The assassination of Iran’s preeminent nuclear scientist is a shocking act of terrorism. And there is strong suspicion that Israeli agents were involved in this murderous act with top-level U.S. approval. The world is thus staring into the abyss of war.
This year has been bracketed with two audacious assassinations against the Iranian leadership. Earlier in January saw the murder of Major General Qassem Soleimani, Iran’s most senior military commander, by an American drone while he was traveling in an armed convoy from Iraq’s international airport on the outskirts of Baghdad.
Now the year ends with a second assassination after nuclear scientist Mohsen Fahkrizadeh was killed last week when his armed escort was attacked in a ferocious bomb and gun ambush near the Iranian capital, Tehran. Fahkrizadeh, like Soleimani, was a national hero. He was eulogized as the “father of Iran’s nuclear project”.
American President Donald Trump crowed about personally ordering the killing of Soleimani. While Trump and his administration have been reticent about the murder of Fahkrizadeh, there are strong reasons to conclude Washington’s complicity.
Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani stated this week that Iranian authorities believe Israel was the perpetrator along with agents working on its behalf on the ground. The Israelis have not commented. For such an attack to be mounted against a senior Iranian figure the breach of security would have required sophisticated intelligence conducted at state level.
U.S. media reports cite anonymous senior Trump administration officials confirming that Israel carried out the assassination of Fakhrizadeh. It can be further surmised that Israel would have had at least U.S. approval if not more direct complicity such as from providing the necessary intelligence for executing the hit. Such collusion between the U.S. and Israel is a routine matter. Nearly a dozen Iranian nuclear scientists have been assassinated over the past decade involving the same modus operandi: U.S.-Israeli intelligence coordinating with Iran-based triggermen supplied by the American-backed terrorist group known as Mujahedin-e-Khalq (MEK).
This year has also seen a series of sabotage bombings at Iran’s nuclear industry sites. Again, for such operations to be conducted, and conducted successfully, would require state-level intelligence and resources.
All this is in the context of Trump ratcheting up his “maximum pressure” campaign which has comprised a hybrid of verbal threats of military assault against Iran, a tightening of already-crippling economic sanctions imposed on a nation badly afflicted with the coronavirus pandemic, as well as a U.S. military force build-up in the Persian Gulf. Recently, a fleet of nuclear-capable B-52 bombers flew over Israel on the way to Qatar where the biggest American airbase in the Gulf is located, just south of Iran. This week the USS Nimitz, one of America’s lead strike-force supercarriers, entered the Gulf waters.
Only two weeks ago, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo was on a more-than-usual jingoistic tour of the Middle East visiting Israel, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Qatar. Top of his agenda was “deterring” Iran. Israeli leader Benjamin Netanyahu had previously publicly named Mohsen Fakhrizadeh, the Iranian nuclear scientist, as enemy number one.
Netanyahu has long been itching for a military offensive against Iran, one involving surgical air strikes on its nuclear sites. There is now the very real danger that Trump in his final fraught weeks in office may oblige the Israelis. The American president has reportedly given Pompeo carte blanche to aid and abet Israeli aggression towards Iran “as long as it doesn’t start World War III”. Trouble is, there is no way of containing such an escalation. What the Trump administration is doing is criminal and insane.
This week saw a particularly incendiary speech by Trump from the White House in which he again reiterated outlandish conspiracy theories whereby he lost the recent presidential election due to alleged “massive fraud” and cheating by Democrat rivals. Some of Trump’s aides are even urging him publicly to suspend the constitution, declare a state of martial law and re-run the election under military supervision. That is tantamount to Trump staging a coup d’état. There is thus no telling what this megalomaniac president is willing to do in order to thwart the scheduled event of his leaving the White House next month in the expected transition to a new administration under Joe Biden.
At the very least, it seems, Trump is hellbent on damaging relations with Iran so badly as to make it impossible for a Biden administration to return to diplomatic negotiations with Iran and possibly, as Biden as suggested, the U.S. returning to the international nuclear accord, which Trump abandoned in 2018.
Previously, Trump has threatened Iran with annihilation. We are dealing with an American president who has no scruples or moral compass. In his outrageously offended ego over electoral loss and perceived foul play by his domestic enemies, Trump is liable to go ballistic with recrimination. In the next four weeks, starting a war with Iran is therefore a most dangerous prospect. Criminal and insane bracket this year, along with assassinations.