Tulsi Gabbard on the US seeking a pretext to go to war with Iran

May 21, 2019

 

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Iran Squeezed Between Imperial Psychos and European Cowards

By Pepe Escobar – with permission and cross posted with Consortium News

What Putin and Pompeo did not talk about

The Trump administration unilaterally cheated on the 2015 multinational, UN-endorsed JCPOA, or Iran nuclear deal. It has imposed an illegal, worldwide financial and energy blockade on all forms of trade with Iran — from oil and gas to exports of iron, steel, aluminum and copper. For all practical purposes, and in any geopolitical scenario, this is a declaration of war.

Successive U.S. governments have ripped international law to shreds; ditching the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action is only the latest instance. It doesn’t matter that Tehran has fulfilled all its commitments to the deal — according to UN inspectors. Once the leadership in Tehran concluded that the U.S. sanctions tsunami is fiercer than ever, it decided to begin partially withdrawing from the deal.

President Hassan Rouhani was adamant: Iran has not left the JCPOA — yet. Tehran’s measures are legal under the framework of articles 26 and 36 of the JCPOA — and European officials were informed in advance. But it’s clear the EU3 (Germany, France, Britain), who have always insisted on their vocal support for the JCPOA, must work seriously to alleviate the U.S.-provoked economic disaster to Iran if Tehran has any incentive to continue to abide by the agreement.

Protests in front of former U.S. embassy in Tehran after U.S. decision to withdraw from JCPOA, May 8, 2018. (Hossein Mersadi via Wikimedia Commons)

Russia and China — the pillars of Eurasia integration, to which Iran adheres — support Tehran’s position. This was discussed extensively in Moscow by Sergey Lavrov and Iran’s Javad Zarif, perhaps the world’s top two foreign ministers.

At the same time, it’s politically naïve to believe the Europeans will suddenly grow a backbone.

The comfortable assumption in Berlin, Paris and London was that Tehran could not afford to leave the JCPOA even if it was not receiving any of the economic rewards promised in 2015. Yet now the EU3 are facing the hour of truth.

It’s hard to expect anything meaningful coming from an enfeebled Chancellor Angela Merkel, with Berlin already targeted by Washington’s trade ire; a Brexit-paralyzed Britain; and a massively unpopular President Emmanuel Macron in France already threatening to impose his own sanctions if Tehran does not agree to limit its ballistic missile program. Tehran will never allow inspections over its thriving missile industry – and this was never part of the JCPOA to begin with.

As it stands, the EU3 are not buying Iranian oil. They are meekly abiding by the U.S. banking and oil/gas sanctions — which are now extended to manufacturing sectors — and doing nothing to protect Iran from its nasty effects. The implementation of INSTEX, the SWIFT alternative for trade with Iran, is languishing. Besides expressing lame “regrets” about the U.S. sanctions, the EU3 are de facto playing the game on the side of U.S., Israel, Saudi Arabia and the Emirates; and by extension against Russia, China and Iran.

Rise of the Imperial Psychos

As Tehran de facto kicked the ball to the European court, both EU3 options are dire. To meaningfully defend the JCPOA will invite a ballistic reaction from the Trump administration. To behave like poodles — the most probable course of action — means emboldening even more the psychopaths doubling as imperial functionaries bent on a hot war against Iran at all costs; Koch brothers Big Oil asset and enraptured evangelist, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, and paid Mujahideen-e Khalq asset and notorious intel manipulator, National Security Advisor John Bolton.

The Pompeo-Bolton gangster maneuver is hardly Bismarck’s Realpolitik. It consists of relentlessly pushing Tehran to make a mistake, any mistake, in terms of “violating” its obligations under the JCPOA, so that this may be sold to gullible American public opinion as the proverbial “threat” to the “rules-based order” doubling as a casus belli.

There’s one thing the no-holds-barred U.S. economic war against Iran has managed to achieve: internal unity in the Islamic Republic. Team Rouhani’s initial aim for the JCPOA was to open up to Western trade (trade with Asia was always on) and somewhat curtail the power of the IRGC, or Revolutionary Guards, which control vast sectors of the Iranian economy.

Washington’s economic war proved instead the IRGC was right all along, echoing the finely-tuned geopolitical sentiment of Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei, who always emphasized the Americans cannot be trusted, ever.

And as much as Washington has branded the IRGC a “terrorist organization,” Tehran replied in kind, branding CENTCOM the same.

Independent Persian Gulf oil traders dismiss the notion that the kleptocrat House of Saud — de facto run by Jared “of Arabia” Kushner’s Whatsapp pal Mohammed bin Salman (MbS), the Saudi  crown prince – holds up to 2.5 million barrels of oil a day in spare capacity capable of replacing Iran’s 2 million barrels of exports (out of 3.45 million of total daily production). The House of Saud seems more interested in hiking oil prices for Asian customers.

London protests at Saudi bombing of Yemen. March 2018. (Alisdare Hickson via Flickr)

Faulty Blockade

Washington’s energy trade blockade of Iran is bound to fail.

China will continue to buy its 650,000 barrels a day – and may even buy more. Multiple Chinese companies trade technology and industrial services for Iranian oil.

Pakistan, Iraq and Turkey — all bordering Iran — will continue to buy Iranian high-quality light crude by every method of payment (including gold) and transportation available, formal or informal. Baghdad’s trade relationship with Tehran will continue to thrive.

As economic suffocation won’t suffice, Plan B is — what else — the threat of a hot war.

It’s by now established that the info, in fact rumors, about alleged Iranian maneuvers to attack U.S. interests in the Gulf was relayed to Bolton by the Mossad, at the White House, with Israeli National Security Adviser Meir Ben Shabbat personally briefing Bolton.

Everyone is aware of the corollary: a “reposition of assets” (in Pentagonese) — from the USS Abraham Lincoln carrier strike group deployment to four B-52 bombers landing in Al Udeid Air base in Qatar, all part of a “warning” to Iran.

A pre-war roaring crescendo now engulfs the Lebanese front as well as the Iranian front.

Reasons for Psychotic Rage

Iran’s GDP is similar to Thailand’s, and its military budget is similar to Singapore’s. Bullying Iran is a geopolitical and geo-economic absurdity. Iran may be an emerging Global South actor — it could easily be a member of the G20 — but can never be construed as a “threat” to the U.S.

Yet Iran provokes psychopathic imperial functionaries to a paroxysm of rage for three serious reasons. Neocons never mind that trying to destroy Iraq cost over $6 trillion — and it was a major war crime, a political disaster, and an economic abyss all rolled into one. Trying to destroy Iran will cost untold trillions more.

The most glaring reason for the irrational hatred is the fact the Islamic Republic is one of the very few nations on the planet consistently defying the hegemon — for four decades now.

The second reason is that Iran, just like Venezuela — and this is a combined war front — have committed the supreme anathema; trading on energy bypassing the petrodollar, the foundation stone of U.S. hegemony.

The third (invisible) reason is that to attack Iran is to disable emerging Eurasia integration, just like using NSA spying to ultimately put Brazil in the bag was an attack on Latin American integration.

The non-stop hysteria over whether President Donald Trump is being maneuvered into war on Iran by his pet psychopaths – well, he actually directed Iran to “Call me” — eludes the Big Picture. As shown before, a possible shut down of the Strait of Hormuz, whatever the reasons, would be like a major meteor impact on the global economy. And that would inevitably translate as no Trump reelection in 2020.

The Strait of Hormuz would never need to be blocked if all the oil Iran is able to export is bought by China, other Asian clients and even Russia — which could relabel it. But Tehran wouldn’t blink on blocking Hormuz if faced with total economic strangulation.

According to a dissident U.S. intel expert, “the United States is at a clear disadvantage in that if the Strait of Hormuz is shut the U.S. collapses. But if the U.S. can divert Russia from defending Iran, then Iran can be attacked and Russia will have accomplished nothing, as the neocons do not want detente with Russia and China. Trump does want detente but the Deep State does not intend to permit it.”

Assuming this scenario is correct, the usual suspects in the United States government are trying to divert Putin from the Strait of Hormuz question while keeping Trump weakened, as the neocons proceed 24/7 on the business of strangling Iran. It’s hard to see Putin falling for this not exactly elaborate trap.

Not Bluffing

So what happens next? Professor Mohammad Marandi at the Faculty of World Studies of the University of Tehran offers quite a sobering perspective: “After 60 days Iran will push things even further. I don’t think the Iranians are bluffing. They will also be pushing back at the Saudis and the Emiratis by different means.”

Marandi, ominously, sees “further escalation” ahead:

“Iranians have been preparing for war with the Unites States ever since the Iraq invasion in 2003. After what they’ve seen in Libya, in Syria, Yemen, Venezuela, they know that the Americans and Europeans are utterly brutal. The whole shore of the Persian Gulf on the Iranian side and the Gulf of Oman is full of tunnels and underground high-tech missiles. The Persian Gulf is full of ships equipped with highly developed sea-to-sea missiles. If there is real war, all the oil and gas facilities in the region will be destroyed, all the tankers will be destroyed.”

And if that show comes to pass, Marandi regards the Strait of Hormuz as the “sideshow”:

“The Americans will be driven out of Iraq. Iraq exports 4 million barrels of oil a day; that would probably come to an end, through strikes and other means. It would be catastrophic for the Americans. It would be catastrophic for the world – and for Iran as well. But the Americans would simply not win.”

So as Marandi explains it — and Iranian public opinion now largely agrees — the Islamic Republic has leverage because they know “the Americans can’t afford to go to war. Crazies like Pompeo and Bolton may want it, but many in the establishment don’t.”

Tehran may have developed a modified MAD (Mutually Assured Destruction) framework as leverage, mostly to push Trump ally MbS to cool down. “Assuming,” adds Marandi, “the madmen don’t get the upper hand, and if they do, then it’s war. But for the time being, I thinks that’s highly unlikely.”

Guided-missile destroyer USS Porter transits Strait of Hormuz, May 2012. (U.S. Navy/Alex R. Forster)

All Options on the Table?

In Cold War 2.0 terms, from Central Asia to the Eastern Mediterranean and from the Indian Ocean to the Caspian Sea, Tehran is able to count on quite a set of formal and informal alliances. That not only centers on the Beirut-Damascus-Baghdad-Tehran-Herat axis, but also includes Turkey and Qatar. And most important of all, the top actors on the Eurasian integration chessboard: the Russia and China in strategic partnership.

When Zarif met Lavrov last week in Moscow, they discussed virtually everything: Syria (they negotiate together in the Astana, now Nur-Sultan process), the Caspian, the Caucasus, Central Asia, the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (of which Iran will become a member), the JCPOA and Venezuela.

The Trump administration was dragged kicking and screaming to meet Kim Jong-Un at the same table because of the DPRK’s intercontinental ballistic missile tests. And then Kim ordered extra missile tests because, in his own words, as quoted by KCNA, “genuine peace and security of the country are guaranteed only by the strong physical force capable of defending its sovereignty.”

Global South Watching

The overwhelming majority of Global South nations are watching the U.S. neocon offensive to ultimately strangle “the Iranian people”, aware more than ever that Iran may be bullied to extinction because it does not posses a nuclear deterrent. The IRGC has reached the same conclusion.

That would mean the death of the JCPOA – and the Return of the Living Dead of “all options on the table.”

But then, there’ll be twists and turns in the Art of the (Demented) Deal. So what if, and it’s a major “if”, Donald Trump is being held hostage by his pet psychopaths?

Let The Dealer speak:

“We hope we don’t have to do anything with regard to the use of military force…We can make a deal, a fair deal. … We just don’t want them to have nuclear weapons. Not too much to ask. And we would help put them back into great shape. They’re in bad shape right now. I look forward to the day where we can actually help Iran. We’re not looking to hurt Iran. I want them to be strong and great and have a great economy… We have no secrets. And they can be very, very strong, financially. They have great potential.”

Then again, Ayatollah Khamenei said: the Americans cannot be trusted, ever.

نظام القوة الأحادي يترنَّح في مياه الخليج

مايو 16, 2019

د.وفيق إبراهيم

الحروب الأميركية التي دمرت عشرات البلدان منذ ثمانينيات القرن الماضي من دون موافقات من مجلس الأمن الدولي، جاءت بمثابة إعلان عن ولادة نظام قوة عالمي بأحادية أميركية تمكنت من إسقاط المنافسين السوفيات واستيعاب الأوروبيين.

هذه الهيمنة الأميركية تعثرت في 2013 في الميدان السوري، فلم تتمكن من تنفيذ خطة كانت تشمل معظم الشرق الأوسط بتفتيت بلدانه إلى كيانات صغيرة على أسس طائفية ومناطقية وجهوية للتمديد للاحادية الأميركية.

لذلك بدت سورية آنذاك المعقل الأول للنيل من الفرادة الأميركية، حيث تحالفت دولتها الشجاعة وبالتتابع مع حزب الله وإيران والروس، لدحر أكبر قوة إرهابية في التاريخ تمتعت وحسب اعترافات سياسيين أوروبيين وقطريين بدعم أميركي إسرائيلي خليجي تركي يشمل كل أنواع المساندات التمويلية والتسليحية واللوجيستية والسياسية بمشاركة قصف جوي دائم اميركي وإسرائيلي لا يزال يستهدف الجيش السوري وحلفاءه. فبدأ الإرهاب مع هذا الإسناد مجرد معارضة تنشد التغيير الديموقراطي ببرامج عمل لبن لادن والظواهري.

يتبيّن أن الدولة السورية نجحت في تسديد ضربة قوية للأحادية الأميركية ارغمتها على التراجع نحو شرقي الفرات، حيث تحاول هناك استكمال جزء بسيط ومستحيل من خطتها المنكسرة.

وبما أن إيران دولة «شرق أوسطية»، تشارك في دعم سورية بكل إمكاناتها، وتمكنت من اختراق الأحادية الاميركية في افغانستان وباكستان واليمن والعراق وسورية ولبنان، وبنت نظام تسليح ضخماً ودولة متماسكة، تشكل تهديداً بنيوياً لمدنيين اميركيين من الحلبات الاساسية للاحادية الأميركية في الخليج النفطي، الغازي الاقتصادي، و»إسرائيل» الصمود الاستراتيجي للجيوبولتيك الاميركي في الشرق الأوسط.

أرتأت «امبراطورية الكاوبوي» الاميركية أن وقف تراجعها لا يكون إلا بإسقاط الدولة الإيرانية، وبما أن الهجوم العسكري المباشر على إيران صعب، لجأ الأميركيون إلى اسلوب الحصار والتجويع وقطع علاقات إيران الاقتصادية بالعالم، وذلك بالترافق مع نشر كميات كبيرة من البوارج والمقاتلات الأميركية في مياه العرب واراضيهم المقابلة للجمهورية الاسلامية.

أما الذرائع الأميركية فهي كالعادة واولها اسلحتها الصاروخية ودعم اليمن والعراق وسورية.

وهذه اتهامات تصب فقط في مصلحة داعش والنصرة وكامل التنظيمات الإرهابية وترميم التراجع الاميركي، وحماية «إسرائيل» والسعودية والإمارات.

لذلك ظهرت ردة فعل ثنائية بدت على شكل بناءات هدفها العلاقات الدولية وتوفير ظروف أفضل للاستقرار الدولي عبر وقف الحروب الاميركية التدميرية بوسيلتيها الاجتياحات العسكرية والحصار الاقتصادي الخانق.

ردة الفعل الأولى من إيران الدولة والمجتمع، فمقابل حصار تجويعي يمنعها من الاستيراد والتصدير الطبيعيين والمسموح بهما لكل دولة عضو في الأمم المتحدة، قدمت الجمهورية الإسلامية بشكل دولة قوية تجمع بين قوة التسليح والاكتفاء الزراعي مع تقدم ملموس صناعياً، بوسعه تلبية الحاجات الأساسية للإيرانيين.

لكن ما فاجأ الاميركيين هو الالتفاف الكبير للإيرانيين حول دولتهم على الرغم من المصاعب الاقتصادية الضخمة، كان الأميركيون يعولون على انفجار داخلي يطيح بالدولة، وما حدث كان على العكس تماماً بدليل أن إيران المتنوعة عرقياً ودينياً ظهرت جسماً واحداً في مواجهة الحصار الأميركي ـ الخليجي ـ الاسرائيلي.

كما قدّم جيشها نماذج عن مصادر قوته البحرية والصاروخية والبرية، بما يدحض أي إمكانية لغزو خارجي.. هذا إلى جانب وجود نظام متحرك لقوتها الصاروخية يستطيع نقل ادواته إلى أمكنة جديدة، قبل حدوث الغارات المتوقعة عليه.

هذه المعادلة، افهمت الأميركيين استحالة غزو إيران من الخارج أو قصفها جوياً، فذهبوا نحو التشدد في العقوبات وصولاً إلى منع الدول من شراء نفطها وامكاناتها الأخرى في محاولة لإفلاسها نهائياً وتفجير دولتها.

على المستوى الثاني لردود الفعل، فكان من تركيا والهند والعراق المصرّين على مواصلة شراء غاز ونفط من إيران إلى جانب الصين التي اكدت وبجملة واحدة أنها لن توقف وارداتها من الجمهورية الاسلامية، فرد عليها الرئيس الاميركي ترامب بمضاعفة رسوم جمركية بمعدل 25 في المئة على سلع صينية تدخل الأسواق الأميركية وقيمتها 300 مليار دولار.

مما يجوز فهمه على أنه جزء من حروب الاحادية الاميركية على منافسيها في السيطرة على القرار الدولي بواجهات اقتصادية وسياسية.

فالموقف الصيني المعترض على المشروع الأميركي بتفجير إيران يتطوّر على هوى تطور الموقف الروسي. وهنا يمكن الإشارة التي تشكل موقفاً معادياً للأحادية الاميركية، استناداً إلى ما يحدث في الخليج من احتمالات حروب وتدمير.. فهذه هي الفرصة المناسبة ليس لتفجير إيران، بل للنيل من الاحادية الاميركية على اساس إعادة بناء نظام جديد ينتمي اليه الاميركيون بالطبع انما إلى جانب تحالف ثلاثي ـ صيني، روسي، وإيراني، مدعوم من شبكة علاقات دولية في سورية وفنزويلا وكثير من الدول في أميركا الجنوبية والشرق الأوسط وجنوب شرق آسيا.

الدور الإيراني هو إذاً الفرصة النموذجية والموضوعية لتقليص النفوذ الأميركي العالمي، متيحاً للروس مرة جديدة، وبعد الميدان السوري، مزيداً من التقدم لاستعادة دورهم العالمي المفقود منذ انهيار الاتحاد السوفياتي في 1990 وللشرق الأوسط مزيداً من الاستقلالية عن سياسات التأديب الأميركية.

وما يؤكد على صحة هذه الأهداف، ما صدر عن لقاء منذ يومين جمع وزيري خارجية روسيا والصين، أكدا فيه على التحالف مع إيران التي لم تنتهك الاتفاق النووي.

لكن الروس ذهبوا أكثر بدعوتهم لكل البلدان الى التعامل الاقتصادي مع إيران لأن القرارات الأميركية غير شرعية.. كاشفين عن عزمهم تزويدها بكل ما تحتاجه من سلاح للدفاع عن نفسها، فكيف يمكن لروسيا المصرّة على دورها العالمي أن تقبل بغزو اميركي لإيران المجاورة لها لجهة بحر قزوين والدولة الوحيدة مع سورية التي تجابه الهيمنة الاميركية في الشرق الأوسط.

ان منطق الضرورة والحاجة المتبادلة يؤسس بسرعة لحلف روسي ـ إيراني ـ سوري له مدى كبير في العالم، وهدفه المحوري هو إلحاق هزيمة بالأميركيين في بحر الخليج تستطيع إعادة تنظيم الاستقرار الدولي بتعددية المرجعيات الدولية المتوازنة والبلدان الإقليمية الوازنة ـ الأمر الذي يؤدي إلى تراجع لغة الإقناع بالتدمير والحروب لمصلحة إعادة تقديم لغة الحوار بين الأنظمة المتناقضة.

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White House Reviews Military Plans Against Iran, in Echoes of Iraq War

By Eric Schmitt and Julian E. Barnes – NYT

At a meeting of President Trump’s top national security aides last Thursday, Acting War Secretary Patrick Shanahan presented an updated military plan that envisions sending as many as 120,000 troops to the Middle East should Iran attack American forces or accelerate work on nuclear weapons, administration officials said.

The revisions were ordered by hard-liners led by John R. Bolton, Mr. Trump’s national security adviser. They do not call for a land invasion of Iran, which would require vastly more troops, officials said.

The development reflects the influence of Bolton, one of the administration’s most virulent Iran hawks, whose push for confrontation with Tehran was ignored more than a decade ago by President George W. Bush.

It is highly uncertain whether Trump, who has sought to disentangle the United States from Afghanistan and Syria, ultimately would send so many American forces back to the Middle East.

It is also unclear whether the president has been briefed on the number of troops or other details in the plans. On Monday, asked about if he was seeking regime change in Iran, Trump said: “We’ll see what happens with Iran. If they do anything, it would be a very bad mistake.”

There are sharp divisions in the administration over how to respond to Iran at a time when tensions are rising about Iran’s nuclear policy and its intentions in the Middle East.

Some senior American officials said the plans, even at a very preliminary stage, show how dangerous the threat from Iran has become. Others, who are urging a diplomatic resolution to the current tensions, said it amounts to a scare tactic to warn Iran against new aggressions.

European allies who met with Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Monday said that they worry that tensions between Washington and Tehran could boil over, possibly inadvertently.

More than a half-dozen American national security officials who have been briefed on details of the updated plans agreed to discuss them with The New York Times on the condition of anonymity. Spokesmen for Shanahan and Gen. Joseph F. Dunford Jr., the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, declined to comment.

The size of the force involved has shocked some who have been briefed on them. The 120,000 troops would approach the size of the American force that invaded Iraq in 2003.

Deploying such a robust air, land and naval force would give Tehran more targets to strike, and potentially more reason to do so, risking entangling the United States in a drawn out conflict. It also would reverse years of retrenching by the American military in the Middle East that began with President Barack Obama’s withdrawal of troops from Iraq in 2011.

But two of the American national security officials said Trump’s announced drawdown in December of American forces in Syria, and the diminished naval presence in the region, appear to have emboldened some leaders in Tehran and convinced the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps that the United States has no appetite for a fight with Iran.

Several oil tankers were reportedly attacked or sabotaged off the coast of the United Arab Emirates over the weekend, raising fears that shipping lanes in the Persian Gulf could become flash points. “It’s going to be a bad problem for Iran if something happens,” Mr. Trump said on Monday, asked about the episode.

Emirati officials are investigating the apparent sabotage, and American officials suspect that Iran was involved. Several officials cautioned, however, that there is not yet any definitive evidence linking Iran or its proxies to the reported attacks. An Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman called it a “regretful incident,” according to a state news agency.

In Brussels, Pompeo met with the foreign ministers of Britain, France and Germany, cosignatories of the 2015 Iran nuclear deal, as well as with the European Union’s foreign policy chief, Federica Mogherini. He did not speak to the media, but the European officials said they had urged restraint upon Washington, fearing accidental escalation that could lead to conflict with Iran.

“We are very worried about the risk of a conflict happening by accident, with an escalation that is unintended really on either side,” said Jeremy Hunt, the British foreign secretary.

The Iranian government has not threatened violence recently, but last week, President Hassan Rouhani said Iran would walk away from parts of the 2015 nuclear deal it reached with world powers. Trump withdrew the United States from the agreement a year ago, but European nations have urged Iran to stick with the deal and ignore Trump’s provocations.

The high-level review of the Pentagon’s plans was presented during a meeting about broader Iran policy. It was held days after what the Trump administration described, without evidence, as new intelligence indicating that Iran was mobilizing proxy groups in Iraq and Syria to attack American forces.

As a precaution, the Pentagon has moved an aircraft carrier, B-52 bombers, a Patriot missile interceptor battery and more naval firepower to the gulf region.

At last week’s meeting, Shanahan gave an overview of the Pentagon’s planning, then turned to General Dunford to detail various force options, officials said. The uppermost option called for deploying 120,000 troops, which would take weeks or months to complete.

Among those attending Thursday’s meeting were Shanahan; Bolton; General Dunford; Gina Haspel, the CIA director; and Dan Coats, the director of national intelligence.

“The president has been clear, the United States does not seek military conflict with Iran, and he is open to talks with Iranian leadership,” Garrett Marquis, a National Security Council spokesman, said Monday in an email. “However, Iran’s default option for 40 years has been violence, and we are ready to defend US personnel and interests in the region.”

The reduction of forces in the Middle East in recent years has been propelled by a new focus on China, Russia and a so-called Great Powers competition. The most recent National Military Strategy — released before Bolton joined the Trump administration — concluded that while the Middle East remains important, and Iran is a threat to American allies, the United States must do more to ensure a rising China does not upend the world order.

As recently as late April, an American intelligence analysis indicated that Iran had no short-term desire to provoke a conflict…

On May 5, Bolton announced the first of new deployments to the Persian Gulf, including bombers and an aircraft carrier.

It is not clear to American intelligence officials what changed Iran’s posture. But intelligence and War Department officials said American sanctions have been working better than originally expected, proving far more crippling to the Iranian economy — especially after a clampdown on all oil exports that was announced last month.

Also in April, the State Department designated the Revolutionary Guards a foreign ‘terrorist’ organization over objections from Pentagon and intelligence officials who feared reprisals from the Iranian military.

While much of the new intelligence appears to have focused on ‘Iran readying its proxy forces’, officials said they believed the most likely cause of a conflict will follow a provocative act, or outright attack, by the Revolutionary Guards’ navy. The Guards’ fleet of small boats has a history of approaching American Navy ships at high speed. Revolutionary Guards commanders have precarious control over their ill-disciplined naval forces.

Part of the updated planning appears to focus on what military action the United States might take if Iran resumes its nuclear fuel production, which has been frozen under the 2015 agreement. It would be difficult for the Trump administration to make a case that the United States was under imminent nuclear peril; Iran shipped 97 percent of its fuel out of the country in 2016, and currently does not have enough to make a bomb.

That could change if Iran resumes enriching uranium. But it would take a year or more to build up a significant quantity of material, and longer to fashion it into a weapon. That would allow, at least in theory, plenty of time for the United States to develop a response — like a further cutoff of oil revenues, covert action or military strikes.

The previous version of the Pentagon’s war plan included a classified subset code-named Nitro Zeus, a cyber operation that called for unplugging Iran’s major cities, its power grid and its military.

The idea was to use cyber weapons to paralyze Iran in the opening hours of any conflict, in hopes that it would obviate the need to drop any bombs or conduct a traditional attack. That plan required extensive presence inside Iran’s networks — called “implants” or “beacons” — that would pave the way for injecting destabilizing malware into Iranian systems.

Two officials said those plans have been constantly updated in recent years.

But even a cyberattack, without dropping bombs, carries significant risk. Iran has built up a major corps of its own, one that successfully attacked financial markets in 2012, a casino in Las Vegas and a range of military targets. American intelligence officials told Congress in January that Iranian hackers are now considered sophisticated operators who are increasingly capable of striking United States targets.

Since Bolton became national security adviser in April 2018, he has intensified the Trump administration’s policy of isolating and pressuring Iran. The animus against Iran’s leaders dates back at least to his days as an official in the George W. Bush administration. Later, as a private citizen, Bolton called for military strikes on Iran, as well as regime change.

The newly updated plans were not the first time during the Trump administration that Bolton has sought military options to strike Iran.

This year, War Department and senior American officials said Bolton sought similar guidance from the Pentagon last year, after militants fired three mortars or rockets into an empty lot on the grounds of the United States Embassy in Baghdad in September.

In response to Bolton’s request, which alarmed Jim Mattis, then the war secretary, the Pentagon offered some general options, including a cross-border airstrike on an Iranian military facility that would have been mostly symbolic.

But Mattis and other military leaders adamantly opposed retaliation for the Baghdad attack, successfully arguing that it was insignificant.

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Trump is pulling the strings of the American civil war ترامب يلعب بخيوط الحرب الأهلية الأميركية

Trump is pulling the strings of the American civil war

مايو 9, 2019

Written by Nasser Kandil,

The racist tendencies of the US President Donald Trump as a white settler against the native American Indians might converge with the considerations of the ruling US intelligence and diplomacy in the need to arrange the American inner home after the failure of wars outside it and in order to launch a confrontation that it is easy to ignite but difficult to control and to get out of it. The Venezuelan crisis which was ignited by Washington and its white Canadian ally and some of those who are possessed with the American example as the Indian Liberians in Venezuela, Colombia, Peru, Argentina, and Brazil took place during a historic inconsistency between the white racist comer settlers and the Indigenous people whom their cities and towns were exterminated  and hundreds thousands of them were killed while others were obliged to displace to neighboring countries, knowing that the big majority in the south is from the Latin American indigenous people whom were ruled by the Spanish and the Portuguese, while the Evangelical community coming from Scotland and Ireland dominated on the northern regions known today as America.

Certainly, the military confrontation will be an outcome of constitutional legitimacy versus another constitutional legitimacy, and certainly the military balance in Venezuela in any clash will be in favor of the legitimacy of the President Nicolas Maduro, and certainly the achievement of the military balance will require an external intervention that starts in Colombia where America will soon find itself in the heart of the battle, and then the real tyrant aspect of war will begin to emerge. Therefore, once again the war will take place between white and red after three hundred years. It is a war waged by Trump against the Red Indian minority inside America driven by a white racist panic from a demographic imbalance that is similar to the panic of the Zionists in Palestine in 1948 from the demographic imbalance which is in favor of the Arab dark skinned indigenous people. This war will lead to the emergence of a racist ISIS among the white and against the red, it will fight in the northern of America and in the South Africa, and the emergence of a resistance that belongs to the red where the leaders of the Liberian groups in the red continent will become mere white agents who have neglected their belonging and have lived in five-stars hotels as the leaders of the Syrian opposition.

The forthcoming civil war will determine the fate of the unity of the United States of America. The states in which the red skinned people locate are increasing due to the demographic shifts which made one-third of the people of America from Latin roots and which will make them half of the population by 2050. The Mexico wall for which Trump is fighting to build is like the racist separation wall which the Zionists build around their settlements. This symbolic similarity reflects the real connection between the conflict in Latin America and the conflict in our region under one title; the confrontation of the indigenous people of the racist coming settlers. The active communities of both the Levantine Arab immigrants and the Jewish are gathered in Latin America and its countries, and despite the presence of enlightened Jewish elites that are far from the Zionist project and the presence of Arab immigrant elites that follow the US project that represents the scum of liberalism, the importance of both blocs puts them into permanent confrontation entitled the position towards Palestine and the Israeli aggression. Because Venezuela forms the Latin position that supports Palestine, therefore, its fall has become a current Israeli demand to compensate the failure of overthrowing Syria. So supporting Venezuela and its victory has become a necessary complement to Syria’s victory.

The victory of Syria was the factor of the acceleration towards Venezuela which America was foreshadowing of its fall if the American Empire succeeded in invading the world, but at the same time, Syria is a source of inspiration for the people of Latin America at their forefront Venezuela to withstand, exactly as the late President Hugo Chavez said after the victory of the resistance in the south of Lebanon in July 2006 to the leaders of the Bolivian Movement in Latin America that it is time to work after the south of Lebanon has proved that it is possible for the poor and the naïve to determine their fate by themselves.

It can be said that the war which wanted to change Syria has granted it the opportunity to change the world.

Translated by Lina Shehadeh,

يناير 26, 2019

ترامب يلعب بخيوط الحرب الأهلية الأميركية 

ناصر قنديل

– ربما تكون قد تلاقت الميول العنصرية للرئيس الأميركي دونالد ترامب المدفوعة بخلفية المستوطن الأبيض ضد السكان الأصليين الحمر، مع حسابات المؤسسة الأميركية الحاكمة في المخابرات والدبلوماسية في الحاجة لترتيب البيت الداخلي في القارة الأميركية بعد فشل الحروب خارجها، لإطلاق مواجهة يبدو من السهل تفجيرها، لكن سيكون من الصعب التحكم بمساراتها، خصوصاً رسم كيفية الخروج منها. فالأزمة الفنزويلية التي دخلتها واشنطن ومعها حليفها الكندي الأبيض وبعض المأخوذين بالنموذج الأميركي من المتمولين الليبراليين الحمر في فنزويلا وكولومبيا والبيرو والأرجنتين والبرازيل، تقع على خط تماس تاريخي لجرح لم يندمل بعد بين المستوطنين البيض العنصريين الوافدين، والسكان الأصليين الذين دمّرت مدنهم وبلداتهم وأبيد مئات الآلاف منهم وأجبر مئات الآلاف الآخرين على اللجوء إلى البلدان المجاورة، حيث الغالبية الكاسحة في الجنوب هي من السكان الأصليين ذوي البشرة الحمراء، والذين يسمّون باللاتينيين، وقد تقاسم حكمهم الأسبان والبرتغاليون، بينما هيمنت الجاليات الإنجيلية الوافدة من إسكتلندا وإيرلندا على المناطق الشمالية المعروفة اليوم باسم أميركا.

– الأكيد هو أن المواجهة العسكرية ستكون نتاجاً طبيعياً لوضع شرعية دستورية في مواجهة مع شرعية دستورية أخرى، والأكيد أن التوازن العسكري داخل فنزويلا في أي صدام سيكون لصالح شرعية الرئيس نيكولاس مادورو، والأكيد أن تحقيق التوازن العسكري سيتطلّب تدخلاً خارجياً يبدأ بكولومبيا وسرعان ما تجد أميركا أنها في قلب المعركة. وعندها يبدأ البعد الحقيقي للحرب بالطغيان، حرب البيض والحمر مجدداً بعد ثلاثمئة عام. وهي حرب يخوضها ترامب على البارد ضد الأقلية ذات البشرة الحمراء داخل أميركا نفسها، مدفوعاً بذعر عنصري أبيض من خلل ديمغرافي يشبه ذعر الصهاينة في فلسطين عام 1948 من الخلل الديمغرافي لصالح السكان الأصليين العرب ذوي البشرة السمراء. وستتكفل هذه الحرب بظهور تنظيم داعش عنصري بين البيض ضد الحمر، يقاتل داخل شمال أميركا وفي القارة الجنوبية، وظهور مقاومة للحمر تعمّ القارة، ويصير قادة المجموعات الليبرالية في القارة الحمراء مجرد عملاء للبيض باعوا جلدتهم ويتوزّعون فنادق الخمسة نجوم أسوة بقادة المعارضة السورية.

– الحرب الأهلية المقبلة ستقرّر مصير وحدة الولايات المتحدة الأميركية، حيث الولايات التي يتركّز فيها ذوو البشرة الحمراء تتزايد مع التحوّلات الديمغرافية التي جعلت ثلث سكان أميركا من أصول لاتينية وستجعلهم نصف السكان بحلول العام 2050، وبصورة أو بأخرى يشبه جدار المكسيك الذي يقاتل ترامب لبنائه جدار الفصل العنصري الذي يبنيه الصهاينة حول المستوطنات. وهذا التشابه الرمزي يعكس حقيقة واقعية للصلة بين الصراع في أميركا اللاتينية والصراع في منطقتنا، والعنوان الواحد مواجهة سكان البلاد الأصليين للمستوطنين العنصريين الوافدين، حيث تتجمع في أميركا اللاتينية ودولها الجاليات النشيطة لكل من العرب المشرقيين المهاجرين والرعية اليهودية، وبالرغم من وجود نخب يهودية متنوّرة بعيدة عن المشروع الصهيوني ووجود نخب عربية مهاجرة ملتحقة بالمشروع الأميركي وتمثل حثالة الليبرالية إلا أن الوزن الرئيسي لكل من الكتلتين يضعهما في مواجهة دائمة عنوانها الموقف من فلسطين والعدوان الإسرائيلي، وحيث فنزويلا تشكل رمز الموقف اللاتيني الداعم لفلسطين، ويصير إسقاطها مطلباً إسرائيلياً راهناً تعويضاً عن الفشل بإسقاط سورية، يصير تحصين فنزويلا ونصرها تتمة ضرورية لنصر سورية.

– انتصار سورية كان عامل التسريع في الالتفات الأميركي نحو فنزويلا التي كان التقدير الأميركي بسقوطها التلقائي لو نجحت الغزوة الإمبراطورية الأميركية في العالم، وما عاد تحملها ممكناً بعد الفشل، لكنه بالقدر نفسه سيكون مصدر الإلهام لشعوب أميركا اللاتينية وفي مقدّمتها فنزويلا للصمود، تماماً كما قال الرئيس الراحل هوغو تشافيز بعد انتصار المقاومة في حرب تموز 2006 لقادة الحركة البوليفارية في أميركا اللاتينية أن ساعة العمل قد دقت، بعدما أثبت جنوب لبنان أنه لا يزال بإمكان الفقراء والبسطاء أن يقرروا مصيرهم بأنفسهم.

– هكذا يصح القول إن الحرب التي أرادت تغيير سورية منحت سورية الفرصة لتغير العالم.

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Pandering to Israel Means War with Iran

Global Research, May 09, 2019

The United States is moving dangerously forward in what appears to be a deliberate attempt to provoke a war with Iran, apparently based on threat intelligence provided by Israel. The claims made by National Security Advisor John Bolton and by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo that there is solid evidence of Iran’s intention to attack US forces in the Persian Gulf region is almost certainly a fabrication, possibly deliberately contrived by Bolton and company in collaboration with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. It will be used to justify sending bombers and additional naval air resources to confront any possible moves by Tehran to maintain its oil exports, which were blocked by Washington last week. If the US Navy tries to board ships carrying Iranian oil it will undoubtedly, and justifiably, provoke a violent response from Iran, which is precisely what Bolton, Pompeo and Netanyahu are seeking.

It would be difficult to find in the history books another example of a war fought for no reason whatsoever. As ignorant as President Donald Trump and his triumvirate or psychotics Bolton, Pompeo and Elliott Abrams are, even they surely know that Iran poses no threat to the United States. If they believe at all that a war is necessary, they no doubt base their judgment on the perception that the United States must maintain its number one position in the world by occasionally attacking and defeating someone to serve as an example of what might happen if one defies Washington. Understanding that, the Iranians would be wise to avoid confrontation until the sages in the White House move on to some easier target, which at the moment would appear to be Venezuela.

The influence of Israel over US foreign policy is undeniable, with Washington now declaring that it will “review ties” with other nations that are considered to be unfriendly to the Jewish state. For observers who might also believe that Israel and its allies in the US are the driving force behind America’s belligerency in the Middle East, there are possibly some other games that are in play, all involving Benjamin Netanyahu and his band of merry cutthroats. It is becoming increasingly apparent that foreign politicians have realized that the easiest way to gain Washington’s favor is to do something that will please Israel. In practical terms, the door to Capitol Hill and the White House is opened through the good offices of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC).

Israel is desperate to confirm its legitimacy in international fora, where it has few friends in spite of an intensive lobbying campaign. It seeks to have countries that do not have an embassy in Israel to take steps to establish one, and it also wants more nations that do already have an embassy in Tel Aviv to move to Jerusalem, building on the White House’s decision taken last year to do just that. Not surprisingly, nations and political leaders who are on the make and want American support have drawn the correct conclusions and pander to Israel as a first step.

One only has to cite the example of Venezuela. Juan Guaido, the candidate favored by Washington for regime change, has undoubtedly a lot of things on his plate but he has proven willing to make some time to say what Benjamin Netanyahu wants to hear, as reported by the Israeli media. The Times of Israel describes how

“Venezuela’s self-proclaimed leader Juan Guaido is working to re-establish diplomatic relations with Israel and isn’t ruling out placing his country’s embassy in Jerusalem, according to an interview with an Israeli newspaper published Tuesday.”

One would think that Guaido would consider his interview sufficient, but he has also taken the pandering process one step farther, reportedly displaying huge video images of the flags of both Israel and the United States at his rallies.

This deference to Israel’s interests produced an almost immediate positive result with Netanyahu recognizing him as the legitimate Venezuelan head of state, followed by an echo chamber of effusive congratulations from US (sic) Ambassador to Israel David Friedman, who praised the Jewish state for “standing with the people of Venezuela and the forces of freedom and democracy.” Donald Trump’s esteemed special envoy for international negotiations, Jason Greenblatt, also joined in, praising the Israeli government for its “courageous stand in solidarity with the Venezuelan people.”

A similar bonding took place regarding Brazil, where hard right conservative leader Jair Bolsonaro was recently elected president. Netanyahu attended the Bolsonaro inauguration last December and the two men benefit from strong support from Christian Evangelicals. Bolsonaro repaid the favor by promising that Israel would be his first foreign trip. In the event he went to Washington first, but the state visit to Israel took place in April, just before that country’s elections, in a bid to demonstrate international support for Netanyahu.

Brazilian Jews constitute a wealthy and powerful community which reacted positively to Bolsonaro’s pledges to fight corruption and high crime rates while also repairing a struggling economy. They also appreciated his stance on Israel. He committed to moving the Brazilian embassy to Jerusalem from Tel Aviv, though he has backpedaled a bit on that pledge. And he also promised to shut the Palestinian embassy in the capital Brasilia. He famously asked and answered his own question,

“Is Palestine a country? Palestine is not a country, so there should be no embassy here. You do not negotiate with terrorists.”

Bolsonaro’s pro-Israel anti-Venezuela credentials also endeared him to Donald Trump on a visit to Washington in mid-March which was described by the media as a “love fest.” The Brazilian leader’s visits to Israel and the US as well as Guaido’s promises to Israel reveal that the foreign policies of Tel Aviv and Washington have become inextricably intertwined, with supplicant nations and politicians wisely seeking to do homage to both regimes to gain favor. It is a development that would shock the Founding Fathers, most particularly George Washington, who warned against entangling alliances, and it means that American interests will be seen through an Israeli prism, a reality that has already produced very bad results.

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Philip M. Giraldi is a former CIA counter-terrorism specialist and military intelligence officer who served nineteen years overseas in Turkey, Italy, Germany, and Spain. He was the CIA Chief of Base for the Barcelona Olympics in 1992 and was one of the first Americans to enter Afghanistan in December 2001. Phil is Executive Director of the Council for the National Interest, a Washington-based advocacy group that seeks to encourage and promote a U.S. foreign policy in the Middle East that is consistent with American values and interests.

Pence to Offer ’Carrots’ to Venezuela Military, Warnings to Judges

By Roberta Rampton – Reuters

US Vice President Mike Pence is set on Tuesday to offer new incentives to Venezuela’s military to turn against President Nicolas Maduro, responding to an attempted uprising that fizzled out last week, a senior administration official told Reuters.

In a speech to the Americas Society at the State Department, scheduled for 3:25 p.m., Pence will also warn that the United States will soon move to sanction 25 additional magistrates on Venezuela’s Supreme Court, the official said on Monday, speaking on condition of anonymity.

Pence will also offer assistance for refugees who have fled the country, and an economic aid package contingent on a political transition, according to the official.

Pence’s speech will be the first look at the Trump administration’s recalibrated strategy following massive street protests last week led by Juan Guaido, the opposition leader backed by the United States and most other Western countries.

Guaido had described the protests as the start of his “final phase” to oust Maduro, but mass military defections failed to come to fruition.

US President Donald Trump has invested considerable political capital in the diplomatic and economic intervention in the Venezuela crisis.

Although Guaido’s attempted uprising failed to immediately dislodge Maduro, it exposed new fissures within the country, the official said.

“A week before last, all the media – including you guys, everybody – was writing about how there’s no way forward, complete stalemate,” the official said.

“Suddenly last week, everyone woke up.”

New Carrots, And a Stick

Guaido, the president of the country’s national assembly, invoked Venezuela’s constitution in January to declare himself interim president of the country, arguing that Maduro’s 2018 re-election was ‘illegitimate.’

Maduro – who has said Guaido is a puppet of Washington – has sought to show that the military remains on his side, but opposition leaders and US officials have said that support is tenuous.

“They sat back in the barracks and they’re there, but they don’t want to be identified as the institutional source of repression,” the official said.

Pence will offer new “carrots” to the Venezuelan military, the senior official told Reuters, declining to provide details of the incentives ahead of the speech.

“He’ll be showing where the opportunities lay if people do the right thing moving forward,” the official said.

Pence is also set to outline new assistance for Venezuelans who have fled the oil-rich OPEC member, which has been plagued by hyperinflation and shortages of food, water, power and medicine – and a “Day One” economic assistance plan for Venezuela contingent on Maduro’s departure, the official added.

The vice president in addition will deliver a “warning shot” to magistrates on Venezuela’s Supreme Court. The Treasury Department sanctioned the court’s president, Maikel Moreno, in 2017 and the seven principal members of its constitutional chamber – and is now preparing to sanction the 25 remaining members of the court, the official said.

“We feel like that’s where the pressure needs to be,” according to the official.

“All 32 magistrates in the TSJ are going to sink or swim together,” the official said, using the acronym for Tribunal Supremo de Justicia.

The court would be responsible for signing off on any warrant for an arrest of Guaido – a move the US official emphasized would have severe consequences.

The United States imposed sweeping sanctions on Venezuela’s state-owned oil company, PDVSA, in January. Oil provides 90 percent of export revenue for Venezuela.

The administration also continues to work on other responses to increase financial pressure on Maduro, including “secondary sanctions” on companies from other countries that do business with Venezuela, and additional shipping sanctions for oil, the official said.

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