At a moment that Iranian domestic politics are on a knife’s edge of tension, particularly following the recent hardliner vs. ‘moderate’ row in the wake of the ‘Zarif Gate’ audio leak scandal wherein the foreign minister blasted the military establishment for often sabotaging diplomacy, the Islamic Republic’s former firebrand president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is vying again for leadership of the country.
On Wednesday he formally submitted and announced his name as a candidate in the upcoming June 18 presidential elections. His Islamic conservative and ‘hardline’ reputation could have drastic impact on the continuing nuclear negotiations with the West should he be elected.
He out of the gate referenced that the centrality of the Islamic revolution is vital for safeguarding the country’s interests during a press conference announcing his candidacy.
“My presence today for registration was based on demand by millions for my participation in the election,” he told reporters after registering. He added: “considering the situation of the country, and the necessity for a revolution in the management of the country.”
VOA described of his announcement, “Thronged by shouting supporters, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad marched to a registration center at the Interior Ministry where he filled out registration forms. He held up his hands in a ‘V for Victory’ salute, before addressing reporters.”
The 64-year old Ahmadinejad was Iran’s president from 2005 through 2013 during a period of constant tensions with Washington prior to the 2015 nuclear deal, given the US had accused Iran of sponsoring attacks on American troops in neighboring Iraq, and as Iranian support for Assad during the early period of Syria’s war became more entrenched.
His disputed 2009 re-election, it should be noted, sparked mass protests which found support from the Western leaders who lambasted Tehran for suppressing the demonstrators.
Current president Hassan Rouhani, reputed a “moderate” and who famously struck the JCPOA nuclear deal with world powers during Obama’s presidency, cannot run again due to term limits.