The details of the killing are as yet fuzzy. State TV said that the scientist's car was attacked by "armed terrorist elements," and that he was taken to a hospital, where doctors couldn't revive him. Some reports suggested the car had first been struck by a vehicle-borne IED, and thereafter shot up by armed gunmen.
Inevitably, the regime is blaming
The killing certainly has some of the hallmarks of a campaign of assassinations of Iranian nuclear scientists, attributed
Netanyahu has always opposed the deal, and remains convinced that
Fakhrizadeh is sometimes described as
The main fear is that the killing will set off a chain reaction within the regime, building pressure to retaliate, whether
A reminder of the risk came earlier in the week, when
The timing of Fakhrizadeh's assassination is especially awkward for the Iranian leadership, political as well as military.
The end of the mourning period — typically 40 days — will coincide with the first anniversary of the assassination of top
To the hard-liners in the regime, it will serve as an embarrassing reminder that they have failed to exact the vengeance they
swore a year ago. It doesn't help that Fakhrizadeh's importance to the nuclear program is already being likened to Soleimani's
At the same time, the Iranians are acutely aware that if they can keep their cool through the last weeks of the Trump administration,
they might get a better response from
Politically, then, it might suit the regime if everybody does the opposite of what Netanyahu suggested, and forgets the name of the assassinated scientist. But the election campaign, in which hard-liners are expected to dominate, makes that well-nigh impossible. Fakhrizadeh, like the proverbial genie, will not go back into obscurity.
• 08/17/20: Macron's muscle-flexing will make Mediterranean tensions worse
• 08/06/20: Beirut explosions create a dilemma for the world
• 06/25/20: Egypt's el-Sissi suffers a stunning reversal of fortunes
• 05/05/20: The Saudis' defacto leader is stuck exactly where Trump wants him
• 04/20/20: Trump is right to block IMF aid for Iran
• 02/17/20: Algeria wants a role in Libya that it can't afford
• 02/06/20: Iraq's new prime minister may not last long
• 01/27/20: Libya deal is a gentleman's bargain between rogues
• 01/20/20: Europe's lack of resolve is revealing --- to Iran
• 01/14/20: Iran isn't facing a 'Chernobyl moment'