By Philip Giraldi
January 03, 2020
Information Clearing House
Includes an addendum by Robert Fisk:
“Trump is starting a war with Iran”.
“Donald Trump rode to victory in 2016 on a promise to end the useless wars in the Middle East, but he has now demonstrated very clearly that he is a liar. Trump bears full responsibility for what comes next.” — Philip Giraldi
The United States is now at war with Iran in a conflict that could easily have been avoided, and it will not end well.
There will be no declaration of war coming from either side, but the assassination of Iranian Quds Force Commander General Qassem Soleimani and the head of Kata’ib Hezbollah Abu Mehdi Muhandis by virtue of a Reaper drone strike in Baghdad will shift the long-simmering conflict between the two nations into high gear.
Iran cannot let the killing of a senior military officer go unanswered even though it cannot directly confront the United States militarily. But there will be reprisals.
And Tehran’s suspected use of proxies to stage limited strikes will now be replaced by more damaging actions that can be directly attributed to the Iranian government. As Iran has significant resources locally, one can expect that the entire Persian Gulf region will be destabilized.
And there is also the terrorism card, which will come into play.
Iran has an extensive diaspora throughout much of the Middle East and, as it has been threatened by Washington for many years, it has had a long time to prepare for a war to be fought largely in the shadows. No American diplomat, soldier or even tourists in the region should consider him or herself to be safe, quite the contrary. It will be an “open season” on Americans. The U.S. has already ordered a partial evacuation of the Baghdad Embassy and has advised all American citizens to leave the country immediately.
Donald Trump rode to victory in 2016 on a promise to end the useless wars in the Middle East, but he has now demonstrated very clearly that he is a liar.
Instead of seeking detente, one of his first actions was to end the JCPOA nuclear agreement and re-introduce sanctions against Iran.
In a sense, Iran has from the beginning been the exception to Trump’s no-new-war pledge, a position that might reasonably be directly attributed to his incestuous relationship with the American Jewish community and in particular derived from his pandering to the expressed needs of Israel’s belligerent Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
Trump bears full responsibility for what comes next.
The neoconservatives and Israelis are predictably cheering the result, with Mark Dubowitz of the pro-Israel Foundation for Defense of Democracies enthusing that it is “bigger than bin Laden…a massive blow to the [Iranian] regime.” Dubowitz, whose credentials as an “Iran expert” are dubious at best, is at least somewhat right in this case. Qassem Suleimani is, to be sure, charismatic and also very popular in Iran. He is Iran’s most powerful military figure in the entire region, being the principal contact for proxies and allies in Lebanon, Syria and Iraq. But what Dubowitz does not understand is that no one in a military hierarchy is irreplaceable. Suleimani’s aides and high officials in the intelligence ministry are certainly more than capable of picking up his mantle and continuing his policies.
In reality, the series of foolish attacks initiated by the United States over the past week will only hasten the departure of much of the U.S. military from the region. The Pentagon and White House have been insisting that Iran was behind an alleged Kata’ib Hezbollah attack on a U.S. installation that then triggered a strike by Washington on claimed militia targets in Syria and also inside Iraq. Even though the U.S. military presence is as a guest of the Iraqi government, Washington went ahead with its attack even after the Iraqi Prime Minister Adil Abdul-Mahdi said “no.”
To justify its actions, Mark Esper, Secretary of Defense, went so far as to insist that “Iran is at war with the whole world,” a clear demonstration of just how ignorant the White House team actually is.
The U.S. government characteristically has not provided any evidence demonstrating either Iranian or Kata’ib involvement in recent developments, but after the counter-strike killed 26 Iraqi soldiers, the mass demonstrations against the Embassy in Baghdad became inevitable. The demonstrations were also attributed to Iran by Washington even though the people in the street were undoubtedly Iraqis.
Now that the U.S. has also killed Suleimani and Muhandis in a drone strike at Baghdad Airport, clearly accomplished without the approval of the Iraqi government, it is inevitable that the prime minister will ask American forces to leave.
That will in turn make the situation for the remaining U.S. troops in neighboring Syria untenable.
And it will also force other Arab states in the region to rethink their hosting of U.S. soldiers, sailors, Marines and airmen due to the law of unanticipated consequences, as it is now clear that Washington has foolishly begun a war that serves no one’s interests.
The blood of the Americans, Iranians and Iraqis who will die in the next few weeks is clearly on Donald Trump’s hands, as this war was never inevitable and served no U.S. national interest.
BLOOD ON HIS HANDS
It will surely turn out to be a debacle, as well as devastating for all parties involved.
And it might well, on top of Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria and Libya, be the long-awaited beginning of the end of America’s imperial ambitions.
Let us hope so!
TRUMP IS STARTING A WAR WITH IRAN
by Robert Fisk,
January 3, 2020
Is this war by accident or war by design? We’ve all said that a major war in the Middle East could start by accident. But no one thought Donald Trump would go for the jugular quite like this. To kill General Qassem Soleimani is a sword at the heart of Iran, without doubt. And on whose behalf?
Trump boasts of his relationship with the Saudi king who has talked of “cutting off the head of the Iranian snake” and whose oil facilities were attacked with drone-fired missiles – which the US blamed on Iran – last year. Or Israel? Or is this just another decision with incalculable results, taken by a crackpot president in the US?
Just imagine what would happen if a leading American general – or two, since Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis was a leading pro-Iranian figure in Iraq – was blown up on a tour of the Middle East. There would be airstrikes, attacks on Iran’s nuclear centres, threats by Washington to close down all traffic between Iran and the outside world. The death of an American in Baghdad on Friday and the riots outside the US embassy, while sad, scarcely justify American attacks on this scale.
Qassem Soleimani was one of the most powerful men in Iran, although the Revolutionary Guards al-Quds forces he commanded is not quite the elite army which Iran likes to pretend. Soleimani, according to his fellow commanders, would take risks at the various al-Quds front lines in Syria and his men admired him for his courage under fire. So he regularly expected to die. But Baghdad International Airport is the last place you would expect to see an American drone put him and al-Muhandis to death.
The Americans have long grown used to staging attacks on pro-Iranian militia bases in Iraq and Syria. Over recent months, these strikes have become normal, regular – like Israel’s frequent raids into Syria and Lebanon. But it was a US military operation which also killed Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi in Syria, a Sunni Muslim who was an enemy of Tehran and whom the Iranians would have been happy to liquidate
The Americans have been used to this sort of assassination – or “targeted killings” as the Israelis call them – wiping out their enemies when they choose. Osama bin Laden was the first, Baghdadi the second, Suleimani the third. Such rocket-based killings are regularly undertaken by Israel in Gaza, where Hamas leaders are often assassinated.
Yet it’s easy to take these men as important – as they think they are. Iran’s forces in Syria, for example, are often grossly exaggerated by the US. Claims of the presence of 10,000 Revolutionary Guards Quds members in Syria were wildly inaccurate. Two thousand may be more accurate at any one time. True, Iranian intelligence men are scattered around the Middle East. But so are American agents.
One of Tehran’s most senior intelligence men was Ghadanfar Rokon Abadi who was Iran’s man in Beirut, and later its ambassador there. He probably knew more about Hezbollah and Syria than anyone else and returned to Tehran in 2014. This was not long after Sunni Islamists, reportedly with Saudi support, staged a suicide attack against his embassy, killing 23 embassy employees, Hezbollah guards and civilians. Rokon Abadi was spared. His top security man was killed. But in 2016, he made the Haj pilgrimage to Mecca where 2,300 people – 464 of them Iranians – were crushed to death in panic and riots for which Iran blamed the Saudi monarchy. Rokon Abadi was among them. It was months before his remains were returned to Iran.
But in the Middle East, intelligence agents are always in danger. It was a Hezbollah satellite group called Islamic Jihad which killed CIA Beirut station chief William Buckley, and Imad Mougnieh, his reported murderer – or the man who gave the order – was killed by a car bomb in Damascus in 2008. In 1983, a suicide bomber blew up his truck bomb at the front of the US embassy in Beirut, killing 32 people and wiping out most of the CIA agents who were holding a meeting inside.
Oh yes, and one more thing. Isn’t there a US election coming up this year? And doesn’t Trump want to win – and Soleimani as a target in Baghdad will play pretty well with Republicans. Iran has always responded to insults or attacks by waiting and delaying its own retaliation. Remember two oil tankers called the Adrian Darya and the Stena Impero? But now it’s getting personal.