As a self-proclaimed man of the people and incorruptible politician with the interest of the poor at heart, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad seems to be heading for a landslide victory in Iran's June 12 presidential elections. His followers outside of Teheran, among the overtly religious residents of Qom and every other city in the country, will turn out to vote in great numbers come election day, analysts believe. Ahmadinejad's populist promises not to yield before the foreign bullying powers and to focus all of his energy on defending the interests of the nation go down well in the Iranian provinces, even if his stance can sound somewhat dictatorial to some. "I am proud of being a dictator in the sense they interpret," he remarked in a recent speech. The working class and poor widely view him as a national hero, for it was their beloved president that helped them rebuild schools and initiate many other civil projects in their otherwise forgotten towns. In Qom, his supporters have pasted his pictures on every rundown shop. Young men have plastered his face on the side of their cars. Young and old, they say they take pride in Ahmadinejad's role as an international pariah. "He is what we need at this every moment. In truth, Ahmadinejad has brought out the best in Iran and has made us a strong nation that is feared by both Israel and America," remarked an elderly taxi driver when asked why he would be voting for Ahmadinejad. "Israel will never attack us. They are too afraid, because we are a nuclear country." Conservatives, radicals and everyday citizens alike, indeed, seem to believe that Iran is militarily capable of defending itself against an attack from Israel. Iran's self-confidence is reflected, too, in the contacts over recent days between Foreign Minister Manuchehr Mottaki and a visiting Iraqi parliamentary delegation, which reflected Iran's broadening relationship with Iraq. "We have numerous potential [area]s for deepening ties," Mottaki declared on Thursday, specifying the energy sector as just one of the many suitable fields of cooperation. Reciprocating, the Iraqi delegation head, Zahra Hashemi, called for the removal of all obstacles to expanded ties, and her delegation indicated that Iraq had much to learn from Iran's experience in agriculture, energy, cultural heritage, tourism, sports and information dissemination.