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Hassan Nasrallah: US Sanctions against Hezbollah are Last Resort, Resistance Axis Triumphs

Speech by Hezbollah Secretary General, Sayed Hassan Nasrallah, on March 8, 2019, on the occasion of the 30th anniversary of the Foundation to Support the Islamic Resistance.

Transcript:

[…] The US sanctions and financial siege that we currently experience, along with being added to the list of terrorist organizations, and lately, the British decision to add Hezbollah’s political wing to their own list of terrorist groups, and the consequences of all these measures – because in the past, they have already added our military branch, as they say, on the list of terrorist organizations, and a few days ago, they added the political branch, according to their (purely artificial) distinctions… In this respect, when we speak of US sanctions, we should expect them to become even more severe, both against those who support us and against us, that is to say against the Islamic Republic of Iran, against Syria, and against all Resistance movements and the Resistance Axis, and against us (Hezbollah).

In Lebanon, they intervened on the issue of the banks (operating here), and they have imposed a siege and severe restrictions on them. They made a list of merchants, businesses, associations and groups considered as terrorists, and prohibiting any financial or bank transaction with them. They also included a number of Lebanese personalities and traders on the sanctions list. And this can continue. We’ll (probably) see the names of new people and organizations (on the sanctions list), new restrictions, etc. (Our enemies) will continue on this path.

This is in regard to US sanctions.

On the other hand, we will also be faced with a proliferation of lists of terrorist organizations. For example, since when the Gulf countries have a list of terrorist organizations? It is only in recent years that they have created such lists. Elsewhere too, there are countries that come to create their list of terrorist organizations, or who already had such a list, and add us on it, as did Britain, and we must also expect that other countries do the same, and place Hezbollah on its terrorist list and describe it as such. Therefore, it is a trend that will continue.

But how should we consider this trend and these measures? We can think of them as specific acts unrelated to the past or the future, or we can consider them as a global and continuous process, embracing the present, past and future. The second perspective is the right one.

Why? Because it allows us to understand precisely what these measures mean, in what context they fit and what are their goals, which allows us to face them and not allow these objectives to be achieved. And this is the responsibility of all members and supporters of the Resistance (Hezbollah). It is the responsibility of the Resistance, its members and their families, its masses, its popular base and its supporters, anyone who is part of this historic humanitarian movement in our region, not only in Lebanon.

In what context (do such sanctions fit)? We must understand that we are (indeed) oppressed (by these unjust sanctions), (but it is because) we are the strongest (that they were imposed on us). We are not weak and oppressed: (rather), if they attack us (that way), it’s because we are the strongest. We are oppressed and triumphant. How is that?

Since 1982 and to this day, the United States and Israel, which have their US-Zionist hegemony project on our region, our country, our choices and our sovereignty throughout the region, since 1982, they suffered defeat after defeat, successive defeats for their projects and greed. It is a clear reality, and we talked about it a lot in the past. As a brief reminder, without stopping on each point, let us recall for example:

1/ The 1982 invasion was within the framework of a US-Israeli plan for Lebanon, Palestine, (all of) the region and the (final) settlement of the (Arab-Israeli conflict). Who curbed, neutralized and frustrated this project by inflicting it a (stinging) defeat? The movements of Resistance in Lebanon, and I don’t mean only Hezbollah: Hezbollah, the Amal movement, patriotic parties, Islamic movements, the various factions of the Resistance, with support from Syria and Iran.

2/ From 1982 to 1985, and with all the events that occurred afterwards, this project collapsed.

3/ In 2000, the (historic) defeat of Israel in Lebanon.

4/ After that, the Israeli withdrawal from the Gaza Strip.

All this has destroyed the project and dream of Greater Israel. I have already spoken in detail of all this, and there is no need to say it all again.

5/ In 2006, and even before, with the arrival of the Neo-conservatives in power in the United States, there was a massive US plan to regain control of the entire region. They began with the invasion of Afghanistan, the occupation of Iraq, the attempt to besiege Iran and isolate Syria, to liquidate the Palestinian cause and deal a fatal blow to the Resistance in Lebanon and eradicate it in 2006. The successful steadfastness of Hezbollah in Lebanon in 2006, of the factions of the Resistance in Gaza in 2008, and of Syria and Iran, have thwarted this huge and dangerous project that threatened our region.

6/ In 2011, the project of destruction of what I call the backbone of the Resistance camp in our area, namely Syria and the Syrian state.

7/ A few years after that, they returned to Iraq via ISIS and have targeted the entire Resistance Axis.

8/ They continued their pressure on Lebanon, Palestine and the Palestinian people.

9/ They launched an atrocious war against our brothers in Yemen.

10/ Not to mention the occupation of Bahrain, etc.

All this is part of the American-Israeli hegemony project. I have already said in the past that many regional countries were instruments in this project (Saudi Arabia, Turkey, UAE, Qatar…).
Once again, the Resistance Axis, the countries of the Resistance and the parties of the Resistance stood up against this war and faced this project. We won the battle decisively in Iraq, we are about to do in Syria and we completely triumphed in Lebanon. In Yemen, (our brothers) still resist victoriously against the continued aggression. Gaza continues to resist against all forms of aggression and blockade. And it’s the same for the Islamic Republic (of Iran) and its endurance against the (US) sanctions. Thus, this project also failed.

I want to say, regarding the current situation and also the future, that what Trump and his son-in-law Kushner hope, that is to fulfill an historic achievement in the region through the ‘Deal of the century’ (to finally liquidate the Palestinian cause), who faces (this project and fights to defeat it)? It is the Resistance Axis, the Resistance movements, the countries of the Resistance and the Palestinian people in the first place.

Israel, in all its (strategic) annual assessments, considers Iran as an existential threat, Hezbollah as the essential and primary threat, and all the Resistance Axis, from Gaza to Syria, including Yemen, which they begin to fear (seriously), all this Axis is a subject of concern and an (existential) threat to this entity.

Therefore, we are in this context, my brothers and sisters. When they put us on their lists of terrorist organizations, when they take measures and sanctions against us, it is because we have defeated them, because we beat them, because we have foiled all their projects, because we are stronger (than them), because we are more worthy and glorious, because we are capable, because we successfully defend our choice, our sovereignty, our people, our country and our states. This is the framework. This is the framework (of these sanctions). This is by no means a framework of weakness (of the Resistance). It is not at all a framework of weakness (for us).

Today, after the failure of all these wars (against our region), it is because they are unable (to conduct other wars that they impose sanctions on us, it is their last resort)… What else could they do?

The United States came themselves (with all their strength) in our region (in Afghanistan and Iraq) and they were defeated. They came (massively) in our region in the early 2000s, they remained (many years), but they were defeated. They were defeated by the Resistance in Iraq, and today they are defeated in Afghanistan. They were defeated in Syria, and they are overcome every day in Yemen. Are they able to launch a new war?

Israel is afraid and is (even) terrified to launch any war. And we hear every day (in the Israeli media) that the Israeli army is not ready, that their ground forces are not ready (for war), etc., etc., etc. And lately, just a few days ago, what did they do? They installed the American THAAD anti-missile system. This is proof that they have no confidence in their own systems, despite their propaganda morning and evening with lots of drums and boasting, claiming for years that (the Iron Dome) was perfectly capable of protecting their home front.

Therefore, faced with their failure, and with their inability to launch a war or any other military choice, and also because their security operations and murders have not achieved their objectives – on the contrary, we became stronger, more experienced, more lucid and more determined, as indicated by this quote from Imam Khomeini repeated tirelessly by Sayed Abbas (Musawi, Nasrallah’s predecessor murdered by Israel): “Keep killing us, because it awakens the conscience of our people!” The Resistance has become stronger, more determined, the people embraced it increasingly and massively and sympathized with it, when he discovered that (even) its leaders were killed and fell martyrs (Sayed Abbas Musawi was assassinated by Israel with his wife and 5 year old son).

What is the (only option) left to our enemies? Their last resort (is sanctions). Sanctions and inclusion on the list of terrorist organizations are thus a (new kind of) war in this context (of successive defeats of our enemies). And we, my brothers and sisters, those present and those who listen to us, we have to face it as if we were in time of war. Because it is indeed a form of war. Just as there are military wars, security wars, wars of information, political wars and culture wars, (sanctions) are part of the economic, financial and psychological war (aiming to break our) morale. And therefore, we have to face this war.

Today, when we consider the (Hezbollah) situation here or there… I’ll be honest and clear, and I will tell you what I said during our internal meetings, in small committee or with thousands (of Hezbollah members by videoconference), I’ll say it today on TV (so that everyone knows it). When (Hezbollah) is having some financial difficulties because of these measures and sanctions, it must be clear to us that this is part of the war. This has nothing to do with mismanagement, negligence or (arbitrary) budget restriction here or there. This is a consequence of the (economic and financial) war that is launched against us and that continues.
And this war is not only waged against us (Hezbollah). Today, the sanctions against Iran are heavier, and the United States asked the UN Security Council to impose sanctions against Iran. The United States exert the greatest pressure in this respect, and follow this matter very closely. Similarly, sanctions against Syria are heavier, and what they were unable to get through military war, (the US and its allies) want to get it by economic pressures, by hurting living conditions and livelihoods (of the Syrian people), by imposing hardships to the Syrian people in all aspects of his personal, social and economic (daily) life. The siege imposed on the Palestinians in Gaza and even in the West Bank (is harsher than ever): the destruction of houses, obstruction of wages, blocking (humanitarian) aid, etc., all this continues (and is intensified). In Yemen, people have been subjected to famine, financial, economic and port blockades, and all this continues. Sanctions and inclusion on the list of terrorist organizations are ongoing against all of us (Resistance Axis).

Yesterday, Netanyahu considered the (Palestinian) channel Al-Aqsa as a terrorist organization. A TV channel! The United States also added the factions of the Iraqi Resistance on the terrorists list, one after the other. The last faction concerned is that of our brothers in Al-Nujaba movement in Iraq. These sanctions therefore extend to anyone involved in this historic Resistance movement in our region. Yes, historic! The countries, governments, movements and peoples of the Resistance Axis.

Because (our enemies) strive to weaken us, to break our will, to impoverish us, to starve us, hoping to see us collapse, disperse and submit to their will (they strive for our complete surrender). Those who are unable to crush us by war, fighting and assassinations imagine that by impoverishing us, starving us, besieging us financially and draining our funding sources, they’ll manage to break us and to destroy our (Resistance) movement.

We have to face this (economic and financial) war.

First, we must hold on, stay stronger (than them), and not allow these measures to affect our will, our determination and morale. That’s the first point.

Second, despite all that is happening and everything that is said, their hopes will be bitterly disappointed, because they’ll never manage to impoverish us, to starve us nor to besiege us. Those who support us will continue to support us, in all certainty, be it States, peoples or our own (Lebanese) people and the masses of the Resistance in Lebanon.

These sanctions will continue. Yes, we will perhaps face some difficulties and certain restrictions. But I can assert, from the position of the leader who manages this question every day and in all its details, that we will continue our actions, our infrastructure will remain strong, sustained and rooted, and they won’t succeed in preventing our blood from flowing in our veins, nor the determination (to stay rooted) in our will. Be absolutely sure.

Certainly, as I said, we may face some difficulties and restrictions, but by patience, endurance, by reorganizing and wise and careful management, organizing our priorities, we will face this (economic and financial) war and we will overcome it (triumphantly).

When we fought during the war of July (2006), some people and political forces (in Lebanon and the region) stood by the river, waiting to see our dead bodies (washed away by waters); but their hopes were shattered, and we came out victorious (of this war). When we went (to fight) in Syria as forces participating in this global war, similarly, some in the world, the region, and unfortunately also in Lebanon, stood by the river, waiting to see our dead bodies (washed away by waters) and our defeat, but we came out victorious (of this war), as part of the great victory in Syria.

I tell you, both to those who love us, who are sincere and fair, and to those who stand by the river, waiting to see our bodies (washed away by waters) and hope that (Hezbollah) will collapse because of lack of money, poverty and hunger: I assure you that your hopes will be shattered, and not only that this Resistance will not fade or lose its high spirits, but it will gain strength, in numbers and equipment, in existence, in presence, in determination, in influence, in action and in shaping more victories in this region.

[Greetings from the audience on the Prophet Muhammad and his family.]

The days, (months and years) to come will confirm it. For it is the time that settles matters (among opponents) and reveals (the identity of the winner).

Of course it is necessary to mention again the action of the Foundation to Support the Islamic Resistance, and to emphasize that we need active efforts from our brothers and sisters, as well as a renewed and growing solidarity.

Remember that from 1982 to 2000, then to the years before 2006, we had a constant need (of financial aid). After 2006, due to the tremendous support that has been given us, especially by the Islamic Republic of Iran, I stated during certain (internal) meetings that even if we did not need money, we should continue our (fundraising) efforts to allow those who want to contribute financially to the action of the Resistance to do so.

Today we are in between. We are in between. The Foundation to Support the Islamic Resistance should continue its work and its efforts to enable (those who wish) to fight (by financial donations), and also to help us in this ongoing battle.

And I know (the generosity) of our people and of our families, despite the very difficult living conditions in Lebanon. I will publicly reveal something which I mentioned during internal meetings, which must be known: just a few weeks ago, two months at most, I didn’t appear on television to call people to make donations (for our campaign) to help Yemeni children because I did not want to impose on people a greater burden than they could bear. For I know that our people reacts (massively to my calls), despite their hard living conditions, and social and financial (difficulties). That is why neither I nor Hezbollah leaders or any responsible (called to participate in this fundraising for Yemen).

Our brothers and sisters inside the Lebanese regions took care of that within the Foundation to Support the Islamic Resistance and other Islamic charities, voluntary brothers and sisters, on social networks, Radio Al-Nour, who propagated (this appeal for donations for the children of Yemen). Within a few weeks, two million dollars were collected. In Lebanon alone, this small (and poor) country which is in a very difficult (economic) situation. I was given this money, and I have dispatched it to our brothers in Yemen. Such is our people! Such is our people! Such is their level of commitment.

I have many testimonies about the generosity of the sons, daughters and wives of martyrs (who are themselves in need), young and old, how they put aside part of their salary, of their life (livelihood), of what they collect for the future of their children, and they give it to the Resistance (Hezbollah).

That is why today, (I appeal to) this support and this popular momentum, and I declare that the Resistance (Hezbollah) needs them. The Resistance needs them. And the Foundation to Support the Islamic Resistance must work earnestly, as it did before 2000. Because today, we are in the middle of such a battle (economic and financial).

Of course, everything that is said in Lebanon about Hezbollah, who, because of these financial pressures, would grab the money of the State, and money from the Ministry of Health (devolved to Hezbollah), I responded (to these calumnies) and I repeat that these false accusations are unfounded. Our theological, religious and moral position about money of the State is clear (it is illegal to use it for purposes other than its intended ones).

And today, we call on everyone to make sure that the Ministry that is the most scrutinized, controlled and inspected, be the Ministry of Health. Go for it! Control the use of every penny! And you will discover a total transparency on the part of the Ministry, and absolute clarity in the use of every penny spent and every pound in strict accordance with the law for the Lebanese people. […]

Translation: unz.com/sayedhasan

March 22, 2019 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Timeless or most popular | , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Trump’s Golan move shows US contempt for international law and rules-based order

By M. K. BHADRAKUMAR | Indian Punchline | March 22, 2019

US President Donald Trump’s tweet on Thursday that the United States should back Israeli sovereignty over the Golan Heights, seized from Syria in 1967, didn’t quite come like a bolt from the blue. There has been talk about such a thing for sometime. Last December, the US Congress had begun pioneering a resolution expressing the sense of the Senate that the US should recognise Israel’s sovereignty over the Golan Heights.

Last month, new legislation was proposed in both houses of the Congress which called for recognising Israel’s sovereignty over the Golan Heights as part of the strategy to counter Iran and Syria. A copy of the Senate version of the bill stated, “It shall be the policy of the United States… to recognise Israel’s sovereignty over the Golan Heights.” The resolution stated that such a move is critical in the light of new realities on the ground including Iran’s presence in Syria. The resolution argued that Israel’s security from attacks from Syria and Lebanon cannot be assured without control over Golan Heights.

In addition, the bill said it is in US interest that Israel retains control over this territory to ensure that the Syrian government faces “diplomatic and geopolitical consequences” for killing civilians and allegedly using chemical weapons.

The sophistry aside, the fact of the matter is that the influential Jewish lobby began canvassing for such legislation once it became clear that Israel had lost the war in Syria. The primary purpose of the Israeli intervention in the Syrian Conflict by way of equipping and supporting extremist groups to overthrow the government led by President Bashar al-Assad was that a weakened and preferably dismembered Syria would never be in a position to demand the vacation of the Israeli occupation of Golan Heights.

Simply put, Tel Aviv is pulling strings in Washington to get US recognition of the Golan Heights as Israeli territory with the hope that the lone superpower’s opinion would somehow help legitimise the illegal occupation of Syrian territory since the 1967 war. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had pinned hopes that any Syrian political settlement would also include provisions legitimising the Israeli occupation of Golan.

A sub-plot here is about the timing of the tweet by Uncle Trump. Quite obviously, he is boosting the profile of nephew Netanyahu who is in dire straits at the moment fighting an election where he is trailing and staring at the prospect of a prison term for corruption. What are uncles for, after all, if they don’t help when nephew is in trouble — and big trouble at that?

But then, there is still more to it than meets the eye. The fact of the matter is that Golan Heights is believed to have vast oil reserves that could supply all of Israel’s needs. In fact, Israel began drilling for oil already by 2015 in anticipation of the ouster of President Assad.

US foreign policy is reaching an historic low point in this episode by helping to legitimise the illegal occupation of territories belonging to another sovereign country. Trump is plainly ignoring international law and the UN Charter. Yet, the US pontificates about a rules-based world order. In 2006, the United Nations General Assembly actually had passed a resolution affirming the “inalienable rights” of the Arab population in the Golan over its natural resources. The 1907 Hague Regulations, which is a cornerstone of international law, unambiguously states that an occupying power must “safeguard the capital of these properties.” Stealing resources from an occupied territory constitutes the crime of pillage.

Where such an act of pillage will ultimately lead to, time only can tell. Make no mistake, Syria will never accept the occupation of a part of the country. The US-Israeli conspiracy will meet with Syrian resistance. In fact, Trump is virtually pushing Syria into the resistance camp in the Muslim Middle East. A weakened Syria cannot challenge Israel militarily. But in the fullness of time, Israel is getting surrounded by a circle of hostile nations.

There are strong indications already that a resistance front against the US and Israel is forming in the northern tier of the Middle East stretching from Iran westward to the Mediterranean coast. Assad’s visit to Tehran, Iran’s Supreme Leader Al Khamenei conferring the highest military honour on the commander of Iran’s Quds Force Gen. Qassem Soleimani, Iranian president Hassan Rouhani’s high-profile visit to Iraq, the meeting of the commanders of the armed forces of Iran, Iraq and Syria in Damascus — all these developments in the most recent weeks underscore the emergence of a new strategic alliance that will work toward the purge of US influence in the region.

This trend is also reflected in a pronounced shift in the Iranian foreign policies, which no longer prioritise Iran’s integration into the Western world and would instead attribute centrality to resistance. Ironically, Trump’s cynical move on Golan — as per the wishes of his deep-pocketed Jewish donors such as casino magnate Sheldon Adelson and wife Miriam, influential lobby groups, and far-right Christian fringe — will end up providing strategic depth to Iran in its region to push back at the US’ containment policy.

March 22, 2019 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Illegal Occupation | , , , , | 2 Comments

With eye on US, Iran revs up ‘resistance front’

By M. K. BHADRAKUMAR | Indian Punchline | March 19, 2019

A new phase is beginning in Iran’s approach to the situation since last May when the US withdrew from the 2015 nuclear deal. Tehran had thus far prioritised the consolidation of Western opinion against President Trump’s decision with a view to effectively counter the US sanctions. But with hindsight, it appears that Europeans might posture against the US sanctions, but business interests ultimately prevail and the hard reality is that European companies that have exposure to the American market will not risk US sanctions.

Certainly, the drop in oil income following the US sanctions has hurt the Iranian economy and Tehran admits it openly. The Trump administration now plans to unveil an even harsher sanctions regime in May. According to reports, Washington aims to bring down Iran’s oil exports further.

Meanwhile, the US-Israel-Saudi-UAE nexus against Iran is actively working to create instability within Iran, weaken the regime and incapacitate it from playing a regional role. Saudi money is challenging Iran’s towering multi-dimensional presence in Iraq.

Although the US is notionally withdrawing troops from Syria, the efforts continue to roll back Iran’s presence in Iraq and Syria. Iran mentors the battle-hardened Shi’ite militia forces numbering tens of thousands in Iraq and Syria, which fought against the ISIS. Iran’s continuing presence in Syria poses an insurmountable obstacle to Israel’s designs to weaken and dominate Syria and to legitimise its illegal occupation of the Golan Heights.

Suffice to say, Tehran finds itself besieged. Of course, Iran’s regime has lived through dangerous periods through the past 4 decades and there is no question of capitulation. But an inflection point has been reached and a new trajectory has become necessary in terms of Iran’s political economy as well as to overcome the geo-strategic challenges.

There have been incipient signs change in the most recent months — in various statements by the Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei, in particular — indicative of a new pathway that would jettison the earlier obsession with the Western countries and abandon the strategy to put eggs in the EU basket. Khamenei repeatedly stressed Iran’s inner strength and the resilience of ‘resistance’.

Without doubt, the unannounced visit by Syrian President Bashar al-Assad to Tehran on February 27 augured that a Syrian-Iranian alliance with far-reaching geopolitical significance is taking shape. Khamenei stated during his meeting with Assad: “The Islamic Republic of Iran regards helping the Syrian government and nation as assisting the Resistance movement, and genuinely takes pride in it… Syria, with its people’s persistence and unity, managed to stand strong against a big coalition of the US, Europe and their allies in the region and victoriously come out of it… Iran and Syria are strategic allies and the identity and power of Resistance depend on their continuous and strategic alliance, because of which, the enemies will not be able to put their plans into action.”

Khamenei repeatedly used the metaphor of the resistance to characterise the Iran-Syria alliance. The charismatic commander of the Quds Force Gen. Qassem Soleimani neatly summed up that Assad’s visit was a “celebration of victory” for the resistance front.

Indeed, Khamenei has since decorated Soleimani with Iran’s most prestigious medal of honor, the Order of Zulfiqar. There is much symbolism here, since Soleimani happens to be the first Iranian commander to receive the Order of Zulfiqar after the 1979 Islamic revolution. Iran is applauding Soleimani’s profound contribution to the resistance. To be sure, Iran is returning to its revolutionary moorings.

Thus, the meeting between the top commanders of the armed forces of Iran, Iraq and Syria which took place in Damascus on Sunday was geared to flesh out a coordinated plan to meet the challenges in regional security. Some reports mentioned that Soleimani too was in Damascus on Sunday.

While receiving the three army commanders in Damascus, Assad reportedly said that the blood of Syrians, Iranians, and Iraqis “have mixed in the battle against terrorism and its mercenaries, who are considered as a mere façade for the countries that support them.”

Equally, Iranian president Rouhani’s recent visit to Iraq can be put in perspective. As a senior Chinese expert on West Asia has noted, Rouhani’s visit has “long-term geopolitical implications” in terms of expansion of Iran’s regional influence, apart from giving traction to the “resistance” politics (against US and Israel.)

The Chinese expert wrote that Iraq is refusing to be part of US’ containment strategy against Iran and Rouhani’s visit consolidates Iran’s influence in Iraq, which in turn also enhances its capacity to offer a “stark counterbalance” to US influence over Iraq. Again, Iran sees Iraq as a gateway to bust the US sanctions. Geopolitically, the expert underscored,  the new dynamic strengthens Tehran’s strategy to create a regional axis between Iran, Iraq, Syria and Lebanon, which would have an edge over Saudi Arabia. Incidentally, Rouhani is likely to visit Syria as well in the near future.

Clearly, resistance politics creates strategic depth for Iran to push back at the US. But there is also a bigger dimension to it. Tehran plans to step up its participation in Syrian infrastructure construction. Ultimately, Iran’s economic relations with Iraq and Syria will be further strengthened in addition to its political and strategic relations with the two countries.

Very few details of yesterday’s meeting of army commanders in Damascus have emerged but one concrete outcome is the reopening of the Syrian-Iraqi border in the “coming days”, which of course, will facilitate a road link connecting Iran with Syria and Lebanon via Iraq. This is a major development insofar as a direct road link becomes possible connecting Iran with Syria and Lebanon. One main objective of the US military presence in Syria was to thwart such a transportation route that would significantly boost Iran’s influence and presence in the Levant. There have been reports that Iran may use Latakia port in Syria to access the world market.

March 19, 2019 Posted by | Economics, Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Illegal Occupation | , , , , | 1 Comment

‘A crime against humanity’: Rouhani says Iran will file legal case against US over sanctions

RT | March 18, 2019

President Hassan Rouhani announced that Tehran will pursue legal action against US officials who imposed sanctions on Iran, adding that the dispute could be brought before an international court.

The Iranian president said that he had ordered the ministries of foreign affairs and justice to “file a legal case in Iranian courts against those in America who designed and imposed sanctions on Iran.”

Describing the unilaterally imposed sanctions as a “crime against humanity,” Rouhani said that if Iranian courts believe there is a strong case against Washington, Tehran would then pursue the legal challenge in international courts of justice. He said that the United States is seeking to “come back to Iran and rule the nation again.”

While dragging US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo before an Iranian court may be far-fetched, Tehran has had past success arguing against US sanctions on the international stage. In October, the International Court Of Justice (ICJ) ordered the United States to ensure that its sanctions do not target humanitarian aid or civil aviation safety.

Washington re-imposed sanctions on Tehran after US President Donald Trump decided in May to abandon the 2015 nuclear accord with Iran. Trump’s decision to back out of the deal – which was negotiated with five other world powers – has strained relations between Washington and its European allies, who are now looking to bypass the US-imposed sanctions.

In February, the International Atomic Energy Agency said that despite the US withdrawal from the 2015 accord, Iran was still in full compliance with its commitments towards non-proliferation.

Iran has scoffed at Washington’s stated aim of reducing the country’s oil exports to “zero,” and has repeatedly warned that it is prepared to take military action to protect its oil tankers from US interference.

March 18, 2019 Posted by | War Crimes | , | 2 Comments

Netanyahu Threatens to Deploy Israeli Navy to Enforce US Oil Sanctions on Iran

Sputnik – March 7, 2019

Earlier, despite threats to bring Tehran’s crude oil exports down “to zero,” Washington granted ‘temporary waivers’ on Iranian oil to major importers including China, India, Italy, Japan, South Korea, Greece, and Turkey, as well as Taiwan. Unless they are renewed, these waivers may expire in May.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has threatened to deploy the Israeli Navy to help tackle suspected Iranian efforts to smuggle out oil via maritime routes to skirt US sanctions.

“Iran is trying to circumvent the sanctions through covert oil smuggling over maritime routes, and to the extent that these attempts widen, the Navy will have a more important role in blocking these Iranian actions,” Netanyahu said, speaking to graduates of the Israeli Naval Academy in Haifa on Wednesday, according to the Jerusalem Post.

“I call on the entire international community to stop Iran’s attempts to circumvent the sanctions by sea, and of course, by [other] means,” Netanyahu added.

The prime minister did not clarify how the Israeli Navy, whose fleet consists mostly of coastal patrol ships, missile boats, corvettes and support ships, would tackle the suspected Iranian oil smuggling, or whether Israeli efforts would include preparedness for direct armed confrontation at sea. At present, the Israeli Navy operates primarily in the Mediterranean Sea, as well as the Gulf of Aqaba and the Red Sea.

Boarding merchant vessels in international waters without the flag state’s permission is illegal under the Convention on the High Seas, and may be interpreted as an act of aggression.

Tehran has repeatedly warned that it may resort to closing the Strait of Hormuz, a key strategic waterway through which roughly 20 percent of the world’s oil passes, if it is provoked into doing so and its oil exports interfered with. Oil exports are a vital lifeline for Iran’s economy, with the country exporting some $40.1 billion of crude oil in 2017, contributing to nearly 5 percent of total world supplies.

March 7, 2019 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Militarism, War Crimes | , , , | 13 Comments

What If They Started a War and No One Showed Up?

By Philip M. GIRALDI | Strategic Culture Foundation | 21.02.2019

The humiliation of United States Secretary of State Mike Pompeo in Warsaw last week was a good thing. The ancient Greeks, exercising their demonstrated ability to synthesize defining characteristics, had a word for it: hubris. Hubris is when one develops an extreme and unreasonable feeling of confidence in a certain course of action that inevitably leads to one’s downfall when that conceit proves to be based on false principles.

Pompeo was in Warsaw for a “summit” arranged by the US State Department in partnership with the Polish government to discuss with representatives of sixty nations what to do about the fractious situation in the Middle East. In advance, he promised that the meeting would “deliver really good outcomes.” The gathering was initially conceived as a “war against Iran” precursor, intended to pull together a coalition against the Persians, but when it became clear that many of the potential participants would balk at such a designation, it assumed a broader agenda concerning “Peace and Security in the Middle East.”

Iran, Iraq, Lebanon, Palestine and Syria were not, not surprisingly, invited as some of them were the expected targets of whatever remedial action the conference might recommend. Israel’s Benjamin Netanyahu was, of course, present, tweeting in advance of the gathering that it would be all about “war against Iran.” He also characteristically delivered a warning that Iran was planning a “second holocaust” for his country.

Many countries, including regional power Turkey, and global powers Russia and China refused to participate at all. The European Union, the French and the Germans all sent career diplomats to the meeting rather than their Foreign Ministers while Britain’s Foreign Minister Jeremy Hunt only agreed to attend at the last minute after he was granted his wish to head a discussion session on Yemen.

The meeting was overshadowed by the context in which it took place, something that Pompeo was apparently too tone deaf to appreciate. The Europeans, to include close allies Britain, France and Germany have all been openly opposed to the White House’s completely irrational decision last year to exit from the 2015 Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), which placed limits verified by intrusive inspections on Iran’s nuclear program.  America’s closest allies made clear that they object to being told how and with whom they are permitted to do business, and they were finally doing something about it. Even US intelligence confirms that Iran has been fully compliant with the nuclear agreement, but the dunces in the White House are too blinded by hubris to change course.

The week before the conference opened the British, French and Germans also, perhaps deliberately, declared their intention to launch a “special purpose vehicle” barter system that would enable purchases of Iranian oil after the May 5th deadline which the United States had unilaterally declared for the initiation of sanctions prohibiting such activity. Washington has declared that any countries disregarding its sanctions against Iran would be themselves subject to secondary sanctions implemented through the US Treasury’s ability to both control and restrict access to the dollar denominated financial markets. Nevertheless, the action by the Europeans served as confirmation that much of the world wants to do business with Iran even if the White House says “no.”

Present with the US delegation in Warsaw were Pompeo, Vice President Mike Pence, National Security Adviser John Bolton, Special Adviser Jared Kushner, and President Trump’s personal attorney Rudy Giuliani. “America’s Rabbi” Shmuley Boteach also appeared in an unofficial capacity. All of the Administration officials took the stage at one point or another to denounce Iran as the “world’s greatest sponsor of terrorism,” which appeared to resonate with Netanyahu but hardly anyone else. There was also considerable spontaneous theater provided by the American cast of characters in the lead-up to the conference itself.

In an interview with CBS News before the meetings, Pompeo indicated his pleasure over the impact of the existing sanctions on Iran. When asked if there had been any sign “… that this pressure is pushing Iran to negotiate with the US?” he responded that “Things are much worse for the Iranian people, and we’re convinced that will lead the Iranian people to rise up and change the behavior of the regime.” The suggestion that Washington believes in starving the very people it is claiming to want to help to bring about a violent uprising clearly did not disturb Pompeo in the least. And he exhibited no appreciation of the fact that pressuring Iran’s government is actually the best way to strengthen it as the Iranian people have been rallying against the economic warfare being waged by the United States.

Not to be upstaged by Pompeo, John Bolton, in a video released on the Monday before the conference opened on Wednesday, celebrated in his own unique fashion the 40th anniversary of the Iranian revolution, which the people of Iran have recently been commemorating. Bolton called Iran “the central banker of international terrorism” and declared it guilty of “tyrannizing its own people and terrorizing the world.” The video concluded with a direct threat to Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei: “I don’t think you’ll have many more anniversaries to enjoy.”

Also during the lead-up to the conference, Rudy Giuliani was featured at a pep rally in downtown Warsaw for the “cult-like” terrorist group Mujahedin-e-Khalq (MEK), an organization for which he has served as a paid lobbyist. He told a crowd of MEK supporters that “If we don’t have a peaceful, democratic Iran then no matter what we do we’ll have turmoil, difficulties, problems in the Middle East. Everyone agrees that Iran is the No. 1 state sponsor of terrorism in the world. That has to tell you something: Iran is a country you can’t rely on, do business with, can’t trust.” He added that their government consists of “assassins, they are murderers and they should be out of power.” Afterwards, Rudy would not disclose how much he had been paid to make the speech.

But it was Vice President Pence who took the prize for unmitigated gall in his address to the conferees in which he accused the Europeans of something close to treason: “They call this scheme a ‘Special Purpose Vehicle.’ We call it an effort to break American sanctions against Iran’s murderous revolutionary regime.’’ He insisted that “The time has come for our European partners to withdraw from the Iran nuclear deal and join with us as we bring the economic and diplomatic pressure necessary to give the Iranian people, the region and the world the peace, security and freedom they deserve.” Pence might just as well have said “my way or the highway” or quoted George W. Bush’s line, “you’re either with us or against us.” The audience, including a large number of Washington-sycophants, responded with silence, unimpressed by Pence’s fulminations and his demands.

The Warsaw Summit did not produce the results envisioned by the White House, which were to pull together a group willing to escalate pressure on Iran before attacking it, while simultaneously generating support for Jared Kushner’s much discussed Israel/Palestine peace plan, due to be unveiled in April. The American plan will basically give Netanyahu everything he wants while relegating the Palestinians to the status of a non-people. As a result of the lukewarm reception in Warsaw, even from Arab states that truly hate Iran, Washington is now weaker in the Middle East than ever before. That is a good thing as the policies being embraced by Trump, Bolton, Pompeo, Giuliani and Kushner are not only an embarrassment, they are a potential disaster for everyone in the region as well as for the United States.

February 21, 2019 Posted by | Militarism, Timeless or most popular, Wars for Israel | , , , | 3 Comments

Pompeo, Pence & the Alienation of Europe

Pompeo leaving Warsaw. (State Department photo by Ron Przysucha)
By Patrick Lawrence | Consortium News | February 19, 2019

What a job Vice President Mike Pence and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo did in Europe last week. If the objective was to worsen an already critical trans–Atlantic rift and further isolate the U.S., they could not have returned to Washington with a better result.

We might have to mark down this foray as among the clumsiest and most abject foreign policy failures since President Donald Trump took office two years ago.

Pence and Pompeo both spoke last Thursday at a U.S.–sponsored gathering in Warsaw supposedly focused on “peace and security in the Middle East.” That turned out to be a euphemism for recruiting the 60–plus nations in attendance into an anti–Iran alliance.

“You can’t achieve peace and stability in the Middle East without confronting Iran,” Pompeo said flatly. The only delegates this idea pleased were Benjamin Netanyahu, the Israeli prime minister, and officials from Gulf Arab nations who share an obsession with subverting the Islamic Republic.

Pence went on to the annual security conference in Munich, where he elaborated further on a few of the Trump administration’s favored themes. Among them: The Europeans should ditch the nuclear accord with Iran, the Europeans should cut off trade with Russia, the Europeans should keep components made by Huawei and other Chinese companies out of their communications networks. The Europeans, in short, should recognize America’s global dominance and do as it does; as if it were still, say, 1954.

It is hard to imagine how an American administration can prove time and again so out of step with 21stcentury realities. How could a vice-president and a secretary of state expect to sell such messages to nations plainly opposed to them?

Pounding the Anti-Iran Theme 

Pompeo, who started an “Iran Action Group” after the Trump administration withdrew last year from the 2015 nuclear accord, returned repeatedly to a single theme in his Warsaw presentations. The Iranians, he said, “are a malign influence in Lebanon, in Yemen, and Syria and Iraq. The three H’s—Houthis, Hamas, and Hezbollah—these are real threats.”

Pence ran a mile with this thought. “At the outset of this historic conference,” he said, “leaders from across the region agreed that the greatest threat to peace and security in the Middle East is the Islamic Republic of Iran.” To be noted: all the “leaders from across the region” in attendance were Sunnis, except for Netanyahu. The major European allies, still furious that Washington has withdrawn from the nuclear accord, sent low-level officials and made no speeches.

The European signatories to the Iran accord knew what was coming, surely. While Pence insisted that Britain, France and Germany withdraw from the nuclear pact—“the time has come,” he said—he also criticized the financing mechanism the three set up last month to circumvent the Trump administration’s trade sanctions against Iran. “They call this scheme a ‘special purpose vehicle,’ ” Pence said. “We call it an effort to break American sanctions against Iran’s murderous revolutionary regime.”

There were plenty of European leaders at the security conference last weekend in Munich, where Pence used the occasion  to consolidate what is beginning to look like an irreparable escalation of trans–Atlantic alienation. After renewing his attack on the Iran agreement’s European signatories, he shifted criticism to the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline. Now under construction, this will be the second undersea pipeline connecting Gazprom, the Russian energy company, to Germany and other European markets. Last month the U.S. renewed threats to sanction German companies working on the $11 billion project. “We cannot strengthen the West by becoming dependent on the East,” Pence said at the security conference Saturday.

These and other remarks in Munich were enough to get Angela Merkel out of her chair to deliver an unusually impassioned speech in defense of the nuclear accord, multilateral cooperation and Europe’s extensive economic relations with Russia. “Geo-strategically,” the German chancellor asserted, “Europe can’t have an interest in cutting off all relations with Russia.”

US Primacy V. Europe’s Future  

Merkel’s speech goes to the core of what was most fundamentally at issue as Pompeo and Pence blundered through Europe last week. There are three questions to consider.

The most obvious of these is Washington’s continued insistence on U.S. primacy in the face of full-frontal resistance even from longstanding allies. “Since day one, President Trump has restored American leadership on the world stage,” Pence declared in Warsaw. And in Munich: “America is stronger than ever before and America is leading on the world stage once again.” His speeches in both cities are filled with hollow assertions such as these—each one underscoring precisely the opposite point: America is fated to continue isolating itself, a little at a time, so long as its leaders remain lost in such clouds of nostalgia.

The other two questions concern Europe and its future. Depending on how these are resolved, a more distant trans–Atlantic alliance will prove inevitable.

First, Europe must soon come to terms with its position on the western flank of the Euro–Asian landmass. Merkel was right: The European powers cannot realistically pretend that an ever-deepening interdependence with Russia is a choice. There is no choice. China’s Belt and Road Initiative, as it progresses westward, will make this clearer still.

Second, Europe must develop working accommodations with its periphery, meaning the Middle East and North Africa, for the sake of long-term stability in its neighborhood. The mass migrations from Syria, Libya and elsewhere have made this evident in the most tragic fashion possible. It is to Germany’s and France’s credit that they are now negotiating with Turkey and Russia to develop reconstruction plans for Syria that include a comprehensive political settlement.

As they do so, Washington shows no sign of lifting sanctions against Syria that have been in place for more than eight years. It may, indeed, impose new sanctions on companies participating in reconstruction projects. In effect, this could criminalize Syria’s reconstruction—making the nation another case wherein Europe and the U.S. find themselves at cross purposes.


Patrick Lawrence, a correspondent abroad for many years, chiefly for the International Herald Tribune, is a columnist, essayist, author, and lecturer. His most recent book is “Time No Longer: Americans After the American Century” (Yale). Follow him @thefloutist. His web site is http://www.patricklawrence.us.

February 20, 2019 Posted by | Aletho News | , , , , | 2 Comments

Iran’s Javad Zarif warns “risk of war with Israel is great” (MunichSecurityConference 2019)

ProductiehuisEU | February 17, 2019

Speaking in the Munich Security Conference, Iranian foreign minister Javad Zarif blames Israel of violating international law after bombing campaigns in Syria, criticizes European powers for not calling out Israel and the US for their behavior in the region.

Iran’s Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif accused Israel of looking for war and warned that its behavior and that of the United States was increasing the chances of a clash in the region.

“Certainly, some people are looking for war … Israel,” Zarif said at the Munich Security Conference.

Accusing Israel of violating international law after bombing campaigns in Syria, Zarif also criticized European powers for not calling out Israel and the United States for their behavior in the region.

“The risk (of war) is great. The risk will be even greater if you continue to turn a blind eye to severe violations of international law,” he said.

“Israeli behavior is putting international law on the shelf, US behavior is putting international law on the shelf.”

Zarif, who said Iran was committed to a 2015 nuclear deal with world powers for now, also accused France, Britain and Germany of not doing enough to ensure Tehran received the economic benefits of that accord.

Credit: Bayerischer Rundfunk 2019

February 17, 2019 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Illegal Occupation, Militarism, Timeless or most popular, Video | , , , , , | Leave a comment

US-led anti-Iran circus in Warsaw unravels as farce

By Finian Cunningham | RT | February 14, 2019

A conference in Warsaw this week was billed as reinstating the US’ lead role in diplomacy for the Mideast. The absence of Russia and other European leaders only served to expose the ill-conceived summit and Washington’s isolation.

When the forum was initially planned last year by the Trump administration, the purpose was to bring Washington back in from the diplomatic cold which it had opted for by abandoning the international nuclear accord with Iran.

Trump’s tearing up of the Iran deal in May 2018 had isolated the US from other signatories: Russia, China and the Europeans. By holding a high-level conference on Iran, the idea was to burnish Washington’s diplomatic standing in the Middle East.

The trouble was that from the outset most would-be participants saw the real agenda of the meeting as an attempt by Washington to drum up international support for further antagonizing Iran with economic sanctions.

Despite recent official US denials of seeking regime change in Tehran, the long-term pattern of flagrant hostility from President Trump and others in his administration betrayed Washington’s real intentions.

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif has been labeling the Warsaw event “a desperate anti-Iran circus.” Last month, it was evident that European states were going to give the conference a miss on the grounds that the thinly veiled agenda would further undermine EU efforts at preserving the Iran deal.

This week’s conference – although slated as a “ministerial summit” – was conspicuous by the absence of senior delegates. Russia, Turkey, Qatar and Lebanon did not attend. Neither did many European leaders, including EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini.

The American side sent a high-profile delegation headed by Vice-President Mike Pence and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. Also present were Jared Kushner, President Trump’s son-in-law and “special advisor” on Middle East policy.

The void in senior foreign participants – especially Russia which has become the main external player in Middle Eastern affairs following its successful military intervention in Syria – only goes to show how diminished Washington’s role has become.

Realizing its anti-Iran agenda was not going to gain much traction, Washington rebranded the Warsaw conference in an attempt to give it an apparently more general regional remit. The event’s updated title proclaiming the “Future of Peace and Security in the Middle East” was intended to not alienate others over the initial hostile focus on Iran.

Hence the agenda was broadened out to include discussions on Syria, Yemen and the Israeli-Palestinian peace process.

Still, however, Iran was not invited. How can a supposed Middle East peace and security conference be held without the inclusion of Iran, an undoubted regional powerhouse?

How could discussions on Syria be expected to be productive when the Syrian government is not present, nor its main ally Russia?

There were no delegations from the Houthi rebels in Yemen, nor the Palestinian Authority. The Palestinians have boycotted Trump’s much-vaunted peace plan, headed up by Jared Kushner, ever since Washington’s recognition last year of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, as well as ongoing suspicions of additional transgressions against Palestinian rights, such as return of refugees.

On the eve of the Warsaw conference, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu pulled back the curtains when he revealed the gathering was intended to solidify the “common interest of war with Iran.” Netanyahu’s tweet was quickly deleted but not before it was widely disseminated by critics.

Iran noted it was “no coincidence” that on the first day of the conference in Warsaw, the country saw the worst terrorist attack in years on its soil when 27 of its Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps were killed in a suicide bombing claimed by a jihadist group. Tehran asserted that the terrorist group had links to “foreign intelligence services.”

While attending the summit, Trump’s personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani openly called for regime change in Iran. Giuliani also spoke at a rally in Warsaw organized by the Iranian exile group Mujahideen-e Khalq (MEK). The group has been linked to past terrorist attacks in Iran aimed at overthrowing the government in Tehran. It is not clear if the MEK had any involvement in this week’s deadly bombing, but its delegates in Warsaw who had been hosting Giuliani cheered the killing of the Iranian guards, according to Iran’s Foreign Ministry.

Earlier this week, Iran celebrated the 40th anniversary of its Islamic revolution. The anniversary was vilified by Trump as “40 years of terror.” His National Security Advisor John Bolton also directed a message to Iran’s leadership saying its time was up. Israel’s Netanyahu also gloated in a chilling warning that the anniversary could be the last.

Yet, preposterously, American officials tried to pretend that the Warsaw conference was not a “trash Iran” event. Gordon Sondland, the US ambassador to the EU, griped that the non-attendance of European leaders was “an unhelpful act.”

Andrew Miller, a former diplomat in the Obama administration, was quoted as saying it was unprecedented for such a de facto boycott by American allies of a supposedly landmark summit.

But of course, what does Washington expect? The Trump administration has shown such a high-handed contempt for diplomatic norms, even towards its purported European allies.

It has also revealed itself as riven with contradictions and shambles over its Middle East policy. Is the US withdrawing from Syria or not? The mixed signals out of Washington on this one issue alone is symbolic of the general incoherence and faltering leadership in the White House.

President Trump seems to want to have his cake and eat it. He wants “America First” unilateralism and is all too quick to ride roughshod over allies and their interests – the Iran nuclear deal being a classic case.

Then when the Trump administration tries to mitigate the damage of its bruising behavior and to hold a supposed multilateral conference on the Middle East, the upshot is very few give the event any credence or respect.

It’s abundantly clear that Washington has no intention for “peace and security” in the Middle East. Its charade of posing as a diplomatic arbiter is coming apart at the seams. But the farce that is American diplomacy is revealing how irrelevant Washington’s role has become.

Most nations know that Washington’s obsession with confronting Iran is not a viable policy. Indeed, it is a reprehensible pathology which only seems to resonate with the unhinged regimes of Israeli and Saudi warmongering despots, both of whom were prominent in Warsaw this week.

Even the mere choice of venue was telling of America’s declining status. Poland has been sucking up to Washington with its purchase of US missile systems and its request for the Americans to build a new military base in the country, which Warsaw proposes to call ‘Fort Trump.’ A former Polish diplomat even complained that the Warsaw government had no input into the summit agenda, which he said was dominated by Washington, Israel and Saudi Arabia.

The Trump administration knew it had to hold its Mideast summit in Poland this week because it would not be welcome in Western European states. It’s a sign of the times when US diplomacy seems to be only hosted by marginal European states who are too obsequious to snigger at the farce.

February 14, 2019 Posted by | Militarism, Wars for Israel | , , | Leave a comment

Pence says EU must withdraw from Iran deal & stop trying to ‘break up’ sanctions on ‘vile regime’

RT | February 14, 2019

US Vice-President Mike Pence has demanded that Europe withdraw from the Iran nuclear deal and lashed out at the EU’s efforts to evade Washington’s sanctions on Tehran.

Speaking at a security conference in Warsaw, Pence chastized Europe for leading an “effort to create mechanisms to break up our sanctions” against Iran, and complained that European countries had not been “cooperative” since the Trump administration withdrew from the Iran deal last year.

“The time has come for our European partners to withdraw from the Iran nuclear deal” and join with the US to give the Iranian people and the world “peace, security and freedom,” he said.

Pence said the EU’s newly created Special Purpose Vehicle (SPV), conceived as a way to continue facilitating trade between the EU and Iran, was an “ill-advised step” which would only “strengthen Iran, weaken the EU, and create still more distance between Europe and the United States.”

In January, the EU unveiled a new transactions channel aimed at bypassing the SWIFT international payments system to circumvent US sanctions. The system, called INSTEX – or ‘Instrument in Support of Trade Exchanges’ – has limited capacity and only allows “humanitarian” trade by focusing on sectors “most essential” to Iranian people like food, pharmaceutical and medical devices. While the EU hailed the mechanism as a way to preserve the Iran deal, critics say it won’t change much as European countries still worry about US repercussions if they are “caught” evading sanctions and working in Iran.

Pence said that the US had been “a force for good” in the Middle East and claimed that Trump is committed to standing with “the good people of Iran and stand up to their oppressors.”

He cited the US’ withdrawal from the Iran deal as proof that Washington was making good on that promise, despite the fact that American sanctions, which Pence called “the toughest in history,” have had devastating effects on the Iranian people. He said the sanctions would “get tougher still” until Tehran complies with US demands, and said Washington’s efforts to isolate Iran was a “noble cause.”

Pence said that the nuclear deal did not ensure that the “vile regime” of Iran would not obtain nuclear weapons, but instead “delayed the day” that this would happen. This is despite the fact that Europe, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and the UN have all said that Iran is complying with the terms of the deal.

Pence called the Warsaw meeting, which was organized by the US and Poland, an “unprecedented gathering” of leaders, but the attendees list probably wasn’t quite what he might have hoped for, since major EU countries chose not to send top officials and Russia declined an invitation altogether. The summit was billed as a way to promote “peace and security in the Middle East” but focused mainly on efforts to isolate Iran. Ironically, Iran was not invited to the gathering.

Earlier at the conference, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said that peace and stability in the Middle East was “not possible” without confronting Iran.

The absence of top diplomats from Germany, France and the UK is a sign that Europe is not likely to back down on its continued support of the Iran deal or its efforts to continue trading with Tehran. Iran dismissed the meeting as an anti-Iran “circus” aimed at “demonizing” the country.

February 14, 2019 Posted by | Wars for Israel | , , , | 2 Comments

U.S. Tells Iran’s Oil Customers Not To Expect New Waivers

By Tsvetana Paraskova | Oilprice.com | February 7, 2019

Iran’s oil customers should not expect new U.S. waivers in May, the U.S. Special Representative for Iran, Brian Hook, said this week, urging buyers to stop importing Iranian oil.

“What we have announced is the policy to get to zero imports of Iranian crude as quickly as possible. We are not looking to grant any future waivers or exceptions to our sanctions regime, whether it is oil or anything else,” Hook told Japanese public broadcaster NHK while on a visit to Japan.

When it re-imposed sanctions on Iran last November, the U.S. granted waivers to eight countries so they could continue purchasing oil from Iran at reduced rates until early May 2019.

Some of those buyers, including the four major Asian buyers of Iranian oil—China, India, Japan, and South Korea—have recently resumed buying limited volumes of Iranian crude oil, after a period of around a month and a half in which they had to clarify how much and under what conditions they would purchase oil from Iran.

Earlier this week, Iran criticized Italy and Greece for not buying Iranian oil despite the fact that they had obtained waivers to do so.

The U.S. Administration has not officially said that no waivers will be issued, but officials have said that the goal is to drive Iranian exports to zero. Analysts, however, believe that there will be a direct correlation between the U.S. Iran waivers policy and the price of oil at the time Washington decides.

Despite the fact that the U.S. is not looking to grant any waivers to Iranian oil customers when the current ones expire in early May, it shouldn’t be taken for granted that no waivers will be issued, Hook and analysts hinted last month.

“We did not want to lift the price of oil, and we were successful doing that. So when the president left the deal it was trading at $74. When our sanctions went back into effect, and we had taken off a million barrels of Iranian crude, oil was at $72,” Hook said at Atlantic Council’s 2019 Global Energy Forum in Abu Dhabi in mid-January.

February 9, 2019 Posted by | Economics, Wars for Israel | , , | 2 Comments

Hopes Fade for EU to Rescue Iran Via Banking Scheme to Bypass Sanctions – but Was It Ever a Serious Plan?

By Martin JAY | Strategic Culture Foundation | 08.02.2019

At the end of September, the European Union unveiled plans to help Iran bypass sanctions imposed by the US, so that it could sell oil and even trade with EU countries. The move followed Trump finally losing his patience over the so-called Iran Deal – a treaty drafted by Barak Obama which effectively prevented Iran from developing nuclear weapons in return for opening up Iran’s economy to the West and unblocking funds held outside of the country – which he dismisses as a bad deal for American interests in the region.

In reality, Trump’s real problem with the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPA), is the same one which vexed America’s two strongest allies in the Middle East, which is that it did nothing to curtail Iran’s real strength against any external threat: its ballistic missiles program.

And so, to appease these two partners, who felt betrayed by Obama, sanctions were imposed against Iran – along with secondary sanctions, imposed via other countries (although this has not been as successful as Trump would have hoped) – and a new ‘war’ against Iran began, aimed at largely toppling its moderate government, while Saudi Arabia gains time to move ahead with its own ballistic missile program.

A key part of spurring a downfall of the present regime in Tehran, was both secondary sanctions wielded against Turkey, China and India, threatening them against buying Iran’s cheap oil, along with forcing the EU to stop trading altogether with Tehran. At one point, Trump’s plan looked like it was working with Europe as all the main investors inside Iran packed their bags and promptly left Iran within weeks of his sanctions plan being announced.

But there was great optimism about Iran finding a clever go-around and still sell its oil to EU governments as well as foster trade with European companies who were not afraid of the threats from the US via its banking system to shut companies off from the US market.

The European Union’s own foreign policy damsel, Federica Mogherini, who stole a lot of the credit for the Iran Deal being signed in the first place (when in reality the Iranians humored her with this idea all along) had a plan. She soon announced that a new banking system to be called INSTEX would be created specifically to allow EU governments and companies to trade with Iran. Although on paper it seemed pretty simple, there were warnings from experts that it might be a difficult task to pull off, given the complexities of international banking, not to mention international laws; moreover, the EU has no real track record of pulling off anything so bold as this before as the so-called ‘foreign policy’ initiatives it has are largely grand ideas on paper – fantasies of what it might be one day rather than the present day European External Action Service which employs over a 100 ‘ambassadors’ who largely live in Djin palaces and keep the dream alive around the world in exotic locations whose governments are happy to give Brussels the cash-for-hegemony deal anytime.

Sadly, it seems that Mogherini’s plan for the banking scheme which was to send a clear signal to Trump as well as keep the Iran Deal alive, is folly and delusional – given that, for Mogherini and her colleagues, the Iran Deal is seen as their great success to exercise EU foreign policy into concrete terms and to create the first ever international treaty drafted by Brussels. It is more or less sacrosanct and considered to be a treaty which now can be used to exert EU hegemony against Trump’s new world order which they consider geopolitical heresy.

Yet the Iran Deal has so much fake news and false prophesies – like Trump’s claims that the Iranians got 150 billion dollars from it, when in reality they only got just over 30 and it was their money in the first place – and the EU’s idea seems just that. Just more fake news.

For the first time, there are growing doubts about both whether it can be pulled off and whether it was a genuine offer in the first place as Brussels appears to be at odds with the giants of the EU, who are cranking up the sanctions to new levels.

Just recently, France’s foreign minister warned Tehran of new sanctions if Tehran would not agree to curbs its ballistic missiles program, regardless of the fact that ballistics were never part of the Iran Deal. France, a founding member of the European Union itself and a country with real clout in Brussels seems to be at odds with the EU’s plans, to say the least. Or was the Brussels plan the real deal in the first place?

Concurrent to this, are also the first real signals from Tehran that it doubts the EU’s sincerity in the draft banking plan. Politicians there, feeling the heat from sanctions and living with daily rumours of a possibility of a military coup engineered by the charismatic, anti-US military figure Qasem Soleimani, are starting to cry foul.

In reality, we shouldn’t get too excited about the scheme, as Tehran clearly isn’t holding out too much hope. In addition to there being many doubts about whether European firms will sign up to it, even if it gets off the ground it will only appeal to smaller companies that are flying under the US radar anyway. Additionally, earlier hopes that it could be used to sell Iran’s oil to Europe, have been dashed.

The EU is living in dangerous times. With its own elections this May expected to give record wins to nationalist, populist parties – in particular in France – it is facing its worst ever credibility crisis, which explains the fear mongering led by President Macron with his latest Brexit speech. But if Brussels can’t deliver on Iran’s rescue package, then it won’t matter if far right parties dominate the European parliament, signaling the demise once and for all, of the EU as we know it. Brussels will never be taken seriously again around the world where it practices its fake hegemony as no one will forget the farce of the EU and the Iran Deal. INSTEX may well be the sword that the EU falls on, certainly on the world’s stage, when the hype dies down and it is dispatched to the press room floor as folly for a wannabee superpower.

February 8, 2019 Posted by | Economics, Wars for Israel | , , , , , , | Leave a comment