TARGETED ASSASSINATION: ACT OF WAR, Souring U.S.- Iranian Relations by Adeyemi Oshunrinade


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The recent targeted killing of an Iranian Nuclear Scientist blown up by a hit-man saw the entire nation of Iran outrage. Many are in a state of high emotion in a country suffering from over a decade of U.S. and European sanctions; some are worried about the possibility of war and the incessant threat of attack from Washington and Israel, in the event Iran pursues its nuclear aspirations.

The killing of Mostafa Ahmadi-Roshan, assassinated on Wednesday by a motorcycle assassin, has generated support for the government in Tehran; Iranians are chanting “death to America and Israel”, many are saying “nuclear energy is our absolute right” and while the United States has maintained the administration has no hand in the killing, the Director of the CIA Leon Panetta indicated the U.S. has inkling of who might be involved.

The disclosure by Washington is strengthening suspicion in Iran and other nations most especially those dealing with Iran that Israel may have been involved in the targeted killing of the scientist. The past years has seen the war of words between Washington and Iran over Tehran’s nuclear program and the current development is making some to think both nations might be drawing near a possible war.

Recently Iran threatened it would block the Strait of Hormuz and the U.S. was quick to say it would do whatever is necessary to keep the Strait of Hormuz open for oil movement. An Iranian-American Amir Mirza Hekmati was recently arrested in Iran for espionage and just last year, three American hikers were released from Iranian custody after spending time in Iranian jail. The past activities has dampened Iranian/American relations and just recently the Director of CIA issued warning saying the U.S cannot allow Iran to develop a nuclear weapon, that he said is “the red line.”

Just two years ago on January 12, 2010, another Iranian scientist was killed exactly the same way the recent killing took place and so far, Israel is keeping a tight lip over the incident. Considering the current state of the souring relations, can a war with the Islamic republic deliver what the United States want to achieve? Will an attack on Iran end the nation’s nuclear pursuit and will such move generate support worldwide?

One thing is sure, intelligence failed in Iraq and it is likely to fail again if the U.S. decides to rush to war with Iran. Before the invasion of Iraq, all U.S. intelligence gathering pointed to the conclusion that Saddam was developing weapons of mass destruction; the most aggressive sanctions in the history of the United Nations were imposed on Iraq crippling Iraqi economy and infrastructures. Finally, the U.S. followed up on intelligence leading to the invasion and the ouster of Saddam.

After almost a decade of war in Iraq, the U.S. withdrew in December 2011 however, not without both human and economic costs. Our nation failed to find weapons of mass destruction in Iraq an indication of a big hole in American intelligence. Over 6,000 American Soldiers lost their lives in Iraq and the war cost the United State billions of dollars.

No doubt the regime in Iran knows that pursuing a nuclear arsenal is both economic and political suicide; the government of Ahmadinejad though, not trusted has indicated over and over that its nuclear program is for energy purposes only and the United State does not know for sure if Iran is actually developing a nuclear weapon. The intelligence must be right before taking any action on Iran; any action short of diplomacy at this time may backfire and garner no international support.

So far the government in Moscow and Beijing are quick to criticize Washington; both nations believe an attack on Iran will jeopardize their interests and any move of attack on Iran may further damage U.S. relations with China. The current political impasse in Russia is making the government skeptic about U.S. motive in Iran. Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin believes the U.S. is out to derail his campaign for President and will do everything possible to block support for any U.S. action in Iran at the United Nations.

Britain a strong U.S. allied in the West will not go to war with Iran without accurate intelligence, the war in Iraq serves as a premise for intelligence demand and it is likely any plan of invasion will not receive support in Britain. While Israel may join in an attack, such a move is not without consequences. Even though, the opposition in Iran wants an end to the government of Ahmadinejad, an attack carried out by Israel will not receive any support; Israel is not liked in the region and any attack by Israel may create more support for the current regime and turn Iranians against the U.S.

Tehran has already indicated the death of its scientist would not impede progress in its nuclear program, what that means remains unknown; Russia has warned that Israel is pushing for war in Iran. Russian Foreign Minister Gennady Gatilov said an attack by Israel would be seen as direct intervention and that “additional sanctions against Iran as well as potentially any military strike against it will unquestionably be perceived by the international community as an attempt at changing the regime in Iran.”

Where does the U.S. go from here? First, Washington must get its intelligence right. The Obama administration cannot afford a war campaign based on unsound intelligence. Though, some have indicated the U.S. does not need boots on the ground to attack Iran’s nuclear sites, the precision of U.S technology does not mean such an attack will go without costs.

The brief engagement in Libya cost the U.S. $896 million and North Korea is further strengthened to keep its nuclear weapon. In fact, Pyongyang indicated Gaddafi would not have been killed had he kept Libya’s nuclear program. While the world cannot afford a nuclear Iran, the U.S. should not fight unnecessary war based on false intelligence; any action in Iran must be a collective effort based on diplomacy and then resolution should Iran fail to budge.

The economic downtown of a quick move to war will be damaging, the U.S. spent billions of dollars in Iraq before the recent end to the war and right now, the U.S. economy is far from stable; the nation is about 15 trillion dollars in debt and just recently, the Obama administration asked Congress for another 1.2 trillion dollars spending power to stabilize the economy. Unemployment is still at record high and so far, third states are already sounding their worries as to what an attack on Iran may cause.

Japan’s Foreign Minister Koichiro Gemba indicated that the imposition of further sanctions against Iran would have to be weighed carefully to ensure they prove effective. The government in Japan is worried that any attempt to make it cut on oil deals with Iran will raise oil prices and be counterproductive. An attack at this time may block the Strait of Hormuz affecting oil prices worldwide.

The targeted assassination of Mr. Ahmadi-Roshan may be considered an act of war by Tehran. While the U.S has denied any involvement, the Obama administration must avoid any confrontation based on flawed intelligence. The cost of war may be too high and a quick move to war may lack support from other nations.

The UN watchdog the IAEA need continue its inspection regime as schedule for end of January and if after all, there is clear and convincing evidence Iran is building a nuclear weapon, a collective international action may be used to resolve the nuclear imbroglio.

Dr. Adeyemi Oshunrinade [E. JD] is an expert in general law, foreign relations, and the United Nations. He is the author of ‘Murder of Diplomacy’ (2010) and ‘Wills Law and Contests’ (2011) Follow on Twitter @san0670.

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Categories: War and Politics

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