Ali Akbar Ahmadian, a veteran commander with the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), has been appointed as the new secretary of Iran’s Supreme National Security Council (SNSC) by President Ebrahim Raisi. Ahmadian replaces Ali Shamkhani, who held the post for almost a decade. Ahmadian’s appointment comes at a time of rapidly accelerating diplomatic regional efforts facilitated by his predecessor, including the re-establishment of ties with rival Saudi Arabia after a China-brokered agreement in March. However, Iran’s relations with the West remain sour, and tensions have steadily risen following nationwide protests that erupted across the country in September last year.
Unlike his predecessor, who had experience in both politics and military affairs, Ahmadian has been a full military man, with no publicly known experience in presidential administrations or as a diplomat. He has built his career entirely within the IRGC, rising through the ranks due to his efforts during the eight-year Iran-Iraq War in the 1980s. Iranian state media described him as one of the architects of the modern IRGC Navy and an early theorist of Iran’s favoured asymmetrical style of combat.
Ahmadian holds a PhD in strategic management from the Supreme National Defense University and a master’s degree in defence sciences, in addition to a PhD in dentistry. He hails from the same province as Qassem Soleimani, previously Iran’s foremost general and second-most powerful man, who was assassinated in a United States drone strike in Iraq in 2020.