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Trudeau toes imperial line on Iran

By Yves Engler · January 19, 2020

While the current Liberal government claims to be progressive and in favour of a rules-based international order, promotion of democracy and world peace, its actions regarding Iran demonstrate that the primary drivers of Canadian foreign policy remain US Empire geo-political interests and the rich and powerful.

(This previous article argues this has long been the case.)

While Israeli nationalists and Conservatives demand new measures targeting Iran, the reality is ordinary Canadians will not benefit from war with the 18thmost populous country in the world. The families of Iranian Canadians will certainly not benefit.

Despite election promises to the contrary, Justin Trudeau’s government has continued important components of the previous Conservative government’s ‘low-level war’ against Iran.

Ottawa has no diplomatic relations with Iran, maintains a series of sanctions on the country and lists Tehran as a state sponsor of terrorism. Canadian troops are also stationed on Iran’s border partly to counter its influence and Canada recently gifted $28 million worth of Iranian assets in this country to Americans who lost family members to purported Hamas and Hezbollah attacks decades ago.

The Liberals repeatedly promised to restart diplomatic relations with Iran. Before becoming prime minister Trudeau told the CBC, “I would hope that Canada would be able to reopen its mission [in Tehran].” In May 2016 foreign minister Stéphane Dion said, “Canada’s severing of ties with Iran had no positive consequences for anyone: not for Canadians, not for the people of Iran, not for Israel, and not for global security.” Five months later Trudeau added, “Canada must return to Iran to play a useful role in that region of the world.”

While the Liberals have dialed down the Harper government’s most bombastic rhetoric against Tehran, they have not restarted diplomatic relations or removed that country from Canada’s state sponsor of terrorism list.

The Trudeau government has criticized Iranian human rights abuses while mostly ignoring more flagrant rights violations in Saudi Arabia and the other Gulf monarchies. In January 2018 foreign minister Chrystia Freeland said, “Canada is deeply troubled by the recent deaths and detentions of protesters in Iran” and four months later tweeted, “our government is committed to holding Iran to account for its violations of human and democratic rights.” Two months ago Global Affairs stated, “Iran must ensure that its people enjoy the rights and freedoms they deserve.”

In June 2018 Liberal parliamentarians supported a Conservative MP’s private member’s motion that “strongly condemns the current regime in Iran for its ongoing sponsorship of terrorism around the world, including instigating violent attacks on the Gaza border.” In effect, the resolution claimed Iran was responsible for Israel killing Palestinians peacefully protesting the US moving its embassy to Jerusalem, siege of Gaza and historic theft of their land. The motion also called on Canada to “immediately cease any and all negotiations or discussions with the Islamic Republic of Iran to restore diplomatic relations” and to make the highly provocative move of listing the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps as a terrorist entity. A demand B’nai B’rith and the Conservative party have restated in recent days.

Ottawa has continued to present a yearly UN resolution critical of the human rights situation in Iran. In response to Canada targeting it, Iran’s Deputy Representative to the UN, Eshaq Al-e Habib, said in November 2019, “how can a supporter of apartheid in Palestine pose itself as a human rights defender in Iran?”

Similarly, the Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs and International Development participates in the annual “Iran Accountability Week” on Parliament Hill, which showcases individuals such as Foundation for the Defense of Democracies CEO Mark Dubowitz, who helped kill the Iran nuclear deal and pushed harsh sanctions against any country doing business with Iran. Dubowitz was a senior research fellow at the University of Toronto’s Munk School of Global Affairs. In 2015 Global Affairs gave the Munk School’s Digital Public Square $9 million to expand an anti-Iranian initiative.

While they ostensibly backed the “p5+1 nuclear deal” with Iran, the Liberals’ promoted a one-sided view of the 2015 Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) between Iran and the US, France, Germany, Russia and China. Canada put up more than $10 million for the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) to monitor and verify Iran’s implementation of its commitments under the JCPOA. Iran has consistently been in compliance with JCPOA’s strict rules regarding its uranium enrichment. Nonetheless, the Donald Trump administration withdrew from the JCPOA in May 2018 and re-imposed tough new sanctions on other countries’ companies doing business with Iran.

For their part, the Western European signatories to the agreement have largely failed to stand-up to US pressure by creating the space for their companies to do business with Iran and three days ago the UK, Germany and France delivered a further blow to an agreement on life support. In a January 14 release titled “Canada supports diplomatic efforts established for Iran to return to full implementation of Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action” Global Affairs expressed “support” for the UK, Germany and France “activating the Dispute Resolution Mechanism” under the JCPOA and “urged Iran to immediately restore its full commitments to the JCPOA.” But, this position amounts to calling on Iran to abide by a deal it receives no benefits from as its economy is crippled by sanctions.

The Liberals also legitimated the illegal US sanctions on Iran when they arrested Huawei’s chief financial officer, Meng Wanzhou,at the Vancouver airport 13 months ago.The US claimed Meng’s company defied its illegal sanctions against Iran. But, between when the US judicial system sought her detention and the Trump administration requested Ottawa detain her, Meng traveled to six countries with US extradition treaties. Only Canada arrested her.

At the military level Ottawa also aligned with the US-Saudi-Israeli axis stoking conflict with Iran. An April 2016 Global Affairs memo authorizing Light Armoured Vehicle export permits to the House of Saud noted, “Canada appreciates Saudi Arabia’s role as a regional leader promoting regional stability, as well as countering the threat posed by Iranian regional expansionism.” At the November 2019 Dubai International Air Chiefs Conference the Commander of the Royal Canadian Air Force, Al Meinzinger, participated in a panel titled “Watch out Iran!” A year earlier Chief of the Defence Staff Jonathan Vance told a parliamentary committee that Iran was “an interested party and, in some cases, a malign agent in Iraq.”

Five hundred Canadian troops are in Iraq partly to counter Iranian influence. Specifically, the Canadian-led NATO Mission Iraq is designed to weaken the influence of the Iranian aligned Popular Mobilization Forces, Shia militias that helped defeat ISIS.

In the fall Canada seized and sold $28 million worth of Iranian properties in Ottawa and Toronto to compensate individuals in the US who had family members killed in a 2002 Hamas bombing in Israel and others who were held hostage by Hezbollah in 1986 and 1991. The Supreme Court of Canada and federal government sanctioned the seizure under the 2012 Justice for Victims of Terrorism Act, which lifts immunity for countries labeled “state sponsors of terrorism” to allow individuals to claim their non-diplomatic assets.

Iranian Foreign Ministry Spokesman Seyyed Abbas Mousavi called the seizure “illegal” and in “direct contradiction with international law” while a spokesperson for Iran’s Guardian Council, Abbasali Kadkhodaei, accused Canada of “economic terrorism”. A senior member of Iran’s parliament said the country’s military should confiscate Canadian shipments crossing the Strait of Hormuz.

In a right side up world, the Iranian asset sale would lead to various more legitimate seizures. Relatives of the Lebanese-Canadian el-Akhras family Israel wiped out, including four children aged 1 to 8, in 2006 were certainly at least as worthy of Canadian government-backed compensation. Ditto for Paeta Hess-Von Kruedener, a Canadian soldier part of a UN mission, killed by an Israeli fighter jet in Lebanon in 2006. Or Palestinian Canadian Ismail Zayid, who was driven from a West Bank village demolished to make way for the Jewish National Fund’s Canada Park.

There are hundreds of Canadians and countless individuals elsewhere who have been victimized by Israeli, Canadian and US-backed terror more deserving of compensation than the Americans paid with Iranian assets for what Hamas and Hezbollah purportedly did decades ago. Should Israeli, US and Canadian government assets be seized to pay them?

The Trudeau government failed to speak against the asset seizure. It could have undercut this obscenity by delisting Iran as a “state sponsor of terror” or repealing Harper’s Justice for Victims of Terrorism Act. But, it didn’t even keep its promise to restart diplomatic relations with Iran. As such, the Liberals have empowered US-Israeli hawks hurtling towards a major conflict.

While there is much to dislike about the government in Tehran, progressive-minded, peace-loving Canadians should reject Ottawa’s aggressive anti-Iranian policies.

January 19, 2020 Posted by | Timeless or most popular, Wars for Israel | , , , , | 1 Comment

Is It an Act of War to Designate Iran’s IRGC as a Terrorist Organization?

The Israel Lobby’s Relationship to Trudeau, Trump and NATO

By Prof. Anthony Hall | American Herald Tribune | January 19, 2020

The Israel Lobby in Canada is demanding that the government of Justin Trudeau follow the lead of Netanyahu and Trump, the notorious duo of anti-Iranian warmongers. Michael Mostyn, CEO of B’nai Brith Canada, has been leading the drive to have Canadian law brought into conformity with US and Israeli prototypes of post-9/11 terrorist designations.

At a press conference on January 13 in Canada’s Parliament, the Canadian branch of the US and Israeli-based ADL, demanded that the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) be designated as a terrorist organization. Canada has already designated the Quds division of the IRCG as a terrorist group. Iranian General Qassem Suleimani was the leader of the Quds force until he was assassinated on January 2 of this year.

Mr. Mostryn presented the Canadian government with something of an ultimatum with the following comment. “We are asking for the IRGC to be designated as a terrorist group in Canada within the next 30 days. No further delays will be accepted by Canadians on this important public safety issue.”

There is a large body of evidence that demonstrates that Mr. Mostyn does not speak for all Jews in Canada or even for most of them. Certainly, this well paid functionary of the Israel Lobby does not speak for all Canadians when it comes to the issue of Canada’s relations with Iran. After the assassination of General Suleimani, Canadians have added cause to be skeptical about adopting the extravagant language and principles of the Israel Lobby as elevated to pre-eminence following 9/11.

After January 2, Canadian citizens and members of the global community generally are coming to understand better the lethal booby traps attached to pinning the status of “terrorist” on individuals and organizations without any due process whatsoever. The post-9/11 adoption of the principles of pre-emptive warfare promotes the ethos of shoot to kill first, worry later (if at all) about proof, justification and adherence to the older principles of international law. This ethos of kill first, deal with proof later, has essentially eliminated the legal principle that people, whether they be princes or paupers, are innocent until proven guilty.

The Displacement of Well-Founded Principles of International Law with the Pseudo-Laws of the Global War on Terror

The kind of agenda that Mr. Mostyn wants to import into Canada from Israel and the United States undermines the integrity and enforceability of international law. The United Nations and the International Criminal Court at the Hague are basically sidelined as credible organizations. The result is that officials effectively lack the capacity to command accountability from war criminals at the highest level.

The still-misrepresented events of 9/11 ushered in many transformations dramatically for the worse in the global community. These transformations include the negation of much of the juridical inheritance emanating from centuries of evolutionary progress in the community of nations. For the time being this juridical inheritance has been pretty much swept into the garbage bin leaving the world a much more dangerous place. Atrocities like the Israeli treatment of indigenous Palestinians or the extrajudicial Baghdad drone strikes of 2 January 2020 epitomize the subordination of the rule of law to the law of the jungle.

Benjamin Netanyahu has continued the longstanding Israeli practice of trying to push the United States and its supposed allies into invading Iran in order to conduct regime change. That priority was emphasized immediately after 9/11 when the Canadian Zionist neocon, David Frum, wrote the words of a pivotal speech for US President George Bush. Frum had Bush refer to Iran as part of the “axis of evil.” David Frum’ sister, now a Canadian Senator, has continued her brother’s preoccupation. She has long been working with Michael Mostyn and Benjamin Netanyahu “in advocating for the listing of the IRGC in its entirety as a terrorist organization.”

Setting Up NATO Soldiers and Iranian Soldiers to Kill Each Other to Advance Israel’s Expansionary Ambitions

The decades-old Israeli push to pressure the United States and its “allies” into war with Iran was renewed in April of 2019. As reported in The Times of Israel, just days before an Israeli general election, Benjamin Netanyahu thanked Donald Trump for increasing his chances of being re-elected. Netanyahu’s thank you was for Trump’s political decision to designate the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps as a terrorist organization. In a Hebrew language tweet Netanyahu thanked Trump for “acceding to another one of my important requests.”

As Tamar Pileggi reported in The Times of Israel

Trump said his administration’s “unprecedented” designation “recognizes the reality that Iran is not only a state sponsor of terrorism, but that the IRGC actively participates in, finances, and promotes terrorism as a tool of statecraft.”…. Since taking office, Trump has recognized Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, withdrawn from the Iran nuclear deal, slashed hundreds of millions of dollars in aid to the Palestinians, and recognized Israeli sovereignty over the Golan Heights.

There is cause to be suspicious about the deadline announced for the Trudeau government’s ratification of the B’nai Brith Canada’s demand. To designate the whole armed forces of a foreign country as a “terrorist organization” is basically to declare war on the host country of that military organization. How is it in Canada’s interests or in the interests of the United States for that matter to give way to Israeli pressure pushing North America into a war with Iran?

The issue of time comes up because of recent announcements from the White House that Trump and Pompeo want to see NATO troops, including those of Canada, take over from US troops in Iraq. Trump needs this concession from NATO countries to meet an election promise. He has to have some symbolic bringing of US soldiers home from the Middle East prior to the US presidential election later this year.

Is it the goal of the Israel Lobby to push Canada and other NATO countries into a war posture with Iran after Trump bragged about assassinating “the number one terrorist anywhere in the world.” At the bidding of Trump, the NATO countries are pushed to enter a Middle East after it has been transformed by the criminal drone strike on the Iranian people’s most popular and beloved war hero?

Indeed, the admiration of General Suleimani, a real foe, not a pretend foe, of the Daesh proxy army is not limited to Iran, to the Muslim world or the Middle East. I can think of no military figure in the Western world that commands anything like the degree of respectful recognition that General Suleimani earned even from some that consider themselves enemies of the polities that the Quds force fought to help.

Is the issuing of the 30-day time limit by B’nai Brith Canada based on insider knowledge? Does the Israel Lobby in Canada know that there will soon be an influx of Canadian soldiers to replace US soldiers in Iraq? After the events of January 2, these US soldiers in Iraq and throughout the Middle East have had targets painted on their back by the war mongering of their Israeli-puppet Commander In Chief in the White House.

Is the rush to get the Canadian government to accept the terrorist designation part of a plan to encourage young NATO soldiers to kill young Iranian soldiers if they encounter one another in Iraq? Are we witnessing a plan to assemble NATO fighting forces in Iraq with the view that they would then be in a more strategic position to invade neighboring Iran?


Anthony James Hall has been Editor In Chief of the American Herald Tribune since its inception. Between 1990 and 2018 Dr. Hall was Professor of Globalization Studies and Liberal Education at the University of Lethbridge where he is now Professor Emeritus. The focus of Dr. Hall’s teaching, research, and community service came to highlight the conditions of the colonization of Indigenous peoples in imperial globalization since 1492.

January 19, 2020 Posted by | Timeless or most popular, War Crimes, Wars for Israel | , , , , , , | 6 Comments

IRAN: Don’t trust the mainstream media!

SURFIRAN • October 3, 2019

Sara Melotti, a young Italian travel photographer, talks about her experience of visiting Iran.

“I wanted to see Iran. I wanted to feel the charm of ancient Persia, admire the intricate and colorful designs of its architecture, taste the incredibly diverse dishes, soak in the multilayered culture and live its well known heart-warming hospitality on my own skin; and thanks to SurfIran I did it all, on a dream of a road trip I’ll never forget.”

January 18, 2020 Posted by | Timeless or most popular, Video | | 15 Comments

Evidence suggests US lied about Iranian strikes on US facilities in Iraq

By Robert Inlakesh | Press TV | January 16, 2020

During the early morning hours of January 8, 2020, Iranian strategic missile units launched a precision attack, branded ‘Operation Martyr Soleimani’, against US forces at the American-operated section of the ‘Ain al-Asad’ air base in Iraq.

The response, coming in response to the illegal assassination of General Qassem Soleimani, was a high-observable attack using ballistic missile forces – as opposed to a low-observable attack using terrain-reading cruise missiles and suicide drones.

With US forces already having been in a heightened state of alert, American radar and satellite reconnaissance would have spotted the attack within a minute of it being launched (and a six hour pre-warning of an imminent attack before that), giving the US and other coalition troops present at the base time to seek cover in hardened shelter areas. This, however, did not prevent the success of the attack which, according to primary source evidence, destroyed highly-expensive US aviation assets.

THE RESULT – U.S. FORCES ASSET LOSSES

According to the evidence that has been made available to us at this point, it is obvious that the US is lying about the extent of the damage inflicted upon its assets and infrastructure at the Ain al-Asad base.

No American media group or official Pentagon report initially released the satellite pictures shown in this report, and probably for good reason. To downplay the event (as Trump did in his official address, as did the Pentagon in its later report), they simply dismissed the damaged equipment, referring to the destroyed assets as simple “tents, a parking lot and a damaged helicopter” (per the Department of Defense).

The Iranian missile attack for the most part targeted Apache (AH-64) attack helicopter shelters (refer to Picture 1). Refer to Picture 3 and Picture 4 to see what those “tent”-like Apache steel-frame shelters look like at ground level.

They are the standard steel-frame soft shelter design for US helicopter units based in overseas areas at second-rate airfields (such as the Ain al-Asad Base) – US helicopter units operating from old Afghan airfields are also housed in this kind of shelter design. Each one of those Apache attack helicopter shelters can house two such aircraft. With six structures of the type provably destroyed, demonstrated through the satellite images showing blackened scorch marks (suggesting assets inside them were destroyed with the shelter itself, refer to Picture 1) AND assuming each only had one Apache in them, it can be concluded that at least 6 Apache gunships were destroyed in the attack.

Recently, Danish media, citing a Danish coalition soldier who was present at the base at the time of the attack, admitted that multiple helicopters were destroyed to the point of being “split in half”.

Another Apache hangar (refer to Picture 2) was also directly struck, located to the far eastern end of the Ain al-Asad Base and destroyed. However, note that there is no scorch-blackened concrete underneath it, suggesting nothing was inside it that led to additional burning beyond the impact of the warhead itself.

Indeed, just to the south of that destroyed hangar and the undamaged three hangars next to it, 4 Apache helicopters can be seen sitting out on the open tarmac. They were spared as they were, ironically, not being sheltered.

The official US story on the other structure targeted beyond the “tents” (i.e. Apache gunship hangars) has already changed twice – first it was called a parking lot, then an equipment storage area and now, apparently, a barracks for drone operators. Picture 1 (far right) shows the result of the attack on this structure.

It is hard to imagine that base zoning regulators within the US military would chose to place sleeping quarters right next to a strip alert (ready-to-go) aircraft parking area, itself right next to a major taxiway, given the constant noise that comes from these areas.

A more astute assessment would place this structure as an operations center, which lines up with the Iranian claim that the command site from which the Qassem Soleimani assassination operation had been coordinated, was targeted and destroyed in Iran’s retaliation strike.

Indeed, AFP recently released an exclusive report in which a US drone operator present at the Ain al-Asad Airbase, one First Sergeant Wesley Kilpatrick, admitted that airborne drones were rendered inoperable after a direct hit penetrated the base’s UAV operations center and destroyed the fiber lines which connect remote stations to satellite communication equipment(needed for drone control and visuals).

In all of this, one thing is obvious. US officials and media are stumbling over their own statements trying to cover up the extent of the damage dealt to the US-operated section of the Ain al-Asad base – in fact, going so far to cease calling the military site a US airbase (as it had been called for the last 16 years) to (all of a sudden) just an “Iraqi facility”.

THE WEAPONS USED BY IRAN

Short-range ballistic missiles (SRBM) of the upgraded Fateh-313 (range 500 km) and Qiam (range 800 km) types were launched from Western Iran towards the US-operated Ain al-Asad Base in Iraq.

Fateh-313s represent the majority of the missile type used for the attack. Their accuracy still seems to have been to within a matter of meters of their intended targets, except for two stray shots that hit the open tarmac area.

Whilst the Fateh-313 missiles use a combination of INS and electro-optical guidance, the Qiam missiles reportedly use a mix of INS, GPS and radar-mapping target acquisition. The latter method being the archaic predecessor version of DSMAC (imaging automatic target acquisition) terminal-phase guidance used in high-end ground-attack cruise missiles, such as the Tomahawk.

THE OPERATION –OTHER DETAILS

Satellite pictures show that some targeted sites were double-tapped (hit twice-over for good measure).

Initial reports from the Ain al-Asad Base claimed nearly 40 detonations in total despite the fact the number of actual warhead impacts was about fifteen, indicating that there were around two dozen cases of secondary explosions (fuel and ammo going off after being ignited).

In conclusion, according to the evidence we have available to us currently, there is no doubt that the United States has completely distorted the gravitude of Iran’s strikes. The mainstream media in the West have also seemingly refrained from acknowledging much of the damage, apart from on occasion.

Robert Inlakesh is a journalist, writer and political analyst, who has lived in and reported from the occupied Palestinian West Bank. He has written for publications such as Mint Press, Mondoweiss, MEMO, and various other outlets. He specializes in analysis of the Middle East, in particular Palestine-Israel. He also works for Press TV as a European correspondent.

January 16, 2020 Posted by | Deception, Illegal Occupation | , , | 1 Comment

Facebook censors explainer clip recalling when western media liked Soleimani – and demonetizes popular account for sharing it

RT | January 15, 2020

Facebook is doubling down on censorship of anything less than villification of slain Iranian Major General Qassem Soleimani, deleting a clip showing his history of fighting terrorism – and demonetizing the account posting it.

The social media behemoth didn’t just remove independent journalist Dan Cohen’s ‘In the Now’ segment, “How ‘good guy’ Soleimani became US media’s ‘bad guy,” from the show’s page on Tuesday – it demonetized In the Now entirely, citing the typical unspecified violations of “community standards.” The move comes amid an alarming escalation in the platform’s crackdown on political speech that runs contrary to US foreign policy, a wave of censorship that has not been limited to Facebook.

Cohen’s video calmly and accurately explains how Soleimani “saved the region from falling to ISIS,” fighting the terrorist group alongside the US and its Kurdish allies before he was recast posthumously by a complicit western media as “actually a huge terrorist and a ticking time bomb who was born to kill Americans.” The video exposes the ideological inconsistency of the outlets currently depicting the Quds Force commander as the devil incarnate, showcasing clips from those same outlets in recent years praising Soleimani’s battlefield performance.

Rania Khalek, who runs In the Now, tweeted in shock that a video merely stating facts about Soleimani had gotten her page demonetized, asking “where is the outrage” now that Facebook was so explicitly deleting material for ideological reasons.

Facebook and its subsidiary Instagram have come under fire from independent journalists and media organizations like the International Federation of Journalists for embarking on a wholesale campaign to deplatform all support for Soleimani in the weeks following the US airstrike that killed him. The company has claimed the extensive US sanctions placed on Iran, including the designation of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps as a terrorist organization, require it to censor such posts, though even legal experts quoted by CNN took a dim view of that rationale.

Facebook and Instagram not only remove accounts run by or for sanctioned individuals or groups, but also posts that (they claim) praise or seek to assist the people in question – making sanctions a convenient excuse for mass-deplatforming any user who holds a political view the US government has deemed heresy.

Iranians saw insult added to injury when over a dozen Iranian journalists, several state-run media organizations, and countless ordinary individuals and activists’ Instagram accounts were yanked entirely in the days following Soleimani’s assassination. Many more saw pro-Soleimani posts removed, even when they carefully avoided saying his name – one Lebanese researcher praised “Q*ssem S*leim*ni” for protecting Christians from ISIS and al-Qaeda, only to have his video removed anyway.

The rank ideological discrimination not only left them unable to publicly mourn for a leader beloved by the lion’s share of the people, but allowed pro-regime-change trolls to dominate the narrative. Facebook has recently taken flack from the US political establishment for refusing to “fact-check” political ads, but non-advertising content is more tightly controlled than ever.

Facebook and Instagram are far from alone in clamping down on the speech of Iranian users, however – YouTube briefly deleted state-backed PressTV’s channel earlier this week, only to reactivate it after an outpouring of popular support.

Twitter removed state-backed media outlet Al-Alam News’ account, as well as that of the popular Iran-backed Spanish-language media outlet HispanTV, only reinstating the latter after a massive public backlash. Dozens of individual Iranians who supported their government were also deplatformed on Twitter, while anti-government users – many linked to notorious exile terror group Mujahedin e-Khalq (MEK) – were allowed to continue slinging hate against Soleimani and his supporters. Twitter even dished out a ban to Syrian President Bashar Assad, but restored the account after a few days.

January 15, 2020 Posted by | Full Spectrum Dominance | , , | 6 Comments

Who Targeted Ukraine Airlines Flight 752? Iran Shot It Down But There May Be More to the Story

By Philip Giraldi | American Herald Tribune | January 15, 2020

The claim that Major General Qassem Soleimani was a “terrorist” on a mission to carry out an “imminent” attack that would kill hundreds of Americans turned out to be a lie, so why should one believe anything else relating to recent developments in Iran and Iraq? To be sure, Ukraine International Airlines Flight 752 departing from Tehran’s Imam Khomeini International Airport on the morning of January 8th with 176 passengers and crew on board was shot down by Iranian air defenses, something which the government of the Islamic Republic has admitted, but there just might  be considerably more to the story involving cyberwarfare carried out by the U.S. and possibly Israeli governments.

To be sure, the Iranian air defenses were on high alert fearing an American attack in the wake of the U.S. government’s assassination of Soleimani on January 3rd followed by a missile strike from Iran directed against two U.S. bases in Iraq. In spite of the tension and the escalation, the Iranian government did not shut down the country’s airspace. Civilian passenger flights were still departing and arriving in Tehran, almost certainly an error in judgment on the part of the airport authorities. Inexplicably, civilian aircraft continued to take off and land even after Flight 752 was shot down.

Fifty-seven of the passengers on the flight were Canadians of Iranian descent, leading Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to point the finger both at the Iranian government for its carelessness and also at Washington, observing angrily that the Trump Administration had deliberately and recklessly sought to “escalate tensions” with Iran through an attack near Baghdad Airport, heedless of the impact on travelers and other civilians in the region.

What seems to have been a case of bad judgements and human error does, however, include some elements that have yet to be explained. The Iranian missile operator reportedly experienced considerable “jamming” and the planes transponder switched off and stopped transmitting several minutes before the missiles were launched. There were also problems with the communication network of the air defense command, which may have been related.

The electronic jamming coming from an unknown source meant that the air defense system was placed on manual operation, relying on human intervention to launch. The human role meant that an operator had to make a quick judgment in a pressure situation in which he had only moments to react. The shutdown of the transponder, which would have automatically signaled to the operator and Tor electronics that the plane was civilian, instead automatically indicated that it was hostile. The operator, having been particularly briefed on the possibility of incoming American cruise missiles, then fired.

The two missiles that brought the plane down came from a Russian-made system designated SA-15 by NATO and called Tor by the Russians. Its eight missiles are normally mounted on a tracked vehicle. The system includes both radar to detect and track targets as well as an independent launch system, which includes an Identification Friend or Foe (IFF) system functionality capable of reading call signs and transponder signals to prevent accidents. Given what happened on that morning in Tehran, it is plausible to assume that something or someone deliberately interfered with both the Iranian air defenses and with the transponder on the airplane, possibly as part of an attempt to create an aviation accident that would be attributed to the Iranian government.

The SA-15 Tor defense system used by Iran has one major vulnerability. It can be hacked or “spoofed,” permitting an intruder to impersonate a legitimate user and take control. The United States Navy and Air Force reportedly have developed technologies “that can fool enemy radar systems with false and deceptively moving targets.” Fooling the system also means fooling the operator. The Guardian has also reported independently  how the United States military has long been developing systems that can from a distance alter the electronics and targeting of Iran’s available missiles.

The same technology can, of course, be used to alter or even mask the transponder on a civilian airliner in such a fashion as to send false information about identity and location. The United States has the cyber and electronic warfare capability to both jam and alter signals relating to both airliner transponders and to the Iranian air defenses. Israel presumably has the same ability. Joe Quinn at Sott.net also notes an interested back story to those photos and video footage that have appeared in the New York Times and elsewhere showing the Iranian missile launch, the impact with the plane and the remains after the crash, to include the missile remains. They appeared on January 9th, in an Instagram account called ‘Rich Kids of Tehran‘. Quinn asks how the Rich Kids happened to be in “a low-income housing estate on the city’s outskirts [near the airport] at 6 a.m. on the morning of January 8th with cameras pointed at the right part of the sky in time to capture a missile hitting a Ukrainian passenger plane…?”

Put together the Rich Kids and the possibility of electronic warfare and it all suggests a premeditated and carefully planned event of which the Soleimani assassination was only a part. There have been riots in Iran subsequent to the shooting down of the plane, blaming the government for its ineptitude. Some of the people in the street are clearly calling for the goal long sought by the United States and Israel, i.e. “regime change.” If nothing else, Iran, which was widely seen as the victim in the killing of Soleimani, is being depicted in much of the international media as little more than another unprincipled actor with blood on its hands. There is much still to explain about the downing of Ukrainian International Airlines Flight 752.

Philip M. Giraldi is a former CIA counter-terrorism specialist and military intelligence officer who served nineteen years overseas in Turkey, Italy, Germany, and Spain. He was the CIA Chief of Base for the Barcelona Olympics in 1992 and was one of the first Americans to enter Afghanistan in December 2001. Phil is Executive Director of the Council for the National Interest, a Washington-based advocacy group that seeks to encourage and promote a U.S. foreign policy in the Middle East that is consistent with American values and interests.

January 15, 2020 Posted by | Deception | , | Leave a comment

Trump Steps Back From the Edge. Neocons Rage Accordingly

By Matthew Ehret | Strategic Culture Foundation | January 15, 2020

Trump’s response to the attack on two US military bases showcase a hopeful about face on a dark age agenda which many thought could lead nowhere but World War III in the immediate days following Soleimani’s murder on January 3.

Immediately after the Iranian counter-attacks occurred on Wednesday morning at the same hour of Soleimani’s assassination, Iran’s Foreign Minister stated: “Iran took & concluded proportionate measures in self-defence under Article 51 of the UN Charter targeting base from which cowardly armed attack against our citizens & senior officials were launched. We do not seek escalation or war, but will defend ourselves against any aggression.” Iran’s retribution was more moderate than many analysts imagined as fore notice was delivered to the Iraqi government 30 minutes before rockets were launched giving American military personnel in the bases ample time to seek shelter.

In Trump’s remarks the following day, the President stated: “Iran appears to be standing down, which is a good thing for all parties concerned and a very good thing for the world… ISIS is a natural enemy of Iran. The destruction of ISIS is good for Iran, and we should work together on this and other shared priorities.”

Although Trump’s speech characterized Iran as a “major supporter of terrorism” and Gen. Soleimani as a “top terrorist”, his assertion that a common interest exists between the USA and Iran in the combat of ISIS is a spectacular break from the neocon agenda. This break is also one of many in a long line of internal struggles emanating from the corridors of American power in the days since Soleimani’s murder. This includes the memo written to the Iraq government by William Seely, commanding general of the Iraq Task Force saying: “We respect your sovereign decision to order our departure.” Seely’s memo created a major crisis amongst the radical war hawks like Mark Esper and Mark Milley who raced to deny the memo’s validity.

Recent revelations published in the Wall Street Journal demonstrating the incredible back channel discussion set up by Trump through the Swiss embassy in Tehran in the hours after Solemenei’s murder also play into this “movement of sanity” within the USA.

The Paradox of America Resolved

This contradictory behaviour is undoubtedly not so confusing for leading figures among Eurasia’s intelligentsia who are not ignorant to the battle occurring within America between nationalists who genuinely wish to end “the forever wars” in the Middle East vs those Pax Americanists embedded throughout the neoconservative and neo-liberal establishments who would rather burn the earth than abandon their dark age ideology. Trump’s many calls for positive relations with Russia and China over the past 3 years terrify these groups, and this potential US-Russia-China alliance has represented a real threat which today’s London-steered impeachment debacle, and years of Russia-gating has always aimed to derail.

With the impeachment bill now sitting in the republican-dominated Senate, the neocons loyal to the Military Industrial Complex which Trump has so loudly criticized have major leverage on the President and are using it. If you are thinking “why would any republican ruin their careers by supporting a democrat-driven impeachment bill against a republican leader?” then you haven’t realized that the drive for war with Iran (as well as Russia and China) is not a matter of “practical politics” for our later day fanatics of the evangelical pre-millennial garb like John Hagee or Benny Hinn who sincerely believe it is man’s duty to usher in Armageddon and fulfill their twisted view of prophecy. Nor is it an issue for their Israeli counterparts who believe essentially in the same prophecy with the small exception that the Savior’s arrival amidst the fires of war will be occurring for the first time rather than the 2nd. If you are reading this thinking “certainly no one could be so nuts”, then let this televised prayer led by Rev. John Hagee and Benny Hinn cause you to think twice:

Bill Kristol, a leading figure behind the neocon cult and co-author of the dystopian Project for a New American Century Manifesto has already poured tens of millions of dollars into billboards, commercials and lobbying teams gunning for Trump’s impeachment. Kristol tweeted on October 17, 2019 that “If Trump is not impeached and removed, the corruption will get even worse, the White House even more lawless, the violations of norms even more routine. The case for impeachment isn’t merely retrospective; it’s prophylactic. And it isn’t merely just; it’s urgent.”

The most recent commercial promoting Trump’s impeachment which Kristol’s think tank Republicans for the Rule of Law released raised the argument that since republicans supported Nixon’s impeachment in 1973, republicans should impeach Trump today.

This argument obviously overlooks the problem that while Nixon actually appeared to have committed crimes, nothing even approximating illegal activity has occurred in Trump’s case.

Things are not as black and white as many believed until recently. Iran’s recent military exercises with Russia and China have demonstrated clearly in the minds of saner Americans that no war with Iran is possible without taking Russia and China on as well. Putin’s brilliant maneuvers in the Middle East have led to the destruction of the Anglo-American plot to grow radical Islam as a geopolitical tool first against the Soviet Union in the 1980s and then against nation states more generally since the Soviet Union’s collapse. For this reason, Putin’s enemies throughout the neocon world and British intelligence have never forgiven him. Although China has not brought much military might to bear in the Middle East, the Belt and Road Initiative has provided a gateway to a durable peace which cannot be overlooked, as BRI projects in Iraq, Afghanistan, Syria, Lebanon and beyond have given the Middle East a new chance for a future.

The question still remains whether or not Trump can continue to move away from the WWIII agenda and into this positive alliance.

January 15, 2020 Posted by | Militarism, Timeless or most popular, Video, War Crimes, Wars for Israel | , , | 19 Comments

Reading Sun Tzu in Tehran

By Alastair Crooke | Strategic Culture Foundation | January 15, 2020

Iran is not done. General Hajizadeh, Commander of the IRGC Aerospace Force, said in a briefing yesterday that the strike “was the starting point of a great operation”. He also underlined that “the strikes were not meant to cause fatalities: We intended [rather] to deliver a blow to the enemy’s military machine”. And the Pentagon is saying, too, that Iran intentionally missed US troops at the bases. This is tantamount to the Pentagon admitting that Iran can land missiles with extreme accuracy over a distance of several hundred miles – and further, this occurred with not one missile being intercepted by the US forces. To completely avoid targeting soldiers at a large military base is no mean feat – it suggests an accuracy within a meter or two – not ten meters – for Iranian missiles.

Isn’t this the point? It suggests that advances in Iran’s guidance systems can land missiles with extreme precision. Haven’t we seen something similar happen recently in Saudi Arabia (Abqaiq)? And was it not clear from Abqaiq that highly expensive US air defence systems do not work? The IRGC satisfactorily have demonstrated that they and their allies can penetrate US manufactured air defence systems, using domestically produced ‘smart’ missiles, and by using their electronic warfare systems.

The US bases around the region – in short – now represent vulnerable US infrastructure – and not strength. Ditto for those expensive carrier battle fleets. The Iranian message was clear and very pertinent to those who understand (or want to understand). To others, less strategically aware, it might seem that Iran pulled its military punch, and showed weakness. Actually, when you have just demonstrated the ability to upend the military status quo, there is no need for a hail of trumpets. The landing of the message itself is the ‘blow’ to a ‘military machine’. Neatly calibrated: it avoided head to head-on war. Trump stood down (and claimed success).

So then, is it all over – all done and dusted? Finished with? Not at all. Both the Supreme Leader and Gen. Hajizadeh said (effectively) that the strike represented an outset – ‘a beginning’. But much of the MSM – both in the West and some in Israel – lend a cultural ‘tin ear’ towards how Iran manages asymmetric war – even when it is spelled out explicitly.

Asymmetric warfare is not a ‘dick swinging’ exercise. It is more David and Goliath. Goliath can crush David with a blow from his clenched fist, but the latter is nimble; quick on his feet, dancing around the giant – just out of his reach. David has stamina, but the giant lumbers heavily around, and is easily angered and exhausted. Eventually, even a well-aimed pebble – not even a Howitzer – brings him down.

Listen closely to the Iranian message: Should the US withdraw from Iraq, as requested by the Iraqi Parliament, and in accordance with its agreement with the government of Baghdad, and then ‘go’ from the region, the military situation will ease. However, should US insist on staying in Iraq, US forces will come under political and military pressure to quit – but not from the state of Iran. It will come from the inhabitants of those states in which the US forces presently are deployed. At this point, US soldiers may be killed (though not by Iranian missiles). It is America’s choice. Iran holds the initiative.

Iranian leaders have been very explicit: The ‘slap’ of the strike at the Ain al-Assad base is not the pay-back for General Soleimani’s targeted assassination. Rather, it is the campaign consisting of the amorphous, quasi-political, quasi-military, asymmetrical war on America’s presence in the Middle East that has been dedicated as fitting to his memory.

This is David dancing around Goliath. Soleimani’s assassination has energised and mobilised millions in a new fervour of resistance (and not just the Shi’a, by the way). And the trashing of Iraq’s sovereignty by President Trump’s response to the vote in the Iraqi parliament (calling for foreign forces to leave Iraq), has created a new political paradigm which even the most pro-American of Iraqis cannot easily ignore. It is – notably – a non-sectarian mission (removing foreign forces).

And Israel, after initial self-congratulation (amongst the Netanyahuists) has understood that Iran has ‘stepped-up’, and not ‘stepped back’. Veteran Israeli security corresponded Ben Caspit writes:

“The letter of Gen. William H. Sili, commander of US military operations in Iraq, was leaked and then rapidly disseminated among Israel’s most senior security figures on Jan 6 … The content of the letter — that the Americans were preparing to withdraw from Iraq immediately — turned on all the alarm systems throughout the Defense Ministry in Tel Aviv. More so, the publication was about to set in motion an Israeli “nightmare scenario” in which ahead of the upcoming US elections, President Donald Trump would rapidly evacuate all US forces from Iraq and Syria.

“Simultaneously, Iran announced that it is immediately halting its various commitments regarding its nuclear agreement with the superpowers, returning to high-level uranium enrichment of unlimited amounts and renewing its accelerated push for achieving military nuclear abilities. “Under such circumstances,” a senior Israeli defense source told [Caspit], “We truly remain alone at this most critical period. There is no worse scenario than this, for Israel’s national security … It is not clear how this letter was written, it is not clear why it was leaked, it is not clear why it was ever written to begin with. In general, nothing is clear with regard to American conduct in the Middle East. We get up every morning to new uncertainty.””

The impeachment of the US President launched by the House, has left Trump very vulnerable to the Zionist and Evangelical rump in the US Senate, whose votes nonetheless will be essential to Trump’s bid to remain in office when the articles of impeachment move to the Senate. And to a trial where Trump must block the Democrats allying with any Republican rebels in order to achieve a two-thirds ‘guilty’ vote. The Impeachment leverage has been used several times to push Trump to act in the Middle-East directly contrary to his electoral interest – which remains contingent on keeping soaring markets – and in talk of a China Trade deal.

What Trump needs most now (in electoral campaign terms) is a de-escalation with Iran – one that would mitigate political pressure from the neo-con and Evangelical quarters, and allow him to show-case the inflated asset markets.

But this is precisely what he will not get.

Trumps’ attempts to contain the Iranian response to the Soleimani killing were unreservedly rebuffed by Tehran. The missives were never opened, nor allowed for them to be spoken by the mediators. There is no room for talks, unless Trump lifts sanctions and the US re-commits to the JCPOA. This will never happen. There will now be immense pressure from all the Israel lobbies for America to remain in Iraq and Syria (pace Caspit’s comments). And the ghost of Soleimani’s ‘revenge’ will haunt America’s forces in the region for months, if not years, to come.

Iran – wisely – has eschewed direct, state-to-state military conflict, for a more subtle, and pernicious war on the US presence in the Middle East – a war, which if successful, will re-cast the region.

No, it’s not over. Its set to escalate (but in an asymmetrical way). Trump will remain squeezed in the rogue Senators’ vice.

January 15, 2020 Posted by | Illegal Occupation, Timeless or most popular | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Non-commitment probe into Iran by France, Germany & UK ‘groundless,’ only increases tensions around nuclear deal – Russia

RT | January 14, 2020

The European trio’s accusation that Iran violates the key restrictions of the nuclear deal are unjustified, the Russian Foreign Ministry said urging the countries not to increase tensions that could endanger the pact.

Paris, Berlin and London officially reported Iran’s non-compliance with the 2015 agreement to the Joint Commission under the Dispute Resolution Mechanism. This step could potentially lead to the UN Security Council being forced to decide on whether or not to bring back sanctions against Tehran.

“We can’t rule out that the ill-considered actions of the European trio will lead to a new escalation around the JCPOA (Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action) and make the return to the implementation of the ‘nuclear deal’ in its initially agreed format unachievable,” Russia’s Foreign Ministry said in a statement.

Iran rolled back on its uranium enrichment constraints detailed in the international agreement earlier this month after one of its top military commanders, Qassem Soleimani, was assassinated in an American drone strike in Iraq.

Tehran’s decision to put its commitments on hold was a response to the actions of the US, which unilaterally withdrew from the deal in May 2018 and reintroduced restrictions against Iran, the ministry reminded. However, the country keeps allowing the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) monitors to its nuclear sites – and “the transparency of the Iranian nuclear program has been one of the key clauses of the nuclear deal.”

Despite vocally rejecting the US campaign of “maximum pressure” on Iran, France, Germany and the UK are “either not ready or can’t afford to” work on finding effective ways of bypassing the hurdles to the deal created by Washington.

There are also “serious problems” with implementing the side of the deal on the part of the European trio, the ministry said. When all those issues are settled, “Iran would have no reason to retract from the initially agreed framework of the JCPOA.”

January 14, 2020 Posted by | Economics, Wars for Israel | , , , , | Leave a comment

Trump and Congress Double Down on Demonizing Iran

Will the national security nightmare ever end?

By Philip Giraldi • Unz Review • January 14, 2020

If one seriously seeks to understand how delusional policymakers in Washington are it is only necessary to examine the responses by the president and Congress to the assassination of Iranian Major General Qassem Soleimani. The first response came in the form of a Donald Trump largely incoherent nine-minute self-applauding speech explaining what he had done and why. It was followed by a House of Representatives War Powers non-binding resolution that was all theater and did nothing to limit the president’s unilateral ability to go to war with the Islamic Republic.

It was reported that the Trump speech had been hurriedly written by aides the night before it was given and that it existed in several competing drafts. It was full of out-and-out lies and half truths and intended to reassure the American people that the president was keeping them safe. The opening line might well be regarded as some kind of joke: “As long as I am President of the United States, Iran will never be allowed to have a nuclear weapon.” Trump has in fact done more to ensure that Iran will have a nuclear weapon than any other president through his abrupt withdrawal from the Joint Comprehensive Plan Of Action (JCPOA) and his assassination of Soleimani, which together have convinced the Iranian leadership that there is no possibility of a reasonable negotiated solution when dealing with the American president, even when he claims he wants to “talk.”

Trump then went on characteristically to eulogize our brave soldiers on far flung battlefields before lying again, saying “For far too long — all the way back to 1979, to be exact — nations have tolerated Iran’s destructive and destabilizing behavior in the Middle East and beyond. Those days are over. Iran has been the leading sponsor of terrorism, and their pursuit of nuclear weapons threatens the civilized world. We will never let that happen.” Lie one is that the “destructive and destabilizing behavior” actually has Made in U.S.A. stamped all over it. Lie two is “leading sponsor of terrorism,” an honor that belongs to Israel, Saudi Arabia and the United States, in that order. And lie three is that Iran “pursued” nuclear weapons. It has never done so.

Trump them boasted that “Last week, we took decisive action to stop a ruthless terrorist from threatening American lives. At my direction, the United States military eliminated the world’s top terrorist, Qasem Soleimani. As the head of the Quds Force, Soleimani was personally responsible for some of the absolutely worst atrocities.” Trump’s preening was again wrong on every count: Soleimani is no terrorist by any reasonable definition, nor is there any evidence that he threatened American lives. And Trump and his chorus of neocons cannot name a single “atrocity” committed by the man

The president claimed that Soleimani “… viciously wounded and murdered thousands of U.S. troops, including the planting of roadside bombs that maim and dismember their victims,” a particularly absurd charge suggesting that Trump believes that any American soldier who died in Iraq or Afghanistan did so at the hands of the Iranian Major General. By the same logic, the musical chairs series of American generals that have served in Afghanistan, Iraq and Syria have murdered hundreds of thousands of people. If Trump wants to start counting fatalities he should perhaps start with David Petraeus.

Piling Ossa on Pelion, Trump declared that Soleimani “… orchestrated the violent assault on the U.S. embassy in Baghdad. In recent days, he was planning new attacks on American targets, but we stopped him.” There is no evidence whatsoever to support either assertion and Trump then goes on to ascribe all the problems of the Middle East to Iran, ignoring the roles played by others, most notably Washington, Israel and the Saudis. He also roundly condemned the JCPOA before asserting falsely that “Three months ago, after destroying 100 percent of ISIS and its territorial caliphate, we killed the savage leader of ISIS, al-Baghdadi…” In reality, ISIS was defeated by the Syrian Army and its allies Russia and Iran, the very countries that Trump has continued to vilify even as he struts his anti-terrorist credentials. Qassem Soleimani played a major role in the destruction of ISIS.

The only good things in the Trump speech were that it was short and the president did not find it necessary to say a whole lot of good things about Israel. Interestingly, no one in the mainstream media or in the political chattering class made much effort to challenged Trump on the “facts” he cited, though there was some pushback from mostly Democratic congressmen who stated that they could not see any “imminent threat” in the evidence that the Administration produced during a classified briefing. The actual war powers concurrent resolution that passed in the House last Thursday was symptomatic of the unwillingness of the political opposition to take on the illegal and immoral wars in the Middle East themselves – it had no teeth and will not change anything.

The resolution’s subject line “Directing the President pursuant to section 5(c) of the War Powers Resolution to terminate the use of United States Armed Forces to engage in hostilities in or against Iran” actually is misleading. And the first thing the text does do is slam Iran with the same dubious “facts” employed by Trump, including that “The Government of Iran is a leading state sponsor of terrorism and engages in a range of destabilizing activities across the Middle East. Iranian General Qassem Soleimani was the lead architect of much of Iran’s destabilizing activities throughout the world.”

The resolution includes “In matters of imminent armed attacks, the executive branch should indicate to Congress why military action was necessary within a certain window of opportunity, the possible harm that missing the window would cause, and why the action was likely to prevent future disastrous attacks against the United States.” It then goes on to explain that “When the United States uses military force, the American people and members of the United States Armed Forces deserve a credible explanation regarding such use of military force…” because “The War Powers Resolution (50 U.S.C. 1541 et seq.) requires the President to consult with Congress ‘in every possible instance’ before introducing United States Armed Forces into hostilities.” It concludes with “Congress has not authorized the President to use military force against Iran.”

It would seem to be a devastating critique of the Trump Art of War but then comes the wiggle room “… Congress hereby directs the President to terminate the use of United States Armed Forces to engage in hostilities in or against Iran or any part of its government or military, unless Congress has declared war or enacted specific statutory authorization for such use of the Armed Forces; or such use of the Armed Forces is necessary and appropriate to defend against an imminent armed attack upon the United States, its territories or possessions, or its Armed Forces, consistent with the requirements of the War Powers Resolution. Nothing in this section may be construed to prevent the President from using military force against al Qaeda or associated forces…” In other words, all Trump has to do is claim “imminent threat” or that he is attacking “terrorist associated forces” and he is home free no matter what he does, particularly as the resolution itself is non-binding.

The sheer ignorance and arrogance of elites in Washington combined with a colonialist mentality that dismisses Asians and Africans as unthinking “wogs” who will do one’s bidding if they are confronted with punishment is currently on display. It was inevitable that Iraq would demand the departure of U.S. troops after thirty-four Iraqi militiamen were killed by American drone and air strikes, but many in Washington just didn’t get it. Trump threatened, in characteristic fashion, to respond with sanctions, but now Iraqi Prime Minister Adel Abdul Mahdi has made it official in a phone call to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, demanding a plan and timetable for the removal of the American soldiers. The State Department has indicated that it is not prepared to discuss the matter.

Some pundits who should know better have predicted that the withdrawal of U.S. soldiers will not take place because Iraq somehow “needs” the United States. And besides, there will be economic consequences if Iraq does go ahead to insist on an American withdrawal. But sometimes abstractions prove to be more powerful than material incentives. The United States violated Iraqi sovereignty not once but twice and murdered 30 Iraqis in the process. Pompeo can huff and puff all he wants and Trump can mouth his illiteracies, but nothing changes the fact that the United States did things it did not have to do based on a delusional view of the Middle East and will have to pay a price. Minus a presence in Iraq, Syria will be untenable and one might hope that once the U.S. loses its ability to directly confront Iran on the ground the whole house of cards just might collapse, leading to Washington’s gradual departure from the region. That would be good for the region and also for the United States even if Israel and the Saudis, who prefer to have Americans fight and die in their wars, might object.

Philip M. Giraldi, Ph.D., is Executive Director of the Council for the National Interest, a 501(c)3 tax deductible educational foundation (Federal ID Number #52-1739023) that seeks a more interests-based U.S. foreign policy in the Middle East. Website is councilforthenationalinterest.org, address is P.O. Box 2157, Purcellville VA 20134 and its email is inform@cnionline.org.

January 13, 2020 Posted by | Wars for Israel | , , | 3 Comments

‘Trump cited GOP hawks’ support as reason to assassinate Soleimani: Reports

Press TV – January 12, 2020

US President Donald Trump has told his associates his decision to assassinate Iran’s top commander Lieutenant General Qassem Soleimani came amid pressure from Senate war hawks he views as crucial allies in his upcoming impeachment trial, according to two separate reports.

As Trump discussed the assassination drone strike at his private mansion in Mar-a-Lago, he told some associates that he wanted to safeguard the backing of Senate Republicans in time for the impeachment trial in the upper chamber, The New York Times said in a report this week.

The Wall Street Journal also reported that after the assassination operation, Trump told associates he was under pressure from a number of Senate Republicans, whose support he needs in the impeachment trial, to take action on the Iranian general.

“Mr. Trump, after the strike, told associates he was under pressure to deal with Gen. Soleimani from GOP senators he views as important supporters in his coming impeachment trial in the Senate, associates said,” according to the Journal.

The reports did not mention any Republican senators by name, however, many of the president’s allies in the Senate, including Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, have openly praised his decision to assassinate Gen. Soleimani.

Sen. Graham was reportedly the only senator who was briefed by the administration about the assassination operation.

“I was briefed about the potential operation when I was down in Florida. I appreciate being brought into the orbit,” the senator told FOX News.

Soleimani, the head of Iran’s Quds Force, was assassinated in a US drone strike outside Baghdad’s International Airport last Friday.

The new information comes as the Trump administration is under mounting pressure from Congress concerning the justification for assassinating the senior military official of another country.

The reports further call into questions the narrative by Trump and his top aides that General Soleimani had been planning “imminent” attacks against US personnel and interests. Even some US officials have admitted that there is no evidence to support that claim.

In the wake of the assassination, a number of Republican senators have joined Democrats in pushing back against Trump’s war powers.

January 12, 2020 Posted by | War Crimes | , , | 2 Comments

After Missiles Fly, Iraq Becomes the Battleground

By Tom Luongo | Gold Goats ‘n Guns | January 10, 2020

The future of the U.S.’s involvement in the Middle East is in Iraq. The exchange of hostilities between the U.S. and Iran occurred wholly on Iraqi soil and it has become the site on which that war will continue.

Israel continues to up the ante on Iran, following President Trump’s lead by bombing Shia militias stationed near the Al Bukumai border crossing between Syria and Iraq.

The U.S. and Israel are determined this border crossing remains closed and have demonstrated just how far they are willing to go to prevent the free flow of goods and people across this border.

The regional allies of Iran are to be kept weak, divided and constantly under harassment.

Iraq is the battleground because the U.S. lost in Syria. Despite the presence of U.S. troops squatting on Syrian oil fields in Deir Ezzor province or the troops sitting in the desert protecting the Syrian border with Jordan, the Russians, Hezbollah and the Iranian Quds forces continue to reclaim territory previously lost to the Syrian government.

Now with Turkey redeploying its pet Salafist head-choppers from Idlib to Libya to fight General Haftar’s forces there to legitimize its claim to eastern Mediterannean gas deposits, the restoration of Syria’s territorial integrity west of the Euphrates River is nearly complete.

The defenders of Syria can soon transition into the rebuilders thereof, if allowed. And they didn’t do this alone, they had a silent partner in China the entire time.

And, if I look at this situation honestly, it was China stepping out from behind the shadows into the light that is your inciting incident for this chapter in Iraq’s story.

China moving in to sign a $10.1 billion deal with the Iraqi government to begin the reconstruction of its ruined oil and gas industry in exchange for oil is of vital importance.

It doubles China’s investment in Iraq while denying the U.S. that money and influence.

This happened after a massive $53 billion deal between Exxon-Mobil and Petrochina was put on hold after the incident involving Iran shooting down a U.S. Global Hawk drone in June.

With the U.S balking over the Exxon/Petrochina big deal, Iraqi Prime Minster Adel Abdul Mahdi signed the new one with China in October. Mahdi brought up the circumstances surrounding that in the Iraqi parliament during the session in which it passed the resolution recommending removal of all foreign forces from Iraq.

Did Trump openly threaten Mahdi over this deal as I covered in my podcast on this? Did the U.S. gin up protests in Baghdad, amplifying unrest over growing Iranian influence in the country?

And, if not, were these threats simply implied or carried by a minion (Pompeo, Esper, a diplomat)? Because the U.S.’s history of regime change operations is well documented. Well understood color revolution tactics used successfully in places like Ukraine, where snipers were deployed to shoot protesters and police alike to foment violence between them at the opportune time were on display in Baghdad.

Mahdi openly accused Trump of threatening him, but that sounds more like Mahdi using the current impeachment script to invoke the sinister side of Trump and sell his case.

It’s not that I don’t think Trump capable of that kind of threat, I just don’t think he’s stupid enough to voice it on an open call. Donald Trump is capable of many impulsive things, openly threatening to remove an elected Prime Minister on a recorded line is not one of them.

Mahdi has been under the U.S.’s fire since he came to power in late 2018. He was the man who refused Trump during Trump’s impromptu Christmas visit to Iraq in 2018, refusing to be summoned to a clandestine meeting at the U.S. embassy rather than Trump visit him as a head of state, an equal.

He was the man who declared the Iraqi air space closed after Israeli air attacks on Popular Mobilization Force (PMF) positions in September.

And he’s the person, at the same time, being asked by Trump to act as a mediator between Saudi Arabia and Iran in peace talks for Yemen.

So, the more we look at this situation the more it is clear that Abdul Madhi, the first Iraqi prime minister since the 2003 U.S. invasion to push for more Iraqi sovereignty, is emerging as the pivotal figure in what led up to the attack on General Soleimani and what comes after Iran’s subsequent retaliation.

It’s clear that Trump doesn’t want to fight a war with Iran in Iran. He wants them to acquiesce to his unreasonable demands and begin negotiating a new nuclear deal which definitively stops the possibility of Iran developing a nuclear weapon, and as Patrick Henningsen at 21st Century Wire thinks,

Trump now wants a new deal which features a prohibition on Iran’s medium range missiles, and after events this week, it’s obvious why. Wednesday’s missile strike by Iran demonstrates that the US can no longer operate in the region so long as Iran has the ability to extend its own deterrence envelope westwards to Syria, Israel, and southwards to the Arabian Peninsula, and that includes all US military installations located within that radius.

Iraq doesn’t want to be that battlefield. And Iran sent the message with those two missile strikes that the U.S. presence in Iraq is unsustainable and that any thought of retreating to the autonomous Kurdish region around the air base at Erbil is also a non-starter.

The big question, after this attack, is whether U.S. air defenses around the Ain al Assad airbase west of Ramadi were active or not. If they were then Trump’s standing down after the air strikes signals what Patrick suggests, a new Middle East in the making.

If they were not turned on then the next question is why? To allow Iran to save face after Trump screwed up in murdering Soleimani?

I’m not capable of believing such Q-tard drivel at this point. It’s far more likely that the spectre of Russian electronics warfare and radar evasion is lurking in the subtext of this story and the U.S. truly now finds itself after a second example of Iranian missile technology in a nascent 360 degree war in the region.

It means that Iran’s threats against the cities of Haifa and Dubai were real.

In short, it means the future of the U.S. presence in Iraq now measures in months not years.

Because both China and Russia stand to gain ground with a newly-united Shi’ite Iraqi population. Mahdi is now courting Russia to sell him S-300 missile defense systems to allow him to enforce his demands about Iraqi airspace.

Moqtada al-Sadr is mobilizing his Madhi Army to oust the U.S. from Iraq. Iraq is key to the U.S. presence in the region. Without Iraq the U.S. position in Syria is unsustainable.

If the U.S. tries to retreat to Kurdish territory and push again for Masoud Barzani and his Peshmerga forces to declare independence Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan will go ballistic.

And you can expect him to make good on his threat to close the Incerlik airbase, another critical logistical juncture for U.S. force projection in the region.

But it all starts with Mahdi’s and Iraq’s moves in the coming weeks. But, with Trump rightly backing down from escalating things further and not following through on his outlandish threats against Iran, it may be we’re nearing the end of this intractable standoff.

Back in June I told you that Iran had the ability to fight asymmetrically against the U.S., not through direct military confrontation but through the after-effects of a brief, yet violent period of war in which all U.S., Israeli and Arab assets in the Middle East come under fire from all directions.

It sent this same message then that by attacking oil tankers it could make the transport of oil untenable and not insurable. We got a taste of it back then and Trump, then, backed down.

And the resultant upheaval in the financial markets creating an abyss of losses, cross-asset defaults, bank failures and government collapses.

Trump has no real option now but to negotiate while Iraq puts domestic pressure on him to leave and Russia/China come in to provide critical economic and military support to assist Mahdi rally his country back towards some semblance of sovereignty.

January 12, 2020 Posted by | Illegal Occupation | , , , , , | 1 Comment