The assassination of Iran’s top nuclear scientist, Mohsen Fakhrizadeh, presumably by Israel, was probably aimed at saddling Joe Biden’s presidency with a war, a U.S. bombing campaign against Iran’s nuclear sites or, at the very least, preventing him from re-joining the Iran nuclear agreement.
On MSNBC Saturday, Iranian guest Trita Parsi explained that while Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani wants to avoid starting a war with Israel over the assassination, he may be pressured into one.
But it is not clear if that is the view of other elements inside the country. Some of this debate is starting to be taking place in public in which the argument that is made by the other side is that these assassinations continue to take place precisely because, in their view, Iranians have not responded harshly enough to previous attacks and the only way of preventing future attacks is to respond really harshly to this one. If that happens, however, then there is a very significant risk for a major escalation, potentially of war which, according to Rouhani, is what Netanyahu is looking for.
Col. Lawrence Wilkerson, a veteran of both the Army and the State Department, said it would be “extremely unusual” for Israel not to have informed the Trump administration of the assassination. Quoting former Secretary of Defense Robert Gates, Wilkerson said, “The Saudis are willing to fight the Iranians to the last dead American. And I would add Bibi Netanyahu in that.”
According to Wilkerson, the fix against Biden is in.
Nayyera Haq, another State Department veteran, said that the U.S. abandonment of the Iran nuclear agreement “really opened the door” for Israel and the Saudis to influence the Trump administration against Iran. Now, “they’re looking at a ticking time clock” on “how much can they box in Biden's options by engaging the United States under a Trump administration or while Trump is still commander in chief?”
However, Biden may be able to escape the trap laid for him by forcefully signaling opposition to the assassination: