The Mohsen Fakhrizadeh Assassination and Its Implications
The recent incident of Mohsen Fakhrizadeh assassination has renewed the wave of hostility that has existed between the Middle Eastern Islamic Republic and the western world since decades. The tragic incident is expected to further strain the relations of Iran with countries such as USA and add new zeal to Iran’s nuclear program.
What Exactly Happened?
On the 27th of November, 2020 one of the top Iranian nuclear scientist, Mohsen Fakhrizadeh Mahabadi was assassinated near Tehran.
In the town of Absard, Mohsen’s car was sprayed with bullets. Iran’s news agency FARS stated that an automated machine gun had been used to carry out the attack. According to the agency, the automated gun was placed on top of a truck that later exploded.
Al-Alam, an Arabic language channel of the state broadcaster claimed that the weapon was being controlled through satellites.
While attending the scientist’s funeral, the head of Supreme National Security Council, Rear Admiral Ali Shamkhani stated that the assassination operation was automated, carried out in a way that no perpetrators of the attack were present on the crime scene.
The slain scientist was given the title of a martyr and was buried wrapped in the flag of Iran. His dead body was taken to the shrines of respected saints and leaders such as Fatima Masumeh, Imam Khomeini and Imam Reza.
Who was Mohsen Fakhrizadeh?
Mohsen Fakhrizadeh was one of the top nuclear scientists in Iran. He was a physicist and the person labelled as ‘the heart of the nuclear program in Iran’.
Born in 1958, Mohsen had joined the revolutionary guard corps of Iran after the country underwent an Islamic revolution.
He was heading the research and innovation organization of the ministry of defence. Fakhrizadeh had for long been on the radar of the leaders in the West, who oppose the alleged efforts of the country to acquire nuclear weapons. Iran has time and again clarified that the state means to acquire only nuclear material, that too for peaceful purposes only.
Who is behind the Attack?
According to officials in Iran, the attack was carried out by Israel and Mossad, its intelligence agency. The secretary of Iran’s Supreme National Security Council has stated that Mossad managed to assassinate the nuclear scientist by collaborating with Mujahideen e Khalq, MEK.
MEK is an organization that wants to overthrow the regime in Iran and bring changes to the system. The organization is said to have its basis in foreign countries and operate on foreign funding. Ali Shamkhani stated that Israel had been wanting to assassinate Mohsen Fakhrizadeh for the last two decades and had finally succeeded in doing so, using advanced level weapon systems.
There have been no statements from Israel on this matter. It has chosen to remain silent, not accepting or denying the accusations.
Perhaps a link can be drawn between Mohsen’s brutal killing and Isreali Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s statement two years ago. In 2018, Netanyahu had mentioned the top nuclear scientist and told the world to ‘remember his name’.
How did Iran React to the Killing?
Iran vowed to retaliate to the brutal killing and punish those involved. President Hassan Rouhani stated that this act depicts how deep rooted the hatred of enemies of the state is. He also made it clear that the enemy could not ruin Iran’s progress by such tactics.
Following this murder, the conservative parliament of Iran has also demanded withdrawal from inspection programs that are carried out by IAEA – International Atomic Energy Agency in order to inspect nuclear facilities in the state.
Muhammad Javad Zafar, the foreign minister of Iran tweeted that the killing was an act of cowardice that hinted strongly towards Israeli involvement.
What are the Possible Implications of this Attack?
This incident is bound to heighten the already present tensions in the Iran-US relationship. America, being one of the closest allies of Israel is suspected to have had prior knowledge of the attack, although this claim is yet to be backed by solid proof.
Iran US relations had been at an all-time low during the Trump era, with Trump imposing harsh sanctions on the country. The killing of a top general of Iran, Qasim Solemani, in an attack by USA had led to tensions between the countries and the matter further deteriorated in 2018, when America under Trump decided to withdraw from the Iran nuclear deal.
Joe Biden, the new president elect of USA will now have to start from scratch to build civil relations with the middle eastern state, since friendly relation seem to be completely out of question for now.
In attacks such as this one that can be seen as a breach of sovereignty too, it is likely that Iran will now speed up its nuclear material program. This will in turn lead to a western outcry which will, in all possibility, result in more sanctions, aimed at crippling the economy of Iran.