JCPOA: The Deal That Wasn’t

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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).



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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

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Intercontinental Wars – Part 3 The Open Confrontation

Strategic Oil Pipeline Project Launched in Iran

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Strategic Oil Pipeline Project Launched in Iran

By Staff, Agencies

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani on Thursday launched a major oil pipeline project which enables the country to export its oil without relying on the Strait of Hormuz.

“What is strategic about this project is that many countries in the region have managed to find a second way so that they can export their oil using other routes whenever the Strait of Hormuz faces danger,” Rouhani said while inaugurating the project.

With the launch of the 1,000-kilometer pipeline from Goreh to Jask, the country’s oil exports will no longer be linked to the Hormuz Strait and will not be stopped even if the international maritime passage was to be closed one day, he added.

The Strait of Hormuz is the world’s most important chokepoint for oil, where almost a fifth of the world’s crude or about 20 million barrels per day [bpd] passes through to markets in Asia, Europe, North America and beyond.

Shipping through the narrow strait, with the lane just three kilometers wide in either direction at its narrowest point, has become fraught since the US began building its military presence in the Persian Gulf.

The pipeline will bring oil from Goreh in Bushehr to Jask, making it strategically important as the country’s second-largest crude oil export terminal.

The Kharg Island terminal deep in the Gulf is currently Iran’s key outlet, accounting for 90 percent of its oil exports. To reach Kharg, tankers must pass the Strait of Hormuz.

Rouhani said that Leader of the Islamic Revolution His Eminence Imam Sayyed Ali Khamenei had told him that the project was “the most strategic work” his administration had undertaken.

The new terminal is close to Chabahar which Iran is developing in cooperation with other countries, most notably India.

Chabahar is about to become a key link in the International North South Transport Corridor [INSTC], a multi-modal network of ship, rail and road routes to move freight between India, Iran, Afghanistan, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Russia, Central Asia and Europe.

It offers a key trade and transport corridor that presents a cheaper and shorter alternative to the traditional route through the Suez Canal.

The terminal would be connected to Iran’s Caspian Sea port of Neka, enabling Tehran to boost shipments of oil from Caspian producers.

WHAT WAR BETWEEN THE UNITED STATES AND IRAN COULD LOOK LIKE

South Front

The US-Iranian standoff in the Persian Gulf has once again entered an acute phase. On April 22, US President Donald Trump announced that he had ordered the US Navy to “shoot down and destroy” Iranian gunboats that follow or harass US ships. In response, Commander-in-chief of the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps, Major General Hossein Salami declared on April 23 that Iran will provide a swift, “decisive” and “effective” response to US forces if they threaten Iranian “vessels or warships”.

One of the reasons behind the escalation is the consistent and strengthening anti-Iranian rhetoric of the White House as a part of Trump’s presidential campaign. Another driving force of the US actions is likely the sharpening global economic crisis and the turmoil on the energy market that has led to the dramatic collapse of oil prices. Indeed, a new conflict in the Persian Gulf could theoretically return the oil prices to $50-60 per barrel.

In the current situation, Iran is not interested in an escalation of the conflict with the United States. The escalation could, however, be instigated by the US military:

  • A warship or a group of warships could enter Iranian territorial waters;
  • A US military aircraft could violate Iranian airspace;
  • US forces could block for Iran the civilian maritime traffic through the Strait of Hormuz, or detain an Iranian oil tanker;
  • Warships of the US Navy could imitate an attack on an Iranian submarine;

Iranian forces would have to respond to such a provocation. Thus, a military confrontation could start. After initiating a localized military incident, the White House would accuse Iran of aggressive actions against US forces and the US navy could carry out a demonstrative missile strike on a target or several targets inside Iran. Such an attack would prompt an Iranian response that would involve both its regular and irregular warfare capabilities.

The IRGC Navy doctrine reflects irregular warfare principles that include the use of surprise, deception, speed, flexibility and adaptability, decentralization and highly mobile and maneuverable units,  all of which are used at sea. These include hit-and-run style surprise attacks or the amassing of large numbers of means and measures to overwhelm the enemies’ defenses. In this scenario the employed naval forces might be described as a mosquito-like swarm of small boats using their size and maneuverability to track and hunt down enemy warships.

The IRGCN’s mosquito-fleet concept enables rapid formation of tactical groups of small crafts to carry out a surprise strike at any given time from different directions in a particular area of the offshore zone. Such groups can deploy in attack formation immediately prior to reaching the area of the attack.

Crafts from the formation reach their assault line position either independently or in small groups. This is the way the Iranian Navy would employ the swarm concept. It is important to note the high motivation and ideological training of the mariners involved, who well understand the high level of threat to them personally in the event of the employment of this tactical scheme. IRGCN personnel are motivated and ready to accomplish any feat to defend their homeland. This factor (the high motivation of the personnel) makes a mosquito-fleet armed with missile, torpedo and anti-air weapons especially dangerous to naval forces of the US.

Th aircraft carriers and large warships of the US naval group would become the main priority target of the Iranian response. In the event that the Iranian attack succeeds, the US would have to carry out a massive strike on Iranian infrastructure objects or political and military command centers. Teheran would have either to accept their defeat in this limited confrontation or to respond with another attack on US forces in the region.

Current US military doctrine dictates the prior employment of mobile interoperable forces, unmanned and robotized systems, as well as massive strikes with high precision weapons in conjunction with the maximum usage of electronic warfare and information warfare. If the confrontation develops further the US would be forced to conduct a limited landing operation on key parts of the Iranian coast. The success of such a limited operation under the likely condition of a strong Iranian military response is improbable. Furthermore, the move would be hampered by the weak psychological condition of US service members caused by current developments inside the US.

The US military would have to either retreat or venture on to a large-scale military operation in the Persian Gulf region. If the number of forces involved does not allow Washington to deliver a devastating blow to Iran within 1-2 weeks, China or Russia could intervene in some form likely turning the military standoff into a frozen conflict.

It is likely that despite all difficulties, the US would be able to create an occupation zone inside Iran, likely in the coastal area near the Strait of Hormuz. The Iranian oil trade would be fully blocked and the US shale industry would be rescued. At the same time, Washington would have to deal with a permanent insurgency in the occupied area.

Another possible scenario is the defeat of the United States in this limited conflict because of significant losses in warships, aviation and service members of the involved interoperable forces. In this case, US influence in the region would be drastically undermined and the White House would start drawing up plans of revenge.

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TURKEY SHELLS SYRIAN ARMY IN ALEPPO. U.S. THREATENS TO SINK IRANIAN SHIPS IN GULF

South Front

In the second half of the week the military situation in Syria’s western Aleppo escalated.

On April 22, Turkish forces shelled positions of the Syrian Army in western Aleppo. Pro-Turkish sources claimed that this shelling was a response to Syrian Army strikes on positions of Hayat Tahrir al-Sham and other al-Qaeda-linked groups near the villages of Kafr Amma, al-Qasr, Kafr Taal and Kafr Nouran. Pro-government sources described these strikes however as a defensive measure to counter regular ceasefire violations by Turkish-backed militants.

On April 23, the Syrian Army reinforced its positions east of Atraib by deploying additional troops and equipment there. If Turkish forces and Idlib militants continue attacks on Syrian Army positions in western Aleppo, open military hostilities could resume in the area.

Hayat Tahrir al-Sham executed a 19-yo Syrian refugee deported from Turkey to Greater Idlib. Mohamad Aqib Hamam Tanu was killed on April 20 after militants found that SMS messages in his phone contained criticism of Hayat Tahrir al-Sham leader Abu Mohamad al-Julani.

Hayat Tahrir al-Sham remains the most powerful group in Greater Idlib and controls most of the militant-held area in the region, including Idlib city, the border with Turkey and key positions on the contact line with the Syrian Army. The Turkish leadership in fact provides direct support to the terrorist group by turning a blind eye to its crimes and protecting it from the Syrian Army.

More details appeared about the recent Israeli strike on Syria. According to fresh data, the Israeli strikes targeted a command center of Hezbollah near the town of al-Sukhnah, a training camp of the Iranian-backed Afghan Fatemiyoun Brigade in the al-Tulilah reserve near Palmyra, and a base of the Iranian Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps within the Palmyra Air Base. Despite this, the only confirmed casualties resulting from the strike were 3 Syrian service members.

Pro-government locals intercepted another US military convoy in the province of al-Hasakah. On April 22, locals stopped the US convoy near the town of Farfarah, stoned it and forced US troops to retreat. The incident happened near a Syrian Army checkpoint.

The Asayish security unit of the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces commented on the recent clashes with the pro-government National Defense Forces (NDF) in al-Qamishly city. The Kurdish force accused pro-government fighters of destabilizing the situation and threatened them with military action. In their turn, pro-NDF sources claim that the tensions in the city result from the violent behavior of Asayish personnel, who are putting pressure on and discriminating against Arab locals on ethnic grounds.

On April 22, US President Donald Trump said that he has given orders to attack and destroy any fast attack craft of the Iranian Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) Navy that “harass” US warships. Encounters between the IRGC Navy and US warships erupt in the Persian Gulf on a regular basis. All these confrontations have a similar pattern: the US leadership sends warships, including aircraft carriers, to the Persian Gulf describing this as a show of force and a ‘strong message’ to Iran. IRGC fast attack craft deploy to track and monitor the US warships, as well as to prevent any attempts to enter Iranian waters. In response, the US accuses Iran of aggressive actions and provocations.

The most recent incident of this kind happened on April 15 when 11 IRGC Navy fast boats tracked 6 US warships: the USS Lewis B. Puller, USS Paul Hamilton, USS Firebolt, USS Sirocco, USCGC Wrangell and USCGC Maui.

Any US Navy attempts to attack IRGC Navy fast attack craft operating in Iranian or international waters in the Persian Gulf would immediately lead to a new round of military escalation in the region. Just recently, the Iranian military deployed additional coastal defense missile systems near the Straight of Hormuz.

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Iran Naval Forces Given Orders to Target US Vessels If Harassed – IRGC Chief

Iran Naval Forces Given Orders to Target US Vessels If Harassed - IRGC Chief

By Staff, Agencies

Chief Commander of the Islamic Revolution Guard Corps [IRGC], Major General Hossein Salami said Iranian naval forces have been directed to target American “terrorist” ships should they harass Iranian civil or military vessels off the Gulf.

Major General Salami made the comment in response to a threat by US President Donald Trump that American forces in the Gulf had been directed to shoot Iranian boats “out of the water.”

Salami made the remarks from the Islands of Abu Musa, Greater and Leser Tunbs, stressing the “We will strongly respons to any threat.”

He further underscored that the Iranian military will quickly, decisively and influentially respond to any US action, stressing that “we are determined to defend our national security, water borders, navigation security as well as the security of our navy.”

Ayatollah Khamenei praises IRGC’s performance

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TEHRAN – Leader of the Islamic Revolution Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei issued a message on Wednesday thanking the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC) for their “good performance and efforts”.

The Leader’s message was delivered by Brigadier General Mohammad Shirazi, the head of the military office of the Leader, in a phone conversation with IRGC Chief Hossein Salami.

“Send my greetings to personnel of the Guards and their respected families on the occasion of the establishment of the Guards. I thank good performance and efforts of the Guards and pray for them,” read the message.

The IRGC was established on April 21, 1979, months after the victory of the Islamic Revolution, with the order of Imam Khomeini in order to protect the principles, values, and ideals of the revolution.

Last year on this day, Ayatollah Khamenei, as the commander in chief, promoted Salami to the rank of major general and named him the commander of the IRGC.

Salami replaced Major General Mohammad Ali Jafari who had held the post since September 2007.

In a message on Tuesday, Brigadier General Gholamreza Jalali, the commander of the Civil Defense Organization, described the IRGC as one of the pillars of the country’s national power. Jalali said such power has not been gained easily, therefore it must be defended wholeheartedly.

He said the IRGC has taken great steps in a path filled with obstacles.

NA/PA

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Illegal US Presence Causes Insecurity in Gulf – Iran’s Defense Minister

Illegal US Presence Causes Insecurity in Gulf - Iran’s Defense Minister

By Staff, Agencies

Iran’s Defense Minister Brigadier General Amir Hatami slammed the US presence in the Gulf, calling it illegal and saying it caused insecurity in the region.

The statement comes just days after Iranian Navy ships allegedly entered close proximity with US vessels in the Gulf waters. The US Navy claimed that the action is part of a series of “dangerous and harassing approaches”.

“The Iranian people are insightful and see who is right; we are at home and they have come from the other side of the world to create a problem for the countries of the region by threatening and sanctioning them,” Brigadier General Hatami told reporters on the sidelines of a parade held on the occasion of Iran’s Army Day.

Earlier this week, US Naval Forces Central Command in Bahrain claimed that 11 vessels from Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps Navy had harassed several US warships engaged in exercises in the northern Gulf region.

US: Iranian Ships Came Close to Us in the Gulf

US: Iranian Ships Came Close to Us in the Gulf

By Staff, Agencies

Out of the COVID-19 box, and in an attempt to move tension from the internal front to the outside arena, the US claimed that eleven vessels from Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps Navy [IRGCN] came dangerously close to US Navy and Coast Guard ships in the Gulf.

The US military called the moves “dangerous and provocative.”

According to the statement, the Iranian vessels approached six US military ships while they were conducting integration operations with Army helicopters in international waters.

“At one point, the Iranian vessels came within 10 yards of the US Coast Guard cutter Maui,” it added, claiming that “The US ships issued several warnings through bridge-to-bridge radio, blasts from the ships’ horns and long-range acoustic noise maker devices.”

The statement further added: “The Iranian ships left after about an hour.”

There was no mention of the incident in Iranian media.

“The IRGCN’s dangerous and provocative actions increased the risk of miscalculation and collision, [and] were not in accordance with the internationally recognized Convention on the International Regulations for Preventing Collisions at Sea,” the US military’s statement said.

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, asked in a Fox News interview whether he had discussed the incident with the Pentagon, said: “We’ve talked as a team. … We’re evaluating how best to respond and how best to communicate our displeasure with what … took place.”

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واشنطن تتهرّب من المواجهة


ناصر قنديل

– عندما بدأت الحشود الأميركية في الخليج صرّح كل قادة أميركا من الرئيس دونالد ترامب إلى وزير الخارجية مايك بومبيو ووزير الدفاع مارك إسبر وقائد الأركان الجنرال بيكيت ماكينزي وقادة المنطقة، أن هذه القوات موجودة لحماية مصالح واشنطن وحلفائها، وأن إيران ستتحمّل مسؤولية أي استهداف لهذه المصالح ولهؤلاء الحلفاء حتى لو جاء ممن تسمّيهم واشنطن بوكلاء إيران في المنطقة. وبعد فترة وجيزة بالأيام لا بالأسابيع تعرّضت المصالح النفطية في الخليج للاستهداف، وتوّجت بإعلان من أنصار الله عن المسؤولية عن استهداف خط نقل النفط بين الدمّام وينبع بطائرات مسيّرة وتدمير محطات الضخّ فيه. فأعلنت واشنطن انها لن ترد إلا إذا استهدفت قواتها، وتخلّت بسرعة عن حلفائها الخليجيين ومصالحهم وأمنهم، وقال الرئيس الأميركي وردّد قوله مراراً في فترات لاحقة، إننا نبيع السلاح لحكومات الخليج لتدافع عن نفسها لا لندافع عنها. وعندما أسقطت طائرة التجسس الأميركية العملاقة بصاروخ إيراني مباشر، قال الرئيس الأميركي إنه طالما لم يسقط قتلى فإن تفادي الحرب يتقدّم على الانتقام والرد.

– مع إقدام واشنطن على اغتيال قائد فيلق القدس الجنرال قاسم سليماني ورئيس أركان الحشد الشعبي العراقي أبي مهدي المهندس، ظنّ كثيرون أن قواعد الاشتباك قد تغيرت، وأن القرار الأميركي قد انتقل من تلقي الضربات إلى توجيهها. وعندما جاء الرد الإيراني باستهداف قاعدة عين الأسد وتدمير منشآتها، امتنعت واشنطن عن الرد رغم أنها هددت بأنها ستستهدف عدداً حدده الرئيس الأميركي بـ 22 هدفاً بينها أهداف ثقافية، وفيما قال الإيرانيون إن سبب عدم الرد هو المعادلة التي تبلغها الأميركي بأن أي رد على أهداف إيرانية سيعني تعريض تل أبيب لضربة إيرانية قاسية تهدّد بإزالتها عن الخريطة، بينما عاد الأميركيون إلى نغمة عدم وقوع قتلى، رغم اعترافهم بعشرات المصابين بالارتجاج الدماغي لاحقاً.

– استهداف قاعدة أميركية في العراق وسقوط قتلى أميركيين باعتراف رسمي هو الأول من نوعه الذي يحرج القيادة الأميركية بتكذيب معادلاتها للردّ. وقد سبق القول بعد قصف قاعدة عين الأسد أن أي استهداف للقوات الأميركية في العراق من حلفاء إيران سيرتب رداً أميركياً على إيران نفسها. وكانت المواقف الأميركية التي ستعقبه موضع تتبع واهتمام لمعرفة القرار الاستراتيجي الأميركي في المنطقة، فإيران المنهمكة بمتابعة فيروس كورونا بنظر أميركا شديدة الضعف، ويفترض أنها تمثل هدفاً نموذجياً للنيل منها الآن، وإلا لا فرصة لاحقة. وكان واضحاً أن الرد الأميركي على مواقع الحشد الشعبي في منطقة البوكمال هو ردّ موضعي تقليدي، وأن الرد الذي يترجم القرار السياسي الكبير سيأتي لاحقاً، حتى خرج الموقف الأميركي الرسمي يتحدث عن تحليل الجهة التي قامت بالعملية، وعن عدم وجود تغيير بتقدير واشنطن لدرجة وجود خطر إيراني على أمن القوات الأميركية. ويبدو أن الأميركيين لم يتردّدوا باستعمال الباب الموارب الذي تُرك لهم للخروج من خيار المواجهة، بعدم إعلان جهة مسؤوليتها عن العملية.

– عملية التاجي رسمت معادلات وقواعد الاشتباك في العراق، وهذا سيعني رسم مسار الانطفاء الأميركي، لأن قرار عدم المواجهة، سيعني التحضير للانسحاب، لأن الذين قاموا بالعملية لن يعتبروها الأخيرة، بل البداية إلا إذا وصلت الرسائل الأميركية الواضحة: لا تطلقوا النار نحن منسحبون !

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Saudi-Initiated All-Out Oil War Could Lead To Collapse Of Kingdom Itself

South Front

Saudi Arabia launched an all-out oil war offering unprecedented discounts and flooding the market in an attempt to capture a larger share and defeat other oil producers. This “scorched earth” approach caused the biggest oil price fall since the war in the Persian Gulf in 1991.

It all began on March 8 when Riyadh cut its April pricing for crude sales to Asia by $4-$6 a barrel and to the U.S. by $7 a barrel. The Kingdom expanded the discount for its flagship Arab Light crude to refiners in northwest Europe by $8 a barrel offering it at $10.25 a barrel under the Brent benchmark. In comparison, Russia’s Urals crude trades at a discount of about $2 a barrel under Brent. These actions became an attack at the ability of Russia to sell crude in Europe. The Russian ruble immediately plummeted almost 10% falling to its lowest level in more than four years.

Another side that suffered from Saudi actions is Iran. The Islamic country is facing a strong US sanctions pressure and often selling its oil via complex schemes and with notable discounts already.

Saudi Arabia is planning to increase its output above 10 million barrel per day. Currently, it pumps 9.7 million barrels per day, but has the capacity to ramp up to 12.5 million barrels per day. According to OPEC and Saudi sources of The Wall Street Journal, Riyadh’s actions are part of an “aggressive campaign” against Moscow.

The formal pretext of this campaign became the inability of the OPEC+ (a meeting of representatives of member states of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries and non-OPEC members) to extend output agreements.

Saudi Arabia was seeking up to 1.5 million b/d in further oil production cuts, but this proposal was rejected by Russia. After the inability to reach the new OPEC+ deal, Saudi Arabia became the frist and only power that took aggressive actions on the market. However, it is hard to imagine that Saudi Arabia would go for such an escalation without at least an order or approval from Washington.

This came amid the detention of two senior members of the Saudi royal family – Prince Ahmed bin Abdulaziz, the younger brother of King Salman, and Mohammed bin Nayef, the king’s nephew – on March 7. This development took place just ahead of the Saudi offensive on the oil market, and was likely a tip of the ongoing undercover struggle between the pro-US and pro-national factions of the Saudi elites; and the pro-US bloc seems to have the upper hand in this conflict.

In this case, the real goal of the Saudi campaign is not only to secure larger share of the oil market and punish Moscow for its unwillingness to accept the proposed OPEC+ deal, but to deliver a powerful blow to Washington’s geopolitical opponents: Russia and Iran. Pro-Western and anti-government forces existing in both Russia and Iran would try to exploit this situation to destabilize the internal situation in the countries.

On the other hand, Saudi Arabia may soon find out that its actions have backfired. Such economic and geopolitical games amid the acute conflict with Iran, military setbacks in Yemen and the increasing regional standoff with the UAE could cost too much for the Kingdom itself.

If the oil prices fall any further and reach $20 per barrel, this will lead to unacceptable economic losses for Russia and Iran, and they could and will likely opt to use nonmarket tools of influencing the Saudi behavior. These options include the increasing support to Yemen’s Houthis with intelligence, weapons, money, and even military advisers, that will lead to the resumption of Houthi strikes on Saudi oil infrastructure.

On top of these, the Saudi leadership may suddenly find that the internal situation in the Kingdom is being worsened by large-scale protests rapidly turning into an open civil conflict.

Such a scenario is no secret for international financial analysts. On March 8, shares of Saudi state oil company Aramco slumped below their initial public offering (IPO) and closed 9.1% lower. On March 9, it continued the fall plunging another 10%.  There appears to be a lack of buyers. The risks are too obvious.

At the same time, the range of possible US actions in support of Saudi Arabia in the event of such an escalation is limited by the ongoing presidential campaign. Earlier, President Donald Trump demonstrated that a US military base could become a target of direct missile strike and Washington will not order a direct military action in response. Taking into account other examples of the US current approach towards non-Israeli allies, Riyadh should not expect any real support from its American allies in this standoff.

SAUDI-INITIATED ALL-OUT OIL WAR COULD LEAD TO COLLAPSE OF KINGDOM ITSELF

Saudi Arabia launched an all-out oil war offering unprecedented discounts and flooding the market in an attempt to capture a larger share and defeat other oil producers. This scorched earth approach caused the biggest oil price fall since the war in the Persian Gulf in 1991. On March 9, Brent crude plunged over 28.5% to $32 per barrel, while WTI fell 31.5% to $28.27 a barrel. The crisis erupted as the economic fallout from the coronavirus hysteria continued to reverberate throughout the financial markets.

It all began on March 8 when Riyadh cut its April pricing for crude sales to Asia by $4-$6 a barrel and to the U.S. by $7 a barrel. The Kingdom expanded the discount for its flagship Arab Light crude to refiners in northwest Europe by $8 a barrel offering it at $10.25 a barrel under the Brent benchmark. In comparison, Russia’s Urals crude trades at a discount of about $2 a barrel under Brent. These actions became an attack at the ability of Russia to sell crude in Europe. The Russian ruble immediately plummeted almost 10% falling to its lowest level in more than four years.

Another side that suffered from Saudi actions is Iran. The Islamic country is facing a strong US sanction pressure and often selling its oil via complex schemes and with notable discounts already.

Saudi Arabia is planning to increase its output above 10 million barrel per day. Currently, it pumps 9.7 million barrels per day, but has the capacity to ramp up to 12.5 million barrels per day. According to OPEC and Saudi sources of The Wall Street Journal, Riyadh’s actions are part of an “aggressive campaign” against Moscow.

The formal pretext of this campaign became the inability of the OPEC+ (a meeting of representatives of member states of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries and non-OPEC members) to extend output agreements.

Saudi Arabia was seeking up to 1.5 million b/d in further oil production cuts, but this proposal was rejected by Russia. Despite the inability to reach the new OPEC+ deal, Saudi Arabia became the only power that took aggressive actions on the market. However, it is hard to imagine that Saudi Arabia would go for such an escalation without at least an order or approval from Washington.

This came amid the detention of two senior members of the Saudi royal family – Prince Ahmed bin Abdulaziz, the younger brother of King Salman, and Mohammed bin Nayef, the king’s nephew – on March 7. This development took place just ahead of the Saudi offensive on the oil market, and was likely a tip of the ongoing undercover struggle between the pro-US and pro-national factions of the Saudi elites; and the pro-US bloc seems to have the upper hand in this conflict.

In this case, the real goal of the Saudi campaign is not only to secure larger share of the oil market and punish Moscow for its unwillingness to accept the proposed OPEC+ deal, but to deliver a powerful blow to Washington’s geopolitical opponents: Russia and Iran. Pro-Western and anti-government forces existing in both Russia and Iran would try to exploit this situation to destabilize the internal situation in the countries.

On the other hand, Saudi Arabia may soon find out that its actions have backfired. Such economic and geopolitical games amid the acute conflict with Iran, military setbacks in Yemen and the increasing regional standoff with the UAE could cost too much for the Kingdom itself.

If the oil prices fall any further and reach $20 per barrel, this will lead to unacceptable economic losses for Russia and Iran, and they could and will likely opt to use nonmarket tools of influencing the Saudi behavior. These options include the increasing support to Yemen’s Houthis (Ansar Allah) with intelligence, weapons, money, and even military advisers, and the resumption of strikes on Saudi oil infrastructure (by the hands of the Houthis for sure).

On top of these, the Saudi leadership may suddenly find that the internal situation in the Kingdom is being worsened by large-scale protests rapidly turning into an open civil conflict.

Such a scenario is no secret for international financial analysts. On March 8, shares of Saudi state oil company Aramco slumped below their initial public offering (IPO) and closed 9.1% lower. On March 9, it continued the fall plunging another 10%.  There appears to be a lack of buyers. The risks are too obvious.

At the same time, the range of possible US actions in support of Saudi Arabia in the event of such an escalation is limited by the ongoing presidential campaign. Earlier, President Donald Trump demonstrated that a US military base could become a target of direct missile strike and Washington will not order a direct military action in response. Taking into account other examples of the US current approach towards non-Israeli allies, Riyadh should not expect any real support from its American allies in this standoff.

Related

IRAN’S QODS FORCE AND MODERN PROXY WARS

Source

On January 3, Major General Qassem Soleimani, the commander of the Qods Force of Iran’s Islamic Revolution Guards Corps, and Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, the second-in-command of Iraq’s Popular Mobilization Units were killed by US strikes on the Iraqi capital of Bahdad. The US strike caused a new regional crisis and put the entire Middle East on the edge of a new open military conflict.

In this light, it’s especially interesting to recall what the Qods Force is and how the unit provides the Iranian interests all around the world. The analysis below was originally released by SouthFront in July 2019:

The Qods Force is the irregular warfare unit of Iran’s Corps of Guardians of the Islamic Revolution (Sepah-e Pasdaran-e Enghelab-e Eslami).  Created during the Holy Defense to augment the capabilities of the Sepah to include irregular warfare, it has since become one of the chief means of expanding Iranian ‘soft power’ within the Middle East and throughout the world.  Carrying the Persian name for Jerusalem, it is emblematic of the eschatological significance of the Islamic Republic’s regional military strategy.  More has come to light about this secretive organization since its inception, but precious little of its organization, personnel, weaponry and operations is known, and comes to light only in the wake of its suspected activities.

The close of the Holy Defense in 1988 saw the completion of the first chapter of the history of the Islamic Republic – conventional war.  The peace which followed left the new government intact but the population war-weary; the government needed to turn its attention to rebuilding the infrastructure and bringing orderliness to the disrupted lives of its people. The armed forces – both the Artesh and the Sepah – though rich with battle experience, had been worn down and desperately need this peace.

If this war taught the Iranian leadership anything, the lesson was: prevent another conventional attack by pushing the frontier for possible conflict as far as possible from the border.  To safeguard the home of the Revolution – which Khomeini and his followers viewed, and still view, as the only legitimate Islamic government, and the one which is meant to prepare the way for the return of the Mahdi – a sizeable buffer had to be constructed to allow for its endurance.  While Iran had not been defeated in the Holy Defense, it had been severely wounded by Saddam’s army with Western backing. At end of the war, Iran was in shortage in key resources and finance. The war clearly exposed the weaknesses of both the Iranian economy and the armed forces. The mujtahid rulers needed to create and perfect a national defense based upon self-reliance in order to turn Iran into a fortress for Islam from which calls for Islamic unity in the face of Zionist and Western imperialist influence could issue.  Having survived this baptism of fire intact, and with geopolitics still centered around the bipolar contest between the United States and the Soviet Union, the time for such a reconstruction appeared optimal.

The Sepah was created immediately after the Revolution in order to counter threats from armed opposition groups inside Iran such as the MKO (the Mojahedin-e Khalq or People’s Mojahedin Organization of Iran) and to protect the ideological integrity of the new political system. Originally a paramilitary formation, during the Holy Defense it necessarily took on a military character while shouldering with the Artesh the burden of fighting.  During the war, in addition to the many conventional battles fought against the Iraqis, the Iranians also deployed special forces to the front line in the mountainous terrain of the north, and behind the lines to support the Kurdish struggle in northern Iraq against Saddam Hussein regime. To mirror this unit within the Artesh, the Sepah created the Qods Force to engage in all aspects of irregular warfare. Thus, the role of Quds force in the establishment of Hezbollah’s Islamic Resistance (al-Muqawama al-Islamiyya) in 1982 during the Lebanese Civil War was inevitable; following this it was used to support the operations of the Hezbe Wahdat Shia mujahedin in Afghanistan during the Soviet occupation.

By supporting Hezbollah and the Hezbe Wahdat, Iran was able to counter, respectively, the American/Zionist coalition and the Soviets, thereby keeping these two groups from threatening the territorial integrity of the Islamic Republic.  When Khomeini died in 1989 and was succeeded by Ali Khamenei, who oversaw the transition from a war to a peace economy, Qods was able, along with its parent Sepah, to maintain its level of funding and even to increase its relative importance within the military strategy of Iran.

Having discussed the ideological and strategic origins and purposes of the Qods Force, let us look at its structure and methods of warfare.  Apart from its three senior commanders, no names can be attributed to either its leadership or the remainder of the force.  Major General Pasdar Qassem Soleimani, presently the most well-known Iranian soldier, has commanded the Qods Force since 1997, and his two deputies are Brigadier General Pasdar Ismail Qaani and Brigadier General Pasdar Ahmad Sabouri.  Because all members of Qods are taken from the larger Sepah, one can presume that it retains the same rank structure as its parent, although it is impossible to verify or deny this.  Similarly, although the size of the Qods Force can be approximated, its small-level tactical organization can only be guessed at based upon the arrangement of other comparable military units.  As indicated previously, Qods has two missions: advising and training of foreign military and police, and clandestine operations.  Teams of men for either type of mission may be formed ad hoc out of the service pools of each of the eight directorates suspected to exist.  According to the United States Joint Chiefs of Staff, Qods is divided into the following eight directorates:

  • Iraq
  • Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Qatar, United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Oman, Yemen (Persian Gulf)
  • Israel, Lebanon, Jordan (Middle East)
  • Afghanistan, Pakistan, India
  • Turkey
  • Russia, Ukraine, Belarus, Moldovia, Latvia, Lithuania, Estonia (former-Soviet Union)
  • Central and Western Europe and the United States and Canada
  • North Africa

Further, US military intelligence suggests that Qods is divided into several branches of specialization:

  • Intelligence
  • Finance
  • Politics
  • Sabotage
  • Special operations

Because however its operations are unconventional, there is no reason to think that the Qods Force has an organization remarkably different from other secret services.  For its clandestine operations, something approaching a commando team of varying size (anywhere from 5 to 15 men led by one or two officers) seems reasonable.  Also, there could be organic, permanent units of Qods assigned to each directorate, each with a different operational specialty, and these would invariably be combined-arms units but with the component men varying depending upon what needs to be accomplished.  For the advisory and training missions, arguably what constitutes the greatest percentage of Qods assignments, one can imagine an officer/NCO structure corresponding to the level of the ranks needing training; e.g. so many officers of such a rank to train their peers or lower ranking officers, and likewise so many NCOs to train their peers or enlisted men.  As a side note, it has been suggested that Qods trains most of its clients in either the Sudan or in Iran itself.

For all of these missions, the officer/NCO ratio is necessarily higher than in the rest of the Sepah.  For this reason, it can be argued that officers and NCOs comprise a large majority of the Qods Force personnel, seeing that enlisted men would not be used to train or advise their superiors.

Where does the Qods Force carry out its clandestine operations?  From reasonable conjecture regarding the structure, the reach of Qods is world-wide.  It has been suspected of involvement in South America (e.g. in supporting the government of Venezuela), of continuing to intervene in Afghanistan against the American presence, of constituting a permanent training and advisory role to the Islamic Resistance of Hezbollah, of supporting the Syrian government since the conflict of 2011, and most of all of involvement in Iraq since 2003. Since 2008, the Qods Force has been given control of all military operations in Iraq, and it formed and currently oversees the three primary Shi’ite paramilitary organizations which work in conjunction with the Iraqi military: Asa’ib Ahl al-Haq (“League of the Righteous”) with 10,000 members, Kata’ib Hizb Allah (“Brigades of the Party of God”) with 30,000+ members, and the Saraya al-Salam (“Peace Companies”) with anywhere from 10,000 to 50,000 members.  This theatre of operations, provided indirectly to Qods by the Americans, gives the most continual experience to its members through the training and directing of these militias.  In the theatre of the Persian Gulf, the recent attacks against oil tankers bear the mark of what Qods is capable of, but the Iranian Government has consistently denied responsibility.  Conversely, American and Israeli special forces possess the capability to carry out such false-flag attacks and their histories give plenty of examples.  Currently, the most important missions which Qods directly or in which it participates are:

  • Missile shipments to Hezbollah
  • Arming and directing of Shi’ite militias in Iraq
  • Support of Syrian Government
  • Support of Houthis

As to types of weapons, the Qods Force probably uses the same species as other special forces (e.g. United States Green Berets, Russian Spetsnaz, British SAS), that is:

  • Handguns (e.g. PC-9 ZOAF)
  • submachine guns (e.g. MPT-9, KL-7.62mm)
  • heavy machine guns (e.g. MGA3)
  • portable MANPADs (e.g. Soheil)
  • rocket-propelled grenade launcher (e.g. Raad, RPG-29)
  • anti-tank weapons (e.g. Saeghe 1/2)
  • portable mortars (e.g. 37mm Marsh mortar)
  • plastic explosives (e.g. C4, Semtex)

The use of heavy equipment does not correspond to its missions.

In terms of size, the active personnel of Qods has been estimated to be anywhere from 5,000 to 20,000, although the most common number given is 15,000.  Globalsecurity.org asserts that in 2008, the Iranian Supreme National Security Council authorized an increase in the size of the group to 15,000, but this cannot be presently confirmed.  By comparison, the Russian Spetsnaz has a strength of roughly 5,000, the United States Green Berets 7,000, the British SAS 400 to 600.

Moving to consider its place in the Iranian political ideology of Twelve Shiism, Qods Force bears great eschatological significance.  A fact which receives barely any coverage in the Western press, the founding of the Islamic Republic was clearly stated by Ayatollah Khomeini to coincide with the approach of the end of the world.  As Twelver Shias, Khomeini and his successors are convinced that the maintenance of velayat-e faqih is critical to the return of the Twelfth Imam, Mohammad al-Mahdi.  The eschatology of the Jafari School of Jurisprudence (the official legal teaching in Iran, named after the Sixth Imam Ja’far al-Sadiq) names Jerusalem as central to the return of the Mahdi and to the establishment of Islamic government throughout the world; i.e. the golden age of Islamic rule as promised by the Prophet Mohammed. According to Sunni and Shia prophecies, the army foreordained to conquer Jerusalem is to be comprised of mostly people from the region of Iran with Iranians having a great and important role in the event. Thus, the naming of the special operations subset of the Sepah after the Persian name for the Holy City of Jerusalem should show the rest of the world just how important to the Iranians is the maintenance of their system of government by all means possible.  Currently, the use of Qods to engage in asymmetrical warfare against the American-Israeli alliance is the best means to ensure this end.  Presently, Qods can be seen as forming a ‘shield-forward’ for the Islamic Republic from a strategic point of view; this gives eschatological importance to their continued support of Hezbollah in Lebanon and to their great commitment in men and material to ensure the continuance of the Syrian government. They believe that when Imam Mahdi returns, Zionism, which Shia regard as one of the main tools in the struggle between Good and Evil, will be defeated in the final great battle for Jerusalem. Therefore they are approaching as close as possible to Israel, serving at the front line. They have succeeded in giving Iran a reasonable amount of protection, if at the expense of their allies who are physically closer to Israel.  The American Navy remains a threat in the Persian Gulf, but the wider Sepah, to whose vigilance this theatre is committed, are confident they can close the Strait of Hormuz if necessary.  The strategic balance is currently in favor of Iran and they have thus fulfilled what they believe to be their role in preparing for the Mahdi’s return.

Of those who believe in the eschatological purpose of the Islamic Republic, the Qods Force is unquestionably the vanguard of the coming march on Jerusalem, and the Western press ignores this to their own peril and the continued ignorance of their audiences.

From military and political standpoints, Qods has been very effective.  Iranian strategy has, since the 1979 Revolution, been to keep the American-Israeli alliance and its proxies at bay.  As stated previously, due to Iran’s inability to wage a full-scale war against both countries, the use of unconventional warfare has made the Qods Force come into prominence within Iran’s national defensive strategy.  Through both its advisory/training roles and its clandestine operations, Qods is used to prevent Iran’s two chief enemies from realizing strategic objectives in the Middle East and Persian Gulf and to make their continued presence within Iran’s immediate zone of security as costly and unpleasant as possible.

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 التفاوض الإقليمي على صفيح ساخن

 

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يشكل الإعلان عن مؤتمر لأمن الخليج بمبادرة عمانية وموافقة كل من السعودية وإيران علامة مهمة على الإتجاه لتفاوض إقليمي لا يمكن حدوثه دون إطار دولي أقله الموافقة الأميركية أو التشجيع الأميركي أو الطلب الأميركي ، هذا إذا لم تتطور فكرة المؤتمر ليشكل كما وصفه وزير خارجية عمان بمؤتمر كل المعنيين بأمن الخليج فاتحا الباب لرعاية أممية وتتيح مشاركة الدول الأعضاء الدائمين في مجلس الأمن  الدولي وتكون طهران وواشنطن على مائدة التفاوض مباشرة.

 إعلان وزير الخارجية السعودي عادل الجبير عن فرص تهدئة تتحول إلى تسوية في اليمن يؤكد التقدم الذي حققته الوساطة العمانية والمعلوم أن اليمن هو الساحة الأهم في المواجهة السعودية مع محور المقاومة بعد الفشل السعودي في الساحات الأخرى وتحول الحرب على اليمن من مشروع تحقيق أرباح غلى مصدر للخسائر .

ما يجري في العراق ولبنان وسورية لا ينفصل عن التفاوض لكنه تفاوض على صفيح ساخن يلعب فيه الأميركي أوراقه على حافة الهاوية فيلوح بدفع الأمور نحو الإنهيار وهو يخشاه كما كان حضوره العسكري في الخليج تلويحا مشابها بالإستعداد للذهاب إلى الحرب وهو يخشاها بينما خصومه الذين أظهروا عدم رغبتهم بالحرب وعدم رغبتهم بالإنهيار أظهروا عندما بلغ التصعيد ذروته أنهم لا يخشون الحرب ولا يخشون الإنهيار.

كما تراجع الأميركي عن التلويح بالحرب يتراجع عن التلويح بالإنهيار لكن صناعة التسوية أصعب من صناعة الأزمة لأن الرأي العام مسرحها وعندما يتم إستفزازه بالجوع وتتم تعبئته بالغضب ويخرج إلى الساحات لا يمكن إعادته كما كان عندما خرج.

التعليق السياسي

Bloomberg: Gulf States Are Backpedaling on Iran

Bloomberg: Gulf States Are Backpedaling on Iran

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By Staff, Bloomberg

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Are We on the Path to War? – Middle East Heats Up While Viewers Watch the Impeachment

By Philip Giraldi

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Trump Iran ff24b

Americans and also much of the rest of the world have been watching or otherwise following the impeachment proceedings in Washington and not paying much attention to developments in the Middle East that could be setting the stage for a new war.

It should surprise no one to learn that Washington has no actual policy to finish what it is doing and get out so it is allowing itself to be led by its so-called allies in the region. There has been what amounts to a nearly complete reversal of the early October decision by President Donald Trump to deescalate in the region by pulling U.S. troops out of northern Syria. After occupying the Syrian oil fields in the immediate wake of that decision and declaring that American soldiers would shoot-to-kill Russian and Syrian soldiers who tried to retake that bit of sovereign Syrian territory, one now learns that U.S. troops are again operating hand-in-hand with Kurdish militias to attack what have been claimed to be ISIS remnants.

Defenders of Donald Trump continue to insist that he does not want a war and is serious about disengaging from “senseless” conflicts, but it would be hard to come to that judgement based on what the president and his staff of pathological miscreants actually do. In fact, one might reasonably argue that the administration is planning for war on multiple fronts.

Russia has long been a target of an ignorant Trump’s neoconnish foreign policy, to include the refusal to renew several admirable treaties that have limited the spread of certain types of weapons. Also, lethal military aid to gallant little Ukraine, much in the news of late, is actually a dangerous misstep on the part of Washington as Russia regards its border with that country as a vital interest while defending Kiev is in reality no national security interest for the United States at all.

And there is more in the pipeline. Discussions are underway with new NATO ally Bulgaria to create a Black Sea Coordination Center in Varna. The United States is considering a ten-year roadmap for defense cooperation with Bulgaria and is eager to provide Sofia broader access to its high-end military technologies. The advanced technologies would include surveillance capabilities specifically targeting Russia.

There is also a fundamental second level of stupidity in basing such an effort in Bulgaria as the Turks, also frequently at odds with Washington, control the door to the Black Sea through the Bosporus and Dardanelles. If relations really do go sour and if demands to kick Turkey out of NATO ever do bear fruit, Ankara can make it very difficult for NATO warships transiting into the Black Sea.

As ever, however, the most troubled and most interfered-in-by-Washington foreign region continues to be the Middle East and more specifically the Persian Gulf where there have been a number of relatively minor developments that, when assembled, comprise a serious threat that war could break out either deliberately or by accident.

The basic line-up for what is going on in the Persian Gulf region runs something like this: Israel, the Saudis and most of the Gulf States are keen on attacking Iran, which, on its side, has lined up as friends and allies Iraq, Syria and Lebanon. Those seeking war with Iran, would like to see the United States do the heavy lifting as it alone can use its strategic bombers to take out military targets deep underground or otherwise heavily protected. The Trump administration has so far stopped short of war with the Iranians, though it has done everything it can otherwise to punish them, including the shortsighted withdrawal from the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) which limited Tehran’s nuclear development program. The White House has also initiated a heavy dose of sanctions that are explicitly intended to cause suffering among the ordinary people and are clearly creating considerable disruption in the country. The U.S. intention is to starve the Iranian people into rebelling against their government, but the unrest is also reportedly being fueled by Saudi paid agents provocateurs as well as a flood of media and social network propaganda that is as well being supported and organized by Riyadh.

One recent incident that has attracted remarkably little media coverage is an Israeli attack on Syria that took place on November 19th. It reportedly destroyed two Iranian Revolutionary Guard headquarters, one of which was at Damascus International Airport, possibly killing twenty-three, sixteen of whom were likely Iranians. The attack was in response to an unsubstantiated Israeli claim that four rockets were fired its way from a site controlled by Iran inside Syria, though they were intercepted by Iron Dome and caused no damage. The overwhelming and disproportionate response by Israel suggests that Tel Aviv would like to have produced a commensurate response from the Iranians which could then escalate, but in this case, Tehran opted not to strike back, possibly because it understood that it was likely being set up.

There have also been a number of key meetings in the region that suggest that something big is coming. In an odd move, the U.S. and France have agreed to take steps to increase security in the Gulf region by enhancing defensive systems in the Gulf States and Saudi Arabia. The move is ostensibly a response to the devastating drone attack on the Saudi oil refinery in September, which has been blamed on the Iranians, though without any evidence being provided. In the past, increasing security has often been a prelude to attacks by western powers in the Gulf region.

Other recent visitors have included CIA Director Gina Haspel meeting with the Saudi King Salman on November 7th to discuss “topics of interest,” Secretary of State Mike Pompeo visiting the United Arab Emirates to talk about Iran and other regional issues, and Vice President Mike Pence staging a surprise visit to the Kurds in Syria. Pence assured the Kurds that they were not forgotten and would be protected by the U.S.

General Kenneth A. McKenzie, who heads America’s Central Command, which has responsibility for the Middle East, also warned last week that even with the 14,000 additional military personnel that Trump sent to the region earlier this year, the forces available would not be enough to deter an Iranian attack on Saudi Arabia or one of the Gulf States. McKenzie was speaking at a conference in Bahrain, home of the U.S. Fifth Fleet. Comic relief at the conference was provided by American under secretary of defense John C. Rood who said that “Iran has made clear its intent to pursue a pattern of aggressive behavior that is destabilizing,” conveniently forgetting that it is Washington that has completely destabilized the entire region since it invaded Iraq in 2003.

Iran for its part has been stung by the recent violent protests and has declared itself prepared to deal with both the Saudis and the presumed CIA and Israeli Mossad assets that have been stirring things up. The rioting has been serious with numerous deaths reported and Iran is fully capable of using its missile arsenal to hit targets both in Saudi Arabia and in Israel.

So, the conventional wisdom that a serious war is too dangerous to contemplate in the confined spaces of the Middle East might be naïve in the extreme as representatives of a number of nations consider just how to fight each other and how to win. One misstep, or even a false flag provocation, is all it would take to engulf the region in flames. It would be a conflict in which many would die and no one could really come out a winner, and the real tragedy is that it is avoidable as no one has a genuine vital interest at stake that could actually be resolved by war with its neighbors.

Iran’s ‘only crime is we decided not to fold’

Foreign Minister Zarif sketches Iran-US relations for diplomats, former presidents and analysts

Global Research, November 26, 2019

Just in time to shine a light on what’s behind the latest sanctions from Washington, Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif in a speech at the annual Astana Club meeting in Nur-Sultan, Kazakhstan delivered a searing account of Iran-US relations to a select audience of high-ranking diplomats, former Presidents and analysts.

Zarif was the main speaker in a panel titled “The New Concept of Nuclear Disarmament.” Keeping to a frantic schedule, he rushed in and out of the round table to squeeze in a private conversation with Kazakh First President Nursultan Nazarbayev.

During the panel, moderator Jonathan Granoff, President of the Global Security Institute, managed to keep a Pentagon analyst’s questioning of Zafir from turning into a shouting match.

Previously, I had extensively discussed with Syed Rasoul Mousavi, minister for West Asia at the Iran Foreign Ministry, myriad details on Iran’s stance everywhere from the Persian Gulf to Afghanistan. I was at the James Bond-ish round table of the Astana Club, as I moderated two other panels, one on multipolar Eurasia and the post-INF environment and another on Central Asia (the subject of further columns).

Zarif’s intervention was extremely forceful. He stressed how Iran “complied with every agreement and it got nothing;” how “our people believe we have not gained from being part of” the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action; how inflation is out of control; how the value of the rial dropped 70% “because of ‘coercive measures’ – not sanctions because they are illegal.”

He spoke without notes, exhibiting absolute mastery of the inextricable swamp that is US-Iran relations. It turned out, in the end, to be a bombshell. Here are highlights.

Zarif’s story began back during 1968 negotiations of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty,  with the stance of the “Non-Aligned Movement to accept its provisions only if at a later date” – which happened to be 2020 – “there would be nuclear disarmament.” Out of 180 non-aligned countries, “90 countries co-sponsored the indefinite extension of the NPT.”

Moving to the state of play now, he mentioned how the United States and France are “relying on nuclear weapons as a means of deterrence, which is disastrous for the entire world.” Iran on the other hand “is a country that believes nuclear weapons should never be owned by any country,” due to “strategic calculations based on our religious beliefs.”

Zarif stressed how “from 2003 to 2012 Iran was under the most severe UN sanctions that have ever be imposed on any country that did not have nuclear weapons. The sanctions that were imposed on Iran from 2009 to 2012 were greater than the sanctions that were imposed on North Korea, which had nuclear weapons.”

Discussing the negotiations for the JCPOA that started in 2012, Zarif noted that Iran had started from the premise that “we should be able to develop as much nuclear energy as we wanted” while the US had started under the premise that Iran should never have any centrifuges.” That was the “zero-enrichment” option.

Zarif, in public, always comes back to the point that “in every zero-sum game everybody loses.” He admits the JCPOA is “a difficult agreement. It’s not a perfect agreement. It has elements I don’t like and it has elements the United Stares does not like.” In the end, “we reached the semblance of a balance.”

Zarif offered a quite enlightening parallel between the NPT and the JCPOA:

“The NPT was based on three pillars: non-proliferation, disarmament and access to nuclear technology for peaceful purposes. Basically the disarmament part of NPT is all but dead, non-proliferation is barely surviving and peaceful use of nuclear energy is under serious threat,” he observed.

Meanwhile,

“JCPOA was based on two pillars: economic normalization of Iran, which is reflected in Security Council resolution 2231, and – at the same time – Iran observing certain limits on nuclear development.”

Crucially, Zarif stressed there is nothing “sunset” about these limits, as Washington argues: “We will be committed to not producing nuclear weapons forever.”

All about distrust

Then came Trump’s fateful May 2018 decision:

“When President Trump decided to withdraw from the JCPOA, we triggered the dispute resolution mechanism.”

Referring to a common narrative that describes him and John Kerry as obsessed with sacrificing everything to get a deal, Zarif said:

“We negotiated this deal based on distrust. That’s why you have a mechanism for disputes.”

Still, “the commitments of the EU and the commitments of the United States are independent. Unfortunately the EU believed they could procrastinate. Now we are at a situation where Iran is receiving no benefit, nobody is implementing their part of the bargain, only Russia and China are fulfilling partially their commitments, because the United States even prevents them from fully fulfilling their commitments. France proposed last year to provide $15 billion to Iran for the oil we could sell from August to December. The United States prevented the European Union even from addressing this.”

The bottom line, then, is that “other members of the JCPOA are in fact not implementing their commitments.” The solution “is very easy. Go back to the non-zero sum. Go back to implementing your commitments. Iran agreed that it would negotiate from Day One.”

Zarif made the prediction that

“if the Europeans still believe that they can take us to the Security Council and snap back resolutions they’re dead wrong. Because that is a remedy if there was a violation of the JCPOA. There was no violation of the JCPOA. We took these actions in response to European and American non-compliance. This is one of the few diplomatic achievements of the last many decades. We simply need to make sure that the two pillars exist: that there is a semblance of balance.”

This led him to a possible ray of light among so much doom and gloom:

“If what was promised to Iran in terms of economic normalization is delivered, even partially, we are prepared to show good faith and come back to the implementation of the JCPOA. If it’s not, then unfortunately we will continue this path, which is a path of zero-sum, a path leading to a loss for everybody, but a path that we have no other choice but to follow.”

Time for HOPE

Zarif identifies three major problems in our current geopolitical madness: a “zero-sum mentality on international relations that doesn’t work anymore;” winning by excluding others (“We need to establish dialogue, we need to establish cooperation”); and “the belief that the more arms we purchase, the more security we can bring to our people.”

He was adamant that there’s a possibility of implementing “a new paradigm of cooperation in our region,” referring to Nazarbayev’s efforts: a real Eurasian model of security. But that, Zarif explained, “requires a neighborhood policy. We need to look at our neighbors as our friends, as our partners, as people without whom we cannot have security. We cannot have security in Iran if Afghanistan is in turmoil. We cannot have security in Iran if Iraq is in turmoil. We cannot have security in Iran if Syria is in turmoil. You cannot have security in Kazakhstan if the Persian Gulf region is in turmoil.”

He noted that, based on just such thinking, “resident Rouhani this year, in the UN General Assembly, offered a new approach to security in the Persian Gulf region, called HOPE, which is the acronym for Hormuz Peace Initiative – or Hormuz Peace Endeavor so we can have the HOPE abbreviation.”

HOPE, explained Zarif, “is based on international law, respect of territorial integrity; based on accepting a series of principles and a series of confidence building measures; and we can build on it as you [addressing Nazarbayev] built on it in Eurasia and Central Asia. We are proud to be a part of the Eurasia Economic Union, we are neighbors in the Caspian, we have concluded last year, with your leadership, the legal convention of the Caspian Sea, these are important development that happened on the northern part of Iran. We need to repeat them in the southern part of Iran, with the same mentality that we can’t exclude our neighbors. We are either doomed or privileged to live together for the rest of our lives. We are bound by geography. We are bound by tradition, culture, religion and history.” To succeed, “we need to change our mindset.”

Age of hegemony gone

It all comes down to the main reason US foreign policy just can’t get enough of Iran demonization. Zarif has no doubts:

“There is still an arms embargo against Iran on the way. But we are capable of shooting down a US drone spying in our territory. We are trying simply to be independent. We never said we will annihilate Israel. Somebody said Israel will be annihilated. We never said we will do it.”

It was, Zarif said, Benjamin Netanyahu who took ownership of that threat, saying,

“I was the only one against the JCPOA.” Netanyahu “managed to destroy the JCPOA. What is the problem? The problem is we decided not to fold. That is our only crime. We had a revolution against a government that was supported by the United States, imposed on our country by the United States, [that] tortured our people with the help of the United States, and never received a single human rights condemnation, and now people are worried why they say ‘Death to America’? We say death to these policies, because they have brought nothing but this farce. What did they bring to us? If somebody came to the United States, removed your president, imposed a dictator who killed your people, wouldn’t you say death to that country?”

Zarif inevitably had to evoke Mike Pompeo:

“Today the Secretary of State of the United States says publicly: ‘If Iran wants to eat, it has to obey the United States.’ This is a war crime. Starvation is a crime against humanity. It’s a newspeak headline. If Iran wants its people to eat, it has to follow what he said. He says, ‘Death to the entire Iranian people.’”

By then the atmosphere across the huge round table was electric. One could hear a pin drop – or, rather, the mini sonic booms coming from high up in the shallow dome via the system devised by star architect Norman Foster, heating the high-performance glass to melt the snow.

Zarif went all in:

“What did we do the United States? What did we do to Israel? Did we make their people starve? Who is making our people starve? Just tell me. Who is violating the nuclear agreement? Because they did not like Obama? Is that a reason to destroy the world, just because you don’t like a president?”

Iran’s only crime, he said, “is that we decided to be our own boss. And that crime – we are proud of it. And we will continue to be. Because we have seven millennia of civilization. We had an empire that ruled the world, and the life of that empire was probably seven times the entire life of the United States. So – with all due respect to the United States empire; I owe my education to the United States – we don’t believe that the United States is an empire that will last. The age of empires is long gone. The age of hegemony is long gone. We now have to live in a world without hegemony. – regional hegemony or global hegemony.”

*

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

This article was originally published on Asia Times.

Pepe Escobar is a frequent contributor to Global Research.

Featured image: Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, at the annual Astana Club meeting in Nur-Sultan, Kazakhstan last week. Photo: Asia Times / Pepe Escobar

Bibi’s Get-out-of-Jail Card… War With Iran

Image result for Bibi’s Get-out-of-Jail Card… War With Iran

Finian Cunningham
November 24, 2019

It seems more than coincidence that as the legal noose tightens around Prime Minister Benjamin “Bibi” Netanyahu, Israeli military have suddenly stepped up air strikes on Iranian forces based in Syria.

Playing the strongman role on national security and winning another term as prime minister would stave off prosecution over pending corruption charges.

If Netanyahu is ousted from office he will be immediately subjected to trial. A subsequent conviction on all charges could result in him facing up to 13 years in jail. A lot is at stake for Israel’s elder statesmen. At 70 years old, he is the longest-serving prime minister in the history of the Israeli state, having been elected four times already.

Therefore the longer he can hang on as premier, the longer he can postpone his day in court, as the leadership position affords a certain immunity while in office.

Israel’s current political impasse is a particularly dangerous time for Netanyahu. After two elections held earlier this year, neither Netanyahu nor his nearest rival Benny Gantz have been able to form a coalition government. Netanyahu is still the sitting PM. But lawmakers could vote for a new prime minister in the next few weeks, or else failing that the country will be forced to go to a third election in March next year.

Either way, Netanyahu needs to stay in office if he wants to throw the prosecution trial into the long grass. That means the temptation will be ever-stronger for the hot-headed commando-turned-politician to rile up security tensions with Iran and Syria, as well as neighboring Palestinians. Netanyahu has always drummed up votes by presenting himself as the great defender of Israelis.

Over the past week, as a three-year criminal investigation concluded with charges being leveled against Netanyahu for bribery, fraud and abuse of power for favorable media influence, Israeli forces under his command launched deadly air strikes against Iranian targets in Syria. Reports indicated that around 23 people were killed, most of whom were Iranian military belonging to the elite Quds Force. Though Syrian media claimed that most of the attacks were intercepted. Whether Iranian personnel were killed or not, the Israeli intention is to provoke Tehran.

Notably, Israeli military usually do not confirm or deny when they carry out air strikes on Syria or neighboring countries. This week, however, Israeli leaders including Netanyahu were bragging about the strikes.

Netanyahu said: “I have made clear that any who attack us, we will attack them. That is what we did tonight [November 20] toward military targets of the Iranian Quds Force and Syrian military targets.”

The Israelis claim they were responding to rockets fired from the Golan Heights. But it seems those rockets were provoked by earlier Israeli strikes on Syria just days before.

There is more than a suspicion that Israel was orchestrating the pretext for a flare up in violence. The purpose being to allow Netanyahu to dust off his war medals and flex his muscles for the electorate.

Such a ploy is in keeping with how Netanyahu over recent months has been cranking up the bellicose rhetoric. Before the elections this year in March and September, he has been declaring that if he is re-elected his government would annex large swathes of the Palestinian territory in the West Bank. In spite of international law and UN resolutions designating Israeli settlements as illegal.

US President Donald Trump obliged Netanyahu’s electioneering when the White House announced on November 18 that Washington was henceforth recognizing all Israeli settlements on Palestinian territory as legitimate. Was this Trump shifting US policy to help bail out his friend Bibi, knowing that the indictment sheet was on the way?

Over the past month, Israeli forces have also escalated air strikes on Gaza with dozens of civilians being killed, including families and children. Netanyahu has been cynically winding up fears among Israelis of rocket attacks from Palestinian militants in the besieged Gaza strip. A densely populated area of 1.8 million people subsisting in poverty, deprived of fresh water and electricity, due to Israel’s military cordon.

But in ginning up tensions with Iran in such a provocative way by targeting its elite Quds Force in Syria, Netanyahu is playing with fire.

Russia condemned the Israeli air strikes on Syria last week as unlawful aggression. The Russian foreign ministry warned that such acts were risking a wider conflict in the region.

Again, Trump seems to be aiding and abetting Netanyahu’s agenda of inciting national security tensions with Iran in order to hand Netanyahu a get-out-of-jail card. No doubt Trump knows the feeling as lawmakers in Washington push an impeachment inquiry into his alleged abuse of authority for favors regarding Ukraine.

The dramatic eruption of street violence in Iran over the past week has seen provocateurs hijack public protests over fuel price increases. The rapid spread of arson attacks on public property and shooting dead of several Iranian security force members indicate a foreign role in agitation.

President Trump and his Secretary of State Mike Pompeo issued stark statements of interference in Iranian internal affairs, by encouraging further street disturbances, hypocritically claiming that the US “was standing with the Iranian people”.

Brian Hook, the White House’s special envoy for Iran, even went as far as openly admitting that the US has been working for the past 18 months on finding ways of helping anti-government activists to circumvent internet restrictions imposed by the Iranian authorities to quell the spread of disturbances.

“We have been able to get into the hands of the Iranian people circumvention tools that allow them to communicate with each other when the regime tries to censor them,” said Hook.

Last week, Trump told Congress that he was sending 3,000 US troops to Saudi Arabia to “prevent Iranian provocation”, another move which Russia slammed as provoking regional tensions. Meanwhile, the USS Abraham Lincoln aircraft carrier strike group entered the Persian Gulf.

Trump and Netanyahu seem to be working hand-in-hand to ratchet up tensions with Iran. Evidently, Netanyahu is betting that the sound of war drums will drown out the calls for his prosecution trial over corruption charges. But rather than facing justice, the Israeli leader seems prepared to ignite a war with Iran just to save his own hide.

Why countries are reluctant to join U.S.-led maritime coalition

TEHRAN – The U.S.-led naval coalition to protect shipping in the Persian Gulf formally was launched in Bahrain on Thursday. But the notable point is that countries have not welcomed this plan. Only a few countries with ineffective naval power have joined the coalition.

*By Mohammad Ghaderi

On July 2019, the U.S. proposed a coalition plan to protect shipping in the Persian Gulf. Mike Pompeo, the U.S. secretary of state, invited U.S. allies such as Britain, France, Germany, Japan, South Korea, and Australia to join the coalition. Although the U.S. has persuaded its allies on various occasions and even applied pressure on them to join the coalition, it was not warmly welcomed. In August, Britain joined the U.S. military coalition in the wake of a conflict with Iran over oil tanker seizures first in Gibraltar and later in the Strait of Hormuz.

Later the Zionist regime and Australia joined the coalition.

Launch of the U.S.-led marine coalition

The coalition, which reportedly aims to “protect shipping in the Persian Gulf”, was launched on Thursday. The U.S. stated that through the coalition it intends to safeguard region’s oil supply against possible threats. Bahrain, which hosts the U.S. Fifth Fleet, has joined the coalition along with the UEA and Saudi Arabia.

James Malloy, commander of the U.S. Naval Forces Central Command, has claimed that the goal of the coalition is defensive. Malloy said the coalition will last as long as necessary.

Some European countries, including France, has not joined the coalition to avoid escalating tensions in the region. Japan has decided to dispatch its naval forces to the Strait of Hormuz independently, rather than joining the coalition.  It is said that Japan made this decision because it has an amicable relationship with Iran and does not like to be seen as an important country and power in the U.S.-led coalition.

In this regard, the London-based Raialyoum wrote that the announcement of formal launch of the U.S.-led maritime coalition to protect shipping in the Persian Gulf with the participation of only 6 countries reminds the old Arab proverb saying “the mountain was in labor but gave birth to a mouse”. Raialyoum added the limited number of countries joining the coalition reveals that the U.S. influence has been reducing not only in the Persian Gulf region but also all around the world. It seems that the current and former U.S. administrations cannot any longer form coalitions like the ones that launched wars in Iraq, Libya, or Afghanistan with the participation of 30 or 60 countries.

The Arab world digital news and opinion website said that it is noteworthy that three Persian Gulf states namely Kuwait, Oman, and Qatar are absent in the coalition. They have refused to join the coalition not because they have taken a neutral stance toward U.S. controversial measures against Iran, but because they do not trust the U.S. and its current government. The source added that the U.S. government has adopted rash policies that can lead to regional and probably international war; furthermore, the coalition can be an element of “tension” not a guarantee for defense and stability.

Raialyoum stated that we do not believe these six countries – Britain, Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Bahrain, Australia, and Albania – will be able to protect shipping in the Persian Gulf because most of them, except the U.S. and Britain, do not have effective naval power.

However, the marine coalition is a dramatic and hypocritical show and the U.S. is trying to milk the three states of Saudi Arabia, the UAE, and Bahrain. By its presence, the U.S. only disturbs the region’s security. Washington only takes care of its interests.

The security in the Middle East and the Persian Gulf will only be achieved through the reconciliation between regional countries since they are neighbors and they cannot change their geography. The intervention of countries outside the region will only make the situation more complicated.

* Author: Mohammad Ghaderi , Tehran Times editor in chief 

His page on Twitter : @ghaderi62 – and Gmail address : m.ghaderi62@gmail.com

US Moved Air Force Command From Qatar To South Carolina Fearing Iranian Attacks

US Moved Air Force Command From Qatar To South Carolina Fearing Iranian Attacks

Source

30.09.2019

The US Air Force Commander Center’s operation was moved from Qatar to South Carolina, after operating out of the Middle Eastern country for the last 13 years.

The Command Center was used to command fighter jets, bombers, unmanned aerial vehicles and other US Air Force assets from Northeast Africa, the Middle East to Southeast Asia.

On September 28th, the building of the Combined Air Operations Center (CAOC) in al Udeid Air Base, Qatar was vacated.

All flights and operations were controlled from Shaw Air Base in South Carolina, US. Over 300 planes were in the air when the shift happened in Syria, Afghanistan and the Persian Gulf.

On the next day, the CAOC in Qatar regained control, but this marked the first-time operation was transferred to the US since the CAOC was initially established in Saudi Arabia during the 1991 Gulf War.

Air Force Commanders said that new technology allowed the shift and it was a long-standing ambition. But it surely comes by no accident, as it happens during renewed tensions in the Middle East, with both US and Saudi Arabia having a tough rhetoric on Iran. The Islamic Republic also leaves no quarter in its responses.

“The functions that the CAOC provides for air power are so critical and so essential that we can’t afford to have a single point of failure,” said Maj. Gen. Chance Saltzman.

Air Force officials said that the increased tensions in the Middle East and the incidents blamed on Iran added urgency to possibly moving command away from the region – especially if a war would be coming.

“Iran has indicated multiple times through multiple sources their intent to attack U.S. forces,” said Col. Frederick Coleman, commander of the 609th Air and Space Operations Center.

“Frankly, as the war against ISIS winds down and as we continue to work through a potential peace process in Afghanistan, the region is calming down and potentially more stable than it has been in decades,” he said. “Except for Iran.”

Analysts, quite obviously, said that if a conflict arises the command center would likely be targeted.

“It doesn’t take a whole heap of imagination to look at it and think, if push came to shove and it was a full-blown conflict, it would be one of the priority targets,” said Douglas Barrie, a senior fellow specializing in aerospace at the International Institute for Strategic Studies in London.

Most notably, the base is defended by Patriot batteries and other missile defense systems, whose capabilities were clearly presented in defending Aramco’s oil infrastructure on September 14th.

According to Saltzman, the practicalities of missile defense made complete protection impossible.

“It’s really probably better to think about this as an immune system,” he said. “There’s going to be germs that get into the body. It’s about how fast and how resilient you can fight it off.”

By making the CAOC mobile, the US could respond to a potential attack much more quickly.

Byron Pompa, AFCENT operations director at Al Udeid, said moving facilities and equipment often could compensate for not having a huge footprint across the region.

“In times like today,” he said, “we can’t have a ton of permanent-fixture operating bases throughout the area of responsibility.”

“Our goal is deterrence,” Saltzman said, not conflict. But the lack of communication with Iran can make sending that message difficult. The U.S. has to use other measures, he said, including turning off radar from time to time or planning flight routes to make it clear it does not intend to attack.

The plan is to operate the CAOC remotely once per month, while it would remain in Qatar during the remainder of the time. The idea is to reach 8 hours of distanced operation every 24-hour period, either from South Carolina or elsewhere.

There were no plans to close al Udeid permanently. Some of the 800 positions are to be transferred to US in the future.

“The goodness here is now we’re saving taxpayer dollars that we’re giving back to America,” Coleman said. “And, you know, America’s sons and daughters aren’t abroad in the Middle East. They’re home.”

Qatar, in particular, has invested heavily on Al Udeid in recent years, spending as much as $1.8 billion to renovate the base, the largest in the region, capable of housing more than 10,000 U.S. troops. Thus, shifting focus away from it may seem as a sort of loss on investment on Qatar’s side.

This is actually a development that leads to the consideration that the US and its allies may, in fact, be considering the highly likeliness of a war in the Middle East against Iran, showing the urgency of this shift of command capability.

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Russian Federation – Minister for Foreign Affairs Addresses General Debate, 74th Session

Source

September 27, 2019

Sergey Lavrov, Minister for Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation, addresses the general debate of the 74th Session of the General Assembly of the UN (New York, 24 – 30 September 2019).

Transcript : http://www.mid.ru/en/foreign_policy/news/-/asset_publisher/cKNonkJE02Bw/content/id/3822351

28 September 201900:13
Statement by H.E. Mr. Sergey Lavrov, Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation, at the 74th session of the UN General Assembly, New York, September 27, 2019

Unofficial translation

Distinguished Mr. President,

Ladies and Gentlemen,

The 75th anniversary of the United Nations which was established as a result of the Victory in World War II and the realization of the need for a collective mechanism to maintain international peace and security, is getting closer. Regrettably, the events of the Cold War, which started soon after, prevented this tremendous creative potential from being unleashed.

The hope arose again almost 30 years ago when the Berlin Wall symbolizing confrontation of the two irreconcilable systems fell. It was the hope for the possibility to finally turn the grievous pages of wars – not only hot but also cold – and to join efforts for the benefit of all mankind.

However, we have to admit – although World War III was prevented thanks to the UN, the number of conflicts on the planet has not declined and enmity has not weakened. New most acute challenges emerged – international terrorism, drug trafficking, climate change, illegal migration, the growing gap between the rich and the poor. It is getting harder to address these and many other challenges from year to year. The fragmentation of international community is only increasing.

In our view, the reason for the current state of affairs lies, first and foremost, in the unwillingness of the countries which declared themselves winners in the Cold War to reckon with the legitimate interests of all other states, to accept the realities of the objective course of history.

It is hard for the West to put up with its weakening centuries-long dominance in world affairs. New centers of economic growth and political influence have emerged and are developing. Without them it is impossible to find sustainable solution to the global challenges which can be addressed only on the firm basis of the UN Charter through the balance of interests of all states.

Leading Western countries are trying to impede the development of the polycentric world, to recover their privileged positions, to impose standards of conduct based on the narrow Western interpretation of liberalism on others. In a nutshell, “we are liberals, and we can do anything”. Pursuing these aspirations, the West is less frequently recalling international law and more often and importunately dwelling upon the “rules-based order”.

The aim of such a concept is obvious – to revise the norms of international law which no longer suit the West, to substitute it for the “rules” adjusted to its self-serving schemes which are elaborated depending on the political expediency, and to proclaim the West and only the West as an indisputable source of legitimacy. For instance, when it is advantageous, the right of the peoples to self-determination has significance and when it is not – it is declared “illegal”.

In order to justify revisionist “rules” the West resorts to manipulation of public consciousness, dissemination of false information, double standards on human rights, suppression of undesirable media, bans on practicing journalism. Moreover, the West got “apt students” among its wards on the post-Soviet territory.

Instead of equal collective work, closed formats beyond legitimate multilateral framework are being created, and approaches agreed upon behind closed doors by a narrow group of the “select few” are then declared “multilateral agreements”. This is accompanied by the attempts to “privatize” the secretariats of international organizations, to use them in order to advance non-consensual ideas in circumvention of universal mechanisms.

Attacks on international law are looming large. The US withdrawal from the JCPOA endorsed by UNSC Resolution 2231 is broadly discussed. Washington not just repudiated its obligations enshrined in this Resolution but started demanding from others to play by American “rules” and sabotage its implementation.

The United States set a tough course for abolishing the UN resolutions on international legal framework of the Middle East settlement. It suggests waiting for some “deal of the century”, meanwhile it has taken unilateral decisions on Jerusalem and the Golan Heights. A two-state solution to the Palestinian issue – which is essential for satisfying the legitimate aspirations of the Palestinian people and providing security for Israel and the whole region – is under threat.

Apparently, when NATO members were bombing Libya blatantly violating the UNSC resolution, they were also guided by the logic of their “rules-based order”. It resulted in the destruction of Libyan statehood, and international community is still disentangling the disastrous repercussions of NATO’s adventure with African countries affected the most.

“Hidden agendas” in countering terrorism remain – despite the universally binding Security Council decisions on listing terrorist organizations, some countries made it a “rule” to cover terrorists and even to engage in cooperation with them on the ground as it is happening, for instance, in Afghanistan, Libya, and Syria. The United States has already been saying it loud that Hayat Tahrir al-Sham is a rather moderate structure which “can be dealt with”. As recent discussions on the situation in the Syrian Idlib showed, the United States wants to induce members of the UNSC to such unacceptable logic.

The West also has its own “rules” regarding the Balkans where it is pursuing an open course for undermining the UNSC decisions on Kosovo and Bosnia and Herzegovina settlement.

Universal conventions together with the SC resolutions are an integral part of international law. The West would like to substitute even them for its “rules” as it happened in the OPCW whose Technical Secretariat was illegally granted “attributive” functions through unlawful manipulations and unscrupulous pressure in direct violation of the Chemical Weapons Convention and exclusive prerogatives of the Security Council.

Playing with Conventions obliging all countries to provide linguistic, educational, religious and other rights of national minorities continue. Even here our Western colleagues are guided by their “rules” – they turn a blind eye to the open denial of national minorities’ relevant rights and indulge the retaining of an ignominious phenomenon of statelessness in Europe.

The course for the revision of international law is more frequently observed in the persistent policy of rewriting the history of World War II, justifying an increasing number of manifestations of neo-Nazism, vandalism against the monuments to the liberators of Europe and Holocaust victims.

The key principles of the UN Charter – non-interference in internal affairs, non-use of force or the threat of force – are also undergoing durability tests.

We are now facing the attempts to add Venezuela to the list of countries whose statehood was destroyed before our eyes through aggression or coups inspired from abroad. Like the overwhelming majority of the UN members, Russia is rejecting the attempts to return the “rules” dating back to the times of Monroe Doctrine to Latin America, to change from outside regimes in sovereign states descending to the methods of military blackmail, unlawful coercion and blockade as it happens in relation to Cuba in defiance of the UN resolutions.

Next year marks the 60th anniversary of the Declaration on the Granting of Independence to Colonial Countries and Peoples adopted at the initiative of our country. However, a number of Western states are still clinging to the old “rules”, ignoring this Declaration and other decisions of the General Assembly on decolonization addressed directly to them, while keeping former overseas territories under their control.

This November marks another anniversary – 20 years since the adoption of the Charter for European Security and the Platform for Co-operative Security. These documents set out principles of cooperation for all countries and organizations in the Euro-Atlantic region. Heads of states and governments solemnly declared that no one should provide his own security at the expense of other’s security. Regrettably, the consensus reached back then today is substituted for taken as a “rule” NATO practice, the organization which continues thinking in terms of searching for enemies, while moving its military infrastructure to the East to the Russian borders and increasing its military budgets, although they already exceed the Russian one more than 20 times. We call on NATO to return to the agreements on shaping equal and indivisible security in the OSCE area. Recently, responsible European politicians have been speaking in favor of it, which, in particular, was demonstrated during the meeting of the Presidents of the Russian Federation and France in August.

The Asia-Pacific region needs a reliable and open architecture. It is dangerous to yield to the temptation and divide it into conflicting blocs. Such attempts will contradict the task to join efforts of all countries in the region in order to effectively address the continuing threats and challenges there, including the task to resolve a whole range of issues on the Korean Peninsula exclusively by peaceful means.

Actions taken by the United States, which, following its withdrawal from the ABM Treaty, destroyed the INF Treaty with the overwhelming support of all NATO members, caused a huge damage to the global system of strategic stability which had been established for decades. Now the United States is questioning the future of the New START Treaty, refusing to ratify the CTBT. Moreover, it has lowered the threshold for the use of nuclear weapons in its doctrinal documents. The United States is setting course for transforming cyberspace and outer space into the arena for military confrontation.

In order to prevent further escalation of tensions, Russia proposed several initiatives. President Vladimir Putin announced the decision not to deploy land-based intermediate-range and shorter-range missiles in Europe or other regions if and as long as the Americans refrain from doing it. We called on the United States and NATO to join such a moratorium. We have also repeatedly suggested Washington that we start negotiations on prolonging the New START Treaty. Together with China we support the harmonization of a legally binding document on the prevention of an arms race in outer space. So far, the reaction of the United States and its allies has not been encouraging.

We are alarmed by the protracted lack of answer to our proposal made to American colleagues already a year ago – to adopt a high-level Russian-American statement on unacceptability and inadmissibility of the nuclear war which by definition cannot have a winner. We call on all countries to support this initiative.

Today I would like to make an announcement – at the current session of the General Assembly we are introducing a draft resolution on Strengthening and Developing the System of Arms Control, Disarmament and Non-Proliferation Agreements. We invite everyone to conduct substantial talks. The adoption of the resolution would greatly contribute to the creation of conditions for a successful hosting of another NPT Review Conference next year.

Russia will continue to work persistently in order to strengthen universal security. In this sphere, we are acting with utmost responsibility, exercising restraint in enhancing defence capacity – obviously, without any damage to the effective delivery of national security and in full compliance with international law.

We support the consolidation of efforts to combat international terrorism under the auspices of the UN. In the interests of mobilizing the potential of regional organizations to suppress the terrorist threat Russia initiated a Ministerial meeting of the Security Council with the participation of the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO), the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO), and the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS).

Among the most critical tasks of the world community is elaboration of generally acceptable approaches to the digital sphere management and understanding of the processes related to the creation of artificial intelligence. Last year, the General Assembly endorsed the beginning of the substantive work on discussing the rules of the responsible conduct of states in information space. Resolution on Combating Cybercrime was adopted at Russia’s initiative. It is important to work for achieving legally binding agreements on all aspects of international information security.

We need to step up efforts to facilitate the settlement of numerous crises and conflicts in all regions of the world. The main point is to seek compliance with already existing agreements from parties without allowing them to invent pretexts to refuse from implementing obligations already taken during negotiations. This also concerns conflicts on the post-Soviet territory, including the need to strictly follow the provisions of the Minsk Package of Measures to settle the crisis in the East of Ukraine.

In Syria, where major success in combating terrorism has been achieved, further advancement of the political process lead by the Syrians with the assistance of the UN is at the forefront. With the decisive contribution of Russia, Turkey, and Iran as guarantors of the Astana format, the establishment of the Constitutional Committee has been finished, which was announced by the UN Secretary-General António Guterres a few days ago. Post-conflict reconstruction and creation of conditions for the return of the refugees are the items on the agenda. Here the UN system is to play an important role.

Yet, on the whole, the Middle East and North Africa still face many challenges. We witness what is happening in Libya and Yemen. Prospects for the Palestinian settlement are on the verge of collapse. Efforts to play the “Kurdish card” – which is combustible for many countries – are alarming.

The Persian Gulf region is facing artificial escalation of tensions. We call on overcoming the existing disagreements through dialogue without baseless accusations. On our part, we made a contribution having presented this summer the renewed Russian concept of the collective security in this region.

Supporting the efforts of the African states to put an end to conflicts on their continent, yesterday Russia organized the meeting of the Security Council on strengthening peace and security in Africa. At the end of October, Sochi will host the first ever Russia-Africa Summit. We hope its outcomes will help increase the effectiveness of addressing modern challenges and threats and of work to overcome the problems of development African countries are facing.

The reform of the SC is aimed at improving the UN anti-crisis and peacekeeping activities. Given the realities of the multipolar world, the main task is to find a formula which would correct an obvious geopolitical imbalance in its current composition and would ensure increased representation of African, Asian, and Latin American countries in the Council with the broadest possible agreement of the UN Member States.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Dividing lines are harmful not only to the world politics but also to the economy. Its inclusive growth is curbed as a result of the WTO norms being substituted for other “rules” – methods of unfair competition, protectionism, trade wars, unilateral sanctions, and open abuse of the American dollar status. All this leads to the fragmentation of the global economic space, negatively affects people’s standards of living. We believe it necessary to get back to the substantial work both in the UN system organizations and in the G-20. To this end, we will contribute to the creation of favorable conditions, including through the opportunities offered by BRICS, where Russia will assume the chairmanship in 2020.

Together with other like-minded countries we support the harmonization of integration processes. This philosophy lies at the core of President Vladimir Putin’s initiative of the Greater Eurasian Partnership involving the Eurasian Economic Union (EAEU), SCO, ASEAN, and which is open to all other Eurasian states, including the EU countries. We have already started moving in this direction by interconnecting development plans of the EAEU and the Chinese Belt And Road Initiative. Consistent implementation of these endeavors will contribute not only to increasing economic growth but also to laying a solid foundation in order to form the territory of peace, stability, and cooperation from Lisbon to Jakarta.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

In the run-up to the next anniversary of the United Nations, I would like to underline – the UN-centered system of the world order, despite all trials, is stable and has a great margin of safety. It is a kind of a safety net which guarantees – if the UN Charter is respected – a peaceful development of mankind through finding a balance of sometimes rather contradictory interests of various countries.

At the outcome of these 75 years the main conclusion is probably that the experience of de-ideologized cooperation of states at the face of common threat, gained in the years of that most severe war, is still relevant.

Today’s challenges and threats are no less dangerous.

Only working together we will be able to effectively address them. Half a century ago a prominent scientist and public figure, the Nobel Prize Laureate Andrei Sakharov wrote the following – The division of mankind threatens it with destruction. If mankind is to get away from the brink, it must overcome its divisions It was the unity which was considered the key task of the UN by its Founding Fathers. Let us be worthy of their legacy and memory.

اليمن فرصة العالم لتفادي التصعيد

سبتمبر 25, 2019

ناصر قنديل

– تكشف كلمة الرئيس الأميركي دونالد ترامب أمام الجمعية العامة للأمم المتحدة، درجة الصعوبة في النزول عن الشجرة بعدما بلغ التصعيد مرحلة متقدّمة، رغم التأكيد على تراجع خيار الحرب في الحسابات الأميركية، لكنها تكشف معادلة ربط بها الرئيس ترامب رفع العقوبات عن إيران وهي ما وصفه بتغيير إيران لسلوكها، وليس التوصل معها عبر المفاوضات إلى اتفاق نووي جديد. وبالمقابل تبدي إيران استعداداً لثنائية تتمثل، من جهة بمد اليد لدول الخليج بمبادرة لحفظ الأمن تتضمن بنوداً عدة، قد لا تشكل كلها فرصاً للتلاقي، لكن الرئيسي فيها يبقى الدعوة لوقف الحرب على اليمن وفتح الباب للحل السياسي فيه، وإعلان إيراني تفصيلي عن الاستعداد للمساهمة في هذا الحل. ومن جهة ثانية أعلنت إيران الاستعداد لقبول إضافات وتفاصيل على الاتفاق النووي إذا عادت واشنطن إلى صيغة الخمسة زائداً واحداً بعد رفع العقوبات.

– لا ينتظر الأميركيون بالتأكيد لبلوغ لحظة تتناسب مع معيار تغيير السلوك لرفع تدريجي للعقوبات، تغييراً في موقف إيران من كيان الاحتلال، وهم يعلمون أن في ذلك استحالة. والمنطقي طالما ساحة الاشتباك هي الخليج أن يكون ما ينتظرونه خليجياً، والأكيد أنهم لا ينتظرون من إيران القوية والمقتدرة تنازلاً بل تقديم منصة تتيح الذهاب لتسوية يملك كل فريق أن يوصفها تغييراً في سلوك الفريق الآخر، والساحة الخليجية التي تختزن قضايا متفجرة كملف النفط والحشود العسكرية، تختزن أيضاً قضية بلغت سقف قدرة العالم على التحمل، وهي الحرب الظالمة التي تشنها السعودية والإمارات على اليمن، والتي سبق للأميركيين أن بادروا على جبهتها، سعياً للتهرب من تداعياتها عليهم، بفتح باب التفاوض غير المباشر مع أنصار الله، تسليماً بكونهم طرفاً إقليمياً فاعلاً وبفشل الرهان على الحرب لكسر إرادتهم، ما يعني جهوزية أميركية إيرانية لتحويل ملف الحرب اليمنية إلى مدخل جدي لمسار معاكس.

– ما شهده الملف السوري من إقلاع الخطوة الأولى نحو الحل السياسي من بوابة اكتمال عقد اللجنة الخاصة بالسدتور، يقول إن التوافق من موقع الاختلاف ممكن، وإنه حيث تستعصي تسويات التراضي يمكن فتح الباب لتسويات التغاضي. فالأميركيون الذين لم يكونوا شركاء مباشرين في تشكيل اللجنة الدستورية لسورية، طرف يملك حق الفيتو على كل خطوة أمميّة، وما كان للجنة أن تبصر النور بدونهم، ومثلهم الإيرانيون كشركاء كاملين في مسار أستانة. وهذه بداية تسوية بالتغاضي قابلة للتعميم على اليمن، بمعادلة وقف استهداف العمق السعودي مقابل فتح مطار صنعاء، كنقطة انطلاق لإحياء المسار السياسي، الذي سيعني عملياً فرصة لتراجع أميركي عن حزمة العقوبات الأخيرة تحت شعار أن إيران تغير سلوكها، وفرصة لقبول إيران بالتفاوض مع الأميركيين بدعوة فرنسية لأطراف معادلة الخمسة زائداً واحداً، والبحث بالإضافات والتفاصيل التي قال الإيرانيون إنهم مستعدون لها، وبالتوازي قيام أوروبا بما عليها من موجبات في الاتفاق النووي تطلبها إيران لوقف التصعيد.

– ما لم يحدث هذا، وأغلبه صار مسؤولية سعودية، فإن جولة تصعيد كبرى تنتظر، سيكون ما جرى مجرد تمهيد لها، وسيكون عنوانها تخبزوا بالفراح .

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