US Congress Limits Trump’s Ability to Strike Iran

By Staff, Agencies

The US Congress voted on Friday to put a liberalized stamp on Pentagon policy, including a bipartisan proposal to limit US President Donald Trump’s authority to strike the Islamic Republic of Iran.

The measure passed along party lines after a series of votes that pushed it further to the left. Among them was a 251-170 tally to require Trump get authorization from Congress to conduct military strikes against Iran, along with a repeal of a 2002 law authorizing the war in Iraq.

More than two dozen Republicans joined with Democrats on the Iran vote. Trump last month came within minutes of launching a missile strike against Iran after Tehran downed an intruding US spy drone over Hormozgan Province.

The broader measure passed by a 220-197 vote after several other provisions were tacked on by the Democratic Party’s progressive wing, which had been upset by leadership’s handling of a border bill last month.

Meanwhile, the Trump administration promised to veto the House measure. The Senate passed its own bill last month. Lawmakers will try to reconcile the competing versions in what could be lengthy negotiations given the differences.

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Ex-Bahrain official: israel aims to ‘destroy society’ in Middle East

Source

MEMO | July 4, 2019

Former Bahraini minister of education and political analyst Mohammed Al-Fakhro warned that Israel is working to draw out a new Sykes-Picot agreement for the entire Arab region.

Speaking at the international cultural festival of Assilah in Morocco, Fakhro said the Arab countries are targeted by external and internal parties, adding that there are real attempts by these parties to continue to occupy the Palestinian territories.

He added that Israel, along with other foreign parties, wants the Arab countries to be engaged in “endless conflicts related to geography, sectarianism, religion, tribalism and other conflicts that destroy society”.

He added that those hostile to the Arab world seek to link Arab societies to “globalisation, so that Arab land becomes a market for goods produced by others”.

Al-Fakhro stressed that the scheme aims to keep Arab countries in “technological, scientific and cultural” backwardness.

Bipartisan Congressional Effort to Prevent War on Iran?

Global Research, June 26, 2019

When the US plans war on a targeted country, it fabricates pretexts and seeks world community, congressional, and public support — establishment media backing virtually automatic.

Congressional authorization for war hasn’t been gotten since December 8, 1941, following imperial Japan’s Pearl Harbor attack.

All US post-WW II wars have been and continue to be flagrantly illegal. UN Security Council members alone have legal authority to permit one nation to attack another.

It’s permitted solely in self-defense, never preemptively, how all US wars of aggression are waged.

Iran is in the Trump regime’s crosshairs for regime change, things moving ominously toward war on the country based entirely on Big Lies and deception about a nation threatening no one.

Most Republicans support Trump’s drive to war on Iran. GOP Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said he’s open to a war authorization vote.

He opposes a National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) amendment to prevent war on Iran without congressional approval, falsely claiming it’ll undermine Trump given crisis conditions that don’t exist.

The vast majority of Dems supported all US post-WW II wars of aggression. It remains to be seen how serious they are about what’s covered below.

Dem Senator Tom Udall and GOP Senators Rand Paul and Mike Lee proposed an NDAA amendment to prevent attacking Iran without congressional authorization.

Udall said it’s supported by “every” Senate Dem, and “(it’s) gaining increasing bipartisan support,” adding:

“Our Iran policy is in chaos, careening towards war and to change course the president should immediately fire John Bolton.”

His “long campaign for violent regime change has now pushed us to the brink — and as these internal disagreements spill out into the open, we are only increasing the risk of grave miscalculation, confusing our allies, and reducing any possibility of de-escalation and diplomacy.”

“(T)he Senate cannot continue to duck a vote on a potential war with Iran,” calling for McConnell to permit it. With a 51 – 49 Republican majority and at least two GOP senators against attacking Iran without congressional authorization, the amendment is highly likely to be adopted.

On Tuesday, House members Matt Gaetz, Ro Khanna, and 17 bipartisan co-sponsors introduced an NDAA amendment similar to the Senate one.

House and Senate amendments call for prohibiting funds for attacking Iran unless Congress goes along, saying as well that the 2001 Authorization for the Use of Military Force (AUMF) cannot be invoked to justify war on Iran.

House members will take up the amendment during NDAA debate in July. It’s unclear if the Senate will follow through.

If voted on by House and Senate members, it’ll likely be adopted. Will it give Trump pause about attacking Iran?

He ignored joint House/Senate Resolution 7 “to direct the removal of United States Armed Forces from hostilities in the Republic of Yemen that have not been authorized by Congress.”

He also ignored Senate legislation, invoking the 1973 War Powers Resolution. It requires a congressional declaration of war, or a national emergency created by an attack on the US, its territories, possessions, or armed forces, for the executive to deploy troops to engage in foreign hostilities.

Congressional members have done nothing to cut off funding for US military involvement in Yemen. Nor have they countered US war in the country by other means.

Bipartisan House and Senate legislation to prevent war on Iran won’t likely deter Trump from launching it because no US president was ever held accountable for attacking another nation — not by Congress or the courts.

Dems are as belligerent as Republicans, large majorities in both houses supporting all US post-WW II wars of aggression.

Will things be different if Trump OKs attacking Iran? Based on the historical record, it’s highly unlikely.

Failure to enlist allies for war on Iran other than Israel, the Saudis, UAE, some other Gulf states, perhaps Britain, and a few small Pacific islands the US controls isn’t enough.

Pompeo and Bolton reportedly seek at least 20 coalition of the willing partners for US war on Iran.

Falling way short could prevent it, not congressional action, calling for its approval that hasn’t worked before.

Attacking Iran preemptively remains ominously possible. If Trump yields to Bolton and Pompeo, the mother of all post-9/11 quagmires could happen with potentially devastating consequences.

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Award-winning author Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at lendmanstephen@sbcglobal.net. He is a Research Associate of the Centre for Research on Globalization (CRG)

His new book as editor and contributor is titled “Flashpoint in Ukraine: US Drive for Hegemony Risks WW III.”

http://www.claritypress.com/LendmanIII.html

Visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com.

Convenient “Tanker Attacks” as US Seeks War with Iran

Convenient “Tanker Attacks” as US Seeks War with Iran

By Tony Cartalucci,

“…it would be far more preferable if the United States could cite an Iranian provocation as justification for the airstrikes before launching them. Clearly, the more outrageous, the more deadly, and the more unprovoked the Iranian action, the better off the United States would be. Of course, it would be very difficult for the United States to goad Iran into such a provocation without the rest of the world recognizing this game, which would then undermine it.”  (emphasis added)

– Brookings Institution, “Which Path to Persia?” 2009 

For the second time since the United States unilaterally withdrew from the so-called Iran Nuclear Deal, Western reports of “suspected attacks” on oil tankers near the Strait of Hormuz have attempted to implicate Iran.

The London Guardian in an article titled, “Two oil tankers struck in suspected attacks in Gulf of Oman,” would claim:

Two oil tankers have been hit in suspected attacks in the Gulf of Oman and the crews evacuated, a month after a similar incident in which four tankers in the region were struck.

The article also claimed:

Gulf tensions have been close to boiling point for weeks as the US puts “maximum economic pressure” on Tehran in an attempt to force it to reopen talks about the 2015 nuclear deal, which the US pulled out of last year. 

Iran has repeatedly said it has no knowledge of the incidents and did not instruct any surrogate forces to attack Gulf shipping, or Saudi oil installations.

The Guardian would admit that “investigations” into the previous alleged attacks in May carried out by the UAE found “sophisticated mines” were used, but fell short of implicating Iran as a culprit.

The article would note US National Security Advisor John Bolton would – without evidence – claim that Iran “was almost certainly involved.”

All Too Convenient 

This news of “attacked” oil tankers near the Stait of Hormuz blamed by the US on Iran – comes all too conveniently on the heels of additional steps taken by Washington to pressure Iran’s economy and further undermine the Iranian government.

The US just recently ended waivers for nations buying Iranian oil. Nations including Japan, South Korea, Turkey, China, and India will now face US sanctions if they continue importing Iranian oil.

Coincidentally, one of ships “attacked” this week was carrying “Japan-related cargo,” the Guardian would report.

Also convenient was the US’ recent designation of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) just ahead of this series of provocations attributed to Iran.

AP in a May 2019 article titled, “President Trump Warns Iran Over ‘Sabotaged’ Oil Tankers in Gulf,” would claim:

Four oil tankers anchored in the Mideast were damaged by what Gulf officials described as sabotage, though satellite images obtained by The Associated Press on Tuesday showed no major visible damage to the vessels.

Two ships allegedly were Saudi, one Emirati, and one Norwegian. The article also claimed:

A U.S. official in Washington, without offering any evidence, told the AP that an American military team’s initial assessment indicated Iran or Iranian allies used explosives to blow holes in the ships.

And that:

The U.S. already had warned ships that “Iran or its proxies” could be targeting maritime traffic in the region. America is deploying an aircraft carrier and B-52 bombers to the Persian Gulf to counter alleged, still-unspecified threats from Tehran. 

This more recent incident will likely be further exploited by the US to continue building up its military forces in the region, applying pressure on Iran, and moving the entire globe closer toward war with Iran.

The US has already arrayed its forces across the Middle East to aid in ongoing proxy wars against Iran and its allies as well as prepare for conventional war with Tehran itself.

All of this amounts to a renewed push toward a more direct conflict between the United States and Iran after years of proxy war in Syria Washington-backed forces have decisively lost.

It is also a continuation of long-standing US foreign policy regarding Iran put into motion over a decade ago and carried out by each respective presidency since.

Washington’s Long-Standing Plans 

Continued sanctions and the elimination of waivers are part of Washington’s unilateral withdrawal from the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) or the “Iran Nuclear Deal.” The deal was signed in 2015 with the US withdrawing in 2018.

While the decision is portrayed as political differences between former US President Barack Obama and current US President Donald Trump – in reality – the plan’s proposal, signing, and then withdrawal from by the US was planned in detail as early as 2009 as a means of justifying long sought-after war with Iran.

In their 2009 paper, “Which Path to Persia?: Options for a New American Strategy Toward Iran” (PDF), the corporate-financier funded Brookings Institution would first admit the complications of US-led military aggression against Iran (emphasis added):

…any military operation against Iran will likely be very unpopular around the world and require the proper international context—both to ensure the logistical support the operation would require and to minimize the blowback from it.

The paper then lays out how the US could appear to the world as a peacemaker and depict Iran’s betrayal of a “very good deal” as the pretext for an otherwise reluctant US military response (emphasis added):

The best way to minimize international opprobrium and maximize support (however, grudging or covert) is to strike only when there is a widespread conviction that the Iranians were given but then rejected a superb offerone so good that only a regime determined to acquire nuclear weapons and acquire them for the wrong reasons would turn it down. Under those circumstances, the United States (or Israel) could portray its operations as taken in sorrow, not anger, and at least some in the international community would conclude that the Iranians “brought it on themselves” by refusing a very good deal.

And from 2009 onward, this is precisely what the United States set out to achieve.

First with President Obama’s signing of the 2015 Iran Nuclear Deal, up to and including President Trump’s attempts to backtrack from it based on fabricated claims Iran failed to honor the agreement.

The 2009 policy paper also discussed “goading” Iran into war, claiming (emphasis added):

With provocation, the international diplomatic and domestic political requirements of an invasion [of Iran] would be mitigated, and the more outrageous the Iranian provocation (and the less that the United States is seen to be goading Iran), the more these challenges would be diminished. In the absence of a sufficiently horrific provocation, meeting these requirements would be daunting.

Unmentioned directly, but also an obvious method for achieving Washington’s goal of provoking war with Iran would be the US simply staging an “Iranian provocation” itself.

As the US had done in Vietnam following the Gulf of Tonkin incident, or US fabrications regardings “weapons of mass destruction” Washington claimed Iraq held in its possession, the US has a clear track record of not just simply provoking provocations, but staging them itself.
The Brookings paper even admits to the unlikelihood of Iran falling into Washington’s trap, lamenting (emphasis added):

…it is certainly the case that if Washington sought such a provocation, it could take actions that might make it more likely that Tehran would do so (although being too obvious about this could nullify the provocation). However, since it would be up to Iran to make the provocative move, which Iran has been wary of doing most times in the past, the United States would never know for sure when it would get the requisite Iranian provocation. In fact, it might never come at all.

The alleged sabotaging of oil tankers off the shore of the UAE in May and now additional “attacks” this month could be the beginning of a series of staged provocations aimed at leveraging the recent listing of the IRGC as a “terrorist organization” coupled with increased economic pressure as a result of US sanctions re-initiated after the US’ own withdrawal from the Iran Deal.

Synergies Toward War 

The US has already attempted to leverage allegations in May of “Iranian sabotage” to further build its case against Iran. Washington hopes that either war – or at least the impending threat of war – coupled with crippling economic sanctions, and continued support of political and armed sedition within Iran itself will create the synergies required for dividing and destroying Iran’s political order.

In a wider regional context, the US has seen political losses particularly in Iraq where Iranian influence has been on the rise. Militarily, US-backed proxy forces have been defeated in Syria with Iran and Russia both establishing permanent and significant footholds there.

Despite the setbacks, the success of Washington’s designs against Tehran still depends mainly on America’s ability to offer political and economic incentives coupled with equally effective threats to friend and foe alike – in order to isolate Iran.

How likely this is to succeed remains questionable – decades of US sanctions, covert and overt aggression, as well as proxy wars have left Iran resilient and with more influence across the region now than ever. Still, Washington’s capacity for sowing regional destruction or dividing and destroying Iran should not be underestimated.

The intentional creation of – then withdrawal from the Iran Deal, the US’ persistent military presence in the Middle East, and sanctions aimed at Iran all indicate that US policymakers remain dedicated isolating and undermining Iran. It will continue to do so until its geopolitical goals are met, or until a new international order creates conditions in the Middle East and throughout the global economy making US regime change against Iran impossible.

Tony Cartalucci, Bangkok-based geopolitical researcher and writer, especially for the online magazine New Eastern Outlook”. He is a frequent contributor to Global Research.

Ex-CIA Chief Warns US: Pressure Won’t Work with Iran

Ex-CIA Chief Warns US: Pressure Won’t Work with Iran

TEHRAN (FNA)- Former CIA director John Brennan stated that the US President Donald Trump administration’s policy of pressure against Tehran is a failed policy because there is “a culture of resistance” in Iran.

The Trump administration has been moving down a “cul de sac” with its policies toward Iran, Brennan said in an interview with The Irish Times newspaper published on Saturday.

“The United States has gone down this cul de sac with Iran, by putting pressure on the regime, in the false belief that they will change. It’s a culture of resistance in Iran,” he added.

Referring to some of Trump’s policies specifically, the ex-CIA chief stressed that “by reneging on the Iran nuclear deal, by designating the IRGC as a terrorist organization, by tightening sanctions on Iran and forcing European parties to the agreement to renege on their obligations, the perception in Iran is that the Trump administration ultimately wants to overthrow the regime.”

Since taking office in 2017, Trump has taken a progressively bellicose posture toward Iran. A year and a half into his term, he unilaterally withdrew Washington from an international nuclear deal with Iran, officially known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), and imposed sanctions against Tehran. He then began pressuring the other cosignatories, including European states, to also abandon the deal.

The remarks came at a time of growing tensions between Tehran and Washington, and days after the US Maritime Administration warned that “Iran and/or its regional proxies” are looking to target US and allied interests in the region, including oil infrastructure.

The United States has also been escalating its military presence in the Persian Gulf, recently sending an aircraft carrier group, a squadron of B-52 bombers and additional Patriot air defense systems as a “message” to Iran.

Trump has also announced he would deploy about 1,500 more American troops to the Middle East region.

Without Congress approval, the US administration has recently approved $8.1 billion in arms transfers to Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Jordan in a bid to “deter Iranian aggression”.

In early April, the US administration decided to designate Iran’s Islamic Revolution Guard Corps (IRGC) as a terrorist organization, while critics called it stupid and dangerous. In a tit-for-tat measure, Tehran labeled the United States Central Command (CENTCOM) in the Middle-East as a terrorist entity.

Iran has stressed that it will not be the initiator of any war, but reserves the right to self defense and will give a crushing response to any act of aggression by the United States.

ISIS Remnants Regroup and Attack Syrian Army Posts in the Desert with U.S. Help

ISIS Remnants Regroup and Attack Syrian Army Posts in the Desert with U.S. Help

By Arabi Souri

ISIS terrorists, defeated by the Syrian Arab Army in the major battles of Der Ezzor and Albukamal east of Syria, have regrouped and launched a new wave of attacks against the SAA posts in the desert with the direct help of the USA and its illegal ‘International Coalition’ which moved its remnants from under fire to safe havens in the depth of the Syrian open desert bordering Iraq in the east and Jordan in the south.

Al-Mayadeen reporter in Damascus Mohammad Al-Khodr had this report in Arabic and we added the English subtitles to it, English transcript is below the video:

Al-Faydah desert, to the south of Al-Mayadeen, is another theater for the movement of remnants of ISIS in the Syrian desert.

Syrian army units and their allies in a fierce clash with a convoy of the (terrorist) organization resulted in a number killed and wounded in their ranks.

A growing activity which in details included attacking military points last April in the vicinity of Sokhna, an activity that followed the breaking of ISIS in Al-Baghouz and the International Coalition facilitating the moving of ISIS fighters deep into the desert to add pressure against the Syrian army.

Mohammed Abbas – Military expert: This enclave ends with the end of the war on Syria because it is covered today by fire, diplomatic, political, logistical and military through US forces, Is it a serious threat? Yes, it poses is a serious risk because it is a connected danger, a constant danger because the Americans invest in it.

No accurate figures of what remains of ISIS in the Syrian desert, estimates that the number is between1000 to 2000 armed men, Spread over a large area in the vicinity of Jabal al-Bishri southeast of Raqqa and Dafina southwest of Deir al-Zour and between the desert of Palmyra and Al-Sokhna and the vicinity of the 55th area in Al-Tanf.

Mohammed Abbas: We must remember well that the region is a strategic area and very important, and maybe the separation area in the US war on Syria, I mean the area stretching from Al-Tanf to Albuakmal and Al-Sukhna, and this desert area (Al-Badia) is the area of separation on which America bet on with its alternative armies, It’s called the US Alternative Army which wants to cut the road between Iraq and Syria, cut Iran’s way towards Syria.

The terrorist organization members benefited from the difficult terrain to hide in hills, valleys, and deep calcareous caves, and wide maneuvering areas that they know well as being from the region or due to their staying in it for years.

The solid structure of ISIS was broken during major battles fought by the Syrian army and its allies along the Syrian desert. To eliminate the remnants of ISIS requires a major military effort, in parallel with finishing the American presence in Al-Tanf, which formed a source of support for the movements of this (ISIS) organization.

End of Mohammad Al-Khodr’s report.

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Another pressure of all sorts militarily, political, financial by unprecedented sanctions, media, and diplomatic is being exerted by the USA and its barking squad against Syria with the latest decision by Trump in arming Al-Qaeda terrorists there with anti-tank missiles through his poodle Erdogan.

 

Featured image is from Syria News

US Senators Look to Force 22 Votes Blocking Arms Sales to Saudi Arabia

By Staff- NYT

A group of senators will try to force nearly two dozen votes rebuking the Trump administration’s decision to declare a national emergency to circumvent Congress and sell billions of dollars of munitions to Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.

The legislation, led by Senator Robert Menendez of New Jersey, the top Democrat on the Foreign Relations Committee, and Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, a Trump ally and once a staunch defender of the kingdom, underscores lawmakers’ fury at the administration’s support for the Saudis after the killing of the dissident Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi. And it could grind business in the Senate to a crawl while allowing rare public criticism of Trump’s administration from members of his own party.

Trump circumvented Congress late last month by declaring an emergency over Iran and moving forward with arms sales to Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Jordan that had been blocked by Congress since last year, a decision that immediately drew criticism from lawmakers, who are also furious over the civilian death toll from the Saudi-led air campaign in Yemen.

“We will not stand idly by and allow the president or the secretary of state to further erode congressional review and oversight of arm sales,” Menendez said in a statement. Referring to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, he added: “Regrettably, Secretary Pompeo’s abuse of this emergency authority has broken the arms sales process. The best thing the secretary of state can do right now is withdraw his emergency certification, immediately submit these sales for the normal congressional review and engage with senators to address our concerns.”

The coalition of senators is hoping to leverage a provision in the Arms Export Control Act that allows lawmakers to introduce what is known as a privileged joint resolution of disapproval against a proposed sale of arms, in essence forcing a debate and a vote. Their plan is to introduce 22 such resolutions, one for each proposed arms sale. A simple majority of lawmakers would need to vote to allow the debate to proceed — and if the measures advanced, the group of senators could monopolize hours of floor time as soon as mid-June.

Winning such support from Republican lawmakers is not out of the question. Members of Congress from both parties were livid early this year when the White House missed a congressional deadline to submit a report detailing whether the administration found Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman personally responsible for Khashoggi’s death.

And the Senate voted 54 to 46 in March to end American military assistance for the kingdom’s war in Yemen and to curtail presidential war powers, with seven Republican senators breaking ranks to join the resolution and the Democratic conference united in support.

To actually block the arms sales, however, backers of the resolutions would almost certainly need a veto-proof majority, and whether the measures could muster that is another question.

Five other lawmakers joined Menendez in his drive, including three Republicans: Senator Todd Young of Indiana, Senator Rand Paul of Kentucky and Graham. Graham said in a statement that he expected “strong bipartisan support” for the resolutions.

“While I understand that Saudi Arabia is a strategic ally, the behavior of Mohammed bin Salman cannot be ignored. Now is not the time to do business as usual with Saudi Arabia,” Graham said. “I am also very concerned about the precedent these arms sales would set by having the administration go around legitimate concerns of the Congress.”

Senator Christopher S. Murphy, Democrat of Connecticut, who first warned of the arms sales and is a sponsor of the legislation, said that “the US-Saudi relationship needs to change, and it’s clear that only Congress can make that happen.”

New outrage emerged Tuesday, when Senator Tim Kaine of Virginia, a Democrat on the Foreign Relations Committee, disclosed that the Energy Department had approved nuclear technology transfers to the kingdom on two occasions after Khashoggi’s killing in October in the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul — including one approved two weeks after his death.

Lawmakers had repeatedly pressed cabinet officials on whether the administration had approved transfers of nuclear expertise from American companies to Saudi Arabia, but it took months for them to receive an answer.

“The alarming realization that the Trump administration signed off on sharing our nuclear know-how with the Saudi regime after it brutally murdered an American resident adds to a disturbing pattern of behavior,” Kaine said in a statement. “President Trump’s eagerness to give the Saudis anything they want, over bipartisan congressional objection, harms American national security interests.”

 

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