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IRAN: Tehran carefully rooting for Obama

Is Iran gunning for a victory by presidential candidate Barack Obama?

Obama_2Depends on whom you ask. But, yeah. It is.

Despite the official line that it won’t make any difference who wins the U.S. presidency (after all, they say, America is totally under the thumb of “Zionists"), Iranians are watching the U.S. elections closely and rooting for a victory by the Illinois senator, who has said he's willing to agree to unconditional talks with Iran.

Not only is Obama’s middle name Hussein that of the prophet Mohammad’s grandson (revered as the saint of all saints by Iran’s majority Shiites) but the candidate’s foreign policy seems light years away from the saber-rattling of President Bush and Sen. John McCain, the presumptive Republican nominee.

"For those worried about another war in the world, John McCain is not a suitable candidate to take office,” said an April 16 editorial in the moderate daily Seda-ye-Edalat:

He is tough and rigid not only towards Iran but also towards Russia and China. Many experts believe that his victory will be a message to Iran, Russia and China to either review their policies or get ready for confrontation.

Contrast that to what Iranian elites say about Obama.

“I should say, he is a phenomenon, based on what he has said so far,”  Sadegh Kharazzi, a former Iranian diplomat squarely in the reformist camp now out of power, said. “Unless he is drawn into traditional Democratic Party ways, his election as a president will be welcomed in Iran.”

Wrote the conservative daily Hamshahri on May 7:

Obama has adopted the friendliest strategies regarding Iran, because he believes that America should change its policy in dealing with Tehran, while other candidates have more hostile policies.

Iran is a hornet's nest for American presidents. Jimmy Carter lost the presidency in 1980 largely thanks to the ongoing hostage crisis. Ronald Reagan’s reputation was tarnished as a result of his underlings’ secret arms deals with Iran in what came to be called the Iran-Contra affair. George Bush the elder weathered arrows slung at him after he pardoned six officials busted in Iran-Contra during the waning days of his administration. Bill Clinton struggled first to isolate and contain Iran and then to encourage warmer ties after the election of reformist Mohammed Khatami as president in 1997.

George W. Bush now blames almost all of the world’s evils on Iran, which has become something of an administration obsession during the last year of his term.

Kharazzi said that in general Republicans and Democrats have tried to overthrow or undermine Iran’s system, with the GOP practicing what he called “hard subversion” using covert operations and the Dems more prone to “soft subversion,” such as propaganda and tough diplomacy.

“Until now the difference has been in the tactics of subversive actions against Iran,” he said.

The election of Obama, who has said he would engage in talks with Iran’s leadership, could lead to direct negotiations between Washington and Tehran welcomed by many in Iran and the Middle East.

“By direct talks, I do not mean necessarily  perfect normalization,”  Kharazzi said:

It can be a prelude to further normalization in future. If Obama, as he has said, takes the initiative to start a breakthrough with Iran and avoids condemning or demeaning the Islamic Republic of Iran and avoids ignoring Iran in the region, if he shows goodwill, then goodwill begets goodwill, whether by Obama or any other candidate.

Certainly not all Iranians share Kharrazi’s enthusiasm for Obama or even for talks with the U.S. The Iranian moderates who approached the U.S. in 2003 with an offer (spurned by the Bush administration) to begin talks about Iran’s nuclear program and halt support for militant groups fighting Israel are out of power.

Now the U.S. has to deal with people like Mohammad Ali Ramin, a politician close to President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and a self-described “founder of Holocaust review” studies.

“All presidents in the U.S. are the stooges of the Zionist  gangs,” he said. “Whether the next president is Democrat or Republican, it does not matter to Iran as both type of presidents have been against Iranian nation in the contemporary history of Iran.”

Indeed Iranian officials seem highly sensitive to even the slightest hint they're backing one candidate or the other. Recently, Ahmadinejad stridently denied a Spanish newspaper report suggestion he was backing Obama:

I did not support Obama. I just gave the message that the American ruling system will not let Obama be elected. Even if all Americans vote for him, the U.S. ruling system will not allow Obama to be president.

Borzou Daragahi in Beirut and Ramin Mostaghim in Tehran

Photo: Barack Obama. Credit: File photo

P.S. The Los Angeles Times issues a free daily newsletter with the latest headlines from the Middle East, the war in Iraq and the frictions between the West and Islam. You can subscribe by registering at the website here, logging in here and clicking on the World: Mideast newsletter box here.

Comments () | Archives (16)

Obama is so ready to throw all of us under the bus for his ego.
Go Hillary go.

well I would like to see Mr. Obama reach a deal with Iran so the regime has no more enemies to to suppress the people with and eventually let some kind of reform take place

All smart american policy maker should realize that a good relation with Iran would limit the reach of China & Russia to the oil rich region.

For those of you that have not been to Iran or have been there for a short time, let me remind you that the population is very young ,educated, Internet savvy, history loving,pro west and not very found of Islam.
all you have to do is go and see all the empty mosques.

If you think logically, the only conclusion would be that Iran is routing for continuation of Bush policy (i.e. McCain) - There is no doubt that Bush policy has helped Iran immensely. Why would they support someone who has said he would discontinue this disastrous (for the US) policy? If I were Iran, I would want Americans to think that I supported Obama, so that he would not get elected. In fact, I would not be surprised if they made some kind of announcement about it, or confrontation / incident in Persian golf or something like that right before election day.

BTW, how come there is all this talk about Obama's middle name being Arabic but no talk about his first name being Jewish? (as in Ehud Barak?)

Shimon, Who should we talk to?

A lot if Israeli people don't agree with policies of present Prime Minister of Israel and his corruptions. The present government of Israel has been defensive about his foreign policies and actions:

Israel Prime Minister Denies Corruption Charges Anew [by "]
Olmert questioned on 'corruption'

We can look at Israeli people, many of whom would like to have peace with their Arabic neighbors, or we can look at the minority of Israeli’s who would like to support the present status. Some Israeli’s would like to create one nation as a Federation of Israel-Palestine knowing well that two-state model for Israel and Palestine would not work, it will be war after war to determent of the people.

Who should we talk to? Should we talk with the present government of Israel who has one of the lowest public approvals in recent years, or the people who have the power to change their government?

You have raised a complex question about who we should talk to, Iranian people or their president who many not president two years from now? Or, Olmert, who may be in jail one year from now?

so all Obama's friends hate us.

What is it about the liberal mind that doesn't understand evil? Iranian mullahs DO NOT WANT PEACE. They want to totally destroy Israel and convert everyone else to Islam. They look at fools like Obama and inwardly laugh. Yes, they want Obama to become president. He'll be easier to fool. He'll be too busy talking while they're building their nukes. As it is they are building their nukes now and all we hear is "I hope Bush doesn't bomb Iran". TALKING HAS NEVER BROUGHT PEACE. NEVER. ACTION BRINGS PEACE. EVIL DOES NOT COMPROMISE.

I think whole world will see more peace if obama become president. this is very obvius for me.

If we consider the issue of Iran itself, outside of the context of Israel or M.E. politics, the world has been divided into two divergent views. There are those who are and have been on the side of the people of Iran -- though tragically their numbers since the Iranian so-called "revolution" have been small -- and those who have always been on the side, and indeed allied, with the mullahs and their mafioso system of rule over Iran. Most of the business interests around the world, and thus their governments, have been in this second group and they are in collusion with the mullahs, and this is where ALL the illegal, illicit, economic dealmakings with the mullahs been going on. These people are the group that have invariably referred to the mullahs' ruling regime as "The Iranians" and/or the Iranian "nation" -- ever wonder why ahmadinejad keeps obsessively referring to his illegitimate regime as "the great Iranian nation"?!!! He has learned well from the European regime partners' propaganda! This second group never wanted regime destruction per ce; they wanted mullah mafiosos, the rafsanjani types, but not the militancy types, the ahmadinejad types which they got after the "Iranian nation" boycotted the last presidential elections (Too, too bad for the europeans, we the REAL IRANIAN PEOPLE say!).

Until now the U.S. has had a confused back and forth policy between these two goups. Are they on the side of the REAL IRANIAN PEOPLE who's vast, greatest majority have in every way possible demonstrated their loathing and illegitimacy of this regime -- is it truly still anyone's doubt that this fascist, kleptocratic, totalitarian, extremist, mullahcracy is not what the Iranian people truly want for their great nation??? -- or, under pressure from mostly their European allies, are they to follow the status quo, and pretend that breaking bread with the mullahs, and negotiations and "dialogue" with the regime, is one and the same as sitting down with Iran's people -- just a cursory study of the neurotic behavior of the regime makes clear as day that IT IS NOT!!

Now, where does Mr Obama want to take U.S. if -- God forbid -- he becomes President? To many Iranians he and his motives are suspicious. Who exactly does HE plan to talk with??? The people of Iran and the regime in control of that nation are not one and the same and certainly Mr. Obama with his self-described "good judgement" must know that, and as long as they are not united, one and the same, it is a destructive and a dangeous proposition to pretend otherwise.

hlg, not a bad idea. He should go to the greatest country on earth. Iran is and will be number One.

obama can pack up his belongings and wife and kids and
go to enjoy tehran

Peace will never be reached in the middle East until we can adopt policies that are good for both Israel and the Arab nations including Iran. If anyone is to find a common ground and a negotiated peace, it must start with open communication and Obama understands this. He is very good for Iran, but in a way that is also good for Israel.

It would be good to see Obama become president, you would expect a country like SAUDI ARABIA where Islam actually came from, to support someone whose middle name is Hussein, yet McCain is Saudi's favorite candidate. Obama is a reasonable person, he would restore America's tarnished image in much of the world, make it more likely that Iran would back down from it's current position, a wise and educated person would support Senator Obama.

How can Obama be good for Iran and not get crucified by Israel? And no one can deny that supporters of Israel have some strong voice in the US.

Dialogue or War

Iranian people, very much like our own American people, will support their government when their nation is verbally and physically attacked. Our American people reacted with strong nationalism in support of President George Bush following September 11 attack.

Iranian system at present is based on a brand of Islamic religion; it has been based on this religion since 14 century. A secular society has to grow from the rank of Iranians who live in Iran and fight for the Iranian people. To change the society, first you must educate the masses. Iranian revolution was not imposed from outside of Iran, it started from Iranian people who were disfranchised by the excess of the rich ruling class in Iran. It has to change from inside of the Iranian society.

Our present policy using the financial leverage and threat of physical attack has backfired over the last 20 years. This policy has promoted an opposite effect to the response we had anticipated; it has mobilized Iranian people in support of their government. We have been confused between our own national interests and those of Israeli Lobby.

Senator Obama has recognized that the present hostility of our government toward Iranian people will not create a positive response. Iranian people all along have expressed their friendship toward the American people; while strongly have rejected the bullying policy toward their country.

Dialogue and frank diplomacy will create a positive response from Iranian people.

I have been told Hussein also means "good little boy".

Geez, you think? I guess the obliterate Iran policy that Clinton keeps referring to isnt going down well for the Iranians.

ahh but i digress, happy memorial day everyone.


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