At this press conference held recently to announce the candidacy of Hamid Baghaee who is the deputy of former Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad for the upcoming presidential election, Ahmadinejad mocks an Iranian journalist who works for an Algerian news agency after he asked about Hamid Baghaee’s policies in the event of his winning towards regional relations with Gulf Arab nations. Baghaee announced his own candidacy after Ahmadinejad was refused the opportunity to stand for election himself. In particular, the Iranian journalist is careful, while asking his question, which he puts to Ahmadinejad, to avoid mentioning the full name of the Persian or Arabian Gulf, a subject of some sensitivity in Arab countries in the region, particularly at a time of heightened regional tensions.
Ahmadinejad’s supporters jeer at the reporter’s refusal to call the Gulf the “Persian Gulf”, with Ahmadinejad mocking the reporter and suggesting that as an Iranian journalist he is forced to phrase the question in this way for fear of losing his job.
The reporter asks Ahmadinejad: “If your deputy Hamid Baghaee becomes president, what would be his foreign policy concerning relations and interaction with Arab countries in the region, as well as the neighboring Gulf countries?”
Ahmadinejad and his supporters ignored the question, saying in a terse tone, “It’s the Persian Gulf.” The defiant reporter ignores this rude response and puts the question to Ahmadinejad again, deliberately using the phrase “Gulf countries.” with Ahmadinejad’s and Baghaee’s angry supporters jeering at him and shouting loudly that the name is the Persian Gulf.
To calm his supporters, Ahmadinejad says jokingly, “Well he’s the employee of Algeria dear guys, dear brothers, concerning the choice of name that’s not something that you and I can make a change in it. Ultimately, a few thousand years ago this was called the Persian Gulf and ever since the Achaemenid era, it’s been the Persian Gulf. Well now [sarcastically], if someone’s missing its real name, that’s not going to damage it. No matter if all the people come together, they can’t change it.
“Let me share a memory with you. Once we had a meeting with one of the Emirs of the Persian Gulf [Ahmadinejad doesn’t identify which leader] and the Emir said to us, ‘don’t be sensitive about those who keep talking about the islands, the islands [a reference to Iran’s occupation of the UAE’s Greater Tunb and Lesser Tunb islands in the Arabian Gulf]; these people don’t even know where these islands are located. It’s just that some people keep telling them about this and they keep repeating it [i.e. implying that UAE officials are inciting hostility against Iran].’ But you [Ahmadinejad gestures to his supporters] don’t need to care about this. Then the Emir said, ‘When we were children going to school, in our books we used to read it as the Persian Gulf, and no-one can change that.’
“This is just an example. [Pointing at Algerian reporter while addressing supporters] Since he’s Algeria’s employee, he’s working for them and tomorrow he’s supposed to go to work for their media. He wants to work, he wants to make a living – do you want someone to be deprived of his bread?