The great merit of the Iranian elections was the transparency. The arrival of Mahmud Ahmadineyad to power has meant nothing but the continuation of the real holder of power, ayatollah Ali Khamenei. The president of the Republic is just the “façade” of the regime. Iran is a particularly selective “democracy”. The Council of Guardians filters the candidates and only keeps those “compatible” with Islamist values. This purifying “filter” eliminates the unsteady and threatening-for-the- stability-of-the-Islamic-regime candidates, a rule that has been implemented more seriously after the arrival of the American army to Baghdad. Therefore, some outgoing deputies could not be nominated again last year. The same procedure was repeated during the presidential elections and the intervention of the supreme leader of the Revolution was necessary to mobilize a great number of electors and increase the participation rate.
The Iranian mullahrchy might seem “progressive” if compared with the absolute Saudi-Wahhabi monarchy of Arabia but let’s not base our judgment on appearances. The Iranian regime is trying to recover its founding impetus. The new president seduced the public with a campaign considered simple if compared with the suggestive and contrasting campaign of Rafsanjani. The reformists abstained themselves in a massive way, disappointed and shocked by the sad experience of their ex leader Khatami and all the power is now in the hands of the most recalcitrant radicals. However, Ahmadineyad has nothing to say on sensible issues (ethnic tensions, foreign policy and nuclear issues).
In the short term, there can not be signs of better relations with Washington: Teheran is getting closer to the Europeans to divide the West and to India and China to export its hydrocarbons and take advantage of the right to veto China has in the United Nations Security Council. A possible alliance between Teheran and Washington against Saudi Arabia after September 11 and before the attacks against Afghanistan and Iraq would have been possible but those in power do not trust each other. There are many frictions among them, including Iraq and Afghanistan as well as terrorism and nuclear proliferation. In this last issue, Europeans and Americans share the same analysis and interests. The European triumvirate that negotiates with Teheran will be more credible if it succeeds in deterring the Americans.
The “new Iran” should support more strongly the decision of the radical groups of the region. Hezbollah is glad for it; the monarchies of the Gulf are worried. At the same time, Iran needs foreign companies to develop its production of energy. Let’s hope the international and economic realities impose Iran a less doctrinal behavior than the ideological and antidemocratic discourse of candidate Ahmadineyad who dreams with imposing values like those defended by the Saudi Wahabism, though Sunnite, in terms of domestic policy. We should also fear disagreements with the liberal civil society. The youth will never accept a return to the past. The regression to customs led to the failure of Talibans and it will have the same consequences.
_Undoubtedly, the promotion of Ahmadineyad is an evidence of the hardening of the regime and the return to the radical Khomeinism. The purpose is to close ranks around the leader and prepare the double clash announced in the interior of the country and with the “new American neighbor” whose army camps in several borders of Iran.

Le Figaro (France)
Circulation: 350 000 copies. Property of Socpresse (founded by Robert Hersant, it is owned today by planes manufacturer Serge Dassault). This is the reference journal of the French right.

Le retour du khomeynisme radical”, by Antoine Basbous, Le Figaro, July 1st, 2005.