By Javad Heirannia

Israel assassinated Fakhrizadeh with U.S. green light: American professor

December 14, 2020 - 16:17
“Netanyahu wants to take every opportunity to damage Iranian defensive capabilities,” George Washington University professor says

TEHRAN – Professor Hossein Askari, who teaches international business at George Washington University, says he is “almost sure” that the assassination of Iranian scientist Mohsen Fakhrizadeh was a joint project carried out by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and U.S. President Donald Trump.

Fakhrizadeh, 59, was assassinated in a complicated terrorist attack on Nov. 27 in a small city about 40 kilometers northeast of Tehran. The terrorists blasted a pickup - a Nissan sedan - laden with explosives on the way of the car carrying Fakhrizadeh and then started shooting at his car. Fakhrizadeh headed the Defense Ministry’s Organization of Defensive Innovation and Research (SPND).

Iranian political and military officials have pointed the finger at Israel for the assassination.

Professor Hossein Askari says Netanyahu and Trump want to “make reconciliation between Iran and the United States almost impossible after Biden takes office” and “they have poisoned Biden’s presidency in every way they can.” “America’s intelligence services are invaluable to Israel. The Trump-Netanyahu cooperation are as close as you can get. Netanyahu would want to make sure that this fits Trump’s current and future political agenda. So he would do nothing like this without a U.S. cooperation and green light.” Professor Hossein Askari tells the Tehran Times.

Following is the text of the interview:

Q: We witnessed the terror of Mohsen Fakhrizadeh, an Iranian nuclear scientist. Mohsen Fakhrizadeh was the only Iranian scientist mentioned by Benjamin Netanyahu in a presentation in April 2018. What is your assessment of the reasons for this terror?

A: The reasons are many. Netanyahu wants to take every opportunity to damage Iranian defensive capabilities and weaken Iran while he has the blind support of the United States in the presidency of Trump. He has been leading Trump and Kushner by the nose and he is taking advantage of this unique opportunity in the rest of the time Trump is in office. Trump and Netanyahu have another goal. Make reconciliation between Iran and the United States almost impossible after Biden takes office. Make Iran more hostile and angry making even the start of negotiations ever more difficult. They have poisoned Biden’s presidency in every way they can.

Q: What were the reasons for the assassination at this time?

A: Again, it is before Trump leaves office. Trump even wanted to attack Iran but was persuaded not to by his advisors. So he was clearly open to other means. This terror attack was a substitute for a direct military attack on Iran. Now their hope is that Iran retaliates while Trump is in office. Then attacking Iran would be more acceptable. I advise Iran against any retaliation that can be traced to them.

Q: Netanyahu recently visited Saudi Arabia and Pompeo also visited the region. What can these events have to do with the assassination?

A: I think it was for several reasons. They wanted to discuss what would be the best action against Iran. And they wanted to welcome MBS to their club. Let him participate. This way he could see the benefits of relations with Israel. So Israel-Saudi relations could be nurtured for the future.

Q: In vague and, of course, meaningful statements, Netanyahu stated that he had done important works in recent days, which he apologized for mentioning. If Israel is behind the terror, it seems he is sending a message to the incoming Biden administration that Israel will go its own way, regardless of the U.S. government's approach to Iran's nuclear program. What is your assessment?

A: Absolutely. Israel will do whatever it wants. But now Israel has been laying the groundwork to do what it wants even with Biden in office.  Let’s face it Israel has determined much of America’s foreign policy in the Middle East. It is sad but true. I am afraid that the United States will pay a heavy price in the future. There will be blowback and at the end Americans will little by little turn against Israel. It may take years or even decades, but it will happen.

Q: Trump reacted to the Fakhrizadeh assassination by republishing a tweet by an Israeli journalist in which the journalist had said Mossad had been monitoring Fakhrizadeh for years to assassinate him. The tweet seems to show cooperation between Israel and the United States in carrying out the assassination. What is your assessment?

A: Yes, I am almost sure of it. America’s intelligence services are invaluable to Israel. The Trump-Netanyahu cooperation are as close as you can get. Netanyahu would want to make sure that this fits Trump’s current and future political agenda. So he would do nothing like this without a U.S. cooperation and green light.

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