Wednesday, October 20, 2004

Iran prefers Bush over Kerry

Iran prefers Bush over Kerry: "Iran prefers Bush over Kerry
20/10/2004 12:16 - (SA)

Iran - United States President George W Bush made Iran a charter member of his axis of evil, accuses it of sheltering al-Qaeda and leads the charge to thwart Tehran's nuclear ambitions but still got an Iranian endorsement on Tuesday over Democrat John Kerry.

Historically, Democrats have harmed Iran more than Republicans, said Hasan Rowhani, head of the Supreme National Security Council, Iran's top security decision-making body.

"We haven't seen anything good from Democrats," Rowhani told state-run television in remarks that, for the first time in recent decades, saw Iran openly supporting one US presidential candidate over another.

"We should not forget that most sanctions and economic pressures were imposed on Iran during the time of Clinton," Rowhani said. "And we should not forget that during Bush's era, despite his hard-line and baseless rhetoric against Iran, he didn't take, in practical terms, any dangerous action against Iran."

Though Iran generally does not publicly wade into US presidential politics, it has a history of preferring Republicans over Democrats, who tend to press human rights issues.

"We do not desire to see Democrats take over," Rowhani said when asked if Iran was supporting Kerry against Bush.

On the US campaign trail, both candidates' camps responded coolly to Rowhani's comments.

No to endorsement

"It's not an endorsement we'll be accepting anytime soon," said Bush campaign spokesperson Scott Stanzel, who called on Iran to "stop its pursuit of nuclear weapons."

Kerry spokesperson Allison Dobson played down Rowhani's comments, saying, "it is telling that this president has received the endorsement of member of the axis of evil."

The United States severed diplomatic relations with Iran after militants stormed the US Embassy in Tehran in 1979 and held 52 Americans hostage for 444 days. Iranian clerics were crucial in determining the fate of the 1980 US election: Republican Ronald Reagan won mainly because Democratic incumbent Jimmy Carter was unable to secure the hostages' release.

The hostages were freed as Reagan was inaugurated.

The United States supported Iraq in the 1980-88 Iran-Iraq war, but by the late 1990s, US-Iranian relations were somewhat better. They plummeted again after Bush accused Iran of being part of the "axis of evil" with North Korea and pre-war Iraq.

The Bush administration also accuses Iran of pursuing nuclear weapons and sheltering operatives of Osama bin Laden's al-Qaeda terror network. Still, Iran is happy to see Bush destroy two big regional enemies: the Taliban in Afghanistan and Saddam Hussein in Iraq.

Iran, along with Syria, has been widely speculated regionally to be a future US military target. However, Rowhani appeared to dismiss that prospect."

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