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Tehran - Moderate Iranian Cleric To Run Against Ahmadinejad

Published on: October 12, 2008 03:38 PM
By: Haaretz
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Tehran - Moderate Iranian cleric Mehdi Karroubi, who Sunday declared his intention to run against incumbent Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in next June’s presidential elections, has begun his campaign by calling the current president’s past statements on the Holocaust “irrelevant.”

The 71-year-old cleric is head of the moderate opposition party Etemad Melli (National Trust) and the party’s choice run in the June 12 elections.

In a press conference in Tehran, Karroubi identified the president’s economic and foreign policies as the main problems of the current administration that should be tackled, in particular Ahmadinejad’s seeming preoccupation with the Holocaust.

Ahmadinejad has remarked in the past that Israel should be “wiped off the map” and that the Holocaust is a “fairy tale,” to widespread condemnation.

“We have so far paid a heavy price for the remarks by the president and gained absolutely nothing in return,” Karroubi said at a press conference in Tehran.


“I do not remember that anybody in Iran has ever [since the 1979 Islamic revolution] referred to the Holocaust except [Ahmadinejad],” he said.

“What we should care about is Palestine and Palestinians and how to help them, and not exposing the Holocaust and arguing about the number [of the Jewish victims in the Second World War] and whether it was registered as too much or too little,” Karroubi said.

Other opposition groups in Iran have blamed the president for having unnecessarily raised an issue which had nothing to do with Iran and hence harmed the country by “political adventurism.”

Although Ahmadinejad has in the meantime refrained from referring to the Holocaust antagonistically, he often predicts the collapse of Israel, which he refers to as “the Zionist regime.”

On the controversy over Iran’s nuclear program, Karroubi said that Iran should insist on its internationally acknowledged right to pursue a civil nuclear program, but at the same time also pay attention to Western concerns and guarantee the peaceful nature of the nuclear projects.

Karroubi served twice as parliament speaker, from 1990-92 and 2000-04. In the 2005 presidential elections, he missed reaching the second round by a few votes.

Karroubi and the Etemad Melli party, which also runs a newspaper under the same name, have in recent years distanced themselves from reformists close to former president Mohammad Khatami, whom they feel has drifted away from the Islamic system that has ruled the country since the 1979 revolution.

Khatami has not yet declared his intention to run in the next presidential election, but many analysts expect him to.

Another potential moderate candidate is cleric Hassan Rowhani, who served under Khatami as Iran’s chief nuclear negotiator.

The failure of reformists to form a united front increases Ahmadinejad’s chances of being re-elected, although the president is under fire for Iran’s high inflation, which has hurt many of his core support-base amongst the provincial poor.

It was not yet clear whether Ahmadinejad would obtain unanimous support of the conservative faction or if neo-conservatives would name their own candidate, as they did in the March parliamentary elections.

Ahmadinejad is also said to enjoy the support of Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei who, according to the constitution, has the final say in all state affairs. But some of the ayatollah’s advisers, including former foreign minister Ali-Akbar Velayati, have openly criticized the president’s policies.

While a low turnout would be seen as favorable to Ahmadinejad, a high one could indicate more voters coming to the polls who are against the hard-line policies of the president and want a change in the country’s political climate, analysts said.

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Read Comments (7)  —  Post Yours »


 Oct 12, 2008 at 03:43 PM Lev Sarim uMelachim Says:

I just hope this guy doesn't have an "unfortunate accident" between now and their election.


 Oct 12, 2008 at 05:39 PM Avraham Abba Says:

Meet the new boss same as the old boss.
Hey guys, this is the only way Iran can back down diplomatically from its idiotic position. They are scared to death that Israel or the U.S. or both, will bomb them into the desert sand.
So they put up this new puppet and he's going to "win" and then he's going to say, "Let's stop all this nuclear bomb nonsense."
Then Iran is going to ask for aid and the U.S. will give it, claiming the Iranians changed.


 Oct 12, 2008 at 05:58 PM murray Says:

They will Delay the BOMB, not cancel.


 Oct 12, 2008 at 09:39 PM Mark Levin Says:

New tiger same stripes?


 Oct 12, 2008 at 10:29 PM Mrs. Kuchelefel Says:

This guy does have a fantastic resume. There is a big difference between this moderate and Achmendendumjad.

This moderate will allow woman to cover one eye instead of two eyes when walking in the streets and allow woman to wear a lighter black dress instead of the conventional dark black dress that drags all over the streets. The woman will be allowed to walk out of their homes once a week instead of the two hour rule that is currently in place. The moderate will also allow the woman to put on make up once a year. As for taking showers they are still not allowed.


 Oct 12, 2008 at 10:51 PM Anonymous Says:

i hope this means civil war in that part of the world . let them kill each other.


 Oct 12, 2008 at 11:55 PM Not Mod Says:

They also call Khameini moderate. This is the liberals way of trying to put everyone to sleep. There is no moderate Muslim in Iran leadership.


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