MESOPOTAMIA NEWS BACKGROUNDER : The Assassination of Fakhrizadeh: Considerations and Consequences

 

The assassination of the “father of the Iranian bomb” has damaged Iran’s nuclear program, but whoever was behind the operation apparently had additional motives. The potential success of these other goals depends in part on Iran’s response to the killing, which may be painful and costly. How should Israel act in this “waiting period,” while the Islamic Republic points an accusing finger at it?

Amos YadlinAssaf Orion –  INSS Insight No. 1409, December 2, 2020 – ISRAEL

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MESOPOTAMIA NEWS BIDEN’S BURDEN : KHAMENEI SPEECH SETS THE BOUNDARIES OF ENGAGEMENT WITH THE WEST

by Omer Carmi  – Policy Alert – November 30, 2020

In his first major address since Joe Biden’s election, the Supreme Leader downplayed the prospect of negotiating an end to U.S. sanctions, instead urging Iranian officials to focus on increasing the country’s self-reliance and solving its deep economic problems.

On November 23, Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei attended a meeting of the Supreme Council of Economic Coordination, one of Iran’s top policymaking bodies. As the country copes with record-high coronavirus infection rates, its economy continues to deteriorate—indeed, Khamenei’s decision to address the meeting in person rather than by video highlights the gravity of the situation. In speaking to the council, he stated his guidelines for what the regime’s senior economic and political officials should and should not do to solve the country’s hardships, emphasizing the following themes:

The West cannot be trusted.

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MESOPOTAMIA NEWS BACKGROUND: Who killed Mohsen Fakhrizadeh, Iran’s nuclear chief? Israel is the likely suspect

 

 

BY SIMON HENDERSON, OPINION CONTRIBUTOR — 11/27/20 06:00 PM EST THE HILL

THE VIEWS EXPRESSED BY CONTRIBUTORS ARE THEIR OWN AND NOT THE VIEW OF THE HILL

Speculation about President Trump using his last weeks in office to lash out at Iran’s nuclear project missed the bigger story — that Israel would use the window of political opportunity to take action which might be hard to get away with under a Biden administration.

For COVID-era fans of the Israeli spy series, “Tehran,” on Apple+, the idea of Israeli agents pulling off an assassination inside Iran would not appear far-fetched. The killing early Friday of the top Iranian nuclear-weapon scientist, Mohsen Fakhrizadeh, could have been just another plot twist. On a dusty road east of Tehran, in the shadow of the quiescent, snow-capped Damavand volcano, which dominates the capital’s skyline, Fakhrizadeh’s car was ambushed.

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MESOPOTAMIA NEWS INTEL : Iranian authorities said to have photos of assassins of leading nuclear scientist

NOVEMBER 30, 2020 BY JOSEPH FITSANAKIS INTEL ORG

REPORTS IN BRITAIN AND Israel claim that Iranian authorities have visually identified the assassins who were allegedly involved in the killing of Mohsen Fakhrizadeh, a nuclear scientist believed to have led Iran’s nuclear program. Fakhrizadeh was a brigadier general in the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), Iran’s elite paramilitary force. He was accused by the United States and Israel of leading the Islamic Republic’s nuclear weapons program, whose existence Tehran strongly denies.

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MESOPOTAMIA NEWS : cui bono ?- Wem der Anschlag im Iran wirklich nützt

Von Jacques Schuster DIE WELT – Chefkommentator 29 Nov 2020

Egal ob die USA den iranischen Atomwissenschaftler getötet haben oder ein anderer Geheimdienst – das Motiv konnte keinesfalls gewesen sein, das iranische Regime von seinem Nuklearbomben-Programm abzuhalten. Die Attentäter verfolgten ein anderes Ziel.

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MESOPOTAMIA NEWS : ONLY DOING WHAT THEY ALWAYS DID! IRANIAN MULLAHS

Iranian Parliament Passes Bill to Boost Nuclear Activities after Killing of Its Top Scientist

Basnews English 2020/11/29 – 16:01 .ERBIL — Iranian lawmakers on Sunday passed a bill in hopes of reviving country’s nuclear activities in the wake of the killing of its top nuclear scientist Mohsen Fakhrizadeh in Tehran.

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MESOPOTAMIA NEWS INTEL BY MEIR AMIT CENTER / ISRAEL – Spotlight on Iran

November 15, 2020 – November 29, 2020 Editor: Dr. Raz Zimmt
The meeting of the Iraqi minister of defense with the Iranian secretary of the Supreme National Security Council (Mehr, November 15, 2020)

The meeting of the Iraqi minister of defense with the Iranian secretary of the Supreme National Security Council (Mehr, November 15, 2020)

Overview
  • Senior Iranian officials have avoided publicly commenting on the statement of the IDF spokesperson about Israeli strikes on targets of the Syrian Army and Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) after explosive devices were discovered in two locations on the Syrian-Israeli border on the Golan Heights. The explosive devices were placed by residents of Syrian villages located on the border, under the direction and with the financing of the Qods Force of the IRGC. The spokesman of the Iranian Ministry of Foreign Affairs did not confirm the report about the death of a number of Qods Force personnel in IDF strikes in Syria, and warned of a “crushing response” to those trying to disrupt the Iranian “advisory” presence in Syria.
  • The Iranian Minister of Foreign Affairs Zarif and the special adviser to the speaker of the Majlis met in Tehran with the UN Special Envoy for Syria, Geir Pedersen. The two Iranian officials discussed with the high-ranking UN official the negotiations concerning the settlement of the war in Syria, and called for lifting of sanctions imposed on the Syrian regime. The adviser of the speaker of the Majlis declared that Iran continues to back Syria with all of its might.
  • In mid-November, the Iraqi minister of defense visited Tehran and met senior Iranian officials, including the minister of defense, the chief of staff of the Armed Forces, the commander of the IRGC and the secretary of the Supreme National Security Council. The minister headed a delegation of military and security officials who discussed with senior Iranian military and security officials the expansion of cooperation in these spheres between the two countries. Following his meeting with the Iraqi minister of defense, the Iranian chief of staff reported that an agreement concerning security cooperation will be signed by the two countries in the near future.
  • Iraqi sources reported that on November 18, the Commander of the IRGC’s Qods Force, Qasem Soleimani, visited Baghdad and met with the Iraqi Prime Minister, Mustafa al-Kazimi, and the commanders of Iranian-backed Shia militias. According to these reports, Qa’ani asked the commanders of the militias to maintain the unofficial ceasefire with the United States, to avoid renewed escalation with the U.S. in the remaining weeks of the Trump administration.
  • Iranian activities in Iraq in the cultural and scientific spheres: The Iranian cultural attache in Baghdad met with the former Iraqi Prime Minister, Adel Abdul Mahdi, and discussed expanding scientific and academic cooperation between the two countries. Meanwhile, the Iranian cultural attache’s office in Baghdad reported a rise in the number of those studying Persian in Iraq, as part of courses offered by the Iranian cultural center operating in Baghdad.
Iranian Involvement in Syria
  • Senior Iranian officials avoided commenting on the statement of the IDF spokesperson about Israeli strikes against IRGC and Syrian Army targets in Syria, after the IDF uncovered multiple explosive devices in two locations near the Israeli-Syrian border on the Golan Heights. The Spokesman of the Iranian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Saeed Khatibzadeh, who was asked during his weekly press conference about the report concerning the death of a number of Qods Force personnel in the IDF strikes, did not confirm the report and remarked that the “Zionist regime” knows well that the era of “hit and run” is over, and this is why the “regime” is acting with caution. The spokesman stated that the presence of Iran in Syria is limited to an advisory role only, and warned that whoever tries to hinder it will receive a crushing response. Khatibzadeh added that the type of aggression of the “regime occupying Jerusalem” [Israel] can not be remedied, and the only way to act against it is through “resistance” (Tasnim, November 22).
  • On November 18, the IDF spokesperson announced that IDF jets struck warehouses, command centers and military compounds of the Qods Force and Syrian Army. The strikes of the Air Force hit, among other locations, targets belonging to Unit 840 of the IRGC, which operates under the Qods Force, and was responsible for placing the explosive devices. According to the IDF, members of both units that placed the IEDs are residents of Syrian border villages, who operated under the auspices of the Qods Force and with its financing (Maariv; Haaretz, November 18-19).
  •  On November 22, Mohammad Javad Zarif, spoke with the incoming Syrian Foreign Minister, Faisal Miqdad, and congratulated him for his appointment. In the call, Zarif expressed his condolences for the passing of the former Syrian Foreign Minister, Walid al-Muallem, who passed away on November 16, and expressed hope for the continuation of strategic cooperation between the two countries (ISNA, February 22). On February 21, Zarif met with the UN Special Envoy on Syria, Geir Pedersen, and called for removing sanctions placed on Syria. The two discussed developments in Syria, the discussions of the Constitutional Committee, and efforts to end the crisis in the country (Tasnim, November 22).
  • On November 23, the special UN envoy met with the Special Adviser to the Speaker of the Majlis, Hossein Amir Abdollahian. During the meeting, the Iranian official remarked that Tehran supports the UN’s efforts to preserve the territorial integrity of Syria and to return security to the country. Abdollahian stressed that Iran continues to back Syria and its security with all of its might (ISNA, November 23).
  • During a visit paid by the Syrian Minister of Oil, Bassam Tomeh, to the oil refinery in Homs City, he received a presentation about the work of an Iranian company that is carrying out renovation and maintenance work in one of the production units in the plant. During the visit, the minister met with the engineers from the company who described to him the work of the control systems at the facility (the Facebook page of the Homs Oil Refining Company, November 12). In recent years, a number of reports were published about Iran’s intention to assist in restoring Syria’s oil refining infrastructure, which was damaged during the civil war. In late September 2017, a senior official at the research center of Iran’s oil industry announced that Iran will establish a refinery near the city of Homs, which would be able to produce 70,000 barrels of oil per day during the first stage of operation, and eventually the capacity will be doubled to 140,000 oil barrels per day. In addition, there were reports about Iran’s intention to refurbish two other refineries (ISNA, September 26, 2017).
Iranian Involvement in Iraq
  • In mid-November, the Iraqi Minister of Defense, Juma Anad Saadoun, arrived for a visit in Tehran and met with senior Iranian officials, chief among them the Iranian minister of defense, the chief of staff of the Iranian Armed Forces, the commander of the IRGC, and the secretary of the Supreme National Security Council. Saadoun headed a delegation of security and military officials, which also included the commander of Iraq’s Air Force, the commander of Iraq’s Air Defense, and several other senior officers. The visit was intended to discuss expanding security and military cooperation between the two countries. The Iranian Chief of Staff, Mohammad Baqeri, reported after his meeting with the Iraqi minister of defense that the two sides reached an agreement concerning security cooperation between the two countries, which will be signed in the near future. He mentioned that the Iraqi delegation discussed matters concerning military industries, security of shared borders, training plans and conducting joint military exercises (Mehr, November 15).
  • The Secretary of the Supreme National Security Council, Ali Shamkhani, stated in his meeting with the Iraqi minister of defense that Iran will act decisively against any threat to the security of the people in both countries. During the meeting, the two also discussed regional and international developments. Shamkhani spoke about the cooperation between Iran and Iraq in the campaign against terror and declared that this cooperation ensures the stability and security of the region, and should be expanded to the strategic levels. He added that through its presence in the region, the United States strives to create disagreements and confrontations between the countries of the region, and that Iraq and Iran should face down this conspiracy. He praised the decision of the Iraqi Parliament, which called for the removal of U.S. forces from Iraq. The Iraqi minister of defense expressed his appreciation for Iran’s support to Iraq in the campaign against terrorism, and stressed the importance of bolstering ties between the two countries, particularly in the security and military spheres. He remarked that no third country can impact that ties between Iran and Iraq (Tasnim, November 15).
  • The Commander of the IRGC, Hossein Salami, vowed in his meeting with the Iraqi minister that Iran will avenge the death of Qasem Soleimani and Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, who were assassinated by the United States in January 2020 in Iraq. Salami stressed the need to ensure the withdrawal of American forces from Iraq, in light of the resolution of the Iraqi Parliament, and the wishes of the Iraqi people (Tasnim, November 15).
  • The AP news agency reported (November 20) that according to two Iraqi Shia politicians, the Commander of the IRGC’s Qods Force, Esmail Qa’ani, arrived for a visit in Baghdad on November 18, and met with senior Iraqi politicians and the commanders of the pro-Iranian Shia militias. According to the report, Qa’ani instructed the commanders of the militias to maintain high vigilance but avoid creating tensions vis-a-vis the United States, to avoid giving President Trump a reason to launch an attack in his last weeks in power. The Iraqi sources reported that the commander of the Shia militias who met with Qa’ani in Baghdad agreed to maintain the unofficial ceasefire with the Unites States, as negotiations continue between Baghdad and Washington concerning the pullout of U.S. troops from Iraq (Shafaq News, November 21). The Turkish Andalou news agency reported (November 21) according a source close to the Iraqi government, that during his visit to Baghdad, Qa’ani also met with the Prime Minister of Iraq, Mustafa al-Kazimi. According to another report, prior to his visit in Baghdad, Qa’ani visited Damascus and Beirut and met with President Assad and Secretary General of Hezbollah, Hassan Nasrallah (BBC, November 21).
  • The Iranian Cultural Attache in Baghdad, Hojjat-ul-Islam Gholareza Abazari, stated in a meeting with the former Iraqi Prime Minister, Adel Abdul Mahdi, that Iran is ready to share its scientific and medical experience with Iraqi universities. The two discussed expanding ties between the two countries in the spheres of science, academia and culture, and discussed a plan to establish a portal campus focusing on medical sciences of the University of Tehran in Karbala, southern Iraq (IRNA, November 22).
  • Mohammad Reza Talari, the head of the scientific department in the office of the Iranian cultural attache in Baghdad reported a rise in the number of those learning Persian in Iraq. In an interview to the Tasnim news agency, Talari reported that the Iranian cultural attache’s office carries out dozens of Persian courses, for students at differing skill levels, at the Iranian cultural center operating in Baghdad. He mentioned that due to COVID-19 restrictions, the lessons this year are held virtually, but the exams are held in person. According to him, the Iranian cultural center completed dozens of Persian courses and 12 additional courses are taking place now, totaling 150 students (Tasnin, November 23). The courses for leaning Persian, which are carried out by the Iranian embassy to Baghdad, are part of Iran’s effort to expand its religious and cultural influence in Iraq.
  • The Iranian Qeshm airliner announced the resumption of the company’s flights from Tehran and Mashhad to the city Najaf in Iraq, which were grounded due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The passengers will be obligated to have a negative COVID-19 test within 72 hours of the flight, and airports in both countries could ban the entry of specific passengers with possible symptoms of the virus, even with negative test results (IRNA, November 25). Some of the flights between Iran and Iraq were already resumed in October 2020, after they were halted in late September due to the rise in the infection rate in Iran, and efforts of Iraqi authorities to prevent the arrival of Iranian pilgrims by air to the Shia holy sites in Iraq.

Warning from the past comes back to haunt Iran’s top nuclear scientist

Two years ago, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu first divulged Mohsen Fakhrizadeh as the father of Iran’s nuclear project.

Screenshot of video presenting PM Benjamin Netanyahu's presentation on the Iranian nuclear program, during which he speaks about nuclear scientist Dr. Mohsen Fakhrizadeh (photo credit: GPO)
Screenshot of video presenting PM Benjamin Netanyahu’s presentation on the Iranian nuclear program, during which he speaks about nuclear scientist Dr. Mohsen Fakhrizadeh
Remember that name” Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu warned in 2018 of Iranian nuclear scientist Mohsen Fakhrizadeh, whom many referred to as the “father” of Iran’s nuclear weapons project.

Netanyahu made the comment when he divulged that Israel had obtained 100,000 files from Iran’s secret nuclear archives. He said that Fakhrizadeh, a brigadier-general in Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps and a professor of physics at the Guard’s Imam Hussein University, played a central role in the Islamic Republic’s nuclear program.

Though he had been sidelined for several years, Fakhrizadeh returned to drive Iran’s nuclear program, Project Amad, specifically to develop nuclear warheads for the multitudes of ballistic missiles the Islamic Republic already possesses.

While Iran was forced to shelve Project Amad in 2003, it continued with its nuclear ambitions, and Western intelligence sources even revealed that in 2013 Fakhrizadeh had attended a North Korean nuclear weapons test.

The New York Times in 2014 compared him to Robert Oppenheimer, the father of the American nuclear bomb.

Several Iranian nuclear scientists have been assassinated over the years, but Fakhrizadeh was by far the most important nuclear scientist to be killed to date.

He was so important it was not until Netanyahu showed his picture that there were any photographs available of him, and Iranian authorities even denied numerous requests from the International Atomic Energy Agency to interview him. It was an effort by Iran to protect him from assassins, a sort of protective shield around him.

While it is still unclear who is behind the killing, tensions between the West and Iran have been high, and there have even been reports that the US would strike Iran’s uranium enrichment facility in Natanz before US Donald Trump leaves office.

But after Trump was convinced that a direct strike on Iran would be too risky, perhaps taking out Fakhrizadeh was the next best choice.

Senior Israeli officials have met with their American counterparts several times in recent weeks, with the two sides discussing the threat posed by Iran.

While Iran has denied seeking nuclear weapons and says its atomic program is peaceful, Israel has warned repeatedly about Tehran’s nuclear ambitions and has pledged to never allow it to obtain such weapons that can threaten the Jewish state.
Israel considers Iran’s nuclear program as its number one concern, and the IDF in June opened the Strategy and Third-Circle Directorate, an entirely new position on the General Staff, which focuses principally on the fight against Iran.

“Iran has become the most dangerous country in the Middle East,” IDF Chief of Staff Lt.-Gen. Aviv Kochavi said at a ceremony marking its opening in June, adding that the country has “made significant progress with its nuclear program, but the nuclear [threat] is no longer the only threat. Iran also possesses conventional weapons.”

Over the summer, shortly after the opening of the Strategy and Third-Circle Directorate, Iran was hit by a number of mysterious blasts – specifically at sites connected to the country’s missile and nuclear project.

Although those “mysterious” blasts stopped, were they just a prelude to what was to come? Were they warnings or just more actions in Israel’s “war-between-wars” campaign against Iran and its nuclear program?

Either way, Fakhrizadeh’s death will very likely put Iran’s nuclear program on hold. At least for a while.

His death is also a major signal that Israel and the US will not give up on preventing the country from obtaining such weaponry.

The message is clear: Remember, no nuclear scientist is safe.

 

MESOPTAMIA NEWS BACKGROUNDER :  ‘Iran has become Mossad’s street corner’: Iran marks death of nuke chief

Iranians tweeted about the killing with surprise and also highlighting the abilities of those who allegedly killed him.

By SETH J. FRANTZMAN   NOVEMBER 27, 2020 22:49 – JERUSALEM POST

Iranians responded with awe and surprise as a key Iranian nuclear scientist was gunned down east of Tehran. Farsi social media was full of tweets about the surprising shooting of one of the key men behind the nuclear program in Iran. “It seems that Tehran has become a Mossad street corner,” wrote one man on Twitter.

Mohsen Fakhrizadeh was a man who “avoided the limelight,” said the Guardian. Yet he was in the limelight and when he was killed the gunmen not only shot up one vehicle, but appeared to blow up a second, perhaps a security detail travelling with him. He was not so secretive. He was well known enough that within hours Iranian regime media and foreign media were already publishing reports about him. Like Qasem Soleimani, the IRGC Quds force “shadow commander,” he was not so much in the shadows, and when he came out of the shadows it was in a hail of bullets.

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MESOPOTAMIA NEWS : MIT BIDEN/HARRIS NUN ENDLICH OFFENSIV FEMINISTISCH GEGEN DIE IRANISCHEN MULLAHS !

Eine feministische Außenpolitik im Umgang mit dem Iran? Bewertung der Optionen der EU

CORNELIUS ADEBAHR,  BARBARA MITTELHAMMER 23. NOVEMBER 2020 CARNEGIE ENDOWMENT  – 24 Nov 2020

Zusammenfassung:Die Anwendung eines feministischen Ansatzes ermöglicht eine umfassende, integrative und menschenzentrierte EU-Politik gegenüber dem Iran, die internationale Machtstrukturen widerspiegelt und sich auf alle Gruppen von Menschen konzentriert.

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