Monday, June 26, 2006

Ahmadinejad in Rural Iran

From Meir Javedanfar, an Iranian-born Israeli analyst, one gains another glimpse of Ahmadinejad as Persian Chavez:
Through his constant trips to the provinces (13 so far), Mr. Ahmadinejad has made non-Tehranis feel as if they also belong to Iran.

More important, Mr. Ahmadinejad is putting his money where his mouth is. In his budget approved in December, expenditures in rural areas increased by as much as 180 percent in his first year as president.

The rural population in Iran likes and appreciates him for his generosity because in the years before Mr. Ahmadinejad, those outside Tehran were treated as if they were distant relatives when it came to government investment and expenditure. This appreciation of the president exists even though far more of the rural population made sacrifices for the sake of the 1979 Islamic revolution than were made by residents of Tehran.

So these days, when "their" man is in town, rural Iranians turn up in the hundreds of thousands to greet him. Many of the people want to share their problems with him. This became apparent recently when, during a trip to Golestan Province in the northeast, 135,000 letters addressed to Mr. Ahmadinejad were handed to his delegation and to him personally by people in the crowd. (Meir Javedanfar, "At Home, Iranian Leader Admired," Baltimore Sun, 25 June 2006)

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