Saturday, August 06, 2005


Mahmoud Ahmadinejad was sworn in as Iran's president today. Nothing I've read about him (and, it hasn't been a lot) has given me any reason to suspect that this could be good news for the US particularly or the west generally. Nothing, until today.

Amir Taheri, who I generally like, is well short of despondent about Ahmadinejad's election. Taheri's column is much more hopeful than I would have expected.

Taheri dismisses the allegations that Ahmadinejad had been one of 1979 hostage takers in Tehran. Taheri is also not overly worried about Ahmadinejad's "closeness" with the the mullahs. Taheri paints a picture of a pragmatic politician whose primary goal is to serve the people who elected him.
[to] label Rafsanjani and Khatami as "moderates" and Ahmadinejad as "conservative" is to miss the point. A better label for the two previous presidents is "opportunist" while Ahmadinejad could best be understood as a "radical."

Ahmadinejad's victory may well be the beginning of a long process of "de-mullaization" of the system. This may be reflected in the Cabinet he is scheduled to unveil next week. My guess is that the mullas will lose some of the key posts they have monopolized for the past quarter of a century.
I'd like to believe this is not merely wishful thinking by Taheri, but his view seems a long way from what Ahmadinejad said today when he was sworn in.