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Ahmadinejad’s Back? Veteran Iranian Politician Reportedly Plans to Run for President Again in 2021

© AP Photo / Richard DrewIran's President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad gestures at the United Nations General Assembly.
Iran's President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad gestures at the United Nations General Assembly. - Sputnik International
The former Tehran mayor served as president between 2005 and 2013, famously waging a war of words with the Bush administration while attempting to improve Iran’s relations with emerging powers. Last year, he blasted President Trump over his tough-guy approach, saying the US couldn’t simultaneously ‘choke’ Iran’s throat while saying ‘come and talk’.

Former Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad plans to make another run for the presidency in 2021, Iran’s Young Journalists Club news agency has reported.

To take part, Ahmadinejad’s candidacy will first need to be approved by the Guardian Council of the Constitution, a 12-member constitutionally mandated body determining who can run for national office. The body rejected his candidacy in 2017, but YJC noted that his supporters plan to make every effort to ensure approval this time around.

Iranians will go to the polls in May or June 2021. Current President Hassan Rouhani cannot take part, since he is serving his second and final consecutive term.

Although his past as mayor of Tehran, ascetic lifestyle and populist economic policies are rarely discussed, Ahmadinejad enjoys something of a celebrity status in the West over his war of words with the Bush administration between 2005 and 2008 over the invasions of Iraq and Afghanistan, as well as his 2006 statement that Israel “must vanish from the page of history,” often misquoted as “wiped off the map,” a sentiment which sparked outrage throughout much of the world at the time he said it.

Also in 2006, he was famously misquoted by CNN, who translated his statement about Iran’s ‘right to nuclear energy’ as Iran’s ‘right to nuclear weapons,’ a mistranslation which cost CNN its accreditation in the Islamic Republic. In 2007, during a trip to New York, Ahmadinejad told students at Colombia University that gays and lesbians "don't exist" in Iran, which earned him angry front page coverage in many major US newspapers.

The politician enjoys the support of Islamic hardliners, workers and the poor in Iran, and is known for making blunt, biting and controversial comments. Last week, Ahmadinejad got in trouble online after quoting the Tupac Shakur lyric “Pull the trigger kill a N**** he’s a hero” from the rapper's 1992 song on racism and police violence in a Tweet expressing his outrage over the killing of Minneapolis black man George Floyd by a white police officer.

In 2019, Ahmadinejad called on Washington and Tehran to find a peaceful resolution to the raging tensions between the two nations, saying he recognizes President Trump’s “business”-like approach to politics. At the same time, he warned that “if you choke the throat of anyone in the world and say come and talk, it won’t be valid,” and said that “negotiations must take place in calmer, more respectful conditions so they can be long lasting.”

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