Tag Archives: Iran

Trump’s Hard Line on Iran Will Give Saudis Free Hand in Yemen, by Gareth Porter

Why has the US repeatedly condemned, sanctioned, and isolated Iran, while Saudi Arabia gets a free pass doing the exact same things for which Iran stands accused? From Gareth Porter at antiwar.com:

The Trump administration’s truculent warning last week that it was putting Iran “on notice” over its recent missile test and a missile strike on a Saudi warship off the coast of Yemen appears calculated to convince the American public that the current administration is going to be tougher on Iran than the Obama administration was.

However, despite the tough talk from National Security Adviser Michael Flynn and other senior officials, the new administration appears to be focused primarily on aligning US policy more closely with that of Saudi Arabia – especially in its war in Yemen and its broader conflict with Iran. The Saudis have been leading a coalition of Sunni Gulf regimes in bombing most of the Yemeni territory controlled by Houthi rebels since March 2015, with US support.

An unidentified senior administration official speaking at a February 1 press briefing, a transcript of which Truthout has obtained, indicated that, apart from economic sanctions, the administration was considering options “related to support for those that are challenging and opposing Iranian malign activity in the region” – meaning the Saudis and Israel.

During the briefing, the senior officials signaled clearly that the Trump administration will unconditionally support the Saudi-led air campaign in Yemen. In response to the question of whether the administration was “reassessing” US support for the Saudi war in Yemen, the unnamed senior official answered with one word: “No.”

The Trump administration’s lack of public reservation about the indiscriminate Saudi-led bombing campaign, as well as its lack of interest in exerting pressure on the Saudis to end the war by accepting a compromise with the Houthis and the forces of former Yemeni president Saleh, significantly increases the likelihood that the Saudi bombing will continue indefinitely. That means that the food shortage that is killing thousands of Yemeni children will probably become far worse in the coming months.

To continue reading: Trump’s Hard Line on Iran Will Give Saudis Free Hand in Yemen

 

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Putin’s Tough Choice: China Or The West, by Robert Berke

Trump’s potential improvement in relations with Russia will carry a price for Russia: it may have to sacrifice its ties with China and Iran. From Robert Berke at oilprice.com:

“With Tillerson’s confirmation, Exxon just annexed the United States,” –anonymous blogger.

To many observers, the appointment of Tillerson to the helm the State Dept signaled the Administration’s priority of supporting the oil industry, which in recent years has been under severe pressure from OPEC’s campaign of over-production that forced prices down to a post-recession low.

Seen from a different angle, the move also signals Exxon, the oil giant, establishing a strong connection with the Administration. As the former CEO of Exxon, and a member of the Board of Directors of the company that was the core of the original Rockefeller Family’s Standard Oil monopoly, Tillerson also brings direct contact with the Rockefeller Family, whose members remain on the Exxon Board.

Former Secretary of State, Condaleeza Rice, who also sits on the BoD, along with Former CIA Director and Defense Secretary, Robert Gates, both listed as an Exxon consultant, also were strong backers of Tillerson to Trump.

It’s hardly a coincidence that Henry Kissinger, for decades, the Rockefeller Family’s chief foreign policy advisor, with strong personal connections to Russian President Putin, has emerged as a chief foreign policy advisor to the Trump Administration.

Nor is it surprising that published reports of Kissinger’s advice to Trump is to seek to normalize US/Russian relations, diametrically opposed to the Obama/Clinton policies of confrontation with Russia.

It is also part of a broader strategy to tempt Russia towards closer relations with the US/EU while sacrificing its growing close relations with China, viewed by Trump, as it was by Obama and Clinton, as the chief obstacle to the U.S. dominant global leadership. As a critical part of the deal, Russia is expected to accede to sacrifice its budding alliance with Iran.

Now the human drama watch begins; will Putin cave in to the demands of the West to renounce his allies in exchange for the improved relation and the dropping of sanctions?

To continue reading: Putin’s Tough Choice: China Or The West

Trump at the Crossroads, by Justin Raimondo

Before his election, Justin Raimondo was sure that Donald Trump would work a transformation in US foreign policy, away from the dominant neoconservatism. No he’s not so sure. From Raimondo at antiwar.com:

Less than three weeks into the presidency of Donald J. Trump, there are several troubling signs that the new administration is abandoning its foreign policy mandate and going off the rails.

First and foremost is the saber-rattling aimed at Iran. The ostensible reason for this is Tehran’s testing of mid-range ballistic missiles which, we are told, are “nuclear capable.” But of course any and all ballistic missile systems can be modified to carry nuclear warheads, and since Iran is complying with the JCPOA agreed to by Tehran and the Western powers, this is just rhetorical noise generated for home consumption. Accusations by the Trump administration that the tests violate a UN resolution are inaccurate: part of the Iran deal was a revision of an earlier UN resolution that forbade such tests to read that the international body merely “calls on” the Iranians to refrain from such activities. The Obama administration opposed this, but received no backing from our European “allies.” So the tests are “legal,” albeit considered provocative.

And yet, as Kelsey Davenport and Daryl Kimball of the Arms Control Association point out: “Given the tensions between Tehran and its neighbors, it is extremely unlikely that Iran will stop developing its ballistic missile capabilities when countries like Saudi Arabia and Israel field ballistic missiles capable of targeting Iran.” Indeed, the Saudis have been procuring nuclear capable ballistic missiles from China since the 1980s, more recently with CIA approval. And US arms sales to the Saudis have buttressed their military, enabling the Kingdom’s invasion of Yemen – the first such action in the region since Saddam Hussein marched into Kuwait in the early 1990s. All this gives heft to Tehran’s contention that their missile tests are strictly defensive.

To continue reading: Trump at the Crossroads

The Coming Clash With Iran, by Patrick J. Buchanan

The US picking a fight with Iran does not sound like noninterventionism. From Patrick J. Buchanan at buchanan.org:

When Gen. Michael Flynn marched into the White House Briefing Room to declare that “we are officially putting Iran on notice,” he drew a red line for President Trump. In tweeting the threat, Trump agreed.

His credibility is now on the line.

And what triggered this virtual ultimatum?

Iran-backed Houthi rebels, said Flynn, attacked a Saudi warship and Tehran tested a missile, undermining “security, prosperity, and stability throughout the Middle East,” placing “American lives at risk.”

But how so?

The Saudis have been bombing the Houthi rebels and ravaging their country, Yemen, for two years. Are the Saudis entitled to immunity from retaliation in wars that they start?

Where is the evidence Iran had a role in the Red Sea attack on the Saudi ship? And why would President Trump make this war his war?

As for the Iranian missile test, a 2015 U.N. resolution “called upon” Iran not to test nuclear-capable missiles. It did not forbid Iran from testing conventional missiles, which Tehran insists this was.

Is the United States making new demands on Iran not written into the nuclear treaty or international law — to provoke a confrontation?

Did Flynn coordinate with our allies about this warning of possible military action against Iran? Is NATO obligated to join any action we might take?

Or are we going to carry out any retaliation alone, as our NATO allies observe, while the Israelis, Gulf Arabs, Saudis and the Beltway War Party, which wishes to be rid of Trump, cheer him on?

Bibi Netanyahu hailed Flynn’s statement, calling Iran’s missile test a flagrant violation of the U.N. resolution and declaring, “Iranian aggression must not go unanswered.” By whom, besides us?

The Saudi king spoke with Trump Sunday. Did he persuade the president to get America more engaged against Iran?

To continue reading: The Coming Clash With Iran

Iran Just Officially Ditched the Dollar in Major Blow to US: Here’s Why It Matters, by Alice Salles

The petrodollar has been the bulwark of the US dollars status as the world’s reserve currency. Iran has just taken a step towards undermining the petrodollar. Having the reserve currency has allowed the US to pay its dollar-denominated debts with more dollars. That could come to an end. From Alice Salles at theantimedia.org:

(ANTIMEDIA) Following President Donald Trump’s ban on travelers from seven predominantly Muslim countries, the Iranian government announced it would stop using the U.S. dollar “as its currency of choice in its financial and foreign exchange reports,” the local Financial Tribune reported.

Iran governor Valiollah Seif’s central bank announced the decision in a television interview on January 29. The change will take effect on March 21, and it will impact all official financial and foreign exchange reports.

“Iran’s difficulties [in dealing] with the dollar,” Seif said, “were in place from the time of the primary sanctions and this trend is continuing,” but when it comes to other currencies, he added, “we face no limitations.”

In a piece published by Forbes, Dominic Dudley contends that this move is significant “in the light of the recent ‘Muslim ban‘” announced by Trump. Iran nationals were added to the order issued by the current U.S. administration, which prompted the Iranian government to vow to stop issuing visas to U.S. citizens.

Dudley notes that since 1975, “no Americans have been killed in terrorist attacks in the US by the citizens of the countries included in the ban,” while countries such as Saudi Arabia — “home of 15 of the 19 terrorists involved in the 9/11 attacks” — were left out of the list of prohibited countries.

Despite the country’s decision to halt the use of the U.S. dollar as its base currency for exchange with other nations, Iran’s top export is oil. In the global markets, oil is mainly purchased and sold in U.S. dollars. This fiscal year, Iran is expected to earn $41 billion from oil sales, with countries like the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and China as their top clients. It’s still uncertain how the country will manage to switch currencies without relying on the American currency. The shift, Dudley notes, “will add a degree of currency risk and volatility and is likely to complicate matters for the authorities.”

To  continue reading: Iran Just Officially Ditched the Dollar in Major Blow to US: Here’s Why It Matters

 

After Warning US With “Retaliation” Iran Plans Russian Fighter Jet Purchase, Naval Bases In Syria, Yemen, by Tyler Durden

The US relationship with Iran will be one of the trickier foreign policy issues Donald Trump will face. From Tyler Durden at zerohedge.com:

As tensions once again grow between Iran and the US, with both countries unsure if Donald Trump will extend Barack Obama’s landmark “nuclear deal” which in January 2016 lifted Iran’s sanctions (imposed previously by the same Obama regime) and allowed Iran to export three times as much crude oil as the country did one year ago, Iran has fallen back to the same diplomacy that marked the darker periods of diplomacy between Tehran and Washington.

As a result, earlier this week Iran explicitly warned the Trump administration, that extending U.S. sanctions on Iran for 10 years would breach the Iranian nuclear agreement, with Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei warning that Tehran would retaliate if the sanctions are approved. The U.S. House of Representatives re-authorized last week the Iran Sanctions Act, or ISA, for 10 years. The law was first adopted in 1996 to punish investments in Iran’s energy industry and deter Iran’s pursuit of nuclear weapons. The Iran measure will expire at the end of 2016 if it is not renewed. The House bill must still be passed by the Senate and signed by President Barack Obama to become law.

Iran and world powers concluded the nuclear agreement, also known as JCPOA, last year. It imposed curbs on Iran’s nuclear program in return for easing sanctions that have badly hurt its economy. “The current U.S. government has breached the nuclear deal in many occasions,” Khamenei said, addressing a gathering of members of the Revolutionary Guards, according to his website. “The latest is extension of sanctions for 10 years, that if it happens, would surely be against JCPOA, and the Islamic Republic would definitely react to it.”

To continue reading: After Warning US With “Retaliation” Iran Plans Russian Fighter Jet Purchase, Naval Bases In Syria, Yemen

 

In “Seismic Shift” To Mid-East Regional Power, Saudis Halt Egypt Oil Supplies As Cairo Turns To Iran, by Tyler Durden

Egypt may be leaving the Saudi Arabian orbit and more closely aligning itself with the Russia-Iran axis. From Tyler Durden at zero hedge.com:

While the proxy war in the middle-east rages, a curious, and largely under the radar pivot has been taking place in one of the countries directly impacted by Hillary Clinton’s foreign policy: Egypt.

In mid-October, we reported that, for the first time ever, Russia and Egypt would conduct joint military drills. This followed news that Russia will sell attack helicopters to the North African nation and invest billions in Egyptian infrastructure. These items, along with the fact that Egypt is eager to be re-granted Russian tourism rights for its citizens after recent bad blood between the countries, lead one to the logical conclusion that Egypt has every incentive to cooperate with Russia going forward.

This means when the Russian fleet reaches the Mediterranean – whether the intent is to park in those waters and bombard Aleppo, as some believe, or merely to project Russian might to the world, as others suggest – it will be flanked by friendlies on three sides. Turkey to the north, Syria to the east, and Egypt to the south.

It appears, however, that the quiet Egyptian pivot has not gone unnoticed by the US and its mid-east allies, and on Monday, Saudi Arabia informed Egypt that critical shipments of oil products expected under a $23 billion aid deal have been halted indefinitely, which according to Reuters suggests a deepening rift between the Arab world’s richest country and its most populous.

The official narrative is that while Saudi Arabia has been a major donor to Egypt since President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi seized power in a violent countercoup in mid-2013, Riyadh has become frustrated with Sisi’s lack of economic reforms and his reluctance to be drawn into the conflict in Yemen. During a visit by Saudi King Salman in April, Saudi Arabia agreed to provide Egypt with 700,000 tonnes of refined oil products per month for five years but the cargoes stopped arriving in early October as festering political tensions burst into the open.

What is curious is that the deal fell apart just weeks after Cairo suddenly became friendly with Moscow.

While Egyptian officials said since that the contract with Saudi Arabia’s state oil firm Aramco remains valid and had appeared to expect that oil would start flowing again soon, on Monday, however, Egyptian Oil Minister Tarek El Molla confirmed it had stopped shipments indefinitely. Aramco has not commented on the halt and did not respond to calls on Monday.

“They did not give us a reason,” an oil ministry official told Reuters. “They only informed the authority about halting shipments of petroleum products until further notice.”

So with Saudi Arabia turning a cold shoulder to Egypt, what options are left? Well, one: “the enemy of my enemy is my friend”, and sure enough oil minister El Molla’s delegation said late on Sunday evening that he would visit Iran, Saudi Arabia’s main political rival, to try to strike new oil deals, hinting that Egypt may be the latest to join a fledgling mid-east axis which includes Iran, Syria, Russia and just perhaps, Turkey.

Egypt and Iran’s diplomatic relations have been strained since the 1970s, and is why according to Reuters, “an Egyptian official visiting Iran would cement a break in its alliance with Saudi Arabia and mark a seismic shift in the regional political order.”

To continue reading: In “Seismic Shift” To Mid-East Regional Power, Saudis Halt Egypt Oil Supplies As Cairo Turns To Iran