Leading reformist candidate in upcoming Iranian presidential elections, Mir Hossein Mousavi,left, greets his supporters as his wife Zahra Rahnavard, rear right, speaks during a election campaign in Tehran May 31, 2009.
"The List: Iran's Presidential Wannabes"
Magazine or Newspaper Article, Foreign Policy
Author: Kayhan Barzegar, Former Associate, Project on Managing the Atom/International Security Program, 2010–2011; Former Research Fellow, Project on Managing the Atom/international Security Program, 2007–2010
Meet the four men vying to lead the Islamic Republic.
Research Fellow Kayhan Barzegar describes the four candidates for the Iranian presidency (Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, Mir Hossein Mousavi, Mehdi Karroubi, and Mohsen Rezai) in terms of their credentials, power base, and stances on domestic politics and foreign policy—including the Iranian nuclear program.
Incumbent president of Iran Mahmoud Ahmadinejad "draws his support from conservative clerics, as well as the disaffected middle and working classes in rural Iran and the margins of major cities....On the economy, he believes in state control, focusing on direct assistance to small-scale cooperative businesses that are, in theory, supposed to earn quick returns and reduce unemployment. He pumped Iran's oil profits into these businesses, and many believe that the result has been inflation and high unemployment....He recently stressed that Iran will not negotiate with the United States on suspending enrichment, but that it would be willing to discuss fighting terrorism and resolving regional crises together."
Mir Hossein Mousavi, who served as foreign minister and then prime minister during the Iran-Iraq war, "says that Ahmadinejad's rule has divided Iranian society along class and cultural lines. Moderate clerics support him and he has followers among intellectuals, academics, students (especially women), artists, and the urban middle and upper classes....Mousavi has stressed that he will follow market-friendly policies and privatization. He has promised to reduce the role of the government in cultural and social activities....On the nuclear issue, he supports Iran's right to enrich uranium for peaceful uses and says he would be willing to negotiate with the international community to avoid the weaponization of Iran's nuclear program."
Cleric and former speaker of the parliament Mehdi Karroubi "enjoys some backing from moderate clerics, but draws most of his support from technocratic professionals, university students, and intellectuals" and ... "believes in a market economy and a vigorous private sector....On the nuclear issue, he has deferred, saying that he would follow the wishes of the supreme leader, whatever they may be."
Mohsen Rezai is "Secretary of the Expediency Discernment Council, an advisory group that reports to the Supreme Leader himself", has a Ph.D. in Economics, and his "support comes mainly from conservatives who have lost faith in Ahmadinejad....Rezai believes in privatizing Iran's state economy at a much faster pace....On the nuclear issue, he is the only candidate to accept the idea of enriching uranium on Iran's soil as a multinational venture with the cooperation of the United States."
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