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Who could possibly replace Mahmoud Ahmadinejad?

On September 22nd, 2011, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad for the third straight year addressed the United Nations gathering in New York. His typical inflammatory speech ensured that the U.S and Israeli delegations walked out of the speech. Every speech he has given at the United Nations has been hateful, anti-Semitic and just plain disgusting (he suggested that 9-11 was the work of the U.S government). Ahmadinejad has been the President of Iran since August 3rd, 2005, and has consistently been a thorn in the world's side. Why has he not been replaced? Who is even there to replace him?

First let us learn a little about Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. Ahmadinejad was born in Aradan, capital of Aradan District, Garmsar County, Semnan Province (one of the 31 provinces of Iran, north of the country). His father was a religious Shi'a who worked as an Ironworker, grocer, barber, blacksmith and part time teacher of the Quran. The family was from a rural part of Iran, and when Ahmadinejad was 4 years old; his father moved the family to Tehran. Originally, the father's name indicated a rural background; therefore the father and his son changed names to increase their standing in the community. Ahmadinejad was chosen as it means "from the race of Ahmad", one of the names given to Muhammad. Ahmadinejad attended Iran University of Science and Technology (IUST) where he received an undergraduate degree in civil engineering and a PhD in civil engineering and traffic transportation planning. There are some reports that say that after Saddam Hussein invaded Iran, Ahmadinejad joined the Army of the Guardians of the Islamic Revolution (but this has not been proven). During the 1980s he held a number of administrative posts in the province of West Azerbaijan, Iran. After the Islamic Revolution, Ahmadinejad became a member of the Office for Strengthening Unity. He first took political office as unelected governor to both Maku and Khoy in West Azarbaijan Province during the 1980s. He eventually became an advisor to the governor general of Kurdistan Province for two years after which he was appointed governor general of Ardabil Province from 1993 until Mohammad Khatami (fifth President of Iran) removed him in 1997. In 2003 he was elected Mayor of Tehran where he reversed changes made by previous moderate and reformist mayors. He put religious emphasis on the activities of cultural centers they had founded and publicized the separation of elevators for men and women in the municipality offices. In 2005 he won the presidential election campaign, on the platform of Islamic and revolutionary principles, distributing Iran's oil profits to the poor, defending Iran's nuclear program and speaking out against future relations with the United States. During this time, Ahmadinejad received considerable mentorship from his spiritual advisor, Mohammad-Taqi Mesbah-Yazdi. Yazdi is a hardliner Iranian Twelver Shi'i cleric, politician and member of Iran's Assembly of Experts (the body responsible for choosing the Supreme Leader), where he heads a minority ultraconservative faction. Mesbah Yazdi has been described as "a theoretician of the radicals" in Iran, “extremely hostile towards the West" and "the first senior figure" in Iran to have "publicly endorsed a military nuclear programme." He advocates suicide bombings, the killing of "any person who insults Islam," and considers Israel to be the fundamental source of evil on earth. He believes an "Islamic republic" is a contradiction in terms, as a truly Islamic government would not hold elections as an opportunity for voters to make choices between representatives and policies, but to express their allegiance to the supreme faqih. He believes that "the republican component" should be "stripped" away to leave the true essence of the "Islamic system." He and Ahmadinejad were also rumored to be "affiliated" with the Hojjatieh group (semi-clandestine traditionalist Shi’a organization that believes that the most immediate threat to Islam was the Bahá'í religion, which they viewed as a heresy that must be eliminated. The group also opposes both Sunniism and the Khomeinist concept of Velayat-e Faqih; in addition they are also described as "an underground messianic sect ... which hopes to quicken the coming of the apocalypse “in order to hasten the return of the Mahdi, the prophesied future redeemer of Islam). Surely every politician in Iran would not be as radical as Ahmadinejad, therefore, who would be a likely successor to him? Well, there is Ahmadinejad's old associate Ali Larijani, former secretary of the Supreme National Security Council. Once Iran's chief nuclear negotiator, he had to leave Ahmadinejad's team because of disagreements with his former boss. When the results of parliamentary elections were counted in Iran last spring, bets were placed on Larijani, who positioned himself as a neo-conservative. Larijani is already the speaker of parliament and is likely to play an increasingly important role in Iran. Iranian politicians have also speculated that Ali Akbar Salehi, the foreign minister and head of Iran's atomic agency for four years, could be a possible replacement for Ahmadinejad, he has a BSc from the American University of Beirut and a Ph.D. from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, which he earned in 1977. Another candidate is Tehran’s Mayor, Mohammad Bagher Qalibaf, the Supreme Leader (Ayatollah Seyed Ali Hoseyni Khāmene’i) supposedly likes Qalibaf a lot, and he is a known trusted aid of the supreme leader. (He is also known to be a very obedient servant to the Supreme Leader.) On October 13, 2008, Qalibaf announced his support for dialogue with the United States as suggested by President (then presidential candidate) Barack Obama. According to Ghalibaf, "I think the world community, the Iranian society and the US society would benefit" from such talks. On a side note, if there is internal rift in Iran, the military and police will be neutral and obey the Supreme Leader. The Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corp will also stand by the Supreme Leader. On the other end of the spectrum, Ahmadinejad has implied (not directly) that he wants his associate Esfandiar Rahim Mashai to replace him. Mashai served as Ahmadinejad’s deputy in the past, before being fired for saying that the Iranian people are friends of Israel. Mashai currently serves as head of the president’s bureau. The two are also related, as one of Ahmadinejad’s sons is married to Mashai’s daughter. The four individuals I have spoken about might not fit into a role of being the anti-Ahmadinejad, Ali Akbar Salehi and Ali LariJani are just as dedicated to a Nuclear Iran as Ahmadinejad is. If we were to list the four based on who would be the best bet to bridging the gap between the U.S and Iran; Larijani would be the closest to ideological principles as Ahmadinejad, Esfandiar Rahim Mashai would be next, followed by Ali Akbar Salehi, with Mohammad Bagher Qalibaf being the closest to an individual that would make the most reasonable approaches to bridging ties between the U.S and Iran. Who will replace Ahmadinejad is yet to be seen, but at this stage any change is good!

Akhavi, Shahrough (1980). Religion and politics in contemporary Iran: clergy-state relations in the Pahlavī period. SUNY Press. pp. 76–79. ISBN 9780873954082.
Islam, Terror and the Second Nuclear Age By NOAH FELDMAN. October 29, 2006 New York Times
Javedanfar, Meir (2009-05-06). "Ahmadinejad's messianic connections". The Guardian (London). Retrieved 2010-05-13.
Web Site Of The Ayatullah Mesbah Yazdi" Click on "speeches", then "lectures". "Towards a Comprehensive Defense of Islam and Islamic Culture." Ayatullah Muhammad Taqi Mesbah
Transcript of TV interview with Dr. Soroush by Dariush Sajjadi, Broadcast on Homa TV on 9 March 2006 accessed 7-15-2009
Nasr, Vali The Shia Revival, Norton, (2006), p.216
Profile: Mahmoud Ahmadinejad". BBC News. 2010-08-04.
Walkouts and fury: A look at Ahmadinejad's U.N. speeches By Jason Hanna, CNN
Babnet Tunisia (2005). "More on Mahmoud Ahmadinejad". Persian Mirror.
"Behind Ahmadinejad, a Powerful Cleric". New York Times. 9 September 2006.
Theocracy and its Discontents by Fareed Zakaria| newsweek| June 20, 2009
Walkouts and fury: A look at Ahmadinejad's U.N. speeches By Jason Hanna, CNN, September 23, 2011.


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