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https://www.npr.org/2019/04/29/717431148/-i-dont-know-where-i-will-be-the-next-minute-dead-or-alive-the-view-from-tripoli

World
'I Don't Know Where I Will Be The Next Minute — Dead Or Alive': The View From Tripoli

April 29, 201912:24 PM ET

Lama Al-Arian


Mourners gather for funeral prayers for fighters killed by warplanes of Khalifa Haftar's forces on April 24 in Tripoli, Libya.
Hazem Ahmed/AP

Huda, a 60-year-old high school teacher in Tripoli, has just finished her last day teaching English literature at an international school in the Libyan capital. Speaking by phone from her now-empty classroom, she tells NPR that the school year had to wrap up early because of the intensity of fighting between pro- and anti-government forces.

Exams were interrupted by sounds of shelling and nearby explosions. Some of her students screamed in fear, but many, she says, were not afraid. They are children of war, she explains. They were 8 or 9 years old when Libya's 2011 revolution took place, and they've become desensitized to the bombs.
Fighting Grips Tripoli As Libya Faces New Violence Among Rivals
Middle East
Fighting Grips Tripoli As Libya Faces New Violence Among Rivals

"Us adults are more afraid," Huda says. Because of safety concerns, she does not want her surname used. "I've been living my life not on a day-to-day basis but on a minute-per-minute basis. Between getting into my car, driving to work and coming home, I don't know where I will be the next minute — dead or alive."

On April 4, Khalifa Haftar, the 75-year-old renegade military leader who has controlled much of eastern Libya since 2015, launched an attack to seize Tripoli from the United Nations-recognized government of Prime Minister Fayez al-Sarraj.

The U.N. has reported "indiscriminate shelling of civilian areas in Tripoli." Rockets and mortar shells are hitting heavily populated neighborhoods on a nearly daily basis, according to civilians who spoke with NPR. They also report drones hovering in the skies and airstrikes.

Libya has struggled for stability since the overthrow of Moammar Gadhafi in 2011. Sarraj's government came to power in 2016 following a series of U.N. dialogues, but Haftar and his allied militias have refused to acknowledge it. The government includes a loose collection of militias, each controlling a different part of the country. There is no national military force.

Khalifa Haftar, shown here in November 2018, launched an attack this month to seize Tripoli from the United Nations-recognized government led by Fayez al-Sarraj.
Filippo Monteforte/AFP/Getty Images

Haftar and the militias allied with him claim that Tripoli is run by terrorists, gangs and extremist militias, and they say that therefore he must lead a fight for liberation.
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Since April 4, hundreds of people have gathered in Tripoli's central Martyrs Square to protest Haftar and his rhetoric.

"This is so dangerous, because he views us all as terrorists. We are not terrorists, and we are fighting for our lives. If he comes in, it will truly be a massacre. This is how people in the streets feel," Amina, a friend of Huda's, tells NPR. Amina, whose fears for safety mean she does not want her surname used, runs an import company with her children.

The U.N. migration agency, IOM, reports that over 39,000 residents of Tripoli have been forced to evacuate their houses and move to safer areas.

Over the past few weeks, Huda says, she has "attended too many funerals." She tells NPR that people in Tripoli are trying to go about their daily lives as usual, attending tea parties, running errands, planning weddings. But once they hear the sound of bombs, she says, they have no place to run.

"Most people in Tripoli don't have any basements," she says, "so our houses start shaking, my grandkids start to cry and I just feel helpless. I become numb. Random shelling is something that I don't want even an enemy to go through."

The Tripoli office head of the International Committee of the Red Cross said on April 25 that "densely populated residential areas are gradually turning into battlefields." Fighting has killed at least 264 people and injured over 1,200 others, according to a World Health Organization spokesperson.

Although Libya is an oil-rich country, the political divisions have helped create what feels like a "never-ending" cash crisis, Tripoli residents tell NPR.

There are long lines at banks, and people find it almost impossible to withdraw money from ATMs, which residents say have almost become "decorative" around the capital. The banks are run and controlled by the Central Bank of Libya and are secured by different militias.

"We are limited to hard currency to only $500 or $1,000 per year," Amina says.

Huda says she isn't allowed to see how much money she has in the bank. "We are given these debit cards with limits on them from the banks, and we cannot go over," she says. "That's how we're living at the moment."

The country's lack of stability and high inflation rates helped lead to a collapse in deposits.

"The banks had a cash problem because the people didn't want to use them, and they ran out of cash," Amina says. "People were playing the black market and became very rich doing so, at the expense of the economy."

The U.N. envoy for Libya has warned against an attempted power grab by Haftar. But Haftar has support from regional powers, including the United Arab Emirates and Egypt. A U.N. panel of experts' report from 2017 claims that the UAE has been violating an arms embargo, gave Haftar's troops aircraft and military vehicles and also helped build an air base in al-Khadim, in northeastern Libya.

This month, Gen. Abdel-Salam al-Hassi, a spokesman for Haftar, said that allied countries have been conducting "friendly air raids" against forces loyal to Sarraj's internationally recognized government in Tripoli.

On April 7, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said the U.S. opposed Haftar's attacks. "We have made clear that we oppose the military offensive by Khalifa Haftar's forces and urge the immediate halt to these military operations against the Libyan capital," he said.

But in a subsequent phone call with Haftar, President Trump "recognized Field Marshal Haftar's significant role in fighting terrorism and securing Libya's oil resources, and the two discussed a shared vision for Libya's transition to a stable, democratic political system," according to a White House statement.

The Tripoli government accuses France of supporting Haftar and has stopped all cooperation with Paris. France denies these accusations but halted an EU call to stop Haftar's offensive in Libya.

The U.N. has been trying to lead reconciliation talks between Sarraj and Haftar, attempting to create a single unity government. Some analysts have questioned how effective the talks can be, given that they have been hosted by the UAE.

"The U.N. should not have allowed for a political dialogue and deal to be conducted through the UAE," says Anas El Gomati, general director of the Sadeq Institute, a Libyan think tank. The UAE, he says, "can't possibly support the military state-building ambitions of Haftar and the civilian state aspired to by Sarraj. This should've been held in neutral ground."

Gomati says many Libyans simply don't trust Haftar because of his 50-year track record as a "serial defector."

"In 1969, he defected from the king of Libya to Moammar Gadhafi," he says. "He then defected again during the battle against Chad, where he went to Langley, Virginia, and allegedly worked with the CIA for at least 20 years and, in the meantime, joined a Libyan opposition group. He defected from one opposition and joined another Libyan opposition in 1992."

Gomati says Haftar reconciled with Gadhafi in 2004 but then reneged in 2011 to join the revolution against the longtime leader.

"During the revolution, Haftar bombed the first elected parliament that came from the revolution in 2014, launched two coups in the space of three months in 2014," Gomati says.

Libyans in Tripoli tell NPR they do not believe that Haftar has earned the right to be their leader.

"If Haftar wanted to unite his country and people, he should've used the money he received from the Gulf to rebuild Benghazi. Instead, he just destroys everything. And now he will just destroy Tripoli," Huda says. "It will be hell all over again. Tripoli has been through a lot. We don't see anything hopeful. What are we going to be leaving behind for these generations? Nothing."
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🚀 'Psychological warfare': Iran dismisses US naval deployment
« Reply #661 on: May 07, 2019, 07:47:46 AM »
https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2019/05/190506204407960.html

'Psychological warfare': Iran dismisses US naval deployment

Official says US announcement on sending carrier strike group to Middle East is 'clumsy use of an out-of-date event'.


The Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS Abraham Lincoln transits the Strait of Gibraltar and enters the Mediterranean Sea [US Navy/Handout via Reuters]

more on Middle East

Iran labelled the US announcement that it was deploying a naval strike group to the Middle East to deliver the Islamic Republic a message as "psychological warfare".

The dismissal on Monday came a day after John Bolton, US national security adviser, said Washington was sending the USS Abraham Lincoln carrier strike group and a bomber task force as a "clear and unmistakable message" that it will retaliate against any attack on its interests or its allies by Iran.

Keyvan Khosravi, spokesman for Iran's supreme national security council, said, "Bolton's statement is a clumsy use of an out-of-date event for psychological warfare."

The Tasnim news agency quoted Khosravi as saying that Iranian armed forces had observed the carrier entering the Mediterranean Sea 21 days ago.

Bolton "lacks military and security understanding and his remarks are mostly meant to draw attention to himself", Khosravi added.

Iran FM Zarif: US sanctions are 'economic terrorism' | Talk to Al Jazeera

Exactly what prompted the US action was unclear, but it marked a further step in sharply rising tensions between the Trump administration and Iran.

Patrick Shanahan, acting US defence secretary, said on Monday that he approved the deployment because of indications of a "credible threat by Iranian regime forces". But he provided no details of the alleged threat.

"We call on the Iranian regime to cease all provocation. We will hold the Iranian regime accountable for any attack on US forces or our interests," Shanahan said on Twitter.   
'Maximum pressure'

The USS Abraham Lincoln has previously been deployed to the Gulf, including during the 2003 US-led invasion of Iraq. 

The Pentagon already announced with little fanfare last month the aircraft carrier and the rest of its strike group was heading on a "regularly scheduled deployment" out of its base in Norfolk, Virginia.

The deployment comes amid heightened tensions as Washington pushes forward with its campaign of "maximum pressure" against Tehran partly through punishing economic sanctions.
READ MORE
Pentagon: US carrier sent to Middle East on credible Iran threat

The US unilaterally withdrew from the 2015 Iran nuclear deal with world powers one year ago and instead aimed at curbing the regional role of Iran, a rival of US allies Saudi Arabia and Israel.

Last month, President Donald Trump announced the US would no longer exempt any countries from US sanctions if they continue to buy Iranian oil, a decision that primarily affects the five remaining major importers: China and India and US treaty allies Japan, South Korea and Turkey.

It has also declared Iran's elite Revolutionary Guard a "foreign terrorist organisation".
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https://www.cnbc.com/2019/05/10/the-us-is-sending-another-warship-and-more-missiles-to-the-middle-east-amid-iran-tensions.html

The US is sending another warship and more missiles to the Middle East amid Iran tensions

    The Pentagon approves the deployment of a Patriot missile defense battery and a Navy ship to the Middle East amid increasing tensions between the United States and Iran.
    The USS Arlington and a Patriot battery will join the USS Abraham Lincoln carrier strike group and an Air Force bomber task force, which were deployed earlier in the week to the region.
    The deployments come as Washington tightens sanctions on Iran.

Amanda Macias   | @amanda_m_macias
Published 6 Hours Ago Updated 4 Hours Ago CNBC.com
      
   
The Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS Abraham Lincoln transits the Indian Ocean.
Chief Mass Communication Specialist Eric Powell | US Navy

WASHINGTON — The Pentagon approved the deployment of a Patriot missile defense battery and a Navy ship to the Middle East amid increasing tensions between the United States and Iran.

The USS Arlington and a Patriot battery will join the USS Abraham Lincoln carrier strike group and a U.S. Air Force bomber task force, which were deployed earlier in the week to the region in response to "heightened Iranian readiness to conduct offensive operations."

The Patriot missile system, manufactured by Raytheon, is combat-tested against aircraft, drones, cruise missiles and tactical ballistic missiles. The system is currently deployed in Bahrain, Jordan, Kuwait, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates.


U.S. Soldiers talk after a routine inspection of a Patriot missile battery at a Turkish military base in Gaziantep, Turkey.
Department of Defense photo

The additional U.S. forces to the Middle East is the Trump administration's latest effort to pressure Tehran over its support for weapons proliferation and extremist groups in the Middle East.

"The Department of Defense continues to closely monitor the activities of the Iranian regime, their military and proxies. Due to operational security, we will not discuss timelines or location of forces. The United States does not seek conflict with Iran, but we are postured and ready to defend U.S. forces and interests in the region," the Pentagon wrote in a statement Friday announcing the deployment.

On Wednesday, Trump ordered new sanctions placed on Iranian metals, Tehran's largest non-petroleum-related sources of export revenue. The U.S. also took aim at Iranian oil by effectively ordering countries worldwide to stop buying Tehran's oil or face sanctions of their own.

Additionally, the U.S. designated Iran's Revolutionary Guard as a terrorist group. Iran responded with threats to close the Gulf's Strait of Hormuz, where about a third of the world's oil export vessels pass. The U.S. then announced it was expediting the deployment of a carrier strike group equipped with bomber aircraft to the region.

Tehran announced it was relaxing some restrictions on its nuclear program but would not violate a 2015 accord with Russia, China, Britain, France, Germany and the United States. Iran had agreed to the 2015 limits on its disputed nuclear program in return for sanctions relief. A year ago Trump withdrew the U.S. from the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, or JCPOA, calling it a "horrible, one-sided" deal.
Amanda MaciasNational security reporter
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🚀 Two Saudi oil tankers among 'sabotaged' ships off UAE coast
« Reply #663 on: May 13, 2019, 04:15:47 AM »
To be blamed on Iran, no doubt and used as a justification to try and bomb them back to the Stone Age.  ::)

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Re: 🚀 Two Saudi oil tankers among 'sabotaged' ships off UAE coast
« Reply #664 on: May 13, 2019, 06:32:23 PM »
To be blamed on Iran, no doubt and used as a justification to try and bomb them back to the Stone Age.  ::)

Definite False Flag.

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https://www.businessinsider.com/us-military-exploring-plan-to-deploy-120000-troops-to-middle-east-2019-5

The US military is exploring a plan to deploy 120,000 troops to the Middle East as tensions with Iran intensify
David Choi


breach doorway us army troops military training US soldiers conduct breaching operations in a mock-urban environment. Spc. Von Marie Donato

    The US military briefed President Donald Trump's national-security aides on a revamped plan that could result in the deployment of up to 120,000 troops to the Middle East, according to national-security officials cited in a New York Times report published Monday.
    The plan calls for the deployment in the event that Iran either attacks US forces or ramps up its nuclear-weapons program, several unnamed US officials told The Times.
    The plan does not indicate whether the US troops would invade Iran, the newspaper reported.
    Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.

The US military briefed President Donald Trump's national-security aides on a revamped plan that could result in the deployment of up to 120,000 troops to the Middle East, according to national-security officials cited in a New York Times report published Monday.

The reported plan calls for the deployment of troops in the event that Iran either attacks US forces or ramps up its nuclear-weapons program, several unnamed US officials told The Times.

The plan does not indicate whether US troops would invade Iran, the newspaper said. The number of troops deployed to the Middle East would be close to the roughly 130,600 service members deployed to Iraq in 2003.

The latest blueprint is an updated version of a destabilizing cyberwarfare operation called "Nitro Zeus," which would target Iran's power grid and military. Some officials reportedly said the plan was updated in past years and the latest changes were influenced by national security adviser John Bolton, a hawkish foreign policy adviser.

Read more: The US is sending a ton of firepower to take on Iran — here's everything headed its way

News of the plan comes amid increased tensions between the US and Tehran. Iranian President Hassan Rouhani indicated he would scuttle his country's nuclear deal after President Donald Trump withdrew and more US sanctions were slapped against Iran.

US defense officials also cited "indications of a credible threat by Iranian regime forces" earlier in May. Israeli intelligence officials uncovered a potential attack against US interests, which fueled Bolton's "unrelenting" rhetoric toward the Iranians, Axios reported.

Another CNN report citing US officials suggested that a potential attack would have targeted US forces in Syria and Iraq.

In a show of force, the US deployed several military assets to the region. A carrier strike group and bomber task force were sent to the Middle East to "send a clear and unmistakable message."

Iran responded by downplaying the threat and claimed the US "wouldn't dare to launch military action against us."

"If [the Americans] make a move, we will hit them in the head," Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps commander Amirali Hajizadeh reportedly said.
SEE ALSO: 2nd-highest ranking US military officer reportedly slammed his hands on table after growing tired of John Bolton's aides at fiery meeting
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🚀 Maximum Pressure in the Strait of Hormuz: The US-Iran Standoff
« Reply #666 on: May 14, 2019, 04:04:03 AM »
https://www.globalresearch.ca/maximum-pressure-strait-hormuz-us-iran-standoff/5677379

Maximum Pressure in the Strait of Hormuz: The US-Iran Standoff
By Dr. Binoy Kampmark
Global Research, May 14, 2019
Region: Middle East & North Africa
Theme: US NATO War Agenda
In-depth Report: IRAN: THE NEXT WAR?


Hegemons are never going to sound too sensible when they lock horns or joust in spats of childish anger.  Power corrupts, not merely in terms of perspective but language, and making sense about the next move, the next statement, is bound to be challenging.  Otherwise justified behaviour can be read as provocative; retaliatory moves duly rattle and disturb.

The Iran-US standoff is finding a surge of increments, provocations and howlers.  Since the Trump administration withdrew from the 2015 Iran Nuclear deal (the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action) last year, Tehran has gnawed and scratched at the arrangements.  Threats to close the Strait of Hormuz as a retaliation for frustrating Iranian oil sales have been made.  President Hassan Rouhani last week made it clear that the Islamic republic would scale back on certain JCPOA commitments.  Limits on building up stockpiles of low-enriched uranium and heavy water would be abandoned.  A 60-day period has been stipulated in the hope that the E3 (Britain, France and Germany), China and Russia provide relief for the Iranian oil and banking sector.  More suspensions of compliance orders threaten to follow if the powers do not muck in.

Despite not being part of the JCPOA anymore, the Trump administration persists in sticking its oar in the matter.  In May 3, the State Department explicitly warned it would sanction individuals and entities involved in swapping permitted uranium (enriched or natural) with Iran.  Nor would excess heavy water limits be permitted.

With such moves to strangle Iran’s economic feelers, it is little wonder that Rouhani has called on “surgery” to be performed on the JCPOA, one far more effectual than “the painkiller pills of the last year”.  Such a process, he promised, was “for saving the deal, not destroying it.”

News this week that Saudi Arabian oil tankers had been sabotaged near the Strait of Hormuz had its effect, even if the Trump administration has yet to pin its colours to the claim that Iran is responsible.  Give it time, and not much at that.  As the Wall Street Journal put it,
What If Iran Retaliates and Shuts Down the Strait of Hormuz?

    “The assessment, while not conclusive, was the first suggestion by any nation that Iran was responsible for the attack”.

To reporters in the Oval Office, Trump was keen to make his usual remarks about happiness, or its absence, if things turned out to be darker than he thought.  “It’s going to be a bad problem for Iran if something happens, I can tell you that.”  What, pressed reporters, did the president mean by a “bad problem”?  “You can figure it out for yourself.  They know what I mean by it.”

Brian Hook, the US State Department’s special envoy on Iran, has been doing the circuit in Europe with Washington’s allies, hoping to stir some action against the meddling mullahs in a campaign of “maximum pressure”.  “Everything we are doing,” Hook tried to reason with the Sunday Times, “is defensive.”  Secretary of State Mark Pompeo also journeyed to Brussels to stir the matter.  According to Hook,

    “The secretary shared information and intelligence with allies and discussed the multiple plot vectors emerging from Iran.”

What a boon Iran is proving to be for the parched hawks, an endless well of threat, much of it imaginary, to draw upon in the hope of actual military engagement.

National Security Advisor John Bolton is making do with the situation, creating much mischief, turning the furniture and belongings of the entire diplomatic stable inside out like a brat in search of attention.  He blames Iran, naturally, for “a number of troubling and escalatory indications and warnings”.  As is the manner with all chicken hawks, he craves the blood of others and is not shy pushing it.  The problem with this attitude is that having a playmate such as Iran is bound to get you, and your fellow playmates, hurt on the way.  The school mistress should intervene, but her sense, and sensibility, is yet to be found.

Washington is certainly keen to make it a bad problem, a habit it has fallen into during stretches of its violent and imperial history.  At Bolton’s instigation, an aircraft carrier and B-52 bombers are being deployed to the Persian Gulf on the supposedly clear grounds that Iran and its proxies are readying themselves for a strike on US forces in the region, bringing to mind similar provocations sought to stoke a potential conflict.

The planning of Operation Prairie Fire was one such ignominious example, designed to provoke Muammar Qaddafi’s Libya into a military incident in 1986.  In what seemed to be a true overegging of the pudding, US Navy Task Force 60 involved three aircraft carriers operating in the Mediterranean off the Libyan coast.  They were involved in exercises falling within that most stretched of terms: freedom-of-navigation.  Prairie Fire turned out to be a bellicose affair, with Task Force 60 put on essentially a wartime footing.  Military exercises were duly conducted to stir the beast; patrols along the coast were conducted.  The beast responded with some six surface-to-air missiles.  A Libyan patrol boat was duly obliterated with some satisfaction, along with two more naval vessels and a missile site in Sirte.

    “We now consider all approaching Libyan forces,” claimed the White House note with some smugness, “to have hostile intent.”

US-Iran encounters in the Strait of Hormuz are also not new: the Iran-Iraq War, one which saw the US throw in its lot with Saddam Hussein’s invading armies against the Iranian Republic, featured a fair share of attacks on merchant shipping.  The importance of the Strait to shipping and international traffic is again coming into play.

Trump has remained inflexible and obstinate regarding Iran. (In his wheeler-dealer world, every crook with a silver lining must be matched by a Lucifer who will be given no quarter.)  In these calculations, the silver lining of North Korea’s Kim Jong-un shines far brighter than any the Islamic Republic of Iran might have.  But by any referee’s estimate of recent conduct by Trump and company, Washington must be seen as responsible for the most aggravating fouls.

*

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Dr. Binoy Kampmark was a Commonwealth Scholar at Selwyn College, Cambridge.  He lectures at RMIT University, Melbourne.  He is a frequent contributor to Global Research and Asia-Pacific Research. Email: bkampmark@gmail.com
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Re: 🚀 Maximum Pressure in the Strait of Hormuz: The US-Iran Standoff
« Reply #667 on: May 14, 2019, 04:48:35 AM »
https://www.globalresearch.ca/maximum-pressure-strait-hormuz-us-iran-standoff/5677379

Maximum Pressure in the Strait of Hormuz: The US-Iran Standoff

The Iran-US standoff is finding a surge of increments, provocations and howlers.  //

News this week that Saudi Arabian oil tankers had been sabotaged near the Strait of Hormuz had its effect, even if the Trump administration has yet to pin its colours to the claim that Iran is responsible.  Give it time, and not much at that.  As the Wall Street Journal put it,
What If Iran Retaliates and Shuts Down the Strait of Hormuz?

    “The assessment, while not conclusive, was the first suggestion by any nation that Iran was responsible for the attack”.

<sniff> <sniff>

What's that smell?

I smell "dat ol' debbil" WMD.



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🚀 Frustrated GOP senators want answers from Trump on Iran
« Reply #668 on: May 16, 2019, 12:58:25 AM »
When was the last time a POTUS needed the approval of CONgress to start a war?  ???    :icon_scratch:

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https://thehill.com/homenews/senate/443952-frustrated-gop-senators-want-answers-from-trump-on-iran

Frustrated GOP senators want answers from Trump on Iran
By Alexander Bolton - 05/15/19 07:07 PM EDT


Frustrated Senate Republicans say the Trump administration has largely kept them in the dark about a possible military confrontation with Iran.

What GOP lawmakers already know, however, has them on edge. Trump has deployed an aircraft carrier strike group, a Patriot missile defense battery and an Air Force bomber task force to the Middle East, while the State Department has ordered a partial evacuation of the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad.

A few legislators have received briefings, but many can only guess at the extent of the threat and where a ramp up in combat forces may lead.

“I don’t think it’s fair for us to walk around wondering,” said Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), one of the Senate’s leading voices on global security issues.

Graham, the chairman of the State and Foreign Operations Appropriations Subcommittee, said he’s concerned about the evacuation of personnel from the Baghdad embassy given the regular attacks that facility endured during the height of the Iraq War.

“We’re clearly moving people,” he said. “This is a big deal.”

“We had people there during the height of the war,” he added of his experience at the Baghdad embassy. “I was there a bunch of time getting rocketed. If we could stay in operation then, it must be some kind of real threat.”

Republican senators say they don’t know whether Trump is really contemplating the deployment of 120,000 troops to the Middle East to deter attacks by Iranian-backed militants, which The New York Times first reported on Tuesday.

Sen. Cory Gardner (R-Colo.), who is up for reelection next year in a state Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton won in 2016, said he wants more information from the administration and is worried the conflict with Iran could escalate.

“There should be more briefings. I think we should have that sooner rather later. I’ve talked to the administration about that,” he said, referring to conversations he had in the previous 24 hours.

Gardner, a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, noted that lawmakers don’t have an administration assessment on news reports that Iranian proxies were given the green light to attack U.S. personnel in the Middle East.

Asked if he was worried about a rapid escalation of military hostilities, Gardner responded, “Anytime you’re dealing with a regime like Iran that has painted ‘death to America’ on missiles that have killed American soldiers throughout the Middle East, it’s a grave concern.”

One alarming scenario is that Saudi Arabia, which is waging a military campaign in Yemen’s civil war, could launch a retaliatory attack against Iran and draw U.S. troops into a regional conflict. Saudi officials stated Tuesday that Houthi rebels in Yemen, who are backed by Iran, have carried out multiple drone attacks on Saudi oil pumping stations.

Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah) said, “I’m always leery to get us more heavily involved anywhere. If we’re going to go to war somewhere, Congress ought to approve it.”

Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) said he has warned the administration that it does not have congressional approval to go to war with Iran.

“I think it’s important that the administration know that they do not have the permission of Congress to go with Iran. The Constitution is very clear. Congress must declare war. I told the administration that today in our hearing. We had the undersecretary for policy from State. We want to be very clear to them they don’t have the prerogative to go to war without our authority,” he said.
How opposition groups have kept the West apprised of Iran's secret nuclear program
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Republicans said they asked last week for an all-senators briefing, but it wasn’t possible because of Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s trip to Brussels and Sochi, Russia. Meeting with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov in Sochi Wednesday, Pompeo said the United States wants Iran to behave like a “normal country” but warned that U.S. forces will respond if American interests come under attack.

Lawmakers have questions about the intelligence the Trump administration is using to justify the military deployment, which Britain, a close military ally, has called into doubt.

A senior British military official told reporters Tuesday that he did not see an increased risk of attack from Iran or connected militant groups. Major Gen. Chris Ghika, the deputy commander of a U.S.-led coalition battling ISIS, told The New York Times that “there has been no increased threat from Iranian-backed forces in Iraq or Syria.”

GOP lawmakers say they are more inclined to trust American intelligence sources but feel frustrated that the administration hasn’t shared their information with the vast majority of them.

“We know that we need to have the most accurate intelligence available, that we can determine, that we can arrive at, before we make any decisions about the use of military force. We know that from history. We know that just as a practical matter,” said Sen. Jerry Moran (R-Kan.).

He called for senators to have a full briefing, arguing, “I think there’s a lot more to be known before decisions are made.”

A congressional official said the Gang of Eight, a group that includes the top Republican and Democratic leaders in the Senate and House and the chairmen and ranking members of the Senate and House Intelligence committees, will get a briefing on Iran Thursday.

A briefing of the entire Senate is expected next week, though some Republicans contend that could be too late given the speed at which events are moving in the Middle East.

“My understanding is there will be [a briefing] by early next week, but I don’t know where we’re going to be by early next week. I hope I’m wrong, we could be full blown into this thing. It’s a much more urgent situation than I think is being reflected. I’m surprised there isn’t more talk about it,” said Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), a member of the Senate Intelligence Committee.

“I’ve been here eight years, this is by far the single most imminent potential conflict of this significance,” Rubio added. “I pray that it changes. I don’t want us to have a war in that region. I hope it doesn’t happen that way, but we have to respond if attacked.”

Senate Democratic Leader Charles Schumer (N.Y.) is calling on acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan and the Gen. Joseph Dunford, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, to testify before the Armed Services Committee in an open hearing before the end of the week.

Democrats say they have not been kept adequately informed.

“You can’t make foreign policy and national security decisions while flying in the blind. And right now because of the administration’s unwillingness to come and brief members of the Senate, particularly to the committees of national security of which Foreign Relations is one, that’s what we’re doing — flying in the blind,” said Sen. Bob Menendez (N.J.), the ranking Democrat on the Foreign Relations Committee.

Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Jim Risch (R-Idaho) said he received a briefing from administration officials on the Iran threat but acknowledged many of his colleagues have not been kept up to speed.

Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) said “the American people need to be told why the administration is moving an aircraft carrier group, bombers and other assets into harm’s way” and warned of a repeat of the military buildup that led to the 2003 invasion of Iraq.

“There’s a saying that history doesn’t repeat, but it rhymes. The talk about secret information concerning Iran’s aggressive while refusing to give us information certainly smacks of Iraq,” he added.

Schumer also drew a comparison to Iraq on the Senate floor.

“The lessons of history teach us that when things are done in secret, behind closed doors, mistakes can be made and momentum built for a course of action that the nation ultimately regrets,” he said.

Jordain Carney and Rebecca Kheel contributed.
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Of COURSE they move missiles arouond by boat!  That's how everybody with a navy does it!   ::)

Anyhow, the Carrier Group and Battleship Group aren't gonna be hit by Ballistic Missiles.  They'll use Cruise Missiles for that.  The Chinese and Ruskies make really good ones.

RE

https://thehill.com/policy/defense/442574-us-deployment-a-response-to-iran-moving-ballistic-missiles-by-boat-report

US deployment a response to Iran moving ballistic missiles by boat: report
By Ellen Mitchell - 05/07/19 04:35 PM EDT


US deployment a response to Iran moving ballistic missiles by boat: report

Iran is likely moving short-range ballistic missiles by boat in the Persian Gulf, a key reason the United States decided this week to move an aircraft carrier strike group and bombers to the area, CNN reported Tuesday.

The network, citing several U.S. officials with direct knowledge of the situation, reported that movement of the missiles along with intelligence from other areas led the Trump administration to believe Iran had an intention to launch strikes against U.S. targets.

National security adviser John Bolton on Sunday announced that the USS Abraham Lincoln strike group and a B-52 bomber task force were deploying to the U.S. Central Command region “to send a clear and unmistakable message to the Iranian regime that any attack on United States interests or on those of our allies will be met with unrelenting force.”

The announcement at the time was in response to unspecified “troubling and escalatory indications and warnings” from Iran.

U.S. Central Command (CENTOM) spokesperson Capt. Bill Urban in a statement on Tuesday called the deployment of the strike group and bomber task force “prudent steps to protect U.S. forces and interests in the region and to deter any aggression.”

He added that CENTOM requested more forces after “recent and clear indications that Iranian and Iranian proxy forces were making preparations to possibly attack U.S. forces in the region,” indicating that the threats were both maritime and on land.

The officials cited by CNN said that the Pentagon is considering sending more military assets to the region, including anti-missile defense systems.

It was unclear whether Iran intended to launch missiles from the boats or if they were transporting them to another land location to be used by Iranian forces, the outlet reported.

The movement raises fears that Iran could pose a risk to U.S. and coalition forces in Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and Qatar. There are also concerns over U.S. forces in Iraq and Syria, as well as transit in the Red Sea, where Iranian-backed forces in Yemen could hinder.
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Of COURSE they move missiles arouond by boat!  That's how everybody with a navy does it!   ::)
https://thehill.com/policy/defense/442574-us-deployment-a-response-to-iran-moving-ballistic-missiles-by-boat-report

US deployment a response to Iran moving ballistic missiles by boat: report
By Ellen Mitchell - 05/07/19 04:35 PM EDT

First thing I thought of reading this was Dick Cheney's One Percent Doctrine. Ron Siskind wrote a book about it. Suskind criticized the Bush administration for formulating counter-terrorism policies based on political goals rather than geopolitical realities. For Cheney, Rove, et al, political realities were the only realities, a practice writ large these days.

The title for Siskind's book comes from a story Cheney tells:

Quote
“If there's a 1% chance that Pakistani scientists are helping al-Qaeda build or develop a nuclear weapon, we have to treat it as a certainty in terms of our response. It's not about our analysis ... It's about our response."

These moves fit neatly within the template articulated by Darth Cheney.
"It is difficult to write a paradiso when all the superficial indications are that you ought to write an apocalypse." -Ezra Pound

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🚀 Trump threatens Iran's 'end' if it seeks fight with the US
« Reply #671 on: May 20, 2019, 12:09:31 AM »
https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2019/05/trump-threatens-iran-seeks-fight-190520003050499.html

Trump threatens Iran's 'end' if it seeks fight with the US

US president's direct threat comes after Tehran says it opposes war and no country has 'illusion' it can confront it.
3 hours ago


The White House has sent mixed signals over its stance against Iran [Alex Brandon/AP Photo]

more on Middle East

    Trump threatens Iran's 'end' if it seeks fight with the US
    today
    US to reveal economic part of Palestine peace plan in Bahrain
    today
    Saudi, UAE see sufficient oil supplies despite Iran tensions
    today
    Sudan's opposition and ruling military council resume talks
    today

Just days after saying he was prepared for talks, United States President Donald Trump has issued a direct threat to Iran, suggesting that the Islamic Republic will be destroyed if it attacks his country's interests.

"If Iran wants to fight, that will be the official end of Iran. Never threaten the United States again," Trump wrote on Twitter on Sunday. He did not clarify what threats he meant.

The confrontational post follows last week's attacks on Saudi oil assets and the firing of a rocket on Sunday into the heavily fortified "Green Zone" in Iraq's capital, Baghdad, an area housing many government buildings and embassies.

The Iraqi military said there were no casualties in the rocket attack. There has been no claim of responsibility.
OPINION
Iran and the West: Can Europe restrain the US?
Marwan Bishara
by Marwan Bishara

Amid escalating tension with Iran, Washington earlier this month dispatched to the region an aircraft carrier and B-52 bombers, as well as an amphibious assault ship and a Patriot missile battery.

On Wednesday, it ordered the evacuation of non-essential personnel from the US embassy in Baghdad embassy and the Erbil consulate in northern Iraq, citing "imminent" threats from Iranian-backed Iraqi armed groups. It did not disclose any details, and its account has been met with widespread scepticism outside the US.

But in recent days, the White House has sent mixed signals over its stance against Iran, amid multiple US media reports of infighting in Trump's cabinet.

John Bolton, Trump's long-hawkish national security adviser, is reportedly pushing a hard line on Iran, but others in the administration are resisting. Trump himself said recently that he has to "temper" Bolton.

And when he was asked on Thursday if Washington was going to war with Tehran, Trump replied, "I hope not". That comment came a day after he expressed a desire for dialogue, tweeting: "I'm sure that Iran will want to talk soon."

"It really is becoming a clear that this administration is sending mixed messages when it comes to Iran," Al Jazeera's Patty Culhane, reporting from Washington, DC, said.

"So the big question is why did he send that confrontational tweet? Is it because he received some sort of classified briefing or is it because of something he watched on television? We don't know."
INSIDE STORY: Could tension in Gulf escalate into an open conflict? (25:11)

'Contradictory and schizophrenic'

Trita Parsi, a professor of Middle East politics at Georgetown University, described Trump’s threat as
"extremely dangerous".

"This is genocidal," he told Al Jazeera from Reston, Virginia. "This is absolutely not something that any leader of a country should do, but it is also somewhat contradictory and schizophrenic," he added.

"If we were to try and make sense of it, if there actually is a logic behind all of this, then my guess would be that earlier on Trump was led to believe - probably by people like [Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin] Netanyahu] and Bolton that Iran is an easy target, that they are about to crumble and that if you just ratchet things up the Iranians are going to back off," continued Parsi.

"Then the intelligence came which showed that as the Iranians were starting to perceive an American threat they were making themselves ready to retaliate and to defend themselves. And it appears as if that actually spooked Trump, because he did suddenly realise that actually an attack on Iran would lead to a larger war and he is clever enough to understand that a larger war is not in his interest, and ... he started saying things like he doesn't want to have a war.

"But every once in a while his impulses get the better of him and that's when he goes on Twitter and says things that are just fundamentally genocidal."
COUNTING THE COST: The US, Iran and global oil markets (25:40)

'There will not be a war'

Iran-US relations hit a new low last year as US Trump pulled out of a multinational 2015 nuclear deal and reimposed unilateral sanctions that had been lifted in exchange for Tehran scaling back its nuclear programme.

Last month, Washington also designated Iran's elite Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) a "terrorist" entity. Tehran responded by declaring US Centcom a "terror" organisation.
READ MORE
Saudi Arabia 'seeks to avert war, ready to respond with force'

On Saturday, Mohammad Javad Zarif, Iran's foreign minister, downplayed the prospect of a new war in the region, saying Tehran opposed it and no party was under the "illusion" the Islamic Republic could be confronted.

"We are certain ... there will not be a war since neither we want a war nor does anyone have the illusion they can confront Iran in the region," Zarif told state-run news agency IRNA at the end of a visit to China.

Meanwhile, Saudi Arabia's Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Adel al-Jubeir said on Sunday the kingdom wanted to avert war in the region but stood ready to respond with "all strength and determination" after last week's attacks on the Saudi oil assets.

Saudi Arabia has accused its regional rival, Iran, of ordering Tuesday's drone attacks on two oil-pumping stations in the kingdom, claimed by Yemen's Houthi group.

The attack came two days after four vessels, including two Saudi oil tankers, were "sabotaged" off the coast of the United Arab Emirates (UAE). The UAE has not blamed anyone, pending an investigation, and Iran has denied any involvement.

"The kingdom of Saudi Arabia does not want a war in the region nor does it seek that," al-Jubeir told a news conference on Sunday.

"It will do what it can to prevent this war and at the same time it reaffirms that in the event the other side chooses war, the kingdom will respond with all force and determination, and it will defend itself and its interests.

"We want peace and stability in the region but we will not sit on our hands in light of the continuing Iranian attack," al-Jubeir said. "The ball is in Iran's court and it is up to Iran to determine what its fate will be."

A senior Iranian military commander was similarly quoted as saying his country is not looking for war, in comments published in Iranian media on Sunday.

"We are not pursuing war but we are also not afraid of war," Major General Hossein Salami was cited as saying by the semi-official news agency Tasnim.

The remarks came as Saudi Arabia's King Salman invited Gulf and Arab leaders to convene emergency summits in Mecca on May 30.

Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman discussed regional developments, including efforts to strengthen security and stability, in a phone call with US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, the Saudi Media Ministry tweeted on Sunday.
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🚀 RSN: Tanker Attack Was Imaginary, but US Says Iran Did It
« Reply #672 on: May 20, 2019, 03:02:59 AM »
"Mostly or emtirely false."  Color me not surprised.  ::)

RE

https://www.greanvillepost.com/2019/05/19/rsn-tanker-attack-was-imaginary-but-us-says-iran-did-it/

RSN: Tanker Attack Was Imaginary, but US Says Iran Did It
May 19, 2019


Photo distributed by Reuters accompanyinjg story with clearly tendentious headline: “Exclusive: Insurer says Iran’s Guards likely to have organized tanker attacks”. This particular attack—on the Andrea Victory, is said to have taken place at Port of Fujairah, United Arab Emirates, May 13, 2019. The Emirates are allied with the US in the anglozionist war on Iran.

The story of the ‘oil tanker attacks’ appears to have been mostly or entirely false.

•  Reader Supported News

    BREAKING OVERNIGHT
    OIL TANKERS ATTACKED
    SAUDI ARABIA CLAIMS SHIP HEADING TO US SABOTAGED

    – ABC News on-screen headline, May 13, 2019


    BREAKING OVERNIGHT
    SAUDI OIL TANKERS ATTACKED
    ENERGY MINISTER SAYS SHIPS WERE TARGETED IN “SABOTAGE ATTACK”

    –CBS News on-screen headline, May 13, 2019

These network stories are examples of fake news at its most dangerous, when it plays into the dishonest manipulations of an administration beating the drums for a war against Iran that has no reasonable basis. Not only do the networks and mainstream media generally fail to question the administration’s rush to war, they also fail to do basic journalism by independently confirming whether a particular story is true or not.

The story of the “oil tanker attacks” appears to have been mostly or entirely false, as any news organization could have known from the start by exercising basic skepticism. Or the story could have been pimped as terrorism, as Debka.com did, asserting on May 13 that: “A special unit of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards marine force carried out the sabotage on 4 Saudi oil tankers outside Fujairah port.” No evidence, anonymous sources only, and wrong number of Saudi tankers.

The first report of something happening in or near the emirate of Fujairah in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) came from the Lebanon-based Al Mayadeen TV, saying that seven to ten oil tankers were burning in the port of Fujairah on the Gulf of Oman (outside the Strait of Hormuz leading to the Persian Gulf). There is no evidence that any tankers were burning there. Available satellite images show no smoke, explosions, or anything else to support the claim of an accident or an attack.

A few hours later, a new story surfaced. On May 12 at 7:38 pm, the UAE foreign ministry issued a statement carried by the state news agency WAM with the headline: “Four commercial ships subjected to sabotage operations near UAE territorial waters, no fatalities or injuries reported.” The report in its entirety offered little detail:

    ABU DHABI, 12th May, 2019 (WAM) — Four commercial ships were subjected to sabotage operations today, 12th May, near UAE territorial waters in the Gulf of Oman, east of Fujairah, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, MOFAIC, has announced.

    The Ministry said that the concerned authorities have taken all necessary measures, and are investigating the incident in cooperation with local and international bodies.

    It said that there had been no injuries or fatalities on board the vessels and that there had been no spillage of harmful chemicals or fuel.

    The MOFAIC statement said that the carrying out acts of sabotage on commercial and civilian vessels and threatening the safety and lives of those on board is a serious development. It called on the international community to assume its responsibilities to prevent such actions by parties attempting to undermine maritime traffic safety and security.

    The Ministry also described as ‘baseless and unfounded’ rumours earlier today, 12th May, of incidents taking place within the Port of Fujairah, saying that operations within the port were under way as normal, without any interruption.

There’s not much here. What sort of “sabotage operations” occurred? Who carried them out? What damage was there, if any? Who were the four ships? When was the sabotage discovered? What’s really going on here, if anything?

The next day the Saudi Press Agency chimed in with a statement from the Minister of Energy that “confirmed that … two Saudi oil tankers were subjected to a sabotage attack in the exclusive economic zone of the United Arab Emirates, off the coast of the Emirate of Fujairah.” The minister claimed structural damage to the two tankers but did not make them available for inspection. Satellite and surface images showed no damage to either tanker.

That’s about all that was known on May 13 as ABC News went on the air acting as if the story was factually clear and larger than supported by any evidence. The lead-in to the story was flush with news-hype and propaganda technique: “we begin with that attack overseas on Saudi ships and oil tankers. One about to head to the U.S. This comes in the wake of that warning about threats from Iran.” Fundamentally dishonest. There were two Saudi tankers, no Saudi “ships.” The other two tankers were from the UAE and Norway. There was no certainty that there was any attack (and there still isn’t). Saying that one tanker was about to head to the US was not only irrelevant, but provocative. It was on its way to Saudi Arabia to load oil bound for the US (according to the Saudis). Putting the misreported “attack” in the context of “that warning about threats from Iran” is pure propagandistic parroting of US government scare-mongering.

But that was just the lead-in to veteran reporter Martha Raddatz – surely she’d bring some sane perspective to bear, right? Wrong. She made it worse, talking in a tone suitable for a “they-just-attacked-Pearl-Harbor” report. Somberly treating the alleged attack as a matter of fact, Raddatz framed it with a conclusion supported by no evidence whatsoever:

    This comes at an extremely tense time in the region with the U.S. warning just days ago that Iran or its proxies could be targeting maritime traffic in the oil rich Persian Gulf region. Although we do not know who carried out this morning’s attack on these ships, we know four were sabotaged off the coast in the Persian Gulf and it caused significant structural damage to two Saudi oil tankers. One of the Saudi ships was on its way to pick up Saudi oil for delivery to the U.S. Last week the U.S. urgently dispatched a carrier strike group, B-52 bombers and Patriot missile battery to the region after it said there were unspecified threats to American forces in the region. Iran’s news agency this morning saying the dispatch of the warships was to exaggerate the shadow of war and frighten the Iranian people. But this is a very dangerous development.

Could Sarah Huckabee Sanders have said it better?

Posing as a journalist, Martha Raddatz ratchets up the Trump administration’s scare campaign based on nothing more than fear tactics. She’s so busy trying to scare us, she doesn’t even get the geography right. The alleged attack didn’t happen in the Persian Gulf. The four ships that were supposedly attacked were in the Gulf of Oman off the coast of the UAE. Almost all the rest of what Raddatz reports as “fact” comes from government press releases.

And that’s not the most shameful part for Raddatz and ABC News. Worse than botching facts large and small is the willingness of such mainstream media players to team up with elements of the US government seeking war with Iran at almost any cost.

CBS News coverage was little better, not only putting the action in the Persian Gulf, but upping the number of ships “attacked” to six. CBS did manage a small saving grace, concluding: “Whatever the case, the tensions here have only risen since President Trump withdrew from the 2015 nuclear deal, brokered between Iran and world powers.”

Raddatz: Time may come when warmongers like this repugnant disinformer will be judged at Nuremberg-type tribunals.

Well, yes, THAT is the crux of the mess. The US unilaterally tries to pull out of a multilateral international agreement that all other parties say is working and we’re supposed to take the US seriously? Seriously? At this point, any reporter who accepts a government press release as authoritative should be summarily fired. At this point, that is inexcusable malpractice. Iran has abided by the nuclear deal, all the inspectors affirm that. The other signatories – China, Russia, GB, France, Germany, and the EU – all affirm that. But they don’t stand up to the US effectively. They allow the US to bully them into joining the American economic warfare against Iran.

Over the next several days after it broke, the “oil tankers attacked” story slowly collapsed. Fact-based skepticism started to catch up with the official story. The UAE kept reporters from getting too close to the ships, which showed no serious damage. An anonymous US official blamed Iran, based on no evidence. US military officials in the Persian Gulf region stopped answering questions about whatever it was, referring questioners to the White House.

At this point, if the oil tanker attacks were either a warmongering hoax or false flag operation, it’s not going to have the same success as the sinking of the battleship Maine in Havana Harbor in 1898 or the provocations of US warships in the Tonkin Gulf in 1964. There’s even an off-chance that a suspicious Congress and an even more suspicious public will manage to slow the rush to war, or even stop it. There are signs of some increased media wariness, also known as detachment. Perhaps the most hopeful signs are the leaked anonymous stories that the president really, really doesn’t want to go to war, which of course he doesn’t have to if he doesn’t want to, if he knows what he wants.

Another leaked story had it that Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and National Security Advisor John Bolton are confident that they can lead Trump by the nose into the war they want with Iran and that Trump’s too stupid to understand what they’re up to. If Trump sees that, it might give peace a chance.

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This article is part of a series on disgusting US-led imperialism

ABOUT THE AUTHOR
William M. Boardman has over 40 years experience in theatre, radio, TV, print journalism, and non-fiction, including 20 years in the Vermont judiciary. He has received honors from Writers Guild of America, Corporation for Public Broadcasting, Vermont Life magazine, and an Emmy Award nomination from the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences.
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🚀 The Dead Don’t Die: They March to War
« Reply #673 on: May 21, 2019, 02:29:15 AM »
https://www.strategic-culture.org/news/2019/05/17/the-dead-dont-die-they-march-to-war/

The Dead Don’t Die: They March to War
Pepe Escobar
May 17, 2019


Hysteria reigns supreme. As in the new Jim Jarmusch movie, The Dead Don’t Die, The Return of the Living Neocon Dead, in a trashy rerun of the lead-up to Shock and Awe in 2003, keeps orchestrating the zombie march.

Yet no one in war-cheerleading US corporate media talks about the quadrillion derivative crisis that will gut the global economy if there’s an attack on Iran (I addressed it here.) Shutting down the Strait of Hormuz will bring down the 2.5 quadrillion world derivative market, largely wiping out the economies of all Western nations.

No one talks about the massive arsenal of Iranian anti-ship missiles, as well as ballistic and cruise missiles, some in positions visible to US satellites and drones, deployed all along the northern shore of the Persian Gulf. Those include the Russian SS-NX-26 Yakhont, which travels at Mach 2.9 speed. Iranian – as well as Russian and Chinese – anti-ship missiles can knock out the entire US Aircraft Carrier Task Force before their planes are even in range.

No one talks that it would take the US at least six months to place a proper combat army in Southwest Asia; the Pentagon scenario of a possible 120,000-strong troop deployment does not even begin to cut it.

And no one talks that Tehran won’t crack even under “maximum pressure.”

Saudi tankers are “sabotaged” – and Iran is instantly blamed, evidence-free. Some Brit bureaucrat says war can break out “by accident”. Consul Pompeus Minimus scares European poodles into isolating Iran.

And no one talks about Pompeo’s real target in his flash visit to Baghdad; to apply gangster tactics. Don’t deal with Tehran – or else. Buy “our” Make America Great Again (MAGA) electricity, not Iran’s. Get rid of the People Mobilization Units (PMUs). Or else.

Take me to false flag heaven

The deal between the holy triad – US neocons, Zio-cons and Bibi Netanyahu – is that a false flag, any false flag, must be blamed on Tehran, thus forcing the Trump administration to protect and defend the “rules-based order”. Better yet, an even more elaborate false flag should induce an Iranian response – thus providing the rationale for an attack.

Trump at least is correct that it would take “a hell of a lot more” troops than 120,000 to attack Iran; more like a million troops. There’s nowhere to land them. No one – Iraq, Afghanistan, Turkmenistan, Azerbaijan, Armenia, Turkey, Pakistan – would welcome the “liberators”.

In an extremely hot scenario Tehran could even have instant access to nuclear missiles in the black market.

The bottom line: the neocon threat of war against Iran is a bluff.

Iranian Rear Admiral Hossein Khanzadi described it as a “theatrical” and “useless” attempt to “magnify the shadow of war.”

IRGC commander of aerospace force Brigadier General Amir Ali Hajizade famously said, “a US battleship with 6,000 personnel in the vicinity (Persian Gulf) with 40-50 jets onboard used to be a threat to us. Today it is a target.”
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See also
May 18, 2019
Trump’s Soft Cop-Hard Cop Routine on Iran
May 17, 2019
From False Hope to False Flags, Trump Sets the Stage for Global War
May 19, 2019
Trump: the Boy Who Cried Iran
May 13, 2019
Iran: Preparing the ‘Battle Space’
April 20, 2019
Instagram Acts as Arm of US Govt, Bans Top Iranian Officials After IRGC ‘Terrorist’ Designation
May 7, 2019
The Washington War Machine Is Targeting Venezuela and Iran
May 16, 2019
Is Trump Really Going to Go It Alone With His Iran Campaign?
April 17, 2019
The Corruption of the Terrorist Group List
May 20, 2019
How the US Regime Uses Sanctions to Soften a Country Up for Invasion
May 20, 2019
Iran Messages to Trump’s Pressures: Pain Can Be Reciprocal
May 18, 2019
US-Iran Showdown Is One False-Flag Attack Away From Global Calamity
May 18, 2019
Trump’s Soft Cop-Hard Cop Routine on Iran
May 17, 2019
From False Hope to False Flags, Trump Sets the Stage for Global War
May 19, 2019
Trump: the Boy Who Cried Iran
May 13, 2019
Iran: Preparing the ‘Battle Space’
April 20, 2019
Instagram Acts as Arm of US Govt, Bans Top Iranian Officials After IRGC ‘Terrorist’ Designation
May 7, 2019
The Washington War Machine Is Targeting Venezuela and Iran
May 16, 2019
Is Trump Really Going to Go It Alone With His Iran Campaign?
April 17, 2019
The Corruption of the Terrorist Group List
May 20, 2019
How the US Regime Uses Sanctions to Soften a Country Up for Invasion
May 20, 2019
Iran Messages to Trump’s Pressures: Pain Can Be Reciprocal
May 18, 2019
US-Iran Showdown Is One False-Flag Attack Away From Global Calamity
May 18, 2019
Trump’s Soft Cop-Hard Cop Routine on Iran
May 17, 2019
From False Hope to False Flags, Trump Sets the Stage for Global War
May 19, 2019
Trump: the Boy Who Cried Iran
May 13, 2019
Iran: Preparing the ‘Battle Space’

Tehran sent an unmistakable message to all its neighbors, especially the House of Saud and the Emirates; your whole infrastructure will be totally destroyed if the US uses you as a platform for a military campaign.

Then there’s the evolving drone-on-pipeline saga. The Houthis in Yemen targeted two pumping stations along the Saudi East-West pipeline – which carries oil from the Eastern province to the Red Sea. One of the stations caught fire. The hugely strategic pipeline – which allows Riyadh to bypass the Strait of Hormuz – has an enormous capacity, transporting 5 million barrels of crude a day. Operations had to be suspended.

Whether this drone attack was IRGC-directed, independent, or even a false flag is irrelevant; it provides just a taste of what might happen to the whole regional oil and gas infrastructure in case of a hot war.

Conversations with old-time Persian Gulf traders are quite enlightening. They attest, “if a pumping station is destroyed it takes two years to fill an order for a new pump. The Saudis maintain they have pumps in reserve. If all the pumps are destroyed in Saudi Arabia, no oil would flow for two years. The prime target would be Abqaiq. If this processing plant is destroyed, oil prices would soar.”

Abqaiq, with an enormous capacity of 7 million barrels a day, is the primary oil processing plant for Arabian extra light and Arabian light crude oils.

Assuming the drone attack was not a false flag, Persian Gulf traders were impressed with the accuracy of the drone at these distances for a precision hit. This would mean that Abqaiq itself is vulnerable. And there is absolutely nothing the Trump administration can do to stop the oil price from going to $200 a barrel just from Abqaiq being knocked out.

Moreover, no one is talking about insurance rates. As Persian Gulf traders insist, Vito, Trafigura, Glencore and other operators will not buy two million barrels in a tanker at $70 a barrel if there’s no insurance – or the rates go skywards.

It takes basically one single tanker going to the bottom of the Persian Gulf with two million barrels to permanently close the Strait of Hormuz – and interrupt all tanker traffic for 22 million barrels a day of crude, unless governments come in to insure the tankers even though they have no ability to protect them.

It’s all about maximum resistance.

So what does Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei want? Here it is, in his own words; “There won’t be any war. The Iranian nation has chosen the path of resistance… “We don’t seek a war, and they don’t either.”

On top of it, Tehran won’t talk to Washington – following Trump’s “call me” caper – or sign any sort of modified or post-JCPOA nuclear deal. Khamenei; “[Such] negotiations are a poison.”

If President Trump had ever read Mackinder – and there’s no evidence he did – one might assume that he’s aiming at a new anti-Eurasia integration pivot centered on the Persian Gulf. And energy would be at the heart of the pivot.

If Washington were able to control everything, including “Big Prize” Iran, it would be able to dominate all Asian economies, especially China. Trump even said were that to happen, “decisions on the GNP of China will be made in Washington.”

Needless to add, this would be the icing in the geopolitical cake of destabilizing for good the New Silk Roads, or Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), the road map for Eurasia integration, of which Iran is a crucial node.

Now cue to President Putin musing on Iran-Russia relations; “I have repeatedly said in conversations with [our] Iranian partners that, in my opinion, it would be more rational for Iran to remain in this treaty, no matter what. Because as soon as Iran takes the first steps in response [to the US’ exit from the JCPOA], declares that it is withdrawing, tomorrow everyone will forget that the United States was the initiator of the destruction, and everything will be blamed on Iran”.

Arguably the key (invisible) takeaway of the meetings this week between Foreign Ministers Sergey Lavrov and Wang Yi, and then between Lavrov and Pompeo, is that Moscow made it quite clear that Iran will be protected by Russia in the event of an American showdown. Pompeo’s body language showed how rattled he was.

There will be much to talk about if Putin and Trump do meet at the G20 in Osaka next month. In the meantime, the dead may even die without going to war.
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https://southfront.org/nato-intelligence-activity-around-russias-borders/

Preparations For War: NATO Intelligence Activity Around Russia’s Borders


In addition to the militarization of Eastern Europe, NATO partakes in active intelligence operations – be it by land, sea and air.

There are numerous reports of various intelligence (spy) aircraft going and even entering Russian airspace, and the Russian Aerospace Forces intercepting them.

Officially, NATO has 14 Boeing E-3A Airborne Warning & Control System (AWACS) aircraft with their radar domes, stationed at NATO Air Base (NAB) Geilenkirchen, Germany.

The fleet is involved in the reassurance measures following the Russia-Ukraine crisis, and in the tailored assurance measures for Turkey against the background of the Syrian crisis.

Under normal circumstances, the aircraft operates for about eight hours, at 30,000 feet (9,150 meters) and covers a surveillance area of more than 120,000 square miles (310,798 square kilometers).

    As for February 11th, 2016, “the AWACS aircraft completed the 1,000th mission in support of NATO reassurance measures. These measures are a series of land, sea and air activities in, on and around the territory of NATO Allies in Central and Eastern Europe, designed to reassure their populations and deter potential aggression. They are taken in response to Russia’s aggressive actions to NATO’s east.”

NATO’s E-3 AWACS fleet is predicted to retire around 2035. At the Warsaw Summit in 2016, Allies declared that “by 2035, the Alliance needs to have a follow-on capability to the E-3 AWACS. Based on high6level military requirements, we have decided to collectively start the process of defining options for future NATO surveillance and control capabilities.” This effort has since been carried forward as the Alliance Future Surveillance and Control (AFSC) initiative.

Most spy plane flights are by US aircraft, and not NATO one.

In 2018, the Russian army detected about 3,000 foreign aircraft, including a thousand aircraft and spy drone, near Russia’s maritime and land borders.

In addition, the US frequently attempts to enter Russian airspace with its spy planes. Following are some of the more recent examples:

    On May 21st, a RQ-4B-40 Global Hawk took off from Sigonella, Italy, it flew over the separation line in the Donbass;
    On May 20th, a US RC-135V conducted a reconnaissance mission along the Black Sea coast of Russia;
    On May 16th, a RQ-4b-30 Global Hawk flew out from Sigonella and over the separation line in the Donbass;
    On May 15th, a RQ-4B-40 Global Hawk flew out of Sigonella and along the Russian border of the Kaliningrad area, within Estonian airspace;
    On May 3rd, the Russian aerial observation center reported the overflight by American spy planes of Russia’s southern and western borders – a United States Air Force Boeing RC-135V (large spy plane, deployed at the US military base in the United Kingdom), was observed above the Baltic Sea, along Russia’s border;
    On April 30th, a United States Air Force P-8A aircraft took off from the Sikonya base on Sicily Island in Italy before heading to the city of Novorossiisk. Following that, a reconnaissance aircraft flew for three hours over the southern borders of the Crimea;
    An American RQ-4B-40 UAV took off from the Sicilian base to fly over the Donbass region of Ukraine;
    On April 24th, a US Air Force Boeing RC-135V made its way into the Black Sea this morning, coasting along the Russian maritime border in the Krasnodar region before making its way around the Crimean Peninsula, online aircraft monitoring resource PlaneRadar reported, citing the plane’s transponder data;

Similar flights are a constant, most of them focused on the Donbass, the Baltics and the Black sea. That is no surprise, since the Baltics are a hotbed of NATO military build-up and so is the Kaliningrad area. The same goes for Crimea and the Donbass (with the Donbass not by Russian forces, while they’re still blamed for it).

On January 24th, even a NATO partner nation – Sweden – sent a spy plane, which was intercepted by a Russian Su-27 Flanker fighter jet.

On March 7th, a Russian Su-27 Flanker fighter jet approached and shadowed a US RC-135 spy plane over the Baltic Sea.

    “After the withdrawal of the foreign aircraft from the Russian state border, the Russian fighter safely returned to the airfield,” the Defense Ministry wrote. Of course, Russia was condemned for its “aggressive” conduct.

Separately, Poseidon P-8 anti-submarine aircraft, with intelligence capabilities frequently patrol the Black Sea and the Baltic Sea, checking Russian submarine activity. It most recently happened on May 21st, it usually flies out of Sigonella, Italy every few days.

On average Russia spots upwards of 20 foreign spy planes along its airspace, while it intercepts only some of them.

In April 2018, US provided $3 million in funding, Latvia would be provided with RQ-20A Puma UAVs from AeroViroment to help enhance their monitoring and reconnaissance capabilities.

US forces deployed in Lithuania would remain there, as per a report from April 4th, 2019.

As part of the agreement, Lithuania’s Defense Ministry will provide all necessary support for the deployment of U.S. forces.

    “U.S. foreign military programs should complement Lithuanian national funds to build anti-tank, air defense and intelligence, surveillance, target acquisition, and reconnaissance capabilities,” the Pentagon statement said. “The programs also will help Lithuania gain maritime domain awareness and look to replace Soviet/Russian-made equipment and platforms.”

NATO maritime surveillance activity along the Russian border is also not falling far behind.

On April 30th, the HMS Echo surveillance ship arrived in Georgia for the 2nd time within 5 months.

Commanding Officer, Commander Matthew Warren, said he was looking forward to working with the Georgian Coastguard once more, towards their “common aim of peace and stability within the Black Sea.”

The previous time the HMS Echo visited the Black Sea was in December 2018, to reinforce UK and NATO’s support for Ukraine, which was suffering following the incident in which Ukrainian warships were seized by the Russian coastguard in November south of the Kerch Strait.

On April 18th, Sweden – a NATO partner nation, infamous for its detection of “Russian submarines,” launched a 74-metre-long, 14-metre-wide spy ship, officially named the HMS Artemis.

    “The Swedish Armed Forces and the Navy, together with the National Defence Radio Establishment, will receive a qualified and modern signals intelligence vessel that will increase their capacities,” Swedish Defence Materiel Administration (FMV) Director General Göran Mårtensson said.

    “Compared with the HMS Orion, which was launched in 1984, its replacement has a great technical edge and also an improved working and living environment on board, increased operational reliability and improved electromagnetic compatibility properties, that is how the equipment in the vessel affects other surrounding electronic equipment and how sensitive the equipment is for external electronic interference”, FMV’s project manager Peter Andersson said.

Separately, NATO member countries attempt to use civilians for intelligence work. A Norwegian national – Frode Berg, 62, was arrested in 2017 by the Russian Security Service – the FSB.

He was accused of involvement in an elaborate spying operation, dating back to 2015, to obtain information about Russia’s nuclear submarine fleet in the far north.

In spring 2018, Berg himself added a new layer of intrigue when he admitted, through his lawyer, that he had actually been working with Norwegian military intelligence. He was unaware of the scope and purpose of the operation, he was simply a courier.

According to scarce details, he was mailing envelopes with cash and spying instructions to a woman called Natalia in Moscow, in return for information about Russia’s nuclear submarines in the Kola Peninsula.

Lt. Col. Tormod Heier, a former military intelligence officer, suggests that Berg’s arrest is the result of sloppy tradecraft.

    “Norway’s intelligence service is a world leader when it comes to technical intelligence, but we are relatively inexperienced in human intelligence,” Heier said. “[Berg’s] case looks very amateurish to me. It looks like we were caught while trying something outside our core competence.”

Norway further hosts a US radar, located on the tiny Arctic island of Vardo. The shrinking island has one successful business – its electric company, which supplies a US Globus 3 radar overseeing the Kola Peninsula, a Russian territory filled with high-security naval bases and restricted military zones.

    “This place is very, very important for America and for the Western world so that they can keep an eye on what the Russians are doing,” said Lasse Haughom, a former mayor of Vardo and a veteran of Norway’s military intelligence service.

    “Russia wants to look into our secrets, and the United States and Norway want to look into their business,” Mr. Haughom added. “That is the way the game is played.”

The Russian ambassador in Oslo, Norway’s capital, warned Norway that it should “not be naïve” about Russia’s readiness to respond.

    “Norway has to understand that after becoming an outpost of NATO, it will have to face head-on Russia and Russian military might,” the ambassador, Teimuraz Ramishvili, told Norway’s state broadcaster, NRK. “Therefore, there will be no peaceful Arctic anymore.”

The US is actively partaking in combating alleged Russian interference by advanced cyber reconnaissance.

Since, the US fears to become a victim to an attack similar to the 2007 one in Estonia, which was blamed on Russia.

In September 2018, it was announced that the UK would invest £250m to establish a joint cyber task force between the Ministry of Defence and GCHQ.

Developing cyber security skills strategy should be the government’s first priority, the committee said. “It is a pressing matter of national security that it does so,” it added.

    In July 2018, a government spokeswoman said: “We have a £1.9 billion National Cyber Security Strategy, opened the world-leading National Cyber Security Centre and continue to build on our cyber security knowledge, skills and capability.”

Despite those massive investments, accusations that Russian hackers and security service personnel still allegedly continue to successfully carry out cyber-attacks is puzzling.

The NATO Joint Intelligence and Security Division (JISD), in conjunction with the Netherlands Defence Intelligence and Security Service (DDIS) hosted the 20th annual NATO Warning Intelligence Working Group and Symposium, in Amsterdam between March 26 – 28th.

    “In recent years, NATO has stepped up its efforts in Intelligence by creating an Assistant Secretary General position and a NATO Intelligence Division to better understand the security threats. NATO continues to optimise NATO intelligence to facilitate timely and relevant support to Allied decision-making and operations, including through improved warning and intelligence sharing, particularly on terrorism, hybrid, and cyber.”

The NATO Communications and Information Agency, which is responsible for the Joint Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance (JISR), which is the synchronization and integration of Operations and Intelligence capabilities and activities, geared to providing timely information to support decisions in NATO member and partner states. It has two offices in Norway, one in Poland and none in the Baltic states.
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