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Iran celebrates Rouhani win, as US fires warning shot Open in fullscreen

The New Arab

Iran celebrates Rouhani win, as US fires warning shot

Rouhani supporters took to the streets of Tehran to celebrate his victory [AFP]

Date of publication: 21 May, 2017

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Iranians flocked to the streets of Tehran and celebrated until the early morning, following President Hassan Rouhani's second election win but the US says it will still prevent Iranian expansionism.

Tens of thousands of supporters of President Hassan Rouhani packed the streets of Iran's capital Tehran on Saturday night to celebrate his re-election after a gruelling campaign.

It follows a closely fought presidential election between the moderate and his powerful conservative counter-part Ebrahim Raisi, with Rouhani winning a landslide victory over his rival when results were announced on Saturday.

Many young and liberal Iranians felt relief that the moderate's had won, as Rouhani reiterated his promise to pursue a path of dialogue with the outside world and battle extremism.

"I'm happy and a bit relieved after a month of stress," 27-year-old Afshin told AFP at one gathering in central Tehran. 

Celebrations

Across Iran, young people danced in the streets to celebrate the president's victory, with the purple of the Rouhani campaign lighting up streets and some decked in the green of the reformist Green Movement.

"Ya Hossein, Mir Hossein," shouted the crowd in Vali Asr.

It combined a popular religious slogan with the name of Mir Hossein Mousavi, a reformist leader who has been under house arrest since 2011. 

Some held posters of former President Mohammad Khatami, who has been banned from appearing in the media by Iranian authorities, but who has spoken out in favour of Rouhani during the election.

This encouraged more liberal Iranians to support the president, depsite being more a moderate than reformer.

"I'm very happy because I've reached what I wanted, which was not Mr Rouhani himself, but the path of reform, freedom and progress," said Pegah, 25.

Rouhani did promise to bring economic reforms and to protect human rights during his campaign.

"In the same way we campaigned for him, we will demand he keeps his promises," said Afshin.

Videos on social media showed huge crowds across Iran.

"We didn't leave Mashhad, we took it back," chanted young people in Raisi's hometown and one of the centres of Shia Islam in Iran.

It was a direct rebuke to Mashhad's Friday prayer leader - and Raisi's father-in-law - Ayatollah Ahmad Allamolhoda who last year banned concerts and told young music-lovers to "Go somewhere else".

A video spreading widely on social media even seemed to show a large rave breaking out in the north-eastern city, with Iranians dancing to techno music. 

US visit

The win for Rouhani came as US President Donald Trump visited Iran's arch-rival Saudi Arabia where a huge arms deal was officially unveiled.

This includes the biggest single arms deal in US history while the total package will surpass $380 billion over the next ten years.

The visit - the first overseas tour by Trump as president - was meant to signal to Iran that it will support Riyadh in its mission to curb Tehran's expansionism in the region.

When the $110 billion deal was signed by Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and Saudi Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir, the US minister was more direct in his warnings.

He said the contract will help Riyadh cope with "malign Iranian influence" and "supports the long-term security of Saudi Arabia and the entire Gulf region".

Jubeir had previously said that he was concerned with Iran's "actions" not the election, seemingly brushing aside the consequences of a possible moderate win.

Saudi Arabia is engaged in war in Yemen, where it has been fighting Houthi rebels, mostly from the air, a campaign that has left thousands of civilians dead, while Yemen stands on the brink of famine.

Yemen has been thrown into conflict since 2015 when Houthi rebels broke out of the capital Sanaa to other parts of the country.

Saudi Arabia is leading an Arab coalition to support the government now based in the south.

Agencies contributed to this story.

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