Former president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad plans to re-enter mainstream politics, an IranWire exclusive has revealed.
So just what is Ahmadinejad’s multi-pronged plan for success in the 2016 parliamentary elections? And how does it differ from his approach to crowd-pleasing, international diplomacy and economic recovery during his time as president?
1. Embracing a new future
“We will adopt a new approach, cutting loose from our past,” said a memo from an April 16 planning meeting in Shiraz. Supporters prepared themselves for a tough road ahead — “acknowledging the damage and seeking to repair it,” the campaign notes said. Some supporters have said that, during his presidency, Ahmadinejad should have paid a bit more attention to "freedoms," as well as justice.
Ahmadinejad seeks to shed the trappings of his former political life – with the exception of some of his most dearly-held beliefs and close allies, of course.
2. People Power
Since his tenure ended, Ahmadinejad has made it his business to stay connected with the people, and his new campaign will remind them of just what he can do as an MP — bringing hope and prosperity to people from small, remote villages and living on lower incomes. This has been a long-time strategy of Ahmadinejad and his supporters, who have done well out of peddling propaganda about prosperity, housing, and jobs. (Wait, what happened to number one on this list?)
3. “We refuse to bargain with any other party or group.”
More than anything else, the Iranian people need someone who can talk tough. Despite rumors, Ahmadinejad and his team have no plans to collaborate with hardliner umbrella group the Islamic Revolution Stability Front. After all, negotiating never gets you anywhere.
4. A Star is Re-born
Every good political candidate needs a strong image in the media, and Ahmadinejad is no exception. In addition to listening to the problems of the people and answering their letters, Ahmadinejad has been sure to be seen at religious ceremonies and events and to give public addresses on his favorite topics: the evils of Israel and the United States and the return of the Twelfth Imam, or Shia Messiah.
5. Keep Friends Close
Notes from the secret meeting in Shiraz emphasize the importance of keeping “friendly forces” in positions of power. One major criticism of President Rouhani’s administration is that it has allowed many of Ahmadinejad’s cronies to stay in top jobs in the judiciary. The former president’s campaign team will work hard to ensure these supporters continue to wield influence and wave the Ahmadinejad banner in 2016. And there’s good reason to believe parts of the military pushed for the recent planning meeting. Ebrahim Azizi, a former commander of the Basij paramilitary force’s mobilization unit, was one of many influential guests.
6. Remember Who’s in Charge
Ahmadinejad is popular among certain religious leaders, so his team will be keen to use this support to its advantage. In the past, one of Ahmadinejad’s most loyal fans has been Ayatollah Mahmoud Hashemi Shahroudi, though in recent years he’s been a little reticent to associate himself with the president — whose claims to fame include links to Iran’s biggest housing scandal and corruption cases and Holocaust denial, not to mention the 2009 crackdown on democracy and the reign of Tehran’s notorious “Butcher of the Press.”
So it makes sense that Ahmadinejad will want to cosy up to influential types like Shahroudi again — and since Shahroudi once headed up the Iranian Judiciary, that could also work in Ahmadinejad’s favor. (See above)
7. ...And make new friends
One of the aims of the clandestine (some say illegal) meeting in Shiraz was to get new people signed up and on board for the campaign. According to the scrawled notes IranWire obtained, Ahmadinejad’s team already had the support of groups in 18 provinces across the country. At the Shiraz meeting, at least eight new people were recruited to the Fars province committee.
So is it full steam ahead for Ahmadinejad in 2016? It could be that the team needs to get to work on just one or two extra points of interest — boosting the economy without corrupt practices for a start — before it can comfortably predict victory. And the team may find it difficult to keep all of those out-of-work or low-income people on board if it continues to see them as a homogeneous group that can be bought by a single-issue campaign or a catch-all slogan. They may have learned one or two things in recent years.
Read the full report .