IRAQ FACING A GREAT US THREAT: CHINA, AL-HASHD AND IRAN OUT, OR ELSE! … (2/2)

By Elijah J. Magnier: @ejmalrai

No country could fail to be shaken by the kind of profound struggle between all its political groups that currently prevails in Iraq. The US does not need to make any great effort to sow discord between the parties because they are currently intrinsically fragmented. The removal of Major General Qassim Suleimani from the Iraqi scene– whose personal objective had been to bring the various political parties together – was a major event, but not a game-changer. It did not profoundly modify the Iraqi political scene because he had already failed, two months before his assassination by the US, to persuade the parties to agree on a single Prime Ministerial candidate, following the resignation of Prime Minister Adel Abdul Mahdi. Iraqi politicians put their differences above all else in order to protect their political influences, unmoved by the patriotic duty for unity in the light of the serious challenges facing their country.

Prime Minister Abdul-Mahdi was not mistaken when he once told me: “We do not know how to rule. We are good at opposing the ruler.” No ruler in Iraq will be able to get the country out of its current severe financial crisis, the political acrimony, and COVID-19 health crisis, because the financial means are lacking. The pressure from the street, where protestors were demanding improved living conditions, will return stronger than ever. The low price of crude oil is undermining Iraq’s yearly income. The state’s budget deficit is skyrocketing; its external debts are persistent and its need for help from the World Bank, which is under US control, is greater than ever. America will not provide financial assistance until its demands are fulfilled and Iranian influence is removed from Iraq.

America rejects Iraq’s balancing policy. Iraq considers its relationship with the US only as important as its relationship with neighbouring Iran. Washington wants Iraq for itself, adopting one principle: “after me, the great flood” (après moi le deluge) an expression said to be often used by Louis XV of France to indicate that he is the centre of attention, no other consideration matter but his own self-obsession and that any other considerations are irrelevant.

The US is supporting Iraqi Kurdistan by expanding its “Harir” military base and establishing another large military base on the border with Iran. The message to Baghdad seems blunt: US forces will remain in the face of resistance from those parts of Iraq more subject to Baghdad’s authority. In Kurdistan, the central government authority is not as effective as in other parts of the country. The US supports the Kurdish Peshmerga and arms them through its allies, the United Arab Emirates, who are providing the Kurdish armed men with weaponry: four cargos full of weapons landed recently in Erbil. 

It is not excluded, if Trump remains in power, that his administration will help the Kurdistan region detach itself from Iraq, as it may also support a Kurdish secession attempt in north-eastern Syria. In the part of Syria, the US is occupying with Kurdish help, US forces are stealing Syrian crude oil- even if its price is no longer sufficient to pay the expenses of the troops deployed around it- indicating that there is another reason for their presence, related to the US ally, Israel. 

Iraqi protestors refer to the United States as the “Joker,” a powerful force exerting influence on events in Iraq, often covertly. This influence was evident in last year’s demonstrations, but most conspicuously in the Kurdistan independence movement. Kurdish officials already rejected the binding constitutional decision of the Iraqi parliament – in a clear rebellion against the authority of Baghdad –which demanded the US withdrawal from Iraq.

Iraqi decision-makers in Baghdad believe that US President Donald Trump acts only in accordance with his own country’s interests. He thanked Adel Abdul-Mahdi for his protection of the US embassy because it was attacked in Baghdad. The US President sent a positive message to Iran through Abdul-Mahdi and then, a few days later, killed the Iranian General Qassem Soleimani. The US administration is also working for Israel’s interests in Iraq – and not according to the “declared” interest of the US in building a strong and friendly Iraq-US relationship. 

Trump did not listen to his protests when Abdul-Mahdi called him personally and told him that US actions in attacking security forces were angering the Iraqis and that any unilateral action would have catastrophic consequences for everyone. Rather, Trump listened to his aides who consider the Middle East leaders as subordinates, not allies. This US condescension serves the interests of Iran, which knows how to benefit from American mistakes, said the sources.

There is no doubt that Iraq is facing a crisis, with severe domestic bickering adding to the difficult economic and sanitary situation affecting all countries. But the greatest danger to the country comes from the Trump administration, which can only imagine subduing states by force. The US will certainly end up “reaping the whirlwind” rather than gaining a robust alliance with Iraq.

There is no doubt that Iraq is experiencing difficult labour in the midst of severe domestic bickering, plus the difficult economic and sanitary situation affecting all countries. But even more dangerous is the fact that Iraq is in the eye of the storm, pulled off course by the winds of Trump, who can only imagine subduing states by force. The US will certainly end up “reaping the whirlwind” rather than gaining any kind of robust allies.

Proofread by:  Maurice Brasher and C.G.B

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محنة العراق بين الأسباب الداخلية والتدخل الخارجي

ديسمبر 28, 2019

د. وفيق إبراهيم

يتدحرج العراق بسرعة من أزمة تبدو سياسية في ظاهرها، الى قضية وطنية كبرى تهدّد بالتحوّل الى صراع مكشوف بين أقاليم عرقية ومذهبية.

هذا لا ينفي السمات الطبقية والسياسية للانتفاضة الشعبية التي تجتاح العراق منذ ثلاثة أشهر متواصلة في المناطق الجنوبية وبعض أنحاء العاصمة بغداد وجوارها.

ما يُشجّع على استيعاب أفضل لحركة جماهيرية عفوية ضاقت ذرعاً بالفساد السياسي الذي يدكّ أرض الرافدين منذ 2003 تقريباً ويحرم أهلها من المياه العذبة والبنى التحتية وفرص العمل والحياة الكريمة ويستوعب أكثر من ضرورة الفصل بين هذه الانتفاضات المحقة وبين انخراط سياسي فيها لا ينتمي اليها، إلا بالتحريض والعمل على تأجيجها لتصبح مبرراً لصراعات قد تؤدي الى تمزيق العراق الى اكثر من كانتونات.

وإلا كيف نفهم حركة رئيس الجمهورية برهم صالح الذي رفض تطبيق المادة 76 من الدستور العراقي التي تنصّ على تسليم الرئيس اسم المرشح لرئاسة مجلس الوزراء على أن يكون منبثقاً من الكتلة الأكبر في المجلس النيابي.

وبما أن الدوائر الدستورية أفتت بأن كتلة «البناء» التي يترأسها هادي العامري هي الأكبر، فكان لزاماً على الرئيس برهم صالح إعلان مرشحها اسعد العيداني رئيساً للحكومة ومكلفاً بتشكيلها.

لكنه وفي إطار مناورة لم يصدقها أحد، أعلن رفضه هذا التكليف، وهذا ليس من حقه الدستوري، مؤكداً في رسالة الى رئيس المجلس النيابي الحلبوس استعداده للاستقالة مستولداً بذلك نيراناً اضافية تزيد من حدة الاضطرابات التي أدّت حتى الآن الى نحو 500 قتيل وآلاف الجرحى، في تظاهرات مفتوحة اندس فيها مأجورون يطلقون النار على المتظاهرين والقوى الأمنية معاً، وتبين أن الفاعلين هم من بقايا حزب البعث التابع للرئيس السابق صدام حسين، ومندسّين محسوبين على الاخوان المسلمين وبعض الإماراتي، بالاضافة الى الدور الأميركي الواضح الذي يتدخل في العراق انطلاقاً من تسع قواعد عسكرية تنتشر من الحدود السورية وحتى أعالي كردستان.

ان كل الاطراف السياسية الإقليمية والدولية ذات صلة بالأزمة العراقية، وجدت فرصتها التاريخية السانحة لتتدخل ببعد وحيد وهو القضاء على بنى سياسية عراقية متحالفة مع ايران وسورية، هذا فضلاً عن قوى عراقية ككتلتي «سائرون والحكمة» التي تعتقد أن هذه التظاهرات قد تتيح لهما احتكار رئاسة مجلس الوزراء من المنافسين في حركة «البناء».

هناك ايضاً لاعب مهم وهو المرجعية الإسلامية العليا التي لا تمارس السياسة إلا من زاوية مصلحة عموم العراقيين وأمن البلاد.

لكنها لا تستطيع الولوج في لعبة اختيار الأسماء المناسبة، لما تشكله من ضرر بالإجماع العراقي حولها، لذلك نجدها مأزومة لكنها نجحت في دفع مجلس النواب الى الموافقة على قانون انتخابات جديد، وتضغط لإجراء انتخابات عاجلة لإعادة انتاج طبقة سياسية جديدة تتلاءم مع مطالب الانتفاضة الشعبية، وبذلك تكون المرجعية قد اسهمت في مشروع لحل الازمة الشعبية الداخلية ووضعت حداً لتدخلات القوى الداخلية التاريخية المهزومة وارتباطاتها الإقليمية والأميركية.

ويبدو أن القوى السياسية العراقية تفضل الدخول في معادلة تشكيل حكومة جديدة لتهرب من انتخابات تبدو نتائجها المرتقبة بأنها لمصلحة الانتفاضة الشعبية.

ضمن هذا السياق، يجب استيعاب ان ما فعله برهم صالح هو مزيد من تأزيم الأزمة لمصلحة إحداث فراغ دستوري في مجلس وزراء ينتج القرار في العراق، وممارسة لعبة التعطيل يندرج في إطار السياسات نفسها التي يلعبها الاميركيون في العراق، فكيف يمكن لبرهم أن يذهب هذا المنحى وهو الذي يعرف مدى ارتباط الإصلاح الداخلي بالصراع بين المكونات العرقية والمذهبية والاحتلال الاميركي والادوار الخليجية والتركية، كما يعرف ايضاً ان كردستان التي ينتمي اليها محكومة من آل البرزاني الذين ينهبون موازنتها ونفطها ويبيعونه لتركيا، وهو لا يجهل أن آل البرزاني يتحضّرون لاعلان استقلالية اقليمهم نسبياً وربما الى حدود الانفصال الكامل، لذلك فإن اعتكافه في كردستان يأتي مثابة تشجيع على التقسيم وتشجيع لقوى الوسط على انتهاج الأسلوب نفسه، وهنا يأتي فوراً مدى التأثير الأميركي على برهم وأمثاله.

هل هذا يعني ان الانتفاضة الشعبية ليست اصيلة؟ إنها اكثر من ذلك لأنها تأتي رداً على فساد سياسي تشكل القوى التي حكمت العراق منذ 2003، عمودها الرئيسي، وهي نفسها التي تشكل الغالبية النيابية وتتحالف مع إيران التي لا علاقة لها بهذا الفساد.

ما هو المطلوب اذاً؟ ليس معقولاً أن تتقدم كتلة البناء بترشيح أسعد العبداني محافظ مدينة البصرة المحرومة من أبسط أنواع الخدمات العامة، حتى من مياه الشرب، ويوجد فيها أعلى نسبة بطالة وفساد، فجاء هذا الترشيح ليشكل تحدياً للمتظاهرين الذين يشكل أهالي الجنوب نحو 90 بالمئة منه، وعاصمتهم البصرة التي تحوّلت في الخمس عشر عاماً الاخيرة أرضاً يباساً جافة تحتاج الى كل شيء وتحتجب ويعمها فقر غير مسبوق.العراقالىأين؟نصيحةالمرجعية بالانتخابات العاجلة ضرورة، على أن يليها تشكيل للحكومة وفق ترشيح من تختاره الكتلة الأكبر، واستعادة الممكن من لاموال المنهوبة ، بذلك يجري تجديد الطبقة السياسية التي يجب أن تحكم العراق ببرنامج عمل عنوانه إنقاذ أرض الرافدين من الفقرالمدقع والاحتلال الأميركي

What is not considered by America and the Gulf? ما لم يكن في الحساب الأميركي والخليجي

Written by Nasser Kandil,

The only valuable impressive political bet agreed upon by Washington and the Gulf capitals during the months that preceded and followed the parliamentary elections in Iraq was the distinct political position of Al Sayyed Muqtada Al-Sadr among the forces that met in the Popular Crowd. The Popular Crowd that represents the project of resistance through a cooperation and alliance relationship with the resistance forces in the region especially with Iran and Hezbollah and its field partnership in the battlefield where it offered blood in the battles of defending Syria. The source of the trust in that bet and its importance stems from the fact the Al Sayyed Muqtada Al-Sadr is a unique example in Iraq; he inherits a popular leadership of the poor of Baghdad since the Days of his father Mohammed Sadiq Al-Sadr. He was distinguished from the Shiites leaders who entered the political process under the occupation because he did not come from the exile as them but he was in Iraq and refused the participation, he called publically to resist the American occupation. These positions especially those during the battles of Fallujah and during Al Anbar protests in the face of the government of Nour Al-Maliki have provided him a cross-sect feature, he is highly appreciated among the people, so it is difficult for the anti-resistance leaders to accuse him of partnering in the political process or in his patriotism, as it is difficult for them to accuse him of sectarianism especially the representation of an extension of Iran.
Al Sayyed Muqtada-Al Sadr’s disagreement with Iran and his repeated critical positions of its policies as well as his fundamental dispute with the President Nouri Al-Maliki made his hostile positions a separation between America-Gulf opponents and their allies. This dual distinction has encouraged the Americans and the Gulf people to make a cooperation project between him and their direct allies from Kurdistan to the governorates of the center. They built dreams on that cooperation to make a historic change in Iraq especially by depending on his position towards Iran’s allies and the resistance forces and towards Al Najaf authority by talking about an Arab religious authority that competes the non-Arab authority of Qom. The media run by the Americans and the Gulf has contributed in making an aura around the pure Iraqi positions issued by Al Sayyed Muqtada Al-Sadr.

During the formation of the resigned government headed by Dr. Adel Abdul Mahdi, “Sairoun” bloc supported by Al-Sadr competed with “Al Binaa” bloc represented by the resistance forces on the nomination of a prime minister, finally, they agreed on nominating Abdul Mahdi. The opponents of Iran and the resistance promoted that Al-Sadr was under threat, but this justification seemed inconsistent with the facts which everyone who knows Al-Sadr and his stubbornness know. That justification was the only possible way in order not to lose the upcoming moment of collision between Al-Sadr and the resistance forces supported by Iran. Therefore, the only logic to enhance that hope is what is being said in their analyses about Al-Sadr’s aspiration to leadership at any cost.

With the outbreak of the uprising in Iraq, Al Sayyed Muqtada Al-Sadr was the real support of the uprising’s youth, the source of their protection, the one who puts the political ceiling in front of the government towards its resignation, and the one who calls for crowded demonstrations, even though the Americans and the Gulf people were running the groups that organized the uprising and providing the media coverage , employing it in slogans against Iran, they were happy that Al Sayyed Muqtada was overlooking that employment. All the Western and the Gulf analyses that deal with the Iraqi popular path concerning the Iranian presence were seeing in the position of Al Sayyed Muqtda Al-Sadr a factor that can make imbalance which the resistance forces and Iran are trying to avoid until the assassination of the commander Qassem Soleimani and the leader Abu Madhi Al-Muhandis occurred.

There was a call to oust the Americans from the region in response to the assassination, but the most important surprise in the history of the American and Gulf scrutiny is the fact that Al-Sadr has initiated this call followed by the gathering of resistance forces as their gathering behind the prime minister in the official confrontation to oust the Americans. The vote of the deputies influenced by the positions of Al-Sadr along with the approval of the parliament of the recommendation addressed to the government to start the removal was the first step. The call launched by Al-Sadr for the million demonstration under the same title was a source of the greatest concern, because the Iraqis in all their sects will emerge to meet the call of Al-Sadr, and whoever has reservation about the calls coming from the resistance forces and their relations with Iran cannot be reserved about the call of Al-Sadr since he is the symbol of the pure Iraqi patriotism, therefore, no one can remove this title from him because he calls to oust the Americans from Iraq.

America and the Gulf lost the biggest beg, and they will lose what is coming after due to the normal position of Al Sayyed Al-Sadr which they did could not understand or read, as their allies who are opponents to Hezbollah did in Lebanon in similar bets on the position of the Speaker of the parliament Nabih Berri taking in into consideration the differences of forces, people, and countries.

Translated by Lina Shehadeh,

ما لم يكن في الحساب الأميركي والخليجي

ناصر قنديل

خلال الشهور التي سبقت وتبعت الانتخابات النيابية في العراق كان الرهان السياسي الوحيد الذي يملك قدراً من القيمة والتأثير، وتجتمع حوله واشنطن وعواصم الخليج، هو انتقال السيد مقتدى الصدر إلى موقع سياسي متمايز عن القوى التي التقت في الحشد الشعبي وتمثل مشروع المقاومة وتربطها علاقة تعاون وتحالف مع قوى المقاومة في المنطقة، وخصوصاً مع إيران وحزب الله، وترجمت موقفها بشراكة ميدانية قدمت خلالها الدماء في معارك الدفاع عن سورية. ومصدر الثقة بقيمة هذا الرهان وأهميته ينبع من كون السيد مقتدى الصدر يشكل نموذجاً فريداً في العراق، فهو يرث زعامة شعبية يلتقي تحت عباءتها فقراء بغداد منذ أيام والده السيد محمد صادق الصدر. وهو تميّز عن أقرانه من زعماء الشيعة الذين دخلوا العملية السياسية في ظل الاحتلال، أنه لم يأت مثلهم من المنفى بل كان في العراق، وأنه رفض هذه المشاركة، ودعا علناً لمقاومة الاحتلال الأميركي، وقد وفّرت له هذه المواقف، وتراكمها، خصوصاً أثناء معارك الفلوجة، وأثناء احتجاجات الأنبار بوجه حكومة نور المالكي، رصيداً عابراً للطوائف. فهو يملك لدى عامة الناس تقديراً عالياً، ويصعب على القادة المناوئين للمقاومة اتهامه بالشراكة بالعملية السياسية والطعن ولو شكلا بوطنيته، كما يصعب عليهم اتهامه بالطائفية، وخصوصاً يصعب عليهم اتهامه بتمثيل مجرد امتداد لإيران.

تمايز السيد مقتدى الصدر عن إيران وإطلاقه لمواقف انتقادية لسياساتها مراراً، وخلافه الجذري مع الرئيس نور المالكي، الذي جعل الأميركيون والخليجيون من العداء له خطاً فاصلاً بين معسكر خصومهم ومعسكر حلفائهم. وهذا التمايز المزدوج شجع الأميركيين والخليجيين على الاستثمار في مشروع تعاون بينه وبين حلفائهم المباشرين، من كردستان إلى محافظات الوسط، وبنوا على هذا التعاون أحلاماً بتحقيق تحول تاريخي في العراق، خصوصاً أن الرهان على تموضع السيد مقتدى خارج حلفاء إيران وقوى المقاومة، فتح شهيتهم على رهان مشابه تجاه مرجعية النجف، بالحديث عن مرجعية عربية تتنافس مع مرجعية قم غير العربية. وساهمت وسائل الإعلام التي يديرها الأميركيون والخليجيون بصناعة هالة ربطت المواقف التي تستحق صفة العراقية الصافية لتلك التي تصدر عن السيد مقتدى الصدر.

خلال تشكيل الحكومة المستقيلة والتي ترأسها الدكتور عادل عبد المهدي، تنافس تكتل سائرون الذي يدعمه الصدر مع تكتل البناء الذي يمثل قوى المقاومة على تسمية رئيس الحكومة، ولكن في نهاية الطريق تم التفاهم بينهما على تسمية عبد المهدي، وروّج خصوم إيران والمقاومة أن استجابة الصدر جاءت تحت التهديد، وبدا هذا التبرير منافياً للحقيقة التي يعرفها كل من يعرف الصدر ويعرف صلابته وعناده، لكنه كان التبرير الوحيد الممكن لعدم خسارة الاستثمار على رصيد الصدر، والمضي في بناء الآمال على لحظة تصادم مقبلة لا محالة بين الصدر وقوى المقاومة ومن خلفها إيران. والمنطق الوحيد لتعزيز هذا الأمل هو ما يقولونه في تحليلاتهم عن الصدر كمتطلع للزعامة بأي ثمن.

مع اندلاع الحراك في العراق كان السيد مقتدى الصدر هو السند الحقيقي لشباب الحراك، ومصدر حمايتهم، ومن يضع السقف السياسي بوجه الحكومة، وصولاً لاستقالتها. وكانت التظاهرات الحاشدة للحراك هي تلك التي يدعو إليها الصدر، بالرغم من أن الأميركيين والخليجيين كانوا هم مَن يدير الجماعات المنظمة للحراك ويوفرون التغطيات الإعلامية، ويحرصون على توظيفه بهتافات مناوئة لإيران، ويفرحون بغض نظر السيد مقتدى الصدر عن هذا التوظيف. وكل التحليلات الغربية والخليجية التي تناولت المسار الشعبي العراقي، في ميزان الحضور الإيراني كانت تقرأ الحراك وموقع السيد مقتدى الصدر كبيضة قبان يشكل موقعها اختلالاً بالتوازن الذي تسعى قوى المقاومة وإيران لتحقيقه، حتى وقع اغتيال كل من القائد قاسم سليماني والقائد أبو مهدي المهندس.

جاءت الدعوة لإخراج الأميركيين من المنطقة رداً على الاغتيال،.فكانت المفاجأة الأهم في تاريخ المتابعة الأميركية الخليجية تصدُّر الصدر للدعوة، وتلاها اجتماع قوى المقاومة خلفه، كمثل اجتماعها خلف رئيس الحكومة في المواجهة الرسمية الهادفة لإخراج الأميركيين، وجاء تصويت النواب المتأثرين بمواقف الصدر مع إقرار المجلس النيابي للتوصية الموجهة للحكومة لبدء إجراءات إخراج الأميركيين أول الغيث، وتأتي الدعوة التي أطلقها السيد الصدر للتظاهرة المليونية تحت العنوان ذاته مصدر القلق الأكبر، حيث سيخرج العراقيون بكل طوائفهم تلبية لدعوة الصدر، ومن يتحفظ على دعوات آتية من كنف قوى المقاومة وعلاقتها بإيران لا يستطيع التحفظ على دعوة الصدر بصفته رمزاً للوطنية العراقية الصافية. ومَن أطلق عليه هذا اللقب لا يملك القدرة على نزعه عنه لكونه يدعو لإخراج الأميركيين من العراق.

خسرت أميركا وخسر الخليج الرهان الأكبر وسيخسرون ما بعده بفعل هذا الموقع الطبيعي للسيد مقتدى الصدر الذي لم يتمكّنوا من فهمه، ولا قراءته، كما فعل حلفاؤهم في لبنان في رهانات مماثلة على موقع الرئيس نبيه بري في خصومتهم مع حزب الله، مع حفظ الفوارق بين القوى والأشخاص والبلدان.

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Opening Iran’s Black Box

By David Macilwain

Source

Ukraine Flight 752 a0457

As Western governments continue to poke at the Iranian bear, thinking it is busy licking its wounds, they should keep an eye on its claws, and not turn their backs, or their minds to other matters. But neither should we, because the regime changers have not abandoned their plans, nor written off their investment in creating this disorder, as the sudden resumption of NATO-backed “protests” in Iraq and Lebanon demonstrate. A new leader of Islamic State has even been launched into the fray in a timely fashion – on the third anniversary of Trump’s infamous inauguration.

It’s now twenty days since the ‘B’ team murdered their chances of a peaceful settlement in Iraq, but barely enough time for the Iranian bear to muster its strength after such a shock, though that strength is now many times greater and extends across its borders. Had that shock been isolated, with only the close involvement of Iraq, then the subsequent ballistic missile attack by Iran on US bases could have passed for a response, and even led to a peaceful pull-out of Western forces, as demanded by the Iraqi government.

But at that point, the two sides diverged, irreconcilably – the shooting down of Ukrainian flight PS 752 changed everything.

The argument over whether this pre-emptive extrajudicial assassination was a crime was partly down to opinion – on whether Qasem Soleimani was “a terrorist” who needed to be “taken out”,  or the Hero of Shia Islam who saved his Iraqi and Syrian brothers from brutal Salafists and Zionist occupiers. As a soldier in the war against the US coalition and its mercenaries, he was in some sense a legitimate target, but the US crime was in denying him the chance to die and kill in a fair fight. Being picked off by some gum-chewing coward a thousand miles away is the yardstick for US morality and criminality not lost on Iranians or Iraqis, or the IRGC which promptly declared the US army to be a terrorist organization.

For the 167 innocent passengers and crew on PS 752 however, there can be no such argument; their killing, accidental or not, was a crime because of its means, and someone may be held responsible, even if indirectly, as indeed they already are by those rushing to judgment in the West. Despite the initial qualification of the crash by most leaders and media as a “tragic accident”, it is now referred to simply as “the plane shot down by the Iranian military”, implicitly suggesting a civilian airliner was intentionally targeted. But just as with MH17, if Iran was responsible for shooting down a civilian plane carrying Iranians on its own territory it was quite clearly an accident, and should be treated as one – particularly as Iran’s leaders have accepted responsibility and apologized profusely.

But the similarity to MH17 goes further, as the consequences of the Iranian missile defense action for Western public opinion have been devastating for Iran but remarkably beneficial for her enemies, as noted before. On the back of this sudden turn around, the IRGC now appears as it has always been portrayed by Iran’s greatest foes – Israel and the US, while the Iranian government’s entirely reasonable abandonment of the farcical JCPOA provides just the excuse needed for NATO to step up the nuclear pressure and even re-introduce sanctions.

To an impartial observer – and in this case to all those aligned with Iran, Russia and China – this looks grossly unfair, and offensive to any sense of International law and justice.

America and its local allies and co-conspirators have committed a totally illegal political assassination as a provocation, which has led to an environment where hundreds of innocent people have died – including those in the stampede at Soleimani’s funeral. Rather than offering help and sympathy, and understanding of the circumstances behind this tragedy, Western regimes have exploited the disaster to their own ends, almost as if it were their intent.

But perhaps it was.

Forgetting the substantial evidence of covert planning for actions following the killing of the IRGC commander such as staged anti-government protest rallies, and even questions about the identity of the person who shot the video of the missile strike, a little giveaway in a second NYT report could be the clue Iran needs to close its case – that tricking the IRGC into shooting down PS 752 was an integral part of the operation that saw the IRGC leader first assassinated.

A few days after the New York Times publicized the missile video, unleashing a volley of abuse at Iran’s leaders for “lying” about it being a technical malfunction, but then needing to answer difficult questions on how the videographer just happened to be there with camera at the ready, the NYT put out a second report showing that two missiles had been fired:

“The New York Times has verified security camera footage on Tuesday that shows, for the first time, that two missiles hit Ukraine International Airlines Flight 752 on Jan. 8. The missiles were launched from an Iranian military site around eight miles from the plane.

The new video fills a gap about why the plane’s transponder stopped working, seconds before it was hit by a second missile.

An earlier Times analysis confirmed what Iran later admitted: that an Iranian missile did strike the plane. The Times also established that the transponder stopped working before that missile hit the plane. The new video appears to confirm that an initial strike disabled the transponder, before the second strike, also seen in the video, around 23 seconds later.”

As explained elsewhere, the absence of a transponder signal from a flying object immediately identifies it as hostile to a missile defense system, and it was generally accepted that the apparent failure of PS 752’s transponder just two minutes after take-off was what led to its tragic shooting down. The question was why did the transponder suddenly fail, or get disabled?

This was a key question being asked by those who suspected foul play, such as may have occurred two days earlier during “maintenance”, or through some cyber means. It was a question that also needed answering by the Bellingcat club, and the second NYT report and video was their answer.

But it doesn’t work! It really doesn’t work!

On hearing first of this second missile that “took out the transponder”, my thought was simply that this was ridiculous and impossible, but it took two days to realize just why:

Why did the missile defense unit fire the first missile at PS 752 when its transponder was working?

Flights leaving IKA before PS 752 Jan 8th 3737c

Nine other flights took off from Imam Khomeini Airport that morning, including a Qatar airways flight just 30 minutes earlier, and passed by the IRGC missile defense systems without notice – with their transponders operating normally. Their pilots would have been particularly conscious of the need to turn transponders on at take-off given the extreme tensions following Iran’s missile volley early that morning – about four hours before the Ukrainian jet took off bound for Kyiv.

Flight PS 752, which flies five times a week on that popular route for Iranian Canadians, followed the identical flight path to those earlier jets, according to Flight Radar 24. But this site is hardly the only one tracking aircraft and other movements in Iran. In a report on the Iranian missile strikes on Ain al Asad base, the NYT candidly admits that the NSA was following the movements of Iranian missile defense systems as well as monitoring IRGC communications networks “with spy satellites”, and anticipating a response to Soleimani’s murder following his funeral. But much evidence points to the use of these cyber-warfare systems to confuse and control Iran’s defenses, in the same way that the Western public is confused and controlled by disinformation and emotive propaganda coming from their own governments.

But Iran has the Black Box, and holds the Ace. Because if the “conspiracy” theory is correct – that enemy intelligence actions caused the “accidental” downing of the chosen aircraft, the electronic record from the flight recorders will prove it. It only needs to show that the first missile hit PS 752 one second after the transponder stopped working to turn this Iranian tragedy into a US coalition atrocity, and the most infernal and criminal conspiracy since the demolition of the Twin Towers.

Perhaps then it will finally be the citizens of the countries who suffer under the Great Satan’s boot who benefit from its Imperial Overreach.

Analysis: Historical inevitability of ‘1979 US embassy’ event in Iraq: not now, but soon

Thursday, 02 January 2020 12:47 PM 

Supporters of Iraq’s Hashd al-Sha’abi force hold placards depicting trampled US symbols reading in Arabic “Welcome” during a protest outside the US embassy in the Iraqi capital Baghdad on January 1, 2020 to condemn the US air strikes that killed 25 Hashd fighters over the weekend. (Photo by AFP)

By Ramin Mazaheri

Ramin Mazaheri is the chief correspondent in Paris for Press TV and has lived in France since 2009. He has been a daily newspaper reporter in the US, and has reported from Iran, Cuba, Egypt, Tunisia, South Korea and elsewhere. He is the author of the books ‘I’ll Ruin Everything You Are: Ending Western Propaganda on Red China’ and the upcoming ‘Socialism’s Ignored Success: Iranian Islamic Socialism.’

The recent protests at the US embassy/city-state/Superman fortress of solitude in Iraq undoubtedly served notice of what the 2020s will bring for Iraq: freedom from three decades of US domination and terrorism.

The protests were shocking for many reasons. Iraq has been under the boot of the US for so long many around the world thought such resistance was impossible. Pity the poor, underestimated Iraqis: even when they did engage in civic disobedience the West sought, as usual, to give all the credit/blame to Iran. After dominating them so long, the West is incapable of seeing Iraqis as a people/culture with the power of self-determination. The endless refrain is “Iran-backed militias”, but it is Iraqis who staff those militias and who crossed into the Green Zone.

The past few days have produced much for us to comment about, but what good are such comments regarding the Iraqi context if we divorce ourselves from their past few decades?

There was a lot of debate, first provoked by the British medical journal The Lancet, about the death toll from Gulf War II, but few seem to remember the horrific death toll from Gulf War I of Bush père: 400,000 Iraqi dead, half of them civilians. Just 300 deaths combined among the anti-Iraq axis.

That’s a stunning figure which should not be forgotten, but to the “blame Iran” crowd in the West this war never happened. In fact, Gulf War I to Americans is something of a joke: the images of precision missiles going down chimneys, ecstatically broadcast in a ratings uber-bonanza for the still-new 24-hour news of CNN, helped “restore pride” to an America whose last conflict was Vietnam. The short-lived economic boom of the 1990s followed, and Gulf War I was barely an afterthought immediately.

Top cleric condemns US strikes on PMU bases, urges respect for Iraq sovereignty

Top cleric condemns US strikes on PMU bases, urges respect for Iraq sovereigntyThe drone strikes killed at least 27 individuals and wounded 51 others.

Sanctions, however, are not a ratings bonanza for CNN – the blockaded Cubans, allegedly starving North Koreans and the horrifically-sanctioned Iraqis (which ran until Gulf War II) do not provide exciting, pride-swelling, jingoism-fuelling footage. Quite the opposite, which is why the US runs no such footages; they didn’t have to ban footage of dead US soldiers for Gulf War I, but the “free press” of the US allegedly remained “free” even when they did just that for Gulf War II. One would think that in the “blame Iran” crowd one or two Americans might point out that this era of Husseinian splendor amid everyday want (and during the last era of global economic expansion) might have produced just a bit of anti-American resentment which may still linger?

Gulf War II came, but has it really gone? Is Iraq any different than a French neo-colonial subject in Africa, with foreign troops protecting the interests of foreign capital and not the welfare of the people?

Questions worth answering, but the “blame Iran” crowd only insists that the Gulf War II devastation of Iraq – maybe unparalleled since the “Korean conflict” – is the fault of non-belligerent Tehran. The destruction of infrastructure capital, the wasting/fleeing of human capital, the lives ruined by death/maiming/psychological trauma – this is all too much for a human to fully grasp, but one should not take the approach of the US and make no effort to grasp it at all.

This lack of effort at self-reflection is very typically American even within their own society – if America’s leaders will push a McCarthy-era Russophobia wave for three years just to avoid honest discussion of the failures of the Democratic Party and “democracy with American characteristics”, then why should we expect those leaders to be honest about Iraq? Why should we ask those leaders to honestly account for the murders, bombings, assassinations, strangulations and corruption they ordered for three decades?

Given the three decades of US domination and occupation, how can anyone be surprised by the recent protests targeting their embassy?

Indeed, many Iraqis, especially their young, are probably saying, “Why did it take so long to get here?”

A protester wearing the Iraqi flag stands outside the US embassy in the Iraqi capital Baghdad on January 1, 2020 during a demonstration. (Photo by AFP)

Two thousand nineteen was a momentous year in the Middle East because a local nation proved for the first time in two centuries that they have technological and military parity with Western capitalist-imperialists in the war theater of the Middle East. That country is Iran, which already began proving 40 years ago that they have a political, intellectual and artistic (cinema) culture equal to or better than, and certainly more modern and “of the historical moment”, than that of the West. What we saw on these Western new year’s eve protests in Iraq is a spreading confirmation of these slow, long-running historical trends, processes and facts. 

The protests were cheered by many worldwide of course: even if the Western political and media elite has these insane anti-Iran and pro-US capitalism-imperialism blinders on, the average person does not. Many hoped the protests would turn into a new Tahrir Square, like in Egypt, but they were disbanded after only two days.

That seems like a sad development, but the people of Iraq, Iran and their allies realize that sending out a force is no good unless that force can be controlled. Egypt was not under foreign occupation, after all. Many Iraqis justifiably feel they are at war and the embassy protests were an “attack” – it was not a place to spontaneously express patriotism and see how that may or may not coalesce. 

I suggest that the protest force was sent home because the damage has been done. After all, has the Green Zone ever been so breached?

The psychological and cultural consequences of this two-day affair are nothing but positive for Iraqis and nothing but negative for Americans and their corrupt, self-interested allies.

US airlifts forces to Iraq embassy amid protests

US airlifts forces to Iraq embassy amid protestsFootage shows US military aircraft dropping off as many as 100 marines to the American Embassy in Baghdad amid angry anti-US protests.

It is thus very similar to Iran’s military victories in 2019 – shooting down a drone, stopping a British-flagged tanker: these are not enormous military victories but they are enormously symbolic. They are not the momentous result of long battles but instead herald the very beginning of new long-term forces which are increasing in inevitability every moment.

Yet again in the past year, American planners were dumbfounded, scared and did not know how to react. The US is not powerless in Iraq but for a long moment they felt that way – for a long moment Iraqis felt powerful over Americans. These are not small cultural and psychological things, given the Iraqi historical context.

On a larger level: Hussein came to power by repressing the intersection of democracy and Islam with as much bloody zeal as any Western neo-imperialist. He fought a war at the behest of the West to destroy the Iranian democratic revolution because it dared to unify these two ideas, and proved that they are not acids and bases. When Hussein insisted that Iraqi Baathists are equal to their secular Western counterparts, the West destroyed his country with a blockade and then occupation.

The role of Baathism in Iraq is up to Iraqis to decide, not me. However, its history – and for many reasons beyond their control – is not very stirring, to say the least. If a majority of Iraqis want more of an intersection between Islam and Iraqi democracy than what Baathism tolerated, they do have an example to look at – Iran. It is precisely because Iran provides this example that they are the root of all evil in the Muslim world to Western capitalist-imperialists and Islamophobes. It is not only that Iranians have created a successful society on par with the top Western nations, but the West most certainly needs a scapegoat, due to their history in the region. 

A 1979 US embassy occupation is an historical inevitability in Iraq – we thought maybe this was it, but it was not.

In pictures: Iraqis hold angry protest outside US Embassy

In pictures: Iraqis hold angry protest outside US EmbassyIraqi protesters gather outside the US Embassy in Baghdad to condemn American airstrikes on PMU bases. Here are some exclusive photos.

Perhaps Iraq is truly not ready? They have been rather debilitated for several decades, after all. Nor does Iraq have a shah to kick out first – an embassy occupation for Iraqis would seemingly be the start of their revolution, whereas in Iran the occupation came nine months after the victory of their revolution.

Iraq is not Iran, of course, but the recent events at the Baghdad embassy show that both cultures view the presence of the US in their country as a major, major source of domestic strife and problems.

The reason a US embassy occupation in Iraq is an historical inevitability is because – despite the “blame Iran” propaganda – there is no chance that the US and Iraqis can have a mutually beneficial co-existence due to:

1) the presence of American soldiers,

2) the three decades of violent war, sanctions and occupation waged by the US,

3) the network of corruption created by US capitalist-imperialist influence and ideology, which ensures only and always a subservient role for Iraq, and which purposely disempowers their full potential,

4) the very ideology, practices and culture of the Washington, which are predicated on competition, violence and corruption, which makes them fundamentally opposed to mutually-beneficial cooperation.

(The views expressed in this article do not necessarily reflect those of Press TV.)

Iran Studying Next Step to Reduce JCPOA Commitments – FM Spox

Iran Studying Next Step to Reduce JCPOA Commitments – FM Spox

By Staff

Iranian Foreign Ministry Spokesman Abbas Mousavi said that the Islamic Republic is currently studying the next step to reduce its nuclear deal commitments, adding that all of the signatories slammed the US withdrawal from the deal, officially known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action [JCPOA].

He said that all the remaining signatories of the JCPOA believe that the US is responsible for the current situation. “They do not recognize the US illegal sanctions on Iran, he said in reference to the UN Security Council Resolution 2231 in 2015 which backed the JCPOA, requiring to lift international sanctions on Iran.”

Mousavi further stressed in his weekly press conference on Monday that there aren’t any negotiations between the Islamic Republic and Saudi Arabia other than the Hajj issue.

“There are countries seeking to settle dialogue between Iran and Saudi Arabia, which we think are based on good intentions, and Iran welcomes this but sometimes we figure out doubled statements by Saudi officials, which contradict with the spirit of the Iranian path and the efforts of other countries,” Mousavi explained.

In response to a question about exchanging prisoners, Mousavi noted that “When we find that prisoners’ swap with other countries serve our nationals then we will carry out. We carry out prisoners’ swap with other countries from a humanitarian motive.”

Commenting on the unrest engulfing Iraq, Mousavi stressed that Iran doesn’t intervene in Iraqi affairs and hopes that the country restores stability.

Asked about Russia’s stopping cooperation in Fordow nuclear facility, he said it is due to technical difficulty and that the issue is under examination by the two sides.

Mousavi told reporters that the main reason is simultaneity of two actions; the Russians want to see if it is possible to do two projects at the same time.

‘Israel’ Betting on Protests in Lebanon, Iraq & Iran to Siege Resistance Forces: Zionist Media

Capture

December 5, 2019

The Zionist media outlets highlighted the outcomes of the meeting between the premier Benjamin Netanyahu and the US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo in Lisbon, pointing out the two sides concentrated on taking the advantage of the ongoing protests in Lebanon, Iraq and Iran to oblige Tehran to attend the negotiation table on the basis of their conditions.

Netanyahu considered that the protests help reducing the Iranian support to the resistance movements in the region, underscoring Washington’s role in sanctioning and besieging Tehran, according to the Zionist reports.

The Israeli analysts stressed that Netanyahu raised, during his meeting with Pompeo the two issues of annexing Jordan Valley to the occupation entity and signing a joint defense treaty, adding that the Israeli premier aims at preseting himself as the man of the great achievement in ‘Israel’.

Source: Al-Manar English Website

تظاهرات في بغداد دعماً لسلمية الاحتجاجات ورفضاً للتدخلات الأميركية والإسرائيلية

تظاهرات في العاصمة العراقية دعماً لسلمية الاحتجاجات ورفضاً للتدخلات الاميركية والإسرائيلية ، ومراسل الميادين يفيد بانطلاق عملية كبرى للحشد الشعبي والقوات الأمنية العراقية لملاحقة فلول داعش غرب صحراء الأنبار.

تظاهرات في بغداد دعماً لسلمية الاحتجاجات ورفضاً للتدخلات الأميركية والإسرائيلية.

شهد العاصمة العراقية بغداد تظاهرات تحت شعار: دعمُ خيار التظاهر السلمي، ودعوة لطرد المخربين، وأيضاً دعوة لطرد المخربين ورفضاً للتدخلات الاميركية والإسرائيلية.

المتظاهرون توجهوا صوب ساحة التحرير انطلاقاً من شارع  فلسطين والحبيبية والشعب ورفعوا لافتات دعم للمرجع الديني السيد علي السيستاني ورددُوا هُتافات بيعة لاسمه.

Oula Abdallah@OulaAbdallah1

من ساحة التحرير في بغداد.. حشود العراقيين اليوم من المحافظات العراقية دعماً للمرجعية

عرض الصورة على تويترعرض الصورة على تويترعرض الصورة على تويترعرض الصورة على تويتر
٢٨ من الأشخاص يتحدثون عن ذلك

وفي كربلاء أصيب عدد منالمتظاهرين وسط المدينة خلال اشتباكات بين القوات الأمنية والمتظاهرين الذين حاولوا اقتحام مبنى الحكومة المحلية في حي البلدية.

مصدر طبّي في دائرة صحة كربلاء قال إن قوات مكافحة الشغب استخدمت القنابل المسيلة للدموع والقنابل الصوتية من أجل تفريق المتظاهرين.

بالتوازي، أفاد مراسل الميادين بانطلاق عملية كبرى للحشد الشعبي والقوات الأمنية العراقية لملاحقة فلول داعش غرب صحراء الأنبار.

وأحبط الحشد هجوماً شنّه تنظيم داعش على نقطة أمنية في أطراف قرية البو بكر على الحدود بين ديالى وصلاح الدين.

كما شنّ مسلّحو التنظيم هجوماً على أحد أفواج قوات البيشمركة في كولجو بكردستان العراق حيث تصدّت لهم القواتُ وأحبطت الهجوم الذي اودى بحياة اثنين من البيشمركة.

 

  • تظاهرات في بغداد دعماً لسلمية الاحتجاجات ورفضاً للتدخلات الأميركية والإسرائيلية

تظاهرات في بغداد دعماً لسلمية الاحتجاجات ورفضاً للتدخلات الأميركية والإسرائيلية

تظاهرات في بغداد دعماً لسلمية الاحتجاجات ورفضاً للتدخلات الأميركية والإسرائيلية

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Hashd Shaabi: ISIL Exploiting Unrest in Iraq, Carrying out Attacks

Iraq's PMF forces during battles west of Mosul

December 2, 2019

Iraq’s Hashd Shaabi paramilitary force said that Isil Takfiri group is exploiting the unrest taking place in the country to carry out attacks in several areas.

In a statement, Hashd Shaabi, also known as Popular Mobilization Forces (PMF), said that 6 fighters of its fighters were martyred and 17 others were injured as they confronted ISIL attacks.

“Several areas which were cleansed earlier have been subjected to repeated attacks by ISIL terrorists who have been trying to exploit the unrest and deteriorated security situation in the country,” the Hashd said in a statement.

“Fierce battle took place yesterday in Diyala province, leading to the martyrdom of six of our heroes and the injury of 17 others including the Brigade 20 commander,” the statement added.

Terrorists have been trying to infiltrate into Imam Weis in Diyala during the previous days, the statement noted.

It warned, meanwhile, that several movements of ISIL operatives have been spotted in Salahuddine, Anbar, Kirkuk and Baghdad surroundings in a bid to take control of these areas.

Source: Agencies

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Iraq’s parliament approves prime minister’s resignation

Sunday, 01 December 2019 3:02 PM

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Outgoing Iraqi Prime Minister Adel Abdul-Mahdi (photo by AFP)

Iraq’s parliament has approved the resignation of Iraqi Prime Minister Adel Abdul-Mahdi, which came after top Shia cleric Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani urged the parliament to “reconsider” its support for the incumbent government.

Iraqi legislators approved Abdul-Mahdi’s resignation during a parliament session held in the capital, Baghdad, on Sunday afternoon.

Abdul-Mahdi’s administration is expected to take on a caretaker role until the largest bloc in the parliament agrees on a new candidate to replace him.

Speaker Mohammad al-Halbusi said President Bahram Salih would now ask the largest political bloc in parliament to nominate the next prime minister.

Abdul-Mahdi announced in a statement on Friday that he would submit his resignation to parliament, amid anti-government demonstrations.

Earlier that day, Grand Ayatollah Sistani had through a representative urged lawmakers to “reconsider” their support for the government amid the demonstrations.

Abdul-Mahdi said he had made his decision in response to the revered cleric’s call and in order to “facilitate and hasten its fulfillment as soon as possible.”

Nearly two months of protests have rocked primarily Baghdad and the southern areas of Iraq. The protesters have been expressing frustration with a failing economy and have demanded reforms.

The rallies have, however, turned into violent confrontations on numerous occasions.

Since October 1, more than 300 people have been killed in the country, according to the Iraqi parliament’s human rights commission.

Elections in May 2018 ended without a single bloc winning a majority of seats to elect a new prime minister. To avoid a political crisis, the parliament’s two main political blocs — Sairoon, led by Shia cleric Muqtada al-Sadr, and the Fatah bloc led by Hadi al-Amiri and linked to the Popular Mobilization Units (PMF) — eventually forged an alliance, nominating Abdul-Mahdi as prime minister.

Commenting on the ongoing unrest across Iraq, Lawrence Davidson, a professor in West Chester University, said in an interview with Press TV on Sunday that some foreign elements were desperately attempting to make Iran a “scapegoat” for Iraq’s social and economic problems.

The remarks come after masked assailants last week set fire on the Iranian consulate in the southern Iraqi city of Najaf and burned tires around the building.

Davidson said the “US was considering the protests an opportunity to create a trouble and direct them against Iran.”

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Grand Ayatollah Sistani Warns Against U.S. Coup Plot In Iraq

Moon of Alabama

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Protests in Lebanon and Iraq were caused by internal problems but are manipulated by external forces. Today an Iraqi leader exposed those forces which might well bring that problem to an end. Lebanon will still have to suffer through more strife.

AFP reports of more bloody protests in Iraq:

Anti-government protests in Iraq entered their third week with fresh bloodshed on Friday, as leaders appeared to have closed rank around the country’s embattled premier.More than a dozen demonstrators died in Baghdad and the southern port city of Basra within 24 hours, medical sources told AFP.

The reporter listened to some protesters and it is interesting what voices s/he chose to repeated:

“Even if it comes down to the last man, we have to enter the Green Zone and bring it down,” another protester shouted.”We’ll announce our people’s revolution from there against everyone who stole from us — Prime Minister Adel Abdel Mahdi, Qais al-Khazaali, Hadi al-Ameri!” he said.

Khazaali and Ameri are leading commanders in the Hashed al-Shaabi paramilitary network, which has publicly backed the government after protests erupted.

It was founded in 2014 to fight the Islamic State group, drawing from a host of Shiite armed factions, many of which have close ties to Iran.

A month ago we wrote that the legitimate protests in Iraq and Lebanon are used by the U.S. for coup attempts financed by Saudi money. The actual target of the coup attempts are those groups who have the support of Iran – Hizbullah in Lebanon and the Hashd al Shaabi in Iraq. That is why the AFP piece quotes those who attack the leaders of the Hashed which was founded, trained and equipped by Iran. It is now standard in ‘western’ reporting to falsely depict the protests as being against those entities.

We also warned that these protest might escalate:

The best strategy for the legitimate protesters is to press the current governments for reform. The governments in Iraq and in Lebanon have both already agreed to make certain changes. The protesters should accept those and pull back. If the politicians do not stick to those commitments the protesters can always go back into the streets and demand more.Unfortunately there are external actors with lots of money who want to prevent that. They want to throw both countries into utter chaos or even civil wars because they hope that it will weaken those factions that have good relations with Iran.

In Lebanon there was some violence by followers of the Shia Amal movement against a protesters tent camp. ‘Western’ media falsely attributed the violence to Hizbullah. In Iraq the guards of a government building in Karbala shot at protesters who tried to breach its gate. Some ‘western’ media falsely alleged that those shooters were Iranians.

But external actors have made such bids before only to fail to achieve the wanted results.

The AFP last line is curious:

On Friday, the country’s top Shiite cleric Grand Ayatollah Ali Sistani said there should be “no more procrastination” on finding a “roadmap” to end the crisis.

Sistani said much more than that (in Arabic).

He urged the politicians in power to lay out a specific roadmap of reforms to end corruption, to end sectarian/political quotas and for social justice. He called that a ‘unique opportunity’. He urged the legitimate protesters and the government to stay peaceful.

Then came the really important parts (machine translated):

Fourth: There are parties and internal and external parties that have played a prominent role in the past decades in Iraq, which has been severely harmed and subjected to the oppression and abuse of Iraqis, and it may seek today to exploit the ongoing protest movement to achieve some of its objectives. Participants in the protests and others should be Great caution against the exploitation of these parties and any loophole through which they can penetrate their gathering and change the course of the reform movement.

The external parties that Sistani calls out are of course the U.S. which invaded Iraq and the Saudis who financed the Islamic State. That Sistani is directly pointing to them is extraordinary.

The last part of Sistani’s message is equally important:

Fifth: Our pride in the armed forces and those who joined them in the fight against ISIS terrorism and defending Iraq as a people, land and sanctities have a great credit to everyone, especially those who are stationed to this day on the borders and the following sensitive sites, we should not forget their virtues and should not forget They hear any word that detracts from their grave sacrifices, but if it is possible today to hold peaceful demonstrations and sit-ins away from the harm of terrorists, it is thanks to these heroic men, they have full respect and appreciation.

Sistani, who is not pro-Iran, is fully supporting the Hashd al-Shaabi. The external actors who want to use the protest to put Hashd down will fail.

After the U.S. invaded Iraq its viceroy Paul Bremer planned to install a proxy government without any elections. It was Ayatollah Sistani who prevented that when he publicly decreed that the U.S. had to let the Iraqis decide for themselves. The Marja had spoken, the U.S. had to back down and elections were held. His statement today is of similar importance and weight.

Elijah J. Magnier @ejmalrai – 13:13 UTC · Nov 8, 2019Grand Ayatollah Sistani (via Sheikh Karbala’ei) warned of internal/external (countries/players) interference in the protests.

Most important:
Stresses respect for armed forces & Hashd al-Shaabi: “All those who fought against terrorism and still are on the frontline”

Unusual:
Grand Ayatollah Sistani (via Sheikh Karbalaei) warned explicitly #SaudiArabia and the #US, responsible for what had happened to Iraq (ISIS and the destruction that came with it), from interfering with the protestors.

Very very strong message.

I knew S Sistani for many years. I can tell: this is unheard off and never ever Sayyed Sistani was so clear and direct, without saying the names of the countries involved, in accusing foreign intervention.

His defence of Hashd al-Shaabi is putting an end to all naive analysts.

Sistani’s statement likely also puts an end to the violent protesters. Those who continue to fight or storm government buildings will now be seen as U.S. and Saudi agents. It is now also likely that the coup attempt will fail and that the Iraqi government will survive. But it will have to implement the reforms the genuine protesters are asking for.

That should be doable as Iraq has significant income and can finance reforms.

The situation in Lebanon is way more difficult. The sectarian warlords and politicians who traditionally reign over the country and share the spoils are unwilling to leave their positions. There is always the chance of another civil war and the country is nearly bankrupt. It will require more delicate negotiations, or even violence, to effect some change.

Posted by b on November 8, 2019 at 19:40 UTC | Permalink

Iraq Protests: Spontaneous or Made in the US?

By Stephen Lendman

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Iraq Protests e8717

Time and again, when peaceful protests turn violent in various countries, US dirty hands are involved.

There’s no ambiguity about months of protests in Hong Kong, US dirty hands all over them, local elements involved having met with Trump regime and congressional officials, as well as a US consular one in the city.

Nearly a week of violent protests in Baghdad and elsewhere in Iraq, killing over 100, injuring thousands, security forces among the dead and wounded, bear similarity to the US-orchestrated late 2013/early 2014 color revolution in Ukraine.

The Euromaidan uprising was and remains all about replacing independent democratic governance with pro-Western fascist rule — controlled by the US.

Russia and then-Ukrainian President Yanukovich were falsely blamed for sniper shootings of protesters and police, killing around 100 people, injuring hundreds more.

Then-Estonian Foreign Minister Urmas Paet said “there is now stronger and stronger understanding that behind the snipers, it was not Yanukovich, but it was somebody from the new (putschist) coalition.”

“All the evidence shows” they were shooting at people from both sides. They targeted police and protesters.

Kiev Dr. Olga Bogomolets reported the same thing, citing photos for proof. Paet called her evidence “quite disturbing.”

Snipers were likely CIA-recruited neo-Nazi hitmen. Shots came from one or more buildings overlooking the Maidan.

Snipers with automatic weapons were inside. Eyewitnesses saw them leaving the area’s Philharmonic Hall, carrying military-style bags used for sniper and assault rifles with optical sights.

Former Ukrainian Security Service head Aleksandr Yakimenko confirmed what happened, planned well in advance he said, adding:

Elements involved “carried out everything that they were told by their leadership – the United States.” Maidan leaders practically lived at Washington’s embassy, he stressed.

The battle for Ukraine’s soul was lost, Washington gaining an imperial trophy bordering Russia.

Is what’s going on in Baghdad and elsewhere in Iraq similar to US-orchestrated Hong Kong protests and the Obama regime’s coup in Ukraine?

Long-suffering Iraqis have legitimate grievances, notably rampant corruption, high unemployment, impoverishment affecting millions, the nation’s youths notably affected, and lack of essential to life public services.

This is unacceptably going on in the oil-rich country with the world’s fifth largest reserves, its ruling authorities serving privileged interests and themselves exclusively, subjecting ordinary people to neoliberal harshness.

Therein lies the root cause of what’s going on. Extreme violence causing thousands of casualties, along with setting dozens of public and private buildings ablaze, storming others, raises red flags — a scenario appearing like dirty hands behind it.

Iraq’s interior ministry spokesman Saad Maan denied security forces were using live fire on protesters, adding “malicious hands” are targeting ordinary Iraqis, police, and other government forces.

Over the weekend, US-installed prime minister Adel Abdul Mahdi’s cabinet issued a decree, including over a dozen intended reforms, notably land distribution, increased welfare payments for needy families, 100,000 new housing units, and benefits for the unemployed — if follow-through actually occurs and makes a difference.

Individuals killed were declared “martyrs,” their families granted special benefits.

Iraqi ruling authorities are allied with the US and Iran, its split loyalty riling Trump regime hardliners, wanting Baghdad allied with their war on the Islamic Republic by other means, along with their overall regional agenda.

They’re reportedly furious over Mahdi blaming Israel for terror-bombing sites in Iraq, opening the al-Qaem crossing between the country and Syria, along with expressing interest in buying Russian S-400 air defense systems and other military hardware from the country, partnering with China to construct essential infrastructure in exchange for oil, and choosing a German company over a US one for an electricity project.

The Trump regime is especially angry over normalized Iran-Iraq relations. Baghdad is notably dependent on Tehran for natural gas and electricity. Both countries share a common border.

Mahdi has tried to stay neutral to avoid greater regional conflict, rather than ally with the US, Israel and the Saudis against Iran. All of the above leaves him vulnerable to regime change by the US.

Iranian leader Khamenei tweeted the following on Sunday: “Iran and Iraq are two nations whose hearts & souls are tied together through faith in God, love for Imam Hussein and the progeny of the Prophet (PBUH).”

“This bond will grow stronger day by day. Enemies seek to sow discord but they’ve failed and their conspiracy won’t be effective.”

Various Arab media sources and independent observers believe the Trump regime is behind days of violent protests in Iraq, internal elements enlisted as proxies to serve its interests by destabilizing the country.

A statement from PM Mahdi’s office said the following:

“(D)emonstrations were already planned a couple of months ago. Baghdad was working to try and ease the situation in the country, particularly since the demands of the population are legitimate.”

“The prime minister has inherited the corrupt system that has developed since 2003. Hundreds of billions of dollars have been diverted into the pockets of corrupt politicians” — and the West not mentioned.

“(T)he (US) war on terror used not only all the country’s resources but forced Iraq to borrow billions of dollars for the reconstruction of the security forces and other basic needs.”

“The latest demonstrations were supposed to be peaceful and legitimate because people have the right to express their discontent, concerns and frustration.”

“However, the course of events showed a different objective: 16 members of the security forces were killed along with tens of civilians, and many governments and party buildings were set on fire and completely destroyed.”

“This sort of behavior has misdirected the real grievances of the population onto a disastrous course: creating chaos in the country. Who benefits from the disarray in Iraq?”

What’s going on is likely connected to a failed plot to kill Quds Force commander of Iran’s IRGC General Qassem Soleimani, a key figure in the country’s counterintelligence operations.

The US seeks unchallenged regional control, part of what years of war on Iraq, Syria, and Yemen is all about.

Other US aggression in Central Asia, north Africa, and economic terror war on Iran remain ongoing for the same reason.

A Final Comment

According to the Lebanon-based Arabic-language al-Akhbar broadsheet, the Trump regime planned ongoing violence and chaos in Iraq months earlier.

An unnamed Iraqi security source said US preparations were made for a “hot fall” in the country, adding:

The US and Saudis may have similar tactics planned in Iran and Lebanon.

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