He used the United Nations conference on Least Developed Countries in Istanbul to reinforce one of his familiar themes: that the capitalist global order is unjust, “failing,” and that Iran is willing to help reforge a new system.
But it was during Mr. Ahmadinejad’s hour-long press conference late on Monday that the Iranian president provided insight into his Manichean worldview, packed with vast conspiracies and vicious enemies that might appear to leave little room for compromise.
As a populist leader, Ahmadinejad has never shied away from words that grab headlines. But even for a man who has declared Iran to be a superpower "real and true," these latest pronouncements display an unorthodox interpretation of global events.
Ahmadinejad portrayed Iran as a cooperative nation of freedom and love and friendship, forced into a righteous battle against the eternally evil forces of global imperialism, led by the United States and Israel.
The Islamic Republic was fighting for justice and dignity, he said, while its enemies of 32 years were bent on keeping Iran – and all the Third World – as "exploited" and underdeveloped beggars dependent on the West.
"From the very beginning, it was clear to us ... that these military invasions are intended to save the dying economies of the United States," he claimed, according to an official simultaneous translation. In Afghanistan, the US took maps of the mineral-rich mines. And in Iraq the "first action" was to "dominate the oil and energy resources."
"Today their plans have failed; continuation of this strategy seems to be impossible in Afghanistan and Iraq," said Ahmadinejad. "Now they are coming up with a new plan ... to secure the interest of these capitalist nations."
And how will they do it?
"The main principal of the imperial-minded powers of the world is to create gap[s] among the nations," said Ahmadinejad. "They are going to incite sectarian and religious conflicts, because they want to buy time ... to continue their domination.... They are the enemies of humanity."
Refining anti-imperial, anti-Western themes
The Iranian president showed no sign of the bruising power struggle waged in recent weeks between him and Iran's supreme religious leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.
In Istanbul on Monday, Ahmadinejad relished a different kind of attention, giving a wave and politician's locked smile, at the request of Turkish news photographers, which sent their cameras whirring.
Sitting to the president’s right was his controversial chief of staff and in-law Esfandiar Rahim Mashaie, the focus of severe political attacks in Iran for “deviation” from revolutionary and religious tenets. He sat still on Monday night while Ahmadinejad pontificated, shifting only his eyes but not moving his head.
Refining anti-imperial and anti-Western themes that have threaded their way through Iranian discourse since the 1979 Islamic revolution – facing the "enemy" is never far from the lips of the leadership – Ahmadinejad let the rhetoric flow.
He said Iran was willing to reopen stalled talks with world powers about Iran's controversial nuclear program. But his sharp criticism of those very powers seemed to preempt any discussion.
"Wherever there is insecurity [around the globe], at least you can see one of the permanent members of the Security Council is playing a role there," said Ahmadinejad. "They are either the main factors or elements of these crises.... It is clearly evident that when a permanent member of the Security Council is going to interfere ... other countries can't play a role in dealing with the insecurity."
'I want to warn Obama'
Ahmadinejad again lambasted the US, one of the five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council, for what he called "wrong and one-sided information" about 9/11. "I want to warn Obama to learn from the experience of Bush, and he should immediately pull out from our region. If he commits such a big mistake, he would face a fate more shameful and doomed than Bush."
It has all been part of a bigger conspiracy, argued Ahmadinejad, aimed at Iran and the other victims of the post-World War II global order.
"They have been planning for 100 years to keep our nations underdeveloped and backward to continue their domination, so they don't want us to progress," said Ahmadinejad.
"The US is our enemy. They have announced their hostility for a few decades ... they are undertaking actions against us," the Iranian president said, without mentioning that in Iran anti-Americanism, flag burning, and chants of "Death to America" have been official parlance since 1979.
Global inequalities have become a "breeding ground of terrorism," said Ahmadinejad. "I firmly believe that all terrorist organizations are … being used as a tool by the capitalist system for the imposition of its own ambitions and policies.”
Casting doubt on Holocaust, bin Laden's death
Mixed among his complaints, Ahmadinejad continued to question the West's version of the Holocaust, suggesting – in reference to one of the most carefully examined episodes in history, during which six million European Jews lost their lives – that "others have never been allowed to study or conduct research works on this issue."
Likewise, the US “prevented” investigation about the events of Sept. 11, 2001, Ahmadinejad charged: "They don't want us to know about the main perpetrators of that event."
But he did doubt that the US killed the Al Qaeda chief in Pakistan on May 1, even though Al Qaeda itself has confirmed bin Laden's death and vowed to avenge it. Ahmadinejad said on Monday that "no reliable source has yet confirmed or endorsed [the American] claims."