I’ve written more than one post over the years touting claims that this guy had died, which is another way of saying that all reports from Iranian dissidents should be greeted with robust skepticism.

But even so, this doesn’t seem that unlikely under the circumstances.

Reports from Iran indicate that the Supreme National Security Council has ordered a complete check-up of the jet which is on standby to fly Ayatollah Sayyid Ali Khamenei and his family to Russia should the situation in Iran spiral out of control. The order, to the Pasdaran Revolutionary Guard Corps, was dated on Sunday, 27 December. A fax containing the order was sent to Dutch-based Shahrzad News…

Some Iranian MPs are calling for demonstrators to be sentenced to death. Various opposition figures have been arrested including the sister of Nobel peace prize laureate Schirin Ebadi.

HuffPo notes that January 16 is the anniversary of the shah’s abdication, a date that’ll no doubt be targeted by organizers for a surge in direct action. But still: If Khamenei was going to show weakness this provocative — essentially an admission that he’s no longer sure he can hold the country together — wouldn’t he have tasked the plane check-up to only his most devoutly loyal underlings? The last thing he’d want is to risk a leak that might spook the security forces, who would suddenly fear that the balance of power was about to turn and would side with the protesters so that they didn’t end up hanging from lampposts. Seems much more likely that this is pro-protester propaganda than a genuine scoop, alas.

Speaking of Iran-related propaganda, count me skeptical too about the report out of Tehran that John Kerry’s formally filed for a visa to visit. Apart from the obvious physical risk of landing there right now in the middle of a maelstrom, even Kerry’s not so stupid as to do something that would legitimize the regime at a moment when it’s at its weakest, with even The One finally butching up and condemning them for cracking heads. It’s one thing not to call for regime change, it’s another to give them PR cover while they’re shooting people in the street. Waffles isn’t really doing this, is he?

Tags: Barack Obama