Peres with Malcolm Hoenlein. 'Iranian people suffering'
Photo: Avi Hayun

Peres: Iran will be stopped by the people

President addresses anti-government protests in Tehran, slams calls for opposition leaders' murder. 'This is a major chapter in the history of the region,' he says, 'but the chance for democracy is slim'

As the entire world's eyes are on Iran, President Shimon Peres joins his American counterpart Barack Obama in expressing his hope that anti-government protests in the Islamic Republic will bring down the ayatollah regime.


"It was very unfortunate seeing (Iranian President Mahmoud) Ahmadinejad's parliament calling for the opposition's murder," Peres said Wednesday in an address to the Conference of Presidents of Major Jewish Organizations in Jerusalem.


"I'm telling you, this will continue and Iran won't be stopped by force and intervention from the outside but by their own people, who are suffering."


The president noted that "we are entering a major chapter in the history of Israel and the Middle East. An amazing change is taking place here. What we saw in Egypt was a revolution without leaders.


"I ask what the reasons are, and the reasons are that things are difficult for them. There are problems of many people who are on the brink of real poverty. The figures point to a 40% unemployment rate."


Clashes during protestor's funeral in Tehran (Photo: Reuters)


As for the future in Egypt after the upheaval, Peres said he had asked himself what the Muslim Brotherhood would do. "Being a Muslim or being a brother does not make a country successful.


He addressed the new generation of revolts. "In many countries surrounding us there is a lot of corruption, and if there were no Internet or Facebook you wouldn't see the corruption.


"The best thing for protestors today is the iPhone. We are in a new world. In the Egypt protests it was interesting to see the young people and women, who are the new force, demonstrating for the first time in jeans and t-shirts. The clothing doesn't declare who is poor and who is rich; it declares that they want equality."


According to the president, the chances of seeing democracy in the region's countries are slim. "Most of the region's states are not democratic. Among the current leaders, who will give up power of his own accord and declare elections? Asking a leader to do so is like inviting a turkey to a Thanksgiving meal."


Peres' picture in Tehran

The clashes in Tehran continued Wednesday morning, and Peres' picture appeared on signs carried by protestors during the funeral of Sana Jaleh, one of the two young men killed Monday in anti-government rallies.


State television reported that a "small number" of opposition activists clashed with government supporters during the funeral.


Iranian President Ahmadinejad delivered a speech in the southern city of Busheher on Wednesday, and that the "puppet regime" era had ceased to exist.


Addressing the recent revolts in Tunisia and Egypt, he said, "We saw that the more dictatorial the regime, the more support it gets from the arrogant countries," referring to Western states.


According to Ahmadinejad, the West is "interested in taking advantage of the huge wave of popular energy for its own needs" while Iran supports the people's right to choose their destiny and demand freedom. He failed to comment on the violent protests in recent days.


Meanwhile Wednesday, hundreds of Libyan protesters took to the streets in the country's second largest city to demand the government's ouster in the first sign that the region's unrest has spread to the Arab nation in North Africa.


Fourteen people were Injured as a crowd of people angry at the arrest of a rights campaigner clashed with police and government supporters, a witness and local media said.



פרסום ראשון: 02.16.11, 11:45
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