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Ghalibaf Takes On Ahmadinejad

By: Meir Javedanfar


Mohammad Bagher Ghalibaf who has been serving as the Mayor of Tehran since 2005, is getting ready to enter the 2009 Iranian presidential race.

He already tried his luck in 2005 as a candidate, but failed to win. Winning 14% of the votes, he came in 5th. One of the reasons is because he described himself as an Islamic version of Reza Shah. Some Iranians have nostalgic feelings for the founder for the Pahlavi dynasty, and the father of Shah. The biggest reason is because he was a nationalist, and that he was a developer. He developed Iran’s roads, railways and telecommunication system. Also he was a no none sense man. He didn’t let bureaucracy (or democracy for that matter) get in his plans to develop Iran and to try and make it in to a modern country. In short, Iranians like Reza Shah, because he was a man of talk and action. In comparison, Ahmadinejad is a man of talk and no action. Or if he does anything, like reform the economy, he makes it worst.

However comparing yourself to the father of the Shah, even an Islamic version would make any politician lose great many point with supreme leader Khamenei. And this is what happened with Ghalibaf. Even though he had much better credentials as a Revolutionary Guards commander, Khamenei picked Ahmadinejad over him.

That was in 2005. Since then, Ghalibaf has improved his popularity as the Mayor of Tehran. He has just been recognized as the 8th best Mayor in the world. This is an achievement which won him much publicity in Iran. During his trip to Japan to receive the recognition, he used the opportunity to attack Ahmadinejad. Amongst other things he criticized Ahmadinejad’s domestic policies, with emphasis placed on the problem of inflation and Iran’s excessive reliance on oil as a source of income. He also criticized Ahmadinejad’s cash handouts, saying that they don’t “solve the economic roots of our problems”.

This is only a warning shot. President Ahmadinejad should expect a very tough and bruising competition . There is a queue of politicians waiting to settle scores with him. Ghalibaf should get to the back of the line. Ayatollah Karrubi got there first. There will be more people joining them.

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Posted on : Oct 20 2008
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