Iran elections: World media cautiously optimistic

Image source, AP
Image caption,
Hassan Rouhani's supporters celebrate in Tehran

The election of moderate cleric Hassan Rouhani as Iran's president is welcomed as a positive development by some international commentators, while others expect little change, especially regarding tensions between Iran and the rest of the world.

One German paper hails the result as the reawakening of Iran's reform movement.

But a Russian commentator warns it would be naive to think Mr Rouhani's victory will result in a radical revision of Iran's nuclear programme - which Tehran insists is for peaceful purposes.

In Israel, a country which has been the target of outgoing President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's strong rhetoric, a commentator advises against wishful thinking, but believes Tehran's policy could change and says Israel "must not undermine the chance for diplomacy".


David Shain in centrist Ma'ariv

No one in Iran deludes himself that the critical and the strategic decisions will be taken by Rouhani. It is clear to all that (Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali) Khamenei will continue to hold the reigns.

The election of Rouhani makes the job of those who are working to prevent Iran from attaining nuclear weapons much harder… the international community might be tempted to loosen sanctions… under the misperception that Iran under Rouhani is more moderate. This must not be allowed to happen.

The (Israeli) prime minister is right in cautioning against wishful thinking… The voters for Rouhani who demonstrated their political power deserve credit. Israel is not required to act as a gullible person faced with a threat, but it must not undermine the chance for diplomacy.


Rouhani is likely to adopt a flexible approach in [nuclear] negotiations, which makes reaching solutions easier.

The new president's victory has created a much more friendly and relaxed international environment for Iran. It is also good for the development of China-Iran relations... If Rouhani takes a much more flexible approach, Western countries may loosen the sanctions toward Iran.

The relationship between Iran and Israel will not be improved.


Expect that tough anti-Israeli rhetoric, peculiar to Ahmadinejad, to be dropped as a reformer occupies the president's seat. However, there won't be a U-turn towards Tel Aviv: an anti-American and anti-Israeli policy is the basis of an ideology introduced by Ayatollah Khomeini during the Islamic revolution.

It is unlikely that Rouhani will start spoiling relations with Moscow and Beijing to improve ties with the West.

Image source, AP
Image caption,
Mr Rouhani with a portrait of late Ayatollah Khomeini

It is naive to think that Rouhani's victory will result in a radical revision of the Iranian nuclear programme… foreign-policy issues, moreover the strategically important 'nuclear project', are decided by the supreme Shia clergy...

In addition, the new president will inevitably have to court conservative circles, manoeuvring between expectations of the West and the reality of domestic policy.

Hassan Rouhani's victory has puzzled many politicians in the West. They are not ready either to criticize him or support... Foreign-policy statements are now expected from the new Iranian president... Until such statements are made, the Iranian president remains a dark horse.

Middle East

The still ambiguous transformation in Iran (and developments in Syria) confirms the region's entry into a new phase.

Neither Rouhani nor any other reformist can deviate from the course already drawn by the fundamental conservatives…

The election of Sheikh Rouhani foiled Western plans to ignite the Iranian street, as happened during the last elections, and also removed many pretexts that Israel and other countries used for strikes against Iran and its nuclear ambitions... The Arab neighbours want constructive cooperation with Iran so as to reach a political solution to the Syrian crisis.

We should not hurry to judge the president-elect Rouhani. He may be holding in his hand the breakthrough that we have been wishing for to end the longest and most dangerous tension in the region.


Politically no change is expected in Iran's official policy against the imperialist world powers. However, internal changes can be expected. As far as Iran-Pakistan friendship is concerned, trade, political, cultural and religious ties between both countries have a long history. Both countries have supported each other. Therefore, their friendly ties will be strengthened further and the new president will play a vital role in promotion of the mutual ties.


His election is a surprise which needs to be duly welcomed... It is thus perhaps appropriate to pay the biggest tribute to an Iranian people who never gave up and went to the polls in huge numbers to shout once again their thirst for change before the eyes of the world.

A new chapter can begin - if all goes well. The Iranian reform movement has woken up from its paralysis and is turning back into a force that can act... Perhaps the ayatollah [Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei] has in fact realized that exhortations to hold out cannot prevent the country from being ruined and that he needs a moderate reformer in order to save the system and his own position. Rouhani has what it takes to become a strong president.

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