Monday, 31 October 2011


Over the past months and years, I have written a great deal on the US containment policy toward Iran, and on the need by the US to encircle Iran and prevent it from exercising a hegemonic role in the Middle East. US policy in the past decade has created a power vacuum that Iran has filled, given that the US destroyed both Afghanistan and Iraq, and consistently undermined Syria, thereby inadvertently giving Iran the opportunity to inject itself into a hegemonic role along with Turkey. When the alleged Iran-Mexico plot to assassinate the Saudi ambassador broke out in October 2011, I wrote in this blog and elsewhere that the plot lacked credibility, that we need to wait for all the evidence to surface, and that even if it were true, Saudi Arabia and the UN should have been in the forefront of this surreal story, not the US.

On 15 October 2011, the US made a great deal of noise about an alleged Iran plot in connection with Mexican drug lords to assassinate the Saudi Ambassador. Iran immediately denied that there was such a plot in which the government or any of its agents were involved. The Saudi government took some time before it said that it would consider what action to take against Iran.

Manssor Arbabsiar, the defendant in the plot, has pleaded not guilty in U.S. District Court in New York, but the US Justice Department insists that Arbabsiar has admitted his role in a $1.5 million plot. Iran maintains that a key player in the plot was a Mexican Zeta drug cartel hit man hired to carry out the job for $1.5m, but he turned out to be a Drugs Enforcement Agency (DEA)informant. It has been alleged that Arbabsiar and the DEA informant planned to bomb the Israeli embassies in Washington and Argentina, while simultaneously using the Middle East as a drug-traffic zone.

Although the story of "Iranian terrorism joining forces with Mexican drug lords" had enough appeal for most Americans and the world, the problem was the lingering absence of hard evidence that the government in Tehran was behind it, and the increasingly obvious sings that the US had manufactured the story for a number of reasons as I stated when I first wrote on this in mid-October. What is amazing that news organizations around the world picked up the story and ran it as indisputable fact, without waiting for the evidence.

What is even stranger is that to this day, 1 November 2011, Saudi Arabia is officially stating that it will allow Iranians to visit Mecca for the Hajj pilgrimage, and that it is still considering how to deal with the alleged Iran-Mexico plot. And if the US takes the matter before the UN Security Council, will it face Russian-Chinese opposition and questions about Iran demanding an apology and compensation for the stigma that Washington visited on Tehran by accusing it as the instrument behind the plot?

Former CIA officer Robert Baer, a former CIA has stated that the "Quds Force has never been this sloppy, using untested proxies, contracting with Mexican drug cartels, sending money through New York bank accounts, and putting its agents on U.S. soil where they risk being caught... The Quds Force is simply better than this." That many prominent analysts have dismissed the credibility of this alleged plot, and that the US has not provided any evidence or followed through in this case to prove that indeed Tehran was behind this plot send troubling signals across the world about the lengths to which the US would go to pursue containment policy toward Iran.

Can the US secure a conviction in this case to save face domestically and internationally? I can think of no US court that would not accept the Justice Department evidence against the defendant, and I can think of no US official not linking the defendant found guilty as charged of having links to the government of Tehran, or even of the Justice Department not convincing the defendant to 'confess' as much so that he would suffer a lighter sentence. The absurdity of this story is reminiscent of similar ones of the early Cold War in which the CIA  was involved. Except that in the early Cold War, the US ran a tight ship and there was a sense of mission (better dead than Red!) that justified any conspiracy or plot of any type. 

The current Iran-Mexico plot is so surreal that since it made news, the US has used back channels to ameliorate relations with Iran, just as it is trying to contain it. The response from Iran to Secretary Hillary Clinton's calls for dialogue have not been well received.

On 28 October 2011, Iran launched a formal complaint against the U.S. over false claims about the Iranian government's involvement in the alleged plot to kill Saudi Arabia's ambassador. The Swiss embassy in Tehran that represent U.S. interests delivered the Iranian complaint that charges the US with violations of international rules and regulations. Iran demands a U.S. apology and compensation for "material and moral damages of this baseless accusation."
On 28 October 2011, Iranian Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi stated that the US is pursuing contradictory policy toward Iran, of trying dialogue while applying more sanctions. This is not to say that the US as a world power does not have the right to assert its authority regarding regional balance of power matters, or that Iran can use this alleged plot that seems to have been manufactured in Washington as a pretext to have a free hand on unrelated issues from human rights to political reform. However, the US is obsessed about following a schizophrenic policy toward Iran that basically undermines its position and seem to strengthen the country that Washington wishes to contain.

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