Tag Archives: Iran

NATO appoints Turkey to lead drive into the Middle East and Asia, by Rick Rozoff

NATO’s goal is to disrupt the Chinese-Russian led Eurasian Axis, and Turkey is well positioned to be a disruptive force. From Rick Rozoff at antibellum679354512.wordpress.com:

On the first of the year the North Atlantic Treaty Organization transferred command of the NATO Very High Readiness Joint Task Force (VJTF) to Turkey.

On March 30 NATO turned over its current mission in Afghanistan to Turkish Brigadier General Selçuk Yurtsizoğlu.

In a phone conversation on April 1 U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin and Turkish Defense Minister Hulusi Akar discussed Turkey’s role in leading the NATO Resolute Support mission in Afghanistan among other matters.

Turkish Minister of Foreign Affairs Mevlut Cavusoglu met with U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken while both were attending the NATO meeting of foreign ministers and secretaries on March 23-24. (Blinken on the occasion: “Turkey is a long-standing and valued ally.”)

Speaking at an event in the U.S. on March 9 NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said: “I think that we need to understand that Turkey is an important ally. Because you can just look at the map and then you see that Turkey is extremely important.” [That final sentence is key and will be addressed later.]

A few days earlier Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan wrote on Twitter, “We would like to thank the NATO Secretary General for his objective evaluations on Euro-Atlantic security and defence matters.”

This is notwithstanding Turkey having supported and supervised if not directed last year’s 45-day war by Azerbaijan – the countries identify themselves (or itself) as “one nation, two states” – against minuscule Nagorno-Karabakh, its invasion of Northern Iraq thirteen years ago, its ongoing proxy war in Libya, its both direct and proxy war in Syria, its regular buzzing of fellow NATO member Greece’s aircraft in the Aegean Sea and its – now at 43 years – longest counterinsurgency war in the world against ethnic Kurds in its own country (which has spilled over into Iraq and Syria.) None of that in any manner disturbs NATO, the self-styled alliance of democracies.

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The Iran-China Axis Is A Fast Growing Force In Oil Markets, by David Messler

The Chinese and Iranian governments are sealing their alliance with oil and a shared antipathy towards the US. From David Messler at oilprice.com:

One of the things that doesn’t get a lot of discussion in the press is the under-the-table relationship Iran and China have had when it comes to oil. At first glance, they wouldn’t seem to have a lot in common. One is a theocracy with a radical view of non-believers and the other is probably the only example of a successful communist dictatorship since this form of government was created. But, if you look a little deeper they have a couple of things that align their mutual interests strongly. The first is they are both absolute dictatorships, meaning the institutions of government and national policies can be changed at the whim of those at the top. The second thing they have in common, and this is the main takeaway, both countries have serious geopolitical issues with the United States.

Iran suffers from years of sanctions imposed primarily by the U.S. to compel them to comply with U.N. resolutions regarding their atomic program. China views this century as the one in which they displace America as the world’s dominant Super Power. The place where these two authoritarian government’s worldviews align is in their opposition to the U.S.

It’s worth noting China’s apparent success has been funded by western economies over the last 75-years, thanks to our desire to buy everything as cheaply as possible. In that time, China has become the manufacturing center for the world and amassed immense wealth in doing so. The pandemic has caused a rethinking of the wisdom of outsourcing strategic commodities to despotic regimes, but for now, if you buy something other than food odds are it was made in China.

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Russiagate Rolls On, Giving Biden Political Cover, by Joe Lauria

The rare instances Joe Biden does something right (like ascend a flight of stairs) he’ll get all the credit. On the many instances where he does something wrong, it will be Vladimir Putin’s fault. From Joe Lauria at consortiumnews.com:

When it comes to national security reporting corporate journalists have time and again shown they are practicing something other than journalism, writes Joe Lauria.

Russian President Vladimir Putin, March 2020. (President of Russia)

The latest U.S. intelligence “assessment” this week sought to prepare the way for more sanctions against Russia and Iran and gave political cover for Joe Biden.

The highly politicized unclassified report was gobbled up without skepticism by corporate media, playing its dutiful role of passing disinformation onto the American public without question.

The opening paragraph says it all:

“The Intelligence Community rarely can publicly reveal the full extent of its knowledge or the specific information on which it bases its analytic conclusions, as doing so could endanger sensitive sources and methods and imperil the Intelligence Community’s ability to collect critical foreign intelligence. The analytic judgments outlined below are identical to those in the classified version, but this declassified document does not include the full supporting information and does not discuss specific intelligence reports, sources, or methods.”

That should be a red flag for anyone who calls him or herself a journalist. Demand some kind of proof before proceeding. But when it comes to national security reporting corporate journalists have time and again shown they are practicing something other than journalism.

Any self-respecting reporter would never accept “just trust us,” especially from U.S. intelligence that for decades, especially since the Iraq invasion and the original Russiagate fiasco (and for decades before that as exposed in the 1975 Church and Pike Committees), has been thoroughly discredited.

If the opening page of this report wasn’t enough to give pause, then the closing one was the clincher:

“Judgments are not intended to imply that we have proof that shows something to be a fact. Assessments are based on collected information, which is often incomplete or fragmentary, as well as logic, argumentation, and precedents.”

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US Intelligence Cartel: All The Governments We Hate Interfered In Our Election, by Caitlin Johnstone

If you wanted to write a full-length book about foreign election interference in US elections, you’d start with Israel. From Caitlin Johnstone at caitlinjohnstone.com:

A new report from the US National Intelligence Council assesses that most of the governments the US-centralized empire has targeted for destruction are guilty of seeking to interfere in the nation’s 2020 election.

Ahem.

Yeah, so, that’s the news. According to the US intelligence cartel, the nations which sought to interfere in the outcome of the US election include Russia, Iran, China, Lebanese Hizballah, Cuba, and Venezuela. Interestingly, exactly zero nations aligned geopolitically with the United States are listed as having interfered in its electoral process.

“We assess that Russian President Putin authorized, and a range of Russian government organizations conducted, influence operations aimed at denigrating President Biden’s candidacy and the Democratic Party, supporting former President Trump, undermining public confidence in the electoral process, and exacerbating sociopolitical divisions in the US,” the report informs us. “A key element of Moscow’s strategy this election cycle was its use of proxies linked to Russian intelligence to push influence narratives-including misleading or unsubstantiated allegations against President Biden-to US media organizations, US officials, and prominent US individuals, including some close to former President Trump and his administration.”

“We assess that Iran carried out a multi-pronged covert influence campaign intended to undercut former President Trump’s reelection prospects-though without directly promoting his rivals-undermine public confidence in the electoral process and US institutions, and sow division and exacerbate societal tensions in the US,” the report adds. “We assess that Supreme Leader Khamenei authorized the campaign and Iran’s military and intelligence services implemented it using overt and covert messaging and cyber operations.”

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Ten Years Since Beginning of Failed Regime-Change Operation Against Syria, by Paul Antonopoulos

When does a long war become a forever war? A decade seems like a good dividing line. From at antiwar.com:

The initial coalition against Syria has collapsed, with Turkey frustrated over the U.S.’ sustained support for the Kurds and the Arabs pivoting back to Syria.

On this exact day ten years ago, NATO, the Gulf Cooperation Council, Turkey and Israel began a coordinated campaign of regime change against President Bashar al-Assad and the destruction of Syria. This has led to the death of over 500,000 people, millions of refugees, destroyed infrastructure and an economy in crisis. Despite numerous political maneuvers, this alliance against Syria catastrophically failed and could not achieve regime change. Not only did Assad survive the onslaught, but the geopolitical situation dramatically changed as a result.

Each aggressor had its own ambitions in Syria but was united in the goal to achieve regime change. Thanks to the contributions made by Russia, Iran and Hezbollah, the Syrian government survived the coordinated aggression. Whilst NATO and Turkey continue to insist on regime change, Arab states, most prominently Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, were forced to normalize their relations with Syria to counter the growing threat of Turkish expansionism and influence into the Arab World that they had not anticipated when they decided to destroy Syria ten years ago.

Although a U.S.-dominated unipolar system was consolidated with the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, Russia’s 2008 intervention to defend the de facto republics of South Ossetia and Abkhazia against NATO-encouraged Georgian forces was the first sign of an emerging multipolar system. A multipolar system, where there is a more equal distribution of power compacted into spheres of influence, was strengthened whilst the US could only helplessly watch as Russia successfully defended South Ossetia and Abkhazia in a region that falls under Moscow’s sphere of influence.

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Has Israel Been Out-foxed? by Alastair Crooke

While the whole world, particularly Israel, has fixated on Iran’s potential nuclear weapons capability, Iran has concentrated on its non-nuclear capabilities. Israel may be wishing it had paid a little more attention. From Alastair Crooke at strategic-culture.org:

Reactivating the JCPOA has drawn some unexpected advocates – top Israeli security officials wanting to pull Iran back into the JCPOA.

A top Russian official, last weekend, said something which pinpoints the times we are living today. It may seem a throwaway remark, but behind it, just out of sight, lies something profound. He said that the JCPOA, (for very many, and not just for Iran), had become the prime symbol of how the rules-based global order is used precisely to squeeze-out a peoples’ sovereignty and autonomy – and to Gulliverise them into its Siamese twin, the rules-based monetary order.

At first brush, such a comment might seem a bit exaggerated, even hostile – for surely the intent to prevent proliferation of nuclear weapons by the U.S. is a laudable aim?

Ostensibly that may be seem the objective (and one shared by Russia). But it is also true that the JCPOA methodology fits to a particular pattern: Unilaterally declare a certain vision, together with its values, to be Universal, then lay down the ‘rules-of-the-road’ to this universal. These rules will not necessarily comport with international law, but then, in line with Carl Schmitt’s infamous phrase, “Sovereign is he who decides the exception (to law)”, and since universality takes itself to be a distinct cut-above backward, nationalist civilisations, in that measure alone, it claims exceptionality. And the rules-based ‘order’, on this reckoning, must supersede and supplant ‘law’.

In the case of Iran, the superimposed ‘universal’ rules-of-the road were intended to supplant Iran’s NPT legal rights: to walk-back the Revolutionary impulse in Iran; drain its residue of radicalism through the drudgery of complying with tedious JCPOA rules; and ultimately force Iran’s assimilation into the global monetary governance too.

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Saudi Arabia Sets Global Standard for Tyranny, but Asks: Why Is Washington Picking on the Kingdom? by Doug Bandow

Chutzpah is a Yiddish term but it certainly applies to the people running Saudi Arabia. From Doug Bandow at antiwar.com:

Why is everyone being so mean to Saudi Arabia? No doubt, the poor, beleaguered, misunderstood royals ask that question as they busy themselves squandering people’s wealth, imprisoning critics, attacking impoverished neighbors, and spreading Islamic fundamentalism. Life can be so unfair.

Indeed, it is a travesty that even the Saudis’ supposed friends are critical. Only someone with a heart of stone could not have compassion for Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman given the travails that he has personally suffered while solidifying his dictatorship, purchasing yachts and palaces, and slicing and dicing his detractors. So much harm to do, so little time. He is tragically unappreciated by the Biden administration.

The horror!

However, the beleaguered crown prince does have defenders. Eric Mandel of the Middle East Political Information Network asked: “Why does President Biden consider Saudi Arabia a ‘pariah’ nation but does not have the same level of animosity for the Islamic Republic of Iran, whose human rights history is at least as troubling as Saudi Arabia’s?”

Indeed, Mandel insisted that “Saudi Arabia has begun a process to reform its human rights behavior” and MbS “intends to implement his Vision 2030 initiative to move Saudi Arabia into the modern era.” How glorious. With North Korea’s Kim Il-sung dead, maybe MbS could claim the latter’s title of “Great Leader.”

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Is Biden Committing Diplomatic Suicide Over the Iran Nuclear Agreement? by Medea Benjamin and Nicholas J.S. Davies

Iran is not going to give Biden the deal they wouldn’t give Trump: renegotiation of the Nuclear Agreement. From Medea Benjamin and Nicholas J.S. Davies at antiwar.com:

As Congress still struggles to pass a COVID relief bill, the rest of the world is nervously reserving judgment on America’s new president and his foreign policy, after successive U.S. administrations have delivered unexpected and damaging shocks to the world and the international system.

Cautious international optimism toward Biden is very much based on his commitment to Obama’s signature diplomatic achievement, the JCPOA or nuclear agreement with Iran. Biden and the Democrats excoriated Trump for withdrawing from it and promised to promptly rejoin the deal if elected. But Biden now appears to be hedging his position in a way that risks turning what should be an easy win for the new administration into an avoidable and tragic diplomatic failure.

While it was the United States under Trump that withdrew from the nuclear agreement, Biden is taking the position that the US will not rejoin the agreement or drop its unilateral sanctions until Iran first comes back into compliance. After withdrawing from the agreement, the United States is in no position to make such demands, and Foreign Minister Zarif has clearly and eloquently rejected them, reiterating Iran’s firm commitment that it will return to full compliance as soon as the United States does so.

Biden should have announced US re-entry as one of his first executive orders. It did not require renegotiation or debate. On the campaign trail, Bernie Sanders, Biden’s main competitor for the Democratic nomination, simply promised, “I would re-enter the agreement on the first day of my presidency.”

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Biden’s Iran Policy Is Just Trump’s Iran Policy With A Rainbow Flag Emoji, by Caitlin Johnstone

There’s not a dime’s worth of difference between many Trump and Biden foreign policies. From Caitlin Johnstone at caitlinjohnstone.com:

In a new interview with CBS Evening News, President Biden confirmed that his administration will not be lifting sanctions imposed upon Iran in order to bring Tehran to the negotiating table for the restoration of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), commonly known as the Iran nuclear deal.

“Will the U.S. lift sanctions first in order to get Iran back to the negotiating table?” Biden was asked by CBS’s Norah O’Donnell.

“No,” the president replied.

“They have to stop enriching uranium first,” asked O’Donnell.

Biden nodded in response.

There are a few things that are ridiculous about this, the first being that the JCPOA does not require that Iran “stop enriching uranium” at all. As explained by Al-Monitor‘s Arash Karami, the deal only calls for Iran to “keep its level of uranium enrichment at up to 3.67 %”, a level it only began exceeding when the Trump administration backed out of the deal and imposed sanctions. The administration later clarified that Biden meant Iran would have to return to its JCPOA levels before negotiations could begin, but the fact that neither the United States president nor the high-profile reporter interviewing him appear to have been clear on this says a lot about the vapid nature of America’s political/media class.

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Why the Biden Administration Has Set itself up for Failure on the Iran Nuclear Deal, by Scott Ritter

Any attempt by the Biden Administration to rejoin the Iran Nuclear Agreement will ensnare it in the contradictions in the agreement accepted by the Obama administration and laid bare by Trump. From Scott Ritter at ronpaulinstitute.org:

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By laying out unrealistic demands to Iran and engaging in fearmongering about its nuclear program, Secretary of State Tony Blinken has underscored America’s real intent about rejoining the controversial agreement.

President Joe Biden has made rejoining the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA, popularly known as the Iran nuclear deal) one of the top priorities of his administration, reversing course from the direction taken by former President Donald Trump who, in May 2018, withdrew the US from the landmark 2015 agreement.

However, the gap between Biden’s stated desire and the ability of his foreign policy team, headed by Secretary of State Antony Blinken, to bring it to fruition may be insurmountable.

In a recent statement, Blinken warned that if Iran continued to unilaterally lift the various restrictions on its nuclear program mandated under the JCPOA, it would be able to produce enough fissile material for a nuclear weapon within “a matter of weeks.”

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