Iran’s Supreme Leader Appoints Hardline Ally to Head Powerful Council

Ayatollah Sadeq Amoli Larijani - which Washington imposed sanctions on for human rights abuses - will head the council that revolves disputes between the Iranian parliament and a watchdog body

FILE PHOTO: Ayatollah Sadeq Amoli Larijani attends a meeting of the Guardian Council, January 21, 2009.

Ayatollah Sadeq Amoli Larijani - the chief of Iran’s hardline judiciary who has been blacklisted by Washington - was named on Sunday as the new head of the powerful Expediency Council, state television reported.

The council is intended to resolve disputes between parliament and a watchdog body, the Guardian Council.

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Larijani, 57, was appointed by Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, who also made him a member of the Guardian Council, which vets laws and elections for compliance with Iran’s Islamic constitution, state television reported.

Larijani, seen as one of Khamenei’s close allies, will replace former Expediency Council head Ayatollah Mahmoud Hashemi Shahroudi, who died this week at the age of 70.

Washington imposed sanctions on Larijani and 13 other individuals and entities in January over alleged human rights abuses in Iran and support for Iranian weapons programs.

Iran rejects Western criticism of its human rights record as politically motivated and based on a lack of understanding of its Islamic laws.