Who is Masoud Pezeshkian?

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From a fierce revolutionary to a centrist reformist?

A transition from Heart Surgery to Presidency?

Who is the single father doctor who just became Iran’s new President?

Quick Facts; Did You Know that Pezeshkian…?

  • Is the most educated President in Iran’s post-revolutionary history,
  • Still performs heart surgery during the weekends in Tabriz,
  • Besides Turkish (Azeri) and Kurdish, he speaks English and Arabic and is familiar with French,
  • He never remarried and raised 3 of his surviving children after a tragic accident that killed his wife and his 4th child some 30 years ago,
  • He is not and never was a member of any political parties and is considered an independent centrist…

The surprise win by Dr. Masoud Pezeshkian, a former Health Minister and current MP, has made many in Iran and abroad curious about the single-father heart surgeon who will be Iran’s next President in August. While many believe that he, like his predecessors, will disappoint Iranian voters, others believe that with his resume and background and his tough character, he is in the best position to bring about change, be it limited to the economy and perhaps (to a lesser degree) foreign policy. Here is a summary biography of Iran’s President-elect:

● Masoud Pezeshkian was born on September 29, 1954, in
Mahabad, located in West Azerbaijan province, a region
known for its significant Azeri and Kurdish ethnic populations.
His father was Turkish, and his mother was Kurdish, so
Pezeshkian mastered both languages. Despite being part of
the 2 percent Azeri-speaking minority in a primarily Sunni
Kurdish city, Pezeshkian has always taken pride in his Azeri
roots.
● At the age of 19, during Mohammad Reza Pahlavi’s rule, he
fulfilled his conscription duty in Zabul, Sistan and Baluchistan
province. After completing his service, he returned to his home province, pursued medical studies, and earned a degree in general medicine.
● While he was a member of the Islamic Student Association, he met his wife, who was a gynecologist. However, in 1994, Pezeshkian experienced a tragic loss when his wife and one of his children passed away in a car accident. He has since raised his two surviving sons and daughter alone, remaining unmarried. His narrative of personal tragedy and unwavering commitment has garnered him sympathy and admiration, positioning him as a compassionate and resilient figure in Iranian society.

Educational background

  • ● Pezashkian completed his primary education in his hometown of Mahabad and then moved to the provincial capital, Urmia, where he received a diploma in the food industry from the Agricultural College.
    ● In 1975, after completing his military service in Zabol, he
    earned a second diploma in natural sciences (experimental sciences).
    In 1976, he was admitted to Tabriz University of Medical Sciences, where he completed
    his general medicine course in 1985 and began teaching as a physiology instructor.
    ● In 1999, he got a professional doctorate degree in medicine and general surgery from
    Tabriz University of Medical Sciences and a subspecialty in Cardiothoracic Surgery
    from Iran University of Medical Sciences.
    ● Pezeshkian has completed various courses abroad, including short-term courses related
    to education in England and a two-month course in health economics, management, and policy at
    Harvard University in the United States. Additionally, he participated in a seminar in Mexico, where
    he spent two to three weeks with several international experts examining issues related to the macrohealth field.

Work experience

  • After obtaining his medical degree, he started working at Shahid Madani Hospital in Tabriz, where he eventually became the head of the hospital. In 1994, he was appointed as president of Tabriz University of Medical Sciences by Dr. Alireza Marandi, the Minister of Health and Treatment in Ayatollah Hashemi Rafsanjani’s government, and he continued in this role until 2000.
  • After finishing his presidency in 2000, he was transferred to Tehran. During the second term of Seyyed Mohammad Khatami’s presidency, he served as deputy health minister in the Ministry of Health, Treatment, and Medical Education for six months and successfully received a vote of confidence from the parliament.
  • He still performs heart surgeries in Tabriz on Thursdays and Fridays, to keep himself up to date with his medical profession.

Iran-Iraq War (1980–1988)

Throughout the Iran-Iraq War (1980–1988), Pezeshkian frequently visited the front lines, where he organized medical teams and served both as a combatant and a physician.

Political journey

Pezeshkian began his political career as the deputy health minister in The Ministry of Health and Medical Education (MOHME), during the first cabinet of Seyyed Mohammad Khatami under the ministry of Mohammad Farhadi. He later received a motion of confidence from the parliament to serve as the Minister of MOHME in Khatami’s second reform government. He has been elected as a representative of the parliament for five terms from the Tabriz, Azarshahr, and Esku constituencies, making him the record holder for representation in one of Iran’s metropolises.

The summary of Masoud Pezeshkian's political career is as follows:

  • Reformist and current representative of Tabriz in the parliament
  • Five consecutive terms as the first representative of the people of Tabriz in the legislature of the Islamic Republic of Iran (8th to 12th)
  • Minister of Health (2001 – 2005)
  • First Vice-Chairman of 10th Parliament
  • Deputy Health Minister (1997-2001)

Pezeshkian’s Political Stance: from Critic to Presidential Candidate

Known for his reformist stance, Pezeshkian has criticized the government’s handling of political dissent.

  • After the controversial 2009 post-election protests known as the Green Movement, he delivered a speech in parliament criticizing the security forces’ brutal response, causing significant tension from conservative members who attempted to interrupt.
  • During Hassan Rouhani’s presidency, Pezeshkian strongly supported the 2015 nuclear deal, frequently speaking in its favor in parliament. In his round table debates, he is still emphasizing on nuclear agreement and global interaction as a solution to the economic crisis in Iran.
  • In a rare state television interview during the nationwide anti-establishment protests after Mahsa-Jina-Amini’s death at the hands of the so-called morality police, Pezeshkian challenged the official narrative, using his medical expertise to dispute the government’s explanation of her death. He underscored his dedication to transparency and accountability by calling for an independent evaluation team.

Pezeshkian’s Characteristics:

  • He is considered a Centrist/Moderate Reformist, not a hardline reformist,
  • His record of public service, personal resilience, and advocacy for transparency and accountability will be fundamental factors in his campaign,
  • Unlike many Iranian politicians, he did not rise to power through influential family connections or corruption,
  • His unblemished record and tragic personal history distinguish him from his rivals,
  • The support of Pezeshkian during recent crises, the Green Movement and Mahsa Amini has made him a popular and courageous figure,
  • Pezeshkian is fluent in Turkish (Azeri), and Kurdish and can communicate in English and Arabic. His ability to appeal to ethnic minorities, particularly Azeris, could be a crucial factor in Pezeshkian’s campaign. His hometown of Mahabad, with its mixed Kurdish and Azeri population, and his advocacy for minority rights position him as a unifying figure,
  • In the election debates, he courageously stood in front of other candidates, affirming his integrity and incorruptibility,
  • His tenure in the Ministry of Health, marked by the construction of 600 health houses with community participation, stands as a testament to his justified reputation. He, along with his some worked as laborers in projects in remote and underprivileged
Pezeshkian’s
Pezeshkian’s Characteristics

regions (as seen in the pictures below).

Despite his strengths, Pezeshkian faces significant challenges:

  • He lacks clear and documented plans for running the country, particularly in foreign policy, where he defers to the Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei,
  • Pezeshkian’s strong emphasis on supporting minority rights in the country has raised concerns among some about the potential rise and expansion of pan-Azeri sentiments in Iran,
  • In Conservative media campaigns, Pezeshkian has been labeled as Rouhani’s third government, although he himself does not accept this title and claims independence from previous governments. He will, however, be targeted by hardliners, who say his team is a combination of Rouhani and Khatami’s cabinets,
  • He will be facing a tough time in the Parliament, dominated by the supporters of his ultra-conservative rival. Pezeshkian is to introduce his cabinet to the Parliament next month.
  • His biggest challenge of all, however, is the potential comeback of Donald Trump to the White After all, he pulled out of the JCPOA in 2018 during his first presidency and his re-election may kill any prospect of a revival of the nuclear deal and may increase tensions and the risk of conflict between Iran and the US.

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pezeshkian and zarif
Masoud Pezeshkian

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