Iran’s hard-line former president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said Tuesday he won’t run in next year’s presidential election, ending weeks of speculation after the country’s supreme leader discouraged his candidacy.
Ahmadinejad could have posed a strong challenge to President Hassan Rouhani, a moderate who many believe will seek a second term after his administration struck the landmark nuclear accord with world powers.
It also could have exposed the still-lingering wounds in Iran from the widespread unrest that followed Ahmadinejad’s contested 2009 re-election.
“By the grace of God, I am proud to continue as a small soldier for the revolution,” Ahmadinejad said in a letter to Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.
This is a positive thing even if Rouhani isn’t reelected next year. Ahmadinejad was uniquely belligerent even for an Iranian hardliner, and with America definitely about to elect a president who will be more hawkish toward Iran than Obama has been, Ahmadinejad’s return to the scene was the last thing anybody needed.