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Buying US weapons & placing trust in Washington won’t bring security, Zarif warns Saudis

RT | October 12, 2019

If Riyadh is seeking regional security, it should focus on building better relations with its neighbors instead of stockpiling weapons and turning to Washington for guidance, Iran’s Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif has said.

In an interview with TRT, Zarif urged Saudi Arabia to rethink its foreign policy, arguing that the kingdom must change course if it wants peace in the Middle East.

“Buying weapons will not buy you security. If Saudi Arabia wants to be secure, the best way is to end the war in Yemen, to start good relations with its neighbors and the neighborhood, and not to trust the US.”

The Iranian foreign minister stressed that Tehran has “always” been open to dialogue with its regional rival.

“We don’t have any choice but to talk to each other, and we have been open to talking to Saudi Arabia either directly or through intermediaries,” Zarif said.

His comments come as Iran attempts to drum up support for a new peace plan, the Hormuz Peace Endeavor (HOPE), proposed by President Hassan Rouhani during his recent speech at the annual meeting of the UN General Assembly. The initiative calls on “all eight countries in the Persian Gulf region to join in an attempt to bring peace through dialogue.”

October 12, 2019 Posted by | Militarism | , | 1 Comment

Iran Open to Dialogue with Saudi, Has Better Option for Turkey on Syria: Zarif

Al-Manar – October 12, 2019

Iran’s Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said Tehran welcomes efforts by intermediaries to mediate between Tehran and Riyadh.

“We’ve always been open to discussing anything with Saudi Arabia. Saudi Arabia is our neighbor. We’re going to be here together permanently,” Mohammad Javad Zarif told Turkey’s TRT World.

“We don’t have any choice but to talk to each other, and we have been open to talking to Saudi Arabia either directly or through intermediaries,” he added.

When asked about the upcoming visit of Pakistan’s Prime Minister Imran Khan to Tehran, the top diplomat said, “We’ve never rejected any intermediary… We’ve always been open to mediation, and we’ve always been open to direct talks with our Saudi neighbors.”

Khan is likely to visit Iran and Saudi Arabia, the Pakistani foreign office said on Friday, weeks after Islamabad said Washington had asked it to mediate with Tehran.

The announcement of the possible visit comes after Khan last month revealed a request by US President Donald Trump, asking the Pakistani leader to help defuse tensions with Iran.

Khan said after a meeting with Trump on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly in New York that he was “trying and mediating” and had also spoken with Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani.

Syria Offensive

Meanwhile on the Turkish offensive in northern Syria, the top Iranian diplomat stressed that security will not be achieved through acts of aggression and invasion against Syria, revealing that his country has offered better options to Turkey to settle the issue.

While Iran understands Turkey’s security concerns, it does not believe that security could be achieved through acts of aggression and invasion against Syria, Zarif told TRT World.

While Iran understands Turkey’s security concerns, it does not believe that security could be achieved through acts of aggression and invasion against Syria, Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said in an interview with Turkey’s TRT World.

“We have better alternatives, which we have presented to our friends in Turkey,” Zarif added, referring to the Adana agreement.

“The Adana agreement is still valid,” said Zarif, adding “we can bring the Kurds, the Syrian and Turkish governments together, so that the Syrian Army, in cooperation with the Turkish government, can be in charge of border security. This can be the better path to achieve security.”

October 12, 2019 Posted by | Aletho News | , | 2 Comments

Iranian oil tanker hit by two blasts in Red Sea

Press TV – October 11, 2019

Two separate explosions, possibly caused by missile attacks, have hit an Iranian oil tanker operated by the National Iranian Tanker Company (NITC) near the Saudi port city of Jeddah, in what Tehran calls a “dangerous adventure”.

The incident took place some 60 miles from Jeddah early Friday, according to a statement by the NITC.

The explosions have hit the vessel’s hull, causing heavy damages to the vessel’s two main tanks, which has resulted in an oil spill in the Red Sea. The spill is currently stopped, according to officials.

Technical experts are currently investigating the cause of the explosion. They believe it was a “terrorist attack”, unnamed sourced told the Iranian Students News Agency (ISNA).

The statement by NITC said the SABITI tanker was hit by two separate explosions at 5:00 and 5:20 am Friday, probably after being struck by missiles.

It said the crew members are currently safe and none of them has been harmed in the explosions. The tanker is currently in a stable condition, the statement added.

The NITC later dismissed the reports that the vessel had caught fire, according to the Iranian Ministry of Petroleum’s official news agency SHANA.

‘Dangerous adventure’

Iran’s Foreign Ministry spokesman later described the attack as “a dangerous adventure”, warning that all the responsibilities fall on those behind it.

“The investigations conducted by the National Iranian Tanker Company indicate the Iranian tanker has sustained damages after being targeted twice, at half-hourly intervals, from a place near its shipping route in the east of the Red Sea,” Abbas Mousavi said Friday.

He expressed concern about the maritime pollution caused by the massive oil spill in the region after damages inflicted on the vessel’s tanks, and said, “All the responsibilities for the act, including the extensive environmental pollution in the region, fall on those behind the dangerous adventure.”

He also noted that a probe is being conducted on the details of the attack and those behind it, and the results will be announced once it’s done.

Earlier in the day, the US Navy’s Bahrain-based Fifth Fleet announced it is aware of media reports about the blast but had no further information.

“We are aware of the reports but we don’t have any further information,” a spokesman said.

The blasts have caused oil prices to jump by over 2 percent, media reports said.

The explosions came a few months after Iranian oil tanker Happiness-1 faced “engine failure” and lost its control with 26 on board off the Red Sea port of Jeddah, and was later transferred to the port city for maintenance.

According to Iranian officials, the incident had occurred on April 30 while Happiness I was on its way to the Suez Canal, and that water had leaked into the tanker’s engine room.

The Saudis refused to let the vessel leave and demanded that Iran pay $200,000 a day for maintaining the vessel in the port, some $10 million in total. It was finally released on July 20 and returned home.

October 11, 2019 Posted by | Aletho News | , , | 3 Comments

Iran’s private sector seeks active role in trade with Eurasian Economic Union countries

Press TV – October 7, 2019

Morteza Miri, a member of Iran Export Confederation, said on Monday that accession to the EAEU would not lead to maximum benefits for the country if the private sector is not fully involved in new schemes for exports and imports.

“Experience has shown that failing to use the private sector while entering a (trade) treaty has reduced the potentials to reach the objectives,” Miri told Iran’s Tasnim agency.

The comments came as Iran is preparing to officially accede to the EAEU on October 26 through the formation of a joint trade zone which would enable the country to export a total of 70 goods and products to members of the union on zero tariffs while 503 more items would enjoy lower duties.

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani attended an EAEU summit in Yerevan last month, effectively concluding his country’s efforts to join the organization which includes Russia, Armenia, Kazakhstan, Belarus and Kyrgyzstan.

Miri said Iran could have involved the private sector in negotiations leading to the accession to the EAEU as this would have provided the businesses and enterprises in the country with better perspective about future trade relations.

He said Iran’s embassies in the five EAEU countries were supposed to provide businesses and the government with the latest information and analyses on the markets in those countries.

The businessman said accession to the EAEU would lead to various economic, cultural and political benefits for Iran as the union enjoys a powerful status in regional affairs.

October 7, 2019 Posted by | Economics | | 1 Comment

Israel and the West Do Not Have the Means to Counter Iranian Technology

By Gilad Atzmon | October 1, 2019

Introduction by GA: The following is a translation of today’s Israel’s News 12 headline article. The article explores the lessons delivered by the recent attack on Saudi oil facilities. Though I, like many other commentators, am not convinced that the attack had anything to do with Iran, the attack showed that Iran’s weaponry is likely superior to the West’s ability to mount an effective defence.

Israeli writer Nir Dvori points out that the attack took place 650 km inside Saudi territory. “It proved measured Power Utilization – Sending two types of weapons that achieved accurate hits.” It also demonstrated superb intelligence capability – “both in identifying and selecting targets and in selecting the attack route and the military.” Apparently, neither the cruise missiles nor the drones were detected and no attempt was made to intercept them before the attack. Which really means that despite the Saudis’ multi- billion dollar investment in Western weaponry and air defense systems, their sky is far from protected.

In the last few years Israel has prioritized its efforts to counter Iran’s ballistic and drone projects. It seems Israel knew what it had to dread. The recent attack on the Saudi oil industry proved that the West has not developed an adequate response to Iranian precision missiles, slow moving cruise missiles or drone technology. This alone explains why, despite Israel’s persistent threats to attack Iran directly, it has been reluctant to do so. Israel knows how vulnerable it is and well understands the possible dramatic consequences of such an attack. Israel knows that although its anti missile system, which cost the American taxpayers billions of dollars, may be somewhat effective against German V2 ballistic technology, its system is ineffective against what Iran has at their disposal.

This helps explain why Israel wants America and NATO to attack Iran on its behalf. It may explain why Israel might consider doing whatever it can to provoke such a conflict- everything from intensive Lobby pressure to possible false flag operations.

Donald Trump seems miraculously to have gathered how volatile the situation is. As a consequence, he exited his prime hawk, John Bolton. Might Trump find himself booted out of his 1600 Pennsylvania Ave as a result of his reluctance to fight Israel’s war against Iran?


The character, uniqueness and success of the Iranian attack – worries Israel and the world

By Nir Dvori

The Iranian attack on Saudi oil facilities was of great significance and is of particular concern [to Israel]. The attack was [the first of its kind] and proved that the Iranians are capable and possess both the knowledge and the ability to hurt and cut [Saudi] oil production by nearly fifty percent. At the same time, the Saudis have already begun to rebuild the buildings damaged by the Iranian bombing

The attack on oil facilities in Saudi Arabia has been a warning for the West and Israel – the effects of this attack are extremely concerning. This [technological] ability that can be used against Israel requires that [Israel] prepare its security system to respond to such a threat. Israeli officials analyzed the outcome of the attack and reached several conclusions : The attack demonstrated both impressive design and execution, the results were painful and cut Saudi oil production by 50%, and likely affected gas production as well.

The attacks were carried out with only two weapon types :The first were 7 Quds cruise missiles driven by a Czech jet engine, 3 of which fell before they reached their target; the second weapons were 18 suicide drones, an Iranian replica of the “Rafi” – an Israeli suicide drone.

The attack was significant on a few levels:

The attack was carried out at a relatively long range – at a distance of 650 km.????

It proved measured Power Utilization – Sending two types of weapons that each achieved accurate hits.

Iran has also demonstrated its intelligence capability – both in identifying and selecting targets and in selecting the attack route and its execution.

Apparently neither the cruise missiles nor the drones were detected and no attempt was made to intercept them before the attack.

Iran’s inability to penetrate the Saudi air defense system, despite the billions of dollars spent and deployed to defend the area, was shown by its failure against the small, slow-moving assault weapons.

Impressive and unprecedented impact accuracy of less than 3 meters. The fragments of the Iranian cruise missiles have been identified as among the derivatives of the 55-KH missiles that Ukraine delivered to Iran in 2001.

The nature of the Iranian attack has embarrassed the Western intelligence community. It turned out that Iran, a country with average technological capabilities, has developed medium and long range missiles that are accurate and effective. This basically undermines the very existence of the regulatory bodies which assumes that denying access to technology can impede, or prevent such technologies being obtained.

The attack is proof of Iran’s operational potential that relies on technological capabilities, intelligence infrastructure and coordination, leading to the conclusion that the Western monopoly on precision-guided armaments has evaporated. The countries of the entire region and Israel have learned a lesson: Discovery and interception systems do not provide a proper countermeasure to new regional threats.

It is necessary to deal with cruise missiles, slow drones and hovercraft. The ranges reached by Iran this time – 650 km – would allow damage to any point in Israel from western Iraq.

October 1, 2019 Posted by | Militarism, Wars for Israel | , , | 2 Comments

EU threatens to withdraw from JCPOA

By Richard Sudan – Press TV – September 28, 2019

European leaders have threatened to start withdrawing from the Iran nuclear deal in November if Tehran does not return to full compliance.

President Donald Trump withdrew the US from the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) in May 2018, and has since reinstated old sanctions and imposed new ones on Tehran in the hope of crippling its economy and forcing it into falling in line.

Since then, Europe says it has strived to preserve the deal, setting up a financial mechanism called INSTEX to help Iran circumvent US sanctions. But in reality not much has been achieved. Trade with Iran has not surged via INSTEX, and Europe has not stood up to the US over its illegal sanctions and unceremonious withdrawal from the historic deal. And yet Iran is the signatory being asked to cooperate.

Three separate steps have been taken so far by Iran and the fourth is scheduled for November. Tehran wants the US sanctions to be lifted, but as pressure on the Iranian people increases with inflation skyrocketing and vital goods and medicines becoming increasingly scarce, the government is losing patience.

This past week European leaders tried to orchestrate a meeting between Trump and Rouhani at the UN General Assembly. Macron told Rouhani it was an opportunity he shouldn’t miss, but Iran’s president was candid.

So no talks on any level until all US sanctions are lifted. During and after the UN general assembly Europe’s tone became increasingly aggressive towards Tehran. The JCPOA’s European trio blamed Iran for the attacks on Saudi oil refineries and threatened to withdraw from the nuclear deal in November if Iran did not return to full compliance.

September 28, 2019 Posted by | Deception | , , | 2 Comments

Modi-Rouhani meeting is a morality play

By M. K. BHADRAKUMAR | Indian Punchline | September 27, 2019

Prime Minister Narendra Modi began his 6-day long visit to the US with a bang — a stunning stage appearance with President Trump at the Howdy Modi in Houston last Sunday.

But on Thursday, he ended up with a hastily arranged meeting with Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani in New York just before the latter’s departure for Tehran. The symbolism is at once obvious.

Only 4 days earlier, in a famous remark at the Howdy Modi, Trump thrilled the Sangh Parivar audience with a stirring call that the US and India should jointly fight “radical Islamic terrorism.” Modi and the audience cheered in the mistaken belief that Trump was condemning Pakistan, but only to be told the next day by POTUS himself that he was only referring to Iran.

However, if photo journalism is any indicator, Modi looked subdued at the meeting with Rouhani. It must have been a difficult meeting. The Iranian report was rather taciturn. The primary purpose seems to have been to break the ice.

The India-Iran relations have been on a roller-coaster under Modi’s watch. He gave high hopes to Rouhani when they met for the first time on the sidelines of the historic Ufa summit of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization in June 2015 by proposing multi-billion dollar investment plans in Iran’s economy spanning the industrial and infrastructural fields.

Rouhani took the idea seriously and fast-tracked the contract for India to develop and operate one of the container terminals in the strategic Chabahar Port in the Sistan-Baluchistan province, ignoring Pakistan’s disquiet over such an Indian presence hardly 80 kms from its restive border regions.

Rouhani upset the Pakistanis further by accepting the Indian offer to build a railway line connecting Chabahar with Zahedan on the Iran-Afghan border further north.

Indians were jubilant that in geopolitical terms, India’s cooperation in regional connectivity with Iran matched China’s Belt and Road Initiative.

All that is history, of course. Iran’s ambassador to India Ali Chegeni regretted recently that India not only buckled under American pressure to stop its oil imports from Iran but also slowed down its project work at Chabahar. The tensions are showing. Iran has taken a critical position on the situation in J&K.

Yet, it was Iran which in 1994 had helped India to prevent an OIC resolution on the human rights situation in J&K from being tabled at the UN forum, breaking the IOC consensus and demanding that Kashmir is a bilateral issue between India and Pakistan.

Yes, Iran played a helpful role in ensuring that the Shia-dominated Kargil region of J&K stayed out of the Pakistan-sponsored insurgency in the early nineties. The Narasimha Rao government allowed the then Iranian Ambassador to India Sheikh Attar to visit Kargil when the region was closed to the international community and foreign media.

Yes, it was the same Iran with which India also had cooperation at the level of intelligence agencies in the early nineties.

What explains the present crisis? Succinctly put, India’s policies in the Persian Gulf have come under the influence of the Israel-Saudi-UAE axis. Indian diplomacy is quite adept at balancing the relations with Iran on one side and the Israel-Saudi-UAE troika on the other. But the present ruling elite abandoned that policy and began identifying with the troika.

Conceivably, the US encouraged this shift. But the main factor has been the bonhomie that has come to exist at the leadership with Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu and the Crown Princes of Saudi Arabia and the UAE. If a marker is to be put on the downhill slide of India-Iran relations, it must be Modi’s extended 5-day visit to Israel in July 2017.

India-Iran relations suffered as a result of Delhi’s gravitation toward the the orbit of what Iran calls the “B Team” of the US. Iran never stood in the way of India keeping diversified relationships in West Asia, including with its adversaries such as the US, Israel or Saudi Arabia, but the plain truth is Delhi simply cooled down on the relationship with Iran.

How the B Team worked on the Indian leadership remains a mystery, but the Israelis, Saudis and Emiratis played their cards well, knowing exactly which strings to be pulled among the movers and shakers of the present ruling dispensation in Delhi.

Suffice to say, Modi’s meeting with Rouhani on Thursday was an act of atonement. India is in a chastened mood today. Delhi dumped Iran as a major supplier of oil (on concessional terms) and instead opted to buy from the US and Saudi Arabia and the UAE (at market price), but there has been no quid pro quo.

Trump is deepening the US-Pakistan relations and has waded into the Kashmir issue. As for the Sheikhs, they probably had no intentions to make big investments in India. Meanwhile, Netanyahu, one of Modi’s closest friends in the world circuit, lost the election and if he fails to form the next government, may lose his immunity from prosecution and end up in jail.     

Without doubt, Modi has done the right thing by calling on Rouhani. India does not have many friends today. The Modi government’s image is very poor in the Muslim world. India’s march toward Hindu Rashtra and the lock down in J&K have generated negative opinion internationally.

Even “time-tested friends” like Russia are getting disillusioned with our “Chanakyan” diplomacy. How long can India remain ambivalent? Our credibility as a dependable partner is plunging.

It may seem an uphill task to repair the damage to India’s relationship with Iran. But on the contrary, it is easily undertaken if only there is political will. Tehran attaches high importance to India and Delhi needs to reciprocate that goodwill. The prospects are simply seamless to build a relationship of mutual benefit.

September 27, 2019 Posted by | Economics, Wars for Israel | , , , , | Leave a comment

Iranian President’s multifaceted UNGA speech, directed at President Trump, falls on deaf ears

By Sarah Abed | September 26, 2019

All eyes this week are on the events taking place at the 74th annual UN General Assembly (UNGA) which kicked off on Monday at UN Headquarters in New York. Hundreds of meetings, speeches, and events are planned to take place with representatives and world leaders from around the world.

In an entirely predictable move to appease the US, a joint statement was issued on Monday, by France, Germany, and the U.K, parroting Washington’s position of blaming Iran for the September 14th missile and drone strikes on Saudi Oil infrastructure.

In the joint statement they wrote, “it is clear for us that Iran bears responsibility for this attack. There is no other plausible explanation.” They reiterated their commitment to the JCPOA but called for new talks on a more comprehensive long-term agreement that deals with nuclear, regional, and missile activities.

In response to the statement, Iran’s Foreign Minister Javad Zarif said that the three nations should muster the will to forge their own path rather than parroting absurd US claims and making requests which are inconsistent with established JCPOA terms. He also stated that there will be no new deal without compliance with the current one.

In reviewing a lot of the side conversations that have been taking place between President Rouhani and other world leaders from France, Germany, the U.K., Switzerland, Sweden, Pakistan, etc. it appears that in the US’s absence these nations seem supportive of Iran’s efforts to keep the JCPOA deal alive. However, threats from Washington to sanction countries that do business with Iran like China, are worrisome and causing them to peddle back.

In a speech given on Wednesday, Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani said, “The Middle East is burning in the flames of war, bloodshed, aggression, occupation and religious and sectarian fanaticism and extremism.” President Rouhani spoke about Iran’s desire to solve and not create problems. He stated the United States was openly violating its responsibilities under the JCPOA and invited the US to come back to the negotiating table if they are willing to end sanctions and threats which violate principles of ethics and international law.

President Rouhani stressed that his proposal is clear they are not interested in war, in threats, in bullying, and want everyone involved to act according to the law and fulfill their obligations. President Rouhani spoke about Iran’s decades-long fight against terrorism and how on the contrary the US has been supporting and arming terrorist groups for decades. He spoke about the US’s involvement in Syria, Yemen, and Israel’s crimes against Palestinians.

Iranian President spoke about the need for the US to pull its troops out of the Middle Eastern region, saying that the ultimate way to achieve peace, security and independence is for the neighboring countries to work things out without foreign interference, which is fueling insecurity rather than bringing peace.

President Rouhani spoke about his new initiative the Coalition of Hope or Hormuz Peace Endeavor (HOPE) which he is proposing at the UNGA and encouraging cooperation in providing collective energy security, freedom of navigations and free flow of oil and other energy resources from and to the countries off the Strait of Hormuz and beyond.

President Rouhani said that this initiative is based on a commitment to UN principles, objectives, mutual respect, mutual interests, dialog, understanding, respect for sovereignty and territorial integrity, peaceful resolution of conflicts and most importantly non-aggression and non-interference in the domestic affairs of each other.

“The issues of the region are too big and important for the United States to deal with. A country that has failed to resolve the issues of Afghanistan, Iraq and Syria, and has been the spearhead of extremism, Talibanism and Daeshism will never be able to resolve more sophisticated issues,” stated Iranian President Rouhani.

On Wednesday, a meeting chaired by the European Union’s top diplomat, Federica Mogherini took place with representatives of those same three European countries along with Russian and Chinese representatives and Iran’s Foreign Minister Mr. Zarif. It was agreed upon that all participants wanted to see the deal fully implemented and that they were determined to continue all efforts to preserve the agreement.  Participants were reminded that the agreement was endorsed by the U.N. Security council and that the pact “remains a key element of the global nuclear nonproliferation architecture, and a significant achievement of multilateral diplomacy.”

President Trump’s decision last year to not only unilaterally withdrawal from the JCPOA but also enforce a “maximum pressure campaign” is seen by the Iranian government as “economic terrorism”. Harsh sanctions not only target financial establishments and government officials but the most vulnerable Iranian civilians who as a result are having trouble accessing food and medicine.

Underneath all the grandstanding both nations are not genuinely interested in war. Iran understands Trump’s distaste with the JCPOA being that it was negotiated by former president Barak Obama’s regime. They are willing to make some modifications and give him his own deal even though the previous one took a decade of negotiations, but for that to happen they need relief from crippling sanctions. They need the United States to show a genuine interest in coming back to the negotiating table. We’ve all seen how in the course of a day or a tweet tensions can suddenly flare up.

President Rouhani’s speech was an invitation to President Trump to come to the negotiating table. He outlined what needs to be done and Iran’s willingness and desire to choose peace over war. Washington has expressed similar sentiments at times but has then quickly reverted to rebuking and enforcing stricter sanctions rather than alleviating them. It’s in everyone’s best interest that all parties involved keep a cool head and come to agreeable terms, for the sake of humanity.

Sarah Abed is a political analyst with BRICS.

September 26, 2019 Posted by | Aletho News | , , | 1 Comment

Iran’s tango with Europe is rooted in its traditions and culture

By M. K. BHADRAKUMAR | Indian Punchline | September 24, 2019

The joint statement issued by the leaders of France, Germany and the United Kingdom on September 23 indicting Iran for the attacks on the Saudi Aramco plants two weeks ago is at once consequential and declaratory.

The joint statement may seem a serious diplomatic setback for Tehran, as the joint French-German-UK (E3) stance may transform as the European Union position. If that were to happen, only Russia and China, among world powers who are signatories to the 2015 Iran nuclear deal, continue to maintain that there isn’t evidence yet to establish Iran’s culpability.

Prima facie, Iran’s dependence on Russian and Chinese goodwill would further increase. Both Moscow and Beijing harbour misgivings about Iran’s nuclear and missile development programmes and some of its regional policies, and have so far played coy refraining from frontally assaulting the US sanctions against Iran, while rhetorically critical. It’s a set pattern.   

Secondly, Iran’s diplomatic thrust projecting itself as a factor of regional stability suffers a PR setback if it is perceived as undermining regional security and risking a major conflict involving the US. Thirdly, the joint statement brings on board other related issues. These are, principally three.

One, the three E3 have repeated their call on Iran “to reverse its decisions to reduce compliance with the deal and to adhere fully to its commitments under it… [and] to cooperate fully with the IAEA.”

Two, the E3 underscored that Iran should “accept negotiation on a long-term framework for its nuclear programme as well as on issues related to regional security, including its missiles programme and other means of delivery.” Three, they have urged Iran to engage in “with all relevant partners interested in de-escalation of tensions in the Middle East” and “refrain from further provocation and escalation.”

Clearly, this is a one-sided statement.  Tehran insists that its compliance with the 2015 deal is part of mutual commitments, but not only the US but also the E3 failed to fulfil their part of the commitments, which in turn compelled Iran to react in accordance with the stipulated provisions of the deal (which allow Tehran to take steps if other parties are defaulting.)

Again, Tehran has also repeatedly stated that its missile programme constitutes a “red line” and it is not open to discussions / negotiations. Suffice to say, the joint statement marks a calibrated distancing from Iran on the part of the European powers.

The joint statement smacks of the “Boris Johnson effect” — London acting as the US’ junior partner. It cannot be a coincidence that Britain pushed for a European stance critical of Iran at a juncture when the US and UK are stepping up efforts to assemble a politico-military coalition to address maritime security in the Persian Gulf (basically, to isolate and provoke Iran in its backyard.)

Britain is considering participation in the US-led military coalition alongside Saudi Arabia and the UAE. France and Germany remain lukewarm about the Anglo-American enterprise.

Having said that, the E3 are also highly vulnerable to pressure from petrodollar states of the Persian Gulf, and in this case Saudi Arabia and UAE have high stakes.

Conceivably, the Trump administration can derive satisfaction that the European stance on the Iran question has edged closer to its policies (although E3 do not subscribe to the maximum pressure approach.)

How Tehran perceives this E3 shift is important. Iran’s diplomacy is supple and Tehran will unlikely deny itself the diplomatic usages of the European conduit.

The point is, Iran greatly values its strategic autonomy and factors in that Russian and Chinese support comes with strings attached. Besides, Iran’s ambitions as a regional power demand the creation of an advanced economy with innovation, which is only possible if it has access to western technology and capital.

Therefore, while the “Look East” and multipolarity of the world order remain key templates of Iran’s world view, that cannot come at the cost of Iran’s integration into the western world.

Arguably, the mildly worded European statement leaves the door open still for further cogitations between France and Iran over the diplomatic negotiations initiated on the sidelines of the G7 summit in Biarritz recently.

Just a few hours before releasing the E-3 statement, French President Emmanuel Macron had warned that “one must be very careful in attributing responsibility” for the Aramco attacks.

“There are clusters of clues, but this bombardment is a new military event that changes the region’s ecosystem,” he said, stressing that caution was needed in apportioning blame for the attack. Since then, Macron also has had a meeting with Iranian President Hassan Rouhani in New York on September 23.

Given the “westernism” in Iran’s psyche and considering the European powers’ manifest keenness to have a productive relationship with Iran, both Iran and the E3 will ensure that life moves on.

Historically, Britain has a profound understanding of Iran’s politics, culture and traditions and it is hard to see even PM Boris Johnson identifying with US’ maximum pressure approach, although he has taken a position closer to Trump.

For the present, London feels somewhat humiliated over the “tanker war” with Iran, but it cannot be the new normal. Johnson is due to meet Rouhani today and may even be transmitting messages from Trump.

September 24, 2019 Posted by | Aletho News | , , | 3 Comments

Beware False Flag Drone Attacks

Opinion by Walrus | Sic Semper Tyrannis | September 21, 2019

The corollary to the Houthis brilliant use of do – it – yourself drones and perhaps cruise missiles, is that anyone else can do the same. This makes the possibility of false flag attacks using such weapons more likely in my opinion. Such attacks would not even necessarily require the resources of a State actor to execute, all the materials, bar perhaps the explosive, are freely available around the globe.

I will not explain the mechanics of manufacturing such weapons. Take it from me that a group of determined hobbyists could do so, provided they have sufficient security and money. Such weapons could be labeled for example “made in Iran” in such depth that it would be impossible to refute their origin, no matter how good ones forensics are.

A State actor, perhaps bent on mischief, could do this rather quickly. While this is just a guess, I would be surprised if various Western countries security services did not already have an operation underway to replicate the Houthi achievements, if only to answer the politicians question: “How did they do that??” and to start thinking about countermeasures.

My reason for being concerned enough to raise this topic is that President Trump has committed troops to Saudi Arabia and we already have other troops and assets in the region. If they were subject to attack and we took casualties, I don’t see how the President could avoid war assuming Iran was blamed.

What triggered me was this article in the WSJ (paywalled) whose opening sentence is:

Yemeni Rebels Warn Iran Plans Another Strike Soon

“BEIRUT—Houthi militants in Yemen have warned foreign diplomats that Iran is preparing a follow-up strike to the missile and drone attack that crippled Saudi Arabia’s oil industry a week ago, people familiar with the matter said.

Leaders of the group said they were raising the alarm about the possible new attack after they were pressed by Iran to play a role in it…”

Once technology is out of the box, as the Houthis have demonstrated, it can’t be returned. How do we avoid false flag attacks?

September 24, 2019 Posted by | Deception, False Flag Terrorism, Mainstream Media, Warmongering | , , | 2 Comments

A Precision Strike on US Credibility – Shattering a US Paradigm

By Alastair Crooke | Strategic Culture Foundation | September 23, 2019

The precision attack on the Saudi ‘jewel in the crown’, crude-processing installation last week, is also a precision assault on Saudi credibility, on the believability of the US security ‘umbrella’, and a humiliation for Trump, and particularly to America’s image as a competent military and intelligence power.

Gulf States will be pursing their lips as they consider now their own vulnerabilities and question their reliance on that US umbrella. Even the Pentagon might be questioning, ‘what then – is the point to CentCom’ in light of what has happened? And above all, Israel will be experiencing a very chill wind sending shivers up the spine: Israelis cannot but be a tad struck in awe at the attack’s precise targeting and technical efficacy. Quite impressive – especially given that Saudi spent $65 billion on weaponry last year, to no good avail.

Facing this humiliation, the US Administration has been ‘blowing smoke’: tossing around red-herrings about the origin and launch of the UAVs and cruise missiles. ‘It can’t be AnsarAllah (the Houthis), because such an operation was sophisticated beyond their capabilities’. Apart from the obvious Orientalism to this assertion (for, if Hizbullah can manufacture smart drones and smart cruise missiles, why shouldn’t the Houthis be able so to do?), do the exact, individual contributions towards the strike on Abqaiq really matter? What is most telling is that the US – with all its massive resources in the Gulf – cannot provide the evidence from whence came these UAVs to Abqaiq.

Actually, the ambiguity about the strike modus operandi represents just another layer to the sophistication of the attack.

The US is ‘blowing smoke’ about launch sites mainly to divert from the very obvious (but embarrassing) fact that the raining down of missiles on Abqaiq, primordially owes to the Saudi war on Yemen (supported unreservedly by Trump). The Houthis have claimed the attack; they say they will demonstrate their weaponry (which certainly in the case of the Houthi Quds 1 cruise missile is no mere copy of the Iranian Soumar missile – see here), and promise to repeat their attacks in the near future.

What the precision strike has done is to shatter the ‘vessel’ of the US posing as somehow ‘guardian’ of the Gulf, and guarantor of the crude oil lifeblood feeding into the veins of a fragile world economy. This to say, it was a precision strike aimed at the prevailing paradigm – and it scored a direct hit. It exposed the hollowness of both claims. Anthony Cordesman writes, “the strikes on Saudi Arabia provide a clear strategic warning that the US era of air supremacy in the Gulf, and the near US monopoly on precision strike capability, is rapidly fading”.

Were the Iranians directly or indirectly involved? Well … it doesn’t really matter. To understand the implications properly, it should be understood as somehow a joint message – coming from a common front (Iran, Syria, Hizbullah, Hash’d a-Shaibi and the Houthis). This was about blasting the wider sanctions crisis to a head: a strategic (missile) popping of the over-inflated ‘balloon’ of the efficacy of US “maximum pressure” tactics. Trump’s ‘sanctioning/tariffing the world’ had to be brought to a head – and be exploded. Russia and China would almost certainly concur, and (quietly) applaud.

There are clear risks to this approach. Will the message be heard correctly in Washington? For, as Gareth Porter points out in a different context, Washington’s ability to comprehend, or to ‘read well’, its ‘enemies’ mind seems to have been somehow lost – out of a failure in Washington to discover any strain of empathy towards ‘otherness’ (either Iranian, Chinese or Russian). So the prospects, probably, are not great. Washington will not ‘get it’, but rather, may double-down, with potentially disastrous consequences. Porter writes:

“The Abqaiq strike is also a dramatic demonstration of Iran’s ability to surprise the United States strategically, [thus] upsetting its political-military plans. Iran has spent the last two decades preparing for an eventual confrontation with the United States, and the result is a new generation of drones and cruise missiles that give Iran the ability to counter far more effectively any US effort to destroy its military assets and to target US bases across the Middle East.

“The United States was apparently taken by surprise when Iran shot down a high-altitude … surveillance drone … Iran’s air defence system has been continually upgraded, beginning with the Russian S-300 system it received in 2016. Iran also just unveiled in 2019 its Bavar-373 air defence system, which it regards as closer to the Russian S-400 system coveted by India and Turkey – than to the S-300 system.

“Then there is Iran’s development of a fleet of military drones, which has prompted one analyst to call Iran a ‘drone superpower’. Its drone accomplishments reportedly include the Shahed-171 “stealth drone” with precision-guided missiles, and the Shahed-129, which it reverse-engineered from the US Sentinel RQ-170 and the MQ-1 Predator” [link added].

Understanding Porter’s message represents the key to comprehending the nature of the ‘Great Shift’ taking place in the region. Robot planes and drones – simply – have changed the calculus of war. The old verities no longer hold – there is no simple US military solution to Iran.

A US attack on Iran will bring only a firm Iranian response – and escalation. A full US invasion – as in the 2003 invasion of Iraq – is no longer within US capabilities.

There is only a political answer. But for now, the US and MbS both, are in a stage of denial: the latter apparently believes that continuing with the partial sale of Aramco might solve his problems (though markets have just re-awoken to geo-political risk to assets, such as Aramco), and Trump seems still to believe that maximum pressure might still come up trumps.

For the rest of us, ‘the political’ is pretty obvious for Saudi Arabia: Accept defeat in Yemen, and with it, its corollary – engaging with Iran and Russia is a sine qua non for achieving any settlement. For sure it will be costly for MbS, both politically and financially. But what is the alternative? Wait upon further Abqaiqs? To be fair, there are reports that the al-Saud understand their situation now to be existential. We shall see.

And for Trump, the lesson surely is clear. The strike on Abqaiq could have been easily worse (with greater interruption to oil supplies). Oil markets and markets more generally have woken up to the geo-political risks to Trump’s maximum pressure tactics. And they are becoming nervous, as world trade falters.

Headlines such as “Stunning weekend attacks take out 50% of Saudi Arabia’s oil output … Can the economy survive a higher oil price…?” may be a bit too alarmist, but they make the point: Supply disruption could easily tip the fragile US and the global economy into recession, were higher prices to be sustained.

No one is more aware of this than President Trump because his re-election chances in 2020 may hinge on whether the US can stay out of recession. Generally speaking, US Presidents who seek a second term are always re-elected, unless they have a recession late in their first term. This happened to Jimmy Carter and George H.W. Bush – both lost re-election bids because of recessions on their watches.

Already both Saudi Arabia and Trump are rowing back from a possible (diversionary) confrontation with Iran (in lieu of addressing the Yemen issue, which remains at the root of Saudi’s difficulties). The question is how long denial over the flaws to the maximum-pressure Iran policy might continue? Up to the elections? Probably yes. Trump has some constituency egos he must stroke – in parallel to avoiding the potentially fatal landmine of recession – if he is to gain a second term. And that means pandering to the Evangelical and AIPAC obsession with Iran as our era’s ‘cosmic evil’ – one positive ‘straw in the wind’ might be the end to the Netanyahu reign (although Gantz is no Iran ‘dove’).

September 23, 2019 Posted by | Militarism | , , , , | 1 Comment

Iran’s Hormuz initiative seeks lasting peace in the Persian Gulf: Rouhani

Press TV – September 23, 2019

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani says the peace initiative that he will soon unveil at the United Nations General Assembly is aimed at establishing long-term peace in the Persian Gulf, something he said is simply not achievable as long as outsiders are present.

Speaking to government officials before heading to New York, Rouhani said Monday morning that his Hormuz Peace Initiative (HOPE) is designed to include all countries of the region and aims to expand cooperation beyond regional security.

“This plan is about collective work within the Persian Gulf region and we want all countries of the region to partake in it,” Rouhani said. “Of course, the plan that will be laid out at the United Nations won’t be just about security, but rather economy and other issues, all in line with security matters.”

The HOPE initiative comes against the backdrop of tensions in the Persian Gulf, where several tankers and commercial vessels have come under suspicious attacks by unknown parties while attempting to cross the strategic Strait of Hormuz.

The United States has blamed the sabotage attacks on Iran, using them as a pretext to build a coalition that would patrol the region.

The US is trying to project the mission as a bid to secure the Persian Gulf, but “the Europeans argue that Washington created the problem in the first place by trying to kill off Iran’s oil exports”, the New York Times wrote last month.

Iran has dismissed the allegations and called the attacks false flag operations, warning regional neighbors to watch out for plots by outsiders to destabilize the region.

Rouhani echoed that stance on Monday, saying any solution to calm tensions must come from within the region and what he called a “coalition of hope.”

“We believe the solution for the region comes from inside the region and those who come from the outside can never bring peace and security,” he said.

Citing America’s military interventions in the Middle East as an example, Rouhani said since entering the region in 2001, the United States has failed to bring back calm to any of the countries that it has deployed forces to.

“I hope we can roll out this plan and tell the world that Iran is looking for lasting peace in the region and is willing to” discuss it with other countries with the UN involved in the process, he said of his HOPE initiative.

‘Aramco oil attack showed US more isolated than ever’

Rouhani also pointed to the September 14 attack on Saudi Arabia’s oil facilities by Yemen’s Houthi Ansarullah movement and the biased reactions that it received from Riyadh’s close allies, specially the United States.

The damage from the retaliatory Yemeni attack was so vast that the kingdom lost more than half of its oil output overnight, causing global oil prices to jump.

American officials, along with their Saudi allies, have since pointed the finger at Iran without any evidence even though the Houthis have on several occasions claimed responsibility for the attack, saying it is only one of their many such strikes in retaliation for the Saudi-led war.

“The Aramco [attack] is the outcome of the aggression that Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and the Zionist regime have been leading against Yemen,” Rouhani said.

“If they (the Saudis) don’t initiate aggression, they (the Yemenis) won’t hit back and when they do and see the response, it is hard for them to swallow” the retaliation, the Iranian president continued. “Their cruelty is justified in their own eyes.”

‘Americans don’t want us at UN so we must go’

Rouhani, who faced difficulties obtaining the visa for the UN trip, said he felt compelled to partake in this year’s General Assembly, mainly because the administration of President Donald Trump did not want the Iranian delegation there.

The Americans did not seem “to be very eager to have various Iranian delegations at the UN and speaking to the media,” he said. “The Americans should explain why.”

“The fact that they are not that eager shows that it is imperative for us to be at the UN at different levels and speak out, because we have logic and strong arguments while our enemies don’t,” he continued.

Rouhani said this year’s General Assembly was also significant as it came at a time when the US has hit the rock bottom against Iran after the failure of its so-called “maximum pressure” campaign of sanctions.

“We are headed to the UN while the Americans have pushed their sanctions campaign so far that they admit there is nothing left for them to sanction,” the president said, noting that the failures had put Washington in a state of “absolute desperation” against Iran.

Rouhani flew to New York on Monday morning. He is scheduled to give a speech at the 74th UN General Assembly later on Monday and meet with a host of foreign leaders and Iranians living in the US before heading back on Thursday evening.

September 23, 2019 Posted by | Aletho News | , | Leave a comment