Richard Melson

May 2006

Iran's Ahmadinejad

Mahmoud Ahmadinejad

Order 6th President of Iran

President from August 3, 2005

Vice President Parviz Dawoodi

Preceded by Mohammad Khatami

Born October 28, 1956 Aradan, Iran

Political party Islamic Society of Engineers

Presidents of Iran:

Banisadr | Rajai | Khamenei | Rasfanjani | Khatami | Ahmadinejad

Preceded by:
Mohammad Khatami
President of the Islamic Republic of Iran

Ahmadinejad gave a warm welcome to Venezuelan president Hugo Chávez on his visit to Tehran in 2004. In the visit, Chávez was welcomed with a new statue of Simón Bolívar, Venezuela's national hero, in the Goft-o-gou park in Tehran. Sitting to Chávez's left is the brother of Mostafa Chamran, now a prominent politician.

Khatami and Ahmadinejad, hand in hand,

during the handing of the presidency offices.

Ahmadinejad meeting Hassan Nasrallah,

the secretary-general of Hezbollah, on August 1, 2005

Mahmoud Ahmadinejad (Persian pronunciation) ,

also written Ahmadinezhad, born October 28, 1956),

is the sixth president of the Islamic Republic of Iran.

His term began on August 3, 2005.

Ahmadinejad was appointed mayor of Tehran on May 3, 2003 and was elected president on June 24, 2005. He is widely considered to be a religious conservative with Islamist and populist views. Before his appointment as mayor, he was a civil engineer and an assistant professor at the Iran University of Science and Technology.

Politically, Ahmadinejad is a member of the Central Council of the Islamic Society of Engineers, but he has a more powerful base inside the Alliance of Builders of Islamic Iran (Abadgaran). Ahmadinejad is considered one of the main figures in the alliance.

Personal life and education

Born in the village of Aradan near Garmsar, the fourth of seven children born to a blacksmith, his family moved to Tehran when he was one year old. He ranked 130th in the nationwide university entrance exams, and entered Iran University of Science and Technology (IUST) as an undergraduate student of civil engineering in 1976. He continued his studies in the same university, entering the Master of Science program for civil engineering in 1984, the year he joined the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (see below), and in 1987 received his Ph.D in traffic and transportation engineering and planning. The graduate program was a special program for the Revolutionary Guards members funded by the organization itself. After graduation, he became a professor at the civil engineering department at IUST.

Early political career

He joined the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps in 1986 during the Iran-Iraq War. After training at the headquarters, he saw action in extraterritorial covert operations against Kirkuk, Iraq. Later he also became the head engineer of the sixth army of the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps and the head of the Corps' staff in the western provinces of Iran. After the war, he served as vice governor and governor of Maku and Khoy, an Advisor to the Minister of Culture and Islamic Guidance, and the governor of the then newly established Ardabil province from 1993 to October 1997.

Ahmadinejad was mostly an unknown figure in Iranian politics until he was elected Mayor of Tehran by the second City Council of Tehran on May 3, 2003, after a 12% turnout led to the election of the conservative candidates of Alliance of Builders of Islamic Iran in Tehran. During his mayorship, he reversed many of the changes put into effect by previous moderate and reformist mayors, putting serious religious emphasis on the activities of the cultural centers founded by previous mayors, going on the record with the separation of elevators for men and women in the municipality offices[1] and suggesting that the bodies of those killed in the Iran-Iraq war be buried in major city squares of Tehran. Such actions were coupled with an emphasis on charity, such as distributing free soup to the poor.

As the Mayor of Tehran, Ahmadinejad also became the manager in charge of the daily newspaper Hamshahri, replacing editor Mohammad Atrianfar with Alireza Sheikh-Attar. Ahmadinejad subsequently fired Sheikh-Attar on June 13, 2005, a few days before the presidential elections, for not supporting him for the post, replacing Sheikh-Attar with Ali Asghar Ash'ari, a previous Vice Minister of Culture and Islamic Guidance during the ministership of Mostafa Mirsalim. He fired Nafiseh Kouhnavard, one of Hamshahri's journalists, for asking Khatami about the "red lines" of the regime and illegal parallel intelligence agencies, a question Ahmadinejad didn't consider appropriate. Kouhnavard was later accused by hard-liners of spying for Turkey and the Republic of Azerbaijan.

Ahmadinejad is known to have quarreled with president Mohammad Khatami, who then barred him from attending meetings of the Board of Ministers, a privilege usually extended to mayors of Tehran. He has publicly criticized Khatami for ignorance of the daily problems of the general public.

After two years as mayor, Ahmadinejad was shortlisted in a list of 65 finalists for World Mayor in 2005 [2]. Out of the 550 nominated mayors, only nine were from Asia.

Ahmadinejad resigned from his post as the mayor of Tehran after his election to the presidency. His resignation was accepted on June 28, 2005, and in September 2005 the Tehran City Council elected Mohammad Bagher Ghalibaf with 8 out of 15 votes as the 12th mayor of Tehran.


Electoral platform

Ahmadinejad has generally sent mixed signals about his plans for his presidency, which some US-based analysts consider to have been designed to attract both religious conservatives and the lower economic classes. His campaign motto was, "It's possible and we can do it."

In his presidential campaign, Ahmadinejad took a populist approach, with emphasis on his own modest life, and had compared himself with Mohammad Ali Rajai, the second president of Iran — a claim that raised objections from Rajai's family. Ahmadinejad claims he plans to create an "exemplary government for the people of the world" in Iran. He is a self-described "principlist"; that is, acting politically based on Islamic and revolutionary principles. One of his goals is "putting the petroleum income on people's tables," referring to Iran's oil profits being distributed among the poor.

Ahmadinejad was the only presidential candidate who spoke out against future relations with the United States. Also, in an interview with Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting a few days before the elections, Ahmadinejad accused the United Nations of being "one-sided, stacked against the world of Islam." He has openly opposed the veto power given to the five permanent members of the UN Security Council. In the same interview, he stated, "It is not just for a few states to sit and veto global approvals. Should such a privilege continue to exist, the Muslim world with a population of nearly 1.5 billion should be extended the same privilege." In addition, he has defended Iran's nuclear program and has accused "a few arrogant powers" of attempting to limit Iran's industrial and technological development in this and other fields. In a question by a Shargh journalist about the release of political prisoners in the event he became president, Ahmadinejad answered with a question: "Which political prisoners? The political prisoners in the United States?" [citation needed]

After his election he proclaimed, "Thanks to the blood of the martyrs, a new Islamic revolution has arisen and the Islamic revolution of 1384 [the current Iranian year] will, if God wills, cut off the roots of injustice in the world." He said, "The wave of the Islamic revolution will soon reach the entire world."

During his campaign for the second round, he said, "We didn't participate in the revolution for turn-by-turn government [...] This revolution tries to reach a world-wide government."[citation needed] Also he has mentioned that he has an extended program on fighting terrorism in order to improve foreign relations and has called for greater ties with Iran's neighbours and ending visa requirements between states in the region, saying that "People should visit anywhere they wish freely. People should have freedom in their pilgrimages and tours."

As confirmed by Ahmadinejad, Ayatollah Mohammad Taghi Mesbah Yazdi, a senior cleric from Qom, is President Ahmadinejad's ideological mentor and spiritual guide. Mesbah is the founder of Haghani School of thought in Iran. He and his team strongly supported Ahmadinejad's campaign during presidential election in 2005.

Ahmadinejad became the President of Iran on August 3, 2005, receiving the approval of Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei. During the inauguration ceremony he kissed Khamenei's hand in demonstration of his loyalty to him. The act caused a stir in the national media as he is the first Iranian president to kiss Khamenei's hand and the second Iranian president to kiss a supreme leader's hand (the first was Rajai, who kissed Ayatollah Khomeini's hand). Ahmadinejad was widely perceived at the time of his election to be Khamenei's protégé.[3]

In the first announcement after his presidency, Ahmadinejad asked the public servants not to post his photographs and pictures in governmental offices and use the pictures and photos of Khomeini and Khamenei only.

Ahmadinejad completed the requisite ceremonies of becoming president on August 6, when he took a vow before the Majlis to protect Iran's national institutions: Shi'a Islam, the Islamic Republic, and the Constitution. From August 3 to August 6, Mohammad Reza Aref, Khatami's First Vice President, was Acting President.

Ahmadinejad's ministers

Ahmadinejad was required to introduce his suggested ministers to Majlis for a vote of approval in fifteen days, after which Majlis would have one week to decide about the ministers. It was mentioned by Masoud Zaribafan, Ahmadinejad's campaign manager, that Ahmadinejad would probably introduce his cabinet on the same day of his vow, which did not happen, but the list was finally sent to the Majlis on August 14. The Majlis were set to vote on the suggested ministers by August 21.

The parliament had held a private meeting on August 5, when Ahmadinejad presented a shortlist of three or four candidates for each ministry, to know the opinion of Majlis about his candidates. A news website close to Ahmadinejad published a partial list of Ahmadinejad's decisions based on the feedback, which was updated and changed a few times.  The final list was officially sent to the Majlis on August 14, 2005.

After a few days of heavy discussions in Majlis, which started on August 21, 2005, Ahmadinejad's cabinet was voted for on August 24, 2005, and became the first cabinet since the Iranian revolution in not winning a complete vote of approval. Four candidates, for the ministries of Cooperatives, Education, Petroleum, and Welfare and Social Security, all previous colleagues of Ahmadinejad in the Municipality of Tehran, were voted down. The other candidates became ministers.

The list of suggested ministers and their votes went:[4]


Candidate minister





Mohammad Reza Eskandari (Persian bio)





Masoud Mirkazemi




Communication and Information Technology

Mohammad Soleimani





Alireza Ali-Ahmadi




Culture and Islamic Guidance

Mohammad Hossein Saffar Harandi




Defense and Logistics

Mostafa Mohammad-Najjar




Economy and Financial Affairs

Davoud Danesh-Jafari (Persian bio)





Ali Akbar Ash'ari (Persian bio)





Parviz Fattah (Persian bio)




Foreign Affairs

Manouchehr Mottaki (Persian bio)




Health and Medical Education

Kamran Bagheri Lankarani (Persian bio)




Housing and Urban Development

Mohammad Saeedikia




Industries and Mines

Alireza Tahmasbi





Gholam Hossein Mohseni-Ejehei (Persian bio)





Mostafa Pourmohammadi (Persian bio)





Jamal Karimi-Rad (Persian bio)




Labour and Social Affairs

Mohammad Jahromi





Ali Saeedlou





Mohsen Tasalloti





Kazem Vaziri Hamane




Roads and Transportation

Mohammad Rahmati (Persian bio)




Science, Research, and Technology

Mohammad Mehdi Zahedi (Persian bio)




Welfare and Social Security

Mehdi Hashemi




The new board of ministers held its first meeting on August 25 in Mashhad, promising to keep frequent meetings to cities other than the capital, Tehran. Temporary supervisors for two of the four ministries without new ministers were appointed by Ahmadinejad on August 27, Mohammad Nazemi Ardakani for the Ministry of Cooperatives and Davoud Madadi for the Ministry of Welfare and Social Security.

Domestic policy

Economic policy

Ahmadinejad submitted his first annual budget to Iran’s parliament on January 15, 2006. This year’s budget (starting March 21) law is based on oil price of US$40 per barrel. The budget is approximately 195,000 billion rial, about 70% of which is devoted to government controlled areas. The budget was planned to oppose economic monopolies, and is the largest in Iran's history with a 50% increase on the previous financial year, a change some of Ahmadimejad's opponents describe as "disastrous." Some Iranian MPs believe that even this extremely large amount of money will be insufficient to fulfil Ahmadinejad’s election promises.[5]

2006-2007 budget proposal is to be an operational budget where funds would be devoted based on the outcome of an operation rather than dividing the budget among organizations.

In 2006-2007 budget proposal, 0.6 percent of GDP has been devoted to scientific research, almost half of what is demanded by Iran's 4th Five-Year Social and Economic Development Plan (ie. 1.25% of GDP).

Despite the government's hostility toward NGOs, Ahmadinejad devoted approximately 35 billion Rials (or 3,500,000 USD) to an NGO associated with Ayatollah Mesbah Yazdi, an increase of almost tenfold.[6][7]

Reza Love Fund

Ahmadinejad's first piece of legislation to emerge from his newly formed government was a 12 trillion rial (1.3 billion USD) fund called "Reza Love Fund" [8] which was named after one of Shi'a Islam's Imams, Ali al-Rida. By tapping into Iran's huge oil revenues, Ahmadinejad's government claims that this fund will be used to help young people to get jobs and to afford marriage, as well to assist in purchasing their own homes.

The fund also sought charitable donations, and includes a boards of trustees in each of Iran's 30 provinces. The new plan is subject to the approval of the conservative-held Majlis, but is seen as unlikely to encounter strong opposition given deputies in the Majles have also shown an eagerness to focus on resolving economic problems.

This piece of legislation was in response to the costly housing in urban centres which is pushing up the national average marital age, which currently is around 25 for women and 28 for men. This was the first example of Ahmadinejad's attempting to fulfill his promise of "bringing oil money to the Iranian people's plates."

Women and Sport

On 24 April 2006, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad announced that a ruling which prevented women from watching men playing sports in stadiums would soon be reversed. [1][2] A state television announcer reported that Ahmadinejad "ordered the head of the sports organisation to provide facilities in the stadiums to watch national matches." The president was quoted as saying: "The best stands should be allocated to women and families in the stadiums in which national and important matches are being held."In the past, women had occasionally scuffled with police when they were barred from entering stadiums. Some tried to go inside dressed as men or sneaked in with the foreign fans. Women have sometimes been allowed into smaller sports venues to watch male sports, such as basketball or volleyball. However only female VIPs and sportwomen could attend Azadi stadium, which is the largest stadium in the country. However it should be noted that there exist no law in Iran which restricts women of attending stadiums. The current restrictions have been applied by the authorities without any legal basis.[3]

Ahmadinajad's letter to his vice president, has been welcome by Iranian feminists and reformists. However soon after his remarks, several of highest ranking clerics and marjas including, Ayatollah Mesbah Yazdi, Grand Ayatollah Nouri Hamedani, Grand Ayatollah Naser Makarem Shirazi, Grand Ayatollah Safi Golpaygani, Grand Ayatollah Fazel Lankarani and Ayatollah Mirza Javad Tabrizi announced their objection to the president's decision, calling for urgent cancellation of the order. In Qom many clerics demonstrated against the president's letter.[4] [5][6][7][8]

Two days before his unexpected letter about the presence of women in stadiums, Ahmadinejad objected punishments and policies against "womens without proper hijab". His remarks made his supporters very angry. [9]

Support for Iran's nuclear program

Ahmadinejad has been a vocal supporter of Iran's nuclear program. On January 11, 2006, Ahmadinejad announced that Iran will have peaceful nuclear technology very soon. He also emphasized that making the nuclear bomb is not the policy of his government. In his words : "We would like to send the message to those who claim Iran is searching for nuclear weapons that there is no such policy and this [policy] is illegal and against our religion." [9]

He also added at a January 2006 conference in Tehran: "A nation which has culture, logic and civilisation does not need nuclear weapons. The countries which seek nuclear weapons are those which want to solve all problems by the use of force. Our nation does not need such weapons."[10]

Ahmadinejad has also invited "all countries" to participate in Iran's nuclear project.[11]

In April 2006, Ahmadinejad announced that Iran had successfully refined uranium to a stage suitable for the nuclear fuel cycle. In a speech to students and academics in Mashar, he said:

Iran's conditions have changed completely as it became a nuclear state and can talk to other states from that stand. [12]

On April 13, 2006, Iranian news agency IRNA quoted him as saying:

The peaceful Iranian nuclear technology will not pose a threat to any party because we want peace and stability and we will not cause injustice to anyone and at the same time we will not submit to injustice

Regardless of Ahmadinejad's rhetoric, the office of the Iranian President is not responsible for nuclear policy, which is instead set by the Supreme National Security Council reporting directly to Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei (who issued a fatwa against nuclear weapons in 2005). The council includes representatives appointed by the Supreme Leader, top officials from the military and members of the executive, judicial and legislative branches of government. [13]


Main article: Controversies surrounding Mahmoud Ahmadinejad

Since his election as the president of Iran, Ahmadinejad has been a controversial figure. He has been subject to various allegations such as election fraud, alleged involvement in the Iran Hostage Crisis, assassinations of Kurdish politicians in Austria, support of or engagement in terrorist activities, and Holocaust denial.

Foreign policy positions

Antagonism toward Israel

Main article: Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and Israel

In October 2005 Ahmadinejad gave a speech opposing Zionism that contained antagonistic statements about the State of Israel. He agreed with a statement he attributed to Khomeini that the "occupying regime" must be wiped off the map or eliminated. He also referred to Israel as a "disgraceful stain [in] the Islamic world." His comments were condemned by major Western governments, the European Union, Russia, the United Nations Security Council and UN Secretary General Kofi Annan.[14] Egyptian, Turkish and Palestinian leaders also expressed displeasure over Ahmadinejad's remark.[15]

In December 2005 Ahmadinejad also made several controversial statements regarding the Holocaust and the State of Israel, at one point referring to the Holocaust as a "myth" and criticizing European laws against Holocaust denial. He said that although he does not know whether or not nor to what extent the Holocaust occurred, if it had in fact occurred, European countries should make amends to the Jewish people by giving them land to establish a state in Europe (Germany, Austria or other countries), the United States, Canada or Alaska instead of making "the innocent nation of Palestine pay for this crime." These statements were also condemned by many world leaders.

In April 2006, Ahmadinejad gave the opening address to the "Third International Qods Conference supporting the rights of the Palestinian people." In the speech he reiterated his argument that Palestinians should not suffer to compensate Jews for the Holocaust, though he pointed out that Western countries had admitted that they committed the killing of many Jews. He described Israel as the epicenter of a threat to the entire Muslim world. Ahmadinejad also compared Israel to a dying tree, contrasting it to the young blooming tree that he considers the Palestinian resistance.

In Iran, supporters of Ahmadinejad have said that the West has misinterpreted or overreacted to his statements, at times intentionally, in order to smear Iran's image or divert attention away from their own faults or responsibilities. At a news conference on January 14, 2006, Ahmadinejad claimed his October speech had been misinterpreted, stating "There is no new policy, they created a lot of hue and cry over that. It is clear what we say: Let the Palestinians participate in free elections and they will say what they want." [16] At that news conference he also said that he "will not make any historical argument" but would accept any answers produced by European experts to questions about the Holocaust.

Ahmadinejad's ideas have also been criticised inside Iran. For example, Haroun Yashayaei, the head of Iran's Jewish community, issued a letter of complaint against Ahmadinejad in January 2006. Former President Khatami has said that the Holocaust is a "historic fact" while criticizing the connection between the Holocaust and the persecution of the Palestinian people [17].

Improving relations with Russia

Ahmadinejad has taken moves to help strengthen relations with Russia, setting up a headquarters expressly dedicated to the purpose in October 2005. He has worked with Vladimir Putin on the Iran nuclear issue and both Putin and Ahmadinejad have expressed a desire for more mutual cooperation on issues involving the Caspian Sea.[18] However, there have been recent accusations made by Western intelligence officials that Ahmadinejad has sanctioned the training and funding of Chechen rebels, who are fighting against the local government and Russia, inside Iran.[19]

Notes & references


  2. More than 87,000 took part in the World Mayor 2005 project. URL accessed on December, 2005.



  3. Hamid Ahadi, The Largest Budget in Iran’s History, 1 February, 2006

  4. NGO Crackdown in Iran (Ahmadinejad Orders), Free Republic, 14 January, 2006

  5. ((Persian))

  6. ((Persian)) Rooze Online

  7. ((Persian)) BBC Persian service

  8. Excerpts: Ahmadinejad conference, BBC News, 14 January, 2006

  9. ((Persian)) Iran newspaper

  10. Ahmadinejad:Iran nuke right non-negotiable, UPI, 13 April, 2006

  11. Iran: Election Of Ahmadinejad Unlikely To Affect Nuclear Negotiations, Radio Free Liberty, 27 June, 2005

  12. Annan 'dismayed' by Iran remarks. = BBC News. URL accessed on October 28, 2005.

  13. UN raps Iran's anti-Israel rant. BBC News. URL accessed on October 28, 2005.

  14. U.N. Scrutiny Won't Make Iran Quit Nuclear Effort, President Says, Nazila Fathi, New York Times, 15 January, 2006

  15. Iran: Ex President Khatami Says Holocaust a Historic Fact, adnkronos International, 28 February, 2006

  16. "Ahmadinejad: Special Hq to be formed for Tehran-Moscow cooperation", Islamic Republic News Agency, October 26, 2005. URL accessed on 2006-04-14.

  17. "Teheran 'secretly trains' Chechens to fight in Russia", The Telegraph, November 27, 2005. URL accessed on 2006-04-14.

Iran's President Ahmadinejad

May 1,  2006