The Obama White House must have known: Report a stranger-than-fiction plot involving Iranian complicity in a plot to assassinate the Saudi Arabian ambassador to the United States, and thoughts about weapons of mass destruction would enter heads, here and abroad.
Add to the burden left by George W. Bush for his successor. President Barack Obama insisted the version of events was credible, Iranian officials directing an Iranian-American car salesman to engage with a Mexican drug cartel to kill the Saudi ambassador. “Now those facts are there for all to see,” the president held. “We would not be bringing forward a case unless we knew exactly how to support all the allegations that are contained in the indictment.”
The president pushed harder, vowing to impose the “toughest sanctions” to punish Iranian officials. Still, Republicans weren’t alone in expressing skepticism. Most striking were the number of experts who shared their doubts.
American officials nodded their heads, explaining that they, too, didn’t believe at first. So what happened? That Iranian-American car salesman has been arraigned and faces trial. The most plausible explanation has been offered by David Ignatius of the Washington Post and others, citing divisions within Iran, perhaps one faction triggering an operation to embarrass others.
Oh, and one other question hovers: After three decades without diplomatic relations, might actual communication between Washington and Tehran have helped in this matter?
Akron (Ohio) Beacon Journal (Oct. 19)