If the polls can be believed, Ali Akhbar Hashemi Rafsanjani will move a step closer to regaining the presidency of Iran tomorrow. While his re-election raises a lot of questions in Iran, it would be welcomed in Paris, London, Berlin and, unfortunately, in Washington. The Western powers are actually betting that Rafsanjani, a billionaire businessman who was Iran’s president from 1989 to 1997, will either be elected tomorrow or on July 1st. They feel that a deal on the nuclear issue could be negotiated. Such hopes are profoundly misplaced.
Ever since the war in Iraq, the European powers have been eager to prove the value of the so called “soft power”. Great Britain, France and Germany have been negotiating with Iran to stop its illicit nuclear program. Unsurprisingly, the Iranians have toyed with the Europeans, but this spring it was all too clear that the regime did not take the process seriously. Rafsanjani came back on the scene to offer a new image to Iran’s diplomacy and restart the process. The United States, for its part, lacked coherent policies regarding Teheran and therefore had accepted the European policy although it had included Iran in the “Axis of Evil” in 2002.
The Iranian people are less naive. They do not forget the repression, support of terrorism and political assassinations during Rafsanjani’s regime. His comeback is not due to popular demand, but to the machinations of the mullahs. Nothing can be expected from this man. The only way to address Iran’s issue is to put pressure on the freedom of Iran.

New York Times (United States)

Not Our Man in Iran”, by Danielle Pletka, New York Times, June 16, 2005.