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Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is best known as the controversial sixth president of the Islamic Republic of Iran.
After the 1979 Iranian revolution, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad entered politics. He was elected President of Iran in 2005. His pursuit of a nuclear program and anti-Israeli rhetoric has put him at odds with the United States and much of Europe.
Muammar al-Qaddafi rose through the ranks of the military and seized control of Libya in 1969. He demonstrated eccentric behavior and an oppressive ruling style until he was overthrown and killed in a revolution.
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It is also believed that he participated in covert operations near the city of Kirkuk, and worked to not only the stop the Iraqi incursion,
but to also suppress any political efforts by the Kurds to form their own state.
There remain many unanswered questions about Ahmadinejad's participation in covert assassinations in the Middle East and Europe. He is suspected of planning the killing of Iranian Kurdish leader Abdorrahman Qassemlou in Vienna in July 1989. While American intellegence agents found no evidence to support this allegation, the Austrian government continued investigating the charge well into 2006. It was also reported that Ahmadinejad planned the killing of Salman Rushdie, the controversial Anglo-Indian novelist who outraged Muslim leader Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini with his 1989 book The Satanic Verses. However, evidence is not conclusive on this theory either.
In 1986, Ahmadinejad began his master's program in engineering at Iran University of Science and Technology and in 1989 he joined the faculty. He married another university professor, and the couple had two sons and a daughter together. Ahmadinejad also held a number of government posts during this time. He was appointed governor of Maku and Khoy, cities in the West Azerbaijan province. In 1993, he served as an advisor for the ministry of culture and higher education.
In 1993, he was also appointed governor general of the newly established northwest province of Ardebil and served there for four years. He was removed in 1997 by the newly elected moderate president Mohammad Khatami in an effort to move the Iranian government away from its more conservative elements. Ahmadinejad received his doctorate in transportation engineering in 1997 and returned to his teaching position at the university.
In 2003, Ahmadinejad was appointed mayor of Tehran by the city council. He was little known outside of Iran at this time, but his charisma and political skills became quickly evident. As mayor, Ahmadinejad began repealing reforms put in effect by the moderates, and imposed new cultural restrictions favored by the mullahs—Iran's religious leadership—including the closing of Western fast-food restaurants and the covering of billboards with Western references. He advocated gender-segregated elevators in municipal buildings and turned many of the cultural centers into prayer halls during the Islamic holy month of Ramadan. He also ordered all male city employees to have beards and wear long sleeves.
In 2005, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad ran for president of Iran with the full support of conservative leaders. Populist in his approach, Ahmadinejad promised to address the poverty and social injustices in Iran, and to work to end corruption. He campaigned on the slogan, "We can do it," and was the only presidential candidate to speak out against improving relations with the United States. On June 24, 2005, Ahmadinejad faced off with his campaign rival, Hashemi Rafsanjani, Iran's former president from 1989 to 1997. During this second election, Ahmadinejad played the role of a simple man who was one of the people, and portrayed Rafsanjani as a political hack who amassed a great fortune through corruption.
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