July 1, 2005
IRAN: AHMADINEJAD'S WIN "SIGNALS A RETURN TO RADICAL KHOMENIISM'
** Ahmadinejad exploited internal "economic frustration" to anchor the hardliners.
** Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, Guardian Council head, still makes the "ultimate decisions."
** The election result adds difficulty to "resolving the stand-off on Iran's nuclear program."
** Iran's regime believes Western development models are "decadent and unsuitable" for Iran.
'The loyal executioner of the policy of religious leader Khamenei'-- Media globally held that the "new Khamenei-Ahmadinejad team" envisions a "strong, powerful and ideal Islamic nation." Analysts agreed Ahmadinejad exploited Iran's "sheer popular frustration" to get "elected by poor and highly religious citizens." All writers agreed he kneaded his Tehran mayor's image of a "humble and honest public official" with a "return to basics of the '79 revolution" into a victory. An Iranian hardliner said he won using the "principle-ist movement"; Iran's conservative Resalat explained, "the principle-ist movement has...rejected popular democracy as interpreted by the Western philosophers and does not accept the Western discourse of freedom and democracy."
'Real power in Iran remains...with supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei'-- So said Jordan's English-language Jordan Times. The liberal Toronto Star added, "whoever became president was fated to have scant influence on political reform and military policy. It will be Khamenei and his allies who decide." Most analysts agreed Ahmadinejad's "political promotion" has "smashed two illusions"-- one, that Iran has renounced the "worldwide spread of the Islamic revolution" and two, the Iranian regime will undergo "quiet and slow liberalization." Norway's independent VG averred, the election was "manipulated in advance by the Guardian Council’s selection of candidates."
Results temper 'renewed confidence" in nuclear negotiations with Tehran-- Numerous outlets agreed Khatami's "moderate fig leaf" is gone. They expressed "waves of uneasiness." Italy's influential La Repubblica echoed global angst over Iran's "nuclear implacability" by saying that the "main effect of the elections" could be a proliferation of Iran's nuclear arsenal. Thailand's mass-appeal Daily News added that Germany, France and the UK face an "uphill task to undermine Iran's nuclear aspirations." Turkey's nationalist Ortadogu feared "Iran might end cooperation with the EU" regarding its nuclear program. Mumbai-based centrist Janmabhoomi declared, “the election of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad as the President of Iran in the just concluded elections has once again established the supremacy of extremist forces there."
The election defeated those 'from the camp of [liberal] democracy'-- Hardline Iranian writers derided reformists as a "mafia network" whose "star was in eclipse." Moderate Iran declared, "the reformists are ejected from the circle of power," and foresaw a "housecleaning in Iran's political structure." Global outlets saw an Iran/U.S. "fracture line...extending from Iraq to Afghanistan, and from terrorism to proliferation." Croatia's government-owned Vjesnik said, Iran views "American development models" as "decadent and unsuitable for the Iranian people."
EDITOR: Rupert D. Vaughan
EDITOR'S NOTE: Media Reaction reporting conveys the spectrum of foreign press sentiment. Posts select commentary to provide a representative picture of local editorial opinion. Some commentary is taken directly from the Internet. This report summarizes and interprets foreign editorial opinion and does not necessarily reflect the views of the U.S. Government. This analysis was based on 99 reports from 40 countries from June 26 to July 1, 2005. Editorial excerpts are listed from the most recent date.
IRAN: "First Brick"
The reformist Persian language Tehran and Yazd published Aftab-e Yazd affiliated with the leftist Militant Clerics Society [Majma'e Rowhaniyun-e Mobarez]] editorialized (Internet version 6/29): " Freedom of speech is not about the right to ask, because in a world of media without frontiers, nobody can today give or take away other people's rights to ask.... Please concede that the media critical of you also has the right [to ask questions]. Do not merely invite the foreign media, then allow the press that is close to your views, to ask you questions, and then exclude the papers that did not support you in the elections. That does not chime with a stated support for freedom of expression or expressions of post-electoral amity.... Aftab-e Yazd has clear positions both in your regard and with all political groups. If Seyyed Mohammad Khatami is president and selects journalists for questioning after he has invited the press to speak, then he can expect to hear from us in our editorial the next day, as indeed he has. The same will happen if Ahmadinejad is president. Aftab-e Yazd will cry out if this or that Khatami-run ministry violates public rights, and will do the same if this is done by ministries working under Mahmud Ahmadinejad. We will thank him if the municipality he runs serves the people, just as we will not hesitate to criticize the municipality if it does not serve the public, especially when run by reformers. We will make an effort to show you your mistakes, so that you may correct them if you wish. You should be grateful to us if you have a desire to reform.”
"Reformists Put Rival In Power"
Moderate Iran editorialized (6/28): "The reformists are ejected from the circle of power; however their exit allows all other forces of the country to arrive at the political scene. Iran has witnessed an election in which the reformists put their rival in power.... The result of the 24 June election will lead to a housecleaning in Iran's political structure.... It is also a new way of life for the reformists to stay out of power and play against their rival who is fully in power that requires new methods of playing."
"Peace And Calmness"
Hardline Siyasat-e-Ruz advised (6/28): "The new government should be at the service of the people by giving them peace and calmness...adopting moderate strategies and tactics...being fair and just in all of its affairs."
Hardline pro-Khamene'i Keyhan declared (6/28): "The mafia network that in the election days tactically supported Rafsanjani in order to remove Ahmadinejad from the presidential competition is now trying to exploit the 'gray opportunity', the interval of time between the Khatami and Ahmadinejad shift of power, in order to do its last violations.... To foil their exploits, it is essential that Ahmadinejad ask the help of the president in sending certain supervisors to big economic centres and organizations."
"The Principle-ist Movement"
Mohamad Kazem Anbarlouie commented in hardline conservative Tehran Resalat (6/27): “Dr. Ahmadinejad's victory can be considered as the victory of the principle-ist movement. What is a movement and what is principle-ism? Based on sociology, social movements have their own special definition...[starting] with the appearance of an authentic thought and idea, specific and clear leadership, determined organization, and the distribution of the message by the leadership and the elite to the social layers. After the victory of Mr. Khatami on 2 Khordad 1376 [ 23 May1997], an expert press team, which later came to be known as press and political charlatans, targeted the ideals and goals of the revolution and targeted Islam, the revolution, the leader, and the Imam, using the excuse of the reforms. The holdovers of Western thought, who had gained no success for packaging their message and did not know how to advertise social democracy and liberal democracy, sought the success of their thoughts in negating religion and insulting the divinities of the people, and were attacking Islamic laws and Qur'anic ideals without fear.... The principle-ist movement stepped into the field of political action with the three key slogans of principle-ism in thought, new methods, and convergence in action. The authenticity of these slogans quickly made its way to the minds and hearts of the elite in the seminaries and the universities. The principle-ist movement has...rejected popular democracy as interpreted by the Western philosophers and does not accept the Western discourse of freedom and democracy.... The victory of Dr. Mahmud Ahmadinejad is due to the design of the messages that were prepared based on the slogans and goals of the authentic and true principle-ism. Dr. Ahmadinejad is a phenomenon in the history of our religious democracy. A phenomenon that ensures us that the revolution has moved in the correct path.
Moderate Mardom-Salary declared (6/26): "Undoubtedly the role of the two political parties of the Islamic Revolution Mujahedin Organization and the Islamic Iran Participation Front has been very influential in the occurrence of the current situation, since they backed Mo'in and had expected all parties follow them. It played a very important role in the reformist camp not to reach a consensus."
"Discourse Of Social Justice"
Conservative Resalat asserted (6/26): "Long ago when the reformists' star was in eclipse, we believed that the discourse of social justice was going to dominate Iran. The essence of such an incident was the appearance of a kind of discrimination among the people regarding their lifestyle and economic facilities. Ahmadinejad could make a very good relation with the spirits of the mass, he sent a message to the poor and oppressed that I am one of yours and know you well."
Reformist Sharq noted (6/26): "Yesterday, a reformist from the camp of democracy was defeated. The Islamic Republic learned that it shouldn't be afraid of democracy. The people's vote for Ahmadinejad was a vote on the inefficiency of the 2-Khordad front in fulfilling both economic and political demands of the people. The inefficiency of the 2-Khordad front was the Achilles' heel of the reformist during the last eight years. Mohammad Khatami played an important role in the formation of such inefficiency."
BRITAIN: "A 'Head Case' In Tehran"
The conservative Daily Telegraph editorialized (7/1): "The Administration has already dismissed the elections which unexpectedly brought Mr. Ahmadinejad to power as having been rigged. Details of his past have since emerged, confirming him as a true foot-soldier of the Islamic Revolution."
"Iran's Human Face Is Gone"
Columnist and conservative MP Michael Gove opined in the conservative Times (6/29): "The Iranian regime's clear belief that the West is weak suggests that it is preparing to press ahead with its ambitions to acquire a nuclear weapons capability, a goal that may be just months away. If the West is not to confirm a potentially fatal reputation for infirmity, we need to strike back, using the strongest allies we have in the region: the Iranian people themselves."
"Iran's Often Unseen Decision Makers"
Former chief editor Jihad al-Khazin wrote in London-based, Saudi-owned Arabic-language Pan-Arab Al Hayah (6/28): "Iran is not university students or a few educated women in Tehran. Mahmud Ahmadinejad represented the majority that the Americans do not see. He fought his campaign as the supporter of the poor against an elitist, Ali Akhbar Hashemi-Rafsanjani.... What I know about Iran before and after the elections is that there is not that much difference between the conservatives and the reformists on a point of deep interest for the United States, namely, the Iranian nuclear program.... President-elect Ahmadinejad criticized the Iranians negotiating with the three European countries and said they made unjustified concessions on the issue of uranium enrichment. The Iranian negotiators will surely adopt a more hard-line position in any future round of negotiations…[and the] fact remains that Britain, France, and Germany did not reach an agreement with reformist President Khatami's negotiators.... It is Ayatollah Ali Khamene'i and the religious establishment in Qom that decide the top policy and therefore the escalation with the United States will become verbally more violent without however a military confrontation. There remains the lesson that the Iranian elections have provided... It just reflects the success of Ahmadinejad's campaign in attracting the majority to him. Can the United States tolerate the results of such a democracy in the Arab countries?
"The Challenge Of Iran"
The conservative Daily Telegraph judged (6/28): "By condemning the presidential election in advance as a sham, Washington appears to be ruling out any direct dealing with the new Khamenei-Ahmadinejad team. Is its solution, then, economic sanctions followed, if necessary, by military action against Iran's nuclear facilities? The Bush Administration's hostility to Iran is obvious, but it would be helpful, not least for its closest ally, Britain, to know how that will translate into policy should the troika talks collapse later this summer."
FRANCE: "A Return to Radical Khomeiniism"
Antoine Basbous of the Observatory for Arab Countries remarked in right-of-center Le Figaro (7/1): “Ahmadinejad was able to charm Iran’s Islamic and popular electorate.... In the short term, one cannot expect an improvement in relations with Washington. Tehran could be tempted to attract and favor European economic interests in order to undermine U.S. interests and divide the West. But Iran is increasingly turning towards India and China...hoping to benefit from a Chinese veto at the UNSC in case of a demand for sanctions.... The neo-conservatives from Washington and Tehran have little chance of getting together.... Each team mistrusts the other. Washington has neither forgotten nor forgiven the hostage taking in 1979. And the Iranians have a long list of grievances against the Americans. The fracture line is long, extending from Iraq to Afghanistan, and from terrorism to proliferation. On this last point, Americans and Europeans often share the same analysis and interests. But because this is an issue dear to the religious Guide of the Republic, no major changes are expected… The ‘new’ Iran’s regional policy will bring renewed support to the radicals, with Lebanon’s Hizbullah already rejoicing.... But in Iran as elsewhere, campaign promises need to be interpreted with caution. Chances are that economic and international realism will dictate a less doctrinal and ideological stance in Iran.... Still, Ahmadinejad’s political promotion signals a more hard-line approach by the regime and a return to radical Khomeiniism...in preparation for a confrontation with Iran’s ‘new American neighbor…’ Tehran is developing the ‘complex of the besieged,’ even though the American ‘tiger’ is weakened--but not beaten--by the war in Iraq.”
Left-of-center Le Monde expressed the view in its editorial (6/29): “The election of an ultraconservative in Iran is bad news for the Iranians, for the international community...and the Islamic Republic.... At least Rafsanjani had a program, such as upholding civil liberties...pursuing the dialogue with the European and beginning normalization with the U.S. This approach towards lessening tensions with the U.S. could have facilitated the resolution of the nuclear issue.... On the contrary, Ahmadinejad’s election opens the door to tension on the international front. He has always defined himself with respect to his staunch opposition to the U.S. Iran’s stance remains the same: it wants to retain the option to build the bomb. Ahmadinejad’s election is one more element of tension and defiance in the nuclear issue.... This election marks also the return to a uniformity of power: the conservatives are now reigning at all levels of a regime which until now had several nerve centers.”
"Washington Revises Its Iranian Policy"
Jean-Louis Turlin noted in right-of-center Le Figaro (6/28): “The election of a hard-liner in Iran will not give the Americans renewed confidence in negotiations with Tehran.... Experts believe that the new Iranian President will not bother to put on gloves in his dealings with the Americans and the Europeans.... They also agree that a military approach is not an option.... Strikes against Iranian nuclear installations cannot be guaranteed success; they would be militarily impossible to sustain because of the Iraqi quagmire, and politically, they would be dangerous for the region and domestically unacceptable."
"Discontents And Dangers: Contradictory Signals From Iran, Few Of Them Hopeful For The World"
An editorial in the conservative Times read (6/27): "Anxious Western governments will naturally focus on Mr. Ahmadinejad's loathing of America and Israel, his intransigence on the nuclear issue and his identification with the religious irredentists who believe in exporting the Islamic Revolution to a corrupt and god-forsaken Middle East. But it is not his powers that should concern them--he has few--but the absence, with his election, of a moderating counterpoint to Ayatollah Khamenei. Iran's intentions should now be easier to read; but they are likely to make grim reading."
"A Surprise Result That Bodes Ill For The Region"
The left-of-center Independent opined (6/27): "When Mohammad Khatami unexpectedly swept to the Iranian presidency eight years ago, there was great optimism, in Tehran and in the West, that this would herald a period of steady, if gradual, reform. These hopes were largely disappointed, as Mr. Khatami and his reformers tussled with the hardline clerics of the religious hierarchy. That misreading of the reach of Mr. Khatami's power offers some consolation that, outside Iran, Mr. Ahmadinejad's hardline intentions may have been similarly misread. It is a slender threat on which to hang any hope, but it is one of the few we have."
Jean-Michel Helvig noted in left-of-center Liberation (6/27): “The ballots were used to express social anger.... The people of Iran have sent a message to the powers that be.... The winner is not Iran as the fighter against religious obscurantism.... The Iranians have chosen men who resemble them as opposed to men who want to look like foreigners.... Iran seems bent on nationalistic withdrawal.... The failure is patent for Iran’s political reformists.”
Jean-Louis Turlin held in right-of-center Le Figaro (6/27): “Mired in Iraq, President Bush does not possess the means to use might to change the Middle East. In fact, his strong-arm rhetoric seems to have played more into the hands of the religious Mullahs than his own.... Washington’s official declarations barely hide the embarrassment of a government with few options left. Washington, because it is facing a populist president who earned his credentials during the 1979 hostage-taking situation, could be tempted with a no-concession position.... Ahmadinejad’s arrival could well strengthen the position of Washington’s hawks who are divided over Iraq.... The Bush administration’s position will be one of ‘wait and see’ because it has no other choice.”
GERMANY: "No Taliban In Tehran"
Gero von Randow judged in a front-page editorial in center-left, weekly Die Zeit of Hamburg (6/30): "The Iranian presidential election has smashed two illusions: There is no political majority for a liberalization of the regime, and a security policy containment of the country is not in sight.... If we look at the interests, then we will see that the election winners have different priorities than a power play in the region. Its election promises focused on social policy, namely social equality in society that enjoys modest prosperity.... That is why the West should not feel alarmed but should take a wait-and-see attitude in the short term. It is not yet known how the foreign policy responsibilities will be distributed among the conservatives. There are various grades of realism in their camp. That is why not every aggressive gesture deserves to be answered with the same aggressiveness.... Iran promised to suspend the enrichment of uranium during the time of the talks. If it broke its promise, Europe should cut short the talks to remain credible, and the matter would then be discussed at the UN Security Council.... The best the West can achieve in the talks is a massive presence of IAEA inspectors at Iranian nuclear plants. They could warn on time against a military retransformation of nuclear technology. Following the failure of the New York NPT conference, too many instruments are not available. And what about a policy towards Iran in the medium-term? Man cannot live on religion alone. And that is why the powers-that-be must give the people something to eat also in addition to sharpened propaganda. In the long run, this must be financed with revenue from oil. The country needs international investors, but they do not feel attracted by foreign policy crises. In the medium-term, the interest in stability offers western diplomacy a chance. But it should not lose sight of the fact that, in the long run, the spread of freedom is the best security policy. Iran's reformers lost their share in power until further notice. This is a setback, but it would be a disaster if they lost confidence in the will of the West to insist on democracy and human rights towards a strengthened mullah regime."
"Last Trump Card"
Martin Winter said in left-of-center Frankfurter Rundschau (6/28): "The chances for the Europeans to find a deal with Iran to stop its urge for nuclear weapons are getting darker. The new president in Tehran is not yet predictable, but if he remains true to his reputation as hardliner, the chances in Paris, London, and Berlin will dwindle to negotiate with Iran on a peaceful structure of its nuclear program. The Europeans have only one trump card left that could impress Ahmadinejad: prospects for an easier access to the European market. A man who came to power because of the dissatisfaction among ordinary people [with the government] should not reject the possibility for an improvement of the economic situation right from the start. But this will work only as long as the EU makes clear that this is the last offer.... Little time is left. In Washington, the first debates have begun whether there should be any talks with Tehran at all. If the United States withdraws its hesitant support for the EU's negotiating position, the matter could quickly fail. And the crisis in the Mideast could escalate to the brink of a war."
"How Serious Is Ahmadinejad?"
Center-right Volksstimme of Magdeburg concluded (6/29): "With a view to the nuclear talks, Iran's new president was quick to strike moderate tones. But how serious is ultra-religious Mahmud Ahmadinejad really? He is considered a man of a tough nature, a supporter of the Islamic religious state, which includes unyieldingness towards western demands to give up the country's nuclear program. European representatives like Chancellor Schröder in Washington emphasized their willingness for dialogue and tried to pour oil on troubled waters...but President George W. Bush, who is deeply suspicious of Iran, knows that the Europeans will not be able to prompt Iran neither with words nor with money to mothball their nuclear power plants. What did not work with previous powers-that-be, should now succeed with fundamentalists? Then one must really have been totally wrong about Tehran's 'avenger of the poor.'"
"Executioner Of The Religious Leaders"
Rudolph Chimelli said in center-left Sueddeutsche Zeitung of Munich (6/27): "Mahmud Ahmadinejad is not the new strong man in Iran. As president...he will be the loyal executioner of the policy of religious leader Khamenei.... What has now been lost is the only brake for the conservative's will for power. They controlled the armed forces, the intelligence service, police and justice authorities before...and now they will also control the executive.... The Iranians voted for Ahmadinejad, not to show Iran's fist to America, but to fill the plates of the many poor Iranians and to give their kids a job."
"Iranian Cultural Revolution"
Mariam Lau maintained in right-of-center Die Welt of Berlin (6/27): "What does the outcome of the election mean for the West? To a certain extent, the West now knows what is going on. No one can now use the notion in the nuclear talks that it has to deal with a kind of Gorbachev who needs successes to keep the apparatus at bay. Ahmadinejad is the apparatus, he is a copy of Poland's general Jaruzelski, who was responsible for Poland's fall. And this is how Ahmadinejad must be treated. Stop that indulgence."
ITALY: "In Iran, Photo Accuses the President, 'He Was Amongst The Kidnappers Of '79'"
Ennio Caretto remarked in the centrist, top-circulation Corriere della Sera (7/1): “Another side of the U.S.-Iranian crisis opened yesterday, as various ex-hostages of the American Embassy in Tehran in ’79-’80 identified the new Iranian president Mahmud Ahmadinejad as ‘one of the two or three top leaders’ of their prison guards.... Tehran has flatly denied this.... A reaction that might signal the wishes of the Ayatollah to not further break down the relationship with Washington. Teheran asserted that he could be confused with European diplomats that visited the hostages. The case exploded a few hours after Bush granted an interview with the London Times in which his skepticism towards the conflict with Tehran was readily apparent. It is clear that the protests of the ex-hostages have left a sign. Bush has not forgotten the humiliation inflicted upon President Jimmy Carter by the Ayatollah between 1979 and 1980 when hostages were liberated half an hour after his successor Ronald Reagan entered the White House.”
"Ahmadinejad Assaulted The U.S. Embassy"
Alberto Pasolini Zanelli expressed the view in the pro-government, leading center-right Il Giornale (7/1): “His election has caught the optimists, above all, by surprise, those who in Washington were convinced that Iran was moving primarily by the will of the younger generations towards a liberalization that would constitute the greatest success possible for Bush’s grand strategy of democratization. The result of Tehran is a rude awakening because it reveals how the political resentments persist towards a cultural ‘thaw.’ However, American popular culture also extends into Iran. The best seller in Tehran’s bookstores at this time is the memoirs of Bill Clinton. The young don’t ‘hate’ America, but ask for ‘respect.’ And above all for the ‘sovereignty’ of Iran, of which the nuclear program is not only an integral part, but also a symbol. One of the difficult differences for Washington comes from this contradiction between two equally stated desires: recuperating Iranian sympathy, while at the same time removing its nuclear capabilities and disarming it.”
"The Price Of The Pasdaran"
Ugo Tramballi noted in leading business-oriented Il Sole-24 Ore (6/28): “Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has the right to be judged by proof of fact: office responsibilities at times can work miracles.... Such a crushing victory of a fundamentalist after 27 years of Khomenian pressure and of Islamic sacrifices deserves to be faced from all points of view: even those of ‘the enemy'.... Apart from the internal economic considerations and the fraud denounced by the defeated, perhaps the Iranians voted the way they did because they were scared of the American military presence in Iraq and in many other countries in the Gulf. From their point of view, the enemy is at the door.”
"Iraq, Nuclear Power And Fight Against The Corrupt--All The Unknowns Of The Super-Hawk"
Guido Rampoldi argued in left-leaning, influential La Repubblica (6/26): “Iran couldn’t have found a worse president, and for Western governments a more difficult adversary, than zealot Mahmud Ahmadinejad. Poor people chose him, above all, for practical more so than ideological reasons.... The main effect of the Iranian elections could be a proliferation of its nuclear arsenal.... The effectiveness of the Western response will depend, above all, on its capacity to demonstrate that amidst the events in Teheran, Europeans and Americans stand united. Up until now, the Iranian regime has not realized this. Iran is convinced of being in a position of strategic advantage. However, this is not without reason.... At this point, Israel is in the range of Iranian missiles and European decision is constrained by its oil interests.... For months American political studies have said that invading Iran was a practical option despite it being clear that it wasn’t in the least.... In the end, yesterday Washington judged the Iranian elections as a ‘counter-trend,’ with implicit reference to a Middle East ‘springtime of democracy,’ which there is no trace of, at least in those terms. Accepting reality could be painful, but ignoring it or hiding it as ‘talk’ entails a much greater price.”
RUSSIA: "Democracy Helps Theocracy"
Georgiy Mirskiy said in reformist Moskovskiye Novosti (7/1): "There is no saying whether Tehran really wants to get ahold of nuclear weapons. If it does, its plans will get a boost under the new President, and chances are that the UN Security Council will have to consider this matter with a view to imposing sanctions on Iran. That will put Security Council members, Russia included, in a difficult position and seriously complicate the international situation. While relations between Russia and Iran are not going to be affected and their mutually advantageous cooperation will continue, a tougher Iranian policy may have implications internationally. In that sense, the poll results in Iran may encourage only those who, guiding themselves by the Cold War rules, see the world as a ‘zero-sum game’-what is bad for America is good for us, a delusion that may have grave consequences for all."
Aleksandr Reutov opined in business-oriented Kommersant (7/1): "Reports that the current Iranian President was involved in America’s worst disgrace may trigger a campaign to prepare public opinion for whatever action the (U.S.) Administration may decide to take in the future. It appears that the White House has launched war preparations informationwise."
"The Iranian Surprise"
B. L'vov wrote in nationalist pro-opposition Sovetskaya Rossiya (6/28): "The West, sympathizing with former President Rafsanjani, has been disappointed with the vote outcome. U.S. Defense Secretary Rumsfeld claimed in frustration that the new President is not a ‘friend of freedom.’ And he added, ‘With time, young people and women will find him and his patrons unacceptable.’ Such statements, while attesting to the Pentagon's being overly presumptuous, will hardly promote the U.S.' interests in Iran.”
"The Poor Are The Best Bet"
Georgiy Stepanov pointed out in reformist Izvestiya (6/27): “To the Western community, primarily to America, this is the worst of possible outcomes.... Ahmadinejad lobbied for the support of the poor, who didn’t profit from reform-minded President Mohammad Khatami’s policies.... Ahmadinejad has the face of one of them, a ‘man of the people,’ an outsider who, while having little possibilities, can climb really high and make his people happy.”
"It Makes Things Easier For The U.S."
Mikhail Zygar opined in business-oriented Kommersant (6/27): “With a radical like Mahmoud Ahmadinejad at the head of Iran, it will be a lot easier for the U.S. to find an excuse for actions aimed at regime change in Tehran. But that does not at all mean that things would have been different, had Rafsanjani won.”
AUSTRIA: "The 'Friend Of The People'"
Ernst Trost asserted in mass-circulation tabloid Neue Kronenzeitung (6/27): "Why did the reformers and their large group of followers not rally behind pragmatist Rafsanjani to prevent the radicals from coming to power? In Europe such voter behavior would have been logical. In Iran, however, the opponents of the mullahs' regime have lost faith in the system and its ability to reform. It did not matter who won the elections, they claimed, since spiritual leader Khameini and the watchdog group determined what was going to happen anyway. Therefore they stayed home and persisted in their resignation. Now, more well-educated Iranians will probably flee into emigration."
BELGIUM: "Dangerous Purity"
Foreign editor Gerald Papy contended in independent La Libre Belgique (6/27): "After all, the election of an extremist conservative as the new Iranian President could have left us indifferent. Indeed, we have often written that, since 1997, power in Iran was in fact not in the hands of the President, his Government, or Parliament, because of the strong grip of conservatives through non-elected decisional bodies. The election of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad could have the advantage of clarifying the nature of the Iranian power and of eliminating any illusion about reforms from within.... Some are even rejoicing at this, considering that this new radicalization will speed up the fall of the regime. The problem is that this movement enjoys people’s support. And, reinforced by this support, a President who promises ‘an exemplary Islamic society’ and who has an objective of purity based on a religion can only be dangerous, for his people and for the world.”
CROATIA: "Iranian Robin Hood"
Military correspondent Fran Visnar commented in the Zagreb-based government-owned Vjesnik (6/30): "Ahmadinejad still doesn’t show any respect toward the U.S. global military and economic power, and claims that American development models are decadent and unsuitable for the Iranian people. He does not believe that Americans would dare to spread democracy in Iran with weapons, like in Afghanistan and Iraq. Most voters agreed with Ahmadinejad’s basic political starting point: what is more important--economic security or Western-like individual freedoms? Even though Iran should not be demonized in advance, the election of Mahmud Ahmadinejad is a great challenge to Americans. The Iranian theocracy (the largest in the world) now has absolute power by the people’s will.”
CZECH REPUBLIC: "Iranian Surprises"
Martin Novak commented in business-oreinted Hospodarske noviny (6/27): "Iranian elections bring surprises. Eight years ago, when they were won by reformist Muhammad Khatami; and this year, when the Iranian elections were won by a person that did not even promise more freedom or liberating the Iranian economy. Mahmoud Ahmadinejad fits much more into the militant era of Imam Khomeini in the eighties. Eight years ago, it was a pleasant surprise; this time it is not. Ahmadnejad is a populist who combines nationalism, Marxism and Islamic radicalism.... Even those Iranians who desire democratic change enabled him to gain this post. Some did not bother to vote, others voted for marginal candidates. If the reformist movement does not unite with a clear strategy they don’t stand a chance. The elections destroyed the myth that Iran stands on the threshold of some 'democratic' revolution going against the governing clique of mullahs.... There also exist opinions that the victory of an Islamic conservative with a pitiful program is good news as it will incite the dissent of Iranians against the theocratic regime.... This is, however, too much to hope for since authoritative governments give up their power only as last resort in an otherwise hopeless situation. And this is currently not the case."
"Checkmate Of Ayatollahs"
Radek Nedved observed in center-right Lidove noviny (6/27): "Iranian clergy could not have hoped for anything better. At the time when Americans emphasize that the Middle East is experiencing a strong 'wind of democratic changes,' Iranians elected as their president the man who would like to restore in the country the atmosphere of the religious revolution of 1979.... Yes, the election of Ahmadinejad added to Western worries concerning Iran.... However, even the election of Ahmadinejad's opponent, former president Rafsanjani, would not have been any victory for the West...or democracy in Iran."
FINLAND: "Iran Fully In Conservative Hands"
Leading centrist Helsingin Sanomat asserted (6/28): "The outcome of the (Iran) election is not believed to have been entirely manipulated. Ahmadinejad’s promises to distribute oil money to the poor and fight corruption seem to have fallen on receptive ears.... Once the talks between the EU troika and Iran resume, the world may get a better idea of what Tehran’s plans are concerning nuclear technology. Iran is suspected of at least seeking the capability to build a nuclear bomb--especially since a nuclear deterrent, from Tehran’s point of view, would appear to be tempting as protection against the threat that the U.S. and Israel are fairly openly flaunting.... Iran is the world’s fourth largest oil exporter and it does not have any understandable grounds for developing expensive nuclear technology.”
HUNGARY: "Huge Persian Question Mark"
Columnist Endre Aczel held in center-left Nepszabadsag (6/29): “With his unquestionably ardent and moralistically Islamist past and determined anti-Americanism, Ahmedinejad seemed more suitable to stop the quiet and slow liberalization of the [Iranian] regime.... Ahmedinejad is a proud patriot. He is a consecrated representative of the policy of grievance that Iran is conducting concerning America. However, regardless of his attributes, it would be a mistake on the West’s part to take any kind of steps that would further isolate and alienate this strategically very important country. One must not consider all real grievances of the Persians to be imagined grievances. Remember Brzezinski’s idea, namely that Iran should not be referred to as ‘evil’ and the source of global danger--as Bush and Israel do--since the theocratic authoritarian regime, in the historical sense, has reached the state of decline.”
Andras Sztankoczy concluded in liberal-leaning Magyar Hirlap (6/28): “The Iranian elections have dealt a serious blow to the image of the world held by democracies.... The West continues to fail to understand the irrationality of the Islamic world, and it saw the Iranians the way it wanted to see them: an oppressed people thirsting, craving democracy. Some of the Iranians, of course, are like that, but by now it has become obvious that they are not the majority by far.... Now, Tehran’s nuclear ambitions look even more frightening. An ardent radical is always more dangerous than a corrupt bureaucrat: Ahmedinejad, together and mutually strengthening one another with the conservative religious leaders, might be inclined to compensate the voters with an aggressive foreign policy for the inevitably occuring domestic political and economic failures. Thus, paradoxically, voters’ expectations may make Iran more dangerous than the North Korean authoritarian regime. After the [past] weekend, the West must acknowledge if the Iranians do not want [the West’s] values; it must, at all cost, prevent Iran from becoming a threat to others.”
IRELAND: "Bono Wants Us All In Global Choir, But How Do We Find The Right Note?"
Rónán Mullen commented in the left-of-center Irish Examiner (6/29): "Iran’s new president is a hardliner--the former Mayor of Teheran, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. Already he has vowed to continue with his country’s nuclear weapons program. For once, Western leaders are united in their dismay.... But many people in the West do not fully see the gathering cloud.... Iran has allies who should know better. Rather than slow down or stop Iran’s bid to join the nuclear club, Russian President Vladimir Putin has effectively launched a nuclear alliance. Russia has an $800 million contract to build Iran’s first nuclear reactor and to provide all the nuclear fuel it needs.... Many people in the West are so convinced that Blair and Bush got it wrong in relation to Iraq that they will fail the more serious dilemma concerning Iran: we face a potentially enormous threat which, if genuine, requires fast action. But while being highly probable, it is not fully verifiable. What do we do? This is why those who see George W Bush as the Western world’s biggest problem are terribly mistaken. Bush will be gone in 3½ years. He may be replaced by a politician with a totally different outlook on world politics. Western democracy is all about change and variation.... In Iran, more than 1,000 people were prevented from running as candidates in the presidential elections.”
Independent VG averred (6/28): "There is reason to be depressed over the Presidential election in Iran--both for the Iranian people and for the rest of the world. The election was never democratic. The so-called Guardian Council made sure to weed out all candidates not complying with the priesthood’s strong religious demands.... Iran is a nation with many resources, both natural and human.... Iran’s incoming President, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, was mainly elected by poor and highly religious citizens. The first time around many reformist Iranians boycotted the election, so that the more reformist of the hand-picked candidates did not make it to the last round. This type of boycott is understandable since the election was manipulated in advance by the Guardian Council’s selection of candidates. The result, however, is catastrophic. The Iranians will feel the Mullah regime’s strong iron fist more than ever before. The relationship between Iran and the U.S. will be even tenser than it already is. The international effort to allay the Iranians’ nuclear ambitions will become more difficult. The world will become more unsafe.”
ROMANIA: "Ahmadinejad And Robin Hood"
Gabriela Anghel contended in independent Romania Libera (6/28): "Ahmadinejad’s populist speech...conquered the classes who elected a Robin Hood in order to get them out of unemployment and inflation.... Ahmadinejad’s election set back further the possibility of normalizing relations between Washington and Teheran.”
SPAIN: "Frustration In Iran"
Conservative ABC stressed (6/26): "Domestically, the election has underlined, on the one hand, the mobilization of conservative sectors close to the regime, and on the other, a palpable demobilization of the people, made clear by a participation of 59 percent of the electorate.... In the foreign scenario, this is not good news with regard to geostrategic prospects if we take into account the nuclear course taken by Teheran. In addition, the United States sees that the hypothetical connection with Iran's moderate wing is short-circuited."
SWEDEN: "Backward, March"
Independent, liberal Stockholm-based Expressen editorialized (6/27): "Darkness has come to Iran...and one could say that the election of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has refined the situation. The reformists have lost the struggle over the future; now conservative powers are facing the young and the world, and there are no cushions.... If Ahmadinejad and the clergy choose to pursue a very tough line towards their own people and the international community, there is risk of confrontation.... And nuclear implacability will no doubt provoke international counteractions. The U.S. and the EU likely would get together and bring the issue to the UNSC.... But there is no reason for the international community to begin to hammer out military plans against the Iranian regime. Such a solution of the crisis is neither realistic nor desirable. However, now is high time for the U.S. and the EU to discuss a common political strategy vis-à-vis Teheran. This summer there is a countdown in the negotiations with Iran. The U.S. must get seriously engaged for them to be successful. And Europe must give its attention to the idea that tough measures may be needed against Iran, including sanctions.”
"Iranian Populism Won The Elections"
Conservative Stockholm-based Svenska Dagbladet editorialized (6/27): "The most positive thing that can be said about the (Iranian) elections is that it is not the president who has the ultimate decision, but rather Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, the leader of the Guardian Council. This means that there will not be an immediate change in policy, i.e. not for the worse. However, in the long run the situation looks more ominous.... After the elections the ultra-conservatives have solid dominance, but for how long? There may be disappointment when it becomes apparent that Ahmadinejad will not be able to fulfill his promises about jobs and fairness. The question is also how students and others in the opposition will react to the attempts to curtail freedom, which they want more of?”
TURKEY: "The Iranian Conundrum"
Turker Alkan observed in the liberal-intellectual Radikal (7/1): “The new Iranian president talked about the worldwide spread of the Islamic revolution. It is extremely worrying if he is serious about ‘exporting revolution.’ But it remains to be seen whether this rhetoric is an indication of a shift in Iranian foreign policy or just domestic posturing.... Even if Ahmadinejad is serious about exporting the revolution, it is probably not an achievable goal. It can achieve nothing but create more trouble and increase the international isolation of Iran. The possibility that Ahmadinejad can put Iran on good terms with the U.S. and the Western world is very remote. At least he might present himself as a reconciliation figure for a while.... Turkey should watch Iran carefully and evaluate developments there in a cold-blooded way. We should be ready for every possibility. If the Iranian regime moves toward a more radical position, it will enhance Turkey’s importance in the eyes of the US and the EU.”
"Analyzing Iran With Ahmadinejad"
Sahin Alpay argued in the Islamist-oriented/intellectual Zaman (6/30): "I almost fully agree with the Bush administration’s characterization of the Iranian regime. I think Ahmadinejad exploits religion as much as Bush does. But I stand opposed to any attempt from the Bush administration to change the regime in Iran or Syria. Bush should have already taken a bitter lesson from the Iraqi experience. Iran has a theocratic regime, and Syria has a secular dictatorship. But the change of regimes should be done by the people. Foreign pressure and interventions do not help anything. On the contrary, they actually help those regimes to extend their lifespan. Isolating these countries (Iran and Syria) will not be a solution either. Ankara should maintain good relations with these problematic countries and try to soften their regimes through dialogue, diplomacy, and trade. This would include an effort to convince Iran to give up its plans to build a nuclear weapon."
"A Wait-and-See Tactic For Iran"
Sami Kohen wrote in the mainstream daily Milliyet (6/29): "Ahmedinejad’s comments at his first press conference showed that the president failed to give any concrete message about reforms, particularly on foreign policy. In fact, Ahmedinejad doesn’t have much experience and knowledge in this area. His remarks reflect Tehran’s well known positions. There is nothing new in Iran’s anti-U.S. stance or its insistence on continuing its nuclear program. Official circles in Washington expect Iran to take a tougher line, which might cause the U.S. to implement some economic sanctions against Iran. Others expect Ahmedinejad to display his revolutionary credentials on foreign policy issues and cause new tensions in the region by challenging the West. Let’s hope that developments won’t go in that direction. Such an attitude would not serve anyone’s interest, and would not help to resolve problems. Our earnest desire is for a new page to be turned in Iranian foreign policy under Ahmedinejad’s leadership. Even though this is a weak probability, we should still wait and see what happens before rushing to judgment."
"A Beginning Or The End For Iran?"
Haluk Sahin opined in the liberal-intellectual Radikal (6/29): "U.S. policy toward Iran undoubtedly became one of the factors that turned Ahmadinejad into an attractive figure for the masses. Speculation about U.S. war plans for Iran and the depiction of Tehran as part of an axis of evil clearly played a motivating role for voters who preferred Ahmadinejad. A foreign occupation can never be a preferable option for people regardless of their approach to the regime. It remains to be seen how Ahmadinejad will be able to meet the expectations of Iranian intellectuals, urban women, and the middle class. All of these groups were deeply disappointed by the failure of the reformist Khatemi.... With the election of Ahmadinejad, a new period is starting in Iran, and it will certainly be worth watching.”
"The New Face Of Iran"
Kamuran Ozbir wrote in the nationalist Ortadogu (6/29): “The election of an ultra-conservative figure as the Iranian president brings a lot of issues to the surface. The potential problems can be summarized as follows: Iran might end cooperation with the EU regarding its nuclear program. It might create new obstacles to the Middle East peace process by providing more financial aid to terrorist organizations. In addition, we could see some international efforts to destabilize Iran, particularly from the U.S.. When it comes to pressuring Iran, the U.S. will undoubtedly knock on Ankara’s door. Turkey could also start to feel uneasy if Iran once again begins its policy of exporting the Islamic revolution.”
"New Iranian President"
Fehmi Koru commented in pro-government/Islamist-oriented Yeni Safak (6/28): “The result of the Iran elections might seem surprising to some. But in fact it is not all that surprising, given that a well known ‘hand’ was trying to manipulate the election process. Right before the first round of elections, George Bush targeted the current political system in Iran. As a reaction to this, the people of Iran gathered around the figure that was ‘undesired’ by Washington. Rafsanjani was a spent political force, and a majority of people favored Ahmadinejad.... The new president’s first statements do not provide enough clues to draw conclusions regarding his policy line. His current views can be summarized as moderation, progress, and development. Most likely, Ahmadinejad will focus on domestic economic development and do his best to keep Iran away from foreign entanglements. … Given the current circumstances, it is very difficult to keep Iran out of conflict. The U.S. seems unwilling to accept Iran’s claim that its nuclear facilities are for peaceful purposes. The US also does not conceal its intention, if and when it feels more confident about the situation in Iraq, to make a radical move against Iran or to approve an attack by Israel.”
"The Facts About Iran"
Sami Kohen wrote in mainstream mass-appeal Milliyet (6/28): “During campaigning for the second round of the Iranian elections, reports received in Ankara suggested that the two candidates, Rafsanjani and Ahmedinejad, were running about even.... The victory of Rafsanjani was taken as a given in many western capitals. The Iranian voters apparently reacted to the ‘fait accompli’ presented by the West. This reaction played a significant role in the result of the election. But there are some other factors that helped carry Ahmedinejad to the presidency. The 49-year-old Ahmedinejad is a man of the people as well as a pro-Khomeini reformer. As he dealt with the problems of the people during his term as the Mayor of Tehran, he highlighted unemployment, poverty, and corruption. He promised to resolve these problems at the national level.... We should accept that these problems have a more practical meaning for the majority of Iranians than the abstract concepts of ‘reform’ and ‘democracy.’ Ahmedinejad received big material and moral support from the mullahs during the campaign, while reformists remained divided. Some reformists did not even bother to vote.... Many Iranians voted for Ahmedinejad was because they thought they couldn’t trust Rafsanjani. Others were angry with the previous administration for not keeping its promises.... At first glance, it looks as if Iran is going to change direction away from reforms back to its original dogmatic, revolutionary line. Such an evaluation is already being made in the U.S. and other western capitals. But over time, it is possible that Ahmedinejad could change and act more pragmatically. Obviously, a conservative like him could never be expected to make major reforms, but he might decide to adopt a more moderate and conventional stance. Whether he changes or not, it is in everyone’s interest not to be prejudiced on this issue. Otherwise, the mistaken evaluations about Iran that were made in the past will be repeated.”
"Iran Needs A Savior"
Erdal Safak observed in mass-appeal Sabah (6/26): “The result of the Iranian election is a major surprise for the world. At this point, there is also a serious disappointment and pessimism regarding the future of Iran.... There are various comments about the possible consequences of the Iranian presidential election result. Liberal Iranians believe that the result is like a tsunami that will take Iran back to the darkest days of the 1979 revolution. According to opposition figures and Iranians living abroad, this is the beginning of a series of events that will eventually bring down the mullahs’ regime. The EU, on the other hand, is unhappy because of diminishing hopes for a peaceful settlement to the Iranian nuclear issue. The U.S. is pleased because Washington now has more legitimate reasons to confront the Tehran regime. The result is in any event a very negative development for the people of Iran. They are the ones who will will suffer from the consequences. It seems they have lost all hope for change.”
ISRAEL: "Facing The Reality In Tehran"
Independent, left-leaning Ha'aretz editorialized (6/29): "Last weekend's election of the conservative Mahmoud Ahmadinejad as president of Iran is an important regional development. His positions are liable to increase Iran's hostility toward Israel even further, but they also create an opportunity to increase pressure on the Iranian regime to change its behavior.... He cannot be presented as a moderate who needs to be encouraged and strengthened. Immediately after his election, he pledged to continue Iran's nuclear program, expressed contempt for the U.S., and said that Israel's existence was 'illegal.' These positions could also have practical implications: for instance, accelerating the nuclear program or encouraging Hizbullah not to disarm. Israel hopes, rightly, that such statements will help expose the true face and intentions of the Iranian regime and thereby help to drum up international support against it. It will be easier to muster support against the extremist rulers in the absence of Khatami's moderate fig leaf. European diplomats say that it is necessary to wait and see how Ahmadinejad behaves, and that overly harsh sanctions would only push Iran into irresponsible behavior. Moreover, it will be difficult to impose economic sanctions on such a large oil exporter when global oil prices are so high. But Israel must continue its diplomatic efforts to neutralize the Iranian threats. However it is important that Israel not position itself at the front: it should remain behind the scenes and leave center stage to the great powers."
"Not A Betrayal"
Zvi Barel observed in independent, left-leaning Ha'aretz (6/28): "The Iranian public did not 'betray' Washington in last week's elections. It simply remained an Iranian public that first considers its government's internal policy, its economic situation and its national pride. It did not elect the man who let it down over the past eight years or promised new relations with America, but the man who promised jobs for 30 percent of the unemployed and welfare programs for the poor--just as any public anywhere else in the world does. Furthermore, the reformists did not have an election promise from Bush that they could wave around and vow that the U.S. would change its policy toward Iran if the president was elected from among them. In fact, Washington, which is now so frightened by the results of the election, did not do much at all to bolster the reformists over the past eight years, thus allowing Russia, China, India and Pakistan to become stronger allies and wield a greater influence over Iran. Is Iran more frightening than ever now? Not necessarily. Iran is not an insane state, and its citizens, despite the oppression, know how to rally the street into action when things are bad for them. They were the ones who elected more liberal representatives as a result of their disappointment with the representatives of the revolution; and they are the ones who changed the government now."
Alex Fishman commented in mass-circulation, pluralist Yediot Aharonot (6/26): "Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's surprising ascent to Iran's presidency is a gloomy testimony to the fact that Israel isn't sufficiently familiar about what's going on in Iran. That very surprise is a very worrying mishap, since Iran represents the key strategic threat to Israel, and that a situation in which a president is elected in Iran, and Israel and the West are surprised, is inconceivable.... The new Iranian regime will sharpen its view on the issue of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.... Hizbullah's extremist conduct...will become more forceful.... The Iranians will again try to...drag their feet [in the matter of their nuclear program. Will the Americans continue [to grant Europe a negotiating role]? Today, the Americans mainly chitchat about democratization in Iran. Perhaps the results of the elections will shake them up. At least one positive thing will come out of these elections: the West will no longer be able to hold on to the illusion of a reformist regime in Iran, which ought to be encouraged and brought closer. Starting today, there is a clear division between the 'bad ones' and the 'good ones.' The new regime in Iran won't renounce its nuclear program; it won't even have to pretend."
WEST BANK: "Tasks Facing Ahmadinejad After Winning The Iranian Presidential Elections"
Azmi Khawaja commented in independent Al-Ayyam (7/1): “It is fair to say that the parties that are most harmed by and have extreme positions against the victory of Ahmadinejad in the Iranian presidential elections are the U.S. and Israel. His triumph is considered a slap in the face to the new American policy toward the region. Also, as it has been said, the Americans have reaped the very extremism that they have sown.... The U.S. considers Tehran a supporter of terrorism and will never allow Iran to become a nuclear state. By adopting such a position, the U.S. is following a double standard policy. Israel has nuclear weapons and refuses to sign the Non-Proliferation Nuclear Weapons Treaty or allow its nuclear facilities to be inspected by international observers. The U.S. has also threatened to send Iran’s nuclear file to the Security Council if Tehran fails to reach an agreement with the EU. The U.S. has even attacked Ahmadinejad, considering the elections undemocratic. Such an American position stems from the fact that Ahmadinejad’s victory will cause Washington many problems and will strengthen the Islamists in the world, not to mention empowering Hizbullah in Lebanon.”
JORDAN: "Too Early To Pass Judgement"
The elite English-language Jordan Times declared (6/27): "The stunning landslide victory scored by the ultra-conservative Tehran Mayor Mahmoud Ahmadinejad...is causing shock waves in Iran, in the Middle East and indeed throughout the international community.... Such an overwhelming victory indicates widespread support for the hardline values with which the new president of Iran identifies.... Ahmadinejad's credentials give observers both within and outside Iran reason for fear.... His political platform for the future of his country is troubling.... Ahmadinejad also criticised what he considered as too many concessions made to the U.S. and the EU over Iran's nuclear programme. He believes that Iran has absolute right to obtain nuclear weapons. The new president's strongest points were the call for a fair distribution of Iranian wealth, that would reach the poor as well, and for stemming corruption. Whatever fears the election of the new Iranian president has elicited, one should always give him the benefit of the doubt.... There is every reason to believe that the new Iranian leader may soften his rhetoric on issues that disturb the international community, especially concerning the country's nuclear programme, and amend his stand on political, social and economic issues. Even more important is that real power in Iran remains in the hands with supreme leader Ayotallah Ali Khamenei. The outgoing Iranian president was unable to deliver much on his political and social promises because of Khamenei. The new president may experience the same constraints. Therefore, and despite the temptation, it may be too early for the world to pass final judgements on the new Iranian president. Time will be the judge."
LEBANON: "The Coming Four Years Will Prove A Test For Iranian Regime'
An editorial in the moderate English-language Daily Star read (6/27): "It is unsurprising that the Americans and others would criticize the vote in Iran as undemocratic, but according to the final results.... Ahmadinejad did win a majority of the votes and defeated moderate former President Hashemi Rafsanjani.... However, as he takes office, we will be witnessing the beginning of a new experiment for the Islamic Republic. The coming years will prove a test for the real face of the revolution. The Islamic Republic will have to redefine itself- both internally to Iranian citizens and externally to the international community. But the more important challenge will be addressing internal issues, since nothing in the external balance of power has changed.... If over the next four years, Ahmadinejad fails to meet the people’s demands for employment, reform and modernization, one would hope that the religious establishment will have the wisdom to recognize that a radical redefining of the role it professes is long over due.”
QATAR: "Give The Newly-elected Iranian Leader A Chance"
The semi-official English-language Gulf Times held (6/26): "Defying all forecasts, the hardline Tehran mayor Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has emerged victorious.... His landslide win against the better known Rafsanjani has forced analysts to redraw the political future of Iran. It is widely felt that it was Ahmadinejad’s appeal to the poor that caused the upset.... More than as a vote for his ideological position, his win may be seen as a call for a change in the status quo, a sign of deep economic frustration. The average Iranians were fed up with a situation where the gap between the rich and poor was getting wider by the day. Despite its huge oil wealth, the country has...a big gap between its rich and poor. For many, Rafsanjani was an establishment figure, a senior cleric who has always been at the top of the revolutionary elite. Iranians have now chosen an alternative, a younger man who talks in revolutionary language of redistributing the country’s oil wealth and re-nationalising the assets. But for liberals, Ahmadinejad’s ascent to power is worrying. It is expected he will want to reverse some of the social freedoms introduced by the reformists.... Once he takes up his new position in August, Ahmadinejad will be grappling with ground realities, which will be quite different from the campaign slogans. In all likelihood, the new Iranian leader is not expected to take a confrontational attitude towards the U.S..... Though the U.S. has called the election a flawed one, one and all have to respect the choice of the Iranian people.... It is but reasonable that the international community gives the new Iranian leader time and space to work for the good of his people, and global peace."
SAUDI ARABIA: "Black And White"
Abha’s moderate Al-Watan editorialized (6/26): "By the election of Ahmadinejad Iran returns, after eight years of reformist rule, to the rule of a single body of leadership and opinion.... Unlike Rafsanjani--who has huge wealth and wants to resume relations with the U.S.--Ahmadinejad--who firmly rejects liberalism, relations with the U.S., and has repeatedly confirmed Iran’s right to develop its nuclear program--will certainly rule Iran during the upcoming four years with a single body of leadership."
"The New Iran And The Old Image"
Riyadh's moderate Al-Jazira declared (6/26): "The divided reformists defeated themselves in the election and Ahmadinejad was able to change the rules of the game. He changed the struggle between reformists and conservatives to a struggle between haves and have-nots.... The new facts raise a lot of anticipation at all levels.... The reformists were disappointed, as their period of control failed to change their ambitions into reality....There is great anticipation at regional and international levels. The sensitive regional situation requires caution in order to restrain the tensions in Iraq. There is also international anticipation about the policies of the new regime regarding the Iranian nuclear program."
SYRIA: "Iranian Elections"
Ali Nasrallah commented in government-owned Al-Thawra (6/29): "Iran, which has more than once stressed its adherence to its right to possess nuclear technology for peaceful purposes, is not expected to give up this right.... The Iranian presidential elections have sent clear messages in more than one direction and on several levels. The most significant and eloquent of these messages was reiterating the rejection of the U.S. example of democracy. Through these messages, Iran has presented the contents of an advanced democratic experience of a special nature that can serve as a vivid example worth studying by scholars and researchers at universities, academies, and specialized research centers. Will the U.S. Administration stop its rejected attempts to interfere in the internal affairs of others? Will it learn from the Iranian lesson?"
UAE: "Dark Horse In Iran"
The English-language expatriate-oriented Khaleej Times editorialized (6/26): "The stunning victory of Teheran mayor Mahmoud Ahmadinejad over Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani in Iran's run-off shows how incredibly wrong the world has been.... How the dark horse turned the tables on his more experienced opponent is an amazing tale of realpolitik and sheer grit. Ahmadinejad’s image of a humble and honest public official also might have contributed to his landslide victory.... Signs of change had been there all along. Only we failed to notice them.... The new leader of Iran has talked of creating a 'modern, advanced and Islamic' role model for the world in an attempt to ease apprehensions about the fate of ongoing political reforms and liberalisation. How serious Ahmadinejad is...will become clear in the days and months to come. However, no leader of Iran can afford to ignore the popular resolve and desire for change and reforms.... The new leader of Iran would ignore this craving for change in his people at his own peril. The post-Revolution generation cannot be sustained forever on the diet of anti-West rhetoric. They want to see real and meaningful political and economic reforms that can make a difference to them. To do this, Ahmadinejad does not have to break free from his Islamic moorings. Is that asking too much?"
CHINA: "Iran Election Brings Three Challenges, The Bush Administration Feels It’s Difficult To Solve"
Feng Junyang commented in official Xinhua Daily Telegraph (Xinhua Meiri Dianxun) (6/28): "The Bush administration will have a long and severe fight with the new Iranian government this summer. First, the Iranian attitude on the nuclear issue will become tougher. Second, during the recent couple of months, the Iranian government has adopted a series of conciliatory moves with the U.S. If the new government could continue the cooperative attitude, Washington will feel relieved of pressure but this is unlikely. If the U.S. continues to pressure Iran, it is likely that Iran would ignore armed Iranian insurgents entering Iraq and the U.S. would feel more pressure. Third, the election of the new Iranian president is a strike against the U.S. Middle East peace plan. It renders all the previous achievements of the U.S. fruitless. His election shows conservative politics still have wide support in the Middle East. If the U.S. rashly promotes democracy in the Middle East, it will arouse antipathy in the region.”
CHINA (HONG KONG SAR): "Give Iran's New Leader A Chance To Show His Worth"
The independent English-language South China Morning Post said (6/27): "The results (of Iran's election) are a cause for some concern. Victory went to the ultra-conservative Tehran mayor Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. He convincingly defeated his pro-reform opponent and perceived favorite, Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani. The hardliner's win will increase worries about the nation's nuclear program and its alleged role in sponsoring terrorism.... Accusations that the election was undemocratic are well-founded--clerics prevented more than 1,000 from running for election. But Iranians were also given the possibility of reform or jobs and more food on their tables, and they overwhelmingly chose the latter. But there is little evidence of interference with the process. The worries about the direction in which Mr. Ahmadinejad will take Iran are understandable. He should, however, be given a chance to show his worth. He is not the choice of many governments around the world--but he is the choice of the Iranian people."
JAPAN: "Will Iran's Political Pendulum Swing Back To Revolutionary Roots?"
Liberal Asahi observed (6/26): "The Iranian revolution took place 26 years ago. Although there has been no real change in the country's system of unified religious and political authority in which Islamic leaders hold supreme power, society itself has steadily westernized. Thus the outcome of the recent Iranian election in which a hardline conservative became president was quite unexpected. Tehran Mayor Ahmadinejad won a landslide victory in Friday's presidential run-off election. The 48-year-old hardliner campaigned on a return to the basics of the 1979 revolution. Ahmadinejad's stance is also a scathing censure of the reform route mapped out by present President Khatami, who was elected to the presidential office eight years ago. In this way, Tehran's political pendulum first swung from revolution to reform, and now, if Ahmadinejad has his way, it appears ready to move back to the revolutionary roots that were in place three decades ago. The new president should distribute the nation's oil wealth, as promised during his presidential campaign, so as to respond to the people's hopes for social reform. Further isolation of Iran from the global community would cause a new element of uncertainty in the Middle East. The world community should spare no effort to expand dialogue with Iran, including the country's nuclear ambitions."
INDONESIA: "Ahmadinejad, Nuclear, And The U.S."
Muslim intellectual daily Republika (7/1): In an op-ed piece by Deputy Chairman of The Indonesian Society for Middle East Studies, Smith Alhadar, commented: “Iran’s government is now under the control of conservative groups, either in legislatives, executives, or judicial, which makes it easy for Ahmadinejad to run his government with a conservative vision. However, his domestic policies would be fruitless without efforts to improve relations with countries, which have a large influence in the world, such as the U.S. and the EU. If he were determined to continue carrying out a uranium enrichment program, which would disappoint the EU and the U.S., this would put Iran into a critical situation… Ahmadinejad might also create tensions if he forced to return the social conditions in Iran to Imam Khomeini’s era. To repress once again the freedom that Iran’s people had gained from Khatami’s government would be counterproductive to efforts to develop a more advanced Iran, as Ahmandinejad’s promised in his campaign. Therefore, what he must do is make an attempt to improve relations with the U.S. and compromise with the EU on the nuclear issue.”
“Ahmadinejad And Iran-U.S. Relations”
Indriana Kartini, a researcher at the Political Research Center of the Indonesian Science Institutecommented in leading independent Kompas (7/1): “Ahmadinejad’s victory was warmly welcomed by the Iranian people. However, the U.S. welcomed it coldly and skeptically. George W. Bush mocked the democratic process in Iran by saying that the ninth presidential election in Iran failed to meet the key requirement of democracy, since the presidential candidates are decided by several people in authority and who have veto rights.... The U.S. persistently put pressures on Iran, which is believed to be developing nuclear weapons. With this regard, the elected president Ahamadinejad asserted that Iran would continue its nuclear program for peaceful purposes and that Iran has a right to access all nuclear facilities.... Ahmadinejad asserted that to become an advanced nation, Iran does not need the U.S. And the U.S. will also give strong responses, even to the point taking military measures in the form of air strikes to end Iran’s nuclear program.... It seems that black clouds will continue overcast the Tehran-Washington sky.”
"The Iranians Have Spoken"
Muslim intellectual Republika commented (6/27): "Ahmedinejad’s victory has clearly struck the U.S., because besides having provided a large amount of funding to obstruct what they refer to as the ultra-conservatives, the U.S. has also failed to impose its system on Iran. The U.S. very much expected that the presidential candidate they supported would be able to bring Iran to follow its desires--both political and economic. The U.S. must learn to respect the democratic decision that the Iranians have made by choosing Ahmedinejad. To the Iranians, Ahmedinejad has become a symbol for their distaste against the U.S. They realize that they elected Ahmedinejad because they did not want to fall into the U.S. grip. That is an attitude that everyone must respect.”
MALAYSIA: "Fulfil Will Of People, Not The West"
Malay-language government-influenced Utusan Malaysia maintained (6/28): "No one paid attention to [Iranian president-elect] Mahmud Ahmadinezhad during the campaigns of the Iranian presidential elections. For the Western media, the emergence of the former Tehran mayor did not need special coverage. What they were interested in reporting for their daily coverage was news about the former president, Akbar Hashemi-Rafsanjani. Akbar was adored by the Western media because his top manifesto was to build and improve relations with the West, particularly the U.S. For the West, improving ties with them means reform or changes.... As usual, the West cannot admit any victory which does not comply with their will. Furthermore, the victory of Mahmud will put the West in a difficult situation in dealing with the nuclear issue and the leadership of Islamic Iran.... Mahmud's victory as Iranian president reflects the real will of the people. The mandate of the people is important proof. His victory is not fraud, and that is the will of democracy."
THAILAND: "Reform Completely Dead"
A commentary in mass-appeal Daily News read (6/28): "It’s a major shock when the hardline group won the Iranian presidential election with overwhelming votes. It was an effective eradication of reformers.... That Iran has turned toward ultrarightism tells us that the already tense nuclear talks will be more problematic since Iran will adopt a harsher position. Hosts Germany, France and the U.K.’s uphill task to undermine Iran’s nuclear aspirations will be several times more difficult.”
INDIA: "Iran Takes A Turn To The Right"
Centrist The Hindu editorialized (6/30): “With conservative candidate Mahmoud Ahmadinejad winning the presidential election in Iran, hardliners in the theocratic establishment control all levers of power in the country.... The vote against Rafsanjani appears to have contributed substantially to his opponent's margin of victory. It is ironic that Ahmadinejad should be the beneficiary of this negative vote since he is in reality an establishment loyalist.... There is no guarantee that he will abide by his promise not to reverse the modest advances towards political, social, and cultural liberalism made during the eight-year tenure of President Mohammed Khatami.... The monopoly the right wing of the clergy has exercised for years, while giving reformers limited space for a short period, is a major cause of rot in the system. The President-elect's promise of reform will not be taken seriously if he does not stand up to this powerful segment of his support base. Iran's foreign and national security policies are likely to remain largely unchanged since the elected government has only a limited say in these matters. The office of the Supreme Religious Leader is likely to continue with the hard-line approach on issues such as engagement with the West and the pursuit of a nuclear program. There will be a difference once Ahmadinejad and his cabinet are sworn in.”
Columnist S. Nihal Singh analyzed in the centrist Asian Age (6/30): “In essence, Ahmadinejad’s victory is a vote for change whereas his opponent, Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, represented the often corrupt establishment and his effort to present himself as a pragmatist ready to restore relations with the United States was construed as hypocritical.... By any yardstick, the Iranian election result is a striking development, perhaps the most significant since the 1979 Islamic Revolution. Ahmadinejad is the first non-cleric President in 24 years and for the first time all instruments of power, elective and theocratic, are in the hands of so-called hardliners. In a wider regional sense, the outcome is proof of a simple fact: given free choice, the majority in West Asia is increasingly tilting towards people and parties seen as honest and sincere, despite and because of their religious affiliations.... Reformists in Iran are downcast.... Indeed, Ahmadinejad will meet his greatest challenges on the home front. The Iranian establishment has acquired both wealth and power, often through ostensible do-good foundations. As a hardliner, he will be trusted more than Khatami ever was, but the establishment will resist real change if it sees its privileges and wealth being whittled down. Beyond a point, the theocracy will split and how the supreme leader behaves will probably determine the extent to which the new President can succeed.... The stalemate of the past eight years in which a reform-minded President was checkmated at every turn by a zealous conservative theocracy is over. There was a time when President Khatami seemed to be in the ascendancy. It proved a false dawn as the theocracy strengthened its hands and essentially took over Parliament in the last election.”
"A Conservative, Not A Mullah"
Kanchan Gupta provided this analysis in the Pro-BJP right-of-center The Pioneer (6/29): “The West's immediate response to the election outcome has been along predictable lines. The U.S. has denounced the poll, describing it as "rigged" and "managed".... Ayatollah Khameini and his fellow clerics have the final say on all...issues. Second, Ahmadinejad is no fire-breathing, Quran-thumping mullah in flowing robes and beard. He wears working class clothes and speaks the poor man's language. Instead of pandering to human rights activists in London, Brussels and Washington, he communicates with the masses, promising them the basic necessities to keep body and soul together. True, Ahmadinejad has served the 'Islamic Revolution' of 1979 as a vigilante...but that does not necessarily make him one with the clergy. On the contrary...he was widely seen to be poor but honest, conservative but eager for social change.... Ahmadinejad's victory marks a departure from 25 years of mullah raj. Whether he is able to retain the distinction between his conservatism and the clergy's Islamic zealotry remains to be seen..... Egged on by the clergy, President Ahmadinejad could turn the clock back for Iran.”
Centrist The Asian Age editorialized (6/29): “The outcome of the presidential elections in Iran has taken both the Iranians and the world at large by surprise.... The reformist movement, initiated five years ago and blessed by the outgoing President Mohammed Khatami, lost steam somewhere on the way and may now have to yield ground to religious fundamentalism.... Ahmadinejad’s flamboyant disdain of Iran’s relations with the United States on the ground that the path of progress chalked by his country did not depend on good relations with Washington is unrealistic in the extreme. Iran may not need the U.S., but the Bush administration is currently obsessed with Iran and its nuclear policies and continues to regard the country as one of the 'axis of evil'. That does not make for a smooth run for the presidency. The Tehran-Washington confrontation is unlikely to end merely because the new President wants to distance himself from the U.S. The final say, however, would rest with Iran’s supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khameini ... Khameini enjoys immense popularity as a spiritual leader." "Iran's New Course" The pro-economic-reforms Economic Times expressed the view (6/29): "The nervousness generated across the world by the landslide victory of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in the Iranian presidential election has been the only predictable aspect of that poll. The hard line mayor of Tehran was far from being the favorite.... What most commentators missed though, was that Iran was in the middle of an anti-incumbency wave.... In the process, the Iranian voter has created at least two revolutions within the Islamic revolution. With the presidency moving into the hands of the 48-year-old Ahmadinejad, there has been a significant generational change. More important, the vote could also be a pointer to a fundamental change in economic priorities within Iran.... Understanding the consequences of Ahmadinejad’s election calls for more than knee-jerk reactions. Expectations that the nuclear talks are doomed to fail, for instance, ignore the fact that these negotiations have been under the direct control of Iran’s supreme leader, Ayotallah Ali Khamenei. Ahmadinejad’s influence on them are likely to be marginal. Similarly, assumptions that the new President will necessarily reverse the reforms in favor of women may be much too facile."
"A 'Hard-Line' Answer To America's Bullying Tactics"
The Mumbai edition of left-of-center Marathi daily Mahanagar editorialized (6/29): "Half of Iran’s 67 million population constitutes the youth and therefore this `young’ segment was expected to re-elect former president and pro-reform leader Rafsanjani. However, the popular vote surprisingly went to the newcomer and hardliner Ahmadinejad.... Ahmadinejad is perceived by the Iranians as a tough and assertive leader who can fight back U.S. domination and insolence. As one voter put it, ‘I find Ahmadinejad as someone who has the power to look the U.S. in the eye.'"
"Iran On A Hardcore Path"
Independent Calcutta Bengali Anadabazar Patrika editorialized (6/28): "Though the Iranian President is not a religious leader, he is quite radical. Secondly, the policy planning process of the country will be influenced to a large extent by the directives of Khameini. The present tendency of the majority of the people indicates that the country is unlikely to move toward liberalization. America had predicted that Ahmadinejad would not be accepted by the new generation. But scores of jubilant young supporters were observed celebrating...in different places. It is also illogical to think that the leader, who has come to power with a resounding victory, does not have the backing of youth.... The current situation in Iran makes it clear that anti-Americanism will remain active there too. The war-torn Middle East may seek protection through radical Islamic fundamentalism. This is a matter of concern.”
“Extremists' Victory In Iran"
Mumbai-based centrist Gujarati evening newspaper Janmabhoomi stated (6/28): “The election of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad as the President of Iran in the just concluded elections has once again established the supremacy of extremist forces there.... Addressing his first press conference after his election, he said that he will not encourage terrorism and that Iran under his leadership will continue to work on nuclear technology for developmental purposes. It is an implicit message to the U.S. that Iran will no longer succumb to its bullying tactics.”
The nationalist Hindustan Times opined (6/28): "There will be a tendency to look at the outcome of the elections in Iran as being the victory of `hardliners' and defeat of the moderate `reformists.' The truth is that these categories cannot easily be applied to the Islamic republic.... However, in the context of the lack of democracy in most of the Islamic world, the election of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad was a democratic exercise; even with the caveat that `democracy' does not quite have the same meaning in Iran as it does in the rest of the liberal democratic world.... Ahmadinejad, a former mayor of Teheran, and the first president who does not have a clerical background, may be seen as a `hardliner' but what worked for him was his image of being a humble man of the masses, in contrast to his rival Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani who was president between 1989 and 1997. To this was added the former's skill in turning the election from a battle between the reformists and the conservatives, to one between the rich and the poor. The elections have been denounced by the U.S. and could deepen the rift between Teheran and Washington. But after Iraq, the U.S. is unlikely to have much stomach for confrontation with Iran. This could, in fact, be an opportunity for Iran to move away from the nuclear issue and concentrate its efforts on economic growth in order to meet the expectations of the millions who voted for the new president. This would strengthen the hands of the EU and countries like India that want to engage oil-rich Iran in a mutually profitable relationship.”
The centrist Times Of India remarked (6/28): "The pendulum has swung once again in Iran. When Mohammed Khatami swept to power in the elections of 1997 he embodied the aspirations of Iranians hoping for reform of the country's theocracy. Today, the reformists have been thrown out of almost all positions of power, with dark horse Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, Teheran's former hardline mayor, completing the process by triumphing over reformist-backed presidential candidate Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani. Ahmadinejad's victory will have international repercussions. One view is that Iran's foreign or nuclear policies are decided by 'consensus,' meaning the clerical establishment presided over by Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. This is true only up to a point, as even the clerics are wont to use elections as a weather vane. They will, in all likelihood, read Ahmadinejad's victory as a signal of support for a hard stance on international issues. It means that resolving the stand-off on Iran's nuclear program just got a little more difficult. Khatami made promises but could not stand by the reformists.... While reformists spoke of political reform and social liberalisation their Achilles heel turned out to be the economy, which has been stagnating for a considerable period. As in many oil-rich countries the benefits don't trickle down to the poor, and Ahmadinejad benefited from anti-incumbency sentiment. President Bush's pressure on Iran on the nuclear issue, as well as invasion of neighboring Iraq, may also have been on voters' minds. Iranians are proudly nationalistic and may reject being seen as part of an axis of evil, or foregoing the nuclear option. Nevertheless, Iranian youth is significantly more westernized than even before, and it is doubtful whether a return to the past is possible. Ahmadinejad's government will, in the end, have to meet the same tests as Khatami's.”
Mumbai-based centrist Marathi-language Sakaal opined (6/27): "The victory of the supposedly hard-line Tehran mayor Mahmud Admadinejad in Iran’s presidential run-off is quite a shock for the Western world, especially the hegemonic policies of the U.S. This election is looked upon as a crushing blow to the pro-reform leader and former President Ali-Akbar Hashemi-Rafsanjani.... America is quite bemused by Iran’s choice of Admadinejad.... Rafsanjani has been at the forefront of Iranian politics since the 1979 Islamic revolution and has been instrumental in many democratic measures in Iran. So, the U.S. needs to reason out why Iranians have chosen a relatively unknown conservative as their leader.... The whole of the Western world has doubts about Iran’s nuclear program.... And that has caused strong resentment against the U.S. here.... Common people in most of the countries in the Middle East, not just Iran, are strongly against U.S. supremacy, especially after America’s pre-emptive strike against Iraq. The mayhem and general lawlessness in Iraq in the last two years scares them further. They feel that the U.S. will use socio-political reform as a ruse to gain control over the Middle East, just as it did in the case of Iraq. The U.S. attack on Iraq has sent an overt message to the people in the Middle East-not just Islam, but the very lives of common people are in danger. The latest election results in Iran are a mere reflection of the widespread anti-reform sentiment in the Middle East.”
"Extremists Rejoice Over The Election: America Worried"
Mumbai-based Gujarati-language centrist Gujaratmitra held (6/27): "America is deeply concerned over the election of conservative Tehran mayor Mahmoud Ahmadinejad as the new president of Iran. This may lead to more tension between both countries as the United States is pressuring Iran to dismantle its nuclear infrastructure.... America’s effort to convince Iran to not go ahead with its nuclear plan has failed to succeed. America is solely responsible for the present state of affairs in Iran. How can the U.S. distinguish between allowing one nation to possess nuclear technology and not allowing another nation the same? It was very much under the watchful eyes of America that Pakistan became a nuclear nation. Besides this, the U.S. remained a mute spectator despite knowing of Pakistani nuclear scientist A.Q. Khan’s clandestine supply of nuclear technology to nations like Iran and North Korea. It was the same America that had joined hands with Iraq and instigated war against Iran. America has described Iran’s elections as undemocratic. However, it didn’t raise any objections to the elections that were stage-managed in Pakistan. This policy of double standards has backfired on America. The new Iraqi President has announced [the intention] to make Iran a strong, powerful and an ideal Islamic nation. Now with Iraq and Afghanistan, the U.S. will have to ready itself to face new challenges from Iran.”
"Poll Results In Iran"
Independent Urdu Inqilab stated (6/27): “The election of a relatively not so well-known Ahmadinejad as the next President of Iran signifies the feelings and aspirations of the majority of the Iranian people in the prevailing international situation after 9/11 and especially in the face of the American hostility against the country. While the West as a whole, including the U.S., is wailing over the poll outcome, the Iranian people have refused to be misled by the western propaganda and voted in favor of a person who they expected to lead them firmly in meeting the challenges posed by the inhuman U.S. policies.... the Iranian people expect their new leader to be capable of protecting and defending their country against foreign offensive. We pray success for him in meeting the expectation of his people and the Muslim world.”
PAKISTAN: “Election Of Ahmedinejad: Possible Effects And Repercussions”
Irshad Ahmad Haqqani wrote in an op-ed in leading mass circulation Urdu Jang (6/28): "The election of Dr. Ahmedinejad is one of the many ‘mini revolutions’ that the Iran has witnessed since 1979. His election is a mini revolution from the economic, and not the cultural, point of view. It would be premature to comment that up to what extent he would be able to implement the slogan of economic justice that he has raised in Iran but no doubts should be cast over the sincerity of his intention on this count. On the nuclear issue, he has repeated the stand of the sitting government but in more stringent words which may estrange the European Union. As a result U.K., Germany and France might withdraw themselves from the ongoing negotiations with Iran thereby paving way for the U.S. to take the issue of Iran’s nuclear capability to the UN Security Council."
"Iranian President's Insistence on Sovereignty"
An editorial note in center-right Urdu Pakistan decalred (6/28): "The courageous and firm tone that President Ahmadinejad adopted while announcing continuation of his country's nuclear program and they way he declared relations with America as unimportant is worth paying attention to by students of history. This tone and tenor can come only from the leader who is truly elected by the free will of his nation, who would have the full backing of his people and who would not need foreign crutches to stay in power."
"U.S. Likes Elections, But Not Always The Winners"
Karachi's center-left, independent, English-language Dawn observed (6/28): "The hostile U.S. reaction to the election of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad as Iran’s next president opens President Bush to the charge he supports elections only when they produce winners he likes, analysts critical of the administration say."
"Iranian Presidential Elections: Demonstration Of Iranian Nation's Love For Democracy"
Independent Din noted (6/27): "The U.S. reaction to the Iranian elections--even in the softest of terms--can only be termed as most inappropriate and unwise. This reaction also negates the spirit of democracy. The question is: what international law allows the sole superpower to show such and aggressive and negative reaction to the voters' verdict. When Ahemedinejad's election has also been accepted by his opponents, no foreign power has the right to give negative remarks to it. These U.S. remarks have further sullied its pro-democracy image.... The [U.S] statement that the Iranian electoral system is faulty does not hold any water. This has been said about the American electoral process by Noam Chomsky. Echoes of rigging in the U.S. election still resonate in the media.... Accepting the Iranian nation's verdict, America must now understand that the aware and conscious Iranian nation does not trust America's imperialist, anti-democracy and anti-humanity activities."
BANGLADESH: "The Victory Of A Hard-liner In Iran"
Pro-opposition Bangla-language Janakantha commented (6/28): "The victory of Ahamadinejad has closed the way for reformists to come to the government. The victory also puts the country at risk of returning to the days of tight restrictions following the Islamic Revolution. It is a question whether the election will carry the democratic system forward or backward.... One thing should be kept in mind: if the Iranian people want reforms, they cannot be fooled with threats from the Guardian Council or President Khatamei. Those who have ousted an autocratic rule will have to face the same consequences if they themselves establish similar autocratic rule."
UGANDA: "Lessons From Iran Election"
The state-owned New Vision editorialized (6/27): "The hard-line mayor of Tehran, Mahmood Ahmadinejad, was over the weekend declared winner of Iran’s presidential election, beating moderate and former president Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani. The vote was a shock because it came when social reforms were beginning to take root in Iran and relations with the U.S. were at their lowest. The world expected an advocate of more social reforms and improved international ties, but voters had the final say. There are lessons to learn from the vote. U.S. policies in the Arab world, the Iraq war and threats to Iran over its nuclear program have increased resentment among Arabs. When people are pressed against the wall they tend to fight harder than give in easily. Iranians probably wanted someone to counter U.S. threats. Therefore, the way the U.S. approaches Iran, under the new government will determine whether there will be peace in the region or more bloodshed. The U.S. should refrain from confrontational language and open threats and adopt conventional diplomacy."
CANADA: "Jobs, Not Bombs, Are Iran's Big Need"
The liberal Toronto Star observed (6/28): "Sheer popular frustration, not an excess of Islamic revolutionary zeal, has vaulted Tehran's deeply conservative mayor, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, into Iran's weak presidency. Given the narrow choices forced on them by Iran's unelected ruling clerics, voters last Friday preferred Ahmadinejad, a young working-class firebrand of austere habits who promised more jobs, better housing, clean government, less inflation and a fair cut of the nation's wealth, over Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, an aging former president and business tycoon who represented the status quo. While this election polarized Iranians, people voted pragmatically, with their economic interests uppermost in mind. They want a bigger share of Iran's vast oil revenues, and they want jobs. That should be no surprise. Still, the outcome has rattled Washington and other foreign capitals because it may signal tough days ahead with the world's fourth largest oil exporter.... Some observers see in Ahmadinejad's win a 'radicalization' of the regime. But whoever became president was fated to have scant influence on political reform and military policy. It will be Khameini and his allies who decide if Iran reverses course.... While Ahmadinejad's victory leaves conservatives controlling every Iranian institution, his ascendancy is nonetheless a vote for change. People feel the revolution has let them down. And rightly so. Demonizing Iran as an 'axis of evil' never made sense. But Tehran's clerics do their people no good by vilifying Americans, pursuing illicit nuclear ambitions, impeding Mideast peace and violating human rights. Two in three Iranians are 25 or younger. They do not remember the 1979 revolution. They grew up in a global village. Extremism and isolation will not better their lives. Iran must re-engage with the world, not shun it."
"The Challenge Of Iran"
The nationalist Ottawa Citizen opined (6/28): "Mr. Ahmadinejad cruised to victory as a populist, promising Islamic government where many are concerned about a slide into Western cultural decadence, and to pay stipends out of national oil revenues where an estimated 30 per cent of the workforce is unemployed.... The fact that Iranians chose the greater of two evils is bad enough, but it matters immediately to the West because Mr. Ahmadinejad also promises to renew Iran's nuclear program. It's ostensibly to generate electricity, but since international inspectors haven't been allowed to view all the facilities they want to, there's no way to be sure. Iran's refusal to let outsiders see its facilities has made negotiations among it, France, Germany and Britain slow. In case anyone thinks the United Nations could help, Mr. Ahmadinejad is on record saying it's stacked against the Muslim world. In this case, negotiations can only work if there's a credible threat from the West that Iran's nuclear program can be shut down by force if necessary.... There could be no fiction that Iran's people would welcome invaders with flowers. There may, in fact, be no troops to do the invading: Canada has none ready to go there, the United States has its hands full in Iraq, and there's probably no stomach for another war among Britons or any of the other Western allies. Perhaps the best, though still faint, hope is that Mr. Ahmadinejad will bungle the presidency and Iranians will unite under a broader opposition than the country has seen before. Failing that, Western leaders, including PM Paul Martin, will have to devise a plan in a hurry for dealing with Iran's surging global ambitions--or get used to having another unfriendly member in the nuclear club."
ARGENTINA: "Lessons of Iran's Elections"
An editorial in leading Clarin read (6/30): "The rise of Islamic fundamentalism is a complex phenomenon that cannot be explained by a few variables. But a determining one is, undoubtedly, the frustration of the people and the failure of the elites to satisfy the elementary needs of their population.... The people of Iran voted heavily for Ahmadinejad, a fundamentalist populist who promises rigor and cleanliness--in the best style of the charismatic totalitarian leaders--and a hard liner vis-à-vis the U.S. It's difficult to predict what we may expect from Iran's new President and his 'Islamizing' projects in a society with important sectors already overwhelmed by the religious impositions of everyday life. But, most likely, there will be an increase in the tension of bilateral relations with the U.S. and Israel that will affect international relations as a whole. This will be the cost of the failure of Iran's moderate elites and, to a certain extent, of the U.S. policy of confrontation with Iran, the country of the ayatollahs."
"Toppling The Chess-board"
Claudio Mario Aliscioni argued in leading Clarin (6/27): "It is highly likely to say that Iranians, at last, voted for someone who spoke frankly to them on the price of bread and milk. But, although most of them voted 'thinking about their wallet', there are other key aspects in Iran's recent elections. Around 23% of the electorate didn’t vote, when it had done so in the past elections, voting for the reformists. Tired of the inefficacy of their ballots to change the system, this sector decided to 'topple the chess-board.' It was a contradictory boycott: it tried to de-legitimize the regime, but it also opened the door to the unexpected victory of ultra-Conservative Mahmud Ahmadinejad."
BRAZIL: "Fundamentalist Victory"
Liberal Folha de S. Paulo editorialized (6/29): “The victory of ultra-Conservative Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in the Iranian presidential elections is one of those facts that may cause surprise, but seems to make sense when analyzed a posteriori. His victory represented the defeat of the reformist movement, whose main figure, Muhammad Khatami, will leave his post after two terms. Some discuss if there was fraud in the elections or not. It is very likely that fraud may have occurred, but there were no denunciations of massive falsifications capable of altering the returns.... The fact that may have been determining for the fundamentalist victory was the disappointment of the urban population with the reforming process.... Frustration with the reforms is an old phenomenon, but it was intensified during Khatami’s second term, when his popularity was replaced by discredit and distrust. What remains to be seen is what type of government Ahmadinejad will adopt. According to his rhetoric, he will be perfectly tuned with the ultra-conservative religious who have been dominating the power since 1979.”
"Hard Liners’ Victory In Iran Disturbs The Oil Market"
Business-oriented Valor Economico (6/28) editorialized: “The election of ultra-conservative Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is an interruption of the incipient process of liberalization in Iran as well as another obstacle among the enormous difficulties being faced by U.S. diplomacy in the world’s most unstable region.... Ahmadinejad provoked waves of uneasiness with the speech he delivered after the victory.... Iran is developing a nuclear program that causes apprehension both in the U.S. and among its allies. The only chance to ensure that it will not be used for military purposes depends on the European nations’ negotiations with the Iranian government.... Setbacks such as those in Iran are the consequence of the U.S. double policy in the Middle East.... Seen as a whole, the setback in Iran and the chaos in Iraq does not augur well for the Bush administration. Pressures towards democratization, which may bring better fruits than the diplomacy of force, take a long time to produce results--and they may not necessarily please Washington.”
COSTA RICA: "Iran’s Confusing Panorama"
Costa Rica’s most influential daily, La Nacion, editorialized (6/28): “It would be a terrible mistake to take for granted the importance and implications of Iran’s elections results, even though they had very low turnout, the most rigid candidate, Mahmud Ahmadinejad, won by 62% over his competitor, moderate former president Akbar Hachemi Rafsanjani. The president-elect promised to fight corruption, decrease poverty and unemployment and to handle the oil industry in a more transparent way. This is why his victory does not necessarily show a fundamentalist popular support..... What worries young people, women and the most modern sectors in the country is back off from the last years' advances, especially in social flexibility, individual tolerance and freedom of expression.... But what is more worrying for the international community is the trend the Iranian nuclear program will follow."
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