World in View: Iran: assassination, imperialism, ‘conspiracy’

January 30, 2021

From the January-February 2021 issue of News & Letters

by Gerry Emmett

Iranian nuclear physicist Mohsen Fakhrizadeh, a brigadier general of the Revolutionary Guards, was assassinated as his car convoy passed through the town of Absard on Nov. 27. No suspect was apprehended. Speculation fell on Israel, the U.S., and Iranian oppositionists.

The aftermath of the attack on Mohsen Fakhrizadeh on Nov. 27, 2020. Photo:

The assassination of such a high value target, deep within Iran, shows the inability of the unpopular regime to protect even its most important figures. It followed the devastating July 2, 2020, attack on the Natanz nuclear enrichment facility.

This was a renewal of the war of assassination and sabotage that had been waged under the Bush and Obama administrations, during which a number of Iranian physicists were killed. That campaign ended when negotiations were entered toward the 2015 Iran nuclear agreement.


The timing was significant, falling in the transition period between the Trump and Biden administrations. Like many such deliberately murky events, it led to conspiracy theories as to “who benefits” that served to obscure the nature of imperialism which can actually be far stranger than any conspiracy theory.

For example, it isn’t often noted that the CIA agent who organized the coup against the legitimately elected government of Iranian Prime Minister Mohammad Mosaddegh in 1953, Kermit Roosevelt, was also an anti-Zionist who gave a presentation on “The Arab Position on Palestine” to U.S. military leaders in 1948.

Likewise, the present regime in Iran is loath to admit that the 1953 coup would have failed but for the intervention of former Majlis speaker Ayatollah Kashani and his religious allies.


Again, for all Ayatollah Khomeini’s anti-American rhetoric as his reactionary forces hijacked the 1978-79 Iranian Revolution from the masses, within a few years his regime was secretly purchasing U.S. arms from Israel.

Seen in terms of the various ideological covers for state-capitalist power, imperialism can only appear as cynicism—a hollow rhetoric of fraud and violence. Illusions in it can only lead to disaster.

It served U.S. imperial purposes to allow the Iranian regime to massacre the Syrian revolutionaries who posed a real threat to world imperialism. This was utterly cynical. When Iran overextended itself, the architect of its Syrian genocide, Qasem Soleimani, was eliminated with equal cynicism.

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