President Obama released a video directed at the Iranian people sending them Nowruz greetings and in general iterating America’s willingness to cooperate and sort of wipe the slate clean with Iran. Perhaps this means more to me than it should, but it’s so incredibly gratifying to see a U.S. president acknowledge Iranian history and culture and show so much respect. It’s also encouraging that the administration isn’t simply waiting to see what happens in the June presidential elections in Iran, that they’re extending a hand to Ahmadinejad’s administration now and willing to engage no matter who’s in charge.
I’ve been reading some of the Iranian blogs to see their reaction. Masih Alinejad notes how Obama’s respectful tone and expressed admiration of Iranians in the video takes the idea of military action against Iran off the table. She makes the obvious contrast between Bush’s “Axis of Evil” rhetoric and Obama’s words and notes how Bush’s speeches made Iranians really believe there would be an imminent attack. She also challenges Ezzatollah Zarghami, the head of the state-operated media company IRIB, to properly broadcast and publicize Obama’s speech, asking (roughly translated) “If Obama had spoken of war with Iran, how many times would you have replayed his speech? Now that Obama has expressed his real intentions, in what light are you going to portray his words?”
The BBC also has a good roundup of Iranian citizens’ reactions to Obama’s speech. Mainly they’re pleased but want actions as well as words, such as a lifting of the some of the sanctions on airplane parts. BBC Persian TV broadcast the entire video within Iran.