Israeli President Shimon Peres on Sunday said it was too early to make predictions regarding how the tenure of Iran's President-elect Hassan Rohani will pan out, saying he felt the vote was a clear sign of dissatisfaction with Iran's hard-line leadership and its outgoing president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.
"More than half of Iranians, in their own way, in my judgment, protested against an impossible leadership," Peres told The Associated Press. "Ahmadinejad spent hundreds of billions of dollars to build an idol of uranium. What for? He brought down the people on their knees. The economy is destroyed. Children don't have enough food. Youngsters are leaving the country. Iran became a center of terror; they hang people, they arrest people. What for?"
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Peres aded that the biggest loser in the vote was Khamenei. "It is clearly a voice of the people and a voice that says, 'We don't agree with this group of leaders,'" he said.
Israel has said that it prefers diplomacy and sanctions to end Iran's nuclear program but has hinted that military action would be an option if peaceful attempts fail. It has called on the international community to issue a clear ultimatum to Iran to curb its nuclear program.
Arab media: Even if it's Rohani
The Arab press on Sunday was rife with reports and editorials regarding the election of Hassan Rohani, considered a relative moderate, to Iran presidency. the London-based daily Al-Hayat went with the emphatic "Rohani took presidency away from clutch of fundamentalists."
The Al-Hayat piece further elaborated that Rohani put an end to eight years of fundamentalist rule, as represented by Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. Rohani, who was elected in the first round, reaped the benefits of the 'reformist gift,' which he was granted by the deep stagnation that has settled in since the 2009 election, and the rift within the fundamentalist camp, which cost them dearly."
The anti-Hezbollah Lebanese daily Al-Mustaqbal, closely affiliated with the Lebanese March 14 Alliance, celebrated Rohani's victory. The headlines read "moderation prevailed over the rule of scholastics," while the article further added that "Rohani's tsunami reflects the Iranian people's wish for change.
Pointing out the result of the election was greeted with satisfaction by the West and the Gulf states alike, Al-Mustaqbal pointed out the Emir of Qatar Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani issued a missive to congratulate the president-elect, as did the President of the United Arab Emirates Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan.
According to Egyptian establishment daily Al-Ahram, Rohani owes his victory to the deep divide in the conservative camp and the unity within the ranks of the reformists.
However some sounded more cautious notes. The London-based, Saudi-owned daily A-Sharq Al-Awsat featured an editorial titled "Even if it's Rohani," questioning the president-elect's reformist credentials. "What is disturbing here is the emphatic repetition of the 'moderate' tag, which goes to show the extent to which the stance of the entire region toward Iran has deteriorated. We have warned of this after the clerics rejected the candidacy of Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, and the same caution is due today, after Rohani's victory," it read.
The paper further stressed the weight Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, is expected to have in Rohani's decisions, saying that could further undermine whatever moderate tendencies Rohani might be harboring.
Finally, Hezbollah Leader Hassan Nasrallah, who on Friday hailed Iran on what he described as its democratic process of electing officials sans pareil in third world states, issued a formal congratulation to Rohani on his victory.
AP contributed to this report
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