Iran’s former President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has launched a political campaign ahead of February’s parliamentary elections in what could prove a challenge to the moderates behind a landmark nuclear agreement reached last month.
Few expect a rerun of Ahmadinejad’s surprise victory in the 2005 elections, which kicked off an eight-year presidency marked by confrontation with the West, incendiary rhetoric toward Israel and refusal to compromise on the disputed nuclear program. Many former allies have turned on Ahmadinejad, and two of his former vice presidents have been jailed for corruption.
But the unapologetic populist is believed to command strong support in the countryside, and could be seen by Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei as a counterbalance to the reformers who have tried to reverse Ahmadinejad’s confrontational legacy since the election of President Hassan Rouhani, a “moderate,” two years ago.
At a gathering of his supporters Thursday, Ahmadinejad, 58, broke two years of silence, vowing to “redefine revolutionary ideals” laid out by the leader of Iran’s 1979 revolution, the late Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini.
“God willing, victory and a very bright future awaits us. However, there will be bumps and satanic obstacles in our path,” the diminutive former leader, sporting his trademark close-cropped beard and sports coat, told some 400 supporters in Tehran. “One should not forget that the US is our enemy.” Read more at Ynet News.