The U.S. disrupts an Iranian plot to assassinate Saudi ambassador

The U.S. disrupts an Iranian plot to assassinate Saudi ambassador The U.S. uncovered an alleged Iranian plot to kill Saudi Arabia’s ambassador to the United States as well as bomb the Israeli Embassy in Washington and the Saudi and Israeli Embassies in Argentina. The plot began in May when an Iranian American, Mansour J. Arbabsiar, ...

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548542_111012_1290383382.jpg

The U.S. disrupts an Iranian plot to assassinate Saudi ambassador

The U.S. uncovered an alleged Iranian plot to kill Saudi Arabia's ambassador to the United States as well as bomb the Israeli Embassy in Washington and the Saudi and Israeli Embassies in Argentina. The plot began in May when an Iranian American, Mansour J. Arbabsiar, and an Iranian, Gholam Shakuri, made an arrangement for a Drug Enforcement Agency informant posing as a member of a Mexican drug cartel to kill the ambassador for $1.5 million. U.S. officials are surprised by the plot, which they claim is out of character for Iran. However, the two men had connections to the Quds Force, part of Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps, evidenced in correspondence as well as funding connections. Arbabsiar was caught at New York's Kennedy Airport while Shakuri remains at large and is believed to be in Iran. The men were charged with conspiracy to murder a foreign official, conspiracy to use a weapon of mass destruction, and conspiracy to commit an act of international terrorism. Iran has condemned these allegations in a letter written to the United Nations claiming it was "a well-thought evil plot in line with their anti-Iranian policy." The United States said it will use the case to further isolate Iran as leverage to get countries to enact more harsh sanctions.

The U.S. disrupts an Iranian plot to assassinate Saudi ambassador

The U.S. uncovered an alleged Iranian plot to kill Saudi Arabia’s ambassador to the United States as well as bomb the Israeli Embassy in Washington and the Saudi and Israeli Embassies in Argentina. The plot began in May when an Iranian American, Mansour J. Arbabsiar, and an Iranian, Gholam Shakuri, made an arrangement for a Drug Enforcement Agency informant posing as a member of a Mexican drug cartel to kill the ambassador for $1.5 million. U.S. officials are surprised by the plot, which they claim is out of character for Iran. However, the two men had connections to the Quds Force, part of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps, evidenced in correspondence as well as funding connections. Arbabsiar was caught at New York’s Kennedy Airport while Shakuri remains at large and is believed to be in Iran. The men were charged with conspiracy to murder a foreign official, conspiracy to use a weapon of mass destruction, and conspiracy to commit an act of international terrorism. Iran has condemned these allegations in a letter written to the United Nations claiming it was “a well-thought evil plot in line with their anti-Iranian policy.” The United States said it will use the case to further isolate Iran as leverage to get countries to enact more harsh sanctions.

Headlines 

 

  • Israel and Hamas have reached an agreement to swap 1,027 Palestinian prisoners for Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit, taking attention away from Mahmoud Abbas’s Palestinian statehood efforts.
  • Car bombings across Baghdad targeted Iraqi police killing at least14 people and injuring 60.
  • The U.N. hopes to vote on a Yemen resolution this week supporting the Gulf Arab peace initiative that calls for President Saleh to form an opposition-led cabinet and step down.
  • Egypt’s ruling military council rejected the resignation of Deputy Prime Minister Hazem El-Beblawi who attempted to step down in protest over recent violence against Coptic Christians.
  • Libyan NTC forces have gained momentum in Sirte condensing loyalists to a pocket of less than four square miles.

    Daily Snapshot

    Noam Schalit, father of captured Israeli soldier Gilad Schalit in a protest tent set up outside the Prime Minister’s residence in Jerusalem on October 11, 2011. Israel and Hamas have reached a prisoner exchange deal that will secure the release of abducted Israel Defense Forces soldier Gilad Shalit (Lior Mizrahi/Getty Images).

Arguments & Analysis

‘Bahrain cracks down on students protesters’ (Ursula Lindsey, The Chronicle of Higher Education) “The Bahraini royal family is being supported by neighboring Saudi Arabia, which has its own Shiite minority and fears Iranian influence among the Shiite populations of the region. The U.S. Navy’s Fifth Fleet is headquartered in Bahrain, and U.S. officials have been criticized for not speaking out strongly enough against the crackdown in the kingdom. Lawmakers in the United States recently introduced resolutions in the Senate and Congress to stop a $53-million arms sale to Bahrain that will otherwise go through this month. Meanwhile, outside the capital city of Manama, protests and clashes continue. The security crackdown has only exacerbated the sectarian divisions within the country and the grievances of Bahraini Shiites. The university’s encouraging students and faculty to provide incriminating evidence from one another’s’ social-media profiles, and administrators’ conducting their investigations in coordination with security forces, has created an atmosphere of suspicion and dread on campuses, faculty and students told The Chronicle.

‘The Iranian assassination plot’s blowback’ (PJ Crowley, The Guardian)

“Broader changes in the neighborhood have heightened the regional stakes. In Syria (the best friend), embattled leader Bashir al-Assad is an Iranian client. The emergence of a Sunni-led government in Syria would be the most significant development in this time of remarkable Arab transitions. The Saudis and Iranians have other political tugs of war underway in Bahrain, Yemen and Iraq. Obviously, the second shoe would be embarrassment to the United States, which has an international responsibility under the Vienna Conventions to protect the diplomatic corps in Washington, not to mention a well-regarded and respected ambassador of a close friend. It’s unclear how much Iran would stand to gain by sanctioning or supporting this plot. It is true that US-Saudi relations have some existing stresses — the Saudi monarchy believes that the Obama administration tossed another close friend, former Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, over the side earlier this year. Perhaps the Iranians were thinking that additional sand in the gears of the US-Saudi friendship can’t hurt. Again, who knows?”

‘Hamas was forced to compromise to reach Shalit deal’ (Isaacharoff & Harel, Haaretz)

“On the one hand, Hamas’ standing in the territories will be bolstered dramatically as a result of the deal in the coming days. The boost PA President Mahmoud Abbas received from opting to seek UN recognition of a Palestinian state despite Washington’s opposition will be completely overshadowed by the political capital Hamas is likely to reap from this deal. Whereas Abbas’ gains were purely symbolic, Hamas will be able to lead the celebrations over 1,027 returning prisoners. Never before has Israel paid so high a price for a single soldier. The families of returning prisoners will be photographed in all forms of Arabic media, and Hamas will hold huge processions to mark its victory. On the other hand, Hamas is likely to also cop criticism for what appears to be a major compromise on its behalf: the expulsion of 203 released prisoners from the Gaza Strip and the continued imprisonment of many senior prisoners. Hamas must have been pushed into a corner to have agreed to such a dramatic compromise.”

<p>Mary Casey-Baker is the editor of Foreign Policy’s Middle East Daily Brief, as well as the assistant director of public affairs at the Project on Middle East Political Science and assistant editor of The Monkey Cage blog for the Washington Post. </p> Twitter: @casey_mary

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