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Iranian Mullahs Back President Bush

- Ben Farmer & Tom Pattinson

(Sunday, October 24, 2004)

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“We do not desire to see Democrats take over.”

President George W. Bush has secured the endorsement of a surprising ally in his bid for re-election. Bush once branded the country part of an “axis of evil” threatening global security, but Iran’s mullahs last week expressed the wish that he be given four more years in the White House.

Hasan Rowhani, head of Iran’s Supreme National Security Council, seemed confident Bush would not bow to pressure from members of his administration for military action against Iran’s nuclear facilities. “We haven’t seen anything good from Democrats,” he told state-run television. “We do not desire to see Democrats take over.” Rowhani reminded television viewers of the sanctions imposed when Bill Clinton was president and added: “We should not forget that during Bush’s era — despite his hardline and baseless rhetoric — he didn’t take, in practical terms, any dangerous action against Iran.”

The axis of evil is clearly as deeply divided over the election as the United States. North Korea, another founder member, pulled no punches, calling Bush “an imbecile and a tyrant who puts Hitler in the shade”. Kim Jong-il, the North Korean dictator, has not formally endorsed John Kerry but his decision to have the Democrat candidate’s speeches broadcast regularly on state radio speaks for itself. Kerry’s policy of reviewing travel sanctions against Cuba is thought to make him the choice of Fidel Castro, but a spokesman for President Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe could muster no enthusiasm for either candidate: “They are both hostile to us.”

Vladimir Putin, the Russian president, came close to breaching Kremlin protocol by saying defeat for Bush “could lead to the spread of terrorism to other parts of the world”. He hastily added that it was, of course, up to the American people to decide.

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