TEHRAN, Iran — When Iran’s former President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad stepped aside in 2013 — after eight years in office — it was clear that he had serious plans for his future. In fact, he had indicated this in a TV interview one year before leaving office, by pointing to his possible presence in Iran’s next government. The disqualification of his Vice President, Esfandiar Rahim Mashaei, from the 2013 presidential race, however, prevented this dream from becoming reality.
But despite the disqualification of Mashaei, Ahmadinejad had no intention to leave the stage. Soon, he came up with a special plan for the recently held parliamentary elections. In an interview last year, one of his advisers, Abdolreza Davari, revealed that a 5,000-strong cadre had been trained for parliament during Ahmadinejad's time in office. It also came to light that the former president was holding weekly meetings with his previous ministers and advisers in a building in Velenjak, a district in northern Tehran. One of his foreign policy advisers who spoke on condition of anonymity told Al-Monitor, “I take part in meetings every Sunday. These sessions are often held on foreign policy issues, but they are not the only meetings. Other individuals in Ahmadinejad’s inner circle hold similar gatherings on different days. Of course, Ahmadinejad had no serious plans for the parliamentary elections from the start, and his mind is on the 2017 presidential poll instead.”