Nobody aside from the original source has confirmed the story of Khamenei’s death. On the other hand, his continued absence from all official events suggests that the source may be right.
The most interesting “non-event” was the Eid. Khamenei always made a public statement, in person, on that date, but this year a statement was issued in his name. He did not appear.
Monday is the holiest day in the Shi’ite calendar. The Supreme Leader has obligations to carry out, including meetings with all foreign Islamic diplomats. If he remains missing on Monday, I think my source should be nominated for “leaker of the year.”
A note on comments: I don’t print insults, so those of you eager to find precisely the right epithet to describe me to the world can forget about it. Go write your own material.
I think it’s worthwhile to see that some folks are really upset at the very idea that Khamenei may have died–look at the comments on the last piece. And they view it as if it were a defeat for them, while his continued survival is a defeat for us. The question of truth seems to be secondary.
The Foreign Ministry has now publicly denied that Khamenei is dead.
FURTHER UPDATE (Monday morning):
It is now 9:30 on the East Coast, which I think is 5 PM in Iran. So far as I know, Khamenei has not made any public appearance today, not even a tv broadcast. The regime has made various contradictory announcements, and released a photograph that could have been taken anywhere at any time.
Meanwhile, I have been told by regime officials that many activities are blocked because they require formal approval from Khamenei and he has not provided any for 5-6 days now.
So if he is not dead, he’s doing a fine imitation, let’s say.
STILL MORE: AP SAYS KHAMENEI SPOKE IN QOM TODAY
This story, as you can see, says that Khamenei spoke from a balcony, however the photograph does not show that. The quotations seem old to me, and do not refer to the date today, namely the anniversary of the day on which Mohammed proclaimed Ali to be his rightful sucessor. It is therefore perhaps the most important date in the Iranian Shi’ite calendar.
Further, the journalist reporting the event–at which, on his account, hundreds of people will present–does not seem to have been there. He quotes “an AP photographer” saying that Khamenei coughed a couple of times but otherwise seemed to be in good health.
I am told that BBC Persian language service also reports that Khamenei is still alive, although I don’t have any further details.
The source who provided the original information of Khamenei’s death has not responded to repeated telephone calls over the past three days.
If the AP story is correct, then obviously my source was wrong and I have been gulled. If so, it will not have been the first time, error being the most common human accomplishment. I hope to have more information shortly.
I spoke to some Iranian friends in Europe who have spoken to people in Tehran (not Qom, Tehran). They say that there is no credible first-hand account of Khamenei speaking in public today, and they add that there is no photograph evidence of such an event, which would seem to be pretty easy to provide (for that matter, you’d think they could manufacture such “evidence” wouldn’t you? I would). They say there is nothing on Iranian tv showing Khamenei actually speaking, and they say that the “AP photographer” has not been identified to their knowledge. They believe that the tv broadcast of today is a montage, not real coverage.
There is one point that might get lost in all the excitement, which is political. I have no dog in this fight. I am not “rooting” either for Khamenei’s death or good health. I am trying to get this right, because it might be important, it might have consequences for the future of Iran and our own future. Of course, it also might not. If Khamenei is dead, the chances are that the regime leaders will fight it out and name a successor, and the oppression of the Iranian people and the war against the West will continue apace.
Which is what matters most.
STILL MORE: KHAMENEI’S WEB SITE WITHDRAWS CLAIM OF QOM EVENT
This came from Iran Press News, so far only in Farsi, soon in English (in the last graph):
According to AFP from Tehran, in a statement on Monday, January 8th
Khamenei spoke about the Islamic regime’s nuclear program, he said: “The
Islamic republic will never forgo it’s rights to use nuclear energy.”
Rejecting the UN Security Council resolution 1737, Khamenei added: “None of
the regime’s officials have the right to change their minds on the matter
Khamenei declared that the Islamic Republic’s gaining access to nuclear
technology is “a matter of pride for all Muslim countries”.
AFP wrote that the U.N. Security Council Resolution 1737 has constituted
various penalties against Tehran’s regime should they refuse to suspend
Tehran’s regime has been given a 60-day deadline to respond to the UN
Security Council’s appeal to stop its uranium enrichment activities.
Khamenei’s speech was broadcast in excerpts via various reports from the
Islamic regime’s own media.
Also on Monday, which coincided with the biggest Moslem ceremony, Eid’eh
Fetr, some regime-run news agencies such as Fars and Mehr reported of
Khamenei speaking among residents of the city of Qom; however conspicuously
missing from these reports was film footage from such an important event and
minutes after the reports were broadcast by the Islamic regim’s media, the
claim of such gathering was deleted from Khamenei’s own site. There have
also been no eye witnesses to such a gathering either.
An Iranian called me from Tehran to say two things: there was no ceremony in Tehran today, for the first time in Khamenei’s tenure. Unlike all previous years, he did not receive the ambassadors from the Islamic countries. Most people in Tehran believe Khamenei is either dead or incapacitated. The second thing: he thinks Khamenei is hanging on, but for all practical intents and purposes he is finished. So he’s politically dead.
It’s not easy to get information–especially when it is bad for the regime–from a totalitarian state that has shut down most independent media. You can see from the comments, and from the news coverage, that the state of Khamenei’s health is a mystery, just as the state of the tyrant’s health is a mystery in Havana. Even in a wide-open society like ours, health is a closely guarded matter. Tim Johnson? Or Ronald Reagan? We learned long after the fact that Reagan was far closer to death after the failed assassination attempt than anyone let on at the time.
So I think we at Pajamas should receive full credit for discovering that Khamenei’s health was very grave, and we–I in particular–should have expressed more doubt from the outset about the account of his death, as I did once I found it impossible to verify the story.
Which may yet turn out to have been true. But still…
I am told by a US Marine of my close acquaintance that the quote about “how can they tell?” is not from Mencken, but from Dorothy Parker.
Finally, many thanks to all those who commented (and please don’t stop), especially those who understand how deceptive the Iranian regime can be. No thanks to those who cluttered up the blogosphere with insults, most of which were not published.