Tag Archives: Iran

Afghanistan Is Going To Be a Mess: Let China, Russia, Iran, and Others Handle It, by Doug Bandow

The Chinese and Russians watched the US pour blood and treasure into Afghanistan and get less than nothing for it. Now, if the US is really getting out of Afghanistan, it’s somebody else’s turn. From Doug Bandow at antiwar.com:

The U.S. is leaving Afghanistan – finally, after two decades. The result is not likely to be pretty. Government soldiers are surrendering. Taliban forces are advancing. Kabul officials are panicking. The Biden administration is desperately trying to slow the regime’s incipient collapse with resumed airstrikes.

It is a tragic situation, but, looking back, at least, appears inevitable. The Afghan civil war is in its 40th year. The US has been involved for almost 20 years. The US quickly achieved its initial objectives, disrupting al-Qaeda for conducting the 9/11 terrorist attacks and punishing the Taliban for hosting a-Qaeda.

However, expanding the mission to nation-building proved to be a bust. Despite the expenditure of thousands of lives and trillions of dollars, the result was essentially a Potemkin state. The Kabul authorities always were less than ideal: when I visited Afghanistan, I found no Afghan with anything good to say about his or her government who did not work for it.

Even the regime’s decidedly limited authority began evaporating the moment President Joe Biden announced his intention to withdraw. America’s effort had neither created a real country nor convinced the Afghan people to fight for their government. Although the special forces, along with some regular units, continue to fight bravely, there likely are too few loyalists to sustain government control of major urban areas, let alone the entire country.

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New ‘Great Game’ Gets Back To Basics, by Pepe Escobar

The US quasi-withdrawal in Afghanistan will certainly complicate the Eurasian political situation. From Pepe Escobar at zerohedge.com:

Russia-China-Iran alliance is taking Afghanistan’s bull by the horns…

The Great Game: This lithograph by British Lieutenant James Rattray shows Shah Shuja in 1839 after his enthronement as Emir of Afghanistan in the Bala Hissar (fort) of Kabul. Rattray wrote: ‘A year later the sanctity of the scene was bloodily violated: Shah Shuja was murdered.’ Photo: Wikipedia

Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi is on a Central Asian loop all through the week. He’s visiting Turkmenistan, Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan. The last two are full members of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, founded 20 years ago.

The SCO heavyweights are of course China and Russia. They are joined by four Central Asian “stans” (all but Turkmenistan), India and Pakistan. Crucially, Afghanistan and Iran are observers, alongside Belarus and Mongolia.

And that leads us to what’s happening this Wednesday in Dushanbe, the Tajik capital. The SCO will hold a 3 in 1: meetings of the Council of Foreign Ministers, the SCO-Afghanistan Contact Group, and a conference titled “Central and South Asia: Regional Connectivity, Challenges and Opportunities.”

At the same table, then, we will have Wang Yi, his very close strategic partner Sergey Lavrov and, most importantly, Afghan Foreign Minister Mohammad Haneef Atmar. They’ll be debating trials and tribulations after the hegemon’s withdrawal and the miserable collapse of the myth of NATO “stabilizing” Afghanistan.

Let’s game a possible scenario: Wang Yi and Lavrov tell Atmar, in no uncertain terms, that there’s got to be a national reconciliation deal with the Taliban, brokered by Russia-China, with no American interference, including the end of the opium-heroin ratline.

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China Mega Investment Deal With Iran Blows U.S. Out of the Picture, by Martin Jay

Believe or not, Iran is proving to be another one of those weird countries that prefers cash and trade to bullets, bombs, and sanctions, and once again the US finds itself losing out to China. From Martin Jay at strategic-culture.org:

A new world in the East is amalgamating as a direct result of American’s delusional views about where it thinks it is in the world, Martin Jay writes.

China has just announced that it will invest 400 bn dollars in Iran over a period of 25 years in exchange for a great deal on Iran’s oil – in the latest move of absolute defiance against the U.S. and its secondary sanctions. Where’s this all heading?

400 bn dollars is a considerable amount of money to invest in Iran, which, since Donald Trump pulled the U.S. out of the JCPOA (otherwise called the ‘Iran Deal’) we can certainly say is a poor country. In exchange, China gets rock bottom prices on oil, while both sides enjoy the double-whammy of sending a vociferous message to Washington: your days are up as a super power who can bully countries with sanctions.

The deal was really the last thing that Joe Biden needed in barely his six month in office, where he has been weak on Russia and China and arguably pathetic in the Middle East when it comes to delivering on the ‘America is back’ rhetoric. ‘America is back’ to what, we might all wonder, given that Iran is commissioning drone strikes against U.S. forces, Afghanistan is rapidly heading towards a Taliban takeover and the Iran talks in Vienna have more or less ended with a draft of what the Guardian euphemistically calls a ‘roadmap’.

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A Saigon Moment in the Hindu Kush, by Pepe Escobar

The Chinese, Russians, Indians, and Pakistanis will fill the void. From Pepe Escobar at unz.com:

The US is on the verge of its own second Vietnam repeated as farce in a haphazard retreat from Afghanistan

US Marines from the 2nd Battalion, 8th Marine Regiment of the 2nd Marine Expeditionary Brigade wait for helicopter transport as part of Operation Khanjar at Camp Dwyer in Helmand Province in Afghanistan on July 2, 2009. – The US pullout from the Pentagon’s once mighty Bagram Air Base in the dead of night, while Taliban fighters pour across the country, looks a lot like a military defeat. Photo: AFP / Manpreet Romana
US Marines from the 2nd Battalion, 8th Marine Regiment of the 2nd Marine Expeditionary Brigade wait for helicopter transport as part of Operation Khanjar at Camp Dwyer in Helmand Province in Afghanistan on July 2, 2009. – The US pullout from the Pentagon’s once mighty Bagram Air Base in the dead of night, while Taliban fighters pour across the country, looks a lot like a military defeat. Photo: AFP / Manpreet Romana

And it’s all over

For the unknown soldier

It’s all over

For the unknown soldier

The Doors, “The Unknown Soldier”

Let’s start with some stunning facts on the Afghan ground.

The Taliban are on a roll. Earlier this week their PR arm was claiming they hold 218 Afghan districts out of 421 – capturing new ones every day. Tens of districts are contested. Entire Afghan provinces are basically lost to the government in Kabul, which has been de facto reduced to administer a few scattered cities under siege.

Already on July 1, the Taliban announced they controlled 80% of Afghan territory. That’s close to the situation 20 years ago, only a few weeks before 9/11, when Commander Ahmad Shah Masoud told me in the Panjshir valley , as he prepared a counter-offensive, that the Taliban were 85% dominant.

Their new tactical approach works like a dream. First, there’s a direct appeal to soldiers of the Afghan National Army (ANA) to surrender. Negotiations are smooth and deals fulfilled. Soldiers in the low thousands have already joined the Taliban without a single shot fired.

Map by CIG / Telegram / Counter-Intelligence (t.me/CIG telegram) showing recent Taliban advances and Afghan districts being captured, as of July 5, 2021

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Curated Discourse, Narrative Artists and the Coming Conflicts, by Alastair Crooke

The Iranian government now has little interest in making any kind of common cause with the West. It will do what it perceives as best for Iran, and the price is sanctions from the West, so be it. From Alastair Crooke at strategic-culture.org:

If sanctions are not lifted, Iran will hit back. And Israel will try to deter Iran from pursuing its nuclear programme. The two will clash.

Here we go again. The narrative is being set. President Assad’s name cannot not be uttered in the West, save with a ‘chemical weapons’, and a ‘killing his own people’ gibe. It is just not permitted – even though this truth is disputed by some of the West’s own investigators. One is obliged to repeat this taunt, simply as the entry price to mainstream, ‘curated’ discourse.

Now, courtesy of some highly jaundiced members of the exile Iranian community in the West, the President-elect of Iran is being branded as criminal, and a figure exemplifying the “banal nature of evil”, for his 1988 involvement in the execution of Iranian dissidents. Indeed, Raisi already is under U.S. sanction for this offence, when “according to anti-Iranian folklore, hundreds of detainees were executed. But few know what really happened”, notes former Ambassador Bhadrakumar in the Asia Times.

“It is no secret that Washington encouraged Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein to wage war on Iran”, notes Bhadrakumar. “But after Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khomeini accepted a UN-brokered ceasefire in 1988, members of the terrorist group Mujahedeen-e-Khalq (MEK), based in Iraq – heavily armed by Saddam, and enjoying the backing of the CIA – stormed across the Iranian border in a surprise attack”. Bhadrakumar continues: “Iran smashed the MEK assault – and that set the stage for the so-called “death commissions” of prisoners, terrorists and others. Inevitably, those executed included agents of Western intelligence. The executions couldn’t have been carried out except on Khomeini’s orders. Raisi was a young man of 27 when reportedly, he served on a revolutionary panel involved in sentencing Iran’s enemies to death”.

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US Again Bombs Nations On Other Side Of The World In “Self-Defense”, by Caitlin Johnstone

The US government and military would at least cut down on the well-earned contempt directed towards them if they just did what they were going to do without offering any bullshit explanations or justifications. You earn no respect when you treat people like idiots. From Caitlin Johnstone at caitlinjohnstone.com:

The US is again illegally bombing nations on the other side of the planet which it has invaded and occupied and branded this murderous aggression as “defensive”.

“At President Biden’s direction, U.S. military forces earlier this evening conducted defensive precision airstrikes against facilities used by Iran-backed militia groups in the Iraq-Syria border region,” reads a statement by Pentagon Press Secretary John Kirby. “The targets were selected because these facilities are utilized by Iran-backed militias that are engaged in unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) attacks against U.S. personnel and facilities in Iraq. Specifically, the U.S. strikes targeted operational and weapons storage facilities at two locations in Syria and one location in Iraq, both of which lie close to the border between those countries.”

Even more absurd than the fact that we’re all still pretending this clearly dementia-addled president is “directing” anything is the claim that these actions were “defensive” in nature. It is not possible for occupying invaders to be acting defensively in the nations they are occupying an invading; US troops are only in Iraq by way of an illegal 2003 invasion, a bogus 2014 re-entry, and a refusal to leave at the Iraqi government’s request last year, and they are in Syria illegally and without the permission of the Syrian government. They can therefore only ever be aggressors; they cannot be acting defensively.

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Biden’s Lawless Bombing of Iraq and Syria Only Serves the Weapons Industry Funding Both Parties, by Glenn Greenwald

Glenn Greenwald challenges the most sacred of sacred Washington cows—endless wars and humongous military budgets. From Greenwald at greenwald.substack.com:

U.S. citizens derive no benefit, but instead suffer great loss, from endless war in the Middle East. But their interests are irrelevant to decisions of bipartisan Washington.

US President Joe Biden salutes along with Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin before delivering an address at the 153rd National Memorial Day Observance at Arlington National Cemetery on Memorial Day in Arlington, Virginia on May 31, 2021. (Photo by MANDEL NGAN/AFP via Getty Images)

For the second time in the five months since he was inaugurated, President Joe Biden on Sunday ordered a U.S. bombing raid on Syria, and for the first time, he also bombed Iraq. The rationale offered was the same as Biden’s first air attack in February: the U.S., in the words of Pentagon spokesman John Kirby, “conducted defensive precision airstrikes against facilities used by Iran-backed militia groups in the Iraq-Syria border region.” He added that “the United States acted pursuant to its right of self-defense.”

Embedded in this formulaic Pentagon statement is so much propaganda and so many euphemisms that, by itself, it reveals the fraudulent nature of what was done. To begin with, how can U.S. airstrikes carried out in Iraq and Syria be “defensive” in nature? How can they be an act of “self-defense”? Nobody suggests that the targets of the bombing campaign have the intent or the capability to strike the U.S. “homeland” itself. Neither Syria nor Iraq is a U.S. colony or American property, nor does the U.S. have any legal right to be fighting wars in either country, rendering the claim that its airstrikes were “defensive” and an “act of self-defense” to be inherently deceitful.

The Pentagon’s description of the people bombed by the U.S. — “Iran-backed militias groups” — is intended to obscure the reality. Biden did not bomb Iran or order Iranians to be bombed or killed. The targets of U.S. aggression were Iraqis in their own country, and Syrians in their own country. Only the U.S. war machine and its subservient media could possibly take seriously the Biden administration’s claim that the bombs they dropped on people in their own countries were “defensive” in nature. Invocation of Iran has no purpose other than to stimulate the emotional opposition to the government of that country among many Americans in the hope that visceral dislike of Iranian leaders will override the rational faculties that would immediately recognize the deceit and illegality embedded in the Pentagon’s arguments.

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A Sovereign Iran Will Move Closer to Russia-China, by Pepe Escobar

Iran is becoming an important participant in China and Russia’s Eurasian axis. From Pepe Escobar at unz.com:

Iran’s president-elect will ‘Look East’ while seeking to exit ‘strategic patience’ when dealing with the US

Iran’s new President-elect Ebrahim Raisi holds a press conference in Tehran on June 21. Photo: AFP / Shota Mizuno / The Yomiuri Shimbun
Iran’s new President-elect Ebrahim Raisi holds a press conference in Tehran on June 21. Photo: AFP / Shota Mizuno / The Yomiuri Shimbun

In his first press conference as President-Elect with 62% of the votes, Ebrahim Raesi, facing a forest of microphones, came out swinging and leaving nothing to the imagination.

On the JCPOA, or Iran nuclear deal, the dossier that completely obsesses the West, Raeisi was clear:

  • the US must immediately return to the JCPOA that Washington unilaterally violated, and lift all sanctions.
  • The JCPOA negotiations in Vienna will proceed, but they do not condition anything in terms of Iran’s future.
  • The Iranian ballistic missile program is absolutely non-negotiable in the framework of the JCPOA, and will not be curbed.

Asked by a Russian journalist whether he would meet President Biden if a deal was struck in Vienna and all sanctions lifted – a major “if” – Raeisi’s answer was a straight “No”.

It’s crucial to stress that Raeisi, in principle, favors the restoration of the JCPOA as its was signed in 2015 – following the guidelines of Leader Ayatollah Khamenei. But if the Vienna charade goes on forever and the Americans keep insisting on rewriting the deal towards other areas of Iranian national security, that’s a definitive red line.

Raeisi acknowledged the immense internal challenges he faces, in terms of putting the Iranian economy back on track, getting rid of the neoliberal drive of outgoing Team Rouhani, and fighting widespread corruption. The fact that election turnout was only 48.7%, compared to the average 70% in the prior three presidential contests will make it even more difficult.

Yet in foreign policy Iran’s path ahead is unmistakable, centered on the “Look East” strategy, which means closer cooperation with China and Russia, with Iran developing as a key node of Eurasian integration or, according to the Russian vision, the Greater Eurasia Partnership.

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From the Notebook: A Critical Shift in the War for Oil, by Tom Luongo

The Russia-China-Iran axis is now the strongest entity in the Middle East, and that will of course effect the supply and price of oil. From Tom Luongo at tomluongo.me:

Davos really do think they are too clever by half. Despite prognostications to the contrary, negotiations with Iran over a new JCPOA are nearing completion which Biden/Obama will sign off on after putting up a bit more token resistance to lifting sanctions.

Why do I say this? Nordstream 2.

Biden backed down on Nordstream 2 and, at The Davos Crowd’s insistence, he will back down on the JCPOA.

Davos needs cheap energy into Europe. That’s ultimately what the JCPOA was all about. The basic framework for the deal is still there. While the U.S. will kick and scream a bit about sanctions relief, Iran will be back into the oil market and make it possible for Europe to once again invest in oil/gas projects in Iran.

Now that Benjamin Netanyahu is no longer going to be leading Israel, the probability of breakthrough is much much higher than last week. The Likudniks in Congress and the Senate just lost their raison d’etre. The loss of face for Israel in Bibi’s latest attempt to bludgeon Gaza to retain power backfired completely.

U.S. policy towards Israel is shifting rapidly as the younger generations, Gen-X and Millennials, simply don’t have the same allegiance to Israel that the Baby Boomers and Silent generations did. It is part of a geopolitical ethos which is outdated.

So, with some deal over Iran’s nuclear capability in the near future, Europe will then get gas pipelines from Iran through Turkey as well as gain better access to the North South Transport Corridor which is now unofficially part of China’s Belt and Road Initiative.

Russia, now that Nordstream 2 is nearly done, will not balk at this. In fact, they’ll welcome it. It forms the basis for a broader, sustainable peace arrangement in the Middle East. What’s lost is the Zionist program for Greater Israel and continued sowing dissent between exhausted participants.

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Time to End the Silence on Israel’s Nuclear Weapons, by Mehrnaz Shahabi

Talking about Israel’s nukes is forbidden, but you can make whatever unfounded allegations you want about Iran’s nuclear program. From Mehrnaz Shahabi at consortiumnews.com:

While Israel’s large arsenal of nuclear weapons is exempt from any discussion, its government drives the suspicion of Iran’s nuclear energy program, writes Mehrnaz Shahabi.

IAEA safeguard inspectors in a 2005 training exercise at Slovakia’s Mochovce nuclear power plant. (Dean Calma, IAEA, Flickr)

The attack on Natanz nuclear enrichment plant in Iran, on April 11, targeting underground centrifuges operating under (IAEA) safeguards, was an act of nuclear terror with the potential to kill and harm many thousands of human beings and irreparably contaminate the environment.

Although Israel has not confirmed or denied responsibility, the media have almost universally attributed the attack to Israel, citing senior American and Israeli intelligence officials confirming Israel’s involvement.

 According to The Jerusalem Post,

“Former Mossad chief Danny Yatom expressed concerns about the leak about Israeli involvement to the Times, warning that it could impact Israel’s operational capability, in an interview with Army Radio on Monday. ‘If indeed this thing is the result of an operation involving Israel, this leak is very serious,’ said Yatom. ‘It is detrimental to the Israeli interest and the fight against Iranian attempts to acquire nuclear weapons. There are actions that must remain in the dark.’” 

Western members of the UN Security Council and signatories to the JCPOA, media establishments, pundits and human rights organizations, i.e, the frontline crusaders against “Iran’s nuclear threats” and “human rights violations,” have failed to condemn this abhorrent crime. 

This is not the first time Israel is targeting nuclear plants.  Bombing Iraq’s Osirak nuclear reactor in 1981 and an alleged nuclear fuel plant in Deir al-Zour in Syria in 2007 were precedents.  Since 2010, Israel has started a campaign of assassination of Iranian scientists and targeted Iran’s civilian nuclear infrastructure. 

In June 2010, Natanz enrichment plant was attacked by the Stuxnet virus, a malicious computer worm, collaboratively made by the U.S. and Israel — entered into Natanz with the collaboration of the Dutch Intelligence  — which caused the centrifuges to accelerate until they disintegrated. 

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