Can we survive simultaneous Trump, Ahmadinejad Presidencies?

By Juan Cole | (Informed Comment) | – –

BBC Monitoring, which translates foreign-language news reports, has a rundown on reactions in Persian to the surprise registration by Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to run for president in the May 19 Iranian elections.

Ahmadinejad was a complete disaster and made Iran a laughingstock by his erratic pronouncements, his government’s poor fiscal policies, and its corruption. His run for a second term was widely seen in Iran as characterized by fraudulent ballot-stuffing, and his victory in summer of 2009 provoked the biggest demonstrations Iran had seen since the 1980s, which became known as the Green Movement.

Having Ahmadinejad and Trump in office at the same time would be too much to bear, and the two of them could well be a volatile mix.

Trump and Ahmadinejad are actually similar in their political styles. Both claim to be populists who would take on the fat cats, but both serve the fat cats. Both are authoritarians. Both are male chauvinist pigs, though Ahmadinejad is not grabby about it. Ahmadinejad once sent goons to department stores to cut the breasts off store mannequins, as too provocative. Trump wants to put women in jail who have an abortion.

People were surprised that Ahmadinejad registered to run, because last year he asked Iran’s clerical Leader, Ali Khamenei, if he could, and Khamenei told him not to.

BBC Monitoring says,

“Vice-President and Head of Environmental Protections Organisation, Masoumeh Ebtekar, underlined Ahmadinejad’s poor performance during his term.

“The record of some individuals’ actions are known to both the people and the supervisory bodies,” ISNA quoted Ebtekar as saying.

In a separate report, ISNA news agency also quoted Vice-President for Parliamentary Affairs Hossein Ali Amiri as saying: “Those who wish to have [an official] responsibility in the Islamic Republic system, should both accept and comply with the set of rules mentioned in the constitution… obeying the leader is one of those rules”.

That is, many are saying that by disobeying the Leader’s instructions, Ahmadinejad is already doing something unconstitutional, and so is making himself ineligible to run.

Government spokesman, Mohammad Baqer Nowbakht ‘could not hide his surprise when he asked reporters “Are you sure?”‘

BBC Monitoring adds,

‘In a post on his Instagram page (kouchakzadeh_mahdi), the former hardline MP, Mahdi Kouchakzadeh, he supported Ahmadinejad despite “all accusations and insults of the Seditionists” because he believed in Ahmadinejad as a devouted defender of the poor. “With your move today, which was against the advice given by the imam [referring to the Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei]…that belief is shattered.” His hand-written statement began with an Arabic phrase meaning “this is where we separate our ways”.

Former Hardline MP Elyas Naderan described the move as “the end of Ahmadnejad” on his Twitter handle. (

Source: BBC Monitoring in Persian 1143 gmt 12 Apr 17

A lot of canny Iranian observers are predicting that Ahmadinezhad will be ruled ineligible to run (in Iran there is a clerical body that vets candidates for ideological purity).

My guess is that if he were allowed to run, Ahmadinejad would just divide the conservatives and so might actually be helping centrist current president Hassan Rouhani?

But as someone who back in the zeroes had to constantly be trying to explain what I thought Ahmadinejad was trying to say with his outlandish utterances, the notion that we’d have this stream of nonsense coming at us from both Tehran and Washington is too much to bear. And, Ahmadinejad always made it easy for the US press and politicians to demonize him, which would weaken Iran’s case.


Related video:

Euronews: “Defiant Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to run for Iran’s presidential election”

8 Responses

  1. Ahmadinejad and Trump in power at the same time would be exhilarating. They both express themselves with refreshing candor. Trump has been such a soothing breath of fresh air. No matter what you think about him , you always know where he stands. Whether it’s on a golf course, or on a picnic table, we know where he stands. We also know where he sits.

  2. I confess I somewhat miss Ahmadinejad’s colourful Netanyahu challenging appearances at the UN General Assembly, specially that moment when the Israelis and others rose to their feet and waddled from the chamber like a line of penguins.

    • Seriously? There’s nothing laughable about a petty authoritarian and Holocaust-denier as president of a nation. As Juan noted, the man’s tenure was a disaster and he turned Iran into a laughing stock.

  3. Who will be there to incite those two stinkers? Stinker #3, Bibi Netanyahu. And if “Evet” wins in the upcoming referendum (we don’t use “plebiscite” since it earned a bad reputation in 1938 Austria), who will mediate between the stinkers? None other than stinker #4, Elected-Despot-For-Life Erdoğan.

    Sultan Recep Tayyip Çok Yaşa!

  4. Although it is very unlikely that the Guardian Council would allow Ahmadinejad to run in the election, or even if he is allowed to run it is extremely unlikely that he would win, nevertheless, his decision to run has three positive aspects.

    The first positive point is that he has openly gone against Khamenei’s “advice”. He has said that in the Islamic Republic the Supreme Leader is not a dictator and his statement telling him not to run had not been an order, but an advice. This overt denunciation of the wishes of the Supreme Leader is very rare in Iran.

    The second benefit of his candidacy is that if the Guardian Council disqualifies a person who has served two terms as president – and Khamenei went all the way in supporting him during the fraudulent 2009 election – this would further expose the Guardian Council as a mere tool in the hand of the leader. It proves that the Guardian Council disqualifies the candidates without any logical reasons, and solely on the basis of the wishes of the leader.

    The third benefit of his candidacy is that it would place a civilian candidate against two clerics, the incumbent President Hassan Rouhani and the hardline cleric Ebrahim Raisi who was appointed by Ayatollah Khamenei as the Custodian of Imam Reza’s shrine in Mashhad, one of the richest organizations in the country.

    Apart from the fact that Raisi has no executive experience, he has had a very black record in the judiciary. Last year, Ahmad Montazeri, the son of Grand Ayatollah Hossein Ali Montazeri, released the tape of a conversation between his late father and a number of leading judicial officials, objecting to their complicity in the extrajudicial execution of thousands of Mojahedin-e Khalq prisoners during the last days of the Iran-Iraq war. Ayatollah Montazeri’s objection to Khomeini’s order authorizing those executions led to his dismissal as Khomeini’s chosen successor. In an interview with the Center for Human Rights in Iran, Ahmad Montazeri has noted that Ebrahim Raisi was a member of the four-man special commission that ordered the mass executions.

    In the early days after the establishment of the Islamic Republic when the clerics were not yet fully in control of the government Abol-Hasan Bani-Sadr was elected as the first president of the Islamic Republic. He was subsequently impeached for going against the hardliners and fled the country. He was replaced by Ali Rajai who was blown up with Prime Minister Bahonar in a massive explosion carried out by the Mojahedin-e Khalq. Subsequently, all presidents in Iran, with the sole exception of Ahmadinejad, have been clerics. Ahmadinejad sees himself as a nationalist, and during his second term he had very cool relations with the clerics, and even with Khamenei. So his bizarre candidacy is not without its merits.

  5. If Ahmadinejad becomes president of Iran, and the U.S. having a Donald Trump in the Oval Office, then if by some stroke of nationalist luck should the Russians someday replace Vladimir Putin with Vladimir Zhirinovsky, then the world will be on a crazy ride for sure. The irony for the U.S. Globalist is that by having Trump in the White House nationalism will have come of age, and all this took place because the globalist bit off more than they could chew.

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