The election of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to the presidency of the Islamic Republic of Iran in the summer of 2005 thrust Iran into the international limelight in a way that few would have predicted. Robust, confrontational and given to bombastic rhetoric, Ahmadinejad has drawn condemnation from the West and praise from the Middle Eastern street in almost equal measure.
This Paper looks at the details of his political rise and assesses his presidency to date within the context of the dynamics of Iranian politics. Examining the key themes of his presidency, it assesses the effectiveness of his policies and analyzes his populist approach, in particular his use of nationalism and the cult of the Twelfth Imam. The author argues that Ahmadinejad, far from retrenching the conservative values of the early revolution, is very much a product of the social and political changes which have occurred since the end of the Iran–Iraq War; that his populism in both politics and economics, along with the maintenance of a confrontational posture abroad, represents an ad hoc, and somewhat incoherent, attempt to disguise the growing contradictions which afflict the Islamic Republic, and the conservative vision of an unaccountable Islamic autocracy in the face of growing dissatisfaction, especially among key sections of the élite.
Table of Contents
Introduction Part 1: The Background to Ahmadinejad’s Rise 1. The Rafsanjani and Khatami Presidencies 2. The Triumph of the Authoritarians Part 2: The ‘Third Islamic Revolution’ 3. The Ahmadinejad Presidency: Image and Foreign Policy 4. The Ahmadinejad Presidency: Domestic Policy. Conclusion
Ali M. Ansari is Professor of Iranian History and Director of the Institute for Iranian Studies at the University of St Andrews, and Associate Fellow of the Middle East Programme, Royal Institute for International Affairs (Chatham House). He is the author of Confronting Iran: The Failure of US Policy and the Roots of Mistrust (London: Hurst, 2006), Modern Iran Since 1921: The Pahlavis and After, 2nd ed. (London: Longman, 2007), Iran, Islam and Democracy: The Politics of Managing Change, 2nd ed. (London: Royal Institute of International Affairs, 2006) and ‘Iran and the US in the Shadow of 9/11: Persia and the Persian Question Revisited’, in Iranian Studies (June 2006). He has also published articles in The Washington Quarterly and Middle Eastern Studies, and contributed chapters to several books.