Imam Khomeini had a rather practical turn of mind: Falk

TEHRAN – Forty-one years have passed since Mohammad Reza Pahlavi, upon failure to attract popular support, fled Iran forever

January 17, 2020 – 13:2

Over the past decades, despite being faced with threats, provocations, harsh sanctions, and even a variety of covert interventions, Iran has been more stable than ever- a fact even acknowledged by Professor Richard Falk as the former UN Special Rapporteur.

Falk, who came to Tehran as a member of an American delegation in 1979, has an interesting narrative of Bakhtiar’s desperation on the day of Shah-Escape. 

As Iran marks 41th anniversary of Islamic revolution, we asked Professor Falk to share his experience from this historical trip and the visit he later had with the founder of Islamic republic of Iran Ayatollah Khomeini. 

Richard Anderson Falk is an American professor emeritus of international law at Princeton University. He is the author or co-author of 20 books and the editor or co-editor of another 20 volumes. In 2008, the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) appointed Falk to a six-year term as a United Nations special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Palestinian Territories occupied since 1967.   

Following is the full text of the interview:

Q: Before Iran’s Islamic revolution, as a member of an American delegation, you had a visit to Iran. What were the objectives of that trip?

A: I was chair of a small committee in the United States with the name, “Committee for the Defense of Human Rights in Iran,” which sponsored events with Iranian students and some prominent figures. It became active within university settings as the revolutionary movement gathered momentum in 1978.

The Committee had almost no funding, but had dedicated members, and achieved a certain visibility as there was so little attention being given to these historic developments in Iran unfolding as the months passed. The treatment of these issues in the mainstream media was not only mostly very pro-Shah but also quite uninformative, and even uniformed.

It was in this context that I received as chair of the Committee an invitation from Mehdi Bazargan to visit Iran in a delegation of three persons for a period of two weeks. The stated purpose of the visit was to convey to several Americans a better understanding of the revolution underway. I felt that it was important to accept this invitation precisely for the reasons given in the letter of invitation. Our objective, then, was to achieve this better understanding of the revolution movement in Iran, and do our best after returning to share the experience and our impressions as widely as possible, and this is what we did.

In this spirit I did my best to find two persons who would benefit from such a visit, possessed an open mind toward the challenge being posed to imperial rule in Iran, and had some access to media and influential audiences back in the United States. My first two choices both agreed to become members of the delegation along with myself. Ramsey Clark was my first choice. He had been prominent in government, having been Attorney General, was part of a well-known political family, and had previously been considered a possible candidate for the American presidency. Besides being extremely intelligence, Ramsey had a high profile that generated great media interest and had a reputation for telling unpleasant and inconvenient truths.

My second choice was Philip Luce, a prominent religious activist who achieved world fame by his public acts of opposition to the Vietnam War. He was a person of the highest integrity, and fearless in searching for the truth in controversial political settings.
The three of us made the trip without deep prior personal associations, but we got along very well throughout our time together in Iran, and subsequently. 

Q: How different was what you witnessed from the US media narratives of the Iranian revolution’s developments?

A: The differences were spectacular. The US media conveyed very little understanding of the character of the movement in Iran, and was perplexed by its strength and outlook. At the time, the Shah’s government was a close ally of the United States in the midst of the Cold War, and Iran’s strategic location with respect to the Soviet Union made it very important to Washington to keep the Shah’s regime in control of the country. As well, the US Government, having played an important role by way of covert intervention in the 1953 coup that restored the Shah to the Peacock Throne, there was a particularly strong commitment made in Washington to doing whatever was necessary to defeat this nonviolent mass movement led by a then still rather obscure religious figure. It was deemed unthinkable within the United States government that such a seemingly primitive movement of the Iranian people could produce the collapse of the Iranian government that had mighty military and police capabilities at its disposal, possessed a political will to use lethal ammunition against unarmed demonstrators, and gained the geopolitical benefits of a ‘special relationship’ with the most powerful state in the world deeply invested in upholding its regional interests. In such a setting the media reflected the propaganda and ideological outlook of the government, and was not a source of independent and objective journalism.

It was in such an atmosphere that we hoped that we could bring some more informed and realistic commentary on the unfolding revolutionary process in Iran, including identifying its special character as neither left nor right, seemingly led by a religious leader who remained virtually unknown in the West. It was even unclear to us at the time of our visit whether Ayatollah Khomeini was the real leader or only a figurehead, a temporary phenomenon. We hoped to provide some insight into such questions, as well as to understand whether the new political realities in Iran would produce confrontation or normalization. Was the United States prepared, as it was not in 1953, to live with the politics of self-determination as it operated in Iran or would it seek once more to intervene on behalf of its geopolitical agenda? 

Indeed, we did have some effect on the quality of Western media coverage of the developments in Iran. Ramsey Clark and myself were invited to do many interviews and asked for to describe our impressions by mainstream TV channels and print outlets. As a result, at least until the hostage crisis, discussion of Iran Politics became more informed and some useful political debate emerged, at least for a while.  

Q: You met the then Prime Minister of Iran Shapour Bakhtiar on the same day when Mohammad Reza Pahlavi left Iran. What was Bakhtiar’s assessment of the developments including Shah’s departure?

A: We had the impression from our meeting that the Prime Minister was uncertain about the situation and his own personal fate. Of course, we met with Mr. Bakhtiar at a tense time, only a very few hours after the Shah was reported as having left the country. Bakhtiar had a reputation. of being hostile to intrusions of religion in the domain of politics, and had a personal identity strongly influenced by French culture along with its very dogmatic version of secularism. When we met, the city of Tehran was in a kind of frenzied mood, with cars blowing their horns in celebration, and posters of Khomeini appearing everywhere. We had trouble maneuvering through the traffic so as to keep our appointment.

We found Mr. Bakhtiar cautious and non-committal, and possibly intimidated, not by us, of course, but by the dozen or so others in the room who were never introduced, and wore the clothes associated with security personnel. We assumed that at least some of these anonymous individuals were from the SAVAK, and maybe explained partly why Bakhtiar seemed so uncomfortable. When we asked his help in arranging a visit to prisoners confined in Evin Prison, he seemed unable to answer until he received guidance from one of these advisers present in the room. After a short, whispered instruction, the Prime Minister told us that a visit could be arranged on the following day to the political prisoners, but that we would not be allowed to enter the part of the prison reserved for common criminals. After being at the prison, we felt that the political prisoners were treated well, seen as possibly of a future ruling elite, while the ordinary criminals held no interest for past or present, and lived in crowded cells often with no windows.

Overall, we were left with not much clarity about how Bakhtiar viewed the future of his caretaker government. We had no real opinion on whether what he was saying to us with the others in the room was what they wanted him to say, or expressed his real views, or maybe reflected some sort of compromise. Would he be soon replaced, and his own role challenged as unlawful, or even criminal? We had the impression of a frightened bureaucrat lacking in leadership potential. Maybe our impressions were distorted by the reality that our visit took place at such a tense and difficult moment, which turned out to be transformative for the country and its people. As a result these impressions of a sad and entrapped individual may leave too negative a picture.  

Q: What was the Central Intelligence Agency’s assessment of the Iranian revolution’s developments? Did CIA have a lucid exact assessment of the revolutionary forces and Iran’s future political system?

A: We had no contact with the CIA, but did meet with the American ambassador to Iran at the time, William Sullivan, who had a counterinsurgency background with a militarist reputation. He gave us a briefing that was much more illuminating as to Iranian developments than was our meeting with the Prime Minister. Sullivan acknowledged that the U.S. was caught off guard by both the character and the strength of the movement, and was struggling to keep up with events. He told us that the Embassy had previously constructed no less than 26 scenarios of political developments that might threaten the Shah’s leadership, but not one was concerned about a threat to the established order mounted by Islamically oriented opposition. The American preoccupation, reflecting Cold War priorities, limited its concerns to containing the Marxist and Soviet-oriented left, and the belief that to the extent there was a political side to Islam it was aligned with the West in its anti-Communist agenda as evident in the setting of the Soviet intervention in Afghanistan. 

Somewhat to our surprise, Sullivan spoke of his acute frustrations in dealing with the Carter presidency, especially with the National Security Advisor, Zbigniew Brzezinski, who he claimed to be unwilling to accept the finality of the Shah’s loss of power or of the outcome of the revolutionary movement. Sullivan advocated coming to terms with the emerging new realities as representing America’s national interests, but he spoke very clearly of the resistance to this view at the White House. Sullivan partly attributed this stubbornness to the influence of the Iranian ambassador on. Brzezinski, a view later supported by State Department officials. 

Q: What were the issues discussed at a meeting you had in Neauphle-le Chateau with the late Islamic Republic’s founder Ayatollah Khomeini and how would you describe his personality?

A: We met for a long time, maybe three hours, and covered many issues. During the conversation, after some rather long introductions on our sides about our experience in. Iran, we listened and responded to concerns expressed by Ayatollah Khomeini. After that we posed a series of questions. I will mention here a few topics discussed that have a lasting interest. 

Ayatollah Khomeini’s first and understandable concern was whether the US Government would try to repeat the intervention of 1953 or live with the outcome of the revolution. Of course, we were not in a position to give a clear answer. We did think there was less disposition by the US to intervene than 25 years earlier, but we knew of the strategic importance attached to keeping Iran allied to the US in Cold War contexts and of the personal as well as ideological closeness between Carter and the Shah, especially after the Carter family spent New Year’s Eve in Tehran as the Shah’s guest in 1978, and Carter made his famous toast about the Shah being surrounded by the love of his people.

Ayatollah Khomeini was also concerned about whether the military contracts with the United States would be fulfilled now that there would be a change of government in Iran. This line of questioning gave us a sense that Ayatollah Khomeini had a rather practical turn of mind.
At the same time, he volunteered the view that he hoped that soon he would be able to resume his religious life, and explained taking up residence in Qom rather than Tehran seemed consistent with such an intention. Ayatollah Khomeini told us that he has reluctantly entered politics because in his words ‘there was a river of blood between the Shah and the people.’

When we asked for his hopes for the revolutionary government, this religious leader made clear that he viewed the revolution as an Islamic rather than an Iranian occurrence. He stressed this issue, but without any sectarian overtones. He did go on to say that he felt that the basic community for all people in the Islamic world was civilizational and religious, and not national and territorial. Ayatollah Khomeini explained in ways I subsequently heard from others, that territorial sovereign states built around national identity did not form a natural community in the Middle East the way it did in Europe.

Ayatollah Khomeini also made clear to us that he viewed the Saudi monarchy was as decadent and cruel as was the Shah, and deserved to face the same fate. He felt that dynastic rule had no legitimate role in Islamic societies.

We also asked about the fate of Jews and Bahais in the emergent Islamic Republic of Iran, aware of their close working relationships with the Shah’s governing structure. We found the response significant. He expressed the opinion that Judaism was ‘a genuine religion’ and if Jews do not get too involved in support for Israel, they would be fine in Iran. His words on this, as I recall them, were ‘it would be a tragedy for us if they left.’ He viewed Bahais differently because of their worship of a prophet after Mohammad, leading him to adopt the view that Bahais were members of ‘a sect’ and did not belong to ‘a true religion,’ and thus its adherents would not be welcome in the new Iran. Afterwards, I learned that Ayatollah Khomeini intervened to oppose and prevent genocidal moves being advocated in relation to the Bahai minority living in Iran, but I have no confirmation of this. 

Q: What was the last US Ambassador to Iran William Sullivan’s mission? He is known to be an anti-riot man. Did he give any intellectual help to Iran military or SAVAK (the secret police, domestic security and intelligence service in Iran during the reign of the Pahlavi)?

A: Of course, Sullivan never would tell us about his covert activities. He had the reputation of being ‘a counterinsurgency diplomat’ as he had served in Laos as an ambassador during the Vietnam War. It was at a time that the embassy was being used to take part in a Laotian internal war that included directing US bombing strikes against rebel forces.

With this knowledge, I was invited to testify in the U.S. Senate to oppose his confirmation. Unfortunately, my testimony did not prevent him from being confirmed as ambassador to Iran, although several senators at the time indicated to me privately their agreement with my testimony, but were unwilling to reject President Carter’s choice so early in his presidency. When in Iran I urged the meeting, and Ramsey Clark was skeptical at first, saying that he had had an unpleasant encounter with Sullivan some years earlier. I convinced Ramsey that the credibility of our trip would be compromised if we made no effort to get the viewpoint of the American Embassy. We did make an appointment, Sullivan’s first words as we entered were “I know Professor Falk thinks I am a war criminal..” Yet he welcomed us, and talked openly and at length about the situation and his efforts to get Washington to accept what had happened in Iran. In retrospect, I think he hoped we would be a vehicle for making his views more publicly known.

He made the point that there were no social forces ready to fight to keep the Shah in power. The business community, or national private sector, was alienated by the Shah’s reliance on international capital to fulfill his development plans. The armed forces were also not favorable enough to the throne to fight on its behalf, complaining that the Shah’s abiding fear of a coup mounted against him, created distrust of his own military commanders, and led him to frequently shuffle the leadership in the armed forces. This resulted in a low level of loyalty, and helps explain why the military watched the political transformation take place without showing any pronounced willingness to intervene, despite being nudged in an interventionary, especially in the context of a visit by an American NATO general at the height of the revolutionary ferment. The general was widely reported to be exploring whether it was plausible to encourage the Iranian military to defend the established order. 

We also asked about what would happen to the surviving leaders from the Shah’s government who had been accused of crimes against the Iranian people. Ayatollah Khomeini responded by saying that he expected that what he called ‘Nuremberg Trials’ would be held to hold accountable leading figures from the fallen government, and some from bureaucratic backgrounds, including SAVAK officials. We wondered why this plan was not later followed, and why those from the Shah’s regime accused were often executed after summary, secret trials. We knew some of those who had led the revolution had received support from the CIA during their period as students overseas or even when serving as mosque officials, which would be damaging and confusing to make public at a time of such uncertainty. It is important to remember that until the Islamic Revolution in Iran, Western intelligence assumed that the anti-Marxist approach of those of devout Islamic faith would make all religiously oriented personalities strong allies of Western anti-Communism, a view that persisted to some extent until after the Afghanistan resistance to Soviet intervention which was headed by Islamic forces, and was only decisively shattered by the 9/11 attacks on the World Trade Center and Pentagon in the United States. 

Q: Why did the liberal–Islamist groups fail to secure the support of Ayatollah Khomeini at the end of the day?

A: It is difficult for an outsider like myself to comment on the internal politics in that revolutionary period. The situation in Iran was still fluid, and worries about a counterrevolutionary coup to bring the Shah back to his throne a second time were widespread. Added to this, the change in Iran came so quickly. Several secular personalities of liberal persuasion told us that ‘the revolution happened too quickly. We were not ready.’ 

Ayatollah Khomeini while still in Paris, seemed originally to believe that liberal Islamically oriented bureaucrats would be needed to run the government on a day to day basis. He may have envisioned a governing process relying on technical experts, especially to achieve good economic policies and results that he thought necessary to keep the support of the Iranian masses. Such expectations seem to be not entirely consistent with the vison of Islamic Government set forth in his published lectures, available to us in English, that were written while he was living as an exile in Iraq. His insistent theme in the lecture was that a government consistent with Islamic values could not be reliably established on democratic principles without being subject to unelected religious guidance as the source of highest authority.

We also were aware of several other explanations for this about face on the governing process. Some in Iran believed that Ayatollah Khomeini only discovered his political popularity after he returned to the country, and this made him believe he had a mandate to impose a system of government that reflected his ideas. Others offered the opinion that he became convinced by his entourage of advisors that the revolutionary spirit and agenda was being lost by the liberals, and hence were urging him to take direct and visible charge of the government. And finally, there arose the view that the liberals were given a chance, and their performance disappointed Ayatollah Khomeini, leading him to reenter politics and move to Tehran to lead the country. As far as I know, this story of transition from the Pahlavi Era to the Islamic Republic remains veiled in mystery.  Hopefully, before long the mystery will disappear with the appearance of more authoritative accounts of what transpired after the Ayatollah Khomeini returned to the country.

What we do know is that what was established in this transition period has survived for more than 40 years despite being faced with threats, provocations, harsh sanctions, and even a variety of covert interventions. Arguably, Iran has been as stable as any country in the region, and more stable than most. This is impressive, although it does not overcome some criticisms directed at violations of basic human rights of people in Iran.

Trump – You Are Awesome, Nice, and Naughty

By Heba Mourad

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Donald J Trump 835c3

President Donald Trump,

I grew up on an American School campus, all I sang was “coming ‘round the mountain.” I played Basketball and being short and swift made me a good three pointer, playing most of the time as a pivot. When I learned American football I became quickly good at tackling but I always unintentionally hurt my friends so I stopped playing. My favorite food was McDonalds and Wendy’s and I was obsessed about cinnamon rolls and apple pies. As Cliché as it sounds, it’s what it was. We had classes on American Culture and others on World History; mainly from an “American” perspective. I was more American than Americans themselves. The Ideal place for me to live was on that spot of Earth, America. I loved English so much that I finally decided to major in translation studies. And as much as we were taught about the land of the free, I loved the idea of having this sort of ‘Utopian’ place be my home someday. But of course I grew up later to know there is no such American dream just like I realized there was no Santa Clause. Living in a neighboring country in West Asia, or what you insist to call the Middle East, we were always told that Iran was the bad guy. We heard all about the Iran-Iraq war and how dangerous Iran and its leaders are.

Then one day I grew up, and traveled across the world to learn more and have my worldview reshaped, or better say reborn. Leaving romanticism behind, I wanted to venture and get acquainted with different cultures and peoples. It was not until I decided to live in Iran in 2014, the Islamic Republic that I could understand what a marvelous country it is. And it was not until you came to power that I saw your lies on Iran firsthand. No one told me stories this time.

To spice things up a bit, I will contextualize some word and their semantics the way that fits you. Your empty threats and silly tweets are so “awesome”.  Of course I mean “awesome” as interpreted before the 19th century; when originally awful and awesome were synonymous. You are also naughty in the sense adopted during the 1300s. In the 1300s, naughty people had naught (nothing); they were poor or needy and indeed you are poor; you lack so much information and intelligence to be recognized as a president of some state. Of course the semantics of it during the 1400s also fits you, during the time, the meaning shifted from having nothing to being worth nothing, being morally bad or wicked. You are also nice, in the context of the 1300s through 1600s when it meant silly, foolish, or ignorant. In Old English, “pretty” meant crafty and cunning, typically you. Today, during the 21st century, they call a person who sort of has all these traits a ‘Sly’ and this defines your ‘mental’ morphology. Of course American media has been describing you with a variety of adjectives and words, both simple and complex. Politico is one example describing you as: Real estate mogul, billionaire, reality show host, late-night show punch line, populist rabble rouser, norm-busting leader — impeached president.

In language, like everything else, change can be hard to accept, just like it is really hard for you to digest and accept that Iran has changed since 1979 and has chosen to be independent, sovereign and different.

You use the same old US rhetoric on freedom and human rights and dictate whom you see as subaltern. Before I begin though, let me tell you that of course most of the American people are not happy with what you do, people across the globe understand that. We all know now you would sell your own mother for oil and fortune. You have been milking your Saudi minions and you threaten Iraq that if it does not pay you the billions of dollars you want, you will not leave their country. You have military bases and constitute a threat to the entire region. I will not discuss your Trumpain policies of plundering the riches of the world now, or your issues with the Hispanics, Blacks, and Muslims. From North Korea to the Middle East to Venezuela, you are out of favor in almost all parts of the world, except Israel and Saudi Arabia.

I will stick to giving you some advice on the current matter of concern; Iran.

  • During the holidays at your Mar-a-Lago resort, you decided to assassinate Iran’s General of the Quds Brigades Qassem Suleimani thinking that would make you get away with impeachment and give you a better chance of becoming elected again as president. All that mattered to you was your image, but you got it tainted badly. You gave a chance to the Islamic Republic of Iran, which has never launched war against one single state since 1979, to show you how invincible your army actually is. Iran had the right to retaliate to your act of war. Iran’s move was in self-defense. It is not the 19th or 20th century anymore. There is no room for your dictates and policies of supremacy at least with regional players like Iran, if not an international player within the new world context. Accept the new world order.
  • The military and anti-craft missile system in Iran being on a state of alert after the Ain al-Assad military base was hit, and American jets hovering around Iran, a human error caused the Ukraine flight 752 to crash. 176 people were killed. You rushed into mobilizing the Iranian people and the world against the Revolutionary Guards and the Iranian government. You said they denied responsibility. It took them only 3 days to bravely say the truth and apologize, despite the fact that we know now that the transponder for some mysterious reason was not working for 30 seconds before the missile struck. Today, January 14, New York Times analysis of flight path information and video of the missile strike determined that the plane stopped transmitting its signal for between 20 seconds and 30 seconds before it was hit.

I think people on Twitter have already reminded you enough that in 1988, the US shot down Iran Air 655 and killed 290 Iranians. The Vice President of the United States at the time George Bush not only refused to apologize but also honored the people who carried out the act. You, like many other of your forerunners, hardly ever take the blame for anything — especially the things that are your fault. Today, Iran shows how a government can admit a mistake and take responsibility. Iran could have denied and you know well it has allies who could have supported it but honesty is the best policy, and that is something you know nothing about.

  • You threaten Iranians to hit their cultural sites, you upsurge sanctions, vow to crush the economy, and then call on the ‘brave’ people of Iran to revolt. Sarcastically, if Iran wanted to retaliate and hit cultural sites in the US it would not find any or maybe it would be Wendy’s they can target. Unlike your America, Iran is a country of successive ancient civilizations and a long history. Of course Iran would not hit anything other than military sites when at war. Iran could have killed many of the 5 thousand American soldiers in Ain al-Assad military base. Iran, despite having the capability to build nuclear warheads refuses to do so, it is forbidden in their religion which is Islam by the way. The basic teachings of Islam are based on ethics; and war ethics are part of that. This is why Iran, which you keep accusing of domination schemes has not attacked one single country for 40 years since the victory of the Islamic Revolution. By contextualizing sovereignty and intervention in the world system, you try to annihilate any sort of attempt of independence, in West Asia at least. This is not news. One variable in particular has changed a lot though, and that is Iran, it has become stronger, more independent and more resolute.
  • You create terrorist groups like ISIS (Daesh), support them along with your Israeli and regional allies, and then tell Iran that you have common interests in fighting terrorism in the region. Stop your orientalist and double-standard approach. Your Islamophobic interventionist policies in the West Asia are not acceptable anymore. Bernard Lewis, the notorious Islamophobe who spent a long life studying Islam in order to demonise Muslims and mobilise the mighty military of what he called “the West” against the Muslims, “the other”, represents you well. Go get some decent education on the region, its religions, and people to know better how to deal with things. Even when it comes to Soleimani you made a fool out of yourself, thinking he was chief of the Kurds rather than the Head of the Quds Brigades.
  • An advice to you as President of the US moving towards isolation; some say you are a pathological liar, others say you are a fantasist. Well, neither option is good. One day you want to start war with Iran, another day you want to put immense pressure to see what you call “regime change”, then you want unconditioned talks with the Iranians. You denied any injuries or deaths among US troops in Ain al-Assad military base. You said the damage was not of a great deal. Reports surfacing gradually reveal there are a ‘few’ injuries among US soldiers and more dimensions of the tremendous damage are surfacing. Oh and please don’t tweet later to say you need Middle East oil again, be a man and bear the consequences of your speech and decisions when you say “We do not need Middle East oil anymore”. Learn how to stick to your word. Fluctuations in the American administration have been also providing the world a favor: unilateralism and lies will not work in the future.
  • Social media is becoming an increasingly important force in society. A lot of news is driven by online communication, you hit the tweet button more than normal and your tweets are inconsistent. Your twitter threads and page have become a topic of interest to linguists. Geoffrey Pullum, a linguist at University of Edinburgh, argues that there’s more going on than just a conversational, I’ll-let-you-fill-in-the-gaps-style in your linguistic skills. He says your speech suggests a man with scattered thoughts, a short span of attention, and a lack of intellectual discipline and analytical skills. What also amazes many is not the form or the meaning of your language; it is rather the big fat lies. Of course the lies I mentioned on Iran is just a bit of the 13,435 “falsehoods” you have told between January 20, 2017, and October 9, 2019. Another linguist who analyzed Trumpian rhetoric says “taking the meaning of ‘Believe me’ literally, you skeptically think that Trump can’t be believable if he has to tell his listeners to believe him all the time.”
  • Iran has a population of roughly 85 million people if not more than that. I will discuss this using your democratic values. We may admit that 3 thousand people are taking part in the protests; majority wins. 77 million do not want to topple the government. Get over that. The discursive strategy that you like is exaggeration, and words and phrases such as ‘bigly’ ‘huuuuge’, ‘millions and millions’, and ‘a lot’ to impress people or have an impact on them.
  • For two years, you have exerted “maximum pressure” through sanctions and isolation, to force new concessions from Tehran. All my Iranian professors, classmates, friends, acquaintances, and colleagues are firm on the fact that Iran will no longer make concessions. This time you have to understand that your only way out is to withdraw your troops and save face before it is too late and you see the ‘horizontal’ or ‘vertical’ shipments of your troops going back home.

The crisis of the United States’ post–Cold War foreign policy has been a long time in the making. After all the mess you have created for your country, it is time to think of a new concept. The United States should accept a more modest role in world affairs and understand that the era of colonialism and post-colonialism has reached zero hour at least for Iran and its allies. Whether you like it or not, your troops will be forced out of West Asia. Until then, you can either keep playing golf for long hours to distract yourself or you can freeze in fear every time a rocket hits a US military base.

US Reportedly Tells European Allies to Pressure Iran or Face 25% Auto Tariffs

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00:56 16.01.2020

Under the Trump administration, the United States has widely expanded its economic leverage to renegotiate international agreements which it considers inequitable to US economic or strategic interests.

The Trump administration quietly threatened last week to impose tariffs on key European nations, just before they officially accused Iran of breaching the 2015 Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) nuclear deal, the Washington Post reported on Wednesday.

According to EU officials familiar with the talks, the United States threatened to impose a 25-percent tariff on European automobiles from Germany, France and Britain, if they refused to condemn Tehran’s actions and trigger a trade dispute mechanism within the deal.

Days after the alleged ultimatum, the 3 countries formally accused Iran of violating the agreement, triggering a fallback option which could reimpose United Nations sanctions on Iran, thus destroying the residual accords of the Obama-era nuclear deal.

“We’ve been very clear that the JCPOA was a horrible deal”, an unidentified senior US official within the Trump administration said, when asked about the tariff threat, cited by the WaPo.

The unnamed official acknowledged, however, that the Europeans were already moving towards triggering the dispute resolution before the US threat was issued.

“The consensus among the Europeans about the need to hold Tehran accountable took form weeks ago and was driven by Iran’s escalatory behavior and violations of the nuclear deal,” the official said, according to WaPo.

It is unclear whether the so-called EU 3 issued the criticism against Iran due to the US threat or whether interests just happened to align in this circumstance, as both blocs maintain an interest in triggering the mechanism.

The United States views the mechanism as a means of reimposing full sanctions on Iran within 65 days, while EU powers see it as a necessary way to ultimately restore the deal, reduce tensions, and prevent a nuclear-armed Iran.

Abbas Araghchi (Center R), political deputy at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Iran, and Helga Schmid (Center L), Secretary General of the European Union's External Action Service (EEAS), take part in a meeting of the Joint Commission of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) attended by the E3+2 (China, France, Germany, Russia, United Kingdom) and Iran on July 28, 2019 at the Palais Coburg in Vienna, Austria.

© AFP 2019 / ALEX HALADAAbbas Araghchi (Center R), political deputy at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Iran, and Helga Schmid (Center L), Secretary General of the European Union’s External Action Service (EEAS), take part in a meeting of the Joint Commission of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) attended by the E3+2 (China, France, Germany, Russia, United Kingdom) and Iran on July 28, 2019 at the Palais Coburg in Vienna, Austria.

A New Transatlantic Relationship

Trump has previously used tariffs against the EU to win favourable trade concessions, but has yet to use them to influence foreign policy.

The policy is, however, indicative of the way the Trump administration views geopolitics, seeing the world through an ‘America First’ lens and willing to use economic leverage to reorganise the global geopolitical balance.

Opposing the Iranian nuclear deal has been the position held by the US since Trump’s election in 2016, characterizing the Iran nuclear deal as “unfair” to the United States.

The Europeans, however, have maintained their dedication to the deal, with EU leaders repeatedly saying, in line with international nuclear inspectors, that Iran has consistently been found to be in compliance with the landmark peace deal.

“The tariff threat is a mafia-like tactic, and it’s not how relations between allies typically work” said Jeremy Shapiro, research director at the European Council on Foreign Relations.

A Deal Scrapped 

Due to the recent heating up of tensions between the US and Iran beginning with the withdrawal of the US from the JCPOA and the assassination of top Iranian General Qasem Soleimani on 3 Janurary, Iran has begun to enrich uranium beyond the limits set by the deal.

The JCPOA was signed and ratified in 2015 by the US, Iran, Russia, China, France, Germany, United Kingdom and the EU.

The purpose of the deal is to allow – but limit – Iran’s uranium enrichment program, to be used only for peaceful nuclear power and other research purposes, seeing Tehran agreeing to scrap its stockpile of medium-enriched uranium, cut its stockpile of low-enriched uranium by 98 percent, and reduce its number of gas centrifuges by around two-thirds.

What’s Behind The West’s Hatred of Iran?

By Stuart Littlewood

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Mohammad Mosaddegh 82014

Nobody saw that coming. Trump ordering Soleimani’s execution, I mean.

Nobody thought even he was quite so stupid.

It follows his last year’s caper when the “cocked and loaded” drama-queen ordered military strikes against Iran’s radar and missile batteries in retaliation for their shootdown of a US spy drone. He changed his mind with only minutes to spare on account of a reminder that such lunacy might actually cost human lives.

Plus the fact that the drone was eight miles from the coast, well inside the 12 nautical miles considered to be Iran’s territorial waters under the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea, and it clearly represented a military threat and provocation. So he had no lawful claim of self-defense that would justify a military attack.  The United Nations Charter only allows the use of military force in self-defense after an armed attack or with Security Council approval. So his proposed action would have been illegal as well as unwise, but none of that seemed to enter into his calculations then, or now.

Before that we had Trump’s executive order in August 2018 reimposing a wide range of sanctions against Iran after pulling the US out of the seven-party nuclear deal for no good reason, a spiteful move that annoyed the EU and caused  all sorts of problems for other nations. And he was going to impose extra sanctions aimed mainly at Iran’s oil industry and foreign financial institutions.

“If the ayatollahs want to get out from under the squeeze,” warned US national security adviser John Bolton, “they should come and sit down. The pressure will not relent while the negotiations go on.” To which Iran’s president Hassan Rouhani responded: “If you stab someone with a knife and then you say you want talks, then the first thing you have to do is remove the knife.”

United Nations Special Rapporteur Idriss Jazairy described the sanctions as “unjust and harmful…. The reimposition of sanctions against Iran after the unilateral withdrawal of the United States from the Iran nuclear deal, which had been unanimously adopted by the Security Council with the support of the US itself, lays bare the illegitimacy of this action.”

The other countries party to the nuclear deal – Russia, China, Germany, France, the UK and the EU – vowed to stick with it and continue trading with Iran, some EU foreign ministers saying Iran was abiding by the agreement and delivering on its goal when Trump withdrew and they deeply regretted the new sanctions. Trump in turn called Iran “a murderous dictatorship that has continued to spread bloodshed, violence and chaos.”  The irony of such a remark was, of course, completely lost on him.

I read today that the EU “will spare no efforts” to keep the nuclear deal with Iran alive though I doubt if Boris Johnson, passionate Zionist that he is, will be among them.

When it comes to aggression and dishonesty the US has form, and lots of it. Who can forget during the Iran-Iraq war the cruiser USS Vincennes, well inside Iran’s territorial waters, blowing Iran Air Flight 655 to smithereens and killing all 290 passengers and crew on board? The excuse, which didn’t bear examination afterwards, was that they mistook the Airbus A300 for an Iranian F-14 Tomcat manoeuvring to attack.

George H. W. Bush commented on a separate occasion: “I will never apologize for the United States – I don’t care what the facts are… I’m not an apologize-for-America kind of guy.” Trump seems to have caught the same disease. And, from the outside, the White House itself seems home to the the sort of “murderous dictatorship” he describes.

The need to continually demonize Iran

When I say the West’s hatred of Iran, I mean primarily the US-UK-Israel Axis.  Ben Wallace, UK Defence Secretary filling in for Boris Johnson who had absented himself, has told Parliament: “In recent times, Iran has felt its intentions are best served through… the use of subversion as a foreign policy tool. It has also shown a total disregard for human rights.” This is amusing coming from the British government and especially a Conservative one which adores Israel, the world’s foremost disregarder of human rights and international law.

Britain and America would like everyone to believe that hostilities with Iran began with the 1979 Islamic Revolution. But you have to go back to the early 1950s for the root cause in America’s case, while Iranians have had to endure a whole century of British exploitation and bad behaviour. And the Axis want to keep this important slice of history from becoming part of public discourse. Here’s why.

In 1901 William Knox D’Arcy obtained from the Mozaffar al-Din Shah Qajar a 60-year oil concession to three-quarters of the country. The Persian government would receive 16% of the oil company’s annual profits, a rotten deal as the Persians would soon realise.

D’Arcy, with financial support from Glasgow-based Burmah Oil, formed a company and sent an exploration team. Drilling failed to find oil in commercial quantities and by 1908 D’Arcy was almost bankrupt and on the point of giving up when they finally struck it big.  The Anglo-Persian Oil Company was up and running and in 1911 completed a pipeline from the oilfield to its new refinery at Abadan.

Just before the outbreak of World War 1 Winston Churchill, then First Lord of the Admiralty, wished to convert the British fleet from coal. To secure a reliable oil source the British Government took a major shareholding in Anglo-Persian.

In the 1920s and 1930s the company profited hugely from paying the Persians a miserly 16% and refusing to renegotiate terms. An angry Persia eventually cancelled the D’Arcy agreement and the matter ended up at the Court of International Justice in The Hague. A new agreement in 1933 provided Anglo-Persian with a fresh 60-year concession but on a smaller area. The terms were an improvement but still didn’t amount to a square deal for the Persians.

In 1935 Persia became known internationally by its other name, Iran, and Anglo-Persian changed to Anglo-Iranian Oil. By 1950 Abadan was the biggest oil refinery in the world and the British government, with its 51% holding, had affectively colonised part of southern Iran.

Iran’s tiny share of the profits had long soured relations and so did the company’s treatment of its oil workers. 6,000 went on strike in 1946 and the dispute was violently put down with 200 dead or injured. In 1951 while Aramco was sharing profits with the Saudis on a 50/50 basis Anglo-Iranian declared £40 million profit after tax and handed Iran only £7 million.

Iran by now wanted economic and political independence and an end to poverty. Calls for nationalisation could not be ignored. In March 1951 the Majlis and Senate voted to nationalise Anglo-Iranian, which had controlled Iran’s oil industry since 1913 under terms frankly unfavourable to the host country. Social reformer Dr Mohammad Mossadeq was named prime minister by a 79 to 12 majority and promptly carried out his government’s wishes, cancelling Anglo-Iranian’s oil concession and expropriating its assets.

His explanation was perfectly reasonable…

“Our long years of negotiations with foreign countries… have yielded no results this far. With the oil revenues we could meet our entire budget and combat poverty, disease, and backwardness among our people. Another important consideration is that by the elimination of the power of the British company, we would also eliminate corruption and intrigue, by means of which the internal affairs of our country have been influenced. Once this tutelage has ceased, Iran will have achieved its economic and political independence.” (M. Fateh, Panjah Sal-e Naft-e Iran, p. 525)

For this he would be removed in a coup by MI5 and the CIA, imprisoned for 3 years then put under house arrest until his death.

Britain was determined to bring about regime change so orchestrated a world-wide boycott of Iranian oil, froze Iran’s sterling assets and threatened legal action against anyone purchasing oil produced in the formerly British-controlled refineries. The Iranian economy was soon in ruins…. Sounds familiar, doesn’t it?

America was reluctant at first to join Britain’s destructive game but Churchill (prime minister at this time) let it be known that Mossadeq was turning communist and pushing Iran into Russia’s arms at a time when Cold War anxiety was high. That was enough to bring America’s new president, Eisenhower, on board and plotting with Britain to bring Mossadeq down.

Chief of the CIA’s Near East and Africa division, Kermit Roosevelt Jr, played the lead in a nasty game of provocation, mayhem and deception. Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi signed two decrees, one dismissing Mossadeq and the other nominating the CIA’s choice, General Fazlollah Zahedi, as prime minister. These decrees were written as dictated by the CIA.

In August 1953, when it was judged safe for him to do so, the Shah returned to take over. Mossadeq was arrested, tried, and convicted of treason by the Shah’s military court. He remarked: “My greatest sin is that I nationalised Iran’s oil industry and discarded the system of political and economic exploitation by the world’s greatest empire… I am well aware that my fate must serve as an example in the future throughout the Middle East in breaking the chains of slavery and servitude to colonial interests.”

His supporters were rounded up, imprisoned, tortured or executed. Zahedi’s new government reached an agreement with foreign oil companies to form a consortium to restore the flow of Iranian oil, awarding the US and Great Britain the lion’s share – 40% going to Anglo-Iranian. The consortium agreed to split profits on a 50-50 basis with Iran but refused to open its books to Iranian auditors or allow Iranians to sit on the board.

The US massively funded the Shah’s government, including his army and his hated secret police force, SAVAK. Anglo-Iranian changed its name to British Petroleum in 1954. Mossadeq died on 5 March 1967.

The CIA-engineered coup that toppled Mossadeq, reinstated the Shah and let the American oil companies in, was the final straw for the Iranians. The British-American conspiracy backfired spectacularly 25 years later with the Islamic Revolution of 1978-9, the humiliating 444-day hostage crisis in the American embassy and a tragically botched rescue mission.

Smoldering resentment for at least 70 years

And all this happened before the Iran-Iraq war when the West, especially the US, helped Iraq develop its armed forces and chemical weapons arsenal which were used against Iran.  The US, and eventually Britain, leaned strongly towards Saddam in that conflict and the alliance enabled Saddam to more easily acquire or develop forbidden chemical and biological weapons. At least 100,000 Iranians fell victim to them.

This is how John King writing in 2003 summed it up…

“The United States used methods both legal and illegal to help build Saddam’s army into the most powerful army in the Mideast outside of Israel. The US supplied chemical and biological agents and technology to Iraq when it knew Iraq was using chemical weapons against the Iranians. The US supplied the materials and technology for these weapons of mass destruction to Iraq at a time when it was know that Saddam was using this technology to kill his Kurdish citizens. The United States supplied intelligence and battle planning information to Iraq when those battle plans included the use of cyanide, mustard gas and nerve agents. The United States blocked UN censure of Iraq’s use of chemical weapons. The United States did not act alone in this effort. The Soviet Union was the largest weapons supplier, but England, France and Germany were also involved in the shipment of arms and technology.”

And while Iranian casualties were at their highest as a result of US chemical and biological war crimes what was Mr Trump doing? He was busy acquiring the Mar-a-Lago estate in Palm Beach, Trump Castle, his Taj-Mahal casino, the Plaza Hotel in Manhattan…. oh, and he was refitting his super-yacht Trump Princess. What does he know, understand or care about Iran and the Iranian people today?

On the British side our prime minister, Boris Johnson, was at Oxford carousing with fellow Etonians at the Bullingdon Club. What does he know or care?

The present Iranian regime, like many others, may not be entirely to the West’s liking but neither was Dr Mossadeq’s fledgeling democracy nearly 70 years ago. If Britain and America had played fair and allowed the Iranians to determine their own future instead of using economic terrorism to bring the country to its knees Iran might have been “the only democracy in the Middle East” today.

So hush! Don’t even mention the M-word: MOSSADEQ.

Iran slaps the US in the face after the murder of Martyr Soleimani as Trump backs down

January 09, 2020

By Aram Mirzaei for the Saker blog

Four days after the terrorist attack which killed Martyrs Soleimani and Al-Muhandis, the Islamic Republic retaliated with missile attacks on at least two military bases in Iraq where US troops were present. The retaliation was to be expected as popular demands and expectations were at an all-time high during the three day long funeral procession.

So on Wednesday night, on January 8th, at exactly the same time when the US conducted its terrorist attack four days earlier, the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps launched their missiles on the largest and most significant US military base in Iraq, Ain al-Assad where the US had gathered a large number of its troops after evacuating many bases in Shia dominated areas around Baghdad. Ain al-Assad is located in the western Al-Anbar province, and was the same base from which the drones that killed Martyrs Soleimani and Al-Muhandis were launched. There was also a second US base in Erbil that came under attack that night.

According to reliable sources, the Iraqi prime minister Adel Abdul Mahdi was informed by Iran about the imminent attack and relayed the information to the US forces who were prepared in advance. The IRGC attack was conducted with two types of missiles – the Fateh 313 and the Qiam types. These Precision ballistic missiles targeted specific areas of the airbase and were deliberately aimed at avoiding casualties. The idea was to only send a message to Washington and its vassals: “Don’t test us because we can and will hurt you badly”. Despite reports by Iranian state media about 80 casualties, a number reported to appease the domestic opinion, it is more likely that there were very few or rather zero casualties for the US occupation forces. However, it should be noted that the US refused to allow any Iraqis to investigate the site for the attacks, and no pictures whatsoever were released until at least 14 hours after the attack. Indicating that Washington was hiding something.

So why did Iran intentionally avoid killing US troops? The obvious reason for this- de escalation. But the ingenious part of the Iranian plan was to de-escalate the crisis without actually de-escalating it in public. Of course, the leadership in Tehran aren’t so eager for a war which will result in millions of lives lost, Iranians are still traumatized by the 8 year brutal Iran-Iraq war which caused the deaths of over a million Iranians.

The message was aimed to achieve several goals, the first I mentioned above.

The second goal can be identified in the decision to attack the base in Erbil, to show the US that its forces will not be safe in Erbil, and that they should not dare to think that they can remain in their vassal state of Kurdistan.

The third probable goal was to send Israel and the Gulf states a clear message. Throughout the night it was reported by several sources and outlets that Hezbollah had threatened to launch attacks on Israel if the US were to respond to Iran’s retaliations, while the Houthis in Yemen had threatened to launch their missiles on the Gulf states that are harbouring US troops. Meanwhile the Hashd Al-Shaabi had also threatened to turn the US embassy into ashes should they dare to attack Iran. This was a show of force by the Resistance Axis – to show Washington’s allies that the entire region will be engulfed in fire if Iran is attacked directly. It was also reported that night that the IRGC had warned Qatar and the UAE that any country that allowed its territory to be used as a springboard for a US attack would be considered a legitimate target for Iran’s retaliation.

But like I mentioned in my latest article, the true revenge for Iran would not be to strike back militarily, but to kick the US out of the region. This was confirmed by the Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei when he held a speech on Wednesday morning:

“The talk of revenge and such debates are a different issue. For now, a slap was delivered on their face last night,” Ayatollah Khamenei said in remarks broadcasted live on national television.

“What is important about confrontation is that the military action as such is not sufficient. What is important is that the seditious American presence in the region must end,” he said to chants of “Death to America” by an audience in Tehran.

The Leader hailed the Iraqi parliament’s decision ordering US troops to leave the country as well as the Iranian parliament’s blacklisting of American forces as terrorists.

“This measure by the Majlis was a very good blow. The Iraqi parliament’s act for the expulsion of America from Iraq was also very good. May God help them continue this path.”

“The Americans want Iraq to be like the former idolatrous regime in Iran or Saudi Arabia today – a region full of oil to be under their control so they can do whatever they want – a milking cow in the words of that individual,” Ayatollah Khamenei said in reference to US President Donald Trump.  

“But the faithful elements and the Iraqi youth and their Marja’iya (religious authorities) stood up to these scenarios and Haj Qassem assisted this vast front in the capacity of an active adviser and an honorable supporter,” the Leader added.

The Islamic Republic’s allies lauded the IRGC’s attack with statements of support from Syria, Hezbollah, Hashd Al-Shaabi and Houthis. The Islamic Republic’s moral victory and bravery during this crisis has encouraged the region to muster enough courage to dare to speak of the Terrorist Empire’s inevitable expulsion from West Asia.

The strike has also shown the world and especially Washington’s vassals in the region that the billions of dollars spent on purchasing “the best military equipment” in the world are useless as a deterrence against the Islamic Republic. This realization will push them to seek rapprochement with Tehran, and could even entice countries to seek to purchase Iran’s missiles.

Meanwhile, on Wednesday afternoon, US president Donald Trump held his speech in response to the attack. Speaking from the White House, Trump backed away from threatening further strikes against Iran, describing Tehran’s stand-down as “a good thing for all parties concerned.”

“Our missiles are big, powerful, accurate, lethal and fast…The fact that we have this great military and equipment, however, does not mean that we have to use it.”

Trump did, however, vow to impose new economic sanctions on the Islamic Republic, in addition to the thousand or so already imposed since the US withdrew from the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA, or Iran nuclear deal) in 2018. “These powerful sanctions will remain,” he said, “until Iran changes its behavior.”

After boasting about America’s “big missiles,” Trump spent the remainder of his speech suggesting that under a new deal, Iran could become a “great country,” and could cooperate with the US on areas of mutual benefit.

“ISIS [Islamic State, IS, ISIL] is the natural enemy of Iran,” he said. “The destruction of ISIS is good for Iran. And we should work together on this and many other shared priorities.”

(Trump during the moment of the IRGC missile attack)

I’m certain that any intelligent person understood that Trump got the message quite clearly. He spent major parts of his speech talking about the JCPOA and other matters, and his how “great” the US economy is – neither of those had anything to do with the crisis. Many people surely noticed how his tone changed – from previously threatening to destroy Iran’s cultural sites if Iran responded, to suggest that Washington was hoping for negotiations, once more proving many people’s points of Trump’s total incompetence when it comes to diplomacy.

Now that the Iraqi parliament have voted for the expulsion of US forces, which can be seen as the first retaliation for Martyrs Soleimani and Al-Muhandis’ killings (the second one being the IRGC’s attack), the US occupation of Syria is also in danger. Washington and its pathetic vassals, unless they wish to send their troops home in coffins, will have to respect Iraq’s decision or face the wrath of the Iraqi resistance forces.

The time when Washington can just hit other countries and threaten them to stand down is over. The Empire has been exposed and will no longer be able to freely terrorize the region without suffering consequences. One way or another the US will be removed from West Asia, beginning with Iraq.

The Soleimani Assassination: The Long-Awaited Beginning of The End of America’s Imperial Ambitions

By Philip Giraldi

Source

General Qassem Soleimani 440f3

The United States is now at war with Iran in a conflict that could easily have been avoided and it will not end well. There will be no declaration of war coming from either side, but the assassination of Iranian Quds Force Commander General Qassem Soleimani and the head of Kata’ib Hezbollah Abu Mehdi Muhandis by virtue of a Reaper drone strike in Baghdad will shift the long-simmering conflict between the two nations into high gear. Iran cannot let the killing of a senior military officer go unanswered even though it cannot directly confront the United States militarily. But there will be reprisals and Tehran’s suspected use of proxies to stage limited strikes will now be replaced by more damaging actions that can be directly attributed to the Iranian government. As Iran has significant resources locally, one can expect that the entire Persian Gulf region will be destabilized.

And there is also the terrorism card, which will come into play. Iran has an extensive diaspora throughout much of the Middle East and, as it has been threatened by Washington for many years, it has had a long time to prepare for a war to be fought largely in the shadows. No American diplomat, soldier or even tourists in the region should consider him or herself to be safe, quite the contrary. It will be an “open season” on Americans. The U.S. has already ordered a partial evacuation of the Baghdad Embassy and has advised all American citizens to leave the country immediately.

Donald Trump rode to victory in 2016 on a promise to end the useless wars in the Middle East, but he has now demonstrated very clearly that he is a liar. Instead of seeking detente, one of his first actions was to end the JCPOA nuclear agreement and re-introduce sanctions against Iran. In a sense, Iran has from the beginning been the exception to Trump’s no-new-war pledge, a position that might reasonably be directly attributed to his incestuous relationship with the American Jewish community and in particular derived from his pandering to the expressed needs of Israel’s belligerent Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

Trump bears full responsibility for what comes next. The neoconservatives and Israelis are predictably cheering the result, with Mark Dubowitz of the pro-Israel Foundation for Defense of Democracies enthusing that it is “bigger than bin Laden…a massive blow to the [Iranian] regime.” Dubowitz, whose credentials as an “Iran expert” are dubious at best, is at least somewhat right in this case. Qassem Soleimani is, to be sure, charismatic and also very popular in Iran. He is Iran’s most powerful military figure in the entire region, being the principal contact for proxies and allies in Lebanon, Syria and Iraq. But what Dubowitz does not understand is that no one in a military hierarchy is irreplaceable.  Soleimani’s aides and high officials in the intelligence ministry are certainly more than capable of picking up his mantle and continuing his policies.

In reality, the series of foolish attacks initiated by the United States over the past week will only hasten the departure of much of the U.S. military from the region. The Pentagon and White House have been insisting that Iran was behind an alleged Kata’ib Hezbollah attack on a U.S. installation that then triggered a strike by Washington on claimed militia targets in Syria and also inside Iraq. Even though the U.S. military presence is as a guest of the Iraqi government, Washington went ahead with its attack even after the Iraqi Prime Minister Adil Abdul-Mahdi said “no.”

To justify its actions, Mark Esper, Secretary of Defense, went so far as to insist that “Iran is at war with the whole world,” a clear demonstration of just how ignorant the White House team actually is. The U.S. government characteristically has not provided any evidence demonstrating either Iranian or Kata’ib involvement in recent developments, but after the counter-strike killed 26 Iraqi soldiers, the mass demonstrations against the Embassy in Baghdad became inevitable. The demonstrations were also attributed to Iran by Washington even though the people in the street were undoubtedly Iraqis.

Now that the U.S. has also killed Soleimani and Muhandis in a drone strike at Baghdad Airport, clearly accomplished without the approval of the Iraqi government, it is inevitable that the prime minister will ask American forces to leave. That will in turn make the situation for the remaining U.S. troops in neighboring Syria untenable. And it will also force other Arab states in the region to rethink their hosting of U.S. soldiers, sailors, Marines and airmen due to the law of unanticipated consequences as it is now clear that Washington has foolishly begun a war that serves no one’s interests.

The blood of the Americans, Iranians and Iraqis who will die in the next few weeks is clearly on Donald Trump’s hands as this war was never inevitable and served no U.S. national interest. It will surely turn out to be a debacle, as well as devastating for all parties involved. And it might well, on top of Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria and Libya, be the long-awaited beginning of the end of America’s imperial ambitions. Let us hope so!

A Dubious Official Story Masks the True Motives Behind the Soleimani Assassination

By Whitney Webb

Source

BAGHDAD — The recent assassination of Iran’s most popular and well-known general, Qassem Soleimani, has stoked fears that a new war pitting the U.S. and its allies against Iran could soon become a devastating and deadly reality. The airstrike that killed Soleimani, conducted by the U.S. in Baghdad, was conducted without the authorization or even prior notification of the U.S. Congress and without the approval of Iraq’s government or military, making the attack flagrantly illegal on multiple levels. The attack also killed Iraqi militia commander Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, who was an advisor to Soleimani.

“The assassination of an Iraqi military commander who holds an official position is considered aggression on Iraq … and the liquidation of leading Iraqi figures or those from a brotherly country on Iraqi soil is a massive breach of sovereignty,” Iraq’s Prime Minister Adel Abdul Mahdi said of the attack, adding that the assassination was “a dangerous escalation that will light the fuse of a destructive war in Iraq, the region, and the world.”

Notably, the assassination of Soleimani comes just a few months after an alleged Israeli attempt to kill the Iranian general failed and amid a well-documented and decades-long push by U.S. neoconservatives and Israeli officials for a U.S.-led war with Iran.

While the illegality of the assassination has been noted by many since news of the attack first spread, less attention has been given to the oddities of the Trump administration’s official reasoning and justification for the attack that has brought with it renewed tension to the Middle East. Per administration officials, the attack was aimed at “deterring future Iranian attack plans” as well as a response to a rocket attack at the K1 military base near Kirkuk, Iraq on December 27. That attack killed one U.S. military contractor and lightly wounded several U.S. soldiers and Iraqi military personnel.

Yet, the details of that attack — even per mainstream U.S. sources that often support U.S. militarism — are incredibly murky, and the name of the American killed and the identity of the company he or she was working for have not been released. Some media reports have referred to the contractor as a “Pentagon contractor” while others have used the term “civilian contractor,” leading some to speculate that the contractor might have been a private mercenary in the employ of the Pentagon.

In addition, no group has yet claimed responsibility for the attack and media reports have noted that the attack could just as easily have been conducted by remnants of the Islamic State as by the Iraqi Shia militia (Kataib Hezbollah) that was officially blamed by U.S. officials. An official investigation into the incident, being conducted by the Iraqi military, has yet to be concluded. Notably, the U.S. previously claimed it had compelling evidence to blame Iran for attacks on oil tankers in the Gulf of Oman last June, only to have staunch U.S. allies in the region claim that alleged U.S. evidence of Iranian involvement was insufficient.

Tim Shorrock

@TimothyS

“There are about 5,000 American troops in Iraq. The number of civilian contractors is far more difficult to track.” That’s journalistic malpractice. Trump is going to war to avenge a contractor’s death. We have a right to know who he or she is. https://nyti.ms/2Q2eQaB 

Members of Iraq’s Counter-terrorism Service (ICTS) perform during a graduation ceremony at a base near Baghdad. Rocket attacks against bases used by Iraq’s security services have killed an American security contractor and injured a dozen Iraqi officers.

American Contractor Killed in Rocket Attack in Iraq

Attack on Iraqi base near Kirkuk, also injured several American and Iraqi military personnel

nytimes.com

Furthermore, the U.S. had already responded to the death of the contractor, launching five different attacks in Iraq and Syria in late December, killing an estimated 25 and motivating Iraqi protesters to storm the U.S. embassy in Baghdad as many of those killed by those airstrikes were Iraqis. The subsequent airstrike that killed Soleimani seems like overkill for the official justification of avenging the death of one American.

Given the above, the question then becomes — is the Trump administration basing its assassination of a top Iranian general in Iraqi sovereign territory in clear violation of international law on the death of a single individual that the government will not even name? Even when five strikes were already launched to allegedly avenge that same individual?

Risking a regional war to allegedly avenge the death of an individual who was already avenged raises questions, especially for a President standing for re-election. The United States claims that the assassination was also intended to act as a “deterrent” against potential, future Iranian attacks, yet it is hard to justify the murder of a top general of a foreign power on foreign soil as a preemptive and preventative measure as opposed to one that would invite escalation. This is particularly true given that those that have most often sought an escalation in tensions between Iran and the U.S. and its Middle Eastern allies do not live in Tehran and Baghdad, but instead in Washington D.C. and Tel Aviv.

Failed assassination plots and domestic woes

Much has been written by MintPress and other outlets about the long-standing efforts by prominent neoconservatives in the U.S. as well as the Israel lobby and Israeli government to prod the U.S. into a major war with Iran. Neoconservative efforts at regime change in Iran have been decades in the making and the current presidential administration has several notable Iran hawks in prominent positions. Furthermore, both President Trump and his foremost ally in the Middle East, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, are facing domestic efforts aimed at removing them from office and are facing fresh elections, giving both leaders incentive to ratchet up tensions abroad to distract from their own domestic conflicts.

Iran Soleimani

Yet, the current pressure facing both Trump and Netanyahu in their respective policies is only the latest factor that has pushed both administrations into a renewed and increasingly desperate push to satisfy the decades-old effort of Iran hawks in both countries to stoke war and “reshape” the Middle East in favor of the U.S.-Israel axis.

Given the recent assassination of Soleimani, however, it is essential to point out that the U.S. airstrike targeting the Quds Force leader came just a few months after Israel tried but failed to assassinate the general. Indeed, the most recent of these failed attempts was slated to occur early last October and, per The Times of Israel,

The assassins planned to dig under a religious site associated with Soleimani’s father and set off an explosion under the building when he was inside, and then try to deflect blame so that it ignited an interfaction[al] religious war. The assassins prepared some 500 kilograms to use for the bomb.”

Israel’s government did not comment on the alleged plot, though it is notable that the plan to dig below a Muslim holy site and plant a bomb has been attempted by Israeli extremist groups in the past, groups which have a major foothold in Israel’s current government.

This alleged attempt by Israel to kill Soleimani came after claims that, in 2018, the Trump administration had given Israel a “green light” to assassinate the general. The report claimed that “there is an American-Israeli agreement” that Soleimani is a “threat to the two countries’ interests in the region” and was published by the Kuwaiti newspaper Al-Jarida, which is widely considered to be “an Israeli platform for conveying messages to other countries in the Middle East,” according to Israeli media.

Israel may have planned to assassinate the general as a means of provoking war with Iran, which Netanyahu was actively promoting last February. At the time, Newsweek reported that “Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has expressed his desire to go to war with Iran, and said he was meeting with dozens of foreign envoys, including those from the Arab world, in order to push the initiative forward.” Yet, with Israel’s closest ally having done the deed, Israel has kept relatively quiet about the incident, though Iranian officials have claimed that the assassination of Soleimani was jointly conducted by the U.S. and Israel.

Though the official yet dubious justifications for the strike have been given, the most likely result of the death of Soleimani is that it will “light the fuse of war,” as recently stated by Iraq’s Prime Minister. Whether Soleimani’s death alone will be enough to push the U.S., Iran and their respective allies to war remains to be seen, but what is certain is that the Trump administration seems content to continue to escalate the situation in pursuit of both long-standing ambitions of career war hawks as well as a release for quickly building domestic pressure ahead of the 2020 election.

Soleimani’s Assassination Is More than a Crime

By Andre Kortunov

Source

Qasem Soleimani 375e9

We do not know now and we will probably never know for sure what exactly pushed Donald Trump to endorse the assassination of General Qasem Soleimani. Was it the recent mob attack on the US Embassy in Bagdad? Was it the continuous pressure on the President by many US allies in the region – from Saudi Arabia to Israel – urging the White House to take more steps to stop the growing Iranian presence in the Middle East? Was it a flood of advice from self-proclaimed experts on Iran in Washington, who argued that elimination of Soleimani would shift the balance of powers in Tehran in favor of ‘reformers’ by depriving ‘hardliners’ of their most powerful and most popular leader? Or was it simply Trump’s anticipation of getting to media headlines as a strong and decisive global leader?

What we know, however, is that this decision was a clear violation of international law. The US President ordered the assassination of a high-level official from a foreign country, which was not in the state of war with the United States. Regretfully, the US foreign policy has crossed another redline. Though the White House together with CIA had planned assassinations of foreign leaders on many occasions in the past (just recall all the numerous attempts to kill Fidel Castro), US Presidents had never announced such goals publically, not to mention – had taken pride in arbitrary overseas killings.

Nevertheless, this is more than a crime. This is a serious mistake. Anybody who knows anything about Iranians argues that Tehran will have to respond to the US move, even if this response will not come tomorrow. No US allies in the region can feel safer today than they felt on January 2; Iran has many ways to undermine their security by using its strongholds and proxies in Yemen, in Syria, in Lebanon and in other locations all over the MENA region. State leaders in KSA, UAE and Israel should get prepared for the worst-case scenarios. The same applies to the US military personnel stationed in Iraq and in Syria – they will be the most apparent targets for the Iranian revenge. As for the balance of powers in Tehran, Iranian hardliners do not suffer a deficit of highly experienced and highly motivated leaders ready to replace Soleimani. If the domestic balance of powers shifts, it shifts in favor of the Revolutionary Guards, not the other way round. Will all these developments help Donald Trump in his reelection campaign? Hardly so.

One can hope that the Iranian reaction will not be emotional and excessive, but well-calibrated and properly measured. However, this tragic accident should also be signal to all regional and overseas players in the Middle East the time they still have to prevent a major war with unpredictable consequences is running out. Neither in Washington, nor in Tehran they are eager to start such a war, but the mixture of the Iranian pride and the US arrogance makes a highly explosive cocktail.

Unfortunately, all prospects for bilateral negotiations between Washington and Tehran are gone at least for another year. It means more than the end of hopes to reach a compromise on easing the US sanctions and on accepting some version of the “Macron oil plan”.  It also means that the risks of an inadvertent escalation in the region or of a direct US – Iranian conflict caused by a miscalculation, human or technical error, irresponsible behavior of proxies and so on, grows exponentially.

If the US – Iranian bilateral track if likely to remain blocked for some time ahead, it is even more pressing to activate the regional track. At the end of the day, if something disastrous happens in the region, the disaster will affect primarily local countries, not the US mainland. If there is no time and no political will around to put together a regional collective security system, one should at least think about a regional crisis management mechanism involving Iran and key neighboring Arab starts. Concerned overseas powers – like Russia, China, India, and EU – could assist in building this mechanism working with their respective regional partners. We should regard the assassination of General Qasem Soleimani as a wakeup call, not as a trumpet of the approaching Armageddon.

Iran Is Winning Strategic Struggle for Influence, even as US Cripples Its Economy

By Darius Shahtahmesibi

Source

Assad Khamenei 3619a

A new report has confirmed what some analysts have been saying for some time: that Iran is winning the regional struggle for strategic influence.

The 217-page report, published by the London-based International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS), is entitled “Iran’s Networks of Influence in the Middle East” and details Tehran’s use of proxy forces and networks throughout the region and the effects and benefits of its “minimum output” foreign policy strategy.

It is probably worth mentioning at this point that H.R. McMaster, Trump’s former national security adviser, was once an employee of the IISS. As was James Steinberg, a former US deputy secretary of state. Furthermore, at the end of 2016, the Guardian revealed that the organization had received £25 million ($32 million) from the Bahraini royal family (apparently almost half of its total income has come from Bahrain). Iran and Bahrain aren’t exactly close friends.

Notwithstanding the potential motives and bias of the IISS, the report definitely arrives at some interesting conclusions.

“The Islamic Republic of Iran has tipped the balance of effective force in the Middle East in its favor,” the report explains.

But here’s the crazy part. Iran is, and has been for years, completely pummeled to the ground by US-imposed sanctions. Many commentators have for some time now been predicting an impending collapse of the Iranian economy.

On top of that, and likely because of this fact, Iran’s military budget has consistently been low (especially when compared to the United States or any of Washington’s major allied powers in the region). This flies completely in the face of allegations that Iran is a regional aggressor and the number-one state sponsor of terrorism (with what money?), but don’t let this get in the way of a good story.

According to the US Defense Department’s annual review of the country, “Iran’s military doctrine is defensive. It is designed to deter an attack, survive an initial strike, retaliate against an aggressor, and force a diplomatic solution to hostilities while avoiding any concessions that challenge its core interests.”

In other words, despite being under the constant threat of war, whether from the US, Israel or Saudi Arabia, Iran is not looking for a fight. It maintains a much lower military expenditure than Saudi Arabia, Israel, and especially Washington, yet as the recent IISS report notes, it has emerged from the rubble of a war-torn Middle East region as a victor.

As Foreign Affairs (the Council on Foreign Relations’ magazine) explained in a recent article:

“Iran now enters its second year under maximum pressure strikingly confident in its economic stability and regional position.”

It is likely with this newfound confidence that Iran is beginning to dictate some shots of its own to the international community, particularly when it comes to the future of uranium enrichment. Foreign Affairs also explains that Iran has essentially weathered the storm of US sanctions and come up trumps all on its lonesome. Many of the people predicted to come to Tehran’s aid during the United States’ maximum pressure campaign have been nowhere to be seen.

According to the IISS report, Iran has been winning the regional geopolitical struggle for influence by developing asymmetric warfare, such as swarm tactics, drones and cyber-attacks. It has relied upon the Quds arm of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) to increase its operations throughout the Middle East, as well as to provide training, support and weapons to other actors allied to Tehran. The report also notes Iran’s relationship with Hezbollah, its role in the conflicts in Iraq and Syria, as well as its role (supposedly) in Yemen.

As my Kung Fu instructor once told me, you serve yourself in a confrontation best by using minimum output for maximum gain. Winning the lottery doesn’t entail that you then go to a casino and put all your money down on your first gamble. Just because you have it, doesn’t mean you have to expend it.

In comparison, Saudi Arabia has expended time, effort, billions of dollars and the lives of many innocent civilians waging a genocidal war in Yemen – and it’s still losing. As Bloomberg once explained:

“Saudi Arabia has better weapons than its enemies in Yemen, no surprise in a war that pits one of the richest Arab countries against the poorest. And still the Saudis are struggling to impose their will.”

Not only is it losing a war, it’s also losing an economic battle. At the beginning of the conflict, Reuters estimated that the war would cost Saudi Arabia approximately $175 million per month. However, even by the end of the first year of the war, the kingdom had to increase its defense spending by $5.3 billion. This trend has continued right throughout the conflict. At the end of 2016, Saudi Arabia had to announce a projected increase of 6.7 percent in defense spending for 2017, bringing its total budget to around $50.8 billion.

If the IISS report’s findings are correct, there may be a deep lesson in here for the US and its allies. Perhaps it’s not that Iran has emerged victorious despite the fact it has not spent billions of dollars invading other nations at any one time; but because it hasn’t been.

At the end of the day, how much influence can you exert when you forcibly invade, occupy and kill those countries you seek to influence?

Agreed on Four-Point US/Iran Deal?

By Stephen Lendman

Source

On Tuesday, Politico reported that Trump and Iranian President Rouhani “agreed on a four-point document brokered by Emmanuel Macron in New York last week as a basis for a meeting and relaunching negotiations between the US and Iran” — citing unnamed French officials, adding:

“(D)ays of shuttle diplomacy by Macron on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly” preceded the plan.

Reportedly, Iran agreed to abide by what it’s adhered to since its 1979 revolution, Politico failed to explain, quoting from the text it saw: 

Tehran agreed it “will never acquire a nuclear weapon (and will) fully comply with its nuclear obligations and commitments and will accept a negotiation on a long-term framework for its nuclear activities.”

It will also “refrain from any aggression and will seek genuine peace and respect in the region through negotiations.”

The above has always been Islamic Republic policy throughout its 40-year history. Claims otherwise are fabricated, no credible evidence ever supporting them.

The deal requires the US to “lift all the sanctions re-imposed since 2017…Iran will have full ability to export its oil and freely use its revenues.”

While the document says nothing about Iran’s ballistic program,  Politico quoted an unnamed French official saying “(i)t was clear to all that the negotiation over regional issues would necessarily include their ballistic program” — a nonstarter for Tehran.

Its ruling authorities won’t relinquish or compromise on what would self-inflict weakness, its ballistic and cruise missiles maintained and developed solely for self-defense against genuinely feared US and/or Israeli aggression.

Further, Politico should have highlighted that time and again, Trump and Pompeo stressed that (illegally imposed) US sanctions won’t be lifted. His regime imposed new ones instead, intended to crush Iran’s economy and immiserate its people.

Rouhani and Foreign Minister Zarif stressed that Tehran will continue pulling back from its voluntary JCPOA commitments, as permitted under the deal when other signatories breach it — clearly the case by the US and Europe.

Rouhani refused to meet with Trump on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly because he escalated sanctions war/economic terrorism. 

His actions repeatedly belie his hollow words, why he, his regime, and most others in Washington can never be trusted.

The US history of breaching treaties, bilateral agreements, and other deals shows what Iran is up against.

Years of good faith Tehran talks preceded agreement on the JCPOA, flagrantly breached by Trump months into his first year in office, compounded by all-out economic terrorism.

It’s part of longstanding US policy, seeking to replace all independent governments it doesn’t control with pro-Western puppet regimes.

The US doesn’t negotiate. It makes one-sided demands in return for empty promises, proved time and again – notably with Iran, North Korea, and Russia most recently.

Agreements can’t work unless all sides fulfill their obligations, clearly not how the US operates, notably with hardliners in change, reality under Trump.

The unnamed French official Politico quoted said Rouhani “agreed on the principles of the document, and he thanked the president because there is the explicit mention of the sanctions, (but) he wanted Trump to say before entering the meeting that he was lifting the sanctions.”

Trump publicly rejected the idea, showing his hardline position remains unchanged.

According to Politico, Rouhani reportedly said “France had prepared a plan that could be acceptable, because it was basically based on the demand that Iran must not seek nuclear weapons, which we had already said it wasn’t, requiring the US to lift all its sanctions,” adding: 

“These were the principles that the French had run by the Americans and then by us, so the principles that are being reported in newspapers around the world are right.” 

Politico unfairly criticized Iran, saying its “insistence on the US taking a first step…has consistently been a major hurdle in attempts to broker a resumption of negotiations.”

The broadsheet should have stressed that no one should negotiate with a gun at their head, along with explaining that unilaterally imposed US sanctions on any nation flagrantly violate the UN Charter.

The US, especially the Trump regime, bears full responsibility for hostile relations toward Iran, a nonbelligerent nation threatening no one.

Politico also quoted Macron’s reinvention of reality, claiming Trump can “change things — if he is convinced — very quickly, and he is not administration-driven, he decides alone and quickly,” adding: 

“President Rouhani is someone who needs to line up a whole system before negotiating. It’s almost the opposite.”

As long as US economic terrorism continues, along with falsely accusing Iran for things it had nothing to do with, Rouhani/Trump talks will accomplish nothing but further betrayal by the US.

What Politico should have explained, it ignored.

Promoting War, Opposing Peace, How Establishment Media Operate

By Stephen Lendman

Source

Establishment media never met a US war of aggression against a nonbelligerent/nonthreatening state they didn’t wholeheartedly cheerlead.

When the US goes to war or in their run-up, they operate as virtual Pentagon press agents — complicit in US high crimes of war and against humanity by their actions.

Since Iranians ended a generation of US-imposed fascist dictatorship in 1979, establishment media have been militantly hostile toward Tehran.

They joined the anti-Iran chorus in support of the Trump regime’s war by other means on the country, targeting its economy, harming its ordinary people most — reporting US disinformation, Big Lies and fake news about the country.

Not a shred of credible evidence suggests Iran seeks nuclear weapons, a nation at peace with its neighbors that never attacked another country preemptively, threatening none now, fostering cooperative relations worldwide.

No evidence suggests Iran had anything to do with striking key Saudi oil facilities on September 14 — what Yemeni Houthis claimed responsibility for.

The NYT is militantly hostile toward nonbelligerent Iran. In one article, it contradicted itself about the week ago attack on Saudi oil facilities, saying:

The “attack (came) from an unknown source, evidently using missiles and drones…Trump…blames Iran,” adding:

“The Iranian government ordered it because it views Trump as a weak negotiator who is afraid of war.”

More meaningless mumbo jumbo rubbish followed, including nonsense that “Iran may be betting that Trump will back down (by) escalating the situation…”

It’s hard believing editors allow the above rubbish to be published, not remotely reflecting reality.

Separately, the Times slammed Trump for not retaliating after Iran downed its spy drone last June — failing to explain it entered Iranian airspace illegally, didn’t respond to multiple demands to leave, before IRGC forces acted in self-defense, the legal right of all nations to hostile actions.

Attacking Iran earlier or any time preemptively is naked aggression under international law, ignored by the Times in its piece.

The Times: “Three months later, some of Mr. Trump’s own allies fear the failure to follow through was taken by Iran as a sign of weakness, emboldening it to attack oil facilities in Saudi Arabia this month (sic).”

Instead of stressing there’s no evidence supporting the claim, the Times also failed to ask obvious questions:

What was a US spy drone doing in Iranian airspace illegally? Why did it ignore repeated Iranian demands to leave? The incident was a hostile US action the Times and other establishment media failed to explain.

The Times quoted far-right official of the undemocratic Foundation for Defense of Democracies Reuel Gerecht, saying Trump’s “repeated failure to militarily respond to Iranian actions has been a serious mistake.”

Anything advancing peace over war warrants high praise, a notion rejected by the Times and other hawkish US media. 

Trump’s reluctance to strike Iran militarily hasn’t deterred his aggression in multiple theaters. Nor did it soften his all-out war on Tehran by other means — the same high crimes committed against Venezuelan social democracy, the real thing absent in the West.

CNN, the most distrusted name in television propaganda masquerading as news, slammed nonexistent Iranian “malign activity (not) thinning out,” claiming what doesn’t exist is “expanding.”

The Wall Street Journal falsely claimed Yemeni Houthis “warned foreign diplomats that Iran is preparing a follow-up strike to the missile and drone attack that crippled Saudi Arabia’s oil industry a week ago” —  citing unnamed sources that lied or don’t exist.

On Saturday, Houthi spokesman Mohammed Abdul Salam debunked the Journal’s Big Lie. Another followed, saying:

“In recent days, (so-called) people familiar with the matter said Iran let Houthi fighters know that they wanted their support in carrying out more attacks across the region (sic).”

The London Guardian accused Trump of “dithering over Iran,” saying it “makes America look weak and foolish” — promoting war like other Western chickhawk media instead of denouncing aggression.

Anti-Iran propaganda war wages. Without establishment media support, it would fall flat.

Unexplained is why nonbelligerent Iran at peace with its neighbors would change policy.

What possible strategic aim could it achieve by becoming an aggressor, giving the US a pretext for possible war?

Iran would have much to lose and nothing to gain by attacking the Saudis or another regional country.

What’s obvious goes unreported by establishment media, falsely blaming Iran instead about what no evidence suggests it had anything to do with.

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

Global Research, August 03, 2019
Global Research 8 July 2019

Updated, July 21, 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 a 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 has acquired (July 12, 2019) ahead of schedule Russia’s state of the art S-400 air defense system while 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.

Moreover, several NATO member states have taken a firm stance against Washington’s Iran policy:  “European allies are grappling with mounting disagreements over foreign policy and growing irritated with Washington’s arrogant leadership style.”

“The most important manifestation of growing European discontent with U.S. leadership is the move by France and other powers to create an independent, “Europeans only” defense capability” (See National Interest, May 24, 2019)

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. Neither would they cooperate with the US in the conduct of an air war.

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.


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.

The US is increasingly isolated in the Middle East and does not have the support of its NATO allies

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 (see map below).

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. Turkish 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 

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.

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 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 (see map, Oman territory at the tip of the Strait).

The width of the strait at one point is of the order of 39 km. 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 May 21, 2017  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 a Saudi embargo on Qatar (with the unofficial approval of Washington) which resulted in 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 following alleged statements by the Emir of Qatar. Was this event staged?

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.

June 7, 2017, Turkey’s parliament pass legislation allowing Turkish troops to be deployed to a Turkish military base in Qatar

January 2018, Qatar initiates talks with Russia with a view to acquiring Russia’s  S-400 air defense system.


Flash forward to mid-April 2019: Trump is back in Riyadh: This time the Saudi Monarchy was entrusted by Washington to formally launching the failed 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 were 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 Tehran.  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.

Egypt withdraws.

Kuwait and Oman officially took a neutral stance.

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 by Saudi Arabia and the UAE 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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The Spy Game: It Ain’t What It Used to Be

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August 1, 2019

The Tehran government has announced the arrest of seventeen Iranian citizens caught spying for America’s Central Intelligence Agency (CIA). Some of those arrested have already been sentenced to death. It is the third major roll-up of CIA agents in Iran that I have been aware of, the first occurring in 1991 involved 20 American agents. The second episode in 2011 led to the arrest of 30 spies. The earlier arrests reportedly eliminated what were presumed to be the entire networks of American agents operating inside Iran and it is to be presumed that the recent arrests will have the same impact.

The Iranians presented a considerable quantity of evidence, including photos and business cards of US government officials, to back up their claim of American spying but President Trump dismissed the report as “totally false” and “just more lies and propaganda” — while Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said: “I would take with a significant grain of salt any Iranian assertion about actions that they’ve taken.”

Iran’s press release on the arrests together with a briefing by an intelligence official supplemented by local media coverage provided some of the details. The seventeen reportedly had “sophisticated training” but those who had sabotage missions did not succeed. Other objectives included “collecting information at the facilities they worked at, carrying out technical and intelligence activities and transferring and installing monitoring devices.”

Some of the agents had reportedly been recruited by falling into what is referred to as a “visa trap” set by the CIA for Iranians seeking to travel to the US. This has long been the preferred tool for recruiting Iranian agents. The intelligence official handed out a CD with a video recording of an alleged CIA case officer speaking to an Iranian target, which was presumably recorded secretly. The video shows a blonde woman who speaks Persian with an American accent. The disc also included names of several US embassy staff in Dubai, Turkey, India, Zimbabwe and Austria who Iran claims were involved in the recruitment and training of the Iranian spies.

How exactly did the recruitments take place as there is no US Embassy in Tehran and few Americans resident in the country? Many of the Iranians were targeted when they walked into an American Embassy in a country to which they are free to travel, which includes Turkey and Dubai. In the words of the Iranian intelligence official, “Some were approached when they were applying for a visa, while others had visas from before and were pressured by the CIA in order to renew them.”

Others were targeted and recruited as spies while attending scientific conferences around the world. Those recruited received promises of money, eventual resettlement and a job in the US or medical assistance. To maintain contact with its agents inside Iran, the CIA would reportedly conceal spyware and instructions in containers that look like rocks, which would be planted in city parks or in rural areas. The Iranian agents would then recover the material, which might include false identification documents. It should be observed that fake rocks are a standard espionage tool. They are hollowed out to conceal spy-gear and communications. After they are in place, a signal is made to alert the agent that there is something ready to be picked-up. In the trade they are referred to as “dead drops.”

Why does the United States continue to spy on Iran with such ferocity? The Mullahs became a major intelligence target for Washington in the wake of the 1979 US Embassy hostage crisis, in which fifty-two American diplomats and intelligence officers were held for 444 days. The CIA mounted a major intelligence operation run from Europe that collected a wide range of information on the Iranian government and, increasingly, on its technical capabilities, including a suspected nuclear development program. In 2015 the CIA under President Barack Obama and Director John Brennan ramped up collection efforts against Iran as part of the verification process for the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA). More recently, Mike Pompeo, when CIA Director, further increased efforts against Iran when the Trump Administration withdrew from that agreement in the belief that Iran represented a rogue nation and a threat to United States interests and allies. In reality, of course, there is no real American vital interest relating to Iran and Trump has been acting on behalf of Israel and Saudi Arabia, both of whom are hostile to Iran as a regional rival.

But running intelligence operations in a country without a US Embassy to serve as a base for spies proved difficult. Many spies have been caught, by one Iranian estimate, 290 agents arrested in recent years. Most often the exposure of the spies has been due to human error or technical problems in communications. Iran has benefited by boasting of those arrests and has long promoted its capacity to uncover American spy rings in the country. As the New York Times reports, Iran has recently aired a documentary featuring efforts to expose and rid the country of the CIA agents working there.

A recently produced and very popular Iranian fictional television series called “Gando” has also introduced the narrative of a perpetual fight against American spies into the country’s popular culture. The show features brave Iranian intelligence officials in pursuit of an American spy posing as a journalist.

According to a Yahoo News investigation, Iran was in 2009 enraged by reports that the CIA had possibly penetrated its nuclear program and its counter-intelligence agents immediately went on the hunt for moles. By 2011, Iranian officials had uncovered and arrested a network of 30 CIA sources, a fact that US officials later confirmed. Some of the accused informants were executed. The Iranian government was able to find the operatives because of failures in the systems and techniques that the CIA agents used to communicate with the agents. Once a flaw in communications is detected, it is possible to exploit that so one can sit back and wait and watch for all those linked to the network to reveal themselves.

One might observe that the continued massive American “maximum pressure” spying effort directed against Iran is a bit of an anachronism. It is agreed by nearly all observers that Iran has no nuclear weapons program and is unlikely to start one. The sanctions put in place against the country unilaterally by the US cannot produce a popular uprising that will bring down the regime, but they have indeed hurt the country’s economy badly and the people are suffering. Iran’s military cannot stand up against its neighbors, much less against the United States, and its ability to meddle in the affairs of its neighbors is extremely limited.

So, it is probably just as well that Iran has again rolled up most of the American spies in the country, though it will be a tragedy for the men and women involved. Many critics of the Agency have argued that the CIA has forgotten how to spy in an age of drones and electronic surveillance, which may be true. Certainly, the CIA record regarding Iran is nothing to brag about.

Also by this author

 

Regime Change in Iran: Been There, Done That

By Philip Giraldi
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The failed coup attempt in Caracas in early May brings to mind the techniques used by the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) and British intelligence in Iran in 1953 to overthrow the Mohammad Mossadeq government. It is quite astonishing how that regime-change long-ago operation parallels what is currently taking place in Venezuela and also with regards to Iran yet again.

Mossadeq was the democratically elected prime minister of Iran beginning in 1951, serving in a government in which the Shah with limited authority was the head of state presiding over a parliamentary system. Iran was nominally independent at the time, but it was heavily influenced by the neighboring Soviet Union, which retained control over several Iranian provinces after the Second World War ended, and Great Britain, which exploited the country’s oil resources through the mechanism of the Anglo-Iranian Oil Company (AIOC), which was owned by the British government. When Mossadeq, frustrated by lack of progress in negotiations with the British over sharing of oil revenues, eventually declared that he would nationalize the AIOC, London and Washington conspired to remove him.

The new National Iranian Oil Company was immediately attacked by the British, who used the Royal Navy to block export of oil from Iran’s Abadan refinery. Ships carrying Iranian oil were stopped and boarded with their shipments confiscated as “stolen property” in light of the British government’s former ownership claim on the AIOC.

By mid-1952, Britain’s blockade of Iranian oil exports had badly hurt the Iranian economy, which eventually led to government bankruptcy. Meanwhile, the American CIA, which was initially ambivalent about what the proper role in the Anglo-Iranian conflict might be, joined British agents in supporting groups inside Iran that were hostile to Mossadeq. In the Majlis parliamentary election in the spring of 1952, Mossadeq faced serious opposition funded by the Anglo-Americans, and the election eventually was suspended. By early 1953, pro-communist and pro-Shah mobs supported and coordinated by the U.S. and Britain roamed the streets, sometimes fighting each other. Fearing a communist takeover and also under pressure from London, which was threatening to withdraw from the Korean War as a quid pro quo, President Dwight D. Eisenhower agreed to carry out a joint coup d’état.

Losing popular support due to a sinking economy, as early as August 1952 a struggling Mossadeq began ruling by emergency powers and started to jail opponents, which only aggravated the crisis. A rigged referendum to dissolve parliament and grant Mossadeq authority to govern by decree passed with 99.9% approval but led to accusations that the prime minister was seeking “total and dictatorial power.” The New York Times reported, “A plebiscite more fantastic and farcical than any ever held under Hitler or Stalin is now being staged in Iran by Premier Mossadeq in an effort to make himself unchallenged dictator of the country.” The move by Mossadeq also led to the first coup attempt, which was organized by the CIA.

On Aug. 15, 1953, Col. Nemathollah Nassiri, the commander of the Shah’s Imperial Guard, delivered to Mossadeq a decree from the Shah dismissing him. Mossadeq, who had been warned of the plot, had Nassiri arrested, and the Shah and his family fled into exile in Italy. The first coup thus ended with a whimper, but it was lessons learned for the second, better organized successful attempt which followed a few days later, Operation Ajax, coordinated by Kermit Roosevelt of the CIA.

Exploiting pro-Shah sentiment in the military, the CIA and the British turned to their stables of recruited army officers while also exploiting agents infiltrated into the communist party Tudeh, which rose to the occasion by launching mass demonstrations, to include looting and arson, which quickly alienated the public and also provided a pretext for Western support of the coup as it could be promoted as “anti-communist.” Efforts were also made to turn influential clerics against Mossadeq. The Iranian people blamed the government for all their woes and rioting soon led to the calling out of the army to restore order. The army did so and then had Mossadeq arrested. He was condemned to death, but his sentence was later commuted to three years in solitary confinement followed by house arrest. He died in 1967.

End of story, but not quite. All the elements currently being used against Venezuela and Iran were there back in 1953 to bring down Mossadeq and also appear in a detailed 2018 Pentagon plandescribing how to bring about a coup in Caracas. Wrecking the countries’ economies through sanctions and exclusion from the global banking network creates a crisis where one need not have existed. Meanwhile, a sustained campaign of vilification by Western political leaders and the media establishes the narrative that the benevolent intention is to block extremism and restore democracy while also eliminating a threat to the United States. And, as a last resort, the threat or actual use of force to stop the export of commodities to further wreck the economy becomes a clearly stated policy option, currently also employing secondary sanctions for anyone who dares to trade with the designated victim. Recently, America’s unilaterally imposed global ban on the export and sale of Iranian oil began. Venezuela’s oil sales are also being blocked and even its electricity grid is being attacked in an attempt to starve the Venezuelan people into rebelling against their government.

But you also have to have spies, secret agents, to get the ball rolling, just as was true in 1953. One assumes that the CIA has been active in recruiting the agents of influence inside Venezuelan political opposition as well as military circles who will bring out increasingly larger mobs as the situation continues to deteriorate. How successful they have been is difficult to determine, but Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Guaido failed the first time around, reportedly because the Venezuelan government was aware of what was happening and the contacts that CIA was relying on to bring out the army were in fact double agents.

The suffering Iranian and Venezuelan people have yet to rise up in revolt. No matter. It took more than one try to bring down Mossadeq, and National Security Advisor John Bolton has recently warned Iran that its government won’t have any more anniversaries to celebrate if it continues with its “threats.” The Trump administration is also reported to be preparing military options for dealing with Venezuela.

Bolton has even warned the Russians, who are assisting Venezuela’s government: “This is our hemisphere. It’s not where the Russians ought to be interfering. This is a mistake on their part.”  He is seemingly unaware of the irony, that the Russians might make the same claim about Eurasia and the Iranians regarding the Persian Gulf, where Bolton and his neocon friends in Washington have been the source of nearly continuous conflict.

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