World, Middle East

Iran's former president: Unity can solve region problems

In an exclusive interview, Ahmadinejad talks about regional issues, relations with US, elections in Iran, COVID-19

Muhammet Kursun   | 07.05.2021
Iran's former president: Unity can solve region problems

TEHRAN

Former Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said that if Iran, Turkey and Saudi Arabia act in unity, the region will change, stating that the common grounds between the three countries are tens of times more than disputed issues.

In an interview with Anadolu Agency, Ahmadinejad, who served as the president of Iran for two terms from 2005 to 2013, underlined the regional developments, the nuclear deal and the presidential elections to be held on June 18.


Regional unity

Noting that he supports the negotiations between Iran and Saudi Arabia, Ahmadinejad said: "If Iran, Turkey and Saudi Arabia stand side by side and act in unity, the face of the region will change completely. This can be achieved very easily. Everything is easy if we strengthen common denominators.

Ahmedinejad stated that the Astana process carried out by Turkey, Iran and Russia regarding the Syrian crisis is also necessary for this context, and they can help establish peace in Syria. In this way, the will of the Syrian people can prevail."

According to the former president, a great power in the region will arise if the peoples and countries resolved the issues among them.

He pointed out that that power "it is not a hegemonic power, but a power that will serve world peace."


US-Iran flights

Regarding flights between Iran and the US, Ahmadinejad said that the governments do not have the right to block the communication of the peoples due to problems between the two countries.

He reiterated that he wrote a letter to the US administration to have direct flights between Tehran and New York during the first period of his presidency term.

"If there is a problem between Iran and the US, should they block the relations of the peoples? Who gets this right and authority from? This is a serious question that should be asked to the peoples. If such a question is asked to the peoples, they will vote for the continuation of the communication. Because it is the right of the people to travel, establish economic, cultural scientific and social relations and social ties."

"There is no harm in having flights from all over the US to all parts of Iran," Ahmadinejad asserted. "Most US citizens want to see Iran. They want to carry out scientific, commercial activities and tour the country. Many Iranians also want to go to the US, what's wrong with that? This also helps to solve problems between states."

He pointed out that if the dialogue between the people increased, the solution of the problems between the countries would become easier.

"States establish or break relations for the people. The duty of the state is to ensure the law of the people. The people should live in a fair and free environment. They should be able to go wherever they want," Ahmadinejad said.

Reminding that Tehran and Washington had cooperated in the past and agreed on various issues, Ahmadinejad said that this may also happen now, saying "Iran and the US can make new agreements" for cooperation based on "justice and respect."

"If there is friendship and peace, then why not," he said, adding that this should not undermine the interest of the countries and the peoples of the region, citing that "Turkey's friendship with the US was not against Iran. We were friends with Turkey and now we are friends."

The former president also noted that the nuclear agreement has no gain for the country and cannot resolve the problems and argued that relations between Iran and the US had seen setbacks in the last five years after the agreement was signed.


Stable elections atmosphere

Prior to the presidential elections, Ahmadinejad argued that the Hassan Rouhani government, after eight years, wanted to make a gain from the Vienna negotiations and use the COVID-19 pandemic as "a good opportunity" to postpone the elections.

Asked whether he will run for the presidency, Ahmadinejad said: "I haven't expressed an opinion yet. Let's wait. I have always defended the rights of the people. When I saw a situation contrary to national interests and humanitarian values, I raised my voice. The election atmosphere is very stable, it has never been like that. Many developments can happen."

Commenting whether he supports any potential candidates, he said, "everyone can participate. There should be no restrictions on the election of the people. Whoever sees competence in himself can be a candidate."

Commenting on allegations of corruption in the elections before, he said: "In the past, we were announcing the ballot boxes one by one. The votes in more than 44,000 ballot boxes were counted and announced one by one. In this way, 17 observers at the ballot box could see if this was the case. Voters could also calculate and compare the votes themselves. In the last 2-3 elections, boxes were not announced. This is not a good thing."


Weak pandemic management

The former president criticized the current Iranian government's fight against Covid-19 as inadequate, saying, "There is no strong and responsive virus management in Iran. The potential and capabilities of the country's healthcare staff are not utilized. We learn later that some issues are not as described. I think importing the vaccine is not that difficult."

Arguing that the Covid-19 cases and casualties announced in the country is not realistic, he said: "They are lowering and raising the rates. They also said that the real numbers are two times higher than the announced.

Other issues have been added to the coronavirus management and we are not at a desired level. There is an interesting state of dread. Fear weakens the immunity of the body. One day they say the vaccine will come, the other day they say it won't. Sometimes they say it is effective, and sometimes they say that even if you get a vaccine, you have to follow the health rules. There is no clear method to create a high sense of responsibility."

Ahmadinejad, who also criticized the World Health Organization (WHO), claimed that Covid-19 could have been "produced" for political purposes.


*Writing by Mahmoud Barakat

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