By Kate Doak.
Iran’s recent political upheaval took a rather dramatic turn over Tuesday with the assasination of a Nuclear scientist from Tehran University. According to Iran’s semi-official news agency Press TV, Professor Massoud Ali Mohammadi was killed after a bomb hidden on his motorcycle was remotely detonated.
“The explosion took place near the professor’s home in Qeytariyeh neighbourhood, in northern Tehran” Press TV stated. Further broadcasts have claimed that Mohammadi was “assassinated in a terrorist act by counter-revolutionary elements,” identifying him as “a committed revolutionary lecturer”.
Regardless of who actually killed the victim however, Mohammadi’s murder represents an escalation within Iran’s already brittle political environment. While Iranian authorities are portraying this as a terrorist act, it’s hard to find any valid reason as to why the Protestors would want to target Mohammadi in particular. Up until now the Protest movement within Iran has also been extremely fragmented, with no identifiable leaders coming forth. As a result, most of the protests have been extremely disorganised. If the Protesters were somehow involved in this attack, then it raises questions as to who organised it and just how stable the Iranian regime really is.
On the other hand, given Mohammadi’s background as a Nuclear Physcist, the Iranian Government would benefit both domestically and abroad from such an attack. In the wake of negotiations over Iran’s nuclear ambitions, Iran has claimed that Mohammadi’s assassination is evidence of Western interference in their domestic affairs. While stalling negotiations, such claims will also allow Iranian authorities the opportunity to maintain their crackdown over their citizens and the independent media.
By refusing to openly support the Opposition movement within Iran during the early Post-election protests, President Obama may have prevented the United States from becoming the scapegoat of the Iranian authorities over this incident. If so, expect the Democrats to capitalise on Obama’s silence during earlier protests over the coming days.
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