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Ahmadinejad Moves to Retain Influence Inside Presidency, Celebrates Past Holocaust Denial

Outgoing Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has moved to create an entire agency within the presidential office that will ensure his continued influence after the inauguration of his successor, Hassan Rohani. Bloomberg conveyed reports Tehran-based newspapers on what’s to be called the “Former President’s Office:”

The office will be staffed by 25 people, consisting of a director, experts and others in charge of coordination and communication, Donya said. They will plan meetings with officials at home and abroad and with legislative and judiciary bodies, it said. The office’s activities may overlap with the new president’s work, Shargh said. The reports were acknowledged by an official from the presidential office, though he remained vague on the plan.

“In line with the law, the president and his vice president can have personal offices once their term ends,” Hamid Baghaei, the president’s deputy for executive affairs, told reporters today in Tehran, according to the state-run Reporters’ Club.

The moves come a few weeks after Ahmadinejad had highlighted what he thought to be the key achievement of his eight years in office: elevating the profile of Holocaust denial.

“That was a taboo topic that no one in the West allowed to be heard,” Ahmadinejad had said, according to the state-run Fars news agency. “We put it forward at the global level. That broke the spine of the Western capitalist regime.” Ahmadinejad had described the Holocaust as a “myth” and linked discussions of its significance to “the 9/11 incident.”

The comments were reported on the agency’s Arabic page, while its English version omitted the remarks, focusing solely on his comments over the 1979 Islamic Revolution as bringing “development” to Iran and “reform” to the world.

Ahmadinejad’s new comments were outrageous enough to draw the ire even of Iran’s generally low-profile Jewish parliamentarian. Haroun Yashaei, who holds the one parliamentary seat reserved for the country’s 30,000 Jews, had condemned the president’s statements as “smug.”

[Photo: AlJazeeraEnglish / Youtube]