Scientist Mohsen Fakhrizadeh, who led Iran’s military nuclear program, was killed Friday. Now, we need to question whether the U.S. contributed directly to his assassination as much as Israel did.
Attacks that cause Iran great grief, similar to the killing of Qasem Soleimani, who commanded the Quds Force, a subset of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, cannot be conducted without U.S. knowledge or “cooperation.”
A direct U.S. role in the assassination can be seen in President Donald Trump’s statement to his national security advisors in early November, which was reflected in the news with information along the lines of, “They struggled to persuade Trump against launching a military attack on Iran.”
The first link in the assassination chain aimed at Iran should not start from the country’s scientists. All of those killed were people tasked to develop Iran’s nuclear plan, but the big link in the chain was broken further away.
The sudden death of Yukiya Amano, director general of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), in July 2019, must be added to the top of the list. He was the architect of and advocate for Iran’s nuclear deal. Under normal circumstances, he was going to continue in this position until 2021.
Amano was assigned during former U.S. President Barack Obama’s term in office, and his view of Iran was no different to President-elect Joe Biden, who will be settling into the White House in January. Amano was also a respected figure. He had experience with Washington’s and Tel Aviv’s “influence trials.”
His successor cannot be said to have the same reputation. New Director General Rafael Mariano Grossi was appointed as the Trump administration launched policies targeting Iran. Hence, when placing attempts targeting Iran’s nuclear ambitions – whether they be attacks on the country’s scientists or sabotages on its facilities – in chronological order, let us not think that these are linked to Israel alone. Especially considering the “technological characteristics” of the assassination.
WHEN WILL IRAN RETALIATE?
Similar to Soleimani’s assassination, Tehran declared loud and clear that it would exact revenge. Though more than one attack was conducted on U.S. presence in the region after Soleimani, they were not as effective and sensational as the U.S./Israel’s. Yet it still managed to keep the U.S. in a constant state of alarm.
This time the Iranian public may not be satisfied with similar actions. Iranians, who are struggling with both the pandemic and grave economic problems, are outraged about such a prominent figure being killed right before their eyes. They are doubting the country’s intelligence capacity. Thus, there were talks in parliament accusing even Rouhani and government members of being spies.
Therefore, Iran may want to take a larger course of action. But it is going to be cautious of the timing, because Fakhrizadeh’s killing was perpetrated based on serious timing. So, if Iran is going to do something, it will be in parallel with the same timing. This means it will be after January. That is when Biden will step into office. Though this may initially seem contradictory, any response by Trump and the Israeli administration to an early attack may cause a wreck which the new administration cannot overcome. Calling U.S. aircraft war ships back to the region is a sign of this. This is what Iranian President Rouhani’s statement, “Revenge is a dish best served cold” means.
One other interesting development is the information that the Israeli elements involved in the assassination were detected by Iran, and as a matter of fact, that they are still stuck in the country. These people are not Israeli. According to certain reports, the identities and photos of the undertakers are already circulating. It is unknown whether this is an attempt to comfort the public or if there truly is a witch hunt going on for these people, but their names and photographs are being circulated on social media.
The information that MOSSAD obtained Fakhrezadeh’s details from a list formed by the IAEA and found at the Defense Ministry is the reason Iranian intelligence immediately declared Israel the perpetrator – what is important here is its disregard of the U.S. According to them, the leak was through this institute. Naturally, Iran did not waste any time to restrict the IAEA’s operations and inspectors.
WHAT DOES NETANYAHU REALLY WANT?
It is no secret that Tel Aviv is not happy with Biden’s Iran policy. However, it is impossible to isolate Iran or debilitate it to the extent of provoking it to give up on its goal.
Therefore, the theory that the attack was conducted to sabotage Biden’s future steps concerning Iran is correct. But that is not all. In fact, if Netanyahu’s government is the matter in question, the assassination may even be considered as an act that provides a secondary benefit.
Furthermore, Trump is still president and we have more than six weeks ahead of us. Israel and the U.S. are capable of carrying out new table-turning attacks during this timeframe. Opinions approaching Pompeo’s latest regional tour within this scope cannot be disregarded either.
Possibilities such as leaving Biden a wreck that would deem his Iran policy dysfunctional, or dragging Iran into close combat are not realistic. Tehran has enough experience to avoid falling into such traps. It will not take any steps that will leave Biden without a choice.
Thus, we need to consider what Netanyahu is planning within. Corruption claims against him and his wife involve the possibility of conviction. Furthermore, there are cracks in the government coalition as well. This signifies opening new emergency exits for Netanyahu.
The first of these is the development of a tension process in the region that will frighten Israel, challenge the new general election, and necessitate a state of emergency. This would serve Netanyahu’s interests. The latest assassination consolidates his political base, while also including other parties at varying scales.
Eventually, a U.S. administration under Biden will not create the climate necessary to allow Netanyahu to politically breathe.