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Pompeo Unveils New US Strategy of Attributing Blame for Attacks Before They Have Happened

By Rob Sloan | The Blog Mire | June 14, 2019

Allergy Warning: May contain traces of Nuts & Boltons

The US Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo, has blamed Iran for the deaths of 23 Swedish sailors in an attack on an oil tanker in the Strait of Hormuz. However, in what is said to be an unusual move, the incident referred to by Mr Pompeo hasn’t yet happened and no-one has died. Nonetheless, Mr Pompeo was adamant that Iran must bear responsibility for the future incident, and has vowed a strong response:

“It is the assessment of the US Government that Iran will be responsible for this terrible incident, which could well happen in the next few days or weeks. This possible future attack is a threat to international peace and security, a blatant assault on the freedom of navigation, and an unacceptable escalation of tension by Iran. We cannot let this possible attack go unanswered.”

Whilst making an accusation before an incident has taken place took some by surprise, according to an unnamed official in the Trump administration, it is a necessary step to defend the international rules based system from the increasing lawlessness of a number of states around the world:

“For some time, we’ve been making intelligence assessments just a few hours after incidents, long before the evidence is in, and using words like ‘probable’ and ‘highly likely’. But while this has been a useful tool, it’s become clear recently that it really doesn’t go far enough. What the Secretary of State said today is a necessary step, and it sends out a clear message to our adversaries: not only do we not need any evidence before we make our accusations; from now on we put you on notice that we don’t even need an incident.”

The move has been welcomed by the British Government, who issued a statement about the non-attack on the Swedish Tanker.

“It is almost certain that a branch of the Iranian military — the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps — will be responsible for the possible attack on the Swedish oil tanker which could happen at some point. No other state or non-state actor could plausibly be responsible for such future attacks. We condemn in the strongest terms what it is highly likely that Iran almost certainly might do, and we stand shoulder to shoulder with the US in condemning this destabilising behaviour that Iran could potentially take.”

According to a US State Department official, Mr Pompeo, who recently admitted to lying, stealing and cheating when director of the CIA, is considering a number of other pre-emptive accusations over the coming weeks. These include condemnation of a possible chemical weapons attack carried out by the Syrian Government next year; plus the discovery of some hidden dead ducks in the English City of Salisbury. According to a source at the New York Times, the CIA director, Gina Haspel, is currently working with British Intelligence to prepare pictures of the ducks to show to President Trump, who is apparently unaware of what ducks, especially dead ones, look like.

When we contacted the Swedish Foreign office to get their reaction to Mr Pompeo’s pre-emptive claims, they said that none of their tankers had been attacked, no Swedish sailors had died and that launching accusations without even an incident, let alone evidence of responsibility, was “deeply unhelpful” to international relations. However, after receiving a phone call from John Bolton, they called us back to say that they now wholeheartedly agree with Mr Pompeo’s statement, are truly sorry for what they said before, and stand shoulder to shoulder with the US in defending the international rules based system. They also condemned Iran for attacking its ship and killing its sailors, which it hasn’t done yet but could well do at some point.

June 15, 2019 Posted by | Timeless or most popular | | 1 Comment

Washington Needs New Mindset for a US-Russia Reset

Strategic Culture Foundation | May 17, 2019

As the old saying goes, it’s good to talk. US Secretary Mike Pompeo was cordially received this week by Russian President Vladimir Putin and Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov in the Black Sea resort of Sochi.

Pompeo spoke of repairing the frayed bilateral relations and of finding “common ground” between the US and Russia on a range of pressing international issues. President Putin also said he aspired for much better relations between the two countries, and pointed out that the world’s biggest nuclear powers have an onerous obligation to cooperate.

Indeed, the issue of arms control was reportedly a top agenda item in lengthy discussions between Putin and Pompeo, and separately with Lavrov. Both sides expressed willingness to work on negotiating new controls and on extending the New Start treaty concerning strategic nuclear weapons which is due to expire in 2021. After the US unilaterally suspended its participation in the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces treaty earlier this year, amid dubious accusations against Russia for breaching the treaty, the stated willingness by Pompeo to return to negotiations is welcome.

On several other issues, the US and Russian sides clashed over differences. Russia defended the sovereign right of Venezuela to be free from Washington’s interference. Lavrov called for dialogue in the South American country as the way forward to resolve political conflict, not for Washington to “impose” its will on the Venezuelan people.

The Russian side also warned against further escalation of military tensions by the US towards Iran, reiterating the importance of respecting the 2015 international nuclear accord, which Washington unilaterally abrogated last year.

In principle, having sharp differences and opposing views is not a problem. Diplomacy is all about robust exchange of views and criticisms. At least, Pompeo’s engagement with Moscow shows that the Trump administration is willing to build on diplomatic relations based on mutual respect.

Earlier this month, Presidents Trump and Putin held a constructive phone call which no doubt helped set the agenda for discussions this week. There are further meetings planned between Lavrov and Pompeo at next month’s G20 summit in Japan. The White House has also said that during the summit, Trump is open to meeting with Putin. The Kremlin responded positively to that offer. It would be the first meeting between the two leaders since their summit in Helsinki last July.

This cordial outreach is encouraging, especially given the past two years of relentless political and media antagonism from the American side towards Russia and Putin in particular, with the latter vilified for allegedly orchestrating Kremlin interference in the 2016 US presidential elections. Trump has always scoffed at those claims as a demeaning slur fabricated by his domestic political enemies. Moscow, of course, has consistently slammed the accusations as baseless slander. Given that a two-year investigation into the matter by special counsel and former FBI chief Robert Mueller concluded that there was “no Russian conspiracy”, that would seem to be a vindication of both Trump and Russia, and the end of the whole tawdry matter. Time to move on.

However, that’s why the additional comments on alleged Russian interference by Pompeo this week were jarring and disconcerting. He reportedly warned President Putin about not interfering in US elections “again” and for Russia to demonstrate “that it was a thing of the past”. Such an attitude from Trump’s top diplomat is reprehensible. The irony is that the Trump administration has been assailed with false claims of Russian collusion, and yet here was Pompeo spouting the same nonsense to his Russian hosts, instead of seizing the opportunity to get on with real, pressing issues of utmost importance.

Perhaps Pompeo was anticipating the furious anti-Russia media reaction back in the US where a plethora of commentators decried his otherwise convivial meeting with Putin. The fact that large sections of the mainstream US media did ham up ridiculous insults about “collusion” shows that there is a deep-seated pernicious Russophobia among the American establishment. Pompeo appears to be susceptible to owning similar pejorative views on Russia, if he can still articulate the scurrilous notion of electoral interference.

That is a troubling sign of dim prospects for a restored relationship. Pompeo’s remarks about “not interfering again” illustrates how ingrained the notion is in Washington that Russia meddled in American affairs. If Washington persists in this fundamentally Russophobic delusion, then the prospects for normal bilateral relations are indeed limited.

If one side has such a paranoid and delusional view of the other side, then the scope for a productive dialogue on other matters is badly hampered.

A genuine reset in US-Russia relations will require a sea-change in the political mindset in Washington. Cold War thinking should be “the thing of the past” not the tedious repetition of slander against Russia.

President Trump seems willing to make a fresh start with Russia. Maybe he ought to think about shaking up his diplomatic corps with some reasonable people who don’t just regurgitate Russophobic nonsense.

May 17, 2019 Posted by | Deception, Russophobia | , | Leave a comment

Kim Jong-un May be The World’s Most Strategic Head of State

By Adam Garrie | EurasiaFuture | April 18, 2019

Last night it was confirmed that the DPRK tested a new tactical guided weapon. While this particular weapon does not violate the agreement by Pyongyang to refrain from testing ICMBs and nuclear warheads during the course of the peace process, it would be impossible to argue that the test is unrelated to the public disappointment that Kim Jong-un has voiced at the lack of progress on sanctions relief in the aftermath of the largely uneventful Hanoi summit between himself and Donald Trump.

Thus, the DPRK was able to show that it continues to develop its domestic defence industry while remaining committed to the letter of the no-ICMB/no-nuclear testing agreements which have thus far provided a foundation for the ongoing peace process. At the same time, the test is an indication that Kim Jong-un was not bluffing when he gave until the end of 2019 as a deadline for progress in the ongoing peace process before his country would examine alternative paths forward.

But most importantly was the timing. On the morning of the 18th (Washington D.C. time) it was known that the full contents of the Robert Mueller report would be made public (minus certain redactions). Because US Attorney General Barr’s previous summery of the report made it clear that the US President has been exonerated by Mueller, Kim would have known that Donald Trump’s spirits would likely be up as the entire world will now get to read first hand that the man many thought would destroy Trump has ended up vindicating much of what Trump has said over the last three years.

This is crucial for two reasons. First of all, in his recent speech, Kim indicated that while the last few months have seen a downturn in DPRK-US relations, his personal relationship with Donald Trump remains strong. Later, Trump agreed that he has a highly friendly relationship with Kim Jong-un and that he takes an optimistic view on the overall prospects of a successful peace process.

As such, Kim made it clear that yesterday’s new missile test was not intended to embarrass Trump personally. Because Kim and his colleagues (like the rest of the world) will have known that the public release of the Mueller report was coming within hours, Kim could have and self-evidently did use deductive reasoning to assume that short of a world war breaking out, all of US media would be totally fixated on reading and analysing the Mueller report throughout the 18th of April. On a slower news day, the DPRK’s missile test would have otherwise been headline news.

In this sense, Kim was able to make his point but do so in a matter made subtle due to the fact that the weapons test was going to necessarily be obscured by what for Americans is a bigger news story. The DPRK also used this opportunity to reiterate that far from having a problem with Trump, it is Secretary of State Mike Pompeo who Pyongyang views as the main obstacle to progress in the peace talks.

When taken as a whole, the events of the last 24 hours have revealed Kim to be not only a master of grace under pressure but more importantly, a master of combining important messages with a subtle delivery that avoids inflaming the situation.

The stagnation within the peace process since the Hanoi summit may well have made the DPRK’s new missile test inevitable but Kim Jong-un’s understanding of America’s internal political situation has helped to minimise any potentially negative fall out from Washington within the framework of a delicate and extremely important ongoing peace process.

April 19, 2019 Posted by | Aletho News | , , , | 1 Comment

Pompeo Turns Reality Upside Down

By Philip M. GIRALDI | Strategic Culture Foundation | 17.01.2019

The speech made by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo at the American University in Cairo on January 10th deserves more attention than it has received from the US media. In it, Pompeo reveals his own peculiar vision of what is taking place in the Middle East, to include the impact of his own personal religiosity, and his belief that Washington’s proper role in the region is to act as “a force for good.” The extent to which the Secretary of State was speaking for himself was not completely clear, but the text of the presentation was posted on the State Department website without any qualification, so one has to assume that Pompeo was representing White House policy.

Pompeo immediately set the stage for what was to follow, asserting in his first several paragraphs that “This trip is especially meaningful for me as an evangelical Christian… In my office, I keep a Bible open on my desk to remind me of God and His Word, and The Truth. And it’s the truth, lower-case ‘t,’ that I’m here to talk about today. It is a truth that isn’t often spoken in this part of the world, but because I’m a military man by training, I’ll be very blunt and direct today: America is a force for good in the Middle East.”

Pompeo and Vice President Mike Pence are quite likely the two most prominent Evangelical Christians in the Donald Trump Administration. Further, the two are Christian Zionists, which means that the return of the Jews to the Middle East is an essential precursor component of their belief that certain steps must be taken to bring about the second coming of Christ. Some Christian Zionists believe that the second coming is imminent, but whether or not that is true of Pence and Pompeo, they nevertheless share the conviction that the state of Israel must be protected at all costs, a view that certainly shapes their policy recommendations regarding the Middle East. And that view also has an impact on policy towards Israel’s neighbors, with Iran in particular being vilified as the purely evil foe, a “cancerous influence,” that will be destroyed in the great battle of Armageddon which will lead to the second coming and the rapture of all good Christians into Heaven.

Beyond that, Pompeo sought in his speech to disparage the Middle Eastern policy of Donald Trump’s predecessor Barack Obama and to make clear that something fresh and exciting has arrived in its place. He said that the United States had been “absent too much” to help friends in the Middle East. “Why? Because our leaders gravely misread our history, and your historical moment. These fundamental misunderstandings, set forth in this city in 2009, adversely affected the lives of hundreds of millions of people in Egypt and all across the region. Remember: It was here, here in this city, that another American stood before you. He told you that radical Islamist terrorism does not stem from an ideology. He told you that 9/11 led my country to abandon its ideals, particularly in the Middle East. He told you that the United States and the Muslim world needed, quote, ‘a new beginning,’ end of quote. The results of these misjudgments have been dire.”

Along the way Pompeo trots out a lot of half-truths and even completely fabricated lies, saying that America’s “timidity” had let to the rise of ISIS, had enabled Iran’s government to crush the “Green Revolution,” had freed Tehran to interfere all over the region, had allowed Hezbollah to accumulate a massive arsenal to threaten Israel, and had permitted Bashar al-Assad to kill his own people with chemical weapons. And worst of all, there was a false desire for peace that led to “a [nuclear] deal with Iran, our common enemy.”

Pompeo concludes from the record of calamities that “So today, what did we learn from all of this? We learned that when America retreats, chaos often follows. When we neglect our friends, resentment builds. And when we partner with enemies, they advance… The good news is this: The age of self-inflicted American shame is over, and so are the policies that produced so much needless suffering. Now comes the real new beginning. In just 24 months, actually less than two years, the United States under President Trump has reasserted its traditional role as a force for good in this region.”

Apart from the histrionics, the speech was clearly intended to deliver a simple political message to the audience and particularly to the Egyptian and Gulf governments. By asserting a “force for good” mandate, Pompeo was actually telling all the autocratic regimes in the Middle East that they can do whatever they want as long as they hate Iran.

To be sure, Pompeo’s speech contained a number of lines that might be considered attempts at humor given the absurdity of some of the claims being made. He said “For those who fret about the use of American power, remember this: America has always been, and always will be, a liberating force, not an occupying power. We’ve never dreamed of domination in the Middle East. Can you say the same about Iran?” Actually, you could say exactly that about Iran, which hasn’t occupied anyone since the seventeenth century. It is the US that has land, sea and air power based all over the region while also fighting wars in Afghanistan, Iraq and Syria. It is America’s best friend and ally Israel that is occupying Palestine.

But the best line was towards the end, “And in Yemen, we will continue to work for a lasting peace. And I think this is clear, but it is worth reiterating: The United States fully supports Israel’s right to defend itself against the Iranian regime’s aggressive adventurism. We will continue to ensure that Israel has the military capacity to do so decisively.”

As Yemen is achieving peace through American bombs supplied to the Saudis while “ally” Israel is the most persistent aggressor in the Middle East second only to Washington, it is ludicrous to think that America in some way has become a “force for good.” Tell that to the Libyans whose prosperous state was reduced to anarchy by American bombing and support of terrorist groups. Visit Fallujah or Raqqa, or what’s left of them. US forces and sanctions have killed 1.7 million Iraqi civilians, including 500,000 children. By one estimate, as many as 4 million Muslims have died as a direct or indirect consequence of America’s wars in Asia since 1990. US ally Saudi Arabia meanwhile bombs Yemeni schools, buses, and hospitals, starving children as part of a major humanitarian catastrophe, while Israel attacks Syria nearly on a daily basis.

It should be terrifying to learn that Mike Pompeo has an open Bible on his desk, particularly as he seems disinclined to read the New Testament part with its message of love and forgiveness. Now the White House appears to be entering into a new America as a “force for good” phase that relies on naked aggression and collective punishment for those who do not choose to submit. And, per Pompeo, God is on our side.

January 17, 2019 Posted by | Illegal Occupation, Militarism, Timeless or most popular, War Crimes, Wars for Israel | , , | 2 Comments

A Reuters Report on Iran That Fueled US Diatribes

By Ivan Kesic | Consortium News | December 27, 2018

When U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo gave speeches about mega corruption in Iran this year, he did not cite a Reuters’ 2013 article or give credit to its three reporters; Steve Stecklow, Babak Dehghanpisheh and Yeganeh Torbati.

Instead he presented it as the kind of specialized knowledge that only a high-ranking official such as himself might be in a position to reveal. “Not many people know this,” Pompeo told an audience gathered last July at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Foundation and Library in Simi Valley, California, “but the Ayatollah Khamenei has his own personal, off-the-books hedge fund called the Setad, worth $95 billion, with a B.” Pompeo went on to tell his audience that Khamenei’s wealth via Setad was untaxed, ill-gotten, and used as a “slush fund” for the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps.

But a comparison between the 5-year-old Reuters article and Pompeo’s speech, which was lauded by The Wall Street Journal’s editorial board as “truth telling,” shows a type of symbiosis that could only help cast a backward glow over President Donald Trump’s move, last summer, to reimpose all sanctions lifted by the Obama’s administration’s historic nuclear deal with Iran.

The imprint of the Reuters article on Pompeo’s speech was obvious in an anecdote about the travails of an elderly woman living in Europe. “The ayatollah fills his coffers by devouring whatever he wants,” Pompeo said. “In 2013 the Setad’s agents banished an 82-year-old Baha’i woman from her apartment and confiscated the property after a long campaign of harassment. Seizing land from religious minorities and political rivals is just another day at the office for this juggernaut that has interests in everything from real estate to telecoms to ostrich farming.”

The 82-year-old Baha’i woman living in Europe clearly matches Pari Vahdat-e-Hagh, a woman the Reuters team put at the very start of their extensive, three-part investigation. Here’s how the Reuters article begins: “The 82-year-old Iranian woman keeps the documents that upended her life in an old suitcase near her bed. She removes them carefully and peers at the tiny Persian script.”

While tapping the human-interest aspects of the story, Pompeo’s speech steered clear of some of the qualifications that the Reuters reporters and editors injected into their general profile of corruption. Pompeo referred to Khamenei using Setad as a “personal hedge fund,” for instance, suggesting personal decadence on the part of the Iranian leader. But the Reuters team was careful to note that it had found no evidence of Khamenei putting the assets to personal use. “Instead, Setad’s holdings underpin his power over Iran.”

While stipulating that Khamenei’s greed was not for money but for power, the Reuters team neglected something of timely and possibly greater relevance. Earlier that same year the U.S. admitted its own longstanding greed for power over this foreign country.

Final CIA Admission

In August 2013—three months before the Reuter’s article was published—the CIA finally admitted its role in the 1953 Iranian coup. “Marking the sixtieth anniversary of the overthrow of Iranian Prime Minister Mohammad Mosaddeq, the National Security Archive is today posting recently declassified CIA documents on the United States’ role in the controversial operation. American and British involvement in Mosaddeq’s ouster has long been public knowledge, but today’s posting includes what is believed to be the CIA’s first formal acknowledgement that the agency helped to plan and execute the coup,” the archive said.

This U.S. aggression led directly to two phases of property confiscation in Iran: first under the Shah and then under the religious fundamentalists who overthrew him. Unaccountably, however, the Reuters team ignored the CIA admission so relevant to their story.

To its credit, the Reuters article does allude, early on, to the two inter-related periods of property confiscation in Iran. “How Setad came into those assets also mirrors how the deposed monarchy obtained much of its fortune – by confiscating real estate,” the article says. But that sentence only functions as a muffled disclaimer since the team makes no effort to integrate that history into the laments of people such as Pari Vahdat-e-Hagh, who emotionally drives the story.

Dubious Figure

For anyone familiar with the history of property confiscations in Iran, this ex-pat widow is a dubious figure. In the article, she claims that she lost three apartments in a multi-story building in Tehran, “built with the blood of herself and her husband.” She also says her late husband Hussein was imprisoned in 1981 because he began working for a gas company that had been set up to assist unemployed members of the Baha’i faith, and finally executed a year later.

The suggestion is that he was killed as part of a widespread persecution of Bahai’i followers.

What the Reuters reporters and editors omitted to mention, however, is that Hussein had been a  lieutenant in the military regime of Mohammad Reza Shah Pahlavi; the last shah of Iran who was overthrown by the uprising of 1979.

The Shah’s name has become so intertwined with UK and U.S. meddling in Iran that his role in setting a pro-western foreign policy is mentioned in the opening sentence of the Encyclopedia Brittanica entry on him. But the Reuters article places this mention at the end of the story, as deep background. By the time the team discloses the Shah’s penchant for confiscating property and flagrant corruption, the reader is in the third section of a three-part article. By that time, the elderly Vahdat-e-Hagh has come and gone. By then, she has cemented herself in the reader’s imagination as an unequivocal victim, even though some obvious questions about her should occur to anyone familiar with the country’s history.

How, for instance, did she and her husband come to own such significant property at the center of Iran’s capital city? Under the Pahlavi regime, most military personnel were provided with one apartment, not three. In the article, Vahdat-e-Hagh says that she and her husband obtained the property themselves, so presumably they did not inherit it. Could her late husband, Hussein, have been of high importance to the Shah’s U.S.-backed regime, which was famous for its lavish handouts to special loyalists?

Such questions float over the article, not only about this particular subject, but many others who are presented to dramatize the ayatollah’s misdeeds. Several sources appear as human rights “experts” and lawyers. They are all Iranians living abroad and many have controversial biographical details that go unmentioned. There are similar well-known credibility issues with people who are introduced as respectable scholars and politicians.

The article offers the story of another aggrieved Baha’i family without ever mentioning how such people, in general, had lost property during the Shah’s White Revolution of 1963 which was intended to weaken those classes that supported the traditional system, primarily landed elites.

One obvious problem with the article is the distance of the three Reuters journalists from the scene of their story. They are based in New York, London and Dubai and do not reveal their information-gathering methods about Iran, a country that admits very few foreign reporters. So far, Yeganeh Torbati, the reporter who presumably wrote the first, human-interest part of the story, has not responded to a message to her Facebook account seeking comment. Nor has she responded to an email. Torbati, now based in Washington, was based in Dubai in 2013.

Story with Long Legs  

In the years since its publication, the Reuters article has been bubbling up in book citations. Suzanne Maloney mentioned it in her 2015 book “Iran’s Political Economy since the Revolution” as did Misagh Parsa in “Democracy in Iran: Why It Failed and How It Might Succeed” published in 2016.

This year Pompeo relied on it in four speeches. Two books published in 2018 place some weight on the Reuters article: “Challenging Theocracy: Ancient Lessons for Global Politics” by David Tabachnick, Toivo Koivukoski and Herminio Meireles Teixeira; and “Losing Legitimacy: The End of Khomeini’s Charismatic Shadow and Regional Security” by Clifton W. Sherrill.

The name Setad, which means “headquarters” in Farsi, has been kicking around Washington for five years, ever since the U.S. imposed sanctions on the group. In June of 2013, the U.S. Treasury Department issued a press release about Setad and its subsidiaries, with a long list of Persian-named properties that were managing to avoid UN sanctions imposed on the country’s business dealings as a means of discouraging Iran’s enrichment of nuclear-weapon grade uranium.

Six months later, in November, Reuters published its extensive, three-part investigative package, which now tops Google searches for “Setad.”

The report was the first piece of important follow-up journalism on the U.S. Treasury press release. But in one key piece of wording, editors and reporters almost seem to be straining to move their story ahead of the government’s rendition, to the primary position it now holds in Google search-terms.

“Washington,” according to the article, “had acknowledged Setad’s importance.” Acknowledged? By journalistic conventions that Reuters editors would certainly know, an acknowledgement indicates a reluctant admission, something a source would rather not reveal. Five months earlier, however, the Treasury Department sounded eager to call attention to Setad as “a massive network of front companies hiding assets on behalf of … Iran’s leadership.”

For hardliners on Iran, the U.S. Treasury press release was important fodder. But it lacked the human drama necessary to stir an audience against the current regime.  When the Reuters article came along, with all its historical omissions, it filled that gap.

December 28, 2018 Posted by | Deception, Fake News, Mainstream Media, Warmongering | , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Iraq officially rejects US claim of Iran role in Basra violence

Press TV – October 4, 2018

Iraq’s Foreign Ministry has dismissed accusations by the United States that Iran is to blame for recent violence — including through alleged militant groups — in the southern Iraqi city of Basra, where Washington recently closed its consulate.

“There are no forces or military groups in Iraq that receive orders from abroad, whether from Iran or from another country,” said Iraq’s Foreign Ministry spokesman Ahmad Mahjoub in Washington on Wednesday, according The Washington Times.

He was speaking during a round-table discussion with reporters held at the Iraqi Embassy in the US capital, where he is on a trip to hold talks with US officials.

Mahjoub said Iraqi authorities were “surprised” by Washington’s recent decision to withdraw American personnel from the US consulate in Basra following an apparent rocket attack at the diplomatic perimeter.

“We were surprised that our American friends withdrew their staff from the US consulate.” He said, adding that Baghdad was “committed to protecting all foreign missions in Basra.”

Earlier, on Friday, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo had blamed Iran for the violence in Basra and the emergency evacuation of US personnel from there, as well as for alleged security threats to the Americans stationed at the US Embassy in Baghdad.

“The United States will hold Iran directly responsible for any harm to Americans or to our diplomatic facilities in Iraq or elsewhere and whether perpetrated by Iranian forces directly or by associated proxy militias,” he said.

Mahjoub, the Iraqi Foreign Ministry spokesman, implied that Pompeo was getting his information from unreliable sources.

“I’m not aware of the source of the information that Secretary Pompeo has regarding the Iranian role in the threats against the US consulate in Basrah,” he said. “We also regret that the Iranian Consulate was attacked during these demonstrations.”

He was referring to an attack on the Iranian diplomatic mission in the city last month.

Mahjoub said “it’s good” that the Iranian Consulate was now “back to work” in the city.

US official seems to discount Pompeo’s remarks

Meanwhile, US Army Col. Sean Ryan, the spokesman for the US-led military coalition to purportedly battle Daesh in Iraq, seemed to discount Pompeo’s allegation against Iran.

“It (the attack) may have been the work of local protesters, angered over the lack of much-needed government services and rampant corruption among the city’s leaders, rather than an organized paramilitary force,” he told reporters on Tuesday, also according to The Washington Times.

Col. Ryan further said that American forces with the US Central Command, as well as those tied to the coalition, were planning to assist in the evacuation of US personnel from Basra.

Iran has already dismissed any role in the violence in Basra, stressing that it has been a victim of that violence itself.

“Iran was in fact the victim of activities by violent and mercenary groups, which took orders from their enablers hostile to Iran, for the attack on the Iranian Consulate [in Basra],” Iranian Foreign Ministry Spokesman Bahram Qassemi said on Monday.

Mahjoub said the Iraqi government had sent in security forces to ensure security in Basra.

October 4, 2018 Posted by | Militarism | , | Leave a comment

With eye on Pompeo, Zarif reaches New York

By M K Bhadrakumar | Indian Punchline | April 23, 2018

As the May 12 deadline draws close for Trump to waive the sanctions against Iran, as required under the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action or (JCPOA), Tehran has carried the war of words into the enemy camp. Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif arrived in New York over the weekend on a six-day visit, ostensibly to attend High-Level Meeting on Peace-building and Sustaining Peace at the United Nations on April 24-25.

But in reality he is on a Track 1.5 mission to reach out to the US audience as well as to be simply available on call on American soil through next week when the leaders of two key allies of the US – French President Emmanuel Macron an German Chancellor – are scheduled to meet Trump in Washington to discuss policy options with regard to the JCPOA, amongst other things.

The big question is whether President Donald Trump would instruct his top officials to establish direct contact with Zarif in New York on the sidelines of the UN meet. Tehran is drawing encouragement from the remarks last Thursday by Mike Pompeo, CIA Director and Secretary of State-designate at his confirmation hearing in the US Senate.

Pompeo told the US senators, “I want to fix this (JCPOA) deal. That’s the objective. I think that’s in the best interests.” Alongside, he acknowledged that Iran was not pursuing a nuclear weapon program even before the nuclear deal; nor will it be in future. Pompeo emphasized that as CIA Director, he didn’t find any evidences that Iran violated the nuclear deal and he believes that Tehran cannot expand its program even shortly after a hypothetical US withdrawal from the JCPOA. Even more intriguing was Pompeo’s remark,

  • If there’s no chance that we can fix it (nuclear deal), I will recommend to the president that we do our level best to work with our allies to achieve a better outcome and a better deal. Even after May 12, there’s still much diplomatic work to be done.

Pompeo signaled that Trump may not make a final decision by the May 12 deadline and may instead opt to continue the consultations with European allies with a view to “fixing the flaws of the JCPOA”.

A commentary in the influential Tehran Times noted on Saturday that “the White House hasn’t come to a determined and clear decision on how to deal with the JCPOA yet,” The Iranians never branded Trump as a one-dimensional man. Besides, Tehran is greatly experienced in moving past US rhetoric.

Zarif fired his opening salvo soon after reaching New York when he told CBS’ Face the Nation moderator Margaret Brennan in a fascinating interview that Tehran has kept a number of options ready, “including options that would involve resuming (the nuclear program) at a much greater speed,” but will “make the necessary decision when we see fit.” (Full transcript is here.)

Zarif underscored that Tehran cannot be expected to “unilaterally and one-sidedly implement the deal.” Plainly put, Iran will not accept any unilateral move to scrap the JCPOA. President Hassan Rouhani has also warned from Tehran that the range of Iran’s policy options include “what they (US) cannot imagine.”

Interestingly, Zarif also told the CBS that Tehran is open to a prisoner swap if there is a “change of attitude” on the part of the US. Zarif said, “The United States needs to approach this from a position of dealing with another sovereign government. And if that approach led to change, then the United States would see a difference.”

Pressed by Brennan on whether the Iranians were open to an exchange, Zarif offered an opening: “It is a possibility, certainly from a humanitarian perspective, but it requires a change in attitude.” Zarif just signaled that he’s ready to meet with American counterparts.

Trump has a job cut out for Pompeo. To be sure, Israel must be panicking.

April 23, 2018 Posted by | Wars for Israel | , , , , , , | 1 Comment

CIA Boss Claims Russia Poised to Meddle in Yet Another US Election

Sputnik – January 30, 2108

Despite the fact that the ongoing US investigation into the alleged Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential campaign has failed to produce any tangible results, a top American intelligence official now says that Moscow “will continue” to try and influence elections in the United States.

Mike Pompeo, Director of the US Central Intelligence Agency, has claimed that there has not been a “significant decrease” in Russian activity in the US, and that Moscow may now attempt to interfere with the upcoming congressional midterm elections in November.

“I have every expectation that they [the Russians] will continue to try and do that but I’m confident that America will be able to have a free and fair election [and] that we will push back in a way that is sufficiently robust that the impact they have on our election won’t be great,” Pompeo told the BBC.

The CIA head also claimed that Russia is an adversary rather than an ally, despite the ongoing cooperation between Moscow and Washington in the fight against terrorism.

Earlier in January Pompeo made a similar claim on Face the Nation Sunday, expressing his concerns about the “many foes who want to undermine Western democracy” and insisting that Russia has been allegedly interfering in the American elections “for decades.”

At the same time, retired CIA officer turned political activist Ray McGovern has unveiled proof of attempts by members of the US intelligence community to influence the outcome of the 2016 presidential election.

In 2017 the US Congress launched four separate probes into the alleged Russian meddling during the election, including the investigations run by the Senate Intelligence and Judiciary committees and the House’s Intelligence and Oversight panels.

Moscow has repeatedly denied the allegations of collusion, while US President Donald Trump described the probe as the “single greatest witch hunt” in US history.

Former Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort and his deputy Rick Gates were indicted in October for charges unrelated to Trump’s campaign and the election, while former White House National Security Adviser Michael Flynn was charged by Special Counsel Robert Mueller for lying to the FBI about a meeting he had with a Russian ambassador.

Former policy adviser to the Trump campaign George Papadopoulos was also charged with providing false statements to the FBI regarding his interactions with foreign nationals.

The US intelligence community has also released an assessment alleging they had “high confidence” Russia meddled in last year’s US presidential election. The community’s report claimed that Moscow conspired to get Trump elected as president and to undermine faith in the US democratic process.

READ MORE:

US House Intel Committee Will Release Memo on FBI’s Trump Campaign Surveillance

January 30, 2018 Posted by | Deception, Fake News, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Russophobia | , , | 1 Comment

Where Was CIA’s Pompeo on Syria?

President Trump meeting with his advisers at his estate in Mar-a-Lago on April 6, 2017
By Robert Parry | Consortium News | April 8, 2017

There is a dark mystery behind the White House-released photo showing President Trump and more than a dozen advisers meeting at his estate in Mar-a-Lago after his decision to strike Syria with Tomahawk missiles: Where is CIA Director Mike Pompeo and other top intelligence officials?

Before the photo was released on Friday, a source told me that Pompeo had personally briefed Trump on April 6 about the CIA’s belief that Syrian President Bashar al-Assad was likely not responsible for the lethal poison-gas incident in northern Syria two days earlier — and thus Pompeo was excluded from the larger meeting as Trump reached a contrary decision.

At the time, I found the information dubious since Trump, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and other senior U.S. officials were declaring quite confidently that Assad was at fault. Given that apparent confidence, I assumed that Pompeo and the CIA must have signed off on the conclusion of Assad’s guilt even though I knew that some U.S. intelligence analysts had contrary opinions, that they viewed the incident as either an accidental release of chemicals or an intentional ploy by Al Qaeda rebels to sucker the U.S. into attacking Syria.

As strange as the Trump administration has been in its early months, it was hard for me to believe that Trump would have listened to the CIA’s views and then shooed the director away from the larger meeting before launching a military strike against a country not threatening America.

After the strike against Syria by 59 Tomahawk missiles, which Syrian officials said killed seven people including four children, Trump gave a speech to the American people declaring flatly:

“On Tuesday, Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad launched a horrible chemical weapons attack on innocent civilians. Using a deadly nerve agent, Assad choked out the lives of helpless men, women, and children. It was a slow and brutal death for so many. Even beautiful babies were cruelly murdered in this very barbaric attack. No child of God should ever suffer such horror.”

As much as Trump stood to benefit politically by acting aggressively in attacking Syria — and thus winning praise even from his harshest critics — the idea that he would ignore the views of the U.S. intelligence community on an issue of war or peace was something that I found hard to believe.

So, I put aside what I had heard from the source about the discordant Pompeo-Trump meeting as the sort of tidbit that may come from someone who lacks first-hand knowledge and doesn’t get all the details right.

After all, in almost every similar situation that I had covered over decades, the CIA Director or the Director of National Intelligence has played a prominent role in decisions that depend heavily on the intelligence community’s assessments and actions.

For instance, in the famous photo of President Obama and his team waiting out the results of the 2011 raid to kill Al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden, CIA Director Leon Panetta is the one on the conference screen that everyone is looking at.

Even when the U.S. government is presenting false information, such as Secretary of State Colin Powell’s 2003 speech laying out the bogus evidence of Iraq hiding WMDs, CIA Director George Tenet was seated behind Powell to lend credibility to the falsehoods.

At the Table

But in the photo of Trump and his advisers, no one from the intelligence community is in the frame. You see Trump, Secretary of State Tillerson, National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster, White House chief of staff Reince Priebus, strategic adviser Steve Bannon, son-in-law Jared Kushner and a variety of other officials, including some economic advisers who were at Mar-a-Lago in Florida for the meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping.

However, you don’t see Pompeo or Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats or any other intelligence official. Even The New York Times noted the oddity in its Saturday editions, writing: “If there were C.I.A. and other intelligence briefers around, … they are not in the picture.”

That made me wonder whether perhaps my original source did know something. The claim was that CIA Director Pompeo had briefed Trump personally on the analysts’ assessment that Assad’s forces were not responsible, but – then with Pompeo sidelined – Trump conveyed his own version of the intelligence to his senior staff.

In other words, the other officials didn’t get the direct word from Pompeo but rather received a second-hand account from the President, the source said. Did Trump choose to rely on the smug certainty from the TV shows and the mainstream news media that Assad was guilty, rather than the contrary view of U.S. intelligence analysts?

After the attack, Secretary of State Tillerson, who is not an institutional intelligence official and has little experience with the subtleties of intelligence, was the one to claim that the U.S. intelligence community assessed with a “high degree of confidence” that the Syrian government had dropped a poison gas bomb on civilians in Idlib province.

While Tillerson’s comment meshed with Official Washington’s hastily formed groupthink of Assad’s guilt, it is hard to believe that CIA analysts would have settled on such a firm conclusion so quickly, especially given the remote location of the incident and the fact that the initial information was coming from pro-rebel (or Al Qaeda) sources.

Thus, a serious question arises whether President Trump did receive that “high degree of confidence” assessment from the intelligence community or whether he shunted Pompeo aside to eliminate an obstacle to his desire to launch the April 6 rocket attack.

If so, such a dangerous deception more than anything else we’ve seen in the first two-plus months of the Trump administration would be grounds for impeachment – ignoring the opinion of the U.S. intelligence community so the President could carry out a politically popular (albeit illegal) missile strike that killed Syrians.

Investigative reporter Robert Parry broke many of the Iran-Contra stories for The Associated Press and Newsweek in the 1980s.

April 9, 2017 Posted by | Militarism, Timeless or most popular | , , , | Leave a comment

Iranophobes on Parade

Will Iran be the target of the Trump regime?

By Philip Giraldi • Unz Review • November 29, 2016

One of the most discouraging aspects of the filling out of the Donald Trump cabinet is the array of Iran haters that seem to be lining up in the foreign policy and national security areas. Trump has been personally advocating sensible policies relating to Russia and Syria but he appears to have gone off the rails regarding Iran, which just might be attributed to those who are giving him advice. A reversion to the relationship that prevailed prior to last year’s signing of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPA) between Iran and the so-called P5+1 consisting of the United States, Russia, China, France, Britain, and the European Union would be undesirable, to say the least, but that appears to be what is likely to develop. Or it could be even worse, finding bilateral support for “action” as a number of policy advisors in the presidential campaign from both parties were endorsing something like war against the Persians.

The irony is that the arguments made then and now for attacking Iran were based on the threat of Tehran deciding to build its own atomic bomb. With the JCPA agreement, however, most would agree that any remaining concerns that Tehran might even be considering the development of a nuclear weapons program were greatly diminished. Iran has since that time been in compliance with the agreement, possible nuclear proliferation has been avoided, and, apart from the fulminations of the inevitable anti-Iranian politicians in the United States, the signatories to the agreement have expressed their satisfaction with the outcome. It has been Washington that has failed to live up to its part of the agreement by easing remaining restrictions that are being imposed against Iranian financial institutions and regarding the purchase of some commercially available dual use technologies.

Candidate Donald Trump did not need much prompting to pick up on the prevailing anti-Iran sentiment. In a number of campaign speeches he denounced the JCPA as a bad deal and vowed to tear it up upon taking office. Some of that sentiment might well have been derived from his desire to distance himself from foreign policy positions promoted by President Barack Obama that were subsequently endorsed by Hillary Clinton so it is no surprise that since being elected he has somewhat modified his stance. He is now veering towards trying to renegotiate the agreement, which would likely be impossible given that it has multiple signatories. He could nevertheless disrupt it by continuing or increasing sanctions on Iran.

The thought of reverting to a state of unrelenting hostility towards Iran is disconcerting. One recalls joint CIA-Mossad operations between 2010 and 2012 that assassinated four civilian scientists connected to the country’s nuclear program as well as the creation of the Stuxnet virus that threatened to spread to other computers worldwide. It is generally accepted that Israel’s Mossad planned and prepared the killing of the scientists with a little help from the U.S., attacks which were almost certainly carried out by associates of the radical Marxist group Mujaheddin e Khalq (MEK), which is now being seen favorably by several Trump advisors even though the group is Marxist, cult-like and has killed Americans.

The assassinations were based on the false premise that Iran had a nuclear weapons program that could be disrupted by killing the scientists and technicians involved. Two comprehensive studies by the American government’s Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) conducted in 2007 and 2011 determined that no such program existed and that Iran had never taken any serious steps to initiate such research. Israel was also aware that there was no program. Nevertheless, the Israeli and American governments took steps to interfere with Iran’s existing and completely legal and open to inspection atomic energy program by identifying then killing its scientists and also introducing viruses into its computer systems. This was in spite of the fact that Iran was fully compliant with international norms on nuclear research and it was a signatory to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), which Israel, possessing its own nuclear arsenal, had refused to sign.

The history of the Iran-U.S. relationship is significant because several Trump advisors appear to be locked into a time warp regarding the Mullahs and the threat to Americans that they allegedly constitute. Former Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) head Michael Flynn, who will be the Trump National Security Advisor, is the most prominent Iran hater and also the most outspoken.

Flynn, also an unapologetic Islamophobe, has said that Iran represents a danger to U.S. national security and that our friend and ally Israel “lives under the threat of total annihilation from Iran… something the United States must never allow.” He believes that Iran intends to build nuclear weapons as well as the ballistic missiles needed to deliver them on target and thinks that “regime change” is the only solution to the threat posed by the current government. And for Flynn, Iran is not alone, it is part of a “global alliance” that includes China and Russia which seeks to threaten the U.S. and its allies.

Flynn concludes that Iran is unmitigated evil and that Washington should have nothing to do with it, apart from recognizing the reality that it and its government must be destroyed. I personally attended a conference in Moscow last December at which Flynn asserted that Iran is solely responsible for nearly all the instability in the Middle East and is behind at least five wars in the region, an assertion that is just as ridiculous as it sounds.

One might suggest that Flynn is terribly uninformed about a subject regarding which he claims expertise. His comments would suggest that the capabilities of the DIA that he once headed were dangerously overrated, but reports from his former colleagues indicate that he was always guilty of serious overreach in his pronouncements, something they referred to as “Flynn facts”.

If Flynn were just one loud voice braying in the wilderness he would be bad enough since his job is important, particularly with a president who has no foreign policy experience, but the sad fact is that he is not alone. Congressman, West Point grad and former Army officer Mike Pompeo, who will head the CIA, is more-or-less on the same page when it comes to Iran. He supports new sanctions on the country and, regarding his appointment as Director, he had only one comment to make and it related to the JCPA, “I look forward to rolling back this disastrous deal with the world’s largest state sponsor of terrorism.” As in the case with Flynn and DIA one has to wonder what kind of “objective” intelligence CIA will be producing under Pompeo.

Finally, there is retired Marine General James Mattis, who is being considered for a senior position in national security, possibly as Secretary of Defense. He is yet another Iranophobe who opposed the JCPA and calls Iran a rogue state that constitutes the “greatest threat” in the Middle East. As part of the evidence for that assessment he cites Iran’s alliance with Syria, which is at least in part directed against America’s enemy number one ISIS, demonstrating once again how Establishment Washington has difficulty in understanding what constitutes actual national interests. Mattis, in fact, denies that Iran is actually fighting ISIS.

The neoconservative kingpin Bill Kristol is gloating, headlining in his Weekly Standard publication that the “Iran Deal Is Doomed!” He should be pleased. Team Trump’s attitude towards an alleged Iranian threat is delusional, more in sync with Kristol and some Israeli thinking than with any actual American interests. Just as neoconservatives always believe that it is 1938 and we are in Munich, Flynn, Pompeo and Mattis likewise seem to think that it is 1979 and the United States Embassy in Tehran is still occupied.

The three Trumpsmen are not stupid, far from it, but the problem appears to be that they cannot comfortably assess two or more conflicting concepts at the same time, which might be due to the linear thinking derived from their military backgrounds. The Middle East is awash with players, all of whom have separate agendas, few of which coincide with actual American interests. If one is fixated on or obsessed with Iran as the sole disruptive force in the region it becomes difficult to see how Saudi Arabia, Turkey and Israel are also problems. It is decidedly neoconnish to look at a complex foreign policy issue and only see black and white, but that is what the Trump national security team seems to be prone to do.

Hopefully someone will convince Donald Trump that the real answer to eliminating the “Iranian threat” is not war. It requires building on the relationship established by JCPA to bind Iran more closely to the international community, both economically and culturally. By all accounts, young Iranians, a majority of the population, are dismissive of the rigidity of their own government and are very open to Western ideas and lifestyle. Change will come to Iran if the United States and its European allies encourage more rather than less non-threatening contact. It will not come at the point of a bayonet as Flynn, Pompeo and Mattis appear to be promoting.

November 29, 2016 Posted by | Militarism, Wars for Israel | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

US lawmakers’ visa request is a publicity stunt: Iran’s Foreign Ministry

Press TV – June 7, 2016

Iranian Foreign Ministry has issued a response to the travel visa requests of three US republican lawmakers who had wanted to travel to Iran to monitor Tehran’s compliance with last year’s historic nuclear agreement.

“In sum, we consider your visa request to have been a publicity stunt and not an appropriate request to visit a sovereign country; and it has, and will continue to be, treated in that spirit,” said a letter published by the office of Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif on Tuesday.

In February, three US lawmakers, Mike Pompeo, Lee Zeldin, and Frank LoBiondo, requested to visit Iran in order to inspect its nuclear sites. All three were vigorous opponents of the nuclear deal.

“Despite what you seem to presume, members of the US Congress do not get to dictate the policies of other countries. This clearly applies to Iranian visa policies. Bear in mind that as members of the US Congress you are not a global authority.”

The letter noted that according to the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) “is the sole body competent for monitoring” the implementation of the agreement’s nuclear provisions.

“In the modern era, visits to sites or parliamentary or other delegations to monitor elections are made upon invitations and through bilateral agreements between sovereign states or based on reciprocal arrangements, and not upon unilateral demands by self-arrogating individuals or parliamentarians,” the letter read.

“From the time when the manufactured ‘nuclear crisis’ has been settled through the JCPOA, tens of thousands of tourists, academics, investors, students and businesspeople from around the world — including many Americans — have obtained visas and traveled to Iran without any delay or complication.

“But they have been able to do so by making requests consistent with the relevant regulations of the host country and in the appropriate respectful manner and not in the completely inappropriate way you have demanded to visit Iran and interfere in what is of no relevance to your official functions. We doubt that any self-respecting country would grant a visa under such circumstances,” read another part of the letter.

After Iran and the five permanent members of the UN Security Council – the United States, France, Britain, China and Russia – plus Germany started implementing the JCPOA on January 16, all nuclear-related sanctions imposed on Iran by the European Union, the Security Council, and the US were lifted. Iran, in return, has put some limitations on its nuclear activities. The nuclear agreement was signed on July 14, 2015 following nearly a decade of on-and-off intensive talks.

June 7, 2016 Posted by | Aletho News | , , , , | 1 Comment