Flurry of Rumors in Tehran over Iranian President's Failing (Mental?) Health

Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad was back at his desk in Tehran this week after several recent absences had Tehran buzzing over his state of health.


According to DEBKA-Net-Weekly's Iranian sources, he did not exactly look fit for work. In an effort to silence the wild rumors about his indisposition spreading through Tehran, his aides announced Wednesday, Jan. 28, that Ahmadinejad, aged 52, would seek reelection for another four years on June 12. He also went on a public stage to issue an exceptionally long and vicious stream of invective against the US and Israel.


But in private, he finds it much harder to keep up appearances.


His office staff say that when he returned to work Jan. 27, he was unusually pale, tired and lacking his usual provocative bounce. His four-day absence was explained by a mild chill, but his doctors said he ought to be in bed.


Thursday, Jan. 22, before that last absence, he hosted the Iraqi national security council secretary, Muwafaq al-Rubaie. Members of the visiting party described him as tense and drawn. Upon returning to Baghdad, they said that Ahmadinejad was definitely not himself and his behavior was “strange.” Although just a few officials were present for the formal photo-op with his Iraqi guest, Ahmadinejad behaved as though he was the center of one of his beloved media circuses, waving his hands in the air to a non-existent cheering audience.


 


Visions of his murky past keep Ahmadinejad awake at night


 


Although worried, the people close to the Iranian president don't admit anything is seriously amiss. When asked, they say Ahmadinejad is perfectly healthy except for low blood pressure and fatigue caused by chronic insomnia.


That Ahmadinejad is short of sleep is not disputed. The question is why.


Some Western and Middle East psychiatrists who follow the Iranian president suspect he is prey to terrifying nightmares which leave him exhausted. This would explain why he arrives at the office of a morning out of sorts and vents his anxiety by shouting at his staff that they are idiots, impotents and donkeys.


To close intimates he confides that he holds long conversations with the Prophet Mohammed. One long-serving aide describes the president as swinging irrationally between religious mania and extreme depression.


Some psychiatrists see symptoms of borderline psychosis, suggesting obsessive-compulsive disorder which may trace back to one of his former jobs. Ahamdinejad is a former mayor of Tehran. But he also had a hidden career as director of the unit that administered the coup de grace to executed men to make sure they had indeed breathed their last.


His street nickname at the time was “The Man with a Thousand Bullets” (Mard-e Heza Golouleh).


 


Poisoned in Rome


 


One of the most severe symptoms of this disorder is his insistence that his ill health is caused by food or radiation poisoning administered by his enemies.


It first appeared six months ago when Ahmadinejad returned home from the UN Food and Agriculture Organization conference in Rome. He told his intimates that his hosts had led him through a corridor which had dangerous radiation devices buried in both its walls. Since then, he had been unwell. He later alleged that the Israel Mossad or American CIA had used his visit to Italy to poison his food. This he charged was how they had done for Yasser Arafat.


The ailing Iranian president has managed to convince some of his followers that toxic substances the Americans and/Israelis managed to secrete into his system during his visit to Rome were slowly undermining his health and disrupting his mental faculties.


In a battery of tests, his doctors found no trace of toxic substances in his body. His adherents cannot decide whether this is reassuring or not. On the one hand, he may not be dying but, on the other, they are deprived of a rational explanation for his irrational lapses and frequent illnesses.

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