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Friday, March 5, 2021

The Iran turmoil

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Rajiv Saxena
Rajiv Saxena
Rajiv Prakash Saxena is a graduate of UBC, Vancouver, Canada. He is an authority on eCommerce, eProcurement, eSign, DSCs and Internet Security. He has been a Technology Bureaucrat and Thought leader in the Government. He has 8 books and few UN assignments. He wrote IT Policies of Colombia and has implemented projects in Jordan, Rwanda, Nepal and Mauritius. Rajiv writes, speaks, mentors on technology issues in Express Computers, ET, National frontier and TV debates. He worked and guided the following divisions: Computer Aided Design (CAD), UP: MP: Maharashtra and Haryana State Coordinator to setup NICNET in their respective Districts of the State, TradeNIC, wherein a CD containing list of 1,00,000 exporters was cut with a search engine and distributed to all Indian Embassies and High Commissions way back in the year 1997 (It was an initiative between NIC and MEA Trade Division headed by Ms. Sujatha Singh, IFS, India’s Ex Foreign Secretary), Law Commission, Ministry of Law & Justice, Department of Legal Affairs, Department of Justice, Ministry of Urban Development (MoUD), Ministry of Housing & Urban Poverty Alleviation (MoHUPA), National Jail Project, National Human Rights Commission (NHRC), National Commission for Minorities (NCM), National Data Centres (NDC), NIC National Infrastructure, Certifying Authority (CA) to issue Digital Signature Certificates (DSCs), eProcurement, Ministry of Parliamentary Affairs (MPA), Lok Sabha and its Secretariat (LSS) and Rajya Sabha and its Secretariat (RSS) along with their subordinate and attached offices like Directorate of Estate (DoE), Land & Development Office (L&DO), National Building Construction Corporation (NBCC), Central Public Works Department (CPWD), National Capital Regional Planning Board (NCRPB), Housing & Urban Development Corporation (HUDO), National Building Organisation (NBO), Delhi Development Authority (DDA), BMPTC and many others.

One Friday, the father of the Iran’s nuclear weapons’ program, Mohsen Fakhrizadeh was assassinated by a team of five masked gunmen, but later as more truths and investigation news came, it was clear that he was killed through remote controlled firing from a vehicle and the vehicle was later blasted. A top Iranian official said a “complex operation” led to the killing of nuclear scientist Mohsen Fakhrizadeh and blamed Israel and an exiled opposition group in Iran for its success.

The “operation was very complex, using electronic equipment and no one was present at the scene,” said Rear-Admiral Ali Shamkhani, the Secretary of Iran’s Supreme National Security Council to the State TV, as quoted by news agency AFP. He also said that The People’s Mujahedeen of Iran (MEK) and “the Zionist regime and the Mossad” were “certainly” behind the assassination. Meanwhile, Iran on Monday bid adieu to Fakhrizadeh and many top officials attended the funeral, including defence minister Amir Hatami and the head of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards Hossein Salami.

“If our enemies had not committed this heinous crime and spilt our dear martyr’s blood, he might have remained unknown,” Hatami in a speech said. “But today, he who was only an idol for […] his students and colleagues, is introduced to the whole world,” he added, saying the scientist will inspire “all who embark on the path to fight.” “The enemies should know, that this is their first defeat.” The scientist who many see as the ‘mastermind or father of Iran’s nuclear programme’ died on Friday after assailants targeted his car and engaged in a gunfight with his bodyguards in Tehran.

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani uttered the following response blaming Israel: “Once again, the evil hands of global arrogance and the Zionist mercenaries were stained with the blood of an Iranian son.” Iran has vowed revenge and did not waste time approving raising the limits on uranium enrichment to 20%, the amount that is needed to produce a bomb and nuclear war head. Besides this act, it is assumed that the Iranian Revolutionary Guards or even Hezbollah will strike Israeli civilian targets for sure sooner than later.

Whether, the Mossad in fact carried out the assassination or planned the attack or merely played a logistic role for local dissidents does not matter, Iran has been deeply damaged by the success of this attack. More importantly, the Iranians have now set out on a course where they will have to take the offensive against US and Israeli installations as well as UAE, Bahraini, and Saudi targets, after Israel’s relations improved with UAE and Bahrain and Iran is at war against Saudis due to Shia Sunni deep divide.

On 27th November 2020, Fakhrizadeh was ambushed while traveling in a vehicle on a rural road in Absard, a city near Tehran. According to an Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps documentary filmmaker, Fakhrizadeh was attacked by 12 assailants. The attack was initiated when a Nissan truck carrying explosives hidden beneath a load of wood detonated near Fakhrizadeh’s car. A second vehicle was destroyed with a bomb. Fakhrizadeh’s bodyguards then clashed with the gunmen. Three bodyguards were killed by the attackers, while others were wounded. Iranian sources reported that three to four of the attackers were killed. Fakhrizadeh’s family members were also killed or injured in the attack. There were also reports of a suicide attacker who later died from his injuries. Fakhrizadeh was taken to a hospital where he died after efforts to resuscitate him failed.

The Iranian Fars News Agency published new details on the killing of senior Iranian nuclear scientist Fakhrizadeh, which has been attributed to Israel, claiming that he was assassinated by a remote – controlled machine gun that was detonated after the attack. Fakhrizadeh was driving with his wife in a bullet – proof vehicle on Friday morning, accompanied by a convoy of armoured cars.

Iran’s Supreme National Security Council reportedly convened an emergency meeting attended by senior military commanders. Hossein Salami, the chief commander of Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), called for revenge and punishment for the perpetrators of the assassination. Ali Khamenei, the supreme leader of Iran, also called for the punishment of the perpetrators and commanders of the terrorist act, his international affairs adviser Ali Akbar Velayati called Mohsen Fakhrizadeh a “great martyr” and called for revenge. Fakhrizadeh received “the burial of a national hero at one of the country’s holiest shrines.” He was accorded state funeral.

A spokesman for the UN Secretary – General Antonio Guterres called for restraint to avoid possible conflicts. The Federal Foreign Office of Germany, stated that “all parties” involved in the incident should avoid “escalation”, suggesting that any further steps by the United States or Iran could imperil future international talks about Iran’s nuclear programme.

Michael P. Mulroy, the Pentagon’s former top Middle East policy official, called the assassination “a setback to Iran’s nuclear program.” Former CIA Director John Brennan called the killing “criminal” and “highly reckless.” The foreign ministers of Qatar, Turkey and Iraq also condemned the killing.

Mohammad Javad Zarif, Iran’s FM, suggested that Israel was behind the slaying of his country’s top nuclear scientist – and called it an act of “desperate warmongering”. Confirming the killing, he tweeted: “Terrorists murdered an eminent Iranian scientist today. This cowardice with serious indications of Israeli role shows desperate warmongering of perpetrators. Iran calls on the international community and especially EU to end their shameful double standards & condemn this act of state terror” and alleged Israeli involvement in the incident. Abdolrahim Mousavi, Head of the Iranian army, blamed Israel and the US and threatened revenge. Hezbollah also criticised the killing and alleged US and Israeli involvement.

According to The New York Times, Fakhrizadeh was the number one target of Israeli intelligence agency Mossad. Mossad was allegedly involved in the assassination of the Iranian nuclear scientists, some of whom were Fakhrizadeh’s deputies, in the 2010s. An American official and two other intelligence officials stated that Israel was behind the killing.

In 2018, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu discussed Fakhrizadeh and urged his audience to “remember his name” due to his importance as head of the research division of the ministry of defense.

Trita Parsi, the founder of the National Iranian American Council, labelled Israel the “prime suspect.” Mark Dubowitz, the Chief Executive of Foundation for Defense of Democracies, stated that the ambush “certainly has the hallmark of an Israeli operation.” According to The Guardian, Israel may have carried out the attack in order to take advantage of the waning term of President Trump.

Hossein Dehghan, the former minister of defense of Iran, who has been sanctioned by the US Department of Treasury since November 2019, warned against any American military escalation in Trump’s final weeks in office. In an interview with the Associated Press, he warned that any American attack on Iran could set off a “full – fledged war” in the region.

Iranian leaders were shocked due to his targeted killing. In cabinet meeting, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani declared, “The think tanks and the enemies of Iran must know that the Iranian nation and the officials in charge in the country are brave and determined to respond to the murder in time.”

On 29th November 2020, Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei outlined his country’s response to the killing:

“There are two matters that people in charge should put into their ‘to do list’:

To follow up the atrocity and retaliate against those who were responsible for it; and

To follow up martyr Fakhrizadeh’s scientific and technical activities in all fields, in which he was active.”

Tensions have been continually enhanced since the 2nd January 2020 airstrike that killed an Iranian general in Baghdad. The US openly acknowledged it struck Major General Qassem Soleimani by drones to prevent terrorist attacks by the Iranian proxy militias against American diplomatic and military targets, and in retaliation for two decades of attacks against Americans by forces under Soleimani’s command.

The transatlantic reaction was sharply divided, reflecting the gulf between the American and European views of Iran since the Trump administration pulled the US out of the Iran nuclear deal in May 2018. Strategic Analyst believe that the killing have raised tension in the region, and may complicate incoming US President Joe Biden’s relationship with Iran. Robert Malley, who advised previous US President Barack Obama on Iran, claimed that the attack was deliberately timed in order to make Biden’s attempts to negotiate with Iran more difficult. Biden had pledged to rejoin the Iranian nuclear deal, which is still being discussed.

In the first European reaction to the killing, Carl Bildt, co-chair of the European Council on Foreign Relations, stated that “It’s not unlikely that this targeted killing was part of efforts to prevent the Biden administration from reviving diplomacy with Iran and going back to the nuclear agreement.” Experts were warning an attack before Trump left White House, and such a move could lead Iran to a violent response, which would provide a pretext for a US – led attack on Iranian nuclear facilities.”

Qatari Foreign Minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al Thani condemned the assassination in a phone call with Zarif. Sheikh Mohammed said “such steps will only contribute to pouring more fuel on the fire at a time when the region and the international community are searching for ways to reduce tension and return to the table of dialogue and diplomacy.” He also extended Qatar’s condolences to the government and the people of Iran and called for self – restraint.

The UN condemned Fakhrizadeh’s killing while urging restraint in order to avoid an “escalation of tension.” “We urge restraint and the need to avoid any action that could lead to an escalation of tension in the region,” a UN spokesman said. The Turkish foreign ministry condemned Fakhrizadeh’s killing as a “heinous assassination,” and called for the perpetrators of the attack to be held accountable. Turkey’s parliamentary speaker meanwhile referred to those responsible for the killing as “terrorist.” “The assassination of the Iranian scientist was an act of terrorism. Whether it was committed by an illegal or a “legal” organisation or a state makes no difference,” Mustafa Sentop said on Twitter.

While it is not clear how Fakhrizadeh was killed, and may never become clear and disclosed, Iran’s claims are going to highlight the increasing use of advanced technologies like AI – driven algorithms, machine learning, smart devices, powerful satellites with pin pointed accuracy and face recognition by countries in war or law enforcement. In fact, these systems are already a big part of law enforcement and surveillance through high quality video analytical cameras and are even used in drones, including drones used for combat missions. Iran has claimed that its top nuclear scientist was killed using a gun remotely connected to a satellite, which was strategically placed.

Top experts mention that shared satellite resources of more than one nation were used to eliminate the top scientist and his wife was not hit and she was sitting beside him.

The scientist was identified using AI and face recognition before the gun was fired with pin pointed accuracy.

The Iranian embassy in New Delhi has called on the international community to condemn the “act of state terror” after its top nuclear scientist was assassinated. In a statement released on Monday, the embassy tried to draw the attention of the Indian government and people towards Fakhrizadeh’s “outstanding role in peaceful scientific projects in Iran” and accused Israel of conspiring to “incited chaos” in the region. This statement was fully loaded and it was meant to provoke India.

For India, its relationship with Iran, be it economic, political or strategic, has been held at ransom ever since Trump’s withdrawal from JCPOA. If Biden resumes negotiations with Iran, it will ease up issues like the Chabahar Port and have a similar effect on countries around India like Afghanistan and Pakistan. “Iranian people expect that the international community condemn state terrorism and build a consensus to counter tension and adventurism in the region,” the statement read. The embassy praised the slain scientist for his contribution to the “national efforts in curbing the Covid-19 pandemic”. It further said that several top Iranian scientists and national heroes have been targeted over the past years, stressing that evidence “clearly indicates” foreign hands behind such attacks.

International assassinations will have new standard operating procedures and there will be more collaborations between the GAFA Gang, satellites and the arms industry. The killing was a precursor to the future of war in a robotic environment.

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Rajiv Saxena
Rajiv Saxena
Rajiv Prakash Saxena is a graduate of UBC, Vancouver, Canada. He is an authority on eCommerce, eProcurement, eSign, DSCs and Internet Security. He has been a Technology Bureaucrat and Thought leader in the Government. He has 8 books and few UN assignments. He wrote IT Policies of Colombia and has implemented projects in Jordan, Rwanda, Nepal and Mauritius. Rajiv writes, speaks, mentors on technology issues in Express Computers, ET, National frontier and TV debates. He worked and guided the following divisions: Computer Aided Design (CAD), UP: MP: Maharashtra and Haryana State Coordinator to setup NICNET in their respective Districts of the State, TradeNIC, wherein a CD containing list of 1,00,000 exporters was cut with a search engine and distributed to all Indian Embassies and High Commissions way back in the year 1997 (It was an initiative between NIC and MEA Trade Division headed by Ms. Sujatha Singh, IFS, India’s Ex Foreign Secretary), Law Commission, Ministry of Law & Justice, Department of Legal Affairs, Department of Justice, Ministry of Urban Development (MoUD), Ministry of Housing & Urban Poverty Alleviation (MoHUPA), National Jail Project, National Human Rights Commission (NHRC), National Commission for Minorities (NCM), National Data Centres (NDC), NIC National Infrastructure, Certifying Authority (CA) to issue Digital Signature Certificates (DSCs), eProcurement, Ministry of Parliamentary Affairs (MPA), Lok Sabha and its Secretariat (LSS) and Rajya Sabha and its Secretariat (RSS) along with their subordinate and attached offices like Directorate of Estate (DoE), Land & Development Office (L&DO), National Building Construction Corporation (NBCC), Central Public Works Department (CPWD), National Capital Regional Planning Board (NCRPB), Housing & Urban Development Corporation (HUDO), National Building Organisation (NBO), Delhi Development Authority (DDA), BMPTC and many others.

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