Mohammad Reza Heydari was an Iranian counselor of 20 years. In January 2010, he resigned from his position as an Iranian embassy councilor in Oslo and within a month he was given political asylum by Norway.
Heydari defected because he was not the regular type-cast for Iranian diplomats: Wounded in the Iran/Iraq war, he was promoted to “war-hero” status which facilitated his career as a diplomat. He became aware of his outsider standing early on noticing during his compulsory diplomat course that “most of my classmates were IRGC (Sepah) officers“.
Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), is an exclusive branch of Iran’s military which is “intended to protect the country’s Islamic system” and has subsequently developed into a “multibillion-dollar business empire“. The IRGC together with its elite Quds force and Hezbollah operatives are associated with numerous terrorist cells and activities all over the world as a “deterrence and retaliatory force, nested within a strategy designed to protect the regime from external threats“.
According to Heydari, the connection between the IRGC and the Iranian diplomats is simple: “whatever the Sepah did, we were there to support them” in an agenda that was meant to “transfer crisis from inside Iran to foreign countries“. This three-way connection between the Iranian Diplomats, IRGC Operatives and IRGC/Hezbollah/Quds Terrorists is worrying on many levels and although Iranian diplomats support the IRGC agenda without getting visibly involved, the nature of their support usually includes breaking numerous international/local/diplomatic laws and norms.
That doesn’t mean that all Iranian diplomats are wolves in sheep clothing and many might not (or even want to) fully understand the repercussions of their involvement in such terrorist activities. But it is safe to say that all Iranian diplomats know of the connection and some are very active. And some, like Heydari, understood the connection well enough to bravely go against the flow and blow the whistle on ex-compatriots which led to numerous threats on his own life and his family members’ lives. Two more Iranian diplomats defected later in 2010 – Hossein Alizadeh in Helsinki and Farzad Farhangian in Brussels.
Until then, it is our duty to highlight cases of diplomats enlisted in terrorist activities outside of Iran’s borders – an effort meant to enlighten hosting governments of Iranian foreign diplomats to a very shady side of Iranian “diplomacy”.