Hardliner turned critic, former president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad (2005-2013) has given a rare interview to the pro-reform daily Sharq. Below is a summary of his comments on a variety of issues facing the Islamic Republic.
Money Laundering and Terrorism
A referendum should be held on the question of whether or not Iran should join the international conventions against money laundering and financing terrorism, including the Financial Action Task Force (FATF). Since the decision to join the conventions will have a direct impact on people’s livelihoods, the people should decide the question in a national poll.
Earlier, two pro-reform politicians, Tehran's MP Mahmoud Sadeqi, and a member of the powerful Expediency Discernment Council (EDC), Majid Ansari, had proposed the same idea.
The Islamic Republic's Decision-Making is Impaired
Since the structure of the country's constitution is copied from European models, and those who compiled it did not have management and administration experience, the decision-making mechanism of the Islamic Republic is impaired. Therefore, the constitution has not prevented duplication of authority and in present-day Iran, in most cases there are parallel decision makers. While a ministry is tasked with making certain decisions, the real decision makers might actually be in another institution.
This criticism might be a reference to the interference of military or religious leaders in the country’s political and economic affairs. It could also be a criticism of the independent line of control from the Supreme Leader’s office.
Ahmadinejad adds that there are an unofficial entities or individuals that make decisions alongside the government. Those in charge of the informal departments are not accountable to anybody. They can quickly change any decision with just a simple telephone call.
Iran Needs a Senate
The country needs coordination in all fields. Development in construction, industry, and agriculture should go together in a coordinated way. We cannot develop our industry, disregarding the agricultural sector, and vice versa.
Therefore, Iran needs a senate to look into national demands, and decide on long term policies.
Arresting People, a Vicious Cycle
Economic problems cannot be solved by arresting people. We arrest people, charge them with financial crimes and suggest that by arresting the culprits manipulating our economy, everything will be fine. Soon, people will see nothing has changed, and it’s business as usual. How can a handful of individuals be responsible for Iran’s economic woes when 85 percent of the country’s economy is dominated by the state?
Thanks to my government's effort, crude prices soared during my presidency. If I take the lead of the government today, within six months I will bring the price of oil to $100 per barrel or more. The government (of President Hassan Rouhani) has not received even $30 billion in revenues from oil sold in the last five years. (The government responded in a statement that this figure is incorrect).
(Obviously, it was not Ahmadinejad who brought oil prices to $100 a barrel).