Iran’s hardliners have recently made comments against former President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, seemingly aiming to tarnish his image.
While Ahmadinejad faced considerable criticism for his populist policies during his presidency from 2005 to 2013, he stands out as one of the few politicians in the Islamic Republic who maintained popularity with a segment of the population during his provincial visits after leaving office.
Abdolreza Davari, one of Ahmadinejad’s top aides during his presidency, recently said that “Ahmadinejad is under the illusion that the Islamic Republic is going to collapse.” Davari claimed that Ahmadinejad’s apparent differences with the regime stem from the fact that he has been ostracized. He added that “After Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei cautioned him not to run for the 2017 Presidential elections, Ahmadinejad realized that he can no longer return to power.”
At the time, Ahmadinejad had said that if Khamenei was against his decision to run for the presidency, he would have said it with a loudspeaker [meaning during a broadcast]. Khamenei made his opposition to Ahmadinejad’s presidential run public during a meeting with other politicians and added that “Well, this has been now said on a loudspeaker!”
Speaking about Ahmadinejad’s silence about the Gaza war, Davari said “Ahmadinejad has now realized that he cannot return to power as long as the current regime and political structure are in place in Iran,” implying that the former president had no reason to support Tehran’s position in the Gaza war.
He pointed out that except Ahmadinejad all political factions and politicians including former reformist President Mohammad Khatami have voiced support for Hamas and condemned Israel. They all echoed Khamenei’s position while perhaps Ahmadinejad had a different opinion.
He further accused Ahmadinejad of believing that “the Islamic Republic cannot survive, and he can be the regime’s alternative when it collapses.”
Meanwhile, In a video that surfaced on social media, vigilante leader Hossein Allahkaram said that because of Ahmadinejad’s poor performance during his presidency Iran nearly lost Syria as the “Resistance’s most important base” in the region. Resistance is the Islamic Republic’s jargon for anti-US forces in Iran, Syria, Iraq, Lebanon and Yemen.
Another close aide of Ahmadinejad, Mehdi Kalhor, also made negative comments to Asr Iran news website about Ahmadinejad’s populism and how his aides fanned his ambitions.
Kalhor accused Ahmadinejad of disclosing family information about his opponent, Mir Hossein Mousavi in the 2009 presidential campaign. Kolhar alleged that Ahmadinejad was privy to Mousavi’s family life because of his close ties with him and his family. Mousavi was one of Ahmadinejad’s teachers when he was a student. Later they became family friends. He even admitted during the televised debate that he was one of Mousavi’s students.
Kolhar admitted, however, that what Ahmadinejad disclosed about Mousavi and his wife was insignificant and only showed that Ahmadinejad was an opportunist who would use information about a friend for political gain.
Other politicians and media, noted that some of Ahmadinejad’s former allies are now working with hardliner Paydari Party Leader Sadeq Mahsouli and Parviz Fattah, another powerful politician close to Khamenei’s office. Mahsouli and Fattah were Ahmadinejad’s aids and cabinet ministers during his presidency.
Recently, conservative heavyweight Mohammad Reza Bahonar who is a candidate for the March parliamentary elections had said that Ahmadinejad is planning to present a list of candidates. The mudslinging against Ahmadinejad by conservatives, who are likely to be the only players in the election, could be an attempt to tarnish his image among those who are likely to vote for the candidates he nominates.