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US War Strategists: Military Defeats and Political Success

By James Petras • Unz Review • September 15, 2018

Introduction

In a previous article (US: The Century of Lost Wars) I recorded the repeated US military defeats over the past two decades. In this discussion I will describe the role of military strategists who bear responsibility for the US defeats, but also for Israeli political successes.

The key to this apparent contradiction is to uncover how and why the destruction of Israeli adversaries prolonged costly US military invasions.

The two outcomes are inter-related. The same US military strategists whose policies lead to failed US wars in the Middle East facilitated and augmented the power of Israel.

US war strategists’ operations reflect ‘dual loyalties’. On the one-hand they receive their elite education and high positions in the US, while their political loyalties to Tel Aviv express their Israel First strategic decisions.

Our hypothesis is that dual loyalist strategists have fabricated threats, identified adversaries and committed hundreds of thousands of US soldiers to losing wars based on calculations that effectively increase Israeli power and influence in the Middle East.

We will proceed by identifying the war strategists and their policies and conclude by proposing an alternative framework for re-thinking the relationship between dual citizens and military strategy.

The ‘Best and the Brightest’: The Blind Ally of Military Defeats

There is an apparent contradiction between the high academic achievements of elite military strategists and their abominable record in pursuing military conflicts.

Most, if not all, policy makers who led the US in prolonged wars against Iraq, Somalia, Libya, Yemen, Afghanistan, Lebanon and Syria were Israel-firsters, either Zionists or Israeli ‘fellow travelers’.

In each of these wars, the Israel firster war strategists, (1) identified the enemy, (2) exaggerated the threat to the US and (3) grossly inflated the military capacity of the targeted country. They started with Iraq and Afghanistan and then proceeded to the other nations, all opponents of Israel.

By ‘coincidence’ all countries supported the Palestinians’ rights of self-determination and opposed Israeli annexation and colonization of Arab lands.

Driven by their loyalty to Israel’s ‘expansionist goals’, the military strategists ignored the ‘real world’ political and economic costs to the US people and state. Professional and academic credentials, nepotism and tribal loyalties, each contributed to the Israel firsters advance to securing strategic decision-making positions and elite advisory posts in the Pentagon, State Department, Treasury and White House.

Their policies led to an unending trillion-dollar war in Afghanistan; losing wars in Libya, Iraq and Syria; and costly economic sanctions against Iran.

The main beneficiary was Israel which confronted less political and military opposition; zero cost in lives and money; and substantial gains in territory.

Why did the Yale, Harvard, Princeton, Chicago, Johns Hopkins’ cum laude graduates repeatedly produce the worst possible military outcomes?

In part because the US acted as an instrument of another power (Israel). Moreover, the Israel firsters never were obliged to reflect in self-criticism nor to admit their failures and rectify their disastrous strategies..

Their refusal to assume their responsibilities resulted from several causes. Their criteria for success was based on whether their policies advanced Israeli goals, not US interests.

Moreover, while their decisions were objectionable to US citizens they were supported by the 52 Presidents of the Major American Jewish Organization including the powerful Zionist lobby, AIPAC, which dictated Middle East policy to both political parties and the US Congress.

Ordinarily, military strategists whose policies lead to repeated political disasters are denounced, fired or even investigated for treason. In our experience nothing of the sort happened.

The best and the brightest rotated between six-digit jobs in Washington to seven-digit positions on Wall Street, or secured positions in lucrative law firms in Washington and New York (many with offices in Israel) or were appointed to prestigious academic posts in Ivy League universities.

What Should be Done?

There are countervailing measures which can lessen the impact of the strategic policies of the Israel Firsters. Academic Israel firsters should be encouraged to remain in Academia; rather than serve Israel in the State.

If they remain in the Ivory Tower they will inflict less destructive policies on American citizens and the state.

Secondly, since the vast-majority of Israel firsters are more likely to be arm chair war monger, who have not risked their lives in any of the wars that they promote, obligatory recruitment into combat zones would dampen their ardor for wars.

Thirdly, as matters stand, since many more Israel firsters choose to serve in the so-called Israeli Defense (sic) Force (IDF) they should reimburse US taxpayers for their free ride to education, health and welfare .

Fourthly, since most Israel firsters who volunteer to join the IDF prefer shooting unarmed Palestinian protesters, medics, journalists and kite flying kids they should be drafted into the US Army to serve in Afghanistan and face armed Taliban fighters surrounding Kabul, an experience which might knock a bit of realism in their dreams of converting the Middle East into an Israeli fiefdom.

Many national loyalties are forged by shared lives with families and friends of US soldiers who endure endless wars. Israel firsters dispatched to the war front would receive existential experiences that the Harvard, Princeton and Yale military strategists who make wars for Israel failed to understand.

Obligatory courses on the genocide of millions of Palestinian, Iraqi, Syrian, and Libyan people would enrich Israel firsters understanding of “holocausts’ in diverse ethno-religious settings.

Face to face encounters in life threatening military situations, where superior arms do not prevail, would deflate the hubris, arrogance and superiority complexes which fuel the tribal loyalties of Israel firsters.

In conclusion we offer modest suggestions for educated and cultured scientists, doctors, artists and entrepreneurs:

1/ Convert your skills to raising a new generation which will defend democratic values and social solidarity and eschew wars, persecution and phony claims of anti-semitism against critics of an ethnically exclusionary state.

2/ Forsake exclusive control of the mass media which glorifies Israeli war crimes and denigrates critics as ‘anti’ Semites for speaking truth to power.

Let’s join together to liberate America from military entanglements that privilege Israel while thirty million Us workers lack health coverage and forty percent of upstate New York children live in poverty.

Yes, there is an honorable place for everyone who joins in solidarity with the victims of Israeli First war strategists.

September 16, 2018 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Militarism, Timeless or most popular, Wars for Israel | , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Death of CENTO’s Ghost: How the US Lost the Four Great Powers of Southwest Asia

By Martin SIEFF | Strategic Culture Foundation | 14.09.2018

CENTO – the Central Treaty Organization launched by President Dwight D. Eisenhower and his Secretary of State John Foster Dulles in 1958 is totally forgotten now. Even most regional experts on the Middle East and South Asia remember nothing about it. But it had a surprisingly long afterlife of 60 years, and its final, complete dissolution happening now before our eyes marks an epochal transformation of the Eurasian-Southwest Asia World Island.

CENTO – originally known as the Baghdad Pact or the Middle East Treaty Organization (METO) – was formed in 1955 by Iran, Iraq, Pakistan, Turkey and the United Kingdom with the blessing of the United States. The British saw it – farcically as it turned out – as an attempt to retain the phantom, craved after “influence” of their vanishing empire, which had left Pakistan in 1947.

METO did not last long. Within three years, the British –imposed and directed monarchy of the Hashemite dynasty in Baghdad had been literally wiped out in a bloody massacre. Iraq immediately pulled out of METO as fast as it could. METO was renamed CENTO with Eisenhower’s approval in 1958. One of the four “pillars” of the Anglo-American world order in South and Southwest Asia was down: Three to go.

Next to go was Iran in 1979. Its last Shah, Mohammed Reza Pahlavi was a megalomaniac egged on by American liberal social engineers who farcically imagined they could recreate President Franklin Roosevelt’s New Deal in Tehran. Millions of people were upended from their homes in enormous industrial and relocation programs while SAVAK, the Shah’s notorious secret police inflicted a reign of torture and terror.

The end result was the Islamic Revolution of 1979 that swept away the Shah and took Iran forever out of the Anglo-American orbit. After that, CENTO was finally officially dissolved. Eisenhower’s dream was dead and gone. But its ghost would endure for another 39 years.

Two down and two to go: For the next 40 years Pakistan and Turkey both remained strong, consistent and important US allies. After 2001, tensions between Washington and Islamabad inexorably grew as the US invasion of Afghanistan and its following endlessly bungled policies to build a so-called modern, democratic and centralized nation backfired in endless war.

This year, Pakistan joined the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO), simultaneously with its next door neighbor India. Both nations turned their back on US claims of global hegemony and opted instead for a future of cooperation and security with Russia and China in the SCO.

That left only Turkey of the original METO or Baghdad Pact four still in the US orbit. Turkey remains a NATO member as it has been since 1955: The same year it also joined METO. However, since the failed Turkish military coup of June 2016, US –Turkish relations have plunged to their worst state ever. The US Congress seems intent on pouring ever more gasoline of the funeral pyre of the relationship.

Yet Turkey is vastly more important to US, European, NATO and Middle East security than all the tiny and ludicrous nation-building schemes Washington has pursued in the region over the past 25 years put together.

US policymakers – Republican and Democrat alike – remain obsessed with “creating” new “showcase,” supposedly “modern” and “democratic” states in Kurdistan, Kosovo, Bosnia, Macedonia, and Montenegro. They see the tiny three Baltic States, Georgia and even Ukraine with its neo-Nazi militias as shining examples that are supposed to inspire the rest of the world to follow the same Washington-directed paths.

None of these American visionary “geniuses” ever stops to remember why Iraq and then Iran opted out of METO/CENTO as fast as they possibly could. None of them stops to consider what the consequences of losing the friendship and trust of nuclear-armed Pakistan with its population of 200 million will be. None of them has ever raised publicly the issue of how totally untenable the reckless US forward naval and strategic deployment in the Black Sea will be if Turkey finally turns its back on the US and NATO.

CENTO is gone. The Baghdad Pact is dead. Now even CENTO’s ghost is dying: The four great buffer powers that the US and the UK looked upon to dominate the northern tier of Southwest and South Asia have abandoned Washington or are about to do so. The consequences of this development – born of a generation of stupid, heedless and selfish US policy bungles – will reshape the world.

September 14, 2018 Posted by | Militarism, Timeless or most popular | , , , , , | Leave a comment

The US: The Century of Lost Wars

By James Petras | Global Research | September 12, 2018

Introduction

Despite having the biggest military budget in the world, five times larger than the next six countries, the largest number of military bases – over 180 – in the world and the most expensive military industrial complex, the US has failed to win a single war in the 21st century.

In this paper we will enumerate the wars and proceed to analyze why, despite the powerful material basis for wars, it has led to failures.

The Lost Wars

The US has been engaged in multiple wars and coups since the beginning of the 21st century. These include Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Syria, Somalia, Palestine, Venezuela and the Ukraine. Besides Washington’s secret intelligence agencies have financed five surrogate terrorist groups in Pakistan, China, Russia, Serbia and Nicaragua.

The US has invaded countries, declared victories and subsequently faced resistance and prolonged warfare which required a large US military presence to merely protect garrison outposts.

The US has suffered hundreds of thousands of casualties – dead, maimed and deranged soldiers. The more the Pentagon spends, the greater the losses and subsequent retreats.

The more numerous the vassal regimes, the greater the corruption and incompetence flourishes.

Every regime subject to US tutelage has failed to accomplish the objectives designed by its US military advisers.

The more spent on recruiting mercenary armies the greater the rate of defection and the transfer of arms to US adversaries.

Success in Starting Wars and Failures in Finishing Them

The US invaded Afghanistan, captured the capital (Kabul) defeated the standing army … and then spent the next two decades engaged in losing irregular warfare.

The initial victories laid the groundwork for future defeats. Bombings drove millions of peasants and farmers, shopkeepers and artisans into the local militia. The invaders were defeated by the forces of nationalism and religion linked to families and communities. The indigenous insurgents overcame arms and dollars in many of the villages, towns and provinces.

Similar outcomes were repeated in Iraq and Libya. The US invaded, defeated the standing armies, occupied the capital and imposed its clients—- which set the terrain for long-term, large-scale warfare by local insurgent armies.

The more frequent the western bombings, the greater the opposition forcing the retreat of the proxy army.

Somalia has been bombed frequently. Special Forces have recruited, trained, and armed the local puppet soldiers, sustained by mercenary African armies but they have remained holed up in the capital city, Mogadishu, surrounded and attacked by poorly armed but highly motivated and disciplined Islamic insurgents.

Syria is targeted by a US financed and armed mercenary army. In the beginning they advanced, uprooted millions, destroyed cities and homes and seized territory. All of which impressed their US – EU warlords. Once the Syrian army united the populace, with their Russian, Lebanese (Hezbollah) and Iranian allies, Damascus routed the mercenaries.

After the better part of a decade the separatist Kurds, alongside the Islamic terrorists and other western surrogates retreated, and made a last stand along the northern borders–the remaining bastions of Western surrogates.

The Ukraine coup of 2014 was financed and directed by the US and EU. They seized the capital (Kiev) but failed to conquer the Eastern Ukraine and Crimea. Corruption among the US ruling kleptocrats devastated the country – over three million fled abroad to Poland, Russia and elsewhere in search of a livelihood. The war continues, the corrupt US clients are discredited and will suffer electoral defeat unless they rig the vote.

Surrogate uprisings in Venezuela and Nicaragua were bankrolled by the US National Endowment for Democracy (NED). They ruined economies but lost the street wars.

Conclusion

Wars are not won by arms alone. In fact, heavy bombing and extended military occupations ensure prolonged popular resistance, ultimate retreats and defeats.

The US major and minor wars of the 21st century have failed to incorporate targeted countries into the empire.

Imperial occupations are not military victories. They merely change the nature of the war, the protagonists of resistance, the scope and depth of the national struggle.

The US has been successful in defeating standing armies as was the case in Libya, Iraq, Afghanistan, Somalia, and the Ukraine. However, the conquest was limited in time and space. New armed resistance movements led by former officers, religious activists and grass roots activists took charge…

The imperial wars slaughtered millions, savaged traditional family, workplace and neighborhood relations and set in motion a new constellation of anti-imperialist leaders and militia fighters.

The imperial forces beheaded established leaders and decimated their followers. They raided and pillaged ancient treasures. The resistance followed by recruiting thousands of uprooted volunteers who served as human bombs, challenging missiles and drones.

The US imperial forces lack the ties to the occupied land and people. They are ‘aliens’ serving time; they seek to survive, secure promotions and exit with a bonus and an honorable discharge.

In contrast, the resistance fighters are there for the duration. As they advance, they target and demolish the imperial surrogates and mercenaries. They expose the corrupt client rulers who deny the subject people the elementary conditions of existence – employment, potable water, electricity etc.

The imperial vassals are not present at weddings, sacred holidays or funerals, unlike the resistance fighters. The presence of the latter signals a pledge of loyalty unto death. The resistance circulates freely in cities, towns and villages with the protection of the local people; and by night they rule enemy terrain, under cover of their own people, who share intelligence and logistics.

Inspiration, solidarity and light arms are more than a match for the drones, missiles and helicopter gunships.

Even the mercenary soldiers, trained by the Special Forces, defect from and betray their imperial masters. Temporary imperial advances serve only to allow the resistance forces to regroup and counter-attack. They view surrender as a betrayal of their traditional way of life, submission to the boot of western occupation forces and their corrupt officials.

Afghanistan is a prime example of an imperial ‘lost war’. After two decades of warfare and one trillion dollars in military spending, tens of thousands of casualties, the Taliban controls most of the countryside and towns; enters and takes over provincial capitals and bombs Kabul. They will take full control the day after the US departs.

The US military defeats are products of a fatal flaw: imperial planners cannot successfully replace indigenous people with colonial rulers and their local look-alikes.

Wars are not won by high tech weapons directed by absentee officials divorced from the people: they do not share their sense of peace and justice.

Exploited people informed by a spirit of communal resistance and self-sacrifice have demonstrated greater cohesion than rotating soldiers eager to return home and mercenary soldiers with dollar signs in their eyes.

The lessons of lost wars have not been learned by those who preach the power of the military–industrial complex, which makes, sells and profits from weapons but lack the mass of humanity with lesser arms but with great conviction who have demonstrated their capacity to defeat imperial armies.

The Stars and Stripes fly in Washington but remain folded in Embassy offices in Kabul, Tripoli, Damascus and in other lost battlegrounds.

September 12, 2018 Posted by | Militarism, Timeless or most popular | , , , , , , | 1 Comment

‘US incites Kurds to break promise, assault Iranian soil’

Press TV – September 11, 2018

Iran’s top military commander says the United States has been provoking terrorists based in Iraq’s semi-autonomous Kurdistan region over the past year to launch assaults on Iranian soil despite an earlier promise not to do so.

Speaking on Tuesday, Chairman of the Chiefs of Staff of the Iranian Armed Forces Major General Mohammad Baqeri referred to a missile strike by the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRCG) at a gathering of terrorists in Kurdistan, saying the Iranian nation reserves the right to defend itself.

Over two decades ago, officials from Iraqi Kurdistan and the outlawed Kurdistan Democratic Party had “made a written commitment not to conduct operations in Iran, but they have been breaking that promise over the past year due to US provocations,” he said.

“This was not acceptable to us and thus we repeatedly cautioned them,” he added.

The IRGC issued a statement confirming that it had fired seven short-range surface-to-surface missiles at a gathering of terrorist commanders in Kurdistan on Saturday, dealing a heavy blow to them.

The terrorists, the statement read, had been seeking to create insecurity and carry out acts of sabotage in the Iranian provinces of West Azarbaijan, Kordestan and Kermanshah.

The Iranian general said that the Iraqi government in Baghdad and the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) should not allow the establishment of such anti-Iran bases and rather extradite the remnants of “criminal” elements to Iran or deport them.

If insecurity persists, Baqeri warned, more counter-measures would be taken against terrorist commanders in self defense.

Iranian forces reached all their goals in the missile attack, he said. “It is not coincidental that the missiles hit the meeting, and we hope that we will not need to repeat this.”

‘No appeasement policy’

Separately on Tuesday, Foreign Ministry spokesman Bahram Qassemi said that Iran will not follow a policy of appeasement when it comes to its security issues and the violation of its sovereignty by terrorist elements.

The missile strike has not been and will not be “Iran’s optimal choice. But terrorist activities – especially those that resulted in the martyrdom of Iranian border guards and soldiers – left the Iranian armed forces with no choice but to take a retaliatory and deterrent measure based on the credible information it had received.”

He also expressed hope that the joint border with Iraq would be among the most secure and stable frontiers in the region.

September 11, 2018 Posted by | Aletho News | , , | Leave a comment

Fighting Starts in Syria’s Idlib: US Military Considers Military Options

By Peter KORZUN | Strategic Culture Foundation | 11.09.2018

Syrian UN Ambassador Bashar Ja’afari declared on Sept. 7 that his government was determined to wipe out the rebels from the Idlib province. The next day, the Idlib Dawn Operation began, encircling a town 59 km. southwest of the Syrian city of Aleppo. As of Sept. 9, Russian aircraft have attacked the rebel positions in western Idlib, the mountains of the Latakia province, and the Sahl al-Ghab plain, with the goal of softening up peripheral targets and preventing a breakthrough or counterattack. Syria’s forces are ready to move.

The Russian military warned that a false-flag chemical attack staged by the rebels could occur at any time and be used as a pretext for Western missile strikes.  A massive Turkish military convoy, consisting of more than 300 vehicles, including tanks, armored vehicles, and MLRS launchers, has entered Idlib from the province of Hatay.

Syria needs Idlib — the last stronghold of the jihadists and the shortest route from Latakia to Aleppo. The M5 international highway crosses Idlib, linking Turkey and Jordan through Aleppo and Damascus. Control of the province would greatly facilitate the negotiations with the Kurds and strengthen Syria’s position at the UN-brokered Geneva talks. If the negotiation process succeeds, the only territories left to liberate would be the zone controlled by the US, such as the al-Tanf military base and the surrounding area, the northern parts of the country under Turkish control, and small chunks of land still held by ISIS [let’s not forget the Golan Heights].

Turkey opposes the idea of an Idlib offensive. It wants assurances for the groups in Idlib under its control and it doesn’t want an influx of refugees. These controversial issues can be tackled with Russia as a mediator. Turkey, Iran, and Russia did not agree on everything at the recent summit in Tehran, but the West’s hopes that they would go their separate ways, or even clash in Idlib, have been dashed.

President Erdogan has just said that he wants to meet the Russian president again after his Sept 28-29 visit to Germany. This means that the Turkish leader has ideas and proposals to discuss and Moscow can play a role in reaching a compromise, such as a more narrowly tailored counter-terrorism operation in Idlib. There is a divide, but it can be bridged.  The parties have the will to get it done.

Ankara plans to organize a Turkey-Russia-Germany-France summit. The Russian presidential aide, Yury Ushakov, has confirmed that such a meeting is in the works. Moscow has just invited the Turkish military to take part in its largest-ever military exercise, Vostok 2018, which will be held in the Far East. China and Mongolia have also been invited. Obviously, Russia and Turkey are prepared to solve their differences over Idlib peacefully through negotiations.

In any event, the province cannot remain under the terrorists’ control forever. They must either surrender or be routed. Now that the operation to free Idlib has begun, many of them will lay down their arms. They know their resistance is futile.

Actually, victories over terrorists that pave the way to a negotiated solution of the conflict should be welcomed, but the US sees these things in a different light. Washington seems to be shifting gears on Syria again, despite the statements President Trump made earlier about the plans to pull out. Now the president has reportedly agreed to new objectives that will keep US troops on the ground in Syria indefinitely in order to ensure that the Iranian forces are driven out. The US military has just sent reinforcements to al-Tanf to demonstrate its resolve to stay in that country. The Marines are holding a multi-day exercise there, using live ammunition.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, said on Sept. 7 that the administration viewed any government assault on Idlib as an escalation of Syria’s warning that Washington would respond to any chemical attack by Damascus. Ambassador James Jeffrey, who served as a deputy national security adviser to President George W. Bush, has recently been appointed US Special Representative for Syria Engagement, and Joel Rayburn, the former senior director for Iran, Iraq, Syria, and Lebanon, is now Special Envoy for Syria. The two appointments confirm the fact that the US has changed its mind and decided to remain in Syria, as both these officials had supported this policy before.

Rayburn, Joel (15 August 2014). “The coming disintegration of IraqWashington Post

America’s top military brass are studying the options for military involvement in Syria. But the real reason may not be Idlib or any other events in that country, but rather the situation creep in Iraq, where anti-Iranian and anti-government Shia protests in the south have turned violent and the prime minister may be compelled to step down. The protesters are armed and violent. They have attacked the Iranian consulate and the headquarters of Iranian-backed militias in the city.

Fighting has also been reported between Iranian forces and Kurds in Iraq’s Kurdish region. Details have been provided of mortar fire in Baghdad, where protests took place in July. Something’s cooking in Iraq. There is too little information available to obtain any deep insights into what’s going on, but the situation is unpredictable and volatile. Iraq could soon implode. The US will not leave the region, and it needs every outpost it has there. A lot depends on how events develop in Iraq.

Idlib will ultimately be liberated. The status of the US-led coalition forces in Syria will become a hot-button topic and be seen as the main stumbling block on the path to peace and reconstruction.

September 11, 2018 Posted by | Illegal Occupation, Wars for Israel | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“US Threatened to Burn Basra If Abadi Wasn’t Given Another Term”

Al-Manar – September 9, 2018

Iraq’s Popular Mobilization Force who defeated ISIL Takfiri forces said on Saturday it had evidence showing US diplomatic missions in the Arab country have instigated the recent violence in the southern oil-rich city of Basra.

Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, the second-in-command of the volunteer force, which is also known as Hashd Shaabi, held Washington responsible for the Basra unrest, saying it was actually meant to sow discord among different Iraqi political parties and movements.

“We have complete information and documents that show the US embassy and consulate in the country caused the Basra unrest,” al-Muhandis said.

He also vowed to respond to the Basra incidents and stressed that the Iraqis would never engage in another civil war.

Basra has been rocked by deadly protests since Tuesday. The protests took an ugly turn on Friday when a group of masked assailants raided government buildings and offices of political parties and set them ablaze. The Iranian consulate was among the premises gutted in the rampage.

At least 15 protesters have died in clashes with security forces since the beginning of the month, health officials have said.

Al-Muhandis revealed that the US “threatened with burning Basra” if incumbent PM Haider Abadi was not given another term.

Ties between the Hashd and Abadi are tense, al-Muhandis explained, complaining that Abadi has failed to allocate salaries for Hashd fighters.

“Abadi didn’t keep most of his promises to Hashd al-Shaabi,” tweeted al-Muhandis, but stressed that the situation will not devolve into a “Shiite-Shiite war.”

September 9, 2018 Posted by | Aletho News | , , | 1 Comment

Syria and Iran Sign Defense Agreement: Defying Outside Pressure

By Peter KORZUN | Strategic Culture Foundation | 29.08.2018

Iranian Defense Minister Amir Hatami visited Damascus Aug. 26-27 in order to have a new military cooperation agreement signed. The move is evidently a response to US and Israeli demands to withdraw Iranian forces from Syria. No details have been provided about the document’s content but it’s logical to surmise it contains a list of mutual obligations in the event that the Iranian military is attacked in Syria.

The deal mentions Iran’s role in the reconstruction of Syria’s defense industry, thus ending any hopes that its military presence in that country will end. According to the Iranian defense chief, the “defense and technical agreement” provides for the continued “presence and participation” of Iran in Syria. He added that an agreement had been reached with Syria that Iran would have “presence, participation, and assistance” in the reconstruction and that “no third party will be influential in this issue.”

The agreement was signed just as the Russia-Turkey-Iran summit was announced, which is scheduled for Sept. 7 in Tehran. Such events normally require thorough preparations. The parties are expected to reach an agreement on further joint steps to achieve progress in Syria. It’s important to align their positions before the UN talks in Geneva, which are slated for Sept. 11-12. UN Special Envoy Staffan de Mistura has invited the “big three” to participate. They can come up with joint initiatives while the US has nothing to offer but its demands for Iran’s withdrawal. It risks being left out in the cold, while diplomatic efforts initiated by other states bear fruit.

This turn of events will hardly be welcome news for those who would like to stymie the peace efforts and impose their own conditions for reaching any settlement of the problem.

The need to end Iranian assistance to Lebanon’s Hezbollah was emphasized during last week’s visit of US National Security Adviser John Bolton to Israel. The parties did not declare war on Iran, but there is no way to stop the supplies from reaching Hezbollah in Lebanon without cutting off the land routes going through Syria. The US official insisted before the visit to Israel that the withdrawal of Iran’s forces from Syria is a prerequisite to any resolution of the conflict.

The US and its allies in Syria find it important to scuttle Syria’s plans to liberate the province of Idlib from the rebels. A false-flag chemical attack is expected to be staged soon, to create a pretext for military action. Once Syria and Iran are in the same boat, it makes no difference which of them is attacked first or where. There have been media reports that a large-scale military operation is in the works and can be expected in August or September.

There is no way to know what exactly Mr. Bolton discussed with the Israeli authorities during his visit to Jerusalem on Aug. 19 but the reports about the military activities at the US al-Shaddadi base in the Syrian province of al-Hasakah emerged soon afterward. The facility has been reported to have been updated to enable the landing and takeoff of heavy cargo aircraft. Ayn al-Arab (Kobani) has also been expanded. In August, shipments of ammunition and military hardware were delivered to several US-controlled facilities in Syria and Iraq. Radars have been transported to the SDF-controlled areas east of the Euphrates River.

Meanwhile, several thousand militants with heavy weaponry and armored vehicles in Syria’s Idlib province are getting ready to launch an offensive against government-controlled regions of Hama and Aleppo. The attack will be targeted at Syrian as well as Iranian and pro-Iranian forces that have been invited in by the Syrian government.

It looks like plans are underway to force Syria to plunge into turmoil once again. In reality, the combat actions have already started. The US and Israel conducted their first joint operation against the Iranian Revolutionary Guards Quds Force and the Iraqi Shiite Khata’ib Hezbollah, their allies, on Aug. 23 near Abu Kamal, which is situated on the highway between Syria and Iraq. President Trump has said so many times and on so many occasions that he wants the Americans to leave Syria but US foreign policy is known for its flip-flops. Whatever is said today may be forgotten tomorrow.

This time, Lebanon may become a new front. It’s widely believed that a war between Israel and Hezbollah is inevitable. In February, US and Israeli troops held an exercise to practice for a potential war with Hezbollah in Lebanon, a country that holds a military agreement with Russia. The offshore drilling contracts Lebanon has signed with other countries, without solving its border dispute with Israel, are spurring the war preparations.

Syria and Iran have defied pressure and demonstrated their resolution not to bow but to protect their right to make independent decisions. They are offering a challenge. If the defense agreement just signed between those two allies provokes a military conflict, it will most certainly spill over to other countries, such as Yemen, Lebanon, and Iraq. It would lead to a long, protracted, and costly war.

August 29, 2018 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Illegal Occupation, Wars for Israel | , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Which War for Mesopotamia? Iraq Must Choose Between Iran and the US

By Elijah J. Magnier | American Herald Tribune | August 21, 2018

In the coming month, following Eid al-Adha (August 21st), Iraq will be on the horns of a dilemma. The Federal Court has confirmed the results of the manual recount of the May parliamentary elections with insignificant changes to the previously announced results. After the holiday the Iraqi coalition that can assemble more than 165 parliamentary seats will have to choose the new ruler of the country. Whoever is selected as Prime Minister, whether he is pro-US, pro-Iran or even a neutral personality, will not save Iraq from serious consequences and difficult years ahead. If the new government implements the sanctions on Iran announced by interim PM Abadi, internal unrest and insecurity can be expected in the country.  Many Iraqis, including some armed groups, will refuse what is perceived as US interference, and US forces themselves will likely come under fire. If the sanctions are not implemented, Iraq will face serious US sanctions in turn, international companies will pull out, and the return of the terrorist group ISIS (ISIL, Daesh) cannot be excluded. Any decision will certainly have a major effect on the economy of Mesopotamia, and perhaps even on its security.

The Iraqi government is normally formed following an agreement between one or more groups with the largest number of MPs, with several Iraqi parties (Shia, Sunni, Kurds and other minorities) holding a smaller representation in the Parliament joining in. The largest coalition is then eligible to select the future Prime Minister within one month of forming a governing coalition. Members of the coalition decide amongst themselves the distribution of power and posts including not only that of Prime Minister, but also Speaker, President and all the other key positions (Vice-Presidents, vice ministers, and the various ministerial positions in the government).

The latest formation to be officially announced is the coalition of Sayroon (Moqtada al-Sadr), al-Nasr (Haidar Abadi), al-Hikma (Ammar al-Hakim) and al-Wataniya (Saleh al—Mutkaq). These groups are still far from reaching the number of MPs necessary to form a government. And this means Iraq risks waiting for several months before seeing a new Prime Minister take power.

The Iraq-Iran borders run for 1,458 km from Shatt al-Arab in the Persian Gulf to Kuh e-Dalanper. Long borders and the large commercial and trade exchange between the two countries (over $12 billion per year) impose a special strategic relationship between Tehran and Baghdad. Moreover, the volume of religious tourism (for pilgrims visiting Imam Reda in Iran and many other shrines of prophets and Imams in Iraq) imposes itself on the countries’ leaders despite political differences. Although the majority in Iraq and Iran are Shia, religious ties do not inhibit the political independence of Iraqi Shia, who are Arabs; their patriotic interests prevail over any shared religious identity.

The Marjaiya in Najaf, led by the highest religious authority in Mesopotamia (and the whole of the Shia world), the Iranian national Grand Ayatollah Sayyed Ali al-Sistani, does not tolerate Iranian interference in Iraqi politics. Some analysts attribute this refusal to differences between the rival theological schools of Najaf (Iraq) and Qom (Iran), but other factors are more important, notably the Marjaiya’s desire for independence and Iran’s heavy hand in dealing with Iraqis. The Marjaiya in Iraq stood firm against Iran’s choice of Prime Minister in 2014, refusing to renew Nuri al-Maliki’s tenure, although the constitution gave him the legal right to become the leader of Iraq since he sat at the head of the largest Parliamentary coalition.

Al-Maliki was called by some “the Shia dictator of Iraq;” he refused to share strategic decision-making with his government and the parties who had helped him remain in power, as had been agreed before his second nomination by all Shia groups. Al-Malki was wrongly accused of being responsible for the emergence of ISIS and its occupation of a third of Iraq in 2014. In fact, neighbouring countries Turkey and Saudi Arabia, and also the leader of Kurdistan Masood Barzani who called ISIS a “Sunni revolution,” supported the group with the aim of partitioning Iraq into three states. In 2014, the US decided to watch ISIS expand and was very slow to intervene in support of the government of Baghdad, unlike Iran who offered arms and advisors to both Baghdad and Kurdistan. The US intervened only when ISIS didn’t stop at the limits of Kurdistan and headed for the oil-rich city of Kirkuk.

I was in Baghdad and Najaf at the time when the Iranian General Qassem Soleimani tried hard to impose first al-Maliki and then the ex-Premier Ibrahim al-Jaafari, but without success. It was not a religious but a political conflict, in which Sayyed Sistani stood firm in opposing Iranian efforts to decide the leadership of the country.

Iraq finds itself in a bind due to the US sanctions on Iran. Any Prime Minister who accepts the unilateral sanctions on Iran will be vilified as an American puppet and will face opposition from both pro- and anti-Iran forces and political groups in Mesopotamia. In fact, the US’s unwise political move of announcing that it is staying in the country “as long as needed,” despite the request of Baghdad that it reduces the number of its 5000 servicemen in the country, is a direct challenge to all Iraqis. It is interpreted by the people in the street I spoke to, and by decision-makers in both Baghdad and Najaf, as an expression of the US will to impose a Prime Minister by force, notably Haidar Abadi.

Iraq finds itself in a bind due to the US sanctions on Iran. Any Prime Minister who accepts the unilateral sanctions on Iran will be vilified as an American puppet and will face opposition from both pro- and anti-Iran forces and political groups in Mesopotamia.

The Iranian leadership needs to sit still, watching from afar the Iraqi internal reaction to the US decision to impose Abadi for a second term before reacting through its domestic allies.

Sources in the Iraqi government say “the Prime Minister ad interim tried to convince political leaders to accept the presence of the US forces in Iraq till an undisclosed date.” Iraqis understand this to mean that there is an agreement between Abadi – eager to stay in power for the second term – and the US – eager to see Abadi remain in power to stand against Iran – that US forces will stay in Iraq even if ISIS no longer controls any city or village in Iraq (vestiges of ISIS remain as insurgents, and outlaws in hiding.)

Both Abadi and the US forces seem unaware of the presence of a strong popular movement among the population. These forces fought against ISIS for over four years and are ready to fight a long insurgency war against the US forces in Iraq, without even asking for Iran’s support, help or guidance. There are many groups who fought against ISIS and among the ranks of the Popular Mobilisation Units (PMU) but returned to their own parties once the war ended and refused to be integrated within the Ministries of Defence or Interior.

The wrong-headed US policy (and not only in Iraq) is even calling for a coalition between Sayyed Moqtada al-Sadr and Haidar Abadi to form a coalition with the largest number of MPs, sufficient to select a new Prime Minister. Some analysts go even further, asking Washington to invite Moqtada al-Sadr to the White House to keep Iraq away from Iran. They seem not to realize that Sayyed Moqtada will be at the head of the first group called upon to fight the US forces in Iraq if these decide to stay longer in Mesopotamia and to impose a leader of Iraq. Moreover, Abadi is incapable of controlling Moqtada who did not hesitate to send his horde to the “Green Zone”, invading various ministries to “pull Abadi’s ears” and call him back in line. Moreover, Moqtada locked the Vice Speaker, a member of the al-Sadr group, and other members of his inner circle in a lavatory at al-Hannnah (Moqtada’s HQ) in Najaf for two days.

Sources within Sayyed Moqtada’s inner circle told me:

“Sayyed Moqtada rejects the implementation of any sanctions against Iran agreed by Abadi and will not accept a new Prime Minister riding into the green zone on a US tank”.

Other forces in Iraq are said to be “watching closely the US forces movement in all the military bases in Iraq”. “If they have bad intentions (to stay in the country) we shall intervene to convince these forces to leave”, said a high-ranking Iraqi source within the popular armed forces-who fought against ISIS over most of the Iraqi territory.

No Iraqi official has explained to the people the advantages and disadvantages of implementing the US unilateral sanctions on Iran. No one has explained what are the risks, what would be the reaction to the US steps and what would be Plan B, if any. Who would compensate the enormous damage to Iraq’s economy that will follow, whether sanctions are accepted or rejected? Iraqis have suffered for more than 11 years of US sanctions during Saddam Hussein’s era and may not be willing to go through this again. But it is their choice, not that of a single person, Abadi–who in fact did not win a majority during the parliamentary election in any Iraqi province.

In Iraq, there is no political consensus over strategic decisions: the unilateral decision on Iran sanctions taken by interim Prime Minister Haidar Abadi needs parliamentary approval so that the representative of the Iraqi people can assume responsibility for taking the country into an unknown future. The Iraqi Foreign Ministry has rejected Abadi’s unilateral decision, and so did most Iraqi political groups with Ministers in the government. The Iraqi Vice President Nouri al-Maliki, Abadi’s Da’wa party, and many others rejected the Prime Minister’s action against Iran and in favor of the US. Many said overtly that “Iraq will certainly not be part of the US plan to hit Iran.”

The Shia groups are not in harmony – many reject Abadi for a second term. Nor are the Sunni groups agreed on a new Speaker (Anbar Governor Mohammad al-Halbusi versus the vice President Usama al-Nujeifi). The Kurds are waiting to see who will form the largest coalition before joining in and imposing their conditions because they will be the ones who tip the political balance for or against Abadi.

The bras de fer between Iran and the US is playing out over the entire Middle East and particularly in Syria, Lebanon, and Iraq. Today, the Iranian General Qassem Soleimani and the US Special Presidential envoy Brett MacGurk are both visiting all Iraqi officials and heads of groups to attempt to influence the Iraqi decisions. It is crucial for both Iran and the US to see a Premier on their side and both seem indifferent to the consequences for the Iraqis of the choice of one side or the other.

It is not so much a question of having a leader with vision but a leader ready to assume almost impossible responsibilities. A choice of wars is knocking at the door of Mesopotamia: another war in Iraq (against the US forces) or an economic war (against Iran.)

Senior Political Risk Analyst, Elijah J. Magnier, is a veteran war correspondent with over 35 years’ experience covering Europe, Africa & the Middle East.

August 21, 2018 Posted by | Economics, Illegal Occupation | , , , | Leave a comment

Trump Regime Continues Supporting ISIS

By Stephen LENDMAN | August 18, 2018

US support for ISIS is an open dirty secret – undiscussed by media scoundrels, pretending it’s not so.

Washington actively arms, funds, trains, and directs ISIS and other terrorists – backing the scourge they pretend to oppose.

Obama and Trump’s vow to degrade and destroy ISIS was and remains a bald-faced lie, using these and other cutthroat killers as proxy fighters in Syria and other countries where they’re deployed – their presence unjustifiably justifying illegal US occupation of northeast and southwest Syrian territory.

Last November, Russia’s Defense Ministry said the following:

“The Abu Kamal liberation operation conducted by the Syrian government army with air cover by the Russian Aerospace Force at the end of the last week revealed facts of direct cooperation and support for ISIS terrorists by the US-led ‘international coalition.”

“Americans peremptorily rejected to conduct airstrikes over the ISIS terrorists on the pretext of the fact that, according to their information, militants are yielding themselves prisoners to them and now are subject to the provisions of the Convention relative to the Treatment of Prisoners of War.”

US-led “coalition’s aviation tried to create obstacles for the aircraft of the Russian Aerospace Forces in this area to safely shield militants of the Islamic State.”

“There is indisputable evidence that the United States pretends it is waging irreconcilable struggle against international terrorism in front of the international community, while in reality it provides cover for the combat-ready Islamic State groups to let them regain strength, regroup themselves and advance US interests in the Middle East.”

Washington directly aids ISIS and other terrorist fighters, deploying them where Pentagon commanders want them used, relocating them to new conflict zones in Syria and other countries.

Iran has credible documents showing US support for ISIS. Its armed forces deputy chief of staff Major General Mostafa Izadi earlier said “(w)e are facing a proxy warfare in the region as a new trick by the arrogant (US-led) powers against the Islamic Republic,” adding:

“We possess information showing direct support by US imperialism for (ISIS) in the region which has destroyed Islamic countries and created a wave of massacres and clashes.”

Separately, Iranian Parliament Speaker Ali Larijani condemned Washington for “align(ing) itself with ISIS in the region.”

So-called Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) are infested with ISIS and other terrorists. Washington’s objective in Syria remains regime change – why the Obama regime launched naked aggression in the country, continued by Trump regime dark forces in charge of Washington’s geopolitical agenda.

A new Security Council report showed renewed ISIS strength in parts of Syria controlled by US forces and allies, saying:

ISIS terrorists have “breathing space to prepare for the next phase of its evolution into a global covert network.”

Aided by the Trump regime and allied forces, they control “small pockets of territory in the Syrian Arab Republic on the Iraqi border.”

Russia’s General Staff earlier accused the Pentagon of training ISIS and other terrorists at its illegally established At Tanf base in southwest Syria – calling it a staging ground for US armed struggle against the Syrian government.

ISIS and other terrorists infest the Rukban refugee camp controlled by US Forces, holding tens of thousands of defenseless Syrians hostage, using the camp to recruit anti-government terrorists.

On August 15, AMN News said US-led forces “transported over 250 trucks filled with weapons (and other military hardware) to the Euphrates River Valley this morning” – intended for Syrian Democratic Forces terrorists in Deir Ezzor province, adding:

Washington is “expand(ing) (its) bases and airports in northern and eastern Syria” – indicating US forces will remain in the country, not leave, as Trump earlier said.

Separately on August 18, AMN News said Washington and its allies “sent reinforcements to their military bases in the towns of Tal Tamer, Al-Houl, and Al-Shaddadi.”

Syria’s liberating struggle continues, no end of it in sight as long as US regime change intentions remain unchanged.

August 19, 2018 Posted by | War Crimes | , , , , | 3 Comments

ISIS given ‘breathing space’ in parts of Syria under US-backed forces’ control

© Aboud Hamam / Reuters
RT | August 18, 2018

Islamic State managed to regain access to Syrian oil fields and make profits from selling oil, a new UN report reveals. While the UN did not point fingers, the IS reemergence seems to occur in areas held by the US-backed forces.

“Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant [IS, formerly ISIL/ISIS], having been defeated militarily in Iraq and most of the Syrian Arab Republic during 2017, rallied in early 2018. This was the result of a loss of momentum by forces fighting it in the east of the Syrian Arab Republic,” the recent report from the UN Security Council’s Sanctions Monitoring Team reads. The document is dated July 27, but was only released to the public this week.

The slow-down gave IS “breathing space to prepare for the next phase of its evolution into a global covert network.” As of June 2018, the terrorist group has been controlling “small pockets of territory in the Syrian Arab Republic on the Iraqi border,” effectively carrying on with its quasi-state ways.

“[IS] was able to extract and sell some oil, and to mount attacks, including across the border into Iraq,” the reports stated, adding that the terrorist group regained “access to some oil fields in northeastern” Syria.

While the report did not specify which forces exactly were having troubles with “momentum,” northeastern Syria is located on the left bank of the Euphrates river, controlled by the so-called Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) militia backed by the US-led coalition.

Regaining control of the oil fields allowed IS to yet again make oil profits a significant source of revenue. The report also vaguely stated that IS continues to impose “taxes” on civilians “in areas it controls, as well as in contested areas,” as well as to kidnap local businessmen for ransom.

Apart from strengthening of IS-held “pockets” in northeastern Syria, the report also listed a number of hotspots in Syria, which might be sources of further IS reemergence. Among them, the UN named the Rukban refugee camp, located near the Al-Tanf US military base. Other IS-infested places listed in the report include unspecified locations in the Aleppo province and an area controlled by an IS-affiliated group in the Deraa province. The latter, however, was already eradicated late in July during the Syrian Army offensive in the south-west of the country.

The issue of the Rukban refugee camp has been repeatedly raised by Moscow and Damascus, who repeatedly urged the US to cooperate. Earlier in August, Colonel General Sergey Rudskoy, the head of operations of the Russian General Staff, described Rukban as place where “people are living in harsh conditions and where terrorists find shelter.”

“Our American partners should provide humanitarian access to Rukban as soon as possible, provide passage for the refugees to their home areas and withdraw the base from Al-Tanf,” Rudskoy stated.

August 18, 2018 Posted by | Illegal Occupation, War Crimes | , , , , | 2 Comments

Baghdad grapples with ‘curse’ of US sanctions on Iran

By Omar al-Jaffal | Asia Times | August 17, 2018

Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi has raised the level of uncertainty over how Iraq will handle long-expected US sanctions on Iran.

In the span of less than a week, Abadi went from pledging to abide by the sanctions the day after they were imposed, to backtracking on his statement.

“I said yes, we will abide … but abide when it comes to dollar transactions,” Abadi told reporters Monday. The confusion for Iraqi citizens and political parties is even greater for the Central Bank of Iraq.

“Dealing in dollars with Iran has been banned for a very long time,” the bank’s director general of financial operations, Mahmoud Dagher, told the media. “Neither the bank nor the banking system deals with Iran in dollars when it comes to foreign trade.”

Iran is not only a neighbor to Iraq, with a land border of more than 1,000 kilometers. It dominates the Iraqi market and political scene.

Prime Minister Abadi’s vocal opposition to the US sanctions stems from this hegemony, especially as he is seeking a second term in office. His coalition placed third in the May parliamentary elections and he will need Tehran’s support moving forward.

Politically, Iran has influence on a large number of Shiite parties in the government and parliament. Some of these parties have announced they will mount a “break the siege” campaign to counter the US sanctions on Iran.

Militarily, Tehran supports and trains dozens of militias in Iraq, and these groups sharply criticized Abadi over his initial acquiescence to the sanctions. The United States also holds major influence in the military and economic spheres.

As in the past, Abadi is walking a tightrope between Tehran and Washington, both of which have their share of clout in green lighting the next prime minister.

Iranian dairy, Iranian cars

Where there is political and military influence in Iraq, there is economic reverberation.

Hamid Hosseini, the secretary-general of the Iran-Iraq Chamber of Commerce, said in December that “Iraq, for Iran, equals the markets of three continents: Europe, America and Africa.”

Iranian goods account for about 17% of the Iraqi market, making it the second largest destination for exports after Turkey in this respect. Iranian exports to Iraq have risen exponentially over the past decade.

Before US sanctions were reimposed, Iran said it was seeking to control a quarter of the Iraqi market and increase the volume of trade from $13 billion in 2017 to $20 billion in the coming years.

In the markets of central and southern Iraq, one can clearly observe how Iranian goods dominate shop shelves and how dairy products occupy a large place in the refrigerators.

On the streets, the Iranian-made SAIPA and Samand cars are too many to count. The cheap, poor-quality vehicles have not only entered Iraq by highway — they are assembled at factories in the heart of the country.

Iraq’s power plants are heavily reliant on diesel and gas to operate, and in this regard, Tehran has an agreement to export diesel and about 25 million cubic meters of gas per day to Iraqi power plants.

Even so, Iraq continues to suffer from major power shortages, which this summer prompted major waves of protests as temperature hovered around 50 degrees Celsius. The Iraqi government since 2005 has been compelled to conclude successive deals with Iran to ease the shortfall, importing 1,500 to 2,500 megawatts of electricity per year.

For Iraq, Iranian religious tourism is a major source of income.

Each year, about three million Iranian pilgrims flock to the shrines of the descendants of the the Prophet Mohammad in the provinces of central and southern Iraq.

Baghdad charges a $40 visa fee per tourist, but Abadi’s government quickly announced it would reduce that amount for pilgrims as sanctions on Tehran came into effect.

Iranian goods are often the source of ridicule in Iraq for their lack of quality. But they are hugely popular in the central and southern provinces of the country, as a much more affordable option than goods made in Turkey. Not to mention the foodstuffs Iraqis depend on for their daily diet.

For much of the population, those low prices make a major difference in the household budget, especially with the rise of unemployment and poverty following the price of oil – the key export on which Baghdad relies to conduct about 97% of its economic activities.

Iran’s trade surplus with the Iraqi private sector is more than $7 billion.

Against this backdrop, the Iraqi government appears at a loss, with scant plans in place to deal with the first package of US sanctions against Iran, which is light compared to the second round coming in November.

Dr. Mohammed Saleh, an economic adviser to the prime minister, says Iraq faces a dilemma in the coming period.

“Given the closed border with Syria and the dangerous situation [on the border] with Jordan, for Iraq only Turkey remains” to compensate for the shortage in Iranian goods when the second tranche of US sanctions comes into force. “But also [Turkey] is in a vague position as a result of the US sanctions,” he added, with a note of desperation.

“Iraq will have to comply with the US sanctions on Iran and it will have to compensate for the loss of Iranian goods by producing some of them,” Saleh told Asia Times, adding that this goes especially for the gas sector.

“We will also have to revive the manufacturing of oil products by reactivating refineries suspended from work. The same goes for agriculture, if Iraq can persuade the Turkish side to up Iraq’s water quotas.”

Asked whether Iraq had immediate plans to implement what he had referred to, he said: “Unfortunately, so far there are no actual plans on the ground,” stressing that Iraq was still reeling from the war against ISIS and the failure to form a government after the latest elections.

Made in Iraq?

Falah al-Rubaie, professor of economics at the Faculty of Management and Economics at Mustansiriya University in Baghdad, said the sanctions should be seen as an opportunity for Iraq. An opportunity to reconsider its economic policy in the fields of industry and agriculture, and to start competing with Iranian goods through local production.

“Iraq has the space to activate such a policy,” Rubaie told Asia Times. “But such a decision requires political will and belief in achieving development.”

He said Iraq’s economic predicament was not for a lack of strategies. “There have been more than 16 strategies developed by successive governments related to industry, agriculture, trade and others sectors, in addition to the existence of four development plans since 2003.

“All these plans sit on the shelf because of the confusion of political decision-makers and many of them are linked to Iran politically, which facilitates the import of their products at the expense of Iraqi development plans.

“The absence of development and the return to oil revenue is what Iraqi politicians have been doing since 2003 in order to secure their personal benefits at the expense of the country’s interest,” Rubaie added.

Up till now, Iraq has not faced major issues with Tehran or Washington over the latest US sanctions.

“Trade between the two countries (Iraq and Iran) is proceeding normally,” said Nasir Behrouz, Iran’s trade adviser in Baghdad. “The import and export process with Iraq continues at all ports.

“Iran is determined to expand its presence in the Iraqi market to suit the interests of the two countries,” Behrouz was quoted as saying by the official IRNA news agency.

The US, for its part, has not flagged any sanctions violations by Iraq to date, despite alarmist reports in the local press.

The US embassy in Baghdad issued a statement of clarification after State Department spokesperson Heather Nauret warned Tuesday that Washington would “continue to hold countries accountable for any violations.”

The embassy said Nauret’s statement had been misinterpreted and stated categorically that there was “no breach of sanctions” by Iraq in dealing with Iran.

The economic adviser to PM Abadi described the sanctions against Iran as “the curse” and said that the second round was an impending disaster that Iran must redress.

He did not say whether Iraq would be able to tackle this curse and find a substitute for Iranian imports.

August 17, 2018 Posted by | Economics | , , , , | 1 Comment

US begins construction of largest consulate abroad in Erbil

Press TV – July 7, 2018

US Ambassador to Iraq Douglas Silliman and Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) Prime Minister Nechirvan Barzani have broken ground on the largest American consulate building in the city of Erbil.

Barzani said Friday the project shows that “America wants to stay in Iraq, that America wants to remain in Kurdistan, that America wants to develop its ties,” the Kurdish Rudaw Media Network reported.

Silliman, for his part, emphasized that the construction of the biggest US consulate complex, which is one of the most modern facilities, is a “strong symbol of the continued strong relationship” between Washington and Erbil.

The US initially opened a diplomatic office in Erbil in February 2007 and four years later upgraded it to a consulate general.

The new US consulate, which will be built on a 200,000 square meter piece of land, will cost $600 million. The construction project is expected to take four years.

Back in 2009, the US inaugurated the largest and most expensive embassy in the world in the Iraqi capital, Baghdad, suggesting that Washington was set for a long haul in the Arab country.

The 104-acre compound is bigger than the Vatican and about the size of 80 football fields. It cost the US $750 million.

Iraq has been wracked by a vicious cycle of violence since the US invasion of the country in 2003, which has destroyed the nation’s infrastructures.

In recent months, Washington has also stepped up its alliance with Kurdish forces active in Syria despite opposition by Turkey that is worried about the formation of an autonomous Kurdish state on its borders.

About 2,000 US troops are deployed to northeast Syria in territories under the control of Kurdish militants amid fears of the war-torn state’s partition.

Last December, US President Donald Trump approved providing weapons worth $393 million to what Washington calls partners in Syria, including the so-called Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG).

The US measures infuriated Ankara and prompted the country to launch a military campaign against Kurdish forces in Syria.

July 7, 2018 Posted by | Illegal Occupation | , | 2 Comments