The response in Iran to the death of bin Laden has, predictably, been markedly different to that of the West.
“The foreigners’ excuse to carry on with a military campaign in the region in the fight against terrorism is eliminated” was the official reaction from Tehran. Foreign Ministry spokesman Ramin Mehmanparast said: “We hope this incident will mean a halt in war and the killing of innocent people and the establishment of peace and calm in the region…This incident shows that there is no need to launch a military expedition in order to encounter an individual.”
In the media, conspiracy theories abound. There are for example assertions that bin Laden was on the US’ payroll.
The front page of the Kayhan newspaper, which is widely seen as the media mouthpiece of the Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, carried the headline “US kills its mercenary” and said “CIA agent reached his expiry date.”
“The people in the Islamic countries have now put Taliban and al-Qaeda and bin Laden behind us and are threatening the illegitimate US interests with their street protests,” it went on to say.
Iran’s official news agency, IRNA, cast doubt on the veracity of the news, citing late Pakistani president Benazir Bhutto, who reported the death of the al-Qaeda leader six years ago. IRNA posed the question – why drown the body if it belongs to bin Laden? The agency also said the killing of bin Laden may be an excuse for the US to leave Afghanistan, as he was the reason why American troops entered the country in the first place.
Pakistan is the biggest loser, according to the Khabar newspaper, which is close to Iran’s parliament speaker, Ali Larijani. It said the legitimacy of the country’s intelligence is lost and the government is facing its people crying out against the American disrespect to the sovereignty of Pakistan.
The state-run Mehr news agency ran the headline “Bin Laden gone, so Obama can stay,” suggesting that the US president needed a boost in the face of low approval ratings and that now he has it.
In an analysis piece, Mehr questions the reliability of photographs published of bin Laden and said it can’t be confirmed that the terrorist leader is really dead.
“Maybe the US authorities have brokered a confidential deal with bin Laden so that he undergoes a media death instead of a real death so that ill-fated Obama can stay in power until 2016,” it said.
By Ali Sheikholeslami