DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (AP) — Reactions from around the world to the death of former Iranian President Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, who suffered a heart attack Sunday at the age of 82.
IRANIAN EXILED OPPOSITION
Maryam Rajavi, the leader of the political arm of the Iranian opposition group Mujahedeen-e-Khalq, said in a statement that she hoped the Islamic Republic would fall apart with Rafsanjani's passing. "With the death of Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, one of the two pillars and key to the equilibrium of the religious fascism ruling Iran has collapsed and the regime in its entirety is approaching overthrow," she said. The group, known by the acronym MEK, was listed as a terrorist organization by the State Department for years over its killing of Americans. It says it renounced violence in 2001.
Sunni-ruled Saudi Arabia, Shiite Iran's greatest regional rival, did not immediately express condolences over Rafsanjani's death. One of its state-run television channels aired an interview with an MEK official that linked Rafsanjani to the mass execution of thousands of prisoners at the end of the country's bloody war with Iraq in 1988.
White House press secretary Josh Earnest said Rafsanjani was a "prominent figure" and a "consequential figure" in Iran's history. He said the United States was sending its condolences to the Iranian people, but Earnest declined to speculate on how Rafsanjani's death might affect future Iranian policy toward the U.S.
Syrian President Bashar Assad offered condolences in a statement that said Rafsanjani was known for his "courageous and frank stances and his hard work for the sake of the dignity and freedom of the Iranian people." Iran is a close ally of Assad's government and has provided extensive military and financial support to it during Syria's nearly six-year civil war.
Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu offered his condolences over Twitter, saying he was "deeply saddened" by Rafsanjani's death.
The secretary-general of the Lebanese militant group Hezbollah, Hassan Nasrallah, called Rafsanjani "a great man" and a "protector and supporter" of modern political Shiism in the Middle East. He lamented Rafsanjani's passing as a loss to the Muslim world. Hezbollah, which is also a leading political party in Lebanon, was formed in the model of the political ideology that shaped Iran's Islamic Revolution and has enjoyed Iranian financial and military support since its inception in the early 1980s.
Oman's ruler, Sultan Qaboos bin Said, sent a telegram of condolence to Iran over Rafsanjani's death. Oman long has served as an interlocutor between Iran and the West.
Kuwait's ruling emir, Sheikh Sabah Al Ahmad Al Sabah, offered condolences over Rafsanjani, saying he "prayed to Allah the almighty to bestow blessings on the deceased."
Tiny Qatar, which shares a massive offshore natural gas field with Iran, sent condolences from ruling emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani over Rafsanjani's death.
The foreign minister of the tiny island nation, which long has accused Iran of meddling in its internal affairs, simply said "God bless" Rafsanjani in a post on Twitter. A separate condolence from King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa to Iran said he was "praying to almighty God for his soul to rest in peace and inspire Iran's president, its people and his family."
South African President Jacob Zuma issued a statement saying his nation "acknowledges President Rafsanjani's pioneering spirit in establishing stronger trade and political ties with African countries and South Africa."
UNITED ARAB EMIRATES
The seven-sheikhdom federation home to Dubai, which has a large ethnic Persian population, sent condolences from its leaders to Iran over Rafsanjani's death. Emirati Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Anwar Gargash, who is among the most vocal Gulf officials in criticizing Iran, said on Twitter that Rafsanjani was "one of the voices of political realism and moderation in Iran."