Best Known For
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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He also encouraged the Basij to patrol the streets looking for improper dress among men and women. With the support of conservative clerics, Ahmadinejad instituted strict measures to control free speech and suppress opposition with methods ranging from harassment to arrest and imprisonment. By April 2007, Iranian police had stopped or detained over 150,
000 individuals on violations of new edicts imposed or supported by Ahmadinejad.
Ahmadinejad was less successful in fulfilling many of his economic campaign promises. Despite possessing the world's 4th largest oil reserves, Ahmadinejad was unable to stop the squandering of Iran's oil profits. Iran had to import gasoline in 2007, as it did not possess the capabilities to refine enough crude oil to meet domestic demand. Although sources disagree, Iran's unemployment rate seemed to rise only slightly during Ahmadinejad's tenure in office. However, many claim that this was accomplished by implementing highly inflationary public programs and subsidies. Ahmadinejad was also unable to address the crushing increase in inflation, which was estimated to be between 20 and 30 percent.
All these issues—the sagging economy as well as the political crackdowns—came to a head during the June 2009 presidential elections. Iran's crippling inflation rate, high unemployment, and the question of how its oil revenue was being spent were at the top of Iranian voters' minds. Three candidates surfaced to challenge Ahmadinejad: Mir-Hossein Mousavi, a pro-reform candidate, Mohsen Rezaee, a conservative, and Mehdi Karroubi, a career politician and reformist cleric. On June 12, 2009, Iranian citizens turned out in record numbers with 85 percent of Iran's 46 million voters casting their ballots.
The next morning the Islamic Republic News Agency, Iran's official news service, announced that with two-thirds of the votes counted, Ahmadinejad had won the election. Mir-Hossein Mousavi received 33 percent of the vote and the other two contenders received less than three percent combined. Even though many pre-election polls predicted Ahmadinejad would be the winner, most indicated it would be close. Very soon after the announced results, the European Union, Britain and several Western countries expressed concern over alleged irregularities during the voting. Many election analysts voiced doubts about the authenticity of the results. At the same time, many Islamic countries as well as Russia, China, India, and Brazil congratulated Ahmadinejad on his victory.
Mir-Hossein Mousavi was the most vocal of the challengers to contest the election results. He filed an official appeal to the Guardian Council, and urged his supporters to fight the decision in a peaceful manner. Protests broke out in the streets of Tehran on June 13 in favor of Mousavi, and Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei announced there would be an investigation. On June 16, the Guardian Council announced a partial vote recount. That didn't seem to pacify the protesters, who were fired up about not only the allegations of election fraud, but four years of growing frustration with the Ahmadinejad administration.
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