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Wikileaks and Iran: Europe, Ahmadinejad, and The Worst Inauguration Protest Ever

Don't forget to read the super-surprise twist in the story at the end....

A classic moment in diplomacy, courtesy of Jean-Christophe Paucelle, responsible for Middle Eastern affairs in the French Foreign Ministry, talking to the US Embassy in Paris on 31 July 2009.

Paucelle explained that European Union members would protest the first of two inauguration ceremonies for President Ahmadinejad by sending low-ranking diplomats.

Paucelle continued, however, that the Iranians would not know of the protest: "If the Iranians find out beforehand that the EU will not send Ambassador-level representation, then they may rescind the invitations to the August 3 event."

Maintaining this sign of disapproval that would not be known to the Iranians as a sign of disapproval was difficult, Paucelle noted, "It's hard to keep a secret when 27 nations are involved but we are trying."

However, there would not even be a protest --- known or unknown to the Iranians --- at the second (and more significant) ceremony for Ahmadinejad on 5 August, with all EU members sending their Ambassadors. Paucelle explained:

We are caught between two conflicting objectives. On the one hand, we want to communicate that we do not approve of this illegitimate election. On the other hand, we need to be realistic: the power is in the hands of Khameini and Ahmadinejad, including the nuclear file, and we must negotiate with those in power. You are in the same position.

Still, Paucelle insisted, resistance would be maintained: "We will walk right out if Ahmadinejad denies the Holocaust or declares that his regime will destroy Israel."

That's all set then, right? The Europeans were going to make their unknown dissent into known dissent if the President --- who did not know that a non-protest was occurring over his possible non-election --- mentioning the killing of Jews, past or future.

Well, not quite:

Paucelle admitted that since non-Muslims had never before received an invitation to the inauguration ceremony presided over by the Supreme Leader, EU diplomats in Tehran have never entered the building where the event will take place, and so they are not sure how they will stage their walk-out, logistically, should they need to do so. They are worried that the doors may be locked.

SUPER-SURPRISE POSTSCRIPT: The Guardian of London reported just after Ahmadinejad's second ceremony:

The Foreign Office confirmed that the deputy head of mission, Patrick Davies, went to Monday's blessing of Ahmadinejad by Iran's supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, and that the ambassador, Simon Gass, attended today's ceremony despite strained relations between the countries....

A Foreign Office spokesman said: "It is not business as usual, which is why we have not sent a message of congratulations."...

He defended the decision to send a representative to the inauguration ceremony, saying it was necessary to continue engagement with Iran on British concerns. "We have several issues we need to address with the government, including its nuclear programme and human rights, and to do that we need to keep channels of communication open."

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