We have now gotten to the point of “preventive” assassination, with the usual license to kill that Mossad has by default. At least as things are looking now, the year is ending just as it started, when, on January 3, the U.S. killed the Iranian general Qassem Soleimani in Baghdad with a drone.
With the killing of Mohsen Fakhrizadeh in Iran, described in Italian media as the “father of the Iranian atomic bomb”—a bomb that never actually existed in Tehran, but which Israel has—we see the dangerous spread of false news like this one throughout the West, together with the scorched earth policy around the Islamic Republic pursued by Trump and Netanyahu.
We fully deserved Trump after all, since we write such rubbish that risks making a direct attack on Iran seem justified. And thus, Netanyahu and Mossad anticipated Trump’s intentions and gave the go-ahead to kill yet another Iranian scientist, an old specialty of the Israeli secret services. Striking Iran directly—as Trump wanted, in order to get out of the White House on a note of ephemeral triumph, and not as defeated as he actually is—could cause a reaction that would be too dangerous even for Israel.
Trump, who has recognized Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, its annexation of the Golan and the illegal settlements in Palestinian territory with the last trip by Mike Pompeo, has given Israel a lot, but an open war against Iran is too much even for Netanyahu: he can’t afford it, with trials breathing down his neck and having to govern in cohabitation with the inscrutable Gantz (who, for his part, doesn’t seem to be in the loop on anything).
The Israeli premier will have to deal with Biden, convince him to maintain sanctions against Tehran and sell him the Abrahamic Agreement with the Gulf monarchies, extended from the Middle East to the Red Sea and to the Horn of Africa, as the biggest strategic goal of the U.S.-Israel alliance aimed at stifling Iran, limiting Turkey and curbing the Chinese expansion between Africa and the Middle East.
It’s the old “double containment” strategy, once applied to Iran and Iraq, which leverages regional conflicts. But with some variations. In the upcoming Democratic administration, the Secretary of State will be Antony Blinken, who has very close ties to Israel, who in 2011 was in favor of the bombings of Libya and Syria—one of the accomplices in the Hillary Clinton-led disasters—and who, on the matter of targeted assassinations, will find support in the new head of the intelligence services, Ms. Avril Haines, a specialist in drones. Joining them will be Jake Sullivan, the new national security adviser, a Clintonian and Obama’s advisor on Iranian nuclear power.
This is Biden’s first line team, dubbed by the US press a “liberal interventionists”: they are the ones who will direct any negotiations with Tehran.
But Biden’s agenda for the resumption of negotiations on the agreement abandoned and torn up by Trump in 2018 must come to terms with the scorched earth tactics and the dangerous adventurism of the outgoing president, as well as with the mistrust from Iran, where President Hassan Rohani is in a tight spot with Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei and the hardline wing of the Pasdaran.
Trump has become a loose cannon. Two weeks ago, he fired the head of the Pentagon, Mark Esper, who was against a “strike” against Tehran, while a Defense spokesperson expressed the concern that the president could launch “operations, whether overt or secret,” an Orwellian expression which says that the president could strike Iran directly.
Then, Washington brought out the news that on August 9, Israeli agents had killed Al Masri, the historical leader of Al Qaeda, in Tehran: this was supposed to be the “smoking gun” that Iran is supporting terrorism. Then, Trump sent Elliot Abrams, an adviser of the murderous governments of El Salvador and Guatemala in the 1980s, to the Middle East to call for new sanctions on Tehran in agreement with Israel and the Gulf monarchies. The sanctions arrived on cue, with the trip of Secretary of State Pompeo to the Middle East, and hit the Foundation for the Oppressed, the largest economic conglomerate in the country, which answers directly to the Supreme Leader.
At this point, the assassination of Mohsen Fakhrizadeh had already been planned. Taking the life of the Iranian scientist was probably suggested by the Saudi prince Mohammed bin Salman (MBS), who a few days ago met with Pompeo and Netanyahu in Noem, on the Red Sea, accompanied by the head of Mossad, Yossi Cohen.
The Israelis are doing everything they can to entice Riyadh to enter the Abrahamic Agreement together with the Emirates and Bahrain. However, both the prince and his father, the declining King Salman, are holding on to the card of normalization of relations with Israel, intending to play it with the Biden administration, insisting on an unlikely peace agreement with the Palestinians, but, most importantly, on an end to the pressure in liberal circles in Washington for a democratization of the Saudi kingdom, which has distinguished itself for the brutal repression of all dissent and the macabre murder of the journalist Jamal Khashoggi. But, heck, $450 billion of Saudi arms orders from the U.S. must be worth at least a couple of murders. Will Biden be the one to give all of that up?
That’s what preventive assassinations are for: the legacy of the Trump-Netanyahu duo, and the “guidelines” for the new administration. All this as we wait for Biden. We might as well be waiting for Godot.
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