Mahmoud Ahmadinejad

Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, sometimes also transcribed into English as Mahmud, Mahmood, Ahmadinezhad, Ahmadi-Nejad, Ahmadi Nejad, Ahmady Nejad (born October 28, 1956) is the sixth president of the Islamic Republic of Iran. His term began on August 3, 2005.

He's 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) and is considered one of the main figures in the alliance.

Ahmadinejad is a controversial figure, widely criticised for his outspoken and often provocative foreign policy positions, in particular his stance on Israel, support of Hezbollah, and controversial comments he has made about the Holocaust and Israel's right to exist.

Born in the village of Arādān near Garmsar, his family moved to Tehran when he was one year old. He 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 Revolutionary Guard members funded by the organization. After graduation, he was appointed a professor at the civil engineering department at IUST.

Ahmadinejad is married and has two sons and a daughter.

In August of 2006, he started blogging.

Some people say that, as a young student, Ahmadinejad joined an ultraconservative faction of the Office for Strengthening Unity, the radical student group spawned by the 1979 Islamic Revolution, and staged the capture of the US Embassy. However, some members of the Office for Strengthening Unity belonging to the Reformist Movement recently said that Ahmadinejad was against the move to capture of the US Embassy. According to some other reports, Ahmadinejad attended planning meetings for the US Embassy takeover and at these meetings lobbied for a simultaneous takeover of the Soviet Embassy. In a wide-ranging interview with the state-run Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting (IRIB), Ahmadinejad slammed the United Nations as "one-sided, stacked against the world of Islam."

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. During this time, it is claimed by Islamic Republic oppositions that he did some covert missions, or was a part of mission team, to assassinate Islamic Republic oppositions outside 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 appointed 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 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.

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. 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. He was also a member of Islamic revolutionary guard, and then chief of the Tehran police force.

Ahmadinejad generally sent mixed signals about his plans for his presidency, which some US-based analysts considered to have been designed to attract both religious conservatives and the lower economic classes [citation needed]. 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.

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." 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 was appointed 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 (after Mohammad Ali Rajai) to kiss a Supreme Leader's hand. Khamenei's eldest son Mujtaba was Ahmadinejad's campaign manager during the election, and Ahmadinejad was widely perceived at the time of his election to be Khamenei's protégé. In a speech in 2006 Khamenei said: "This government is the most favorite government of Iran since 100 years ago".

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, 2005, Mohammad Reza Aref, Khatami's First Vice President, was Acting President.

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.

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.

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% of GDP has been devoted to scientific research, slightly under 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.

In June 2006, 50 Iranian economists wrote a letter to President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad warning him of serious problems. The president and his team, on the other hand, interpreted the letter to be an insult and a threat. President Ahmadinejad publicly responded harshly to the letter. Among the issues addressed in the letter was the price interventions to stabilize prices of goods, cement, and government services. Another one was the decree issued by the High Labor Council and the Ministry of Labor regarding the increase of wages and salaries of the workers by 40%. Ahmadinezhad responded to the economists by attacking them, saying they were lying. According to the president, the inflation rate fell to 2.7 percent last year. The Iranian economy minister backs up Ahmadinezhad, saying that prices are not rising in Iran.

Frequently during his campaign, Ahmadinezhad said that he wanted to bring the benefits of oil revenue to peoples’ dining tables. However, a year after his election those economic promises had yet to be realised.

In 2006, the Ahmadinejad government systematically forced numerous Iranian scientists and University professors to resign or to retire. It has been referred to as "second cultural revolution" after the Islamic Cultural Revolution earlier. The policy has been said to replace current professors with younger ones. Many University professors received letters indicating their early retirement unexpectedly.

However many believe that the government's main goal is to replace Iranian scientists with fundamentalists and finally converting the universities into Howza (traditional religious schools).

Despite huge demonstrations and protests of Iranian students, Ahmadinejad's government had previously appointed several mullahs with no academic degree as chancellors of several Universities.

The first legislation to emerge from his newly formed government was a 12 trillion rial (1.3 billion USD) fund called "Reza's Compassion Fund" 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 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. In 2006 Iranian parliament rejected the fund. However, Ahmadinejad put his proposal into practice illegally ordering the administrative council to initiate the job. This illegal order generated huge protests from parliamentarians and economists.

On 24 April 2006, Ahmadinejad announced that a ruling which prevented women from watching men playing sports in stadiums would soon be reversed. A state television announcer reported that Ahmadinejad "ordered the head of the sports organisation to provide facilities in the stadiums to watch national matches." Ahmadinejad 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."

Two days before his unexpected letter about women in stadiums, Ahmadinejad objected to punishment of women appearing in stadiums without proper hijab. His remarks angered some supporters.

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 his decision, calling for urgent cancellation of the order. In Qom many clerics demonstrated against the president's letter.

In June 2006, Ahmadinejad's advisor Naser Byria announced that the President's statement about the attendance of women in stadium was a political measure to defend the Islamic regime against "US conspiracy" and "US attack on Iran". According to BAZTAB news agency, he added: "There had been a conspiracy that was defeated by Presidents's order". According to Byria, Ahmadinejad's government believe that attendance of women in stadiums is against Sharia and It must be banned.

Amhadinejad promised to fight corruption and expose corrupt managers to the public, but one year later not a single manager has been brought to court on corruption charges. Instead, despite promising an administration free of corruption and nepotism, Ahmadinejad has appointed many of his own relatives to government posts.

In early July 2006, the accountability office of the Tehran municipality accused the Ahmadinezhad’s older brother of corruption for the handling of a contract while Ahmadinejad was the mayor of Tehran. Davood Ahmadinejad is now the head of the accountability office the president’s office, which supervises all government’s ministries and institutes.

Masoud Zaribafan, a member of Tehran's city council who is married to the sister of Ahmadinejad’s wife, has been named cabinet secretary—an appointment that provoked protest even from conservatives. The presence of many other members of Ahmadinejad's family in the government has made many doubt the honesty of the president.
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."

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."

Ahmadinejad has invited all countries to participate in Iran's nuclear project, while at the same time turned down a deal to have their nuclear material processed by a different country.

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 Mashad, he said:

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

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.

Despite Ahmadinejad's statements, 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 reportedly — see Ali Khamenei — 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.

On May 8, 2006, Ahmadinejad sent a direct secret letter to United States President George Bush to propose "new ways" to end Iran's nuclear dispute. It is reported to be the first time an Iranian leader has written to the US leader since the Iranian revolution in 1979.

U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and National Security Adviser Stephen Hadley both had reviewed the letter, which took a broad, historical look at the U.S.-Iranian relationship. That was the first direct contact between both governments since April 9, 1980. The letter was dismissed by U.S. officials as a negotiating ploy that did not address U.S. concerns about Iran's nuclear program.

The letter has been analyzed by various sources and has been confirmed by Iranian news as a Dawah letter.

In an interview with the German news magazine Der Spiegel, published in its online version May 30, 2006, Ahmadinejad denied that his aim was to provoke the United States.

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. 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.

In October 2005 Ahmadinejad gave a speech that contained antagonistic statements about the State of Israel. According to widely published translations, he agreed with a statement he attributed to Ayatollah Khomeini that the "occupying regime" must be "wiped off the map", and referred to it as a "disgraceful stain [on] the Islamic world."

Ahmadinejad's comments were condemned by major Western governments, the European Union, Russia, the United Nations Security Council and UN Secretary General Kofi Annan. Egyptian, Turkish and Palestinian leaders also expressed displeasure over Ahmadinejad's remark. The speech was interpreted by some as a call for genocide. For example, Canada's then Prime Minister Paul Martin said, "this threat to Israel's existence, this call for genocide coupled with Iran's obvious nuclear ambitions is a matter that the world cannot ignore."

The translation of his statement has since been disputed. At a news conference on January 14, 2006, Ahmadinejad claimed regarding the October speech "There is no new policy, they created a lot of hue and cry over that." In June, 2006 Guardian columnist and foreign correspondent Jonathan Steele cited several Farsi speakers and translators who state that the phrase in question is more accurately translated as "eliminated" or "wiped off" or "wiped away" from "the page of time" or "the pages of history", rather than "wiped off the map".

Reviewing the controversy over the translation, New York Times deputy foreign editor Ethan Bronner observed that "all official translations" of the comments, including the foreign ministry and president's office, "refer to wiping Israel away".

He also compared Israel's actions in the 2006 Israel-Lebanon conflict to Hitler's actions during WWII saying, "Hitler sought pretexts to attack other nations" and "[t]he Zionist regime is seeking baseless pretexts to invade Islamic countries and right now it is justifying its attacks with groundless excuses"

In August of 2006 Ahmadinejad gave an exclusive interview to Mike Wallace for the program 60 Minutes. Most of the interview focused on Ahmadinejad's support for Hezbollah's attacks upon Israel, and what he perceives as American and British aggression in the Middle East.

When Wallace confronted him with questions pertaining to Iran's documented military support for Hezbollah Ahmadinejad pointedly asked him "are you a representative of the Zionist regime, or a journalist?" To which Wallace replied, "I'm a journalist, I'm a journalist."

This led Ahmadinejad onto a digression about what he views as Israel's culpability for Lebanese suffering, and the moral justification for Hezbollah's paramilitary assaults.

Later on in the interview Ahmadinejad was pressed on his views regarding the state of Israel, and asked to explain his previous statements questioning its right to exist, and suggesting that it should be relocated to Europe, since Europeans should have been forced to bear primary culpability for The Holocaust.

In December 2005 and January and May 2006 Ahmadinejad made controversial statements denying the Holocaust, and criticizing European laws against Holocaust denial. These statements were condemned by many world leaders and led to accusations of anti-Semitism.

CNN and other media outlets reported that he stated concerning the Holocaust, that "they have invented a myth that Jews were massacred".

In an interview with Der Spiegel, he was asked, "Are you still saying that the Holocaust is just 'a myth'?" Ahmadinejad responded, "I will only accept something as truth if I am actually convinced of it." In the same interview, he later stated, "We oppose every type of crime against any people. But we want to know whether this crime actually took place or not...If it did not occur, then the Jews have to go back to where they came from".

In reaction to Ahmadinejad's comments on the Holocaust, the United States Senate passed a unanimous resolution condemning his "harmful, destructive, and anti-Semitic statements." and "hate and animosity toward all Jewish people of the world."

Vociferous criticism came from throughout the world. One such criticism was in a The Cleveland Plain Dealer Opinion/Editorial piece in which the author called Ahmadinejad an "anti-Semitic rogue."

Former Iranian President Mohammad Khatami said that the Holocaust is a "historic fact," while criticizing what he claimed was a connection between the Holocaust and "the persecution of the Palestinian people".

Rev. Dr. Robert W. Edgar, General Secretary of the National Council of Churches in the USA, said, "Anti-Semitism’s most vociferous manifestation is the 'Big Lie' now coming from Tehran".

The translation of his statements on the Holocaust have been disputed by the Iranian government. The government-controlled IRNA news agency has stated that Ahmadinejad said, "some have created a myth on holocaust and hold it even higher than the very belief in religion and prophets." It should be noted that IRNA's mission is to secure "the Islamic Republic of Iran's national interests." The Iranian government further responded through a spokesman who charged that "the Western media empire is trying to portrait [sic] Iran as an anti-Semitic country... If you believe in the Holocaust...let other people express their ideas too and then try to convince them by your justifications."

During the crackdown on universities in 1980, which Khomeini called the “Islamic Cultural Revolution”, Ahmadinejad and the OSU played a critical role in purging dissident lecturers and students many of whom were arrested and later executed. Universities remained closed for three years and Ahmadinejad joined the Revolutionary Guards.

In the early 1980s, Ahmadinejad worked in the “Internal Security” department of the IRGC and earned notoriety as a ruthless interrogator and torturer. According to the state-run website Baztab, allies of outgoing President Mohammad Khatami have revealed that Ahmadinejad worked for some time as an executioner in the notorious Evin Prison, where thousands of political prisoners were executed in the bloody purges of the 1980s. Ahmadinejad led the firing squads that carried out many of the executions. He fired coup de grace shots at the heads of prisoners after their execution and became known as “Tir Khalas Zan” (literally, the bullet shooter).Permission is granted to copy, distribute and/or modify this document under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License, Version 1.2 or any later version published by the Free Software Foundation; with no Invariant Sections, with no Front-Cover Texts, and with no Back-Cover Texts.
Virtual Magic is a human knowledge database blog. Text Based On Information From Wikipedia, Under The GNU Free Documentation License. Copyright (c) 2007 Virtual Magic. Permission is granted to copy, distribute and/or modify this document under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License, Version 1.1 or any later version published by the Free Software Foundation; with no Invariant Sections, no Front-Cover Texts and no Back-Cover Texts. A copy of the license is included in the section entitled "GNU Free Documentation License".

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