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Alleged Iranian plot to murder Saudi ambassador: A new diversion tactic by the Saudi-Ikhwan lobby

United against democracy: Saudi Ambassador Al-Jubeir (right) with Ambassador Naser Al Belooshi of Bahrain (left)

There are a number of serious questions about the whole episode, i.e, the alleged Iranian plot to murder Saudi ambassador to the USA.

Timing of the alleged plot or expose is quite meaningful.

Saudi Arabia is currently facing a four pronged spasm of democracy:

(i) One from its Eastern borders where majority population of Bahrain, Shia as well as Sunni Muslims, are demanding democracy from Saudi backed Salafi (Wahhabi) minority ruler, King Hamad Al Khalifa. (Saudis are often wrongly projected as Sunnis in Western media. Saudi Salafi or Wahhabi regime represents only a tiny minority in the overall Sunni Musilm population of the world and is usually disliked by Sunnis because of Salafis/Wahhabis puritanical rigid views on Islam and other Muslim sects).

(ii) On the Southern side, people in Yemen are out in streets in order to get rid of the Saudi-backed dictator Ali Abdullah Saleh. While 40-50% of Yemeni population comprises Shia Muslims, both Shias and Sunnis are united to get rid of the Saudi backed dictator.

(iii) Arab Spring: Ordinary Saudi citizens including women demanding rights equal to men, educated men and other ordinary people are demonstrating for democracy and human rights in Riyadh and other cities.

(iv) In the Eastern province of Saudi Arabia, where Shia Muslims constitute a majority, there is a considerable uprising against the Saudi dictatorial regime. Qateef is the hub of such pro-democracy demonstrations.

Of course, Saudi regime finds its convenient to blame Iran for ‘evil’ pro-democracy protests in the Saudi kingdom and neighbouring countries.

In the light of the above it was deemed useful and timely by the Saudi lobby in Washington to craft and present an alleged Iranian plot in order to divert world’s attention from the Arab spring within Saudi Arabia and its neighbourhood.

The Muslim Brotherhood (Ikhwan) Lobby

One also must examine the role of President Obama’s advisor for Muslim affairs, Dalia Mogahed and her link to the Muslim Brotherhood (Ikhwan-ul-Muslimeen) . The nexus of Saudi-funded groups and individuals like CAIR and ISNA also include John Esposito, a long time defender of the Muslim Brotherhood and the head of the Saudi-financed Georgetown University Prince Alwaleed bin Talal Center for Muslim-Christian Understanding at the Walsh School of Foreign Service.  Another controversial White House appointment is Rashad Hussain, special envoy to the Organization of the Islamic Conference.

One can no longer afford an ostrich mentality with regard to the Muslim Brotherhood (MB) which is the Arab version of Jamaat-e-Islami and whose ties to the Jamaat go back to 1948.

The “Iranian plot” seems likely to have been constructed by alleged MB plants in the White House like Dalia.  Just as Pakistan can no longer afford the infiltration of the Jamaat-e-Islami at every level of the State, the United States needs to investigate the Muslim Brotherhood infiltration within the ranks of its own State Department and administration.

No one wants to defend Iran’s poor human rights record but at the same time, one should be very clear as to who is financing the Taliban and Al Qaeda that are committing mass murders in Afghanistan, Pakistan and Iraq. Hint, it’s not Iran.  This latest incident of falsely accusing Iran to deflect growing criticism of Saudí Arabia’s brutal suppression of pro-democracy movements should be an eye-opener for the United States.

Of course given the internal domestic pressure on the USA administration, particularly in view of the Wall Street demonstrations, it served certain political interests to divert public attention to the Iranian “Devil”.

United against Taliban and Al Qaeda

Both Iran and the United States need to understand that for peace and prosperity in South, Central and West Asia, their interests are aligned against Al Qaeda and the Taliban and its main backers.  After a cancerous dose of forced “Saudization” Pakistan needs liberalization which would guarantee peace and security to its oppressed Christain, Hindu, Ahmedi Muslim, Shia Muslim and Sunni Muslim populations.

There are, however, some voice of sanity. A former CIA intelligence analyst has warned the Obama administration to step back from blaming Iran for the foiled assassination plot against the Saudi ambassador in Washington.

Context: US attorney general
The US attorney-general says Iran is behind what would have been a blatant act of international terrorism and which investigating authorities said was intended to be a prelude to other attacks. At a press conference announcing the plot and the charging of two Iranians, attorney-general Eric Holder said that the US would “hold Iran accountable for its actions”. The US Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton also warned that the US will consider ways to isolate Iran from the international community.

Hollywood Script:
FBI Director Robert Mueller told reporters: “Though it reads like the pages of a Hollywood script, the impact would have been very real and many lives would have been lost.”

Iran’s reaction:
The Iranian regime is denying any involvement in the plot and says the allegations are US propaganda. The allegations werea comedy show fabricated by America“, Iranian foreign ministry spokesman Ramin Mehmanparast told the semi-official Iranian news agency, Fars.

Iran has categorically rejected the US accusations that the Islamic Republic was involved in a plot to assassinate the Saudi ambassador to Washington, calling it a ‘prefabricated scenario.’

Iranian Foreign Ministry Spokesman, Ramin Mehmanparast, said on Tuesday that such ‘ludicrous’ claims hinged on the hostile joint stances adopted by the US and Israel against the country.

“These threadbare attitudes, which are based on the age-old and hostile American-Zionist policies, are a ridiculous show in line with certain [instances of] scenario fabrication of divisive ends on the part of the enemies of Islam and the region,” Mehmanparast said. He also condemned all acts of terrorism, adding that Washington was employing the legerdemain to divert attention from the growing domestic protests it was facing.

He emphasized that the Islamic Republic of Iran was a establishment founded on Islamic ethics and values and that the country had always warned that the enemies of the region were plotting against it.

Reports point to the United States efforts to wage media warfare against Iran, while Tehran says Washington’s ulterior motive is to deflect international attention from the runaway protests it is facing against corruption and the excessive influence of corporations on its policies.

The US is also the main supporter of Saudi Arabia — one of the most repressive and undemocratic regimes in the world. http://www.presstv.ir/detail/204071.html

Ex-CIA Analyst
But a former CIA analyst with decades of experience studying Iran, says the US may have got this dangerously wrong. Robert Baer spent 21 years working as a CIA case officer in the Middle East.

Mr. Baer said this plot does not appear to him to be driven by the Iranian government and he says the US administration must now step back from its comments and open a direct diplomatic channel with the Iranian regime or risk igniting an uncontrollable war.

The following is a transcript of Eleanor Hall’s (ABC Australia) conversation with Robert Baer.

ELEANOR HALL: Robert Baer, were you surprised when you heard about this assassination plot?

ROBERT BAER: Oh absolutely. I mean right now is not the time for Iran to provoke the United States. We’re on edge already vis-vis Iran and it came as a total surprise to me.

ELEANOR HALL: The Iranian authorities have dismissed this as US propaganda; is it credible that the Iranian government is behind it?

ROBERT BAER: I don’t think it’s credible, not the central government, there may be a rogue element behind it. This doesn’t fit their modus operandi at all. It’s completely out of character, they’re much better than this. They wouldn’t be sending money through an American bank, they wouldn’t be going to the cartels in Mexico to do this. It’s just not the way they work.

I’ve followed them for 30 years and they’re much more careful. And they always use a proxy between them and the operation, and in this case they didn’t. I mean it’s the, either they’re shooting themselves in the foot or there’s pieces of the story, I don’t know what they are.

ELEANOR HALL: Well the US attorney-general is alleging that it’s the Iranian government and has warned that the US will take further action against Iran; what could he mean by that? What form could that action take?

ROBERT BAER: Well if they had gone through with this and set off a bomb in a Washington restaurant and attacked the Israeli embassy and the rest of it, that’s a casus belli, they could have gone to war with Iran.

And will they move? Sanctions are not working, they’ve done all the sanctions they can, are they going to move to some sort of naval blockade, an embargo? I can’t tell you.

But if they truly believe the central government was going to launch an attack inside the United States like this, they have to do something now that they’re on the record.

ELEANOR HALL: Well they are on the record. They’re now saying that they will take further action. It’s surely not likely that they would launch a war?

ROBERT BAER: There could be retaliatory attacks or, you know, hit/bomb a Quds Force base in Tehran, any number of things of course which would lead to a huge escalation.

I just cannot get over the fact though, and I have to come back to this, the Iranians are not that sloppy to plan something like this and then call back to Tehran. So I can’t explain what’s going on here.

ELEANOR HALL: So are you suggesting that the US attorney-general is actually speaking out too soon in blaming the Iranian government?

ROBERT BAER: I think he is. So I wouldn’t be surprised if we see the administration sort of backing down from this in the coming days.

On the other hand, if they increase the rhetoric, we are looking at an escalation which is uncontrollable.

ELEANOR HALL: And which could lead where?

ROBERT BAER: It could lead to a conflict in Iran. I mean, if we were to launch an embargo, there’s a limited amount of troops in Iraq, would the Iranians retaliate against them? Would they retaliate against us in any number of places?

This is the problem, you know, Iran truly is the third rail of American foreign policy and no-one’s done anything over the years to ameliorate relations with Iran.

ELEANOR HALL: If it’s not Iran behind this assassination plot, what are the possibilities?

ROBERT BAER: You could have an individual claiming it’s the Iranian government, an Iranian radical. You might actually have a radical in Tehran attempting to frame the government.

ELEANOR HALL: And to what extent should the Saudis be concerned about such a plot against their ambassador in the US, whether it’s driven by the official authorities of Iran or not?

ROBERT BAER: I think that they should be worried about attacks inside Saudi Arabia, and again that goes back to escalation.

ELEANOR HALL: Well Iran and the Saudis have long been rival powers in the region, but are the various Arab Spring uprisings ratcheting up the tensions between the two?

ROBERT BAER: I think they are because if you look at something like Syria, Iran, no matter what they say, supports the minority regime. My contention is we’re sitting on a volcano in the Middle East. But that’s all could be ignited by this kind of tension. And people in the White House, that’s exactly what they don’t need going into an election.

ELEANOR HALL: So what’s your advice right now to the president?

ROBERT BAER: Well I think he made a huge step in this press conference in the wrong direction. You know, now is the time we should have a back channel to Iran, figure out who these people are, a red line, like we used to have with the Soviet Union, and sort this out. We need a direct channel to the Iranians to talk this through.

ELEANOR HALL: And the way that you’re speaking at the moment, this is a really serious point of crisis?

ROBERT BAER: I think it’s an act of war. If that bomb had gone off, if indeed this was a real plot, it had gone off, it would have been an act of war and the United States would have been forced to respond with military… an attack. There would have been no question in my mind.

So were we that close to a war with Iran? I don’t know.

ELEANOR HALL: But at this point you’re saying actions need to be taken to step it back, from the United States?

ROBERT BAER: Absolutely. We could not control the consequences of a war with Iran, it’s uncontrollable.

Look, all these scenarios are worst case, and fortunately they rarely come about and I hope we step back on this one.

ELEANOR HALL: Robert Baer, thanks very much for joining us.

ROBERT BAER: Thank you.
You can listen to a longer version of that interview on the ABC website.

Limited implications
Ted Carpenter, a senior fellow at Washington-based think-tank Cato Institute, however, said that given the already miserable state of U.S.-Iranian relations, the allegation will have only limited additional bilateral impact — unless the Obama administration seeks to make the episode a high-priority matter.

“It seems unlikely, though, that the administration will want to escalate matters from an incident to a crisis with Iran,” he told Xinhua.

Carpenter said that he expects Iranian-Arab (and especially Iranian-Saudi) tensions to rise sharply in the coming months.

Political tension between Iran and Saudi Arabia has been increasing since Saudi forces intervened in March to help Bahrain’s Sunni rulers crush pro-reform demonstrations backed by the Shi’ite majority.

In the meanwhile, KSA sends more troops to quell unrest in Qateef (Eastern Province)
Saudi Arabia has reportedly dispatched more troops and military equipment to its Eastern Province in a bid to quell anti-government protests. Activists said on Monday that dozens of military vehicles, including tanks, have left an army base in the center of the country for oil-rich Eastern Province as anti-government protests in the region show no sign of petering out despite a heavy government crackdown. The move came nearly one week after Riyadh sent over 40 military vehicles to the region to help local police suppress anti-government protesters.

While protests and political gatherings of any kind are prohibited in the absolute monarchy, hundreds of Saudis have staged protest rallies in Qatif and Awamiyah and some other towns in Eastern Province over the past weeks, demanding political reforms, the release of political prisoners, the freedom of expression and respect for human rights. They have also called for the withdrawal of their country’s troops from neighboring Bahrain, where Saudi-backed Bahraini forces have launched a deadly crackdown on peaceful anti-regime protesters.

Last Monday, Saudi security troops opened fire on hundreds of anti-government protesters in Awamiyah, in Qatif, injuring at least 27 activists, including three women. The Saudi Interior Ministry, however, claims that 14 people were injured in the attack. A fresh round of protests in Qatif has begun since Saudi security forces arrested two senior citizens, including a 60-year-old man, in a bid to force their sons, both anti-government activists, to surrender themselves to authorities. Since then, hundreds of Saudis have been gathering outside the police headquarters in Qatif, demanding the immediate release of detainees. Security forces disperse such crowd using force.

Saudi activists say there are more than 30,000 political prisoners, mostly prisoners of conscious, in jails across the Arab kingdom. According to activists, most of the detained political thinkers are being held by the government without trial or legitimate charges and that they were arrested for merely being suspicious. Some of the detainees are reported to be held without trial for more than 16 years. The Saudi government has been frequently criticized by human rights groups. Western governments, however, have remained silent on the human rights violations of the kingdom. (Source)

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  • ….
    Shaikh Abdul Monem Al Moshawwah, head of the “Silent Campaign” to Correct Extremist Thoughts under the Ministry of Islamic Affairs and Endowments, warned against the external sectarian agencies who misuse the social networking site of Facebook and other sites to provoke Shiites in the Kingdom in order to create sedition and unrest.
    “About 98 per cent of those who work behind these acts are not Saudis.
    It was revealed when tracked down their IDs that they are from either Iran or Iraq,” he said, while noting that all the websites that called for making troubles in the Shiite-dominated eastern region of Qateef were external forces and there were only two per cent of Saudis among them.
    Shaikh Al Moshawwah noted that Saudi Arabia is facing a cyber war being waged by external forces who spread false reports with an objective of subversion.
    “The Campaign headed by me tried its best to hold dialogue with these agencies but they refused to do so.
    “This is because of their ulterior motive of instigating violence and unrest in the Kingdom,” he said.
    Shaikh Al Moshawwah commended the Shiite community of Qateef for their loyalty to the leaders and nation of Saudi Arabia.
    “Most of the Shiites in Qateef are peace-loving people. They are eager to maintain security and stability of Saudi Arabia. The intelligent people among them do not want to create any unrest or troubles in the region,” he added. (Source)

  • Protests in Saudi Arabia: Iran’s role overestimated

    Tags: rally in Saudi Arabia, Arab spring, Society, Commentary, Interview, World
    Kudashkina Ekaterina
    Oct 9, 2011 12:13 Moscow Time

    Photo: EPA

    Interview with Chris Doyle, Director of the London-based Council for Arab-British Understanding (CAABU).
    Saudi Arabia has not seen very many protests over the years. In fact, protests in Saudi Arabia are actually banned and are illegal. But a huge sectarian issue in Saudi Arabia between predominant Sunni, who are from the Wahhabi branch of Islam, which is a very literalist, fundamental form, very strict and conservative, and the 10-12 % of the population, who are Shia. The Shia population of Saudi Arabia lives largely in the eastern province and roughly about 98-99% of the population, for example, of Qatif, where the most recent demonstrations have taken place, are Shia. There are also some who are in Medina, the second holy city of Islam, in the western part of Saudi Arabia. The Shia in Saudi Arabia have suffered discrimination on many fronts ever since the founding of the Saudi state. They feel discriminated against in terms of their ability to practice their own religion, they feel discriminated in terms of education and also in access to jobs. There is still no Shia minister, for example. And there is a strong sentiment that now is the time to demand their rights. So we saw demonstrations in March, in May and most recently earlier this week for two days, where Saudi security forces clashed with them and it seems that a number of people were injured. There are different stories. The official version is that roughly eleven security personnel were injured and three others. But it’s very difficult to corroborate that information.

    You said that they feel this is a good time. Why this particular moment?

    The climate in the region during these Arab uprisings has given a sense of confidence to Arabs in all countries to stand up for their rights and to claim them and to give voice to their aspirations. This is as true in Saudi Arabia as it was in Egypt. In particular, the Shia have most recently also seen that there has been some acknowledgement of rights for women, for example, women will be allowed to vote in municipal elections in 2015. So I think here is a sense that the Saudi government may be forced at some point to grant and to acknowledge rights for Shia. For example, in many of the Shia dominated cities, they don’t have Shia mosques, they can’t form Hussainias, which are a sort of prayerholds, they are openly called heretics on Saudi TV stations and the leading members of the Sunni clergy in Saudi Arabia, for example, wouldn’t even greet Shia or eat with them. There is a significant discrimination and this is exacerbated also by events in Bahrain. You see that a lot of the Shia in eastern Saudi Arabia have family links to those in Bahrain and they see what’s going on there. There were demonstrations in March when Saudi forces crossed the causeway to Bahrain to assist the Bahraini security services in suppressing the protesters in Bahrain.

    I have been reading reports coming from Saudi Arabia, unfortunately only in English. I’ve seen that Saudi Interior Ministry has been somewhat pointing to an unspecified foreign country, which is there to undermine Saudi security. The general perception is that they have been pointing to Iran. How do you see this issue?

    Whenever the Saudi Interior Ministry says that there is an unspecified foreign country, it is nearly always refering to Iran. Iran, of course, is a predominantly Shia state and the Saudis are convinced that Iran is trying to interfere in Saudi affairs, not just in Saudi Arabia but also in Bahrain. The Iranians also, of course, have influence in other countries, like Iraq and Lebanon. It’s very difficult to determine the exact level of influence that the Iranians do have in Saudi Arabia. Of course, the Saudi Shia argue that this is not the case and that they are actually citizens of Saudi Arabia and are not influenced by the Iranians. But, whatever happens in Saudi Arabia, whether it was, for example, the bombing of the Khobar Tower in the mid 1990s or other events, it’s frequently Iran and the Shia that are blamed, as scapegoats. And there is a feeling amongst Saudi Shia that al-Qaeda, for example, is a Sunni group and it’s the Shia who got blamed for some of the security issues when they’ve had nothing to do with it. These are huge issues and there are serious fears, given everything that’s happened over the last few years in particular since the war in Iraq and the sectarian fighting within Iraq that this could actually get worse in the Arabian Peninsula.

    I’ve seen a very interesting article, I think it is an opinion piece published by the New York Times. It was written by Prince Turki bin Faisal. He wrote about the coming Palestinian bid in the UN. But there is an interesting phrase there. He said that “even Israeli officials have recently admitted privately to their European counterparts that only Saudi Arabia will be able to give the Palestinians the required religious, political and financial legitimacy.” Does that amount to some kind of rivalry for regional influence, perhaps with Hezbollah and thus with Iran? Or is it a far-fetched assessment?

    There is a massive regional power play going on here between some of the major states – Iran and Saudi Arabia – who certainly are fronting off against each other in the Gulf and also in Syria and Lebanon. But there are also other countries who are major stakeholders, such as Turkey, which is becoming increasingly more diplomatically active. There is Egypt, which, of course, has always been a major player, as the most populist Arab state, and Qatar, which has perhaps more disposable funds on its hands, as we saw in the case of Libya, to finance major projects, to act as an arbiter and a mediator between various warring parties in a given conflict. It’s a sign that the region, given all the events, is having a major shake-up and it’s not really quite clear as to where this will all go because it will be dependent, for example, on what happens in countries like Syria, whether the Bashar al-Assad regime will survive, what will happen in Egypt, will you see the military still dominate the political scene there, what will happen in Yemen indeed, which is also a massive concern for Saudi Arabia on its southern borders.

    Do I get it right that the Gulf Council still has enough capacity to prevent the major outburst at least in those Gulf countries?

    Certainly, within GCC countries, we have not seen on the Bahraini side a significant unrest that would really be seen as a threat directly the ruling families. Largely, they’ve been more stable than some of the other countries in the region, and this is largely because they have hydrocarbon wealth, they are able to increase salaries and subsidies and pay off debts. And, of course, this makes it much easier. So they don’t necessarily have some of the economic conditions that prevail in Egypt or in Syria. Certainly, it’s helpful in staving off any future unrest. But, ultimately, there will come a day when Saudis and other will demand in a very serious fashion their political, cultural and social rights to be acknowledged. And this will include the Shia in the eastern province.

    Finally, do I get you right that you believe the Iran’s role is still a little bit overestimated in the whole situation?

    Iran certainly has an interest in trying to destabilize the Gulf, not least because it failed on the threat from particularly the US and also Israel, who have openly said that the acquisition of any nuclear weapon by Iran would be a serious security threat, and, in the case of the Israelis, could actually lead to a military attack. So, Iran’s ability to destabilize key states like Saudi Arabia and Lebanon and others is actually a deterrent. That’s why it has such a strong relationship with groups like Hezbollah that could act as a “first line of defense” in the event that Israel wanted to take military action. So, the Iranians are certainly looking at ways to try to ward off any military aggression against their country and they are quite prepared to use all sorts of means. And there are lots of suspicions that they use sleeper cells and other ways to stir things up as well their media.


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    Shia attack Riyadh’s crackdown pledge
    By Michael Peel in Abu Dhabi
    Activists from Saudi Arabia’s heavily Shia Muslim-populated eastern province hit back on Wednesday at government claims that an unnamed foreign power – normally a code for Shia Iran – was behind violence there this week.
    Eastern Shia campaigners attacked Riyadh’s pledge to crack down with an “iron fist” on further trouble in the oil-rich but long-restive region, where the interior ministry says 11 security force members were wounded in clashes on Monday.

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    The comments highlight rising tensions between Saudi Arabia’s Sunni rulers and a Shia minority that accuses the government of discrimination and has been further sensitised by neighbouring Bahrain’s clampdown on a Shia uprising there.
    Tawfiq al-Saif, a Shia writer and community leader in the eastern city of Qatif near the centre of the violence, said: “Saying there was a foreign power behind this is nonsense. There is a tension [here] for a long time. So to use force will actually add more fuel to the fire”.
    Walked Sulais, another Qatif activist, said the government’s allegation that Iran organised the violence was damaging to Sunni-Shia relations.
    He wrote on Twitter: “We all denounce violence, but accusing a sect of loyalty to Iran is unacceptable. Coexistence in our country was broken. Years of efforts to spread tolerance were destroyed by this statement.’’
    Mr al-Saif said the Qatif area was quiet on Wednesday, adding that government officials had met “local notables” as both sides tried to restore calm.
    Activists in the Qatif area claim trouble flared this week in the village of al-Awwamiya after a group of young men went to a police station because officers had detained the father of a campaigner, in an effort to force him to give himself up. The Saudi government said protesters fired machine guns and hurled Molotov cocktails at security force members, in a battle that also injured three civilians.
    The Saudi interior ministry added little to its comments of Tuesday, in which it promised to “ruthlessly deal with the misguided and agents” and to “use the iron fist with whoever dares resorting to such ways”. It said: “Nothing at all justifies firing at policemen.”
    There was no reaction in Tehran to the Saudi authorities’ allegations of foreign meddling. Iran usually shies from criticising Riyadh in public.
    While Saudi Arabia has largely escaped the public protests seen in many Middle East countries during this year’s Arab awakening, demonstrators from the Shia community have staged several rallies in the Qatif area this year.
    The majority of Shia, who account for about a 10th of Saudi Arabia’s population, live in the oil-rich east of the country, where they are nonetheless a minority. They have called for the release of Shia prisoners and the withdrawal of Saudi forces sent to Bahrain to help quell protests by members of the Shia majority against the Sunni royal family.
    Qatif and the wider eastern region are strategically important because of their role in the Saudi oil industry, the world’s largest in terms of output. An oil processing centre near Qatif handles about 70 per cent of the country’s daily crude production.
    Additional reporting by Najmeh Bozorgmehr in Tehran


  • Saudi Wahhabi Forces Arrest a Shia Writer and Social Activist in Qatif

    On the evening of Sunday, the Saudi authorities arrested a writer and social activist from the town of Awammiya against the backdrop of the peaceful demonstrations witnessed by the Qatif province in recent months.

    (Ahlul Bayt News Agency) – On the evening of Sunday, the Saudi authorities arrested a writer and social activist from the town of Awammiya against the backdrop of the peaceful demonstrations witnessed by the Qatif province in recent months.

    Sources indicated that the authorities arrested the writer Ali al-Dubaisi at a checkpoint between the city of Safwa and Awammiya in Qatif. The sources acknowledged that Mr. al-Dubaisi was taken straightaway to the Department of Criminal Investigation in Qatif where authorities prevented his family from visiting or talking to him. This incident is a sequel to his earlier arrest in May when he was stopped at the same checkpoint and detained by the police station in Safwa for 24 hours and released without charging him.

    In a related development, sources indicated that police of Awammiya called the citizen Hussein Daif al-Yasseen (in his sixties) for interrogation and then deported him to Qatif penitentiary. According to family sources, al-Yasseen underwent debriefing last Friday on charges of coincidently driving his car near a peaceful demonstration.

    The area has witnessed a series of peaceful marches during which demonstrators called for releasing non-sentenced prisoners for many years, along with demanding for political reforms and waiving out the sectarian discrimination faced by the Saudi Shiites population. The demonstrators expressed, in many marches, solidarity with the advocates of democracy in Bahrain following the exposure of a brutal crackdown by the authorities there.


  • Saudi Shia Cleric, Sheikh Nemr Refuses Use of Violence against Security Forces

    Sheikh Nemr Baqir al-Nemr prohibited the use of violence against the security forces emphasizing that “Our position is not responding to lead bullets with firearms.”

    (Ahlul Bayt News Agency) – In his Tuesday night speech in Imam Hussein Mosque in Awamiya town in Qatif, he identified his approach to acquire religious and political rights through the use of “the roar of the word.” He said that there were some who used arms, literally: “We do not accept this. This is not our practice. We will lose it. It is not in our favor.” He stated: “This is our approach [use of words]. We welcome those who follow such attitude. Nonetheless, we cannot enforce our methodology on those who want to pursue different approaches that do not commit to ours.” He recommend that young people maintain their mental fortitude and direct their enthusiasm and emotions toward the use of the word. He stressed that: “The weapon of the word is stronger than the power of lead.” He accused the authorities for provoking the public by shooting in the streets for hours.

    On Tuesday night, the streets of the town were devoid of any aspects of security and therefore tranquility prevailed after two days of fighting between the civilians and the security forces, during which live bullets and stones were used.

    The authorities on Sunday arrested two elderly men to pressure their sons to surrender to the police which led to the collapse of one of the two men after a sudden health crisis that instigated the anger of the community.

    Sheikh Nemr added: “The general approach for acquiring rights is the roar of the word.” He retorted: “We have the options of resisting bullets with bullets and we will certainly lose because the authority forces are stronger than ours by leaps.” He continued: “We are powerless when we face the regime with its choice of force. Unquestionably, this selection leads to failure.” He added: “The word is stronger than the hum of bullets; then, your choice is this, and this requires us not be trapped into the bet of regime.” He refused to use stones against the security forces or participating in protest marches while masked. He concluded: “The best, even stones are not needed in such situations. We do not need to hide. Whoever wants to be needs to unmask himself and bear the consequences of apprehension.”


  • Saudi Arabia: Protests Stifled and Blamed on a “Foreign Country”
    Spokesmen from the government of Saudi Arabia assured the nation that the recent unrest in the oil-rich eastern province of Qatif has been put down and stability restored. The government also stated that a “foreign country” was behind the unrest, many interpreting this “foreign country” as Iran since the majority of the Shi’ite population in Saudi Arabia is concentrated in the east where the unrest has been taking place.
    A total of fourteen people, eight of them police officers, were injured.
    Saudi Arabia’s national media, the Saudi Press Agency, said that the Ministry of Interior spotted a group riding on motorbikes “carrying petrol bombs” near the city of Qatif.
    According to the SPA, the Ministry of Interior holds this motorbiking group of outlaws responsible, along with the foreign country backing them, for the attempts that are trying to “undermine the nation’s security and stability”.
    Although Saudi Arabia has not experienced Arab Spring/the Jasmine Revolution that has struck nearby Yemen, Bahrain, Tunisia, Egypt, Algeria, Tunisia and other countries, its eastern city of Qatif was the site of protests earlier in March which were calling for the release of Shi’ite prisoners who, according to them, are still being held in prison without any charges.
    The protests in March were also dispersed by Saudi security as protesting against the monarchy has been illegal since the early 20th century.

    Recently, in order to keep touch with his people, Saudi Arabia’s King Abdullah has pledged to spend $36 billion on social welfare and the creation of jobs as frustration grows among the younger population of Saudi Arabia over the lack of economic drive.

    In addition, King Abdullah symbolically put forth royal decrees that now allow Saudi women to vote and participate in moderate level politics while also excusing a Saudi woman from being caned for getting arrested in the wake of the Women2Drive protests that encouraged Saudi women to resist the restriction on women driving.

    Source: http://inewp.com/?p=9171

  • Saudis say Iran must ‘pay the price’ for alleged plot as US resists retaliation
    Tehran denies it was behind plot to kill Saudi ambassador and says US is using it to divert attention from problems at home

    reddit this
    Ewen MacAskill and Saeed Kamali Dehghan
    guardian.co.uk, Wednesday 12 October 2011 19.40 BST
    Article history

    Link to this video
    The Saudi Arabian government has issued a menacing warning to Iran that it will have to “pay the price” for the alleged plot to hire a Mexican drugs cartel to assassinate its ambassador in Washington.

    The threat from the Saudis came as the Obama administration resisted calls from within the US, mainly from the conservative right, to retaliate against Iran with military action.

    But Iran denied it was behind the alleged plot, with officials claiming Washington had fabricated the story to divide Sunni Muslims – the dominant group in Saudi – and Shias, the dominant group in Iran. Tehran’s leadership claimed Barack Obama was using the story to divert attention from the Occupy Wall Street protesters.

    The foreign ministry summoned the Swiss ambassador, who handles US interests in the country, to condemn what it called “baseless claims” and warn “against the repetition of such politically motivated allegations.”

    A Saudi prince, Turki al-Faisal, a former ambassador to Washington and a former head of the Saudi intelligence service, told a conference in London: “The burden of proof and the amount of evidence in the case is overwhelming, and clearly shows official Iranian responsibility for this. This is unacceptable. Somebody in Iran will have to pay the price.”

    The US justice department announced on Tuesday that two men had been charged over the plot to assassinate the Saudi ambassador to Washington, Adel al-Jubeir, in a bomb explosion at one of his favourite restaurants.

    Manssor Arbabsiar
    One of the men, Manssor Arbabsiar, an American-Iranian, is alleged to have sought the help of a Mexican drugs cartel, Zetas, to provide explosives and carry out the attack. The other man, Gholam Shakuri, is in Iran, according to the US.

    Relations between Saudi Arabia and Iran have long been strained, exacerbated this year by the Saudis sending forces into neighbouring Bahrain to help put down protesters, many of them Shia Muslims.

    In spite of increased tension between Saudi Arabia and Iran as a result of the episode, the alleged plot is being met with scepticism within the diplomatic community, as well as from foreign affairs analysts specialising in Iran, who said the plot was amateurish and did not fit in the usual Iranian modus operandi, and questioned what Iran would gain from such an episode.

    A former western diplomat with an intimate knowledge of Iranian affairs said: “I don’t believe Iran’s regime was behind the plot. If we assume it was Iran’s plot, it would seem like a group of professional gangsters hiring a careless agent for their most important project. It’s impossible.”

    Fresh details emerged on Wednesday about Arbabsiar, the man at the centre of the supposed plot, who appeared in court in New York on Tuesday charged with conspiracy, and who is allegedly linked to the Iranian Revolutionary Guard.

    He was a car salesman in Corpus Christi, Texas, where he ran a number of businesses, largely unsuccessful. He does not fit the usual profile of an Iranian agent, who tend to be professional.

    The US is taking the issue to the UN security council to seek action against Iran – but it will need to offer evidence to back its claim. One of the main pieces of evidence is a $100,000 sum transferred to the US, allegedly from Iran, as a downpayment for the assassination attempt.

    Susan Rice, the UN ambassador to the UN, and a team of experts from the justice department, were briefing individual members of the security council about the plot on Wednesday.

    “It is a dangerous esclation of Iran’s long-scale use of violence,” Jay Carney, the White House spokesman, told reporters at a briefing. On a possible military response, he said no options had been taken off the table, but emphasised that the US was focusing on diplomatic and economic measures against Iran, including new sanctions against an airline accused of transporting revolutionary guard personnel.

    The vice-president Joe Biden, in an ABC television interview, said the administration was focused on mounting a major diplomatic effort to persuade its allies in Europe and elsewhere to impose tougher economic sanctions on Iran.

    As the State Department issued a three-month worldwide travel alert for American citizens, secretary of state Hillary Clinton described the alleged plot as a “reckless act”.

    “Such worn-out approaches are … part of the special scenarios staged and pursued by the enemies of Islam and the region to sow discord among Muslims,” the semi-official Fars news agency quoted foreign ministry spokesman Ramin Mehmanparast as saying.

    Fars also quoted Alaoddin Boroujerdi, the head of the parliamentary committee on national security and foreign policy, who said: “No doubt this is a new American-Zionist plot to divert the public opinion from the crisis Obama is grappling with.

    Today, the United States is witnessing a popular uprising called Wall Street protests which have targeted the hostile policies of that country’s statesmen.

    “Thus, Americans are seeking to derail the public opinion from the Wall Street uprising.”


  • FARS News Agency, Islamic Republic of Iran
    U.S. Hatches Iran Murder Tale to Sow Suspicion; ‘Deflect’ American Public from ‘Unrest’

    Could it be that the United States and the West is falsely charging Iran with plotting a terrorist attack against Saudi Arabia and Israel in the United States? According to this editorial from Iran’s state-run FARS News Agency, the plot is a carefully planned attempt to deflect attention from protests on Wall Street and sow suspicion of Iran in neighboring Arab countries.


    October 12, 2011

    Islamic Republic of Iran – Fars News Agency – Original Article (English)

    The suspect: Naturalized American Manssor Arbabsiar is charged with being hired by Iran’s Quds Force to kill the Saudi Ambassador to the United States.

    AL-JAZEERA VIDEO: U.S. links Iran with plot to kill Saudi envoy, Oct. 11, 00:02:33.

    TEHRAN: U.S. officials and media have launched a new scenario against Tehran for a number of reason: to divert global public attention from uprisings in the U.S. and Middle East; impose new security measures in the U.S. to harness the Wall Street uprising; weaken trust in Iran and its revolution around the region; and persuade U.N. Security Council members to agree to a new resolution against Tehran in order push it into a corner in nuclear talks.

    As the Obama Administration grapples with growing unrest and popular protest throughout the United States, the White House launched this new campaign against Iran, alleging that the FBI and DEA have broken up an Iranian plot to kill a Saudi envoy to Washington. FBI and DEA agents alleged on Tuesday that they have disrupted a plot to commit a “significant terrorist act in the United States” tied to Iran.

    The officials claimed that the plot included the assassination of the Saudi Ambassador to the United States Adel Al-Jubeirz with a bomb, and subsequent bombing attacks on the Saudi and Israeli embassies in Washington, D.C. The bombings of Saudi and Israeli embassies in Buenos Aires, Argentina were also discussed, according to the officials.

    In an announcement today, U.S. Attorney General Eric Holderz claimed that the plan was “conceived, sponsored and directed’ from a faction of the Iran government, calling it a “flagrant” violation of U.S. and international law.

    Holder alleged that the plot was “conceived” in Iran by the Quds Force, part of Iran’s Islamic Revolution Guard Corps.

    Hours later on Tuesday night, Iranian Foreign Ministry Spokesman Ramin Mehman-Parast dismissed the U.S. allegations as a totally unfounded prefabricated scenario.

    “Such worn-out approaches based on the old hostile policies of the American-Zionist axis are a comedy show and one of the special scenarios staged … by the enemies of Islam and the region to sow discord (among Muslims),” Mehman-Parast said.

    A look at the past reveals how Washington and some of its allies, at sensitive junctures, have always hatched carefully worked out psychological operations against Washington’s foes.

    In addition, a look at current conditions in the Middle East and Western countries shows that America and its allies are having a difficult time with popular uprisings – and not only those in Arab countries: in the U.S. and several European countries, unrest has undermined American policy, attracting global media attention and leading to the further isolation of the Zionist regime.
    Posted by WORLDMEETS.US

    Thus once again, the White House is at a sensitive juncture and needs to divert global public opinion from the suppression of the American people, other Western communities and protestors in Bahrain, Yemen, and America’s main ally in the region, Saudi Arabia.

    FARS News Agency, Iran: Iran ‘Strongly Rejects’ Charges of Plot to Kill Suadi Envoy
    FARS News Agency, Iran: Alleged Iran Plot May Have Triggered Middle East War
    Guardian Unlimited, U.K.:: Unanswered Questions Over Alleged Iranian Murder Plot
    BBC News, U.K.: U.S. Treasury Hits Iranian Airline with Sanctions
    Telegraph, U.K. Obama Looks ‘Foolish, Naive’ in Wake of Iran Terror Plot
    FARS News Agency, Iran: ‘Disregard’ Best Response to False U.S. Charges
    FARS News Agency, Iran: Iran’s U.N. Envoy Condemns Assassination Charges

    And as usual, this new act has appeared thanks to the tight collaboration of all Western media, which have mobilized everything they have to convince the world to accept a huge and monstrous lie.

    At the same time, this new act may serve to help the White House impose a new wave of security measures across America and raise its terror alert condition in a move to more effectively clamp down on protests against Wall Street, which have overwhelmed the country.

    In addition, the Obama Administration believes that such a plot will help undermine trust in Iran and its revolution around the region just as nations throughout the Muslim world are looking toward Iran as a model, with a dozen having witnessed mass popular uprisings that, as they themselves say, have all been inspired by Iran’s Islamic Revolution.

    This new plot may also help the U.S. and its allies to exert added pressure on Iran during nuclear talks between Tehran and the West. The plot has already provided a pretext for the U.S. to seek a new round of sanctions against Iran, and the White House is hopeful of persuading other U.N. Security Council members, especially Russia and China, not to veto a new resolution against Iran.

    Regardless of how successful this new U.S. plot may be, nations should examine both sides of the story to better understand the realities behind America’s latest puppet show.

    http://worldmeets.us/ http://worldmeets.us/farsnews000007.shtml#ixzz1abQBq7S2


    Yet questions abound over the putative plot, not least the classic ones of motive and means. Many analysts are skeptical.

    What could Iran hope to gain from an assassination that would have brought fierce retribution? Why try to recruit a hitman from a Mexican drug cartel instead of using its own?

    On the other hand, why would the United States, even with a presidential election looming next year, go public with such accusations unless they were well founded, knowing the impact they could have on an already volatile Middle East?

    “Killing the Saudi envoy in America has no benefit for Iran,” said independent Iranian analyst Saeed Leylaz. “Why should Iran create hostility when the region is boiling?

    Dismissing the “very amateur scenario” as out of character, he said: “Iran might have conducted some political adventurism like denying the Holocaust, but an assassination attempt, particularly in America, is so un-Iranian.”

    It would certainly be a departure for Iran, although it has assassinated its own dissidents abroad since the 1979 Islamic revolution, and it has used Hezbollah guerrillas in Lebanon and Shi’ite militias in Iraq to further its own aims.

    Decision-making in Tehran is murky and factional rivalry is rife. But the idea that rogue Quds elements could concoct such a momentous plot seems a stretch. That Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei would authorize it seems more so.

    “The United States would not blame the IRGC (Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps) without substantial evidence,” argued U.S.-based global intelligence company Stratfor.

    “However, this plot seems far-fetched considering the Iranian intelligence services’ usual methods of operation and the fact that its ramifications would involved substantial political risk,” it added.

    Former CIA agent Robert Baer poured scorn on the reported Iranian conspiracy. “This stinks to holy hell,” he told Britain’s Guardian newspaper. “The Quds Force are very good. They don’t sit down with people they don’t know and make a plot. They use proxies and they are professional about it.”


    How this lurid episode in the adversarial relationships between Iran, the United States and its Saudi ally will play out in a Middle East already in turmoil is not yet clear.

    Iran’s parliamentary speaker, Ali Larijani, said the “fabricated allegations” were a U.S. bid to divert attention from Arab uprisings that Iran says were inspired by its own Islamic revolution which toppled the U.S.-backed Shah in 1979.

    Tehran has watched in glee as popular revolts have ousted U.S. allies in Egypt and Tunisia, even if Islam has not been the overt driving force behind the surge of Arab unrest – it may have more in common with Iran’s own street protests against President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s disputed re-election in 2009.

    Iran, however, is disconcerted by the upheaval in Syria, its only solid Arab ally and overland link to Hezbollah.

    The fall of President Bashar al-Assad would damage Iran’s “resistance” axis and perhaps strengthen Saudi Arabia and Turkey, its main Sunni rivals for influence in the Middle East.

    Major General Qasem Soleimani, the head of the Quds Force, is already on a U.S. sanctions list for allegedly supporting Assad’s violent six-month-old crackdown on dissent.

    Nevertheless, it seems doubtful that any of the protagonists would want to use the alleged Iranian plot as a pretext for all-out confrontation in a region the world depends on for oil.

    Given that no one was hurt, Iran, the United States and Saudi Arabia may avert any violent fallout — although Washington clearly intends to push for further international punishment of Iran for its defiance of U.S. policy.

    “More U.S. sanctions will be about the limit of it,” said Alastair Newton, a former senior British Foreign Office official and now senior political analyst for Japanese bank Nomura. “The U.S. case hardly looks solid, either, so let’s wait and see.”

    U.S. officials have themselves acknowledged that the details of the plot smack of a Hollywood script, with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton jesting: “Nobody could make that up, right?”

    (Additional reporting by Parisa Hafezi in Tehran, Peter Apps and Dmitry Zhdannikov in London, and Washington/New York bureaux; Editing by Alastair Macdonald)


  • The alleged plot, which involved the attempted bombing of an unnamed restaurant by a Mexican drug cartel in the pay of Iran, was revealed on Tuesday in a criminal complaint filed in a federal court in New York. The assassination is said to have been foiled because the mobsters’ agent was a US informant.
    But according to some experts, including former CIA intelligence officers, the allegations are full of holes.
    Zibakalam agrees, saying the whole case looks “very bizarre.”
    “If anyone in Iran was intending to blow up the Saudi ambassador or the Israeli ambassador, there are dozens of countries in the world which are much easier a target to infiltrate and… to carry out the assassination,” Zibakalam said.

    House listed as a former address of Manssor Arbabsiar as seen on October 11, 2011 in Corpus Christi, Texas (AFP Photo)
    Historian and investigative journalist Gareth Porter says he sees two possible explanations for what happened, but right now, he says, it is too soon to really say what actually happened.
    “One is that was indeed an [Iranian Revolutionary Guard] faction which wanted to disrupt Iranian policy toward the United States, to prevent any possible agreement with the United States,” Porter said. “The other one, which I actually favor, is that this started out as an effort by some renegades – perhaps loosely attached to the security services in Iran to sell drugs, or to have some sort of drug dealings with drug cartels in Mexico. And once they found out that it was a [Drug Enforcement Administration] agent they were dealing with in Mexico, they then suggested in some fashion that they could do a deal if they implicated [Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps] in a plot to [commit] some terrorist act.”


  • Saudi Arabia: Stop Arbitrary Arrests of Shia
    Arbitrary Detentions Spark Clashes in Eastern Province

    OCTOBER 11, 2011

    More Human Rights Watch Reporting About the May 2011 Arrests of Activists in the Eastern Province
    More Human Rights Watch Reporting on Saudi Arabia
    Seizing the elderly and infirm father of a wanted man to force him to surrender is thuggish through and through. Even more so when the state was pursuing the man for nothing more than peaceful activism.

    Christoph Wilcke, senior Middle East researcher at Human Rights Watch

    (Beirut) – Clashes in Saudi Arabia’s Eastern Provinceshow the urgent need for Saudi officials to stop arbitrary arrests of peaceful protesters, relatives of wanted persons, and human rights activists, Human Rights Watch said today.

    Interior Ministry officials said that the clashes, which broke out in ‘Awwamiyya, a Shia town, on October 3, 2011, and continued into the next day, injured 11 security personnel and three citizens, two of them women. Sources on the ground told Human Rights Watch that the likely trigger was the arrest on October 2 of two elderly residents of ‘Awwamiyya – Hasan Al Zayid, in his 70s, and Sa’id al-‘Abd al-‘Al, in his 60s – to pressure their sons to give themselves up to the police. The sons were wanted in connection with peaceful demonstrations from February to June in the Eastern Province.

    “Seizing the elderly and infirm father of a wanted man to force him to surrender is thuggish through and through,” said Christoph Wilcke, senior Middle East researcher at Human Rights Watch. “Even more so when the state was pursuing the man for nothing more than peaceful activism.”

    The Interior Ministry said that it would respond to the recent clashes with an “iron fist” against what it called “radicalized or hired instigators.” The statement blamed an unnamed foreign country, understood to be Iran, for instigating the strife.

    Al Zayid collapsed shortly after his arrest and was taken by ambulance from ‘Awwamiyya to a nearby hospital. Fadhil al-Manasif, a local human rights activist who had been detained from May 1 until August 22 without charge for his alleged role in the peaceful demonstrations, went to the ‘Awwamiyya police station around 7:30 p.m. to protest the arrests of Al Zayed and al-‘Abd al-‘Al, saying they were illegal. When he followed Al Zayed’s ambulance to the hospital, security forces at a checkpoint arrested him.

    Some hours later, officers transferred al-Manasif to Dhahran police station, where he remains. Inquiries by local activists revealed that he had been charged with “breaking the glass of a police vehicle” and “resisting security officers.” Police have not allowed al-Manasif’s family to visit him.

    A friend of al-Manasif’s, who asked not to be named, inquired about al-Manasif at Dhahran police station early on the morning of October 3, but was himself arrested. He has since been released, as has al-‘Abd al-‘Al. Al Zayid remains in the hospital, and it is unclear whether he is still being detained. The previous week, security forces arrested the father of another man wanted in connection with the peaceful demonstrations by Shia Saudis in the Eastern Province. The police released the father after several days, although the son did not turn himself in.

    Article 14 of the Arab Charter for Human Rights, to which the kingdom is a party, prohibits arbitrary arrest. The United Nations Working Group on Arbitrary Detentions says detentions are arbitrary if there is no clear legal basis for the arrest or if the person is arrested for exercising the human rights to freedom of expression and peaceful assembly, among others.

    A Shia Saudi activist told Human Rights Watch that about 40 Shia Saudis remain in detention in the wake of peaceful demonstrations in the Eastern Province over the past few months.

    “Saudi authorities should immediately stop arbitrary arrests of relatives, rights activists, and peaceful protesters,” Wilcke said.


  • It was quite ok and acceptable for all of you, if A saudi spy had attempted to kill a Shia ambassador or some other high profile figure. You can’t accept because you are blind only one side of picture is displayed to you. Saudia is epicenters of all the evils, Iranis are holy cows, they can not, can never commit a sin.They are very innocent indeed.

  • Alleged Iran Terror Plot Tied To Mr. Bean, Saudia Arabia, Iraq And Bahrain
    October 15th, 2011 | Printable version |
    Share or recommend
    Jasmin Ramsey

    The details of the alleged Iranian terror plot are getting more interesting and complicated by the day. In addition to experts analyzing its sketchy details, a significant amount has been written about Mansour Arbabsiar’s lifestyle and personality, with a former business partner and friend telling Reuters that “If they’re looking for 007, they got Mr. Bean.” But what’s more important is the way the plot is being further tied to Iran, even while the credibility of the two main witnesses is being seriously questioned (read this for more on the DEA and the DEA informant’s role in the plot).

    Just consider the elaborateness of these allegations: not only did the conspiracy allegedly involve an Iranian assassination plot against a diplomat from Saudi Arabia on U.S. soil, it’s also being tied to the unrest in Bahrain and U.S. losses in Iraq. Thus, the unnamed “cousin,” who Arbabsiar described as a “big general in [the] army,” according to the complaint, is identified in a press release about new OFAC sanctions as Abdul Reza Shahlai — the same man who, as reported by Laura Rozen, was previously designated as the Qods Force deputy commander behind the 2007 raid in southern Iraq by a Shiite militant group that killed five U.S. soldiers. Robert Mackey of the New York Time’s blog The Lede also informs us that Saudi scholar and former royal family adviser Nawaf Obeid told McClatchy that Gholam Shakuri, the other Qods officer behind the alleged plot, was suspected by Saudi intelligence of “fomenting unrest in Bahrain on behalf of Iran’s government.”

    So the first conspirator named by Arbabsiar is said to have harmed the U.S. in Iraq, and the second is allegedly behind the protest movement in Bahrain which is ongoing despite the crackdown by Bahrain’s ruling family with the help of some 1,500 Saudi and Emirati troops. Could this really be possible? Always. Is it likely or even plausible? Not really.

    Some questions in addition to the ones I asked on the day the accusations were made public:

    1) The first mention of Arbabsiar’s “cousin” in the FBI complaint is made by the DEA informant, CS-1: “During their July 14 meeting, CS-l asked ARBABSIAR about ARBABSIAR’s cousin…” This means that the initial conversation about Arbabsiar’s cousin was not documented. Why is that and what did it involve?

    2) Since the DEA informant is a “paid confidential source”, how are we to assess his role in the plot, considering his incentives (not necessarily restricted to financial ones) to bring Arbabsiar in? (Also read Stephen Walt’s comments about the FBI’s track record with these kinds of conspiracies.)

    3) Would a high-level Qods force member not be able to assess Arbabsiar’s shady and shaky character before asking him to carry out an extremely risky assassination attempt with his own reputation on the line? Was the Iranian Mr. Bean his only option?

    4) Even if Arbabsiar’s cousin is indeed Shahlai, and Shahlai is who the U.S. claims he is, does he represent the Iranian government? What if Shahlai, for various possible reasons, acted on his own accord? In other words, was this an Iranian plot or an Iranian cousin’s plot?

    Again, the question is not whether Iran is capable of terrorism (because it is) or about Arbabsiar’s guilt, but whether the Iranian government was behind an act of international terrorism on U.S. soil. When the media headlines pieces on this case using phrases like “Iran plot” it is going to be remembered by readers as such regardless of the facts presented. The long-term effects of this on the U.S. psyche remain to be seen, but is there enough evidence to even make that claim at this point? This question is particularly important when prominent pundits such as those that pushed for the invasion of Iraq are pushing for a military response to Iran. Consider the recent words of well-known neoconservative Reuel Marc Gerecht in the Wall Street Journal:

    The White House needs to respond militarily to this outrage. If we don’t, we are asking for it.

    Until hard evidence is offered by the Obama administration to back up its far-reaching allegations, more questions need to be asked. It’s disconcerting that while the U.S. is gearing up to respond with further punitive measures against Iran, the most important question hasn’t even been adequately answered yet.


  • Punching holes in the Iran plot
    By: Robert Dreyfuss | Published: October 17, 2011

    There’s plenty of reason to be sceptical, until more evidence is revealed, about the true nature of the terrorism scheme allegedly cooked up by Iran to assassinate Adel al-Jubeir, the ambassador of Saudi Arabia to the United States. But one thing is certain: Had a bomb exploded in a downtown Washington DC restaurant killing the ambassador and a hundred or more other people including members of Congress, and that event were traced back to Iran, the United States would already be launching a massive aerial attack against Iran’s top military installations and its nuclear research programme.
    And that’s just one more reason why analysts are reluctant to accept the idea that Tehran would take such a gigantic gamble for little or no conceivable gain. Killing Jubeir – a non-royal Saudi – at the risk of provoking war between Iran and the United States ranges from highly unlikely to out of the question for either Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei or President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. And, according to Washington analysts, it’s wildly out of character for Gen Qassem Suleimani, the coolly calculating leader of the Quds Force of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC).
    Spy-watchers and intelligence analysts have almost universally pointed out that the ‘tradecraft,’ or spy know-how involved in the US account of the affair is laughably incompetent. Speaking in almost unguarded language over open phone lines between the United States and Iran, wiring very large, easily traced sums of cash into an unvetted (FBI-controlled) bank account, and hiring a notoriously volatile Mexican drug-trafficking mafia to do the deed are like loud sirens calling attention to the plot.
    And the conspiracy’s alleged mastermind turns out to be a bungling, inept failed Iranian-American businessman in a Texas backwater. Twice married, and under a protection order against him filed by his first wife, Manssor Arbabsiar is a pot smoking, heavy drinker with a criminal record, a used car dealer who flunked out of college in Texas and who’s been described by acquaintances as ‘hopelessly unreliable.’ A former business partner calls him ‘goofy,’ adding: ‘Let me put it this way: He’s no mastermind.’
    Yet US officials, outlining a plot in which Arbabsiar claimed to have been working with a cousin who held a senior post in the Quds Force and another official, who wired nearly $100,000 to Arbabsiar’s phony drug gangster, asserted point blank, in background briefings with reporters: ‘It would be our assessment that this kind of operation would have been discussed at the highest levels of the regime,’ meaning Khamenei and Ahmadinejad.
    You can draw your own conclusions by reading the full text of the complaint, in which the clumsy ineptitude of the plot is revealed in all its glory. Or, most of its glory, since there’s much that isn’t specified: How did the United States assure itself that Arbabsiar’s contact, Gholam Shakuri, was, in fact, an officer in the highly secretive Quds Force? Why were they convinced that Arbabsiar’s cousin was, in fact, a ‘top general’ in that force? Who initiated contact between Arbabsiar and the supposed Mexican Mafioso who turned out to be an informant for the US Drug Enforcement Administration? Was it Arbabsiar or the DEA informant who initially proposed details of the alleged plot, which US officials say involved not only the Saudi ambassador, but the Saudi and Israeli embassies in Washington and Buenos Aires?
    Many other questions loom in the wake of these charges, too. Why would Iran choose to work with a Mexican drug cartel, when its intelligence services either keep operations in house or rely on close allies such as Hizbollah, Syria, and various Iraqi Shia groups that they’ve created and trained, such as the Islamic Supreme Council of Iraq’s Badr Brigade?
    Some analysts have suggested, without any evidence whatsoever, that the Obama administration is fabricating a plot in order to justify war with Iran, citing the George W. Bush administration’s manipulation of intelligence about Iraq in 2002. That seems outlandish, since President Barack Obama seems determined to avoid war with Iran, while Bush was actively seeking to promote war with Iraq. Others have suggested that a third power, perhaps Israel, might have had a hidden role in trying to provoke enmity between Iran and the United States, but that too seems absurd: Were it made known, it would be catastrophic for US-Israel relations for decades to come.
    Far more likely is that Arbabsiar, and his Iranian counterparts, were engaged in an off-the-books plot that probably didn’t go very high in Iranian official ranks and probably wasn’t known to any of Iran’s top officials, including General Suleimani. David Ignatius, a very well-informed reporter for the Washington Post, suggests that the fractured political situation inside Iran is ‘tailor-made for risk takers, score-settlers, and freelancers.’ In a separate editorial, the hawkish Washington Post adds that the plot ‘may reflect a splintering of the Iranian regime that allows radical factions to act more autonomously.’ If so, it’s unlikely that those factions would include senior decision makers.
    It’s true that Iran is engaged in a bitter Cold War with Saudi Arabia, and that the principal target of the assassination scheme, Ambassador Jubeir, was shrill in demanding that the United States go to war to destroy Iran’s nuclear programme. Iran and Saudi Arabia are engaged, to a greater or lesser degree, in proxy civil wars in Iraq, Lebanon, Syria, Yemen, Bahrain, and Afghanistan. And given the apparent Saudi gains in many of those conflicts, especially its invasion of Bahrain last spring. But if so, it’s likely to look like the truck bombings that destroyed the US and French embassies in Lebanon in 1983 or the truck bomb that levelled Khobar Towers in Saudi Arabia in 1996: coldly efficient, highly lethal, and close to home.
    At the very least, the affair will be devastating to the possibility of US-Iran talks about the nuclear programme until 2013, at the earliest. The fact that Obama was informed about the plot in late spring suggests that its existence is at least one reason why the United States didn’t pursue reopened talks with Iran in recent months, despite recent olive branches from Iranian officials. Not only that, but it’s almost certain to draw the United States into closer alignment with Gulf Cooperation Council in a regional anti-Iran bloc. Iran, for its part, might intensify its activities in Iraq, Syria, and Lebanon in search of its own reliably anti-Saudi bloc. –Diplomat