Four papers discuss the election of Hassan Rohani as Iran\’s next president:
Yediot Aharonot doubts that anyone in Israel knows what effect Rohani\’s victory will have on the nuclear stand-off with Tehran. The author refers to a Pentagon report that claims Iran has adopted a more defensive and deterrent posture vis-à-vis its nuclear program and adds: "In other words, the Americans do not ascribe to the nuclear weapons program an aggressive, immediate aspect. From their perspective, they have a window of more than a year in which to test Rohani\’s intentions and talk with him. But the American inclination very much bothers the Israeli government; even now there is concern here that the Americans will blow us off." The paper says that Israel can do little now other than continue to gather intelligence on both Rohani and the Iranian nuclear project itself and monitor Washington\’s efforts and desire to "close a deal with him [Rohani] on freezing the situation that may not necessarily be to Israel\’s liking."
Yisrael Hayom says: "The new president, as a cleric himself, will not herald anything new regarding the character of the regime, human rights, the nuclear issue or relations with Israel. He will still sign the economic checks for Hezbollah and Syria, and will lead Iran toward a nuclear bomb. As one of the founders of the Islamic revolution, a Khomeini loyalist and one of his confidants, we should not expect to see him acting differently from \’the spirit of the commander\’ – Khomeini and Khameini."
The Jerusalem Post believes that “Whereas Mahmoud Ahmadinejad was candid and outspoken in his hatred of both the West and the Jewish state, Rohani is likely to attempt to exploit his ‘moderate’ image and his popular mandate to advance Iranian interests, particularly the ending of Iran’s international isolation,” and concludes: “the international community might be tempted to loosen sanctions against the Islamic Republic, under the misperception that Iran under Rohani is more moderate. This must not be allowed to happen.”
Haaretz implores: “Give Rowhani a chance,” and states: “Rowhani’s election is liable to change the quality of Iran’s discourse with the West. It also testifies to the power of the public, which is sick of the economic crisis, the radicalism that Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and his ilk represent, and the repression of human rights.” The editor believes that “The Iranian people are not an enemy of Israel or the West. Rowhani’s voters, who demonstrated their political power, should be extended some credit,” and concludes: “Israel is not required to act naive, but it must not undermine the chances for diplomacy, either.”
Ma\’ariv analyzes the civil war in Syria and says: "The big war is between the Shi\’ite axis supported by Russia and the Sunni axis, behind which is supposed to stand the US." The author notes that the Shi\’ite axis is far more unified, but speculates that overt US support for the more moderate Syrian rebel factions, along with increased Arab support, may offset this. The paper concludes: "The great war in the Islamic world is diverting global attention away from the increasingly marginalized Israeli-Palestinian problem. The Kerry initiative for resolving the conflict has little chance of success in such a reality. Whether this is good or bad for Israel is in the eye of the beholder."
[Alex Fishman, Dr. Ronen A. Cohen and Amir Rappaport wrote today’s articles in Yediot Aharonot, Yisrael Hayom and Ma\’ariv respectively.]