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Iran can be Trump’s nemesis

By M. K. BHADRAKUMAR | Indian Punchline | June 15, 2019

What a coincidence that a leaked document from the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) just exposed that the chemical weapons attack in Douma, Syria in April, 2018 was most likely staged. In security parlance, it was a false flag operation — stage-managed cunningly to create the alibi for a ‘humanitarian intervention’ by the West in Syria.

As it happened, the US and France did stage a missile strike at Syrian government targets in July that year, alleging that Damascus was culpable for what happened in Douma, ignoring the protests by Russia.

False flag operations are not uncommon, but the US holds a PhD on that genre. The most famous one in modern history was the Gulf of Tonkin incident of August 1964 where the US government deliberately misrepresented facts to justify a war against Vietnam.

Prima facie, there is enough circumstantial evidence to estimate that the attack on two tankers in the Gulf of Oman on June 13 has been a false flag operation. The attack on the two tankers with cargo heading for Japan took place just as the Japanese PM Shinzo Abe sat down for the meeting yesterday with Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei in Tehran.

The fact of the matter is that Abe was on a delicate mission to try to kickstart talks between the US and Iran. It is one of those delicate moments when a slight push can derail or even undermine the nascent move for dialogue. True, in the first round, Khamenei rejected talks with the US. But, as Abe said later, more efforts are needed for easing tensions between the US and Iran.

Therefore, as regards the incident yesterday in the Gulf of Oman, the question to be asked is: Who stands to gain? Most certainly, it cannot be Iran, which has just laid on the table in plain terms what it takes for negotiations to commence between the US and Iran — President Trump abandoning what Tehran calls the US’ ‘economic terrorism’ against it. Khamenei told Abe with great frankness that it is futile to negotiate with the US, which keeps resiling from international agreements. No doubt, Trump has been highly erratic by making overtures to Iran on the one hand and tightening the screw on the other hand. (See my blog Abe’s mediatory mission to Tehran hangs in the balance.)

Simply put, Iran has no axe to grind by undermining Abe’s mission, especially since Japan is the only western power, which, historically speaking, never ever acted against Iran but on the contrary consistently maintained friendly ties and showed goodwill. (Once in 1953, Japan even ignored the British-American embargo against Iran and went ahead to import Iranian oil.)

However, this much cannot be said about certain regional states  — which Iran has called the ‘B Team’ — that are bent on perpetuating the US-Iran standoff and incrementally degrade Iran to a point that a military confrontation ensues at some point in which American power dispatches that country to the “Stone Age”, as the present US National Security Advisor John Bolton once put it.

In this rogues’ gallery, apart from Israel, there is also Saudi Arabia and the UAE. Bolton, of course, is mentored by Israel and it is an established fact that he has received money for services rendered from the Mojahedin-e Khalq, the anti-Iran terrorist group based in France, which espouses the overthrow of the Islamic regime in Tehran.

Iran has sounded warnings in recent weeks, including at the level of Foreign Minister Javad Zarif,  that this ‘B Team’ would at some point stage false flag operations to ratchet up tensions and/ or precipitate a crisis situation, that would in turn prompt Trump to order some sort of military action against Iran.

To be sure, the stakes are very high for Israel, Saudi Arabia and the UAE if Abe’s mission advances further and the current tensions begin to ease. An added factor for the ‘B Team’ is that time is the essence of the matter. It increasingly seems that Bolton’s job as NSA is in danger. Trump has hinted more than once that he does not subscribe to Bolton’s warmongering. The well-known ex-CIA officer and commentator John Kiriakou wrote this week that the White House has “very quietly and discreetly begun informal meetings with a list of a half-dozen possible replacements for Bolton.” (See the commentary in Consortium News titled JOHN KIRIAKOU: Bolton’s Long Goodbye.) It is crucial for the ‘B Team’ that Bolton keeps his job in the White House. And there is no better way to hold back Trump from sacking his NSA when a crisis situation looms large in the Middle East.

Be that as it may, the US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has announced that Iran is responsible for the incident in the Gulf of Oman. He claimed in a statement, “This assessment is based on intelligence, the weapons used, the level of expertise needed to execute the operation, recent similar Iranian attacks on shipping, and the fact that no proxy group operating in the area has the resources and proficiency to act with such a high degree of sophistication.”

Now, doesn’t Israel too have the intelligence capability, weapons and expertise to execute such a false flag operation? Read Pompeo’s statement carefully and its laboured tone gives away that the ex-CIA Director (who recently even bragged openly about the art of lying in diplomacy and politics) was  far from convincing.

So, where’s the beef? Pompeo has instructed that the UN Ambassador Jonathan Cohen raise the matter in the UN Security Council. There is an eerie similarity to what once one of Pompeo’s predecessors as state secretary, Colin Powell did — manufacturing evidence of WMD program by Saddam Hussein to pave the way for the US to invade Iraq.

What needs to be factored in is that the US anticipates that in another fortnight, Iran’s 60-day deadline for the European countries to come up with concrete steps to fulfil their commitments under the 2015 Iran nuclear deal will expire. The German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas’s visit to Tehran last week was a calculated attempt to persuade Iran to accept the stark reality that it must unilaterally fulfil its commitments under the nuclear deal while there is little the EU can do in practical terms to defy the US sanctions. Maas tried to persuade Iran to accept the US’ demand that non-nuclear issues (such as Iran’s missile programme, regional policies, etc.) also be negotiated under a new pact. Quite obviously, the European powers, despite their bravado (in words), are falling in line with Trump’s strategy of ‘maximum pressure’ against Iran.

If Iran decides to reject the idea of unilaterally observing the 2015 deal (without any reciprocal acts by the international community), the US and its western allies will want to take the matter to the UNSC to revive the UN’s past (pre-2015) sanctions against Iran. The big question is whether Russia and China would allow such a turn of events. Tehran has categorically denied any involvement in yesterday’s incident. And Iran is playing it cool. President Hassan Rouhani and Foreign Minister Javad Zarif left Tehran for Bishkek on June 13, as scheduled previously, to participate in the Shanghai Cooperation summit.    

Meanwhile, the US has made an additional deployment to the region. But then, the US Central Command has also signalled to Tehran in a statement: “We have no interest in engaging in a new conflict in the Middle East. We will defend our interests, but a war with Iran is not in our strategic interest, nor in the best interest of the international community.”

At this point, the logical thing to do will be to insist on an impartial investigation by the UNSC on the incident. But, curiously, no country is willing to bell the cat. Russia, which is usually quick on demanding facts before reaching any definitive opinion on such murky situations, is also not in a hurry to demand investigation. Can it be that everyone understands that this was a false flag operation and could only be Bolton’s last waltz with Netanyahu?

Trump is walking a fine line. He has blamed Iran, but refrained from saying what he proposed to do. The fact remains that a highly dangerous situation is developing in and around the Straits of Hormuz, which is a choke point for oil tankers.

An entanglement with Iran’s Pasdaran is the last thing Trump would want as he plans to announce shortly his candidacy for the 2020 election. The situation is fraught with grave political risks, if one recalls how the Iran crisis spelt doom for Jimmy Carter’s re-election campaign in 1980.

Trump has bitten more than he could chew, as the strong rebuke Iran’s Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei administered to him underscores. Iran may turn out to be Trump’s nemesis.

Read the CNN ‘analysis’ here taunting Trump to walk the talk on Iran.

June 15, 2019 Posted by | False Flag Terrorism, Wars for Israel | , , , , | 1 Comment

‘Does Not Make Sense’: Fallout From Oil Tanker Attack Benefits Emiratis, Saudis, Not Tehran

Sputnik – 15.06.2019

In an interview with Radio Sputnik’s Loud and Clear, Mohammed Marandi, an expert on American studies and postcolonial literature who teaches at the University of Tehran, dismissed the US accusation that Iran was responsible for the attacks on two oil tankers in the Gulf of Oman Thursday, saying Tehran had nothing to gain from such a move.

“There is obviously a great deal of skepticism [in Iran], because the first attack that was carried out about a month ago on a number of ships near the port off the UAE [United Arab Emirates] coast happened almost immediately after [US National Security Adviser John] Bolton said that he had received intelligence from the Israelis that Iran wants to carry out attacks on US interests,” Marandi told hosts John Kiriakou and Brian Becker.

Bolton previously accused Iran of attacking tankers located off the coast of the Emirati port of Fujairah earlier this month. On May 12, four oil tankers — two Saudi, one Norwegian and one Emirati — were targeted by acts of sabotage in the UAE’s exclusive economic zone in the Gulf of Oman. According to Bolton, the four oil tankers were targeted by “naval mines almost certainly from Iran.”

On Thursday, the “Front Altair” oil tanker, owned by Norwegian company Frontline, and the chemical tanker “Kokuka Courageous,” owned by Japanese company Kokuka Sangyo, were attacked near the Strait of Hormuz, a narrow stretch of water between the Persian Gulf and Gulf of Oman, and one of the most important passageways for world oil supplies.

“Now as the Japanese Prime Minister comes to Iran after 41 years … he is on his way to see the [Iranian Supreme] leader [Ayatollah Ali Khamenei] in the morning, and as he’s getting ready, two ships are hit right outside that are linked to Japan,” Marandi explained. “These attacks seem, again, to be designed to harm Iranian interests, because the Iranian leader, in the meeting with the prime minister, called Japan a friend of Iran. So why would Iran attack targets affiliated or associated with Japan at a time when the prime minister is in Iran? It simply does not make sense.”

On Friday, US President Donald Trump accused Iran of attacking the tankers, claiming that a video released by the US military proves Tehran’s culpability. Just a day prior, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo claimed that the attacks were executed with such a high degree of sophistication, with all 44 crew members of the tankers being safely evacuated, that Iran was the only power in the region that could have been behind them.

However, on Friday, Yutaka Katada, the president of Kokuka Sangyo, refuted the US version of events, claiming that crew members on the Japanese ship saw a flying object right before the attack.

“I do not think there was a time bomb or an object attached to the side of the ship. A mine doesn’t damage a ship above sea level. We aren’t sure exactly what hit, but it was something flying towards the ship,” Katada said, according to Japanese media.

“I’m glad to know that people think that when Iran carries out an attack, they’re very careful not have people killed. I guess that means that they expect the Israelis and Americans to kill innocent people in such attacks,” Marandi told Sputnik.

“But I don’t think that is a credible argument. In fact, it runs in contrast to American claims. Americans are claiming that Iranian oil exports are down to zero, which is not true, but if that’s the case, what’s the use in driving up the price of oil?” Marandi asked.

Following the attacks Thursday, oil prices rose by 4% with Brent Crude, the international benchmark for oil prices, spiking to $61.99 a barrel. The US has previously threatened to reduce Iranian crude oil exports “to zero” via sanctions.

“[The rise in oil prices] only benefits the Saudis and the Emiratis. It would make the vast amount of oil that they export more expensive,” Marandi noted.

“The most important point [that one] can make about Iranian responses to the US is a) that the Iranians will restart elements of the nuclear program, and they will decrease their commitment to the [Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action] JCPOA, and that will put pressure on the US and the Europeans; and b) I am very confident that the Iranians are helping the Yemenis in their fight against Saudi and Emirati aggression,” Marandi added. “And the amount of damage that the Yemeni armed forces are doing to the Saudis has gone up dramatically. We have seen how sophisticated the Yemeni defense capabilities have become over the last couple of years, and I think that the transfer of tech to the Yemenis has been from friendly countries like Iran.”

In May 2018, Trump announced the US’ withdrawal from the 2015 Iran nuclear deal, the JCPOA, reinstating harsh sanctions against Tehran. Last month, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said that Iran would begin stockpiling low-enriched uranium and heavy water, which can be used to build nuclear weapons in nuclear reactors. He also said the country would start enriching uranium to higher levels than permitted under the terms of the JCPOA.

June 15, 2019 Posted by | False Flag Terrorism | , | 2 Comments

UK report on ‘human rights’ forgets to mention Saudi Arabia in section on Yemen war

RT | June 12, 2019

The UK has published its annual human rights report, but with some notable omissions in its section on Yemen’s war – namely the identity of the country bombing its civilians, and the UK’s own involvement in the conflict.

The 2018 “Human Rights & Democracy”report from the UK’s Foreign & Commonwealth Office (FCO) includes an almost 800-word section on the humanitarian situation in Yemen – but, to a reader unfamiliar with the specifics, the document offers few clues as to who bears most responsibility for the crisis, since the British report seems to have forgotten to mention some key details.
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The FCO report laments that the “human rights situation worsened in Yemen in 2018” and “the conflict in the country has had a devastating effect.” It then details the estimated numbers of lives lost and displaced citizens according to UN statistics, but doesn’t seem eager to pin blame on anyone in particular, laying responsibility at the feet of “multiple parties.”

“Multiple parties across the country committed a wide range of human rights abuses and violations.”

Yet, a UN investigative report last year found that airstrikes by the Saudi-led coalition had caused “most of the documented civilian casualties” in the country – and said the indiscriminate strikes had hit “residential areas, markets, funerals, weddings, detention facilities, civilian boats and even medical facilities.”

The UN also criticized the Saudi coalition’s sea and air blockades, which, it argued, could violate international humanitarian law, and called on the “international community” to “refrain from providing arms that could be used in the conflict.”

But who is providing arms? The FCO report is quiet on that front, too.

It has been estimated that the UK sold more than £4.7 billion-worth of arms to Saudi Arabia since its bombing of Yemen began in 2015. British arms sales to Riyadh account for nearly half of the UK’s major weapons exports. Calls for an end to Britain’s direct complicity in the war have fallen on deaf ears.

Former UK foreign secretary –and frontrunner for the Tory leadership– Boris Johnson recommended that the UK sell British bomb parts to Riyadh, immediately after an airstrike had hit a potato factory, killing 14 people, UK media reported this week, after emails obtained by arms trade expert Dr Anna Stavrianakis, through an FOI request, revealed Johnson’s enthusiasm for the sale. In justifying the sale, the FCO’s Arms Policy Export Team argued that there was no “clear risk” that the weapons would be used to violate humanitarian law and said the UK had “confidence” in the Saudi’s “dynamic targeting processes.”

The day after Johnson recommended the sale, a village school was hit in another airstrike, killing 10 children and injuring 20. Johnson’s successor, current UK Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt, has incredibly argued that it would be “morally bankrupt” for the UK to stop arming the Saudis, because if it did, “the people of Yemen would be the biggest losers.”

Yet, the FCO report praises what it calls the UK’s“continued commitment to improving the overall human rights situation” in the country and touts its provision of “emergency cash assistance” to vulnerable displaced women and girls, as well as a UK programme aiming to “increase Yemeni women’s inclusion in the peace process.”

The one (and only) mention of Saudi Arabia came more than halfway through the section on Yemen – a tepid line on the use of secret prisons “in areas under the Saudi-led coalition’s control” – inserted without any context as to who makes up the coalition, who supports it and what it is doing.

The report then quickly switches back to self-praise mode, with the FCO promising that the UK “will continue to lead international efforts to work towards an end to the conflict.”

The section on UK ally Saudi Arabia itself begins by lauding the “positive trajectory of social reform” in the country and condemns various continued human rights violations, but makes no mention of Saudi Arabia’s actions in Yemen.

June 12, 2019 Posted by | War Crimes | , , , | Leave a comment

Trump Is Not Extricating Himself on Iran. He Is Being ‘Dug in’

By Alastair Crooke | Strategic Culture Foundation | June 10, 2019

Little doubt: it was intentional, a tactical ploy. Trump initially appeared to distance himself from the hawkishness of his team on Iran, by saying that ‘no’, he didn’t want war: No – really, he only wanted the Iranians to call him. He even riffs Bolton for his propensity for war. Since then, the press has been full of stories of ‘channels’ to Iran opening, and of mediators aloft. And we are regaled too with hints of some potential rift between the President and Bolton.

Of course, it was all good PR, and pure Art of the Deal: Invite your counter-party to negotiate precisely at the moment it is experiencing maximum pressure, and is ‘weakened’. And the PR part worked as a charm. Hence the mediation hype in the media. So, why all this ‘hot and cold rhetoric’? Which is it? Is Trump having second thoughts about conflict, or not? Well, in a word: ‘not’. The tactics represent pressure: More pressure on Iran, that’s all.

Whilst all this plays out, the US military build-up against Iran persists, amidst mounting US claims of Iranian intent to threaten the US, and its allies (but absent any evidence). Yes, Pompeo did say, “we’re ready to sit down with them”. But, Pompeo then added, “the American effort to fundamentally reverse the malign activity of this Islamic republic, this revolutionary force, is going to continue”.

First, and foremost, Iran would have to begin behaving as “a normal country”, which as the WSJ observes, only comes about when Iran observes every one of the twelve conditions. “The US hasn’t dropped those demands,” the Journal writes, “and has increased pressure from economic sanctions as well as pursuing its military buildup in the region.”

Is it all bluster? Will Trump go all the way with his threats and pressures – but ultimately pull out, just short of war? That seems to be the general consensus today; but Team Trump’s view of Iran seems based in so many misconceptions, layered on other misconceptions, and on intelligence that amounts to no more than Mossad’s assessment of Iranian future intentions.

The consensus on ‘no conflict’ unfortunately, may turn out to have been overly sanguine. This is not because Trump consciously desires war, but because the hawks surrounding him, particularly Bolton, are painting him into a corner – from which he must either back down, or double down, if Iran does not first capitulate.

And here is the point: the main Trump misconception may be that he does believe that Iran wants, and ultimately, ‘will seek a deal’. Really?

It is quite difficult to imagine what President Rouhani’s response could be, if asked by the Iranian National Security Council: if you (i.e. Rouhani) were to enter talks with US, what precisely would you talk about; what would you say? The Trump Administration’s position is that Iran will not ‘be allowed’ to enrich uranium at all – which is to say that Iran would be precluded – contrary to the provisions of the NPT – from having nuclear generated electricity, as it has sought since the time of the Shah. (To suggest that the West would supply Iran with just enough uranium to work its reactors, but no more, is absurd. Iran would never place its industrial base in jeopardy, to some whimsical western decision to punish Iran for some one, or other, misdemeanor).

This has been the conundrum from the outset: Iran will not accept ‘zero enrichment’; and now Bolton and Pence will not allow it any enrichment. US policy has completed the circle, back to its positions of circa 2004: i.e. No Enrichment.

The Supreme Leader has said some days ago, that he only reluctantly agreed to talks with the Obama team on the assurance that Obama had indeed accepted the principle of Iranian in-country enrichment. With hindsight, Ayatollah Khamenei said, he made a mistake. He should never have allowed the talks to proceed.

Indeed, there is nothing to talk about – except how the US might revert to the status quo ante its JCPOA withdrawal, and how it might quietly re-enter the nuclear accord – without too much loss of face. But this is absolutely not an option for Bolton, or for his US Christian Zionist allies.

And some symbolic encounter, Trump – Kim Jong Un Singapore-style, is not an option for Iran. Nor, is a ‘freeze’ of the situation, as in North Korea. A freeze would mean that Iran continues under maximum US pressure, for as long as the freeze might last, and at no cost to the US.

Why then, is Trump heading down this ‘dead-end’ road that might trip him into an unwanted, and politically costly, conflict of some sort? Well, possibly because Trump has been ‘fed’ some nonsense ‘intelligence’ that Iran is on the cusp of an economic and political implosion – which is about to sweep away the Iranian Revolution into the dustbin of history. This is ‘the line’ currently being purveyed by Netanyahu and Mossad, and by others inside the US (based on the usual, suspect exile stories). Trump might conclude from such assessments that war is not a risk, since the imminent collapse of Iran would make acting out any military threats redundant. He can afford, in short, just to wait out the collapse. If you detect a whiff of Iraq in the run-up to 2003 about all this (i.e. the input of Curveball and Chalabi), you would be right, in more ways than one – it is more than just the part played by embittered exiles in framing the prospect for war.

There is a conception that Bolton, as National Security Adviser, has little clout over the Pentagon. But the American Conservative, in an article entitledAmassing War Powers, Bolton Rips a Page Out of Cheney’s Playbook’, points out the misconception:

The elevation of Patrick Shanahan to the secretary of defense position will likely make National Security Adviser John Bolton the most powerful voice inside President Donald Trump’s cabinet.

“So say defense analysts who spoke to TAC this week. Former US officials also said they fear that Shanahan’s relative lack of experience may set America on a path to war, and cited a New York Times report that Shanahan had delivered to Bolton a plan to send as many as 120,000 troops to the Middle East. Subsequent reports indicate that the Pentagon might be making plans to send even more … Stephen Wertheim, assistant professor of history at Columbia University, added, “when senators ‘think Shanahan’ [at confirmation hearings], they should think Bolton. Because a vacuum at the top of DoD, means that the department becomes a rubber stamp for Bolton””.

But more than this, the America Conservative ‘Cheney Playbook’ tag is right in another way: Bolton chairs at the NSC, the regular and frequent strategic dialogue meetings with Israel – intended to develop a joint action plan, versus Iran. What this means is that the Israeli intelligence assessments are being stovepiped directly to Bolton (and therefore to Trump), without passing by the US intelligence services for assessment or comment on the credibility of the intelligence presented (shades of Cheney confronting the analysts down at Langley). And Bolton too, will represent Trump at the ‘security summit’ to be held later this month in Jerusalem with Russia and Israel. Yes, Bolton truly has all the reins in his hands: He is ‘Mr Iran’.

Daniel Larison writes: “The Trump administration is still chasing after the fantasy that Russia will help push Iranian forces out of Syria”:

“A senior White House official said in a conference call with reporters that the US plans to stress to Russia during its trilateral national security advisers summit in Jerusalem this month that Iranian forces and their proxies have to leave Syria.

“The administration has been seeking Russian cooperation on this front for the last year. It has never made sense. The Russian government has no reason to agree to the US plan. Why would Russia do the US the favor of supporting the administration’s anti-Iranian policy? The administration’s problem is that they wrongly believe that other governments share their opinion of Iran’s role in the region. Reuters quotes an administration official saying this:

“But beyond discussions to prevent any unintended military escalation, the US official said the goal of the talks would be “to see how we can potentially work together to get rid of the primary irritant in the Middle East, which is the Islamic Republic of Iran.”

“The US and Israel may consider Iran to be “the primary irritant,” but Russia doesn’t see things this way and it isn’t going to respond favorably to efforts to enlist them in an anti-Iranian pressure campaign. Russia wants to cultivate good relations with Israel, so they are participating in the meeting, but that participation shouldn’t be taken as a sign that they are interested in giving Bolton what he wants. All in all, this meeting in Jerusalem will make for a curious photo op, but it isn’t going to produce anything significant.”

Yes. Another misconception, it seems. But one that is hugely convenient for Bolton – for, if the US fails to achieve a commitment on the part of Russia to ensure the expulsion of Iran from Syria, then we are likely to witness escalation by Israel – backed by the US – against Iranian elements in Syria. Already, we have seen missiles landing in occupied Golan in recent days – as a signal that Syria and Iran may be ready to activate the Golan as a new front in the conflict with Israel.

The Bolton squeeze with regard to Iran is in high gear. The aim, Col Pat Lang suggests, “is probably to pressure Iran until they lash out somewhere against US forces or interests”.

It may be, (or it may not be), that Trump is bluffing in his menaces to Iran. Trump may indeed be opposed to war – though, on the other hand, he has never missed an opportunity, over the years, to castigate and demonise Iran, whilst lauding Saudi Arabia in extravagant language. Bluffs do get called. And, does Trump really understand how improbable it is that Iran now will ‘lift the phone to call him’? Is he at all familiar with the complexities of more than a decade of nuclear negotiations with Iran?

No? Well Bolton and Netanyahu surely are – as they lead a willing President down the narrowing path, to the point where he has no alternative but either a humiliating retreat back down that path, or to double-down and go further.

So where is this taking us? Well, firstly, there will be Iranian push-back (to Bolton’s delight). For the present, Iran remains within the JCPOA; but it is limiting and curtailing its partial commitments (which is permitted, under the terms of the accord – when a signatory to the accord is not observing the deal). Iran has indeed started to accelerate enrichment, but has not breached the limits on its holding of uranium or heavy water – though it likely soon will. After 60 days, if the EU is not moving towards normalizing of its economic relations with Iran, we may see Iran increase the level of enrichment above 3.67%. And secondly, Iran has clearly signaled that US Gulf Allies who have urged, and supported the US attrition against Iran, will begin to experience pain, too. Iran has warned that any new ‘Gulf War’ would include the destruction of the energy infrastructure of some Gulf States. It would take twenty years for the Gulf to recover from such an event,

And whilst it is true that the US is not in a position to mount a full war on Iran, this does not mean that the US cannot escalate military pressures on Iran via Special Forces working with insurgent ethnic minorities inside the country to destabilize it, or to degrade Iranian infrastructure through missile or ‘bunker-buster’ attacks.

And when Iranian push-back starts, as the pressures escalates – and when it becomes clear that Russia will not act as America’s policeman in respect to Iran, Hizbullah or the Hash’d a-Shaibi, as Russia won’t – then the ‘war party’ will urge Trump to send Iran a painful ‘message’ of American ‘deterrence’ – and then what? Is it safe to conclude Trump will demur?

No. It is not possible to assert ‘there will be no conflict’. There is some risk. And Iran knows it.

June 10, 2019 Posted by | Timeless or most popular, Wars for Israel | , , , , | 1 Comment

Saudi Arabia tightens grip on Palestinians, hampers remittances to Gaza: Report

Press TV – June 8, 2019

Less than a week after Saudi authorities arrested more than 60 people, including Palestinian expatriates and Saudi nationals, on charges of supporting the Palestinian Hamas resistance movement, they have now blocked money transfers between the kingdom and the Gaza Strip.

The new step taken by the Riyadh regime against Palestinians involves official and non-official money transfers as the procedure has witnessed a marked decline over the past week and during the Eid al-Fitr holiday, which marks the end of the Muslim holy fasting month of Ramadan, Arabic-language al-Khaleej Online news website reported.

The report described residents of the besieged and impoverished Gaza Strip as the main victims of the move. Most of the bank transfers that used to be carried out normally in the past, were frozen just a few days before the start of the holiday.

Remittance transactions are taking much longer time than usual – something that used to be done in a matter of few hours.

Many Palestinians have complained of the move, and termed it as “unprecedented.” They argue that the process of transferring money between Saudi Arabia and the Gaza Strip has become extraordinarily difficult.

Abu Fuad, a resident of the Gaza Strip who refused to give his last name for fear that his family could be persecuted in the Saudi Arabian port city of Jeddah, said he has experienced difficulty receiving money from his family.

“It is three days since the remittance has been made, but I have not received anything. Financial transfers used to be done in a few hours and without any obstacles in the past. But since the week before the Eid, the procedures have become complex and most of the transfers are frozen without any obvious reason,” he said.

Abu Fuad considered the measure as a “new crackdown on the Palestinian community living in Saudi Arabia,” stressing that it would aggravate their sufferings as students rely heavily on money transferred from their families living outside the kingdom.

He called upon the Palestinian Embassy in Riyadh to intervene immediately, and try to work out a quick and practical solution to the crisis, which has negatively affected the Palestinian community in Saudi Arabia.

Over the past two years, Saudi authorities have deported more than 100 Palestinians from the kingdom, mostly on charges of supporting Hamas resistance movement financially, politically or through social networking sites.

The Riyadh regime has imposed strict control over Palestinian funds in Saudi Arabia since the end of 2017.

All remittances of Palestinian expatriates are being tightly controlled, fearing that these funds could be diverted indirectly and through other countries to Hamas.

Money transfer offices are asking the Palestinians to bring forward strong arguments for conversion, and do not allow the ceiling of one’s money transfer to exceed $3,000.

June 8, 2019 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Subjugation - Torture | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Saudi Arabia to Execute 18-year-old for Allegedly “Sowing Sedition”

Al-Manar | June 8, 2019

Saudi Arabia is seeking the death penalty for an 18-year-old it detained in 2014 for protesting on his bicycle as a 10-year-old.

It would make him the fourth teenager to be executed this year.

Murtaja Qureiris was retrospectively arrested by Saudi police in 2014 for allegedly staging a number of protests during the country’s Arab Spring movement in 2011.

Saudi prosecutors claim that Qureiris’ alleged activities encouraged the “sowing of sedition” and made him part of “an extremist terror group,” which warranted the death penalty. Qureiris denies those charges.

June 8, 2019 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Full Spectrum Dominance | , | 1 Comment

Probe says ‘state actor’ likely behind attack on tankers off UAE, doesn’t mention Iran – report

RT | June 7, 2019

After the US put the blame squarely on Iran for sabotaging four oil tankers off the coast of the United Arab Emirates, a preliminary probe concluded that a ‘state actor’ was likely behind the raid, but made no mention of Iran.

According to reports by Reuters and Bloomberg, preliminary findings from the investigation jointly conducted by the UAE, Saudi Arabia and Norway and presented at an informal UN briefing on Thursday, describe the attack as a complex effort that required significant resources.

The investigators argue that the attackers, who inflicted damage on the tankers, but did not cause casualties or an oil spill, required “high degree sophistication”, precise intelligence and “expert navigation of fast boats” to pick the targets, get in and get out undetected. All of this, they claim, are signs a ‘state actor’ was likely responsible.

This wording allows the countries behind the report, two of which are among the US’ main allies and arms sales clients in the Middle East, to maintain a neutral image without actually contradicting Washington, which accused Iran out of hand.

US President Donald Trump’s National Security Adviser John Bolton said last month that the attacks were “almost certainly” perpetrated by Iran, accusing it of planting “naval mines” under the ships. It’s unclear if Bolton’s assertion relied on any intelligence.

The UAE emirate of Fujairah, off the cost of which the attack took place, lies outside the Strait of Hormuz, a narrow waterway that separates the Persian Gulf and the Gulf of Oman. The strait is immensely important for oil transportation, with tankers carrying crude from the oil-rich Gulf countries must pass through it.

Previously, Iran threatened to block the oil shipments through the waterway in response to the US’ intent to bring Tehran’s oil exports to ‘zero.’

In a series of sharply escalating moves, the US recently declared Iran’s elite Revolutionary Guards a terrorist organization, then sent an aircraft carrier group to the Gulf, while signaling a possible massive boost to the number of American troops in the region.

The May 12 attack came at the height of the latest round of tension and targeted four commercial tankers, including two Saudi, one Emirati and one Norwegian ship. Iran has dismissed the accusations against it, calling the Bolton’s statement “ridiculous.”

June 6, 2019 Posted by | False Flag Terrorism | , , , , | 4 Comments

France’s arms sales to Saudis jumped by %50 in 2018: Data

Press TV – June 4, 2019

Newly-released figures show that France increased its weapons sales to Saudi Arabia by 50 percent last year despite growing international concern about the atrocities committed in a Saudi-led war on Yemen.

On Tuesday, an annual report by the French government showed that the country sold 1 billion euros’ worth of arms to Saudi Arabia in 2018, with the main item being patrol boats.

Saudi Arabia and a number of its allies — mainly the United Arab Emirates (UAE) — invaded Yemen in March 2015, with the goal of bringing a former Yemeni client regime back to power. The ongoing war has killed tens of thousands and disrupted the lives of millions by causing widespread famine as well as epidemics.

France, the third-biggest arms exporter in the world, is also among the top weapons exporters to Riyadh and Abu Dhabi.

The Saudi-led coalition has widely used French boats and at least two ships in placing a tight siege on Yemeni ports, particularly Hudaydah, a lifeline for the war-ravaged country’s crippled economy.

The French government has faced massive criticism for complicity in the war but has so far resisted pressure from rights groups to stop the lucrative arms trade with the two Persian Gulf countries, denying that the weapons are being used against the Yemenis. Paris claims that the arms are being deployed in “self defense.”

This is while in mid-April, a classified note from the French military intelligence service (DRM) estimated that over 430,000 Yemenis lived within the range of French artillery weapons on the Saudi-Yemeni border. It further estimated that French weapons had resulted in civilian casualties.

The revelation about the increased sales last year is expected to deepen mistrust in France’s position on the war.

“With such transfers revealing a geopolitical alliance with these regimes and total violation of international commitments, one can only expect worsening conflicts in Yemen or the Horn of Africa, where the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia are beginning to redeploy in partnership with France,” said Tony Fortin, with the Paris-based Observatory for Armament.

The French government report is also likely to draw a sharper contrast between Paris’ public stance versus its actual one.

Late last month, Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian described the war on Yemen as a “dirty war” and said that it “has to be stopped,” even as his country continued to mostly quietly sell weapons to both Riyadh and Abu Dhabi on a large scale.

Last month, Saudi cargo ship the Bahri-Yanbu, sent to France to pick up purchased French arms, triggered a protest rally by humanitarian groups.

Apart from Paris, the United States, Britain, and other Western countries have faced criticism over arms sales to the Saudi regime and its partners over the consequences for a war that has affected 28 million Yemenis and caused what the United Nations (UN) calls “one of the worst humanitarian crises in the world.”

The war has also taken a heavy toll on the country’s infrastructure, destroying hospitals, schools, and factories. The UN has said that a record 22.2 million Yemenis are in dire need of food, including 8.4 million threatened by severe hunger. According to the world body, Yemen is suffering from the most severe famine in more than 100 years.

The Tuesday report also revealed that France’s total arms sales rose 30 percent to 9.1 billion euros in 2018, driven by a jump in sales to European countries. Its arms exports to the Middle East also rose to four billion euros from 3.9 billion the year before.

June 4, 2019 Posted by | War Crimes | , , | Leave a comment

Qatar rejects anti-Iran statements of Mecca summits

Press TV – June 3, 2019

Qatar says it rejects the anti-Iran statements of the recent Mecca summits as they had been prepared in advance without consulting Doha.

“The statements of the [Persian] Gulf and Arab summits were ready in advance and we were not consulted on them,” Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al Thani told the Al-Araby broadcaster.

“Qatar has reservations on the Arab and [Persian] Gulf summits because some of their terms are contrary to Doha’s foreign policy,” he added.

“We hoped the Mecca summits would lay the groundwork for dialogue to reduce tensions with Iran,” the top diplomat said in comments reposted on Twitter by his ministry.

“The Mecca summit ignored the important issues in the region, such as the Palestine issue and the war in Libya and Yemen,” he went on to say.

Qatar is not the first Arab state to reject the final statements of the emergency meetings in Mecca. Following the talks, Iraq also opposed the communiqué issued by the Arab participants.

Iraq, which maintains close ties with neighboring Iran and has strong ties with Washington as well, objected to the communiqué, which required “non-interference in other countries” as a pre-condition for cooperation with Tehran.

Iraqi President Barham Salih asked the gathering to support his country’s stability, arguing that rising tensions with Iran could cause war. He voiced hope that Iran’s security would not be targeted.

“We are watching before our eyes the escalation of a regional and international crisis which can turn into war that will engulf all. If the crisis is not managed well, then we will be faced with the danger of a regional and international confrontation which will bring tragedy to our countries,” Salih said.

“The Islamic Republic of Iran is a Muslim country that is a neighbor to Iraq and Arabs. It is certain that we do not wish the security of Iran to be targeted. We share a common border that is 1,400 km long and a long history and relations, and it is also certain that the security of a fellow Islamic country is in the interest of Arab and Islamic countries. The region needs stability based on a mechanism of joint security that guarantees non-interference in internal affairs and the rejection of violence and extremism,” he added.

The statements mainly cited concerns about the recent sabotage attacks against several ships off the UAE. Both Saudi and Emirati officials have blamed the mysterious “sabotage” attacks on Iran while Iran has strongly denied any involvement, and offered to sign non-aggression pacts with the Persian Gulf Arab states.

Related:

Iran repeats offer on non-aggression pact with Arab states

June 2, 2019 Posted by | Mainstream Media, Warmongering | , , , , | 2 Comments

We Offered Dialogue but MBS Threatened to Take Battle into Iran: Zarif

Al-Manar | June 1, 2019

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said that the Islamic Republic offered Gulf states dialogue after clinching the nuclear deal in 2015, revealing that Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad Bin Salman’s reply was by threatening to take the battle into Iran.

In an interview with Al-Alam TV channel, Zarif said that shortly after the nuclear deal was clinched in 2015, and as Gulf states were concerned over the rapprochement between the US and Iran, “we refused talks with Washington over the region, stressing that such dialogue should be between the region neighbors only.”

“At time we clearly announced readiness for dialogue between Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) states, but unfortunately Mr. Mohammed Bin Salman frankly said that there is no dialogue with Tehran threatening to take the battle into Iran,” Zarif was quoted as saying in the interview.

The top Iranian diplomat said meanwhile, that the Islamic Republic’s power is a source of concern to the US, warning that any confrontation with Iran now will have negative impacts on states which are pushing towards such a step.

“We have huge defensive power and we can repel any threat.”

Zarif also stressed that the US should stop its “economic terrorism and policy of bullying.”

“The US through launching an economic war against Iranian people is waging an all-out war.”

June 1, 2019 Posted by | Aletho News | , | 1 Comment

Second Saudi ship leaves French port without arms cargo

MEMO | May 31, 2019

A Saudi cargo ship has left the southern French port of Fos-sur-Mer without loading its arms cargo destined for Saudi Arabia, blocked from doing so after pressure from rights campaigners, a French rights group said on Thursday, Reuters reports.

The incident reported by ACAT, a Christian organisation against torture, is the second time this month that a Saudi vessel has been blocked from loading arms in France as pressure mounts on Paris to stop arms sales to the kingdom.

A Saudi ship left France’s northern coast two weeks ago without a cargo of weapons after dockers threatened to block its arrival in the port of Le Havre. That came weeks after an online investigative site published leaked French military intelligence that showed weapons sold to the kingdom, including tanks and laser-guided missile systems, were being used against civilians in Yemen’s war.

ACAT said the Saudi freighter, Bahri Tabuk, returned to sea on Wednesday night, with its holds empty.

“Once again, faced with citizen mobilisation and our legal action, a Saudi freighter had to give up loading French weapons, this time in Fos-sur-Mer,” Nathalie Seff of ACAT-France said in a statement.

Refinitiv Eikon shipping data showed that the Saudi-flagged ship, labelled as a vehicle carrier which has transported soybean meal in the past, left Fos and was sailing to Alexandria in Egypt.

French and Saudi governments and the port authorities could not be reached for comment on Thursday evening.

French Armed Forces Minister Florence Parly has said that France had a partnership with Saudi Arabia. When the first vessel was blocked from loading in Le Havre, she said the arms were related to an order dating back several years.

ACAT said it had filed an appeal last week with the Paris Administrative Court to block weapons shipments to Saudi Arabia, arguing that the sales contravened a UN treaty because the arms could be used against civilians in the Yemeni conflict, but it said the appeal was rejected.

May 31, 2019 Posted by | Solidarity and Activism, War Crimes | , | Leave a comment

French rights group moves to block Saudi arms cargo

RT | May 28, 2019

A French humanitarian group is seeking to block a delivery of munitions to a Saudi ship docked at a port in southern France, arguing the weapons will be used to commit war crimes in Saudi Arabia’s conflict with Yemen.

The rights group, Action by Christians for the Abolition of Torture (ACAT), filed its legal challenge Tuesday, following up on a previous effort which successfully blocked a shipment of howitzer cannons to the Saudi Kingdom.

The cargo ship “is to load French weapons bound for Saudi Arabia, one of the main belligerents of the Yemeni conflict,” ACAT said in a statement Tuesday, adding it was “calling on civil society … to prevent these munitions from leaving” the port of Marseille-Fos.

The shipment is to include ammunition for the French-made Caesar howitzer, a truck-mounted artillery system, according to sources cited by investigative outlet Disclose. Though ACAT managed to block a howitzer shipment earlier this month, Saudi Arabia obtained several Caesar batteries in previous sales.

ACAT argues that the UN’s Arms Trade Treaty, ratified by France in 2014, provides a legal basis for a court order to block the cargo.

Under the treaty, “France undertook not to authorize the transfer of arms when it ‘has knowledge, at the time the authorization is requested that such weapons or property could be used to commit genocide, crimes against humanity’,” or other violations of humanitarian law, ACAT said, quoting the language of the agreement.

French Defense Minister Florence Parly told lawmakers Tuesday that she had no information on the shipment, but added that France must respect its alliance with the kingdom in any case. Parly has previously stated there was “no proof” that French weapons contributed to rights violations in the Yemen war.

In April, however, French journalists with Disclose published classified military intelligence documents revealing that French weapons likely were involved in strikes on civilians. French authorities have since interrogated the journalists and threatened them with jail time.

Earlier Tuesday Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian called on Saudi Arabia to end its “dirty war” on Yemen, but stopped short of demanding an end to French weapons sales, adding that France was “extremely vigilant” in its arms transfers.

Activists at Italian and Spanish ports have also attempted to interfere in the Saudi war effort, with Italian dock workers in Genoa refusing to load cargo onto a Saudi vessel earlier this month, and a similar, albeit unsuccessful, protest at the Spanish port of Santander.

The UN says Yemen is suffering the world’s worst humanitarian crisis, with millions dependent on humanitarian aid and tens of thousands killed in the fighting. A coalition of states led by Saudi Arabia began military operations in Yemen in March 2015, seeking to oust rebels from power and reinstate Yemeni President Mansour Hadi. Both the coalition and the rebels have violated the laws of armed conflict, according to rights groups, but the bulk of civilian casualties have been inflicted in the Saudi air war.

May 28, 2019 Posted by | Solidarity and Activism, War Crimes | , , | 1 Comment