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Middle East

Trump's victory is in Iran's interest

Iran's leaders are celebrating Donald Trump's victorious presidential bid. They believe it is better to deal with a businessman than a woman with close ties to rival Saudi Arabia.

"A businessman can't be dangerous," Mohammad Abtahi tweeted following the US presidential election. He is a close confidant of reformer Mohammad Khatami, Iran's ex-president. Abtahi found himself in prison following the disputed 2009 presidential election and is one of the first Iranian politicians to comment on Donald Trump's victory.

His praise is a surprise for many Iranian Twitter users, who often compared Trump to former President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad - a man seen as a populist hardliner. Abtahi holds a different view: "Trump is the better president and, as a businessman, you can better negotiate with him. He will have to adapt himself to the world order. He will neither terminate the nuclear agreement nor start a new war. That's why Trump's victory is in Iran's interests."

The interests of the Iranian political establishment include their long-held concern that the US would invade Syria, while Iran fights alongside Russia on behalf of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

Disapproval of Clinton's relationship with Riyadh

Trump's calls to keep out of the Middle East fray was good news for Ali Motahari, Iran's conservative deputy speaker of parliament. "Trump wants better relations with Russia. He has a good position on the Syria conflict," he said. Even more satisfying for Motahari is Trump's criticism of America's longstanding relationship with Saudi Arabia.

Hillary Clinton's close ties with the Saudi Kingdom and other Sunni states were a thorn in the side of Shiite-majority Iran. She was responsible for starting secret negotiations over Iran's nuclear program, however Iran credits current US President Barack Obama for it coming into force.

Iran Kritik an den US Wahlen (picture-alliance/AP Photo)

Iran's Ayatollah Khamenei thinks the US needs a leader who tells the truth

Nuclear agreement to stay

Iran's policymakers do not appear concerned about the integrity of the nuclear agreement, although Trump called it a "catastrophe that must be renegotiated" during the election campaign. This criticism was balanced by Trump's desire to do more business in Iran. "Just look how European businesspeople fly to Tehran to close deals," he said, criticizing US lawmakers.

President Hassan Rouhani has expressed confidence in the continued viability of the nuclear deal: "The agreement was approved in the UN Security Council and cannot be changed by a single government."

Mohammad Javad Zarif, Iran's foreign affairs minister who holds a PhD from the United States, has expressed the same logic. The US president-elect "must abide by international multilateral obligations," he said.

Iran needs the agreement to stay in place to continue relaxing or removing economic sanctions that have severely hurt its economy and it is only slowly recovering from.

Iran's Supreme Leader Grand Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, who rarely says anything positive about the US, praised Trump in the lead-up to the election. The US needed someone who tells the truth about the "corrupt elite," he said.