Ahmadinejad Joins Twitter in Political Comeback Bid

  • Ordinary Iranian citizens can’t open Twitter accounts
  • Khamenei has advised former president not to seek re-election

Former Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad made his most visible attempt at a political comeback, joining Twitter and posting a video request for followers in English.

His tweets on a social media platform that’s off-limits to ordinary Iranian citizens touched on an array of topics ranging from justice for mankind and world peace to warm words for former ally Hugo Chavez, the late former Venezuela president.

Ahmadinejad is attempting to re-establish his relevance in Iran even after the country’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, told him to stay out of the presidential race scheduled for May. Last month, state media published Ahmadinejad’s 3,000-word letter to President Donald Trump praising the U.S. leader for calling out alleged corruption in the U.S. political system while criticizing his failed attempt to bar citizens of seven predominantly Muslim nations, including Iran, from entering the U.S.

Ahmadinejad’s eight years in office were marked by confrontation with the West over Iran’s nuclear program, crippling international sanctions, allegations of fraud in the 2009 vote that led to his re-election and the violent putdown of mass protests that ensued. He was succeeded by the current president, Hassan Rouhani.

Ahmadinejad’s second term was fraught with quarrels involving top officials and he fell out of favor with Khamenei. Those tensions resurfaced in September when Khamenei said a presidential run by Ahmadinejad wouldn’t serve Iran’s interests. Ahmadinejad said he would heed Khamenei’s concern that he would polarize the country and stand down.

Earlier this year, a former senior aide, Hamid Baghaei, announced he would run in the presidential election expected in May. Baghaei, who like all prospective candidates needs Guardian Council approval to run, is seen as Ahmadinejad’s proxy in the race.

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