Iranian ex-diplomat in Norway: alleged attack on Ahmadinejad was a PR stunt

Friday, August 06, 2010

Here's an article in Norway's NRK today quoting Mohammad Reza Heydari (محمد رضا حیدری), the former Iranian diplomat (most recently consul in the Iranian Embassy in Oslo) who believes that the news of attacks on Ahmadinejad two days ago were staged. This is on the front of NRK right now but is not in any other language, and Balatarin (Persian Reddit/Digg) doesn't even have it yet so Norwegian only for the moment. Some of the article:

Mohammad Reza Heydari worked as a diplomat for the Iranian regime for 20 years. He believes the attempted attack on Mahmoud Ahmadinejad was staged by the regime itself.

– Ahmadinejad wants to create publicity around himself, and yesterday he succeeded in doing just that, said the ex-diplomat Mohammad Reza Heydari to NRK.

Heydari worked as a diplomat for the Islamic Republic for 20 years, most recently as Consul at the Iranian Embassy in Oslo. Earlier in the year he resigned in protest against the clerical regime's handling of protesters during and after the presidential election in the summer of last year.

Yesterday it was announced that Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and his entourage was attacked with a hand grenade in the city of Hamadan, a ways (360 km) outside of the capital Tehran.

A source at the president's office confirmed the attack, but said that Ahmadinejad was unhurt. One man was arrestet for the assault.

Less than an hour later came a new message from Iranian state media:
There was no attack, and the alleged explosion was due to fireworks fired to celebrate the president's presence.

According to the ex-consul there is an apparatus around the Iranian president that periodically creates rumours intended to attract international attention to him. There could be many reasons for this, according to Heydari:
– On one hand they want Ahmadinejad to be visibly internationally, and yesterday we saw just that happen, said Heydari pointing out that the news reached the western media within minutes:

Parts of the speech he held right after the alleged attack were broadcast in many TV stations and sites over the world. Millions of people were able to see and hear Ahmadinejad's criticism that there are still American soldiers in Iraq.  

No explosion

The ex-diplomat believes that rumours of attacks and other threats against the president can also have another function for the regime:

Eks-diplomaten mener rykter om attentat og andre trusler mot presidenten også kan ha en annen funksjon for regimet:

– By having the Iranian people believe that such an incident has taken place, the regime creates an impression that there is a general threat to security in the country. With that the clerical regime more easily legitimize its oppression of protests, and the fact that more and more are being held as political prisoners in jails, believes Heydari.
He noted that the explosion, which first was said to be a hand grenade and then to be fireworks, could not be seen or heard in any images from the event.

Also: NRK has not been able to get a comment from the Iranian embassy in Oslo.

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