Ahmadinejad’s bizarre bid for political relevance

In early April, the United States designated Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, the most powerful branch of the Iranian military, a Foreign Terrorist Organization. While individual IRGC commanders and entities have long been the target of sanctions, this was, as President Trump said in announcing the move, the first time that the United States had “ever named a part of another government as a FTO.”

The Iranians were quick to respond. Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei condemned the move as “trickery, deceit and maliciousness” and President Hassan Rouhani called the United States itself a “leader of world terrorism.” But Iran’s ex-president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s thoughts—at least on Twitter—were somewhere else entirely.

On April 9, the day after Trump’s announcement, Ahmadinejad tweeted his congratulations to the University of Virginia basketball team for their victory in the NCAA Final Four.

“I know the special feeling these young men have and I congratulate them and their families on this achievement.” Ahmadinejad tweeted, referring to US college basketball. He signed off with a hashtag shout-out to UVA sports: “@UVAMensHoops #NationalChampionship #FinalFour #GoHoos.”

Go Hoos?

Read the full story from 2019 in The Nation.