The Middle East Channel

U.S. accusation of Iranian assassination plot is met with skepticism

The U.S. accusation of Iranian plot is met with skepticis

The United States is maneuvering to muster international support to further isolate Iran after uncovering an alleged plot to assassinate the Saudi Arabian ambassador to Washington. Meanwhile Iran has denied involvement in any plot and accusations have been met with skepticism and uncertainty from experts and some foreign leaders. Experts have speculated over the incentives for Iran in taking such a high risk in committing an act of war on U.S. soil. Bush administration deputy national security advisor for combating terrorism, Juan Zarate, said the assassination plot was not characteristic of historical Quds operations saying, "It was very extreme and very odd but it was also very sloppy...They usually don't outsource, but keep things inside a trusted network." U.S. officials have come out saying merely that it was "more than likely" that Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamanei and the head of the Quds force knew about the alleged plot, however acknowledged the lack of evidence for the claim.

Headlines  

  • The Israeli-Hamas prisoner exchange agreement is met with criticism and could change the political dynamic of the region.
  • Libyan government reports the capture of Muammar al-Qaddafi's son Mo'tassim as he fled the falling loyalist city of Sirte.
  • The U.S. criticizes Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu's plan to set up a task force to investigate options for legalizing West Bank settlements.
  • Egypt's ruling military defends its actions in the Coptic crackdown accusing Christians of inciting violence.
  • A Syrian born U.S. citizen has been charged with spying for Bashar al-Assad's regime working to identify and intimidate anti-regime protesters in the United States. 

Daily Snapshot

Angry Jordanian protesters pray during a blockade of Jordan's main highway a few kilometers south of Queen Alia Airport that links Amman and the north with all southern cities on October 12, 2011. Jordanian tribals and residents of some villages south of Amman blocked the international road in protest with large rocks and burning tyres stopping all traffic in both directions. The protesters believe they have been harmed with the governments announcement of joining and leasing of governorates. (Photo by Salah Malkawi/ Getty Images)

Arguments & Analysis

'Preventing a Syrian civil war' (Salman Shaikh, New York Times)

"Last week, Russia and China vetoed a United Nations Security Council draft resolution on Syria, dealing a blow to the stability of the country and its neighbors. The double veto could even lead to civil war. The inability of the Security Council to act has created a dangerous political vacuum, sending a clear message to President Bashar al-Assad that he can continue to kill with impunity and signaling to Syrian protesters that they are on their own. While Russia and China have emphasized dialogue over confrontation and are proposing a more "balanced" resolution, the reality is that the Syrian street has been explicitly calling for the fall of the Assad regime for months. Russia's and China's actions are in many ways a response to the West's loose interpretation of United Nations resolutions against Libya, which led to military action against Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi. While the vetoes may give some political satisfaction to Moscow and Beijing, the failed resolution has come at the expense of the people and long-term stability of Syria. This is international politics at its worst."

'Iran and Saudi Arabia Square Off' (Mohsen M. Milani, Foreign Affairs)

"Perhaps most significant, Iran and Saudi Arabia will continue their struggle over Tehran's nuclear ambitions. The Saudis recognize that, once armed with nuclear technology, Iran will have a clear and fundamental strategic advantage. As a result, Saudi officials have threatened to pursue a bomb should Iran successfully develop one. Riyadh has already begun to develop a civilian nuclear energy program, negotiating with the United States and other countries to build 16 nuclear reactors in the next two decades. Saudi Arabia insists that, as a signatory to the Non-Proliferation Treaty, its nuclear program is for energy generation and peaceful purposes. Iran, which continues to insist that its nuclear program is also for peaceful purposes, has publicly supported Saudi Arabia's nuclear energy program. But Iran is likely concerned that, as the international community focuses on its nuclear activities, Saudi Arabia, with Pakistan's assistance, could quietly become a nuclear power." 

'Reform must shape U.S. policy toward Bahrain' (Cole Bockenfeld, The Daily Star)

"In a troubling development, the Obama administration recently proposed a new $53 million arms sale to Bahrain. In response, the Project on Middle East Democracy has drafted a letter to Congress, warning that if the United States "resumes arms sales as though circumstances had returned to normal, Bahrain's rulers will have no reason" to take "meaningful steps toward accountability or political reform." Some American diplomats fear too much pressure on the government could antagonize the monarchy to the point they would call for the Fifth Fleet to leave. At the same time, the chasm between the Bahraini opposition and the government continues to widen as the crackdown continues and trust-building measures appear elusive. Chances for both sides to return to the negotiating table are slim, but not non-existent."

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