"It reads like the pages of a Hollywood script," FBI Director Robert Mueller conceded yesterday as his officials outlined what is fast becoming a widely debunked and ludicrous set of claims that the Iranian Government was involved in a plot to hire Mexican drug runners to bomb a Washington, DC restaurant and kill the Saudi ambassador to the USA, along with a very precise 100 bystanders.
The handler of this plot, the alleged deep-sleeper (comatose, it appears, for the last 30 years), is Manssour Arbabsiar, an American-Iranian car salesman from Texas, who was allegedly given $100,000 by Iran to set up the plot, the idea being that if Mexicans carried out the attack, no one supposedly would point a finger at the Middle East, let alone Iran. The Quds Force, a unit within the Iranian military that has been involved in military activities in neighbouring countries such as Afghanistan, has been accused of planning the operation - except that commentators around the world have quickly pointed out that the amateurish nature of the plot and the high risk step of involving Mexican drug dealers would be totally out of character for this highly professional organisation.
It would be out of character, too, for Quds Force or indeed Iran itself to be involved in any terrorist activities against the USA. Quds, set up during the Iran-Iraq war in the 1980s (when Saddam Hussein was the West's favoured belligerent), has a history of involvement beyond Iran's borders - but only just. It has been active in Kurdistan, Lebanon and Yemen. Its main focus over the years has actually been in its troubled neighbour, Afghanistan, where Iran long opposed the Taliban regime, and actively supported the American invasion of 2001. Indeed, Quds operatives fought alongside the Americans in the attack on Herat, a key point in the ousting of the Taliban regime. Of course, as blogged last year, America was quick to turn on Iran in spite of then President Khatemi's repeated attempts at reconciliation.
With many in the international diplomatic community sceptical of the US claims, which Tehran hotly denies, the story may begin to unravel, though today President Obama appears to be clinging, Bush-like (or Bush-lite) to the ludicrous claims about a bomb plot. Not only would Mexican drug runners appear to be a strange choice of operative for Quds, the alleged price of the deal, $100,000, frankly seems a bit on the cheap side for such an important operation. On the other hand, it might have sounded like quite a large amount to the drug dealer the FBI co-opted to sting the car dealer in return for immunity from prosecution. That said, he turns out to have been a drug dealer with a heart - worrying about bystanders being killed, to which the wild-eyed crazy car salesman reportedly told him “They want that guy [the Ambassador] done [killed], if the hundred go with him f**k ‘em.”
Iran claims the whole thing is a plot by Obama to distract Americans' attention from the Wall Street protests and bad economic news. While this may well be a side-effect the White House will eagerly wish for, it seems unlikely. The truth may lie somewhat closer to Iran's borders, with the beleaguered Saudi kingdom. The Sunni regime in Riyadh has been nervous of growing restlessness among Shia Muslims in the Gulf states, not least in Bahrain where earlier this year they sent their military to crush the pro-democracy protests. With America very gradually courting other regional powers, the House of Ibn Saud has increasingly needed a perceived Iranian threat to provide the counter-balance and keep America on side with the Saudi regime. And so, if we discount the car dealer simply being an affluent fantasist, we are left with the real possibility that sabre rattling Saudi Arabia, which Wikileaks showed has repeatedly lobbied the USA to go to war with Iran, has been doing a spot of conjuring. President Obama might want to reflect on who his bedfellows are before killing any Persians.
It is possible some rogue individuals, possibly Arbabasiar and associates, have planned something on their own initiative, but Iran itself would have nothing to gain from the alleged plot other than to be confirmed as the bogeyman the American media and political establishment repeatedly portray it as being. Again and again, US sources vaguely imply Iranian sponsorship of terrorism. But the truth is very different - Iran does fund Hizbollah in the Lebanon, but the nature of its support is as often in the form of funding for building reconstruction (especially after the pulverising of tens of thousands of civilian homes by Israel during its 2006 invasion) and health services as any military support. Hizbollah itself, while maintaining a lot of fiery anti-Israeli rhetoric, is now in effect a relatively normalised political party, elected as part of a multi-faith coalition, the March 8 Alliance, including Catholic and Maronite Christians and Druze, in the Beirut Parliament and part of the governing coalition since January this year.
By contrast, repeatedly under-reported in the west is the ongoing terror campaign against Iran, and especially against its scientific community, by Israel with at least the tacit support of the USA. This "decapitation" strategy was launched in 2009 in the dying days of the Bush Presidency, when Dubbya's hopes of attacking Iran were stymmied by a CIA report that declared Iran was not developing nuclear weapons. Reported in the UK Daily Telegraph, the Israeli Government then sanctioned the use of hitmen to kill Iranian scientists and academics involved in the country's development of nuclear energy.
Since then, they have been busy. Three top Iranian scientists have been bombed to death - the last just a month ago - and a fourth narrowly escaped assassination along with his wife. Claims that the Israeli secret service, Mossad, is behind this have met with silence from Tel Aviv. Given the heavy funding and support the USA provides Israel, paying for nearly its entire armed services (a cost of $8.2 millions of US taxpayers' money every single day) and funding a huge chunk of its economy, there is no possibility that any such activity would go on unless Washington approved. So who, then, are the terrorists?
We are in difficult days: the neocons in America have long hankered for a military assault on Iran, which is still one of the world's largest oil producers and which sits starkly independently of the USA compared to the Saudi kleptocracy and the fiefdoms of the Emirates. As you can hear in the video below, people like John Bolton, who was Bush's ambassador to the UN, keenly want to provoke confrontation, expressing disappointment at Iran's relatively moderate tone in reply to western sanctions. (It seems Bolton was actively hoping Iran would leave the nuclear non-prolilferation treaty (NPT) to make it easier to garner support for action against Iran).
Somewhere, the scriptwriters are hard at work on coming up with the plot twists and turns (the more bizarre it seems the better) to begin production of the biggest disaster movie yet.