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The Global Eye: Iranian assassinations a losing strategy

Shannon Ebrahim is Group Foreign Editor for Independent Media.

Shannon Ebrahim is Group Foreign Editor for Independent Media.

Published Dec 4, 2020


The Americans started this year by assassinating one of the most influential figures in Iran’s security structures but there were no consequences for their state terrorism. The year is drawing to an end and the Iranians believe the Israelis are behind the assassination of one of Iran’s top nuclear scientists, with virtual impunity for such state terrorism.

South Africa and the EU have condemned the latest assassination in the strongest terms. Minister of International Relations and Co-operation Naledi Pandor has said the perpetrators must be brought to justice.

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We clearly live in a world where there is one system of justice for the powerful and another for the rest. The UN is in desperate need of reform so that consequences can be imposed on countries like the US and its allies when they violate international law.

It is also unacceptable that one country in the Middle East can maintain a nuclear arsenal of over 200 warheads and refuse to join the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, while the rest of the countries in the region are denied the right to develop nuclear energy for developmental purposes.

There have to be equal standards for UN members. Israel does not allow any inspection of its nuclear program, but Iran is forced to open up all its facilities to inspection by the IAEA (International Atomic Energy Agency). Imagine what the response would have been if Iran had assassinated Israel’s top nuclear scientist, or if Israel’s top military general had been assassinated.

Iran will probably retaliate with a vengeance for these brutal attacks. Iran’s UN ambassador warned last Friday that his country reserved the right to “take all necessary measures” to defend itself. But its leadership is known to play the long game and exercise strategic patience. They understand that the Trump administration is looking for any excuse to bomb its nuclear facilities in Natanz.

The assassination of Iran’s top nuclear scientist, Dr Mohsen Fakhrizadeh, was an act of flagrant disregard for international law, and Iranian authorities have made no secret of their suspicion that Israel is behind the attack and was probably given a green light by the Trump administration.

Foreign Minister Javad Zarif has said the assassination bears all the hallmarks of the Israeli regime. A source told Press TV that the weapon used in the attack on Fakhrizadeh bears the logo and specifications of the Israeli military industry.

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In 2018 Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu identified Fakhrizadeh as a target for his administration, and in the past Israel has assassinated other Iranian nuclear scientists.

Fakhrizadeh is said to have long been the number one target of Israel’s national intelligence agency, Mossad, which is widely believed to be behind a series of assassinations of scientists a decade ago that included some of Fakhrizadeh’s deputies.

Reports over the past week allegedly indicated that the Israeli government instructed its senior military officials to prepare for a possible US strike on Iran. The assassination also follows recent reports that President Trump contemplated bombing Iran’s nuclear facility, before being talked out of it by Pentagon leaders.

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Israel and the US have been carrying out a violent sabotage campaign inside Iran this year, which has included the destruction of power plants, aluminium and chemical factories, a medical clinic, and seven ships at the Port of Bushehr.

The punishing sanctions regime has been unilaterally imposed by the US administration on Iran, with the goading of Israeli officials. The sanctions have drastically impacted on the price of food for ordinary Iranians, and made it impossible for them to obtain life-saving medicine.

Just as the international community should have loudly condemned the injustice of the sanctions regime, they should also condemn this year’s assassinations. Minister Zarif said in a post that the international community should “end their shameful double standards and condemn this act of state terror”.

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The assassinations of General Qasim Soleimani and Fakhrizadeh will not achieve the objectives of crippling Iran’s nuclear project. Iran is pursuing their projects with vigour and its parliament has decided to boost nuclear enrichment and will bar inspectors if sanctions are not lifted by February.

The Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has long argued that the US cannot be trusted regardless of which party or political leader is in power. This position is likely to harden, and hard-line politicians will be in a strong position going into the presidential elections next June.

Every move that the Trump administration has made against Iran, from sanctions and assassinations to violent attacks on its institutions, have failed in a losing strategy. Perhaps it is time for a new US administration to take a totally different approach based on genuine dialogue and respect for Iran’s right to pursue a peaceful nuclear programme and respect for its territorial sovereignty.

* Shannon Ebrahim is Group Foreign Editor for Independent Media.

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