Iran Election Guide

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Entries in Israel (38)


Iran's Election: Reactions Around the World

microphone07After the purported re-election of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad as the President of Iran, a selection of reactions both from inside Iran and from the rest of the world:

Mir Hossein Mousavi, Reformist Candidate:

“I'm warning I will not surrender to this dangerous charade. The result... will jeopardize the pillars of the Islamic Republic and will establish tyranny.”

Mehdi Karroubi, Reformist Candidate:

“Evidently the results and the institution coming out of such a vote count is illegitimate and unacceptable.”

Mohsen Rezai, Conservative Candidate:

“It is obvious that the person who has been declared president following the legal procedures is the president of all Iranian people. I will support him in a bid to prevent any delays in the provision of services to the people.”

Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, Supreme Leader:

“The chosen and respected president is the president of all the Iranian nation and everyone, including yesterday's competitors, must unanimously support and help him.”

Hamid Karzai, Afghan President:

“The selection of Dr Ahmadinejad with a definitive majority of the Iranian people's vote is a suitable selection for the continuous progress and welfare of the Iranian nation.”

Avigdor Lieberman, Israeli Foreign Minister:

“Given the continued Iranian policies, and particularly following the victory and continued rule of Ahmadinejad, the international community must continue to act in an uncompromising manner to stop Iran from going nuclear, stop its support for terror organisations and its undermining of Middle East stability.”

Amr Moussa, Arab League Secretary-General:

“We hope that the next term will witness progress on the relations between Iran and the Arab world and co-operation in establishing peace in the Middle East.”

Bashar Al-Assad, Syrian President:

Expressed "his faith that relations and co-operation will be reinforced between Syria and Iran."

Ali Al-Dabbagh, Iraqi Government Spokesman:

“Iraq will deal with any choice that is decided by the Iranian people. Iraq hopes to maintain friendly relations with Iran.”

Fawzi Salloukh, Lebanese Foreign Minister:

“We hope that the success of President Ahmadinejad in Iran will be in the service of peace and calmness in the Middle East.”

Fawzi Barhum, Hamas Spokesman:

“The results of the Iranian election are a victory for Iranian democracy, the Iranian people, the leaders and all parties and factions that participated.”

Hillary Clinton, US Secretary of State:

“We are monitoring the situation as it unfolds in Iran. But we, like the rest of the world, are waiting and watching to see what the Iranian people decide. We obviously hope that the outcome reflects the genuine will and desire of the Iranian people.”

EU Presidency:

“The presidency is concerned about alleged irregularities during the election process and post-election violence that broke out immediately after the release of the official election results on 13 June 2009. The presidency hopes that the outcome of the presidential elections will bring the opportunity to resume dialogue on the nuclear issue and clear up the Iranian position in this regard.”

French Foreign Ministry:

“We have noted the results of the presidential elections in Iran as announced by the Iranian authorities, which returned Mr Ahmadinejad for a second term as head of the Iranian government, and that they are contested by two of the candidates. We are continuing to follow the situation closely.”

Lawrance Cannon, Canadian Foreign Minister:

“Canada is deeply, deeply concerned by reports about voting irregularities in the Iranian election. We're troubled by reports of intimidation of opposition candidates' offices by security forces.”

Frank-Walter Steinmeier, German Foreign Minister:

“The violent actions of the security forces against demonstrators is not acceptable, nor is preventing peaceful protest. We will continue to monitor the situation on the ground very carefully.”

(Forget) Iran's Elections: Bomb Tehran

bolton2No, it's not an exaggeration. At least not for John Bolton, former Assistant Secretary of State and US Ambassador to the United Nations (not to mention Winner of the Enduring America Global Irrelevancy Award). Not for The Wall Street Journal, which happily lets him call for war on its pages:
Many argue that Israeli military action will cause Iranians to rally in support of the mullahs' regime and plunge the region into political chaos. To the contrary, a strike accompanied by effective public diplomacy could well turn Iran's diverse population against an oppressive regime.

(Footnote: The Journal, which cannot be accused of subtlety, also runs an opinion piece by the even more short-on-information, long-on-polemic Con Coughlin, "Iran's Potemkin Election".)

Israel Exclusive: Netanyahu Staff Launch Attack on Obama White House 

Related Post: US Envoy Mitchell Talks, Netanyahu Tries to Seize Control

netanyahu10In our analysis of the first US-Israeli talks after President Obama's Cairo speech, posted separately, we claim that Israeli Prime Minister is trying to take control of the Palestine issue from Washington.

How can we dare to be so bold? Because of Netanyahu's own officials.

Just after Netanyahu met Obama in mid-May, stories started circulating that the US President wanted an Israel-Palestine settlement by the end of July. Just like the claim that Obama had set a limit of the end of 2009 for an outcome from US-Iran talks, the rumours rang strangely: the President's notion of "engagement" is not one that has rested on deadlines but on opening up possibilities for results.

On Monday, the source and reason for the claim emerged: Benjamin Netanyahu's office wants to put the White House in a corner. So they are attacking the President and his staff through leaks to the Israeli media.

Their summary emerged in Ha'aretz on Monday: "Barack Obama wants a confrontation with open controversy with Israel would serve the Obama administration's main objective of improving U.S. relations with the Arab world....the president will present positions that will not be easy for Israel to accept."

That on its own should be sufficient to raise eyebrows in Washington about the Israeli Prime Minister's readiness to deal with the US President. However, Netanyahu's aides went further, launching a personal attack on Obama's advisors. "Under Obama, the White House has become the main problem in relations....White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel and Obama's senior political consultant David Axelrod are behind the clash between the administration and Israel."

This is far from the first occasion that the Netanyahu camp has followed diplomatic talks by turning, in far from diplomatic terms, against the Obama Administration. Within 72 hours of the Netanyahu-Obama discussions in May, they were briefing the press that US policies were "childish" and "juvenile".

Still, it is striking that as Obama envoy George Mitchell tries to keep the diplomatic temperature low, avoiding any challenge in public statements or leaks of discussions, Netanyahu's staff are raising the heat by doing exactly the opposite. In preparation for the Prime Minister's own major speech next week, they''ve said:

Bring it on.

UPDATED Israel-Palestine: US Envoy Mitchell Talks, Netanyahu Tries to Seize Control

Related Post: Netanyahu Staff Launch Attack on Obama White House

mitchell-netanyahu1UPDATE (13:15 GMT): After his meeting with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas today, George Mitchell restated his mantra that both sides should adhere to the 2003 "road map". Significantly, however, he made explicit the US commitment to an outcome with an independent Palestine: "The only viable resolution to this conflict is for the aspirations of both sides to be met through two states."

President Obama's envoy to the Middle East, George Mitchell, visited Israeli leaders on Tuesday and again established why he is an outstanding diplomat. Only problem? Someone is trying to out-flank him, and that someone is Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

After discussions with Netanyahu, Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman, Defense Minister Ehud Barak, and President Shimon Peres. Rather, Mitchell showed his ability to make a suitable statement to the press without revealing any substance of the talks. Mitchell had told Netanyahu, ""We are two allies, two friends, and our commitment to Israel's security is unshakeable....We come here to talk not as adversaries in disagreement but as friends in discussion."

As for the issues, Mitchell said they were "complex and many. But we hope that we're going to work our way through them to achieve the objective that we share with [Israel], and that is peace, security, and prosperity throughout the region." President Peres' office gave the vaguest of explanations in a statement (no doubt agreed with Mitchell) that all parties “have a responsibility to meet their obligations under the road map". There was no specific reference to the touchstone issue of Israeli settlements in the West Bank, which is in that 2003 "road map". (Indeed, there was so little on the surface to "report" that The Washington Post did not even bother to cover the story.)

Beyond Mitchell, however, Israeli officials had offered more than enough to flesh out the current state of US-Israel talks and tensions. The Israeli newspaper Ha'aretz, disguising its sources, revealed that Mitchell had "reiterated...that the Obama administration is adamantly insisting on a freeze of construction in all Israeli settlements in the West Bank", although he "demonstrated a more moderate tack in discussing his government's disagreements". The Jerusalem Post, courtesy of Netanyahu's office, offered the other side of the coin: while a senior official said there was a move towards "definition of the issues" with some "convergence", "Mitchell..was told that Israel would not bring all settlement construction to a complete halt".

These leaks, however, are far from the entire story. Indeed, it appears that the Mitchell discussions are an (important sideshow) to the main event: Netanyahu's manoeuvres to seize control of the Palestine issue.

On Sunday, the Israeli Prime Minister declared that he would make a "major" speech on foreign policy in the following week. Later he talked to Barack Obama by phone, no doubt exchanging pleasantries about the arrival of the President's envoy.

Within hours of that talk, however, the Prime Minister moved aggressively. "Netanyahu's confidants" told Ha'aretz, "[He] believes that U.S. President Barack Obama wants a confrontation with Israel, based on Obama's speech in Cairo last week." Netanyahu's office also is the probable source of press stories that Obama is making unreasonable demands for an Israeli-Palestinian settlement by the end of July:
Netanyahu expects Obama to present his plan for peace in the Middle East next month. He fears that the president will present positions that will not be easy for Israel to accept, such as a demand to withdraw to the lines of June 4, 1967.

And here's the twist in the tale. The immediate challenge to Netanyahu may not come from Washington: with no immediate concessions, Mitchell moves today to talks with Palestinian Authority leader Mahmoud Abbas to keep all the pieces in play. Instead, the Prime Minister was openly opposed last night by his own Defense Minister, Ehud Barak.

Speaking to veterans of the Israeli military and intelligence services last night, Barak declared, in the paraphrasing of Ha'aretz:
It would be a mistake for Israel to be the one preventing Obama from trying to bring a peace agreement to the Middle East....If we do not accept the two-state solution, we will find ourselves with an apartheid policy or a state in which we are the minority.

Barak added the caveat that, up to now, the responsibility for the failure to get a solution lay with the Palestinians: "For years, we have tried to reach just such an agreement, but always failed because of the other side." He said that Israel had to maintain flexibility as it sought a settlement that "cannot be reopened again in the future".

The Palestinians, however, are in the distance. For now, the main concern of the US and even of some in the Israeli Cabinet is Benjamin Netanyahu. What will he say on Sunday? Barak replied directly to the question, "I don't know. I have guesses, but nothing more."

Obama's Cairo Speech: A View from Tehran

obama-cairo2Iran Review has posted this reaction to last Thursday's speech by President Obama in Cairo from Dr. Mahmoud Reza Golshanpazhooh of the Tehran International Studies and Research Institute. The analysis expands on Golshanpazhooh's "window of hope" article that we posted last month: "The Obama speech is an undeniable turning point. But the most important part of the story is to put these words into action.

Obama's Address: A Point of View

As US President Barack Obama was preparing to deliver his address to the Muslim world in Cairo this week, the IRI [Islamic Republic of Iran] Supreme Leader Ayatollah Seyed Ali Khamenei was almost simultaneously addressing a ceremony on the occasion of the late Imam Khomeini’s demise anniversary in Tehran.

"I say firmly that introducing change and transforming a new image would not be realized through speech and slogans. It rather requires action and making up for the numerous violations of rights of the Iranian nation and the regional nations,” said Ayatollah Khamenei in his address.

Referring to the not-too-distant experience of the people of the region, the Supreme Leader added: “The former US administration has drawn an ugly, violent and hated image from the US government because of its violent acts, military interventions, discriminations and forceful interventions and the Muslim nations hate the United States from the bottom of their hearts."

The same outlook was adopted by many regional media and studies centers in recent days with a different literature. It somehow showed the deeply rooted enthusiasm and expectation of the Muslim people of the region about change in the US policies. It also revealed how high the wall of mistrust between them and the US statesmen was.

Nonetheless, it cannot be claimed that Obama’s Cairo address was only a nice speech devoid of substance and goodwill. After I read the full text of his speech I had a feeling that these remarks could be motivational to every Muslim not because the address praised Islam but because it showed that after long years the US government has at least tried to remove its glasses of pessimism and unilateralism and look at the Muslim community and the Islamic faith “as they are”.

I personally enjoyed the text and applauded Obama for his points of view and manners when he says: “…America does not presume to know what is best for everyone…”; or when he takes a position against opposition of the Western societies with the kind of clothes a Muslim woman should wear: “We cannot disguise hostility towards any religion behind the pretence of liberalism.”; or when he tries to recognize the right of my homeland to use peaceful nuclear energy: “And any nation – including Iran – should have the right to access peaceful nuclear power if it complies with its responsibilities under the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty…”; or when he says: “In our times, Muslim communities have been at the forefront of innovation and education.”; or when he admits: “And while America in the past has focused on oil and gas in this part of the world, we now seek a broader engagement.”; or when he cites words from the three Divine books (Quran, Talmud and Bible) and nicely repeats the message of peace.

In the meantime, there are also points in Obama’s address which are ambiguous and open to question by Muslims, particularly the people of the Middle East. The people of the Middle East hardly believe Obama’s words about their claim of goodwill in Iraq. No one can forget the history of 100 years of Western colonialism and oil plundering in the region as well as their support for monarchial, despotic and undemocratic rules by just hearing a few nice words.

In the opinion of Iranians, the successful US coup d’etat of 1953 in Iran cannot be compared to the hostage taking of the US diplomats in the early revolution, as implicitly stated by Obama. The latter was in fact the natural outcome of 26 years of tolerating a regime which came to power with the US backing while the former was a spontaneous event inspired by revolutionary sentiments.

Obama’s words regarding US financial and logistical support for Pakistan and Afghanistan were nice. But the people of the region cannot but ponder why the US has voiced support for despotic and unelected governments in Pakistan whenever its interests required and potentially produced hatred among those who have grounds for extremism? They also wonder why poppy cultivation and opium export have increased several folds and security has not improved that much in Afghanistan following the US occupation?

The second part of Obama’s remarks is devoted to the question of peace between Palestinians and Israel. As President Obama has admitted himself settlement of this problem will not be an easy task. However, it seems that the biggest hurdle in the way of accepting Washington’s goodwill and resolve in this respect is the presumption that is seen throughout his remarks in this section: the only resolution is for the aspirations of both sides to be met through two states, where Israelis and Palestinians each live in peace and security. But according to the literature of the region, we must go back a little bit to see whether it was basically the rights of the Israelis to settle in the lands we now call “occupied” and build more settlements there every day and make life difficult for the main Palestinian owners? If Obama in part of his statement explicitly says that the agony of the Palestinians cannot be ignored and admits that “they endure the daily humiliations – large and small – that come with occupation”, would it be possible to overlook the term “occupation” in finding a solution for peace and simply bypass it?

Everyone knows it is very difficult to find a solution to the Palestinian-Israeli dispute but now that there is a will in the US administration to understand the positions of the two sides, it would be better to lay its foundations properly. I wish Obama could help Muslims what to do when some fail to recognize the power of a group coming to power in a democratic election? Have we really understood why Hamas was forced after victory in the January 2006 parliamentary elections in Palestine to shift its policy to that of a liberation struggle?

In the third part of his address, President Obama talked about the right of countries to access nuclear technology and about their responsibilities. Obama has tried in a fair way to understand “those who protest that some countries have weapons that others do not…” And for the same reason he “strongly reaffirms America's commitment to seek a world in which no nations hold nuclear weapons.”

Will the people of the region witness a day not too far when Israel’s nuclear sites and armaments go under IAEA supervision and when Israel joined the NPT under US pressure? Wouldn’t it be more rational then to exert pressures on other countries to come clean in their nuclear programs?

In any event, the Obama speech is an undeniable turning point. But the most important part of the story is to put these words into action. If Obama fails to put these words into action he would be unable to create a change in the outlook and more importantly the “mentality” and “perception” of the people of the region towards the US. If this happens it would be a big disaster; a tragedy equal to disappointment and repeating the past feeling and bitter thought in the mind of most of the people of the region that “it is the same America and there is no difference between Bush and Obama; that their policy is the same policy of hegemony and unilateralism with the only difference that the new one has a more attractive look.”
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