IRAN: Ahmadinejad congratulates, cautions and advises Obama

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Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad today posted a congratulatory message to President-elect Barack Obama on his official website.

But his lengthy note also cautioned Obama to change America’s ways and to reverse policies based on what he described as ‘belligerency, occupation, bullying, demagoguery,’ among other things.


It is part of Iran’s complicated response to the election of Obama, who has said he’d be willing to speak with Iran’s leadership, as detailed in a report written for today’s Los Angeles Times.

Ahmadinejad begins his note with the kind of flowery, somewhat overblown language typical in the Middle East:

I congratulate you on your success in mustering the majority of votes cast in the presidential elections. You know pretty well that the opportunities God grants to people he has created are short-lived, and they could either serve perfection of mankind and interests of nations or, God forbid, disserve nations. I hope that His Excellency will favor the genuine interests of people and justice over the never-ending demands of a selfish and fallible minority, so that you can seize on this chance in the best manner and leave behind a good legacy.

But he quickly gets down to the nitty-gritty, advising the freshman senator on what he must do to be an effective president.

Ahmadinejad writes that Obama must ‘overhaul’ America’s domestic and foreign policies because the people of the world and U.S. expect it.

Below are extensive excerpts from an unofficial translation of the letter:

On the one hand, the spiritual-minded American nation expects its government to concentrate its efforts entirely on serving people, healing the ongoing critical economic crisis, restoring its reputation, reviving hopes for eradication of poverty and discrimination, respecting dignity, security and human rights as well as bolstering family foundations –- all of them teachings of God’s messengers. On the other hand, the nations of the world bank on the hope that policies based on belligerency, occupation, bullying, demagoguery, humiliation of nations and imposition of discriminatory and unjust relations on them and on global interactions -– which have provoked resentment from all nations and the majority of governments ... and have harmed the reputation of Americans -– turn to behaviors based on justice and respect for human and national rights, friendship and non-interference in others’ affairs... Specifically in the sensitive Middle East region, the U.S. government is expected to rethink its 60-year unjust behavior and opt for helping nations -– notably the innocent Palestinian, Iraqi and Afghan nations –- fully regain the legitimate rights denied them. Iran’s great, civilization-producing and justice-seeking nation welcomes fundamental, realistic and just changes in [U.S.] politics and behavior particularly toward the Middle East. If you take steps on the divine path and follow the teachings of divine prophets, God, the Almighty, will help you to make up in part for the heavy damage inflicted [by the U.S.] in the past. I pray for God to bestow happiness, health and welfare on all nations, and help leaders of societies learn lessons from the past, take advantage of chances of serving people, expand kindness, remove oppression and establish justice.

-- Borzou Daragahi in Beirut