A former analyst for the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) has told Australian radio that he doesn’t think the Iranian governent is behind the plot to kill the Saudi Arabian ambassador to the U.S., Adel al-Jubeir.
Senior U.S. officials, including Attorney General Eric Holder and Secretary of State Hilary Clinton have directly tied the conspiracy to kill the Saudi ambassador to the highest levels of the Tehran government and have warned of serious repercussions.
Holder said he will hold Iran accountable for its actions.”
The Justice Department has alleged that five Iranians with links to the Revolutionary Guards Corps conspired to kill the Saudi envoy in Washington. One of the men, Mansoor Arbabsiar, a 56-year-old naturalized U.S. citizen, with a dual Iranian and U.S. passport, is in custody in New York.
Reportedly, the Iranians approached a man they thought was a member of a Mexican drug cartel and paid him money to assassinate al-Jubeir. That man turned out to be an undercover agent for the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA).
Meanwhile, Iran has denied the allegations and shrugged them off as more propaganda by Washington.
Robert Baer, who worked for the CIA as a case officer in the Middle East for over two decades, seems to agree with Tehran.
Speaking to radio current affairs host Eleanor Hall of the Australian Broadcasting Corp. on Wednesday, Baer said this plot doesn't appear to be driven by the Iranian government and that the Obama Administration should retract its statements and open direct talks with Tehran to avoid a full-scale war.
“I don't think [the notion that senior Tehran officials are behind the plot is] credible, not the central government, there may be a rogue element behind it,” he said.
“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.”
Baer explained: “I've followed them [the Iranian government] 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… either they're shooting themselves in the foot or there [are] pieces of the story; I don't know what they are.”
Baer also said he's uncertain what kind of further penalties Washington can inflict on Iran, given the existing imposition of sanctions.
“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,” he said. “But if they [Washington] truly believe the [Iranian] 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.”
Baer suggested that perhaps an Iranian radical is behind the plot and “framing” the Tehran government for it.
Baer also indicated that Washington officials may step back from their accusations in the coming days as more information becomes available.
“On the other hand, if they increase the rhetoric, we are looking at an escalation which is uncontrollable,” he warned. “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? Iran truly is the third rail of American foreign policy and no-one's done anything over the years to ameliorate relations with Iran.”