decision on assailant of Azerbaijani Embassy in Tehran

    Statement by Prosecutor General's Office

    03 October 2023 - 17:19

    Blogger: Let Azerbaijan deal with Armenian ex-presidents

    03 October 2023 - 17:12

    The Telegraph: Britain has "run out of arms to send to Ukraine"

    03 October 2023 - 17:05

    Shooting in Thailand shopping mall kills at least three people

    03 October 2023 - 16:58

    The Guardian: No reason to oppose Garabagh's reintegration into Azerbaijan

    03 October 2023 - 16:51

All news