Why did the Guardian Council disqualify Dr. Amirahmadi in 2005?
In 2005, Dr. Amirahmadi put his name down as a candidate about one month before the election. His sole purpose was to make a statement. Much of Iran’s intelligentsia was boycotting that election. Dr. Amirahmadi was afraid that by boycotting, someone would be elected that will not be hospitable to democracy and human rights. History has proven him right. He wanted to record his name in history as someone who did not boycott. He did not have a platform, campaign staff, and organization to help him. This time, he is a serious candidate with an organization, people working for him, a platform, and volunteers both outside and inside the country.
What is Dr. Amirahmadi’s position on velayat-e-faqih (Guardianship of the Jurist)?
Because Dr. Amirahmadi is not an Islamic scholar, he lacks the religious qualifications to judge this institution based on its theocratic merits. Nevertheless, he believes deeply in a separation of religion and state, but not a separation of religion and politics. Religious people have just as much right to participate in politics and hold elected office as anyone else, and to separate them from politics would be abusive. He believes that after 33 years, it should be up to the ulama to put the experience of Velayat e Faghih up for evaluation and debate. If they determine that it has benefited the nation, then it should stay in place. If they find that it has harmed the nation, then they should abolish it.
As a Presidential candidate, he is running within the laws of the nation, and as President, he would always tolerate everything in the Constitution, whether he likes it or not. This includes the institution of velayat-e-faqih, which was established and was voted for by a majority of the Iranian people. As President, there is legal recourse for him to try to enact change to these aspects of the Constitution, but he would never break or disregard these laws. Regardless of the legal status, the position does not hold the all encompassing power that some believe it to hold. In fact, in the last 33 years, only on very rare occasions did the Supreme Leader employ his absolute power. This means that there is a great deal of political space for the Office of the Presidency to enact real change and reform inside Iran.
Can Dr. Amirahmadi run for President of Iran, while retaining dual citizenship?
Yes, Dr. Amirahmadi’s can run for the Iranian Presidency because he is a citizen of Iran. According to Iranian Constitutional law, citizens can run for elected office, and the only way an Iranian citizen can rescind his citizenship is by explicitly writing a request for revocation, which must be approved by the Cabinet of Minsters. Dr. Amirahmadi has never done so, and does not intend to do so. Therefore, because he was born in Iran, he remains an Iranian citizen with all the rights citizenship entails. Second, many of the Islamic Republic’s leaders, including Ayatollah Khomeini and Mr. Bani Sadr, lived abroad prior to returning to Iran to lead the government. Dr. Amirahmadi’s case is no different than that of Mr. Bani Sadr, who was also a citizen of France.
Third, the Islamic Republic actively encourages Iranian expatriates to participate in the voting process, even going so far as to set up polling stations in North America and Europe. Since these Iranian citizens retain the right to vote for a candidate, they also retain the right to be voted for as a candidate.
Fourth, Dr. Amirahmadi’s candidacy as a dual citizen represents an expression of the rights of five million Iranian expatriate dual citizens. To reject Dr. Amirahmadi’s candidacy without a legal basis, would be not only to disenfranchise him. It would represent the disenfranchisement of millions of Iranian citizens living outside their native homeland.
Fifth, Dr. Amirahmadi has maintained very strong ties to Iran for his entire life. He has visited every year, still owns a house there, and still sees close friends and family in his homeland. Furthermore, he has worked on development on the front lines of the post war and post earthquake periods in Iran’s history. He has written extensively defending Iran’s territorial rights in the Caspian Sea and the islands of Abu Musa and Tunb. Dr. Amirahmadi has never stood for sanctions, war, or regime change in Iran, and his loyalty has been proven unquestionably by his life, writings, and actions.
Sixth, Islam does not recognize national borders, instead recognizing all Muslims as part of the ummah, the global community of followers bound together by religion. Dr. Amirahmadi, as a Muslim, is a part of this global community with the same rights as every other member.
Seventh, his dual citizenship is beneficial from a national interest perspective, because Dr. Amirahmadi sees much common interest between the United States and Iran. As President of Iran, he can use his experience and networks in the United States to help promote.
From where does Amirahmadi 1392 receive funding?
The Campaign to Elect Dr. Hooshang Amirahmadi as President of Iran is funded entirely by donations from private individuals who wish to see his platform realized in the Islamic Republic. No money is received from the Iranian or American government, corporations, or any entity subject to sanctions. The Committee’s accounts are audited, and its fundraising is entirely legal in the United States, Iran, Europe, and beyond.
How will Dr. Amirahmadi overcome the leadership’s suspicion of ‘the outsider’?
The Iranian Islamic Revolution was one of the world’s most popular revolutions. Yet, from the very beginning, the revolution faced serious challenges from contestants inside and enemies outside. Over time, even friends of the revolution could not co-exist and the result was inimical factionalism. These and other developments made the Islamic leaders increasingly suspect even well-meaning people who for reasons beyond their control had to stay outside the system. This problem has become a serious obstacle to national reconciliation. Dr. Amirahmadi has already built bridges by participating in national efforts (e.g., post-war reconstruction) and by observing the red lines of the Islamic system. As a nationalist Muslim Iranian, he has earned the respect and trust of the religious authorities and will continue to present his nationism idea as a bridge-building notion to the Islamic political leaders in an effort to gain their approval.
What is Dr. Amirahmadi’s position on relations with Israel?
Iran shares no border with Israel, has no territorial or ideological dispute with her, and has never fought a war with the Jewish State. The problem is that the two states channel their animosity in an abnormal and destructive fashion.
The driving force behind Iran’s animosity is the Islamic Revolution’s stand against the plight of ‘oppressed Muslim peoples’ all over the world. This imperative has taken on biblical proportions in the Iranian-Israeli context because of the religious significance of Jerusalem and Palestine. From the Israeli perspective, the animosity is security related, as the Jewish State is increasingly concerned about Iran’s violent rhetoric and radical Islam that Iran has tried to spread.
These driving forces can be addressed on both sides less destructively by broadly ignoring each other. In fact, a precedent already exists in the Organization of Islamic Cooperation’s relationship with Israel, in which it protests occupation by not having diplomatic relations. At the same time however, the OIC does not call for Israel’s destruction. Alternatively, Iran could pursue the Malaysian model, in which a proudly Islamic country nevertheless trades with Israel to the mutual benefit of both countries. For Israel, the responsibility is to address the Palestinian issue, as this is a problem that predates the emergence of the Islamic Republic.
These would be better models than the current state of constant tension and violence. Furthermore, under my presidency I can visualize Iran maintaining trade relations with Israel.
What is Dr. Amirahmadi’s position on relations with the United States?
The United States and Iran have only had relations for about 100 years, and in fact the US has a positive role for the majority of those years. Americans served as missionaries in Iran, built hospitals, and helped establish Iran’s economic and administrative infrastructure. Americans fought and died alongside Iranians on the streets during the Constitutional Revolution in the 1920s. During the World Wars, the US helped promote Iran’s sovereignty and demanded that Stalin remove his forces from Iran’s territory.
The problem only begins in the post-War era with the 1953 Operation Ajax, in which the CIA helped foster a coup against the democratically elected Prime Minister Mohammad Mossadegh. Iranians remember this event as the American ‘fall from grace,’ much in the same way that Americans recall the Iranian hostage crisis.
Yet despite these two turning points, there is a basis for forgiveness because both sides have been harmed equally by the other. Neither side can claim to be holier than thou in this context. With this equivalency in mind, both Iran and the US can benefit from absolution and cooperation because their regional common interests outweigh their disputes. The two governments can cooperate to achieve regional stability, secure the Strait of Hormuz, fight against Sunni radicalism including the Taliban and al Qaeda, reduce drug trafficking, and shape the future of Afghanistan and Iraq.
Furthermore, this animosity is relatively shallow in that it is the leaders who fight, while the two peoples have no animosity toward one another. Under my presidential leadership, I will draw upon my two decades of NGO work improving US Iran relations to do the same from within the government.
What is Dr. Amirahmadi’s position on the nuclear issue?
The nuclear issue is not the cause of the US Iran dispute; rather it is a symptom of the deep tension, mistrust, and lack of respect. Therefore, the key to resolving it is to deal with root causes, and to understand why Iran might have incentives to pursue a nuclear weapon.
Countries have built bombs either proactively or reactively. The United States proactively pioneered the atom splitting technology and in response, the Soviet Union reactively built and tested the bomb. The chain reaction then moved on to China, India, and Pakistan. I believe that Iran’s incentives for possibly building a bomb are primarily reactive based on sanctions, threats of war and regime change, and the encirclement of the country by coalition troops on its eastern and western borders. Furthermore, nuclear weapons are a reality in much of Iran’s strategic theater including Israel, India, Pakistan, and China. Therefore, the path to reducing these incentives is to work toward eliminating these threats in the medium term and granting Iran some security assurances.
In the immediate term, I believe that Iran must accept a temporary suspension of uranium enrichment for about six months, as outlined in United Nations Security Council Resolutions. By doing so, the Iran nuclear file will become normalized and can return from the Security Council to the International Atomic Energy Agency. The next step would be for Iran to genuinely cooperate with the IAEA and transparently answer the agency’s questions. Every effort should be made to prove that Iran is only interested in a civilian nuclear program. Finally, Iran could use this new environment to open dialogue with the US directly to achieve a compromise that upholds Iran’s right to domestically enrich uranium and places strict, enforceable obligations and safeguards.
What is Dr. Amirahmadi’s position on Syria?
It is very clear: it is time for Assad to go and time for fundamental change in Syria. The United States and Russia should sit down to help design a future in Syria that is acceptable to the majority without harming the minorities. A proportional representation system would be the best option in order to deal with so many minority groups and the lack of national unity. The future Syrian stakeholders can look broadly at Tunisia for a democratic transition model that includes writing a new constitution and holding elections. The first priority, however, is Assad’s departure.
What is Dr. Amirahmadi’s position on human rights?
I believe deeply in human rights and in the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights. I am against torture and discrimination of any sort. I am for free speech, freedom of assembly, and equal opportunity. However, these human rights have to be applied given the conditions on the ground. The reality in much of the Middle East is that people don’t even have citizenship rights, such as the right to vote in free elections. Human rights are an ideal that we should strive toward through steps, but that may not be immediately applicable. The first step in this process is to achieve peace, which is a basic condition for human rights. Without peace among and within nations, there are no human rights. Secondly, we must establish rule of law, because human rights cannot exist outside of the context of the law.
What is Dr. Amirahmadi’s position on women’s rights?
Despite many tough obstacles and discriminations, including the ubiquitous Islamic dress code, Iranian women have achieved significant progress, particularly in education and the labor markets. More than half of university students are women and women carry the lion’s share of family burdens, working at home and outside, both in cities and in villages. Yet, their place in top management and high decision-making positions remains vacant. This injustice must be remedied and Dr. Amirahmadi will use the campaign as an opportunity to bring recognition to this problem and push for the inclusion of women in the nation’s top jobs. Toward this aim, Dr. Amirahmadi as President will propose a new Ministry of Women and will equip it with the assets and instruments it needs to promote Iranian women’s place in society.
What is Dr. Amirahmadi’s position on Iran’s Revolutionary Guards?
Dr. Amirahmadi believes that Iran’s Revolutionary Guards are patriotic, pragmatic, and modern. He wants to help shape them into a professional army that is entirely focused on maintaining a strong national defense. Almost every nation on earth strives to have a strong military force, and Iran should be no different. The esteemed Revolutionary Guards should be a strong force for defending the Iranian people and the homeland.
However, some of their power today is outside the bounds of the Constitution. Their only constitutional role is for national defense, and yet many of their endeavors involve running hospitals and big businesses. At the same time, some of them have become corrupt and anti democratic. As President, he would remove any IRGC members who are found to be corrupt. His goal in doing so is not to face off against the IRGC, but rather to have the military backing of the Guards support his Presidency to build a strong and secure Iran.
Why is Dr. Amirahmadi campaigning outside of Iran?
As part of our campaign, Dr. Amirahmadi will be spending time both in Iran and outside of the country. In the Iranian electoral system, no candidate can publicly campaign in Iran until receiving the approval of the Guardian Council in late May. Dr. Amirahmadi will be respecting the laws and avoid public campaign events in Iran until receiving approval. Nevertheless, he will be spending time in Iran meeting with friends, supporters, and many Iranian citizens.
In addition, Amirahmadi 1392 is bringing its peaceful campaign to the United States, the United Kingdom, the United Arab Emirates, and other countries around the world. The fact of the matter is that all of the pressing issues facing Iran are global issues and that the next Iranian president will have major implications for the entire world. For this reason, people around the world are gathering to support Amirahmadi 1392’s message of peace and legal reform. We wish to harness this international support to bring more attention to our cause both inside and outside of Iran. Finally, Iranians are by and large very well connected and aware of news around the world. By campaigning outside of Iran, we can indirectly reach the Iranian people through both traditional and new media.