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OpEdNews Op Eds    H4'ed 7/1/13

Ten things you probably didn't know about Ahmadinejad

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Message Niloufar Parsi

1. Foreign direct investment in Iran reached its highest level ever during Ahmadinejad"s presidency (2005-2013). According to the latest statistics released by the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD; 2013 World Investment Report), Iran managed to attract $2 billion worth of foreign direct investments in 2007, $1.90 billion in 2008, $3 billion in 2009, $3.64 billion in 2010, $4.15 billion in 2011, and $4.87 billion in 2012 (see table on page 214 of the report). "During Ahmadinejad's presidency, some $24.4 billion of investments have been attracted, while this figure for his predecessors Mohammad Khatami (1997-2005) and Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani (1989-1997) was respectively $10.452 billion and $350 million." Source

2. Ahmadinejad never called for the destruction of Israel. He called for regime change in the Apartheid State of Israel. He stated: -- the regime that occupies Jerusalem must vanish from the pages of time". Similarly, he never denied the Holocaust, but stated that some aspects of it should be open to questioning. In particular, he questioned why it was Palestinians who were paying the price for the Holocaust rather than Germans and Austrians, who should instead have given a part of their land to their Jewish victims.

3. Ahmadinejad never participated in the siege of the American embassy in 1979. By some accounts, he was opposed to the idea of hostage taking at the embassy.

4. He comes from a working class background, and lives a simple and humble life, often refusing luxuries. He sent some of the most expensive carpets in the presidential palace to museums and had them replaced with cheaper carpets. He also refused the VIP seats on board the presidential plane.

5. After two years as Tehran mayor, Ahmadinejad was one of 65 finalists for World Mayor in 2005, selected from 550 nominees, only nine of them from Asia. He was among three strong candidates for the top-ten list, but his resignation after winning the presidential elections in 2005 made him ineligible.

6. Ahmadinejad was the first Iranian leader to manage to cut Iran's debilitating fuel subsidies that benefited the rich more than the poor -- an effort that no other politician had managed to achieve in 5 decades or so.

7. Ahmadinejad was the first Iranian president since the revolution to directly challenge the authority of the Supreme Leader, for example by resisting the Leader's wish to interfere in the selection of Cabinet ministers. In this, Ahmadinejad was pushing for greater compliance with the Iranian Constitution by the Supreme Leader with the aim of reducing the power of the clergy, and promoting the republican side of the Islamic Republic.

8. During Ahmadinejad's presidency, Iran's position in the Middle East and in the nuclear negotiations has stabilised and steadily improved, with greater influence and a far stronger negotiating position while the rest of the region is embroiled in conflict and insecurity. Strong indicators for Iran's more powerful position are a) USA and Israel have stopped publicly hallucinating about a military attack against Iran, and b) the P5+1 no longer demand a cessation of all nuclear enrichment activities in Iran as they did during Khatami's era, and the so-called "red lines' keep moving closer to the 100% enrichment levels. During Ahmadinejad's presidency, Iran has not stepped back one single step from all her international rights. During Khatami's presidency, Iran gave up many rights with no gain whatsoever.

9. Iran's economic self-sufficiency has improved significantly under Ahmadinejad, and reliance on imports and even the export of crude oil has been drastically reduced. Iran is among the largest petrochemicals and steel producers in the region with far higher refining capacity today as compared with Rafsanjani and Khatami administrations. Iran's economy is far more resilient as a direct result of the sanctions that Ahmadinejad's administration deliberately and specifically decided to confront and defeat. This has been hard on many people, but is likely to bolster Iran's position and economy in the long run.

10. Iran's rate of scientific growth and achievements sky-rocketed during Ahmadinejad's terms in office. Iran was reported as having the highest rate of scientific growth in the world in 2010. Today, the country is among global leaders in space, nuclear and military technology as well as nanotechnology and stem cell research. Iran's indigenous military production capability makes the country by far the greatest conventional military power in the region. All this, while Iran spends the smallest share of its GDP on its military, as compared to the rest of the region and the West's most warmongering nations such as USA, UK and France.

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An average Iranian with a keen interest in international affairs. Niloufar is a graduate in Development Studies in the UK, and works as an international consultant in the field of international development (non-profit).
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