Good Reads: an Iranian plot to kill Saudi ambassador, and smooth Liberian elections
Today's papers focus on the alleged Iranian plot to assassinate the Saudi ambassador in Washington, but watch also some positive news from Africa, where Liberian elections appear to be free of violence.
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The New York Times’s Charlie Savage and Scott Shane (together with a half dozen other reporters) write a more straightforward piece about the investigation, and they note that even the FBI was skeptical about the plot, until they saw evidence that the Iranian co-accused Gholam Shakuri, had deposited $100,000 as a downpayment for the assassination. They quote an Iran expert, Rasool Nafisi, as saying it is possibly a plot by rogue officers within Iran’s Revolutionary Guards to prevent the possibility of reconciliation between the US and Iran.Skip to next paragraph
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See also Sara Llana’s excellent piece for the Monitor about the unlikely linkup between Iran’s Revolutionary Guards and Mexican drug cartels. As Ms. Llana writes, the drug cartels are a natural choice for hitmen, since the ranks of the cartels are full of former elite special forces commandos. But such an operation is highly out of character for the cartels, who are, after all, in the drug business to profit from their easy access to US consumers, and they don’t want to do anything spectacular that would prompt a US military reaction.
Less noticed, on a day full of assassination plots and Israeli-Palestinian prisoner swaps, is the very good news that Liberia’s elections – conducted yesterday – appear to be going well, with no reports of voting irregularities or violence. Liberia was rocked by years of two separate civil wars, the latest ending in 2003. Since that time, Liberian President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf has helped to put her country on a path toward reconciliation and economic reform, two feats that helped her earn this year’s Nobel Peace Prize.
Africa watchers should keep an eye on Bloomberg, Reuters, and the Associated Press for updates on the vote count. Preliminary results could be released as early as Friday. See also Paige McClanahan’s recent profile of Mrs. Johnson-Sirleaf, re-posted on the Monitor’s website last week following her naming as Nobel Prize winner.