As the world reacts to the assassination of yet another Iranian nuclear scientist, analysts point to the deafening silence of the U.S. Democrats, who have largely stopped short of denouncing the deadly attack on the prominent Iranian scientist Dr. Mohsen Fakhrizadeh.
On Friday at 14:30, a sound of explosion rocked the small Absard city of Damavand County, about 40 kilometers northeast of the capital Tehran. A Nissan Junior pickup truck packed with highly explosive materials exploded as the convoy of Dr. Fakhrizadeh passed by. The assailants, who are estimated to be more than 10 people, immediately unleashed a barrage of gunshots, assassinating the scientist and severely injuring his bodyguards. Iranian security forces rushed to the crime scene moments after the attack. A helicopter immediately landed there to transfer the injured scientist to hospital. Doctors made efforts to keep Fakhrizadeh alive, but their efforts to resuscitate him ended in failure. And ultimately, the Iranian Defense Ministry announced his martyrdom on Friday evening.
Iranian officials were quick to point the finger at Israel, which has carried out many assassination operations against Iranian nuclear scientists over the past decade.
“Terrorists murdered an eminent Iranian scientist today. This cowardice—with serious indications of Israeli role—shows desperate warmongering of perpetrators. Iran calls on int'l community—and especially EU—to end their shameful double standards & condemn this act of state terror,” Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said in a tweet, hours after the Friday attack.
Majid Takht-Ravanchi, Iran’s ambassador to the United Nations, also accused Israel of being behind the assassination. “The cowardly assassination of Martyr Fakhrizadeh – with serious indications of Israeli responsibility in it – is another desperate attempt to wreak havoc on our region as well as to disrupt Iran’s scientific and technological development,” Takht Ravanchi wrote in a letter to UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres and President of the UN Security Council Inga Rhonda King on Friday.
Aside from Israel, which is a prime suspect for the terrorist attack, other factions, especially in the United States, are also being seen as the abetting – or maybe ordering- the perpetrators of the Friday attack.
Republicans in the U.S. have not condemned the attack and are actually supporting it. Some of them even criticized those who warned of the attack’s implication for peace and stability in the region. John Brennan, the former CIA director under Barack Obama, has described the attack as “a criminal act” that constitutes a flagrant violation of international law.
“This was a criminal act & highly reckless. It risks lethal retaliation & a new round of regional conflict. Iranian leaders would be wise to wait for the return of responsible American leadership on the global stage & to resist the urge to respond against perceived culprits,” Brennan tweeted.
He added, “I do not know whether a foreign government authorized or carried out the murder of Fakhrizadeh. Such an act of state-sponsored terrorism would be a flagrant violation of international law & encourage more governments to carry out lethal attacks against foreign officials.”
Senator Ted Cruz railed against Brennan for these tweets, implicitly accusing him of favoring Iran over Israel.
“It’s bizarre to see a former head of the CIA consistently side with Iranian zealots who chant ‘Death to America.’ And reflexively condemn Israel. Does Joe Biden agree?” tweeted the Texas senator.
Republicans, in general, have been either silent on the attack or supportive of it. President Trump has implicitly expressed support for Israel by retweeting a tweet of an Israeli journalist called Yossi Melman, who claimed in his tweet that Fakhrizadeh “was the head of Iran’s secret military program and wanted for many years but Mossad.”
Democrats, who are busy working to take the helm in Washington, have also been silent on the assassination.
Pundits believe that both Democrats and Republicans are satisfied with the assassination. Israel is the prime suspect for the attack but the main enemy, that is the U.S., should not be forgotten, according to Seyed Reza Sadr al-Hosseini, an expert on West Asia.
“Throughout the history of the Islamic Republic of Iran, the way that Republicans and Democrats have dealt with Iran has been no different. The history of the two parties’ policies toward Iran shows that both parties have sought to create challenges against the Iranian nation and bring the nation to a dead end,” Sadr al-Hosseini told the Tehran Times.
But Democrats, the expert added, are more skillful at doing “semi-hard operations” such as assassinations and coups.
According to Sadr al-Hosseini, the Democratic Party has a track record in launching semi-hard operations and orchestrating coups.
Sadr al-Hosseini said, “In the assassination of Fakhrizadeh, even though Republicans were in power in the U.S., Democrats were kept in the loop about the assassination. Therefore, both parties were fully satisfied with the attack on the Iranian scientist.”
According to the expert, U.S. news organizations affiliated with Republicans and Democrats have covered the news of Fakhrizadeh’s assassination but they did not regret or condemn the attack. They even refused to express sympathy with Iran over the assassination of the scientist, he remarked.
This is all while other countries such as Turkey, Venezuela, and South Africa all have condemned the attack on Fakhrizadeh, he added.
In fact, U.S. leading news media outlets have even sought to mirror Israel’s allegations against Iran. The New York Times, a Democratic-leaning American publication known for its Trump-bashing reports, ran on Saturday a story on the assassination claiming that the late scientist “led a covert campaign by Iran to design an atomic warhead.”
Citing an American official and two other intelligence officials, the newspaper also said that Israel was behind the attack on the scientist.
“It was unclear how much the United States may have known about the operation in advance, but the two nations are the closest of allies and have long shared intelligence regarding Iran,” it added.
As of this writing, Joe Biden, who is preparing to move into the White House, has refrained from making any remarks on the Fakhrizadeh assassination. As Biden tries to pick officials for various public service jobs, an array of names has been highlighted as Biden’s pick for CIA director. Among them is Mike Morell, who is known for his passion to make Iranians pay the price for what he allegedly called secret killing of Americans.
According to CNN, Morell, who was a deputy director of the CIA under Obama and twice served as the agency's acting director, is a contender to be nominated for the full-time role.
In an interview with PBS in August 2016, Morell said that the U.S. should kill the Iranians and Russians secretly.
“What they need is to have the Russians and Iranians pay a little price,” Morell said. “When we were in Iraq, the Iranians were giving weapons to the Shia militia, who were killing American soldiers, right? The Iranians were making us pay a price. We need to make the Iranians pay a price in Syria. We need to make the Russians pay a price.”
Morell pointed out that the killing of Iranians and Russians should be undertaken “covertly, so you don’t tell the world about it, you don’t stand up at the Pentagon and say ‘we did this.’ But you make sure they know it in Moscow and Tehran.”
In line with this strategy, many Iranian nuclear scientists were assassinated under the Obama administration. These assassinations were largely attributed to Israel. But many analysts believe that the Obama administration abetted Israel. During the Obama administration, more than four Iranian nuclear scientists were assassinated, most of them were killed in perceived Mossad operations, which were done under Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s watch.
Netanyahu had mentioned Fakhrizadeh in a 2018 presentation on the alleged atomic archive of Iran that Israel claims it stole from a warehouse in southern Tehran.
Netanyahu said at the time that he identified Fakhrizadeh as the head scientist in Iran’s nuclear program, and urged people to “remember that name”.
As the news broke that Fakhrizadeh was assassinated in Tehran on Friday, the people quickly remembered, not the name of Fakhrizadeh, but the mentioning of the scientist’s name by Netanyahu in the 2018 presentation in which the Israeli prime minister implied in a thinly-veiled threat that Israel might kill the Iranian scientist.