التفاوض الإقليمي على صفيح ساخن

 

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يشكل الإعلان عن مؤتمر لأمن الخليج بمبادرة عمانية وموافقة كل من السعودية وإيران علامة مهمة على الإتجاه لتفاوض إقليمي لا يمكن حدوثه دون إطار دولي أقله الموافقة الأميركية أو التشجيع الأميركي أو الطلب الأميركي ، هذا إذا لم تتطور فكرة المؤتمر ليشكل كما وصفه وزير خارجية عمان بمؤتمر كل المعنيين بأمن الخليج فاتحا الباب لرعاية أممية وتتيح مشاركة الدول الأعضاء الدائمين في مجلس الأمن  الدولي وتكون طهران وواشنطن على مائدة التفاوض مباشرة.

 إعلان وزير الخارجية السعودي عادل الجبير عن فرص تهدئة تتحول إلى تسوية في اليمن يؤكد التقدم الذي حققته الوساطة العمانية والمعلوم أن اليمن هو الساحة الأهم في المواجهة السعودية مع محور المقاومة بعد الفشل السعودي في الساحات الأخرى وتحول الحرب على اليمن من مشروع تحقيق أرباح غلى مصدر للخسائر .

ما يجري في العراق ولبنان وسورية لا ينفصل عن التفاوض لكنه تفاوض على صفيح ساخن يلعب فيه الأميركي أوراقه على حافة الهاوية فيلوح بدفع الأمور نحو الإنهيار وهو يخشاه كما كان حضوره العسكري في الخليج تلويحا مشابها بالإستعداد للذهاب إلى الحرب وهو يخشاها بينما خصومه الذين أظهروا عدم رغبتهم بالحرب وعدم رغبتهم بالإنهيار أظهروا عندما بلغ التصعيد ذروته أنهم لا يخشون الحرب ولا يخشون الإنهيار.

كما تراجع الأميركي عن التلويح بالحرب يتراجع عن التلويح بالإنهيار لكن صناعة التسوية أصعب من صناعة الأزمة لأن الرأي العام مسرحها وعندما يتم إستفزازه بالجوع وتتم تعبئته بالغضب ويخرج إلى الساحات لا يمكن إعادته كما كان عندما خرج.

التعليق السياسي

Bloomberg: Gulf States Are Backpedaling on Iran

Bloomberg: Gulf States Are Backpedaling on Iran

Source

By Staff, Bloomberg

An expanded soccer tournament, a direct flight, clandestine meetings and a pledge to release prisoners of war; diplomacy is breaking out as Gulf Arab nations back away from a Donald Trump-inspired confrontation with Iran. And the signs are everywhere.

Last week, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain played their first games of the 2019 Arabian Gulf Cup in Qatar after a last-minute decision to take part.

Meanwhile, Oman is quietly hosting high-level meetings, and even Iranian President Hassan Rouhani has hinted at direct channels with the UAE.

Spooked by the prospect of a catastrophic war with Iran and its allies across the region, Gulf monarchies are in the midst of a strategic rethink. The UAE, whose economic model relies in large part on its international links, quickly realized it had most to lose from a military escalation. It had pulled out most of its troops from Yemen by the end of a turbulent summer that saw oil tankers targeted and a US drone downed in the Gulf without significant American response.

While the humanitarian catastrophe unleashed by the war on Yemen trained an unwelcome spotlight on Saudi Arabia, it took a brazen strike on Saudi oil installations – which knocked out half the country’s crude production – to ram home the risks and prove that Trump was not about to ride to his allies’ rescue.

“The attacks shattered any illusion of this magical US security umbrella,” said David Roberts, an assistant professor at King’s College London who studies the Gulf. “It burst the bubble and showed that Iran had the willingness to both do something astonishing like the attack on Aramco facilities and the capability to carry it out.”

In the meantime, the Trump administration withdrew last year from the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action [JCPOA], known commonly as the 2015 Iran nuclear deal and re-imposed sanctions that have crippled its oil exports.

Rolling back Iran’s power remains a priority for the Gulf Arab leadership. There’s an increasing recognition, however, that no one stands to gain from a military escalation in the world’s top oil-exporting region.

In search of a breakthrough, Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan, shuttled between Tehran and Riyadh in October. He met Leader of the Islamic Revolution His Eminence Imam Sayyed Ali Khamenei and Iranian President Sheikh Hassan Rouhani, as well as Saudi Arabia’s King Salman and Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman [MBS], describing talks as “encouraging.”

As they explore ways forward, Gulf States are moving at different speeds.

The UAE broke with the US and Saudi Arabia by not naming Iran as the culprit behind attacks in May and June on oil tankers as they sailed toward the Strait of Hormuz, the world’s foremost oil shipping chokepoint.

It sent coast guard officials to Iran for the first time in six years and Rouhani hinted at other meetings with senior UAE officials. “We’re moving toward improved relations,” he said Oct. 14. Saudi Arabia is catching up.

However, where the US holds back, others are crowding in. Russian President Vladimir Putin has forged a partnership with Iran, created an oil alliance with Saudi Arabia and built ties with Egypt’s Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi, who was warned by the US last month against plans to purchase Russian jets.

Putin traveled to Saudi Arabia and the UAE in October after visits by the Saudi king and the UAE’s de-facto leader Mohammad bin Zayed to Moscow. The two Gulf countries and Russia have signed deals valued at billions of dollars.

For Iran’s Rouhani, the case for regional engagement is obvious.

“Don’t you know that Iran is going to stay here and we will remain neighbors throughout history?” he has said, referring to Iran’s Arab neighbors. “Trump will only be around for a few years and will go back to whatever it was he was doing.”

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Why countries are reluctant to join U.S.-led maritime coalition

TEHRAN – The U.S.-led naval coalition to protect shipping in the Persian Gulf formally was launched in Bahrain on Thursday. But the notable point is that countries have not welcomed this plan. Only a few countries with ineffective naval power have joined the coalition.

*By Mohammad Ghaderi

On July 2019, the U.S. proposed a coalition plan to protect shipping in the Persian Gulf. Mike Pompeo, the U.S. secretary of state, invited U.S. allies such as Britain, France, Germany, Japan, South Korea, and Australia to join the coalition. Although the U.S. has persuaded its allies on various occasions and even applied pressure on them to join the coalition, it was not warmly welcomed. In August, Britain joined the U.S. military coalition in the wake of a conflict with Iran over oil tanker seizures first in Gibraltar and later in the Strait of Hormuz.

Later the Zionist regime and Australia joined the coalition.

Launch of the U.S.-led marine coalition

The coalition, which reportedly aims to “protect shipping in the Persian Gulf”, was launched on Thursday. The U.S. stated that through the coalition it intends to safeguard region’s oil supply against possible threats. Bahrain, which hosts the U.S. Fifth Fleet, has joined the coalition along with the UEA and Saudi Arabia.

James Malloy, commander of the U.S. Naval Forces Central Command, has claimed that the goal of the coalition is defensive. Malloy said the coalition will last as long as necessary.

Some European countries, including France, has not joined the coalition to avoid escalating tensions in the region. Japan has decided to dispatch its naval forces to the Strait of Hormuz independently, rather than joining the coalition.  It is said that Japan made this decision because it has an amicable relationship with Iran and does not like to be seen as an important country and power in the U.S.-led coalition.

In this regard, the London-based Raialyoum wrote that the announcement of formal launch of the U.S.-led maritime coalition to protect shipping in the Persian Gulf with the participation of only 6 countries reminds the old Arab proverb saying “the mountain was in labor but gave birth to a mouse”. Raialyoum added the limited number of countries joining the coalition reveals that the U.S. influence has been reducing not only in the Persian Gulf region but also all around the world. It seems that the current and former U.S. administrations cannot any longer form coalitions like the ones that launched wars in Iraq, Libya, or Afghanistan with the participation of 30 or 60 countries.

The Arab world digital news and opinion website said that it is noteworthy that three Persian Gulf states namely Kuwait, Oman, and Qatar are absent in the coalition. They have refused to join the coalition not because they have taken a neutral stance toward U.S. controversial measures against Iran, but because they do not trust the U.S. and its current government. The source added that the U.S. government has adopted rash policies that can lead to regional and probably international war; furthermore, the coalition can be an element of “tension” not a guarantee for defense and stability.

Raialyoum stated that we do not believe these six countries – Britain, Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Bahrain, Australia, and Albania – will be able to protect shipping in the Persian Gulf because most of them, except the U.S. and Britain, do not have effective naval power.

However, the marine coalition is a dramatic and hypocritical show and the U.S. is trying to milk the three states of Saudi Arabia, the UAE, and Bahrain. By its presence, the U.S. only disturbs the region’s security. Washington only takes care of its interests.

The security in the Middle East and the Persian Gulf will only be achieved through the reconciliation between regional countries since they are neighbors and they cannot change their geography. The intervention of countries outside the region will only make the situation more complicated.

* Author: Mohammad Ghaderi , Tehran Times editor in chief 

His page on Twitter : @ghaderi62 – and Gmail address : m.ghaderi62@gmail.com

ما حقيقة المفاوضات السرية بين أميركا وحركة أنصار الله؟

سبتمبر 9, 2019

د. حكم أمهز

د.حكم أمهز: ابن سلمان نيرون العصر.. مهر عرشه “القدس المحتلة”
تمويهاً للواقع والحقيقة، كان الإعلان من قبل الخارجية الأميركية بأنها تخوض محادثات سرية مع حركة أنصار الله اليمنية بهدف إيجاد حلّ للأزمة اليمنية. توقيت ومكان تصريحات مساعد وزير الخارجية الأميركي لشؤون الشرق الأوسط، ديفيد شينكر، جاءا خلال زيارته الى المملكة العربية السعودية، ما يعكس دلالات فرض القرار الأميركي على السعودية المتخبّطة بالهزائم في المستنقع اليمني.

حاول شينكر ان يحدّد ماهية المحادثات أكثر، بقوله بدأنا إجراء محادثات بقدر الإمكان مع الحوثيين في محاولة لإيجاد حلّ تفاوضي مقبول بالنسبة للجميع بشأن النزاع .

ثم أردف يقول نحن نعمل مع المبعوث الأممي إلى اليمن، مارتن غريفيث، ونقيم اتصالات مع شركائنا السعوديين .

تصريح فيه من الغموض ما يدفع الى طرح الكثير من الأسئلة، هل هي محادثات أو مفاوضات؟ وكيف تجري؟ ومَن يُجريها؟ وأين؟ وكيف؟ وما هي الشروط المطروحة؟

وفقاً لمصادر متابعة، فإنّ المحادثات الجارية هي غير مباشرة بين الأميركيين وحركة أنصار الله، ساحتها سلطنة عُمان، ويديرها رئيس الوفد اليمني المفاوض والناطق الرسمي باسم الحركة محمد عبد السلام، بمساعدة عضده الأيمن عضو الوفد المفاوض عبد الملك العجري.

وللتوضيح أكثر، فإنّ ما يجري هذه الأيام، ترتيبات لمفاوضات محتملة، مع مناقشة شروط حركة أنصار الله للقبول بالمفاوضات، فإنْ أذعن الأميركي لها، يبدأ التفاوض وإلا فلا.

تتولى سلطنة عُمان بشكل أساس، المحادثات التمهيدية غير المباشرة، بين الحركة وواشنطن، وتجري الحركة على جنباتها، اتصالات، مع دول أوروبية، تمثل بعضها في لقاء السفراء الأوروبيّين الذي عقد في الخارجية الإيرانية في طهران وقيل إنه يأتي في إطار مشاورات الجمهورية الإسلامية الإيرانية بغية الحلّ السياسي لأزمة اليمن، وشارك فيه وفد إيراني برئاسة مساعد وزير الخارجية في الشؤون السياسية الخاصة علي أصغر خاجي وهو من كبار الدبلوماسيين الهامين ووفد من أنصار الله برئاسة المتحدث بإسم أنصار الله محمد عبد السلام وسفراء ورؤساء ممثليات أربع دول أوروبية هي بريطانيا وفرنسا والمانيا وايطاليا.

أعقب ذلك تعيين صنعاء ابراهيم الديلمي، سفيراً فوق العادة ومفوضاً في الجمهورية الاسلامية الإيرانية.

أحداث لا تنفصل عن بعضها لا سيما إذا ربطناها، بلقاء عبد السلام، بنائب وزير الخارجية الروسي ميخائيل بوغدانوف، وإجرائه اتصالاً بالسفير الصيني لدى اليمن، ثم لقاء بسفير بريطانيا في اليمن مايكل آرون.

اذن، نفي عضو المكتب السياسي لحركة أنصار الله محمد البخيتي لوجود مفاوضات مع الأميركيين، كان صحيحاً، لأنه ليس هناك من مفاوضات مباشرة فعلاً، اما التصريح الأدق بهذا الشأن، فجاء من العجري، بقوله إنه بـ فرض حصول أيّ حوار مع الولايات المتحدة فسيكون باعتبارها جزءاً من الحرب وتملك الكثير من مفاتيح إيقافها ، مضيفاً «إننا ننظر للدعوات الأميركية بنوع من الريبة ونشك في جديتها ودوافعها سواء انتخابية أو للتخلص من ضغوط الرأي العام أو لإبراء الساحة الأميركية».

المهمّ في الأمر، أنّ طلب اجراء مفاوضات سرية مباشرة بين السعودية من جهة وحركة أنصار الله من جهة ثانية، جاء بطلب من الولايات المتحدة الأميركية وليس من صنعاء، لأسباب ابرزها:

وصول الإدارة الأميركية الى قناعة بأنّ الحلّ لن يكون عسكرياً في اليمن، وكلما طال الوقت كانت الهزيمة الكبرى للسعودية في الساحة اليمنية أقرب. وترامب يريد إخراج نفسه وأتباعه السعودية والامارات من مأزق اليمن بعد ان بدأت صواعق اليمنيين تحرق المطارات والمواقع العسكرية والمحطات النفطية السعودية والإماراتية، ما يهدّد بإسقاط نظاميهما، وتكون أميركا و اسرائيل الخاسر الأكبر.

الرئيس دونالد ترامب يعمل على ترتيب أوضاعه تمهيداً للانتخابات الرئاسية وهو لا يريد أن يفاجَأ بأيّ طارئ، لذا هو يعمل على إيجاد تسوية «هرب» من أفغانستان مع طالبان، ويكثف جهوده للحصول على نتيجة مع نظيره الكوري الشمالي كيم جونغ اون، ويكثف الضغوط على طهران، لإخضاعها، ويسرّع في العمل لطرح «صفقة القرن».

أهداف تدركها صنعاء جيداً، ولا تريد أن تبيع لترامب إلا بالأغلى، خاصة أنّ الطلب الأميركي بالمفاوضات يأتي في أعقاب هزائم السعودية في اليمن، وتصدّع وتشقق تحالف العدوان وآخره صراع النفوذ الإماراتي السعودي في جنوب اليمن، وتحوّل اليمنيين من موقع الدفاع الى موقع الهجوم.

أمام هذه الحقائق فإنّ اليمنيين يشترطون قبل بدء المفاوضات:

1 – التأكد من انّ الأميركيين، جاهزون لإنهاء العدوان.

وقال عضو الوفد المفاوض عبد الملك العجري في اتصال أجريته معه شخصياً ، نحن نعتبر التفاوض معهم الأميركيين طبيعي، لأنهم القيادة الفعلية للعدوان مع الرياض، لكن لم تتأكد لدينا جدّيتهم بعد، بأنهم جاهزون لإنهاء العدوان، وليس فقط لإبراء ساحتهم ، وعندما سألته، وإنْ تأكدتم من جديتهم هل تبدأ بعدها المفاوضات؟ أجاب عندها لكلّ حادث حديث .

2- وقف العدوان ورفع الحصار عن اليمن بما فيه مطار صنعاء، قبل البدء بالمفاوضات.

3 – التفاوض لا يكون مع السعوديين بل مع الأميركيين.

4 – توفير مظلة دولية للمفاوضات، دورها، تأمين الضمانات لتنفيذ ما يتمّ الاتفاق عليه، لأنّ ترامب والسعوديين لا يفون بالتعهّدات . وهناك رأي عند بعض مسؤولي حركة أنصار الله أن يُصادق على أيّ اتفاق محتمل في مجلس الأمن الدولي.

بكلّ الاحوال وبمجرد ان تجبر أميركا الراعي الرسمي للعدوان على اليمن منذ خمس سنوات على طلب مفاوضات مع أنصار الله، فهذا يعني:

1 – اعتراف أميركي بحركة أنصار الله كقوة شرعية يمنية، وبأنها قوة تفاوض بشكل ندّي مع الأميركيين لا من موقع ضعف.

2 – إقرار أميركي بأنّ من انتصر في العدوان على اليمن هم اليمنيون وحركة أنصار الله، ولو كانت الغلبة لتحالف العدوان لما اضطر الرئيس ترامب على طلب المفاوضات بل كان أكمل العدوان حتى أكمل القضاء على اليمن وأهله، والدليل انه حصلت مفاوضات عدة مرات سابقاً، وأسفرت عن اتفاقات، وكان ينقضها الأميركي واتباعه في التحالف العدواني.

3 – فشل منظومات الدفاع الجوي الأميركية الأكثر تطوّراً في صدّ وكشف صواريخ أنصار الله البالستية وطائراتهم المسيّرة التي وصلت الى أقصى الأراضي السعودية والإماراتية، واستهدفت مطارات ومواقع نفطية وعسكرية حيوية. وفي المقابل انتصرت وتفوّقت التقنية البالستية اليمنية، والطائرات المسيّرة المحلية الصنع.

اذن حركة أنصار الله لن تبدأ مفاوضات الا إذا ضمنت الحق اليمنيين وإعادة الحق الى أهله.

خبير في شؤون إيران والشرق الأوسط.

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US Bases in the Region: The Precious Catch

By Staff

Rouhani: Foreign Forces Main Source of Tension in the Region

By Staff, Agencies

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani stressed that any presence of foreign forces in the Gulf will only cause even more tension in the region, amid reports that the UK and the US are pushing for a joint force to escort oil tankers as they pass through the Strait of Hormuz off Iran.

Iran makes constant efforts to ensure the Sea of Oman, the Gulf and the Strait of Hormuz remain safe passageways for international shipping, Rouhani said during a meeting with visiting Omani Foreign Minister Yusuf bin Alawi in Tehran on Sunday.

“The presence of foreign forces wouldn’t help the regional security, and if anything, it would actually be the main source of tension,” he added.

The remarks come as both the UK and the US are leading two sharply different plans for patrols in the Gulf.

Washington has been pushing for a scheme whereby nations protect their own ships but partake in joint operations to monitor the waterways to prevent incidents.

The administration of US President Donald Trump claims that the patrols are needed to protect the ships from threats it says are coming from Iran, following several mysterious attacks that damaged oil tankers and cargo ships in the Sea of Oman over the past weeks.

The US and some of its allies have blamed Iran for the attacks, a claim Tehran has vehemently denied. Iranian officials have warned countries in the region to watch out for false flags by “foreign players.”

The UK, on the other hand, has been trying to put together a European force to protect vessels moving through the Strait of Hormuz, after Iran seized a British-flagged tanker this month for attempting to flee the scene of a collision with an Iranian fishing boat in violation of international rules.

Tensions flared up between London and Tehran after the UK navy seized Iranian oil tanker Grace 1 in Gibraltar, claiming that it was carrying oil to Syria in violation of the European Union’s sanctions against Damascus.

Elsewhere in his remarks, Rouhani told Bin Alawi that London’s move was illegal and would prove “costly” for them.

Rouhani asserted that Iran continues to stand against any breaches of law that endangers the safety of shipping in the Gulf, the Strait of Hormuz and the Sea of Oman.

He argued that all of the regional issues were connected and, therefore, every government in the region needed to help maintain peace and stability there.

Reconstructing Syria and paving the way for Syrian refugees to return, ending the Saudi-led war on Yemen and stopping ongoing “Israeli” crimes against the people of Palestine were some of the key issues that he said had to be resolved.

Rouhani reiterated that Tehran has never started tensions in the region, unlike the American officials, whom he accused of causing frictions with their “delusions” and their decision to leave the 2015 Iran nuclear deal.

Bin Alawi, for his part, said Oman and Iran needed to overcome all challenges and help keep the region secure.

He emphasized that without Iran it was not possible to keep the region safe.

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

Global Research, July 08, 2019

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

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

**

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

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

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

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

1. Iran’s Military

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

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

2. Evolving Structure of Military Alliances

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Gulf of Oman

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

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

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

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

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

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

US Central Command Forward Headquarters Located in Enemy Territory

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Split of the GCC

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

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

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

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

The Gulf of Oman 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


May 21, 2017: US-Islamic Summit in Riyadh

May 23, 2017: The blockade and embargo of Qatar

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

An impossibility?

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

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