Middle-east Arab News Opinion | Asharq Al-awsat

Dismissing the assassination story | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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It is hard to convince some people if the event never occurred, for example claiming that Iran planned to kill the Saudi ambassador in Washington. The ambassador was never attacked and was not killed. The accusation requires complete trust in the U.S. political and security accounts, which is sometimes difficult to demand.

If the late Rafik Hariri was not killed in the explosion in Beirut that day in 2005, many people wouldn’t have believed there was a plot to assassinate him. Even if perpetrators had confessed, some people would still have claimed that these confessions were part of a ploy to intimidate Hariri and isolate Iran and Lebanon.

Such skeptics need to see blood in order to believe it. They need to see the Saudi ambassador being killed and his assassination recorded by grainy mobile phone footage. Even in this case, some may still have doubts unless Iran claims responsibility. And even then I am not sure that this would stop the sceptics. In Pakistan, some people still don’t believe that Osama bin Laden has actually been killed, although the Americans have claimed responsibility, the Pakistanis have confirmed the news, and al-Qaeda has officially mourned his death.

The September 11th attacks were among the most doubted events worldwide, despite the fact that whole world watched the collapse of the Twin Towers live on television. Investigators at the time provided huge amounts of information and photos of the planes and the hijackers; however skeptics continued to insist that it was a fabricated story. Although al-Qaeda has proudly claimed responsibility for the attacks and released a lengthy video of admission by the perpetrators; some people still have doubts.

The battle of public opinion is very important in terms of both politics and security, but you cannot force skeptics to believe an account no matter what you try, what evidence you provide, or what oath you swear by. The issue is simple; ever since the 1979 Revolution, Iran has been pursuing an aggressive policy against its enemies, and places Saudi Arabia high on its list of hostile countries. If we are convinced by these two facts; namely that Iran is an aggressive state and is hostile towards Saudi Arabia, then the rest is mere details, whether the targeting of a president or an ambassador, a building or a plane.

Revolutionary Iran has only produced one moderate leader; namely Mohammed Khatami, who adopted a moderate policy based on opening up to the world. He was welcomed everywhere in the hope that Iran would become a normal country engaging in positive relations, not indulging in battles with Middle Eastern states. However, Khatami himself was criticized internally, along with his political party, and was hounded by the regime’s radicals. His newspapers were confiscated and he was insulted by the state media.

This is the reality of the Iranian regime. Whether it tried to assassinate the Saudi ambassador, conspired to murder Hariri, funded military operations for the Houthis south of Saudi Arabia, or hosted Saif al-Adel and his partners who carried out terrorist operations in Riyadh in the past; these are all activities that merely reflect its raging animosity.

No one in the Gulf wants a battle with Iran, and I do not imagine that the majority of the Iranians want to get involved in military ventures with any Arab or foreign country. People are tired of 30 years of cold – and indeed hot – wars with Iran and its associates. But the mood of the people has nothing to do with the mindset of the Iranian regime, which is dominated by rhetoric of exporting the revolution. The Iranian regime wants to change the world around it: it wants to liberate Bahrain, burn Israel, topple the Saudi regime, allow Hezbollah to rule Lebanon, preserve al-Assad’s regime, challenge the west and develop nuclear weapons.

Through such an aggressive outlook, there will be neither peace nor stability. It is not surprising that Iran decided to assassinate the ambassador of its Saudi rivals in Washington, especially as it recently declared its intention to send its warships to the other end of the world; the Gulf of Mexico!