‘Let Them Stop Us if They Dare’ – Why Hezbollah is Bringing Iranian Fuel to Lebanon

Posted by INTERNATIONALIST 360° on 

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Radwan Mortada
The Iranian fuel tanker set to shortly deliver oil to Lebanon will break the US-imposed embargo on the country.

The chokehold on Lebanon has grown even tighter, thanks to the embargo imposed against it by the United States and its Arab allies in the Persian Gulf. This comes at the lowest point of Lebanon’s two-year-old economic crisis, a catastrophe the World Bank calls the worst the world has seen since 1850. The country’s sudden-but-deliberate fuel shortage, vital to essential daily activity and life-saving medical services, has accelerated this alarm. Today, bread is in shortage and hospitals are sending out distress calls, civilians are camping in front of petrol stations, and water has all but disappeared from supermarket shelves.

With general government inaction and the failure of Lebanon’s political parties to form a new government, Hezbollah has forged ahead with its plan to import fuel from Iran. A few weeks ago, Hezbollah Secretary General Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah had paved the way by saying that if the government does nothing to resolve the fuel crisis, “Hezbollah will make arrangements with Iran, buy gasoline and diesel vessels, bring them to Beirut Port, and let the government [if it can] prohibit their delivery to the Lebanese people.” In a later speech, he added: “The brothers in Hezbollah are currently in Iran to complete the gasoline and diesel deal, and we will deliver them soon, either by land or by sea.”

Last week, Nasrallah announced the news of imminent oil imports from Iran, warning the world not to interfere with the fuel tanker that set sail from the Iranian coast towards Lebanon.

A Lebanese expert in oil and gas governance in the MENA region, Laury Haytayan, estimates that it will take 15 days for the Iranian gasoline tanker departing from the southern Iranian port of Bandar Abbas to reach Lebanon. Haytayan says the ship will pass the Strait of Hormuz, then Bab al-Mandab, and sail through the Red Sea into the Suez Canal before heading to Lebanon. Likewise, a maritime expert speaking on condition of anonymity suggested another route the Iranian oil tanker could take: the Cape Route near South Africa, northwards and through the Strait of Gibraltar, crossing Cypriot and Greek shores to reach the Mediterranean coast. This route, he noted, would take the ship 45 days to arrive.

Lebanon’s Minister of Energy Raymond Ghajar says that he has not received a request to allow Iranian oil into the country, and notes that Nasrallah “chose his words correctly when he said that the ship sailed from Iran to the Mediterranean Sea, and not Lebanese territorial waters,” which opens the possibility that the ship will not dock in Lebanese ports. It is altogether possible, therefore, that the ship will head towards the Syrian coast to unload at the Baniyas refinery, and then be transported by land to Lebanon.

As soon as Nasrallah first announced his offer to provide fuel for Lebanon, former Prime Minister Saad Hariri and Lebanese Forces Party Executive Chairman Samir Geagea – both of whom are affiliated with Saudi Arabia – denounced the move, accusing the Hezbollah leader of pushing Lebanon into a war between two axes. Previously, neither of them had said a word about the suffering of Lebanese patients in hospitals or their humiliatingly long waits at gas stations. Moreover, neither took the initiative to appeal to their Saudi patrons to assist Lebanon. If anything, both were painfully aware that Saudi Arabia was covertly obstructing the formation of a Lebanese government.

An Iraqi source, who took part in the Iran–Saudi negotiations organized by Prime Minister Mustafa Kadhimi, revealed to The Cradle that when the Iranian delegate mentioned the issue of Lebanon during the negotiations, the Saudi delegate quickly interrupted: “Lebanon is not a priority for us. We don’t want to discuss Lebanon now.”

Hezbollah, however, has been clear in its message that the aim of importing Iranian oil is not to cause a clash, but simply to provide essential fuel for the Lebanese population. Before Nasrallah announced the first shipment, Hezbollah staff gathered information from hospitals and bakeries to work out their monthly fuel requirements. Zahrani power plant manager Ziad al-Zain tells The Cradle that Lebanon needs about 10 million liters of diesel a day for its electricity needs, and that the Zahrani plant accounts for 15 percent of gasoline consumption in the entire country.

Sources informed of Hezbollah’s internal discussions during the past few weeks reveal that the deliberations focused on whether to import the oil by sea or by land, and to investigate both options and consequences.

According to the sources, a specialized committee, supervised directly by Nasrallah, was set up to conduct research and identify a solution for the fuel crisis. Three recommendations were provided.

Initially, the committee proposed that the work should be carried out by the Lebanese government, with the government formulating the oil contracts. Hezbollah went so far as to negotiate the use of the Lebanese lira to pay for the imported oil, but the government did not respond to this proposal. The second recommendation was to pressure Central Bank Governor Riad Salameh to continue opening credit lines for fuel subsidies, especially as the financial crisis was just beginning to unfold.

The third recommendation was to work within the existing margins of the Ministry of Energy — for example, through the communications that led Lebanon’s General Security Director Abbas Ibrahim to contact Iraq for oil, before those talks also fizzled over internal legislative obstacles. Despite Iraq’s responsiveness to quickly provide Lebanon with fuel, it is the Lebanese side that has delayed the process. The hurdle, it seems, was in submitting the Iraq oil proposal to parliament’s Committee of Legislation and Consultation for consideration, where it quickly disappeared into a black hole.

Amin Nasser, director of the Iraqi Media Network in Lebanon and the Levant, who accompanied the Lebanese delegation to Iraq alongside Abbas Ibrahim and Energy Minister Ghajar, says the delays have been entirely caused by Lebanese internal political obstruction. Nasser, however, also disclosed that there was a decision to override the obstructions and issue a tender, and suggests that Iraqi oil will arrive in Lebanon on 3 September, although this has yet to be confirmed.

Another informed Iraqi source told The Cradle: “There were no obstacles on the Iraqi side, as Baghdad’s offer was made without conditions. However, there was one last-minute condition set by Iraq’s Minister of Finance, Dr. Abdul-Amir Allawi, head of the Iraqi negotiating team, related to the need to place tender announcements for companies interested in refining Iraqi oil through an official online platform linked to the Lebanese Ministry of Energy. And if a company is chosen, we must be informed of the name, address and details of this company, which will deal directly with the Iraq’s Oil Marketing Company, SOMO.”

The Iraqi source points out that subsequently, “no Lebanese or foreign companies were publicly announced through any official website or online platform linked to the Ministry of Energy, and no mechanisms were put in place to choose companies, nor tenders, nor who won them. The only thing mentioned was that there were five unidentified competing companies, which Iraq has no knowledge of, and were not placed on the platform.”

As for the Iraqi fuel arriving within the first few days of September, that flimsy expectation likely relates to Lebanese Minister Ghajar informing Iraq that he has completed administrative and technical procedures, including overland shipping, and that boat shipments were scheduled to sail in the next two days.

“So far, we have received no direct answers from the Lebanese side,” The Cradle’s Baghdad source says, adding that the Iraqi side remains silent so as not to exacerbate the Lebanese problem. “Iraq says we have offered oil unconditionally, and Lebanon must take action to clear its goods. In the case that it cannot do so, then we can help by shipping one million tons at the expense of the Iraqi government,” the source explains.

It was this kind of dead-end, accountability-lacking negotiations that prompted Hezbollah to knock on Iran’s door for fuel. According to sources close to the Lebanese resistance group, Hezbollah’s plan is to buy fuel from Iran with payment facilities and under contracts signed between the two parties. These sources say the first shipment of diesel oil will be a gift from the Iranian people to the Lebanese people. However, Iranian news reports have said that a group of Shia businessmen assumed the cost for the first oil tanker.

Within hours of Nasrallah’s bold 19 August speech, Lebanese President Michel Aoun received a phone call from Washington’s Beirut Ambassador Dorothy Shea, informing him of the US administration’s decision to help Lebanon receive Egyptian gas and electricity from Jordan via Syria. This Egyptian-Jordanian-Syrian proposal is not new. IMF Executive Director Mahmoud Mohieldin, in an earlier visit to Lebanon, assured officials that Jordan is able to obtain US approval to exempt Egyptian gas from the Caesar Act [a piece of US domestic legislation crafted to punish any party that does business with or through Syria], allowing its transfer through Jordan and Syria to Lebanon without being subject to US sanctions.

Hezbollah’s first reaction to the US ambassador’s “offer” was a public lashing by Hezbollah MP Hassan Fadlallah: “Instead of being ashamed of herself, and hiding the shame of her administration from [events] in Kabul airport to the siege of Beirut, the US ambassador is trying to justify American aggression against Lebanon, exposing, by her usual shamelessness, the responsibility her administration bears in the suffering of the Lebanese people when she admitted to her ability to bring funding from the World Bank to transfer electricity from Jordan via Syria, which is besieged by the American-imposed Caesar Act.”

Fadlallah also said that “preventing access to electricity via Syria is an American decision, which was only revised because of the fuel ship arriving from the Islamic Republic. This also means that when the United States decides to lift its hand from its preventative decisions, the pain of the Lebanese people could [easily] be alleviated.” He added that “the timing of the US ambassador’s announcement is an explicit condemnation of its own administration, which has been prohibiting any foreign assistance to the Lebanese people, including transferring their own money from Syrian banks, and providing Lebanon with life-saving products, a matter that only requires it to signal its approval. All the while, it has been protecting its corrupt allies and threatening to impose sanctions against those who compromise [American] influence within state institutions.”

Nasrallah announced in his 22 August speech that the fleet of Iranian fuel ships has effectively begun, and that a second Iranian ship will set sail toward Lebanon in a matter of days. The Hezbollah chief spoke about Lebanese businessmen who would pay for the fuel, revealing that they were ready for this sacrifice, even if they were placed on the US sanctions list. The aim behind this action, Nasrallah said, is to alleviate the suffering of the people, and that the fuel will be for all Lebanese and all residents of Lebanon. He did, however, prioritize hospitals, pharmaceutical factories, and bakeries.

As for US Ambassador Dorothy Shea and her “promises,” this was nothing more than “selling illusions” to the Lebanese people, Nasrallah parried. Her words, he said, “confirm that her country is responsible for preventing electricity and fuel from [entering] Lebanon, and that the Americans and Saudis have sought to ignite a civil war in Lebanon over the past years, but had clearly failed to do so.”

Sayyed Nasrallah also said that importing gas from Egypt and electricity from Jordan requires negotiations with Syria, something that the Lebanese state could have formally requested itself from the Syrian state had it not under an economic embargo imposed on it by the US.

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The Axis of Resistance’s Road from Tehran to Beirut is Open and Secure

Posted by INTERNATIONALIST 360° on 

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Elijah J. Magnier

From the Levant to the Persian Gulf, a land route is now open, and the Axis of Resistance controls those borders crossings.
Photo credit: The Cradle

Many wars have been waged in Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, and Palestine to defeat the “Axis of Resistance” or to at least deplete its logistics and supply lines. In all wars, tons of ammunition, bombs, and missiles are expended on both sides, often exhausting supplies. Each belligerent, therefore, needs to replenish its arsenal for the next confrontation, or at the very minimum, to demonstrate to the enemy its growing military capabilities, preparedness, and access to vital supplies. Most of the time, this is a valuable deterrent strategy used to avoid wars. However, because the 2006 Israeli war on Lebanon and the subsequent US occupation of Iraq and eastern Syria failed to achieve the desired US-Israeli objectives, the goal shifted heavily toward obstructing their supply lines: to cut off the Axis of Resistance road.

The aim was to stop Resistance Axis members (Iran, Syria, Hezbollah, Hamas, and Iraqi resistance groups) from re-arming themselves, and to prevent their access to weapons upgrades in advance of the next military confrontation. There began a race between the US-Israeli alliance and the Resistance Axis to control the accessibility of the vital Tehran-Beirut landline. This objective was reached first by the Resistance Axis, who liberated the Albu Kamal-al Qaem crossing on the Syrian-Iraqi border and placed it firmly under their control. Ever since, this crossing has also become a hub for critical commercial and consumer supplies whose flow the US has tried to halt by imposing harsh sanctions on Iran and Syria to prevent Iraq from providing any support. Rather, the US tried, but failed.

This significant American defeat, however, was not blared from rooftops, either by the US or by its adversaries. It is sufficient for the Resistance Axis that anything and everything they wish to transport via Iran, Iraq, Syria and Lebanon, reaches its destination, unhindered.

Traveling from the Syrian town of Qusayr, on Lebanon’s border, to Palmyra (Tadmur) is safe despite the dozens of checkpoints along the road. The Syrian Army controls the area and prevents anyone from traveling between provinces without valid documentation. Many Syrians from these provinces fled to secure areas to escape ISIS rule, and have since been trickling back to inspect their abandoned homes and resettle. Syria’s Badiyah has also become relatively safe following months of indiscriminate attacks by ISIS remnants against travelers. According to security officers, most of the ISIS militants were inhabitants of the area and its surroundings, and fled when ISIS was defeated by Syrian allied forces in 2017 and 2018.

Since then, special security brigades have been deployed from Palmyra to Deir Ezzor, while others continue to patrol the Syrian steppe to hunt down ISIS militants. However, it is still unsafe to travel through the Badiyah, and the main road used is via Sukhnah, Kabajeb, Asholah, and Deir Ezzor. From Deir Ezzor to the Iraqi border, the route via al Mayadeen, al Salehiya, and Albu Kamal is safe and well protected.

When the decision was made to clear the road and eliminate ISIS in the cities east of the Euphrates River, the Syrian Army and its allies attempted to free the al-Tanf border region with Iraq. US jets intervened, attacked the brigades, causing more than 50 casualties to prevent the defeat of ISIS targets. The Resistance Axis’ joint military operating room understood that the US plan was to cut off Syria from its neighbors, since its borders with Jordan were already closed.

Brigadier General Qassem Suleimani, head of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps’ Quds Brigade – later, assassinated by US drones near Baghdad airport in 2020 – personally took part in the assault on al Mayadeen and Albu Kamal, even before the liberation of Deir Ezzor. Soleimani wanted to reach and control the Syrian-Iraqi borders before the Americans, fearing the US establishment of a “no man’s land” to prevent free passage between Iraq and Syria.

Syrian Druze General Issam Zahreddine – later, killed by a mine after defeating ISIS in Deir Ezzor – was fighting alongside Hezbollah’s al-Radwan Special Forces, and managed to prevent an ISIS takeover of Deir Ezzor airport and part of the city, notwithstanding intervening US airstrikes that unsuccessfully aimed to enable the ISIS airport breach and killed and wounded over 200 Syrian officers. When the decision was taken to liberate the entire province, Suleimani was not very concerned about the city because Russian-supported Syrian Special Forces (Tiger Brigade) were already crushing ISIS positions there.

Suleimani coordinated his efforts with the Iraqi resistance, hunting down ISIS along the borders between Syria and Iraq’s al Qaem, in order to corner and eliminate the terrorist group on both sides. Following fierce battles, Albu Kamal and al Qaem were liberated – becoming the only border crossing to fall into the hands of the Syrian Army and its allies. Syria was no longer isolated from its surrounding neighbors. The road between Tehran, Baghdad, Damascus, and Beirut was open, and for the first time since the era of Saddam Hussein, in the hands of the Resistance Axis. A sea route is insufficient to transport all the needs of the Axis. This is why it was vital to open the land route at all costs. The US and Israel were aware of the plan but were in no position to stop it.

Driving from Deir Ezzor to Albu Kamal, the Euphrates River offers the sight of rare birds who migrate to this area now that it is no longer heavily frequented. The many abandoned and shell-pocked houses along the route remind passerbys of the ferocity of the battles. Syrian Army checkpoints are strict about preventing visits from anyone who doesn’t live in the province. The Americans control the other side of the river, and the oil and gas wells can be seen from afar with the naked eye.

In the main, ISIS militants were inhabitants of this area too, with foreign jihadists representing only a tiny percentage of the fighters. This is another reason why it is not safe to travel by night. With nightfall, it becomes clear that electricity has not been restored. The sound of only a few private generators can be heard from time to time. During the daytime hours, however, the generator count spikes, as farmers switch them on to pump water for their fields. The area is rich in its agriculture, and despite the US occupation of Syria’s strategic foodbelt province of Hasaka, provides enough wheat to be distributed to provinces beyond Deir Ezzor.

At the gate of Albu Kamal, a large billboard welcomes visitors with the name of the city, a portrait of President Bashar al Assad, and the Syrian national flag. Though incomparable with the old souk markets of Damascus or Aleppo, the local vegetable and fruit market still flourishes and bustles during the day.

Houses are one or two floors high, many with shops underneath. Several private villas adorn the border city. It is impossible to miss a large portrait of Iran’s Brigadier General Qassem Suleimani and Iraq’s PMU Deputy Commander Abu Mahdi al Muhandes, both assassinated by the US in Baghdad in January 2020. The two men contributed to the liberation of Iraq and Syria from ISIS, indeed, mainly Albu Kamal city. Soleimani used one of the private villas as his headquarters when in town, and left a hand-written note to the owner asking him forgiveness for using his house, and leaving his phone number to be contacted in case of need.

Eight kilometers separate Albu Kamal from Al Qaem on the Iraqi borders. The road is crowded with trucks crossing mainly from Iraq, and a few from Syria. Iraq established a border position to allow the flow of goods to Syria, though essentially follows the guidelines of the severe EU-US embargo on Damascus. Not far from the main road controlled by both the Syrian and the Iraqi customs authorities, there is another road where trucks transit between Iran-Iraq into Syria and Lebanon. These trucks are sealed so they won’t be opened on the road, and are verified by the Syrian authorities before they cross into Lebanon. After many years in the making, and dangerous challenges along the way, the Axis of the Resistance has managed to secure its logistic supply route.

Israeli and US forces have targeted the area dozens of times. Warehouses, military bases, and large isolated shops were destroyed last year by Israeli jets, but without managing to slow down the flow of supplies, or the replenishing of goods and structures destroyed by the enemy’s air force. Israel also bombed thousands of cars, trucks, and refrigerators stocked by Iranian donors for the province’s inhabitants to distribute. Iran is earning the loyalty and hearts of the local population by offering another behavior, contrasting starkly with what ISIS made these inhabitants endure through fear and punishment.

It is no secret that the people of Albu Kamal notice the withdrawal of many of the forces stationed in the city. There is no longer a need for a considerable power to be permanently based in Albu Kamal. The Axis of Resistance supply line is still secure. Iran has opened several pathways: Tikrit-Haditha-al Qaem, Baghdad-Ramadi-al Qaem, and Diwaniyeh-Hilla-Fallujah-al Qaem. This means, despite more than a thousand Israeli attacks, neither the commercial exchange between Syria and Iraq-Iran nor the Resistance Axis’ supply line has never once stopped since ISIS’s defeat.

The American military presence at al Tanf border between Iraq and Syria serves no US national interest and represents no danger to Washington, yet it persists to placate a desperate Israel (despite its constant bombing of Syria) that fears being left alone to face the Axis of Resistance. The US is indeed acting only to serve Israeli interests by keeping hundreds of its servicemen occupying and inciting Levant conflict zones.

How long can Israel hang on to this American security blanket? Take note of the sudden US mass exit in Afghanistan. Two decades and a trillion dollars wore Washington down, achieving nothing of the initial objectives it set in 2001. America’s global political and economic clout has shrunk considerably since then. There is reason to believe the same scenario will happen sooner or later in Syria.

Israeli air bombing has never stopped the Axis of Resistance from arming itself and being prepared for Tel Aviv when it decides to wage the next war. Hezbollah managed to stockpile hundreds of precision missiles under the searching eyes of the Israelis without them being able to alter the outcome. The Axis of Resistance has won the battle and cleared its path: the road from Tehran to Beirut is open and secure.

UN Security Council high-level debate on maritime security

August 09, 2021

UN Security Council high-level debate on maritime security

http://en.kremlin.ru/events/president/news/66352

The event took place at the initiative of Prime Minister of the Republic of India Narendra Modi. India holds the presidency of the UN Security Council in August 2021.

* * *

President of Russia Vladimir Putin: Mr Prime Minister, my dear friend, Mr Modi, ladies and gentlemen,

Let me thank you, Mr Prime Minister, for the fact that you, as someone who is currently holding the UN Security Council presidency, convened this Security Council meeting to discuss an important and sensitive topic, namely, modern challenges and threats in maritime security. Your initiative is in line with the constructive role that India has traditionally played in the international arena, thus contributing to the promotion of multifaceted, mutually beneficial and equitable cooperation.

The seas and oceans have always connected people and civilisations. Unfortunately, sea routes are fraught with many threats. That is why it is important that today we are reviewing substantive practical matters related to fighting “21st century piracy” meaning to establish a more effective counteraction to transnational crime and prevent the use of seas and oceans for criminal purposes.

As you, Mr Prime Minister, aptly mentioned in your remarks, for us to achieve meaningful success in this area, we must unite the efforts of all stakeholders, as well as international organisations and regional associations with the central coordinating role of the UN and the UN Security Council.

I have said it more than once and now, addressing the Security Council members, and I would like to reiterate that Russia stands for strict observance of the key norms and principles of international law enshrined in the UN Charter, such as respect for sovereignty, non-interference in internal affairs and resolution of disputes by way of dialogue.

I hope that the participants in our debates will agree that the UN principles are mandatory in the sphere of peaceful and responsible use of marine spaces, their natural resources, protection of the marine environment, and sustainable economic activity in the vast swathes of our planet covered by water.

As a leading maritime power, Russia is doing much to preserve and strengthen the international legal order as it applies to maritime security. Our country is strongly involved in activities covering the entire range of these issues both at the UN and as part of numerous regional formats, including the Contact Group on Piracy off the Coast of Somalia, the ASEAN Regional Forum and East Asian summits.

Russia is also interested in building productive cooperation with the Indian Ocean Rim Association and the Indian Ocean Commission.

And, of course, we are trying to help ensure security in the Persian Gulf zone and the Gulf of Guinea in the Atlantic, where cases of sea banditry with hostage taking have become more frequent.

The specific nature of the situation is that it is really difficult for some countries to defend themselves from international criminal syndicates, pirates and terrorists. This is why there is the matter of uniting the power potential of all the interested countries’ special services and corresponding troops under the auspices of the UN.

Russia is ready to further share its experience in antiterrorist operations as well as in preventing crime, and identifying and eliminating bandit groups, including at sea.

We believe it would be useful to regularly exchange insights and best practices in countering terrorism, armed robbery and criminal activities at sea.

In this context, it would be feasible to think about establishing a special structure within the UN that would directly address problems related to combatting maritime crime in various regions. At the same time, this body would rest on UN member states’ support and actively involve experts, representatives of civil society, researchers and even private businesses in its work. We hope that our partners would consider Russia’s proposal constructively.

In conclusion I would like to reaffirm that the Russian Federation is committed to the common task of countering crime at sea in all its forms. We are ready to further promote the development of equal international cooperation in this area.

I would like once again thank our Indian friends for this useful initiative to hold this meeting today and to wish India continued success in implementing its functions as president of the United Nations Security Council this month.

Colleagues, thank you for your attention.

America’s Middle East Policy Is Outdated and Dangerous سياسة أميركا في الشرق الأوسط خطيرة وعفا عليها الزمن

**Please scroll down for the Arabic Version first published in Al-Mayadeen **

A New Approach to the Gulf States Needs a Better Foundation

U.S. aircraft at Al Udeid Air Base, Qatar, April 2016

By Chris Murphy

February 19, 2021

In his 1980 State of the Union address, which came in the wake of the oil shocks of 1973 and 1979, U.S. President Jimmy Carter described in grave terms the risks of losing access to Middle Eastern oil. “An attempt by any outside force to gain control of the Persian Gulf region will be regarded as an assault on the vital interests of the United States of America,” he said. “Such an assault will be repelled by any means necessary, including military force.” That pledge became known as the Carter Doctrine, and it has remained a defining feature of U.S. Middle East policy ever since.

At the time of Carter’s pronouncement, the United States relied heavily on oil imports to power its economy, and 29 percent of that oil came from the Persian Gulf. Even two decades later, little had changed: in 2001, the United States still imported 29 percent of its oil from the Gulf. But it’s not 1980 or 2001 anymore. Today, the United States produces as much oil as it gets from abroad, and only 13 percent comes from Gulf countries. The United States now imports more oil from Mexico than it does from Saudi Arabia.

Yet even as the driving rationale for the so-called Carter Doctrine has become obsolete, it continues to shape the United States’ approach to the Gulf—emblematic of a broader failure of U.S. policy to catch up with the broader changes to U.S. interests in the region since the 1980s. President Joe Biden should acknowledge new realities and reset the United States’ relationships in the Gulf in a way that promotes American values, keeps Washington out of unnecessary foreign entanglements, and prioritizes regional peace and stability.

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There are myriad reasons for strong relations between the United States and the countries of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC)—Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates. The decisions by Bahrain and the UAE to establish formal ties to Israel are a clear sign of the positive influence these countries can exert. Kuwait and Oman play powerful roles in mediating regional conflicts. The United States’ counterterrorism partnerships with GCC countries, while frequently flawed, are still crucial, as these governments often have information on extremist networks that U.S. intelligence cannot glean on its own. And the United States is broadening its people-to-people ties with the region: today, tens of thousands of students from the Gulf study at U.S. colleges and universities. Accordingly, the United States must make clear to Gulf allies that its goal is not to pull away from the region but instead to create a more substantive and stable link between the United States and the GCC.

But it is past time to admit that there is a central design flaw in the United States’ current approach to the Gulf: the top two GCC priorities for the relationship—sustaining U.S. military assistance to fight regional proxy wars and maintaining U.S. silence on domestic political repression—will, in the long run, destroy the GCC countries themselves. The United States’ objective must be to replace this broken foundation with a new system that supports a peaceful Gulf replete with stable, diversified national economies and responsive governments—the kind of future that leaders such as Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman staunchly claim the Gulf is seeking. A U.S.-Gulf relationship built on economic, diplomatic, and governance ties, rather than just brute security partnerships, will accrue to the benefit of both U.S. and Middle Eastern interests.

AVOIDING PROXY WARS

The first step is for the United States to disengage from the GCC’s proxy wars with Iran. The Iranian government is a U.S. adversary, but the festering series of hot and cold conflicts in the region—in Iraq, Lebanon, Syria, and Yemen—has simply served to strengthen Iran’s influence and create cataclysmic levels of human suffering. A pullback from U.S. intervention in places such as Syria and Yemen will, no doubt, cause immediate consternation in the Gulf. By now, however, the enormous costs of the false belief that the United States can indirectly steer the outcomes in Syria and Yemen are crystal clear. In both theaters, the United States’ tepid, halfway military involvement was never substantial enough to tip the balance and has served instead to extend the conflicts. Washington suffers from a hubristic confidence in its ability to accomplish political goals through military interventions. Instead, the most significant effect of recent U.S. Middle East adventurism has been to fuel perpetual wars that embolden extremist groups and allow anti-American sentiment to grow.

It is past time to admit that there is a central design flaw in the United States’ current approach to the Gulf.

Although the United States should retain its security partnerships with Gulf nations, the U.S. footprint should be smaller. Before the Gulf War, the United States was able to protect its interests in the region without massive military bases in Bahrain, Kuwait, Qatar, and Saudi Arabia and without billions in annual arms sales to these same nations. The foreign policy community in Washington acts as if this massive military presence is now mandatory to protect U.S. interests, even though it wasn’t prior to the creation of the post-9/11 security state. U.S. bases are costly, drawing focus away from increasingly important theaters such as Africa and Asia; they create pressure on the United States to ignore serious human rights abuses lest criticism puts the troop presence at risk; and they stand out as military targets and propaganda fodder for Iran, al Qaeda, and the Islamic State (or ISIS). As U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin undertakes a global review of the United States’ military posture, the Biden administration should seriously consider reducing its military basing in the region. Reconsidering the costs and benefits of basing the Fifth Fleet in Bahrain would be a good start, as the United States’ massive footprint is becoming more trouble than it is worth.

Finally, although the United States should continue to sell military equipment to its partners, Washington should ensure that it is selling truly defensive arms. Today, too many American weapons are used irresponsibly and in violation of international law. Others, such as the recently announced Reaper drone sale to the UAE, fuel a regional arms race that runs counter to U.S. security interests. As it pulls back on systems with more offensive capabilities, however, the United States should still be willing to provide more advanced defensive weapons, such as Terminal High-Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) missile technology, that fit the Gulf’s real security threats.

If Washington does these things, Saudi Arabia and the UAE will inevitably complain that the United States is abandoning them and empowering Iran. The Biden administration’s task will be to convince them that there is an alternative to a never-ending military contest with Tehran. A regional security dialogue that includes all parties can replace the arms race and proxy wars. This may sound like a utopian fantasy, but it is far from it. The green shoots of this dialogue have been showing for years, and able U.S. leadership, applying both vinegar and honey, can begin to create a structure for détente. And although the United States should not give the Emiratis or Saudis veto power over a bilateral nuclear agreement with Iran, a regional dialogue would tie the Gulf countries closer to the United States on Iran policy and likely give the GCC greater input on any future agreement Washington makes.

TESTING DE-ESCALATION

The Biden administration is best positioned to test the region’s readiness for this kind of de-escalation in Yemen. The pieces that have been missing—meaningful pressure and a credible interlocutor—are now moving into position as the Biden administration ends U.S. support for offensive operations and appoints a new special envoy to support the UN peace process. The United States is the only nation that can move the ball forward. If Washington can find a path toward peace in Yemen, where an inclusive post-Hadi Yemeni government coexists with Houthi leaders as the country rebuilds with international aid, it could be proof of concept for a broader dialogue.

De-escalation should be wildly appealing to the United States’ Gulf partners. Declining oil revenues mean these nations will soon need to make hard choices between investing in economic reforms and fighting wars in foreign countries. Given these persistent conflicts and the state control of local economies, attracting meaningful foreign investment to the region is largely a fantasy. For the United States, another benefit to decreased tensions between the Gulf and Iran is fewer incentives for Gulf interests to spread Wahhabi Islam throughout the Muslim world. This ultraconservative and intolerant brand of Islam often forms the building blocks of extremist ideology, and the Gulf-Iran feud fuels its export (alongside its revolutionary Shiite counterpart).

Biden has a chance to reset Washington’s partnerships with Gulf nations.

The United States must also drive a harder bargain with the Gulf states on questions of human rights. In the wake of Donald Trump’s attacks on American democracy, it will be even more important for Biden to match his talk of the rule of law and civil rights with actions at home and abroad. The United States has difficult work ahead to rebuild its global brand, but ending Washington’s hear-no-evil, see-no-evil approach in the Gulf will help.

Still, the U.S. conversation with the Gulf on human rights should be realistic. These countries will not become modern democracies overnight. If the Gulf really wants to attract international investment, however, it must address ongoing brutal crackdowns on political dissent and the lack of the rule of law. Serious outside private investment is unlikely as long as these nations torture political prisoners, maintain a draconian “guardian system” that restricts women’s ability to travel, and constantly harass dissidents abroad. Frankly, Gulf leaders should see expanding political rights as an existential issue. The United States must help these regimes understand that their long-standing social bargain of “no taxation, but no representation either” cannot last. As population growth outstrips oil revenues, royal families will soon no longer be able to afford that payoff. Once subsidies atrophy but repression remains, a disastrous storm of unrest will brew. Luckily, there are models of limited reform in the Gulf that can help the laggards inch along. Kuwaitis, for instance, elect a parliament that maintains some independence from the crown. Although this is far from modern participatory democracy, it provides some guideposts to which more repressive regimes can look.

NO COLD WAR REDUX

In pursuing this new course, some sky-will-fall adherents to the status quo will argue that if the Biden administration drives too hard a bargain, Gulf leaders will turn away from the United States and toward China or Russia. This argument is a red herring, one that plays on a misunderstanding of both the irreplaceability of military alignment with the United States and the willingness of China and Russia to get their hands dirty in Middle Eastern politics. This isn’t the Cold War: Russia has little to offer in the region, and as global oil usage continues to fall, Moscow will inevitably compete with Gulf countries for buyers. Although China will continue to look for economic opportunities in the region, it will be unwilling to play a real security role anytime in the near future. The Chinese navy isn’t going to come to the aid of a Gulf country under attack. If the Bahrainis, Emiratis, or Saudis threaten to turn to other powers, Washington can afford to call their bluff.

As a general matter, U.S. foreign policy has become dangerously anachronistic, an instrument tuned to play a song that the orchestra no longer performs. But U.S. policy is, perhaps, most inconsonant in the Gulf, where the United States’ interests have changed but its policy has not. Biden has a chance to reset Washington’s partnerships with Gulf nations. It will be difficult, painful, and arouse loud protest. But the resulting order will be mutually beneficial, advancing U.S. interests while moving Gulf states closer to the future they claim to aspire to. As they say, the most worthwhile endeavors are never easy.

سياسة أميركا في الشرق الأوسط خطيرة وعفا عليها الزمن

الميادين نت

*ترجمة: ميساء شديد

طائرة أميركيّة في قاعدة العديد الجويّة في قطر - أبريل 2016 (رويترز)

كريس مورفي – “فورين أفيرز” 19 شباط 22:39

السيناتور الأميركي كريس مورفي، يشدد في مقال له في مجلة “فورين أفيرز“، على أنّه لدى الرئيس الأميركي جو بايدن “فرصة لإعادة ضبط شراكات واشنطن مع دول الخليج”.

السيناتور الأميركي كريس مورفي يؤكد في مقال له في مجلة “فورين أفيرز“، أنّ السياسة الخارجيّة للولايات المتحدة “عفا الزمن عنها”، مبرزاً أنّ “السياسة الأميركيّة غير متسقة في الخليج، ولدى بايدن فرصة لإعادة ضبط شراكات واشنطن مع دول الخليج”. فيما يلي نص المقال: 

في خطاب حالة الاتحاد الذي ألقاه في أعقاب أزمتي النفط عامي 1973 و1979، وصف الرئيس الأميركي جيمي كارتر بعبارات خطيرة مخاطر فقدان الوصول إلى نفط الشرق الأوسط. وقال إن “أيّ محاولة من قبل أيّ قوّة خارجيّة للسيطرة على منطقة الخليج، ستعتبر اعتداء على المصالح الحيويّة للولايات المتحدة الأميركيّة.. وسيتمّ صدّ مثل هذا الهجوم بأيّ وسيلة ضروريّة بما في ذلك القوّة العسكريّة”. أصبح هذا التعهد معروفاً باسم “مبدأ كارتر” وظلّ سمة مميّزة لسياسة الولايات المتحدة في الشرق الأوسط منذ ذلك الحين.

حين أدلى كارتر بهذا التصريح كانت الولايات المتحدة تعتمد بشكل كبير على واردات النفط لتزويد اقتصادها بالطاقة وكان 29% من هذا النفط يأتي من الخليج. حتى بعد عقدين من الزمن لم يتغيّر شيء يذكر: في عام 2001، كانت الولايات المتحدة لا تزال تستورد 29% من نفطها من الخليج. لكننا لم نعد في عام 1980 أو 2001 بعد الآن. واليوم تنتج الولايات المتحدة نفس القدر من النفط الذي تحصل عليه من الخارج وتستورد 13% فقط من دول الخليج. تستورد الولايات المتحدة الآن نفطاً من المكسيك أكثر مما تستورده من السعوديّة.

ومع ذلك بالرغم من أن الأساس المنطقي لما يسمى عقيدة كارتر قد عفا عليه الزمن، إلا أنه يستمر في تشكيل نهج الولايات المتحدة تجاه الخليج – وهو رمز لفشل أوسع لسياسة الولايات المتحدة المتمثلة بتغييرات أوسع للمصالح الأميركيّة في المنطقة منذ الثمانينيات. يجب على الرئيس جو بايدن الاعتراف بالوقائع الجديدة وإعادة ضبط علاقات الولايات المتحدة في الخليج بطريقة تعزز القيم الأميركيّة وتبقي واشنطن بعيدة عن التشابكات الخارجيّة غير الضروريّة وتعطي الأولويّة للسلام والاستقرار الإقليميين.

هناك عدد لا يحصى من الأسباب لإقامة علاقات قويّة بين الولايات المتحدة ودول مجلس التعاون الخليجي – البحرين والكويت وعمان وقطر والسعودية والإمارات. إن قرارات البحرين والإمارات لإقامة علاقات رسميّة مع “إسرائيل” هي علامة واضحة على التأثير الإيجابي الذي يمكن أن تمارسه هذه الدول. تلعب الكويت وعمان أدواراً قويّة في التوسط في النزاعات الإقليميّة. إن شراكات الولايات المتحدة في مكافحة الإرهاب مع دول مجلس التعاون الخليجي بالرغم من كونها معيبة في كثير من الأحيان، لا تزال مهمة حيث تمتلك هذه الحكومات غالباً معلومات عن الشبكات المتطرفة التي لا تستطيع الاستخبارات الأميركيّة جمعها بمفردها.

وتقوم الولايات المتحدة بتوسيع علاقاتها الشعبيّة مع المنطقة: اليوم هناك عشرات الآلاف من الطلاب من الخليج يدرسون في الكليات والجامعات الأميركيّة. وبناءً على ذلك يجب على الولايات المتحدة أن توضح لحلفائها الخليجيين أن هدفها ليس الانسحاب من المنطقة، ولكن بدلاً من ذلك إنشاء رابط أكثر موضوعية واستقراراً بين الولايات المتحدة ودول مجلس التعاون الخليجي.

لكن حان الوقت للاعتراف بوجود خلل مركزي في نهج الولايات المتحدة الحالي تجاه الخليج: أهم أولويتين لمجلس التعاون الخليجي في العلاقة – الحفاظ على المساعدة العسكرية الأميركية لخوض حروب إقليمية بالوكالة والحفاظ على الصمت الأميركي تجاه السياسات الداخلية لدوله. القمع – سيدمر على المدى الطويل دول مجلس التعاون الخليجي نفسها. ويجب أن يكون هدف الولايات المتحدة هو استبدال هذا الأساس المكسور بنظام جديد يدعم خليجاً مسالماً مليئاً باقتصاديات وطنيّة مستقرة ومتنوعة وحكومات متجاوبة – مستقبل من النوع الذي يدعي قادة مثل ولي العهد السعودي محمد بن سلمان بقوّة أن منطقة الخليج تسعى إليه. إن علاقة بين الولايات المتحدة والخليج مبنية على العلاقات الاقتصاديّة والدبلوماسيّة والحوكمة بدلاً من مجرد شراكات أمنيّة وحشيّة سوف تعود بالفائدة على مصالح الولايات المتحدة والشرق الأوسط.

تجنب حروب الوكالة

الخطوة الأولى هي أن تنفصل الولايات المتحدة عن حروب دول مجلس التعاون الخليجي بالوكالة مع إيران. الحكومة الإيرانيّة هي خصم للولايات المتحدة لكن سلسلة الصراعات الساخنة والباردة في المنطقة – في العراق ولبنان وسوريا واليمن – عملت ببساطة على تعزيز نفوذ إيران وخلق مستويات كارثية من المعاناة الإنسانية. لا شك أن الانسحاب من التدخل الأميركي في أماكن مثل سوريا واليمن سيسبب ذعراً فورياً في الخليج. ومع ذلك  فإن التكاليف الهائلة للاعتقاد الخاطئ بأن الولايات المتحدة يمكنها توجيه النتائج بشكل غير مباشر في سوريا واليمن باتت واضحة تماماً.

في كلا المسرحين لم يكن التدخل العسكري الفاتر للولايات المتحدة جوهريّاً بما يكفي لقلب التوازن وخدم بدلاً من ذلك إطالة أمد النزاعات. تعاني واشنطن من ثقة متغطرسة في قدرتها على تحقيق أهداف سياسيّة من خلال التدخلات العسكريّة. بدلاً من ذلك كان التأثير الأكثر أهمية للمغامرات الأميركيّة الأخيرة في الشرق الأوسط هو تأجيج الحروب الدائمة التي تشجع الجماعات المتطرفة وتسمح للمشاعر المعادية لأميركا بالنمو.

على الرغم من أن الولايات المتحدة يجب أن تحتفظ بشراكاتها الأمنية مع دول الخليج إلا أن البصمة الأميركيّة يجب أن تكون أصغر. قبل حرب الخليج كانت الولايات المتحدة قادرة على حماية مصالحها في المنطقة من دون قواعد عسكريّة ضخمة في البحرين والكويت وقطر والسعودية ومن دون مليارات من مبيعات الأسلحة السنويّة للدول نفسها.

يتصرّف مجتمع السياسة الخارجيّة في واشنطن كما لو أن هذا الوجود العسكري الضخم أصبح الآن إلزامياً لحماية المصالح الأميركيّة، على الرغم من أنه لم يكن كذلك قبل إنشاء الدولة الأمنية بعد 11 سبتمبر. القواعد الأميركيّة مكلفة ما يجعل التركيز بعيداً عن المسارح ذات الأهمية المتزايدة مثل أفريقيا وآسيا؛ إنهم يمارسون الضغط على الولايات المتحدة لتجاهل الانتهاكات الجسيمة لحقوق الإنسان خشية أن تعرض هذه الانتقادات وجود القوات الأميركية للخطر؛ وهي تبرز كأهداف عسكريّة ومادة دعاية لإيران والقاعدة وداعش.

بينما يجري وزير الدفاع الأميركي لويد أوستن مراجعة عالميّة للوضع العسكري للولايات المتحدة يجب على إدارة بايدن التفكير بجديّة في تقليص قواعدها العسكريّة في المنطقة. إن إعادة النظر في تكاليف وفوائد تأسيس الأسطول الخامس في البحرين ستكون بداية جيدة حيث أصبح الدور الهائل للولايات المتحدة مقلقاً بالرغم من أن الأمر لا يستحق.

أخيرًا على الرغم من أن الولايات المتحدة يجب أن تستمر في بيع المعدات العسكريّة لشركائها، يجب على واشنطن التأكد من أنها تبيع أسلحة دفاعيّة حقيقيّة. اليوم يتمّ استخدام الكثير من الأسلحة الأميركيّة بشكل غير مسؤول وفي انتهاك للقانون الدولي. البعض الآخر مثل بيع طائرات “ريبر” بدون طيار التي تمّ الإعلان عنها مؤخراً للإمارات، يُغذي سباق تسلح إقليمياً يتعارض مع المصالح الأمنيّة الأميركية. مع تراجعها عن أنظمة ذات قدرات هجوميّة أكثر يجب أن تظل الولايات المتحدة على استعداد لتقديم أسلحة دفاعية أكثر تقدمًا مثل تكنولوجيا الصواريخ الدفاعية الطرفية عالية الارتفاع (ثاد) التي تناسب التهديدات الأمنيّة الحقيقيّة في الخليج.

إذا فعلت واشنطن هذه الامور فستشتكي السعودية والإمارات لا محالة من أن الولايات المتحدة تتخلى عنهما وتمكنان إيران. تتمثل مهمة إدارة بايدن في إقناعهما بوجود بديل للمنافسة العسكريّة التي لا تنتهي مع طهران. يمكن لحوار أمنيّ إقليميّ يشمل جميع الأطراف أن يحلّ محل سباق التسلح والحروب بالوكالة. قد يبدو هذا وكأنه محض خيال لكنه بعيد كل البعد عن ذلك.

كانت البراعم الخضراء لهذا الحوار تظهر منذ سنوات ويمكن للقيادة الأميركيّة أن تبدأ في إنشاء هيكل للانفراج. وعلى الرغم من أن الولايات المتحدة لا ينبغي أن تمنح الإماراتيين أو السعوديين حق النقض (الفيتو) على اتفاقية نوويّة ثنائيّة مع إيران، فإن الحوار الإقليمي من شأنه أن يربط دول الخليج بشكل أقرب إلى الولايات المتحدة بشأن السياسة الإيرانيّة ومن المرجح أن يعطي مجلس التعاون الخليجي مساهمة أكبر في أيّ اتفاق مستقبلي.

اختبار خفض التصعيد

إن إدارة بايدن في وضع أفضل لاختبار استعداد المنطقة لهذا النوع من التهدئة في اليمن. القطع المفقودة من ضغوط ذات مغزى ومحاور موثوق به تتحرك الآن إلى موقعها مع إنهاء إدارة بايدن دعم الولايات المتحدة للعمليّات الهجوميّة وتعيين مبعوث خاص جديد لدعم عملية السلام التابعة للأمم المتحدة. الولايات المتحدة هي الدولة الوحيدة التي يمكنها تحريك الكرة إلى الأمام. إذا تمكنت واشنطن من إيجاد طريق نحو السلام في اليمن حيث تتعايش حكومة يمنيّة شاملة مع قادة الحوثيين وتعيد البلاد بناءها بمساعدة دولية فإن ذلك سيكون على مفهوم حوار أوسع.

يجب أن يكون وقف التصعيد جذاباً بشدة لشركاء الولايات المتحدة في الخليج. انخفاض عائدات النفط يعني أن هذه الدول ستحتاج قريباً إلى اتخاذ خيارات صعبة بين الاستثمار في الإصلاحات الاقتصاديّة وخوض الحروب في البلدان الأجنبيّة. بالنظر إلى هذه الصراعات المستمرة وسيطرة الدولة على الاقتصادات المحليّة فإن جذب الاستثمار الأجنبي الهادف إلى المنطقة هو إلى حد كبير أمر خيالي.

بالنسبة للولايات المتحدة هناك فائدة أخرى لتقليل التوترات بين الخليج وإيران تتمثل في حوافز أقلّ للمصالح الخليجيّة لنشر الإسلام الوهابي في جميع أنحاء العالم الإسلامي. غالباً ما تشكل هذه العلامة التجاريّة المتشددة وغير المتسامحة للإسلام اللبنات الأساسيّة للإيديولوجيا المتطرفة، ويُغذي الخلاف الخليجي الإيراني تصديرها (إلى جانب نظيرتها الشيعية الثوريّة).

يجب على الولايات المتحدة أيضاً أن تقود صفقة أكثر صعوبة مع دول الخليج بشأن قضايا حقوق الإنسان. في أعقاب هجمات دونالد ترامب على الديمقراطيّة الأميركيّة سيكون من الأهم بالنسبة لبايدن أن يطابق حديثه عن سيادة القانون والحقوق المدنيّة بأفعال في الداخل والخارج. أمام الولايات المتحدة عمل صعب لإعادة بناء دورها العالمي لكن إنهاء نهج واشنطن الذي لا يسمع ولا يرى الشر في الخليج من شأنه أن يساعد.  

ومع ذلك يجب أن تكون محادثة الولايات المتحدة مع دول الخليج حول حقوق الإنسان واقعيّة. لن تصبح هذه البلدان ديمقراطيات حديثة بين عشية وضحاها. ومع ذلك إذا كانت دول الخليج تريد حقاً جذب الاستثمار الدولي فعليها أن تتصدى للحملات القمعيّة الوحشيّة المستمرة ضد المعارضة السياسيّة وغياب سيادة القانون.

الاستثمار الخاص الخارجي الجاد غير محتمل طالما أن هذه الدول تعذب السجناء السياسيين وتحافظ على “نظام وصيّ” صارم يحد من قدرة المرأة على السفر ويضايق المعارضين في الخارج باستمرار. بصراحة يجب على قادة الخليج أن ينظروا إلى توسيع الحقوق السياسيّة على أنها قضيّة وجوديّة. يجب على الولايات المتحدة أن تساعد هذه الأنظمة على فهم أن الصفقة الاجتماعيّة القائمة منذ فترة طويلة المتمثلة في “غياب الضرائب والتمثيل السياسي” لا يمكن أن تستمر.

نظراً لأن النمو السكاني يفوق عائدات النفط فلن تتمكن العائلات المالكة قريباً من تحمّل هذا المردود. بمجرد ضمور الإعانات واستمرار القمع ستندلع عاصفة من الاضطرابات الكارثية. لحسن الحظ هناك نماذج للإصلاح المحدود في الخليج يمكن أن تساعد المتقاعسين في التقدم. ينتخب الكويتيون على سبيل المثال برلماناً يحافظ على بعض الاستقلالية عن العرش. على الرغم من أن هذا بعيد كل البعد عن الديمقراطيّة التشاركيّة الحديثة إلا أنه يقدم بعض النقاط الإرشاديّة التي يمكن أن تنظر إليها الأنظمة القمعيّة.

لا داعي للحرب الباردة

في متابعة هذا المسار الجديد سوف يجادل بعض أتباع الوضع الراهن بأنه إذا دفعت إدارة بايدن عن صفقة صعبة للغاية فسوف يبتعد قادة الخليج عن الولايات المتحدة ويذهبون أكثر باتجاه الصين أو روسيا. هذه الحجة مضللة وهي حجة تلعب على سوء فهم كل من عدم إمكانية الاستغناء عن الاصطفاف العسكري مع الولايات المتحدة واستعداد الصين وروسيا لتسخير أيديهما في سياسات الشرق الأوسط.

هذه ليست الحرب الباردة: ليس لدى روسيا الكثير لتقدمه في المنطقة ومع استمرار انخفاض استخدام النفط العالمي ستتنافس موسكو حتماً مع دول الخليج على المشترين. على الرغم من أن الصين ستواصل البحث عن فرص اقتصاديّة في المنطقة إلا أنها لن تكون راغبة في لعب دور أمني حقيقي في أي وقت في المستقبل القريب. البحريّة الصينيّة لن تقدم المساعدة لدولة خليجيّة تتعرض للهجوم. إذا هدد البحرينيون أو الإماراتيون أو السعوديون بالتحوّل إلى قوى أخرى، يمكن لواشنطن ألا تنطلي عليها خدعهم.

بشكل عام عفا الزمن عن السياسة الخارجيّة للولايات المتحدة بشكل خطير وهي أداة تمّ ضبطها لعزف أغنيّة لم تعد الأوركسترا تؤديها. لكن ربما تكون السياسة الأميركيّة غير متسقة في الخليج، حيث تغيّرت مصالح الولايات المتحدة ولكن سياستها لم تتغير. لدى بايدن فرصة لإعادة ضبط شراكات واشنطن مع دول الخليج. سيكون الأمر صعباً ومؤلماً ويثير احتجاجاً شديداً. لكن النظام الناتج سيكون مفيداً للطرفين حيث سيعزز المصالح الأميركيّة بينما يقرب دول الخليج من المستقبل التي تزعم أنها تطمح إليه. كما يقولون فإن أكثر المساعي الجديرة بالاهتمام ليست سهلة أبداً.

*ترجمة: ميساء شديد

إن الآراء المذكورة في هذه المقالة لا تعبّر بالضرورة عن رأي الميادين وإنما تعبّر عن رأي الصحيفة حصراً

IRANIAN-BACKED FORCES RECEIVE NEW MISSILES AS TENSIONS GROW IN IRAQ

South Fronts

The second month of 2021 began with preparations by Iraq’s Popular Mobilization Units (PMU) for new round of hostilities.

Kata’ib Hezbollah received short and medium range rockets through Syria, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights. Kata’ib Hezbollah is a key member of the PMU, actively participates in the fight against ISIS since the emergence of the group in Iraq, and is a vocal supporter of the current attempts to oust the US presence from Iraq.

At the same time, the PMU are subject to more and more frequent ISIS attacks in recent days. As the terrorists appear to be popping up all around. On January 31st, the PMU said they repelled an ISIS attack in the region of Jurf al-Sakhar in the province of Babil.

These apparent appearances by ISIS members coincide with reports by pro-Iranian sources blaming the US for airlifting them. On January 31st, in an interview with the al-Maloumeh news website, Sabah al-Akili claimed that the US military airlifts ISIS units into areas behind PMU positions in the Jurf al-Sakhar region.

So far, US President Joe Biden’s policy for the Middle East is incredibly unsurprising. Any potential withdrawals appear to be nothing more than a pipe dream. The first-ever African American Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin said that the Trump Administration’s decision to withdraw was being reconsidered. Not only that, but it is likely that the deployments need to be increased.

Attacks on US supply convoys have become commonplace, all of them being blamed on the PMU. However, responsibility for the most recent attack was assumed by the Qasim Al-Jabbarin group, which does not declare its affiliation with the PMU.

With the US still leading the way for NATO in the entire region, any exit also from Afghanistan becomes more fiction than reality. This will, in turn, lead to increased Taliban activity, since the peace deal is not being honored.

US troops remaining in Syria is also indisputable, judging by the deployments that have recently taken place.

The responses to these refusals to withdraw will lead to more frequent attacks and accusations from the Axis of Resistance. The answer from the Iran-led group will be not only against the US presence, but also against its allies in the face of Israel and Saudi Arabia. Yemen’s Houthis are responsible for dealing with Saudi Arabia.

Saudi Arabian fighter jets continue their attacks on reported Houthi targets, but mostly civilians. The ceasefire in al-Hudaydah is not being honored. Despite the Kingdom’s best efforts, the Houthis still have the upper hand in the conflict. On January 28th, at least 150 members of the Saudi-backed forces switched sides and went over to the Ansar Allah movement (the formal name of the Houthis). Additionally, drone attacks are more frequent. The Kingdom reported that it repelled several attacks, but such reports were not as common until recently.

That is when Iran deployed brand-new loitering munitions to the Houthis, and a new group made its appearance to target Riyadh’s ambitions on the Arab Peninsula.

Tensions in the Middle East continue deepening. The advent of reports of the airlifting of terrorists is something that’s been rare since the Obama-era. It appears that the region is once again subject to this known and proven method of “diplomatic intervention.”

“أجبرها على التراجع”.. بالفيديو: الجيش الإيراني يرصد غواصة مجهولة

المصدر: الميادين

14 كانون الثاني 18:47

الجيش الإيراني: الغواصة المجهولة قد تم رصدها قبل أن تقترب من منطقة العمليات
وحدات الجيش الإيراني ترصد غواصة مجهولة الهوية حاولت الاقتراب من منطقة العمليات حيث كانت تجري مناورات في مياه بحر عمان وسواحل “كنارك”.

أفاد بيان لدائرة العلاقات العامة في الجيش الإيراني، بأن وحدات الجيش رصدت غواصة مجهولة الهوية حاولت الاقتراب من منطقة العمليات حيث كانت تجري مناورات في مياه بحر عمان وسواحل كنارك جنوب غرب إيران.

وذكر البيان أن طائرات الاستطلاع تحركت على الفور ووجهت نداءات تحذرية لحمل الغواصة على مغادرة المنطقة حيث أجبرت بالفعل على المغارة سريعاً ترافقها طائرات ومروحيات الجيش.

الجيش الإيراني:  طائرات الاستطلاع تحركت على الفور ووجهت نداءات تحذرية

وكانت مواقع تابعة لحرس الثورة  ذكرت أن الغواصة المجهولة قد تم رصدها وقبل أن تقترب من منطقة العمليات. 

وتواصل القوة البحرية للجيش الإيراني مناورات “اقتدار – 99” في يومها الثاني والأخير على مساحة واسعة تمتد من سواحل مكران الإيرانية إلى بحر عمان وشمال المحيط الهندي.

وذكرت العلاقات العامة للجيش أن أنواعاً مختلفة من صواريخ كروز البحرية أطلقت، اليوم الخميس، من السواحل والسفن الحربية المشاركة في المناورات وأصابت أهدافها بدقة شمال المحيط الهندي.

من جهته قال المتحدث باسم مناورات “اقتدار – 99” حمزة علي كاوياني، إن “القوة البحرية للجيش تتمتع اليوم بقدرات عالية في مجال صواريخ كروز البحرية، وتمتلك طرازات متنوعة منها”، موضحاً أن “لهذه الصواريخ دور كبير في حسم المعارك”.

وأشار كاوياني إلى استخدام أسلحة ومنظومات في هذه المناورات “لايمكن الكشف عن تفاصيلها”، مؤكداً أن أي “اعتداء على الحدود الإيرانية البحرية سيواجه بهذه الأسلحة والصواريخ”.

وانطلقت مناورات “اقتدار 99” البحرية، صباح أمس الأربعاء، بمشاركة مختلف الوحدات البحرية. وكشفت البحرية الإيرانية عن واحدة من أضخم وأهم سفنها وهي “مكران”، خلال المناورة.

وقالت مصادر الميادين إن “السفينة مكران” الإيرانية تزن 121 ألف طن وهي جزء من مشروع إنشاء قاعدة بحرية في شمال المحيط الهندي.

السفن الإيرانية تحاصر الغواصة الأميركية لحظة اقترابها من منطقة المناورات

البحرية الإيرانية تكشف أن الغواصة التي اقتربت من منطقة عمليات المناورات الإيرانية يوم الخميس الماضي كانت أميركية، مشيرة إلى أن القطع البحرية وجهت تحذيرات شديدة اللهجة للغواصة ما أجبرها على الابتعاد عن مكان العمليات.

البحرية الإيرانية أجرت مناورات في مياه بحر عمان وسواحل
البحرية الإيرانية أجرت مناورات في مياه بحر عمان وسواحل “كنارك” جنوب غرب إيران

كشف العميد البحري في الجيش الإيراني حمزة علي كاوياني أن الغواصة التي حاولت الاقتراب من منطقة عمليات المناورات يوم الخميس كانت أميركية.

وأشار كاوياني إلى أن الغواصات والسفن الإيرانية حاصرت بالكامل الغواصة الأميركية لحظة اقترابها من منطقة المناورات، وأجبرتها على التراجع.

وأوضح أن القطع البحرية كانت قد وجهت تحذيرات شديدة اللهجة إلى طاقم الغواصة، ما أجبرهم على الابتعاد عن مكان العمليات.

هذا ورصدت يوم الخميس الماضي وحدات الجيش الإيراني غواصة مجهولة الهوية حاولت الاقتراب من منطقة العمليات، حيث كانت تجري مناورات في مياه بحر عمان وسواحل “كنارك” جنوب غرب إيران، وأجبرتها على التراجع.

ونفذت القوة البحرية للجيش الإيراني مناورات “اقتدار – 99” في يومها الثاني والأخير على مساحة واسعة امتدت من سواحل مكران الإيرانية إلى بحر عمان وشمال المحيط الهندي، والتي انطلقت صباح الأربعاء، بمشاركة مختلف الوحدات البحرية.

وكشفت البحرية الإيرانية عن واحدة من أضخم وأهم سفنها وهي “مكران”، خلال المناورة، وتزن 121 ألف طن وهي جزء من مشروع إنشاء قاعدة بحرية في شمال المحيط الهندي.

وذكرت العلاقات العامة للجيش الإيراني أن أنواعاً مختلفة من صواريخ كروز البحرية أطلقت، من السواحل والسفن الحربية المشاركة في المناورات وأصابت أهدافها بدقة شمال المحيط الهندي.

وفي سياق متصل، أكد قائد القوة الجوفضائية في حرس الثورة الإيراني أمير علي حاجي زادة أن القوات الإيرانية قادرة على ضرب جميع القواعد الأميركية في المنطقة وتدميرها خلال لحظة واحدة. وقال إنه “رغم امتلاك الأميركيين للقوة إلا أن حرس الثورة تعلموا كيف يحاربونهم وبإمكانهم ضربهم وتدمير دفاعاتهم، وتوجيه ضربة شديدة لهم، عبر إطلاق 500 صاروخ في آن واحد بنحو لا يمكن تعويض خسارتهم”.

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Are You sure about that Joe?

Iran Uses Its Grip On Strait Of Hormuz To Fight Back US-imposed Sanctions

South Front

Iran has found an original way of dealing with sanctions and limitations imposed on it by the so-called “maximum pressure” campaign launched by the Trump administration.

On January 4, the Navy of the Iranian Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps detained a South Korea-flagged oil tanker in the Strait of Hormuz over an alleged environmental pollution issue. The chemical tanker HANKUK CHEMI was inbound to Fujairah in the United Arab Emirates. Ahead of the incident, the United Kingdom Maritime Trade Operations naval authority reported that an “interaction” between Iranian authorities and a merchant vessel in the Strait of Hormuz led the ship to alter its course and proceed into Iranian waters.

Following the incident, the South Korean Defense Ministry said that it will send its anti-piracy Cheonghae unit, normally based in the Gulf of Aden, along with helicopters to the Persian Gulf. The 302-strong Cheonghae unit operates a 4,500-ton destroyer, a Lynx anti-submarine helicopter and three speed boats.

The deployment of this unit is a rather a symbolic move than a practical step that should allow to protect South Korea-flagged ships in the region as Iranian forces have an overwhelming dominance there and using its conventional and asymmetric capabilities can even challenge the US military in the event of a limited military confrontation there.

Two days before the seizure of the tanker, Iran said a South Korean diplomat was due to travel to the country to negotiate over billions of dollars in its assets now frozen in Seoul. The total amount of Iranian money blocked in South Korea is up to $8.5 billion and Tehran declared its readiness to barter its money for deliveries of a variety of goods and commodities, including raw materials, medicine, petrochemicals, auto parts, home appliances.

Apparently, Iran thinks that South Korea needs some additional motivation to go contrary to the will of its Big Brother and accept the Iranian proposal.

Another important diplomatic achievement was made by Qatar, which is known as not only a Turkish ally, but also the Gulf monarchy that has constructive relations with Iran. On January 4, Saudi Arabia lifted the 4-year air, sea and land blockade that it together with the UAE, Kuwait, Egypt and Bahrain imposed on Qatar. In June 2017, the blockading countries accused Qatar, among other things, of supporting terrorism and of being too close to Iran. They severed economic and diplomatic ties with Doha and imposed a land, sea and air blockade on it. Qatar rejected all the allegations and refused to comply with a long list of demands announced by the blockading countries. So, now the anti-Qatari coalition is in retreat. The main factors that contributed to this scenario are the following:

a deep crisis faced by Saudi Arabia due to the failed intervention in Yemen and its oil war adventure;
the UAE-Saudi tensions that reached a new level due to the declining power of the Saudi Kingdom;
the growth of the influence of Iran and its popularity among the population of the Middle East due to the public rapprochement of the Gulf monarchies with Israel; the stern stance of Qatar itself that used the blockade to develop alternative alliances and strengthen relations with Turkey, Iran and even Russia to contain the pressure it faced.

The Israeli-aligned Gulf monarchies will likely try to use the lifting of the blockade to convince Doha to officially join the US-led pro-Israeli coalition. However, even if Qatar does this under the pressure of the United States and with hopes of restoring economic relations with its neighbors, this does not mean that Doha would change its de-facto regional strategy as the previous years already demonstrated that the national-oriented approach is much more useful in times of crises than empty hopes on large revenues from Israeli love.

US-Iran tensions heat up as both manoeuvre military forces around Gulf

Iran raises maritime readiness levels as US moves its regional forces in lead-up to anniversary of Qassem Soleimani’s assassination

Iran judiciary chief Ebrahim Raisi speaks on Friday at Tehran University commemoration of first anniversary of Qassem Soleimani’s assassination (AFP)By MEE staffPublished date: 1 January 2021 19:44 UTC | 

Tensions between the US and Iran have escalated in recent days, with both countries manoeuvring military forces and warning the other against any sort of attack. 

With just weeks left of Donald Trump’s presidency, the first anniversary of the US assassination of Iran’s top general has ramped up the rhetoric coming out of both Tehran and Washington. Iran accuses Trump of plotting ‘pretext for war’ with B-52 deployment

Iran raised the readiness levels of its maritime forces on Friday.

Quds Force Commander: All of The World’s Free People to Avenge Trump Assassination of Soleimani, Al-Muhandis

Whether its move in the Gulf is offensive or defensive remains unclear given recent US actions, but Iran’s Quds force commander Esmail Qaani warned Washington on Friday that retribution for the 3 January assassination of Qassem Soleimani may come from inside the US.

“By committing this crime, you created a job for all freedom-seeking people across the globe. Be sure that it is possible that some people will be found inside your home to respond to your crime,” General Qaani said during a commemoration ceremony at the University of Tehran, as quoted by the Tehran Times.

At the same event, Iran’s judiciary chief Ebrahim Raisi also sent a warning to the US, saying during a speech that Soleimani’s killers will “not be safe on Earth” and that not even Trump would be “immune from justice”. 

US prepares its forces 

The US has been making strategic military moves as well, aimed at warding off any potential retaliatory strikes against its assets in the region in the run-up to the Soleimani anniversary.

From fortifying forces around its embassy in neighbouring Baghdad to flying long-range show-of-force warplane missions near Iranian waters, the US has stressed its manoeuvres are defensive in nature. 

“We do not seek conflict, but no one should underestimate our ability to defend our forces or to act decisively in response to any attack,” General Frank McKenzie, commander of US Central Command, said in a statement following the US’s Wednesday air mission. ‘A clear deterrent’: US flies two B-52 bombers near Iranian waters

Two B-52 bombers carried out a non-stop 30-hour flight from Minot Air Force Base in North Dakota to the Gulf and back. 

Earlier this week, the Pentagon said it had intelligence indicating possible Iranian plans to target US assets, but Iran denied the claims, accusing the US of banging war drums as a means to antagonise Iran into taking action. 

Foreign Minister Javad Zarif said on Thursday that Washington had wasted billions of dollars on the air mission, and reiterated that while Tehran was not seeking conflict, it would defend itself.

“Instead of fighting Covid in US, @realDonaldTrump & cohorts waste billions to fly B52s & send armadas to OUR region,” Zarif tweeted.

“Iran doesn’t seek war but will OPENLY & DIRECTLY defend its people, security & vital interests.”

Zarif also celebrated Trump’s election loss in a New Years Eve message, saying: “As we end a year of anguish, let us hope for new beginnings in the coming year, ending the insane era of contempt for law and multilateralism—a four-year one that caused so much bloodshed, terror & cruelty.”

Later Thursday, Major General Hossein Dehghan, military adviser to Iran’s supreme leader, addressed a tweet directly to Trump, warning him “not to turn the New Year into a mourning for Americans”.

A rift in the Pentagon?

One senior defence official who is directly involved in the intelligence discussions told CNN that there is “not a single piece of corroborating intel” suggesting an attack by Iran may be imminent.US sends dozens of armoured vehicles to Iraq ahead of Soleimani death anniversary

Critics of Trump have accused his administration of looking for a reason to begin military confrontations with Iran in the final weeks of his presidency as a way to sabotage President-elect Joe Biden’s plans to re-enter a nuclear deal with Iran. 

Biden is set to take over the White House on 20 January and has made clear his intentions to re-negotiate a deal with Tehran, ending four years of Washington’s “maximum pressure” campaign against the republic. 

Meanwhile, in Iraq, supporters of the Hashed al-Shaabi paramilitary group held a demonstration in Baghdad’s western Shoala neighbourhood on Friday to commemorate the assassination of Soleimani as well as the killing of Iraqi commander Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis who was targeted in the same strike last year.

Recommended

“Israel’s” Channel 13: The Iranian Capabilities in Yemen Are What Worries ‘Israel’ The Most “القناة 13”: القدرات الإيرانيّة في اليمن أكثر ما يقلق “إسرائيل”

“Israel’s” Channel 13: The Iranian Capabilities in Yemen Are What Worries ‘Israel’ The Most

“Israel’s” Channel 13: The Iranian Capabilities in Yemen Are What Worries ‘Israel’ The Most

 Al-Mayadeen Net

‘Israel’s’ Channel 13 is reporting that Iranian drones, such as those that attacked the Saudi oil company Aramco in the past, could reach ‘Israel’ from Yemen.

‘Israel’s’ Channel 13 touched on the soaring tensions between Iran and ‘Israel’ and their exchanges in the form of “strong action and words.” The broadcaster focused on the alleged deployment of an ‘Israeli’ submarine to the Persian Gulf, the launching of missiles from Gaza last weekend, and the new Iranian threats.

Channel 13 suggested that there were two important events. On the one hand there is “an Iranian desire to avenge the assassination of the nuclear scientist Mohsen Fakhrizadeh, and this draws ‘Israeli’ attention to what is happening in Yemen.” On the other hand, there is “the first anniversary of the assassination of General Qassem Soleimani on January 3 which prompted the Americans to offer muscle to face the Iranians in the Gulf.”

These two matters reportedly “pushed the ‘Israeli’ security establishment to advance their preparations,” underscoring their existing “fear of Iran’s attempt to accumulate capabilities in Yemen that could pose a threat to ‘Israel’.”

Channel 13 said, “It may sound strange to most ‘Israelis’ when hearing about Yemen, which has never been on the threat map. But yes, it is Yemen. Iranian drones, like those that attacked the Saudi oil company Aramco a year and a half ago, could reach ‘Israel’ from Yemen.”

Channel 13’s military affairs commentator Alon Ben David said, “When you hear about an ‘Israeli’ submarine in the Red Sea – its target not necessarily being in the Gulf – I say that what worries ‘Israel’ most, and the army spokesman has publicly expressed this, is the Iranian capabilities in Yemen.”

It is noteworthy that ‘Israeli’ media, quoting intelligence sources, said recently that “a military submarine belonging to the ‘Israeli’ navy crossed the Suez Canal above water.”

‘Israel’s’ Kan Channel stated that this step comes “amid a very tense period between ‘Israel’ and Iran,” indicating that this “submarine that crossed the Red Sea will head, according to Arab intelligence officials’ estimates, towards the Gulf.”

“القناة 13”: القدرات الإيرانيّة في اليمن أكثر ما يقلق “إسرائيل”

 الميادين نت

“القناة 13” الإسرائيليّة تتحدث عن أنّ الطائرات المسيّرة الإيرانيّة، كتلك الطائرات التي هاجمت شركة النفط السعوديّة أرامكو سابقاً، يمكن أن تصل من اليمن إلى “إسرائيل”.

تظاهرة لجماعة
تظاهرة لجماعة “أنصار الله” في العاصمة صنعاء عام 2019 (أ.ف.ب)

تحدثت “القناة 13″ الإسرائيليّة عن مستوى التوتر بين إيران و”إسرائيل” وتبادلهما رسائل “شديدة بالأفعال والكلمات”، خاصة بعد زعم إرسال غواصة عسكريّة تابعة للبحريّة الإسرائيليّة إلى الخليج، وإطلاق الصواريخ من غزة نهاية الأسبوع الماضي، والتهديدات الإيرانيّة الجديدة.

القناة الإسرائيليّة أشارت إلى وجود حدثين مهمين، من جهة “رغبة إيرانيّة للانتقام على اغتيال العالم النووي محسن فخري زاده، وهذا يشد الأنظار الإسرائيليّة إلى ما يحصل في اليمن”، ومن جهة أخرى “الذكرى السنويّة الأولى على اغتيال الجنرال قاسم سليماني، في 3 كانون الثاني/يناير المقبل، ما دفع الأميركيين إلى عرض عضلات بشكل كبير مقابل الإيرانيين في الخليج”.

هذان الأمران مجتمعان “دفعا إلى رفع الاستعدادات في المؤسسة الأمنية الإسرائيليّة”، بحسب القناة 13، التي أكدت وجود “خشية من محاولة إيران مراكمة قدرات في اليمن، يمكن أن تشكل تهديداً على إسرائيل”.

وقالت القناة 13: “الأمر قد يبدو غريباً لأغلب الإسرائيليين عند سماع اليمن التي لم تكن في أيّ مرة على خريطة التهديدات، لكن نعم إنها اليمن – الطائرات المسيّرة الإيرانيّة، كتلك الطائرات التي هاجمت شركة النفط السعوديّة أرامكو قبل سنة ونصف، يمكن أن تصل من اليمن إلى إسرائيل”.

كما رأى معلق الشؤون العسكريّة في القناة 13 ألون بن ديفيد، أنّه “عندما تسمع عن غواصة إسرائيليّة تتواجد في البحر الأحمر – وليس بالضرورة هدفها الخليج – أقول إن أكثر ما يقلق إسرائيل، وقد أعرب المتحدث باسم الجيش عن ذلك بشكل علني – القدرات الإيرانيّة في اليمن”. 

يذكر أنّ وسائل إعلام إسرائيلية نقلت عن مصادر استخباراتيّة قولها مؤخراً، إن “غواصة عسكريّة تابعة للبحريّة الإسرائيليّة عبرت قناة السويس علناً من فوق الماء”.

وذكرت قناة “كان” الإسرائيلية أن هذه الخطوة جاءت “في خضم فترة متوترة جداً بين إسرائيل وايران”، مشيرة إلى أن هذه “الغواصة التي عبرت البحر الأحمر، ستتوجه بحسب تقديرات المسؤولين الاستخباراتيين العرب تجاه الخليج”.

US Nuclear Submarine Sails into Gulf, ‘Israel’ Sends Own Sub through Suez Canal

US Nuclear Submarine Sails into Gulf, ‘Israel’ Sends Own Sub through Suez Canal

By Staff, Agencies

A nuclear-powered US submarine has passed through the Strait of Hormuz and into the Gulf in an apparent attempt to provoke Iran, while an ‘Israeli’ sub reportedly made a similar excursion into the Red Sea.

The USS Georgia [SSGN-729] is an Ohio-class nuclear-powered sub carrying, not ballistic nuclear warheads, but up to 154 Tomahawk cruise missiles – or as many as 66 special operatives, the Navy pointed out on Monday, announcing the boat’s transit into the “Arabian Gulf,” as the US calls the body of water.

The Georgia was escorted by the guided missile cruisers USS Port Royal [CG 73] and USS Philippine Sea [CG 58], and made the transit on Sunday, the Navy announced a day later. It was only the second such acknowledgment in eight years.

Following the announcement, ‘Israeli’ public broadcaster Kan reported on Monday evening that one of the Zionist entity’s submarines transited the Suez Canal last week, with Egypt’s approval. However, the Kan report cited “Arab intelligence sources” while the ‘Israeli’ military officially declined to comment.

The naval demonstrations come in the wake of last month’s assassination of Mohsen Fakhrizadeh, a senior scientist who led Iran’s nuclear program. Tehran has blamed the Zionist entity for the murder.

The US Central Command [CENTCOM] commander, General Kenneth McKenzie, is currently visiting the Middle East, though his exact whereabouts have not been revealed. Earlier this month, the US sent two nuclear-capable bombers to the region in another “message” to Tehran, citing unspecified reports of a potential threat of attacks.

The Strait of Hormuz is heavily patrolled by Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps [IRGC] ships, which has led to stand-offs with US naval forces operating in the area in the past. The anniversary of the US drone attack that killed IRGC commander General Qassem Soleimani near Baghdad in January is also fast approaching.

غواصّة هجومية أميركية في الخليج وتزويد الكيان بغوّاصات تحمل رؤوساً نووية..

توجهت غواصة هجومية أميركية ومدمرتين تابعتين للبحرية الأميركية إلى الخليج العربي، وفي هذا الصدد، أعلنت البحرية الأميركية في بيان لها، أن غواصة «يو أس أس جورجيا» يمكن تزويدها بـ154 صاروخ توماهوك، وقادرة على نقل 66 عنصراً من القوات الخاصة». وأرفق البيان بصور تظهر الغواصة وهي تطفو على سطح البحر يواكبها طراداً «يو أس أس بورت رويال» و»يو أس أس فيليبين سي» في هذا المضيق الاستراتيجي، الذي تهدّد إيران بانتظام بإغلاقه.

وشدّدّ سلاح البحرية الأميركية على أنّ «وجود الغواصة في المنطقة يظهر تعهد الولايات المتحدة (…) بضمان أمن الممرات البحرية، بفضل قدرات واسعة تسمح لها بأن تكون على أهبة الاستعداد للدفاع عن نفسها ضد أي هجوم في أي لحظة».

وجدير بالذكر أنّ البحرية الأميركية عادة، لا تكشف عن مواقع غواصاتها في العالم.

فيما كشفت القناة 11 العبرية، نقلاً عن مصادر استخباراتيّة عربية، أنّ «إسرائيل أرسلت غواصة باتجاه إيران، عبر قناة السويس بتصريح مصري، وذلك لإرسال رسالة إلى طهران، وأشار مراسل الشؤون العربيّة، روعي كييس في تقريره إلى أنّ الجيش الإسرائيليّ رفض التعقيب على الخبر».

من ناحيتها، قالت صحيفة «إسرائيل اليوم» إنّ «الغواصة كانت تسير فوق الماء علانية، وعبرت إلى البحر الأحمر من قناة السويس بتصريح مصري»، لافتةً في الوقت ذاته إلى أنّ «غواصة هجومية أميركية ومدمرتين تابعتين للبحرية الأميركية اتجهت إلى الخليج، في رسالة أيضاً بأنّ واشنطن مستعدة لأي عمل في المنطقة».

ويأتي الكشف عن الغواصات «الإسرائيليّة» والأميركيّة في الخليج، بعد ساعاتٍ من تهديد الجنرال أفيف كوخافي رئيس أركان جيش الاحتلال إيران بـ»دفع ثمن باهظ في حال فكرت في مهاجمة أيّ أهداف إسرائيليّة»، ونقلت صحيفة (هآرتس) عنه قوله مساء أول أمس الإثنين إنّه «في حال نفذت إيران أو حلفائها تهديداتها سواء من جبهات قريبة أو بعيدة، فإنهم سيدفعون ثمناً باهظاً جداً».

وأضاف: «سنهاجم بكل قوة من يكون شريكاً بشكل جزئي أو كامل، كان قريباً أو بعيداً، في أي عمل ضدّ إسرائيل أو ضدّ أيّ أهداف إسرائيلية»، مشيراً إلى أنّ «الجيش مستعد للتعامل مع أي سيناريوهات ولديه خطط جاهزة لذلك».

ومن الجدير بالذكر، أنّ مجلة دير شبيغل الألمانية كانت نشرت تقريراً مُفصلاً عن مساعي التطوير الحثيثة في سلاح البحرية الإسرائيليّ والذي يُراد له أن يُصبح ذراعاً استراتيجية بعيدة المدى.

وكشفت المجلة في التقرير الذي استهلته بالتأكيد على أن «دولة الاحتلال تواصل العمل بهدوء بغية التحول إلى دولة غواصات بحرية عظمى»، أنّ «سلاح البحرية الإسرائيليّ تسلم رابع غواصة من طراز دولفين (غواصات دولفين تُصنع في ألمانيا تبلغ حمولتها 1550 طناً، تعمل بمحرك ديزل–كهربائي، يمكن تجهيزها لتحمل صواريخاً نووية) وأدخلها الخدمة تحت اسم (أحي تنين)».

ووصفت دير شبيغل عملية تسلح دولة الاحتلال بهذه الغواصات بأنها «عملية امتلاك مخزن نووي متحرك وخفي ينقذ دولة الاحتلال في حال تعرضها لهجوم نووي تعجز عن الرد عليه برياً»، كما نشرت صحيفة (يديعوت أحرونوت) تقريراً مُفصلاً عن الغواصة سابقة الذكر «أحي تنين» لفتت فيه إلى أنّ «الغواصة المذكورة والتي تربض في القاعدة البحرية بميناء حيفا ستتحول إلى غواصة عملياتية قريباً ما يعني أنّ سلاح البحرية الإسرائيليّ يتطوّر بقفزات نوعية في مجال الكشف عن الاتصالات والقتال والقدرة على المكوث تحت الماء بفضل أنظمة غير مرتبطة بالجو الخارجي».

يُشار إلى أنّ ألمانيا تقوم بتزويد «إسرائيل» بالغواصّات الأكثر تطوراً، والقادرة على حمل رؤوسٍ نوويّةٍ.

وفي هذا السياق، كان الجنرال المسؤول عن تفعيل الغواصات في سلاح البحريّة «الإسرائيليّ»، والذي لا يُسمح بنشر اسمه، قال إنّ «الغواصّة الجديدة هي آلية معقدّة ومُركبّة جداً، وبالتالي نحتاج إلى مقاتلين أكفاء لكي يقوموا بتفعيلها»، لافتاً إلى أنّه «في السنة الماضية قامت الغواصات بتنفيذ العديد من العمليات المُعقدّة، وبناءً على ذلك، حصلت على وسام الشرف من قائد البحريّة الإسرائيليّة»، على حدّ قوله.

جدير بالذكر في هذا السياق، أن هذه الغواصة تتمتع، بحسب التصريحات الأمنية «الإسرائيلية»، بـ»القدرة على إطلاق صواريخ موجهة تحمل رؤوساً نووية، وبكونها تُشكّل مركباً أساسياً في إستراتيجية الضربة الثانية للجيش الإسرائيليّ، في حال تلقّت إسرائيل ضربة ذريّة، بحيث تتوفّر لها القدرة على توجيه ضربةٍ مضادّةٍ».

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Iran Preparing to Unveil New Chopper, Drone and Missile-Laden Warship Capable of Reaching US Coast

13:26 GMT 10.10.2020

In this Feb. 21, 2010 photo, two clerics stand at left as Iran's Jamaran guided-missile destroyer and navy members prepare for an exercise in the Persian Gulf, along the coast of Iran.

by Ilya Tsukanov

The Islamic Republic Navy’s fleet of surface warships includes vessels ranging from small patrol boats and corvettes to Moudge-class frigates. Over the last decade, Iranian ships have made port visits to countries ranging from Syria and South Africa to China. But Tehran has yet to make good on plans to send its ships to the Western Hemisphere.

Iran is preparing to unveil a new warship capable of circumnavigating the globe three times over without refueling, enabling it to reach any point on the planet and giving Tehran a tit-for-tat capability to respond to the deployment of US warships off Iran’s coast.

Speaking to Iranian media on Saturday, Iranian Navy Commander Rear Admiral Hossein Khanzadi revealed that the auxiliary ship, named the ‘Persian Gulf’, will be equipped with a range of weapons systems, including missiles, drones and helicopters.

The ship is expected to be formally unveiled sometime between November 21 and December 20.

According to Khanzadi, the Persian Gulf’s deployment will help ensure “defence and security stability” in the region and beyond.

The commander did not provide any more details about the Persian Gulf’s characteristics or capabilities. Last month however, he announced that the Navy would soon unveil a 231-meter-long dock ship capable of carrying up to seven choppers, as well as drones, missiles and electronic warfare equipment. It’s not clear whether the ‘Persian Gulf’ and this new dock ship are one and the same vessel.

Iran will mark Navy Day on November 28. This year, the force is expected to take delivery of several new warships, including the Dena Moudge-class frigate, the Saba minesweeper and a new class of missile boats.

Khanzadi did not specify where his force’s new ultra-long range vessel might be deployed. In recent years, Iranian warships have made port visits throughout the Middle East, East Asia and the east coast of Africa, and have taken part in anti-piracy patrols in the Gulf of Aden against Somali pirates. However, despite repeated talk of plans to sail ships further west into the Atlantic Ocean and the Western Hemisphere, Tehran has yet to do so.

Guided-missile destroyer USS William P. Lawrence (DDG 110)

© WIKIPEDIA / U.S. NAVY

US Sails Warship Off Venezuela’s Coastal Waters Citing Treaty Washington Itself Hasn’t Ratified

This spring, Iran did send civilian tanker ships filled with fuel, food and supplies to sanctions-starved Venezuela, with the latest flotilla arriving in the Latin American country in late September.

Tehran has also repeatedly urged the US to stop deploying its warships in the Persian Gulf and the Middle East generally, proposing that regional powers take care of the region’s security instead. In 2019, at the UN, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani proposed the creation of a ‘Coalition of Hope’ including all nations which border on the Persian Gulf.

Late last month, after the US parked a carrier strike group in the Persian Gulf, Rouhani accused US forces in the Middle East of undermining regional stability and security, and called on all nations in the region where American troops are based to make a concerted effort to expel them.

Related

Why the Middle East “peace agreements” will fail to achieve their purpose

Why the Middle East “peace agreements” will fail to achieve their purpose

September 25, 2020

By Aram Mirzaei for the Saker blog

This week, a third Arab country has reportedly agreed to submit to Washington’s pressure to normalize relations with the Zionist state. This was very much expected and I’m sure it didn’t catch most observers by surprise. In the end, I expect most of the shameful Arab League to submit since it is known that most of them have had secret dealings with the Zionist state since many years, if not decades ago. So why come out of the closet now? What is the purpose of these “peace agreements?”

Personal I find it rather humorous that they are calling these deals “peace agreements” since peace agreements are signed by countries who have been at war, not long-standing allies who have never fired a single bullet towards each other. But the purpose of these deals are unfortunately not to make us laugh, but to intimidate.

Washington has realized that it cannot remain in the Middle East for ever. This is not because the Islamic Republic of Iran has vowed to expel them, but because reality has finally caught up to them. They are hated in this region, every act of terror that they commit against the people of this region, be it through sanctions or bombs- will attract more support for the Resistance Axis, the only force that truly fights them in the Middle East.

Moreover, their own people have grown tired of these constant wars and acts of terror overseas, and with a 22 trillion dollar debt, their economy is no longer what it used to be. On top of that, they’ve been humiliated by their own allies on the world stage, who refuse to re-impose sanctions and embargoes on the Islamic Republic – despite the constant threats issued by the likes of Mike Pompeo.

Taking a step back from its traditional role of lead terrorizer of the world is also an outspoken foreign policy issue for US President Donald Trump. Trump has on many occasions made it clear that he considers many of Washington’s allies to be “free-riding” on Washington’s “generosity”. He has repeatedly told his NATO allies that they “must pay” for Washington’s supposed protection. The same has been said about Washington’s Persian Gulf vassals. I know some people would say these statements by Trump are just excuses to redeploy US troops closer to Russia and China, but if we play with the idea that Trump perhaps isn’t the 5-dimensional chess player that some believe him to be, I would say this:

Trump has been an outspoken critic of Washington’s role in the Middle East. He even admitted himself that Washington has killed “hundreds of thousands of people in the Middle East” and that “the single greatest mistake we ever made was to go to the Middle East”.

So this takes us back to the so called “peace agreements”. Both the timing and the way they were presented by the media gives us many clues as to what Washington’s intentions are. Western diplomats, think tanks and journalists have been quick to call the “peace agreements” a “nightmare for Iran” and a “a major geo-strategic shift in the region”. Brian Hook, the former US State Department’s lead official on Iran, said the “agreement amounted to a ‘nightmare’ for Iran in its efforts against Israel in the region.” But why? What is their reasoning?

At first glance, if one were to follow the Western narrative, it would seem that Washington’s allies have all united against the Islamic Republic and now stand to offer a collective deterrence against Iran. But anyone who has even the slightest knowledge of Middle Eastern politics would reach the same conclusions that were stated above – peace agreements are signed by countries who have been at war, not long-standing allies who have never fired a single bullet towards each other.

Of course the timing for President Trump is also perfect. A few months before the US elections, he presents his own version of the Camp David Accords, which resulted in the normalization of relations between Israel and Egypt in 1978. He will certainly portray this as a great political victory for him at home.

But what Washington is really doing is merely posturing. This is what they’ve been doing for over 4 decades against the Islamic Republic. For Washington this will be a great way to exit the region without being thrown out and without compromising Israel’s security. But they’re not kidding themselves, they know that nothing has changed and that this is just more of a PR stunt than it is a “diplomatic coup”. Let’s be honest, no country will ever fear Bahrain or the UAE, and Washington knows this. Collectively the Arab League’s military forces would offer little resistance in a regional war against the Resistance Axis. These are the same Arab League armies that cannot even defeat the Houthis in Yemen despite massive Western assistance. Not only are they extremely incompetent, as proven on multiple occasions in Yemen where the Saudi Air Force has bombed their own forces on the ground, but they are also cowards, again proven in Yemen where Saudi forces have been filmed abandoning their superior US-made vehicles and running away from the field of battle.

It would seem that Washington’s eventual withdrawal from the Middle East is to the detriment of Israel’s interests rather than to the benefit. Unless of course we forget that Israel possesses nuclear weapons and that it probably won’t be long before the US and Israel will arm Saudi Arabia with Nuclear Weapons to target Iran. But still, the secret dealings between Israel and “some Arab states” as Zionist Chieftain Benjamin Netanyahu said years ago, the not-so-secret Israeli Nuclear Weapons arsenal and the fact that Washington’s potential “taking a step back” policy does not really mean that it wouldn’t come to the aid of Israel in a matter of minutes, don’t really strike anyone in the region as “shocking news”.

So what have these “Peace Agreements” really shown us? Nothing really. We all knew this day would come eventually. They were cautious when they sent the UAE and Bahrain out of the closet first, dipping their toes into the water to see the reaction of the people in the region. Seeing how the Arab league and most other countries didn’t really react with outrage, they are now sending more countries to step out and admit their shameful alliance with Israel. Really, the only thing that the Gulf monarchies have achieved is to write their own names into the history books as the shameful allies of a terrorist state. We have yet to see [at the time of writing 2020-09-25] which country will be the “third Arab state” to sign the agreement with the Zionist state, but it matters not, camps were chosen long ago despite not having been declared officially by some countries.

My bets are on Morocco by the way.

It’s better for U.S. forces to come to Persian Gulf to be within our reach: IRGC deputy chief

Source

September 23, 2020 – 19:54

TEHRAN – While the U.S. describes the deployment of its aircraft career to the Persian Gulf region as a show of force aimed at deterring Iran, a senior Iranian military official has welcomed the deployment of American troops to the region, saying they will be within Iran’s reach.

“It is better for them to come to the Persian Gulf because they will be within our reach,” Ali Fadavi, the deputy commander of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), told the Arabic-language al-Mayadeen news network aired on Wednesday.

In a provocative move, the U.S. aircraft carrier USS Nimitz has entered the Persian Gulf for the first time in ten months on September 18, only one day before the U.S. announced the return of all UN sanctions on Iran. The U.S. navy said in a statement on the same day that the aircraft carrier’s transit through the Strait of Hormuz into the Persian Gulf was “scheduled,” a clear attempt to dispel speculation over the timing of the deployment of USS Nimitz to the Persian Gulf, which came against a backdrop of heightened tensions between Tehran and Washington. However, the U.S. move was widely seen as a show of force to Iran.

“If the Americans commit new folly, they will be faced with unimaginable force.”The IRGC has flown home-made surveillance drones over the aircraft carrier and publish images of it. The images show fighter planes parked on the carrier’s deck.

In a clear warning to the U.S., Fadavi said, “If the Americans commit new folly, they will be faced with unimaginable force.”

Iran also flexed its military muscles only a week before the U.S. aircraft carrier entered the Persian Gulf. On September 11, the Iranian Army began three-day military exercises in the Sea of Oman and parts of the Indian Ocean. The exercises, codenamed “Zolfaqar-99”, took place in areas spanning 2 million square kilometers. During the exercises, Iran’s armed forces unveiled and tested their state-of-the-art weapons, including a number of cruise missiles and combat drones.

Analysts believe that the Zolfaqar-99 exercises were meant to send a clear message to the U.S. that Iran is fully prepared to thwart any U.S. military action.

The IRGC has flown home-made surveillance drones over the USS Nimitz aircraft carrier and publish images of it. The images show fighter planes parked on the carrier’s deck.“Iran conducted the Zolfaqar-99 exercises to show that it is able to defend itself in the face of any U.S, military action,” Seyed Jalal Sadatian, Iran’s former ambassador to the UK, told the Tehran Times.

Sadatian previously told the Tehran Times that Trump was likely to wage limited war with Iran to boost his reelection chances. According to the former ambassador, U.S. allies in the region cannot confront Iran alone and that the U.S. had no other options than strengthening their bases in the region to besiege Iran in a way that it would not be able to respond to any aggression.

“But they will fail because Iran has a strategic depth in the region and the U.S. can’t undermine this strategic depth. So if they attack Iran, they will be bogged down in the region. Any attack against Iran could pave the way for the U.S. to be mired in the region,” the former ambassador warned.

The U.S. threatened to attack Iran after an American publication accused Iran of weighing a plot to assassinate U.S. ambassador to South Africa Lana Marks in retaliation for the assassination of the IRGC’s Quds Force Commander Qassem Soleimani in early January. Iran strongly denied the accusation. 

After leaving the 2015 nuclear deal between Iran and world powers, the U.S. sought to build a maritime coalition against Iran in the Persian Gulf. But its efforts in this regard failed to yield concrete results.

Fadavi said the Americans will never be able to create coalitions against Iran in the region. 
“They have not and will not succeed in forming any new coalition against the Islamic Revolution,” the top general said, adding, “The U.S. efforts to create coalitions against the Islamic Revolution are old.”

RELATED NEWS

Saudi King Salman Called Trump for Permission to Invade Qatar

Saudi King Salman Called Trump for Permission to Invade Qatar

 By Staff, Agencies

In early August, the American news publication Foreign Policy revealed in detail that King Salman of Saudi Arabia had called Donald Trump to get permission for invading Qatar on June 6, 2017, that is just one day after the blockade imposition.

Although the US President had offered his full-throated support to the Saudi-led campaign, the military invasion was a flagrant violation of international law.

But it was, according to The Intercept, the efforts of Rex Tillerson, then US Secretary of State that dissuaded the Saudis and their ilk from attacking Qatar; and it was exactly the same efforts that cost Tillerson his career.

“We call on the kingdom of Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Egypt to ease the blockade against Qatar. There are humanitarian consequences to this blockade.

We’re seeing shortages of food, families are being forcibly separated and children pulled out of school. “

Rex Tillerson, U.S. Secretary of State (2017-2018)

Frustrated by Tillerson’s attempts to mediate, the blockading countries lobbied hardest for his removal. According to New York Times, the UAE ambassador to Washington knew that Tillerson would be put aside three months before he was fired in March 2018.

Former US Senate Foreign Policy Analyst, James Jatras maintains: “As these details come out over time, it gives us a more of a sense of what the Saudis were prepared to do and also some of the internal politics on the American side.

In particular, I think it’s showing what kind of influence the Saudis have over Washington and its policy and even over its personnel.”

According to the leaked invasion plan, Saudi ground troops were supposed to cross the land border into Qatar. With military support from the UAE, they would advance about 70 miles toward Doha, the capital city of Qatar.  And finally after passing Al Udeid Air Base, which includes about 10,000 American soldiers, the Saudi would then take control over Doha.

The Saudis were going to mount the military invasion despite the fact their campaign against Yemen had already turned out to be a complete fiasco.

“I think you have to add that to the megalomania of Mohammed bin Salman who thinks he can do this successfully, despite the lesson of Yemen.

But there is a sort of addiction to the idea of power. There is a myth of invincibility. Perhaps, it’s been built up in Mohammad bin Salman’s mind that he could attack those countries.

Remember Saudi Arabia is one of the biggest spenders on military hardware on the planet. I think they may be actually third right after the U.S. and China.

So, maybe he feels all this hardware actually buys him certain amount of invincibility, even though their performance doesn’t show that.”  

James Jatras, Former US Senate Foreign Policy Analyst

After the Foreign Policy revelation, Doha waited a day for the Saudis to issue an official denial of the invasion plot, before announcing its shock.

In a series of tweets, Ahmed bin Saeed Al-Rumaihi of the Qatari Ministry of Foreign Affairs lashed out at the Saudis for their interventionist tendencies.  “The fact that the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has not yet denied what the American magazine revealed indicates the truth of the matter, which is something extremely dangerous to the security and stability of the region.”

Al-Rumaihi also described the invasion plot as another nail in the coffin of the Persian Gulf Cooperation Council which was originally based on collective security.

In fact, the plot casts light on the darker side of the two Arab powers.  Both Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates have shown again and again their desire to use military force in everyday politics.

 “Their resort to war is very high on the list of the Saudis’ way of looking at the world and looking at their neighbors. And I think that actually dovetails with their very strong support for international terrorism.

They point the finger at other countries like Iran but they’re actually the primary culprit in this regard.”

James Jatras, Former US Senate Foreign Policy Analyst

By many accounts, the incentive for the invasion plan was partially driven by the financial problems both countries were grappling with.

From the time Salman came to the throne as the Saudi king in 2015 to the time he decided to invade Qatar, the kingdom spent more than a third of its $737 billion in reserves.

Conquering Doha would potentially swell the Saudis’ coffer by taking control of the North Field of natural gas.

“An idea came to them to solve their gas problem by invading Qatar and occupying the largest gas in the world, and it could suffice them for 200 years. It would provide them with billions of dollars by laying a pipeline from the North Field to Saudi Arabia, and then by selling the gas on the global market.

Abdullah bin Hamad Al-Attiyah, Former Qatar Minister of Energy and Industry

The invasion plan, no matter how shocking, is not unprecedented. In fact, the tiny but gas-rich and – in the eyes of Riyadh – recalcitrant state of Qatar has always been coveted by and a concern for its neighboring kingdom.

In a May 2017 email thread with former US diplomat Elliott Abrams, the Emirati ambassador to the US Yousef al-Otaiba Otaiba wrote, “Conquering Qatar would solve everyone’s problems. Literally. And King Abdullah of Saudi came pretty close to doing something in Qatar a few months before he passed in January 2015.”

Saudi and UAE policies are creating more terrorism, conflict and chaos in the Middle East and Africa, Qatar

James Jatras, former US Senate Foreign Policy Analyst is of the view that there are several reasons for Riyadh’s severe hostility toward Qatar.

Saudi Arabia is the local hegemon of the pro-American camp in the Persian Gulf region. Most Gulf States, such as the UAE and Bahrain, largely take their cues from Riyadh.

“The fact that the Qataris – who also have a very good relationship with the U.S. and even host an American base there – are not under the thumb of the Saudis, I think, is very offensive to the Saudis.”

James Jatras, Former US Senate Foreign Policy Analyst

Leaked documents show the idea of invading Qatar by the four current blockading countries dates back to 1996. According to Paul Barrell, the leader of a French mercenary group, he was hired to lead a coup against the Qatari ruling family in 1996 but the coup was brought to a standstill after the then French President Jacques Chirac asked him to stop the operation, telling him to: “Stop committing anything foolish.”

The Saudi-led invasion of Qatar has not happened so far for the complexity of the situation and its far-reaching consequences, but it has clearly shown the rusty mentality of the Saudis and their all-weather allies who put war and bloodshed before peace and diplomacy.

Iran announces seizure of UAE ship

By News Desk -2020-08-20

The Iranian Foreign Ministry has announced that the United Arab Emirates regrets the incident and that it is ready to compensate for the damage.

Tehran said that it had captured a United Arab Emirates (UAE) ship and detained its crew over alleged violation of Iranian territorial waters on Monday, according to the Islamic Republic’s state TV.

The news outlet also cited the Iranian Foreign Ministry as saying in a statement that the UAE had expressed regret over the incident and is ready to compensate for the damage.

The incident reportedly saw the UAE coast guard firing at Iranian boats and killing two Iranian fishermen on Monday.

“On Monday, an Emirati ship was seized by the border guards of Iran and its crew were detained due to illegal traffic in our country’s waters. On the same day, UAE guards shot dead two Iranian fishermen and seized a boat […]. The UAE has expressed regret for the incident and in a letter on Wednesday announced its readiness to pay compensation”, the Iranian Foreign Ministry’s statement pointed out.

Earlier on Thursday, the Ministry reportedly said that it had summoned an UAE envoy in connection with the killing of Iranian fishermen.

The Emirates’ state-run WAM news agency, in turn, reported on Monday that that several Iranian fishing boats had allegedly entered UAE waters near Sir Bu Nair Island in the Persian Gulf.

After the vessels did not stop when ordered to do so, “rules of engagement were applied,” WAM added without elaborating.

The developments came after an incident in the Gulf in late June, when Saudi Arabia’s coastguard fired warning shots at Iranian boats that refused to stop, said the country’s state news agency SPA.

ALSO READ  Iran reveals details of US interception of airliner over Syria

A spokesman for the Saudi coastguard said at the time that after the shots were fired, the Iranian vessels retreated, adding that any violations in the kingdom’s waters would not be tolerated.

Iran’s Mehr News, for its part, reported that the incident occurred on 24 June when the country’s fishing boats were pushed off their course by waves. The outlet said that no fishermen were harmed in the incident and the boats returned to Iran the following day.

Source: Sputnik

Related

Statement by President of Russia Vladimir Putin on Russia’s proposal to convene meeting of heads of state of UNSC permanent members with participation of heads of Germany and Iran

Source

Statement by President of Russia Vladimir Putin on Russia’s proposal to convene meeting of heads of state of UN Security Council permanent members with participation of heads of Germany and Iran

August 14, 2020

http://en.kremlin.ru/events/president/news/63888

Debates around the Iranian issue within the UN Security Council are becoming increasingly strained. Tensions are running high. Iran faces groundless accusations. Resolutions are being drafted with a view to dismantling decisions that had been unanimously adopted by the Security Council.

Russia maintains its unwavering commitment to the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) on Iran’s nuclear programme. Its approval in 2015 was a landmark political and diplomatic achievement that helped fend off the threat of an armed conflict and reinforced nuclear non-proliferation.

In 2019, Russia presented an updated version of its Collective Security Concept for the Persian Gulf Region, outlining concrete and effective paths to unravelling the tangle of concerns in this region. We strongly believe that these problems can be overcome if we treat each other’s positions with due attention and responsibility, while acting respectfully and in a collective spirit.

Like anywhere else in the world, there is no place for blackmail or dictate in this region, no matter the source. Unilateral approaches will not help bring about solutions.

It is essential that the positive experience gained earlier through intensive effort is maintained when building an inclusive security architecture in the Persian Gulf.

Accordingly, we propose convening an online meeting of the heads of state of the permanent members of the UN Security Council, with the participation of the heads of Germany and Iran, as soon as possible, in order to outline steps that can prevent confrontation or a spike in tensions within the UN Security Council. It is important to secure collective support for the implementation of UN Security Council Resolution 2231 that sets forth an international legal framework for the execution of the JCPOA.

During this leaders’ meeting, we propose agreeing on parameters for joint efforts to facilitate the emergence of reliable mechanisms in the Persian Gulf region for ensuring security and confidence building. This can be achieved if our countries and the regional states combine their political will and creative energy.

We call on our partners to carefully consider this proposal. Otherwise, we could see the further escalation of tension and an increased risk of conflict. This must be avoided. Russia is open to working constructively with anyone interested in taking the situation back from the dangerous brink.

This is an urgent matter. Should the leaders agree in principle to have this conversation, we propose that the foreign ministries of the seven countries agree on a meeting agenda, make the necessary arrangements and schedule a video summit.

Iran intends build massive railway linking Persian Gulf to Mediterranean: MP

Source

By News Desk -2020-07-26

Shiraz railway station, Iran

BEIRUT, LEBANON (7:00 P.M.) – In a statement to the Fars News Agency on Sunday, Minister of Parliament, Mohebati Yousefi, stressed the need to quickly start implementing a project linking Iran, Asia and the Mediterranean Sea via Syria and Iraq, pointing out that this would reduce the duration of the goods transport operation by three days.

The Iranian parliamentarian indicated that the project will link the Persian Gulf through the port-cities of Basra (Iraq), and Latakia (Syria).

The Iranian parliamentarian stressed the necessity of the rapid implementation of this project, as it has significant economic returns, in terms of transporting passengers and goods between the three countries.

The MP mentioned the strategic benefits gained from this project, as it will facilitate the process of transporting goods from Asia to Europe via land.

He appealed to the responsible authorities to implement this project, the necessity of offering financial bonds to invest in it, in order to accelerate the financing process, which in turn contributes to the rapid implementation of this huge project.

This project has been discussed before and it was agreed upon between the three countries; however, due to the economic downturn and emergence of the COVID-19 pandemic, the railway was put on hold.

JCPOA: The Deal That Wasn’t

Source

July 11, 2020 Soraya Sepahpour-Ulrich

JCPOA Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action - Iran USA EU China Russia Germany France UK
July 14th, 2020, marks the fifth anniversary of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) Agreement, often referred to as the Iran Nuclear Deal (or simply the Deal) – the Deal that wasn’t.   It was yet another attempt at regime change. 
Of all the plans to control Iran beginning from Operation Ajax to Operation JCPOA and everything in between, the Iran Nuclear Deal was by far the most devious attempt at undermining the sovereignty of Iran – one way or another.   The Greek’s Trojan Horse pales compared to this dastardly scheme.  Years in the making, the crafty plan even prompted Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) to nominate John Kerry and Javad Zarif to recipients of the Nobel Peace Prize.  
As such, it is high time that the Deal’s planners, their motivations and their associations were discussed in order to grasp the depth of the deception.

Iran, due to its geopolitical position, has always been considered a jewel in the crown of the colonial powers.   Attempts to conquer Iran through a proxy which started with Operation Ajax in August 1953, at the behest of the British and carried out by the CIA were not abandoned even with the ousting of America’s man, the Shah.    Although the Islamic Revolution reclaimed Iran’s sovereignty,  America was not ready to abandon its plans of domination over Iran, and by extension, the Persian Gulf.

The Persian Gulf has been the lynchpin of US foreign policy. “To all intents and purposes,” a former senior Defense Department official observed, “‘Gulf waters’ now extend from the Straits of Malacca to the South Atlantic.” Nevertheless, bases nearer the [Persian] Gulf had a special importance, and Pentagon planners urged “as substantial a land presence in the as can be managed.” (Anthony H. Cordesman, “The Gulf and the Search for Strategic Stability”, Boulder: Westview, 1984).



https://www.google.com/maps/d/embed?mid=1FGmy1KGMlllXpX4-jmpuJa259fyPdBUs

Having failed in numerous attempts including the Nojeh coup at the nascent stages of the IR Iran’s newly formed government, war, sanctions, terrorism,  and a failed color revolution,  the United States needed other alternatives to reach its goal.  Unlike the illegal war against Iraq, war with Iran was not a feasible option.  The United States was aware of its inability to wage a successful war against Iran without serious damage to itself and its allies.  

When George W. Bush took office, he commissioned a war exercise to gage the feasibility of an attack against Iran. The  2002 Millennium Challenge,  was a major war game exercise conducted by the United States Armed Forces in mid-2002. The exercise, which ran from July 24 to August 15 and cost $250 million,  proved that the US would not defeat Iran.   The US  even restarted the war games changing rules to ensure an American victory, in reality, cheating itself.  This led to accusations that the war game had turned from an honest, open, playtest of U.S. war-fighting capabilities into a controlled and scripted exercise intended to end in a U.S. victory to promote a false narrative of US invincibility. 

For this reason, the United States continued its attempts at undermining Iran’s sovereignty by means of sanctions, terror, and creating divisions among the Iranians.   The JCPOA would be its master plan.

A simple observation of Iran clearly suggests simple ideological divisions among the Iranian people (pro-West, anti-West, minorities, religious, secular) which have all been amply exploited by the United States and allies.   None of the exploits delivered the prize the US was seeking.  And so it was that it was decided to exploit the one factor which united Iranians of ALL persuasion.  Iran’s civilian nuclear program.

In an interview with National Public Radio (25 November 2004), Ray Takyeh (Council on Foreign Relations CFR and husband to Iran expert Suzanne Maloney  of Brookings) stated that according to polls 75-80% of the Iranians rallied behind the Islamic Republic of Iran in support of its nuclear program, including the full fuel cycle.   In other words, the overwhelming uniting factor among the Iranians for the Islamic Republic was the nuclear program.  (USIA poll conducted in 2007 found that 64% of those questioned said that US legislation repealing regime change in Iran would not be incentive enough to give up the nuclear program and full fuel-cycle).    The next phase was to cause disunity on an issue that united Iranians of all stripes:  negotiate away the nuclear program.

The first round of nuclear negotiations 2003-2005 dubbed the Paris Agreement between Iran and the EU3 proved to be futile, and as  one European diplomat put it: “We gave them a beautiful box of chocolate that was, however, empty.”  As West’s fortune would have it, the same Iranian officials who had participated in the 2003-2005 negotiations would negotiate the JCPOA.

Around the time of the end of the first round of negotiations, another Brookings Fellow, Flynt Leverett , senior advisor for National Security Center, published a book “Inheriting Syria, Bashar’s Trial by Fire” (Brookings book publication, April 2005).  In his book, Leverett argued that instead of conflict, George W. Bush should seek to cooperate with Syria as Assad was popular, but instead seek to weaken Assad’s position among his people by targeting the Golan (induce him to give it up) so that he would lose popularity among the Syrians.   The JCPOA was designed in part along the same line of thinking.   And more.  His wife Hillary Leverett had a prominent role in ‘selling’ the Deal.

Secret negotiations between the Americans and ‘reform-minded’ Iranians never ceased, bypassing both Ayatollah Khamenei, Iran’s supreme leader, and the President at the time – Mahmood Ahmadinejad.  In a 2012 meeting at the University of Southern California, present members of the Iran Project team had no reservations about suggesting that it was more beneficial to engage Iran rather than attack.  They went as far as stating in the Q&A session to this writer that “they had been engaged with the “Green” (the opposition movement in the failed 2009 color revolution) for years, but Ahmadinejad won” (referring to the 2009 elections).  But Ahmadinejad would soon leave office and be replaced by Rohani – a more amenable player.

Why Negotiate?

Fully appreciating the challenge of attacking Iran, in 2004, the pro-Israel  Washington Institute for Near East Policy (WINEP), presented its policy paper “The Challenges of U.S. Preventive Military Action” authored by Michael Eisenstadt.   It was opined that the ideal situation was (and continues to be) to have a compliant ‘regime’ in Tehran.   Eisenstadt was of the opinion that unlike the Osiraq nuclear power plant which was bombed and destroyed, Israel/US would not be able to bomb Iran’s Bushehr reactor with the same ease.  In particular, Eisenstadt claimed that Israel may have benefited from French aid in destroying Osiraq. French intelligence reportedly emplaced a homing beacon at Osiraq to help Israeli pilots locate the facility or target a critical underground structure there.

In this light, it was recommended that the principal goal of U.S. action should be to delay Iran’s nuclear program long enough to allow for the possible emergence of new leadership in Tehran.  Failing that, war would have been facilitated.

It was thought the Paris Agreement talks would fail (as the JCPOA was designed to fail) and as such, the following were some of the suggestions made:

  • harassment or murder of key Iranian scientists or technicians;
  • introduction of fatal design flaws into critical reactor, centrifuge, or weapons components during their production, to ensure catastrophic failure during use;
  • disruption or interdiction of key technology or material transfers through sabotage or covert military actions on land, in the air, or at sea;
  • sabotage of critical facilities by U.S. intelligence assets, including third country nationals or Iranian agents with access to key facilities;
  • introduction of destructive viruses into Iranian computer systems controlling the production of components or the operation of facilities;
  • damage or destruction of critical facilities through sabotage or direct action by U.S. special forces.

As with the murder and terror of the nuclear scientists, and the Stuxnet virus into the reactor, the JCPOA enabled personnel on the ground in Iran to carry out extensive sabotage as has been recently observed in recent days and weeks.  Rohani’s visa free travel opened the flood gates to spies and saboteurs – dual citizens,  who easily traveled with passports other than American, British, and Australian.  Iran even managed to prevent an IAEA inspector who triggered an alarm at Iran’s nuclear facility.  But it would seem, Iran has not been able to stop other intruders and terrorists – not yet. 

Other Motivational Factors for Negotiating

According to studies, as of 2008 Iran’s Bushehr nuclear reactor had 82 tons of enriched uranium (U235) loaded into it, according to Israeli and Chinese reports.  This amount was significantly higher pre and during negotiations.  History has not witnessed the bombing of a nuclear power plant with an operational nuclear enrichment facility.  Deliberate bombing of such facilities would result breach containment and radioactive elements released.  The death toll horrifying.  The Union of Concerned Scientists has estimated 3 million deaths would result in 3 weeks from bombing the nuclear enrichment facilities near Esfahan, and the contamination would cover Afghanistan, Pakistan, all the way to India.

The JCPOA significantly reduced the amount of enriched uranium reducing the potential casualty deaths in the event that a strike is carried out.

The Deal buys time –  Iran’s strength has been its ability to retaliate to any attack by closing down the Strait of Hormuz. Given that 17 million barrels of oil a day, or 35% of the world’s seaborne oil exports go through the Strait of Hormuz, incidents in the Strait would be fatal for the world economy. Enter Nigeria (West Africa) and Yemen.

In 1998, Clinton’s national security agenda made it clear that unhampered access to Nigerian oil and other vital resources was a key US policy. In the early 2000s, Chatham House was one of the publications that determined African oil would be a good alternate to Persian Gulf oil in case of oil disruption. This followed a strategy paper for US to move toward African oil. Push for African oil was on Dick Cheney’s desk on May 31, 2000. In 2002, the Israeli based IASPS suggested America push toward African oil. In the same year Boko Haram was ‘founded’.

In 2007, AFRICOM helped consolidate this push into the region. The 2011, a publication titled: “Globalizing West African Oil: US ‘energy security’ and the global economy” outlined ‘US positioning itself to use military force to ensure African oil continued to flow to the United States’. This was but one strategy to supply oil in addition to or as an alternative to the passage of oil through the Strait of Hormuz.  (See HERE for full article).

JCPOA as a starting point

It has now been made abundantly clear that the Deal was simply JCPOA1.  Other Deals were to follow to disarm Iran even further, to stop Iran’s defensive missile program, and to stop Iran helping its allies in the region.   This would have been relatively easy to achieve had Hillary Clinton been elected – as had been the hope.  The plan was to allow trade and neoliberal polices which the Rohani administration readily embraced, a sharp increase in imports (harming domestic production and self-reliance) while building hope – or as Maloney called it ‘crisis of expectation’.   It was thought that with a semblance of ‘normalcy’ in international relations and free of sanctions, Iranians would want to continue abandoning their sovereignty, their defenses, and rally around the pro-West/America politicians at the expense of the core ideology of the Islamic Revolution, the conservatives and the IRGC.   In other words, regime change.  (several meetings speak to this; see for example, and here). 

The players

The most prominent, one could argue, was President Obama.  Obama was not about peace.   The biggest threat to an empire is peace.  Obama had chosen feigned diplomacy as his weapon.   But before picking up the mantle of diplomacy, he had proposed terrorism – sanctioned terrorism.  Obama, while a junior senator introduced S. 1430 in 2007  and had “crippling sanctions” in mind for the Iranian people.   As president, his executive orders assured this. 

Addressing AIPAC as a candidate, he said: “Our willingness to pursue diplomacy will make it easier to mobilize others to join our cause. If Iran fails to change course when presented with this choice by the United States it will be clear to the people of Iran and to the world that the Iranian regime is the author of its own isolation and that will strengthen our hand with Russia and China as we insist on stronger sanctions in the Security Council. And we should work with Europe, Japan, and the Gulf States to find every avenue outside the United Nations to isolate the Iranian regime from cutting off loan guarantees and expanding financial sanctions to banning the export of refined petroleum to Iran to boycotting firms associated with the Iranian Revolutionary Guard whose Kuds forces have rightly been labeled a terrorist organization.”

No wonder he was dubbed ‘the first Jewish president’!

Not to be left unmentioned was the darling of the theatrics of this Deal – Federica Mogherini.  So enamored were some of the Iranian parliamentarians with her that to the embarrassment of Iran, the internet was abuzz with these MPs taking pictures with her.   Perhaps they looked at her and not her years as a German Marshall Fund Fellow.

The German Marshall Fund (GMF) sounds harmless enough, but perhaps Russia may not view it that way.  And Iran shouldn’t.  The GMF pushed for bringing Ukraine into NATO’s fold.  Furthermore, the GMF gives funding to American Abroad Media.    AMA boasts of some of the most dangerous anti-Iran neoconservatives who have shaped America’s policies such as Dennis Ross, James Woolsey, Martin Indyk (responsible for the Iran-Libya Sanctions Act later to become ISA and still in place after the JCPOA), Tom Pickering (one of the main proponents of the Iran Deal and member of the Iran Project).  Supporters are not limited to the GMF.   Others include Rockerfeller, Ford Foundation, and NED.

And the most active proponent of the JCPOA was none other than NED recipient, Trita Parsi/NIAC.    Trita Parsi was personally thanked for his role in pushing the JCPOA through.  Job well done for a 3-time recipient of NED funds.  No wonder the George Soros – Koch foundation Quincy Institute selected him as their Executive Vice President.

And last but not least, Hillary Mann Leverett (wife of aforementioned Flynn Leverett) who persuaded her audiences that the JCPOA was akin to “Nixon going to China”.   While some in Iran naively believed this to be the case, and even defended her, they failed to realize that when Nixon went to China it was to bring China on board against Russia.   And Israel was not a player.   It was not an opening to befriend Iran any more than Nixon’s trip had altruist motivations.

Russia and China’s role

The Russians and the Chinese were so eager to embrace a long-awaited peace after all the calamity caused by the United States that they fully embraced this Deal, even though it was detrimental to their interests in so doing.

America’s animosity and never-ending schemes encouraged cooperation between Russia, China, and Iran.  Although the lifting of sanctions post JCPOA would have facilitated trade and enhanced diplomacy between Iran and the West, at a cost to China and Russia, they  stood steadfast by the Deal.  Peace was more valuable.  But far more importantly, the two powerful nations allowed the United States to be the arbitrator of an international treaty – the NPT. 

During the Shah’s reign, President Ford had signed onto a National Security Decision Memorandum (NSDM 292, 1975) allowing and encouraging Iran to not only enrich uranium, but sell it to neighboring countries to profit America.  The United States then decided that since the Islamic Republic of Iran did not serve the interests of the United States, the United States would determine how the NPT should apply to Iran.    

But their efforts at peace and the West’s efforts at regime change all came to naught.  What is important to bear in mind is that America’s efforts at war, sabotage, and terrorism have not ended.  Imposing unilateral sanctions – terrorism against the Iranian people, has not ceased.  Although the Iranian people and their selected representative in the new Iranian parliament are far more aware of, and have an aversion to America’s ploys and the Deal, China and Russia must do their part not only as guarantors of peace, but also to maintain their integrity in a world where both aspire to live in multilateralism.   The world already has a super power without morals and integrity; it does not need other great powers that act similarly.

Iran has fended off another assault on its sovereignty.  However,  saboteurs and terrorists are soliciting war with their recent string of terrorism in Iran.  As the fifth anniversary of this trap approaches, the world needs to understand and step up in order to defend peace, international law and social justice.   The future of all depends on it. 

And to American compatriots:  Make sure Trump understands war will not get him re-elected.

Soraya Sepahpour-Ulrich is an independent researcher and writer with a focus on U.S. foreign policy and the role of lobby groups in influencing US foreign policy. 

Intercontinental Wars – Part 2: The Counterattack

https://www.syrianews.cc/intercontinental-wars-part-2-the-counterattack/embed/#?secret=bnZ0gj7yPs

Intercontinental Wars – Part 3 The Open Confrontation

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