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Why Iran lashes out at West

Is Iran pursuing a systematic strategy to provoke its enemies? It's not always that simple.

(Page 3 of 3)



The president in question, Ali Khamenei, soon succeeded Khomeini as supreme leader, a post he retains today.

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'Freelance' operations

A number of actions, apparently have since contributed to the tarnishing of Iran's regime.

One involved the Karine A cargo ship, which was seized by Israel in 2002 while en route to Gaza – or possibly to Hezbollah in Lebanon – and carried 50 tons of weaponry including Katyusha rockets, which were loaded onto the boat in Iranian waters.

Iranian sources told the Monitor that when then-President Mohammad Khatami sat all of Iran's security and intelligence chiefs around a table and asked for an explanation, none admitted a role.

President George W. Bush soon there-after labeled Iran part of an "axis of evil."

Another freelance operation may be the alleged assassination plot claimed by the US Justice Department in October, which accuses the Qods Force of using an unlikely used-car salesman in Texas to hire Mexican drug-cartel assassins to kill Saudi Arabia's ambassador to Washington.

"So unlikely are the details that only a power struggle in Iran could justify it," suggests Mr. Khalaji. "If so, the plot's target likely was not [the ambassador] himself, but rather those elements in the regime that seek a diplomatic opening to the US – namely, Ahmadinejad and his circle."

Indeed, the alleged plot prompted US lawmakers to ratchet up their rhetoric against Iran, with some calling for the "killing" of Iranians to avenge what they called an "act of war" and past killing of Americans.

From the Iranian side, are these all signs of deliberately arousing regime enemies, or the fallout from settling their own scores?

“The attack on the British Embassy was not only illegal and disgraceful, it was also a sign of how statecraft has deteriorated over the past years as a result of internal bickering,” writes Trita Parsi, author of the forthcoming “A Single Role of the Dice: Obama’s Diplomacy with Iran,” in the Huffington Post.

“Key actors within the regime are willing to take excessive risks on the international stage through reckless actions in order to score points in their petty domestic rivalries,” writes Mr. Parsi.

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