21st Century Wire YEAR IN REVIEW: 2019 Top Ten (Real) Conspiracies

21st Century Wire

It’s New Year’s Eve again, which means it’s time for our annual wrap-up, looking at some of the most important and unusual, and dare we say conspiratorial events of 2019. This past year was built on the back of a highly polarizing 2018, which saw the post-World War II world order coming apart at the seams, and the 20th century religions of neoliberalism and globalization being relegated to the ideological depths in the face of an evolving nationalist and mercantilist Anglo-American-dominated transatlantic order. Following on from 2018, this year saw the collapse of the seemingly sacrosanct ‘official conspiracy theory’ narratives of improbable ‘chemical attacks’ like Skripal in the UK, and Douma in Syria, both of which had profound geopolitical ramifications at the time. These are just a few stories which helped to shape the zeitgeist this past year. If 2019 taught us anything, it’s that conspiracies are real

There were a number of honorable mentions this past year which would have normally been good enough to break into the top ten in previous years, but not this time…

Honorable Mentioned Highlights – One event which would’ve normally made it into the top ten, but didn’t, was President Trump’s grand decree in October that he would be “pulling US troops out of Syria” – only this was the third time he made such an announcement in the past 24 months, and just like the previous ones, this one was another bait and switch. To compensate for leaving US forces to illegally occupy Syria’s own oil fields, Trump was able to ‘close the file’ on alleged ISIS leader Abu Bakar Al-Baghdadi. We’re told that the illusive Caliph was supposedly chased-down, “whimpering and crying,” by a US military German Shepherd in a dead-end underground tunnel in Idlib. Of course, we’ll never know what actually happened because the US military proceeded to level the compound with an airstrike, thus destroying any evidence. Other official conspiracy theories of note included the untimely death of British mercenary entrepreneur, James Le Mesurier, who was founder of the controversial White Helmets ‘search and rescue’ group. After his death, ruled a likely suicide under the influence of medication (falling from his balcony while his wife was sleeping in the adjacent room) by Istanbul police, Le Mesurier’s defenders in mainstream media and intelligence agencies began blaming his death on members of public, journalists and academics who had either questioned or criticized Le Mesurier and the nature of US and UK-backed White Helmets operations alongside listed terrorist organizations in Syria. On a related geopolitical front, Iran featured heavily in what some dubbed as the Tanker Wars in 2019, which included a series of unidentified attacks on western and Gulf flagged oil tankers traveling in the Persian Gulf. Naturally, these were blamed on Iran by the US, and were followed by the British military hijacking and seizing an Iranian tanker off Gibraltar and preventing it from delivering fuel to the sanctions-hit economy of Syria. It seemed the West was testing various mechanisms to trigger a war with Iran, maybe hoping for an irrational response which never came. The US also baited the Iranians by flying in its airspace with their $150 million Globalhawk drone, which Iran shot down with their $12,000 anti-aircraft unit. Tensions remain high. 2018’s “Antisemitism in the Labour Party” canard was ramped-up and weaponized in 2019 to form part of an all-out establishment propaganda effort to reduce electoral support for Britain’s Labour Party in the run-up to the General Election. Sadly, it worked, but the political assassination of Jeremy Corbyn will go down in history as one of the darkest political acts ever, perpetrated by a shrewd coalition that included the Israeli Lobby, the Conservative Party, the Tony Blair wing of the Labour Party, and the mainstream media. Other honorable mentions for 2019 may include Brussels moving ever-closer to finalizing its new “EU Army”, aka EU Defense Union, something which Tories happily avoided talking about before the last election, possibly because they have quietly committed to opt-in to the new defense arrangement – even if there’s a Brexit. In Asia, the western press began ramping-up the human rights rhetoric in order to condemn China for its treatment of Muslim ethnic minority Uyghurs in the western Chinese province of Xinjiang, claiming China has interned millions of Uyghurs in cruel concentration camps. But the US seems to be taking a leaf from China’s authoritarian book, as Silicon Valley’s Kafkaesque political censorship and de-platforming program reach new highs in 2019, and looks set to continue in 2020 with the US elections. Twitter was also exposed as employing Saudi spies to dig up dirt on critics of the regime, as well as British spooks from Brigade 77 information warfare unit embedded at the tech firm too. Late in the year, the US also saw a bizarre mass shooting by a ‘rogue’ Saudi pilot training at the US base there, which was quietly swept under the rug by US officials. Around the same time, we saw yet another alleged ‘ISIS inspired’ terror attack on London Bridge – a quintessential Daily Shooter event if there ever was one, featuring another known wolf, on the radar of intelligence, wearing a tag, and even attending a ‘prisoner reform’ conference next door. Unfortunately the perp won’t be interrogated because he was executed on the city pavement before anyone could get to the bottom of what happened, and more importantly, why. Shades of Jean Charles de Menezes, and so many others by now.

One important thing to consider about 2019 is the slow motion break-down of all the western establishment’s official Russian conspiracy theories, all of which have featured so heavily in American and European politics since 2014. In other words, this worn-out framework has all but collapsed, but that won’t stop the usual media maven and political opportunists from still flogging that old horse.

With that in mind, here are some of the absolute blockbuster top real conspiracies of 2018…


10. Hong Kong’s ‘Democracy’ Protests – Hong Kong ends 2019 with more ‘democracy’ protests, supposedly disrupting normal festivities and shopping in China’s unique financial hub. Both US Democrats and Republicans gushed over protest leader Joshua Wong, flying him to Washington for photo-ops with Nancy Pelosi and Marco Rubio. However, it soon became known that the US government was actually directing and funding this supposed ‘grass roots uprising’ in China’s troubled territory. The US mainstream media then spun a propaganda campaign to try and paint the Chinese police in Hong Kong as ‘brutal’ and ‘repressive’, when in fact they were the opposite. Then evidence began to emerge showing extreme violence being used by the US-backed protest mobs, where Wong’s masked foot soldiers could be seen beating innocent passers-by, and even attacking elderly residents as well. ‘Pro-Democracy’ violence featured one particularly grisly attempted murder of multiple Hong Kong residents, including State Department-backed ‘freedom demonstrators’ who set a man on fire, attempting to burn him alive on the street. This push to demonize China can be viewed as part of the new US focus to disrupt and damage China’s reputation internationally as it attempts to forge ahead with its world-beating Belt and Road Initiative. Of course, the US is not taking China’s ascendancy lying down, but by the same token, fielding street thugs on the streets of Hong Kong may not net any long-term dividends, other than anger China and re-polarize the Pacific Rim. Maybe, that’s the plan.


9. Reconquista: Washington’s Take-down of South America – In 2019, Washington began turning back the clock to CIA’s golden years of the 1950s, 60s, and 70s, where democratically Latin American governments were toppled one by one, and replaced by US-installed fascists and military juntas. The year started off with a bang, as the US State Department and its various operatives, over the span of three months, attempted no less than three failed coups in Venezuela. They even wheeled-out Jurassic neocon Elliot Abrams from the basement of Foggy Bottom to see if he had any of his 1980’s dark clandestine magic left in him. But the public support of the government of Nicholas Maduro was much stronger than the policy maven and spooks in Washington had anticipated. Comically, Neocons even went so far as to appoint their own President for Venezuela, a marionette named Juan Guaidó, which half of Venezuela hadn’t even heard of. A year on, the entire escapade has become a joke. Not surprisingly, a humiliated Trump Administration has quietly backed off of Venezuela, opting instead to continue sanctioning its economy, shorting its currency, stealing its foreign assets – all in all, punishing its citizens for rejecting a hostile US takeover. But Washington had better luck in Bolivia where a US-backed ultra rightwing fascist column was used in violent street protests demanding the removal of democratically elected President Evo Morales. To pull off the final move, the US had effectively bought off the country’s military and police forces who were used to depose Evo – in classic 1960’s CIA style. Evo was forced to flee his own country to Mexico, as US-backed mobs ransacked his home, and began hunting down and intimidating his political allies. That’s freedom and democracy, American style.


8. Yemeni Drones & Saudi Aramco – In September, an incredible underdog event took place. After nearly five years of a relentless war being waged against Yemen by its neighbor Saudi Arabia along with accomplices the United States, UK and the UAE – Yemen struck back, with its Houthi Resistance fighters launching a makeshift drone attack hitting two major Saudi Aramco oil installations across the border. Even though the Houthi Rebels immediately claimed responsibility for the assault on Abqaiq, the world’s largest oil processing plant, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo immediately rejected the claim, and instead the US and Saudi invented a new official conspiracy theory which blamed Iran, accusing the regional rival of having “now launched an unprecedented attack on the world’s energy supply.” Saudi put on an legendary TV press performance to show the world the ‘evidence’ it had of drone fragments, supposedly implicating Iran. They hoped this could raise tensions enough to justify military action against Iran. “There is no evidence the attacks came from Yemen,” said Pompeo on Twitter. In the end, this intricate conspiracy theory spun by Washington simply fizzled out due to a lack of evidence to support their tenuous claim. As with its embarrassing failure in Venezuela, Washington just backed off quietly, and hoped no one would talk about it any more. What this incident really showed was that under-equipped, under-funded, and fully embargoed Yemen – could deliver a fatal blow inside of Saudi Arabia, and influence world energy markets by doing so. Make no mistake about it: Saudi and the US have been put on notice in Yemen.


7. Mueller and the Collapse of RussiaGate – Remember the official conspiracy theory pushed by the US establishment – that Russia somehow intervened in the 2016 US Presidential Election on behalf of Donald Trump, thus catapulting him into the White House? This past spring, the hysteria and excitement reached such a fever pitch, that Robert Mueller was canonized as the new patron saint of the Resistance movement. But it was a house of cards. Well after three long and torturous years, in an big top circus featuring 40 FBI agents, intelligence analysts, forensic accountants and staff assigned to investigate, more than 2,800 subpoenas issued by the Special Counsel Mueller’s office, some 500 search warrants executed, more than 230 orders for communication records, 50 authorized orders (lets the government know who someone is communicating with and when, but not what they said), 13 evidence requests to foreign governments, 500 witnesses interviewed, well over $30 million taxpayer costs… the much-anticipated Mueller Report and investigation found no evidence that Trump had conspired with Russia. No collusion, and no election ‘interference’ by Russia. Nothing. RussiaGate R.I.P.

It should go down in history as one of the biggest phony official conspiracy theories of all-time. During his own testimony, the vaunted former FBI director Mueller came off as an incompetent old crank. The entire affair was a disaster for Democrats and their loyal mainstream media networks, all of whom had relentlessly hyped this conspiracy for years. In the end, this epic dud can only help Trump in his 2020 re-election bid. Let that sink in for a minute…


6. UkraineGate and Trump’s Impeachment – Alas, the death of RussiaGate gave way to a brand new gate… UkraineGate, and with it came that impeachment hammer which Democrats had been promising from before Trump was even sworn in office. Suddenly, Trump was facing the most perilous threat to a tenure of POTUS since Bill Clinton, Richard Nixon and Andrew Johnson before that – all because of a telephone call on July 25th (the day after Robert Mueller tanked with his disastrous congressional testimony) with Ukraine’s newly elected president, Volodymyr Zelenksy. According to House Democrats, during the call, Trump threatened Zelensky with withholding a free donation of US weapons to Ukraine unless the Ukrainian president re-opened a corruption investigation into 2016 US election meddling under the previous President Poroshenko, and more importantly the activities former vice-president Joe Biden and his son Hunter Biden. According to lead inquisitor Adam Schiff (CA-D), someone told someone about the call, who then told a “whistleblower” (a CIA analyst and friend of Obama and the Bidens) about it, who then then filed a complaint. In the end, Ukraine got its free stash of US missiles as ordered, but Democrats claimed Trump abused his power by asking for a “Quid Pro Quo” that somehow placed the national security of the US in grave danger, and that Trump tried to railroad a political opponent (Joe Biden is supposedly the DNC’s pre-determined selection for presidential nominee) by asking a foreign power to investigate him and his son, all of which they say rises to the level of “high crimes” by Trump. When asked, even Zelensky said there was no quid pro quo. This hardly mattered, as the verdict was already written before the hearings. Another grand official conspiracy theory cooked up by the establishment? Seems so. So shaky are Democrats about their case, that House leader Nancy Pelosi has failed to send her Articles of Impeachment before Christmas to the US Senate for the next step which is an Impeachment trial. This kicks the whole affair into the new year, and with poll numbers steadily rising against Democrat’s impeachment misadventure, it does not look good at all for Democrats heading into the 2020 election.


5. Greta – On paper, it sounded like the stuff of Hollywood: a 15-year-old Swedish student started a school strike for ‘the climate’ outside the Swedish Parliament, and her campaign went viral around the globe, and a new youth climate change movement was born. Incredible. Inspiring. Al Gore and associates were over the moon; their Joan of Arc had finally arrived to help save the planet. Time Magazine even named her “Person of the Year” in 2019. But on closer examination, the rise of Greta Thunberg was anything but grassroots. From the very first day, her campaign was driven by a multi-million dollar public relations machine that includes dozens of NGOs and media outlets, foundations and trusts, as part of an environmental astroturf extravaganza, the likes of which we’ve never seen. The practice is known as greenwashing – and in this case, Wall Street and City hedge funds, as well as a gaggle of foundations and NGOs – all hoping to capitalize on the new green bubble, and all determined to use this young child as their political battering ram to drive home an international ‘climate’ agenda. Greta gained headlines after scolding the public with her angry prose, “How dare you!” scowled the angry Swede at the infamous UN panel. “You have stolen my dreams!” railed the youngster to a room full of jovial stakeholders (while putting on an injured voice, reading off the script provided to her by a team of handlers). Their ‘climate emergency’ narrative is based on the theory that man-made CO2 is heating up the Earth’s atmosphere which will cause seas levels to rise and cause the “sixth mass extinction.” However, real data actually indicates that the Earth is heading into a cooling phase and that any changes in climate have nothing to do with man-made activity, but rather from the sun’s activity. Both sides of the debate do not appear to be budging, but the cooling camp seems to have real data in its favor, while the warmists seem to be relying heavily theory and computer-modeled climate predictions – programmed by scientists eager to show that man-made global warming is a real phenomenon. In the end, this unsuspecting child is being used by a cynical class of millionaires and billionaires, clearly stoking-up a generational culture war, with angry middle class youth demanding that western governments ‘unlock’, or rather rob trillions from existing pension funds in order to finance the bold dream of a ‘Green New Deal’ and the promise of a green utopia – they just need you to give them some $51 trillion to fund various and sundry “green tech,” which activists are convinced can lower the earth’s temperature and stave off the inevitable extinction of the human race by 2030, or maybe 2050, or is it 2100? We’re actually not sure, but we promise it’s totally real. What could possibly go wrong?


4. Epstein – As horrendous as revelations of Jimmy Saville were for western high society, the chronicles of billionaire VIP sex trafficker Jeffrey Epstein were more devastating by orders of magnitude. His exploits ensnared US President Bill Clinton, and high-flying lawyer Alan Dershowitz, along with a long list of high-ranking VIPs. The fallout didn’t spare the British Royal Family either, with Prince Andrew being cast out into social oblivion for his own role in the scandal. The more the story marinated, the more seedy it became. His was a story of one locked door after another, concealing the adjoining halls of a castle dark which can only be acquired by navigating the circles of extreme wealth and influence. Many believe this was part of a high level blackmail operation designed to create leverage over top decision makers in politics and industry. There are also indications that Epstein “belonged to intelligence,” although it’s not certain which agencies he may have been supplying information to. For his own part, Epstein’s story ended abruptly after he was reportedly unconscious in a federal jail cell at New York’s Metropolitan Correctional Center on Saturday August 10, 2019. The death was quickly ruled a “suicide by hanging.” Somehow, the CCTV camera footage appears to have gone missing. The guards, we’re told, were not on duty. “It was a horrible series of coincidences,” so says the official conspiracy theory of the highly unlikely death of Jeff Epstein in federal custody. He was awaiting a federal trial for charges of conspiracy and sex trafficking of underage girls dating back to the early 2000s. After his death, the trial was shelved. So it goes without saying that many ‘important’ and powerful people benefited from this outcome. His main accomplice is still at large, Ghislaine Maxwell, daughter of the late media tycoon and Israeli super spy, Robert Maxwell. Many of the female victims are now speaking out publicly. Will there be any justice? Certainly, the mainstream media appear disinterested in pursuing the criminal segues of this story. Or will it become another grand conspiracy for the ages, alongside JFK, RFK and MLK?


3. A Global Uprising? – In 2019, we saw major uprisings and popular mobilzations on the streets in France, in the Spanish province of Catalan, Chile, Colombia, Argentina, India, Lebanon, Iraq, Haiti, Sudan, Hong Kong, as well as protests building in Netherlands, Italy, and Germany. Many of experts are scratching their heads, asking ‘what does it all mean’? Are these event interconnected, or are they being driven by the same underlying social or economic forces? Many of these events appear to be genuine grassroots events. However, others quite clearly were being co-opted and fueled by foreign powers seeking to capitalize on any succession of power that might be occurring, as was the case with protests in Hong Kong, Iraq, Russia and certainly there was evidence of this in Lebanon, although not as blatant as in other locations. Regardless, this trend is real and potentially world-changing and cannot be ignored, as billions of people (many of them younger) around the globe begin to realize that 20th century stalwarts like neoliberal vudoo economics, savage capitalism, US dollar and IMF debt-based control of the developing world, along with US-led neocolonial foreign policy and endless ‘regime change’ wars – are simply no longer going to cut it going forward. It seems that this new generation won’t settle for business as usual any more. Look out…


2. The OPCW Leaks – Never has there been such a profound story which was being categorically denied and ignored by the entire mainstream press. This past year saw a series of leaks coming out of the UN appointed watchdog, the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), which reveal that the alleged ‘chemical attack’ which the West and MSM said took place in Douma, Syria on April 2018 – never actually happened. Which means that the US, UK and France launched a retaliatory strike against Syria on the basis of a well-orchestrated ‘false flag’ hoax. Worst yet, there is proof the OPCW perpetrated an internal cover-up of evidence which would’ve exonerated Damascus. Consider this as Iraq WMD 2.0, because the very same fraudulent practices and heavy-handed US tactics, along with total media acquiescence to the official conspiracy theory narrative – has happened again. Like with the Integrity Initiative leaks which broke in late 2018, the OPCW leaks have been dripping out, some via WikiLeaks, and it’s been death by a thousand cuts for the US, UK and NATO establishment, who’ve been caught not only tampering with an investigation of what was meant to be a neutral international watchdog group, but have summarily closed ranks in an information blackout, even though the scandal is there for the world to see (for those willing to look). The reason for their evasive action is now clear: when the Douma ‘chemical attack’ happened, it was the mainstream media who colluded with western governments, and who relied on US and Saudi-backed terrorists Jayash al-Islam and the White Helmets – all working hand-in-hand to spin-up the West’s official narrative that somehow “Assad had gassed his own people.” And the leaks are still ongoing. Will the media and bamboozled politicians ever address this scandal, or will they play the ostrich until it’s too late? Either way, their credibility is now shot.


1. The Capture of Julian Assange – In April, WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange was arrested and bundled out of his safe haven in the Ecuadorian embassy after his asylum and citizenship were suddenly revoked by the host country – very clearly part of a coordinated conspiracy waged by the governments of the US, UK, Sweden and Ecuador – to prepare Assange for extradition to the US to face espionage charges by disingenuously re-framing Assange and WikiLeaks, a journalist and a publication – now as a “cyber terrorist” and a “hostile foreign intelligence service.” His removal from the embassy by British police was an act of extraordinary rendition. Despite interventions and rulings by multiple UN representatives, determined British authorities continue to hold Assange without charge in solitary confinement, and heavily sedated (by his own admission), inside of London’s Belmarsh super max prison. The UN’s has ruled that his detention constitutes torture. He is also unable to prepare for his US extradition hearing in February – one of the most important precedent cases, maybe in history, for the future of the freedom of the press. His legal team even requested for more time to submit evidence and postpone of the extradition hearing, but the fix was already in, and the judge flatly refuse to entertain any argument or admit Assange should no longer be held on remand without charge in high security confinement. With his physical and mental health deteriorating rapidly, there is a real risk now that Assange could even die in custody. How long can the supposed guardians of freedom and democracy in the West stand idle while this incredible injustice continues to unfold? Whatever your preferred outcome, the answers to these questions may come soon in the new year. Needless to say, many are hoping that the plutocracy in Washington and London come to their senses, and realize what a historic mistake they are making – and reverse course on this unprecedented judicial disaster.. 

What a wild year. Expect more of the same in 2020.

HAPPY NEW YEAR.

SEE PREVIOUS TOP TEN CONSPIRACIES:

2018 Top Ten Conspiracies

2017 Top Ten Conspiracies

2016 Top Ten Conspiracies

2015 Top Ten Conspiracies

2014 Top Ten Conspiracies

Bloomberg: Gulf States Are Backpedaling on Iran

Bloomberg: Gulf States Are Backpedaling on Iran

Source

By Staff, Bloomberg

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Iranian tanker previously detained in Gibraltar allegedly offloads oil in Syria

BEIRUT, LEBANON (7:15 P.M.) – The Iranian oil tanker, ADRIAN DARYA (previously Grace 1), that was previously detained in Gibraltar has allegedly offloaded its cargo in Syria, the Middle East Eye reported.

According to the Middle East Eye, the ADRIAN DARYA offloaded at least 55 percent of its cargo, a similar claim made to Al-Masdar from a Lebanese journalist that asked to remain anonymous.

The journalist added that the cargo on the ADRIAN DARYA oil tanker is worth approximately $130 million (U.S.).

At the same time, a Syrian source in Damascus told Al-Masdar that the oil was delivered using several small ships. He said the ships later moved the oil to the Syrian port-city of Baniyas in the Tartous Governorate.

Earlier this week, the ADRIAN DARYA was tracked off the coast of Baniyas; however, its fate was unknown at that time, as there were reports that it was heading to both Turkey and Lebanon.

Another Iranian ship named the SAVIOR was also tracked off the coast of Syria before it turned off its GPS. The vessel’s destination was supposed to be Port Said in Egypt.

The Iranian vessel was last tracked off the coast of Syria before it turned off its GPS.Credit: Marine Traffic

These reports remain unconfirmed at this time, as neither Iran nor Syria has made any statement on the alleged oil delivery.

Related News

Gibraltar releases Iran-operated tanker despite US pressure

Press TV

Thu Aug 15, 2019 02:40PM [Updated: Thu Aug 15, 2019 04:35PM ]

This file photo taken on July 20, 2019, shows Gibraltar defense police officers guarding the Iranian-operated oil tanker Grace 1 as it sits anchored after being seized last month by British Royal Marines off the coast of Gibraltar, southern Spain. (Photo by Reuters)

This file photo taken on July 20, 2019, shows Gibraltar defense police officers guarding the Iranian-operated oil tanker Grace 1 as it sits anchored after being seized last month by British Royal Marines off the coast of Gibraltar, southern Spain. (Photo by Reuters)

Gibraltar’s government has released an Iranian-operated supertanker, which was seized by British marines in the Strait of Gibraltar on July 4, despite pressure from the United States for the vessel’s continued detainment.

“Authorities in Gibraltar have released the Iranian supertanker Grace 1, which was seized on July 4 on suspicion it was shipping 2.1 million barrels of crude oil to Syria in breach of EU sanctions,” Reuters quoted the Gibraltar Chronicle as reporting on Thursday.

According to the report, the chief justice of Gibraltar’s supreme court, Anthony Dudley, said there was no US application currently before the court.

Chief Justice Anthony Dudley said that since Iran had guaranteed in writing that the destination of the Grace 1 would not be a country “subject to European Union sanctions… there are no longer reasonable grounds to suspect that the detention of the Vessel is required.”

Spain’s Foreign Ministry reported after the incident that the UK had seized the vessel at the request of the US, which has been trying to trouble Iran’s international oil vessels as part of its campaign of economic pressure against the Islamic Republic.

Gibraltar Chronicle

@GibChronicle

Authorities in have released the Iranian supertanker Grace 1, which was seized on July 4 on suspicion it was shipping 2.1m barrels of crude oil to Syria in breach of EU sanctions.

244 people are talking about this

Earlier on Thursday, Gibraltar said that the US had applied to seize the Iranian-operated oil tanker after British media reported that the vessel’s release was imminent following a set of diplomatic exchanges between Tehran and London.

“The US Department of Justice has applied to seize the Grace 1 on a number of allegations which are now being considered,” the Gibraltar government said in a statement.

It added that the “matter will return to the Supreme Court of Gibraltar at 4 p.m. (1400 GMT) today.”

A diplomatic dispute broke out between Iran and the UK on July 4, when Britain’s naval forces unlawfully seized Grace 1 and its cargo of 2.1 million barrels of oil in the Strait of Gibraltar under the pretext that the supertanker had been suspected of carrying crude to Syria in violation of the European Union’s unilateral sanctions against the Arab country.

However, reports show the confiscation took place upon a call by the US.

Tehran rejected London’s claim that the tanker was heading to Syria, slamming the seizure as “maritime piracy.”

Iran’s Ports and Maritime Organization said Tuesday that Britain was expected to soon free Grace 1, after the two sides exchanged certain documents to pave the way for the supertanker’s release.

Iran’s FM: Trump’s piracy attempt indicates his contempt for law

Soon after the report emerged about the release of the Iranian-operated tanker, Iran’s Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif took to Twitter noting that the seizure of the tanker proved the Trump administration’s contempt for the law.

“This piracy attempt is indicative of Trump admin’s contempt for the law,” Iran’s top diplomat said.

Javad Zarif

@JZarif

Having failed to accomplish its objectives through its —including depriving cancer patients of medicine— the US attempted to abuse the legal system to steal our property on the high seas.

This piracy attempt is indicative of Trump admin’s contempt for the law.

489 people are talking about this
Zarif added that the US effort to prevent release of the Iranian tanker was aimed at abusing “the legal system to steal our property on the high seas.”

He said this vain attempt followed the US failure in achieving its anti-Iranian goals through economic terrorism.

‘US faced humiliating defeat in its effort to prevent tanker’s release’

Following the decision by the Gibraltar court, Iran’s Ambassador to UK Hamid Baeidinejad said in a tweet on his official Twitter page that the decision by the officials of Gibraltar put an end to 40 days of illegal seizure of the tanker, which carries the Iranian oil.

Hamid Baeidinejad@baeidinejad

لحظاتی پیش با تصمیم مقامات جبل الطارق و تایید دادگاه، نفتکش حامل نفت ایران از توقیف غیرقانونی آزاد گردید.کشورمان درتمامی۴۰ روز گذشته بامشارکت نهادهای ذیربط داخلی تحت مدیریت وزارت خارجه گفتگوهای مستمری در سطح سیاسی،حقوقی و فنی با طرف انگلیسی برای رفع این اقدام غیرقانونی انجام داد.

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“Up to the last minute, the United States tried in vain to prevent the release of the tanker, but was faced with a humiliating defeat,” Iran’s UK envoy added.

Hamid Baeidinejad@baeidinejad

آمریکا با تلاشهای مذبوحانه ی آخرین لحظه ی خود قصد داشت مانع رفع توقیف نفتکش شود که با شکست تحقیرآمیزی مواجه شد.
با تلاشهای روزهای گذشته تمام مقدمات و تمهیدات فنی لازم برای حرکت نفتکش به دریای آزاد نیز تامین شده است و کشتی بزودی منطقه ی جبل الطارق را ترک خواهد نمود.

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Baeidinejad stated that all preliminary steps have been taken to ensure the tanker’s movement toward free waters and “the vessel will soon leave the Gibraltar region.”
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Iran: UK to Release Iranian Oil Tanker Soon

By Staff- Agencies

Iran revealed on Tuesday that its oil tanker Grace 1 that was seized by the UK in Gibraltar’s waters in July is going to be released in the near future.

Speaking at a press conference on Tuesday, the deputy director of the Ports and Maritime Organization of Iran for maritime affairs, Jaleel Eslami, said the UK is going to let Iran’s supertanker go.

The UK has seized Iran’s supertanker deliberately, he deplored, adding that the documents on the settlement of the issue have already been exchanged between Iran and the UK.

“They [the UK officials] have voiced willingness for the resolution of the problem,” Eslami stated.

He said the Iranian oil tanker will soon be released and resume sailing freely with the flag of Iran.

Following Iran’s move to capture a British oil tanker that had violated the maritime law in the Strait of Hormuz, the US and the UK tried to carry out a plan for restrictions on maritime traffic in the strait, but their ploy ended in failure after it was given the cold shoulder by other countries, Eslami added.

On July 4, the British Royal Marines seized the giant Iranian oil tanker in Gibraltar for trying to take oil to Syria.

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani had warned London that it will definitely pay the price for the illegal seizure of Grace 1 in international waters.

Gibraltar Says to Ease Standoff with Iran over Tanker Seizure

Gibraltar on Tuesday said it plans to de-escalate tensions with Iran over the seizure of Grace 1 supertanker, reinvigorating hopeful speculations that it might release the large vessel soon.

Gibraltar announced on Tuesday it was seeking to de-escalate issues arising with Iran since the detention of the Grace 1 tanker 40 days ago.

Calling seizure of Grace 1 as “lawful”, a spokesman for Gibraltar said “we continue to seek to de-escalate issues rising since the detention”, adding that the current detention order on the vessel expires on Saturday night.

Fars News Agency@EnglishFars

Captured-Tanker Captain: British Troops Used Excessive Force Against Unarmed Crewhttp://fna.ir/dbboh7 

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In early July, British marines and Gibraltar police seized an Iranian tanker off the Southern coast of the Iberian Peninsula. Gibraltar’s Chief Minister Fabian Picardo claimed that the ship was transporting crude oil to Syria “in violation” of the EU sanctions placed on Damascus. Washington has applauded the move, hailing it as a sign that Europe is on board with the US’ unilateral sanctions against Iran.

Iran condemned the “illegal move” of London and described it as “tantamount to piracy”. Tehran accused the UK of doing Washington’s bidding and helping the US attempt to stifle the Islamic Republic’s oil exports, rejecting London’s claim that the supertanker was carrying crude for Syria.

The recent moves by foreign powers in the Middle East such as US sanctions on Tehran’s oil, UK seizure of Iranian supertanker, as well as, “sabotage operations” on oil ships have intensified the turmoil in the region and the turmoil in the international energy market, affecting global crude prices in recent months.

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British Marines Used ‘Excessive Force’ While Seizing Iranian-operated Tanker – Captain

By Staff, Agencies

The captain of an Iranian-operated supertanker that has been seized by the UK said the British marines used excessive force while detaining the vessel in the Strait of Gibraltar off Spain.

Speaking to the BBC on Tuesday, the captain, an Indian national, said he received a radio call for police to board his ship and that he lowered the ladder at the time of the incident on July 4.

But instead of police boarding, he said, a military helicopter landed on the ship in “a very dangerous move,” and about 30 marines disembarked.

He said the marines then acted aggressively even though the crew was unarmed.

“How do you come on a ship like this with armed forces and such brute force? For what reason?” he said.

He said he identified himself as the captain, but the marines ignored him and instead had his unarmed crew kneel at gunpoint, shouting “Look forward, look forward!”

“They didn’t care whether I was master… there was no regulations… we had 28 unarmed crew. I was in a state of shock, everybody was in a state of shock,” the captain said.

The marines could have boarded the ship and simply told him he had been arrested, he said.

This is while Gibraltar police had earlier claimed that “minimum force” was used to detain the vessel.

The British naval forces seized the supertanker Grace 1 on the allegation that it was carrying Iranian oil to Syria in violation of the European Union [EU]’s unilateral sanctions on the Arab country.

Iran denied that the vessel was heading for Syria, and Spain later said that London had ordered the confiscation at the request of the United States, which has been trying to hamper Iran’s international oil sales.

Tensions escalated quickly between Tehran and London after the illegal seizure.

Later in the month, Iran seized a British-flagged oil tanker sailing in the Strait of Hormuz in the Gulf because it refused to stop after hitting an Iranian fishing boat, a violation of international maritime rules.

Tehran has sternly cautioned London against attempting further provocation.

Britain has, however, dispatched two warships — the HMS Duncan and the HMS Montros — to the Gulf under the pretext of trying to “protect” the British ships sailing in the waters.

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ما دور روسيا في «الحرب الناعمة» بين أميركا وإيران في سورية؟

يوليو 29, 2019

د. عصام نعمان

الحرب بين أميركا وإيران متواصلة ومتصاعدة. طابعها الظاهر اقتصادي، لكنها في الواقع متعدّدة الساحات والجوانب. آخر مظاهرها اللافتة ما حدث ويحدث في الجولان السوري. ففي غضون شهر ونصف الشهر شنّت حليفتها «إسرائيل» هجومين على موقعٍ للجيش السوري في تل الحارة يشكّل نقطة استطلاع بصري والكتروني الى مسافة بعيدة داخل الأراضي التي تحتلها قوات العدو في سورية.

يدّعون في «إسرائيل» انّ إيران وحزب الله أقاما، بالتعاون مع سورية، بنية تحتية مكوّنة من مواقع استطلاع ومنشآت استخبارتية لجمع المعلومات التي تخدم تنفيذ عمليات ضدّها. كما تدّعي «إسرائيل» انّ حزب الله ووحدات المقاومة التي يديرها في المنطقة هو مَن يقوم بتنفيذ هذه العمليات. ذلك انّ رجال الحرس الثوري الإيراني ممنوعون، بموجب «الاتفاق» الذي تمّ التوصل إليه بوساطة روسية، من التواجد على بُعد أقلّ من 80 كيلومتراً إلى الشرق من الحدود مع الجولان المحتلّ راجع مقالة المحلل العسكري رون بن يشاي في «Ynet»، 2019/7/24 .

لا يجوز، بطبيعة الحال، الركون الى ما تتقوله وسائل الإعلام العبري، لكن من الأكيد انّ ما تكشفه في هذا المجال، سواء كان صحيحاً او مختلَقاً، يتمّ بموافقة الرقابة العسكرية ويمثّل تالياً وجهة نظر «إسرائيل».

في هذا السياق، كان رئيس الحكومة الإسرائيلية بنيامين نتنياهو قد كشف في مقابلة مع صحيفة «يسرائيل هَيوم» 2019/7/19 انه في الإجتماع الثلاثي الذي عُقد في نهاية الشهر الماضي بين مستشاري الأمن القومي لأميركا وروسيا و»إسرائيل» في القدس المحتلة جرى التوصل الى اتفاق لإخراج إيران من سورية.

قناةُ التلفزة الإسرائيلية 13 كانت قد نقلت عن مسؤول أميركي رفيع المستوى انّ تل ابيب وواشنطن طالبتا روسيا بضرورة ان يشمل ايّ اتفاق مستقبلي بشأن الوضع في سورية إنسحاباً عسكرياً إيرانياً ليس من سورية فقط بل من لبنان والعراق ايضاً «معاريف» 2019/7/18 . القناةُ نفسها أوضحت أنه لم تتوافر أنباء بشأن الردّ الروسي على المطالب الإسرائيلية والأميركية، لكنها أشارت في الوقت عينه إلى أنه في اثر اللقاء الأمني المذكور، دافع مستشار الأمن القومي الروسي بتروشيف عن إيران وأكد دعم روسيا لوجودها العسكري المستمرّ في سورية.

إلى ذلك، جاء في التحليل العسكري لرون يشاي المُشار اليه آنفاً «انّ قوات الشرطة العسكرية الروسية تقوم بمراقبة المنطقة وتنفيذ الاتفاق فيها». المنطقة المقصودة هي محيط موقع تل الحارة الذي استهدفته «إسرائيل» فجرَ يوم الأربعاء الماضي، والمقصود بالاتفاق ما تزعمه «إسرائيل» عن وجود تفاهم بين أميركا وروسيا و»إسرائيل» يقضي بمنع قوات الحرس الثوري الإيراني من التواجد على بُعد أقلّ من 80 كيلومتراً الى الشرق من الحدود مع الجولان المحتلّ.

كلّ هذه الواقعات والتقوّلات المار ذكرها، سواء كانت صحيحة او مختلَقة، تشير الى انّ ثمة تفاعلات وعمليات تجري في جنوب سورية، والمرجّح أنها تصبّ في مخطط الولايات المتحدة و»إسرائيل» الرامي الى تفادي الحرب بالنار مع إيران بالنظر الى تكلفتها الباهظة، والإستعاضة عنها بتأجيج الحرب الناعمة ومن ضمنها مشاغلة حلفاء إيران، وفي مقدّمهم سورية وحزب الله، بصنوف من المناوشات والضغوط والعمليات العسكرية المحدودة، كلُّ ذلك بقصد تشديد الحرب الإقتصادية على إيران وحلفائها. ذلك انّ إدارة ترامب تظنّ انّ الحرب الاقتصادية بدأت تعطي ثمارها بدليل انّ إنتاج إيران من النفط انخفض من 2,5 مليون برميل يومياً، كما كانت عليه الحال قبل العقوبات، الى أقل من 400 الف برميل يومياً الأمر الذي سيُكره طهران على الرضوخ لمطلب واشنطن بالعودة الى المفاوضات وذلك تفادياً لخروج الناس الفقراء الى الشوارع، بحسب تقديرات واشنطن.

«إسرائيل» المشغولة بانتخاباتها البرلمانية في شهر أيلول/ سبتمبر المقبل تميل قياداتها السياسية والعسكرية الى التسليم بجدوى الحرب الاقتصادية الأميركية، كما تفضّل عدم التصعيد في هذه الآونة تجنّباً لاستفزاز إيران وحلفائها ودفعهم الى ردّ الكيل كيلين. ذلك انّ فريقاً من القياديين السياسيين والعسكريين في الكيان الصهيوني يتخوّفون من ان تكون أطراف محور المقاومة قد تقوّت مؤخراً بما حدث من مجابهات ووقوعات في المنطقة صبّت في مصلحتها. فالناقلات التي جرى نسفها في موانئ الإمارات العربية المتحدة، والناقلة البريطانية التي حجزتها البحرية الإيرانية وجرّتها الى ميناء بندر عباس بعد أن رفعت عليها العلم الإيراني، وإعلان الإمارات عن عزمها سحب قواتها العاملة في جبهات الحرب اليمنية، وتصعيد الحوثيين وحلفائهم حرب الطائرات المسيّرة على القواعد العسكرية والمطارات السعودية في الرياض وأبها، ونجاح حزب الله وسورية في بناء معامل متخصّصة بتأمين دقة تصويب الصواريخ الدقيقة… كلّ هذه الأحداث والإنجازات قد تحمل إيران وحزب الله في حسبان بعض القياديين الإسرائيليين على تصعيد عمليات ميدانية، برية وبحرية، من شأنها إرباك حكومات أميركا وبريطانيا و»إسرائيل» في وقت يمرّ كلٌ منها في ظروف داخلية دقيقة.

غير انّ كلّ هذه التطورات والاحتمالات لا يمكن ان تحجب سؤالاً ملحاحاً يمور في أذهان قادة محور المقاومة السياسيين والميدانيين: ما دور روسيا في كلّ ما يجري، لا سيما في جنوب سورية وشمالها الشرقي وغربها؟ هل هي حليف مشارك، ام حليف مساند، ام مجرد شرطي مراقب لمدى امتثال الأطراف المتحاربة لبنود اتفاقات سياسية وميدانية قيل إنه جرى إقرارها بين دول كبرى وأخرى إقليمية؟

وزير سابق

PEPE ESCOBAR: US and Iran Stuck on Negotiation Ground Zero

July 27, 2019

by Pepe Escobar (cross-posted with Consortium News – by special agreement with the author)

PEPE ESCOBAR: US and Iran Stuck on Negotiation Ground Zero

All bets are off in the geopolitical insanity stakes when we have the President of the United States (POTUS) glibly announcing he could launch a nuclear first strike to end the war in Afghanistan and wipe it “off the face of the earth” in one week. But he’d rather not, so he doesn’t have to kill 10 million people.

Apart from the fact that not even a nuclear strike would subdue the legendary fighting spirit of Afghan Pashtuns, the same warped logic – ordering a nuclear first strike as one orders a cheeseburger – could apply to Iran instead of Afghanistan.

Trump once again flip-flopped by declaring that the prospect of a potential war in the Persian Gulf “could go either way, and I’m OK either way it goes,” much to the delight of Beltway-related psychopaths who peddle the notion that Iran is begging to be bombed.

No wonder the whole Global South – not to mention the Russia-China strategic partnership – simply cannot trust anything coming from Trump’s mouth or tweets, a non-stop firefight deployed as intimidation tactics.

At least Trump’s impotence facing such a determined adversary as Iran is now clear: “It’s getting harder for me to want to make a deal with Iran.” What remains are empty clichés, such as Iran “behaving very badly” and “the number one state of terror in the world” – the marching order mantra emanating from Tel Aviv.

Even the – illegal – all-out economic war and total blockade against Tehran seems not to be enough. Trump has announced extra sanctions on China because Beijing is “accepting crude oil” from Iran. Chinese companies will simply ignore them.

Okay With ‘OK Either Way’

“OK either way” is exactly the kind of response expected by the leadership in Tehran. Prof. Mohammad Marandi of the University of Tehran confirmed to me that Tehran did not offer Trump a “renegotiation” of the JCPOA, or Iran nuclear deal, in exchange for the end of sanctions: “It’s not a renegotiation. Iran offered to move forward ratification of additional protocols if Congress removes all sanctions. That would be a big win for Iran. But the US will never accept it.”

Dehghan: U.S. bases would be targeted. (Wikimedia Commons)

Marandi also confirmed “there is nothing big going on” between Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif and tentative Trump administration negotiator Sen. Rand Paul: “Bolton and Pompeo remain in charge.”

The crucial fact is that Tehran rejects a new negotiation with the White House “under any circumstances,” as expressed by Hossein Dehghan, the top military adviser to Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei.

Dehghan once again made it very clear that in case of any sort of military adventure, every single base of the U.S. Empire of Bases across Southwest Asia will be targeted.

This neatly ties in with Iran’s by now consolidated new rules of engagement, duly detailed by correspondent Elijah Magnier. We are well into “an-eye-for-an-eye” territory.

And that brings us to the alarming expansion of the sanctions dementia, represented by two Iranian ships loaded with corn stranded off the coast of southern Brazil because energy giant Petrobras, afraid of U.S. sanctions, refuses to refuel them.

Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro, a fervent Trump groupie, has turned the country into a tropical U.S. neo-colony in less than seven months. On U.S. sanctions, Bolsonaro said, “We are aligned to their policies. So we do what we have to.” Tehran for its part has threatened to cut its imports of corn, soybeans and meat from Brazil – $2 billion worth of trade a year – unless the refueling is allowed.

This is an extremely serious development. Food is not supposed to be — illegally — sanctioned by the Trump administration. Iran now has to use mostly barter to obtain food — as Tehran cannot remit through the CHIPS-SWIFT banking clearinghouse. If food supplies are also blocked that means that sooner rather than later the Strait of Hormuz may be blocked as well.

Beltway sources confirmed that the highest level of the U.S. government gave the order for Brasilia to stop this food shipment.

Tehran knows it well – as this is part of the “maximum pressure” campaign, whose goal is ultimately to starve the Iranian population to death in a harrowing game of chicken.

Chokepoint: The Strait of Hormuz. (Flickr)

How this may end is described by an ominous quote I already used in some of my previous columns, from a Goldman Sachs derivatives specialist:

“If the Strait of Hormuz is closed, the price of oil will rise to a thousand dollars a barrel representing over 45 percent of global GDP, crashing the $2.5 quadrillion derivatives market and creating a world depression of unprecedented proportions.”

At least the Pentagon seems to understand that a war on Iran will collapse the world economy.

And Now for Something Completely Different

But then, last but not least, there’s the tanker war.

Dutch analyst Maarten van Mourik has noted significant discrepancies involving the UK piracy episode in Gibraltar – the origin of the tanker war. The Grace 1 tanker “was pirated by the Royal Marines in international waters. Gibraltar Straits is an international passage, like the Strait of Hormuz. There is only 3 nautical miles of territorial water around Gibraltar, and even that is disputed.”

Mourik adds, “The size of the Grace 1 ship is 300,000 MT of crude oil, it has a maximum draught of about 22.2 meters and the latest draught via AIS indicated that she was at 22.1 meters, or fully laden. Now, the port of Banyas in Syria, which is where the offshore oil port is, has a maximum draft of 15 meters. So, in no way could the Grace 1 go there, without first having to offload elsewhere. Probably a very large quantity to get within max draught limitations.”

Zarif (r.) negotiating nuclear deal with then US Secretary of State John Kerry in July, 2015. (Wikimedia Common)

That ties in with Foreign Minister Javad Zarif refusing on the record to say where Grace 1 was actually heading to, while not confirming the destination was Syria.

The tit-for-tat Iranian response, with the seizure of the Stena Impero navigating under the British flag, is now evolving into Britain calling for a “European-led maritime protection mission” in the Persian Gulf, purportedly to protect ships from Iranian “state piracy.”

Observers may be excused for mistaking it for a Monty Python sketch. Here we have the Ministry of Silly Seizures, which is exiting the EU, begging the EU to embark on a “mission” that is not the same mission of the U.S. “maximum pressure” campaign. And on top of it the mission should not undermine Britain’s commitment to keep the JCPOA in place.

As European nations never recede on a chance to flaunt their dwindling “power” across the Global South, Britain, Germany and France now seem bent on their “mission” to “observe maritime security in the Gulf,” in the words of French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian. At least this won’t be a deployment of joint naval forces – as London insisted. Brussels diplomats confirmed the initial muscular request came from London, but then it was diluted: the EU, NATO and the U.S. should not be involved – at least not directly.

Now compare this with the phone call last week between Iranian President Hassan Rouhani and French President Emmanuel Macron, with Tehran expressing the determination to “keep all doors open” for the JCPOA. Well, certainly not open to the Monty Python sketch.

That was duly confirmed by Iranian Deputy Foreign Minister Abbas Araghchi, who said Iran will “not allow disturbance in shipping in this sensitive area,” while Iranian vice-president Eshaq Jahangiri rejected the notion of a “joint European task force” protecting international shipping: “These kinds of coalitions and the presence of foreigners in the region by itself creates insecurity.”

Iran has always been perfectly capable, historically, of protecting that Pentagonese Holy Grail – “freedom of navigation” – in the Persian Gulf and the Strait of Hormuz. Tehran certainly doesn’t need former colonial powers to enforce it. It’s so easy to lose the plot; the current, alarming escalation is only taking place because of the “art of the deal” obsession on imposing an illegal, total economic war on Iran.

Iran allegedly test fires ballistic missile amid increased tensions with US, UK: media

Source

Iran has test-fired a medium-range ballistic missile on Friday, Fox News television channel reported citing an unnamed senior official in the US administration.

According to Fox News, Shahab-3 ballistic missile was launched in the early hours on July 25 from the southern part of Iran and, after covering a distance of about 960 kilometers (600 miles) to the north of Iran, it landed in a desert not far from Tehran.

“We are aware of reports of a projectile launched from Iran, and have no further comment at this time,” the television channel cited its high-ranking source in the administration as saying on Thursday.

The reported ballistic missile launch comes in the wake of the recently strained relations between Tehran and the West.

The situation exacerbated on July 19, when the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), an elite military force of the Islamic Republic, seized the UK-flagged tanker Stena Impero in the Strait of Hormuz for “the violations of international maritime regulations.”

According to the IRGC, the tanker was escorted towards the shore for further investigation.

Source: TASS

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Mossad Chief Says Iran behind Gulf Attacks, Cites Rare Chance for Peace between ‘Israel’ and #Arabs

July 1, 2019

Capture

The head of Israeli intelligence agency Mossad, Yossi Cohen, said Monday Iran was behind the attacks on three oil tankers in the Gulf region, adding that the Iranian leadership approved the operation.

Cohen told a security conference in Herzliya, near Tel Aviv, that there is a rare chance to conclude a peace agreement between ‘Israel’ and the Arab countries, highlighting Mossad interest in following up this issue.

Source: Al-Manar English Website

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UAE: “We Don’t Have Evidence” that Iran Carried Out Tanker Attacks

Global Research, July 01, 2019

The United Arab Emirates appeared to part ways with the Trump administration Wednesday on the question of whether Iran is responsible for the recent attacks on merchant tankers in the Gulf of Oman. 

The White House maintains that Iran or Iran-backed forces carried out the attacks, which damaged six vessels in two separate incidents in May and June. U.S. Central Command has released video and imagery showing what appear to be Iranian servicemembers removing a limpet mine from the hull of the tanker Kokuka Courageous after the second attack, and it has allowed media to view and photograph debris collected from the vessel.

However, the UAE said Wednesday that it would like more concrete proof before reaching a definitive conclusion that Iran was behind the attacks. Iran has so far denied involvement, though it claimed responsibility for shooting down an American surveillance drone on June 20.

“Honestly we can’t point the blame [for the tanker attacks] at any country because we don’t have evidence,” said UAE foreign minister Sheikh Abdullah Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, speaking alongside his Russian counterpart, Sergei Lavrov, at a joint press conference in Moscow. “If there is a country that has the evidence, then I’m convinced that the international community will listen to it. But we need to make sure the evidence is precise and convincing.”

In a joint investigation conducted with officials from Saudi Arabia and Norway, the UAE determined that the first attacks on tankers off Fujairah “were most probably carried out by actors with a considerable amount of intelligence and technical expertise,” but did not accuse any specific entity. Sheikh Bin Zayed said that that assessment has already been submitted to the UN Security Council and that “we will continue our commitment to professionalism on this issue.”

Lavrov’s presence provided subtext for the announcement: the Russian government has criticized U.S. policy towards Tehran, and a top official recently hinted that it might provide Iran with support if the U.S. should launch a retaliatory attack.

“Many other countries sympathize and empathize with Iran,” said Zamir Kabulov, a Russian special envoy, speaking to Kommersant Wednesday. “Tehran won’t be alone if the U.S., God forbid, takes insane and irresponsible actions against it.”

The UAE is an ally of the United States and of Saudi Arabia, which both accuse Iran of orchestrating the attacks. Sheikh Mohammad Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, crown prince of Abu Dhabi and the de facto ruler of the UAE, met Monday with U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo; in a statement after the meeting, the sheikh’s office “reiterated that both countries are standing side by side toward the challenges besetting the region.”

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Trump May be in Too Deep to Avoid War with Iran

 • JUNE 23, 2019

President Trump’s last-minute change of mind over launching US airstrikes against Iran shows that a military conflict of some description in the Gulf is becoming highly probable. His hesitation was most likely less connected with an Iranian surface-to-air missile shooting down a US surveillance drone than with his instinct that militarising the crisis is not in America’s best interests.

If Trump had not pulled back and the strikes against Iranian radars and missile batteries had gone ahead, where exactly would that have got him? This sort of limited military operation is usually more effective as a threat than in actuality. The US is not going to launch an all-out war against Iran in pursuit of a decisive victory and anything less creates more problems than it resolves.

Iran would certainly retain post-strike the ability to launch pin-prick attacks up and down the Gulf and, especially, in and around the 35-mile wide Strait of Hormuz through which passes 30 per cent of the world’s oil trade. Anything affecting this choke point reverberates around the word: news of the shooting down of the drone immediately sent the price of benchmark Brent crude oil rocketing upwards by 4.75 per cent.

Note that the Iranian surface-to-air missile shot down a $130m (£100m) drone, in practice an unmanned aircraft stuffed with electronic equipment that was designed to be invulnerable to such an attack. The inference is that if US aircraft – as opposed to missiles – start operating over or close to Iranian airspace then they are likely to suffer losses.

But the dilemma for Trump is at a deeper level. His sanctions against Iran, reimposed after he withdrew the US from the Iran nuclear deal in 2018, are devastating the Iranian economy. The US Treasury is a more lethal international power than the Pentagon. The EU and other countries have stuck with the deal, but they have in practice come to tolerate the economic blockade of Iran.

Iran was left with no choice but to escalate the conflict. It wants to make sure that the US, the European and Asian powers, and US regional allies Saudi Arabia and United Arab Emirates, feel some pain. Tehran never expected much from the EU states, which are still signed up to the 2015 nuclear deal, and has found its low expectations are being fulfilled.

A fundamental misunderstanding of the US-Iran confrontation is shared by many commentators. It may seem self-evident that the US has an interest in using its vast military superiority over Iran to get what it wants. But after the failure of the US ground forces to win in Iraq and Afghanistan, not to mention Somalia, no US leader can start a land war in the Middle East without endangering their political survival at home.

Trump took this lesson to heart long before he became president. He is a genuine isolationist in the American tradition. The Democrats and much of the US media have portrayed Trump as a warmonger, though he has yet to start a war. His national security adviser John Bolton and secretary of state Mike Pompeo issue bloodcurdling threats against Iran, but Trump evidently views such bellicose rhetoric as simply one more way of ramping up the pressure on Iran.

But if a ground war is ruled out, then Iran is engaged in the sort of limited conflict in which it has long experience. A senior Iraqi official once said to me that the Iranians “have a PhD” in this type of part political, part military warfare. They are tactics that have worked well for Tehran in Lebanon, Iraq and Syria over the past 40 years. The Iranians have many pressure points against the US, and above all against its Saudi and Emirati allies in the Gulf.

The Iranians could overplay their hand: Trump is an isolationist, but he is also a populist national leader who claims in his first campaign rallies for the next presidential election to “have made America great again”. Such boasts make it difficult to not retaliate against Iran, a country he has demonised as the source of all the troubles in the Middle East.

One US military option looks superficially attractive but conceals many pitfalls. This is to try to carry out operations along the lines of the limited military conflict between the US and Iran called the “tanker war”. This was part of the Iran-Iraq war in the 1980s and the US came out the winner.

Saddam Hussein sought to throttle Iran’s oil exports and Iran tried to do the same to Iraq. The US and its allies weighed in openly on Saddam Hussein’s side – an episode swiftly forgotten by them after the Iraqi leader invaded Kuwait in 1990. From 1987 on, re-registered Kuwaiti tankers were being escorted through the Gulf by US warships. There were US airstrikes against Iranian ships and shore facilities, culminating in the accidental but very avoidable shooting down of an Iranian civil airliner with 290 passengers on board by the USS Vincennes in 1988. Iran was forced to sue for peace in its war with Iraq.

Some retired American generals speak about staging a repeat of the tanker war today but circumstances have changed. Iran’s main opponent in 1988 was Saddam Hussein’s Iraq and Iran was well on its way to losing the war, in which there was only one front.

Today Saddam is gone and Iraq is ruled by a Shia-dominated government. Baghdad is trying to stay neutral in the US-Iran crisis, but no Iraqi leader can afford to oppose Iran as the greatest Shia power. The political geography of this part of the Middle East has been transformed since the Iran-Iraq war, with change very much to the advantage of Iran. From the Afghan border to the Mediterranean – in Iran, Iraq, Syria, Lebanon – Shia communities are in control or are the most powerful forces in the state. The US and UK often refer to them as “Iranian proxies” but in practice Iran leads a sectarian coalition with a religious basis.


Compared with 28 years ago in the Gulf when the US was last fighting a limited war with Iran, the US is in a weaker position. Israel, Saudi Arabia and UAE may have urged Trump to tear up the nuclear deal and confront Iran, but they show no enthusiasm to join any war that ensues. Supposing that this month’s pin-prick attacks on tankers were indeed carried out by Iran, which seems likely, then the purpose will have been to send message that, if Iran’s oil exports can be cut off, so too can those of the other Gulf producers. Trump thinks he can avoid the quagmire of another Middle East war, but he may already be in too deep.It is a coalition which has already won its main battles – with Shia parties in Iraq, Bashar al-Assad in Syria, Hezbollah in Lebanon – and this outcome is not going to change. The Houthis in Yemen, who belong to a different Shia variant, have survived a prolonged attempt by Saudi Arabia and UAE to defeat them.

(Republished from The Independent by permission of author or representative)

Trump claims he canceled an airstrike against Iran at the very last minute

The Saker

June 21, 2019

Trump claims he canceled an airstrike against Iran at the very last minute

The first thing to say here is that we have no means to know what really happened.  At the very least, there are two possible hypotheses which could explain what took place:

1) a US provocation: it is quite possible that somebody in the US chain of command decided that Iran should be put under pressure and that having US UAV fly right next to, or even just inside, the international border of Iran would be a great way to show Iran that the US is ready to attack.  If that is the case, this was a semi-success (the Iranians had to switch on their radars and attack the UAV which is very good for US intelligence gathering) and a semi-failure (since the Iranians were clearly unimpressed by the US show of resolve).

2) an Iranian provocation: yup, that is a theoretical possibility which cannot reject prima facie: in this scenario it was indeed the Iranians who blew up the two tankers last week and they also deliberately shot down the US UAV over international waters.  The goal?  Simple: to show that the Iranians are willing and ready to escalate and that they are confident that they will prevail.

Now, in the real world, there are many more options, including even mixes of various options.  What matters is now not this, as much as Trump’s reaction:

Now, whether this was a US provocation or an Iranian one – Trump’s reaction was the only correct one.  Why?  Because the risks involved in any US “more than symbolic strike” would be so great as to void any rationale for such a strike in the first place.  Think of it: we can be very confident that the Iranian military installations along the Persian Gulf and the southern border of Iran are highly redundant and that no matter how successful any limited US missile strike would have been, the actual military capabilities of Iran would not have been affected.  The only way for the USA to effectively degrade Iranian capabilities would be to have a sustained, multi-day, attack on the entire southern periphery of Iran.  In other words, a *real* war.  Anything short of that would simply be meaningless.  The consequences of such an attack, however, would be, in Putin’s words “catastrophic” for the entire region.

If this was an Iranian provocation, then it was one designed to impress upon the Empire that Iran is also very much “locked, cocked and ready to rock”.  But if that is the case, there is zero change that any limited strike would achieve anything.  In fact, any symbolic US attack would only signal to the Iranians that the US has cold feet and that all the US sabre-rattling is totally useless.

I have not said such a thing in many months, but in this case I can only admit that Trump did the right thing.  No limited attack also makes sense even if we assume that the Empire has made the decision to attack Iran and is just waiting for the perfect time.  Why?  Because the longer the Iranian feel that an attack is possible, the more time, energy and money they need to spend remaining on very high alert.

The basic theory of attack and defense clearly states that the attacking side can gain as a major advantage if it can leave the other side in the dark about its plans and if the costs of being ready for a surprise attack are lower than the costs of being on high alert (those interested in the role and importance of surprise attack in the theory of deterrence can read Richard Betts’ excellent book “Surprise Attack: lessons for defense planning“).

How true is this story about Trump canceling a US attack at the last minute?  It is impossible to know, but it appears to me that it is certain that the nutcase Neocons around Trump wanted the strike.  But it is also plausible (if by no means certain) that at least two groups could have opposed such a strike:

1) The planners at CENTCOM and/or the Pentagon.

2) The planners for Trump’s reelection campaign.

The first ones would lobby against such a strike simply on the sound military grounds mentioned above.  As for the second group, they probably decided (correctly) that if Trump starts a war with Iran which nobody has an “exit strategy” for – this could result in a huge blowback for the entire region and kill Trump’s reelection chances.

In this case, whether Trump listened to either group or simply followed his gut instincts, it appears likely that Trump (maybe a “collective Trump”) said “no, I don’t authorize this”.  In this case, he does deserve our sincere praise and gratitude (irrespective of this past actions and inactions).

In conclusion, I want to show the kind of fantastically stupid, mindbogglingly ignorant and criminally irresponsible war propaganda the so-called “conservative” US media outlets have been spewing.  Check out this one:

Hannity’s flagwaving logorrhea is exactly the kind of total nonsense which will sooner or later result in a major military disaster followed by a collapse of the Empire itself (for a detailed outline of how this is likely to happen, please read John Michael Greer superb book “Twilight’s Last Gleaming“).  The sheer number of counter-factual and plainly stupid things Hannity manages to squeeze into just under 7 minutes is, by itself, a remarkable feat.

Yes, it is a sad day when one has to rejoice that the US President is marginally less stupid and less ignorant than one of the big talking heads on the US idiot box, but these are truly tragic and extremely dangerous times.  And in such times, we have to be grateful for anything, no matter how minimal, which pushes back the inevitable war in the Middle-East (or even the world).

This being said, where do we go from here?

Location of the attacks on tankers

My personal guesstimate and almost baseless speculation is that the attack on the two tankers was probably an Israeli false flag operation which failed to achieve its intended results.  Notice that the attack itself did not take place inside Strait of Hormuz, but south of it, in comparatively more open waters were an Israeli submarine or specialized surface vessel had less changes to be spotted by the Iranians and a much better chance of escape (for example, take a look at the 2nd map shown below and see for yourself how the depth gradient rapidly drops in the Gulf of Oman).

When this attacked failed to achieve the desired effect, the Israelis and their Neocon agents decided to engage into another provocation, this time using a US drone.  I find it likely that in terms of location, the drone was flying inside Iranian airspace, but probably still over water allowing the Empire do claims it’s usual (and CIA-created) cop-out of “plausible deniability” in case of shootdown.

When the Iranians shot down the US UAV, a lot of folks in the USA probably wanted to find out exactly where this UAV was flying at the moment of intercept and since the Iranians probably have a lot of radar and EW data to prove that the UAV was inside the Iranian airspace the only safe course of action would have been to express all forms of protest but not to take unilateral (and, therefore illegal) action.

It is also remarkable that the US has requested that the case of the two tankers and the shooting down of the drone be discussed at the UNSC.  Considering that both Russia and China will veto any resolution condemning Iran, this also appears to be a move to find a pretext not to go to war.

Of course, this might also be a strategic PSYOP destined to lull the Iranians into a false sense of security.  If that is the plan, it will fail:  the Iranians have lived with a AngloZionist bullseye painted on their heads ever since 1979 and they are used to live under constant threat of war.

In conclusion, I am currently very slightly optimistic (48-52%) that the US will not attack Iran in the short term.

In the long term, however, I consider that an AngloZionist attack is a quasi certainty.

The Saker

PS: a pretty decent topographical map of the Strait of Hormuz

I high resolution topological map of the Strait of Hormuz

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Iran goes for “maximum counter-pressure”

Iran goes for “maximum counter-pressure”

By Pepe Escobar – with permission and cross-posted with Strategic Culture Foundation

Sooner or later the US “maximum pressure” on Iran would inevitably be met by “maximum counter-pressure”.  Sparks are ominously bound to fly.

For the past few days, intelligence circles across Eurasia had been prodding Tehran to consider a quite straightforward scenario. There would be no need to shut down the Strait of Hormuz if Quds Force commander, General Qasem Soleimani, the ultimate Pentagon bête noire, explained in detail, on global media, that Washington simply does not have the military capacity to keep the Strait open.

As I previously reported, shutting down the Strait of Hormuz would destroy the American economy by detonating the $1.2 quadrillion derivatives market; and that would collapse the world banking system, crushing the world’s $80 trillion GDP and causing an unprecedented depression.

Soleimani should also state bluntly that Iran may in fact shut down the Strait of Hormuz if the nation is prevented from exporting essential two million barrels of oil a day, mostly to Asia. Exports, which before illegal US sanctions and de facto blockade would normally reach 2.5 million barrels a day, now may be down to only 400,000.

Soleimani’s intervention would align with consistent signs already coming from the IRGC. The Persian Gulf is being described as an imminent “shooting gallery.” Brigadier General Hossein Salami stressed that Iran’s ballistic missiles are capable of hitting “carriers in the sea” with pinpoint precision. The whole northern border of the Persian Gulf, on Iranian territory, is lined up with anti-ship missiles – as I confirmed with IRGC-related sources.

We’ll let you know when it’s closed

Then, it happened.

Chairman of the Chiefs of Staff of the Iranian Armed Forces, Major General Mohammad Baqeri, went straight to the point; “If the Islamic Republic of Iran were determined to prevent export of oil from the Persian Gulf, that determination would be realized in full and announced in public, in view of the power of the country and its Armed Forces.”

The facts are stark. Tehran simply won’t accept all-out economic war lying down – prevented to export the oil that protects its economic survival. The Strait of Hormuz question has been officially addressed. Now it’s time for the derivatives.

Presenting detailed derivatives analysis plus military analysis to global media would force the media pack, mostly Western, to go to Warren Buffett to see if it is true. And it is true. Soleimani, according to this scenario, should say as much and recommend that the media go talk to Warren Buffett.

The extent of a possible derivatives crisis is an uber-taboo theme for the Washington consensus institutions. According to one of my American banking sources, the most accurate figure – $1.2 quadrillion – comes from a Swiss banker, off the record. He should know; the Bank of International Settlements (BIS) – the central bank of central banks – is in Basle.

The key point is it doesn’t matter how the Strait of Hormuz is blocked.

It could be a false flag. Or it could be because the Iranian government feels it’s going to be attacked and then sinks a cargo ship or two. What matters is the final result; any blocking of the energy flow will lead the price of oil to reach $200 a barrel, $500 or even, according to some Goldman Sachs projections, $1,000.

Another US banking source explains; “The key in the analysis is what is called notional. They are so far out of the money that they are said to mean nothing. But in a crisis the notional can become real.  For example, if I buy a call for a million barrels of oil at $300 a barrel, my cost will not be very great as it is thought to be inconceivable that the price will go that high.  That is notional.  But if the Strait is closed, that can become a stupendous figure.”

BIS will only commit, officially, to indicate the total notional amount outstanding for contracts in derivatives markers is an estimated $542.4 trillion. But this is just an estimate.

The banking source adds, “Even here it is the notional that has meaning.  Huge amounts are interest rate derivatives. Most are notional but if oil goes to a thousand dollars a barrel, then this will affect interest rates if 45% of the world’s GDP is oil. This is what is called in business a contingent liability.”

Goldman Sachs has projected a feasible, possible $1,000 a barrel a few weeks after the Strait of Hormuz being shut down. This figure, times 100 million barrels of oil produced per day, leads us to 45% of the $80 trillion global GDP. It’s self-evident the world economy would collapse based on just that alone.

War dogs barking mad

As much as 30% of the world’s oil supply transits the Persian Gulf and the Strait of Hormuz. Wily Persian Gulf traders – who know better – are virtually unanimous; if Tehran was really responsible for the Gulf of Oman tanker incident, oil prices would be going through the roof by now. They aren’t.

Iran’s territorial waters in the Strait of Hormuz amount to 12 nautical miles (22 km). Since 1959, Iran recognizes only non-military naval transit.

Since 1972, Oman’s territorial waters in the Strait of Hormuz also amount to 12 nautical miles. At its narrowest, the width of the Strait is 21 nautical miles (39 km). That means, crucially, that half of the Strait of Hormuz is in Iranian territorial waters, and the other half in Oman’s. There are no “international waters”.

And that adds to Tehran now openly saying that Iran may decide to close the Strait of Hormuz publicly – and not by stealth.

Iran’s indirect, asymmetric warfare response to any US adventure will be very painful. Prof. Mohammad Marandi of the University of Tehran once again reconfirmed,

“even a limited strike will be met by a major and disproportionate response.”

And that means gloves off, big time; anything from really blowing up tankers to, in Marandi’s words,

“Saudi and UAE oil facilities in flames”.

Hezbollah will launch tens of thousands of missiles against Israel. As Hezbollah’s secretary-general Hasan Nasrallah has been stressing in his speeches,

“war on Iran will not remain within that country’s borders, rather it will mean that the entire [Middle East] region will be set ablaze. All of the American forces and interests in the region will be wiped out, and with them the conspirators, first among them Israel and the Saudi ruling family.”

It’s quite enlightening to pay close attention to what this Israel intel op is saying. The dogs of war though are barking mad.

Earlier this week, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo jetted to CENTCOM in Tampa to discuss “regional security concerns and ongoing operations” with – skeptical – generals, a euphemism for “maxim pressure” eventually leading to war on Iran.

Iranian diplomacy, discreetly, has already informed the EU – and the Swiss – about their ability to crash the entire world economy. But still that was not enough to remove US sanctions.

صاروخ تل أبيب وطائرة هرمز

يونيو 21, 2019

 

ناصر قنديل

– عندما كان كيان الاحتلال يستعد للانتخابات المبكرة ما بين نهاية العام الماضي وشهر نيسان هذا العام، كثرت التحليلات والتوقعات بحرب يشنها بنيامين نتنياهو على غزة، تسهيلاً لضمان الفوز بالانتخابات. وعندما لم تقع الحرب انتقلت التوقعات إلى ما بعد الانتخابات تسهيلاً لتشكيل الحكومة. وعندما فشل تشكيل الحكومة ولم تقع الحرب بقي البعض يتحدث عن حرب مقبلة، لكن بين هذه التواريخ والاستحقاقات حدث أن صاروخاً انطلق من غزة وسقط قرب تل أبيب، وكان مبرراً كافياً لخوض الحرب الموعودة لنتنياهو، وتكرّر الحادث مرة ثانية، وكان مبرراً للحرب الموعودة، لكن نتنياهو لم يخض الحرب، وفي المرتين وقف يقول، إنه يقبل التفسير الذي نقله المصريون عن كون عوامل الطقس تقف وراء انطلاق الصواريخ مرة، وأن خطأ بشرياً تسبب بإطلاق الصاروخ مرة ثانية، لكن الصواريخ حملت الرسالة، أن لدى المقاومة في غزة صواريخ تصل إلى تل أبيب، وأن أي حرب مقبلة ستكون قواعد الاشتباك فيها، غزة مقابل تل أبيب.

– واشنطن التي حشدت أفضل معداتها العسكرية إلى الخليج قالت إنها تريد ردع إيران، وإفهامها أن أي استهداف لحلفاء أميركا من اي من حلفاء إيران سيعني الحرب على إيران. وخلال أسابيع اشتعلت ناقلات نفط قالت واشنطن إن لديها الأدلة على أن إيران وحلفاءها يتحملون المسؤولية عن إشعالها، حتى استهدف أنصار الله أنابيب شرق غرب في السعودية وأعلنوا مسؤوليتهم، فقالت واشنطن إنها لن تتدخل عسكرياً إلا إذا تعرضت قواتها للاستهداف، وتساءل الذين يعرفون معنى الردع عما بقي منه بعد هذا التراجع، لكن الذين لا يفهمون معنى الردع كانوا بحاجة كي تمضي إيران قدماً في كشف زيف الادعاء به، فجاء إسقاط أفضل ما في الترسانة الأميركية من طائرات تجسس وغرف عمليات، تعادل قيمتها ربع مليار دولار، بصاروخ من صنع إيران بينما كانت الطائرة على ارتفاع أربعة عشر كيلومتراً وتشكل هدفاً عصياً على الاستهداف، فتحدث الرئيس الأميركي عن الردّ، قائلاً سترون. ثم أطلّ برفقة ضيفه الكندي متحدثاً فقال، أن ليس من خسائر بشرية في العملية، ما يعني ضمناً أنها ليست الاستهداف الذي يستحق حرباً، وعلق بعدها مفسراً العملية بأنها قد تكون خطأ غير مقصود ارتكبه الضابط الإيراني المعني بإطلاق الصاروخ بينما المسؤولون الإيرانيون يعلنون تبنيهم لإسقاط الطائرة بما في ذلك من رسائل وأبعاد، يسقط معها مفهوم الردع الأميركي.

– مشكلة الأميركيين والإسرائيليين انهم يتوهمون بأن الحصار على غزة والعقوبات على إيران وقوى المقاومة، بصفتها أوراق القوة الأميركية الإسرائيلية التي تحتاج للزمن كي تفعل فعلها، بعدما فشل الأميركيون والإسرائيليون في كسر إرادة محور المقاومة في الحروب، ستترك تستثمر الزمن الذي تحتاج دون استفزاز الأميركي والإسرائيلي وجرّه إلى ساحات المواجهة، وإذلاله، وفرض معادلات القوة عليه، وتغيير وقائع الجغرافيا العسكريّة، كي تجبره على التفاوض للخروج من لعبة الاستقواء بالعقوبات والحصار. و«إسرائيل» التي وجدت أنها مضطرة لقبول التهدئة مع غزة بشروط قوى المقاومة، تريد لأميركا أن تتورط في المواجهة بدلاً عنها. ومثلها قوى العدوان السعودي الإماراتي على اليمن التي قبلت تسوية الحديدة بشروط أنصار الله، والأميركي اليوم بين قبول التحدي وانفجار أسواق النفط وأسعارها بين يديه، أو التفاوض على شروط للتهدئة يعرف الإيراني ماذا يريد منها ومتى وأين وكيف؟

– غداً سيقول الرئيس الأميركي إن عوامل الطقس أطلقت الصاروخ الأميركي الذي أسقط الطائرة الثانية!

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Provocations in the Gulf of Oman: Will John Bolton Get His War on Iran?

Global Research, June 16, 2019

“America’s declared policy should be ending Iran’s 1979 Islamic Revolution before its 40th anniversary…Recognizing a new Iranian regime in 2019 would reverse the shame of once seeing our diplomats held hostage for 444 days.” – John Bolton (January 15, 2018) [1]

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Coincidentally or not, America’s ‘maximum pressure’ campaign against Iran began within a month of John Bolton’s installment as National Security Advisor. On May 8th of 2018, President Donald Trump announced the U.S. was backing out of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), otherwise known as the Iran nuclear deal negotiated by the U.S. under President Barrack Obama along with the other permanent members of the United Nations Security Council, Germany and the EU in July of 2015. Consequently, the sanctions imposed on Iran previous to the JCPOA were reinstated, and additional sanctions imposed by the end of the year.

In April of this year, the Trump Administration took the unprecedented step of declaring the Middle East country’s military, the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) to be a terrorist organization.

Two weeks later, the Trump Administration ended the waivers it had extended to other countries which had to that point allowed them to escape sanctions for purchasing Iranian oil. The aim of this manoeuvre being to strangle the Iranian economy by preventing its ability to profit from the sale of its main source of revenue.

Two weeks after that, Bolton announced the deployment of an aircraft carrier strike group and Air Force Bombers to the Middle East as part of an effort to “send a clear and unmistakable message to the Iranian regime that any attack on United States interests or on those of our allies will be met with unrelenting force.”

The following week, four tankers were attacked in the Persian Gulf. Bolton and Secretary of State Pompeo blamed Iran for the attacks.

America’s choke-hold on Iran’s economy continued to tighten with further sanctions on May 8th of this year, the anniversary of Trump’s JCPOA pull-out.

Two weeks after that, President Trump ordered 1,500 additional troops to the Middle East, and was able to declare an emergency over Iran, allowing the White House to circumvent Congress, and move ahead with arms sales to allies Saudi Arabia, Jordan and the United Arab Emirates.

By early June, the administration started sending out conciliatory signals. The President indicated he, unlike his National Security Advisor, was not seeking regime change in Iran, and shortly afterwards, Secretary of State Pompeo said the U.S. was prepared to engage the Iranians “without preconditions.”

Then, on Thursday June 13, two ships in the Gulf of Oman were fired upon. U.S. officials including Trump are pointing to Iran as the guilty party, although Iranian officials categorically deny the accusation.

Is the world now on a trajectory toward war? Perhaps even a world war? This daunting possibility is at the heart of this week’s Global Research News Hour radio program.

First up, we hear from prominent Canadian intellectual Michel ChossudovskyProfessor Chossudovsky, while not completely ruling out the possibility of a “bloody nose” operation or other forms of economic warfare, argues that the U.S. cannot expect to fight and win a conventional Iraq style conflict in light of developments in strategic regional alliances over the last decade. Chossudovsky explains his reasoning in the first half hour.

Our second guest, Yves Engler, brings a Canadian angle to the conversation by outlining the enmity America’s northern neighbour has expressed toward the Islamic Republic and that has not changed substantially since the more ‘progressive’ Trudeau Liberals took power in 2015. Engler details the factors influencing Canadian policy and how Canadians can hope to redirect relations in a more positive and peaceful direction.

Finally, the noted journalist and geopolitical analyst Pepe Escobar shares his insights into America’s shifting attitudes toward the Iranian government, the recent attacks on ships in the Gulf of Oman, and what these developments say about divisions within the Trump Administration, and the prospect of a bloody war and economic depression rivalling anything the world has seen in the 21st century. (See transcript below.)

Professor Michel Chossudovsky is professor emeritus of economics at the University of Ottawa and the award-winning author of 11 books including his most recent America’s Long War Against Humanity. He is also the founder and director of the Centre for Research on Globalization and editor of Global Research.

Yves Engler is one of Canada’s foremost Canadian foreign policy critics and dissidents. He is the author of nine books on Canadian foreign policy including The Black Book of Canadian Foreign Policy (2009), and his most recent, Left, Right: Marching to the Beat of Imperial Canada. His articles have appeared at rabble.ca, canadiandimension.com, and on his own site yvesengler.com.

Pepe Escobar is a veteran Brazilian Journalist, geopolitical analyst and Correspondent at large for Asia Times based out of Hong Kong. He has written for Tom Dispatch, Sputnik News, and Press TV, and RT. His articles appear in a number of websites including Global Research, and is a frequent commentator on radio and tv.

(Global Research News Hour Episode 264)

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Transcript – Interview with Pepe Escobar, June 14, 2019.

Global Research: I want to refer to a recent article you mentioned about a devastating hammer that Iran can use against the United States in the event of an overt attack. And the US knows it. What have your sources disclosed about the Strait of Hormuz and Iran’s capacity to fight back against an attack?

Pepe Escobar: Exactly. Look, I think the last article I published about it was after the Bilderberg meetings in fact. Because I was asked to investigate about at least some of the stuff they were discussing inside Bilderberg. I had a good banking source in fact. They did not disclose much. You know very well at Global Research how Bilderberg works–

GR: Chatham House Rules

PE: Exactly – you betcha. But I got some interesting information about how they were seeing the results of the European parliamentary elections as a sort of victory because now everyone in Europe is more or less the center-left and the center-right and the Greens are more or less on the same page, but from the point of view of Bilderbergers, there was a victory.

But then, I was asking, look I’m sure they discuss about China and Iran and all that, and my source was saying look, I cannot talk about this for obvious reasons. But then I got information from someone who’s above Bilderberg, if you can put it this way. This is one of my best sources for years, in fact. American, the only thing I can say is American. It’s not European, it’s not Asian.

And he told me look, I know what they discussed about Iran because the key information is actually on Trump’s desk. We all know that Trump doesn’t read anything, but this information came supported by Wall Street guys. And I’m talking about the big guys. Blackstone, Sumner Redstone, Jamie Dimon from JP Morgan, Goldman Sachs people including Goldman Sachs projections, you name it. So, Trump must have seen it at least, or at least somebody must have read it to him in two or three minutes.

And I had written about this before. Now more…the studies are more detailed. It’s about if, essentially, if the Strait of Hormuz is shut down, whatever the reason, it could be a false flag, like most probably what happened yesterday with the two tankers, the Norwegian tanker and the Japanese tanker transporting petrochemical products back to Asia, was not in the Strait of Hormuz, it was more on the open sea and the Gulf of Oman. If it was in the Strait of Hormuz, it would be much, much worse than what happened yesterday.

So the projections, including Goldman Sachs projections, if this happens and the Strait is closed, whatever the reason, because mostly insurers would not risk ensuring any vessel leaving the Persian Gulf through the Strait of Hormuz, and then further afield, the price of the barrel of oil in less than 24 hours would be over 100, after one day or two, 200, after a week, 500, and there is some projections that after a while we would even reach 1000. And more than that, the implosion of Casino Capitalism as we know it, especially because of the…

And then we have different numbers. The derivatives, especially oil derivatives and other derivatives as well. There are all sorts of numbers concerning how many derivatives are out there, from 500 billion dollars, which is the official Bank of International Settlements figure to 2.5 quadrillion dollars, in fact. So, it gets very complicated. I had to fight with the… with Asia Times to say, look, you should publish all the figures, and they prefer to go for the lowest estimate. And one of my sources told me no, this is the… Swiss bankers know this figure, implying more or less his source was from the Bank of International Settlements, and he’s adamant that it’s 2.5 quadrillion dollars. So this means that the whole western economy would collapse in a matter of literally nanoseconds.

So, this was in my story for Asia Times. I also wrote about this for Consortium News and more, and for the past month or so, I discussed this with Iranians but not directly with the Revolutionary Guards. People who have access to IRGC information.

And always the IRGC are very secretive. They know, and they do have the necessary means to shut down the Strait, whichever way they want. And that’s why I got from my Iranian sources this time, they are so sure that the Americans won’t try anything stupid, because the Pentagon knows what Iran is capable of militarily. They know about all those missiles lining up the northern shore of the Persian Gulf on the Iranian side pointed at everything that moves in the Strait of Hormuz and also in the Gulf of Oman.

And that was the main reason that Trump wants to talk. And this was discussed at Bilderberg, every single thing that I’m telling you. Why? Because Mike Pompeo, at the last minute, scheduled that stop in Switzerland, especially in Bern, to talk to the president of Switzerland, but he also talked to the people at Bilderberg afterwards. Because Bilderberg was in Montreux, not very far. He went to Montreux as well. And they talk, and I’m sure they talk obviously no leaks whatsoever about it, but obviously Pompeo had to talk especially with Europeans who are terrified about this, and some Europeans knew about this information, because this information was circulated by bankers to European bankers as well. Bilderberg, everything connected. So this was the reason why Pompeo actually went to Switzerland at that time. This was an unscheduled stop; we have to remember this all the time.

So… but still we have the major problem on the table, which resurfaced yesterday. Are the neocons around Trump playing their last card to force him to do anything on a military side against Iran? Because if it’s…I would say we still don’t have a mega smoking gun, but it’s more or less sure that what happened yesterday was a false flag. We still don’t know exactly how it worked. But if that’s the case, and Trump saying today, no if they close the Strait of Hormuz it’s not going to be for long, which is a diversionist tactic, he knows, he should know by now what that would mean in terms of a disaster for the global economy.

So now we are way beyond this already, we are in a horrible stage where the United States has painted itself into a corner, saying, Pompeo saying, on the record, that to Iran they’re responsible without examining any evidence at all. Today, very, very important, earlier today, since yesterday and earlier today, in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan, summit of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, guess who was in the same room? Putin, Modi, Xi, Imran Khan, and as an observer, Rouhani, President of Iran.

And obviously, they were discussing Iran. It was not on the final statement because Iran was an observer to the SCO. But they discussed, as far as, from my sources told me, it hasn’t leaked a lot so far, but they did discuss Iran, and Rouhani made a solemn promise, which was brilliant in geo-economic terms, to all SCO member nations: You’re going to have the… your companies, from any one of you, India, Pakistan, Russia, China, all the central Asians, all of your companies that invest the Iranian market, you’re going to have the best possible conditions anywhere. So, there’s going to be a lot of foreign investment from the SCO, companies from SCO member nations in the Iranian economy.

So, Iran, on the diplomatic side, they are doing very well. On the military side, as far as I know from my Iranian sources who know more or less in detail what the IRGC is doing, they tell me, look, they don’t care anymore, whatever the Americans say. And this comes straight from the top. from Ayatollah Khamenei when he says that it’s absolutely pointless to talk with the Americans. And Zarif is saying in a more diplomatic way to Ministers of Foreign Relations everywhere and leaders everywhere, including of course Putin and Xi. “We are ready for anything that happens, we want diplomacy of course, but if they ratchet up the pressure, we will ratchet up pressure from our side.” It’s getting to a very, very dangerous stalemate now, Michael.

GR: Yeah, I was wondering if you could address a point related… I guess you could call it palace intrigue in Washington. Because it’s been suggested by fellow Consortium News contributor of yours, John Kiriakou, that John Bolton’s days as national security advisor are numbered, given all the unwelcome provocations he’s directing at Iran. At the same time, the United States, Trump, presumably doesn’t want to have an unwinnable war on the eve of a major US presidential election campaign, nor does he want to bring down the global capitalist deck of cards. So, how… What options does he have? How can Trump avoid escalation with Iran without losing face at this point?

PE: Exactly, that’s a very good question. John’s information is very, very good. Because it ties with the information that I have from people in New York who do business with Trump. They told me the same thing. He’s absolutely furious, in fact, with the way he was painted into a corner by Bolton especially. Pompeo not so much. Pompeo is expected to go around blasting Iran. But Bolton is actually trying to implement something practical or false flag style on the ground. And now, Trump himself is painting himself into a corner. He is already accusing Iran of what happened in the Gulf of Oman on the record. How is he going to backtrack from that? Of course, now he cannot backtrack without just saying oh, look I was wrong, okay, here’s another tweet, I changed my mind!

So, it’s…what we know for sure is that he doesn’t want any kind of military scenario because he seems to know what that would imply. Considering the IRGC, their force, what they have, the missiles, and of course the financial angle, which is the derivatives crisis. At the same time, they keep ratcheting up the pressure under the so-called self-described maximum pressure campaign. And there’s no possibility of dialogue because this, what happened yesterday, was… when Prime Minister Shinzō Abe was talking to Khameini in Khameini’s office in Tehran, trying to defuse the whole situation, Japan as the intermediary, the messenger between Washington and Tehran, and this thing happens, this is completely cra– and anyone with an IQ higher than 12 can figure out that this doesn’t make any sense at all. Why would Iran attack a Japanese-owned tanker… the minute their prime minister is talking to the leader of the… This is completely absurd.

GR: And talking to the prime minister on behalf of Trump.

PE: On behalf of Trump – exactly, exactly! He had a letter. He had a letter which probably was sent by team Trump to Ayatollah Khameini. Khameini, from the beginning, he said look there’s nothing to talk about. In fact it’s fantastic. Somebody came up with two different pictures. Abe had the letter with him, he put it on the table when they were talking, and after a while he removed the letter from the table. A graphic sign that Khameini was not ready to read anything written by team Trump.

GR: Well, Pepe, I wish we had more time to discuss this, but, I know we’ve both got to go, but I want to thank you for lending your very knowledgeable voice to this critical discussion on breaking events.

PE: I hope this is helpful for everybody.

GR: We’ve been speaking with geopolitical analyst Pepe Escobar. He joined us from Paris.

-end of interview –

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Notes:

  1. John Bolton (January 15, 2018), ‘Beyond the Iran Nuclear Deal: U.S. Policy should be to end the Islamic Republic before its 40th anniversary’, Wall Street Journal; https://www.wsj.com/articles/beyond-the-iran-nuclear-deal-1516044178

Our Reality Can Beat Up Your Reality. Spreading False News Stories on Iran

Taxpayer-Funded Propaganda for Trolls, by Trolls

Global Research, June 17, 2019

Twitter has declared victory over disinformation, deplatforming thousands of pro-Iranian Twitter accounts this week to coincide with US Secretary of State “Rapture Mike” Pompeo’s evidence-free declaration that Iran had attacked two oil tankers in the Gulf of Oman. But the mass deletion is merely an effort to distract from the implosion of two anti-Iran troll campaigns dedicated to smearing pro-peace Americans, both tacitly Twitter-approved. And there’s plenty more where those came from. As US media and politicians continues to hyperventilate about Russian bots, who’s the real troll-master?

Pompeo was out front with the blame hours after the attack, absent a shred of proof beyond unspecified “intelligence” and a few other dubious incidents in the Middle East that the US has previously pinned on Iran (also absent a shred of proof). But even mainstream media has initially been reluctant to take his word for it, mostly because the narrative is so improbable – Japan’s PM Shinzo Abe was in Tehran when it happened, promising to make the “utmost effort” to de-escalate tensions, when, as if on cue, one Japanese ship and another carrying Japanese cargo were hit? What are the odds?

When even CNN acknowledged that the attack “doesn’t appear to benefit any of the protagonists in the region,” and Bloomberg admitted “Iran has little to gain” from blowing up the ships of its esteemed guest, Pompeo clearly understood another route of influence was required. Who better to call in for reinforcements than Twitter, which has demonstrated time and again its willingness to serve the US’ preferred narrative with mass deplatformings? 4,779 accounts believed to be “associated or backed by Iran” were removed – less than an hour after Pompeo’s declaration of Iranian guilt – for nothing more than tweeting “global news content, often with an angle that benefited the diplomatic and geostrategic views of the Iranian state.” This was deemed “platform manipulation,” and therefore unacceptable.

One troll down, thousands more to go

Tweeting with an angle that benefits the diplomatic and geostrategic views of the American state, however, is perfectly acceptable – at least, it wasn’t Twitter that brought the “Iran Disinformation Project” crashing to a halt earlier this month. The State Department officially ended its @IranDisinfo influence operation after the social media initiative, ostensibly created to “counter Iranian propaganda,” went rogue, smearing any and all critics of Trump’s hawkish Iran policy as paid operatives of the Iranian government. Human rights activists, students, journalists, academics, even insufficiently-militant American propagandists at RFE/RL, Voice of America and other US-funded outlets were attacked by @IranDisinfo – all on the US taxpayer’s dime.

Congress only learned of the project in a closed-door hearing on Monday, when the State Department confessed the troll campaign had taken $1.5 million in taxpayers’ money to attack those same taxpayers – all in the name of promoting “freedom of expression and free access to information.” The group contracted to operate Iran Disinfo, E-Collaborative for Civic Education, is run by an Iranian immigrant and claims to focus on strengthening “civil society” and “democracy” back home, though its work is almost exclusively US-focused and its connections with pro-war think tanks like the Foundation for Defense of Democracies have alarmed congressional staffers.

“What rules are in place to prevent state-funded organization from smearing American citizens? If there wasn’t public outcry, would the Administration have suspended funding for Iran Disinfo?” Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minnesota) tweeted after the mea culpa meeting. While the State Department was long barred from directing government-funded propaganda at its own citizens, that rule was quietly repealed in 2013 with the passage of the Smith-Mundt Modernization Act, which gave its narrative-spinners free reign to run influence operations at home. And while the Pentagon is technically forbidden from running psychological operations (“psy-ops”) against American citizens, that rule goes out the window in case of “domestic emergencies” – and the domestic emergency declared by then-President George W. Bush days after the September 11 terror attacks remains in effect, 18 years later.

Trump’s favorite anti-Iran troll

Nor was the State Department’s trolling operation the only anti-Iran psy-op to be unmasked in recent weeks. Heshmat Alavi, an anti-Iranian columnist promoted by the Trump administration and published in Forbes, the Hill, and several other outlets, was exposed by the Intercept as a propaganda construct operated by the Mojahedin-e Khalq (MEK), a controversial Iranian exile group often called a cult that has only recently lobbied its way off the US’ terror list. The MEK is notorious for buying the endorsement of American political figures, and national security adviser John Bolton, Senator Bob Menendez (D-NJ), and former New York mayor Rudy Giuliani are among those who have spoken at its events.

Heshmat Alavi’s stories were used to sell Trump’s withdrawal from the Iran deal to the Washington Post and other more reputable outlets, as well as to promote the MEK as a “main Iranian opposition group” and viable option for post-regime-change leadership of Iran – even though it is very much fringe and hated by the majority of Iranians for fighting on the side of Iraq during the Iran-Iraq war of the 1980s. Indeed, Alavi’s relentless advocacy for the MEK may have scared off a few of the sites that initially published his work.

None of the editors who’d published Alavi’s work had ever spoken to him and none could provide the Intercept with any evidence that he was not, in fact, “a persona run by a team of people from the political wing of the MEK.” Defectors confirmed that Alavi is a small part of a massive US-directed propaganda campaign.

“We were always active in making false news stories to spread to the foreign press and in Iran,” a Canadian MEK defector told the Intercept, describing a comprehensive online propaganda operation run out of the group’s former base in Iraq that sought to control the narrative about Iran on Facebook and Twitter. Alavi may be gone, his account quietly suspended by Twitter in the wake of the Intercept’s unmasking and his stories pulled from Forbes and the Diplomat, but there are more where he came from. The Intercept delivered Twitter all the evidence they needed to take down the MEK’s trolling network, a swamp of “coordinated inauthentic behavior” in which Alavi was a prominent node, but the social network sat on its hands.

Friends funding fiends

Add to this toxic US-approved stew the Israeli astroturf operation Act.IL, which in 2018 took $1.1 million from Israel’s Ministry of Strategic Affairs to troll Americans critical of Israeli policies, including its hostility toward Iran. Initially founded to combat the Iran nuclear deal, the Ministry’s mission has pivoted to combating the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement, for which it receives significant US funding (Israeli Lt-Gen Gabi Ashkenazi admitted in 2012 that American taxpayers contribute more to the country’s defense budget than Israeli taxpayers). Act.IL boasts it has gotten Americans fired from their jobs, and the app encourages users to accuse American students and journalists who support BDS of antisemitism, mass-report their posts, and otherwise engage in what would be called “coordinated inauthentic behavior” if any other country did it.

Act.IL is by no means the only Israeli trolling campaign aimed at American eyeballs, either. Psy-Group, the Israeli private intelligence company that infamously pitched a social media influence operation to the Trump campaign, ran a multi-pronged online smear operation to influence a local election in California in 2017 and has pitched dozens more. The Israel on Campus Coalition attacks pro-Palestinian student activists and professors through coordinated social media campaigns, while The Israel Project operates a network of Facebook groups whose admitted purpose is to smuggle pro-Israeli propaganda into users’ newsfeeds by concealing it among bland inspirational messages.

Such clear-cut deception by state-sponsored actors is a blatant violation of Facebook’s policies as they’ve been applied to other users, but the site claims the Israeli groups are kosher. Yet of the pro-Iran accounts deleted by Twitter, one “set” included 248 accounts “engaged with discussions related to Israel specifically” – these were shut down for nothing more than their country of origin, even as inauthentic accounts run by Israel were given carte-blanche to spew propaganda. Twitter and Facebook don’t mind being weaponized in the propaganda wars, as long as they’re working for the “right” side.

As 21st century wars are fought more and more in the informational sphere, the brightly-colored propaganda posters of the previous century have been replaced with relatively sophisticated social media influence operations. What Pompeo can’t accomplish by lying to the American public, the State Department will attempt to achieve through the slow and steady drip of disinformation.

US politicians, meanwhile, remain so fixated on the “Russian trolls stole the election!” narrative they’ve been flogging for the last three years that the Senate last week unanimously passed a bill to restrict entry to any foreign national convicted of “election meddling,” a toothless piece of legislative virtue-signaling that reveals their utter disconnection from reality. It’s more than a little ironic that they’d embrace and even pay for foreign meddling as long as they believe the trolls are working for them.

As Friedrich Nietzsche said,

“Whoever fights monsters should see to it that in the process he does not become a monster.” Or a troll.

*

Note to readers: please click the share buttons above or below. Forward this article to your email lists. Crosspost on your blog site, internet forums. etc.

This article was originally published in abbreviated form on RT.

Helen Buyniski‘s work has been published at RT, Ghion Journal, Progressive Radio Network, and Veterans Today, among other outlets. A journalist and photographer based in New York City, Helen has a BA in Journalism from New School University and also studied at Columbia University and New York University. Find more of her work at http://www.helenofdestroy.com and http://medium.com/@helen.buyniski, or follow her on Twitter @velocirapture23. She is a frequent contributor to Global Research.

All images in this article are from the author

Convenient “Tanker Attacks” as US Seeks War with Iran

June 13, 2019 (Tony Cartalucci – NEO)

…it would be far more preferable if the United States could cite an Iranian provocation as justification for the airstrikes before launching them. Clearly, the more outrageous, the more deadly, and the more unprovoked the Iranian action, the better off the United States would be. Of course, it would be very difficult for the United States to goad Iran into such a provocation without the rest of the world recognizing this game, which would then undermine it. 

– Brookings Institution, “Which Path to Persia?” 2009 

For the second time since the United States unilaterally withdrew from the so-called Iran Nuclear Deal, Western reports of “suspected attacks” on oil tankers near the Stait of Hormuz have attempted to implicate Iran.

The London Guardian in an article titled, “Two oil tankers struck in suspected attacks in Gulf of Oman,” would claim:

Two oil tankers have been hit in suspected attacks in the Gulf of Oman and the crews evacuated, a month after a similar incident in which four tankers in the region were struck.

The article also claimed:

Gulf tensions have been close to boiling point for weeks as the US puts “maximum economic pressure” on Tehran in an attempt to force it to reopen talks about the 2015 nuclear deal, which the US pulled out of last year. 

Iran has repeatedly said it has no knowledge of the incidents and did not instruct any surrogate forces to attack Gulf shipping, or Saudi oil installations.

The Guardian would admit that “investigations” into the previous alleged attacks in May carried out by the UAE found “sophisticated mines” were used, but fell short of implicating Iran as a culprit.

The article would note US National Security Advisor John Bolton would – without evidence – claim that Iran “was almost certainly involved.”

All Too Convenient 

This news of “attacked” oil tankers near the Stait of Hormuz blamed by the US on Iran – comes all too conveniently on the heels of additional steps taken by Washington to pressure Iran’s economy and further undermine the Iranian government.

The US just recently ended waivers for nations buying Iranian oil. Nations including Japan, South Korea, Turkey, China, and India will now face US sanctions if they continue importing Iranian oil.

Coincidentally, one of ships “attacked” this week was carrying “Japan-related cargo,” the Guardian would report.

Also convenient was the US’ recent designation of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) just ahead of this series of provocations attributed to Iran.

AP in a May 2019 article titled, “President Trump Warns Iran Over ‘Sabotaged’ Oil Tankers in Gulf,” would claim:

Four oil tankers anchored in the Mideast were damaged by what Gulf officials described as sabotage, though satellite images obtained by The Associated Press on Tuesday showed no major visible damage to the vessels.

Two ships allegedly were Saudi, one Emirati, and one Norwegian. The article also claimed:

A U.S. official in Washington, without offering any evidence, told the AP that an American military team’s initial assessment indicated Iran or Iranian allies used explosives to blow holes in the ships.

And that:

The U.S. already had warned ships that “Iran or its proxies” could be targeting maritime traffic in the region. America is deploying an aircraft carrier and B-52 bombers to the Persian Gulf to counter alleged, still-unspecified threats from Tehran. 

This more recent incident will likely be further exploited by the US to continue building up its military forces in the region, applying pressure on Iran, and moving the entire globe closer toward war with Iran.

The US has already arrayed its forces across the Middle East to aid in ongoing proxy wars against Iran and its allies as well as prepare for conventional war with Tehran itself.

All of this amounts to a renewed push toward a more direct conflict between the United States and Iran after years of proxy war in Syria Washington-backed forces have decisively lost.

It is also a continuation of long-standing US foreign policy regarding Iran put into motion over a decade ago and carried out by each respective presidency since.

Washington’s Long-Standing Plans 

Continued sanctions and the elimination of waivers are part of Washington’s unilateral withdrawal from the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) or the “Iran Nuclear Deal.” The deal was signed in 2015 with the US withdrawing in 2018.

While the decision is portrayed as political differences between former US President Barack Obama and current US President Donald Trump – in reality – the plan’s proposal, signing, and then withdrawal from by the US was planned in detail as early as 2009 as a means of justifying long sought-after war with Iran.

In their 2009 paper, “Which Path to Persia?: Options for a New American Strategy Toward Iran” (PDF), the corporate-financier funded Brookings Institution would first admit the complications of US-led military aggression against Iran (emphasis added):

...any military operation against Iran will likely be very unpopular around the world and require the proper international context—both to ensure the logistical support the operation would require and to minimize the blowback from it. 

The paper then lays out how the US could appear to the world as a peacemaker and depict Iran’s betrayal of a “very good deal” as the pretext for an otherwise reluctant US military response (emphasis added):

The best way to minimize international opprobrium and maximize support (however, grudging or covert) is to strike only when there is a widespread conviction that the Iranians were given but then rejected a superb offerone so good that only a regime determined to acquire nuclear weapons and acquire them for the wrong reasons would turn it down. Under those circumstances, the United States (or Israel) could portray its operations as taken in sorrow, not anger, and at least some in the international community would conclude that the Iranians “brought it on themselves” by refusing a very good deal.

And from 2009 onward, this is precisely what the United States set out to achieve.

First with President Obama’s signing of the 2015 Iran Nuclear Deal, up to and including President Trump’s attempts to backtrack from it based on fabricated claims Iran failed to honor the agreement.

The 2009 policy paper also discussed “goading” Iran into war, claiming (emphasis added):

With provocation, the international diplomatic and domestic political requirements of an invasion [of Iran] would be mitigated, and the more outrageous the Iranian provocation (and the less that the United States is seen to be goading Iran), the more these challenges would be diminished. In the absence of a sufficiently horrific provocation, meeting these requirements would be daunting.

Unmentioned directly, but also an obvious method for achieving Washington’s goal of provoking war with Iran would be the US simply staging an “Iranian provocation” itself.

As the US had done in Vietnam following the Gulf of Tonkin incident, or US fabrications regardings “weapons of mass destruction” Washington claimed Iraq held in its possession, the US has a clear track record of not just simply provoking provocations, but staging them itself.

The Brookings paper even admits to the unlikelihood of Iran falling into Washington’s trap, lamenting (emphasis added):

…it is certainly the case that if Washington sought such a provocation, it could take actions that might make it more likely that Tehran would do so (although being too obvious about this could nullify the provocation). However, since it would be up to Iran to make the provocative move, which Iran has been wary of doing most times in the past, the United States would never know for sure when it would get the requisite Iranian provocation. In fact, it might never come at all.

The alleged sabotaging of oil tankers off the shore of the UAE in May and now additional “attacks” this month could be the beginning of a series of staged provocations aimed at leveraging the recent listing of the IRGC as a “terrorist organization” coupled with increased economic pressure as a result of US sanctions re-initiated after the US’ own withdrawal from the Iran Deal.

Synergies Toward War 

The US has already attempted to leverage allegations in May of “Iranian sabotage” to further build its case against Iran. Washington hopes that either war – or at least the impending threat of war – coupled with crippling economic sanctions, and continued support of political and armed sedition within Iran itself will create the synergies required for dividing and destroying Iran’s political order.

In a wider regional context, the US has seen political losses particularly in Iraq where Iranian influence has been on the rise. Militarily, US-backed proxy forces have been defeated in Syria with Iran and Russia both establishing permanent and significant footholds there.

Despite the setbacks, the success of Washington’s designs against Tehran still depends mainly on America’s ability to offer political and economic incentives coupled with equally effective threats to friend and foe alike – in order to isolate Iran.

How likely this is to succeed remains questionable – decades of US sanctions, covert and overt aggression, as well as proxy wars have left Iran resilient and with more influence across the region now than ever. Still, Washington’s capacity for sowing regional destruction or dividing and destroying Iran should not be underestimated.

The intentional creation of – then withdrawal from the Iran Deal, the US’ persistent military presence in the Middle East, and sanctions aimed at Iran all indicate that US policymakers remain dedicated isolating and undermining Iran. It will continue to do so until its geopolitical goals are met, or until a new international order creates conditions in the Middle East and throughout the global economy making US regime change against Iran impossible.

Tony Cartalucci, Bangkok-based geopolitical researcher and writer, especially for the online magazine New Eastern Outlook”.

The curious case of the tankers

June 14, 2019

by Nat South for The Saker Blog

I have taken the opportunity to look at the recent incident involving two outbound tankers in the Gulf of Oman. I have got some questions or two, (or three) about certain parts of the incident, from a civilian mariner’s perspective mostly.

There are various conflating aspects to the event, and questions need to be asked, yet journalists do not seemingly wish to ask the awkward but necessary questions these days.

Background

The two tankers identified as the ‘Front Altair’, a Marshall Islands flagged vessel and the ‘Kokuka Courageous’, a Panama-flagged vessel.

Front Altair Kokuka Courageous
Managed by Frontline, (Norway – Bermuda) Managed by Bernhard Schulte Shipmanagement (Singapore/ Japan)
23 crew(11 Russian, 11 Philippine, 1 Georgian) 21 crew (Philippine)
Aframax – 86% loaded Handy – fully loaded
75,000 MT of Naphtha 25,000 MT Methanol
Ruwais, UAE Qatar & KSA
Taiwan Singapore
Hyundai Dubai rescued crew Coastal Ace rescued crew
Transferred by SAR boat to Iranian port Transferred to USS Bainbridge
Radio message: “torpedo attack” Japanese CEO: “flying objects”
Hit on starboard amidships – “in fire’ Hit on starboard Twice over 3-hour period – engine room fire
Stopped at 02:47GMT Stopped at 06:20GMT

Both tankers were outbound (south east) of the Strait of Hormuz. Both suffered from explosion on the starboard side, (the side facing international waters). Past AIS tracks of both vessels shown here. The U.S. Navy reported receiving distress messages at 06:12am and 07:00am.

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MarineTraffic

@MarineTraffic

We’ve captured the activity of the vessels that raced to the area to help the crew of & Courageous.
Watch the vessels Dubai, , & in this past track video.

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The activity of the vessels was captured in this past AIS track video. It shows the vessels that went to the tankers, to help the crew of the tankers. The assisting vessels are: Hyundai Dubai, tug ‘E-Two’, the Coastal Ace & ‘Naji 10’.

Contradictions and questions

The US military released a video  claiming to show an Iranian naval boat removing an unexploded limpet mine from the hull of the ‘Kokuka Courageous’ in an apparent attempt to recover evidence of its participation. I will comment more about the video later on, but we have already the ludicrous situation where the information provided by the US contradicts the statement made by the Japanese ship management company, who did not believe the ship was damaged by a mine, but by flying objects. The president of Kokuka Sangyo Marine, (shipowners), Yutaka Katada, said “there is no possibility of mine attack as the attack is well above the waterline.”

https://twitter.com/nhk_news/status/1139114208463872001

 

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NHKニュース

@nhk_news

タンカー運航の国華産業社長「砲弾による攻撃を受けた」https://www3.nhk.or.jp/news/html/20190613/k10011951311000.html 

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Questions, questions: then there is the question of timing of an attack of a Japanese owned tanker at a time when the Japanese PM was in Iran for talks.

To add to the confusion, there were reports that the Dutch crew of the ‘Coastal Ace’ who first noted a suspicious object on the hull of the tanker. This then morphed into reports that the USS Bainbridge seeing a suspect device, as shown in the timeline provided by the US Navy.

Regarding the other tanker, ‘Front Altair’, the ‘Hyundai Dubai’ was the first ship on scene who responded to the distress message and rescued the crew. Subsequently, it seems the master of this vessel gave a report on VHF: video & audio (unconfirmed).

The audio is rather telling & factual (it is a Russian speaker apparently), as he relays information from the ‘Front Altair’, ‘torpedo attack” is mentioned. (I am assuming is it is pan, pan or urgency message; it is not a distress message).

The U.S. by releasing a grainy black & white video segment, accused Iran of removing a mine from the other tanker, ‘Kokuka Courageous’, as apparent evidence of its involvement in the attacks of the two tankers. The video raises more questions than provides answers.

If both the civilian crew of the ‘Coastal Ace’ and the ‘USS Bainbridge’ both saw the ‘mine’, late morning, then why leave the important evidence in place on the hull of the tanker for several hours? For the Iranians to pick it up later?

https://www.cusnc.navy.mil/Media/News/Display/Article/1874301/statement-regarding-shipping-vessels-in-gulf-of-oman/

USS Bainbridge (DDG 96) was operating in the vicinity and provided immediate assistance to the M/V Kokuka Courageous.”

Immediate? Note that assistance didn’t extend to making safe a suspicious device ‘immediately’.

At 11:05 a.m. local time USS Bainbridge approaches the Dutch tug Coastal Ace, which had rescued the crew of twenty-one sailors from the M/T Kokuka Courageous who had abandoned their ship after discovering a probable unexploded limpet mine on their hull following an initial explosion.”

“At 4:10 p.m. local time an IRGC Gashti Class patrol boat approached the M/T Kokuka Courageous and was observed and recorded removing the unexploded limpet mine from the M/T Kokuka Courageous.”

Timings put in bold for emphasis by author.

The poor quality of the video, apparently taken from a P-8 US navy aircraft, is astounding, given that it took place at 16:00, on a sunlit day. Compare the quality and availability of the metrics between what happened during the encounter between the ‘Admiral Vinogradov’ and the ‘USS Chancellorsville, last week:

I know that optical quality is downgraded for security reasons, but this is beyond a joke in the days of HD and high-quality images on mobile phones.

Not exactly covert, to retrieve a ‘mine’ right under the noses of the US Navy? Especially when you can see in the video people on the Iranian boat looking towards a ship (?) and quite possibly the US aircraft as well. Anyway, does it take 10 people all crowded on the bow to remove a ‘mine’? Unusual EOD method there.

Does it occur to anyone that it might be a person releasing something so that the boat can leave the tanker’s side, a mooring line attachment, a magnetic device? There is no proof to suggest it was a limpet mine removed from the tanker.

The other thing that really bugs me as someone with maritime experience, is the fact that the US Navy was quite relaxed about a fully loaded tanker with methanol with an apparent explosive device attached to the hull amidships.

I personally wouldn’t be calm, due to the implication of having a toxic, polluting and highly flammable cargo, possibly seconds from being ignited. I’d be getting an EOD team over quickly to ID it, to make it safe and hand it over as a crucial piece of evidence. Yet, I cannot ascertain that any of that actually happened while the USS Bainbridge was in the vicinity of the tanker. I guess it was better to wait a few hours and let the Iranians do it. Surreal.

Instead, it seems that the US Navy stood by idly for hours, watched and let the Iranians approach the tanker, so as to gather ‘evidence’.

Another thing, this PowerPoint from the US is rather remarkable:

I guess using a telephoto lens wasn’t appropriate, to get a close-up of the darned ‘mine’ thing. Again, compare this with the US naval person on the ‘USS Chancellorsville’, merrily snapping away at the ‘Admiral Vinogradov’.

Just on this point, I like the witticism on social media:

the Pentagon should start using Huawei cameras for better video quality”.

This a good ‘un too:

Breaking: The US Navy has confirmed that there has been a reported attack on US tankers in the Gulf of Oman.” Posted by SkyNews at 12:37 am 13 June

Credibility has gone down the drain, as the tweet is still live as I write this a day later.

I know it seems little silly observations, but some of these observations could have been made by journalists when presented with official statements. Yet the most obvious question is:

Why would Iran attack two tankers near to the Strait of Hormuz, in the vicinity of US naval forces”? Some comments provided by this Military Times article. I’ll leave that for others to comment and analyze.

I’ll add more in the comments section.

Related

WHAT IS BEHIND ATTACKS ON TANKERS IN PERSIAN GULF REGION

South Front

What Is Behind Attacks On Tankers In Persian Gulf Region

Tensions are on the rise around the Persian Gulf after a series of suspicious attacks on oil tankers in the region.

On May 12, a supposed sabotage attack targeted very large crude carrier Amjad, crude tanker Al Marzoqah [both owned by Saudi shipping firm Bahri], UAE-flagged fuel bunker barge A Michel and Norwegian-registered oil products tanker MT AndreA Victory off UAE’s Fujairah. the attack did not cause any casualties or an oil spill.

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

Mainstream media outlets came with variuos speculations providing contradictory claims of ‘anonymous soources’ on the incident. Most of these speculations were focusing on the supposed Iranian involvement in the situation.

What Is Behind Attacks On Tankers In Persian Gulf Region

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The US de-facto blamed Iran for the situation with National Security Adviser John Bolton claiming that the attacks were the work of “naval mines almost certainly from Iran.”

“It’s clear that Iran is behind the Fujairah attack. Who else would you think would be doing it? Someone from Nepal?” he told journalists at a US embassy briefing.

“There is no doubt in anybody’s minds in Washington, we know who did this and it’s important Iran knows we know,” he added.

In own turn, Iran stated that it played no part in the attacks and said that it was a false flag fabricated by the US. Foreign Minister Javad Zarif stressed that Iran expected “suspicious sabotage acts.”

“In this meeting, concern about suspicious actions and sabotage in the region was talked about, and we said that we had previously predicted that such actions would occur to create tensions in the region,” said Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif following talks with his Indian counterpart Sushma Swaraj in New Delhi on May 14th.

Heshmatollah Falahatpisheh, the head of Majlis national security and foreign policy commission said that the alleged sabotage of the tankers was proof how fragile security was in the Persian Gulf. Falahatpisheh said that the attack was performed by the “third party”.

On June 12, a fire that broke out on an Iranian oil platform of the South Pars gas field in the Persian Gulf and was subsequently contained and no fatalities were reported. Iran’s Students News Agency ISNA said the fire had been contained. State TV said the cause of the fire was under investigation and there were no reports of disruptions to operations at the field.

On June 13, another suspicious incident took place in the Gulf of Oman. Marshall Islands-flagged Front Altair and Panama-flagged Kokuka Courageous oil tankers were rocked by explosions. This development also appeared to be surrounded by multiple speculations immidiately after first reports about the situation. The initial versions were varrying from a torpedo attack to naval mines with the aforementioned tendency regarding the supposed Iranian involvement.

The incident happened during a visit of Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe to Iran. The Kokuka Courageous is owned by Japanese company Kokuka Sangyo Ltd.

What Is Behind Attacks On Tankers In Persian Gulf Region

Image source: AFP

What Is Behind Attacks On Tankers In Persian Gulf Region

AP Photo / ISNA

Both Iran and the US released contradictory statements claiming that their naval forces had  rescued crew members of the tankers. Nonetheless, once again no casualties were reported in the supposed attack.

Later on the same day, State Secretary Mike Pompeo blamed Iran for the attack. He claimed that Iran wants to end “successful maximum pressure campaign” of the US sanctions.

“This is only the latest in the series of attacks instigated by the Republic of Iran and its surrogates against American allies and interests. They should be understood in the context of four years of unprovoked aggression against freedom-loving nations,” he said.

Dryad Global@GlobalDryad

Reports of vessel MT Front Altair being on fire & adrift at position 2527N 05722E are being investigated. No cause has been positively confirmed. Latest information will be communicated when available. Contact our team via http://www.dryadglobal.com 

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Iran once again denied its involvement in such developments. Foreign Minister Javad Zarif labeled the incident as “suspicious” hinting that this may have been a provocation.

Javad Zarif

@JZarif

Reported attacks on Japan-related tankers occurred while PM @AbeShinzo was meeting with Ayatollah @khamenei_ir for extensive and friendly talks.

Suspicious doesn’t begin to describe what likely transpired this morning.

Iran’s proposed Regional Dialogue Forum is imperative.

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On June 14, Washington claimed that it has evidence confirming the Iranian involvement in the June 13 incident. According  to a statement by US Central Command, Iranian forces were spotted removing “a probable unexploded limpet mine” from Kokuka Courageous.

The video released by Central Command shows a boat coming up to the side of the tanker. An individual stands up on the bow of the boat and removes some object from the tanker’s hull.

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Central Comamnd also released photos supposed to confirm the claim regarding the unexploded mine.

What Is Behind Attacks On Tankers In Persian Gulf Region

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What Is Behind Attacks On Tankers In Persian Gulf Region

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The full text of the  Central Command statement:

“U.S. Naval Forces in the region received two separate distress calls at 6:12 a.m. local time from the motor tanker (M/T) Altair and a second one at 7a.m. local time from the M/T Kokuka Courageous.

Both vessels were in international waters in the Gulf of Oman approximately 10 nautical miles apart at the time of the distress calls. USS Bainbridge was approximately 40 nautical miles away from the M/T Altair at the time of the attack, and immediately began closing the distance.

At 8:09 a.m. local time a U.S. aircraft observed an IRGC Hendijan class patrol boat and multiple IRGC fast attack craft/fast inshore attack craft (FAC/FIAC) in the vicinity of the M/T Altair.

At 9:12 a.m. local time a U.S. aircraft observes the FAC/FIAC pull a raft from the M/T Altair from the water.

At 9:26 a.m. local time the Iranians requested that the motor vessel Hyundai Dubai, which had rescued the sailors from the M/T Altair, to turn the crew over to the Iranian FIACs. The motor vessel Hyundai Dubai complied with the request and transferred the crew of the M/T Altair to the Iranian FIACs.

At 11:05 a.m. local time USS Bainbridge approaches the Dutch tug Coastal Ace, which had rescued the crew of twenty-one sailors from the M/T Kokuka Courageous who had abandoned their ship after discovering a probable unexploded limpet mine on their hull following an initial explosion.

While the Hendijan patrol boat appeared to attempt to get to the tug Coastal Ace before USS Bainbridge, the mariners were rescued by USS Bainbridge at the request of the master of the M/T Kokuka Courageous. The rescued sailors are currently aboard USS Bainbridge.

At 4:10 p.m. local time an IRGC Gashti Class patrol boat approached the M/T Kokuka Courageous and was observed and recorded removing the unexploded limpet mine from the M/T Kokuka Courageous.

The U.S. and our partners in the region will take all necessary measures to defend ourselves and our interests.  Today’s attacks are a clear threat to international freedom of navigation and freedom of commerce.

The U.S. and the international community, stand ready to defend our interests, including the freedom of navigation.

The United States has no interest in engaging in a new conflict in the Middle East. However, we will defend our interests.

– attributable to Capt. Bill Urban, Lead Spokesman for U.S. Central Command”

Nonetheless, this version faced a serious scepticism among more or less independent media outlets, and even the owner and operator of the Kokuka Courageous and European allies of the US.

“The video is not enough. We can understand what is being shown, sure, but to make a final assessment, this is not enough for me,” German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas said.

Nathalie Tocci, a senior adviser to European foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini also avoided to blame Iran for the situation directly.

“Before we blame someone, we need credible evidence,” the official said.

Yutaka Katada, the president of Kokuka Sangyo, said on June 14 that he doesn’t completely believe the US version of events. Katada called reports of a mine attack “false” pointing an obvious reason – a mine doesn’t damage a ship above sea level, like what was seen with Kokuka Courageous.

“A mine doesn’t damage a ship above sea level,” he said “We aren’t sure exactly what hit, but it was something flying towards the ship.”

He added that sailors on board the ship saw “flying objects” just before Kokuka Courageous was hit. This is another evidence suggesting the vessel wasn’t damaged by mines, but by objects that could have been fired from a distance.

What Is Behind Attacks On Tankers In Persian Gulf Region

Click to see the full-size image

On June 15, the media hysteria continued. CNN claimed that Iranian forces attempted to shoot down a US drone in the area:

“In the hours before the attack on the two tankers in the Gulf of Oman on Thursday, the Iranians spotted a US drone flying overhead and launched a surface-to-air missile at the unmanned aircraft, a US official told CNN.

The missile missed the drone and fell into the water, the official said.

Prior to taking fire, the American MQ-9 Reaper drone observed Iranian vessels closing in on the tankers, the official added, though the source did not say whether the unmanned aircraft saw the boats conducting an actual attack.

Still, it is the first claim that the US has information of Iranian movements prior to the attack.”

It’s expected that soon the English-speaking audience will get more “revelations” and “details” regarding the incident form anonymous sources of MSM outlets. These reports would be a logical continuation of the previous series of media hysteria on supposed Iranian preparations to attack US forces and infrastructure in the Middle East fueled by the Washington establishment and MSM.

The “Iran is readying for an attack” propaganda campaign was used by the US to justify its ongoing military buildup in the region.

  • On May 25, President Donald Trump declared that the US is sending 1,500 troops, 12 fighter jets, manned and unmanned surveillance aircraft, and a number of military engineers to counter Iran. Trump also approved an $8 billion sale of precision guided missiles and other military support to Saudi Arabia.
  • The Abraham Lincoln carrier strike group and the USS Arlington amphibious transport dock, which carries marines, amphibious vehicles, and rotary aircraft, as well as the Patriot missiles, were deployed near the Persian Gulf.
  • A strategic bomber task force was deployed at the US airbase Al Udeid in Qatar.

Taking into account the military and political situation established in the region, and the obvious loopholes in Washington’s version of the June 13 ‘attack’, it’s quite possible it was a pre-planned provocation. Furthermore, the main side interested in this development is the US. It allows it to pursue several important goals:

  • The growing tensions in the Persian Gulf region allows the Trump administration to continue exploiting the “Iranian threat” to justify its internal and foreign policies. Inside the US, it will allow Washinton to increase spending on military-industrial complex even further. In terms of the foreign policy, the US got an additional justification to continue its hard-core anti-Iranian and pro-Israeli policy as well as to boost military and diplomatic presence in the Middle East.
  • The geoeconomic goal of this provocation is to create tensions in the Persian Gulf region and near it (the western part of Indian Ocean). The growing threat to maritime security would increase the coast of logistical costs for key oil consumers. DHT Holdings and Heidmar, two of the biggest oil tankers operators in the world, have suspended new bookings to the Middle East and the Persian Gulf. The oil price gew. Insurance rates for logistical operations in the region are also expected to grow. This situation directly impacts China, one of the key oil consumers, and European states with a large industrial potential, like Germany. The pressure on possible economic competitors through economic (tariffs and sanctions), military and diplomatic means are the consistent policy of the Trump administration.

Peter Hsu@phsu54

.@BGOV Chart of the Day – Futures tick up after falling on demand concern, swelling supplies

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Iran has strongly denied its involvement in the attack. Nonetheless, it also played a role in the current tensions through its allies in Yemen. Over the past months, Ansar Allah (the Houthis) has drastically increased the number of missile and drone attacks on key infrastructure objects in Saudi Arabia.

The Iranian leadership would also use the threat of an aggressive and artful enemy (the US-Israeli alliance) to justify its policies and boost influence on Shia armed groups and movements across the Greater Middle East, first of all in Yemen and Iraq.

Ansar Allah, supported by Iran, will likely continue strident and painful attacks on Saudi Arabia. In the event of the further escalation of the regional situation, Teheran may even use some of its allied groups for attacks on US forces or infrastructure objects.

Strategically, Iran will focus on developing asymmetric means and measures, including tactical missile forces and a mosquito-craft fleet. The chosen asymmetric responses will be in level with Iran’s economic capabilities and capable of delivering a blow to the US in the event of a hot conflict.

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