The Assassination of a Nuclear Scientist Suggests That the Iranian Regime Is in Trouble

Yesterday, reports appeared in the media that the Islamic Republic’s supreme leader, Ali Khamenei, had stepped down due to failing health, handing over his position to his son. Other outlets cited rumors—and so far they appear to be just that—that Khamenei is dead. Whatever the reality, these stories suggest a weakened regime. So too does the assassination last month of Mohsen Fakhrizadeh, the scientist behind Tehran’s nuclear-weapons program. Like other covert operations that have recently taken place within Iranian borders, the killing of Fakhrizadeh is widely assumed to be the doing of Israel. Ray Takeyh observes:

[I]t has often been suggested that no matter how unpopular the Islamist regime has become over the years, it is firmly in control of the country given its overlapping and omniscient intelligence services. Now, this widely accepted truism has to be called into question. In recent years, Iran’s nuclear installations have been sabotaged, its scientists killed, and its secrets stolen.
Moreover, the country has been rocked by a series of demonstrations that its intelligence organs did not anticipate. To say the least, the Islamic Republic today suffers from persistent intelligence failure, an ominous sign for a regime that rules through fear.

[Another] worrisome aspect for the Iranian regime has to be the probable collaboration of members of its own elite with a foreign power. These killings could not have taken place unless many in the system were so disenchanted with Islamist rule that they were willing to provide critical information to an adversary.

A regime is in trouble not only when its populace grows disenchanted but when important segments of its elite give up on the system. If those who are the chief beneficiaries of the system don’t believe in it, then who does? The Islamic Republic has long suffered from brain drain as its best and brightest have often chosen to leave the country, but now, it seems, even those who have stayed behind are starting to crack.

Subscribe to Mosaic

Welcome to Mosaic

Subscribe now to get unlimited access to the best of Jewish thought and culture

Subscribe

Subscribe to Mosaic

Welcome to Mosaic

Subscribe now to get unlimited access to the best of Jewish thought and culture

Subscribe

Read more at New York Daily News

More about: Ali Khamenei, Iran, Iran nuclear program

Will Tensions Rise between the U.S. and Israel?

Unlike his past many predecessors, President Joe Biden does not have a plan for solving the Israel-Palestinian conflict. Moreover, his administration has indicated its skepticism about renewing the 2015 nuclear deal with Iran. John Bolton nevertheless believes that there could be a collision between the new Benjamin Netanyahu-led Israeli government and the Biden White House:

In possibly his last term, Netanyahu’s top national-security priority will be ending, not simply managing, Iran’s threat. This is infinitely distant from Biden’s Iran policy, which venerates Barrack Obama’s inaugural address: “we will extend a hand if you are willing to unclench your fist.”

Tehran’s fist is today otherwise occupied, pummeling its own people. Still, it will continue menacing Israel and America unless and until the internal resistance finds ways to fracture the senior levels of Iran’s regular military and the Revolutionary Guards. Netanyahu undoubtedly sees Iran’s growing domestic turmoil as an opportunity for regime change, which Israel and others can facilitate. Simultaneously, Jerusalem can be preparing its military and intelligence services to attack Tehran’s nuclear program, something the White House simply refuses to contemplate seriously. Biden’s obsession with reviving the disastrous 2015 nuclear deal utterly blinds the White House to the potential for a more significant victory.

To make matters worse, Biden has just created a Washington-based position at the State Department, a “special representative for Palestinian affairs,” that has already drawn criticism in Israel both for the new position itself and for the person named to fill it. Advocated as one more step toward “upgrading” U.S. relations with the Palestinian Authority, the new position looks nearly certain to become the locus not of advancing American interests regarding the failed Authority, but of advancing the Authority’s interests within the Biden administration.

Subscribe to Mosaic

Welcome to Mosaic

Subscribe now to get unlimited access to the best of Jewish thought and culture

Subscribe

Subscribe to Mosaic

Welcome to Mosaic

Subscribe now to get unlimited access to the best of Jewish thought and culture

Subscribe

Read more at 19FortyFive

More about: Benjamin Netanyahu, Iran, Joe Biden, U.S.-Israel relationship