Iran

It Only Gets Worse

TriangleofDoomgc2reddit-logoOff the keyboard of Steve Ludlum

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Published on the Economic Undertow on September 20, 2016

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Discuss this artile at the Geopolitics Table inside the Diner

Carl von Clausewitz famously remarked, “War is the continuation of policy by other means … ” What do the experts at the New York Times say?

Syria’s Paradox: Why the War Only Ever Seems to Get Worse

 

 

 

 

 

What is true for Syria is true for everything else. The economy only ever seems to get worse. Business and trade only ever seem to get worse. The state of the environment is flat-out getting worse no ‘seems to’ about it; much more of our precious industrial ‘prosperity’ and our world will be reduced to barren rocks surrounded by raging oceans of poisonous slime, an ‘out-world’ from a sci-fi novel. Our social- and political discourse only ever seems to get worse … our media … our public services. In our rapidly unfolding Age of Less, ‘Worse’ is the corollary. Heaven help us when we get to worst, we’ll be looking back at the Syria war as a kind of Golden Age.

Experts on civil wars say there are several reasons Syria is
“a really, really tough case” that defies historical parallels.

 

 

 

 

 

 

There is a basic fact about Syria’s civil war that never seems to change: It frustrates any attempt at resolution.

Despite many offensives, peace conferences and foreign interventions, including this week’s Turkish incursion into a border town, the only needle that ever seems to move is the one measuring the suffering of Syrians — which only worsens.

Academic research on civil wars, taken together, reveals why. The average such conflict now lasts about a decade, twice as long as Syria’s so far. But there are a handful of factors that can make them longer, more violent and harder to stop. Virtually all are present in Syria.

Many stem from foreign interventions that were intended to end the war but have instead entrenched it in a stalemate in which violence is self-reinforcing and the normal avenues for peace are all closed.

The fact that the underlying battle is multiparty rather than two-sided also works against resolution.

 

 

 

 

 

The experts’ conclusion in twenty-five words or less: there is indeed a war, it’s a big one, it has many adversaries arrayed against each other and it is likely to get worse. The subtext is ‘lucky for us Syria is safely out of sight’. This is the same subtext behind the endless barrage of marketing for the Pentagon and its minions. “Thank you for your service,” means ‘thanks for starting and fighting your endless, stupid wars somewhere far away.’

The experts never mention resource depletion and the battle over what little remains. In the conversation about wars that get worse, anyone bringing up limits is a Luddite consigning the human race to living in caves

Other experts weigh in … offering more of the same. It turns out experts are one of our corrosive, undermining problems; there are too many of them, they intermediate everything, or rather they insert their all-knowing intermediation into every aspect of our lives. Our economies are managed by bankers and economists, the environment by business executives and process engineers, foreign policy by think tanks and shadowy, unaccountable ‘intelligence’ agencies, by diplomats and generals and their staffs of sub-contracted experts … sorcerers’ apprentices and their armies of mop-slaves.

The professionals always seem to begin well, there are reasons why they become experts in the first place. Soon enough, they falter and then they are stuck; they have done their worst already they have nothing more to offer. All that remains is for them to throw up their hands and ‘rationalize’ which is expert jargon for ‘lie’. “Thank me for my service, suckers!”

The Syria war like all the others is the product of experts, their prescription is always more of what has failed already. According to them the war in Syria is about the war in Syria and nothing else. Obviously the experts cannot conclude they- or their fellows are at fault because doing so would call into question the entire enterprise. Expertise pursues it own internal logic, the perpetuation of the status quo in a kind of self- suspending animation until the problem — or the experts themselves — fade away, lose interest, become senile and die of old age.

Expertise is a form of marketing. The experts’ job is to craft narrative myths that ‘sell’ American-style material progress: more and more modernity, more cars and diversions, more real estate, consumer goods and services … Experts are actors, their first job is to conform to public expectations, ‘as seen on TV”. By so doing, the expert fixes his place within the culture while the materialist culture’s supremacy is reinforced at the same time.

Given the relationship between war and politics one would think the experts would put the players into some sort of political context. After all, politics is the art of resolution. Instead, they dance around the subject or leave it out of the conversation altogether as if it is distasteful. Politics is the dog that doesn’t bark; a Vatican convocation where Jesus is never mentioned; dying patients surrounded by doctors who cannot bring themselves to make a diagnosis. Part of the confusion is ‘the fog of war’; participants have little- or no idea what is going on right in front of them. Analysts have perspective that comes with distance but must rely on second- and third hand material. What appears in the media including the social networks is public relations intended to serve business interests. The Syria war is among the first taking place in real time on Twitter and YouTube, untangling trends from the background noise and red herrings becomes a labor of the gods. There are endless, conflicting ‘official versions’ layered with wishful thinking and the purposefully malign indifference of corporate marketing.

Meanwhile, around the corner, over the horizon and through the forest of trees lurks reality and its invisible, entropic, smashing hand. Reality is never hard to see, but like the nameless horrors of H P Lovecraft, one must be able to bear looking at it. We never do, we’d rather look at the pretty pictures, instead:

This *simple* chart shows all states of hostility currently being played out on ’s territory

 

Nice color scheme by Charles Lister, a bona-fide Middle East Expert! Can a six-figure Defense Department hire be far off? Here is another version from CNN, they both say ‘there is a war in Syria’: Dudes, we know that already!

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Figure 1: Syrian combatants tastefully arranged in a circle by CNN, Note the central position of Islamic State. The graphics restate the obvious — and nothing else. Meanwhile, experts are busy creating more problems, all of which require more ‘expert’ solutions.

 

Comparison of Combatants 1

Figure 2: click on the image or on this link to bring up the full-size version in a new tab, (.pdf alert). If this looks familiar, it should be, it’s been used previously, courtesy of economist Ha-Joon Chang.

The chart is more or less self-explanatory: to the side are the countries involved along with non-state actors or ‘interests’. The global superpowers are at the top with militants toward the bottom. In between are regional powers such as Iran and Israel, the ‘in-theater states’ including Turkey, and the ‘innocent bystanders’, Lebanon and Jordan. Excluded for arbitrary reasons are Libyans, Iranian Kurds, Palestinians and Yemenis. They are engaged in related struggles but not within the Syria-Iraq theater.

Across the top are categories; what the countries and interests intend to gain by fighting; the overall cost up to and including national bankruptcy; what the nation or group ‘sells’ or offers as blandishments to its subjects and others; the political system of the enterprise and what it envisions for Syria or other areas of control. The final category is each country’s economy … all the above formatted into a table that is viewable on the web page!

Comparing Combatants in Syria – Iraq Theater

 

 

COUNTRIES –

 

 

 

 

 

INTERESTS

 

 

WHAT THEY INTEND TO GAIN COST WHAT THEY OFFER GOVERNMENT: CURRENT | PROPOSED ECONOMY
USA Arms sales. To destabilize region to import consumption Operational expenses & loss of influence Transient tactical advantage for no one in particular Corporate plutocracy / None Capital destruction – consumption / Ponzi finance
EC – UK Arms sales, thwart militant attacks on the Continent Irrelevance; expanses related to managing migrant influx Homeland for migrants Corporate plutocracy / None Capital destruction – consumption / Ponzi finance
RUSSIA Arms sales, increased international prestige Bankruptcy of Russia Transient tactical advantages for Syrian – Assad government Single party police state ‘Tyrant on a stick’ (TOAS) / Single party police state (TOAS) Petro-state
IRAN Regional hegemony vs. Saudi Arabia, strategic advantage vs. Israel Bankruptcy of Iran Transient tactical advantages for Syrian – Assad government Sectarian dictatorship (TOAS) / Single party police state (TOAS) Petro-state
SAUDI ARABIA Regional hegemony vs. Iran Bankruptcy of Saudi Arabia, civil war Funds, weapons, political cover, tactical advantages for anti-Assad forces Sectarian monarchy (TOAS) / Single party police state Petro-state
QATAR Collaborator w/ junior partner of Saudi Arabia Bankruptcy of Qatar Funds for militants, ideological support Sectarian monarchy (TOAS) / Single party police state Petro-state
ISRAEL Destabilize rivals – neighbor states Unknown Nothing Republic trending toward single party police state / None Capital destruction – consumption / Ponzi finance
SYRIA Perpetual rule by hereditary tyrant Total destruction of the country ‘Stability myth’ Genocidal single party police state (TOAS) / Genocidal single party police state (TOAS) Post-peak oil petro-state / agrarian
IRAQ Control over territory and resources (by factions) Partition of the country of the country into three components & operational expenses Sectarian intolerance Effectively partitioned ‘IRAQ’ is an Iranian protectorate – fake republic / Various – None Petro-state(s)
TURKEY Organic fuel supply by way of a protectorate including Syria and Northern Iraq Bankruptcy of Turkey, civil war and partition Sanction for genocide (by way of proxies) Sectarian single party police state (TOAS) / Neo-Ottoman satrapy sectarian police state(s) Capital destruction – consumption / Ponzi finance
JORDAN Repulse jihadi militant inroads, resolve refugee crisis Operational and refugee management expenses Nothing Old-school constitutional monarch / None Capital destruction – consumption / Ponzi finance
LEBANON Repulse jihadi militant inroads, resolve refugee crisis Political instability, refugee management expenses Nothing Quasi- republic (see Hezbollah) / None Capital destruction – consumption / Ponzi finance
ISLAMIC STATE Control fuel supply in Syria – Northern Iraq (for Turkey) Destruction of its basis of support ‘Fake’ political – religious legitimacy Warlord on a stick | ‘Sharia’ type warlord state Outright theft
NON-ISIS JIHADIS, FSA Replace current Syrian government (acting for Turkey, KSA, US, Qatar) Destruction of its basis of popular support Nothing Warlord(s) on a stick | ‘Sharia’ type warlord state Proxies of external powers w/ external funding
HEZBOLLAH Become Shia sectarian successor to Assad’s ‘Baathist’ regime in Syria: (Iranian proxy) Severe manpower losses, loss of credibility leading to the destruction of the organization ‘Security myth’ Sectarian single party police state ex-Lebanese Republic (TOAS) / Sectarian police state (TOAS) External funding by Iran
SYRIAN KURD Autonomy within a Syrian federal republic framework Operational expenses, subject to genocide by Turkish proxies Self-determination, womens’ rights, anti-jihadi secular government Modified self-rule / To be determined Agrarian – smuggling
IRAQI KURD Independent Kurdish state Operational- and refugee management expenses Anti-jihadi secular redoubt Hereditary duopoly, pan-Kurdish nationalist / possible amalgamation with other Kurdish states Petro-state
TURKISH KURD Political legitimacy within framework of Turkish constitution Operational expenses, political marginalizatin self-determination within framework of Turkish constitution Modified self-rule / Call for independence under certain circumstances (see below) Agrarian – smuggling

NOTE: ‘Government current / proposed’ lists the countries’ governments along with what they would impose on the areas where they operate.

A glance at the chart makes it clear why the experts avoid politics … and why end of the Syria war remains out of reach. Except for the Kurds in Syria and Turkey, also Lebanon, Jordan and Israel there are no politics at all, they have either failed or been swept aside. What remains are tactics and leverage intended to gain transient advantages; administrative overlordship by whatever means come to hand.

Of the seventeen state and non-state actors in the theater, ten are single party police states with personality cults erected around their aggressive, paranoid leaderships. These are ‘Tyrants on a Stick’, (TOAS) named for the official portraits carried by weeping followers at military parades. These Dear Leaders live like termite queens in impenitent splendor; their feet never touch the ground, they hear only what pleases them or else their (ex-)experts are taken out and … well, you know! Meanwhile, the business bloat-ocracies of the west are just as corrupt, their leadership just as isolated. They are concerned only with finding greater fools and maintaining the flows of credit- and resources toward themselves.

Tyrants rely on experts because they cannot trust anyone else: in a real democracy, the public decides to go to war … or perhaps not. They might decide the bosses have overstepped their bounds or are incompetent. In a police state, the expert reaches for his calculator, the boss nods and the yes-men go forth to announce the decision and break heads. In a tyranny the leader thinks himself better than his public because he has stolen power from them. The power itself is evidence of the tyrant’s capability: that the thief is smarter than his victims. In a democracy the people are smarter than the leaders, if nothing else they are more in touch with reality because they are not insulated from it. The people save the leaders from their vanities and those of their lackeys. In a tyranny there is no restraint on the bosses, as a consequence they are always one misstep from disaster.

This is why the Kurds are succeeding … without powerful patrons or great wealth, without a country to call their own or much in the way of an economy. By the accident of history and an abundance of good sense they’ve taken advantage of zero-cost resources that are spurned by the others or are useless to them; the inclusion and participation of women in their national project and bottom-up decision making. They know their neighbors are out to steal from them or murder them all; that their own leaders would be killed or thrown into prison. They have had to decentralize to survive, to push decision making down the ladder of authority then cut off the top. By doing so the Kurds have saved themselves from the tyranny of experts and self-centric malfeasance that weighs down their adversaries …

Like everything else in the West, politics has been hollowed out, turned into a ‘Punch vs. Judy’ spectacle that plays out in the media. Small-d-democracy is given lip service and nothing more, all the important decisions are made out of sight by ‘others’: as George Carlin famously remarked, “It’s a club and you aren’t in it.” Our representative system has devolved into a shopping network for cartels. Because politics are conversations intended to build consensus and resolve disputes they are an anathema to the tycoons and the system that enables them. Consensus cannot be compelled from the top only apathy and a grudging acceptance. Allowing the citizens their own initiatives is dangerous, they might balk at taking on the tycoons’ obligations. This would leave the tycoons to meet the obligations themselves, they would all go broke! The strategy is for the bosses to trivialize everything within reach, to boil away the character of resolution leaving a scrim of incomprehensible noise. The current US election campaign is a perfect example: billions are spent on marketing with winner certain to be ‘none of the above’.

Clausewitz could not have imagined war as being ‘business by other means’. There is also ‘war as the means to murder’ which would have been unthinkable to the bourgeois Prussian aristocrat, yet we have it. A drilldown into the Syria war reveals American meddling for short-term business gains from the beginning, expanding now to include the Russians. The intent on every side — except for the Kurds in Turkey and Syria — is to make money. When war is good for business — as the Middle East wars are for the Pentagon — there are few- if any incentives to end it.

The Russia-Iran Strategic Game-Changer

gc2smFrom the keyboard of Pepe Escobar
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Azernaijan Iran Russia

Originally published in Strategic Culture on August 20, 2016

 


Russian Tu-22M3 Backfire bombers – as well as Sukhoi-34 fighter bombers – leave from the Iranian Hamadan airfield to bomb jihadis and assorted "moderate rebels" in Syria, and immediately we’ve got ourselves a major, unforeseen geopolitical game-changer.

The record shows that Russia has not been present militarily in Iran since 1946; and this is the first time since the 1979 Islamic Revolution that Iran allowed another nation to use Iranian territory for a military operation.

Bets could be made the Pentagon would, predictably, freak out like a bunch of pampered, irate teens. They did not disappoint, complaining that Russia’s advance warning did not allow enough time to "prepare" – as in blaring all across the planet another episode of "Russian aggression", on top of it in cahoots with "the mullahs". Further desperation ensued, with Washington claiming Iran might have violated UN Security Council resolutions.

Moscow’s spin, in contrast, was a beauty; this was all about logistics and cost cutting. Admiral Vladimir Komoyedov, chair of the State Duma’s Defense Committee and a former commander of the Black Sea Fleet, gave a lovely explanation of the modus operandi:

"It is expensive and takes a long time to fly from bases in the European part of Russia. The issue of the cost of military combat activities is, at present, a priority. We must not go over the current Defense Ministry budget. Flying Tu-22s from Iran means using less fuel and carrying larger payloads… Russia won’t be able to find a friendlier and more suitable, from the point of view of security, country in that part of the world, and strikes must be carried out if we want to end this war… Airfields in Syria are not suitable because of the constant [need for] flying over areas of combat activities".

Don’t mess with the SCO

All fine and dandy then. The Pentagon will keep crying foul. Enraged Zionists in Israel and fanatic Wahhabis in Saudi Arabia will throw tantrums and turbo-charge the proverbial "Iranian existential threat" to apocalyptic levels. Whatever. These "facts in the skies" cannot be altered. Especially because if they open the way for a decisive victory in the battle for East Aleppo, the foreign-imposed Syrian civil war will be all but over.

Ali Shamkhani, head of Iran’s National Security Council, made no mistake this is all about Iran-Russia strategic cooperation in a – real – fight against ISIS/ISIL/Daesh terror, and not, as spun by Western corporate media, the return of Iran as a "military asset" of a great power.

Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi, for his part, stressed"I allowed the bombers to fly over because we received clear information about them. They make precise strikes, avoid casualties among civilians. So, we will consider all the requests concerning security of civilians in Syria".

This was code for Baghdad coolly allowing Russian access through Iraqi airspace for the TU-22M3 bombers. Next inevitable step would be the Russian Caspian fleet launching cruise missiles over Iranian and Iraqi airspace towards those Beltway-protected "rebels" in Syria.

And there’s more, much more.

A 2015 Moscow-Damascus agreement has now been ratified by Russia. That, in effect, turns the Russian air base at Khmeimim into a permanent military base in the eastern Mediterranean.

Beijing and Damascus, for their part, have just agreed on closer military ties on top of Chinese humanitarian aid. Syrian Arab Army personnel will eventually be trained by Chinese military instructors.

Beijing is now directly involved in Syria for a key national security reason; hundreds of Uyghurs have joined Daesh or follow al-Qaeda goon Abu Muhammad al-Julani, the much-appreciated-in-the Beltway leader of the Army of Syrian Conquest – and may eventually return to Xinjiang to wage jihad.

And then, there’s the absolutely delicious cherry in the cheesecake, as professor of Middle East Studies at Shanghai International Studies University, Zhao Weiming, told the Global Times; Beijing’s new power play in Syria is payback for Pentagon interference in the South China Sea.

So what will Hillary do?

All of the above points to the new look of what used to be a white elephant in the room; the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) now means serious business.

As the "4+1" (Russia, Iran, Iraq, Syria, plus Hezbollah) started to share intel and operation procedures last year, including a coordination center in Baghdad, analysts such as Alistair Cooke and myself saw it as an embryo of the SCO in action. This was definitely, already, an alternative to NATO’s "humanitarian" imperialism and regime change obsession. For the first time NATO was not free anymore to roam around the world like an out-of-control Robocop. Even though only Russia and China were SCO members, and Iran an observer, the cooperation involved – at the request of a government fighting jihadis and still a target for regime change – already qualified as a major, new geopolitical fact on the ground.

Now, this variant of the New Silk Roads – New Silk Airways? – involving Russia, Iran, Iraq and Syria and precisely targeting Salafi-jihadism, qualifies once again as accelerated Eurasia integration. Both SCO heavyweights China and Russia will not only admit Iran as a full member as early as next year; they know Iran is a key strategic asset in a battle against NATO, and they will never let Syria become the new Libya. In parallel, Russia’s strategic moves in Crimea and Syria are set to be dissected in excruciating detail in Chinese military academies.

Eurasia integration is being progressively intertwined with the SCO.

Whatever Tel Aviv and Riyadh – with their massive Washington lobbies – may fear about Russian-Iranian security cooperation, it’s NATO that’s livid. And much more than NATO, Hillary "Queen of War" Clinton.

The record shows Hillary with a severe crush on Assad to be dispatched the Gaddafi way. In the event of a Hillary presidency, bets can be made she will force the Pentagon to impose a no-fly zone in northern Syria and weaponize assorted "rebel" remnants to Kingdom Come.

And then there’s Iran. During the 2008 US presidential campaign, I was on the floor as Hillary addressed the AIPAC conference in Washington, a truly frightening spectacle. Using the – false – premise of an Iranian attack on Israel, she said, "I want the Iranians to know that if I’m president, we will attack Iran. In the next 10 years, during which they might foolishly consider launching an attack on Israel, we would be able to totally obliterate them."

Oh really? Over Russia-Iran strategic cooperation? Over a progressively integrated SCO? Bring it on, Queen of War.


PepePepe Escobar  is an independent geopolitical analyst. He writes for RT, Sputnik and TomDispatch, and is a frequent contributor to websites and radio and TV shows ranging from the US to East Asia. He is the former roving correspondent for Asia Times Online. Born in Brazil, he's been a foreign correspondent since 1985, and has lived in London, Paris, Milan, Los Angeles, Washington, Bangkok and Hong Kong. Even before 9/11 he specialized in covering the arc from the Middle East to Central and East Asia, with an emphasis on Big Power geopolitics and energy wars. He is the author of "Globalistan" (2007), "Red Zone Blues" (2007), "Obama does Globalistan" (2009) "Empire of Chaos" (2014),and "2030" (2015), all published by Nimble Books. 

Will MENA Get Nuked?

youtube-Logo-2gc2reddit-logoOff the keyboard of Michael Snyder

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Published on The Economic Collapse on February 21, 2016

Nuclear War - Public Domain

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World War 3 Could Very Easily Turn Into The Very First Nuclear War In The Middle East

Saudi Arabia already has nukes, Iran probably does, and the Russians are one of the two great nuclear powers on the entire planet.  So if Saudi Arabia, Turkey and their Sunni allies do decide to conduct a full-blown ground invasion of Syria, could someone ultimately decide to use nuclear weapons when their backs get pushed up against a wall?  As you read this article, there are thousands of military vehicles and hundreds of thousands of troops massed along the southern border of Turkey and the northern border of Saudi Arabia.  If the command is given and those forces start streaming toward Damascus, it is inevitable that the Syrians, the Iranians, Hezbollah and the Russians would fight back.  It would literally be the start of World War 3, and the Saudis and the Turks are trying very hard to convince the United States to be involved.  But the truth is that we don’t want any part of this conflict, because it could very easily become the very first nuclear war in the history of the Middle East.

Perhaps you didn’t know that the Saudis already have nukes.  Of course the official position is that they don’t, but it is a fact that they were the ones that funded the development of Pakistan’s nuclear program.  It is an open secret that the Saudis have the bomb, but nobody is really supposed to talk about it.

That is why it was so alarming what Saudi political analyst Dahham Al-‘Anzi told RT just recently

Earlier this week a Saudi political analyst told RT’s Arab network the kingdom has a nuclear weapon.

Dahham Al-‘Anzi made the claim while saying Saudi Arabia is engaged in an effort to “minimize the Iranian threat in the Levant and Syria.”

Although Saudi Arabia has officially denied it has a nuclear weapons program and has publicly stated it opposes nuclear weapons in the Middle East, it has funded a military nuclear program and received scientific assistance from the United States and Pakistan.

You can watch video of this exchange right here

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

If you don’t want to believe him, perhaps you will believe the former director of the CIA counter-terrorism operations center.  He told Fox Business that everyone in the intelligence world knows the Saudis have nukes

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

If the fur started flying in Syria and Russia and Iran decided to start bombing Saudi airbases, would Saudi Arabia resort to using their nukes?

Let’s hope not.

In the event of a massive ground invasion by Saudi Arabia, Turkey and their allies, it is actually more likely that Russia may decide to be the first one to use nukes.  An invasion force of hundreds of thousands of troops would vastly outnumber the relatively small Russian force that is already inside Syria, and so the Russians may feel that the only way that they can keep the Sunni powers out of Damascus is to use tactical nukes.

Russia has more tactical nukes that anyone else in the world by far, and there are some reports that indicate that Russia may be prepared to use them in Syria.  For example, former Associated Press reporter Robert Parry, the author of America’s Stolen Narrative, says that a source has told him that the Russians have already warned Turkey that this could potentially happen

If Turkey (with hundreds of thousands of troops massed near the Syrian border) and Saudi Arabia (with its sophisticated air force) follow through on threats and intervene militarily to save their rebel clients, who include Al Qaeda’s Nusra Front, from a powerful Russian-backed Syrian government offensive, then Russia will have to decide what to do to protect its 20,000 or so military personnel inside Syria.

A source close to Russian President Vladimir Putin told me that the Russians have warned Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan that Moscow is prepared to use tactical nuclear weapons if necessary to save their troops in the face of a Turkish-Saudi onslaught. Since Turkey is a member of NATO, any such conflict could quickly escalate into a full-scale nuclear confrontation.

Given Erdogan’s megalomania or mental instability and the aggressiveness and inexperience of Saudi Prince Mohammad bin Salman (defense minister and son of King Salman), the only person who probably can stop a Turkish-Saudi invasion is President Obama. But I’m told that he has been unwilling to flatly prohibit such an intervention, though he has sought to calm Erdogan down and made clear that the U.S. military would not join the invasion.

Are you starting to understand how serious this is?

With all of the talk of a potential invasion in recent days, the Russians are on high alert and are rapidly preparing for a direct conflict with both Saudi Arabia and Turkey.  The following comes from Infowars

Still, the Russians are taking no chances and they have put all their forces into high alert. They have very publicly dispatched a Tu-214r – her most advanced ISR (Intelligence Surveillance Reconnaissance) aircraft. You can think of the Tu-214R as an “AWACS for the ground”, the kind of aircraft you use to monitor a major ground battle (the regular Russian A-50Ms are already monitoring the Syrian airspace). In southern Russia, the Aerospace forces have organized large-scale exercises involving a large number of aircraft which would be used in a war against Turkey: SU-34s. The Airborne Forces are ready. The naval task forces off the Syrian coast is being augmented. The delivery of weapons has accelerated. The bottom line is simple and obvious: the Russians are not making any threats – they are preparing for war. In fact, by now they are ready.

In addition, it is important to remember that it is quite likely that the Iranians have nuclear weapons as well.

Of course the U.S. government and the Iranian government both insist that Iran does not have nukes, but many of those in the know insist otherwise.

For instance, you may want to consider what retired U.S. Army Major General Paul Vallely and U.S. Air Force Lt. Col. Dennis B. Haney are saying.  The following comes from an article that was authored by Jerome Corsi of WND

In a joint statement, Vallely and Haney say an accumulation of available evidence shows a coalition of Russia, China and North Korea have assisted Iran since 1979 in achieving a nuclear weapon, despite sanctions, under the guise of a domestic nuclear energy program.

Vallely explained to WND that he and Haney have taken a systematic approach to evaluating each component needed to deliver a nuclear weapon, from the development and testing of a ballistic missile system, to the design of a nuclear weapons warhead, to the development of the weapons-grade uranium needed to produce a bomb.

“To come to our conclusion that Iran is a nuclear weapons power right now, we supplemented publicly available research, plus information from intelligence sources, including Iranian resistance groups such as the National Council of Resistance of IRAN, NCRI,” Vallely explained.

I happen to agree with Vallely and Haney.  I cannot prove it, but all of the intel that I have received indicates that Iran already has nukes.

Hopefully I will not be proven accurate any time soon.

It had been hoped that a cease-fire could be negotiated that would at least temporarily defuse tensions in Syria.  Unfortunately, it does not look like the shooting is going to stop, and this is going to put immense pressure on both Saudi Arabia and Turkey to do something to rescue the radical Sunni militants that are on the verge of defeat.  The Saudis, the Turks and their allies have poured enormous amounts of money and resources into this war over the past five years, and now they are faced with the choice of either accepting defeat or directly intervening in this conflict themselves.

But in order to conduct a full-fledged ground invasion, they are going to need justification for doing so.  There are some that are suggesting that we could soon see a false flag attack that would provide that justification, so that is something to watch out for.

I can’t remember a time when our planet has been so close to World War 3 potentially beginning.

And if it does break out, I believe that it is quite likely that nuclear weapons will be used.

So what do you think?

Do you agree with me?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Iran- the New China?

iran_china_afp.jpg_1718483346 gc2smOff the keyboard of Pepe Escobar
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iran_china_afp.jpg_1718483346 Iranian President Hassan Rouhani and Chinese President Xi Jinping | Photo: AFP

Originally published in TeleSur on January 29, 2016


If Iran successfully engages in a Chinese-style economic development program it would further enhance its geopolitical status and significance.

It’s currently quite a toss-up when it comes to naming the hardest working man in geopolitical business: Chinese President Xi Jinping or Iranian President Hassan Rouhani.

Their paths cross last week in Tehran in spectacular fashion as Xi and Rouhani clinched a crucial strategic partnership. The two nations agreed to increase bilateral trade to $600 billion over the next decade. Geostrategically, as I pointed out, that was a master class.

Beijing regards Iran, not only in Southwest Asia but across Eurasia, as the essential hub for countering Washington’s much-advertised “pivot to Asia,” centered on U.S. naval hegemony. No wonder Xi made it clear that Iran is to be accepted as a full member of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) as early as this year.

A strategic partnership implies Beijing’s full support for the Iranian economic/political/diplomatic renaissance across the arc spanning the Persian Gulf to the Caspian – and beyond. The arc also happens to span all the crucial New Silk Road maritime and land routes that are vitally important for the global projection of the Xi-coined Chinese dream.

And then, only a few days later, Rouhani was in Rome in a warm closed door meeting with Pope Francis after clinching $17 billion in multiple deals.

This frantic post-sanction activity only enhances, in perspective, the absurdity of the Washington-manufactured Iranian nuclear crisis. Geopolitical realism, from Europe to Asia, cannot ignore a nation placed in the intersection of the Arab, Turk, Indian and Russian worlds, underscored by its role as privileged entry and exit point to the vast Caucasus-Central-Asia ensemble, which also includes Afghanistan.

Geostrategically, as the ultimate Eurasian crossroads, Iran is unbeatable, linking the Middle East, Caucasus, Central Asia, Indian subcontinent and Persian Gulf; between three seas – Caspian, Persian Gulf and Sea of Oman; relatively close to the Mediterranean and Europe; and on the doorstep of Asia.

Xi did not have to talk explicit politics in Tehran as he was suffice to clinch deal after deal to impress his point. The long-term trend, inevitably, is for China’s One Belt, One Road vision to bridge the gap toward a Sino-Russian leadership across Eurasia, which translates practically into the progressive sidelining of the British-American imperial continuum. Meanwhile, Italy and France, during Rouhani’s European tour, kept themselves busy playing catch-up.  

When Khamenei Becomes Deng

The frantic post-sanction Iranian scene at least punctures the previous, relentless Western demonization and lays out the bases for   economic development in just about every sphere. The Islamic Republic of Iran has faced a tremendous handicap for the past 36 years – something that would have broken any less-resourceful society.  

Sanctions over the past 10 years cost Iran at least 480 billion euros; that’s roughly one full year of Iranian GDP. In a world not ruled by the usual suspects of financial oligarchy, Tehran would have grounds to take Washington to court with a vengeance.  

As for the “Iranian aggression” meme – which, by the way, still persists – that’s a lousy imperial joke. Iran spends 3,9 percent of GDP on defense; compare it with 10.3 percent for the House of Saud oil hacienda. In total, Iran spends seven times less on defense compared to the Gulf petro-monarchies, which cannot subsist without their mostly U.S., British and French weaponizing.  

The road ahead for Iran will be bumpy. Serious problems include corruption, bureaucratic incompetence, and economic sectors reserved to special interests or barred from foreign investment. Sections of the power elite – like the bonyads (religious foundations) and the pasdaran (the IRGC) are not exactly prone to relinquish their grip on vital sectors of the national economy. The economic opening of Iran will inevitably accelerate the social transformation of the country.  

What happens next will largely depend on the crucial, upcoming February elections – which will yield a new Majlis (Parliament), and a new Assembly of Experts in charge of choosing the next Supreme Leader.

Iran is a unique geopolitical case – where a republic derives its legitimacy, simultaneously, from Islam and universal suffrage. This may not be your classic Western parliamentary democracy, but at the same time it’s not some sort of crude authoritarianism of Saudi Arabia. A quite complex system of checks and balances is in place, involving the presidency, the Parliament, the Council of Guardians, the Assembly of Experts and different bodies such as the Discernment Council and the National Security Council.

Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei has made it very clear he will pay close attention to cultural, political and security consequences of an economic opening that could enfeeble the revolutionary ideology of the Islamic Republic. What’s certain is that the Supreme Leader – as an arbiter – will preserve the careful balance of political forces in Iran.  

This means, in practice, that Team Rouhani won’t be allowed to draw unlimited political capital from the economic opening, while at the same time the social and cultural transformation of the country won’t be synonymous to a Western cultural invasion.

The Vienna nuclear deal clinched last summer was no less than a seismic geopolitical event in Iran. Internally, it sealed a consensus between the Tehran state machine and the majority of the population, which wanted Iran to become a “normal” nation again.

Now comes the hard part. The most probable scenario spells out an Islamic Republic of Iran engaged in a Chinese-style economic development program. Sort of a Persian “get rich is glorious” remix, under strict political control.

This begs the question: are we ready for the new Supreme Leader role as the Iranian Deng Xiaoping?


Pepe Escobar is an independent geopolitical analyst. He writes for RT, Sputnik and TomDispatch, and is a frequent contributor to websites and radio and TV shows ranging from the US to East Asia. He is the former roving correspondent for Asia Times Online, where he wrote the column The Roving Eye from 2000 to 2014. Born in Brazil, he's been a foreign correspondent since 1985, and has lived in London, Paris, Milan, Los Angeles, Washington, Bangkok and Hong Kong. Even before 9/11 he specialized in covering the arc from the Middle East to Central and East Asia, with an emphasis on Big Power geopolitics and energy wars. He is the author of "Globalistan" (2007), "Red Zone Blues" (2007), "Obama does Globalistan" (2009) and "Empire of Chaos" (2014), all published by Nimble Books. His latest book is "2030", also by Nimble Books, out in December 2015. He currently lives between Paris and Bangkok. Follow him on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/pepe.escobar.77377

Fear And Loathing in the House of Saud

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Originally published in Sputnik on January 8, 2016


Desperation does not even begin to describe the current plight of the House of Saud.

Riyadh was fully aware the beheading of respected Saudi Shi'ite cleric Nimr al-Nimr was a deliberate provocation bound to elicit a rash Iranian response.

The Saudis calculated they could get away with it; after all they employ the best American PR machine petrodollars can buy, and are viscerally defended by the usual gaggle of nasty US neo-cons.   

In a post-Orwellian world "order" where war is peace and "moderate" jihadis get a free pass, a House of Saud oil hacienda cum beheading paradise — devoid of all civilized norms of political mediation and civil society participation — heads the UN Commission on Human Rights and fattens the US industrial-military complex to the tune of billions of dollars while merrily exporting demented Wahhabi/Salafi-jihadism from MENA (Middle East-Northern Africa) to Europe and from the Caucasus to East Asia. 

And yet major trouble looms. Erratic King Salman's move of appointing his son, the supremely arrogant and supremely ignorant Prince Mohammad bin Salman to number two in the line of succession has been contested even among Wahhabi hardliners.

But don't count on petrodollar-controlled Arab media to tell the story.

English-language TV network Al-Arabiyya, for instance, based in the Emirates, long financed by House of Saud members, and owned by the MBC conglomerate, was bought by none other than Prince Mohammad himself, who will also buy MBC.

With oil at less than $40 a barrel, largely thanks to Saudi Arabia's oil war against both Iran and Russia, Riyadh's conventional wars are taking a terrible toll. The budget has collapsed and the House of Saud has been forced to raise taxes.

The illegal war on Yemen, conducted with full US acquiescence, led by — who else — Prince Mohammad, and largely carried out by the proverbial band of mercenaries, has instead handsomely profited al-Qaeda in the Arabic Peninsula (AQAP), just as the war on Syria has profited mostly Jabhat al-Nusra, a.k.a. al-Qaeda in Syria.

Three months ago, Saudi ulemas called for a jihad not only against Damascus but also Tehran and Moscow without the "civilized" West batting an eyelid; after all the ulemas were savvy enough to milk the "Russian aggression" bandwagon, comparing the Russian intervention in Syria, agreed with Damascus, with the 1979 Soviet invasion of Afghanistan.   

US Think Tankland revels in spinning that the beheading provocation was a "signal" to Tehran that Riyadh will not tolerate Iranian influence among Shi'ites living in predominantly Sunni states. And yet Beltway cackle that Riyadh hoped to contain "domestic Shi'ite tensions" by beheading al-Nimr does not even qualify as a lousy propaganda script. To see why this is nonsense, let's take a quick tour of Saudi Arabia's Eastern province. 

All Eyes on Al Sharqiyya

Saudi Arabia is essentially a huge desert island. Even though the oil hacienda is bordered by the Red Sea and the Persian Gulf, the Saudis don't control what matters: the key channels of communication/energy exporting bottlenecks — the Bab el-Mandeb and the Straits of Hormuz, not to mention the Suez canal.

Enter US "protection" as structured in a Mafia-style "offer you can't refuse" arrangement; we guarantee safe passage for the oil export flow through our naval patrols and you buy from us, non-stop, a festival of weapons and host our naval bases alongside other GCC minions. The "protection" used to be provided by the former British empire. So Saudi Arabia — as well as the GCC — remains essentially an Anglo-American satrapy.         

Al Sharqiyya — the Eastern Province of Saudi Arabia — holds only 4 million people, the overwhelming majority Shi'ites. And yet it produces no less than 80% of Saudi oil. The heart of the action is the provincial capital Al Qatif, where Nimr al-Nimr was born. We're talking about the largest oil hub on the planet, consisting of 12 crisscrossed pipelines that connect to massive Gulf oil terminals such as Dhahran and Ras Tanura.

Enter the strategic importance of neighboring Bahrain. Historically, all the lands from Basra in southern Iraq to the peninsula of Musandam, in Oman — traditional trade posts between Europe and India — were known as Bahrain ("between two seas").

Tehran could easily use neighboring Bahrain to infiltrate Al Sharqiyya, detach it from Riyadh's control, and configure a "Greater Bahrain" allied with Iran. That's the crux of the narrative peddled by petrodollar-controlled media, the proverbial Western "experts", and incessantly parroted in the Beltway.  

Workers rest at Ras Tannura's oil production plant near Dammam in Saudi Arabia's eastern province

There's no question Iranian hardliners cherish the possibility of a perpetual Bahraini thorn on Riyadh's side. That would imply weaponizing a popular revolution in Al Sharqiyya.  But the fact is not even Nimr al-Nimr was in favor of a secession of Al Sharqiyya. 

And that's also the view of the Rouhani administration in Tehran. Whether disgruntled youth across Al Sharqiyya will finally have had enough with the beheading of al-Nimr it's another story; it may open a Pandora's box that will not exactly displease the IRGC in Tehran.  

But the heart of the matter is that Team Rouhani perfectly understands the developing Southwest Asia chapter of the New Great Game, featuring the re-emergence of Iran as a regional superpower; all of the House of Saud's moves, from hopelessly inept to major strategic blunder, betray utter desperation with the end of the old order.  

That spans everything from an unwinnable war (Yemen) to a blatant provocation (the beheading of al-Nimr) and a non sequitur such as the new Islamic 34-nation anti-terror coalition which most alleged members didn't even know they were a part of. 

The supreme House of Saud obsession rules, drenched in fear and loathing: the Iranian "threat".

Riyadh, which is clueless on how to play geopolitical chess — or backgammon — will keep insisting on the oil war, as it cannot even contemplate a military confrontation with Tehran. And everything will be on hold, waiting for the next tenant of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue; will he/she be tempted to pivot back to Southwest Asia, and cling to the old order (not likely, as Washington relies on becoming independent from Saudi oil)? Or will the House of Saud be left to its own — puny — devices among the shark-infested waters of hardcore geopolitics?


PepePepe Escobar is the author of Globalistan: How the Globalized World is Dissolving into Liquid War (Nimble Books, 2007), Red Zone Blues: a snapshot of Baghdad during the surge (Nimble Books, 2007), and Obama does Globalistan (Nimble Books, 2009).

Total War in Yemen Totally Ignored Western Media

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Published on New Eastern Outlook on August 27, 2015

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With almost a whimper, the Western media reported that the US-backed regimes of Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates (UAE), and their auxiliary fighters drawn from Al Qaeda have begun carrying out what is the ground invasion of Yemen. Along with an ongoing naval blockade and months of bombing raids, the ground invasion adds a lethal new dimension to the conflict – for both sides.

Landing at the port city of Aden on Yemen’s southern tip, it is reported that an “armor brigade” consisting of between 1,000 – 3,000 troops primarily from the UAE are now moving north, their ultimate destination Sana’a, the capital of Yemen.

Columns of the UAE’s French-built Leclerc main battle tanks were seen moving out of the port city though their numbers are difficult to establish. Reports claiming that the UAE unit is brigade-sized might indicate as many as 100 tanks involved – a third of the UAE’s total armored force.

The bold move comes after months of frustrating failures for the two Arabian regimes. Their Yemeni proxies – loyalists of the ousted president Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi – have proven all but useless in fighting Houthi fighters across most of Yemen despite air superiority provided to them by their Arabian allies. And while it appears the well-equipped Arab forces are able to concentrate firepower, overwhelming Houthi fighters in pitched battles, the ability for Saudi, UAE, and Al Qaeda forces to actually hold territory they move through is questionable at best.

Opportunity 

The Roman Empire throughout much of its reign was feared as invincible. After suffering several major defeats, the veneer of invincibility began to peel and along with it crumbled inevitably their empire. Likewise, Western hegemony has been propped up by the illusion of military superiority on the battlefield. By carefully picking its battles and avoiding critical defeats, the West, and the US in particular, has maintained this illusion of military invincibility

As the US moves against nations with larger, better equipped and trained armies, it has elected to use proxies to fight on its behalf. Thus, any humiliating defeat could be compartmentalized.

However, by most accounts the war in Yemen is not only a proxy war between Iran and the Persian Gulf monarchies, it is one of several such conflicts raging regionally that constitutes a wider proxy war between the US and its regional allies on one side, and Iran, Syria, Russia, and even China on the other.

With the presence of Western main battle tanks in Yemen attempting to move north, the opportunity now presents itself to punch holes through this illusion of Western invincibility. Yemen as the graveyard for an alleged brigade of French-built Leclerc main battle tanks would be one such hole. It would also set the UAE’s extraterritorial military ambitions back, if not overturn them entirely, and finally, would leave whatever fighting was left in Yemen to the Saudis who have thus far proven incompetent.

Perhaps this is one of the many reasons the Western media has decided not to cover the events unfolding in Yemen.

Yemen Vs. Ukraine 

One might ask how – in the context of international law – it is possible for unelected absolute autocracies like Saudi Arabia and the UAE to intervene militarily in Yemen with naval blockades, aerial bombardments, and now an overt ground invasion including armor columns to restore an ousted regime. This is done with seemingly little concern from the United Nations and with the enthusiastic support both politically and militarily of the United States.

The answer to this question becomes more confounding still when considering Western condemnation of Russia for any attempt to support or defend the ousted government of Ukraine, a nation now overrun by NATO-backed Neo-Nazi militias who in turn are backing a criminal regime in Kiev which includes foreigners assigned to cabinet positions and even as governors. Saudi and UAE military aggression in Yemen makes it increasingly difficult for the West to maintain the illusion of moral superiority regarding Ukraine.

Russia’s relative restraint when compared to US-backed aggression on the Arabian Peninsula exposes once again the pervasive hypocrisy consuming Western legitimacy.

This may be yet another reason the Western media refuses to cover the events unfolding in Yemen.

Responsibility to Protect…? 

545353454After NATO’s attempt to invoke the “responsibility to protect” (R2P) as justification for the destruction of Libya, it became clear that NATO was merely hiding behind the principles of humanitarian concern, not upholding them. And while it may be difficult to believe, there are still those across the Western media and policy think-tanks attempting to use R2P to justify further military aggression against nations like Syria.

However, R2P is conveniently absent amid what little talk of Yemen that does take place in the Western media. US-backed blockades and months of aerial bombardments have tipped Yemen toward a humanitarian catastrophe. Not only does both the UN and the West fail to demand an end to the bombings and blockades, the West has continued to underwrite Saudi Arabia and the UAE’s military adventure in Yemen.

The carnage and injustice visited upon Yemen serves as yet another stark example of how the West and its institutions, including the United Nations, are the greatest dangers to global peace and stability, using the pretext of defending such ideals as a means to instead undo them.

Considering this, we discover yet another potential reason the Western media’s coverage of Yemen is muted.

It remains to be seen how the Houthi fighters react to the ground invasion of Yemen by Emirati troops. Dealing severe losses to the UAE’s armor while continuing to weather aerial bombardment may see the stalling or even the withdrawal of this latest incursion. Not unlike the 2006 Lebanon War where Hezbollah fighters expertly used terrain to negate Israeli advantages in airpower and armor, forcing an early end to the fighting, the Houthis may yet answer this latest move by US-backed proxies operating in Yemen.

Perhaps this possibility above all, is why the Western media would rather the general public knew little of what was going on in Yemen. It would represent yet another conventional Western-equipped proxy army defeated by irregular forces in yet another failed campaign fought in the interests of Wall Street and Washington. While the Western media refuses to cover the events unfolding in Yemen with the attention and honesty they deserve, the conflict is nonetheless pivotal, and may determine the outcome of other proxy wars raging across the Middle East and North Africa, and even beyond.

Tony Cartalucci, Bangkok-based geopolitical researcher and writer, especially for the online magazineNew Eastern Outlook”.   
First appeared: http://journal-neo.org/2015/08/27/total-war-in-yemen-totally-ignored-by-western-media/

Bomb, bomb, bomb Iran with lies, lies, lies

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Originally published in RT on August 21, 2015

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The Associated Press – with great fanfare – ran an “exclusive” story masquerading what was in fact a glaring propaganda piece, according to which, under the P5+1, UN-ratified nuclear deal with Iran, the country would carry out some of the inspections of its own “sensitive sites.”

There was nothing specific in the piece. The crucial document AP alleges to have “seen” was not even the final signed agreement between Iran and the IAEA. AP did not quote any passage from the document. The bombastic “exclusive” tag relied just on the opening paragraph’s sensationalist language:

"Iran will be allowed to use its own inspectors to investigate a site it has been accused of using to develop nuclear arms, operating under a secret agreement with the UN agency that normally carries out such work, according to a document seen by The Associated Press."

The article states nothing specifically. “Own inspectors” – in this context – means that Iran, according to the agreement, is allowed to exclude “inspectors” from states which have their own confrontational agenda. Everyone knows who the usual suspects are.

According to the final agreement, International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) inspectors must always be present at any inspection. The additional presence of Iranian experts allows them to track the selected UN inspectors; some of them may be outright spies, which was exactly the case with the 1990s UN inspections of Iraq.

Managers shall be managed

Iran security expert Gary Sick was among the first to identify AP’s falsehoods

Here, in synthesis, is what everyone involved and/or following the Iranian nuclear dossier must know about nuclear residue testing.

Under the terms of the so-called “managed access” procedures agreed between the P5+1 and Iran, “the inspected party may take environmental swipe samples at a particular site in the presence of the IAEA inspectors using swabs and containment bags provided by the IAEA to prevent cross contamination. According to former IAEA officials, this is an established procedure.”

Scientists agree that, “the process ensures the integrity of the inspection operation and the samples for all parties.”

Here, in detail, are the key facts regarding environmental sampling and managed access regarding specifically the controversial Iranian military-industrial site in Parchin. The source is unimpeachable: Tarif Rauf is a former head of verification and security policy coordination at the IAEA, reporting directly to the Director-General.

To his credit, the head of the IAEA Yukiya Amano, released a statement seriously dressing down AP’s sensationalism. Yamano stresses the agreements are “confidential” – as in AP did not read anything; and he defends the procedures as“technically sound and consistent with our long-established practices.” Yamano – who got his job via American influence – could never be accused of being an Iran-appeaser.

What is AP up to?

AP, an American news agency whose dispatches are reproduced in full by countless newspapers and magazines all across the world, once again is being used as a crude propaganda vehicle – just like US corporate media as a whole was used as a crude propaganda vehicle in the run-up towards the invasion, occupation and destruction of Iraq.

At a micro level, this is yet another stance of the rampant politicization of the IAEA. Washington has been doing this for years.

At a macro level, the implications are really serious. The “exclusive” went out at an extremely sensitive point of the relentless campaign by the US War Party and the Israel lobby against the Vienna deal.

There’s only one purpose for selling this piece not as an Op-Ed but as an “unbiased”, fact-based breaking news story: To convince wavering politicians, all of them Democrats, on Capitol Hill, that the Vienna deal is a bad deal. 

Especially because none of these politicians will be reading Noam Chomsky’s more detailed debunking of a Washington cottage industry; the demonization of Iran.

AP at least removed some – but not all – of its allegations from the original “exclusive”. But damage has been done. If this had originated from media based in BRICS nations, especially Russia, China and Brazil, one can imagine the“international community” outrage. AP being exceptionalist-based, they might have thought they could get away with it. Well, they can’t.

 

 


Pepe Escobar is the author of Globalistan: How the Globalized World is Dissolving into Liquid War (Nimble Books, 2007), Red Zone Blues: a snapshot of Baghdad during the surge (Nimble Books, 2007), and Obama does Globalistan (Nimble Books, 2009).

Pipelineistan — the Iran-Pak-China Connection

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Originally published in Asia Times on August 14, 2015

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Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif has just been to Islamabad to talk serious business with Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif. And the serious business had to be Pipelineistan – as in what next for the Iran-Pakistan (IP) gas pipeline.

Zarif essentially said that IP is a go – again – as soon as sanctions against Iran start to melt, by late 2015 or early 2016. Iran has already invested $2 billion in the Iranian stretch of IP, and China will finance the Pakistani stretch.

This is a major Pipelinestan gambit, as Asia Times has previously reported. And as a side note, as soon as IP goes online, all those years of incessant harassing by successive Bush and Obama administrations will finally come down to nought.

China West-East Gas Pipeline

 

China West-East Gas Pipeline

Even before Zarif hit Pakistan something serious was going on in … Karamay. You may have not heard of Karamay, but this town in Xinjiang is right at the center of the Eurasian action; it has just hosted the 2015 China-Pakistan Economic Corridor Forum.

As we all know, the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) is an absolutely key component, worth $46 billion, of the China-driven New Silk Roads. CPEC will link Kashgar in Xinjiang to the Arabian Sea port of Gwadar via highways (essentially an upgrade of the fabled Karakoram Highway), railways, industrial parks, fiber optic networks and – eventually – a pipeline.

And that pipeline will be no less than an extension up north of IP.

As part of CPEC, for instance, last month TBEA Xinjiang SunOasis — a Chinese company — finished the biggest solar power plant in Pakistan, for $215 million, in only three months.

At Karamay, China and Pakistan signed 20 CPEC-related cooperation agreements. They even issued a Karamay manifesto, stressing the political/economic importance of the Silk Road Economic Belt and the 21st-Century Maritime Silk Road. CPEC is the largest China-Pakistan joint project since the construction of the Karakoram highway in 1979. And CPEC is only one among six economic corridors to be developed as part of the New Silk Roads.

Yet the full impact of CPEC will only be noted by the next decade. That’s when the New Silk Road for the bulk of China’s energy imports from the Middle East will be cut short by no less than 12,000 kilometers.

Ashgabat wakes up

Meanwhile, Turkmengaz — Turkmenistan’s national gas company — has taken a 51% stake in a consortium still seeking to build the perennially troubled TAPI (Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India) gas pipeline, a serious competitor to IP if it ever gets built.

That’s a game-changer because the Turkmen will now be in charge of the construction and operation of TAPI Ltd. The cost is a whopping $10 billion (IP will cost three times less); investment to the tune of $4 billion and $6 billion in debt.

Still it all comes back to the same problem; who wants to invest in a steel umbilical cord prone to all sorts of sabotage traversing a war zone — western Afghanistan all the way to Kandahar? In theory, “host countries” should be responsible for TAPI’s security; in the case of Afghanistan, that qualifies as black humor.

For the moment, Turkmengaz can only count on the Manila-based but Japan/US-controlled Asian Development Bank (ADB). That’s not much. The notoriously opaque regime in Ashgabat says it’s seeking other backers — but no one knows where and how.

TAPI is still a pipe dream. Pakistan and India are not seriously considering it viable even in the medium term. So it’s back to IP.

Even after sanctions are lifted, Iran will need to find an ocean of investment — at least $180 billion — to upgrade its energy infrastructure and be able to start exporting natural gas to Europe, in competition with Gazprom.

So Iran’s privileged Pipelineistan play for the near future will be Asia – from Southwest Asia (Iraq and Oman) to South Asia (Pakistan). With China ready to instantly capitalize on every surge of Iran’s natural gas production.


Pepe Escobar is the author of Globalistan: How the Globalized World is Dissolving into Liquid War (Nimble Books, 2007), Red Zone Blues: a snapshot of Baghdad during the surge (Nimble Books, 2007), and Obama does Globalistan (Nimble Books, 2009).

“Bomb Iran” plan simply won’t go away

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Originally published in RT on July 30, 2015

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Even before the upcoming August recess on Capitol Hill, the dogs of war, unleashed by remote control from Tel Aviv, predictably are trying to tear the Iran-P5+1 nuclear deal to shreds from all sides.

It does not matter that the National Iranian American Council – which happens to be widely respected in Washington itself – has forcefully come out in defense of the deal.  

It does not matter that the Obama administration can count on the combined efforts of the so-called E3 ambassadors (Britain, France and Germany) in Washington, who are exhausting themselves to explain the obvious: This is an international treaty, already approved by the United Nations, and not a parochial squabble decided in Idaho. 

On the other hand, it does matter that the Obama administration has not been forceful enough to defend its strategy as well as the result of such a long and treacherous negotiation.

So there are now two narratives shaping the battle ahead in Washington.

1) Iran is a rogue nation, an existential threat to Israel, and it cannot be trusted. It will breach the deal, so the deal must be rejected to the benefit of… perpetual sanctions, or war.

2) Iran is a rogue nation, it cannot be trusted, but we have all the verification mechanisms in place and as soon as Iran “cheats” – as it will – we launch immediate “snap back” sanctions.

No wonder, under these circumstances, Washington simply cannot be trusted by Tehran.

Who’s really trustworthy?

Now for the other side of the narrative.

On July 18, four days after the deal was signed in Vienna, Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei – foreseeing which way the D.C. wind would be blowing – went straight to the point; his intervention delineated the parameters according to which Iran would work to actively debunk a massive propaganda machine that continues to demonize the Islamic Republic even as it touts a victory for Western diplomacy.

The victory in Vienna was in fact for diplomacy tout court – East and West working together.  

© Leonhard Foeger

 

 

Even before his speech, Khamenei had already touched upon the key point when he sent a short message to President Hassan Rouhani a day after the deal.   

This is the money quote: 

“…it is necessary to very carefully study the text that has been prepared, so that it can then move in the legal direction that has been determined for it. Then, in the case of ratification, it is necessary to be on the alert for possible breaches of agreements by the other side and the blocking of its path. You know very well that some of the six governments in the opposite camp are not trustworthy in any way.”

The E3 may not be entirely “trustworthy,” but here, it’s all about business; there’s nothing Britain, France, Germany – and the rest of the EU, for that matter – want more than restarting business with Iran in the energy front and beyond.

The battle in Washington, on the other hand, will be gruesome, even as the Obama administration remains confident the dogs of war don’t have the necessary votes to block the implementation of the deal, as Iranian diplomats confirmed to me in Vienna during the negotiations.

In Tehran, on the other hand, the deal should be approved by the Consultative Assembly with no problems.

The bottom realpolitik line, as defined by Khamenei himself, is that the US/Iran Wall of Mistrust seems destined to remain in place – far beyond the nuclear agreement. Multiple Washington factions, not to mention the Pentagon, continue to regard Iran as a “threat”, a rogue nation, or evil incarnate, while Tehran sees Washington as “the heart of global arrogance”.

So the geopolitical path ahead for Iran – whatever happens after the deal is ratified in both capitals and the package of sanctions starts to unravel by late 2015/early 2016 – is Eurasia integration, as I outlined more here.

That implies closer cooperation – and a three-way strategic partnership – between Iran, Russia and China. And that further implies the “Bomb Iran” dogs of war getting even more bloodthirsty.

 

 

 

 


Pepe Escobar  is the roving correspondent for Asia Times/Hong Kong, an analyst for RT and TomDispatch, and a frequent contributor to websites and radio shows ranging from the US to East Asia. He is the author of Globalistan: How the Globalized World is Dissolving into Liquid War (Nimble Books, 2007), Red Zone Blues: a snapshot of Baghdad during the surge (Nimble Books, 2007), and Obama does Globalistan (Nimble Books, 2009).

 

 

 

Historic Iran Nuke Deal a Huge Win for Everyone

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iran deal

Originally published in Russia Insider on July 16, 2015

Visit the New Diner News Page for Daily Updates from around the Collapse Blogosphere


This is it. It is indeed historic. And diplomacy eventually wins. In terms of the New Great Game in Eurasia, and the ongoing tectonic shifts reorganizing Eurasia, this is huge: Iran — supported by Russia and China — has finally, successfully, called the long, winding 12-year-long Atlanticist bluff on its “nuclear weapons.”

And this only happened because the Obama administration needed 1) a lone foreign policy success, and 2) a go at trying to influence at least laterally the onset of the new Eurasia-centered geopolitical order.

So here it is – the 159-page, as detailed as possible, Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA); the actual P5+1/Iran nuclear deal.

As Iranian diplomats have stressed, the JCPOA will be presented to the United Nations Security Council (UNSC), which will then adopt a resolution within 7 to 10 days making it an official international document.

Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif has described the deal — significantly — as a very Chinese “win-win” solution. But not perfect; “I believe this is a historic moment. We are reaching an agreement that is not perfect for anybody but is what we could accomplish. Today could have been the end of hope, but now we are starting a new chapter of hope.”

Zarif also had to stress — correctly — this was a long-sought solution for an “unnecessary crisis”; the politicization — essentially by the US — of a scientific, technical dossier.

Germany’s Foreign Minister Steinmeier, for his part, was euphoric; “A historic day! We leave 35 years of speechlessness + more than 12 years of a dangerous conflict behind us.”

Looking ahead, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani tweeted now there can be “a focus on shared challenges” – referring to the real fight that NATO, and Iran, should pursue together; against the fake Caliphate of ISIS/ISIL/Daesh, whose ideological matrix is intolerant Wahhabism and whose attacks are directed against both Shi’ites and westerners.

Right on cue, Russian President Vladimir Putin stressed the deal will contribute to fighting terrorism in the Middle East, not to mention “assisting in strengthening global and regional security, global nuclear non-proliferation” and — perhaps wishful thinking? — “the creation in the Middle East of a zone free from weapons of mass destruction.”

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov stressed the deal “fully corresponds” with Russia’s negotiating points. The fact is no deal would have been possible without extensive Russian involvement — and the Obama administration knows it (but cannot admit it publicly).

The real problem started when Lavrov added that Moscow expects the cancellation of Washington’s missile defense plans, after the Iran deal proves that Tehran is not, and won’t be, a nuclear “threat.”

There’s the rub. The Pentagon simply won’t cancel an essential part of its Full Spectrum Dominance military doctrine simply because of mere “diplomacy.”

Every security analyst not blinded by ideology knows that missile defense was never about Iran, but about Russia. The Pentagon’s new military review still states — not by accident — major Eurasian players Iran, China and Russia as “threats” to U.S. national security.

Now from the brighter side on Iran-Russia relations. Trade is bound to increase, especially in nanotechnology, machinery parts and agriculture. And on the all-pervasive energy front, Iran will indeed compete with Russia in major markets such as Turkey and soon Western Europe, but there’s plenty of leeway for Gazprom and the National Iranian Oil Company (NIOC) to coordinate their market share. NIOC executive Mohsen Qamsari advances that Iran will prioritize exporting to Asia, and will try to regain the at least 42% of the European market share that it had before sanctions.

Compared to so many uplifting perspectives, Washington’s reaction was quite pedestrian. US President Barack Obama preferred to stress — correctly — that every pathway to an Iranian nuclear weapon has been cut off. And he vowed to veto any legislation in the US Congress that blocks the deal. When I was in Vienna last week I had surefire confirmation — from a European source — that the Obama administration feels confident it has the votes it needs in Capitol Hill.

And what about all that oil?

Tariq Rauf, former Head of Verification and Security Policy at the IAEA and currently Director of the Disarmament and Non-Proliferation Program at the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI), hailed the deal as “the most significant multilateral nuclear agreement in two decades – the last such agreement was the 1996 nuclear test ban treaty.” Rauf even advanced that the 2016 Nobel Peace Prize should go to US Secretary of State Jon Kerry and Iran’s Foreign Minister Zarif.

Rebuilding trust between the US and Iran, though, will be a long and winding road.

Tehran agreed to a 15-year moratorium on enriching uranium beyond 3.67 percent; this means it has agreed to reduce its enrichment capacity by two-thirds. Only Natanz will conduct enrichment; and Fordo, additionally, won’t store fissile material.

Iran agreed to store no more than 300 kg of low-enriched uranium — a 96% reduction compared to current levels. The Arak reactor will be reconfigured, and won’t be used to produce plutonium. The spent fuel will be handled by an international team.

The IAEA and Iran signed a roadmap in Tehran also this Tuesday; that was already decided last week in Vienna. By December 15, all past and present outstanding issues — that amount to 12 items — should be clarified, and the IAEA will deliver a final assessment. IAEA access to the Parchin military site — always a very contentious issue — is part of a separate arrangement.

One of the major sticking points these last few days in Vienna was solved — with Tehran allowing UN inspectors to visit virtually any site. But it may object to a particular visit. A Joint Commission — the P5+1 + Iran — will be able to override any objections with a simple majority vote. After that Iran has three days to comply — in case it loses the vote. There won’t be American inspectors — shades of the run-up towards the war on Iraq; only from countries with diplomatic relations with Iran.

So implementation of the deal will take at least the next five months. Sanctions will be lifted only by early 2016.

What’s certain is that Iran will become a magnet for foreign investment. Major western and Asian multinationals are already positioned to start cracking this practically virgin market with over 70 million people, including a very well educated middle class. There will be a boom in sectors such as consumer electronics, the auto industry and hospitality and leisure.

And then there’s, once again, oil. Iran has as much as a whopping 50 million barrels of oil stored at sea — and that’s about ready to hit the global market. The purchaser of choice will be, inevitably, China — as the West remains mired in recession. Iran’s first order of work is to regain lost market share to Persian Gulf producers. Yet the trend is for oil prices to go down – so Iran cannot count on much profit in the short to medium term.

 

Now for a real war on terror?

The conventional arms embargo on Iran essentially stays, for five years. That’s absurd, compared to Israel and the House of Saud arming themselves to their teeth.

Last May the US Congress approved a $1.9 billion arms sale to Israel. That includes 50 BLU-113 bunker-buster bombs — to do what? Bomb Natanz? — and 3,000 Hellfire missiles. As for Saudi Arabia, according to SIPRI, the House of Saud spent a whopping $80 billion on weapons last year; more than nuclear powers France or Britain. The House of Saud is waging an — illegal — war on Yemen.

Qatar is not far behind. It clinched an $11 billion deal to buy Apache helicopters and Javelin and Patriot air defense systems, and is bound to buy loads of F-15 fighters.

Trita Parsi, president of the National American-Iranian Council, went straight to the point; “Saudi Arabia spends 13 times more money on its defense than Iran does. But somehow Iran, and not Saudi Arabia, is seen by the US as the potential aggressor.”

So, whatever happens, expect tough days ahead. Two weeks ago, Foreign Minister Zarif told a small group of independent journalists in Vienna, including this correspondent, that the negotiations would be a success because the US and Iran had agreed on “no humiliation of one another.”

He stressed he paid “a high domestic price for not blaming the Americans,” and he praised Kerry as “a reasonable man.” But he was wary of the US establishment, which to a great extent, according to his best information, was dead set against the lifting of sanctions.

Zarif also praised the Russian idea that after a deal, it will be time to form a real counter-terrorism coalition, featuring Americans, Iranians, Russians, Chinese and Europeans — even as Putin and Obama had agreed to work together on “regional issues.” And Iranian diplomacy was giving signs that the Obama administration had finally understood that the alternative to Assad in Syria was ISIS/ISIL/Daesh, not the “Free” Syrian Army.

That degree of collaboration, post-Wall of Mistrust, remains to be seen. Then it will be possible to clearly evaluate whether the Obama administration has made a major strategic decision, and whether “normalizing” its relation with Iran involves much more than meets the eye.

 


Pepe Escobar is the author of Globalistan: How the Globalized World is Dissolving into Liquid War (Nimble Books, 2007), Red Zone Blues: a snapshot of Baghdad during the surge (Nimble Books, 2007), and Obama does Globalistan (Nimble Books, 2009).

Historic Iran nuke deal resets Eurasia’s ‘Great Game’

Off the keyboard of Pepe Escobar
Follow us on Twitter @doomstead666
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iran deal

Originally published in Asia Times on July 14, 2015

Visit the New Diner News Page for Daily Updates from around the Collapse Blogosphere


This is it. It is indeed historic. And diplomacy eventually wins. In terms of the New Great Game in Eurasia, and the ongoing tectonic shifts reorganizing Eurasia, this is huge: Iran — supported by Russia and China — has finally, successfully, called the long, winding 12-year-long Atlanticist bluff on its “nuclear weapons.”

And this only happened because the Obama administration needed 1) a lone foreign policy success, and 2) a go at trying to influence at least laterally the onset of the new Eurasia-centered geopolitical order.

So here it is – the 159-page, as detailed as possible, Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA); the actual P5+1/Iran nuclear deal. As Iranian diplomats have stressed, the JCPOA will be presented to the United Nations Security Council (UNSC), which will then adopt a resolution within 7 to 10 days making it an official international document.

Foreign ministers pose for a group picture at UN building in Vienna

 

Foreign ministers pose for a group picture at UN building in Vienna

Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif has described the deal — significantly — as a very Chinese “win-win” solution. But not perfect; “I believe this is a historic moment. We are reaching an agreement that is not perfect for anybody but is what we could accomplish. Today could have been the end of hope, but now we are starting a new chapter of hope.”

Zarif also had to stress — correctly — this was a long-sought solution for an “unnecessary crisis”; the politicization — essentially by the US — of a scientific, technical dossier.

Germany’s Foreign Minister Steinmeier, for his part, was euphoric; “A historic day! We leave 35 years of speechlessness + more than 12 years of a dangerous conflict behind us.”

Looking ahead, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani tweeted now there can be “a focus on shared challenges” – referring to the real fight that NATO, and Iran, should pursue together; against the fake Caliphate of ISIS/ISIL/Daesh, whose ideological matrix is intolerant Wahhabism and whose attacks are directed against both Shi’ites and westerners.

Right on cue, Russian President Vladimir Putin stressed the deal will contribute to fighting terrorism in the Middle East, not to mention “assisting in strengthening global and regional security, global nuclear non-proliferation” and — perhaps wishful thinking? — “the creation in the Middle East of a zone free from weapons of mass destruction.”

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov stressed the deal “fully corresponds” with Russia’s negotiating points. The fact is no deal would have been possible without extensive Russian involvement — and the Obama administration knows it (but cannot admit it publicly).

The real problem started when Lavrov added that Moscow expects the cancellation of Washington’s missile defense plans, after the Iran deal proves that Tehran is not, and won’t be, a nuclear “threat.”

There’s the rub. The Pentagon simply won’t cancel an essential part of its Full Spectrum Dominance military doctrine simply because of mere “diplomacy.” Every security analyst not blinded by ideology knows that missile defense was never about Iran, but about Russia. The Pentagon’s new military review still states — not by accident — major Eurasian players Iran, China and Russia as “threats” to U.S. national security.

Now from the brighter side on Iran-Russia relations. Trade is bound to increase, especially in nanotechnology, machinery parts and agriculture. And on the all-pervasive energy front, Iran will indeed compete with Russia in major markets such as Turkey and soon Western Europe, but there’s plenty of leeway for Gazprom and the National Iranian Oil Company (NIOC) to coordinate their market share. NIOC executive Mohsen Qamsari advances that Iran will prioritize exporting to Asia, and will try to regain the at least 42% of the European market share that it had before sanctions.

Compared to so many uplifting perspectives, Washington’s reaction was quite pedestrian. US President Barack Obama preferred to stress — correctly — that every pathway to an Iranian nuclear weapon has been cut off. And he vowed to veto any legislation in the US Congress that blocks the deal. When I was in Vienna last week I had surefire confirmation — from a European source — that the Obama administration feels confident it has the votes it needs in Capitol Hill.

And what about all that oil?

Tariq Rauf, former Head of Verification and Security Policy at the IAEA and currently Director of the Disarmament and Non-Proliferation Program at the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI), hailed the deal as “the most significant multilateral nuclear agreement in two decades – the last such agreement was the 1996 nuclear test ban treaty.” Rauf even advanced that the 2016 Nobel Peace Prize should go to US Secretary of State Jon Kerry and Iran’s Foreign Minister Zarif.

Rebuilding trust between the US and Iran, though, will be a long and winding road.

Tehran agreed to a 15-year moratorium on enriching uranium beyond 3.67 percent; this means it has agreed to reduce its enrichment capacity by two-thirds. Only Natanz will conduct enrichment; and Fordo, additionally, won’t store fissile material.

Iran agreed to store no more than 300 kg of low-enriched uranium — a 96% reduction compared to current levels. The Arak reactor will be reconfigured, and won’t be used to produce plutonium. The spent fuel will be handled by an international team.

The IAEA and Iran signed a roadmap in Tehran also this Tuesday; that was already decided last week in Vienna. By December 15, all past and present outstanding issues — that amount to 12 items — should be clarified, and the IAEA will deliver a final assessment. IAEA access to the Parchin military site — always a very contentious issue — is part of a separate arrangement.

One of the major sticking points these last few days in Vienna was solved — with Tehran allowing UN inspectors to visit virtually any site. But it may object to a particular visit. A Joint Commission — the P5+1 + Iran — will be able to override any objections with a simple majority vote. After that Iran has three days to comply — in case it loses the vote. There won’t be American inspectors — shades of the run-up towards the war on Iraq; only from countries with diplomatic relations with Iran.

So implementation of the deal will take at least the next five months. Sanctions will be lifted only by early 2016.

What’s certain is that Iran will become a magnet for foreign investment. Major western and Asian multinationals are already positioned to start cracking this practically virgin market with over 70 million people, including a very well educated middle class. There will be a boom in sectors such as consumer electronics, the auto industry and hospitality and leisure.

And then there’s, once again, oil. Iran has as much as a whopping 50 million barrels of oil stored at sea — and that’s about ready to hit the global market. The purchaser of choice will be, inevitably, China — as the West remains mired in recession. Iran’s first order of work is to regain lost market share to Persian Gulf producers. Yet the trend is for oil prices to go down – so Iran cannot count on much profit in the short to medium term.

Now for a real war on terror?

The conventional arms embargo on Iran essentially stays, for five years. That’s absurd, compared to Israel and the House of Saud arming themselves to their teeth.

Last May the US Congress approved a $1.9 billion arms sale to Israel. That includes 50 BLU-113 bunker-buster bombs — to do what? Bomb Natanz? — and 3,000 Hellfire missiles. As for Saudi Arabia, according to SIPRI, the House of Saud spent a whopping $80 billion on weapons last year; more than nuclear powers France or Britain. The House of Saud is waging an — illegal — war on Yemen.

Qatar is not far behind. It clinched an $11 billion deal to buy Apache helicopters and Javelin and Patriot air defense systems, and is bound to buy loads of F-15 fighters.

Trita Parsi, president of the National American-Iranian Council, went straight to the point; “Saudi Arabia spends 13 times more money on its defense than Iran does. But somehow Iran, and not Saudi Arabia, is seen by the US as the potential aggressor.”

So, whatever happens, expect tough days ahead. Two weeks ago, Foreign Minister Zarif told a small group of independent journalists in Vienna, including this correspondent, that the negotiations would be a success because the US and Iran had agreed on “no humiliation of one another.” He stressed he paid “a high domestic price for not blaming the Americans,” and he praised Kerry as “a reasonable man.” But he was wary of the US establishment, which to a great extent, according to his best information, was dead set against the lifting of sanctions.

Zarif also praised the Russian idea that after a deal, it will be time to form a real counter-terrorism coalition, featuring Americans, Iranians, Russians, Chinese and Europeans — even as Putin and Obama had agreed to work together on “regional issues.” And Iranian diplomacy was giving signs that the Obama administration had finally understood that the alternative to Assad in Syria was ISIS/ISIL/Daesh, not the “Free” Syrian Army.

That degree of collaboration, post-Wall of Mistrust, remains to be seen. Then it will be possible to clearly evaluate whether the Obama administration has made a major strategic decision, and whether “normalizing” its relation with Iran involves much more than meets the eye.


Pepe Escobar is the author of Globalistan: How the Globalized World is Dissolving into Liquid War (Nimble Books, 2007), Red Zone Blues: a snapshot of Baghdad during the surge (Nimble Books, 2007), and Obama does Globalistan (Nimble Books, 2009).

The Iran nuke stalemate in one tweet

Off the keyboard of Pepe Escobar
Follow us on Twitter @doomstead666
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26Bolton-superJumbo1

Originally published in Asia Times on July 10, 2015

Visit the New Diner News Page for Daily Updates from around the Collapse Blogosphere


The by now legendary tweet from Iran’s Foreign Minister Zarif in which he quoted Abraham Lincoln is the Rosebud deciphering the current stalemate between the US and Iran in Vienna.

Zarif tweeted, “Mark my words; you can’t change horses in the middle of a stream.” Well, a privileged Iranian source told Asia Times “changing horses” is exactly what US President Barack Obama abruptly did – in regard to conciliating positions he had agreed upon two days earlier.

This happened this past Wednesday night, Vienna time – at the negotiating table.

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif in Vienna

 

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif in Vienna

Things started to change after a working cocktail party in the State Dining Room in Washington on Tuesday night, when Obama appeared “not at all” concerned about the possible implications of the deal and said the chances “were less than 50-50 at this point.”

Even before the cocktail party – on the same day of the missed July 7 deadline — the Obama administration was already on overdrive, dismissing the notion of the president signing any deal just for the sake of a “lone” foreign policy success to be heralded as his legacy.

By mid-week, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry doubled down on his previous, undiplomatic tirade of last Sunday — “the deal may go either way” — and came up with the current “we may walk away” shtick, duly reproduced to exhaustion by US corporate media.

“Changing horses” confirms everything Asia Times has previously reported from Vienna, after detailed conversations with diplomats and negotiators; as a top Iranian official told this correspondent last week, the Obama administration does not seem to have the political will — at least not yet, if ever — to really commit itself to ending, once and for all, the Wall of Mistrust against Iran.

Another Iranian official, in an on the record briefing this past Thursday, complained of a possible “major setback,” although maintaining the official Iranian line that John Kerry is “serious.” And he also confirmed what Asia Times had learned off the record — that the US, the UK and France suddenly started backtracking on key parts of the Lausanne framework.

According to the same Iranian official, with direct access to the negotiating table, “it’s not a multilateral negotiation. It looks like you’re doing five bilaterals. Every country has their red line some times.”

Tehran, on the other hand, has made its political decisions a long time ago, as Asia Times has reported. And the Iranian official came back to stressing the same point; “What is lacking is exactly the political decision that is needed on the other side.”

So should we all remix America and start singing, “I’ve been to Vienna / in a horse with no deal”?

A horse with no deal

In a week that was supposed to feature a clinched deal — and now running past three deadlines — the issue of the lifting of a 2007 UN arms embargo imposed on Iran also emerged, with US corporate media blaming Iran en masse for “new demands.”

That’s bogus. It’s easy to forget that President Rouhani formerly led nuclear negotiations with Europe from 2003 to 2005. He always tried to prevent the transfer of Iran’s nuclear file from the IAEA to the UN. It didn’t make sense — as this was a scientific/technical dossier. But Washington prevailed — leading to the increasing politicization of the IAEA.

For the Iranian negotiators, UN Security Council (UNSC) sanctions are the key; they must be abolished first and foremost because they legitimize all other Western sanctions. The easing off of all sanctions was agreed upon in the Lausanne framework. So that obviously includes the arms embargo, which is a UNSC nuclear-related sanction.

As an Iranian diplomat said this past Monday, “as far as Iran is concerned, we believe … there should not be any place for the arms embargo … There is no evidence whatsoever that the arms embargo has any relation to the nuclear issue.”

The spin machine went on overdrive anyway, blaming Russia for bringing up the issue at the negotiating table. As Asia Times has reported, the fact is BRICS members Russia and China have a coordinated position; no to the embargo. The other two P5 members, the US and the UK, are against it. And France is wavering – what with all those profits to be made by its weapons industry.

This Thursday, in Ufa – on the sidelines of the joint BRICS/SCO meeting — Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov went straight to the point; “We are calling for lifting the embargo as soon as possible and we will support the choices that Iran’s negotiators make.”

This was on the same day that President Rouhani met with President Putin as part of the SCO summit. Iran will inevitably become a SCO member as soon as UN sanctions are lifted. Whatever happens in Vienna, Iran will inevitably expand its role as a vital hub/node of Eurasia integration – from the New Silk Road(s) to the SCO.

Asia Times learned from a senior Iranian official the arms embargo is not an issue that would sink the nuclear deal. What really matters are the economic and financial sanctions. The IRGC has developed on its own a relatively sophisticated Iranian arms industry. Buying weapons from Rosoboronexport – Russia’s weapons export organization – would add to the mix. US opposition has everything to do with the influence of Israel and the House of Saud in the Beltway.

In Ufa, at the BRICS/SCO summit, Russia’s Finance Minister Anton Siluanov also minimized the impact on Russia in case sanctions on Iran are lifted. He said, “injecting new oil to the world markets could impact prices. But the price depends on the global economy at large. If there is enough demand, the impact will be minimal.”

Implementing is a bitch

Whatever happens in Vienna, the road ahead will be fraught with danger. A deal will consist of three delicate phases; adoption, operation and implementation. Vienna would yield only the main, 85-page agreement text plus the five annexes – which will then be reviewed in Tehran and Washington (now for 60 days instead of 30).

Operation means each side proceeding with agreed-upon measures – what the Iranians call a “parallel process” of dismantling parts of the nuclear program in parallel to steps towards dismantling the architecture of sanctions.

And then implementation will kick in automatically; Iran fulfills all its commitments, as verified by the IAEA, and all Western economic, banking and financial sanctions — in theory — vanish.

This is what is called the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPA). It will take at least until the end of 2015 for people in Iran to start feeling at least a bit of progress in their everyday lives. Only a few days ago chief Iranian negotiator Abbas Araqchi sounded so optimistic on IRIB TV. “We have reached a consensus for the removal of financial and economic sanctions on the day of implementing the deal,” he said.

Every analyst not blinded by ideology knows that Iran’s nuclear program was never the problem for Washington. Only neo-con nut jobs believe in their own fantasy that Iran’s nuclear enrichment at 5% for its nuclear program masks a 95+% nuclear weapons program.

It doesn’t matter that the acronym fest of US intel agencies has repeatedly asserted that Iran has no nuclear weapons program. And that Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei has repeatedly emphasized a nuclear bomb is anti-Islamic.

As it stands – and ultimately because of lack of political will in Washington – the deal may be backtracking to “less than 50-50,” even with a new July 13 deadline. And the whole world can see why.

The record is not good. It took over five decades for Washington to start normalizing its relations with heavily sanctioned Cuba. Washington has already alienated the overwhelming majority of 1.7 billion followers of Islam. It has lost most of 1.2 billion Indians – as India joins the SCO. It has lost 1.3 billion Chinese with the pathetic “pivot to Asia” and the non-stop South China Sea saber rattling. It has totally lost Russia, the absolute majority of Latin America and the absolute majority of the Global South.

Certainly this is not the Divide and Rule technique inherited from the faded British empire, that the Brits themselves learned from Rome in their Latin classes. This is taking everyone on at once.


Pepe Escobar is the author of Globalistan: How the Globalized World is Dissolving into Liquid War (Nimble Books, 2007), Red Zone Blues: a snapshot of Baghdad during the surge (Nimble Books, 2007), and Obama does Globalistan (Nimble Books, 2009).

Why there is still no Iran nuke deal in Vienna

Off the keyboard of Pepe Escobar
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Wright-Iran-Nuclear-Deal-2-1200

Originally published in Asia Times on July 7, 2015

Visit the New Diner News Page for Daily Updates from around the Collapse Blogosphere


VIENNA – As the Iran-P5+1 negotiation hit the crucial stage on Monday night, and the technical teams pushed for a clean text to be released on Tuesday – albeit unsuccessfully – the top sticking point turned out to be the conventional arms embargo imposed on Iran by the UNSC, a senior European diplomat told Asia Times.

BRICS members Russia and China had a coordinated position; “yes” to the end of the embargo. The US and the UK voted “no.” And, crucially, France was wavering.

If this was a decision solely in the hands of French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius, the vote would be “no.” But arguably if the final decision rests with President Francois Hollande, it would be a “yes.” There is nothing the French weapons industry would like better than to add Tehran to its still meager list of customers for Rafales and Mistrals.

Turning to the Big Picture, Iranian diplomats were stressing that, “all nuclear-related sanctions should be removed. That was agreed upon in Lausanne.” This means the conventional arms embargo – imposed by the UN in 2007, and tied up in the nuclear sanctions – should also go.

So what was reported by Asia Times early this week continued to apply; there are severe cracks within the P5+1 on several key issues — thus their need to spend more time negotiating amongst themselves than with Iran.

That’s the key reason for a new deadline extension — to Thursday, July 9. And even that may not be the end of the road.

All those brackets

With only 24 hours left before this Tuesday’s D-Day, signs were extremely mixed. The Iranian delegation emphasized, “this was not a deadlock”; after all, the P5+1 foreign ministers were meeting late into the night for the second time in a frantic day. Iranian negotiators were insisting, “Iran is ready to continue as long as there is opportunity of progress.”

Still, the new tentative deadline — Thursday — was already being floated. The Russians, for their part, were getting ready to leave Vienna by Tuesday night; the next immediate destination – which initially should count on the presence of Iranian Foreign Minister Zarif as well – is the crucial, simultaneous BRICS and SCO summits in Ufa, Russia. The SCO will actively start discussing accepting Iran as a member as early as next year in their summit in India.

Although always careful to point out they were not pressed for time, a measure of frustration regarding the real intentions of their American counterparts started to seep in among Iranian diplomats; “If they cannot translate political intention into political decisions we will have to close down these negotiations.”

Still, “both sides don’t want to lose momentum.” Kerry’s rather undiplomatic Sunday move — “the deal could go either way” — was interpreted by the Iranians as a message to placate the internal front (in the US), and win the battle for public opinion at home. Mostly what the Iranians retained was “we’re progressing.”

It’s hard to fathom the complexities hidden in an exhaustively detailed, 85-page text with five attachments. Iranian officials describe it as “a package of 85 pages with lots of brackets.” As one of them put it, “even for a word, or sometimes a preposition, we have to spend a full two hour meeting on the technical level.” “Success” is measured when negotiators are able to clear 15 to 20 brackets a day.

What was soon defined at the final stretch is that after the agreement, “a resolution will be tabled.” The UNSC will “take note” of what was agreed at in Vienna. And then this resolution will suspend all past resolutions on the day of implementation. “The benefit of this resolution,” adds an Iranian technical expert, “ is to record the agreement in Vienna. And then everything passes under the jurisdiction of the UNSC.”

Deep into a warm Viennese night, with the legendary Café Sacher already closed, it was still a long way to go. In a hotel room, an Iranian diplomat mused; “The Americans created a structure of sanctions they don’t want to destroy. Emotionally, they want to keep it.” It’s no wonder that most of the unresolved brackets in the final text still relate to US and EU sanctions.

And there was the rub, once again; would the Obama administration, to its credit, finally let go of the weapon of choice of US foreign policy? That would be worthy of a gala celebration at the Vienna Staatsoper.


Pepe Escobar is the author of Globalistan: How the Globalized World is Dissolving into Liquid War (Nimble Books, 2007), Red Zone Blues: a snapshot of Baghdad during the surge (Nimble Books, 2007), and Obama does Globalistan (Nimble Books, 2009).

What it really takes for a US-Iran deal

Off the keyboard of Pepe Escobar
Follow us on Twitter @doomstead666
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Originally published in Ron July 1, 2015

Visit the New Diner News Page for Daily Updates from around the Collapse Blogosphere

 

U.S. Secretary of Energy Ernest Moniz, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and U.S. Under Secretary for Political Affairs Wendy Sherman (L-3rd L) meet with Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif (2nd R) at a hotel in Vienna, Austria June 28, 2015 (Reuters / Carlos Barria)

 

 

The next important step is what happens at the UN Security Council (UNSC). All the concerned parties at the UNSC will endorse a declaration, and a resolution – which is still being negotiated – will render null and void all previous sanctions resolutions.

As it stands, all the parties – except the US government – want to go to the UNSC as soon as possible. Washington remains, at best, reticent.

Iranian negotiators have made it very clear at the table that Tehran will start implementing its nuclear restriction commitments – removal of a number of centrifuges, removal of the core of Arak’s reactor, disposal of uranium stock, etc. – immediately. The IAEA will be constantly checking Iran has complied with an extensive list.

But it has to be a parallel process; the US and the EU must for their part and “take physical action”, tackling the complex mechanism of lifting all economic sanctions. Once again; a UNSC signature instantly erases all previous sanctions.

And here is something crucial; all of this has been agreed in Lausanne. The work must be simultaneous, as stressed, in tandem, by Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif and EU representative Federica Mogherini.

Those fateful parameters

Meanwhile, we have the media centrifuges spinning like mad, as I described here. On the negotiating table, there are still skirmishes related to the US desire in trying to “prove a negative” – as in the “possible military dimensions” (PMD) of Iran’s nuclear program. Logically, you don't need to be a neo-Wittgenstein to see that’s impossible.

The deadline extension from June 30 to July 7 is mostly about finding – rather, finding again – a “reasonable common narrative” inbuilt in the Lausanne framework, and even before.

This means Washington should make the political decision to tone down repeated attempts to introduce new demands. Iranian officials admit, “we may have had disagreements on how we do simultaneous work,” but that’s part of Lausanne. New demands are not.

In Lausanne, US Secretary of State John Kerry and Foreign Minister Zarif agreed on a “set of parameters” – after an excruciating nine hours of debate. They also agreed, crucially, that both sides would refrain from humiliating one another publicly.

The recent record shows that’s been the case – as far as negotiators and diplomats are concerned. On the other hand, US corporate media predictably has been wreaking the proverbial havoc.

Which brings us to the clincher; Iranian negotiators have yet to detect a readiness of the US government to really change the “culture of sanctions” in the UNSC. And here a diplomatic consensus emerges, involving, very significantly, Russia and Germany; this agreement will be made – or broken – on one crucial point; whether the Obama administration wants to lift the sanctions or keep them.

Watch the BRICS front

The least one can say about what’s really happening in the Palais Coburg since this past weekend is that the Obama administration’s position is oscillating wildly. There seems to be – finally – some movement on the American side in the sense they feel a strategic interest in changing the situation.

That will depend, of course, on the Obama administration’s evaluation of all factions operating in the Beltway establishment. Diplomats in Vienna agree Kerry is personally involved in trying to change the equation. So this means the ball is really in the US court.

But all’s still murky; even oscillating wildly; the Americans continue to entertain what an Iranian official described to me as “buyer’s remorse” regarding what they agreed on Lausanne in the first place.

Serious, key sticking points remain. The duration of the sanctions; confidentiality issues – as in the US, especially, respecting terms of access to Iranian military installations; and what’s defined as “managed access” under certain conditions.

Also very crucial is the BRICS front at the P5+1. Neither China nor Russia wants to see any exacerbation of tensions, in Southwest Asia and beyond, because a deal is not clinched. The bottom line; with their eye in the Big Picture – as in Eurasia integration – both are committed to facilitate a deal.

Until next Tuesday, all remains in play. Obama has been spinning he doesn’t want a “bad deal”. That’s not the issue. The issue is Obama himself making the fateful political decision of abandoning the weapon of choice of US foreign policy; sanctions. Has he got what it takes to pull it off?


Pepe Escobar is the author of Globalistan: How the Globalized World is Dissolving into Liquid War (Nimble Books, 2007), Red Zone Blues: a snapshot of Baghdad during the surge (Nimble Books, 2007), and Obama does Globalistan (Nimble Books, 2009).

Iran nuclear deadline: Showdown in Vienna

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Originally published in Asia Times on June 26, 2015

Visit the New Diner News Page for Daily Updates from around the Collapse Blogosphere


 

This is it? No one knows. As foreign ministers gather in Vienna ahead of the June 30 deadline, an Iranian government source tells Asia Times it’s a “done deal.” For days, there have been no leaks, certainly to prevent hardliners on both sides – Iran and especially the U.S. – from ruining it at five seconds to midnight.

Realistically, all the myriad complex components are not there for a conclusive nuclear deal between Iran and the P5+1. Not yet. Iranian deputy lead negotiator Seyed Abbas Araqchi said earlier this week that “progress is not as expected.” Both presidents, Obama and Rouhani, badly want it, while both hardcore lobbies — in Washington and Tehran — are keen on derailing it.

Witness an open letter by the usual suspects, some of them former Obama advisers, stating, “the agreement will not prevent Iran from having a nuclear weapons capability” – which is a flat-out lie; and predicting the deal will “fall short of meeting the administration’s own standard of a ‘good’ agreement,” which implies they are fully briefed on all the negotiation’s nuances, and they’re not.

Predictably, the open letter was published by the neocon-infested and rabid anti-Iran WINEP think tank; signatories include disgraced former Iraq and Afghanistan surge schemer Gen. David Petraeus and Dennis Ross – who never “negotiated” anything that didn’t put Israel’s interests ahead of the US.

Bets can be made that the June 30 deadline won’t hold; this may go on until the end of next week at least. As a nail-biting finish that is not – yet – a finish, it’s unrivalled. Especially for global businesses – not least the energy industry – who are getting ready for a tectonic geopolitical shift; Iran finally “rehabilitated” in the West (yes, because with the East it’s always been business as usual.)

It’s a gas, gas, gas

It’s no surprise Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei had to lay down Iran’s red lines ahead of June 30. After all, the April 2 Lausanne “package” which is the basis for the current negotiations leading to a possible final Vienna deal is deliberately hazy – and subject to conflicting interpretations, especially over the timing for sanctions to be totally lifted.

Khamenei insists sanctions by the UN and the US should be lifted as soon as a deal is signed; Washington will never agree, as the State Department insists this is first of all about IAEA “verification”, then easing of sanctions.

The same applies for Tehran not accepting to be restricted on nuclear research and development for ten years. Even Russia and China agree Iran must comply with “verification” – under the framework of a civilian nuclear program.

The point is not the Supreme Leader is plying a D.O.A. deal. The point is Khamenei, for complex internal purposes, must keep potentially unruly ultra-conservatives and hardliners on board. And because the Lausanne package’s rhetoric is deliberately pliable, he can play along with the red lines – always emphasizing Iran’s “heroic,” or “brave and faithful” negotiators, led by Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif.

The fact also remains that no one knows which will be the language on the final deal – until a detailed written agreement is endorsed by the Iranian Parliament and the US Congress. So for the moment, we’re in Nietzsche territory; there are no facts, only interpretations.

But what the business world is salivating for, are facts. Every energy major has its eyes set on Tehran, discussing post-sanctions serious business. Italy’s ENI has been talking. Same for Shell. Same for BP (although they don’t acknowledge it.) In the case of Shell there’s the matter of the $2 billion it owes to the National Iranian Oil Company (NIOC) – unpaid because of sanctions.

Iran holds at least 30 million barrels of oil in storage. So will there be an oil flood in the weeks to come (with the Chinese buying everything)? It depends on what sanctions are to be immediately lifted. And this means oil prices falling – which is something Russia and Saudi Arabia, considering the recent meeting in St. Petersburg between Putin and the House of Saud, are not exactly keen on at the moment.

It will be a slow process. According to Iranian Oil Minister Bijan Zanganeh, Iran is ready to increase production by around one million barrels a day after sanctions are lifted. Currently, Iran produces around 2.7 million barrels a day and exports 1 million. Realistically, Iran may add 600,000 barrels a day by the end of 2017. Further than that, it needs a lot of infrastructure investment.

Same for the gas industry. At the World Gas Conference earlier this month in Paris, NIOC’s Azizollah Ramezani said Iran will increase production from 800 million to 1.2 billion cubic meters a day up to 2020. But for that to happen, it needs at least $100 billion in investment from European energy majors. It’s all there, tantalizingly, on the horizon, a Chinese-style “win-win” for both Iran and Europe. But first, the showdown in Vienna.


Pepe Escobar is the author of Globalistan: How the Globalized World is Dissolving into Liquid War (Nimble Books, 2007), Red Zone Blues: a snapshot of Baghdad during the surge (Nimble Books, 2007), and Obama does Globalistan (Nimble Books, 2009).

Why NATO Is Terrified of Russia

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Originally published in RT on May 1, 2015

Visit the New Diner News Page for Daily Updates from around the Collapse Blogosphere


The twin-pronged attack – oil price war/raid on the ruble – aimed at destroying the Russian economy and place it into a form of Western natural resource vassalage has failed.

Natural resources were also essentially the reason for reducing Iran to a Western vassalage. That never had anything to do with Tehran developing a nuclear weapon, which was banned by both the leader of the Islamic revolution, Ayatollah Khomeini, and Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei.

The ‘New Great Game’ in Eurasia was always about control of the Eurasian land mass. Minor setbacks to the American elite project do not mean the game will be restricted to a mere “war of attrition”. Rather the contrary.

All about PGS

In Ukraine, the Kremlin has been more than explicit there are two definitive red lines. Ukraine won’t join NATO. And Moscow won’t allow the popular republics of Donetsk and Lugansk to be crushed.

We are coming closer to a potentially explosive deadline – when EU sanctions expire in July. An EU in turmoil but still enslaved to NATO – see the pathetic “Dragoon Ride” convoy from the Baltics to Poland or the “Atlantic Resolve” NATO show-off exercise – may decide to expand them, and even try to exclude Russia from SWIFT.

Only fools believe Washington is going to risk American lives over Ukraine or even Poland. Yet let’s plan a few steps ahead. If it ever comes to the unthinkable – a war between NATO and Russia in Ukraine – Russian defense circles are sure of conventional and nuclear superiority on sea and land. And the Pentagon knows it. Russia would reduce NATO forces to smithereens in a matter of hours. And then would come Washington’s stark choice: accept ignominious defeat or escalate to tactical nuclear weapons.

The Pentagon knows that Russia has the air and missile defense capabilities to counter anything embedded in the US Prompt Global Strike (PGS). Simultaneously though, Moscow is saying it would rather not use these capabilities.

Major General Kirill Makarov, Russia’s Aerospace Defense Forces’ deputy chief, has been very clear about the PGS threat. Moscow’s December 2014 new military doctrine qualifies PGS as well as NATO’s current military buildup as the top two security threats to Russia.

Unlike non-stop Pentagon/NATO bragging/demonizing, what Russian defense circles don’t need to advertise is how they are now a couple of generations ahead of the US in their advanced weaponry.

The bottom line is that while the Pentagon was mired in the Afghanistan and Iraq quagmires, they completely missed Russia’s technological jump ahead. The same applies to China’s ability to hit US satellites and thus pulverize American ICBM satellite guidance systems.

The current privileged scenario is Russia playing for time until it has totally sealed Russia’s air space to American ICBMs, stealth aircraft and cruise missiles – via the S-500 system.

This has not escaped the attention of the British Joint Intelligence Committee (JIC) – as it gamed sometime ago whether Washington might launch a first strike against Russia.According to the JIC, Washington might go rogue if “a) an extreme government were to take over in the United States, b) and there was increased lack of confidence by the United States in some if not all of her Western allies owing to political developments in their countries, c) and there was some sudden advance in the USA in the sphere of weapons, etc. that the counsels of impatience may get the upper hand.”

US ‘Think Tankland’ spinning that Russian military planners should take advantage of their superiority to launch a first strike nuclear attack against the US is bogus; the Russian doctrine is eminently defensive.

Yet that does not exclude Washington doing the unthinkable the next time the Pentagon thinks of itself to be in the position Russia is now in.

SWIFT changes

The whole game used to be about who ruled the waves – the geopolitical gift the US inherited from Great Britain. Control of the seas meant the US inheriting five empires; Japan, Germany, Great Britain, France, the Netherlands. All those massive US carrier task forces patrolling the oceans to guarantee “free trade” – as the hegemonic propaganda machine goes – could be turned against China in a flash. It’s a mechanism similar to the carefully choreographed “leading from behind” financial op to simultaneously crash the ruble/launch an oil war and thus smash Russia into submission.

Washington’s master plan remains deceptively simple; to “neutralize” China by Japan, and Russia by Germany, with the US backing its two anchors, Germany and Japan. Russia is the de facto only BRICS nation blocking the master plan.

This was the case until Beijing launched the New Silk Road(s), which essentially mean the linking of all Eurasia into a “win-win” trade/commerce bonanza on high-speed rail, and in the process diverting freight tonnage overland and away from the seas.

So NATO’s non-stop Russia demonizing is in fact quaint. Think about NATO picking a fight against the constantly evolving, complex Russia-China strategic partnership. And in a not so remote future, as I indicated here, Germany, Russia and China have what it takes to be the essential pillars of a fully integrated Eurasia.

As it stands, the key shadow play is Moscow and Beijing silently preparing their own SWIFT system while Russia prepares to seal its air space with S-500s. Western Ukraine is doomed; leave it to the austerity-ravaged EU – which, by the way, doesn’t want it. And all this while the same EU tries to handicap the US commercially with a rigged euro that still doesn’t allow it to penetrate more US markets.

As for an irrelevant NATO, all it can do is cry, cry, cry.


Pepe Escobar is the author of Globalistan: How the Globalized World is Dissolving into Liquid War (Nimble Books, 2007), Red Zone Blues: a snapshot of Baghdad during the surge (Nimble Books, 2007), and Obama does Globalistan (Nimble Books, 2009).

Russia, China, Iran: In sync

Off the keyboard of Pepe Escobar
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S-300 (RIA Novosti / Alexey Danichev)

Originally published in RT on April 16, 2015


Over past decades, the pre-fabricated myth of an elusive “Iranian bomb” was never the real issue between the US and Iran; the issue was how to subdue – or “isolate” – a powerful, independent nation that refused to toe the exceptionalist line.

Now that the “rehabilitation” of Iran – at least for some exceptionalists and their minions – may be imminent, pending a nuclear deal to be clinched in June, various Washington factions still can’t get their act together.

The Pentagon has all but admitted the perennial wet dream of neocons and corporate media remains on the table; the military option.

The US Congress will go no holds barred in trying to scotch the deal. The US Senate Foreign Relations Committee unanimously passed a bill that would give Congress the right to interfere with anything related to the removal of sanctions.

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif faces an even more uphill battle as the “fact sheet” the Obama administration insisted it needed to release to make the case in Washington complicates how the nuclear deal may be received in Iran. To top it off, “fact sheet” or not, the case was not made in Washington after all.

And now the usual suspects – from the State Department to Congress and the Israel lobby – are predictably going bonkers on a demented “Putin selling missiles to the ayatollahs” narrative.

Got “S”, will sell

What Russian President Vladimir Putin has just done is to get back to business as usual; even before sanctions are lifted, he signed a decree lifting Moscow’s own ban on the delivery of the S-300 surface-to-air anti-missile system to Tehran, following an $800 million 2010 contract that was not fulfilled due to relentless US pressure. Tehran expects to receive the S-300 by the end of the year.

Moscow’s official line has always been that the arms embargo on Iran must be lifted as soon as a final nuclear deal is clinched. The Obama administration insists that sanctions must be removed gradually. Tehran, from Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei on down, is adamant that sanctions must be lifted“on the day of the deal”, in Khamenei’s words.

The Supreme Leader had added a conciliatory note though, remarking that, “if the other side avoids its ambiguity in the [nuclear] talks, it’ll be an experience showing it’s possible to negotiate with them on other issues.” That remains a galaxy-sized “if”.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov (R) shows the way to his Iranian counterpart Javad Zarif during a meeting in Moscow (Reuters / Maxim Zmeyev)

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov (R) shows the way to his Iranian counterpart Javad Zarif during a meeting in Moscow (Reuters / Maxim Zmeyev)

Meanwhile, and in sync, the director-general of Russia’s top weapons exporting company Rosoborobexport, Anatoly Isaykin, confirmed China has just bought S-400 missile defense systems from Russia. Beijing is the first in a long list of foreign buyers – as the Russian defense industry is obliged to give priority on the S-400s to the Russian Defense Ministry

Each S-400 is capable of launching up to 72 missiles, engaging up to 36 targets simultaneously, and shield territory from air strikes, strategic, cruise, tactical and operating tactical ballistic missiles, and medium-range ballistic missiles. It’s been operational since 2007, replacing the S-300 systems now sold to Iran.

The crucial issue is that the S-300s will render Iran’s air defenses virtually secure against anything the Pentagon may throw at them, except fifth-generation stealth fighters. And these – the S-300 and S-400 – are not even Russian state-of-art; that would be the S-500 system, which I’ve referred to here, capable of definitely sealing Russian – and any other – territory from anything the Pentagon may come up with.

Strategically in sync

The simultaneous rolling out of the S-300s and S-400s to Iran and China are yet one more graphic example of the strategic partnership involving the three Eurasian nations that actively contest the hyperpower’s hegemony. They are certainly in sync.

In parallel, discreetly, Moscow has already started, in practice, a $20 billion oil-for-goods swap with Tehran – exchanging grain, equipment and construction materials for up to 500,000 barrels of Iranian crude a day. According to Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov, “this is not banned or limited under the current sanctions regime.”

Ryabkov only stated the obvious; “It takes two to tango. We are ready to provide our services and I am sure they will be pretty advantageous compared to other countries…We never gave up on Iran in a difficult situation…”

Tehran responded in sync, via the Chairman for the Committee for Foreign Policy and National Security of the Islamic Consultative Assembly of Iran, Alaeddin Boroujerdi; Iran is ready to expand cooperation with Russia in all spheres at the highest level. Crucially, “this is also the opinion of our supreme religious leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei about development of relations with Russia.”

The usual suspects, as usual, are clinging to any argument that “proves” Russia-Iran cooperation is doomed. For instance, “rehabilitated” Iran will doom Russia’s energy industry because of the “serious impact” on the oil market from Iran’s increased supply and competition with gas exporter Gazprom.

Ryabkov dismissed it by going straight to the point; “I am not confident as yet that the Iranian side would be ready to carry out supplies of natural gas from its fields quickly and in large quantities to Europe. This requires infrastructure that is difficult to build.”

This infrastructure upgrade is costly and will take years; it may happen, but with help from – once again – the Russians and the Chinese. Russia will be back in play in full force in Iran’s energy sector, as Gazprom, its oil arm, Gazprom Neft, and Lukoil had to put on hold many projects because of sanctions. Rosatom, for its part, will be able to clinch further contracts at the Bushehr nuclear power plant.

The EU – and especially the US – are betting on Iran’s “rehabilitation” as an economic/political bonanza; the first real benefit would be Tehran becoming a supplier to yet another troublesome ‘Pipelineistan’ gambit, the Trans-Anatolian (TAP) gas pipeline, which may – or may not – be finished by 2018. TAP will supply gas to the EU via Turkey, but it’s still unclear how much gas potential suppliers – Azerbaijan or Iran – are able to commit.

TAP coming online does not mean Gazprom’s exports to the EU must be cut down. In fact, what Russian and Iranian officials have been discussing for a while now is how profitable exporting to the EU may be for both nations. Besides, Russia has still another key ‘Pipelineistan’ card to play – Turkish Stream, which will channel Russian gas to Turkey and Greece.

And yes, Gazprom is getting ready to be a key provider to two essential markets at the same time. Here’s what Gazprom’s CEO Alexei Miller told Rossiya-24: “The resource base of Western Siberia is a resource that is used for delivering gas for exports to Europe. In other words, at this point we are on the cutting edge when actual competitiveness will begin for our energy resources between two mega-markets: Asian and European.”

SWIFT business

Beijing, meanwhile, has also been on the offensive. As a top energy supplier – of both oil and gas – Iran is a matter of Chinese national security. So even with sanctions after sanctions, the US government was always forced to renew waivers for China, as Beijing kept importing energy from Iran at will.

Reuters / Petar Kujundzic

Reuters / Petar Kujundzic

Iran is an absolutely key node of the Chinese-led New Silk Road(s) – be it as part of the land route or as part of the Maritime Silk Road, which will touch the port of Chabahar. And the China-Iran partnership does not span only close ties on energy and trade/commerce; it also includes advanced Chinese defense technology, and Chinese input in Iran’s ballistic missile program.

China created a parallel SWIFT system to pay Iran for energy; Tehran, after the nuclear deal, will be free to access these funds in yuan. Iranian energy executives have already been to Beijing to discuss Chinese investment in the Iranian energy industry. Sinopec and CNPC will be instrumental in developing projects in the South Pars gas fields – the largest in the world – and in the monster Yadavaran and North Azadegan oil fields.

For Iran, all this will happen in parallel with European energy giants investing in liquefied natural gas (LNG) development and technology.

Investing in multiple fronts, China will also be instrumental in its push to finally help complete the much-troubled Iran-Pakistan (IP) pipeline, which in the future may even include an extension to Xinjiang.

Xi does Tehran

The icing in this vast energy cake is how both Russia and China are deeply committed to integrating Iran into their Eurasian vision. Iran may finally be admitted as a full member of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) at the upcoming summer summit in Russia. That implies a full-fledged security/commercial/political partnership involving Russia, China, Iran and most Central Asian’stans’.

Iran is already a founding member of the Chinese-led Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB); that means financing for an array of New Silk Road-related projects bound to benefit the Iranian economy. AIIB funding will certainly merge with loans and other assistance for infrastructure development related to the Chinese-established Silk Road Fund.

And last but not least, the China-Iran strategic partnership will be discussed in detail as Chinese President Xi Jinping visits Tehran next month.

It’s easy to remember how Iran was relentlessly derided as “isolated” by the exceptionalist crowd only a few months ago. Yet the fact is it was never isolated – but painstakingly building blocks towards Eurasian integration.

European firms are of course itching to unleash an avalanche of investment in the Iranian market post-sanctions, and most of all the energy giants badly yearn to lessen EU’s dependency on Gazprom. But they’ll be facing formidable competition, as it was up to Moscow and Beijing to identify, a long time ago, which way the wind was blowing; the inevitable (re)emergence of Iran as a key Eurasian power.

The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of RT.


Pepe Escobar is the author of Globalistan: How the Globalized World is Dissolving into Liquid War (Nimble Books, 2007), Red Zone Blues: a snapshot of Baghdad during the surge (Nimble Books, 2007), and Obama does Globalistan (Nimble Books, 2009).

Bomb Iran? Not now: bomb Yemen

Off the keyboard of Pepe Escobar
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People walk past a car damaged by an airstrike in Sanaa April 8, 2015. (Reuters/Khaled Abdullah)

People walk past a car damaged by an airstrike in Sanaa April 8, 2015. (Reuters/Khaled Abdullah)

Originally published in RT on April 9, 2015


‘Operation Decisive Storm’ – the Pentagon-style House of Saud glorifying of its ghastly ‘Bomb Yemen’ show – could be summed up in a single paragraph.

The wealthiest Arab nation – the House of Saud petro-hacienda – supported by other GCC petro-rackets and also the wealthy “West”, has launched an – illegal – bombing/war/kinetic operation against the poorest Arab nation in the name of “democracy.”

And this absurdity is just the beginning.

The EU’s foreign policy chief, the innocuous as a stale cannoli Federica Mogherini, seems to be mildly alarmed. She remarked that Saudi bombing of hospitals and “deliberate targeting and destruction of private homes, education facilities and basic infrastructure cannot be tolerated.”

Well, the EU tolerates exactly the same thing in Donbass perpetrated by Kiev’s goons – so nothing will come out La Mogherini’s feigned outrage.

The Red Cross and the Russian Federation, for their part, at least are demanding a temporary ceasefire to allow for humanitarian relief. Humanitarian relief is incompatible with the House of Saud’s bloodline. So after two weeks of Saudi ‘Shock and Awe’, the current toll of at least 560 Yemeni civilians dead (and counting), and 1700 wounded – dozens of them children – is bound to increase.

Bab-el-Mandeb me, baby

Bomb Iran? Not now; the new normal is bomb Yemen. But still bomb Iran might be back in a flash. Pentagon supremo Ash Carter confirmed last week “all options are on the table” even if an Iran-P5+1 nuclear deal is finally reached in June. So, for the record, the Pentagon is affirming nuclear negotiations are just white noise unable to deter the tantalizing prospect of yet another nice little Middle East war.

Needless to add, the so civilized ‘West’ didn’t even flinch when “our bastards” the House of Saud invaded and started shockin’ an’awin’ dirt-poor Yemen. No UN Security Council resolution. Not even a mandate from the totally discredited Arab League. Who cares? After all the ‘Empire of Chaos’ has done the same over and over again with total impunity.

Much hysteria has been raging on whether the Houthis are about to take control of the Bab-el-Mandeb – one of the key strategic global energy chokepoints along with the Straits of Hormuz, and as crucial as the Suez Canal. Nonsense. Whatever the House of Saud does, the not so hidden ‘Empire of Chaos’ agenda is never to lose control of the Bab-el-Mandeb, the Gulf of Aden, and the Socotra Islands.

A man reacts as he inspects the damage of a building caused by an air strike in Sanaa April 8, 2015. (Reuters/Khaled Abdullah)

A man reacts as he inspects the damage of a building caused by an air strike in Sanaa April 8, 2015. (Reuters/Khaled Abdullah)

This is part of what we could dub ‘Chokepointistan’; wars taking place near or around energy bottlenecks, and always narrated in Global War on Terror (GWOT) deceitful terminology. US Think Tankland is more straightforward, carefully following US naval deployments. That’s what this is all about; an Orwellian “freedom of navigation” masquerading a hardcore strategy of shutting out the geopolitical enemy – be it Iran, Russia, China or all of the above.

‘Chokepointistan’ is all over the place: just watch the war or pre-positioning action in the Bab-el-Mandeb (with spillover effects from Yemen to Somalia, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Djibouti); the Straits of Hormuz (all about Iran); but also the strait of Malacca (all about China), Panama (about Venezuela), the coming Nicaragua canal (about China), the Korean Strait, the Taiwan Strait, the Kuril Islands, and last but not least the Baltic Sea.

A Grand Armada Run Amok

Saudi intel knows the Houthis can’t possibly control the Bab-el-Mandeb – not to mention Washington would never allow it. What freaks the Saudis out is that the Houthi rebellion in Yemen – supported by Tehran – may encourage bright rebellion ideas among the Shi’ite majority in the eastern provinces in Saudi Arabia, where most of the oil is.

And this where the Saudi excuse for war interfaces with the empire’s paranoia of preventing Iran, Russia and/or China from establishing a possible strategic presence in Yemen, at the Bab-el-Mandeb, overlooking the Gulf of Aden.

So we have once again Pentagon supremo Carter insisting, “The United States supports Arab plans to create a unified military force to counter growing security threats in the Middle East, and the Pentagon will cooperate with it where US and Arab interests coincide.” Translation: we gave the green light for our bastards to maintain “stability” in the Middle East.

Yet there’s a spanner in the works; the possible Washington-Tehran rapprochement, assuming a nuclear deal is reached. For the self-described “Don’t Do Stupid Stuff” Obama administration, the nuclear deal will be their only foreign policy success. Moreover, without Tehran there’s no meaningful fight against ISIS/ISIL/Daesh in “Syraq”.

None of this mollifies the cosmically paranoid Saudis, who assembled in a flash a Grand Armada Run Amok (GARA) – 100 jet fighters, 150,000 soldiers – respectfully described by US Think Tankland as a “coalition” of 10 countries. Without even blinking at UN norms, the Saudis instantly declared the whole of Yemen as a no-fly zone.

Iran's Foreign Minister Javad Zarif addresses during a joint statement with EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini (L) in Lausanne April 2, 2015. (Reuters/Ruben Sprich)

Iran’s Foreign Minister Javad Zarif addresses during a joint statement with EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini (L) in Lausanne April 2, 2015. (Reuters/Ruben Sprich)

And along with routine bombing of residential complexes, the al-Mazraq camp for the internally displaced in Hajjah, a dairy factory near Hodeida, and other instances, came, what else, hardcore internal Saudi repression, via a crackdown with tanks and indiscriminate shooting in Awamiyah, in the eastern provinces; Shi’ites there can’t even think of organizing protests against the bloodbath in Yemen.

In a nutshell, this is the immensely wealthy, corrupt, medieval Saudi regime busy at war against their own people. The usual hard-line Wahhabi imams are busy working up anti-Shi’ite and anti-Iranian fever everywhere; these are all “apostates” under the takfir doctrine, and Iranians are lowly “Safawis” – a quite pejorative reference to the 16th century Safavid dynasty. It’s crucial to remember that Islamic State treats Shi’tes and Iranians the exact same way. But forget about any of this being reported by Western corporate media.

The General and the Sheikh

The House of Saud insists it wants to reinstall the government-in-exile of Yemeni President Abd Rabbuh Mansour Hadi. Or, as Saudi Ambassador to the US, Adel al-Jubeir glowingly put it, “protect the legitimate government of the country.”

Royally paid Saudi lobby hagiographers are once again frantically spinning the Sunni versus Shi’ite sectarian narrative – which totally ignores the mind-boggling tribal/class complexity of Yemeni society. In a nutshell, this laughable Saudi defense of democracy is paving the way for a ground war; a long, bloody and horribly expensive ground war.

And it gets, as expected, even more absurd. Gen. Martin Dempsey, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, was recently asked during a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing whether he knew of “any major Arab ally that embraces ISIL.” His response: “I know major Arab allies who fund them.”

Translation: the US government not only does not sanction or punish these “allies” (the real fun is to sanction Russia) but showers with logistical and “non-lethal” support the “coalition” that is arguably fighting the same Islamic State they are funding. No one is making this up; this is how the endless war on terra remains the gift that keeps on giving.

It gets even curioser and curioser when we have Dempsey on the same page of Hezbollah’s Sheikh Nasrallah. In this crucial speech, Sheikh Nasrallah offers the most extensive and precise account of the origins and ideology of ISIS/ISIL/Daesh. And here he expands on Yemen, Saudi Arabia and Iran.

So what we have is the ‘Empire of Chaos’ ‘leading from behind’ in the war on Yemen and also de facto ‘leading from behind’ in the fight against ISIS/ISIL/Daesh; the ones doing the heavy lifting are Iraqi militias supported by Tehran. The hidden agenda is always – what else –chaos; be it across “Syraq” or inside Yemen. With an extra bonus; while Washington is engaged on striking a nuclear deal with Tehran, it also turbo-charges an alliance against Tehran using the House of Saud.

Vietnam in the desert

The House of Saud badly wants Pakistan to take no prisoners, supplying bomber jets, ships and lots of ground troops for their war. Riyadh treats Islamabad as a vassal state. A joint session of the Pakistani Parliament will decide what to do.

It’s quite revealing to learn what happened when Pakistan’s most popular private TV channel assembled representatives of all major political parties to explain where they stand. Soon they reached a consensus; Pakistan should be neutral; act as mediator; and commit no troops, unless there was a “tangible threat” to the two holy mosques in Mecca and Medina, which is far from the case.

The House of Saud remains on overdrive, showering tons of cash over Salafi and Deobandi preachers to bullhorn their war; that includes a delegation of ulema visiting Riyadh. Support has already duly poured from Pakistan-based hardcore groups that trained with al-Qaeda and fought with the Taliban in Afghanistan; after all they are all funded by Wahhabi fanatics.

Followers of the Houthi movement attend a protest against the Saudi-led air strikes in Sanaa April 5, 2015. (Reuters/Khaled Abdullah)

Followers of the Houthi movement attend a protest against the Saudi-led air strikes in Sanaa April 5, 2015. (Reuters/Khaled Abdullah)

Meanwhile, in the front lines, a real game-changer may be ahead, with the Houthis already firing missiles across the border at Saudi oil installations. Then all bets are off – and the possibility that long-range missiles have been pre-positioned becomes quite credible.

That scenario would mean a foreign intel agency luring the House of Saud into its own Vietnam quagmire in Yemen, setting them up for a barrage of missiles hitting their pumping stations and oil fields, with catastrophic consequences for the global economy. It’s crucial to remember that the Grand Armada Run Amok (GARA) assembled by Riyadh happens to account for no less than 32% of global oil production. This cannot possibly end well.

Everyone in Yemen has an AK-47, not to mention RPGs and hand grenades. The terrain is guerrilla heaven. History spells out at least 2,000 years of hardened tribes fighting foreign invaders. Most Yemenis hate the House of Saud with a vengeance; a majority follows what the Houthis announced in late February, that the House of Saud and the US were planning to devastate Yemen.

The Houthi rebellion includes both Sunnis and Shi’ites – thus totally debunking the Saudi narrative. When they captured the Yemeni National Security Bureau, which was basically a CIA station, the Houthis found a wealth of secret documents that “compromised” Washington’s Yemeni chapter of the war on terra. As for the Saudi Army, it’s a joke. Besides, it employs a huge contingent of – you guessed it – Yemeni soldiers.

“Operation Decisive Storm” – yet another Pentagon-style illegal war – has already plunged Yemen into the twin plagues of civil war and humanitarian disaster. The remains of al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), and most of all ISIS/ISIL/Daesh (who hate the Houthis and all Shi’ites with a vengeance) couldn’t be happier. The ‘Empire of Chaos’ couldn’t give a damn; the more widespread the chaos, the better for the Pentagon-defined Long War (on terra).

Over five years ago I wrote that Yemen is the new Waziristan. Now it’s also heading towards the new Somalia. And soon it may become the House of Saud’s Vietnam.


Pepe Escobar is the author of Globalistan: How the Globalized World is Dissolving into Liquid War (Nimble Books, 2007), Red Zone Blues: a snapshot of Baghdad during the surge (Nimble Books, 2007), and Obama does Globalistan (Nimble Books, 2009).

US-Israel Wage War on Iran in Syria

Off the keyboard of Anthony Cartalucci

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Published on Land Destroyer on April 4, 2015

Smoke and fire from an Israeli bomb rises into the air ove Gaza City

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April 4, 2015 (Tony Cartalucci – NEO) – The ongoing conflict in Syria has always been a proxy conflict aimed at  Iran, as well as nearby Russia, and more distant China. As far back as 2007, two-time Pulitzer Prize winner Seymour Hersh warned in his 9-page New Yorker report “The Redirection Is the Administration’s new policy benefitting our enemies in the war on terrorism?,” that a region-wide sectarian war was being engineered by the US, Saudi Arabia, and Israel – all of whom were working in concert even in 2007, to build the foundation of a sectarian militant army.

The report would cite various serving and former US officials who warned that the extremists the West was backing were “preparing for cataclysmic conflict.”

In retrospect, considering the emergence of the so-called “Islamic State” (ISIS), Hersh’s warning has turned out to be prophetic. The destabilization of Syria and Lebanon were noted in particular as prerequisites for a coming war with Iran. Confirming this would be the lengthy policy treatise published by the Brookings Institution in 2009 titled, “Which Path to Persia?”

In it, it is openly discussed that regime change for the purpose of establishing regional hegemony is the only goal of the United States and its regional partners, with attempts to frame the conflict with Iran as an issue of “national security” and “global stability” serving as mere canards.

Throughout the document, US policymakers admit that negotiations with Iran over its nuclear program are merely one of several pretexts being used to foster political subversion from within and justify war from beyond Iran’s borders.

More importantly, Brookings details explicitly how the US will wage war on Iran, through Israel, in order to maintain plausible deniability. It states specifically under a chapter titled, “Allowing or Encouraging an Israeli Military Strike,” that:

…the most salient advantage this option has over that of an American air campaign is the possibility that Israel alone would be blamed for the attack. If this proves true, then the United States might not have to deal with Iranian retaliation or the diplomatic backlash that would accompany an American military operation against Iran. It could allow Washington to have its cake (delay Iran’s acquisition of a nuclear weapon) and eat it, too (avoid undermining many other U.S. regional diplomatic initiatives). 

Various diplomatic postures are discussed in consideration of the best formula to mitigate complicity amid a “unilateral” Israeli strike on Iran. Of course, and as the report notes, US-Israeli foreign policy is unified with Israel’s defenses a product of vast and continuous US support. Anything Israel does, therefore, no matter the political or diplomatic facade constructed, it does with America’s full backing – hence the inclusion of “encouraging” in the title of the chapter.

Today, an alleged “fallout” between the US and Israel has been grabbing headlines. Beyond the most superficial of political commentary, there have been no real manifestations of this “fallout.” Israel is still receiving immense aid both military and political from the United States, and Israeli foreign policy is still one with Washington.

The purpose of the feigned “fallout” is to produce room between the US and Israel, so that possible upcoming “unilateral” actions taken by Israel can be disavowed by a “cold” US.

The BBC’s article, “Netanyahu row with Obama administration deepens,” reported that:

A row between the US and Benjamin Netanyahu has deepened, with the Israeli leader accusing America and others of “giving up” on trying to stop Iran obtaining nuclear weapons. The US secretary of state questioned Mr Netanyahu’s judgement on the issue.

This is precisely the political charade implied by the Brookings Institution in their 2009 report as being necessary before any so-called “unilateral” action by Israel could be taken. In reality there is no row, simply a need for establishing plausible deniability ahead of an egregious act of unwarranted, unjust military aggression.

The War on Syria: Containing Iran Before, During, and After Airstrikes 

Such theatrics are but one troubling sign that aggression toward Iran is still very much in the cards, that current negotiations are but a smokescreen for preparations to strike Iran anyway regardless of what concession it is willing to make, and that such aggression may take place once the US and its regional partners believe Syria has been reduced to its weakest state possible – if outright regime change is seen as impossible.

Brookings states clearly that:

As the conclusion discusses, an air campaign against Iran’s nuclear sites would likely have to be coupled with a containment strategy—before, during, and especially after the strikes. Containment would be necessary to hinder Iran from reconstituting its nuclear program, prevent it from retaliating against the United States and its allies, and to deal with Iran’s support for violent extremist groups and other anti-status quo activities. 

Admittedly, part of that containment strategy have been attempts to destroy Syria and Lebanon – where the majority of Iran’s regional support is based and where Iran would marshal support from in the immediate aftermath of an unprovoked attack on its territory by US-Israeli aggression.

In addition to propping up terrorists across the region to attack Iran’s allies abroad, the Brookings report dedicated an entire chapter to “Inspiring an Insurgency: Supporting Iranian Minority and Opposition Groups.” Here, Brookings talks about backing the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI) and its military wing, the Mujahedin-e Khalq (MEK) – the latter being a verified terrorist organization, previously listed by the US State Department as such, and guilty of killing not only Iranian civilians throughout decades of terrorism, but also US military personal and US civilian contractors.

For those who have difficulties believing the US would back Al Qaeda terrorists for the purpose of overthrowing the governments of Libya, Egypt, and Syria, they need only look at overt and continuous support for MEK terrorists in a bid to overthrow the government of Iran to uncover the reality of Washington’s willingness to sponsor terrorism.

Brookings would openly admit that:

…even if U.S. support for an insurgency failed to produce the overthrow of the regime, it could still place Tehran under considerable pressure, which might either prevent the regime from making mischief abroad or persuade it to make concessions on issues of importance to the United States (such as its nuclear program and support to Hamas, Hizballah, and the Taliban). Indeed, Washington might decide that this second objective is a more compelling rationale for supporting an insurgency than the (much less likely) goal of actually overthrowing the regime.

Brookings describes in exceptional detail how the US would organize its proxy terrorists. It would claim:

Insurgencies take a long time to succeed, when they succeed at all. It takes time for insurgents to identify leaders and recruit personnel, establish bases and gather equipment, and learn tactics and proficiency with weapons. It takes even longer to win popular support, erode the morale of the government’s armed forces, and then undermine the government’s legitimacy. 

It would also claim:

The Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) could take care of most of the supplies and training for these groups, as it has for decades all over the world. However, Washington would need to decide whether to provide the groups with direct military assistance…

And finally, it would admit:

To protect neighboring countries providing sanctuary to the insurgents. Any insurgency against the Iranian regime would need a safe haven and conduit for arms and other supplies through one or more of Iran’s neighbors. 

This precise strategy has been implemented regarding Syria. Material support for terrorists operating in Syria has been provided for years by the West, with the West’s vast media monopolies providing rhetoric to undermine the legitimacy of the Syrian government, and US-created sanctuaries outside of Syria (primarily in Turkey and Jordan) for terrorists to to seek safe havens in and through which a torrent of arms, cash, equipment, and fighters flow.

When understanding that the war in Syria is but a lead up to a larger conflict with Iran – with a literal signed confession created by US policymakers clearly serving as the foundation for several years of American foreign policy across the Middle East – one begins to understand the urgent imperative incumbent upon those who, for the sake of their own self-preservation, are tasked with stopping it.

Russian and Chinese efforts to obstruct US designs in Syria are about more than selfish regional interests, they are a matter of self-preservation, stopping the conflict in Syria from spilling into Iran next, southern Russia afterwards, and eventually enveloping western China as well.

That the US has committed itself to fueling chaos in Syria despite the unlikelihood of actually overthrowing the government in Damascus, costing tens of thousands of innocent people their lives, illustrates the callousness of US foreign policy, highlighting that Western sponsorship of terrorism around the world constitutes perhaps the most egregious, continuous, and most horrifically demonstrable threat to global peace and stability in our age.

As the US and Israel conduct their latest diplomatic charade, a harbinger of even more chaos to come, those concerned must read the policy papers of the West and understand the true nature of their methodology if ever they hope to expose it and stop it.

Tony Cartalucci, Bangkok-based geopolitical researcher and writer, especially for the online magazineNew Eastern Outlook”.

Calvinball in Yemen

logopodcastOff the microphone of RE

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Aired on the Doomstead Diner on April 1, 2015

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Snippet:

…Meanwhile, on the BIG 3 front, you can see ever increasing Polarization between the Ruskies, Chinese and the FsoA, a split in the currency regime and the ever increasing unlikelihood that anyone “in charge” of this clusterfuck will be able to do anything that keeps it from spinning out of control. Because in all reality here, nobody IS in “Control” of this, it is a systemic problem outside the reach of any individual, even the most powerful of individuals. They are governed by the events that take place and can only REACT to them, and there are so many Players in the game that Wild Cards get thrown out all the time, bollixing up any kind of Planning that might be done by anyone.

In just about all cases, the players finally resort to Violence of one sort or another regardless of the fact it doesn’t resolve underlying problems of resource depletion, other than it serves as a Death Vector eliminating some of the Overshoot Population. There are “strategies” and “game theories” putched around, but the rules change daily and then there are always new bunches of people who don’t play by those rules. It’s basically Calvin-Ball on a Global Scale with everybody flying by the seat of their pants…

For the rest, LISTEN TO THE RANT!!!

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