Was Ahmadinejad Media Advisor Behind Anti-US Billboards?



Former President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s media advisor, Mohammad Ali Ramin, has been credited with the idea of Ahmadinejad raising the issues of Holocaust denial and that Israel must vanish from the pages of history. In a recent interview he responded to rumors that the anti-American billboards in Tehran were his idea and his beliefs that opposing talks is the best strategy in negotiations and that the United States would soon break apart into several independent countries.

In the somewhat contentious interview with Farzaneh Ayeeni from Reformist newspaper Etemaad, when asked whether he was behind the “American Honesty” billboards depicting American duplicity in negotiations, Ramin responded, “It is not important.”

When pressed about the domestic controversy behind the billboards, Ramin elaborated, “The preparations for these banners, whoever’s idea it was, was a wise step and in the direction of securing national interests and the dignity of Islamic Iran … I praise this work because it is in the interest of the negotiators. Printing, installing and reproducing these billboards is the biggest service that could be done for Rouhani’s administration in negotiating with the Americans.”

The city had most of the billboards removed, claiming municipal officials had not approved them. Hard-liners have blamed Rouhani administration officials for pressuring the city to have the billboards removed.

In the interview, Ramin also said that Israeli and Saudi Arabian opposition to the nuclear negotiations are at the instigation and encouragement of the United States. When asked why the United States would want to negotiate with Iran but encourage others to oppose the talks, Ramin said, “So that they can get more concessions from Iran.”

He explained that in a situation such as the one Iran and the United States are in, the side that opposes the negotiations the most is in a position to extract the most concessions from the other side. The reporter then asked him if this was indeed the reason he put up the anti-American billboards. Ramin said, “This has nothing to do with that project. I only said that the one who is most wise in negotiations will oppose them.”

The reporter asked if such a strategy of opposition — speaking against American and Israeli officials and raising the issue of the Holocaust — was to get more concessions, then why in the last eight years, during Ahmadinejad’s administration, was Iran “not even able to open the gates of negotiations, let alone get any concessions?” Ramin responded, “This question is a deviation and I am not going to answer that.”

When asked if it were not the policies of the Ahmadinejad administration that had caused more sanctions and isolation, Ramin said that the sanctions on Iran started from the beginning of the Islamic Republic, and that the latest sanctions had more to do with some political factions sending messages to the West to increase the sanctions for the purpose of undermining Ahmadinejad’s government.

In the beginning of the interview, Ramin was initially reluctant to discuss Iran-US negotiations, saying he would not “until the United States becomes independent states.” When asked by the incredulous reporter to elaborate, Ramin said, “Until the states of America become independent, and the United States collapses and turns into several smaller states.” When asked when that would happen, Ramin said, “One to two years.”