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Ayatollah Ali Khamenei became Iran's supreme leader in 1989, when the country faced recovery from the eight-year war with Iraq without Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini.This will not suit Khamenei, who prefers consensus within Iran's political factions.Before and after becoming leader, Khamenei has often sided with Iran's conservatives.Khamenei has also taken decisions disliked by principlists.In 2003, Khamenei almost certainly authorized a letter to President George W. Bush proposing wide-ranging talks. Ahmadinejad was from the start a double-edged sword for Khamenei.An emboldened second-term Ahmadinejad proved even harder for the supreme leader to manage, leading to a showdown in 2011, when Khamenei insisted that the president retain an intelligence minister after Ahmadinejad had forced his resignation.Rouhani proved a capable presidential candidate, reassuring voters with his demeanor and promise of renewed diplomacy to improve the economy. He had long been close to Khamenei and since 1989 was one of the leader's representatives on the Supreme National Security Council. This ambiguity has cleared with Rouhani as president.
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