Saturday, July 16, 2005

Arabs see Iran election result as bad for Middle East peace: Survey

Iran Focus:
A recent survey conducted by a research and studies website run in the United Arab Emirates found that the majority of Arabs believe that the rise of ultra-conservative Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to Iran’s presidency will have a negative impact on stability in the Middle East, the prominent UK-based Arabic-language website Elaph reported yesterday.

Elaph said that the survey carried out by the Centre for Strategic Information and Studies in the UAE found that 64.91 percent of the 1,855 people interviewed thought that “the result of the recent presidential elections in Iran will negatively affect stability in the region. READ MORE

Only 25.88 percent of those surveyed said that they believed the Iranian elections would have a positive impact, while just under 10 percent offered a neutral answer.

Elaph said that the negative Arab sentiment came because of Ahmadinejad’s record as a hardliner, Iran’s pursuit of nuclear weapons, and in particular after recent threats by Iran’s Foreign Ministry spokesman Hamid-Reza Asefi, directed against Arab states.

Earlier this month, Asefi said in his weekly press conference, "The countries of this region must know that they will suffer more than us from this kind of action as the capabilities of different countries are not of the same magnitude".

The threat came after the publication of a caricature in a Bahraini daily mocking Iran’s Supreme Leader.

In response, the Secretary-General of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) sharply criticised Iran’s Foreign Ministry for using threatening language against GCC member Bahrain.

“Such remarks by this official [Asefi] have no correlation with logic or political principals governing relations between states”, Abdur-Rahman Al-Atiya, Secretary-General of the GCC, said.

He said the Iranian Foreign Ministry’s position ran contrary to the principle of “freedom of expression, which is the primary wish of the Iranian people”.