Leader’s Top Advisor not to Run for Iran Presidency

A00202942.jpgTEHRAN (FNA)- Prominent Iranian politician and former foreign minister Ali-Akbar Velayati said he would not run in the upcoming presidential elections.

“I am absolutely positive that I am not going to run in the next presidential elections,” Velayati, a senior foreign policy advisor to the Supreme Leader of the Islamic Revolution, told the Iranian labors news agency.

There had been speculation that Velayati, who served as Iran’s foreign minister from 1981 until 1997, would seek election in the 2009 presidential race.

While there is also speculation that former Iranian president Mohammad Khatami will enter the race, so far the Secretary General of Iran’s National Confidence Party, Mehdi Karroubi, is the only candidate to officially announce his bid.

Parliament Speaker Ali Larijani has also confirmed that he will not stand for election.

Tehran mayor Mohammad Baqer Qalibaf, who ran in the ninth presidential election in 2005, may also be among those who challenge the incumbent president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

The Iranian constitution allows President Ahmadinejad to stand for another four-year term, but he has yet to confirm whether he will seek re-election.

Elsewhere, Velayati said in response to a question on regional issues that the US-led forces await a fate similar to that of the former Soviet Union if they decide to stay in Afghanistan.

“The coup de grâce to the former Soviet empire was provided by the Afghans,” press tv quoted Velayati as saying on Saturday.

“The current situation (in Afghanistan) is the harbinger of the same fate for American and NATO forces, if they stay in Afghanistan.”

In response to the 9/11 terror attacks in America, the US waged war on Afghanistan in October 2001 in a quest to capture al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden and “defeat” terrorism by removing the Taliban regime.

None of the objectives has been reached, the Taliban has managed to raise doubt as to whether the war can be won and has thus sparked controversy in the US and Britain.

Velayati added that those who are responsible for the establishment of the Taliban “are now looking for a more moderate Taliban in Afghanistan”, in order to justify negotiation with the militants.

He referred to recent remarks by US Democratic presidential nominee Barack Obama, who envisions a longer US stay in Afghanistan because the country and areas in northern Pakistan have become terrorist hubs.

Velayati said White House echelons seek to prolong their stay in Afghanistan for other reasons.

According to the heavyweight Iranian politician, a prolonged US-led military presence in Afghanistan, which is accompanied by cross-border operations in Pakistan, is aimed at creating “a bigger Somalia out of Pakistan and Afghanistan.”

Such an action would both destabilize the government in Islamabad and would allow Washington to establish a military base in a region close to China and Russia – the two major powers in the East.

Velayati, however, warned that the US would not succeed in doing so.

He said “more than a trillion dollars” spent in Iraq has not yet made the country safe for Americans.

“A few days ago, some one million supporters of (Moqtada) al-Sadr staged massive anti-US rallies in occupied Iraq,” the Iranian official concluded.

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