The Moral and Legal Case for Killing an Iranian Nuclear Scientist

Following the assassination last week of Mohsen Fakhrizadeh, the chief scientist of the Islamic Republic’s nuclear-weapons program, came a predictable chorus of condemnation from European diplomats and American commentators, often ignoring the fact that Fakhrizadeh was not a civilian but a brigadier general in Iran’s Revolutionary Guard, a designated terrorist organization. Richard Kemp explains why criticisms of Fakhrizadeh’s killing—widely thought to have been an Israeli covert operation—are nonsensical. Kemp pays particular attention to the arguments set forth by the former CIA director John O. Brennan:

Brennan says targeted killings are lawful against illegitimate combatants, i.e. terrorist operatives, but not officials of sovereign states in peacetime, with the implication that in this case the perpetrators of the killing were not at war with Iran.

This is to misunderstand the reality that war can no longer be seen as defined periods of hostilities characterized by sweeping movements of armor across the plains, grand naval battles, and dogfights in the skies. Instead, the lines between peace and war have been intentionally blurred by countries such as Iran and Russia, often using surrogates to strike their enemies, as well as by non-state actors such as Islamic State and al-Qaeda, with unprecedented capacity for global violence.

Iran has prosecuted a long-term concerted war against Israel with the declared intention of eliminating the Jewish state. It has funded and directed attacks from Gaza, Lebanon, and Syria, inside Israel and against Israeli citizens and government officials beyond the region. It has built an extensive missile complex in southern Lebanon, deploying many thousands of rockets pointed at Israel. It has sought to develop a base of operations in Syria from which to attack Israel. It has fomented, funded, and armed an insurgency in Yemen from which to conduct a proxy war against Saudi Arabia. It has also launched drone and cruise-missile attacks against Saudi oil facilities.

Those that argue against [current American and Israeli efforts to contain the Islamic Republic] fail to understand the danger that a nuclear-armed Iran presents to the region and the world, wrongly believe that the program can be halted by diplomatic means, or are happy with the idea of a nuclear-armed fanatical dictatorship.

Read more at Gatestone

More about: Iran nuclear program, Israeli Security, Military ethics, U.S. Foreign policy


Why Egypt Fears an Israeli Victory in Gaza

While the current Egyptian president, Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, has never been friendly to Hamas, his government has objected strenuously to the Israeli campaign in the southernmost part of the Gaza Strip. Haisam Hassanein explains why:

Cairo has long been playing a double game, holding Hamas terrorists near while simultaneously trying to appear helpful to the United States and Israel. Israel taking control of Rafah threatens Egypt’s ability to exploit the chaos in Gaza, both to generate profits for regime insiders and so Cairo can pose as an indispensable mediator and preserve access to U.S. money and arms.

Egyptian security officials have looked the other way while Hamas and other Palestinian militants dug tunnels on the Egyptian-Gaza border. That gave Cairo the ability to use the situation in Gaza as a tool for regional influence and to ensure Egypt’s role in the Palestinian-Israeli conflict would not be eclipsed by regional competitors such as Qatar and Turkey.

Some elements close to the Sisi regime have benefited from Hamas control over Gaza and the Rafah crossing. Media reports indicate an Egyptian company run by one of Sisi’s close allies is making hundreds of millions of dollars by taxing Gazans fleeing the current conflict.

Moreover, writes Judith Miller, the Gaza war has been a godsend to the entire Egyptian economy, which was in dire straits last fall. Since October 7, the International Monetary Fund has given the country a much-needed injection of cash, since the U.S. and other Western countries believe it is a necessary intermediary and stabilizing force. Cairo therefore sees the continuation of the war, rather than an Israeli victory, as most desirable. Hassanein concludes:

Adding to its financial incentive, the Sisi regime views the Rafah crossing as a crucial card in preserving Cairo’s regional standing. Holding it increases Egypt’s relevance to countries that want to send aid to the Palestinians and ensures Washington stays quiet about Egypt’s gross human-rights violations so it can maintain a stable flow of U.S. assistance and weaponry. . . . No serious effort to turn the page on Hamas will yield the desired results without cutting this umbilical cord between the Sisi regime and Hamas.

Read more at Washington Examiner

More about: Egypt, Gaza War 2023, U.S. Foreign policy