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Israel confiscates sole medical vehicle serving 1,500 Palestinians

MEMO | January 8, 2020

Israeli occupation forces have confiscated the only vehicle available to a medical team serving the needs of some 1,500 Palestinians in an isolated region of the southern West Bank, reported Haaretz.

According to the paper, this is the second time that the vehicle – which serves the residents of Masafer Yatta in the south Hebron hills – has been seized within a year, “cutting off healthcare to an isolated and impoverished population” living inside an Israeli military firing zone.

The medical team make weekly visits to the area’s Palestinian communities, which lie roughly one hour’s drive on dirt roads from the nearest town of Yatta. The jeep in question “is the only vehicle available for providing medical services to these communities”.

Last Thursday, Haaretz reported, Israeli occupation forces intercepted the medical team at Khirbet Al-Majaz, claiming that they were not allowed there “without prior coordination”. The patrol then impounded the jeep and held the medics for half an hour.

In February 2019 the vehicle was confiscated “under similar circumstances”, stated the paper, and only returned six months later after the medical team paid a 3,000 shekel ($865) fine. On that occasion, the team were unable to provide medical care for the entire six months.

The Israeli military commented that “the vehicle was impounded by supervisors at the Civil Administration since it was traveling in a fire zone, a forbidden area for vehicles by law”.

The Israeli military’s “Firing zone 918” was established in the 1980s, and the army has repeatedly sought to remove Palestinians from the area.

January 8, 2020 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Subjugation - Torture | , , , , | 3 Comments

Justice at Last? ‘Panic’ in Israel as the ICC Takes ‘Momentous Step’ in the Right Direction

By Ramzy Baroud | Palestine Chronicle | January 8, 2020

At long last, Fatou Bensouda, the Chief Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC) has uttered the long-anticipated conclusion that “all the statutory criteria under the Rome statute for the opening of an investigation (into alleged war crimes in the Occupied Palestinian Territories) have been met”.

Bensouda’s verdict has been in the making for a long time and should, frankly, have arrived much earlier. The ICC preliminary investigations into Israeli war crimes began back in 2015. Since then, many more such war crimes have been committed, while the international community persisted in its moral inertia.

The ICC statement, issued on December 20, asserted that the court saw “no substantial reasons to believe that an investigation would not serve the interests of justice”.

But can the “interest of justice” be served while the United States government continues to wield a massive stick, using its diplomatic, political and financial clout to ensure Israel emerges unscathed from its latest legal scuffle?

There is little doubt that Michael Lynk, the United Nations Special Rapporteur for the situation of human rights in the Palestinian territory, is absolutely right: A formal ICC criminal investigation into war crimes in Palestine is a “momentous step forward in the quest for accountability”.

He is also correct in his assessment, published in the United Nations Human Rights Officer of the High Commissioner website, that “accountability has, until now, been largely missing in action throughout the 52-year-old occupation.”

I would go even further and expand the timeline of the missing accountability to include the two decades prior to the Israeli occupation of East Jerusalem, the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. Otherwise, how is one to account for the ethnic cleansing of Palestine in 1947-48, the numerous massacres and other wanton killings that accompanied and followed those defining years, or the fact that Israel was never held accountable for its violations of international and humanitarian laws between 1948 and 1967?

That issue notwithstanding, the Palestinian Authority and all political parties in Palestine should exploit this unprecedented opportunity of holding Israel accountable.

As soon as the ICC issued its statement, news reports surfaced conveying a sense of “panic” in Israel. The Times of Israel reported that an Israeli government meeting to discuss the ICC decision was held shortly after, with the aim of considering a proper response, including the possibility of preventing ICC investigators from reaching Israel.

This is eerily familiar. Israel has denied entry to – or refused to cooperate with – international investigators and observers on many occasions in the past.

Following a UN planned investigation into alleged Israeli war crimes in the Palestinian refugee camp of Jenin in 2002, the Israeli government quickly moved, and, sadly, succeeded in blocking the investigation altogether.

It has done so time and again, often demonizing the very individuals entrusted with the mission of examining the illegality of Israel’s behavior in the context of international law. Well-respected judges and international law experts, such as Richard Goldstone, Richard Falk, and John Dugard, were vehemently attacked by Israeli officials and media and, by extension, by the US government and media as well.

Israel has managed to survive dozens of United Nations Resolutions and countless legal reports and indictments by the UN and all UN-affiliated organizations, largely because of blind and unequivocal American support, which has shielded Israeli war criminals from ever answering to their horrific actions in Palestine.

“Remember, it was (then-Secretary of State) Hillary Clinton who took pride in the fact that she personally killed the Goldstone Report,” said US author, Norman Finkelstein, in a recent interview with the news website Mondoweiss.

The Goldstone report was issued in the wake of the Israeli war on Gaza in 2009, dubbed ‘Operation Cast Lead’. The campaign of intimidation and pressure on Goldstone, personally, has forced the once-respected judge to retract his accusations of Israeli war crimes and the deliberate targeting of civilians.

While Clinton did her part in torpedoing the Goldstone Report, former US President, Barack Obama, according to Finkelstein, went to great lengths to “neutralize international law against settlements and other Israeli crimes in the occupied territories”.

Worse still, on September 14, 2016, Obama handed Israeli Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, himself accused of carrying out numerous war crimes against Palestinians, the largest US aid package to a foreign country in modern history, a whopping $38 billion over the course of ten years.

This is not a new phenomenon, where the US enables Israeli crimes and simultaneously shields Tel Aviv from any accountability for these crimes before the international community. All US administrations, whether Republican or Democrat, have honored the same sinister maxim, thus ensuring Israel, literally, gets away with murder.

A particular case in point was in 2001, when 28 Palestinian and Lebanese survivors of the 1982 Sabra and Shatila massacre attempted to try, in a Belgian court, late Israeli leader and accused war criminal, Ariel Sharon. Intense American pressures and a brazen intimidation campaign, targeting the Belgian government and the judicial system, resulted in the dismissal of the case in 2003. To deny Israel’s victims the opportunity to seek justice everywhere in the country, Belgium revised its very law, to the satisfaction of Israel and the United States.

The high level of the ICC investigations places the legal push against Israel at a whole new level. This is uncharted territory for Israel, the United States, Palestine, the ICC and the international community as a whole. There is little doubt that some joint Israeli-American effort is already underway to develop strategies aimed at countering if not altogether dismissing, the ICC investigation.

It is clear that justice for Palestinians in the face of Israeli aggression, itself fueled by unconditional American support, is not at all possible if it is not accompanied by regional and international unity, and a clear and decisive decision by all parties concerned that Israel, once and for all, must pay for its military occupation, racist apartheid laws, protracted siege on Gaza, and the many massacres in between.

Without this kind of international will, the ICC investigation could become another sad case of justice denied, a non-acceptable option for any justice-seeking individual, organization, and government anywhere in the world.

– Ramzy Baroud is a journalist and the Editor of The Palestine Chronicle. He is the author of five books. His latest is “These Chains Will Be Broken: Palestinian Stories of Struggle and Defiance in Israeli Prisons” (Clarity Press, Atlanta). Dr. Baroud is a Non-resident Senior Research Fellow at the Center for Islam and Global Affairs (CIGA), Istanbul Zaim University (IZU).

January 8, 2020 Posted by | Aletho News | , , , , | 2 Comments

Operation Kayfabe: How Trump and Iran avoided war while both claiming victory

By Nebojsa Malic | RT | January 8, 2020

For a moment there, as missiles were flying, it looked like a US-Iran war was inevitable. Then, just as suddenly, both sides walked away. What happened? The key to figuring it out might just lie in professional wrestling.

Last night, Iran launched two volleys of missiles at two bases in Iraq that house US troops and equipment, calling it revenge for the drone strike that killed General Qassem Soleimani, head of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) Quds Force. US President Donald Trump called him a “terrorist” and a “monster,” but Iranians considered him a beloved war hero, and there was no way the IRGC could let his death go unavenged.

Trump, however, threatened to strike 52 targets in Iran – the same as the number of US embassy staff taken hostage after the 1979 revolution – if any “Americans or American assets” were harmed. Throughout Tuesday, the US president kept oddly quiet on Twitter, choosing only to amplify the anti-Iran messaging of the most hawkish senators, and let the Pentagon and State Department chiefs take the lead in saying there will be no withdrawal from Iraq. It seemed like any Iranian action would guarantee a war.

Democrats, media talking heads and antiwar activists alike were absolutely convinced that Trump was getting into a war with Iran. Everything pointed to it. Any hope that the situation could de-escalate seemed like wishful thinking. Some Hollywood celebs were even pleading with Tehran “please do not kill us,” and asking the Iranian government to hold out till November so Trump can be voted out of office.

So when the US president walked up to the White House podium and addressed the nation on Wednesday – only to announce that his response will be more sanctions and calling for greater NATO involvement, rather than unleash the might of the US military – a lot of people were were left confused, to say the least.

That’s because the American chattering classes forgot what in retrospect seems like a very important detail from Trump’s biography: before he ran for president, before he had a hit reality TV show… he was a superstar of professional wrestling. That’s not surprising, because they believe themselves too elite and too educated for that lowbrow form of entertainment – but Trump’s base does not.

Unlike the internationally known sport, professional wrestling is a specifically North American form of performance art, in which everything is staged but everyone pretends it is real and true. There is even a specific term for maintaining this pretense before the general public: kayfabe.

What if Trump’s threats of bombing Iranian heritage sites or refusing to withdraw from Iraq – even though he campaigned on doing just that – were all part of kayfabe, an act intended to gull the gullible into believing it was all real? Moreover, what if Iran was in on the act and chose to launch the missiles at largely empty warehouses, while giving Americans ample warning via the Iraqis ahead of time, so as to avoid any deaths?

It sounds unbelievable, right? Yet there is no denying that it is precisely how events played themselves out.

Speaking on Wednesday, Trump used standard rhetoric about Iran to bury two very important points that pundits largely missed. One is that the US is now energy independent and therefore far less vulnerable to events in the Middle East than in the 1970s, during the Arab Oil Embargo or the Iran hostage crisis. The other was his direct repudiation of the ‘Albright doctrine’ of US interventionism established in the 1990s with a glib remark.

“The fact that we have this great military and equipment, however, does not mean that we have to use it,” Trump declared.

Those two things, I am fairly confident, were not kayfabe. Expect both to be largely ignored by the chattering classes, though, as they focus on who “caved” first and slowly get back to routine.

What matters at this moment is that the war that seemed inevitable did not actually happen. The IRGC got to tell the Iranian people that their brave soldiers avenged “martyr Soleimani” by smiting the “Great Satan.” Trump got to tell the American people that, since no lives were lost, he could shrug it off as insignificant and walk away. Both of them ended up looking triumphant, while their hysterical critics and doomsayers ended up looking like fools. And let’s remember, in politics and pro wrestling alike, perception is everything.

January 8, 2020 Posted by | Militarism | , , | 1 Comment

Iran didn’t want to kill US troops with its strike, it wanted to make point to Trump about its missile tech & resolve. It did that.

By Scott Ritter | RT | January 8, 2020

Iran’s anticipated retaliation for the US assassination of Qassem Suleimani sent a clear signal to Donald Trump that while the current round of violence may be over, Iran stands ready to respond to any future US provocation.

Tehran warned Iraq to spare US soldiers

On Tuesday night, the Iranian nation buried the body of Qassem Soleimani, the charismatic senior Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) officer assassinated by the US this past week. In the early hours of Wednesday morning, that task completed, Soleimani’s IRGC comrades, acting on the orders of Iran’s Supreme Leader, Ali Khamenei, launched some 22 ballistic missiles from Iranian territory into neighboring Iraq, targeting the huge US air base Al Asad, in western Iraq, and the US consulate in the city of Erbil, in Iraqi Kurdistan.

In the hours following the announcement of these attacks, which were broadcast on Iranian television for the Iranian people, the world held its breath, waiting for the results. Shortly after the missiles were launched, Iran signaled its desire for a diplomatic resolution to the crisis through a tweet sent out by its Foreign Minister, Javad Zarif, who described the attacks as “proportionate measures in self-defense under Article 51 of UN Charter.” Zarif concluded by noting that “We do not seek escalation or war, but will defend ourselves against any aggression.”

The ultimate decision to deescalate, however, was not Iran’s to make. War is not a one-way street, and the enemy always gets a vote. However, in launching its missile attack on US targets in Iraq, Iran appeared to go out of its way to signal that it considered the matter of retaliation for the assassination of Soleimani closed. First and foremost, Iran communicated its intent to strike US targets in Iraq directly to the Iraqi Prime Minister a full two hours prior to the missiles being launched; Iraq then shared this information with US military commanders, who were able to ensure all US troops were in hardened shelters at the time of the attack.

Showing off its new-gen ballistic missiles

But the most important aspect of Iran’s actions was the way its missiles were targeted. For years now, Iran has made significant strides in terms of the reliability, range and accuracy of its ballistic missile force. Gone are the days when Iran’s arsenal consisted solely of inaccurate Soviet-era SCUD missiles.

The missile attack on the US incorporated new, advanced missiles—the Qaim 1 and Fahad-110—possessing advanced guidance and control capable of pinpoint precision. Iran had used these weapons previously, striking targets inside Syria affiliated with the Islamic State. But this was the first time these weapons had been used against the US. From the US perspective, the results were sobering. The Iranian missile attacks resulted in no casualties among US, Iraqi or coalition forces stationed in either Al Asad or Erbil. But the lack of lethality, however, is actually Tehran’s way of proving the accuracy of its ballistic missiles.

Commercial satellite images of the Al Asad air base taken after the attack show that the Iranian missiles struck buildings containing equipment with a precision previously only thought possible by advanced powers such as the US, NATO, Russia and China. Iran fired 17 missiles at Al Asad, and 15 hit their targets (two missiles failed to detonate).

Iran also fired five additional missiles at the US consulate in Erbil; US commanders on the ground said that it appeared Iran deliberately avoided striking the consulate, but in doing so sent a clear signal that had it wanted, the consulate would have been destroyed.

Trump had to back down

This was the reality that President Trump had to wrestle with when addressing the American people regarding the state of hostilities between the US and Iran.

Trump had previously promised a massive retaliation should Iran attack any US personnel or facilities. Surrounded by his national security team, Trump had to back down from that threat, knowing full well that if he were to attack Iran, the Iranian response would be devastating for both the US and its regional allies, including Israel, Saudi Arabia and the UAE. The US might be able to inflict unimaginable devastation on Iran, but the cost paid would be unacceptably high.

Trump’s rhetoric was aggressive, however, and his message made it clear that the US still considered Iran to be a rogue state whose pursuit of nuclear technology, ballistic missiles, and regional dominance would be opposed by the US, with force if necessary. But the Iranian missile attack drove home the new reality that, when it came to Iran’s actions in the Persian Gulf, American Presidential rhetoric no longer held sway as it once did.

Ali Khamenei, the Iranian Supreme Leader, drove this point home in a series of tweets claiming to have “slapped” the US in the face for its assassination of Soleimani, emphasizing that the policies pursued by Soleimani seeking the withdrawal of the US from the Persian Gulf region were becoming a reality, citing the recent vote by the Iraqi parliament to evict all foreign troops, including those of the US, from its soil.

President Trump, in his address to the American people, certainly talked the talk when it came to articulating a strong anti-Iranian policy. The real question is whether Trump and the American people are prepared to walk the walk, especially in a world where Iranian missiles are capable of dealing death and destruction on a scope and scale previously unimaginable.

Scott Ritter is a former US Marine Corps intelligence officer. He served in the Soviet Union as an inspector implementing the INF Treaty, in General Schwarzkopf’s staff during the Gulf War, and from 1991-1998 as a UN weapons inspector.

January 8, 2020 Posted by | Aletho News | , , , | 3 Comments

How Was Pentagon ‘Withdrawal Letter” Leaked To Iraq? Anatomy Of A Propaganda Coup

By Tyler Durden – ZeroHedge – 01/07/2020

The inside account of how the now infamous “phony” letter announcing complete US troop withdrawal from Iraq after seventeen years details astoundingly how the “posting of the letter online unleashed a mad, behind-the-scenes scramble at the Pentagon, the White House, and on Capitol Hill, as elected officials, policymakers, military advisers and journalists sought to understand whether the letter intended to communicate what its plain language suggested.”

As different departments and levels within the Pentagon bureaucracy attempted to account for it, the story changed multiple times. In a matter of a couple hours it went from “authentic” to “phony” to part of an effort to sow “active disinformation” — and finally according to a confused press briefing by Gen. Milley and Defense Secretary Mark Esper an “unauthorized draft” and “an honest mistake”.

This after The Washington Post and a host of other major outlets “confirmed” it as “authentic” — in the words of WaPo’s Beirut Bureau chief Liz Sly.

At Monday’s Pentagon briefing itself which attempted to assess the origins of the mysterious draft letter, The Dispatch summarized the atmosphere: “Was the United States really moving to remove its remaining troops from Iraq? Nobody seemed to know.”

And ultimately no definitive answers came, other than the Pentagon and administration denying than an Iraq pullout is happening, as to just how a “draft letter” which had been making the rounds at CENTCOM came to be in the hands of the Iraqis, after which it was posted online.

As The Dispatch notes, the letter wasn’t merely announced by some Iraqi politician in Baghdad, but was released via America’s enemies:

The news was a propaganda coup for the Iranians and those in Iraq who support them. The story broke on the television channel of an Iran-backed Iraqi militia, Asaib Ahl al-Haq (AAH), after it was leaked by the Iraqi prime minister’s office, according to Liz Sly, Beirut bureau chief for the Washington Post, who noted that the leader of AAH is a U.S.-designated terrorist and his militia is responsible for the deaths of dozens of Americans.

The letter soon made its way into the American media.

Initially, there was this statement out of the Pentagon policy office in conjunction with Operation Inherent Resolve: “OIR has confirmed with us at the working level that this is active disinformation.” The Pentagon was “fairly certain that this is a fake” according to that early media statement.

But then this later at the Pentagon press briefing:

They didn’t declare the letter a fake but they couldn’t offer much of an explanation of its provenance or meaning, either. Esper pleaded ignorance. “I don’t know what that letter is,” he said. “We’re trying to find out where that’s coming from, what that is. But there has been no decision made to leave Iraq, period.” He declined to confirm its authenticity. “No, I can’t.”

Gen. Milley couldn’t verify that the letter was real, either. “I do know that it’s not signed,” he said. “But I just looked at it right there; it’s not signed.”

So even the attempts to account for what may or may not be a “draft” letter which originated within the Pentagon itself and then leaked to the Iraqis remain contradictory.

The final word from the Defense Department seems to be a shoulder shrug and that it was “an honest mistake”.

What remains is that the whole embarrassing and bizarre episode does indeed appear a “propaganda coup for the Iranians and those in Iraq who support them.”

January 8, 2020 Posted by | Illegal Occupation | , | Leave a comment

Russia Proposes To Secure Iraqi Airspace With S-400 Air Defense

By Tyler Durden – Zero Hedge – 01/07/2020

The Ministry of Defense of the Russian Federation has offered Iraq Tuesday the option to purchase the world’s most advanced missile defense system to protect its airspace, reported RIA Novosti.

According to the report, the Iraqi Armed Forces could purchase the Russian S-400 Triumf air defense system, which RIA points out, can “ensure the country’s sovereignty and reliable airspace protection.”

“Iraq is a partner of Russia in the field of military-technical cooperation, and the Russian Federation can supply the necessary funds to ensure the sovereignty of the country and reliable protection of airspace, including the supply of S-400 missiles and other components of the air defense system, such as Buk-M3, Tor -M2 “and so on,” said Igor Korotchenko, Russian Defense Ministry’s Public Council member.

For the last several months, Iraq has considered purchasing Russian air defense and missile systems, including the S-400, however, it has been met with fierce pressure from the US.

But with a political crisis between the US and Iraq underway, thanks partly to the US assassination of Iran’s Maj. Gen. Qassem Soleimani, Russia could profit as Iraq attempts to decouple from the US.

A recent U.S. intelligence assessment indicated that at least 13 countries had expressed interest in purchasing the S-400s.

Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Algeria, Morocco, Egypt, Vietnam, and Iraq have all be in discussions with Russia to purchase the missile defense system in the last several quarters.

Meanwhile, China, India, and Turkey have already signed agreements with Russia.

The S-400s can strike stealth bombers, aircraft, cruise missiles, precision-guided projectiles, and ballistic missiles, some military experts have even said the Russian missile defense system is far superior than the US’ MIM-104 Patriot.

January 8, 2020 Posted by | Aletho News | , , | 1 Comment

Imam Khamenei: Only a Slap Was Delivered, US Withdrawal from Region Inevitable

Al-Manar | January 8, 2020

Leader of the Islamic Revolution in Iran Imam Sayyed Ali Khamenei said the missiles on US bases in Iraq are only a slap in the face of Washington, stressing that the real retaliation to the assassination of IRGC’s Quds Force General Qassem Suleimani is the US withdrawal from the region.

“Last night, a slap in the face was delivered,” Imam Khamenei said, in a speech broadcast live on state television, referring to the IRGC missiles which were launched at US bases in Iraq, including Ain al-Assad base in Anbar.

“One important issue is what is our duty now?” following Suleimani’s assassination, said the Leader.

“An important incident has happened. The question of revenge is another issue. Military actions in this form are not sufficient for that issue,” he said, referring to the assassination.

“What is important is that America’s corrupt presence must come to an end in this region,” his eminence said, stressing that the US withdrawal from region is “inevitable.”

Elsewhere in his speech, Imam Khamenei praised Suleimani as courageous and devoted.

“Martyr Suleimani challenged Zionists and managed to offer support to Palestinians in Gaza,” he said, adding that the top commander played major role with Hezbollah in defending Lebanon and foiled enemies’ conspiracies in Iraq, Syria.

“Martyrdom of Suelimani revived revolution spirit in Iran.”

” As long as our enemies’ allies don’t target us we won’t hit them,” Imam Khamenei said likely referring to Gulf Arab states.

January 8, 2020 Posted by | Illegal Occupation | , , | 2 Comments

Iraqi cleric Moqtada al-Sadr says crisis over, after Trump & Iran speak

© Reuters / Alaa al-Marjani
RT | January 8, 2020

Influential Iraqi cleric Moqtada al-Sadr has declared the “crisis” between the US and Iran over, following statements from the two countries’ leaders in the wake of Tuesday’s Iranian strikes on US bases in Iraq.

Al-Sadr made his pronouncement on Wednesday after US President Donald Trump gave a relatively subdued speech praising Iran’s restraint. Rather than call for retaliation against Iran over a strike that didn’t kill any Americans, Trump merely vowed to impose even more sanctions on the Islamic Republic “until Iran changes its behavior.”

Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani in turn vowed to eventually kick all US troops “out of the region” as the “final answer” to the assassination of General Qassem Soleimani, killed in a US airstrike last week.

Shia religious leader al-Sadr also called on Iraqi militias to be “patient” and not begin any military actions, claiming that a new “strong” government capable of protecting Iraq’s sovereignty would be formed in 15 days and hold early elections. However, Iraq should still evict the foreign troops inside its borders, he said.

The Iraqi foreign ministry condemned Iran’s missile attack on the coalition bases, declaring it a “violation of Iraqi sovereignty” in a statement on Wednesday and emphasizing Iraq was an “independent state.”

“We will not allow it to become a battlefield,” the ministry added.

Iraqi PM Adel Abdul Mahdi stepped down last month after months of massive protests calling for electoral reforms. He has remained in a “caretaker” role while Iraq’s political leaders attempt to move forward. Another prominent Shia cleric, Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, warned last month that “foreign interference” in the process would not be tolerated.

January 8, 2020 Posted by | Illegal Occupation | , , | 1 Comment

After Soleimani Killing Suddenly the US is Alone

By Tom Luongo | Gold, Goats, & Guns | January 6, 2020

The silence is deafening. The lack of response from U.S. allies around the world to President Trump’s assassination of Major General Qassem Soleimani tells you things have fundamentally changed.

Normally when something like this happens the US has all of its allies lined up with statements at the ready. A gaggle of the usual suspects behind lecterns pledging support replete with the requisite hand-wringing and virtue signaling.

That didn’t happen this time. Only arm-twisting by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo cajoled a few lukewarm responses from European allies stunned by Trump’s violations of International Law and escalation of hostilities.

It’s clear Trump stunned them into silence.

Because they know the world is more dangerous today than it was a week ago.

Pompeo’s whining that no one believed the White House’s ludicrous talking point that this strike was done to prevent a war rather than start one, betray epic levels of fatuousness.

But, make no mistake, Miracle Whip Mike got everything he wanted here.

The strategic errors the Trump Administration has piled up over the past twenty months since abandoning the JCPOA have reached a breaking point, especially with Europe.

Europe has taken the brunt of Trump’s belligerence with Iran and Russia.

Their businesses have suffered. Their energy security is threatened. The neocons have humiliated them and treated them like chattle. And to this point Europe’s leadership has been up to the task playing the part.

It’s obvious the Necons’ policy is to leverage Trump’s America Uber Alles mentality to get everything they want to subjugate Russia, China and Iran.

Trump’s instincts are the right ones, avoiding open warfare. Substituting economic leverage for tanks in the streets is still war, however.

Just because you don’t define it as war doesn’t mean it isn’t war.

Trump’s mistakes come from his believing sanctions are legitimate tools of terror, while simultaneously holding that Soleimani’s tools are not.

And that can no longer be an excuse to absolve him of the strategic and tactical errors he’s manipulated into by his staff or takes upon himself.

Pompeo’s whining about Europe betrays a solipsism and narcissism that reflects Trump’s madness and frustration. No amount of pressure on Iran seems to get the desired results.

He sees their attacks on US troops as personal affronts and thinks raising his threats to existential levels will finally make people see he’s serious.

Iran knew he was serious three years ago. It didn’t deter them. If anything, their discretion in the face of open hostility only emboldened Trump to go farther.

But now he’s just a madman with nukes, being pulled by betrayal, frustration, anger and fear towards making even more dangerous decisions than the ones he’s already made.

Because, when you realize that Soleimani was in Baghdad to deliver Iran’s opening terms for a negotiated peace with Saudi Arabia, this attack was a blunder.

When you further realize that Soleimani was there at Trump’s behest with Iraqi Prime Minister Mahdi as broker, this attack looks like patently insane.

Soleimani was in Baghdad to begin the peace process, again, at Trump’s request. He was uniquely positioned within the Iranian government to handle said negotiations because of his position as head of the IRGC Quds Forces.

If he brought these terms to the table, the militias and proxies he trained and tacitly commands would take them far more seriously than if they were brought by President Hassan Rouhani. Rouhani represents, to them, the failed diplomacy that led to the current crisis, thinking the US would honor their deals.

So, the meeting between Soleimani and the Iraqi Prime Minister would have been a major opportunity for peace.

But as we know, the US is Not Agreement Capable, in the words of Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Remember what both Vladimir Putin and his foreign minister Sergei Lavrov have said about the US It is ‘not agreement capable.’ Any deal made with the US government or military will be broken at the earliest possible opportunity to further its goals.

So, now the question is why did this happen? What’s the rationale here?

A New York Times article detailed the situation in the White House in the days leading up to Trump’s decision. It reads like a Pentagon whitewash of its role in creating the atmosphere which led to Soleimani’s death.

It paints the picture of a president sinking into madness as the “attacks” on the US Embassy in Baghdad unfolded.

It tries to deflect all the blame onto Pompeo and Vice President Mike Pence.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Vice President Mike Pence were two of the most hawkish voices arguing for a response to Iranian aggression, according to administration officials. Mr. Pence’s office helped run herd on meetings and conference calls held by officials in the run-up to the strike.

Defense Secretary Mark T. Esper and General Milley declined to comment for this article, but General Milley’s spokeswoman, Col. DeDe Halfhill, said, without elaborating, that “some of the characterizations being asserted by other sources are false” and that she would not discuss conversations between General Milley and the president.

But the big takeaway from this article isn’t just that the Pentagon is looking to deflect blame from Defense Secretary Mark Esper and CIA Director Gina Haspel onto Trump.

The big takeaway from this article is the Pompeo/Pence narrative of Soleimani was imminently primed to attack US diplomatic targets was complete fiction.

Unwritten by the Times but lurking between the words is who was really behind this narrative, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. It’s clear over the past six months Netanyahu couldn’t accept the idea of peace breaking out around him. He consistently pushed the envelope of Israel’s belligerence into Iraq over the opening of the Iraq/Syria border crossing.

Now the Saudis were wavering? This cannot stand. War with Iran must happen.

This is the most likely scenario that pushed Trump into this action with Pompeo, Esper, and Haspel feeding him a steady diet of, at best, misleading information. Trump then does what Trump does best when the game gets too hard to figure out.

He filps the table.

Netanyahu worked so hard to manipulate events and people to get to that point. He needs a win back home to show voters he is the man to bring Israel salvation through the studious application of American exceptionalism.

Now, that he’s done so, he is abandoning Trump after pushing him into the pit.

So, given all of this, is anyone surprised the leadership in Europe isn’t happy here? They were instrumental in getting Iran to the table to agree to the JCPOA, which Israel was livid about.

It was in everyone’s interest for the deal to work, especially Iran’s.

Iran got sanctions relief and much-needed investment. Its heavy water reactor became a strong source of revenue. Europe got access to cheap Iranian oil and gas through that investment, securing its energy needs.

Moreover, with the deal in place, the undoing of the US/Israeli/Saudi plan to atomize Syria by Russia, Iran and Hezbollah ended the flow of refugees into Europe and began stabilizing the region.

That only happens because of the JCPOA.

Trump’s entire foreign policy is based on antagonizing everyone and subjugating them through dollar weaponization and energy dominance. That’s been his modus operandi.

He aligned himself with Israeli interests from the outset because 1) he wanted to and 2) it was the path of least resistance for him to stay in power.

At every critical juncture of his presidency Trump has knuckled under to the neocons in his office.

The biggest effect of killing Soleimani isn’t Iran’s response or even Iraq’s. Yes, they will impose costs which will change the geopolitical game board. How? We don’t know.

What we do know is this big effect; the realization that everyone around the world is thinking, “Are we next?” So far Trump has accepted no limits on who he will attack with sanctions. There is no rule he’s [un]willing to breach.

The neocons in the Senate now have the ultimate leverage over him — Pelosi’s sham impeachment. The half-men in the Senate like Lindsey Graham and Marco Rubio have been at full mast so long thanks to Trump’s bombing they need to see a doctor.

They got him to kill Soleimani, ensuring there will be no peace with Iran.

They’ve begun the upward escalation of tensions which likely ends with an airstrike on Iran’s Fordow Nuclear Facility.

If you don’t think that’s what that tweet means, then have either your eyes or your reading comprehension checked.

Many of Trump’s tweets are nonsense, bluff, and bluster to misdirect and/or stir the pot. This has been a clear message he’s sent since the campaign trail.

And this attack on Soleimani was the next step in that process. He’s hoping it brings Iran to the bargaining table.

But it won’t.

And that’s why this only ends with bombing Fordow.

The Israelis and neocons have used Trump’s animus towards Obama and Europe to try to subjugate them as well. It’s not that Europe is praiseworthy or anything. The EU leadership deserves their comeuppance for trying to build an Empire to replace the US.

But regardless of whether the EU sucks or not, this incident is your point of no return in US/European relations. They have no choice but to slowly back away from the insane man in the White House and break bread with the sober one in the Kremlin.

Angela Merkel already arranged a meeting with Putin for next week.

This has cost the US whatever moral status it has with the rest of the world. It stands alone now.

The only deals Trump will get from here on out are ones that don’t matter. He’s set the US squarely on the path to its own destruction as the world realizes the cost of doing business in the dollar just rose immensely.

I’ve been looking for that moment where Europe makes the decision to move out of the US’s orbit and into Russia’s. Their silence tells me this was it.

January 8, 2020 Posted by | Timeless or most popular, Wars for Israel | , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Zarif: Iran informed Iraqi govt. of missile attack on US bases‎

Press TV – January 8, 2020

Iranian Foreign Minister says Iran informed the Iraqi government of its retaliatory attack on US bases, reaffirming Tehran’s respect for the sovereignty and territorial integrity of the Arab country.

This measure was carried out with the information passed to the Iraqi government and armed forces as confirmed by the Baghdad government, Zarif said Wednesday.

“We attach high significance to Iraq’s territorial integrity and sovereignty, and we believe security should be [provided] based on mutual respect and [safeguarding] territorial integrity of all regional countries by all,” he added.

The remarks came hours after Iran responded to the US assassination of prominent anti-terror Iranian commander Lieutenant General Qassem Soleimani and his companions, including Iraqi commander Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, with a barrage of missiles that hit two US bases in Iraq.

In the early hours of Wednesday, Iran launched tens of missiles at two bases housing US troops in Iraq’s western Anbar Province and Kurdistan regional capital, Erbil, in revenge for the assassination of General Soleimani.

Zarif’s remarks came after Iraq’s President Barham Saleh and the speaker of the Iraqi parliament, Mohammed al-Halbusi, said the attack violated the sovereignty of the Arab country.

However, earlier on Wednesday, the spokesman for Iraqi Prime Minister Adel Abdul-Mahdi said the premier had received word from Iran that its response to the US assassination of its top general was either imminent or under way.

“Shortly after midnight on Wednesday we received a verbal message from the Islamic Republic of Iran that the Iranian response to the assassination of martyr Qassem Soleimani had started or was about to start,” Reuters quoted the spokesman as saying.

Elsewhere in his remarks, Zarif said Iran’s missile attack was a military revenge for the top commander, stressing, however, that there is no retaliation proportionate to the assassination of General Soleimani other than the expulsion of US forces from the region.

As declared by Leader of the Islamic Revolution Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei, Zarif said, the true revenge for General Soleimani’s blood is that the US folly has marked the end of its presence in the region.

“The end of the US presence in the region, which will definitely happen, will herald glad tidings for the region and the generations to come, because the US presence in the region has brought about nothing but destruction and mischief,” he noted.

January 8, 2020 Posted by | Illegal Occupation | , , | 3 Comments

A Window for Peace

By Craig Murray | January 8, 2020

There is this morning a chink of light to avoid yet more devastation in the Middle East. Iran’s missile strikes last night were calibrated to satisfy honour while avoiding damage that would trigger automatically the next round. The missiles appear to have been fitted out with very light warhead payloads indeed – their purpose was to look good in the dark going up into the night sky. There is every reason to believe the apparent lack of US casualties was deliberate.

Even more important was the Iraqi statement that “proportionate measures” had been “taken and concluded” and they did not seek “further escalation”.

I agree their response was proportionate and I would say that I regard the Iranian action so far, unlike the assassination of Soleimani by the US, legal in international law.

The entire world should congratulate Iran for its maturity in handling the illegal assassination of its General, who was on a peace mission, travelling as a civilian on a commercial flight, carrying a mediation message the US had been instrumental in instigating. If as seems possible the US actively manipulated the diplomatic process to assassinate someone on a diplomatic mission and traveling on a diplomatic passport, that is a dreadful outrage which will come back to haunt them. Life insurance rates for US diplomats no doubt just went up.

It is also worth noting the 2.8% rise in the Lockheed share price in the 24 hours immediately before the Soleimani assassination, outperforming the Dow about three times. That would bear investigation. Arms manufacturers and oil stocks have soared this last few days – and remember that nowadays the vast bulk of financial transactions are bets on the margins of movement, so vast fortunes will have been made out of all this.

The UK has been, as ever, complicit in US crimes. Our laughing called “defence” industry – when were its products last used in self-defence and not colonial adventure? – is tied in to and dependent on the US military machine. The current build-up of US troops and hardware in the Gulf has Mildenhall as a major staging post. We do not have to do this. Whether officially or on a pretext, French airspace was closed to the US military build-up and the Americans have had to fly from the UK, skirting France, around the Atlantic.

In a huge Boris Johnson slap in the face to international law, extra US bombers to attack Iran have been flown into Diego Garcia, in the Chagos Islands. You will recall that is where the UK committed genocide against the population in the 1970s to clear the way for the US military base. Last year, the UK lost a hearing before the International Court of Justice and was subsequently instructed by the UN to decolonise the islands and give them back to Mauritius by last November. The UK simply persisted in its illegal occupation and now is threatening the use of the islands as the base for yet another illegal and destabilising war.

That the UK is a permanent member of the UN security council is a disgrace which surely cannot endure much longer. What the current crisis has shown us is that under Johnson the UK has no future except as a still more compliant servant of whoever occupies the White House.

Wars are easy to start but hard to stop. Trump appears to have calmed, but we cannot rule out a stupid “last word” attack bu the USA. It is to be hoped that Iran now concentrates on using the immense political leverage it has gained to get western troops out of Iraq, which would be a tremendous result for all of us after 17 years. But we cannot rule out hotter heads in the Iranian government insisting on further attacks, or attacks from regional forces whose Tehran authorisation is uncertain. On either side this could yet blow up badly.

I am a sucker for hope, and the best outcome would be for the US and Iran to start talking directly again, and a deal to be made from this break in the logjam that is wider than, and Trump can portray as better than, “Obama’s” nuclear deal and would enable the lifting of sanctions. I am sure Trump will be tempted by the chance to go for this kind of diplomatic coup under the political cover provided him by Soleimani’s assassination. But the US is now so tied in to Saudi Arabia and Israel, and thus tied in to irrational hostility to Iran, that this must be extremely unlikely.

For those of us in Scotland, this is still more reason why Independence must be early. We cannot be tied in to a rogue state. As we march for Independence on Saturday, the potential for war in Iran gives the sharpest reminder why we must leave the UK and form our own, peaceful, law-abiding state.

January 8, 2020 Posted by | War Crimes, Wars for Israel | , , , , | 2 Comments

Iran strikes US bases in Iraq to avenge Soleimani, vows to target Israel and all US bases in the region

Al-Manar | January 8, 2020

The Islamic Republic of Iran began its revenge for the assassination of the martyr Soleimani by launching dozens of ballistic missiles at the US base of Al-Asad in Iraq.

The Islamic Revolutionary Guards announced that the process of revenge for the assassination of the martyr Soleimani had started with the launch of dozens of ballistic missiles against the American base at Al-Asad in Iraq. In a statement, they assert that “At dawn today, in response to the terrorist operation by American forces and in retaliation for the assassination and martyrdom of Quds Force Commander of the Islamic Revolutionary Guards, Qassem Soleimani, and his companions, the aerospace forces of the the Islamic Revolutionary Guards carried out a successful operation bearing the name of the martyr Soleimani by launching dozens of ground-to-ground ballistic missiles against the air base of Ain al-Assad occupied by the US terrorist army. We will later inform the noble Iranian people and all free men of the world of the details of this process.

The Islamic Revolutionary Guards warned “The Great Satan, namely the US regime, that any wicked act, aggression or other hostile movement would face an even more painful and harsh response. […] We warn America’s allies who host US terrorist bases that any territory that is the source of hostile action against the Islamic Republic of Iran will be targeted.” The statement from the Islamic Revolutionary Guards added that “we do not in any way regard the Zionist entity as distinct from the criminal US regime.”

“We recommend that the American people recall their soldiers from the region to avoid further casualties and not to leave the lives of American soldiers threatened because of our peoples’ growing hatred of America,” the statement said.

Public relations within the Revolutionary Guards warned the United States that any response to the strikes “would light the fuse of a widespread and very painful response against the United States in the region.”

The Iranian news agency Mehr reported that “dozens of missiles from the aerospace force of the Islamic Revolutionary Guards targeted the base of Ain al-Assad”, and said that “the attack comes in reprisal for the assassination of the martyred commander Qassem Soleimani, and consisted in the launching of a certain number of ground-to-ground missiles”.

After the news was announced, the sounds of Takbir (Allahu Akbar!) rose from the top of the buildings of the capital, Tehran, expressing popular jubilation at this operation.

A security source told Agence France-Presse that on the night from Tuesday to Wednesday, at least nine rockets landed at the Ein Al-Assad Air base in western Iraq, where American soldiers are stationed. The source said the attack took place in 3 stages.

Use of Fateh missiles in a process of severe revenge

Given the distance between the base of Ain al-Assad and the place from which the Islamic Revolutionary Guard missiles were launched, Fateh ballistic missiles were used in these strikes (range up to 500 kilometers).

U.S. forces and their advisers are stationed at Ain al-Assad Air Base, which is the second largest Air Base in Iraq, after Balad base in Salah al-Din, north of Baghdad. For years, American forces have been present at several Iraqi military and Air Bases in the provinces of Anbar, Salah-al-Din, Nineveh and the capital Baghdad.

Pentagon admits strikes

The Pentagon has announced that Iran fired “more than 12 missiles” at dawn on Wednesday at the Ain al-Assad and Erbil bases used by US forces in Iraq on Wednesday, indicating that it is in currently assessing the damage and studying ways to “respond” to this strike.

Assistant to the Secretary of War for Public Affairs Jonathan Hoffman said in a statement that the department was conducting a “preliminary damage assessment” and was considering a “response” to the attack. He added that on Tuesday evening, “around 5.30pm (10.30pm GMT) on January 7, Iran fired more than 12 ballistic missiles at US and coalition forces in Iraq.” This time corresponds to the exact time martyr Soleimani was killed.

The statement added that it is clear that these missiles were launched from Iran and were aimed at at least two Iraqi military bases used by American and coalition forces in Ain al-Assad and Erbil.

The White House, for its part, said that President Trump is monitoring the situation closely and holding consultations with the National Security Council to discuss developments. White House spokesperson Stéphanie Gresham said, “We are aware of reports of attacks on US facilities in Iraq. The President has been informed and is following the situation closely and is consulting his national security team. ”

Oil prices go up and Nikkei goes down

The oil price per barrel jumped more than 4.5% on Wednesday after Iran launched ballistic missiles at two air bases used by US and coalition forces in Iraq. West Texas Intermediate barrel rose 4.53% to $ 65.54 before declining slightly.

The main Nikkei index of the Tokyo Stock Exchange lost more than 2.4% Wednesday morning. Half an hour after opening, the losses of the Nikkei index on the 225 largest companies listed on the Japanese Stock Exchange reached 2.44%, or 576.26 points, to fall to 22,999.46 points, while the losses of the Topix index, the most important, were slightly lower, reaching 2.20% or 37.90 points to reach 1687.15 points.

Sources: Al-Manar & Iranian sources.


January 8, 2020 Posted by | Illegal Occupation, Wars for Israel | , , , | 2 Comments