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Iran appoints another hardliner to head state broadcaster

Supreme leader selects Peyman Jebeli to lead organization already seen as edging its editorial line closer to hardliners

Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei greets participants in an endorsement ceremony to give his official seal of approval to newly elected President Ebrahim Raisi, in Tehran, Iran, August 3, 2021. (Office of the Iranian Supreme Leader via AP)
Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei greets participants in an endorsement ceremony to give his official seal of approval to newly elected President Ebrahim Raisi, in Tehran, Iran, August 3, 2021. (Office of the Iranian Supreme Leader via AP)

Iran’s state TV reported that the country’s top leader has appointed a new hardline ally to head the state broadcasting company.

The Wednesday report said that Peyman Jebeli has replaced Abdolali Ali Asgari, who completed a five-year term at the Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting.

The change came at the order of Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, who has the final say on all state matters.

Jebeli, 55, has a long history in the state broadcasting company, and was a deputy political director there. He also had worked as deputy secretary for media at the country’s Supreme National Security Council.

Khamenei has also recently appointed new heads for the air force, the the judicary, and the navy.

In recent years, the state broadcasting company’s editorial line has been close to hardliners who oppose the former relatively moderate president Hassan Rouhani, who reached a landmark nuclear deal with world powers in 2015.

Rouhnani was replaced in August by Ebrahim Raisi, a conservative cleric and former judiciary chief. The cabinet he presented to parliament was seen as dominated by hardliners.

His pick for interior minister, Gen. Ahmad Vahidi, is a former defense minister blacklisted by the US in 2010 and wanted by Interpol over his alleged role in the 1994 bombing of a Jewish cultural center in Buenos Aires, which killed 85 people and wounded hundreds.

Raisi has promised to engage with the US, but has also has struck a hardline stance, ruling out negotiations aimed at limiting Iranian missile development and support for regional militias — something that the Biden administration wants to address.

But Raisi has voiced support for renewed nuclear negotiations to revive the flagging nuclear deal, and called on the US to fulfill its promises to end sanctions under the 2015 accord.

The deal, known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, has unraveled since the Trump administration withdrew from it in 2018.

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