Mahmoud Ahmadinejad (courtesy Radio Netherlands)
Lebanon’s al-Manar Television, run by the pro-Iranian Hezbollah terrorist group, announced today that President Ahmadinejad canceled his trip to Iran’s southern city of Ahvaz on Monday after a security tip warning him Arab dissidents planned to assassinate him with a series of bombings.
Today, just minutes after 10 a.m. local time, two bombs exploded in Ahvaz, one outside a privately run bank, the other outside the city’s Natural Resources Department.
Early reports indicated the attacks killed eight to 10 people, injuring dozens more. Ahmadinejad is known for his walks through the streets of the cities he visits, and the attacks were believed to be coordinated for his schedule locations.
Tehran claimed Ahmadinejad’s visit to Ahvaz was canceled because weather reports had predicted sandstorms that would have wrecked his trademark walks through the streets to mingle with the local people.
As WorldNetDaily reported, on Dec. 15, gunmen ambushed Ahmadinejad’s motorcade, leaving his driver and one of his bodyguards dead, however the hard-line leader escaped injury because he was not in the car at the time. Iran’s state-controlled press reported “armed bandits and troublemakers on the Zabol-Saravan highway” had been responsible for the shoot-out.
Today, Iran’s state-controlled press is blaming the bombings in Ahvaz on ethnic Arab extremists with links to foreign governments, including Britain, a charge London has denied.
Ahvaz has been rocked for months by protests and car bombings attributed to the city’s large Arab population. The city is surrounded by Iran’s southwestern province of Khuzestan, the location of most of Iran’s oil reserves, estimated to be 10 percent of the world’s total.
Arabs – a minority in Persian, Farsi-speaking Iran – are a substantial ethnic population in Khuzestan. Ahmadinejad’s ultra-conservative government has caused unrest by floating a proposal to move non-Arabs into Khuzestan to dilute Arab influence there.
In recent weeks, expatriate Iranian pro-democracy groups in the United States and Europe have been calling for regime change in Tehran, arguing the Ahmadinejad’s ultra-conservative regime has reversed important reforms instituted by the two previous presidents, Hashemi-Rafsanjani and Muhammad Khatami. The new administration has systematically replaced all top officials of the national and provincial governments with Revolutionary Guards militants, many of whom have intelligence or security backgrounds.
On Saturday, Ahmadinejad announced Interior Minister Mostafa Pour-Mohammadi was appointed to head the new National Security Council and also serve as the country’s Interior Minister. For some 13 years, beginning in the late 1980s, Pour-Mohammadi was the deputy minister of intelligence and security, turning the Interior Ministry into a huge intelligence and security apparatus and bringing in many officers from Iran’s secret police.
International human rights groups have accused Pour-Mohammadi of systematic extra-judicial killings of opposition figures, including activists and intellectuals. Analysts see the Iranian regime under the leadership of Ahmadinejad and Ayatollah Khamenei renewing extreme measures to repress internal dissent as the country presses forward defiantly with its nuclear program, re-opening “research and development” uranium enrichment at Natanz. But internal dissatisfaction is building throughout the country, observers say, as Ahmadinejad fails to deliver on his campaign promise to redistribute Iran’s windfall oil profits to the country’s middle class and poor.