Skip to main content

Soleimani's assassination has taught Iranians to never trust empty western promises

If Biden seriously wants to ease tensions with Tehran, he has only one option: to implement the nuclear deal in full
Iranians mourn General Qassem Soleimani in Kerman on 7 January (AFP)

When pro-western politicians, activists and intellectuals recklessly claimed fraud in Iran’s 2009 and Bolivia’s 2019 presidential elections, western media, think tanks, NGOs and “experts” mobilised to undermine the election results, despite a lack of evidence. 

The “election fraud” narrative was heavily promoted to destabilise these countries and chip away at the legitimacy of their democratically elected presidents, through US-controlled social media and western-funded Persian- and Spanish-language media outlets.

Immediately after an assassination, western media move in to assassinate the victim's character

Observe the stark contrast in how the US media and pundit classes have treated Americans claiming massive fraud in the 2020 presidential election. President Donald Trump and his millions of supporters have been censored and de-platformed on US-owned social media, and ridiculed or ignored in most of the western corporate and state-owned media after claiming fraud.

This is why western responses to the murder of academic physicist Mohsen Fakhrizadeh were completely predictable for those of us in Iran. Media claimed that Fakhrizadeh led work on an Iranian nuclear weapons programme years after US intelligence agencies concluded that Iran had ceased work on nuclear weapons. And more importantly, despite the fact that at no point did the IAEA say that Iran had a weapons programme.

Still, western media and propaganda outlets faithfully continued to present the Israeli regime’s fiction as fact.

Stay informed with MEE's newsletters

Sign up to get the latest alerts, insights and analysis, starting with Turkey Unpacked


Netanyahu's false claims

Some background on these persistent Israeli allegations:

In 1992, then-parliamentarian Benjamin Netanyahu claimed that Iran was three to five years away from achieving nuclear weapons capabilities.

In 2009, he claimed that Iran could assemble one bomb and would be able to make several more within a year or two.

In 2012, Netanyahu again said that Iran was just a few months away from being able to build a nuclear weapon. 

The list goes on, and yet throughout the many years of demonstrably false claims, western media and “experts” blindly mimicked Netanyahu’s allegations about Iran’s readiness to assemble a nuclear bomb.

Every time the Israeli regime fabricated links between murdered scientists and a nonexistent nuclear weapons programme, western media would repeat these unfounded accusations and usually quote “informed intelligence sources” as evidence. Fakhrizadeh, who was brutally murdered in front of his wife, was treated the same way. Immediately after an assassination, western media move in to assassinate the victim’s character.

Justifying extremism 

This is based on the same method that “independent” western media and “experts” have used to justify supporting extremists in Afghanistan, the siege on Gaza, the invasion of Iraq, the destruction of Libya, the dirty war in Syria, sanctions on Venezuela, the coup in Bolivia, and the catastrophic assault on Yemen.

Just as with the US assassination of Iranian General Qassem Soleimani, who had led the regional war against the Islamic State group (IS), the EU and other western entities deliberately did not use the proper word condemn to describe Fakhrizadeh’s assassination in their public statements - thus legitimising further terror attacks against Iranian citizens. 

Iranian forces carry the coffin of nuclear scientist Mohsen Fakhrizadeh in Tehran (Reuters)
Iranian forces carry the coffin of nuclear scientist Mohsen Fakhrizadeh in Tehran (Reuters)

Because of US and Israeli lawlessness and accompanying European subservience, Iranians appear to be left with no option but to retaliate against the Israeli regime to deter any potential future illegal assassinations. We saw this type of retaliation after the terror attack against Soleimani, when Iran fired missiles at the US-occupied Ain al-Assad military base in Iraq. Tehran’s response has also included expanding the country’s nuclear programme.

To discourage further terrorism, however, the response to Israel will have to be more severe. The world has changed immensely since the signing of the 2015 nuclear deal. Despite crippling sanctions imposed by the Obama and Trump regimes, Iran and its allies have not lost any of their regional influence. In contrast, regional allies of the US have failed in multiple wars, are facing economic hardships, and in some cases are in a state of terminal decline.

A deeply divided US facing economic depression - as China’s ascent continues - will not have the luxury of dumping an ever-greater burden onto the frail and fragile shoulders of regional proxies and allies. Iran’s powerful asymmetric warfare capabilities have made it an increasingly formidable adversary for the US.

Military advantages

The US, which has surrounded Iran with military bases and long threatened Iranians with death and destruction, cannot seriously believe that Iran will negotiate away its military advantages, nor withdraw its support from allies who have severely curbed western imperial ambitions.

How can Iran negotiate with the incoming Biden regime when four Iranian nuclear scientists, including one of my colleagues at the University of Tehran, were murdered during his vice presidency? How can Iran trust the new team in the White House when the incoming national security adviser, Jake Sullivan, reportedly told former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in early 2012 that al-Qaeda was “on our side in Syria”?

Iran nuclear deal: Trump is leaving a poisoned legacy for Biden
Read More »

President-elect Joe Biden’s pick as the next director of the Office of Management and Budget, Neera Tanden, has said that the US should force Libya to use its oil wealth to decrease the US budget deficit. Washington waged an illegal war, destroyed the country, and wants the victims to pay for it. This is imperialism in its most vile and crude form. Iran would be foolish to let down its guard.

What can Iran expect from Biden, who supported the invasion of Iraq over chemical weapons that did not exist? Western media parroted US intelligence claims of Saddam Hussein’s links to al-Qaeda, a terrorist organisation that the US-Saudi alliance helped to create in Afghanistan.

Iran cannot trust a regime whose obedient elites and media would immediately justify aggression if a chink was found in Iran’s armour. Soleimani, who had flown to Baghdad at the invitation of the Iraqi prime minister, was murdered alongside his Iraqi counterpart in the war against IS, commander Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis - yet, western elites responded as if the US regime had the authority to carry out acts of terror.

The path forward

No matter how much western analysts claim otherwise, there will be no negotiations over Iran’s defence capabilities, its regional alliances, or changes to the nuclear deal. Iran didn’t resist years of Trump’s inhumane brutality in order to appease Biden.

If Biden foolishly chooses a different path, he will soon discover that the killings of Iranian heroes have made the country more determined to drive up the costs of US occupation

If Biden is seriously looking to ease tensions and reach an amicable solution, only one option exists, and that is to implement the nuclear deal in full. Iran will no longer accept Obama-style actions, where Iran abides by all of its commitments and the US feigns movement towards implementation.

If Biden foolishly chooses a different path, he will soon discover that the killings of Iranian heroes have made the country more determined to drive up the costs of US occupation.

One year has passed since the martyrdom of Soleimani, but Orientalists have yet to learn that Iran’s strength is founded not upon personalities, but upon a sophisticated and competent political system. The actions of Trump and Netanyahu have taught Iranians an important lesson: never trust empty western promises, and always carry a big stick.

The views expressed in this article belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Middle East Eye.

Seyyed Mohammad Marandi is a Professor of English Literature and Orientalism at the University of Tehran. He tweets@s_m_marandi
Middle East Eye delivers independent and unrivalled coverage and analysis of the Middle East, North Africa and beyond. To learn more about republishing this content and the associated fees, please fill out this form. More about MEE can be found here.