Trita Parsi, Responsible Statecraft, November 28 2020:… Mohsen Fakhrizadeh, a key Iranian nuclear official, has been assassinated in Tehran. Some Iranian reports claim it was a suicide attack, which would reduce the likelihood of Israeli operatives carrying out the attack, but the bullet holes in Fakhrizadeh’s car cast doubt on that. Israel has in the past, however, used operatives from the the MEK — a cult-like Iranian exile group recently removed from the State Department’s list of terrorist organizations — to conduct attacks in Iran. The MEK was the first group to introduce suicide assassinations to Iran. Mossad MEK Assassinated Fakhrizadeh
Mossad MEK Assassinated Fakhrizadeh
How the assassination of Iran’s top nuclear scientist can sabotage diplomacy & start a war
Mohsen Fakhrizadeh, a key Iranian nuclear official, has been assassinated in Tehran. While it’s unclear as of this writing who is responsible, Israel has assassinated numerous Iranian nuclear scientists in the past, but had, until now, been unable to get to the highly protected Fakhrizadeh.
Some Iranian reports claim it was a suicide attack, which would reduce the likelihood of Israeli operatives carrying out the attack, but the bullet holes in Fakhrizadeh’s car cast doubt on that.
Israel has in the past, however, used operatives from the the MEK — a cult-like Iranian exile group recently removed from the State Department’s list of terrorist organizations — to conduct attacks in Iran. The MEK was the first group to introduce suicide assassinations to Iran.
But Israel is a prime suspect for several reasons: It has the expertise and capacity, has done it before, and has a motive.
While it’s highly unlikely that Israel would have carried out the assassination without a green light from the Trump administration, a more direct U.S. role cannot be entirely discounted. The Trump administration has reportedly run several joint sabotage operations with Israel against Iran’s nuclear facilities in the past year and relied in part on Israeli intelligence in carrying out the assassination of Gen. Qasem Soleimani outside the Baghdad airport last January. Earlier this month, Trump himself reportedly raised the possibility of attacking Iran with his top national-security advisers, while it was just last week that the administration’s most prominent Iran hawk, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, met with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, well as leaders of Iran’s adversaries in the Persian Gulf, notably Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.
In any event, conducting attacks in Iran has few downsides for Israel right now. Iran could lash out and spark a broader conflict that sucks in the United States, bringing about a U.S.-Iran confrontation that Netanyahu has long sought.
Or, if Iran sits tight to wait to deal with President-elect Joe Biden, the Trump administration is highly unlikely to impose any costs on other Israeli provocations.
Either way, the assassination (and other likely future attacks) will likely harden Iran’s position and complicate — if not ultimately cripple — the Biden team’s attempts to revive diplomacy. That serves Netanyahu’s interest as well.
Indeed, Tehran’s openness to post-JCPOA negotiations on missiles and other matters will likely diminish if Israel engages in renewed assassinations in Iran. In fact, the Obama administration condemned Israel’s earlier assassinations precisely because it knew the murders wouldn’t so much set back Iran’s nuclear program, as it would any efforts to negotiate a deal to curb it.
Assuming Israel’s responsibility and the Trump administration’s acquiescence, if not complicity, in additional Israeli provocations, we now find ourselves in a similar, but perhaps more perilous situation for the next two months — especially if Biden and his foreign policy team fail to strongly communicate that Israel will incur costs if it continues to carry out attacks inside Iran during the current interregnum.
As such, we should be prepared for a very bumpy ride pending Biden’s inauguration. And if it turns out that Israel was behind the assassination, there should be no illusions about Netanyahu’s desire to drag the United States into another endless war in the Middle East.
It’s also important that the American public take note of the broader pattern. From around 2002 to 2012, Israel pressed the United States to address Iran’s nuclear program. During that period, Washington obligingly imposed ever-tougher sanctions against Tehran and repeatedly threatened military action. But those efforts failed as Iran systematically built up its nuclear capabilities.
Then, from 2012 to 2015, the United States tried real diplomacy — along with the United Kingdom, France, Germany, Russia, and China — culminating in the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), widely hailed as the most far- reaching non-proliferation agreement ever negotiated, and by which Iran agreed to sharply curb its nuclear program. Despite those constraints, Israel declared its opposition and successfully pressed the Trump administration to end U.S. participation in 2018 and impose new sanctions as part of its “maximum pressure” campaign against Iran.
Predictably, a series of escalations since then has brought the United States and Iran minutes away from war, twice
But still, the war that many in Israel and in the United States have sought has yet to fully materialize. And now that Biden has defeated Trump, those who want war, particularly in Israel, likely see their window of opportunity closing. Meanwhile, Israel is coordinating with Trump, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates for a flood of new sanctions designed to, again, at a minimum to sabotage Biden’s chances of restarting diplomacy with Iran.
If Israel was behind the assassination of Fakhrizadeh — which seems highly likely though not yet proven — it demonstrates the degree to which Netanyahu feels emboldened to undermine Democratic U.S. presidents with impunity and drag the United States into war.
U.S. strategic partnerships should serve to make the United States more, not less, secure. But that is where we are today with many American partnerships around the world. This will not change unless and until Washington decides to end its drive for military hegemony in the Middle East.
Mossad MEK Assassinated Fakhrizadeh
MEK Part of Mossad Assassination Teams
Ted Snider , Counter Punch, July 29 2019:… Two senior officials in the Obama administration revealed to NBC news that the assassinations were carried out by the MEK. They also confirm that the MEK was being financed, armed and trained by the Israeli Mossad and that the assassinations were carried out with the awareness of the United States. The State, too, has secretly trained and supported the MEK. MEK Part of Mossad Assassination Teams
MEK Part of Mossad Assassination Teams
Shaping the News: The World’s Not the Way it Seems
In Othello, the villainous Iago manipulatively shapes the way people perceive events, ensuring that everyone sees the world, not as it is, but as it suits Iago’s purposes. America is Iago. Shakespeare would shudder.
White House perception shapers and the U.S. media shape the way the public perceives the world by severing events from the causal context that explains and makes sense of them. The event can then be manipulatively woven into the public perception in whatever way suits U.S. purposes, amputated from any context that makes sense of it and allows the public to see the world as it is.
In recent weeks, perception shapers have manipulated the public to see events in Brazil and Iran, not as they are, but as they suit U.S. foreign policy.
Regime change in Brazil demanded two steps: the removal of President Dilma Rouseff and the arrest of former President Lula da Silva.
The first was made to look like proper parliamentary procedure. Dilma was charged with “violating fiscal laws by using loans from public banks to cover budget shortfalls, which artificially enhanced the budget surplus” and removed from office. But that accounting manipulation is not uncommon; according to the Brazil’s federal prosecutor, it is also not a crime. The perception shapers not only knew it wasn’t a crime, they knew it was a coup.
How did they know? Because the coup plotters told them so. In a post-coup speech in front of members of multinational corporations and the U.S. policy establishment in New York on September 22, 2016, newly installed president Michel Temer brazenly boasted of his successful coup. Temer clearly told his American audience that elected President Dilma Rousseff was not removed from power for accounting manipulations as the official charge stated. She was – the new, unelected president admitted – removed because of her refusal to implement a right wing economic plan that was inconsistent with the economic platform on which Brazilians elected her.
Rousseff was not on board. So, she was thrown overboard. In the words of Temer’s confession:
“And many months ago, while I was still vice president, we released a document named ‘A Bridge to the Future’ because we knew it would be impossible for the government to continue on that course. We suggested that the government should adopt the theses presented in that document called ‘A Bridge to the Future.’ But, as that did not work out, the plan wasn’t adopted and a process was established which culminated with me being installed as president of the republic.”
And that wasn’t even news because a transcript of a phone call revealed “a national pact” to remove Dilma and install Temer as president. The transcript identifies the opposition, the military and the Supreme Court as coup conspirators.
America’s back yard was escaping: it had to be once again annexed. So, the public wasn’t given the context, and the coup was perceived as proper parliamentary procedure.
But the removal of Dilma Rouseff wasn’t enough because waiting in the wings was her even more popular mentor, former President Lula da Silva. And Lula was poised to win the next election. So, Lula had to go.
America could not allow the return of Lula. He had cooperated with Venezuela’s Hugo Chavez in his life and eulogized him in his death. Lula had been a powerful force in the gravitational shift that had temporarily pulled Latin America out of the American orbit. His return was impossible, so the script had to be changed. So, Lula was arrested, convicted and barred from running for president in the 2018 election. Lulu was banished to prison over a bribe in which the construction company OAS offered him an apartment in exchange for inflated contracts. But no evidence was ever provided that Lulu accepted the bribe or ever stayed in or rented out the apartment.
In the past few weeks, more details have emerged on what context the perception shapers amputated. It is now clear why it never bothered anyone that there was no evidence against Lula: because the prosecutors did not need evidence. The perception shapers forgot to tell the public that Lula’s prosecutors were conspiring with his judge to frame him with the bribery charges. The Intercept reports that judge and prosecutors illegally collaborated to build the case against Lula, despite serious doubts about the evidence, and to prevent his party from winning the 2018 presidential election.
Absent this historical context, the removal of Dilma and the arrest of Lula look like legal and parliamentary maneuvers. But suturing them back together reveals a coup.
Iran recently stunned the States by shooting down a $130 million U.S. Global Hawk surveillance drone. U.S. officials called the incident “an unprovoked attack.” But that label requires two acts of historical amputation: one to call it unprovoked and the other to call it an attack.
To paint America as innocent and feign shock at Iran’s unprovoked attack, the recent past—not to mention a longer past going back to the 1953 coup—needs to be erased: the shooting down of the drone needs to be amputated from its historical context.
America has press Iranians down under the weight of unprecedented unilateral sanctions. Adding the word “economic” to the word “attack” doesn’t make it any less of an attack, and it may well constitute an internationally prohibited act of aggression. Iran’s economy is suffering, and its people are being killed.
Just as adding the word “economic” to the word “attack” doesn’t make it any less of an attack, neither does adding the word “cyber.” But the U.S. has admitted to cyber attacks on Iran. The Stuxnet virus infected Iran’s centrifuges and sent them spinning wildly out of control before playing back previously recorded tapes of normal operations which plant operators watched unsuspectingly while the centrifuges literally tore themselves apart. Stuxnet seems to have wiped out about 20% of Iran’s nuclear centrifuges. Such an attack on Iranian territory is surely no less an act of war because the weapon used is a cyber weapon.
And Stuxnet, it turns out, was only the beginning. The U.S. also ordered sophisticated attacks on the computers that run Iran’s nuclear enrichment facilities. A virus much larger than Stuxnet, known as Flame, attacked Iranian computers. This virus maps and monitors the system of Iranian computers and sends back intelligence that is used to prepare for cyber war campaigns like the one undertaken by Stuxnet. Officials have now confirmed that Flame is one part of a joint project of America’s CIA and NSA and Israel’s secret military unit 8200. A NATO study said that Stuxnet qualified as an “illegal act of force.” So much for unprovoked.
Economic warfare, cyber warfare and assassinations too. Since 2010, there have been at least three assassinations and one attempted assassination of Iranian nuclear scientists. Two senior officials in the Obama administration revealed to NBC news that the assassinations were carried out by the MEK. They also confirm that the MEK was being financed, armed and trained by the Israeli Mossad and that the assassinations were carried out with the awareness of the United States. The State, too, has secretly trained and supported the MEK.
And there is yet one more kind of provocation. In The Iran Agenda Today, Reese Erlich discusses America’s long history of supporting dissident groups and even of sponsoring terrorist attacks inside Iran. He and Seymour Hersh both say that the U.S. funded and supported Kurdish guerillas.
Of course the public will perceive an event as unprovoked if the perception shapers’ narrative begins after the provocations.
The Iranian attack isn’t unprovoked. It also isn’t an attack. Iran says it was a defence. They say they were not attacking but defending because they shot down the drone only after it violated Iranian airspace. The U.S. says the drone was in international airspace. But Iran has displayed drone wreckage at a press conference that they claim proves their case. And the Secretary of Russia’s Security Council says that the Russian military has intelligence showing that the U.S. drone was inside Iranian air space when it was shot down.
In the most detailed account of the events leading up to the shooting down of the drone—events that were virtually entirely severed from the perception shapers’ account—Vijay Prashad reattaches the amputated prior context. In fact, the U.S. had been flying surveillance aircraft along the Iranian coastline, testing Iranian radars. Not one, but two aircraft violated Iranian airspace: the often-reported unmanned drone and a manned P-8 spy plane. After Iran air command radioed U.S. forces to report the airspace violation, the P-8 withdrew, but the drone did not. It was only after Iran’s airspace had been violated, they had warned the U.S. and the drone had refused to leave that Iran shot down the drone. In a personal correspondence, Prashad told me that his source for this account of the context was two Gulf state diplomats. Other sources have also reported that there was a second manned aircraft and that, far from attacking, Iran showed restraint by not shooting down the P-8 airplane and the thirty-five people on board.
With the context reattached, the attack was a defence. But the subsequent American cyber attack on computers that control Iran’s rocket and missile launchers, like the previous Stuxnet and Flame cyber attacks, was not a defence, but an attack.
It is only with the amputation of the relevant historical context that Iran’s shooting down of an American drone can be shaped to appear as “an unprovoked attack.” Suturing the event and the context back together reveals, not only provocation, but defensive action.
Ted Snider has a graduate degree in philosophy and writes on analyzing patterns in U.S. foreign policy and history. His work has appeared in AntiWar.com, Mondoweiss and others.
MEK Part of Mossad Assassination Teams