Anonymous US officials are disseminating statements in the media about Iran’s Quds Force being “increasingly aggressive” on a “worldwide” scale, after allegations last week that they orchestrated an attempted assassination of a Saudi ambassador in DC.
Attempts both to legitimize the improbable official narrative about Quds Force culpability and to warn of further sophisticated attacks to come from them are prevalent in the news.
“These are not merely aspirational plots dreamed up by the Quds Force. In fact, there is active planning around them,” a senior US official told Reuters, while admitting no known attack was imminent. Another senior official said the recklessness of the alleged assassination plot suggested that Quds “may be involved in other actions.”
But repeating the story hasn’t made it any truer. Iran experts remain extremely skeptical such a plot had its origins with the Quds Force or any part of the Iranian government, and no evidence has been brought forth to confirm Iranian culpability, although the US government claims it has such evidence being kept confidential.
Even some US allies briefed on the plot have raised questions. President Barack Obama has focused on sanctions as punishment, while claiming “all options are on the table.” Representatives of those briefed nations are skeptical and cautious, recalling the flawed intelligence President George W. Bush presented for war in Iraq.
Senior US officials also spoke to the commander of the Quds Force, which they claim has expanded its power in recent years. “His prominence within the Quds Force cannot be overstated. He is directly responsible for everything the Quds Force does.”
The Iranian government has claimed that they have evidence, which they claim Interpol can corroborate, that Mansour Arbabsiar’s alleged contact in Iran, Gholam Shakuri, is in fact not a Quds force member at all, but a member of the Mujahedeen e-Khalq (MeK), an anti-Iran terrorist group. Evidence in support of this claim has yet to be made public.
The Obama administration has ignored Iran’s claims about Shakuri, ignored the experts’ skepticism about the official narrative of the plot, and continues to scale up tensions with Iran.