Alastair Crooke tries to make sense of the always confusing Middle East. From Crooke at strategic-culture.org:
The End of an Era. When the first World War came to its end, intimations of an end to the European Era were already evident in symptoms: aching diplomatic joints, straitened perceptual political vision and the general financial health of the patient about to turn acute, as the constipated monetary policies of the Central Banks ushered in the Great Depression. But ‘life’ went on: European men and women wildly danced the Cancan throughout the 1920s; It was Cabaret, party time. No one wanted to acknowledge the omens of what lay afore them.
Last month, an Israeli academic opined that the future shape of the Middle East lies in the hands of three ‘insider’ states: Iran, Turkey and Israel. It was an interesting observation. None are Arab; and it implied an incremental US disengagement, and a modest ‘king-maker’ role for Russia.
What makes this statement intriguing is the focus on just three states and the downplay of external intervention as the key ‘shaper’ of the future strategic ‘map’. Implicit here is that all three are flexing their military muscles. But diplomats and political analysts usually prefer to stay at the plane of politics and national interests. They dislike the fact that the outcome of military contestation, per se, can determine political outcomes, and thus validate or negate national interests. It is offensive to diplomacy. But often, it is just so. The region at this time is not really susceptible to a direct conceptual approach: So, the focus on the outcome of military contestation, trials of strength, and then on the other – quite different dynamic – of Covid-19 and its economic effects, makes more sense than traditional purely political calculus of interests.
Posted in Foreign Policy, Geopolitics, Governments, History, Military, War
Tagged CoVid-19 coronavirus, Gulf States, Middle East, Russia, Syria, Turkey
Russia is playing, and winning, the long game in the Middle East. From Simon Watkins at oilprice.com:
Historically, Russia goes to great lengths to hide or disguise its strategic intentions but it clearly feels empowered enough in the Middle East to very obviously stake its claim in the region – excluding, for the time being only, Saudi Arabia – by stating that a slew of Russian companies are to spend up to US$20 billion on oil projects in Iraq in the near term. “Since [U.S. President Donald] Trump outlined the new U.S. foreign policy of not engaging in conflicts abroad unless they were directly aligned with U.S. interests [October 2019], and then effectively withdrawing from Syria and from supporting the Kurds, Russia and China have felt that they can bring forward their plans to bring Iraq within their geopolitical arc of influence,” a senior source who works closely with Iraq’s Oil Ministry told OilPrice.com last week. “They know that provided that they do not impinge on Saudi Arabia and, at a pinch the UAE and Kuwait, or launch attacks against U.S. personnel, then they can basically do whatever they want anywhere else, hence this announcement from Russia last week,” he added.
Before this announcement – which specifically mentioned Zarubezhneft, Tatneft, and Rosneftegaz as companies interested in pursuing specific but as yet unnamed projects, in addition to those Russia companies already active in the country (including Lukoil, Bashneft, and GazpromNeft) – Russia had adopted its usual stealth approach to building up its presence in Iraq. “It is incremental colonialism, beginning one day with one relatively small contract being taken up by some Russian company nobody has heard of, then more Russian companies turn up in the same place under ‘contractor’ terms having been engaged by the company you gave the original contact to, then security companies turn up to guard all of the personnel, and suddenly you have a major Russian occupation of part of your key oil and gas infrastructure,” the Iraq source underlined,
It is inevitable, given the trend towards decentralized violence, that any attempt at centralized violence such as the US’s many invasions would result only in chaos. From Danny Sjursen at tomdispatch.com:
U.S. Foreign Policy Goes Off the Rails
In March 1906, on the heels of the U.S. Army’s massacre of some 1,000 men, women, and children in the crater of a volcano in the American-occupied Philippines, humorist Mark Twain took his criticism public. A long-time anti-imperialist, he flippantly suggested that Old Glory should be redesigned “with the white stripes painted black and the stars replaced by the skull and cross-bones.”
I got to thinking about that recently, five years after I became an antiwar dissenter (while still a major in the U.S. Army), and in the wake of another near-war, this time with Iran. I was struck yet again by the way every single U.S. military intervention in the Greater Middle East since 9/11 has backfiredin wildly counterproductive ways, destabilizing a vast expanse of the planet stretching from West Africa to South Asia.
Chaos, it seems, is now Washington’s stock-in-trade. Perhaps, then, it’s time to resurrect Twain’s comment — only today maybe those stars on our flag should be replaced with the universal symbol for chaos.After all, our present administration, however unhinged, hardly launched this madness. President Trump’s rash, risky, and repugnant decision to assassinate Iranian Major General Qassem Suleimani on the sovereign soil of Iraq was only the latest version of what has proven to be a pervasive state of affairs. Still, that and Trump’s other recent escalations in the region do illustrate an American chaos machine that’s gone off the rails. And the very manner — I’m loathe to call it a “process” — by which it’s happened just demonstrates the way this president has taken American chaos to its dark but logical conclusion.
Do any of the elected officials in the US, from the president on down, have any significant control over what the government does? From Cynthia Chung at strategic-culture.org:
“There is a kind of character in thy life, That to the observer doth thy history, fully unfold.”
– William Shakespeare
Once again we find ourselves in a situation of crisis, where the entire world holds its breath all at once and can only wait to see whether this volatile black cloud floating amongst us will breakout into a thunderstorm of nuclear war or harmlessly pass us by. The majority in the world seem to have the impression that this destructive fate totters back and forth at the whim of one man. It is only normal then, that during such times of crisis, we find ourselves trying to analyze and predict the thoughts and motives of just this one person. The assassination of Maj. Gen. Qasem Soleimani, a true hero for his fellow countrymen and undeniably an essential key figure in combating terrorism in Southwest Asia, was a terrible crime, an abhorrently repugnant provocation. It was meant to cause an apoplectic fervour, it was meant to make us who desire peace, lose our minds in indignation. And therefore, that is exactly what we should not do.
In order to assess such situations, we cannot lose sight of the whole picture, and righteous indignation unfortunately causes the opposite to occur. Our focus becomes narrower and narrower to the point where we can only see or react moment to moment with what is right in front of our face. We are reduced to an obsession of twitter feeds, news blips and the doublespeak of ‘official government statements’.
We’re all ignorant; few recognize it.
Aubrey’s deployment order came a week later. A conflict had waxed and waned in Syria and Iraq for the better part of three years. It was the typical Middle Eastern fracas: hapless governments and their armies; not-so-hapless sectarian brigades with colorful names waging guerrilla war, detonating bombs, promoting mayhem; shifting alliances; endless intrigue; diabolical duplicity; rampant disinformation; appearances masking antipodal realities; and machinations by outside string pullers, money honeys, and intelligence agencies who never seemed to realize—or if they did, never acknowledged—that they were the puppets, not the puppeteers. Despite the seeming complexity, the war boiled down to the usual two issues: oil and the centuries-old question of Muhammad’s rightful heir.
Governments couldn’t resist throwing matches on the gasoline. Sunni nations—Turkey, Saudi Arabia, and the rich little monarchies scattered around the Persian Gulf—as well as a variety of sectarian brigades with colorful names, launched massive and coordinated maneuvers to “restore order” (Middle Eastern–speak for replacing a government with one more to your liking) to Shiite Syria and Iraq. The Shiite governments were not without friends. Russia, Iran, and various sectarian brigades with colorful names would not let them go down without a fight. So in a very short time, the corner of the world with the highest per capita concentrations of troops, terrorism, weapons, and warfare saw exponential increases in all four.
The US government urged all parties to come to the negotiating table. No parties came to the negotiating table. The US government consulted with its European allies. A resolution was submitted at the United Nations. The war intensified. The war lobby screamed: this was World War III, and the United States was not there! It was like missing your senior prom! The Europeans screamed. Refugees were streaming to Europe. Despite welcoming gestures, the only assimilating they seemed to be doing was slurping up government benefits. It was getting expensive. Some Europeans didn’t like their new guests. Some of their new guests didn’t like the Europeans, but they did like blowing people up. Voters were getting mad. Something had to be done!
The US government ultimately did what the US government does best: came up with a catchy name (Operation Restoration of Peace, Freedom, Hope, Democracy, and Dignity in the Middle East), parked aircraft carriers in the Mediterranean and Persian Gulf, dropped bombs, and deployed thousands of troops to “advise and assist” without a clear idea of whom they would be advising and assisting. It implored the Europeans to join its efforts, to staunch the refugee flow by making war, blowing things up, and creating more refugees. Back in the States, the groups that reflexively cheered every war distributed more Support Our Troops bumper stickers.
Prime Deceit, Robert Gore, 2016
This is satire, although not obviously so. Prime Deceit is dedicated To all those grown bone weary of the bulls**t. The novel’s main shortcoming is that it isn’t satirical enough. Only brutally savage satire is within field goal range of capturing the reality of the Middle East. Almost all of the mountain of journalism and propaganda focused on or emanating from that part of the world is pure twaddle, bulls**t that bone wearied most of us long ago. You can instantly recognize those who don’t have the first clue about the Middle East by their claims to understand it, especially if they claim they’re experts.
Posted in Financial markets, Foreign Policy, Geopolitics, Governments, History, Horseshit, Imperialism, Intelligence, Media, Military, Politics, War
Tagged Hubris, Ignorance, Iran, Iraq, Middle East, Prime Deceit, Qassem Soleimani assassination
If the globalists have their way, a ramped-up war in the Middle East is on tap. From Brandon Smith at alt-market.com:
In 2016 during the election campaign of Donald Trump one of the primary factors of his popularity among conservatives was that he was one of the first candidates since Ron Paul to argue for bringing US troops home and ending American involvement in the various elitist fabricated wars in the Middle East. From Iraq, to Afghanistan, to Syria and Yemen and beyond, the Neo-Cons and Neo-Libs at the behest of their globalist masters had been waging war oversees unabated for over 15 years. The time was ripe for a change and people felt certain that if Hillary Clinton entered the White House, another 4-8 years of war were guaranteed.
There was nothing to be gained from these wars. They were only dragging the US down socially and economically, and even the idea of “getting the oil” had turned into a farce as the majority of Iraqi oil has been going to China, not the US. General estimates on the costs of the wars stand at $5 trillion US tax dollars and over 4500 American dead along with around 40,000 wounded. The only people that were benefiting from the situation were globalists and banking elites, who had been clamoring to destabilize the Middle East since the day they launched their “Project For A New American Century” (PNAC). Truly, all wars are banker wars.
Posted in banking, Collapse, Financial markets, Foreign Policy, Geopolitics, Governments, History, Military, Politics, War
Tagged globalists, Iran, Iraq, Middle East, Neocons, President Trump
Iran has shown itself to be quite adept at inflicting pain on its enemies. Scott Ritter details possible retaliation scenarios. From Ritter at lewrockwell.com:
Unless Trump is ready to drop a tactical NUKE
Iran has promised retaliation for the assassination of Qassem Suleimani. Donald Trump said this will lead to a disproportionate response from the US. One side can deliver on its threats, the other can’t, unless it goes nuclear.
Iran means business
“Our reaction,” Iranian general Hossein Dehghan said at the weekend, “will be wise, well considered and, in time, with decisive deterrent effect.”
Dehghan also noted that Iran was not seeking a wider confrontation with the US.
“It was America that has started the war. Therefore, they should accept appropriate reactions to their actions. The only thing that can end this period of war is for the Americans to receive a blow that is equal to the blow they have inflicted.”
Dehghan is no run-of-the-mill former Iranian general officer, but was one of the major decision makers within the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) during the Iran-Iraq War, and later went on to command the IRGC Air Force, before eventually being appointed Iran’s minister of defense. After stepping down from that position, Dehghan became a special advisor to the Supreme Leader of the Islamic Republic Ali Khamenei.