Created to advance Iran’s interests clandestinely overseas, the Quds Force has lately provided mostly embarrassment, stumbling in Azerbaijan, Georgia, India, Kenya and most spectacularly in Thailand, where before accidentally blowing up their Bangkok safe house, Iran’s secret agents were photographed in the sex-tourism mecca of Pattaya, one arm around a hookah, the other around a hooker. In its ongoing shadow war with Israel, the Iranian side’s lone “success” was the July 18 bombing of a Bulgarian bus carrying Israeli tourists — though European investigators last week officially attributed that attack to Iran’s Lebanese proxy, Hizballah. That leaves the Islamic Republic itself with a failure rate hovering near 100% abroad and an operational tempo — nine overseas plots uncovered in nine months — that carries a whiff of desperation. A Tehran government long branded by U.S. officials as the globe’s leading exporter of terrorism may be cornering the market on haplessness. …

The decline in quality was so striking it initially inspired disbelief. Recall the preposterous-sounding plot weaving together a former used-car salesman, Mexico’s Zetas drug gang and a bank transfer from a Revolutionary Guard account to assassinate Saudi Arabia’s ambassador — by bombing a Washington restaurant? A year on it looks like the new normal. In Bangkok last month, an Iranian agent entered a courtroom in a wheelchair, having accidentally blown his legs off while fleeing police. A January alert issued by Turkish intelligence was light on specifics but quite certain the Quds operatives would be staying in five-star hotels.