For eight years he has driven both the Israeli public and political elite mad and scared, yet he also helped us to register some serious hasbara achievements in the realm of international diplomacy.
But on August 8 Mahmoud Ahmadinejad will vacate the post to which he was elected twice, legally or not. Will the bad boy of the Ayatollah regime, and the man some branded the 21st century Haman disappear off our radar, and what he's planning to do anyway?
American network NBC spoke to a number of specialists on Iranian politics, some of whom refused to rule out the possibility the serial Holocaust denier will return to the front stage of Iranian politics. He did not run in the election won by Hassan Rohani Saturday, as Iranian law does not allow a president more than two consecutive terms, yet some believe this will not be the former Tehran mayor's political swan song.
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Ahmadinejad, 56, "a young man by the standards of Iranian politics," Iranian-American journalist Hooman Majd told NBC. "He has to retire temporarily. (But) he is eligible to run again in four years. I doubt very much knowing his personality that he is willing to give up on politics altogether. He has tasted power; he likes power. He believes very strongly that he is right about many things."
Majd further added that should Ahmadinejad run for presidency again he will enjoy the support of Iran's underclasses, who have enjoyed considerable financial support in the years of his rule. And then there is the matter of his image: he used to go out on extensive tours of the country and shake the hand of simple men, traveling in an old car rather than expensive presidential vehicles.
"I suspect he's looking for a second act," Suzanne Maloney, a fellow in the Saban Center for Middle East Policy at the Brookings Institute and a former State Department policy adviser, was quoted by NBC as saying.
“He is unlikely to retire quietly in the way that his predecessors have done where they play a role in the political scene, but they are very cautious not to disrupt the balance of power in any way. That's not Ahmadinejad's style," Maloney said.
Other experts believe Ahmadinejad will remain only as a curious chapter in the annals of history, at least as far as the international stage is concerned.
"He would have to have a constituency, a popular base. And he doesn't seem to have that," Ray Takeyh, a senior fellow of Middle Eastern Studies at the Council on Foreign Relations, told NBC. "I think his presence in the last week of the election, his insignificance and inconsequentiality, probably portends his life after office."
"He's kind of alienated the institutions of the state and he doesn't have, particularly in the aftermath of the 2009 election, much of a popular constituency anymore," Takeyh said. "He can assert himself by making speeches, giving talks, and just being provocative, and that garners all sorts of attention, but in terms of influencing the country, he's not likely to be important."
Be that as it may, in the immediate future Ahmadinejad might return to his native playground - the academe. He holds PHD degrees in traffic control and transportation from Tehran's University of Science and Technology where he was a lecturer since 1989 and until his political career took over.
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