'Iranian vote democratic.' Hamas rally in Gaza (Archives)
Photo: AFP
Ahmadinejad celebrates disputed victory
Photo: Reuters
Syria, Hamas welcome Ahmadinejad victory
Assad expresses 'confidence in continued strengthening of Damascus-Tehran relations', while spokesman for Palestinian terror group says 'West must respect choice of Iranian people'; Jimmy Carter says expects no change in US policy towards Iran

Syrian President Bashar Assad and the terrorist Hamas group expressed their satisfaction on Saturday with the reelection of Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.


"The Syrian president expressed his confidence in the continued strengthening of the relations between Tehran and Damascus," Syria's official news agency reported, while Hamas spokesman Fauzi Barhoum said "the Western world should respect the democracy and the choice of the Iranian people.


"This is a democratic and free election. We hope that this new Iranian leadership will continue to support the Palestinian rights and the Palestinian people and continue to respect the Palestinian democratic choice and help us to end the sanctions and face all the challenges," the spokesman for the Islamist group told Reuters.


Celebrating Ahmadinejad's victory in Tehran (Photo: Reuters) 


Also on Saturday, pro-reform Iranian presidential challenger Mir Hossein Mousavi posted a statement on his Web site urging his supporters to resist a "governance of lie and dictatorship" after state media indicated that incumbent President Ahmadinejad had apparently been reelected after receiving almost 65% of the vote with over four-fifths of the ballots counted.


The Palestinians watched the Iranian vote closely. Iran is a major patron of Hamas, which overran Gaza two years ago, ousting the forces loyal to Western-backed Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas.

Abbas and his aides have in the past accused Iran of meddling in Palestinian affairs and making Palestinian reconciliation more difficult.


An Abbas aide, Saeb Erekat, hinted at Iran's role Saturday. "We want Iran to take the side of Palestine, not this faction or that faction," he said.


Arab League Secretary-General Amr Moussa also congratulated Ahmadinejad on his victory in the elections and said he hoped Iran and the Arab world would begin to enjoy a better relationship.


"We hope that the next term would witness progress on the relations between Iran and the Arab world and cooperation in establishing peace in the Middle East. Also that the security, regional security in the region will be paramount in working together to free the region from all weapons of mass destruction including nuclear weapons," he said.


Former US President Jimmy Carter said he did not think there would be any change in American policy toward Iran "because the same person will be there."


Speaking about Ahmadinejad after a meeting with the Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad in the West Bank town of Ramallah, Carter said "hopefully, he'll moderate his position."


Meanwhile, in Israel, ministers appeared unsurprised by Ahmadinejad's win, but emphasized that it should serve as an alert to the international community.


The international community must step up efforts to deal with Iranian terror and nuclear aspirations "immediately," given the results in Iran, Deputy Foreign Minister Daniel Ayalon said Saturday.


"In Israel, we had no illusions, because we knew there was no essential difference between candidates on the topics of terror and nuclear development. If there had been even a spark of hope for a change in Iran, the reelection of Ahmadinejad demonstrated once more the increasing threat from Iran," he said. 


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