Mahmoud Ahmadinejad was elected mayor of Teheran in 2003, although the turnout was only 12%. As mayor, he ordered the police to arrest any couples seen holding hands in the streets. One retired diplomat who served in Iran describes Ahmadinejad as nothing more than an “over-promoted municipal politician.” All candidates standing in Iran’s presidential contest must be vetted by the Council of Guardians, a powerful committee of hardline clerics. The Council barred reformers from standing in the 2005 presidential contest, giving Ahmadinejad an easy run. Ahmadinejad knows little about the outside world and appears to glory in Iran’s isolation and poverty. The rules of diplomacy, the history of Europe, even the Arab countries of the Middle East mean little to him.