What will be the fallout of Fakhrizadeh's murder?

Four days after the murder of Iranian nuclear scientist Mohsen Fakhrizadeh, Tehran has once again blamed Israel and threatened retaliation. Fakhrizadeh was considered to be the architect of Iran's nuclear programme. Commentators ask what the incident means for US-Iran relations.

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De Volkskrant (NL) /

It's already clear who has won

The demands for revenge play right into Israel's hands, says De Volkskrant:

“No matter what Tehran decides to do, it looks like Israel will win in the end. Even if Iran goes no further than rhetoric, the country has lost the head of its nuclear programme. What's more, a grave message has been sent to all the scientists working on the programme. And if Iran does take action and gives Trump a hasty response before he leaves the White House, it will be very difficult for Biden to revive the nuclear agreement that Israel so detests.”

Tygodnik Powszechny (PL) /

Little interest in good relations

Closer relations between the US and Iran would meet with resistance in the region even without this attack, Tygodnik Powszechny believes:

“According to Iranian experts, an escalation of the conflict with the US is in the interest of Tehran's 'hawks', in view of next year's presidential election in Iran. The Sunni kings, emirs and sheikhs whom Trump persuaded to forget the Palestinians and reconcile with Israel in the name of mutual hostility towards Iran will not complain either if Joe Biden is unable to hold talks with Tehran. They believe that before the US agrees to revive the Iran nuclear deal, it should force the ayatollahs to abandon not only nuclear bombs but also their proxy wars in the Middle East.”

Delfi (LT) /

Israel critics out of touch with reality

Journalist Arkadijus Vinokuras defends in Delfi Israel's right to eliminate its enemies and accuses critics of failing to mention three important facts:

“For decades now Iran has been yelling from the rooftops to the entire world that its goal is the annihilation of Israel; the Iranian scientist was not only responsible for developing nuclear weapons, he was also a general of the fanatical Revolutionary Guard; and the first supplementary protocol to the Geneva Convention (IV) grants the right to take military action against military objects/soldiers. Including the targeted killing of the enemy [as a last resort]. ... So, is Iran an enemy of Israel? Yes, without a doubt. Does Israel have the right to defend its state against enemies? Yes, without a doubt.”

Financial Times (GB) /

Revive the nuclear deal

The EU needs to persuade Tehran and Washington to return to the negotiating table, the Financial Times argues:

“The European signatories [of the nuclear deal] must now step up their diplomatic efforts to create a conducive environment to boost the chances of dialogue between Tehran and Washington once the Biden administration takes office. ... The nuclear accord failed to tackle many of the concerns western and regional powers harbour about Iran's malign actions, from militias to missiles. But it provides a far better starting point than the tempestuous Trump years, during which the region perpetually feared it was on the brink of war.”

Politiken (DK) /

Be careful with this powder keg

A military conflict with Iran would be disastrous, warns Politiken:

“The clerical regime controls paramilitary groups in many Arab countries and could set the entire Middle East on fire. Assassinations and drone attacks are therefore extremely dangerous. The more Iran is challenged, the more the pressure on the clerics' regime to strike back increases, so the situation could very quickly get out of control. The next US president, Joe Biden, has announced that he will return to the nuclear agreement with Iran from which the superpower under Trump had unwisely withdrawn, and which Iran has since violated. This is the only right path - but after the murder of Fakhrizadeh it has become far more difficult to take.”

Sabah (TR) /

Iran and US won't endanger fresh start

Sabah does not believe that the attack will reach its presumed target:

“The moderate statements of all Iranian leaders except those of the Revolutionary Guard show that Tehran is wary of sabotaging the détente with the new US President Joe Biden. And Biden too, despite pressure from Israel and Saudi Arabia, is determined to usher in a new era with Iran. Because solving the Iran crisis is the last arrow which the US has in its quiver to maintain its global leadership. And for Tehran, which has been clenching its teeth for four years, Biden is the last chance. Not even the Soleimani assassination was able to quash Tehran's hopes for the post-Trump US.”

La Repubblica (IT) /

The US needs a new Iran strategy

The assassination contains a clear message for US President-elect Joe Biden, diplomat Giampiero Massolo explains in La Repubblica:

“A new strategy must be developed that takes greater account of the complex relationship between the free development of the Iranian economy and the permanent and verifiable interruption of the nuclear and missile programmes. The regional role to which Iran is entitled must also be recognized, but on condition that it is exercised responsibly. It is probable that the Biden government wants to take this path. The alternative would be to leave the Islamic Republic permanently in China's geo-economic sphere of influence and - occasionally in the case of common interests in regional crisis areas - in that of Russia.”

Ekho Moskvy (RU) /

Stone Age foreign policy

Radiochemist Boris Zhuikov, who also works in the nuclear industry, speaks of state terrorism in Echo of Moscow:

“Fakhrizadeh's activities cannot be condoned. But killing him? If at all, then only if a real war had broken out. ... This, however, is a preventive murder of someone who was not a terrorist himself, even if he worked for the Iranian state. It is nothing but an act of terrorism. And if it was an act of state terrorism, it's all the more abhorrent. Especially since it seems to me that Iran's military nuclear programme will only be expanded now. Israel is a great, modern country with fantastically beautiful and talented people. But it's foreign policy harks back to the Stone Age.”

Club Z (BG) /

This scientist was irreplaceable

The assassination of the nuclear physicist is an even harder blow for Tehran than the assassination of General Soleimani by a US drone in January, says Club Z:

“The latter was considered the third person in the hierarchy in the country of the ayatollahs, and Iran and the United States were on the verge of a real war after his death. However, although Soleimani was valuable to Iran, unlike Fakhrizadeh, he was not irreplaceable. A scientist of Fakhrizadeh's standing, on the other hand, is not easily found, mainly because he was particularly knowledgeable about the military purposes of Iran's nuclear programme.”