Trump Stopped Strike On Iran, But Tensions Continued To Grow

South Front

24.06.2019

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Trump’s Reign of Error and the March to War

By Richard Silverstein
Source

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Pres. Trump today continued his reign of error in hectoring Iran about its malign influence in the Middle East.  Virtually every claim, every statement he made about Iran was false.  Not to mention that he directly contradicted reports from his own Pentagon that it was considering sending up to 10,000 more troops to the region to buttress the U.S. presence and its defense in the event of an Iranian attack.

This embedded Reuters video features a portion of his speech.  It has to be heard to be believed.  I’ve included a transcript below of all his comments related to Iran. In responding to a question about the report of new troop assignments to the region, he replies:

“I don’t think we’re going to need them, I really don’t…I would certainly send troops if we need them. Iran has been a very dangerous player, very bad player. They are a nation of terror and we won’t put up with it. The deal that was signed by President Obama was a horror show. It’s a terrible deal. The minute I collapsed that deal and terminated it, Iran went in a very bad direction. They’re now suffering massive problems financially, they have inflation that’s about the highest in the world. Their people and they have great people, I know many Iranians are great people. But the country is in very bad shape. When I first came here that was a country of terror. They were all over. I remember, and I’ve told this story, but I’ve been at many different meetings where every single problem caused in the Middle East , and maybe beyond, but in the Middle East was caused by Iran. They were behind every single, we had 14 different attacks at one point, they were behind every attack. So we’ll see what happens with Iran. No I don’t think we’ll need it but if we need it we’ll have we’ll be there in whatever number we need.”

Needless to say, whatever meetings he’s attending either aren’t presenting an accurate picture of all the regional players employing terror and military force to advance their interests; or Trump is asleep during the meetings and only wakes up when he hears the word “Iran.”

Iran, a ‘nation of terror?’  Compared to our killing a million Iraqis over more than a decade of war?  Compared to our overthrowing governments we disliked, including Iran’s in 1953?  Compared to our downing an Iranian airliner and killing nearly 300 civilians?  Whatever military operations Iran’s engaged in–it’s a piker compared to those of the U.S.  Not to mention Israel, whose history of engaging in acts of terror in pursuit of its interests are well known and documented, here and elsewhere.

One can only hope that Trump’s natural nativist perspective, which recoils from military intervention overseas, will overcome the worst instincts of his warrior class including Mike Pompeo and John Bolton.  The news coming out of the administration not only changes from one day to the next; each day brings statements from Trump which directly contradict those of the day before.  But the president’s natural instincts seem to be to avoid major conflict abroad.

If Trump thinks this policy disarray is good because it keeps Iran guessing, he’s wrong.  Iran is sitting back and watching an administration slowly disintegrate before its eyes.  All it has to do is wait till Trump is either impeached or thrown out of office.  The only question is will there be a war before either of those things happen.

In response to another question asking whether Trump believes the U.S. should have intervened in regional conflicts, he says:

“No I don’t think so. I don’t think so. I don’t think. I don’t think we ever should have been there. OK, I inherited this mess. Should we have been there? No. We shouldn’t have been. Should we have gone to Iraq? Should we have attacked Iraq which did not knock down the World Trade Center? We had a place that was not conducive to terrorists. Ok. The terrorists were killed instantly in Iraq, and now it’s a sad, you know tough situation. So I think we should not have been in the Middle East, with that being said, we’ve done a great job. I took over the ISIS fight. We knocked out 100 percent of the caliphate. That doesn’t mean that they’re not going to blow up a store. They’re totally crazy. But we knocked out 100 percent of the caliphate. And I did it quickly when I came in. President Obama totally lost control. He’d lost control of the military. He had lost control of the fighting and our military was totally depleted and in very bad shape. These folks know that better than anybody. They were in very bad shape. We will soon have the strongest military that we’ve ever had by far, and nobody is going to mess with us.”

Trump reminds me of a programmed robot. He has four or five different pre-recorded statements he’s capable of uttering.  Once he’s done with those, he can’t muster an articulate word on any other subject.

Venezuela, Iran: Trump and the Deep State — Astute News

The new deal of the White House and the Pentagon The parliamentary elections of 6 November 2018 deprived President Trump of his majority in the House of Representatives. The Democratic Party assumed that this would lead inevitably to his destitution. Of course, he had done nothing to deserve it, but a flood of hysteria swamped […]

via Venezuela, Iran: Trump and the Deep State — Astute News

Commander: Iranian Navy, IRGC in Full Control of US Warships

Thu May 23, 2019 5:22

Commander: Iranian Navy, IRGC in Full Control of US Warships

Commander: Iranian Navy, IRGC in Full Control of US Warships

TEHRAN (FNA)- Lieutenant Commander of the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps Brigadier General Ali Fadavi underlined that IRGC naval forces are watchfully monitoring the moves made by the US warships deployed in the Persian Gulf.

“In the last several years, our forces have acquired full control of the Persian Gulf in a way that they (US warships) should get permission from us for their movements in this area,” Rear Admiral Fadavi said on Wednesday.

“Everything in North of the Strait of Hormuz is under our control,” he emphasized, referring to a major oil shipping waterway which connects the Persian Gulf to the Sea of Oman.

Rear Admiral Fadavi stressed that the American navy ships “cannot approach the waters that fall within our mare clausum”.

The crew members of these warships, he said, are even required to know Persian language and there are always interpreters aboard the ships, adding, “This means power.”

In relevant remarks earlier this month, Iranian Navy Commander Rear Admiral Hossein Khanzadi played down the “theatrical and useless” presence of the US aircraft carriers in the Persian Gulf, stressing Iran’s preparedness to defend the country against any warmongering.

“Today, speaking of the dispatch of aircraft carrier to the Persian Gulf is nothing new and they are attempting to magnify the shadow of war,” Rear Admiral Khanzadi said in the Southern city of Bandar Abbas.

“Their presence in the region is theatrical and useless,” he underlined.

Rear Admiral Khanzadi reiterated the Iranian Armed Forces’ full preparedness to defend the country’s borders against any threats.

He also addressed the Persian Gulf littoral states, saying, “The presence of Americans in the Persian Gulf region has come to an end and they should leave the region and those countries which have pinned hope on such present powers as the Americans should fill this vacuum.”

Rear Admiral Khanzadi underscored that the only way to fill this vacuum was regional cooperation and creating desirable trends to increase the regional power, adding, “This will happen in the near future and there is no doubt about it.”

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Trump’s Annihilation Threat to Iran and WWI Déjà Vu

Finian Cunningham
May 22, 2019

The erratic US president has gone from wishing for peace with Iran to, a few days later, making a veiled threat of nuclear annihilation against the Islamic Republic.

Donald Trump got on his twitter pulpit at the weekend, warning about the “official end of Iran”.

The configuration of military power in the Persian Gulf, the heightening of tensions between the US and Iran, and the unhinged aggressive rhetoric all make a tinderbox situation.

At times, the protagonists have each said they don’t want war. But just like the slippery slope towards the First World War (1914-18), the eruption of hostilities can take on a logic of its own.

Paradoxically, assurances last week from President Trump and his top diplomat Mike Pompeo that the US “is not fundamentally seeking a war with Iran” are not in fact all that reassuring.

Neither, it must be said, are assurances from the Iranian leadership that they also do not want war with the US. Iran’s Foreign Minister Mohammed Javad Zarif said there was “no appetite for war”. That may be so, but it’s no guarantee there won’t be one, especially because the circumstances are so precarious.

In the run-up to the First World War, European leaders were similarly adamant that war could be avoided. They thought their rationality and modernity would spare them from catastrophe. Nevertheless, the Europeans quickly plunged into a conflagration through a chain reaction beyond their control.

What bodes particularly grave today is the erratic and incendiary nature of Trump’s rhetoric. At the end of last week he was telling media that “he hoped” there would not be war with Iran. Indeed, he even alluded to the possibility of future diplomatic talks with Tehran. Then, over the weekend, Trump flipped as always and tweeted that if Iran threatened the US “it will be the official end of Iran”.

“If Iran wants to fight, that will be the official end of Iran. Never threaten the United States again!” tweeted the US Commander-in-Chief.

It’s not clear what set him off. Maybe reports of rocket attacks on the American embassy in Baghdad, fingering Iranian-backed Iraqi militias. Or maybe someone overcooked his hamburger.

There can be no doubt that Trump was invoking the use of nuclear weapons against Iran if any war were to break out. What else to deduce from the words “the official end of Iran”?

A senior Republican Senator, Tom Cotton, who is an arch war hawk on Iran, also appeared to endorse nuclear strikes if any conflict were to arise. He told Fox News that the US could defeat Iran with just two strikes, cryptically calling them “the first strike and the last strike”. That again leaves little doubt that nuclear annihilation is on the mind of Washington politicians with regard to prosecuting a war with Iran.

Such thinking is, of course, despicable. To contemplate the genocidal destruction of another nation demonstrates the barbarity and iniquity of American rulers. But we should not be surprised by such depravity. After all, the Americans are the only people who ever used atomic weapons when they dropped two bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki in August 1945, killing over 200,000 civilians. Washington has always reserved the infernal “right” to use nuclear force preemptively to “defend its vital interests”.

During the Cold War decades, US strategists had drawn up plans to launch pre-emptive nuclear attacks on both the Soviet Union and China, knowing full well that millions of innocents would be obliterated.

Trump has previously warned North Korea with nuclear destruction, bragging about “a fury like the world has never seen before”. He even made a similar threat of annihilation against North Korea while addressing the UN General Assembly in September 2017. The arrogant criminality knows no bounds. Imagine, before the UN in brazen violation of its founding charter outlawing aggression, Trump actually seemed to relish genocide. (He has since gone on to embrace North Korean leader Kim Jong-un with diplomacy, but the psychotic American power could revert to barbarous aggression at any time, if talks don’t appease its dictates.)

Trump’s latest rhetorical broadside against Iran is as provocative as it gets. To crow about wiping out an entire nation is all but declaring war. It’s one tweet away from sparking a conflagration. It’s insane and criminal. Why has Twitter not shut down Trump’s account?

To return to our First World War analogy, that horrendous event, resulting in up to 20 million deaths and the arrival of industrial-scale killing, was largely opposed by the public at the time. Political, military and imperial leaders went to war in spite of assurances beforehand there would be no war. It was like the nations stumbled into a conflagration.

However, it wasn’t entirely unprecedented. What made the violence inevitable was the configuration of military forces and international tensions had been put in place over several years like a powder keg. One spark – the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand in Sarajevo on June 28, 1914 – led to a chain reaction of disaster.

That’s why vows from this American president that he doesn’t want war are rather disconcerting. The complacency is alarming. The Trump administration has done everything possible to lay down an explosive fuse in the Persian Gulf. From trashing the 2015 nuclear accord with Iran, to ratcheting up economic terrorism through illegal sanctions, from sending aircraft carrier naval armada and B-52 bombers, to hinting at nuclear annihilation.

Washington is fully culpable for the explosive configuration. For Trump and other American politicians to talk about “not wanting war” is ludicrous naivety or duplicity.

Rockets fired at the American embassy in Baghdad, or Yemeni drones attacking Saudi oil infrastructure, or suspicious sabotage of tankers in the Persian Gulf. The sparks are flying at the powder keg.

The repetition of history is not inevitable. But Washington has surely done its fiendish utmost to make history repeat – a century after the First World War.

The views of individual contributors do not necessarily represent those of the Strategic Culture Foundation.

Next US Iran Rendezvous in Less Than 60 Days — Astute News

US President Donald Trump no longer has any cards to wave in the face of Iran nor any grounds for negotiation. He can only resort to more economic sanctions and wait by the phone for a call from Iran, unlikely in view of Iran’s clear decision to reject any negotiations for the time being. Humanitarian […]

via Next US Iran Rendezvous in Less Than 60 Days — Astute News

Syrian War Report – May 8, 2019: Syrian Army Liberates Another Town In Northwestern Hama

South Front

By May 8, the Syrian Arab Army (SAA) and its allies had repelled a series of counter-attacks by Hayat Tahrir al-Sham-led forces keeping control of all the positions captured in northwestern Hama. Especially intense clashes took place near Tell Ottman where, according to pro-government sources, the SAA eliminated at least 5 militants.

Despite this, the SAA has not been able to develop on its success and push further into the militant-held area. An initial attempt to advance in the direction of Kafr Nabuda was repelled by Hayat Tahrir al-Sham and its radical counterparts.

In the morning of May 8, the SAA advanced on Kafr Nabuda and entered the village. Clashes are ongoing.

The Damascus government employed only a limited force in this area. This means that the SAA is likely focussing on limited operations to neutralize the militant threat in particular parts of the de-militarized zone rather than undertaking a major advance on Idlib.

If the SAA adopts this kind of strategy, it will likely attempt to pull apart the militants’ strike force in Hama and Idlib through a series of tactical advances and to make gains in areas where their defense is weakened.

Meanwhile in northeastern Syria, the US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) have continued their steady operations against existing ISIS cells on the eastern bank of the Euphrates River. The SDF is also working to strengthen its positions on the contact line with the government-controlled area. After the collapse of Trump’s determination to withdraw US forces from the country, the US-backed group once again believes in its ability to establish a pseudo-state under Washington’s protection in this part of Syria.

US-Iranian tensions are growing amid speculations by mainstream media outlets that Iran is preparing to strike US troops deployed in the Middle East. Security Adviser John Bolton also announced that the US is deploying a carrier strike group and a strategic bomber task force to “deter” Iran.

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif denounced this behavior saying that “If US and clients don’t feel safe, it’s because they’re despised by the people of the region” and “blaming Iran” will not help with this.

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