A Major Conventional War Against Iran Is an Impossibility. Crisis within the US Command Structure

Global Research, July 08, 2019

In this article, we examine America’s war strategies, including its ability to launch an all out theater war against the Islamic Republic on Iran.

A follow-up article will focus on the History of US War Plans against Iran as well as the complexities underlying the Structure of Military Alliances. 

**

Under present conditions, an Iraq style all out Blitzkrieg involving the simultaneous deployment of ground, air and naval  forces is an impossibility. 

For several reasons. US hegemony in the Middle East has been weakened largely as a result of the evolving structure of military alliances.

The US does not have the ability to carry out such a project.

There are two main factors which determine America’s military agenda in relation to the Islamic Republic of Iran.

1. Iran’s Military

There is the issue of Iran’s military capabilities (ground forces, navy, air force, missile defense), namely its ability to effectively resist and respond to an all out conventional war involving the deployment of US and Allied forces. Within the realm of conventional warfare,  Iran has sizeable military capabilities. Iran is to acquire Russia’s S400 state of the art air defense system.

Iran is ranked as “a major military power” in the Middle East, with an estimated 534,000 active personnel in the army, navy, air force and the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC). It has advanced ballistic missile capabilities as well as national defense industry. In the case of a US air attack, Iran would target US military facilities in the Persian Gulf.

2. Evolving Structure of Military Alliances

The second consideration has to do with the evolving structure of military alliances (2003-2019) which is largely to the detriment of the United States.

Several of America’s staunchest allies are sleeping with the enemy.

Countries which have borders with Iran including Turkey and Pakistan have military cooperation agreements with Iran. While this in itself excludes the possibility of a ground war, it also affects the planning of US and allied naval and air operations.

Until recently both Turkey (NATO heavyweight) and Pakistan were among America’s faithful allies, hosting US military bases.

From a broader military standpoint, Turkey is actively cooperating with both Iran and Russia. Moreover, Ankara will be acquiring in 2020 Russia’s state of the art S-400 air defense systemwhile de facto opting out from the integrated US-NATO-Israel air defense system.

Needless to say the North Atlantic Treaty Organization is in crisis. Turkey’s exit from NATO is almost de facto. America can no longer rely on its staunchest allies. Moreover, US and Turkish supported militia are fighting one another in Syria.

Iraq has also indicated that it will not cooperate with the US in the case of a ground war against Iran.

Under present conditions, none of Iran’s neigbouring states including Turkey, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Iraq, Turkmenistan, Azerbaijan, and Armenia would allow US-Allied ground forces to transit through their territory.

In recent developments, Azerbaijan which in the wake of the Cold War became a US ally as well as a member of NATO’s partnership for peace has changed sides. The earlier US-Azeri military cooperation agreements are virtually defunct including the post-Soviet GUAM military alliance (Georgia, Ukraine, Azerbaijan and Moldova).

Bilateral military and intelligence agreements between Iran and Azerbaijan were signed in December 2018. In turn, Iran collaborates extensively with Turkmenistan. With regard to Afghanistan, the internal situation with the Taliban controlling a large part of Afghan territory, would not favor a large scale deployment of US and allied ground forces on the Iran-Afghan border.

The Gulf of Oman

With the 2017 split up of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), Oman appears to be aligned with Iran. Under these circumstances, the transit of US war ships to the headquarters of the US Fifth fleet in Bahrain not to mention the conduct of naval operations in the Persian Gulf are potentially in jeopardy. (For details see our analysis below)

Visibly, the policy of strategic encirclement against Iran formulated in the wake of the Iraq war (2003) is no longer functional. Iran has friendly relations with neighbouring countries, which previously were within the US sphere of influence.

Under these conditions, a major conventional theater war by the US involving the deployment of ground forces would be suicide.

This does not mean, however, that war will not take place. In some regards, with the advances in military technologies, an Iraq-style war is obsolete.

We are nonetheless at a dangerous crossroads. Other diabolical forms of military intervention directed against Iran are currently on the drawing board of the Pentagon. These include:

  • various forms of “limited warfare”, ie. targeted missile attacks,
  • US and Allied support of terrorist paramilitary groups
  • so-called “bloody nose operations” (including the use of tactical nuclear weapons),
  • acts of political destabilization and color revolutions
  • false flag attacks and military threats,
  • sabotage, confiscation of financial assets, extensive economic sanctions,
  • electromagnetic and climatic warfare, environmental modification techniques (ENMOD)
  • cyberwarfare
  • chemical and biological warfare.

US Central Command Forward Headquarters Located in Enemy Territory

Another consideration has to do with the crisis within the US Command structure.

USCENTCOM is the theater-level Combatant Command for all operations in the broader Middle East region extending from Afghanistan to North Africa. It is the most important Combat Command of the Unified Command structure. It has led and coordinated several major Middle East war theaters including Afghanistan (2001), Iraq (2003). It is also involved in Syria.

In the case of a war with Iran, operations in the Middle East would be coordinated by US Central Command with headquarters in Tampa, Florida in permanent liaison with its forward command headquarters in Qatar.

In late June 2019, after Iran shot down a U.S. drone President Trump “called off the swiftly planned military strikes on Iran” while intimating in his tweet that “any attack by Iran on anything American will be met with great and overwhelming force.”

US Central Command (CENTCOM), confirmed the deployment of the US Air Force F-22 stealth fighters to the al-Udeid airbase in Qatar, intended to “defend American forces and interests” in the region against Iran. (See Michael Welch, Persian Peril, Global Research, June 30, 2019). Sounds scary?

“The base is technically Qatari property playing host to the forward headquarters of U.S. Central Command.” With 11,000 US military personnel, it is described as “one of the U.S. military’s most enduring and most strategically positioned operations on the planet”   (Washington Times). Al-Udeid also hosts the US Air Force’s 379th Air Expeditionary Wing, considered to be “America’s most vital overseas air command”.

What both the media and military analysts fail to acknowledge is that US CENTCOM’s forward Middle East headquarters at the al-Udeid military base close to Doha de facto “lies in enemy territory”

Since the May 2017 split of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) Qatar has become a staunch ally of both Iran and Turkey (which is also an ally of Iran). While they have no “official” military cooperation agreement with Iran, they share in joint ownership with Iran the largest Worldwide maritime gas fields.

The split of the GCC has led to a shift in military alliances: In May 2017 Saudi Arabia blocked Qatar’s only land border. In turn Saudi Arabia as well as the UAE have blocked air transportation as well as commercial maritime shipments to Doha.

What is unfolding since May 2017 is a shift in Qatar’s trade routes with the establishment of bilateral agreements with Iran, Turkey as well as Pakistan. In this regard, Russia, Iran, and Qatar provide over half of the world’s known gas reserves.

The Al-Udeid base near Doha is America’s largest military base in the Middle East. In turn, Turkey has now established its own military facility in Qatar. Turkey is no longer an ally of the US. Their proxy forces in Syria are fighting US supported militia.  Turkey is now aligned with Russia and Iran. Ankara has now confirmed that it will be acquiring Russia’s S-400 missile air defense system which requires military cooperation with Moscow.

Qatar is swarming with Iranian businessmen, security personnel and experts in the oil and gas industry (with possible links to Iran intelligence?), not to mention the presence of Russian and Chinese personnel.

Question. How on earth can you launch a war on Iran from the territory of a close ally of Iran?

From a strategic point of view it does not make sense. And this is but the tip of the iceberg.

Notwithstanding the rhetoric underlying the official US-Qatar military relationship, The Atlantic Council, a think tank with close ties to both the Pentagon and NATO, confirms that Qatar is now a firm ally of both Iran and Turkey:

Put simply, for Qatar to maintain its independence, Doha will have essentially no choice but to maintain its strong partnership with Turkey, which has been an important ally from the perspective of military support and food security, as well as Iran. The odds are good that Iranian-Qatari ties will continue to strengthen even if Tehran and Doha agree to disagree on certain issues … On June 15 [2019], President Hassan Rouhani emphasizedthat improving relations with Qatar is a high priority for Iranian policymakers. … Rouhani told the Qatari emir that “stability and security of regional countries are intertwined” and Qatar’s head of state, in turn, stressed that Doha seeks a stronger partnership with the Islamic Republic. (Atlantic Council, June 2019, emphasis added)

What this latest statement by the Atlantic Council suggests is while Qatar hosts USCENTCOM’s forward headquarters, Iran and Qatar are (unofficially) collaborating in the area of “security” (i e. intelligence and military cooperation).

Sloppy military planning, sloppy US foreign policy? sloppy intelligence?

Trump’s statement confirms that they are planning to launch the war against Iran from their forward US Centcom headquarters at the Al Udeid military base, located in enemy territory. Is it rhetoric or sheer stupidity?

The Split of the GCC

The split of the GCC has resulted in the creation of a so-called Iran-Turkey-Qatar axis which has contributed to weakening US hegemony in the Middle East. While Turkey has entered into a military cooperation with Russia, Pakistan is allied with China. And Pakistan has become a major partner of Qatar.

Following the rift between Qatar and Saudi Arabia, the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) is in disarray with Qatar siding with Iran and Turkey against Saudi Arabia and the UAE.

Qatar is of utmost strategic significance because it shares with Iran the world’s largest maritime gas fields in the Persian Gulf. (see map above). Moreover, since the GCC split-up Kuwait is no longer aligned Saudi Arabia. It nonetheless maintains a close relationship with Washington. Kuwait hosts seven active US military facilities, the most important of which is Camp Doha.

Needless to say, the May 2017 split of the GCC has undermined Trump’s resolve to create an “Arab NATO” (overseen by Saudi Arabia) directed against Iran. This project is virtually defunct, following Egypt’s withdrawal in April 2019.

The Gulf of Oman 

In the case of a war with Iran, naval operations would in part be conducted by the US Fifth Fleet out of Bahrain. The Fifth Fleet is under the command of US Naval Forces Central Command (NAVCENT). (NAVCENT’s area of responsibility consists of the Red Sea, the Gulf of Oman, the Persian Gulf and the Arabian Sea).

With the split up of the GCC, Oman is now firmly aligned with Iran. Under these circumstances, the transit of US war ships to the headquarters of the US Fifth fleet in Bahrain not to mention the conduct of naval operations in the Persian Gulf would potentially be in jeopardy.

The strait of Hormuz which constitutes the entry point to the Persian Gulf from the Gulf of Oman is controlled by Iran and the Sultanate of Oman. The width of the strait at one point is of the order of 39km. All major vessels must transit through Iran and/or Oman territorial waters, under so-called customary transit passage provisions of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea.

More generally, the structure of alliances is in jeopardy. The US cannot reasonably wage a full-fledged conventional theatre war on Iran without the support of its longstanding allies which are now “sleeping with the enemy”.

Trump’s Fractured “Arab NATO”. History of the Split up of the GCC. 

Amidst the collapse of  America’s sphere of influence in the Middle East, Trump’s Make America Great Again (MAGA) consisted at the outset of his presidency in an improvised attempt to rebuild the structure of military alliances. What the Trump administration had in mind was the formation of a Middle East Strategic Alliance (MESA), or  “Arab NATO”. This US-sponsored blueprint was slated to include Egypt and Jordan together with the six member states of the GCC.

The draft of the MESA Alliance had been prepared in Washington prior to Trump’s historic May 2017 visit to Saudi Arabia, meeting up with King Salman, leaders of the GCC as well as “more than 50 high-ranking officials from the Arab and Islamic worlds in an unprecedented US-Islamic summit.”

The Riyadh Declaration, issued at the conclusion of the summit on May 21, 2017, announced the intention to establish MESA in Riyadh.” (Arab News, February 19, 2019). The stated mandate of the “Arab NATO”  was to “to combat Iranian hegemony” in the Middle East.

Two days later on May 23, 2017 following this historic meeting, Saudi Arabia ordered the blockade of Qatar, called for an embargo and suspension of diplomatic relations with Doha, on the grounds that The Emir of Qatar was allegedly collaborating with Tehran.

What was the hidden agenda? No doubt it had already been decided upon in Riyadh on April 21 with the tacit approval of US officials.

The  plan was to exclude Qatar from the proposed MESA Alliance and the GCC, while maintaining the GCC intact.

What happened was that the Saudi embargo imposed on Qatar (with the unofficial approval of Washington) was conducive to the fracture of the GCC with Oman and Kuwait siding with Qatar. In other words,  the GCC was split down the middle. Saudi Arabia was weakened and the “Arab NATO” blueprint was defunct from the very outset.


May 21, 2017: US-Islamic Summit in Riyadh

May 23, 2017: The blockade and embargo of Qatar

June 5, 2019: Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Bahrain, and Egypt sever diplomatic relations, cut off land, air and sea transportation with Qatar  accusing it of  supporting Iran.


Flash forward to mid-April 2019: Trump is back in Riyadh: This time the Saudi Monarchy was entrusted by Washington to formally launching the Middle East Strategic Alliance (MESA) (first formulated in 2017) despite the fact that three of the invited GCC member states, namely Kuwait, Oman and Qatar are committed to the normalization of relations with Iran. In turn, the Egyptian government of President Sisi decided to boycott the Riyadh summit and withdraw from the “Arab NATO” proposal. Cairo also clarified its position vis a vis Iran. Egypt firmly objected to Trump’s plan because it “would increase tensions with Iran”.

Trump’s objective was to create an “Arab Block”. What he got in return was a truncated MESA “Arab Block” made up of a fractured GCC with Saudi Arabia, UAE, Bahrain and Jordan, without Egypt. Kuwait and Oman officially took a neutral stance, whereas Qatar sided with the enemy, thereby further jeopardizing America’s sphere of influence in the Persian Gulf.

An utter geopolitical failure. What kind of alliance is that.

And US Central Command’s Forward headquarters is still located in Qatar despite the fact that two years earlier on May 23, 2017, the Emir of Qatar Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani, was accused of collaborating with Iran.

It is unclear who gave the order to impose the embargo on Qatar. Saudi Arabia would not have taken that decision without consulting Washington. Visibly, Washington’s intent was to create an Arab NATO Alliance (An Arab Block) directed against Iran to do the dirty work for us.

Trump and the Emir of Qatar, UN General Assembly, October 2017, White House photo

The rest is history, the Pentagon decided to maintain US Central Command’s forward headquarters in Qatar, which happens to be Iran’s closest ally and partner.

A foreign policy blunder? Establishing your “official” headquarters in enemy territory, while “unofficially” redeploying part of the war planes, military personnel and command functions to other locations (e.g. in Saudi Arabia).

No press reports, no questions in the US Congress. Nobody seemed to have noticed that Trump’s war on Iran, if it were to be carried out, would be conducted from the territory of Iran’s closest ally.

An impossibility?

***

Part II of this essay focuses on the history and contradictions of US war preparations directed against Iran starting in 1995 as well as the evolution of military alliances.

*

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When Trump Cancelled the Strike on Iran – Leak Update

 

The Situation Room - Iran Strike - Trump - The White House

Trump Leak Update: On 20th June 2019 the Iranian Air Defense shot down an RQ-4A Global Hawk BAMS-D surveillance drone, it’s the top pride of the US military aviation, it’s supposed to be a stealth drone, in Trump’s mind that means invisible, and it costs almost quarter of a billion of US dollars. The war regime of Donald Trump wanted instant retaliation, they sent messages to Iran asking for permission to retaliate, an answer came.

In a special leak to what actually happened that night and the story behind the 150 casualties, we have an update. First about the events at the Situation Room:

The Persian language translator was summoned to the White House in a rush, it’s 8 pm Washington time, 4 am Tehran time.

  • What happened?
  • Was the strike successful?

The translator is asking his escort to the Oval Office anxiously…

No reply, they both enter the office without waiting for permission and hastily towards a hall with a large screen in the middle.

The president in person is standing firmly in front of it.

At the same time a number of advisors enter the hall from different doors and are all around the roundtable in the hall, everybody asking for the news?

The coordinator and head of communications at the White House says: We have received a direct call with audio and video from Qassim Soleimani 4:30 minutes ago, it’s 15 seconds long.

Soleimani speaks in Persian language and we recorded it.

President Trump interrupts him and asks the translators: ‘Tell me did Iran surrender before the strike?’

The president continues: ‘for sure we sent the a message through Oman. He’s telling himself:

‘I wish I learned Persian language so I can enjoy hearing the surrender words from them.’

Military Advisor Commander S. Nelson says: I believe the screen behind Soleimani is a radar screen it shows it’s tracking our planes flying from UAE, Saudi, and Qatar…

And the other screen there shows the location coordination of our navy ships in the Gulf…

Also, there’s the site of two of our submarines in the depth of the Persian Gulf waters…

The President’s special advisor and former head of the CIA interrupts him: ‘I believe the other screen shows our military bases, including the secret ones.’

The President asks: What does that mean?

Military Advisor: They are tracking us before targeting.

The President asking the translator: What does Soleimani say?

Translator: He said ‘All of it will be destroyed.’

The President: ‘That’s all?’

Translator: Yes.

The President: ‘But it’s a long sentence.

Translator: He adds: In God’s will.

The Military Advisor: There’s something unusual in that map on the right of Soleimani!

The President: What is it?

The Military Advisor: They put the map’s legend in the center of the map and written on it in wide and large font, this is unusual in maps!

The President: And what is a map’s legend?

Security Advisor: It what each 1 cm of the map equals on ground.

The President: Tell me more?!

Security Advisor: They put the map with 1/25 million legend, which means their targeting scale is much bigger than the region.

Image result for pompeo

Secretary of State: They want the war by targeting us in the whole region.

The President asks his advisors: Are they capable of doing that?

10 seconds silence

The President: Nobody answering?!

Security Advisor: Maybe, Mr. President.

The President: And are we ready?

Another similar silence to that after the first question

The Military Advisor: Not as much as needed.

The President: How long still to zero hour?

Everybody: A minute or less.

Image result for bolton

The President: Cancel the strike now.

Secretary of State: We will be mocked and ridiculed all over the world.

Security Advisor who remained silent all the time: We cannot backdown.

The President walks out of the office and asks while he’s leaving: Is dinner ready?

150 Casualties from the Strike – Trump Leak

Trump Leaks - The Daily Mail
Self-explanatory

Trump is correct when he repeats that he canceled the strike because when he asked about the casualties of the planned strike on 3 Iranian targets he was told it would claim the lives of 150 personnel.

However, Trump is not continuing the sentence to give the exact reason on why would the US suddenly care about human losses among its targeted states and it’s the country with most innocent blood on its hands since the UK stepped back to the second in line.

Think of the scenario in which a US president would cancel a planned attack because there would be casualties, then think for a moment: casualties on which side? Trump has canceled the strike because the instant Iranian respond would take out 150 casualties among the US personnel in the Persian (Arabian) Gulf. Now how is that for a more logical explanation?


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Russian Pundits Agree! Iran is a US Test-Run For Planned Final War Against Russia!

Source

Watch

The U.S. is using Iran to practice an attack against Russia

Semyon Bagdasarov, political analyst: “The situation in the Arabian Peninsula is very complex. Yemen’s been at war for God knows how long. Saudi Arabia hasn’t had any success. Even though they were assisted by private military companies from the US. Can a war break out? I don’t think anyone’s been making any full-scale preparations for war yet.”

Posted July 01, 2019

Trump Stopped Strike On Iran, But Tensions Continued To Grow

South Front

24.06.2019

Tensions continued to grow in the Persian Gulf region after the shoot-down of a $110 million U.S. RQ-4A Global Hawk surveillance unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) by the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps over the Straight of Hormuz on June 20.

According to the Iranian side, the UAV was in Iranian airspace off the shores of the district of Kouhmobarak when it was hit by a surface-to-air missile launched by the Khordad-3 air-defense system. On June 21, Tehran showcased vestiges of the downed UAV. The fact that Iranian forces were able to detect and reach the crash site first might lend credibility to their version of events.

Despite this, Washington insisted that the UAV was shot down over international waters describing the incident as an act of aggression. The U.S. military revealed that the downed RQ-4A was a part of the U.S. Navy’s Broad Area Maritime Surveillance program. Global Hawk variants developed under this program were designed to provide the Navy with real-time intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance capabilities over vast ocean and coastal regions.

On June 21, U.S. President Donald Trump claimed that he ordered a strike on Iranian targets, but called off the decision 10 minutes prior. On June 22, the President threatened Iran with additional sanctions adding that the possibility of military action “is always on the table.”

Anonymous sources told the Washington Post that Trump had approved a cyber attack on missile and rocket control systems of the IRGC. The supposed attack was reportedly conducted on June 20 by the U.S. Cyber Command in coordination with the military’s Central Command. According to the sources, the attack was in the works “for weeks if not months.” Nonetheless, there has been no evidence or official confirmation of such developments.

The US has few real options to demonstrate its military might in the region without the risk of provoking an open hot conflict which, according to recent US actions, Washington appears unwilling to commit to, at least for now.

At the same time, the Washington establishment and its local allies continue their diplomatic and propaganda campaign in order to justify increasing sanctions pressure upon Iran.

As reported by the Middle East Eye on June 21, speaking on condition of anonymity, a “senior British official” claimed that an unnamed Saudi intelligence chief and the Kingdom’s senior diplomat Adel al-Jubeir pleaded with British authorities to carry out limited strikes on Iranian military targets. According to the official, the failed Saudi lobbing effort took place only a few hours after U.S. President Donald Trump claimed to have aborted his planned attack against Iran.

The Saudi-led coalition showcased remains of the projectile Ansar Allah (the Houthis) used in the recent attack on Abha International Airport. The remains, which were inspected by U.S. envoy to Iran, Brian Hook, identified the projectile as being a cruise missile.

The characteristics of the fuselage and fins appear to be similar to that of the Soviet Kh-55 cruise missile. One of the photos shows the remains of the missile’s engine, identified as an TJ-100 turbojet, produced by Czech’s PBS Velká Bíteš.  This engine is not known to have been used in any other missile. While the cruise missile may have been designed after the Kh-55, it remains unclear if it was developed and manufactured by Ansar Allah without external support.

In 2017, Ansar Allah claimed to have launched what looked like an Iranian Soumar cruise missile, another missile developed after the Kh-55, at the Barakah nuclear power plant in the UAE. Irregardless, if Ansar Alalh’s claim is to be believed, it could make for an explanation as to how the Yemeni group and its backers gained familiarity with the design of the missile.

It’s possible that the US will increase support to the Saudi invasion of Yemen in the framework of its on-going standoff with Iran in the region.

Trump claims he canceled an airstrike against Iran at the very last minute

The Saker

June 21, 2019

Trump claims he canceled an airstrike against Iran at the very last minute

The first thing to say here is that we have no means to know what really happened.  At the very least, there are two possible hypotheses which could explain what took place:

1) a US provocation: it is quite possible that somebody in the US chain of command decided that Iran should be put under pressure and that having US UAV fly right next to, or even just inside, the international border of Iran would be a great way to show Iran that the US is ready to attack.  If that is the case, this was a semi-success (the Iranians had to switch on their radars and attack the UAV which is very good for US intelligence gathering) and a semi-failure (since the Iranians were clearly unimpressed by the US show of resolve).

2) an Iranian provocation: yup, that is a theoretical possibility which cannot reject prima facie: in this scenario it was indeed the Iranians who blew up the two tankers last week and they also deliberately shot down the US UAV over international waters.  The goal?  Simple: to show that the Iranians are willing and ready to escalate and that they are confident that they will prevail.

Now, in the real world, there are many more options, including even mixes of various options.  What matters is now not this, as much as Trump’s reaction:

Now, whether this was a US provocation or an Iranian one – Trump’s reaction was the only correct one.  Why?  Because the risks involved in any US “more than symbolic strike” would be so great as to void any rationale for such a strike in the first place.  Think of it: we can be very confident that the Iranian military installations along the Persian Gulf and the southern border of Iran are highly redundant and that no matter how successful any limited US missile strike would have been, the actual military capabilities of Iran would not have been affected.  The only way for the USA to effectively degrade Iranian capabilities would be to have a sustained, multi-day, attack on the entire southern periphery of Iran.  In other words, a *real* war.  Anything short of that would simply be meaningless.  The consequences of such an attack, however, would be, in Putin’s words “catastrophic” for the entire region.

If this was an Iranian provocation, then it was one designed to impress upon the Empire that Iran is also very much “locked, cocked and ready to rock”.  But if that is the case, there is zero change that any limited strike would achieve anything.  In fact, any symbolic US attack would only signal to the Iranians that the US has cold feet and that all the US sabre-rattling is totally useless.

I have not said such a thing in many months, but in this case I can only admit that Trump did the right thing.  No limited attack also makes sense even if we assume that the Empire has made the decision to attack Iran and is just waiting for the perfect time.  Why?  Because the longer the Iranian feel that an attack is possible, the more time, energy and money they need to spend remaining on very high alert.

The basic theory of attack and defense clearly states that the attacking side can gain as a major advantage if it can leave the other side in the dark about its plans and if the costs of being ready for a surprise attack are lower than the costs of being on high alert (those interested in the role and importance of surprise attack in the theory of deterrence can read Richard Betts’ excellent book “Surprise Attack: lessons for defense planning“).

How true is this story about Trump canceling a US attack at the last minute?  It is impossible to know, but it appears to me that it is certain that the nutcase Neocons around Trump wanted the strike.  But it is also plausible (if by no means certain) that at least two groups could have opposed such a strike:

1) The planners at CENTCOM and/or the Pentagon.

2) The planners for Trump’s reelection campaign.

The first ones would lobby against such a strike simply on the sound military grounds mentioned above.  As for the second group, they probably decided (correctly) that if Trump starts a war with Iran which nobody has an “exit strategy” for – this could result in a huge blowback for the entire region and kill Trump’s reelection chances.

In this case, whether Trump listened to either group or simply followed his gut instincts, it appears likely that Trump (maybe a “collective Trump”) said “no, I don’t authorize this”.  In this case, he does deserve our sincere praise and gratitude (irrespective of this past actions and inactions).

In conclusion, I want to show the kind of fantastically stupid, mindbogglingly ignorant and criminally irresponsible war propaganda the so-called “conservative” US media outlets have been spewing.  Check out this one:

Hannity’s flagwaving logorrhea is exactly the kind of total nonsense which will sooner or later result in a major military disaster followed by a collapse of the Empire itself (for a detailed outline of how this is likely to happen, please read John Michael Greer superb book “Twilight’s Last Gleaming“).  The sheer number of counter-factual and plainly stupid things Hannity manages to squeeze into just under 7 minutes is, by itself, a remarkable feat.

Yes, it is a sad day when one has to rejoice that the US President is marginally less stupid and less ignorant than one of the big talking heads on the US idiot box, but these are truly tragic and extremely dangerous times.  And in such times, we have to be grateful for anything, no matter how minimal, which pushes back the inevitable war in the Middle-East (or even the world).

This being said, where do we go from here?

Location of the attacks on tankers

My personal guesstimate and almost baseless speculation is that the attack on the two tankers was probably an Israeli false flag operation which failed to achieve its intended results.  Notice that the attack itself did not take place inside Strait of Hormuz, but south of it, in comparatively more open waters were an Israeli submarine or specialized surface vessel had less changes to be spotted by the Iranians and a much better chance of escape (for example, take a look at the 2nd map shown below and see for yourself how the depth gradient rapidly drops in the Gulf of Oman).

When this attacked failed to achieve the desired effect, the Israelis and their Neocon agents decided to engage into another provocation, this time using a US drone.  I find it likely that in terms of location, the drone was flying inside Iranian airspace, but probably still over water allowing the Empire do claims it’s usual (and CIA-created) cop-out of “plausible deniability” in case of shootdown.

When the Iranians shot down the US UAV, a lot of folks in the USA probably wanted to find out exactly where this UAV was flying at the moment of intercept and since the Iranians probably have a lot of radar and EW data to prove that the UAV was inside the Iranian airspace the only safe course of action would have been to express all forms of protest but not to take unilateral (and, therefore illegal) action.

It is also remarkable that the US has requested that the case of the two tankers and the shooting down of the drone be discussed at the UNSC.  Considering that both Russia and China will veto any resolution condemning Iran, this also appears to be a move to find a pretext not to go to war.

Of course, this might also be a strategic PSYOP destined to lull the Iranians into a false sense of security.  If that is the plan, it will fail:  the Iranians have lived with a AngloZionist bullseye painted on their heads ever since 1979 and they are used to live under constant threat of war.

In conclusion, I am currently very slightly optimistic (48-52%) that the US will not attack Iran in the short term.

In the long term, however, I consider that an AngloZionist attack is a quasi certainty.

The Saker

PS: a pretty decent topographical map of the Strait of Hormuz

I high resolution topological map of the Strait of Hormuz

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Top Iranian Commander Issues Stark Warning to US: ‘Protect Lives of American Troops’

Sputnik

23.06.2019

The warning comes several days after US President Donald Trump approved and abruptly called off a strike on Iran minutes prior to the launch as long-running tensions between the two countries nearly escalated into a direct confrontation.

Senior Iranian military commander Maj. Gen. Gholam Ali Rashid has warned the United States that any irresponsible move could endanger the lives of American troops and that any conflict in the region could spread uncontrollably, Fars News reported.

“If a conflict breaks out in the region, no country would be able to manage its scope and timing. The US government should act responsibly to protect the lives of American troops by avoiding misconduct in the region”, he said, addressing the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) Aerospace Force’s commanders in Tehran on Sunday.

He added that while the Islamic Republic doesn’t seek war with any country, including the United States, it will “powerfully defend the interests of the noble Iranian nation against any threat and aggression”.

Rashid’s comments echoed remarks made by Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Abbas Mousavi who said on Saturday that the country would defend its borders “regardless of any decision” that Washington may take in relation to Tehran.

“We are ready to counter any threats against the (territorial) integrity of the Islamic Republic of Iran. Our decisions do not hinge on their decisions and we will counter any aggression whether it mingles with threats or not”, Mousavi said, as cited by Tasnim News Agency.

The statements by Iranian officials follow US President Donald Trump’s last-moment decision not to proceed with a military strike against three targets in Iran in response to the IRGC’s downing of a US spy drone on 20 June.

Even though he earlier branded the shootdown a “very big mistake” on the part of Iran, he admitted that the loss of an estimated 150 people in a potential strike was not proportionate to the loss of an unmanned drone. He, however, later clarified that he “never called the strike against Iran BACK”, but rather “stopped it from going forward at this time”.

The Iranian side insists that the Northrop Grumman-made UAV violated its international airspace and failed to reply to warnings to change the trajectory twice, therefore they shot it down in a “clear message” to Washington that Tehran would “react strongly” to any aggression.

Military officials also said that they stopped short of hitting a US reconnaissance plane with 35 airmen on board that was flying close to the downed drone to avoid human losses.

The United States has, however, come up with a counter-claim, arguing that its drone was operating over international waters in the Strait of Hormuz at the time, while President Trump told reporters that Iran was “very wise” for not downing a manned aircraft and added that “we appreciate” the decision.

Tensions between the two countries have been simmering for over a year now since Trump chose to unilaterally withdraw from the Obama-era nuclear deal with Iran and reinstated sanctions against Tehran. In response, the Islamic Republic announced last month that it would suspend some of its voluntary commitments under the agreement and revealed earlier this week that it would surpass its uranium stockpile limit on 27 June.

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Iran goes for “maximum counter-pressure”

Iran goes for “maximum counter-pressure”

By Pepe Escobar – with permission and cross-posted with Strategic Culture Foundation

Sooner or later the US “maximum pressure” on Iran would inevitably be met by “maximum counter-pressure”.  Sparks are ominously bound to fly.

For the past few days, intelligence circles across Eurasia had been prodding Tehran to consider a quite straightforward scenario. There would be no need to shut down the Strait of Hormuz if Quds Force commander, General Qasem Soleimani, the ultimate Pentagon bête noire, explained in detail, on global media, that Washington simply does not have the military capacity to keep the Strait open.

As I previously reported, shutting down the Strait of Hormuz would destroy the American economy by detonating the $1.2 quadrillion derivatives market; and that would collapse the world banking system, crushing the world’s $80 trillion GDP and causing an unprecedented depression.

Soleimani should also state bluntly that Iran may in fact shut down the Strait of Hormuz if the nation is prevented from exporting essential two million barrels of oil a day, mostly to Asia. Exports, which before illegal US sanctions and de facto blockade would normally reach 2.5 million barrels a day, now may be down to only 400,000.

Soleimani’s intervention would align with consistent signs already coming from the IRGC. The Persian Gulf is being described as an imminent “shooting gallery.” Brigadier General Hossein Salami stressed that Iran’s ballistic missiles are capable of hitting “carriers in the sea” with pinpoint precision. The whole northern border of the Persian Gulf, on Iranian territory, is lined up with anti-ship missiles – as I confirmed with IRGC-related sources.

We’ll let you know when it’s closed

Then, it happened.

Chairman of the Chiefs of Staff of the Iranian Armed Forces, Major General Mohammad Baqeri, went straight to the point; “If the Islamic Republic of Iran were determined to prevent export of oil from the Persian Gulf, that determination would be realized in full and announced in public, in view of the power of the country and its Armed Forces.”

The facts are stark. Tehran simply won’t accept all-out economic war lying down – prevented to export the oil that protects its economic survival. The Strait of Hormuz question has been officially addressed. Now it’s time for the derivatives.

Presenting detailed derivatives analysis plus military analysis to global media would force the media pack, mostly Western, to go to Warren Buffett to see if it is true. And it is true. Soleimani, according to this scenario, should say as much and recommend that the media go talk to Warren Buffett.

The extent of a possible derivatives crisis is an uber-taboo theme for the Washington consensus institutions. According to one of my American banking sources, the most accurate figure – $1.2 quadrillion – comes from a Swiss banker, off the record. He should know; the Bank of International Settlements (BIS) – the central bank of central banks – is in Basle.

The key point is it doesn’t matter how the Strait of Hormuz is blocked.

It could be a false flag. Or it could be because the Iranian government feels it’s going to be attacked and then sinks a cargo ship or two. What matters is the final result; any blocking of the energy flow will lead the price of oil to reach $200 a barrel, $500 or even, according to some Goldman Sachs projections, $1,000.

Another US banking source explains; “The key in the analysis is what is called notional. They are so far out of the money that they are said to mean nothing. But in a crisis the notional can become real.  For example, if I buy a call for a million barrels of oil at $300 a barrel, my cost will not be very great as it is thought to be inconceivable that the price will go that high.  That is notional.  But if the Strait is closed, that can become a stupendous figure.”

BIS will only commit, officially, to indicate the total notional amount outstanding for contracts in derivatives markers is an estimated $542.4 trillion. But this is just an estimate.

The banking source adds, “Even here it is the notional that has meaning.  Huge amounts are interest rate derivatives. Most are notional but if oil goes to a thousand dollars a barrel, then this will affect interest rates if 45% of the world’s GDP is oil. This is what is called in business a contingent liability.”

Goldman Sachs has projected a feasible, possible $1,000 a barrel a few weeks after the Strait of Hormuz being shut down. This figure, times 100 million barrels of oil produced per day, leads us to 45% of the $80 trillion global GDP. It’s self-evident the world economy would collapse based on just that alone.

War dogs barking mad

As much as 30% of the world’s oil supply transits the Persian Gulf and the Strait of Hormuz. Wily Persian Gulf traders – who know better – are virtually unanimous; if Tehran was really responsible for the Gulf of Oman tanker incident, oil prices would be going through the roof by now. They aren’t.

Iran’s territorial waters in the Strait of Hormuz amount to 12 nautical miles (22 km). Since 1959, Iran recognizes only non-military naval transit.

Since 1972, Oman’s territorial waters in the Strait of Hormuz also amount to 12 nautical miles. At its narrowest, the width of the Strait is 21 nautical miles (39 km). That means, crucially, that half of the Strait of Hormuz is in Iranian territorial waters, and the other half in Oman’s. There are no “international waters”.

And that adds to Tehran now openly saying that Iran may decide to close the Strait of Hormuz publicly – and not by stealth.

Iran’s indirect, asymmetric warfare response to any US adventure will be very painful. Prof. Mohammad Marandi of the University of Tehran once again reconfirmed,

“even a limited strike will be met by a major and disproportionate response.”

And that means gloves off, big time; anything from really blowing up tankers to, in Marandi’s words,

“Saudi and UAE oil facilities in flames”.

Hezbollah will launch tens of thousands of missiles against Israel. As Hezbollah’s secretary-general Hasan Nasrallah has been stressing in his speeches,

“war on Iran will not remain within that country’s borders, rather it will mean that the entire [Middle East] region will be set ablaze. All of the American forces and interests in the region will be wiped out, and with them the conspirators, first among them Israel and the Saudi ruling family.”

It’s quite enlightening to pay close attention to what this Israel intel op is saying. The dogs of war though are barking mad.

Earlier this week, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo jetted to CENTCOM in Tampa to discuss “regional security concerns and ongoing operations” with – skeptical – generals, a euphemism for “maxim pressure” eventually leading to war on Iran.

Iranian diplomacy, discreetly, has already informed the EU – and the Swiss – about their ability to crash the entire world economy. But still that was not enough to remove US sanctions.

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