TEL AVIV – The short, sudden twitch on his shoulders are becoming more visible and frequent. They usually erupt when he is addressing large crowds. Maybe its because he is excited, or because he is nervous. No one can be sure. Yet, he turns into a completely different person when he is giving TV interviews, especially to foreign reporters. Suddenly, the twitches disappear. It's as if he is in a trance. In such circumstances, he is a postcard picture of a confident Pasdar (Revolutionary Guard).
I use to have a teacher like him at school. He too was a Pasdar. Friendly, and at times nervous. But when we used to ask him to recount his war stories, it was as if someone flipped a switch. His eyes would shine, his back would straighten, and his voice would boom with confidence.
The same happens to Ahmadinejad. In front of the camera, on one to one interviews, his hands barely move. He gazes straight at the interviewer. He blinks, and moves his head, ever so slightly. The camera seems to give him comfort. Maybe its because the camera, unlike the students at Amir Kabir University , does not have the capability to answer back, and to scream “Death to the Dictator”. The very fact that he only answers to foreign reporters in Farsi is another comfort. He does speak English. In fact, according to his school friends, his English is good.
Ahmadinejad is a man who likes to be in charge. He is much more of a lone wolf than Khatami. He was a leader who worked through consensus. Ahmadinejad on the other hand, when it comes to making decisions, does not believe in Mardom Salari (democracy). He believes that he knows what is best, and if anyone stands in his way, he will either ignore them, or push them away. This trait was visible when he was the Mayor of Tehran. Apparently he was a good Mayor, but he was very moody. He would treat his employees very harshly. Ahmadinejad would not think twice about sacking someone, if he did not like them, or thought that they were not conservative like him.
His children, especially his oldest son Mahdi do not seem to be as dedicated to the revolution, as Ahmadinejad and his wife are. An engineering student at the Daneshgahe Elm Va San'at (University of Science and Technology ), he was sacked from the Islamic Students Union, because he was too lazy. Ali Reza, his youngest son, is a huge Internet fan. Ahmadinejad complained about the huge phone bill which Ali Reza racked up during his electioneering campaign. He too is studying engineering, and hangs around with Basiji students, but does not hold a high position like his brother Mahdi did. Ahmadinejad's oldest child, a girl, married soon after the election of her father. She is an electronics engineer. His wife is an engineer too, a Mechanical one. A family of engineers. Maybe the Ahmadinejads bottle fed jadvale zarb (multiplication table) to their kids in their infancy. If they did, it worked.
Ahmadinejad's wife is an especially interesting character. She has a masters, and is a lecturer these days. Despite the fact that she is very conservative, and is a good cook (according to Ahmadinejad) she is not a stay at home kind of person. She has a big influence on Ahmadinejad's feminist beliefs and has apparently acquired a taste for traveling on the presidential Boeing 707, with her husband. She has been on a number a foreign trips with him, including Malaysia and the US . She should not get too used to it. Its very likely that after 2009 her husband will lose his flight privileges, along with his presidency. The upcoming petrol rationing scheme would quite probably deal a mortal below to his chances to get reelected. One can almost hear Mohammad Bagher Ghalibaf rubbing his hands in absolute glee.
Many people denounce George Bush, because they say that he is too stubborn. He wants to “stay the course” in Iraq , despite all the failures, because to change would be out of character. Ahmadinejad, compared to President Bush is the master of the “staying the course” concept. To him, change, especially in ideology tantamounts to treason. This is not because of show. There are more important reasons than that, related to his past. Ahmadinejad is not a particularly brilliant person. Nor is he a good politician.
One of the biggest factors which got him where he is today, is his refusal to change. This can be seen as far back as his childhood. In the early 1970s, when more and more young people and families were becoming secular in Shah's Iran , Ahmadinejad stayed true to his father Ahmad's religious teachings. So when the revolution did happen, people like Ayatollah Beheshti noticed his genuine religious loyalty and therefore helped him move up the ladder, because he was more trustworthy. Beheshti who had lived in Germany , had seen his fair share of overnight revolutionaries, who had suddenly put on a beard, in search of power and position. He did not trust them.
After the revolution, and after the war especially, many Pasdaran (Revolutionary Guards) entered private business, and made millions through shady companies and deals. Ahmadinejad however, continued to work as a civil servant, until he ran for president. Nor did he change his beliefs. During the late 1990s and early 2000, many opportunist Pasdaran and conservatives, changed colors, and joined the ranks of reformists. Not Ahmadinejad. He was one of the most vocal opponents of the reformists, even at the height of their power. Such qualities got him noticed with Ayatollah Khamenei, who in 2005 was looking for a loyal soldier as president. This is one of the main reasons behind Khamenei's support for Ahmadinejad, without which he would not become president.
Mahmoud Saborjian was born in 1956 in the village of Aradan, in the province of Semnan. On the advice of his uncle who lived in Tehran , his father Ahmad, and his mother Seyyede Khanoom, moved to Tehran . They changed jobs, and surname. They had seven children. The fourth one is Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, the sixth president of post revolution Iran.
Meir Javedanfar is the co-author of the newly released “The Nuclear Sphinx of Tehran: Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and the State of Iran”, a book on Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, and Iran's nuclear program. Javedanfar wrote the book with Yossi Melman, a renowned investigative journalist and intelligence expert for Haaretz newspaper. Javedanfar is an Iranian-born Middle East Analyst and the Director or the Middle East Economic and Political Analysis Company, meepas.com. He has been quoted and interviewed by the BBC, Radio Holland International, Haaretz Newspaper and the Boston Globe as well as a number of other newspapers and Radio stations. For rights to quote this article please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.