This is a story that has certainly turned a few heads in the international community, placing South Africa right in the middle of a diplomatic row. It was reported earlier this week that the Government of Iran was planning to assassinate the American Ambassador to South Africa, Lana Marks, in retaliation to the killing of Qasem Soleimani.
Iran hits back in Lana Marks assassination row
General Soleimani, the commander of the Quds Force of Iran's Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC), and Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, the second-in-command of Iraq's Popular Mobilization Units (PMU), were killed in US airstrikes at Baghdad's international airport on 3 January. The fallout was intense, as both nations seemed to reach the brink of war.
Tensions had seemingly cooled by the time the coronavirus pandemic set-in, but those flames of discontent have been fanned once more. The South African State Security Agency says it is taking the threat to Lana Marks' life 'very seriously'.
Assassination attempt against the US-SA Ambassador – Iran rejects report
Iran's Foreign Ministry Spokesman, Saeed Khatibzadeh, has moved to deny these claims on Tuesday. He stated that the report of an assassination plot was a 'worn-out propaganda trick', hammering the US Government for their 'outright lies'.
"We suggest the Americans prevent worn-out tricks to create propaganda against the Islamic Republic of Iran. Such baseless claims are part of the Trump administration's counter-intelligence campaign against Iran."
"The US regime's reliance on anti-Iranian accusations and lies in on the threshold of the presidential election, and at the same, its bullying to the UN Security Council to increase pressure on the Iranian people, was predictable."Saeed Khatibzadeh
Lana Marks at the centre of a diplomatic nightmare
Khatibzadeh continued to discredit the claims that Lana Marks is in any mortal danger, dragging their Western opponents in the process. The death of General Soleimani isn't an issue that can be kicked into the long grass of a pandemic:
"The recent claim, which is likely to continue in the future, will certainly be ineffective and will add to Washington's long list of failures against the Islamic Republic of Iran."
"The US has violated many laws in the past few years. This includes undermining the territorial integrity of other countries, the withdrawal from international agreements, and dozens of assassination plots and military interventions and espionages, including the cowardly assassination of General Soleimani."Saeed Khatibzadeh
State Security Minister Ayanda Dlodlo said South Africa has a duty to protect maximally all diplomatic officials who are on State duty in the country. She revealed that her department would have to keep their investigations under-wraps:
"It should be noted that the nature of the assassination allegation and attendant threat doesn't permit us to give any detailed updates on the investigations. Reports thereon shall be provided to all the relevant authorities, including the President of the Republic, the Minister of International Relations and Cooperation, and relevant officials in the United States administration."Ayanda Dlodlo