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Sam Husseini: The Entire US Establishment Helped Lie Their Way into the Iraq War

By Slava Zilber | American Herald Tribune | October 14, 2019

Sam Husseini is a senior analyst with the Institute for Public Accuracy, independent journalist and contributor to The Nation and FAIR.

Slava Zilber: Sam, three years ago, you appeared on Talk Nation Radio with David Swanson and spoke about the case of the GCHQ whistleblower Katharine Gun. You pointed out that the people involved in the spying on the UN and the people authorizing the Iraq War were not held accountable:

“Virtually everybody who went along with the war, whether it is Kerry or Clinton, of course, the Bush administration themselves has falsified their own records in terms of why, what they did, when they did, why they did it, to the extent that they’ve been scrutinised at all.”

You also address it in a recent article. And recently, Joe Biden has been lying about his position on the Iraq War. How can such an important issue escape meaningful scrutiny?

Sam Husseini: Because the media and the political system uses constant distractions of other issues, of personalities, of punditry to distract from these core issues. The entire US establishment helped lie their way into the Iraq War. More than that, the Katharine Gun case, which is featured in a new movie, Official Secrets, shows how the US attempted to blackmail other members of the Security Council by spying on them to try to get a second UN Security Council resolution authorizing the Iraq War. It shows the length to which they wanted to go to make sure that they got their war, both the US and Britain and others.

So all of these diabolical efforts to launch an aggressive war haven’t been seriously held accountable to it. Biden is a very notable example. I mean, the entire political system is guilty, but he is incredibly important because he was head of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee in 2002, during the build-up of the Iraq War. It is not just that he voted wrong, as some people say. Even somebody like Bernie Sanders says it was the wrong vote. It was far worse than the wrong vote. Biden, in his hearings, prevented meaningful scrutiny and dissent and the basic facts from being highlighted in terms of the false case that was being put forward for war in 2002 and in 2003.

And he has continued to lie about his own record. Biden recently has said all kinds of things: That he was opposed to the war as soon as it started, which is totally false. He continued to back it. He even said at one point that he was always against it, which is utterly ridiculous. I mean, he always couched his criticism in bizarre ways basically agreeing with the war but saying that Bush had to do a better job of getting the UN on board. Well, as the Katharine Gun case shows, the Bush administration and the Blair government were going so far as to spy on other countries to blackmail them in order to get them on board. So saying that the US needed to do a better job of getting the UN on board is a way of saying that it should have been even more coercive than it was. His story is, in a sense, an indictment of the entire political system since before the Iraq War because he, in the 1990s, said all kinds of aggressive things about Iraq.

And it is also an indictment of the media. Do you see you a connection to what you describe in another FAIR article titled “Triumph of Conventional Wisdom: AP Expunges Iran/Contra Pardons from Barr’s Record”? Are they giving those lies a pass for the same reason they are doing this with the record of Attorney General William Barr?

It is funny that you mention that. Part of what I know about Barr is that Biden was a big backer of his.

The really notable thing about Barr’s record is that he was Attorney General for George H. W. Bush and when Iran/Contra pardons happened. This was a huge scandal during the Reagan/Bush years, and at the end of it, it was basically ended. As the prosecutor, L. Walsh, a straight-shooting Republican, said, it was a cover-up pardon. Bush pardoned Caspar Weinberger and others. And Barr basically approved all of that. And what’s remarkable about that is that just as Barr was rehabilitated by the media, so too was – Biden helped rehabilitate him as well.

Biden’s record closely parallels that of the major media. Very often, his claims dovetail very strongly with them. He is sort of the closest thing that the Democrats have to a John McCain: Somebody who constantly appeared on the Sunday morning talk shows and pulled together what the late great journalist Robert Parry called conventional wisdom. So a whole series of fabrications about the Iraq War, before and after it happened, were perpetrated by the major media as well as people like Joe Biden. And Biden was rehabilitating criminal, basically, figures like Barr who was Bush’s Attorney General and helped cover-up the Iran/Contra scandal and who now is Trump’s Attorney General and, I think, playing a major role in terms of ensuring that the Trump administration maintains an establishment orientation in terms of foreign policy as well as other things. I think that he is playing a very nefarious role, and he was largely rehabilitated by Biden. We have transcripts of Biden in the mid-1990s talking him up: “What a great guy! And we have disagreements, but I have a lot of respect for you” and so on and so forth. So Biden continuously helps resurrect figures like that and does other things to maintain a very militaristic orientation in terms of foreign policy.

I had to think about a recent incident: The talkshow host Ellen DeGeneres attended a game with former President G.W. Bush. Could you please talk about what her response to the criticism that followed and the reactions from, for example, Obama administration officials Samantha Power and David Axelrod indicate? Is it also this kind of cooperation that you have just described with Mr. Barr and Mr. Biden?

Yes, I think since the Bush administration there’s been an attempt to rehabilitate it and that has gone into overdrive during the Trump administration: That is the establishment media attempt to contrast the gentlemanly Bushes, both of them, the father and the son now, as fundamentally decent, earnest people who are trying to do the right thing in contrast to this crass baffoon Donald Trump. So you had literal Obama embrace of the Bushes since Bush leaving the White House and then his father’s funeral a year ago. Barr was brought on as Attorney General just after Bush the father’s funeral at the National Cathedral. And in the Trump years, you had a total Trumpwashing of Bush and other people in his administration, much of the former CIA officials some of whom actually were already Trumpwashed before Trump because Obama brought them into his administration. Obama brought in Brennan. Obama even brought in Gates. He kept the same so-called “Defense Secretary” that Bush had. So there is a longstanding cooperation between what are sometimes called liberal interventionists and sometimes called neocons. But they all fundamentally share the same neo-imperial, colonialist mindset in terms of how the US should deal with the rest of the world. And I think that does include certain people like Samantha Power. Her rationale around the Iraq War – sort of backing it without backing it or backing it and facilitating it while attempting to pretend that they had a critique of how Bush was doing it – is actually quite similar to Biden’s as I recall. I have not looked at her record recently but recalling that record, there is a serious interplay there. So it is interesting that you’ve mentioned her as well. But it’s all based on the same sort of falsifications for war.

But again, they started and they were articulated by the major media and by figures like Biden before the Iraq War itself. For example, the weapons inspections regime of the 1990s was ended because then-President Clinton bombed Iraq and withdrew the weapons inspectors. And then he had to figure what the heck you were going to do after that. The media and people like Joe Biden continually talked about: ‘Saddam Hussein kicked out the weapons inspectors’ and ‘When are we going to get them back in?’ The weapons inspections regime didn’t end because Saddam Hussein kicked out the weapons inspectors. It ended because the US government pulled them out in order to launch a bombing campaign which people might recall happened just as Clinton’s scheduled impeachment vote was supposed to happen in 1998. And you saw much the same thing happen in 2003. How did the Iraq War begin? It didn’t begin because Saddam Hussein was not cooperating with the weapons inspectors. He was totally cooperating with the weapons inspectors. He said over and over again, including on US shows like 60 Minutes, that he had no weapons of mass destruction. So how did the war begin? The war began with G. W. Bush saying: ‘This process has gone on long enough. You, Saddam Hussein, have 48 hours to get out of Bagdad with your sons.’ And then they put out a statement that even if he got out of Iraq in 48 hours with his sons, they would still start the bombing. And they told the UN to get the weapons inspectors out of the country so they wouldn’t bomb them. And then they started their shock and awe bombing campaign. That’s how the war started.

Some people claim that Biden is now becoming senile or something. And that’s why he hasn’t been able to articulate his position on Iraq. Hardly! He has been lying about his position on Iraq for years. In 2007, he was asked about his Iraq War vote, and he actually had the temerity to say: ‘Why didn’t Saddam Hussein say that he didn’t have the weapons!’ Of course, Saddam Hussein was saying that he didn’t have the weapons! But there he is: Biden pretending that it wasn’t known that Saddam Hussein was denying they had the weapons. And that’s also another lie that major media themselves perpetrated, including 60 Minutes itself. 60 Minutes had an interview with Saddam Hussein before the Iraq War in which he said ‘I don’t have any weapons of mass destruction.’ And then several years later, after the Iraq War, they did some so-called reporting about: ‘Why didn’t Saddam Hussein say that he didn’t have any weapons of mass destruction?’ So it’s the level of absurdity you have with the record of establishment media and establishment figures like Joe Biden. And there is a remarkable lack of scrutiny, especially when it most matters. One of Biden’s falsifications, when he had an interview with NPR, got a little bit of scrutiny. It wasn’t nearly enough, and sometimes the scrutiny actually helped build up other Iraq War lies. But none of the scrutiny in the major media happened right after the Democratic debates. He has lied about his Iraq War record during each of the Democratic debates. It is Sanders who I think needs to be far more forceful if he is to comport with the indicting facts in this case. But he at least brought it up. In his words: He led the effort against the Iraq War in the Senate, and Biden voted for it. That’s an understatement again. But at least he has brought it up, and that has compelled Biden to explain his position and lie about it in the process.

It is such a loser strategy as well because it’s quite similar to Kerry’s position. You remember Kerry looked ridiculous in 2004 because he was forced to explain his position then, and he was saying things like ‘I was for the war before I was against it’ and this kind of doubletalk. Biden, if anything, is even worse than that. So it’s factually vacuous and demented, and it is probably not going to galvanize voters and be a very poor strategy electorally. 

You have been covering the Iraq War and the discourse about the Iraq War. Do you have the impression that invading another country and causing immense suffering is either considered irrelevant or treated just as something one disagrees with, especially from episodes like the one with Ms. DeGeneres, Samantha Power, and David Axelrod? Do you think it would have been different had there been an Iran/Contra trial with convictions and had the Obama administration prosecuted the people involved in torture? Would it have made a difference?

Yes, I think it would have made a difference. All of those things could have made some difference to try to have some kind of meaningful accountability in US law and political life, that people who engage in torture or launching war of aggression or other war crimes be held accountable for that. It would get those people out of public life, make them pay some measure of penalty for their own conduct, and become an example so that others don’t simply perpetuate as it is. We have some of the same figures coming back. There you have Elliott Abrams, and John Bolton, who committed criminal acts under the Bush administrations, come back under the Trump administration. In spite of its isolationist veneer, it has basically adopted a Bush type of foreign policy in many respects.

And I mean this ‘Let’s all get along even if we have disagreements!’ Well, you know, ok. So I fully expect Ellen DeGeneres to have somebody from ISIS on to talk about how she can have disagreements with him. But perhaps they can be fond of each other personally. Or pick the group of your choice that is totally distasteful or allegedly totally distasteful. I mean, in some ways, people allege the US has coordinated with groups like ISIS in terms of destabilizing Syria. But pick whatever group the US establishment most despises, and it’s not as if their members or leadership are humanized. I mean Hezbollah and Hamas are regarded as terrorist organizations even though they are political parties that do a lot of good for people. I have serious disagreements with them. And they do use violence, on a far smaller scale than the US and Israel and other states do. But it would be very refreshing if Ellen DeGeneres and other political talk show hosts took their word seriously, that they want to have a dialogue with people, even people they disagree with, and they still view them as human. So let’s have Nasrallah and the leader of Hamas on late-night talk shows. Well, I don’t think it is going to happen any time soon. It is just an exercise in making the criminality of the US establishment palatable to the public.

And it is interesting that in this case there was a fair amount of pushback. I think that’s partially because you still have some semblance in social media of evenhandedness of discourse, but I think that that has been pushed away gradually as Twitter and Facebook and other social media are tilting the playing field more and more, excluding voices, using opaque algorithms to marginalize some voices further and increase others. So the war against accountability and for meaningful dialogue about issues of war and peace – on many levels, that fight is happening.

Sam, are there cases where the question of whether one opposed the war in Iraq or supported it is being reduced to a talking point, for example, in 2016 against Hillary Clinton? How many people actually care about the human cost of that war to Americans and Iraqis?

I think a lot of US political system is trying to make the Iraq War an irrelevant thing in the distant past and the decision and the mechanisms used to launch the Iraq War. It is not a coincidence that Obama cast himself as an anti-war candidate. And he won. Trump cast himself as an anti-war candidate. And he won. I think there is a hunger in the American public for a different way to orient itself to the rest of the world. It’s a very difficult thing for the American public to sort out because it doesn’t get adequate information. Instead, it gets lies upon lies upon lies. But it is notable that the candidates that were brazenly part of the pro-war establishment have generally lost on the national stage. Now, Obama and in different ways, Trump were deceitful in casting themselves as anti-war. But I think it doesn’t change the fact that there is this underlying hunger. And there are serious opportunities because the wars continue and they continue to threaten to spiral further out of control, and they continue to have this devastating effect as most recently Turkey killing Kurds not only on its side of the border but dramatically escalating their killing of Kurds on the Syrian side of the border. And the colonial prerogatives are still the same: We can invade Iraq because we can invade Iraq. And now we can do all kinds of things in Syria because we can do all kind of things in Syria.

I think there is an attempt to reduce the Iraq War to a mere talking point. And it is facilitated in part because virtually nobody left in ruling circles got it right. Sanders did not get the Iraq War right. He bought some of the establishment lines. And I think it would do him some good to say: ‘Even I bought part of the establishment line!’ Sanders was not out there saying: ‘Iraq doesn’t have weapons of mass destruction.’ There were some people like Scott Ritter, who was saying that. I was saying there has been no evidence for saying that Iraq has weapons of mass destruction. But Sanders was not saying that. He was simply saying: ‘War is a bad idea. It is going to make things worse. It could compel Saddam Hussein to use his weapons of mass destruction.’ Sanders actually made that argument. Pelosi and others made even worse arguments even though they cast their votes against war. Some of them actually helped to facilitate war even though they technically cast their votes against it.

So the entire political system – right now, I feel the correct analogy is geology in the 17th century. Geology in the 17th century was a debate between people who thought that the earth was 5000 years old versus people who thought that the earth was maybe a hundred million years old. The correct answer – that the earth was over a billion years old – was off the charts. It wasn’t part of the mainstream discussion. And I think we have a similar thing right now with coming to grips with fundamental questions of US foreign policy like the Iraq War. The correct, empirically-driven answer is well outside the current acceptable discourse. And this leads to all kinds of perversities one of which is the rise of somebody like Trump who does say perverse truths at times and that grants him a measure of legitimacy because nobody who articulates those truths in a principled way is allowed to take part in a meaningful way in public discourse because of the constrictions of major media. So these are some of the problems that have to be overcome.

Do you see them being overcome? What can be done to change things?

There is a pat answer to that: Getting information out, doing what you can. And there are all kinds of good webpages and periodicals out there. And some people try to use social media as best they can. Your program is a very good example, as well.

But I think we need to get to concrete proposals. One proposal I wanted to start building for some time and perhaps some of your listeners can help is to build what would now be called a Wiki with the relevant lies and fabrications of the establishment figures: In very short concise format so there would be a go-to place for whatever establishment figure, whether it is Biden or Wolf Blitzer or Samantha Power, to in very concise form have a thing contríbuted to by many people doing research, but then distilled so it is not a mass of treaties. So it is literally about 500 words but linked to, with substantial documentation of their various fabrications, whether it is about Iraq WMDs or other issues that we might achieve a culture of accountability so that these people could be challenged when they speak at universities or elsewhere. You could have it as a PDF so that it can be printed out and then distributed at events where these individuals are speaking. It could be distilled into a graphic form that could proliferate over social media, for example. I think it is a matter of people who do have a commitment to relevant facts and to a fundamental humanity, driven by respect for things like opposing aggressive war to organise our efforts better so we can more effectively challenge and expose people who deceit on such a massive scale to do things that have caused such harm and will continue to cause more and more harm, potentially threatening nuclear war.

I’ve been doing work lately with the Institute for Public Accuracy about the Plowshares actions. They have had an action in Georgia with these religiously-driven activists to destroy nuclear weapons symbolically. And many of them have spent much of the last year and a half in jail. Now they are facing decades in prison, and their trial begins in a couple of weeks.

I wanted to be inspired by their dedication in terms of their actions: to try to have the same dedication for laying out the critical facts in a way that is irrefutable and solidly documented and working with others to do that so that the force of that is so great that it, in effect, winds its way into the mechanisms of war and the lies that feed them and causes them to come to a grinding halt.

Slava Zilber is the host of the political podcast “Conversations with Slava” and a guest contributor to The Canary.

October 14, 2019 Posted by | Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Militarism, Timeless or most popular | , , | 1 Comment

Iraq says all evidence points to ‘malicious hands’ in protests

Press TV – October 7, 2019

Iraqi officials say there are “malicious hands” behind the killing of both protesters and security forces during the recent spate of unrest in Baghdad and some other cities.

Interior Ministry spokesman Saad Maan confirmed for the first time on Sunday that 104 people had been killed, including eight security officers, and more than 6,000 wounded in the protests.

Maan said the ministry was working with other government institutions to find out who was behind the killings. According to medical sources, the majority of protesters killed were struck by bullets.

The protests began last Tuesday, with demonstrators calling for better living conditions. The rallies soon turned into riots as some protesters started vandalizing public properties and attempted to enter the Green Zone in the capital Baghdad — which houses government offices and foreign diplomatic missions.

On Saturday night, armed elements and violent rioters attempted to take over local TV stations in Baghdad after the government removed a days-long curfew.

Maan said protesters burned 51 public buildings and eight political party headquarters but Iraqi security forces did not confront them.

According to the spokesman, most of those killed on Friday had been shot in the head or heart, a sign that skilled snipers had carried out the killings.

Officials say there are attempts at “sedition” from “unidentified snipers” who shot police and protesters indiscriminately.

“We can’t accept the continuation of the situation like this,” Prime Minister Adil Abdul-Mahdi told his Cabinet late Saturday. “We hear of snipers, firebombs, burning a policeman, a citizen.”

Parliament speaker Mohamed al-Halbousi echoed the premier’s remarks, saying that “infiltrators” were wreaking havoc. He said the parliament had formed a committee to investigate the matter.

Iraqi security officials have made it clear that their forces would not use lethal force against protesters unless their lives were in danger.

On Sunday night, at least 13 people were killed in clashes with security forces in a district of capital, where the military admitted some forces had violated the rules of engagement.

“Excessive force outside the rules of engagement was used and we have begun to hold accountable those commanding officers who carried out these wrong acts,” the military said in a statement.

There are unconfirmed reports that some foreign diplomatic missions are trying to keep the flames of the unrest alive by sending mercenaries into the ranks of protesters to cause more violence.

Lebanese newspaper Al Akhbar reported Saturday that Saudi Arabia’s Embassy in Baghdad had been hiring paid snipers to take out people and guards alike. The report made similar allegations against the US Embassy staff.

There were no immediate official reactions to the claims.

On Sunday, the Iraqi government announced a series of reforms after an “extraordinary” session overnight in response to the sweeping unrest.

The governor of the province of Baghdad, Fallah al-Jazairi, also stepped down and members of the provincial council accepted his resignation.

Confronted by its biggest challenge since coming to power just under a year ago, Abdul-Mahdi’s cabinet issued a decree including 17 planned reforms, such as land distributions and increased welfare stipends for needy families.

Authorities have asked protesters to give them time to implement reform. Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, the top Shia cleric of Iraq, on Friday urged security forces and protesters to avoid violence.

Iraq declared victory over the Daesh terrorist group at the end of 2017 — after nearly four years of conflict.

The violence comes as millions of Shia pilgrims are preparing to travel to the Iraqi holy cities of Najaf and Karbala to attend Arba’een ceremonies, marking the fortieth day after the martyrdom anniversary of their third Imam, Hussein ibn Ali (AS).

Iraq recently reopened its al-Qa’im border crossing with Syria and accused the occupying regime of Israel of orchestrating a string of recent drone strikes on Iraqi popular mobilization forces.

Tehran-based political analyst Hussein Sheikholeslam said Saturday the unrest is a product of US efforts to weaken “the resistance axis,” which is the key pillar of rising opposition to American and Israeli plans in the Middle East.

Hashd ready protect government, punish saboteurs

Iraqi Popular Mobilization Units (PMU), or Hashd al-Sha’abi, announced Monday that it is ready to help prevent “a coup d’etat or a rebellion” in the wake of the violence.

Faleh al-Fayyad, the PMU head and Iraq’s national security Adviser, told reporters that he wanted to see “the fall of corruption, not the fall of the government.”

He was referring to demands by some protesters for Abdul-Mahdi to step down in order to perform a complete overhaul of the country’s political system.

“We tell the enemies and the conspirators that their efforts have failed,” he said in a press conference. “We will defend the constitution and the government that we have established with our blood and our lives.”

Fayyad said eradicating corruption and achieving economic prosperity is only possible if the government stays in office.

“The government and on top of it the prime minister do their best to complete the transition,” Fayyad said. “In the absence of government security is lost and it is only within this framework that a solution can be reached.”

He also pledged a crushing response to those who perpetrated violence and killed and injured people.

“We know who is behind letting some saboteurs infiltrate the demonstrations,” he said, adding “we have footage and intelligence that we will present when time is appropriate.”

Iraqi PM discusses situation with Pompeo

Abdul-Mahdi’s office issued a statement on Monday, saying the prime minister had discussed the situation with US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.

According to the statement, Abdul-Mahdi told the US top diplomat that the government was in full control and planning to continue taking practical steps to meet people’s demands.

Later, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov arrived in Baghdad on what Moscow said was a two-day working trip.

October 7, 2019 Posted by | Deception, False Flag Terrorism | , , , | 1 Comment

Who’s been Trying to Destabilize Iraq?

By Valery Kulikov – New Eastern Outlook – 07.10.2019

The wave of protests that erupted across Iraq on October 1, according to a number of reports, resulted in dozens of civilian deaths and several hundred injured protesters. As it’s been reported by Al Arabiya TV station, human rights activists claim that at least a hundred people lost their lives in the course of the protests, while some 3 thousand got injured.

The unrest that was sparked by the frustration that local residents share over the massive corruption, high unemployment rates, frequent power outages and water shortages, would soon lead to demands for the resignation of the sitting government, followed by all sorts of other political demands. In spite of the attempts that local authorities make to restore order by imposing a curfew, the intensity of the protests wouldn’t die down. There’s tires burning in the streets, demonstrators assaulting airports and government buildings.

Egypt‘s Sasapost states that Iraq has not seen a mass movement as popular since the days Iraqis tried to repel the US attack on their country. Demonstrations have swept all the large cities of the country, except for those that remain in the hands of ISIS terrorists in the northern and western parts of the country.

Even though Al Jazeera alleges there’s no leader to head the protest movement, a number of Arab observers have already expressed their doubts about the validity of such allegations. In their opinion a “rebellion of the starving” doesn’t resemble an armed assault on the police and security forces, as there’s been reports about law enforcement units suffering losses.

Most protesters are young people under the age of 20. They can hardly be described as religious conservatives and it is difficult to suspect them of being influenced by clerics. Over the past few weeks their demands have underwent a major change and it’s clear that such a transition could only occur if they were under some sort of external influence. What started out as youth’s attempt to express frustration over the existing social policies would be hijacked by an angry mob chanting extreme political demands, like the replacement of the parliamentary republic with a presidential one, stepping down of Adil Abdul-Mahdi al-Muntafiki and his substitution with the former security chief General Abdul Wahab al-Saidi. All this goes in line with protesters chanting anti-Iranian slogans and burning Iranian flags. It is also noteworthy that those protests started in southern parts of the country mostly inhabited by the Shiites, as well as in Baghdad.

It’s clear that the increasingly anti-Iranian tone of the protests serves as yet another indicator of the possible involvement of external forces in the events that unfold in Iraq these days. Against this backdrop, it’s noteworthy that the Lebanese Al Akhbar recalls that last summer an informed source in the Iraqi military department predicted what was about to happen, while stating that Washington was extremely concerned about the growing influence of Iran in his country. In his opinion, such protests would serve as a warning served to the Iraqi authorities in a bid to prevent the two countries from leaning closer together.

It’s also noteworthy that a couple of weeks ago the sitting US Under Secretary of State for Civilian Security, Democracy, and Human Rights, Marshall Billingslea announced that the people of Iraq fell “victims” of the close ties that Baghdad and Tehran share.

However, the US is not the only player that would try combating Iran’s influence in Iraq, as Israel has been trying to achieve same end. Since mid-summer, both Israeli and US combat aircraft and drones have made over two dozen sorties, bombing a number of targets across Iraq from those near the border with Syria in the Al Anbar Governorate to those on the borderline with Iran. But primarily these air attacks were directed against the bases of the Iraqi Shia “people’s militia”, which has already been dubbed as “Iranian proxies” in the West.

Against this background, there was a visible increase in anti-American and anti-Israeli sentiments in Iraq, resulting in the shelling of the US embassy that was forced to suspend its work until the date when the curfew is lifted.

The moment chosen by the “external instigators” to stir the unrest is particularly noteworthy, as it coincides with the preparation for the Arba’een Pilgrimage made by millions of Iranians. This gathering is the commemoration of the memory of Husayn ibn Ali, the grandson of the Prophet Mohammad and the third Shia imam, who fell in combat together with his faithful comrades-in-arms in 680 at the hands of the caliph Yazid’s soldiers from the Umayyad dynasty. This year the pilgrimage to Iraq is bound to start in two weeks. The annual public gathering is no less important for millions of Shiites than the regular pilgrimage to Mecca for the rest of the Muslims of the planet: according to official Iraqi media, more than 22 million believers took part in the ceremony at the end of the 40-day mourning period following Ashura last year, making this gathering a couple of times more numerous that last year’s Hajj. To coordinate and facilitate the movement of Iranian pilgrims, Tehran sent its representatives to Iraq mere days before the protests broke out. This collaboration and other bilateral contacts between Iraq and Iran that are only getting more numerous are received rather enviously both in Washington and Tel-Aviv.

However, as protests started taking an anti-Iranian turn, Tehran was forced to close two border checkpoints with Iraq (Khosravi and Khazabekh), that are commonly used by Shia traveling to Iraq to visit the shrines of Shia imams.

There’s little doubt that by sabotaging this year’s Shia pilgrimage those forces behind the protests will increase the frustration of the populations of Iraq and Iran. But this is precisely what certain anti-Iranian forces are aspiring to achieve, primarily in the United States and Israel, in order to increase the scale of their military operations in Iraq, while Baghdad is busy dealing with the unrest.

October 7, 2019 Posted by | Deception, Wars for Israel | , , | Leave a comment

The Duplicitous Agenda Endorsed by the UN and NATO

By Ramona Wadi | Strategic Culture Foundation | October 4, 2019

To the undiscerning, the United Nations (UN) and the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO) perform different roles in the international arena. Yet both organisations have a common aim – the promotion of foreign intervention. While the UN promotes its humanitarian façade, NATO provides the militarisation of the UN’s purported human rights agenda.

NATO’s participation at the 74th session of the UN General Assembly in September provided an overview of the current collaboration the organisation has with the UN. Jens Stoltelberg, NATO’s Secretary-General, mentioned the organisations’ collaboration in “working closely to support Afghanistan and Iraq”.

Since the 1990s, the UN and NATO cooperation was based on a framework which included decision-making and strategy on “crisis management and in the fight against terrorism.” In 2001, US President George W Bush launched his ‘War on Terror’ which eventually expanded to leave the Middle East and North Africa in perpetual turmoil, as the coined euphemism morphed into the so-called Arab Spring.

While the invasions of Afghanistan in 2001 and Iraq in 2003 were led by the US, it is worth remembering that the absence of the organisation at that time is not tantamount to the exclusion of warfare from NATO member states. Notably, the US invasion of Afghanistan invoked Article 5 of the NATO treaty, which stipulates that an attack on a NATO member state constitutes an attack on all member states.

“For NATO-UN cooperation and dialogue to remain meaningful, it must continue to evolve.” The statement on NATO’s website is a bureaucratic approach which detaches itself from the human rights violations created and maintained by both parties, which form the premise of such collaboration.

UN Security Council Resolution 1373 (2001), upon which NATO based its collaboration with the UN, reaffirms, “the inherent right of individual or collective self-defence as recognised by the Charter of the United Nations.” The resolution provides impunity for member-states and other collaborators with the UN, including NATO, to define what constitutes terrorism while eliminating foreign intervention as a terror act, despite the ramifications which last long after the aggression has been terminated or minimised.

The UN-NATO duplicity is exposed in Stoltenberg’s speech when he states, “NATO has also contributed to developing UN disposal standards to counter improvised explosive devices, which remain one of the greatest threats to peacekeepers.” Why are the UN and NATO selecting rudimentary forms of warfare over precision bombing which has killed thousands of civilians in the name of fighting terror or bringing democracy?

In 2011, the UNSC’s arms embargo was supposed to prevent the proliferation of weapons to the rebels in Libya – a contradiction given the UNSC’s authorisation for NATO to bomb Libya. France, however, defied the resolution by publicly declaring its proliferation of weapons to rebels in Libya, on the pretext of their necessity to protect Libyan civilians. NATO denied its involvement as an organisation in providing arms to the rebels, despite the fact that action was taken by a NATO member. With the UN endorsing foreign intervention and NATO implementing the atrocities, the UN can fall back on its alleged peace-building and humanitarian roles, of which there is never a decline due to the irreparable damage both organisations have wreaked upon exploited, colonised and ravaged countries. The cooperation lauded by NATO does not rest on a division of roles but rather on blurring the differentiation between war and humanitarianism, in order to generate both as a duplicitous agenda.

NATO maintains that the UNSC holds “primary responsibility” for maintaining international peace and security. What the statement evades is the individual interest of each member, as well as their collective framework as NATO members. To satisfy the UNSC, individual interests and NATO membership, a common denominator is imperative. For the perpetrators of foreign intervention, war constitutes the binding legacy.

October 4, 2019 Posted by | Militarism, Timeless or most popular | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Iraqi PM approves reopening al-Qa’im border crossing with Syria

Press TV – September 28, 2019

Iraqi Prime Minister Adil Abdul-Mahdi has authorized the reopening of the al-Qa’im border crossing with Syria as both countries manage to restore security to the region.

The Iraqi state news agency INA quoted the Arab country’s border agency chief as saying on Friday that the crossing will be opened for travelers and trade on Monday.

The crossing, which connects the town of al-Qa’im in Iraq’s Anbar Province to the Syrian city of Bukamal in Syria’s Dayr al-Zawr Province, was closed in 2013 to support Iraqi forces in their fight against al-Qaeda militants and later Daesh terrorists.

Al-Qa’im and Bukamal lie on a strategic supply route and the crossing between them had only been open to government or military traffic.

The planned opening of the border crossing comes at a time that both Syrian and Iraqi governments have mostly purged their countries of Takfiri terrorist outfits.

In October 2018, the Nassib crossing border crossing between Jordan and Syria opened to people and goods after being closed for three years.

In recent weeks, however, Israel has launched attacks on the pro-government Iraqi military force Popular Mobilization Units (PMU), or Hashd al-Sha’abi, which has been protecting the Arab country’s border from infiltration attempts by foreign-backed Syria Takfiri terrorists.

On Friday, sources in Iraq reported that an unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) struck targets within a base belonging to the Hashd al-Sha’abi on the Syrian border.

Similar attacks have been reported in Bukamal, where members of the Lebanese resistance movement Hezbollah are allegedly helping the Syrian army to secure the crossing and its surrounding areas.

The Israeli attacks are considered an attempt by the regime to prop up Takfiri terrorist outfits that have been suffering heavy defeats in the region.

September 28, 2019 Posted by | Wars for Israel | , | 1 Comment

Bodies of Dead Iraqi Children Test Positive For Radioactive Remnants From US Depleted Uranium Rounds

Sputnik – September 20, 2019

By examining bodies of dead Iraqi children who had congenital birth defects, researchers have proven their conditions were directly related to US bombardment of the country with depleted uranium rounds early in the Iraq War and stores at US bases during the subsequent occupation.

A new study has drawn direct links between the US military’s use of depleted uranium in the Iraq War and congenital birth defects suffered by Iraqi children. Researchers examined the hair and baby teeth of dead Iraqi children near areas of heavy fighting as well as US military bases and found the radioactive element thorium – a telltale sign of uranium of the type used to make depleted uranium rounds.

Depleted uranium is a byproduct of the industrial process used to refine uranium-238 into U-235, which is more suitable for fuel in nuclear power plants. Composed of U-238 that cannot have further U-235 extracted from it, the matter is extremely dense – twice as dense as lead – and when fused with other metals, it makes for a very potent bullet. The US military loves to use “DU” for piercing armor, but also for extra-powerful armor.

Thousands of rounds of DU were used against Iraqi positions during the first year of the Iraq War, which began in early 2003 after the George W. Bush administration, justifying its actions with false intelligence, launched an all-out invasion of the country, arguing that Iraqi President Saddam Hussein had a secret weapons program he intended to use against the United States.

“Once a depleted-uranium round strikes its target, the projectile begins to burn on impact, creating tiny particles of radioactive U-238,” Common Dreams explained. “Winds can transport this radioactive dust many miles, potentially contaminating the air that innocent humans breathe. This inhalation may cause lung cancer, kidney damage, cancers of bones and skin, as well as birth defects and chemical poisoning.”

Mozhgan Savabieasfahani, an independent researcher based in Michigan and a co-author of the study, looked at the hair and teeth of children from villages near Talil Air Base south of Baghdad, which US forces occupied during the counterinsurgency war that raged for almost a decade after the invasion as homegrown resistance to the US occupation grew. She found thorium in them, an element produced by the radioactive decay of U-238.

“We are basically seeing a depleted uranium footprint on these children,” Savabieasfahani told TruthOut in an interview. Her study, which will soon be published in the journal Environmental Pollution, found the children near Talil had 28 times the amount of thorium in their bodies as did children in a control group far from the fighting and who weren’t born with congenital disabilities.

According to United Nations estimates, the US fired up to 2,000 metric tons of DU at targets in Iraq in 2003 alone. The US also used the weapon against Iraq in 1991 during Operation Desert Storm, and a limited number of rounds were also fired back at US forces by the Iraqi army.

However, that’s not the only source of the element in Iraq: vehicles with DU-reinforced armor were brought into the country by the thousands by the Americans, as well as all sorts of aircraft and ground vehicles that used the rounds and for which the bullets had to be stored at US bases.

TruthOut notes that much of this equipment wound up destroyed on the battlefield or rusting in junkyards across the country, leeching the radioactive chemical into the air and water, as well as into the pieces of metal likely harvested by locals to sell for scrap.

“What we see here, and what we imply with this study, is that we could see this very same scenario around every single US military base in Iraq,” Savabieasfahani said. “The exposure of pregnant mothers to the pollutions of war, including uranium and thorium, irreversibly damages their unborn children.”

Citing Iraqi government statistics, MintPress reported in 2014 that the rate Iraqis contracted cancer skyrocketed in the years after the US invasion, from 40 per 100,000 people per year in 1991 to 800 per 100,000 in 1995, to at least 1,600 per 100,000 in 2005.

Iraqi doctors have long voiced concerns about the problem. A 2013 study by Dutch peace group IKV Pax Christi found more than 300 such sites previously identified by the Iraqi government as contaminated with DU, and the US spent between $30 million and $45 million on cleanup at the sites. However, even as late as the 2013 study, observers still saw children playing on the waste heaps and collecting scraps for sale.

“The US must be held responsible and forced to clean up all the sites which it has polluted. Technology exists for the cleanup of radiation contamination,” Savabieasfahani told TruthOut. “The removal and disposal of US-created military junkyards would go a long way toward cleaning toxic releases out of the Iraqi environment.”

September 20, 2019 Posted by | Environmentalism, Timeless or most popular, War Crimes | , | 4 Comments

Iraq Denies Report Drones Attacking Saudi Oil Facilities Were Launched From Its Territory

Sputnik – September 15, 2019

On Saturday Saudi Arabia’s oil facilities were attacked by two drones, causing major fires and disrupting oil production in Abqaiq in the eastern part of the country and in Khurais, northeast of Riyadh. The attacks were claimed by Yemen’s Houthi movement but the US put the blame on Iran. Tehran has refuted the allegations.

Iraq has denied media reports claiming that its territory was used to launch the drones that attacked Saudi Arabia’s oil facilities on Saturday night, a statement from the Iraqi Prime Minister’s press-service released on Twitter says.

“​Iraq denies reports in the press and on social media that its territory was used to attack oil facilities in Saudi Arabia using drones”, the statement reads.

It also says that the constitution of Iraq does not allow the use of its territory for aggressive actions towards its neighbours. The Iraqi authorities have set up a committee to monitor reports and the latest events relating to the drone attack on Saudi Arabia’s oil facilities.

Iraq also urges the warring sides in Yemen to find a peaceful solution to the conflict and refrain from “mutual attacks that cause a huge damage to facilities and claim people’s lives,” according to the statement.

Two drones attacked Saudi Arabia’s oil facilities on Saturday night, causing major fires and disrupting oil production. Yemen’s Houthis claimed responsibility for the attacks but the US has blamed Iran for the incident. Tehran has rejected the allegations.

September 15, 2019 Posted by | Aletho News | , , | 3 Comments

Iraq will respond to Israeli attacks, sees itself in war against Zionist entity: Iraqi MP

Press TV – September 14, 2019

All options are on the table in response to Israel’s recent drone strikes targeting Iraq’s Popular Mobilization Units (PMU), also known as the Hashd al-Sha’abi, according to a leading Iraqi parliamentarian.

Speaking to the Lebanese al-Mayadeen television channel on Saturday, Ahmed al-Asadi, Iraqi Lawmaker and spokesman of the Iraqi Fatah alliance said that Israel’s attacks were certainly “a declaration of war”.

The lawmaker said that Iraq viewed Israel as an occupying entity and as its enemy, adding that no treaty could halt what Iraq saw as its war against the illegitimate state.

Al-Asadi added that the pro-government PMU was part of Iraq’s security establishment and that it would surely have a role in any response to Israel.

He added that the PMU forces were on high alert against drone strikes, adding that the organization is currently negotiating with Russia, China and Iran on obtaining air defense systems in order to defend Iraq’s airspace.

The comments come as the PMU has been the target of a number of aerial strikes attributed to Israel.

Israeli authorities have openly suggested that the Tel Aviv regime may be conducting operations in Iraq, an issue which has been confirmed by American and European officials.

Speaking on Saturday, al-Asadi stressed that investigations into certain recent attacks have revealed the drones’ flight path and where they have been launched from, adding that the attacks had been clearly done with Washington’s oversight.

Referring to American military presence, the Iraqi lawmaker added that the Iraqi parliament is due to discuss foreign troop presence in the country later today.

Al-Asadi suggested that American advisory troop presence could be replaced by forces from other countries, such as Russia, China or European and Latin American countries.

‘Iran is center of regional stability’

Speaking about Iran’s role in Iraq, Al-Asadi said that Iran has a pivotal role in guaranteeing regional stability.

Referring to prominent Iraqi Shia cleric Muqtada al-Sadr’s recent visit to Tehran, al-Asadi said, that as “part of the Resistance, we are pleased to see Sadr alongside Leader of the Islamic Revolution Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei and Major General Qassem Soleimani”, who commands the Quds Force of Iran’s Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC).

The Iraqi parliamentarian also lauded the Lebanese resistance movement Hezbollah for its resistance against Israel, saying that it was a “source of inspiration” for all resistance movements in the region.

Both Washington and Tel Aviv have for long been seeking to counter the emergence of a united front of forces, usually known as the “Resistance Axis”, in the region.

The resistance movement was formed gradually countering foreign-backed terrorism and the US and its allies’ interventions in the region.

September 14, 2019 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, War Crimes | , , , | 1 Comment

‘Hostile news policy’: US-funded Arabic channel exposé unites Iraqi Sunnia & Shia v foreign meddling

RT | September 4, 2019

Iraq’s sectarian political scene is having a rare moment of unity, driven by an unlikely culprit. Recent reporting by a US-funded Middle Eastern news outlet has piqued claims of American meddling in Iraq’s internal affairs.

Alhurra, a US-based and -funded television channel that broadcasts to the Arab world, has landed in hot water with Iraq’s official media watchdog, as well as religious and political leaders, over a report alleging misuse of government funds among Sunni and Shia officials.

Rivals united in outrage

In a 12-minute documentary broadcast this weekend – titled “The Holy Persons of Sacred Corruption in Iraq” – Alhurra reported that Iraqi political figures were personally benefiting from the administration of religious sites and real estate deals involving state funds. The report also posited that Iraq’s highest religious authorities were involved in the corruption, including the Sunni Grand Mufti, Sheikh Mahdi al-Sumaidaie, as well as Shia leader Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani.

Responding to the exposé on Monday, Iraq’s media watchdog, the Communication and Media Commission (CMC), suspended Alhurra’s operations for three months, arguing the report “caused angry reactions in Iraqi public opinion, both official and popular,” and that the outlet sought to “undermine the position” of “highly respected” institutions.

The CMC also slammed Alhurra for reporting “accusations … as credible facts without corroboration from other impartial sources,” and threatened “a tougher punishment” if the “offense is repeated.”

Alhurra stood by its work in a statement on Monday, insisting the report was “fair, balanced and professional,” and added that individuals named in the report were given a chance to respond, “which they declined.”

But religious and political figures both Sunni and Shia lashed out at Alhurra, with some arguing the outlet’s reporting reflects American hostility toward Iraq.

Head of the powerful Shia militia Asaib Ahl al-Haq, Qais al-Khazali, said the Alhurra piece is “a dangerous indication of US foreign policy,” while the largely Shia paramilitary umbrella group Hashd al-Shaabi slammed the outlet for “a hostile news policy,” according to the Lebanese Daily Star.

Parliamentary speaker Mohammed al-Halbousi, who belongs to the Sunni Al-Hal political alliance, also accused the outlet of “abusing state and religious intuitions without checking for accuracy or facts,” according to the National.

Though none of the high profile figures presented any substantial factual challenge to Alhurra’s reporting, this is not the first time the outlet has come under scrutiny.

Perception mismanagement

Founded in 2004 by the US government to combat “negative images” of the United States in the Middle East, Alhurra has more often been a disaster of mismanagement than a slick propaganda outfit. A project of the US Agency for Global Media (USAGM), Alhurra survives on over $112 million in US government funding annually.

The USAGM – which has been described as the “US propaganda arm” – oversees a number of American-backed media projects, including several outlets intended for exclusive foreign consumption, such as Radio Free Europe, Radio Free Asia and Radio y Televisión Martí, which transmits in Spanish to Cuba. Until 2013, many of those stations were forbidden from broadcasting within the United States in order to protect US citizens from government disinformation disseminated abroad.

A joint report by 60 Minutes and ProPublica in 2008 found that American taxpayers had already dropped nearly $500 million propping up Alhurra in its first four years of operation, despite the fact that the outlet’s “reporters and commentators operate with little oversight.”

Alhurra’s first president, Brian Conniff, did not speak a word of Arabic – and therefore could not understand what his own agency was broadcasting – and had no prior experience in journalism, working previously as a government auditor. Conniff was finally replaced in 2017 by former American diplomat Alberto Fernandez, who reportedly does speak the language.

Before taking the job, Fernandez slammed Alhurra for putting “radical Shi’a Islamists” on its payroll, many of them not even Iraqi, and noted the US Embassy in Baghdad complained about the outlet year after year.

The joint investigation also found that Alhurra consisted of “largely foreign staff with little knowledge of the country whose values and policies they were hired to promote,” even as the US federal government continued to pour millions into its coffers. Starting with a $67 million budget in 2004, by 2009 the outlet was taking in $112 million, which it continues to receive every year, despite ongoing mismanagement.

Whether a sophisticated media shop designed to advance US interests in the Middle East, or a poorly-functioning, over-funded wreck of a government program, Alhurra, much like the USAGM’s other foreign media projects, is stirring up trouble abroad. Perhaps it is serving its purpose after all.

September 4, 2019 Posted by | Aletho News | , | 1 Comment

Behind Israel’s Bombing in Iraq’s Heartland

By Giorgio Cafiero – Consortium News – August 28, 2019

Iraq has felt the heat from escalating tensions between the U.S. and Iran this summer as the White House moves ahead with its “maximum pressure” campaign against the Islamic Republic. Also clear is that Israel and Iran’s proxy wars in the region have spilled into Iraq too. Last month, Israel carried out its first attacks on targets in Iraq since Operation Opera on June 7, 1981.

On July 19, Israel struck a target in the Salahuddin governorate, three days before another attack against Camp Ashraf, located within close proximity to Iran. According to al-Ain, the attack against Camp Ashraf killed 40 members of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) and Iranian-sponsored Iraqi Shi’a militiamen. On Aug. 12, a blast occurred at a Popular Mobilization Units (PMU) arms depot in the Iraqi capital, allegedly carried out by an Israeli aircraft and resulting in one death and 29 injuries. Other Israeli attacks followed on the 19 and 25 of August. Several days ago, U.S. officials confirmed that Israelis were indeed behind the July 19 attack in Salahuddin governorate, which was suspected from the beginning.

Such actions highlight how Israel seeks to expand its theater of confrontation with the Iran to Iraq. Put simply, the Israelis are reacting with increasing aggression against the extent of Iranian-sponsored militias in Iraq and elsewhere in the Middle East that provide Tehran greater leverage vis-à-vis Israel.

Pompeo: Not against further Israeli strikes. (YouTube)

Important questions surround the U.S. role in these Israeli attacks against PMU targets in Iraq. It is difficult to imagine how the Trump administration could have not given Israel the green light to carry out these attacks. As Karim al-Alwei, an Iraqi parliamentarian, explained, “the U.S. controls Iraqi air space” thus “no planes, including Iraqi jets or helicopters, can overfly the area without U.S. knowledge or permission.” Only seven months ago, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo reportedly raised the topic of Iranian missiles in the hands of PMU forces in Iraq while meeting with Iraq’s Prime Minister Adel Abdul-Mahdi, stating that Washington would not be against any future Israeli military operations targeting such facilities.

Unclear is whether the Israelis used Syrian, Turkish, or Saudi airspace to reach their targets in Iraq. Regardless, it is a safe bet that the Saudi leadership, which maintains a tacit partnership with Israel largely based on a common  perception of Tehran as a threat to its interests, welcomes such Israeli action in Iraq. As Saudi and Israeli officials see Iranian-sponsored Shi’a militia in Iraq, Syria, and Lebanon as a major threat, the Israeli strikes in Iraq will likely push the Israelis and Saudis even closer together.

 Other Targets of Israel

Tel Aviv has dramatically increased the intensity and reach of its military campaign to weaken Tehran-backed militias in the region, waging attacks not only in Iraq, but also in Syria and Palestine too, as well as recently sending two drones into Lebanon. Into the chaos of Syria the Israelis have carried out many strikes against Iran-related targets since the civil war began in 2011. Yet by attacking targets in Iraq, Israel is showing its determination to expand the theater of its proxy war with Iran.

Although difficult to predict the long-term ramifications of these blasts in Iraq, their impact will likely be destabilizing, given Iraq’s fragile security. A major concern for officials in Baghdad is that in the days, weeks, and months ahead Iraq—as well as its airspace—could be the location of intensified violence as the U.S., Israel, and Iran challenge each other’s actions. Iraq will have a difficult time staying neutral between Washington and Tehran.

Netanyahu: More coming. (Wikimedia Commons)

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Aug 19, “Iran has no immunity, anywhere… we will act and currently are acting against them, wherever it is necessary.” Three days later the Israeli leader went further, suggesting his country was perhaps involved in these attacks in Iraq, declaring, “We are operating in many areas against a state that wants to annihilate us.”

By making such bold moves, Israel is taking major risks. If such attacks continue in Iraq against Tehran-sponsored non-state actors near the Iranian border, Iran will likely respond. Perhaps the Iranians will put air defense capabilities in the hands of Iraqi Shi’a militias to enable such factions to fend off future Israeli attacks. Also possible is that Tehran would  carry out limited strikes in retaliation at a time and place of the Iranian leadership’s choosing, perhaps targeting Israeli positions in the occupied Golan Heights of Syria.

Israeli strikes, which constitute a flagrant violation of Iraq’s sovereignty, may come with major costs for U.S. interests in Iraq. Given that an influential Iran-based Shi’a cleric, Grand Ayatollah Kazim al-Haeri, reacted to such Israeli attacks with a fatwa forbidding America’s military presence from continuing in Iraq, and the fact that many in Iraq and other Arab countries see the U.S. as responsible for Israeli actions against PMU targets, the roughly 5,000 American troops in the country could find themselves in the crosshairs of what has quickly become an escalating Israeli-Iranian proxy war waged in Iraq.

Israel’s bombing of Iraq will have major implications for the Washington-Baghdad relationship too, particularly given that the Iraqi government is attempting to bring the heavily armed Shi’a militias under its control. If the U.S. administration fails to prevent Israel from turning Iraq into more of a battleground in Tel Aviv’s proxy wars with Tehran, Iraq’s fragile stability will be further undermined. Under such circumstances, Iran could quickly capitalize on such conditions to bring Baghdad closer to Tehran at a time in which U.S. influence in Iraq—and the region at large—continues to wane.

Unquestionably, perceptions across Iraq that the U.S. is to blame for Israel’s actions will push more Iraqis to the conclusion that the White House’s “maximum pressure” agenda against Iran is directly undermining Iraq’s basic interests in upholding sovereignty and moving toward a more stable future in which the country is not implicated in greater regional crises involving multiple nations.

Giorgio Cafiero (@GiorgioCafiero) is the CEO of Gulf State Analytics (@GulfStateAnalyt), a Washington-based geopolitical risk consultancy.

August 28, 2019 Posted by | War Crimes, Wars for Israel | , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Iraq would face ‘wrath of US’ if oil pipeline projects with Iran go ahead

RT | August 27, 2019

Washington would do anything to prevent an Iran-Iraq oil pipeline from ever being built, even if the Europeans were in favor, policy researchers told RT.

“Iraq would feel the wrath of the US” should it pursue a cross-border pipeline project with its neighbor Iran, believes the head of the British-based consultancy firm Alfa Energy, John Hall.

According to a recent report, Tehran talked with Baghdad about building an oil pipeline through Iraq into Syria. The sides have also reportedly discussed reviving the existing pipeline connecting Kirkuk in Iraqi Kurdistan with the city of Baniyas on Syria’s Mediterranean coast. The pipeline was heavily damaged by US airstrikes in 2003 and has remained defunct since. The proposed project is said to be aimed at providing an alternative route for Iranian oil should the Strait of Hormuz be closed in case of a direct conflict with the US.

Hall said Washington would be “upset” by this idea and will do all it can to dissuade Baghdad, as well as the EU, from participating.

Although European countries would be happy to buy oil from Iran, they won’t do so because of the threat of retribution from the United States. When you’ve got someone like Donald Trump as the president of the US, it’s very difficult knowing what may follow if Europeans try to engage with Iran across the sanctions.

The situation in civil war-torn Syria “has somewhat stabilized,” Iran and Iraq see “serious opportunities” to explore their energy ties, said Irina Fyodorova, a senior Middle East researcher at the Institute of Oriental Studies at the Russian Academy of Sciences.

“It is not the US’ interest to have a pipeline that would be independent from them and their allies in the Persian Gulf,” she told RT.

It is also against US interests to have an Iran-Iraq cooperation that is outside of their control. So there will be actions aimed at hampering the implementation of this project.

One of the steps Washington and its allies could take is boosting their support for anti-government groups in Syria, she said. The researcher added that another problem for the pipeline would be the US-backed Kurdish forces, should it go from Kirkuk.

EU countries, on the other hand, would like to see new ways to bypass US sanctions on Iranian oil, Fyodorova noted, as “getting the oil through a pipeline would be cheaper than having it delivered by tankers.”

“The Europeans love balancing the books. Moreover, it would be a wonderful alternative to the oil the EU is buying from the US.”

August 27, 2019 Posted by | Economics, War Crimes | , , , , | 3 Comments

Will Bibi’s War Become America’s War?

By Pat Buchanan • Unz Review • August 27, 2019

President Donald Trump, who canceled a missile strike on Iran, after the shoot-down of a U.S. Predator drone, to avoid killing Iranians, may not want a U.S. war with Iran. But the same cannot be said of Bibi Netanyahu.

Saturday, Israel launched a night attack on a village south of Damascus to abort what Israel claims was a plot by Iran’s Revolutionary Guards’ Quds Force to fly “killer drones” into Israel, an act of war.

Sunday, two Israeli drones crashed outside the media offices of Hezbollah in Beirut. Israel then attacked a base camp of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine-General Command in north Lebanon.

Monday, Israel admitted to a strike on Iranian-backed militias of the Popular Mobilization Forces in Iraq. And Israel does not deny responsibility for last month’s attacks on munitions dumps and bases of pro-Iran militias in Iraq.

Israel has also confirmed that, during Syria’s civil war, it conducted hundreds of strikes against pro-Iranian militias and ammunition depots to prevent the transfer of missiles to Hezbollah in Lebanon.

Understandably, Israel’s weekend actions have brought threats of retaliation. Hezbollah Secretary-General Hassan Nasrallah has warned of vengeance for the death of his people in the Syria strike.

Quds Force General Qassem Soleimani reportedly tweeted from Tehran, “These insane operations will be the last struggles of the Zionist regime.” Lebanese President Michel Aoun called the alleged Israeli drone attack on Beirut a “declaration of war.”

Last Friday, in the 71st week of the “Great March of Return” protests on Gaza’s border, 50 Palestinians were wounded by Israeli live fire. In 16 months, 200 have died from gunshots, with thousands wounded.

America’s reaction to Israel’s weekend attacks? Secretary of State Mike Pompeo called Netanyahu to assure him of U.S. support of Israel’s actions. Some Iraqi leaders are now calling for the expulsion of Americans.

Why is Netanyahu now admitting to Israel’s role in the strikes in Lebanon, Syria and Iraq? Why has he begun threatening Iran itself and even the Houthi rebels in Yemen?

Because this longest-serving prime minister in Israeli history, having surpassed David Ben-Gurion, is in the battle of his life, with elections just three weeks off. And if Netanyahu falls short — or fails to put together a coalition after winning, as he failed earlier this year — his career would be over, and he could be facing prosecution for corruption.

Netanyahu has a compelling motive for widening the war against Israel’s main enemy, its allies and its proxies and taking credit for military strikes.

But America has a stake in what Israel is doing as well.

We are not simply observers. For if Hezbollah retaliates against Israel or Iranian-backed militias in Syria retaliate against Israel — or against us for enabling Israel — a new war could erupt, and there would be a clamor for deeper American intervention.

Yet, Americans have no desire for a new war, which could cost Trump the presidency, as the war in Iraq cost the Republican Party the Congress in 2006 and the White House in 2008.

The United States has taken pains to avoid a military clash with Iran for compelling reasons. With only 5,000 troops left in Iraq, U.S. forces are massively outmanned by an estimated 150,000 fighters of the pro-Iran Popular Mobilization Forces, which played a critical role in preventing ISIS from reaching Baghdad during the days of the caliphate.

And, for good reason, the aircraft carrier Abraham Lincoln, with its crew of 5,600, which Trump sent to deter Iran, has yet to enter the Strait of Hormuz or the Persian Gulf but remains in the Arabian Sea off the coast of Oman, and, at times, some 600 nautical miles away from Iran.

Why is this mighty warship keeping its distance?

We don’t want a confrontation in the Gulf, and, as ex-Admiral James Stavridis, former NATO Supreme Allied Commander, says:

“Anytime a carrier moves close to shore, and especially into confined waters, the danger to the ship goes up significantly. … It becomes vulnerable to diesel submarines, shore-launched cruise missiles and swarming attacks by small boats armed with missiles.”

Which is a pretty good description of the coastal defenses and naval forces of Iran.

Netanyahu’s widening of Israel’s war with Iran and its proxies into Lebanon and Iraq — and perhaps beyond — and his acknowledgement of that wider war raise questions for both of us.

Israel today has on and near her borders hostile populations in Gaza, Syria, Lebanon, Iran and Iraq. Tens of millions of Muslims see her as an enemy to be expelled from the region.

While there is a cold peace with Egypt and Jordan, the Saudis and Gulf Arabs are temporary allies as long as the foe is Iran.

Is this pervasive enmity sustainable?

As for America, have we ceded to Netanyahu something no nation should ever cede to another, even an ally: the right to take our country into a war of their choosing but not of ours?

Copyright 2019

August 26, 2019 Posted by | Wars for Israel | , , , , | 3 Comments