Tag Archives: Iran

Soleimani Geopolitics, One Year On, by Pepe Escobar

Nothing about the Trump administrations policies concerning Iran have worked out as planned. From Pepe Escobar at unz.com:

One year ago, the Raging Twenties started with a murder.

The assassination of Maj Gen Qassem Soleimani, commander of the Quds Force of the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC), alongside Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, the deputy commander of Iraq’s Hashd al-Sha’abi militia, by laser-guided Hellfire missiles launched from two MQ-9 Reaper drones, was an act of war.

Not only the drone strike at Baghdad airport, directly ordered by President Trump, was unilateral, unprovoked and illegal: it was engineered as a stark provocation, to detonate an Iranian reaction that would then be countered by American “self-defense”, packaged as “deterrence”. Call it a perverse form of double down, reversed false flag.

The imperial Mighty Wurlitzer spun it as a “targeted killing”, a pre-emptive op squashing Soleimani’s alleged planning of “imminent attacks” against US diplomats and troops.

False. No evidence whatsoever. And then, Iraqi Prime Minister Adil Abdul-Mahdi, in front of his Parliament, offered the ultimate context: Soleimani was on a diplomatic mission, on a regular flight between Damascus and Baghdad, involved in complex negotiations between Tehran and Riyadh, with the Iraqi Prime Minister as mediator, at the request of President Trump.

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The Christmas Truce of 1914 – Why There Is Still No Peace On Earth, by David Stockman

When the Soviet Union collapsed the world had its best opportunity since World War I for peace. That chance was not seized by the US government. From David Stockman at antiwar.com:

After the Berlin Wall fell in November 1989 and the death of the Soviet Union was confirmed two years later when Boris Yeltsin courageously stood down the Red Army tanks in front of Moscow’s White House, a dark era in human history came to an end.

The world had descended into a 77-Year War, incepting with the mobilization of the armies of old Europe in August 1914. If you want to count bodies, 150 million were killed by all the depredations that germinated in the Great War, its foolish aftermath at Versailles, and the march of history into World War II and the Cold War that followed inexorably thereupon.

Upwards of 8% of the human race was wiped out during that span. The toll encompassed the madness of trench warfare during 1914-1918; the murderous regimes of Soviet and Nazi totalitarianism that rose from the ashes of the Great War and Versailles; and then the carnage of WWII and all the lesser (unnecessary) wars and invasions of the Cold War including Korea and Vietnam.

At the end of the Cold War, therefore, the last embers of the fiery madness that had incepted with the guns of August 1914 had finally burned out. Peace was at hand. Yet 29 years later there is still no peace because Imperial Washington confounds it.

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‘Thinking Machiavelli, Acting Mussolini’, by Alastair Crooke

Iran may not have nuclear weapons, but it never the less has upended war and geopolitical strategy in important ways that the US ignores at its peril. From Alastair Crooke at strategic-culture.org:

Earlier this month, the Lebanese al-Manar TV aired footage of Israeli bases in Upper Galilee, which were filmed by a Hizbullah drone. An Israeli base in Brannite and a command centre in Rowaysat al-Alam in northern Israel can be seen in the footage. According to Southfront, whose military expertise is highly regarded, Hizbullah now operates a variety of drones, some with combat capabilities. Reports suggest that Hizbullah has established a formidable stealth drone and smart cruise missile force (with support from Iran). The Russia-linked, military site, Southfront, concludes that today, the movement is better trained and equipped than many armies around the world.

Israel is convinced that, for the first time, that the ‘next war’ will not be limited to Lebanese territory; that its own borders will be violated; and that offensive combat forces will enter settlements and homes and clash with Israeli troops.

This is giant ‘chess’ – where a combination of armed drones, suicide drones and ‘smart’ missiles likely will predominate (rather than tanks, as in the 2006 war). In its evolving thesis of a new war with Hizbullah, Israel believes that all its airfields will be bombed with precision missiles. (And is therefore trying to get from the U.S., a few squadrons of the new generation F-35B jets that do not need long runways, so as to try to secure its air superiority in the face of a possible swarm drone or missile attack on its air defences).

This represents just one component to Iran’s transmutation of any Israeli or American ‘military’ option against Iran into a suicide ‘Red Pill’ for whomsoever might launch it. Quietly, while all the world was focussed on the ‘Big One’ (putative nuclear weapons), over the last four years, Iran has built a conventional ‘swarm’ and ‘smart’ (and virtually undetectable by radar) ‘ant’s hive’ of ‘micro’ weapons circling across the region – from Gaza, Lebanon, Syria, and Iraq to Yemen.

Although it is still to sink-in to European and American thinking (obsessed with the possibly now passé framework of the ‘Big One’ – the JCPOA), Iran quietly has inverted the calculus. It possesses the leverage now. And it has other trade options (through looking East) opening to it. Israel and its Gulf State ‘allies’, by contrast are on the defensive.

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Biden’s Iran Deal Faces Iran’s ‘Red Pill’, by Alastair Crooke

It may not be easy for Biden to resurrect US participation in the Iran nuclear deal. From Alastair Crooke at strategic-culture.org:

Biden says he wants – through diplomacy – to achieve a nuclear deal with Iran – i.e. a JCPOA ‘Plus + Plus’. The Europeans desperately concur with this aspiration. But the ‘deal protocols’ that his ‘A-Team’ inherits from the Obama era have always contained seeds to failure.

And now, four years on, the prospect of failure seems assured – firstly by the hostages to fortune already offered up by Biden, and secondly (and decisively), by the fact that the ‘world’ today is not the ‘world’ of yore. The ‘chair’ at the head of the table of global leadership is no longer an American perquisite. Israel is not the same Israel, and Iran – for sure – is not the same Iran (as at the outset to the Obama initiative). The world has moved on. The last four years cannot simply be expunged as some inconsequential aberration to earlier protocols, still valid today.

Trump’s mark on America and the world cannot be normalised away. Half of America in these last years has become America First-ers – as Pat Buchanan points out, whatever the establishment believes, in the clash between nationalism and globalism, globalism has lost half of America.

If followed through, the protocols – the implicit procedures – to ‘a deal’, in today’s environment, inevitably will take Biden or Harris, or whomsoever is President, along the path to the protocol’s final point: Should negotiation not produce the desired result, the threat of a military option will be back on the table.

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How Iranian nuclear scientist was murdered

There is a whole genre of assassination fiction. Here’s a real life account, from various news agencies, at informationclearinghouse.info:

Assassination of Iran’s top nuclear scientist ‘involved 62 operatives

November 29, 2020 “Information Clearing House” – Remarkable detail of the plot to kill an Iranian nuclear scientist emerged on Saturday, a day after the assassination of Mohsen Fakhrizadeh reverberated around the world.

Sixty two people were involved in the scheme, according to Mohamad Ahwaze, an Iranian journalist who exposed the extent of the COVID-19 pandemic in his country.

Ahwaze said he had obtained leaked Iranian information.

Iranian officials have blamed Israel’s Mossad for the assassination. One American official and two other intelligence officials also told the New York Times that Israel was behind the attack.

Ahwaze said that 12 members of the team, who he described as being highly trained and assisted by ‘security and intelligence services abroad’, were deployed to the city of Absard, 50 miles east of Tehran.

The mountain retreat of 10,000 people is where many Tehranis have second homes, and Fakhrizadeh, 59, had a villa there.

Another 50 people, Ahwaze said, helped with logistical support. He did not specify whether they were in Iran, or abroad.

The team had been watching Fakhrizadeh, and knew that he was going to be driving from Tehran to Absard on Friday.

They planned the attack for a roundabout in Absard, at the foot of a tree-lined boulevard which enters the city.

A Hyundai Santa Fe with four passengers, four motorcyles and two snipers were waiting for him at the scene of the ambush, along with a booby-trapped Nissan pickup.

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Confronting the Islamic Republic of Iran: Give Peace a Chance, by Doug Bandow

Since Iran tossed out the US puppet, the Shah, in 1979, the US government’s attitude towards that country has been unremitting hostility. Maybe a different approach is in order. From Doug Bandow at antiwar.com:

As President Donald Trump prepares to leave office, Iran is leading the news after the assassination of a top Iranian nuclear engineer, likely by Israel with U.S. knowledge if not assistance. The Obama administration criticized a similar Israeli hit in 2012, but Trump lauded the latest murder. He has been fixated on Iran since taking office.

The president’s monomania may reflect his determination to reverse Barack Obama’s policies. Or perhaps surrounding himself with Israel-friendly hawks did the trick. In any case, Trump effectively turned US policy over to Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and Israel’s Benjamin Netanyahu, with predictably disastrous results.

The president abandoned the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, or JCPOA, designed to limit Iran’s nuclear activities, and launched full-scale economic war against Tehran, his so-called “maximum pressure” campaign. However, MbS and Netanyahu, as well as the coterie of neocons who remain influential in Washington, wanted more and pushed the US toward real war with the Islamic Republic. To Trump’s credit, he drew back from exploding the Mideast despite ample encouragement from Washington’s bipartisan war party.

Yet his “maximum pressure” campaign backfired spectacularly. Indeed, the issue resulted in his greatest foreign policy failure: Trump has made the Middle East more dangerous, less stable, more repressive, and less free. Iran has been transformed: the young most favorable to the West are disillusioned; relative moderates such as President Hassan Rouhani have been discredited internally; hardline factions most hostile to America have taken over parliament and are likely to win the presidency; few Iranians irrespective of their political persuasion trust Washington to fulfill any future agreements; China and Russia have increased cooperation with Tehran.

Heck ‘uva job, Donny!

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Market Friday: Iran, Bitcoin and The Sanctions That Won’t Be, by Tom Luongo

Iran may be on to something. From Tom Luongo at tomluongo.me:

Amidst all the posturing, fretting and craziness leading up to the election on Tuesday the thing that jumped out of my Twitter feed was this 2 minute video from PressTV.

Watch it. I’ll wait.

… Done? Good.

Let’s get started.

This came from Press TV, the Iranian equivalent of the BBC but without so much British Marxism. So, it’s as official as official gets.

Iran will use bitcoin as part of its import settlement system. It will export bitcoins and import things barred to it from the U.S.

Do you really think this policy will stop here?

The video reminds us that Iran has been building this case for the use of bitcoin to evade U.S. sanctions for years. This is a strategic move, not a fly-by-night operation like Venezuela’s Petro.

They could have gone the China or European Union route, push for a Central Bank Digital Currency completely controlled by the government.

You know, the worst possible arrangement, a cryptocurrency run by central bankers, i.e. Ripple.

But that would gain them nothing. Who would use a digital rial when no one wants the current rial?

Instead Iran embraced bitcoin because it had no other choice. The rial has been effectively destroyed by U.S. sanctions and the country is starving for a currency which accretes value to the user rather than steals it.

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The Trump Administration’s Human Rights Confidence Game: Targeting Adversaries, Excusing Allies, by Doug Bandow

The Trump administration wields human rights as a cudgel; there’s no genuine concern for anyone’s human rights. From Doug Bandow at antiwar.com:

Promoting human rights is a central tenet of US foreign policy. Sometimes. In practice, Washington is most enthusiastic about defending life, liberty, and happiness where America has the least clout. And American policymakers most often remain silent when allied governments, whom the US could most influence, are detaining, torturing, and murdering opponents.

The Trump administration has taken this approach to an extreme, losing all credibility on the issue. For President Donald Trump and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo human rights are a weapon to be used against adversaries. When friends are the abusers, the issue is quietly and speedily dismissed, never to be mentioned again.

Last week Pompeo presented the conclusions of his Commission on Unalienable Rights at the United Nations, attempting to shape the definition of human rights. The US was joined by 56 other nations in affirming that “Certain principle are so fundamental as to apply to all human beings, everywhere, at all times.”

It was a grand gesture. However, few robust liberal democracies that respect human rights joined Pompeo. Indeed, 46 of the supporting countries were rated not free or partly free by the group Freedom House: Afghanistan, Albania, Armenia, Bahrain, Burundi, Burkina Faso, Colombia, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Djibouti, Ecuador, Egypt, Gambia, Gabonese Republic, Georgia, Haiti, Honduras, Hungary, Iraq, Ivory Coast, Jordan, Kosovo, Kuwait, Lebanon, Liberia, Libya, Madagascar, Malawi, Maldives, Mauritania, Moldova, Morocco, Niger, North Macedonia, Philippines, Rwanda, Saudi Arabia, Senegal, Serbia, Sierra Leone, Sudan, Togo, Uganda, Ukraine, United Arab Emirates, Uzbekistan, and Zambia.

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A Peace Deal Like No Other, by Philip Giraldi

President Trump and Mike Pompeo are trying to set up an Israeli/Arab alliance against Iran. From Philip Giraldi at unz.com:

Much ado about nothing, but Act 2 is coming up

It is odd that the White House is gloating over its claimed peace agreement in the Middle East at the same time as one of the signatories is bombing Syria, Lebanon and Gaza. It all suggests that peace in the region will exclude designated enemies and the friends of those enemies, since the ties among the three parties – Israel, United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Bahrain – is transparently in part an offensive alliance directed against Iran and its friends, to include Syria and Lebanon. A significant amount of the horse trading that preceded the gala signing ceremony in the White House involved who would get what advanced American weapons down the road. The UAE wants F-35 fighter bombers while Israel is already asking for $8 billion for more top-level weapons from the U.S. taxpayer to maintain its “qualitative edge” over its new found friends.

For the more sagacious readers who chose to ignore what took place, a short recap is in order. Last Tuesday President Trump hosted a White House signing ceremony during which Israel established formal ties with the two Arab states. The agreement was dubbed the Abraham Accord because it purports to build on the foundation provided by the fraternity, as one might put it, of the three Abrahamic religions, namely Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. More specifically, it created the mechanism for diplomatic, economic, and cultural ties between Israel and the two Arab countries. It should be observed that both the UAE and Bahrain are close to being client states of the U.S. Bahrain is in fact the home port of the U.S. Fifth Fleet that operates in the region and it also hosts headquarters of the U.S. Naval Forces Central Command (NAVCENT). Both countries have long had de facto semi-secret relations with Israel on security issues and Israelis have been able to travel to them as long as they do not do so on an Israeli passport. And they both also know that the road to improving already good relations with Washington passes through Israel.

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When it comes to Iran, how many failures is enough for Pompeo? by Muhammad Sahimi

Mike Pompeo has done nothing but embarrass himself. From Muhammad Sahimi at responsiblestatecraft.org:

For many years Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has worked to bring Iran to heel, if not to destroy the Islamic Republic altogether. He would presumably prefer to accomplish those ends through economic and political warfare, but it is unlikely he would object to military attacks if that is what it takes. As a Congressman from Kansas as early as 2014, he was urging Washington to attack Tehran’s nuclear facilities, noting it would take “under 2,000 sorties,” or bombings, to do the job. “This is not an insurmountable task for the coalition forces,” he said.

Pompeo is an ideologue rather than a diplomat. His urge to confront Iran appears to be motivated by his Christian Zionism and support for Israel, as well as, as some believe, his own presidential ambitions. Adding to these factors are no doubt his views about American exceptionalism that require such countries as Iran, Venezuela, Syria, and Iraq to bow to U.S. demands for their own good, all of which creates a mixture dangerous to world peace, and to the Middle East, in particular.

As CIA Director Pompeo released the agency’s documents taken from Osama bin Laden’s hideout in Pakistan, but gave advanced copies to the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, a well-funded, stridently pro-Israel lobby and think tank that opposed the JCPOA and has long promoted waging economic warfare against Iran. Pompeo had presumably hoped that FDD would uncover evidence linking Iran directly to al-Qaeda — much as the George W. Bush’s administration struggled to link Saddam Hussein to Al Qaeda nearly 20 years ago — so that the 2002 Authorization for use of Military Force in the so-called war on terror could be invoked against Iran. The FDD obliged and published a report. But the evidence for such a link that it adduced from the documents was so weak that it was almost entirely ignored by lawmakers and major media alike.

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