“I think people want him to win,” Shi’ite cleric Mehdi Karroubi, the reformist former parliament speaker defeated by Ahmadinejad in Iran’s 2005 presidential contest, told TIME.
It’s not only the policy expectations that account for Obama’s popularity: his Third World ethnic background and the Muslim faith of his father’s Kenyan family — even his middle name, Hussein, the grandson of the Prophet Muhammad and a revered figure in the Shi’ite Islam practiced in Iran — offer points of affinity that some analysts believe could give Iran’s Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, the political cover to make a gesture of reconciliation to the country long decried in Tehran as “the Great Satan.”
They are divided on Hillary:
… largely basing their views on the record in the Middle East of her husband, who Iranians expect would effectively be her senior foreign policy adviser. Mohammed Atrianfar, an adviser to former President Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, argues that Bill Clinton has a “peace-seeking image” among Iranians. Then-Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, now a Hillary adviser, publicly accepted American responsibility for involvement in the 1953 coup in Iran and subsequent support for the repressive regime of the Shah. Iranian diplomats complain, however, that Clinton also imposed economic sanctions on Iran.
Yeah, I wonder if they’ve heard Hillary’s “I’ll obliterate them” comment, yet.
McCain makes them nervous:
…many consider McCain a hawk and fear his experiences as an American POW in the Vietnam War may hardwire him for hostility towards revolutionary governments. All Iranians seem aware of McCain’s “Bomb bomb bomb, bomb bomb Iran” Beach Boys imitation, and many take it as an indication of his inclinations.
The choice for Iranian officials is clear:
But it’s Obama’s declared willingness to engage in “aggressive personal diplomacy” with the Iranian leadership that has generated the most interest among senior officials in Tehran, since this would mark a sea-change in Washington’s approach. “Obama is a man of engagement, a man of negotiations,” one Iranian official told TIME. Amir Mohebbian, an analyst close to Iranian conservative politicians, argues that “the mentality of Iranian decision makers is ready for that.” He adds: “I think that the coming of Obama — maybe, maybe — helps to solve this problem, but it needs bravery, from both sides.”
I’m sure they’re chomping at the bit.