Former Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad came out to the press in his country this week and said that the U.S. airstrikes on Syria absolutely do not intimidate Iran. In fact, he says, Iran cannot be intimidated by the United States because it is simply too powerful.
Of course, like any Iranian leader Ahmadinejad is grossly exaggerating Iran’s power. He is trying to make headlines every since he stunned Iranians by registering to run for president once more.
“I do not think it has a message for Iran. Iran is a powerful country and people like Mr. Trump or the United States administration cannot hurt Iran,” Ahmadinejad said.
The AP writes:
U.S. President Donald Trump’s administration earlier this year announced it was putting Iran “on notice” in part over its ballistic missile tests, and last week pounded a Syrian air base with cruise missiles in response to a chemical weapons attack.
Iran is the main regional backer of Syrian President Bashar Assad and is involved militarily on the ground in that country’s civil war.
Ahmadinejad struck a mostly conciliatory tone during the interview, taking care to not stir up controversy that could alienate voters or clerical authorities.
He avoided repeating inflammatory statements that made him infamous in the West, such as those predicting Israel’s demise or questioning the scale of the Holocaust. He dodged questions about issues such as Iran’s missile program and the possible reaction by the U.S. and Israel to another Ahmadinejad presidency.
Like all candidates, the 60-year-old must be vetted and approved by a powerful constitutional watchdog known as the Guardian Council before he can ultimately run. It will announce its list of approved candidates by April 27. The council, which is made up of clerics and Islamic jurists, normally disqualifies dissidents, women, and many reformists.
Ahmadinejad said the strike on Syria could have happened even if Hillary Clinton had won the U.S. election. He added that the decision to attack Syria was made by people behind the scenes in the U.S., strongly implying that the U.S. presidency is decided behind closed doors.
“Those who are the directors must give the role (of president) to a person who can pull it off best. A woman cannot put up a good war face,” he said. “A man can do that better. They need to come up with a figure and say he is very dangerous.”
Ahmadinejad also dismissed the Trump administration’s aggressive talk toward Tehran as political posturing, suggesting that a businessman with such varied international interests would rather avoid war.
“If he were dangerous, he would not have $70 billion of assets. However he has no choice but to play such a role,” he said.
It was unclear how he arrived at that dollar figure.
Ahmadinejad also voiced reluctant support for Iran’s 2015 nuclear deal with the U.S. and other world powers, which saw Iran accept curbs on its nuclear program in exchange for relief from crippling international sanctions.
Iran has managed to sign a string of multibillion-dollar civilian aircraft deals since sanctions were lifted, but many ordinary Iranians are still waiting on hoped-for economic benefits of the nuclear agreement to trickle down.
“The nuclear deal is a legal document and a pact. In the Islamic Republic, the officials and the supreme leader have approved of it and declared their commitment to it,” he said.