Khamenei Comes Out (or does he?)
The Iranian regime is trying very hard to deny the many stories about the condition of Supreme Leader Khamenei. The FARS news agency is pretty much typical:
Iran's diplomatic sources strongly reacted to rumors spread by the western media outlets over the past few days regarding the health condition of the Supreme Leader of the Islamic Revolution, Ayatollah Seyed Ali Khamenei, describing such reports as slander.
The baseless report released by an American journalist alleging that Ayatollah Khamenei is in a coma is a "bold lie" and is part of the West's plan to confuse the Iranian public in order to endanger the country's internal stability, diplomatic sources said.
Apparently they felt that a bit more evidence was required, and so Fars and the ISNA Agency produced photographs purporting to show Khamenei and Ahmadinejad meeting the President of Senegal. Except that they seem photoshopped, since the President of Senegal has changed his clothes between the two photos, while the supreme leader and the president are in virtually the same position--Khamenei's left hand is slightly lower on the arm rest in the Fars picture, I think--and haven't changed their clothes at all.
Have a look:
As a friend of mine suggested, a bit caustically, perhaps there's a new Madame Tussaud wax museum in Tehran.
It's not hard to demonstrate that Khamenei is in good health, but despite all the bombast, the regime has failed to do that. He didn't appear at Friday prayers, which certainly would have proved their claim.
I'm standing by my story. These "diplomatic sources" and "photos" seem to me to provide added confirmation.
One final point: I was not the first to report that Khamenei was in a coma. According to the valuable Enduring America blog, that blue ribbon should be given to the left-wing Iranian site, Peiknet. (Maybe this will provoke second thoughts among those who have been describing the story as a foreign "neocon" plot). The first story on Enduring America carries the two pictures of Khamenei, Ahmadinejad and the Senegalese President Abdoulaye Wade, and finds that the picture of Wade in a suit was taken from a meeting three years ago. And he wonders whether the one of Wade in a robe is really from today.
No doubt some bloggers who are more expert than I on analyzing images will have a look and tell me what they think. I find the pictures so similar--except for Wade's clothes--that they strongly suggest that "today's" pic has been manufactured.
UPDATE: In the story announcing President Wade's trip on Press TV, we are told that he flew into Tehran this morning, and was scheduled to meet with his counterpart, President Ahmadinejad. Nothing about Khamenei. He was scheduled to fly to Paris this evening.
UPDATE II: Sunday morning 18th Oct. I think my suspicions about photoshopped pics were wrong. The pictures are old file photos. So my conclusions are:
--There was no meeting Saturday involving Khamenei and Wade. The Senegalese met Ahmadinejad, as per the publicly announced schedule, and then went on to Paris;
--The failure of the Iranian news agencies to coordinate the photos was the result of the regime's feeling that it was urgent to "prove" that Khamenei is in good health. So the various agencies rushed to produce that "proof," and instead only managed to increase suspicion;
I stand by my story that Khamenei was in a coma. I believe he was moved (Saturday) from the special clinic where he had been treated, to his palace in Tehran. And I also believe that on Saturday Rafsanjani twice tried to visit, and was twice sent away, the second time by Khamenei's son. More soon, in a separate post.