Iran hardliners wax as Peres rebukes Tehran

Iran hardliners wax as Peres rebukes Tehran

Iran hardliners wax as Peres rebukes Tehran

Iranian Supreme Leader Khamanei shows him casting his ballot during in Tehran. Khamanei acolytes were expected to occupy more than three-quarters of the 290 seats. ABACA photo

Iran’s Parliament looks certain to be dominated by MPs critical of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, according to preliminary election results, as loyalists of Iran’s supreme leader have won over 75 percent of seats.

With 90 percent of ballot boxes counted, Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamanei acolytes were expected to occupy more than three-quarters of the 290 seats in the Majlis (Parliament), according to a list published by the Interior Ministry. Overall, the new Parliament is to be virtually entirely conservative, with the previous 60 reformist MPs winnowed down to a bare handful following the boycott of the main reformist blocs in the elections.

The outcome of the vote, largely shunned by reformists whose leaders are under house arrest, will have no major impact on Iran’s foreign policy including its nuclear dispute with the West. But it will give Khamanei’s camp a significant edge in the 2013 presidential election.

Parvin Ahmadinejad, sister of the president and a current member of Tehran’s municipal council, was defeated by a conservative rival in her hometown of Garmsar. She only lost by 728 votes, which would indicate she did have considerable support, albeit not enough to defeat her rival. Ali Motahari, an MP behind an unprecedented move to have Parliament subject Ahmadinejad to questioning, won back his seat, but another 14 candidates from his Voice of the Nation movement were not so fortunate. Parliament Speaker Ali Larijani, who leads the United Conservatives Front, was, without surprise, re-elected in the holy city of Qom.

Peres to tell Israel to not rush into a war

Iranian Interior Minister Mostafa Mohammad Najar said the participation “was epic-making” and “dissuaded the enemies.” More than 64 percent of registered voters turned out for Iran’s parliamentary poll, according to a preliminary estimate by the interior minister March 3, Agence France-Presse reported.

While hardliners has gathered strength with the latest poll results in Iran, Israeli top officials are visiting the United States to discuss the disputed nuclear program of Iran. Before Prime Minister Benjamin Netayahu’s visit to U.S. President Barack Obama today, Israeli President Shimon Peres was scheduled to meet with Obama yesterday. Peres was expected to tell delegates of pro-Israel lobby, the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), that Israel is not rushing into a war, but will defend itself if it has to, Israeli daily Haaretz reported.

However, Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman said Israel will take any decisions on Iran’s nuclear activities as an “independent state,” on the eve of a U.S.-Israel summit in Washington. “Clearly, the United States is the biggest world power and the biggest and most important country that is a friend of Israel, but we are an independent state,” Lieberman told Israeli public radio.

“Ultimately, the state of Israel will take the decisions that are most appropriate based on its evaluation of the situation,” he said. Sources close to Netanyahu do not believe that Obama’s speech will include anything dramatic on the Iranian issue, but, rather, that it will stress the severity of the threat posed by a nuclear-armed Iran and the United States’ commitment to thwarting Tehran’s aspirations on this front.