Tag Archives: Iran

Russia, Iran Warn U.S. They Will “Respond With Force” If Syria “Red Lines” Crossed Again, by Tyler Durden

A predictable yet disturbing response from Russia and Iran to the US Tomahawk strike. From Tyler Durden at zerohedge.com:

A statement issued on Sunday by a joint command centre consisting of forces of Russian, Iran and allied militia alliance supporting Syrian President Bashar al Assad said that Friday’s US strike on the Syrian air base crossed “red lines” and it would “respond with force” to any new aggression while increasing their level of support to their ally.

In the statement published by the group on media outlet Ilam al Harbi, the pro-Assad alliances says that “what America waged in an aggression on Syria is a crossing of red lines. From now on we will respond with force to any aggressor or any breach of red lines from whoever it is and America knows our ability to respond well.”

Earlier on Sunday the UK’s Defence Secretary, Sir Michael Fallon, demanded Russia rein in Mr Assad (by which he really meant be willing to accept a new Syrian regime with a pro-western puppet leader, and one who is willing to allow the Qatar gas pipeline to cross the country on its way to Europe.

Fallon also claimed that Moscow is “responsible for every civilian death” in the chemical attack on Khan Sheikhun and said Putin was responsible for the brutal killings “by proxy”, because it was the Syrian president’s “principal backer.” The defense minister said the attack had happened “on their watch” and that Vladimir Putin must now live up to previous promises that Mr Assad’s chemical weapons had been destroyed. His comments came after Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson pulled out of a Moscow visit hours before he was due to fly.
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Finally, for those who are unclear about the core geopolitical tensions that are at the base of the long-running Syrian proxy war, the answer is – as so often tends to be – commodities and specifically natural gas, as we first explained in 2013, and as summarized in the following October 2016 article courtesy of Eric Zuesse (see also “Competing Gas Pipelines Are Fueling The Syrian War & Migrant Crisis“)

To continue reading: Russia, Iran Warn U.S. They Will “Respond With Force” If Syria “Red Lines” Crossed Again

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Ready for War With Iran? by William J. Astore

Iran, and before Iran, Persia, has been an important part of the Middle East for 2500 years. The US has only been a nation for less than a tenth of that time. Yet it is the US which blusters into the Middle East and accuses Iran of destablizing the area. Who is truly the destablizing force? From William J. Astore at antiwar.com:

General Joseph Votel, U.S. Centcom commander, testified to the House Armed Services Committee this week that the greatest destabilizing force in the Middle East is Iran, and that the US must be prepared to use “military means” to confront and defeat the Iranian threat to the region.

No doubt Iran is a pest to US designs in the Middle East. No doubt Iran has its own agenda. No doubt Iran is no friend to Israel. But the greatest destabilizing force in the Greater Middle East? That’s the USA. We’re the ones who toppled Iraq in 2003, along with the legitimate government of Iran 50 years earlier.

Iran/Persia has lived in, and sometimes dominated, the Greater Middle East for 2500 years. By comparison, the USA is a newcomer on the block. Yet it’s the Iranians who are the destabilizers, the ones operating in a nefarious “grey zone” between peace and war, at least according to US generals.

Besides the disastrous US invasion of Iraq in 2003, which accidentally helped Iran, the US continues to sell massive amounts of weaponry to Iran’s rivals, most especially Saudi Arabia. US military operations in Yemen, Syria, Iraq, and elsewhere in the Middle East have both destabilized the region and created marketplaces for US weaponry and opportunities for economic exploitation by multinational corporations.

I’m no fan of Iran and its leaders, but can one blame them for resisting US military and economic incursions into their sphere of influence? Recall how we reacted when the Russians put missiles into Cuba. Look at all the hostile rhetoric directed today against Mexico and its allegedly unfair trade practices vis-à-vis the US.

To continue reading: Ready for War With Iran?

 

US’ Main Target in Syria is Iran, ISIS Comes Second, by Melkulangara Bhadrakumar

The US foreign policy establishment may have dropped, or at least put on hold, its longstanding desire to depose Syrian leader Assad. However, that has not apparently made ridding Syria and Iraq of ISIS job one. The US emphasis has switched to ridding Syria and Iraq of Iran, which, incidentally, is fighting ISIS. From Melkulangara Bhadrakumar at strategic-culture.org:

The common thread running through the two major ‘hot spots’ in the Middle East today – the conflicts in Syria and Libya – is undoubtedly the threat to international security from the extremist groups operating in these theatres. Therefore, Syria and Libya become test cases of the efficacy of the international community – Russia and the United States in particular – working together to steer these conflicts toward a denouement that results in the elimination of the terrorist threat and the stabilization of the situation in the two countries.

There is a history of Russian-American engagement over Syria during the Barack Obama administration, which was surprisingly intense at times – and productive too occasionally, such as over the removal of chemical weapons from Syria or in the creation of the International Syria Support Group as a platform for a peace process.

In the final analysis, of course, the Russian-American engagement over Syria turned out to be sub-optimal in results, which is not surprising, given the steady erosion of mutual trust in the overall relationship as a result of the Obama administration’s containment strategies toward Russia through the last year or two of his presidency.

Plainly put, it will not be an exaggeration to say that Russia and the US are virtually in ground zero today in terms of their cooperation and coordination in meeting the terrorist challenges in Syria. The final months of the Barack Obama presidency witnessed even a calamitous decline in the US-Russia ties.

To continue reading: US’ Main Target in Syria is Iran, ISIS Comes Second

 

Start Dealing, by Robert Gore

Empires have one historical constant: they fail.

President Trump likes deals and campaigned on his deal-making prowess. Negotiation requires parties who respect each other enough to bargain in good faith. It is a lost art in US foreign policy, replaced by imperatives: we tell you what to do and you do it. This makes the US government the world’s most hated institution. Negotiation poses an existential threat to a Deep State grown powerful and wealthy imposing US dominance on the rest of the world, and increasingly, the American people. Dominance implies unipolarity; negotiation implies multipolarity.

During his campaign, Trump resonated with voters and put the Deep State on alert, voicing two criticisms of unipolarity: its cost and its failures. Trump’s criticism of NATO, particularly of costs borne primarily by the US, should be an opening salvo in a wider war against the costs of US empire. The US has over 800 bases in over 150 countries. The annual expense of maintaining those outposts is substantial, and other personnel costs, high-tech weaponry, and foreign military interventions run into the hundreds of billions. (Foreign interventions are usually kept off budget by one of Washington’s beloved accounting tricks.) Total annual spending for the military and intelligence, including veterans benefits, is close to $1 trillion.

There is significant waste and corruption. The Defense Department has never passed an audit, and trillions of dollars remain unaccounted for. Most of the intelligence agencies’ budgets are “black box”—undisclosed—but waste and corruption on a comparable scale is probably a safe assumption.

US FOREIGN POLICY: A FAT TARGET FOR SATIRE

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All that money has bought multiple failures. The US has turned the Middle East and Northern Africa into a chaotic quagmire that has led to increased terrorism and refugee flows in the millions. Trump’s campaign adroitly played on popular fears of refugees and terrorism, but he’s maintaining the policies that produce them. More US forces are being sent to Iraq and Syria, and one special forces’ operation in Yemen has resulted in the first US military death (and the deaths of at least 10 Yemeni civilians) on Trump’s watch. He has shown no inclination to stop or curtail drone strikes, covert operations, or proxy warfare.

Trump’s military policy in the Middle East has been indistinguishable from Obama’s, and a subtle diplomatic shift demonstrates that US unipolarity, rather than multipolar “deals,” will continue to be the order of the day. Obama’s nuclear deal with Iran was a throwback to presidents Kennedy, Nixon, and Reagan, who negotiated arms control agreements with hostile powers. It has achieved its primary aim—nobody claims Iran is now developing nuclear weapons—yet Trump and team continuously criticize it. Iran has taken a substantial risk with the nuclear treaty. Muammar Gaddafi explicitly renounced nuclear weapons and terminated Libya’s embryonic program, while Saddam Hussein never had them, and the US violently deposed both of them. ( And US officials wonder why North Korea “clings” to its nuclear program!) Yet, Trump officials have put Iran “on notice,” called for renewed sanctions, and rattled the invasion sabers because Iran fired missiles that were not banned in the agreement.

An objective assessment of repressive “state sponsors of terrorism” in the Middle East would conclude that Saudi Arabia is at least as culpable, if not more so, than Iran. Saudi Arabia has supported al Qaeda offshoot ISIS (which Iran is fighting) in Syria and Iraq. It is waging war against its tiny, impoverished neighbor, Yemen, on the unproven contention that the Houthi rebels they’re fighting are an Iranian proxy force. Al Queda in Yemen has been the beneficiary of this Saudi campaign. The US has been helping the Saudis, providing weapons and other military and intelligence support. After a Saudi missile, bought from the US, struck a Yemeni funeral, killing over 100 people, Obama held up an arms sale, but Trump is reconsidering and Secretary of State Rex Tillerson is pushing for it. Thousands of its citizens are dying of malnutrition, but relief convoys can’t get through because Saudi Arabia has bombed much of the infrastructure. Yet, nobody is putting Saudi Arabia “on notice.” Trump recently sat down with the Saudi deputy crown prince for a convivial lunch.

Yemen marks the latest in a string of American military adventures stretching back to Korea. These forays have increased the power and wealth of the US military-industrial-intelligence complex, but have not attained any concrete military objective, i.e., winning. In Washington, nothing succeeds like failure. Trump has promoted some of failure’s architects to prominent places in his administration, and he’s increasing the military’s already bloated budget, with no check on its spendthrift ways. Notwithstanding failure’s staggering costs in blood and treasure, substantial elements of the foreign policy, military, and intelligence establishment, (including Hillary Clinton), want to train their sights on Syria, Iran, North Korea, Russia and China. After sixteen years the US cannot win a war in Afghanistan, but they want to take on the world’s second and third largest military forces (and nuclear arsenals) and three of their allies.

Trump’s voters elected him to reject, not buy into, the establishment and Clinton’s absurdity. Russia and China do not have the economic or military strength to build empires. (Nobody does; empires dissipate, not increase, strength.) They recognize the multipolarity the US rejects, and are leading diplomatic, financial, and economic initiatives with nations stretching from Southeast Asia to Europe. Whatever noises Trump made about establishing better relations with Russia have fallen by the wayside in the wake of the Russian “election hacking” and undue influence allegations. His administration’s stance towards China has been nonstop bluster. Last week Tillerson told North Korea it had better shape up or else, the “else” being possible US military action (LINK). As Justin Raimondo has argued, the tense and highly militarized situation on the Korean peninsula requires negotiations between the US, the Koreas, and China; saber rattling could lead to Korean War II or worse.

Trash talk, gestures, and threats may play well to domestic crowds, but they don’t get you far in international relations. If Trump engages in skirmishes over the Deep State’s surveillance of him, but carries water for its disastrous policies, including its surveillance of the American people, then his election was a waste of time. He can recognize the evolving multipolar world and negotiate, compromise, and deal, or he can try to maintain the US’s fading dominance. If he chooses the former, he has a shot at greatness. If he chooses the latter, his presidency will fail with the US empire.

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The Four Horsemen Of The Trumpocalypse, by Charles Goyette

Charles Goyette does a good job outlining the odds of war with Russia, China, Iran, and North Korea, although the sentimental favorite at SLL remains None of the Above. From Goyette at lewrockwell.com:

It’s a horse race.

Will Donald Trump’s first new war be with Russia, Iran, China, or North Korea?

Here are some things to consider as you try to handicap this deadly contest:

RUSSIA:

It is a certainty that a war of principals or proxies with Russia remains a chief objective of the neocons and the Deep State. If Victoria Nuland in Kiev didn’t convince you of this, recall Murray Rothbard’s trenchant observation that “sanctions are simply the coward’s and the babbler’s halfway house to war,” and it is clear we have been on the way to war with Russia for some time.

All that could ever have been hoped from Donald Trump was that if elected president he would deflect Washington’s headlong rush to a Russian war, beginning with the lifting of sanctions. Judging today by the way he has populated his administration, I no longer have any hope that Trump will change that trajectory.

Look at it this way. For Donald Trump to have survived and flourished in New York and New Jersey real estate development, he had to have a keen sense of the hidden power interests that he needed to appease: Which union or brotherhood had to be guaranteed building contracts, which suppliers must be used, and which politicians need to be greased to win zoning and other approvals. Beginning with the Flynn episode and other surveillance and leaks, the President is being schooled by the permanent government. Whatever else you may say about him, he is a quick learner. Unquestionably, in its few short weeks in Washington, the Trump team’s rhetoric about Russia has toughened and official U.S. behavior is again growing bellicose.

To continue reading: The Four Horsemen Of The Trumpocalypse

The Five Blinding Myths About Iran, by Ted Snider

Behind the US’s myopic policy towards Iran are five blinding myths.  Some of these myths fit better with Saudi Arabia. From Ted Snider at antiwar.com:

One of the promises that President Trump has kept is his promise to be tough on Iran. Though he has not canceled the nuclear weapons agreement, the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), he has “officially put Iran on notice,” and he has imposed new sanctions.

More seriously, the New York Times reports that Secretary of Defense General James Mattis considered ordering the Navy to intercept and board an Iranian ship in international waters to search it for weapons being shipped to Yemen in support of the Houthis. According to White House officials, the operation was called off, not because it would likely have been an act of war, but because word of the operation leaked.

Mattis and the rest of the Trump administration have based this canceled operation and other plans to get tough on Iran on a number of myths about the Islamic Republic.

Myth One: Iran Is – or Was – Developing a Nuclear Bomb

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani has said repeatedly that “We have never pursued or sought a nuclear bomb, and we are not going to do so”. Both Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei and his predecessor, the founder of the Islamic Republic of Iran, Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, have insisted that Iran would never pursue nuclear weapons because nuclear weapons are against the precepts of Islam. Khamenei has insisted that “from an ideological and fiqhi [Islamic jurisprudence] perspective, we consider developing nuclear weapons as unlawful. We consider using such weapons as a big sin.”

And no one really believes otherwise: not U.S. intelligence and not Israeli intelligence.

To continue reading: The Five Blinding Myths About Iran

 

Is Trump Moderating on Foreign Policy? Not in the Least, by Conn Hallinan

There is talk in Washington of going to war with Iran or North Korea or both. Time will tell if rationality prevails. From Conn Haninan at antiwar.com:

Trump’s leading foreign policy advisers are obsessed with Iran and making dangerous moves from East Asia to the Middle East

“Chaos,” “dismay,” “radically inept” – those are just a few of the recent headlines analyzing Donald Trump’s foreign policy.

In truth, disorder would seem to be the strategy of the day. Picking up the morning newspaper or tuning on the national news sometimes feels akin to opening up a basket filled with spitting cobras and Gabon Vipers.

But the bombast emerging for the White House hasn’t always matched what the Trump administration does in the real world. The threat to dump the “one-China” policy and blockade Beijing’s bases in the South China Sea has been dialed back. The pledge to overturn the Iran nuclear agreement has been shelved. And NATO’s “obsolesce” has morphed into a pledge of support.

Is common sense setting in, as a New York Times headline suggests: “Foreign Policy Loses Its Sharp Edge as Trump Adjusts to Office”?

Don’t bet on it.

Obsessed with Iran

First, this is an administration that thrives on turmoil, always an easier place to rule from than order. What it says and does one day may be, or may not be, what it says or does another. And because there are a number of foreign policy crises that have stepped up to the plate, we should all find out fairly soon whether the berserkers or the calmer heads are running things.

To continue reading: Is Trump Moderating on Foreign Policy? Not in the Least