Watching Obama from Tehran

Iranian President Ahmadinejad has great admiration for his own fortune-telling capabilities. For years, he has been making all kinds of predictions. Among his most famous are the destruction of Israel and the end of the "U.S. empire."

In March 2008, he made another prediction.

"They would not allow Obama to become the U.S. president," declared the Iranian president confidently in an interview with the Spanish newspaper El Pais.

This new failure in his clairvoyance has probably disappointed the president.

Nevertheless, he took the time to congratulate the man he thought would never become president by saying, "Tehran welcomes basic and fair changes in U.S. policies and conducts." He added what is obviously his idea of helpful advice: "I hope you will prefer real public interests and justice to the never-ending demands of a selfish minority and seize the opportunity to serve people so that you will be remembered with high esteem."

Despite this message, the conservative hard-line camp in Iran is worried about the overwhelming enthusiasm and support for the U.S. that Obama's election has created around the world. A popular American president who talks about peace and wants to negotiate with Iran would take away their justification for leading the anti-American front in the Middle East. Furthermore, increased international support and credibility for the United States represents a more serious challenge to Iran, especially if the international community initiates new sanctions against Tehran. All this while oil prices are falling.

This is why efforts are already efforts underway in the Iranian press to tarnish Obama's image.

"A hawk in a dove's outfit" is the way the right-wing newspaper Keyhan described Obama in a front page article the day after his election.