Foreign Policy Blogs

More on Imad Mughnieh

The Los Angeles Timeshas an excellent blog on the Middle East, Babylon and Beyond, and I am not just saying that because they have added this to their blogroll.  I am reasonably sure the Times will do fine without my endorsement.   I am linking it because of an interesting article on the death of Hezbollah strategist Imad Mughnieh, as framed by Iran.

 Some Iranian newspapers, close to both President Ahmadinejad and Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khameni are fingering Saudi Arabia in Mugnieh's explosive death.  From the Times:

The source quoted in the report told Fars (Editor's Note: Fars is an Iranian newspaper)that the Syrians had discovered a network connected to Israeli intelligence and Saudi Arabian Prince Bandar bin Sultan as well as a Saudi intelligence official in Damascus as partly behind the death. The source alleged that the Syrians had already arrested a Saudi official and were about to release their long-delayed report about the killing implicating the Saudis but were swayed by Kuwait to hold off.

Both Saudi Arabia and Kuwait urged their citizens to leave Lebanon after Mughniyah's slaying.

Here are other allegations in the report:

  • Israeli intelligence officials monitored Mughniyah's comings and goings for a year before the assassination.
  • Conspirators included Jordanians, Syrians and Palestinians who, along with their families, had rented or bought housing near Mughniyah's residence in the Kafar Sosa district of Damascus.
  • The Saudi official overseeing the operation fled home after the assassination but was lured back by a woman with whom he was having an affair.

So.  This, then, seems to involve Saudis, Syrians, Palestinians, Israelis (of course), Kuwaitis and adultery.  I think it stands to reason that the scheme was cooked up by a lazy studio-head. 

Who knows if any of this is true?  I am sure there are some elements of truth in there- Mugnieh's death wasn't a spontaneous action.  But the more important point is that, despite talk of an Iranian/Saudi rapprochement, there is still tension and difficulties in the region, handshakes and professions of friendship aside.

 If the report is true, and I doubt it, then Saudi Arabia killed one of Iran's men in Hezbollah-run, Iran-backed Beirut, never a sign of brotherly affection.   If it is false, then for some reason Iran feels the need to discredit Saudi Arabia.  The reason is most likely connected to their struggle for regional dominance- both want to be seen as the true leaders of the Middle East's true believers.  So there will continue to be these inter-locking conspiracies, wherein the hint of conspiracy is just as powerful a tool as action.



Brian O'Neill

Brian O'Neill is a freelance writer currently based out of Chicago. He has lived in Egypt and in Yemen, and worked as a writer and editor for the Yemen Observer publishing company. He currently is an analyst with the Jamestown Foundation.