How the US Regime ‘Justifies’ the Theft of Syria’s Oil

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Eric Zuesse
American writer and investigative historian

October 30, 2019
On October 26th, the New York Times headlined “Keep the Oil’: Trump Revives Charged Slogan for New Syria Troop Mission” and opened by saying that “in recent days, Mr. Trump has settled on Syria’s oil reserves as a new rationale for appearing to reverse course and deploy hundreds of additional troops to the war-ravaged country.” They closed with a statement from Bruce Riedel, retired from the CIA: “‘Let’s say he does do it,’ Mr. Riedel said. ‘Let’s say we establish the precedent that we are in the Middle East to take the oil. The symbolism is really bad.’” The propaganda-value of a ‘news’-report is concentrated in its opening, and especially in what the ‘reporter’ (fulfilling the intentions of his editors) selected to be at the very end (such as Riedel’s statement). However, is what’s wrong with taking Syria’s oil actually the “symbolism,” as Riedel said, or is it instead the theft — the reality (and why did the NYT pretend that it’s the latter)? Nowhere did that NYT article use the word “theft,” or anything like it, but that is the actual issue here — not mere ‘symbolism’.

Trump had been so lambasted by the Democratic Party’s ‘news’-media (such as the NYT) and by all the rest of the neoconservative ‘news’-media (the Republican ones), for his trying to withdraw forces from Obama’s regime-change war against Syria, he’s now switched to trying to ‘justify’ continuation of America’s invasion-occupation of Syria by his promising to steal the oil there — but the ‘news’-media almost never use that term (“theft”), or anything like it, to describe what he is promising to do, because they themselves have been propagandizing the American people to oppose withdrawal from Syria, which would mean ending Obama’s invasion-occupation of Syria. Both the Republican and the Democratic Parties, and their ‘news’-media, have been full-bore “Assad must step-down.” None of America’s ‘news’-media had stated, either, that America’s invasions-occupations of Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, and Syria, have all been disasters (though they all were), and that all of them have been and are defeats for America (though they all were that, on all of America’s leaders’ lies about ‘protecting human rights’, and about ‘bringing democracy’, and about what would have been producing improved lives — instead of producing continued bloodshed — for the residents in the countries that we had invaded and occupied). It’s all lies, nothing but that; and any ‘news’-media which operate this way will find themselves increasingly trapped in their lies, like the politicians themselves are. The only way ‘out’, for any of them (including for Trump, and for both the Republican and the Democratic press) is yet more lies — and all of these lies are cover-ups, by the press and by the politicians. (This is why they’re torturing Julian Assange to death: he has seriously challenged that ongoing deceit, in which they all participate.) Unless the public stop the media from doing it — by cancelling their subscriptions, and otherwise demonetizing the ones who have been doing it — the lies, and deceits, and invasions, and destructive US national expenditures of tens of trillions of dollars (being paid to corporations such as Lockheed Martin, and not only to our soldiers) will continue. This enormous counterproductive expenditure will drain America’s abilities to fund health care, education, etc. It is bringing the US economy down, and not merely bringing America to an ethically lower and lower point. The more that America’s leaders try to continue expanding the American empire, the more that they will both embarrass, and weaken, America. This is real. It is no propaganda, at all. It’s “the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth.”

On October 24th, USA Today headlined “Pentagon planning to send tanks, armored vehicles to Syrian oil fields”, and reported that “The Pentagon is preparing to send tanks and armored vehicles to Syrian oil fields, according to a US official – a stunning reversal of President Trump’s decision to withdraw US forces from the war-torn country after he declared victory over ISIS.” Those oil fields don’t belong to the US, but to Syria’s Government, and their operation is vital to funding Syria’s reconstruction, which the US regime is determined to prevent; but USA Today’s ‘news’-report says nothing about any of that. The US Government is trying to steal Syria’s oil fields — but this USA Today article says nothing about that, either. American troops are invaders of Syria, unlike Russian troops, who are defenders of Syria, and who had been invited into Syria by Syria’s Government (the only government Syria has) in order to help defend Syria’s sovereignty, over Syria’s own land, including its oil wells, against the US-and-allied invasion. All of that vital context is missing from this deceptive report.

That report said “Now, Russian troops, which are in Syria to bolster the regime of Bashar al-Assad, and Turkish forces, are operating in the region previously patrolled by US and Kurdish forces.” It’s saying that, whereas the region had been “patrolled” — instead of invaded and now occupied — by US and Kurdish forces, “Russian troops … and Turkish forces … are in Syria to bolster the regime of Bashar al-Assad,” though his ‘regime’ is actually the only legitimate Government of Syria. But the US regime claims the right to force Assad to be overthrown.

This report stated that “The deployment of armor is aimed at Russia and Syria, not ISIS, said Nicholas Heras, an expert on Syria with the Center for a New American Security. … ‘Pure and simple,’ he said, ‘the Pentagon is making contingencies for a big fight with Russia for Syria’s oil.’” But Russia isn’t trying to seize Syria’s oil — the US regime is doing that, actually. Russian forces are in Syria only in order to assist Syria to defend its oil, and its land. If the US regime will go into World War III so as to steal Syria’s oil, then the likelihood of Russia’s letting this theft happen is slight: that would be Russia’s capitulation without a fight, and Russia has never given any indication it would do such a thing. (And Russian media DO refer to this as being “theft”; they’re not trying to hide the fact. Russia already is fighting the US regime in Syria. And on October 26th, Russia’s Sputnik News headlined “The Russian military described the US scheme as nothing less than ‘international state banditism’,” and reported that, “According to Russian intelligence, the illegal US-supervised extraction of Syrian oil was being carried out by ‘leading American corporations’ and private military contractors, with US special forces and air power used for protection. Konashenkov said the estimated monthly revenue of this ‘private enterprise’ was over $30 million.”) This is the territory of Syria, which is a Russian ally. The thief here is clearly the US regime, not Syria, and not Russia. It is no one else than the US regime that is aiming to steal Syria’s oil by sending in tanks. Nowhere does the USA Today article even so much as hint that this is the case.

An October 21st Wall Street Journal article reported the US Government’s theft of Syria’s oil, but it was instead headlined with the misleading, more innocuous, and less attention-grabbing “Trump Calls for Defense, Use of Syrian Oil Fields” — nothing about any “theft” — and it opened with the seemingly US-or-Syria defense-related statement (as if US troops were in Syria as defenders, instead of as attackers and thieves) that “President Trump said he is planning to keep a small number of troops in northeast Syria to protect the oil fields there and suggested that an American company might help the Syrian Kurds develop the oil for export.”

However, since when does a thief break into your residence in order to “protect” anything? And since when does such a thief have a right to sell your property, or to determine what people (such as “the Syrian Kurds”) will sell it?

Was that article news, or was it instead propaganda? It certainly misrepresents. What it reports, is reported as if this thieving operation were only being contemplated, and would be new, but the thieving is actually nothing new — it’s an already-existing, and longstanding, coordinated and international operation, by the US regime and its allies, as will here be documented.

America’s mainstream media now (such as in USA Today, WSJ, and NYT) are normalizing this theft. This normalization is being done by their propaganda, which now is for a Republican Government, but formerly was for a Democratic Government. Previously, Democrats had done the same hiding of the regime’s evil, when their Democratic President Barack Obama was the person who was perpetrating it.

This theft — and the normalization of it — are actually bipartisan, and longstanding. When the ‘news’ presents false historical context, it lies; it is propaganda, and that’s what the American nation’s mainstream ‘news’-media now are. They are deceptive garbage, regime-propaganda.

On October 20th, Republican US Senator Lindsey Graham, and Republican Maria Bartiromo of Fox News “Sunday Morning Futures,” discussed the Republican Trump’s plan to steal Syria’s oil, and they both agreed that it might turn out to be an excellent policy. This show was headlined “Sen. Lindsey Graham: I am increasingly optimistic we can have historic solutions in Syria.” It was a remarkably bold defense of the US Government’s — and of its allies’ — thefts from Syria. Already, the US Government had said that it won’t pay even a cent in order to provide restitution for the estimated $388 billion in damages to Syria from the invasion of Syria by the US and by its allies such as Al Qaeda and the Sauds, but this show presented an endorsement by those two Republicans, backing the Republican US President’s plan to steal Syria’s oil, which goes beyond merely supporting zero restitution to the invaded country. No mention was being made, by them, on this ‘news’-medium, that (as will be documented here) those thefts by the US Government, and by its allies, have, in fact, been going on ever since the invasions of Syria by them and their proxies (or “agents” — such as Al Qaeda) had started in 2012. No mention was made by them that this was the policy of Democratic President Barack Obama and that it’s merely being continued further by Trump. To the exact contrary: Trump was being praised by these propagandists for starting this program, and, so, their praise was not just evil; it was actually entirely false.

Right before the interview, Bartiromo had been pretending to be a critical non-partisan journalist instead of the propagandist that she is, and so she stated that “my biggest issue here is the strength of Iran [as if Iran had ever invaded or even threatened to invade the United States, and as if Trump’s anti-Iran policies aren’t sufficiently stringent, or maybe even are vastly too stringent, or maybe even are altogether unjustified]. And I feel like the administration had the Iranians on their heels and ruining the economy through sanctions, through this pressure campaign. And now we give up and leave Syria.” The Senator disagreed with her make-pretend criticism of the Republican President, and he said that, instead,

The big thing for me is the oil fields. President Trump is thinking outside the box. I was so impressed with his thinking about the oil. Not only are we going to deny the oil fields falling into Iranian hands. I believe we’re on the verge of a joint venture between us and the Syrian Democratic Forces, who helped destroy ISIS and keep them destroyed, to modernize the oil fields and make sure they get the revenue, not the Iranians, not Assad. … That’s why what President Trump is proposing in Syria, a joint venture dealing with the southern oil fields in Syria, between our allies, the Kurds and the Arabs who helped us destroy ISIS, is a historic change that could pay dividends for the region. And, quite frankly, we could generate revenue to pay for our commitment in Syria. … I am increasingly optimistic that we can have some historic solutions in Syria that have eluded us for years, if we play our cards right.

Bartiromo replied “Wow. … You actually do see a way forward after you have spoken with the president on his plan to secure those oil fields.”

This theft is pushed by all of the US mainstream media, and Trump knows that he will need at least some degree of support from them if he is to be able to win re-election. This is the reason why he keeps contradicting himself — trying to appeal to the “No More War” crowd, while still drawing donations from the “military-industrial complex” or owners of America’s ‘defense’ contractors. (There’s a lot of crossover between the controlling owners of those firms and the controlling owners of the ‘news’-media — and of the ‘non-profit’ foundations.) America’s major ‘news’ media have always buried the truth about this long-ongoing theft.

And not only was the theft of Syria’s oil the policy of Democratic US President Barack Obama, but it was participated in by his coalition, which included both EU heads-of-state and Arab heads-of-state, and this policy began in 2011. Here’s how it, in fact, developed:

On 28 November 2012, Syria News headlined “Emir of Qatar & Prime Minister of Turkey Steal Syrian Oil Machinery in Broad Daylight”and accompanied it by video of the alleged event. (At that time, Qatar and Turkey were allies of the US arming the ‘rebels’ in Syria to overthrow Syria’s Government; so, they were part of America’s broader operation, and were also profiting from it.) But that video is no longer active. A subsequent description of that video was posted under the headline “Emir of Qatar & Prime Minister of Turkey Steal Syrian Oil Excavators – No Translation”. Another posting of the video online has lasted from 6 October 2013 to the present time, under the headline “Emir of Qatar & Prime Minister of Turkey Steal Syrian Oil Excavators – BiffiSyrien”, where it still can be viewed.

By no later than 12 December 2012, US President Barack Obama made the decision to hire Al Qaeda in Syria (called “Al Nusra”) to train and lead almost all of America’s proxy-forces on the ground in Syria to overthrow Syria’s Government. (Kurds were assigned to be America’s lead proxy-forces in far northeastern Syria.) (Obama was so determined to protect Al Qaeda in Syria as to sabotage on 17 September 2016 his own Secretary of State, John Kerry’s, just-signed Syrian ceasefire agreement with Russia, because that agreement allowed not only ISIS, but also Al Qaeda forces, to continue to be bombed in Syria by Russia. Obama was protecting Al Qaeda in Syria.)

On 22 April 2013, the AP headlined “EU lifts Syria oil embargo to bolster rebels” and reported that

The European Union on Monday lifted its oil embargo on Syria to provide more economic support to the forces fighting to oust President Bashar Assad’s regime. The decision will allow for crude exports from rebel-held territory. … The oil exports could open an important revenue stream for Syria’s opposition. …

While Syria was never one of the world’s major oil exporters, the sector was a pillar of Syria’s economy until the uprising, with the country producing about 380,000 barrels a day and exports — almost exclusively to Europe — bringing in more than $3 billion in 2010. Oil revenues provided around a quarter of the funds for the national budget. Being able to take advantage of the country’s oil resources will help the Syrian uprising “big time,” said Osama Kadi, a senior member of the Syrian opposition.

On 27 April 2013, the New York Times headlined “Islamist Rebels Create Dilemma on Syria Policy” and reported that

Nowhere in rebel-controlled Syria is there a secular fighting force to speak of. … The religious agenda of the combatants sets them apart from many civilian activists, protesters and aid workers who had hoped the uprising would create a civil, democratic Syria. … Of most concern to the United States is the Nusra Front, whose leader recently confirmed that the group cooperated with Al Qaeda in Iraq and pledged fealty to Al Qaeda’s top leader, Ayman al-Zawahri, Osama bin Laden’s longtime deputy. Nusra has claimed responsibility for a number of suicide bombings and is the group of choice for the foreign jihadis pouring into Syria.

Another prominent group, Ahrar al-Sham, shares much of Nusra’s extremist ideology but is made up mostly of Syrians…

In the oil-rich provinces of Deir al-Zour and Hasaka, Nusra fighters have seized government oil fields, putting some under the control of tribal militias and running others themselves.

“They are the strongest military force in the area,” said the commander of a rebel brigade in Hasaka reached via Skype. “We can’t deny it.”…

“We all want an Islamic state and we want Shariah to be applied,” said Maawiya Hassan Agha, a rebel activist reached by Skype in the northern village of Sarmeen. He said a country’s laws should flow from its people’s beliefs and compared Syrians calling for Islamic law with the French banning Muslim women from wearing face veils.

On 1 May 2013, TIME bannered “Syria’s Opposition Hopes to Win the War by Selling Oil” and reported that

Without an embargo, European companies can now legally begin importing barrels of oil directly from rebel groups, which have seized several oil fields in recent months, mostly around the eastern area of Deir Ezzor. That would provide the opposition with its first reliable source of income since the revolt erupted in Feb. 2011, and in theory hasten the downfall of Bashar Assad’s regime, by giving rebels the means to run skeletal local governments and consolidate their control.

On 15 June 2013, Global Research headlined “Former French Foreign Minister: The War against Syria was Planned Two years before ‘The Arab Spring’” and Gearóid Ó Colmáin reported that

In an interview with the French TV station LCP, former French minister for Foreign Affairs Roland Dumas said:

“I’m going to tell you something. I was in England two years before the violence in Syria [in other words, in 2009] on other business. I met with top British officials, who confessed to me that they were preparing something in Syria.

This was in Britain not in America. Britain was organizing an invasion of rebels into Syria. They even asked me, although I was no longer minister for foreign affairs, if I would like to participate.

Naturally, I refused, I said I’m French, that doesn’t interest me.

Dumas attributed it to Israel, not to the US, nor to the Sauds (who actually had always been the CIA’s choice to appoint the leaders of Syria), and he didn’t even so much as mention either of those, except to say that “this will enable it [Israel] to replace the United States as a global hegemon” (which is a crackpot idea). Though his interpretation was ridiculous, his allegation that in 2009 “top British officials … confessed to me that they were preparing something in Syria” is a factual matter, which is either true or false. (Back in 2009, there is actual evidence that American’s President Barack Obama was aiming to overthrow Assad. Furthermore, Obama’s team started by no later than 23 June 2011 to plan both the coup in Ukraine which succeeded and the coup in Syria, which failed. And as the great investigative journalist Gareth Porter reported on 5 January 2017, “In August 2011, national security officials began urging Obama to call on Assad to step down,” but at that time “He wasn’t willing to go along with anything except small arms,” until CIA Director David Petraeus — who soon thereafter became a member of the Bilderberg group — persuaded him to go all-out in arming the ‘rebels’. Furthermore, “when Obama was making crucial Syria policy decisions in September 2011,” his advisors assumed that both Russia and Iran would stay out of the matter and just just let the US and the Sauds take-over Syria. Obama respected his advisors. And, then, Porter headlined on 22 June 2017, “How America Armed Terrorists in Syria”. So: this theft-operation was extensively armed by the US regime, and funded by the Sauds.)

In any case, the EU was certainly helping ISIS and other such groups to steal Syria’s oil, so as to help fund their overthrow-Assad operation. So, the participation also of UK was likely, even if not, at that time, proven.

On 14 October 2015, the Financial Times headlined ”Isis Inc: how oil fuels the jihadi terrorists” and reported that “Selling crude is Isis’ biggest single source of revenue. … While al-Qaeda, the global terrorist network, depended on donations from wealthy foreign sponsors, Isis has derived its financial strength from its status as monopoly producer of an essential commodity consumed in vast quantities throughout the area it controls.” (In other words, when TIME, on 1 May 2013, bannered “Syria’s Opposition Hopes to Win the War by Selling Oil” and said “That would provide the opposition with its first reliable source of income since the revolt erupted in Feb. 2011,” the “opposition” being referred to there was actually ISIS, not Al Qaeda. The EU was buying its black-market oil from ISIS.)

On 1 December 2015, another great investigative journalist, Nafeez Ahmed, bannered “Western firms primed to cash in on Syria’s oil and gas ‘frontier’” and he reported:

US, British, French, Israeli and other energy interests could be prime beneficiaries of military operations in Iraq and Syria designed to rollback the power of the ‘Islamic State’ (ISIS) and, potentially, the Bashar al-Assad regime.

A study for a global oil services company backed by the French government and linked to Britain’s Tory-led administration, published during the height of the Arab Spring, hailed the significant “hydrocarbon potential” of Syria’s offshore resources.

The 2011 study was printed in GeoArabia, a petroleum industry journal published by a Bahrain-based consultancy, GulfPetroLink, which is sponsored by some of the world’s biggest oil companies, including Chevron, ExxonMobil, Saudi Aramco, Shell, Total, and BP. GeoArabia’s content has no open subscription system and is exclusively distributed to transnational energy corporations, corporate sponsors and related organisations, as well as some universities.

On 28 August 2018, Abdel Bari Atwan, one of the Middle East’s most respected journalists, headlined “Carrots and Sticks” and reported that

Damascus has been inundated with secret offers in recent weeks as part of a carrot-and-stick policy, two of which are particularly significant.

The first, reported on Tuesday by the pro-Hezbollah Lebanese daily al-Akhbar and the semi-official Iranian Fars news agency, was conveyed by a senior US military officer accompanied by representatives of various intelligence agencies. They flew to Damascus on a private UAE jet, and were met by the head of the National Security Bureau Gen. Ali Mamlouk, intelligence chief Gen. Deeb Zaitoun, and deputy army chief-of-staff Gen. Muwaffaq Masoud. Their meeting lasted four hours. The Americans reportedly offered to withdraw all US forces from Syria in exchange for Damascus complying with three demands: to pull Iranian forces out of areas of southern Syria adjoining Israel; to guarantee US oil companies a share of Syria’s oil east of the Euphrates; and to hand over all information about terrorist groups and their members in Syria.

The second offer was revealed by Lebanese Hezbollah MP Nawwaf al-Mousawi in a discussion programme on the Lebanese TV channel al-Mayadeen, at which I was also a panellist. He said that Saudi Crown Prince Muhammad Bin-Salman sent an envoy to Asad offering to support him remaining president for life and provide generous Saudi support for Syria’s reconstruction in exchange for him severing ties with Iran and Hezbollah.

Both offers were categorically turned down by the Syrian leadership.

The American delegation was told that its troops in Syria were occupying forces which would be treated as such, that Syria could not abandon its strategic allies, and that issues such as US participation in the oil industry and exchanging intelligence could be discussed once political relations were re-established.

On 2 September 2018, the German intelligence analyst who blogs anonymously as “Moon of Alabama” headlined “Syria Sitrep – US To Stay To ‘Create Quagmires’” and he reported:

The claim that the US is there to fight ISIS is a lie. ISIS is still active in two places in Syria. Both are under US control. …

The US is not fighting ISIS in Syria. It is building semi-permanent bases, trains a large proxy force, and controls Syria’s oilfields. Its aim is still regime change, the same aim it had when it launched the war on Syria seven and a half years ago. To achieve that it will continue to sow as much chaos as possible.

As CIA and Pentagon mouthpiece David Ignatius wrote this week:

“[T]he administration has stopped the dithering and indecision of the past 18 months and signaled that the United States has enduring interests in Syria, beyond killing Islamic State terrorists — and that it isn’t planning to withdraw its Special Operations forces from northeastern Syria anytime soon.

‘Right now, our job is to help create quagmires [for Russia and the Syrian regime] until we get what we want,’ says one administration official, explaining the effort to resist an Idlib onslaught. This approach involves reassuring the three key US allies on Syria’s border — Israel, Turkey and Jordan — of continued American involvement.”

But what seems ultimately to endure is: Steal the oil.

On 26 February 2019 the Syrian National News Agency reported that Syria’s Government accused the US Government of having stolen from ISIS so much gold that ISIS had received as payment for oil that ISIS had stolen from Syria, so that the US Federal Reserve was enriched by at least 40 tons of gold. The accusation is that this black-marketed oil produced that gold for the US Government, and purchased “safe passage for the terrorists.”

So: Trump, and Fox News, and US Senators, etc., are planning to continue the operation that Democratic US President Barack Obama, and his Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, and the US CIA, and Britain’s MI6, and the rest of the US regime and its allies, were trying to do even before the “Arab Spring” began. As I have previously reported, Obama, even when he came into office in 2009, was aiming to take control of Syria, for it to become ruled by agents of the Saud family, and he started planning the ‘revolution’ in Syria by no later than 23 June 2011.

So: the faker Donald Trump is really just old hat, nothing at all new. He’s just trying to do what Obama was trying to do, but using different tactics to do it.

And, so, what is the ‘justification’ for this theft? It is America’s alliances:

BARTIROMO: Why are we sending troops to Saudi Arabia then?

GRAHAM: Well, because Saudi Arabia is an ally and Iran is an enemy.

And Iran is the biggest state sponsor of terrorism on the planet. …

The official position of the US Government is that Iran is the top state sponsor of terrorism and that the Sauds (whom in diplomatic cables and other internal communications the US regime acknowledge to be the biggest financial backer of Al Qaeda) isn’t even a state sponsor of terrorism, at all, but is instead a US ‘ally’.

So: that’s how they ‘justify’ it. They ‘justify’ it by the rest of the gang — the very same gang that the US regime itself leads. Their ‘justification’, of themselves, is empty. It is only propaganda, for fools to believe. Nothing more, than that. On Friday, October 26th, the Washington Post headlined “Trump decided to leave troops in Syria after conversations about oil, officials say”, and — like all of the regime’s stenographic reporting of the regime’s ‘news’ — reported the regime’s more official ‘explanation’, which was: “Defense Secretary Mark T. Esper confirmed on Friday that troops would remain in eastern Syria to prevent the oil fields from being retaken by the Islamic State.” This is just more of the same: it’s just citing ‘ISIS’ as being the ‘enemy’, instead of citing “Syria” as being that. They are asserting that they can steal Syria’s oil so as to prevent ISIS from stealing it. First, ISIS and other US allies stole it; and, then, the US seized ISIS’s gold from those sales; and, now, the US will be stealing Syria’s oil directly.

Similarly, in 2002 and 2003, the US regime, and its stenographic press, kept shifting their ‘explanation’ as to why Iraq had to be immediately invaded. Americans believed it then, and they believe it now. The American public never learn. This is now 17 years later. There has been no change, except in whom the occupant of the White House is. But fortunately, this time, there is Russia that perhaps can say no to this plan. Only time will tell if it will. And, if it does, then will Trump pull his nuclear trigger — an invasion of Russia, WW III, an aggression against the other superpower? I doubt it, but it could happen. To overestimate the greed and the stupidity of the international Deep State is hard to do. These billionaires didn’t get to be billionaires by being intelligent or being good — cunning and ruthless, yes, but that’s very different. After all, the announced highest aspiration of Jeff Bezos, who owns the Washington Post, is to send a trillion people out into space, “getting humanity established in the solar system”. Even conquering the world wouldn’t be enough to satisfy some of these individuals.

On 20 August 2018, Russia’s RT News headlined “‘Secret directive’ bans UN agencies from helping rebuild Syria until ‘political transition’ – Lavrov” and reported that Russia’s Foreign Minister, Sergei Lavrov, said that the Executive branch of the UN, the UN Secretariat, had issued in October 2017 a “secret directive” (violating two resolutions of the UN General Assembly — the UN’s Legislature), and that this secret directive ordered UN agencies to do nothing to help rebuild Syria unless the US first had approved of a new person to replace Syria’s existing President, and unless that person had already become installed to lead Syria.

According to the anti-Russian Haaretz newspaper in anti-Russian Israel, on 31 August 2018,

One country that is likely going to stay out of the infighting over the reconstruction process is the United States. The Trump administration has no clear policy on the “day after” in Syria, except for one principle: No American money will be spent on it.

The American ambassador to the United Nations, Nikki Haley, made that point clear at a speech she gave on Tuesday in Washington, explaining that Russia and the Assad regime “own” Syria now. “You broke it, you own it,” Haley said at a summit organized by the Foundation for Defense of Democracies [an organization that zionist Jews had set up in the US]. …

Ken Roth, executive director of Human Rights Watch, expressed a similar view, writing in the British newspaper The Independent: “Long before any talk of providing reconstruction assistance for Syria, which in any event would require lifting separate targeted sanctions, European governments should call out Russia’s complicity in Syria’s war crimes and vigorously press the Kremlin to end these atrocities and stop underwriting Syria’s repression.”

It was the deployment of the Russian air force three years ago that tilted the scales of the war in favor of Assad, who at that time controlled only a quarter of the country’s territory. Even today, Russia maintains its military presence in Syria to ensure the regime’s upper hand.

This is similar to the policy of imperial Rome toward Carthage — a resisting city-state — in 146 BC, when the Emperor ordered the resisting city-state destroyed at the end of the final, the Third, Punic War, except that, in the present instance, the imperial ruler is (on and off, depending on his whim of the day) quitting his efforts to conquer that land, and is instead (but this being consistent) commanding his agencies never to assist to restore Syria, unless and until it finally will surrender to the empire. In that sense, Syria may be considered to be today’s Carthage. (Another difference is that Syria, unlike Carthage at that time, is no expansionist — or “imperialist” — power.) So: Donald Trump, Lindsey Graham, Maria Bartiromo, Barack Obama, the US Congress, Human Rights Watch, the United Nations, and the other agents and agencies of the US empire, are in an imperial tradition that goes back thousands of years, if not longer.

However, though Syria is an ally of Iran, and of Russia; and so the US regime want regime-change there, Donald Trump might have reached the limit of his regime-change aspirations when on 10 September 2019 he finally fired John Bolton, who (along with his predecessors) had failed against Iran, failed against Venezuela, failed against Russia, and failed against China. Trump’s most intensive regime-change effort has been against Iran (though Fox’s Maria Bartiromo thinks it’s not enough). On 5 July 2018, the excellent investigative journalist Sibel Edmonds headlined at her Newsbud site her 33-minute video “Breaking: Insiders Reveal Secret Deal to Topple Iran Government!” revealing (starting at 19:00) that ever since Trump entered office in 2017, his Administration was planning to execute an operation not only to terminate the Iran deal and re-institute sanctions but to enforce sactions so stringently against any country that would continue trading with Iran, so as to strangle Iran’s economy and thus impose such misery upon the Iranian population so that they would welcome a military coup in order to end their (US-imposed) misery. This operation had a Plan A and a Plan B. In Plan A, Iran’s generals who would participate in the coup would institute an ‘anti-American’ ‘independent’ government which would buy US-made weapons from EU countries and thus not be viewed by Iranians as a US-stooge regime (though becoming a US stooge regime); the sanctions would be lifted, and Iran’s economy would be restored. In Plan B, 3-3.5M Iranians would be killed by the bombing, and all of Iran’s generals would be among them. Plan A would be Iran’s generals ‘standing up for the Iranian people’, a ‘nationalistic’ (instead of capitulationist) coup, to remove the ‘dictatorship’. Plan B would be a much bigger slaughter of Iranians. Edmonds said (27:30) the coup “would take place, I would say, in less than six months.” (29:00) “There is a large, powerful military faction that have said Yes [to Plan A]. … How sure of this am I? 100%.” But she was wrong in this prediction; she hadn’t considered the bigger picture. What’s that? Trump was getting too close to his own re-election campaign. And not enough Iranian generals could be corrupted to become traitors; the coup didn’t occur. Bolton, etc., had been too rosy in their predictions that the threats would be enough and that the patriotism of enough of Iran’s generals could just be bought off. (Perhaps the corrupt Americans had expected Iranians to be as corrupt as they themselves were.) Plan B was thus supposed to become imposed — an outright US invasion of Iran. But what would this invasion have done to Trump’s re-election chances? The Deep State had actually suckered him. That’s why Bolton (part of the Deep State) was fired. And, so, now, Congress and the US media are finally out for Trump’s scalp, because he wouldn’t follow through with the Deep State’s plan. Maybe he’ll do it if he becomes re-elected, but they can’t trust him; they want President Mike Pence. That’s become their new Plan B: impeachment in the House, and forced removal in the Senate. His intensified effort, now, to steal Syria’s oil, isn’t enough to stop that.

The reason why Julian Assange, ever since 12 June 2012, has been under various forms of imprisonment — and now torture — without there having been any conviction for anything, and not even any trial being held in his case, is that the US and its allied regimes need to keep their secrets, and therefore need to eliminate him. To publishers, and to journalists, throughout the US-and-allied world, his case is the ultimate warning of what each one of them could face. This is how the real law actually operates, throughout the empire. Assange is simply the personification of it, for everyone. However, as might logically follow from this situation, the only country in the world where Assange — who is globally viewed more favorably than unfavorably — is widely despised, is the United States, where the handwriting against him is “on the wall,” almost everywhere. America’s ‘news’-media have been uniquely devoted to doing their job. But, of course, authentic news-media perform a different job. And Assange’s case is the most effective possible warning to whatever authentic news-media might still exist within the US empire. To call this empire a ‘democracy’ anywhere, insults that noble term.

إيران ترسم إيقاع العلاقات الدولية

مايو 14, 2019

ناصر قنديل

من الصعب مشاهدة وزير الخارجية الأميركية مايك بومبيو يغيّر وجهة سفره من موسكو الى بروكسل، بعد كل ما أصاب ناقلات النفط على ساحل الإمارات الشرقي خارج مضيق هرمز من جهة بحر عمان، وعدم الربط بين الحدثين، كما يصعب سماع معاون وزير الخارجية الروسية سيرغي رياباكوف يتحدّث عن إلغاء زيارة بومبيو الى موسكو وحصرها بسوتشي بعد يومين دون تذكّر التصعيد الأميركي الإيراني في الخليج، خصوصاً بعد إعلان الكرملين عن عدم وجود أي تثبيت لموعد لقاء بين الرئيسين الأميركي دونالد ترامب والروسي فلاديمير بوتين على هامش قمة العشرين، وسبب ربط كل ما يجري بإيران هو ببساطة أن الأمور كانت تجري باتجاه معاكس وتغيّرت على إيقاع الحدث الإيراني.

– في مقلب آخر كانت أوروبا ترفع صوتها اعتراضاً على المهل الإيرانية لتأمين عائدات مناسبة من الاتفاق النووي تحت طائلة الانسحاب منه، حتى بدا أن منطقة الخليج مهددة بالاشتعال وأن واشنطن تتصرف بأسلوب طائش سيتسبب بإطلاق حرب اسعار في سوق النفط وتحريك التدافع في الطلب عليه خشية وقوع أحداث كبرى في المنطقة التي يتدفق منها قرابة نصف ما يتداوله السوق وربع ما يستهلكه العالم، فتغيّرت لغة أوروبا نحو السعي لاحتواء إيران وتقديم العروض لها والسعي لإبقائها في دائرة التفاوض على البدائل، ومواجهة وزير الخارجية الأميركية برفض مجاراته في سياسة الضغوط والتصعيد والعقوبات، وبدأ الحديث الأوروبي العملي عن كمية النفط التي ستتعهّدها أوروبا من انتاج السوق الإيرانية، والحد الأدنى الذي يحق لإيران تأمين بيعه من عقود دولية ثابتة، والحديث يدور بين مليون برميل يومياً وفقاً للعرض الأوروبي او مليون ونصف المليون برميل وفقاً للطلب الإيراني، وهو ما يعني سقوط مفاعيل العقوبات الأميركية.

– ليست القضية هي أن إيران تقف وراء تفجيرات وأحداث الفجيرة أو ما أصاب ناقلات النفط السعودية، فالمنطقة خارج مضيق هرمز وفي بحر عمان الواقع جنوب مضيق هرمز وفي الممر المائي بين مضيقي هرمز وباب المندب، كانت دائماً مسرحاً لجماعات القرصنة البحرية الصومالية، حتى بدأ التنسيق الواقعي بين إيران التي تملك وحدها أهم أسطول بحري قوي في منطقة الخليج، وبين السفن الآتية وفي مقدمتها ناقلات النفط، لمواكبتها في هذا الممر الخطير، وهو ما توقف منذ بدأت العقوبات الاميركية في نسختها الأخيرة ومن ضمنها التعهد الإماراتي السعودي بالشراكة في العقوبات عبر ضخ الكميات التي يحتاجها سوق النفط بفعل نقص المبيعات الإيرانية بسبب العقوبات، والمنطقي أن تكون مسؤولية من يدّعي القدرة على ضمان استقرار سوق النفط دون إيران أن يقدم الدليل على ذلك. وما جرى يقول إن الاميركيين والخليجيين عاجزون بدون إيران عن فعل ذلك، من دون أن يفيدهم توجيه الاتهامات لها بشي.

– عملياً بدأ ارتفاع الأسعار في سوق النفط العالمية، ومزيد من التوتر سيسبب المزيد من الارتفاع والمزيد من زيادة أكلاف التأمين على السفن التجارية وناقلات النفط، والمزيد من السعي لتخزين كميات احتياطية خشية اندلاع أزمة تتسبب بوقف تدفق النفط من المنطقة، وكل رعونة أميركية أو مواقف خليجية صبيانية تحت شعار تفادي الأزمة ستدفع الامور بهذا الاتجاه بسرعة أكبر.

– رسمت إيران معادلة عنوانها لا استقرار في سوق النفط العالمية دون شراكة مريحة لإيران، مقابل المعادلة التي تعرضها واشنطن وقوامها لا استقرار لمكانة إيران المالية والنفطية دون ضمان أمن «إسرائيل»، بعدما فشلت واشنطن في فرض معادلة ربط استقرار سورية بأمن «إسرائيل» بمقايضة فاشلة لوجود إيران وقوى المقاومة بالوجود الأميركي في سورية سبقت الانسحاب الأميركي من التفاهم النووي مع إيران.

– سيعود الجميع الى رشدهم ويعرفون الطريق الى طاولة التفاوض في سوتشي، وستثبت إيران معادلتها لأن الحرب انتهت او تكاد، والذي هزم في سورية ليس أبو محمد الجولاني ولا أبو بكر البغدادي، بل قادة الحلف الأطلسي مجتمعين ومعهم كل حلفائهم في المنطقة وفي المقدمة «إسرائيل» وحكومات الخليج.

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Iran Squeezed Between Imperial Psychos and European Cowards

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

What Putin and Pompeo did not talk about

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Rise of the Imperial Psychos

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Faulty Blockade

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Reasons for Psychotic Rage

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Not Bluffing

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

Marandi, ominously, sees “further escalation” ahead:

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

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

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

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

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

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

All Options on the Table?

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

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

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

Global South Watching

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

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

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

Let The Dealer speak:

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

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

HOUTHIS STRIKE KEY SAUDI OIL PIPELINE AMID GROWING CONCERN OVER NEARING US-IRANIAN ARMED CONFLICT

South Front

On May 14, Saudi Arabia halted pumping on its 1,200km-long East-West pipeline after it had been targeted by suicide unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs).

The kingdom’s Minister of Energy, Industry and Mineral Resources Khalid al-Falih confirmed the attack on the pipeline, which carries crude oil from the country’s main eastern oil fields to the Red Sea port city of Yanbu in the western part of the country. He described the attack as “an act of terrorism” and said that it “proves the importance of confronting all terrorist organizations.”

The targeted facilities were located in the towns of al-Duwadimi and Afif. No casualties were reported.

The energy minister stressed that Saudi oil production and exports will still continue uninterrupted. Despite this, global oil prices rose after the incident.

On the same day, Yemen’s Masirah TV, loyal to the Ansar Allah movement [also known as the Houthis], reported that seven drones had been employed against vital Saudi installations. According to the report, the drone strikes were carried out in response to Saudi Arabia’s military aggression against Yemen. The TV station quoted an official from the Ansar Allah government, who said that Yemeni forces are ready “to execute more of these significant and tough strikes as long as the siege continues.”

The US, Israel and Saudi Arabia blame any operations carried out by Ansar Allah against Saudi Arabia on Iran.

Another situation, which fueled concerns over oil supply disruptions and nearing conflict between the US-led bloc and Iran, is developing over the reported “sabotage attack” on four commercial vessels off the UAE’s Fujairah on May 12. Initially, the UAE denounced reports about this situation, but then was forced to admit that some kind of “sabotage” incident took place. The targeted vessels were identified as very large crude carrier (VLCC) tanker Amjad and crude tanker Al Marzoqah, both owned by Saudi shipping firm Bahri. The other two were UAE-flagged fuel bunker barge A Michel and Norwegian-registered oil products tanker MT AndreA Victory.

Thome Ship Management said its Norwegian-registered oil products tanker MT Andrew Victory was “struck by an unknown object”. Jaber Al Lamki, an executive director at the UAE’s National Media Council, claimed that the attack was “aimed at undermining global oil supplies and maritime security.”

Despite the lack of clear evidence, Western mainstream media outlets as well as many pro-UAE and pro-Saudi sources immediately blamed Iran. In turn, Teheran distanced itself from the attacks and claimed it was a false flag. Foreign Minister Javad Zarif said that the country expected such “suspicious sabotage acts” designed to “create tensions in the region”.

In the meantime, the US deployed the Abraham Lincoln carrier strike group and the USS Arlington amphibious transport dock, which carries marines, amphibious vehicles, and rotary aircraft, as well as the Patriot missiles, near the Persian Gulf. An additional strategic bomber task force arrived at the US airbase Al Udeid in Qatar. In all cases, the US cited the growing Iranian threat and possible Iranian attacks on US forces and infrastructure as the reason for the deployment.

At the same time, reports are surfacing that the US is actively drawing up plans for a military action against Iran. While Trump denounced NYT reports on the plan to deploy 120,000 troops to the Middle East, his administration repeatedly confirmed that it is ready for active measures in the event of the escalation or even in the event of Iran’s withdrawal from its commitments under the 2015 nuclear deal accord. The irony is that the US itself has done more that any side to destroy this deal thus de-facto pushing the region toward the new crisis.

In Video: Site Of Ansar Allah UAV Attack On Saudi Pumping Stations

 The media wing of Yemen’s Ansar Allah (also known as the Houthis) released a video, which shows an impact of the May 14 UAV strike on pumping stations of Saudi Arabia’s East-West pipeline.

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India, Iran, Russia push alternative to Suez Canal

The International North-South Transport Corridor is to link the Indian Ocean and Persian Gulf via Iran to Russia and North Europe.

The International North-South Transport Corridor is to link the Indian Ocean and Persian Gulf via Iran to Russia and North Europe.

Wed Oct 31, 2018 11:00AM

India, Iran and Russia will meet next month to discuss the operation of a 7,200 km trade and transport corridor that presents a cheaper and shorter alternative to the traditional route through the Suez Canal.

A general view of the Suez Canal from Al Salam Peace bridge on the Ismalia desert road before the opening ceremony of the New Suez Canal, in Egypt

The International North-South Transport Corridor (INSTC), a multimode network of sea and rail routes, will link the Indian Ocean and the Persian Gulf via Iran to Russia and North Europe.

The project comes in the backdrop of China’s multi-trillion-dollar One Belt One Road initiative. Within Iran, the two routes overlap in a potential boon to future businesses.

New Delhi has been actively courting Tehran, given the utmost importance it attaches to the route and Iran has been receptive.

Once operational, the corridor will allow India to send its goods to Bandar Abbas in Iran by sea, from where they will be transported to Iran’s Bandar Anzali on the Caspian Sea by road. Next, they will be shipped to Astrakhan in Russia and transported into Europe by rail.

Image result for India, Iran, Russia push alternative to Suez Canal

The route will cut the time and cost of delivering goods by about 30 percent to more than 40 percent. Compared with the Suez Canal, the corridor will reduce the transport time between Mumbai and Moscow to about 20 days. The estimated capacity of the corridor is 20 to 30 million tonnes of goods per year.

India’s Union Commerce and Industry Minister Suresh Prabhu on Saturday met a Russian business delegation in New Delhi, where he said “all issues may be resolved in order to operationalize the (INSTC) route as early as possible.”

An official statement said India, Russia and Iran will hold a trilateral meeting on November 23 to make the route operational soon, Indian media reported Tuesday.

“The INSTC is the shortest multimodal transportation route linking the Indian Ocean and Persian Gulf via Iran to Russia and North Europe,” India’s Ministry of Commerce and Industry said in the statement.

To access resource-rich Central Asia, India has to route its goods either through China, Europe or Iran. The routes through China and Europe are long, expensive and time consuming, with Iran being the most viable one.

The first dry run of the INSTC was conducted in August 2014 and the second in April 2017.

India is seeking to leverage the strategic Chabahar port in southeast Iran to link with the INSTC.

The country has committed $500 million to Chabahar that it is building chiefly to crack open a trade and transport route to landlocked Afghanistan.

Last week, senior officials from the two countries met their counterpart in Tehran to discuss a full commissioning of the port that the three countries are jointly developing.

It was the first trilateral meeting of the Coordination Council of the Chabahar Agreement, coming in the face of fresh sanctions imposed by Washington on the Islamic Republic.

“All sides shared the view that a full operationalization of the trilateral Chabahar initiative will promote connectivity and economic development of Afghanistan and the region,” India’s External Affairs Ministry said in a statement.

For landlocked Afghanistan, the corridor means opening the way to billions of dollars in trade and cutting the country’s dependence on foreigners for aid as well as stemming the illicit opium trade.

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