By Mehdi Khalaji. Mr. Khalaiji is a senior fellow at The Washington Institute, focusing on Iranian politics and the politics of Shiite groups in the Middle East.
Sadeq Larijani, a young and inexperienced cleric with close ties to Iran's military and intelligence agencies, has replaced Mahmoud Hashemi Shahroudi as head of the Iranian judiciary. This appointment is particularly significant, since the judiciary in Iran wields considerable power -- albeit through the approval of Iran's top leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei -- and has a great deal of latitude to make decisions without reference to law or Islamic concepts, especially when "safeguarding the interests of the regime" is deemed necessary.
Born in 1960 in Najaf, Iraq, Sadeq Larijani is the son of Grand Ayatollah Hashem Amoli and the son-in-law of Grand Ayatollah