AFP: European newspapers said Monday that new international tensions, particularly over nuclear issues, seem inevitable following the election of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to the Iranian presidency. Rome’s La Repubblica said the triumph of what it called “black Islam” and a return to the obscurantist past puts Iran at the heart of international tensions, with the risk of military strikes by the United States or Israel if Ahmadinejad goes ahead with an alleged project to built nuclear weapons. AFP
PARIS – European newspapers said Monday that new international tensions, particularly over nuclear issues, seem inevitable following the election of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to the Iranian presidency.
Rome’s La Repubblica said the triumph of what it called “black Islam” and a return to the obscurantist past puts Iran at the heart of international tensions, with the risk of military strikes by the United States or Israel if Ahmadinejad goes ahead with an alleged project to built nuclear weapons.
“Mahmoud Ahmadinejad runs the risk of speeding up a countdown that concerns the whole world. Let us hope that he realizes this,” the daily said.
The Financial Times said the “theocrats’ clean sweep of Iran’s institutions” is likely to be welcomed by Washington hawks “who now feel they can avoid having to align with the European Union’s — so far — partially successful with Tehran” to prevent Iran developing a full nuclear fuel cycle.
“Yet Iran’s turn rightwards does not absolve the US from developing a policy rather than an attitude towards Tehran,” the Financial Times said. “It makes it much more urgent.”
The Stockholm daily Expressen warned that while Iran may be on a collision course with the United States and the EU it would be wrong to break out the war plans before exploring all paths of negotiation.
“The US must really start getting involved if they are going to have a chance to succeed” with talks aimed at getting Iran to abandon its nuclear program.
“And Europe needs to begin getting used to the thought of truly pressuring the Iranian regime and enforcing sanctions.”
The Warsaw daily Gazeta Wyborcza said the return of fundamentalist rule to Tehran would likely provoke a confrontation with the United States, while the right-wing Rzeczpospolita quoted an analyst as saying “an American-Iranian war is now more probable than ever.”
Newspapers in the Gulf region earlier said that Ahmadinejad’s victory presaged difficult relations ahead — particularly if Iran attempts to export its revolution — but could also bring about more transparent policy-making from Tehran.
The Times of London agreed that in the absence of any moderating counterpoint to supreme leader Ayatollah Khamenei, “Iran’s intentions should now be easier to read; but they are likely to make grim reading.”
The Times said anxious Western governments “will naturally focus on Mr. Ahmadinejad’s lothing of America and Israel, his intransigence on the nuclear issue and his identification with the religious irredentists who believe in exporting the Islamic Revolution to a corrupt and god-forsaken Middle East.”
The reaction was less pessimistic in Moscow, where the daily Vremya Novostei said Russia was “counting on obtaining contracts for the construction of new atomic power stations in Iran.”
It said the result “disappoints Washington, but not Moscow.”
Izvestia said Ahmadinejad’s victory was “the worst possible choice for the Western community and above all for America.”
The Kommersant business daily said that with a leader “as radical as Ahmadinejad, the United States can more easily justify its actions aimed at overthrowing the regime in Iran.”
The New York Times, however, noted in a news story that Ahmadinejad “agreed to continue discussions with three European nations, which, along with the United States, fear that the Islamic Republic is intent on building nuclear weapons.”
European newspapers were uniformly pessimistic not only about the international outlook but about the prospects for liberal reform at home.
“Darkness has settled over Iran,” Stockholm’s Expressen said. “Now it’s the conservatives against the young people and world, with no shock absorbers in between.”
The Oslo daily Aftenposten said the result was “depressing” and “inflicts a defeat on forces that were working for a societ that is more open and more welcoming to women.”
The Guardian in London said the debate in Tehran is now “between hardline and harder line, rather than between conservatives and reformers.
“This is a frightening state of affairs, which has arisen precisely because those who hold most of the power in Iran are very fearful men.”