Ahmadinejad barred from re-running for Iran presidency
Deutsche Welle, Apr 20 2017
Pres Rouhani was among the six candidates approved by Iran’s Guardian Council on Thursday to run in next month’s presidential election. Ebrahim Raisi, the leading candidate and the greatest threat to Rouhani’s presidency, was also approved by the clerical body. Iranian state television reported that the council, which is responsible for vetting prospective candidates, had disqualified Ahmadinejad from rerunning (below). Ahmadinejad shocked the country last week when he put his name forward as a candidate, defying Ayatollah Khamenei, who had told him not to run. Analysts reckoned that the former president put his name forward to pressure the council into approving the candidacy of Hamid Baghaie, but he was also disqualified from running, reportedly due to embezzlement charges. More than 1,600 put themselves forward to run in the May 19 election, although the clerical body only ever selects around six candidates. Although the Interior Ministry said it would formally announce the candidates by Sunday, state TV reported that the other candidates who made the cut were Tehran’s Mayor Mohammad Bagher Qalibaf, Senior Vice-President Eshaq Jahangiri, former culture minister Mostafa Mirsali, and veteran politician Mostafa Hashemitaba.
Ahmadinejad to run in presidential election, defying Ayatollah
Deutche Welle, Apr 12 2017
Election officials in Tehran appeared stunned on Wednesday as Iran’s former firebrand presidentsubmitted the necessary paperwork to run as a candidate in next month’s presidential election. While it remained unclear whether Mahmoud Ahmadinejad genuinely intended to run for president again, the move poses a direct challenge to the authority of Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, and upends an election many thought would easily be won by ruling Pres Rouhani. Ahmadinejad, who served two four-year terms from 2005 to 2013, registered alongside his former deputy, Hamid Baghaie, who is also running. Ahmadinejad said his only intention was to support Baghaie, without offering further explanation. Analysts say that by putting his name forward, Ahmadinejad could bolster Baghaie’s chances of winning, since disqualifying both men could prove politically costly for the Guardian Council, which will vet and approve the prospective candidates. Tehran-based analyst Soroush Farhadian described Ahmadinejad’s prospective candidacy as “an organized mutiny against Iran’s ruling system.” Khamenei had told Ahmadinejad not to run in this year’s election, deeming him too divisive a figure.
Fissures continue to linger inside Iran ever since Ahmadinejad’s contested reelection in 2009 sparked violent unrest and a sweeping crackdown that saw dozens of people killed and thousands detained. Invoking memories of the 2009 protests, Khamenei said in September that he had recommended an unnamed candidate not to seek office as it would bring about a “polarized situation” that would be “harmful to the country.” The next month, Ahmadinejad announced in a statement that he would abide by the order. However, Ahmadinejad reneged on Wednesday, telling reporters that Khamenei’s “advice was not a ban” and he remained committed to his “mortal promise,” reiterating that his only intention was to support Baghaie. Iran’s presidential election, scheduled for May 19, is seen by many as a referendum on the 2015 nuclear agreement. While the deal has seen international financial and trade sanctions lifted on Tehran, many of the benefits have yet to trickle down to the average Iranian. That leaves many of spoils open to any candidate able to stoke conservative, nationalist or anti-establishment sentiments on the domestic front and stand up to Pres Trump and the West on the international front. After overseeing Iran’s nuclear expansion, vowing to eliminate Israel and questioning the scale of the Holocaust, Ahmadinejad and his allies would tick most of those boxes.
Ahmadinejad may want to lead Iran again
Thomas Latschan, Deutsche Welle, Jul 6 2016
The world let out a collective sigh of relief when Hassan Rouhani replaced a termed-out Mahmoud Ahmadinejad as Iran’s president in 2013. As president, Ahmadinejad had done much to deepen the rift between Iran and the international community. Negotiations for a nuclear deal had come to a dead end; the country was isolated and in an economic abyss. To make matters worse, Ahmadinejad consistently made headlines with vitriolic statements aimed at USrael. He was also controversial domestically. His 2009 re-election was accompanied by mass protests and accusations of fraud. Rouhani’s 2013 landslide victory was thought to have signaled the end of such contentiousness. Ahmadinejad himself said he was retiring from politics for good and that he wanted to return to teaching at university. In his last days in office, the plan seemed to be in place: the Supreme Council of the Cultural Revolution announced that it had granted him permission to found his own university in Tehran. Yet the plan fell through because of a lack of finances, among other things. Ultimately, the former president was also unable to completely turn his back on politics. Ayatollah Khamenei created a position for him on the Expediency Council, an assembly created to resolve differences between Majlis and the Guardian Council. After a while, the former president became conspicuously silent, not saying a word publicly for years. A few weeks ago, Ahmadinejad reappeared, touring the countryside and giving ever more public lectures. To the cheers of his supporters, he has railed against the nuclear deal. The Berlin-based, Iranian-born publisher Bahman Nirumand said:
He has harshly criticized the Rouhani administration at such appearances. He says that the Islamic Republic is on the wrong path, that the principles of the Iranian Revolution are being betrayed, and that Rouhani is leading the country astray.
Iran will elect a new president in the spring of 2017 and observers believe that Ahmadinejad is positioning himself to run again. His former govt spox has supposedly filed papers with the election board to that end. Further, the Iranian daily newspaper Shargh recently reported on “plans for a big comeback campaign.” Nirumand, who publishes a monthly report on Iran for the Heinrich Böll Foundation, affiliated with Germany’s Greens, said:
Many Iranians had had high hopes that the lifting of sanctions after the nuclear deal would improve their economic situation. But that hasn’t happened. None of the preliminary agreements that Iran reached with Western investors ever went anywhere, because banks were simply not prepared to finance the deals. Such stories are getting a lot of coverage in Iran, especially in the conservative press, and revolutionary leader Khamenei has continued to warn about putting too much trust in Pindostan, saying: ‘Even if we do everything that they want, they will always want something else.’ And now those on the right see that claim being confirmed.
Ahmadinejad apparently thinks that he might be able to profit from the growing disillusionment. There is very little to suggest that Iran would be better off under a new Ahmadinejad presidency. Ahmadinejad took office in 2005 on the promise of creating millions of jobs for Iranians and lowering the inflation rate of the rial. He achieved neither, quite the opposite in fact. Thanks in part to international sanctions but also to gross mismanagement on the part of the government, by the time he stepped down in 2013, Iran found itself in a deep recession. During Ahmadinejad’s tenure, inflation climbed to 30% and unemployed was stuck at 12%. Those are the official numbers; the picture was no doubt much bleaker. Many Iranians have mixed emotions about a comeback by Ahmadinejad. Nirumand said:
His record as president was dismal. He destroyed the economy, although oil revenues during his first four years in office were unusually high. It has been estimated that $200b of those revenues disappeared. True, he has a lot of supporters out in the provinces, but, on the other hand, a lot of conservatives have spoken out against him in parliament and in public. Grand Ayatollah Khamenei steadfastly supported Ahmadinejad during his first four years, but after that there were a number of major differences between the two. Therefore, I cannot imagine Ahmadinejad being re-elected as president. If he were, it would mean a complete change of course, both domestically and internationally, and that would be catastrophic for the whole country.
Majlis Speaker Ali Larijani was Ahmadinejad’s chief nuclear negotiator and is now a self-proclaimed opponent of the former president. Larijani has said:
For Iranians, the idea that someone who had two relatively unsuccessful terms in office would run for president again in 2017, is not very appealing.