Former Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, second left, reads a petition for help from a woman while others wait in queue outside his house in northeastern Tehran, Iran, Monday, Aug. 3, 2015. (AP Photo/Ebrahim Noroozi)
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Iran's former President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has launched a political campaign ahead of February's parliamentary elections in what could prove a challenge to the moderates behind a landmark nuclear agreement reached last month.Many former allies have turned on Ahmadinejad, and two of his former vice presidents have been jailed for corruption.But the unapologetic populist is believed to command strong support in the countryside, and could be seen by Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei as a counterbalance to the reformers who have tried to reverse Ahmadinejad's confrontational legacy since the election of President Hassan Rouhani, a moderate, two years ago.Ahmadinejad has not commented on the nuclear deal, which would lift painful international sanctions in return for Iran curbing its nuclear activities.A strong showing by Ahmadinejad's supporters in February's election could hinder any push for a broader rapprochement between Iran and the United States, and lay the groundwork for his return to the presidency.Mehrdad Khadir, a journalist for a moderate newspaper, said Ahmadinejad and his allies could win a minority of seats in February's elections, and with Khamenei's support he could seek the presidency in 2017 .
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