Pentagon – and Daesh – Target Iran

By Pepe Escobar

April 03, 2017Information Clearing House” –  “Sputnik” – CENTCOM commander Army Gen. Joseph Votel channeled his full Dr. Strangelove in front of the US House Armed Services Committee this past Wednesday.

“We need to look at opportunities where we can disrupt [Iran] through military means or other means.”

As Orwellian as our times may be, this still ranks as a declaration of war. With the inbuilt consequence of smashing to bits the UN nuclear deal struck with Iran in the summer of 2015.

Joseph Strangelove did not bother to chainsaw his words.

Iran is one of the greatest threats to the US today (Pentagon official doctrine; number four after Russia, China and North Korea). Iran has increased its “destabilizing role” and poses “the greatest long-term threat to stability” in the entire Middle East.

Iran is sneaky; “I believe that Iran is operating in what I call a gray zone.” And that’s “an area between normal competition between states — and it’s just short of open conflict.”

Iran is involved in “lethal aid facilitation”; the use of “surrogate forces”; plenty of “cyber activities.”

The US has “not seen any improvement in Iran’s behavior.” The naughty boy/country in question still poses “credible threats” through its “nuclear weapons potential” and “robust” ballistic missile program.

So this is it; we’re going to take them out.

CENTCOM’s Endless Jihad

The easy way out would be to characterize this juvenile mobster-style outburst as brought to you by the House of Saud petrodollar fund.

Or to be reminded that Joseph Strangelove was addressing the very same crowd who despite acronym-laden 17 multibillion dollar intel agencies telling them over and over, via National Intelligence assessments, that Iran did not have, and was not planning to have, nuclear weapons, still mightily denounced Iran’s “nuclear threat.”

But reality always tops fiction.

No one less than the Islamic State/Daesh released a video in Farsi – complete with a message to Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei —   declaring war on Iran because they are apostate Shi’ites and because they “tolerate” Jews.

No, this is not a Monty Python sketch. In fact, we have been propelled to the curioser and curioser situation of a CENTCOM that invaded and occupied Afghanistan and Iraq; distributed death and destruction free of charge; provoked a myriad, monster refugee crisis; is back at war in Iraq; is still implicated in regime change by all means in Syria; and “leads from behind” the Saudi destruction of Yemen, is now de facto, on the record, allied with Daesh – which it let fester – to take out Iran.

Feel free to call it CENTCOM’s jihad.

Joseph Strangelove’s performance took place right on cue as the neocon/neoliberalcon axis hysterically peddling its Russophobia – and Iranophobia — across the Beltway and beyond was celebrating a tasty geopolitical candy: Iranian President Hassan Rouhani meeting Russian President Vladimir Putin in the magnificent Grand Kremlin Palace in Moscow. Or, in neocon shorthand, “the mullahs” meet “Hitler”.

There were predictable developments; Foreign Minister Javad Zarif confirmed the Russian military may use air bases in Iran on a “case by case basis” – essentially against Salafi-jihadis in Syria, as was the case in August last year, when Tu-22M3 long-range bombers and Su-34s flew missions from Hamadan airbase.

But, as Rouhani and Putin made it quite clear, the meeting went way beyond cooperating on a real, on the ground, war on terror.

The partnership now encompasses increased trade; energy investments; scientific exchanges; Russia building two new nuclear power plants in Bushehr, site of Iran’s first reactor; the upcoming membership of Iran in the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO); and in the near future, the possibility of Russia-China helping Iranian banking institutions.

As the White House tries to get its act together before Secretary of State “T.Rex” Tillerson’s first official trip to Russia, in two weeks time, Russian “overtures to Iran” is now being packaged as one of the key problems preventing some sort of deal – alongside the same old “Russian aggression” meme in Ukraine, Eastern Europe and cyberspace.

For the Pentagon, Iran-Russia cooperation is anathema – in Syria or anywhere else, especially after Aleppo. That happens to mesh quite well with the White House Richelieu/Macchiavelli Steve Bannon’s worldview; Bannon was a naval officer during the Iran hostage crisis and regards Iran as an existential threat as much as the Pentagon brass.

So the picture now sold to internal US public opinion could not be more frightful; Iran “destabilizes” the entire Middle East while Russia “destabilizes” Eastern Europe, the Western Balkans, Ukraine, actually the whole planet.
What Nuclear Deal?

At least Washington’s road map ahead on Iran is now being fully laid out; more – and tougher – sanctions; non-stop harassment coupled with brainwashing of Western public opinion; covert ops; and last but not least, outright war.

Senator Bob Corker, chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee is avidly promoting the Countering Iran’s Destabilizing Activities Bill which, if approved, will bury the American commitment to the UN-sponsored nuclear deal; brand the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) as a terrorist organization; and open the gates to yet another sanctions flood.

It might as well be a case of all bark, no bite. Anyone who’s seen the writing on the wall across the Beltway knows that the Iran-Russia strategic partnership is one of the three key nodes, along with China, in the big story of the young 21st century; Eurasia integration, with Russia and Iran closing the energy equation and China as the investment locomotive. And there’s not much they can do to prevent it.

So once again the dogs of demonization bark while the Eurasian caravan passes.

Pepe Escobar is an independent geopolitical analyst. https://www.facebook.com/pepe.escobar.77377?

The views expressed in this article are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Information Clearing House.

Iran under Trump

All revolutions are constantly in evolution – on a never-ending quest for legitimacy and self-improvement. The revolution that gave birth to the Islamic Republic of Iran is no different.

Iran under Trump

Some experts argue that the Islamic revolutionary order had been solidified by the Iran-Iraq war [1980-1988], which was fueled by western states and Arab monarchies. The conflict that served to reaffirm the revolution’s anti-imperialist zeal also charted the course for Tehran’s national security agenda.

In the years that followed, the isolated, Shiite-majority state emerged as a regional powerhouse, mastering the process of mobilizing and fighting alongside external ‘non-state actors’, to keep Washington’s dogs of war away from its borders.

The last two decades, defined by the US-led invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq, as well as the war effort against the Damascus government, only reaffirmed Tehran’s chosen path, hardening its resolve.

In many respects, the arrival of Donald Trump is simply a continuation of this process, reassuring the Iranian public and political establishment that their decades-long approach towards Washington’s regional agenda has always been spot-on.

And while Trump’s election polarized the western world, it served to strengthen the unity of the Iranian nation and bridge any existing gaps between the country’s reformist and conservative camps.

“Thank you, Mr. Trump”

During the 38th anniversary of the 1979 Islamic Revolution on February 7, the Supreme Leader, His Eminence Imam Sayyed Ali Khamenei, mockingly addressed the Trump administration’s hostile stance towards Tehran.

“Thank you, Mr. Trump, for showing the true face of America,” Sayyed Khamenei said.

Iranian president Sheikh Hassan Rouhani also addressed the crowds gathered to laud the Revolution.

“We are not after tensions in the region and the world,” he said. “We are united in the face of bullying and any threat.”

Interestingly, the nationwide rallies, which came at a time of sharp anti-Iranian rhetoric in Washington, further highlighted Tehran’s ability to exercise restraint and its constant readiness for dialogue.

According to the New York Times, the national holiday was marked “with far less of the usual vitriol for the United States.”

“Most notably, there were no missiles on display, as had been customary in previous years,” NYT’s Thomas Erdbrink writes.

“[Tehran] does not want any confrontation with the US. Don’t be surprised, we have no interest with tensions,” said the Iranian political analyst Farshad Ghorbanpour.

Of course, all of this should hardly come as a surprise, given that the Islamic Republic has absolutely nothing to gain by ratcheting up tensions across the region.

Trump’s approach

It is very difficult to understand President Trump’s reasoning behind his decision to slap fresh sanctions on Iran. It is equally difficult to analyze the key components of the Trump administration’s foreign policy agenda, especially with respect to the enduring climate of instability in the Middle East.

Despite the fact that Trump’s campaign rhetoric often promised to undo the Iranian nuclear agreement, no concrete steps have been taken in this regard. Suggestions that the American president could simply tear up the multilateral accord reached between Iran and the P5+1 group of countries should be taken with a grain of salt, given that such a move lacks any semblance of serious international support.

Instead, the Trump administration appears to believe that a new round of negotiations with Tehran over its growing role in the region, which includes its alliances with Damascus and Hezbollah, is still possible. Trump’s reset with the Arab monarchies and ‘Israel’ is designed to send a message that his administration is unwilling to accept the new realities on the ground, particularly in Syria, where a long-term Iranian presence is looking increasingly likely.

Recent ‘Israeli’ airstrikes, which struck targets deep in Syrian territory, as well as the deployment of hundreds of additional American soldiers to Syria, suggest that Trump wants to be heard, and that the current state of affairs in the Middle East is not acceptable for the US president.

But the sheer notion that Tehran would be willing to negotiate over its regional alliances – one of the defining features of its national security policy since the early years of the Islamic Revolution – has been dismissed as a nonstarter in Iran.

To what degree this lack of common ground, combined with the increasingly desperate Tel Aviv and Riyadh may contribute to further regional instability, is still an open question.

A senior fellow at the Carnegie Endowment and professor at Georgetown University, Karim Sadjadpour, offers a pessimistic outlook of the future.

“In Donald Trump’s first term, there is a serious possibility of a military conflict, whether intentional or inadvertent, between the United States or ‘Israel’ and Iran,” Sadjadpour, who also reports on Iran, writes for The Atlantic.

And a combination of mistrust, aggressive action and isolated incidents could set the course towards a direct military confrontation, which, needless to say, is clearly not in any regional or international player’s interest at the moment.

Al-Ahed News

25-03-2017 | 07:44

Rotterdam: Jews against ‘Palestinians in Europe’ conference

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Crime20against20humanity20by20Tsaha[2]On February 28, Rabbi Abraham Cooper, the top gun at the Simon Weisenthal Center and Austrian-born Israeli propagandist Dr. Manfred Gerstenfeld penned an article at the Zionist mouthpiece, the Huffington Post. In the article, the Zionist rats put Rotterdam’s Muslim Mayor Ahmed Aboutaleb on trial for not stopping the upcoming conference on ‘Palestinian in Europe’ sponsored by the London-based Palestinian Return Center (PRC) and two Dutch pro-Palestinian groups. The conference is slated for April 15, 2017.

Whether the congress takes place or not will be a litmus test for Rotterdam mayor Ahmed Aboutaleb, a moderate Orthodox Muslim. While a member of the extreme anti-Israel Labor Party, he has not publicly expressed anti-Israel sentiments in the past. After the Paris terrorist murders in January 2015 he said, “For those who have sympathy for the attack, there is no place in the Netherlands. For Heaven’s sake, pack your bags and leave.” In 2008 he opposed the twinning of Rotterdam and Gaza, which the leftist parties in the Municipal Council, including his own Labor party, had proposed. Ultimately, this proposal was narrowly defeated,” wrote the good rabbi.

In 2007, a similar conference took place in Rotterdam. It’s addressed by former Dutch prime minister Dries Van Agt who urged lifting the boycott against Hamas.

Moroccan-born Ahmed Aboutaleb is the most popular Dutch politician. So much so that even Muslim-hating Israel-loving convicted Dutch politician Geert Wilders has called Aboutaleb, a good man.

On December 17, 2016, Tom-Jan Meeus in an Op-Ed at Jewish POLITICO said: “The moderate Muslim of Moroccan descent, the mayor of Rotterdam is the most popular politician in the country. Had he entered the fray as his party’s candidate in the Netherlands’ national elections next March, it would have upended the race. Instead, Aboutaleb dropped out of the contest for his party’s leadership before it even began, retreating from national politics altogether.”

A devout Muslim, he criticized fellow Muslims over Charlie Hebdo terrorist attack. He is opposed to all forms of religious radicalism and highly critical of immigrants who don’t respect secular Dutch values such as tolerance for homosexuals, Aboutaleb has become a leading proponent of a strong but measured response to issues like migration, religion and terror,” added Meeus.

Last month, Tehran hosted a similar conference which was attended by 700 guests from around the world. Addressing the conference, Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatullah Ali Khamenei called Israel, the dirty page in history.

Canadian professor Anthony Hall who attended the Tehran conference wrote his reflections on Zionism, Islam, and Liberal Democracy.

Almost sixteen years after 9/11 it has become very clear that the Israeliocentric “West” has been subject to massive media-engineered campaigns of psychological warfare. The aim has been to mobilize public consent for military invasions abroad, heighted police and surveillance state interventions at home. This psychological operation of illusion combines fact and fiction to instigate fear of Muslims generally and of the Islamic Republic of Iran more specifically.  In the psychology of Western public opinion, Iranophobia and Islamophobia are different aspects of the same phenomenon,” says Dr. Hall.

Letter from Tehran: Trump ‘the bazaari’

March 01, 2017Letter from Tehran: Trump ‘the bazaari’

The Iranian Parliament just hosted its annual conference on Palestine and, among the dignitaries – that included Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei and President Hassan Rouhani – and the 700 foreign guests from more than 50 countries was Asia Times columnist Pepe Escobar.

by Pepe Escobar for the Asia Times

The art of the deal, when practiced for 2500 years, does lead to the palace of wisdom. I had hardly set foot in Tehran when a diplomat broke the news: “Trump? We’re not worried. He’s a bazaari”. It’s a Persian language term meaning he is from the merchants class or, more literally, a worker from the bazaar and its use implies that a political accommodation will eventually be reached.

The Iranian government’s response to the Trump administration boils down to a Sun Tzu variant; silence, especially after the Fall of Flynn, who had “put Iran on notice” after it carried out a ballistic missile test, and had pushed the idea of an anti-Iran military alliance comprising Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Egypt and Jordan. Tehran says the missile test did not infringe the provisions of the Iran nuclear deal and that naval drills from the Strait of Hormuz to the Indian Ocean, which began on Sunday, had been planned well in advance.

I was in Tehran as one of several hundred foreign guests, including a small group of foreign journalists , guests of the Majlis (Parliament) for an annual conference on the Palestine issue.

Not surprisingly, no one from Trump’s circle was among the gathering of parliamentarians from over 50 nations who attended the impressive opening ceremony in a crowded, round conference hall where the center of power in Iran was on display; Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei, President Hassan Rouhani and Majlis Speaker Ali Larijani.

Khamenei proclaimed that “the existing crises in every part of the region and the Islamic ummah deserve attention”, but insisted that the key issue remains Palestine. The conference, he said, could become “a model for all Muslims and regional nations to gradually harness their differences by relying on their common points”.

Khamenei’s was an important call for Muslim unity. Few in the West know that during the rapid decolonization of the 1940s and 50s, the Muslim world was not torn apart by the vicious Sunni-Shi’ite hatred – later fomented by the Wahhabi/Salafi-jihadi axis. The Wahhabi House of Saud, incidentally, was nowhere to be seen at the conference.

Hefty discussions with Iranian analysts and diplomats revolved on the efficacy of multilateral discussions compared to advancing facts on the ground – ranging from the building of new settlements in the West Bank to the now all but dead and buried Oslo two-state myth.

On Palestine, I asked Naim Qassem, deputy secretary-general of Hezbollah about the Trump administration’s hint of a one-state solution. His answer, in French;

“One state means war. Two states means peace under their conditions, which will lead us to war.”

As with most conferences, what matters are the sidelines. Leonid Savin, a Russian geopolitical analyst, claimed that Russian airspace is now all but sealed with multiple deployments of the S-500 missile defense system against anything the US might unleash. Albanian historian Olsi Jazexhi deconstructed the new Balkans powder keg. Muhammad Gul, son of the late, larger-than-life General Hamid Gul, detailed the finer points of Pakistan’s foreign policy and the drive to build the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC).

Pyongyang was also in the house. The North Korean delegate produced an astonishing speech, essentially arguing that Palestine should follow their example, complete with a “credible nuclear deterrent”. Later, in the corridors I saluted the delegation, and they saluted back. No chance of a sideline chat though to go over the unclear points surrounding Kim Jong-nam’s assassination.

Blake Archer Williams, a.k.a. Arash Darya-Bandari, whose pseudonym celebrates the “tyger tyger burning bright” English master, gave me a copy of Creedal Foundations of Waliyic Islam (Lion of Najaf Publishers) – an analysis of how Shi’ite theology led to the theory of velayat-e faqih (the ruling of the jurisprudent) that lies at the heart of the Islamic Republic of Iran.

Every time I’m back in Tehran I’m impressed with the surprising number of open avenues for serious intellectual discussion. I was constantly reminded of Jalal Al-e Ahmad, the son of a mullah born in poor south Tehran who later translated Sartre and Camus and wrote the seminal Westoxification (1962).

He spent the summer of 1965 at Harvard seminars organized by Henry Kissinger and “supported” by the CIA. He pivoted to Shi’ism only toward the end of his life. It was his analysis that paved the way for sociologist Ali Shariati to cross-pollinate anti-colonialism with the Shi’ite concept of resistance against injustice and produce a revolutionary ideology capable of politicizing the Iranian middle classes, leading to the Islamic Revolution.

That was the background for serious discussions on how Iran (resistance against injustice), China (remixed Confucianism) and Russia (Eurasianism) are offering post-Enlightenment alternatives that transcend Western liberal democracy.

But in the end it was all inevitably down to the overarching anti-intellectual ghost in the room; Donald Trump (and that was even before he got a letter from Ahmadinejad).

So I did what I usually do before leaving Tehran; I hit the bazaar, via a fabulous attached mosque – to get reacquainted with the art of the deal, the Persian way.

That led me to Mahmoud Asgari, lodged in the Sameyi passage of the Tajrish bazaar and a serious discussion on the finer points of pre-WWI Sistan-Baluchistan tribal rugs from Zahedan. The end result was – what else – a win-win sale, bypassing the US dollar. And then, the clincher:

“When you call your friend Trump, tell him to come here and I’ll give him the best deal”.

From Kissinger’s Playbook: Flynn is Gone, His Russia Policy Lives On

Amid demonstrations against his first choice, President Donald Trump named Lieutenant General Herbert McMaster, whose book claiming the US was too soft on Vietnam is now required reading for US officers, as his new national security advisor this week.

McMaster’s appointment came after Michael Flynn, Trump’s original choice, was forced to resign earlier this month after it emerged that he had misled Vice President Mike Pence about his phone calls with the Russian ambassador back in December.

The Washington Post revealed that these conversations, which occurred before Flynn had taken up his government role, had involved discussions of US sanctions on Russia. Such a discussion not only broke the “one president at a time” protocol – that members of an incoming administration should not discuss policy with foreign powers, but also flatly contradicted his own earlier denials, made to both Pence and to the FBI.

As Flynn had supposedly been one of the key “pro-Putin” figures in Trump’s administration, his removal has been interpreted by some as a victory for the anti-Russia “hawks” in the US foreign policy establishment. This is a misreading of the situation on two levels.

First, characterising members of Trump’s team as “pro-Russia” is incorrect; rather, they have, as Tom Hardy’s character in Taboo might put it, a “use” for Russia. Secondly, this plan for Russia is likely to remain intact regardless of Flynn’s removal – or McMaster’s well-publicised anti-Russia stance.

Befriending Russia to isolate Iran

Improving relations with Russia was only one of Flynn’s two major foreign policy obsessions: the other was “regime change” in Iran. In his 2016 book The Field of Fight, he wrote that “Iran has been a major threat to the US for decades due to its sponsorship of international terrorism – but the US has prioritised diplomatic relations over national security.” Instead, he argued, “the US must change course. These countries must be prepared to face military action.”

In fact, it is highly likely that the so-called “pro-Russia” position of Flynn, and indeed Trump, is part of a broader foreign policy initiative aimed ultimately at destroying Iran. The broad outlines of this position could already be discerned in the testimony Flynn gave to the Joint Foreign Affairs and House Armed Services Committee back in June 2015. Like so many now in Trump’s team, he expressed his dissatisfaction with the nuclear deal negotiated the year before.

“Iran represents a clear and present danger to the region, and eventually to the world,” he told the committee. When asked what he believed should be done about the prospect of Iranian nuclear development, he was unequivocal, replying that regime change in Tehran “is the best way to stop the Iranian nuclear weapons programme”.

The so-called ‘pro-Russia’ position of Flynn, and indeed Trump, is part of a broader foreign policy initiative aimed ultimately at destroying Iran

Since then, of course, Syria has taught the West a painful lesson about “regime change”, namely that Russia can make it extremely difficult.

Later in his testimony, Flynn argued that there was an “anti-US” alliance being developed between China, Iran and Russia: “Just look at the [Iranian] cooperation with North Korea, China and Russia. Connect those dots and you get the outline of a global alliance aimed at the US, our friends and our allies.” He continued: “Russian assistance is part of a broader pattern. After all, the Iranian nuclear reactor at Bushehr is Russian-built, the two countries work very closely together in Syria, and Russia is providing Iran with an effective anti-aircraft system that could be deployed against any aircraft seeking to destroy the nuclear programme.”

The message is clear: if you want to attack Iran, you’d better break their alliance with Russia first. Michael Ledeen, who co-authored Flynn’s book, put it simply: “The issue is whether Putin is prepared to abandon Khamenei.” This is what those phone calls, and all Trump’s flattery of Putin, are really about: attempting to draw Russia away from its alliance with Iran (and China) – and ultimately to buy Russian acquiescence for the next war.

Adopting Kissinger’s playbook

The restoration of governmental authority in Syria currently underway, however, is not the first time that the US has suffered a military defeat at the hands of a foreign government supported by Russia. Nor is it the first time the US has responded to such a failure with a renewed attempt to split Russia from her allies.

In 1969, Richard Milhous Nixon became 37th president of the United States, and the fifth to lead US attempts to crush Vietnamese independence, inheriting a full-scale, and disastrous, military commitment. The Tet offensive the previous year had decisively blown apart the lie that the US was winning the war, and Nixon was elected on a promise to bring about “peace with honour”.

He would achieve neither, and in fact embarked on a massive escalation of the war, including a secret carpet bombing campaign in Cambodia, which led to famine and ultimately the rise of the Khmer Rouge. Yet the US’s ongoing defeat could not be abated. This led Nixon and his advisers towards a radical rethink of US strategy.

“By the time Nixon came into office,” wrote his own national security advisor, Henry Kissinger, “East-West relations were themselves in obvious need of reassessment.” Indeed, he said, the USA’s entire Cold War strategy “needed to be reconsidered in light of the trauma of Vietnam”.

The Vietnamese victory over the US was aided significantly by support, at different times, from both Russia and China, and Kissinger’s greatest fear was the restoration of “dreaded Sino-Soviet bloc … which had inspired so much fear in the 1950s.” He added that while it was “far from clear” that the USSR was “capable of realising so vast a project … what was obvious … was that the risk could not be run.”

“If the balance of power is taken seriously,” he continued, “then the very prospect of geopolitical upheaval must be resisted; by the time the change has occurred, it may well be too late to oppose it.”

The missing linkage

In today’s terms, this formula translates into two specific policy requirements for the US: 1) Russian-Chinese unity must be resisted and 2) Iran’s increasing influence in the Middle East must be reversed (ideally, one presumes, before the recapture of Mosul by largely Iranian-allied militias solidifies such influence).

Like Trump and Flynn today, Nixon and Kissinger sought nothing less than the breakup of the non-Western alliance spearheaded by Russia and China that had stymied US attempts to destroy governments challenging their hegemony. And, like today, they believed US cooperation with Russia to be both possible and desirable for both parties.

Said Kissinger: “America needed breathing room in order to extricate itself from Vietnam and to construct a new policy for the post-Vietnam era, while the Soviet Union had perhaps even stronger reasons for seeking a respite.” In particular, “the idea was to emphasise those areas in which cooperation was possible, and to use that cooperation as leverage to modify Soviet behaviour in areas where the two countries were at loggerheads,” a policy that became known as “linkage”.

The linkage being sought today – the deal Trump wishes to make with Russia – is to use potential “cooperation” over Syria, Ukraine and sanctions as “leverage” to secure Russian acquiescence for renewed hostilities towards Iran and China.

With this in mind, it is particularly interesting to note Kissinger’s role in shaping Trump’s foreign policy today. Germany’s Bild newspaper reported in December 2016 that Kissinger was a key architect of Trump’s “rapprochement” policy with Russia, advising him to lift sanctions and recognise Russian ownership of Crimea. These will not be free gifts – reciprocity will be expected and demanded, and Trump is making it abundantly clear that he wants a free hand in confronting Iran and China.

The linkage being sought today is to use potential ‘cooperation’ over Syria, Ukraine and sanctions as ‘leverage’ to secure Russian acquiescence for renewed hostilities towards Iran

Furthermore, as journalist Nafeez Ahmed has noted, “Kissinger’s ‘unofficial’ advisory role in the Trump regime is solidified through the direct influence of one of his longtime acolytes, KT McFarland, an aide to Henry Kissinger during the Nixon administration on the National Security Council from 1970 to 1976.”

McFarland was appointed by Trump as Michael Flynn’s deputy. Robert Harward, a former Navy seal, reportedly turned down the national security advisor post because Trump insisted that she stay on rather than allowing Harward to bring his own team.

In his book Diplomacy, Kissinger wrote that “Nixon had managed, despite the tragedy of Indochina, to maneuver his country into a dominant international position,” snatching a victory of sorts from the jaws of defeat, by playing Russia and China off against one another.

‘Russophobes’ are part of the plan

In this light, McMaster’s apparently conflicting views on Russia make sense. According to Frants Klintsevich, deputy head of the defence and security affairs committee of Russia’s Federation Council, McMaster is a “100 percent hawk” on Russia.

This appears to contrast with Flynn’s approach, putting him closer to other so-called “Russophobes” in the Trump team, such as ambassador to the UN, Nikki Haley, who told the Security Council last month that “Russian actions” in the Ukraine “demand clear and strong condemnation,” and Vice President Mike Pence, who condemned Russia at the recent Munich Security Conference.

Yet these figures and their threats are as much a part of the strategy as dangling the prospect of lifting sanctions. As Kissinger put it: “The statesman’s role is … to create a network of incentives and penalties to produce the most favourable outcome.”

To pull off his “deal,” Trump needs his “bad cops” just as much as he needs to flatter and offer inducements – to warn Russia of what they will be up against should they choose to ignore his overtures and maintain their existing alliances.

The question today is: will Russia snatch defeat from the jaws of victory in Syria by allowing itself to be played off against Iran and China? The stakes could not be higher.

This article originally appeared on Middle East Eye.

Dan Glazebrook is currently crowdfunding to finance his second book; you can order an advance copy here: http://fundrazr.com/c1CSnd

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Dr. Mohammed Sadiq al-Husseini: On Sixth International Conference for Supporting the Palestinian Intifada

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Supporting Palestinian Intifada Tops Closing Statement of Iran Conference

February 22, 2017

Conference

The closing statement of the sixth International conference “To support the Palestinian Intifada” held in Tehran highlighted on Tuesday the importance of the Palestinian cause, calling on supporting it and avoiding marginalizing it amid the regional crises.

The statement also hailed the Lebanese and Palestinian resistance movements, stressing their role in confronting the Zionist entity.

It also called on the international organizations to denounce and deter the Israeli aggressions, warning some Arab and Muslim countries against normalizing ties with the Zionist entity.

The statement added that the US administration intention to move the Zionist entity capital into Al-Quds must draw a response from the Arab and Muslim states by closing their embassies in the United States.

Finally, the statement highly appreciated the Iranian people sacrifices for the sake of the Palestinian cause.

The Iranian capital, Tehran, hosted on Tuesday and Wednesday an international forum in support of the Palestinian cause, with hundreds of foreign guests, including senior Palestinian leaders and officials of Muslim nations, in attendance.

Source: Al-Manar Website

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