Iranian President Hassan Rouhani did the right thing going on television and at least acknowledging popular anger over hard economic times. Inflation is high at 12% but down from 40% at the start of Rouhani’s first term. And the recent increase in fuel and food prices by up to 40% has hardly helped.
That was part of Team Rouhani’s 2018 budget, which cuts subsidies for the poor – a key feature of the previous Ahmadinejad administration.
Then there is youth unemployment, which hovers around the 30% mark. Similar figures recently came out of Spain, a member of the European Union. Of course, that explains why the bulk of the protesters are under 25 from working class backgrounds.
What Rouhani should have explained to Iranians in detail is the direct consequences of hard economic times and United States sanctions, which are affecting the country.
These were coupled with financial threats against western firms now back in business, or at least contemplating opening up operations, in Iran.
Still, what is happening now in Iran is that legitimate protests related to economic hardships have been hijacked by the usual suspects in a move to influence the minority. After all, Rouhani’s administration is comparatively liberal compared to the populist Ahmadinejad government.
So, what we have is a concerted attempt to turn legitimate protests into a “revolutionary” movement with the aim of bringing about a regime change. In all practical purposes, this would be civil war.
Well, it will simply not work. Anyone familiar with Iran knows the country’s civil society is far too sophisticated to fall into such a crude and obvious trap.
For a clear take on the foreign influence angle, you should watch Professor Mohammad Marandi, of the University of Tehran, an academic of absolute integrity, arguing with a former BBC employee on the Qatari-owned Al Jazeera television network.
Indeed, what is certain is that foreign elements are acting as provocateurs to influence the protests. This “whole world is watching” tone is meant to intimidate Tehran’s response.
Yet there has to be a crackdown against the violence as Rouhani strongly hinted. Imagine the police response if the level of violence seen on Iranian streets was happening in France or Germany?
Regime change is unlikely but what is in play is setting the scene for a further renewal of economic sanctions against Iran. Possibly, in this case by the EU. Hopefully, it will not fall into this trap.
Anyway, Tehran is already gearing up to increase business across Eurasia through China’s new Silk Roads, the Belt and Road Initiative, and the Eurasia Economic Union.
In the end, it is up to Team Rouhani to be creative in alleviating the burden on the economic front.
The US risks finding itself out in the cold if it continues to push its anti-Iranian agenda, Sputnik contributor Igor Gashkov writes. Calling upon its European allies to sever ties with the Islamic Republic, Washington has failed to take EU economic interests into consideration.
The Iran issue has deeply divided The United States and Europe: while Washington has declared Tehran a sponsor of terrorism, EU member-states continue to invest in the country's economy, Sputnik contributor Igor Gashkov writes.
"There is an immense difference between Europeans and Americans on this issue," Director of the Center for Middle Eastern and Central Asian Studies Semyon Bagdasarov told Sputnik. "A big contract was signed by Tehran and the French to modernize the [country's] entire aviation fleet. Paris and Berlin are actively investing in the production of Iranian hydrocarbons. European business has great prospects in Iran, and new sanctions threaten to frustrate cooperation. The interests of the US and the EU are diametrically opposed to each other here."
_________________ "Now water can flow or it can crash. Be water, my friend." - Bruce Lee
"Three things cannot be long hidden: the sun, the moon, and the truth." - Buddha
It's really difficult to know for sure what is really going on here.
Some say that the Anglo-American usury banks still own Russia since they took it in 1917, others say that Putin 'jumped ship' and brought his country free and independent, but some of his actions also contradict this , some say the usury bankers (usury is forbidden by Islamic law, another reason why the usurers would want to take the country to establish a usury private central bank) have owned Iran since the 1970s, but there seem to be contradictions there also. Probably best to just watch events develop and try to follow the money trails.
Or better still, go there and see for yourself!
One person who for sure is celebrating
Trump's move is: Bernie Sanders
Because the best way for Iran to hit Trump personally would be to
raise the stakes, and thus raise oil prices and hit him economically.
US PRESENCE IN IRAQ UNDER THREAT
Sheldon and his buddies -who fund Trump and called the tune on the
Iran deal- have got more than they wanted. Maybe too much......
The battleground is likely to be Iraq -not Iran.
Will the Iraqi Government last?
Will the U.S. be ejected from Iraq?
2h ago 09:52
Iraq will hold an emergency parliament session on Saturday to discuss the US airstrike in Baghdad that killed Iran’s top military commander and Iraqi officials, Reuters reports.
Iraq’s deputy parliament speaker, Hassan al-Kaabi, said it was time to put an end to US recklessness and arrogance, adding that Saturday’s session would be dedicated to taking “decisive decisions that put an end to US presence inside Iraq”.
The outgoing prime minister Adel Abdul-Mahdi had called for an emergency session, saying the US presence in Iraq is limited to training forces to fight terrorism. He described the attack that killed Qassem Suleimani and the Iraqi officials as a “violation” of conditions for the US troop presence.
Events in the next few days will shape the long-term.
Iran farm boy who became more powerful than a president Quds leader was extraordinarily successful in reshaping the region in wake of Iraq war and Syrian revolution.
Qassem Suleimani had become well known among Iranians in past years and was sometimes discussed as a future president. Yet the leader of the Revolutionary Guards’ Quds force was still a relatively obscure figure outside a region that he may have done more than anyone to reshape.
“He was more important than the president, spoke to all factions in Iran, had a direct line to the supreme leader and was in charge of Iran’s regional policy,” said Dina Esfandiary, a fellow at the Century Foundation think tank. “It doesn’t get more important and influential than that.”
Eighteen months before his death, Suleimani had issued Donald Trump a public warning that may prove correct, though not in the way he may have intended. “Mr. Trump the gambler, I’m telling you, know that we are close to you in that place you don’t think we are,” he said, wagging his finger and dressed in olive fatigues. “You will start the war but we will end it.”
_________________ Minds are like parachutes.
They only function when open.
An ideal world would be one in which every US military presence/base outside the US has been vaporized!
One wonders for how much longer this USA global empire of robbing and killing can persist..... perhaps only as long as the US dollar is still supremely valued.
But that value is itself being maintained by military force.
US Kick Starts Raging ’20s by Declaring War on Iran
January 3, 2020 • 0 Comments
By Pepe Escobar in Palermo, Sicily - Special to Consortium News
Iraq is the preferred battleground of a proxy war against Iran that may now metastasize into hot war, with devastating consequences.
It does not matter where the green light for the U.S. targeted assassination in Baghdad of Quds Force commander Major General Qassem Soleimani and the Hashd al-Shaabi second-in-command Abu Madhi al-Muhandis came from.
This is an act of war. Unilateral, unprovoked and illegal.
President Donald Trump may have issued the order. The U.S. Deep State may have ordered him to issue the order. Or the usual suspects may have ordered them all.
According to my best Southwest Asia intel sources, “Israel gave the U.S. the coordinates for the assassination of Qassem Soleimani as they wanted to avoid the repercussions of taking the assassination upon themselves.”
It does not matter that Trump and the Deep State are at war.
One of the very few geopolitical obsessions that unite them is non-stop confrontation with Iran – qualified by the Pentagon as one of five top threats against the U.S., almost at the level of Russia and China.
And there cannot be a more startling provocation against Iran — in a long list of sanctions and provocations — than what just happened in Baghdad. Iraq is now the preferred battleground of a proxy war against Iran that may now metastasize into hot war, with devastating consequences.
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We knew it was coming. There were plenty of rumbles in Israeli media by former military and Mossad officials. There were explicit threats by the Pentagon. I discussed it in detail in Umbria last week with sterling analyst Alastair Crooke – who was extremely worried. I received worried messages from Iran.
The inevitable escalation by Washington was being discussed until late Thursday night here in Palermo, actually a few hours before the strike. (Sicily, by the way, in the terminology of U.S. generals, is AMGOT: American Government Occupied Territory.)
Once again, the Exceptionalist hands at work show how predictable they are. Trump is cornered by impeachment. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has been indicted. Nothing like an external “threat” to rally the internal troops.
Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei knows about these complex variables as much as he knows of his responsibility as the power who issued Iran’s own red lines. Not surprisingly he already announced, on the record, there will be blowback: “a forceful revenge awaits the criminals who have his blood and the blood of other martyrs last night on their hands.” Expect it to be very painful.
Qasem Soleimani (left) with Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis (right) at a 2017 ceremony commemorating the father of Soleimani, in Mosalla, Tehran. (Fars News Agency, CC BY 4.0, Wikimedia Commons)
Blowback by a Thousand Cuts
I met al-Muhandis in Baghdad two years ago — as well as many Hashd al-Shaabi members. Here is my full report. The Deep State is absolutely terrified that Hashd al-Shaabi (Popular Mobilization Forces), a grassroots organization, are on the way to becoming a new Hezbollah, and as powerful as Hezbollah. Grand Ayatollah Sistani, the supreme religious authority in Iraq, universally respected, fully supports them.
So, the American strike also targets Sistani — not to mention the fact that Hash al-Shaabi operates under guidelines issued by the Iraqi Prime Minister Abdel Mahdi. That’s a major strategic blunder that can only be pulled off by amateurs.
Major General Soleimani, of course, humiliated the whole of the Deep State over and over again — and could eat all of them for breakfast, lunch and dinner as a military strategist. It was Soleimani who defeated ISIS/Daesh in Iraq — not the Americans bombing Raqqa to rubble. Soleimani is a super-hero of almost mythical status for legions of young Hezbollah supporters, Houthis in Yemen, all strands of resistance fighters in both Iraq and Syria, Islamic Jihad in Palestine, and all across Global South latitudes in Africa, Asia and Latin America.
There’s absolutely no way the U.S. will be able to maintain troops in Iraq, unless the nation is re-occupied en masse via a bloodbath. And forget about “security”: no imperial official or imperial military force is now safe anywhere, from the Levant to Mesopotamia and the Persian Gulf.
The only redeeming quality out of this major strategic blunder cum declaration of war may be the final nail in the coffin of the Southwest Asia chapter of the U.S. Empire of Bases. Iranian Prime Minister Javad Zarif came out with an appropriate metaphor: the “tree of resistance” will continue to grow. The empire might as well say goodbye to Southwest Asia.
In the short term, Tehran will be extremely careful in their response. A hint of — harrowing — things to come: it will be blowback by a thousand cuts. As in hitting the Exceptionalist framework — and mindset — where it really hurts. This is the way the Roaring, Raging Twenties begin: not with a bang, but with the release of whimpering dogs of war.
_________________ Minds are like parachutes.
They only function when open.
'War is coming':
After the killing of Qassem Soleimani, what's Iran's next move?
After an American attack in Baghdad took out the head of Iran’s elite Quds Force, experts fear a new Middle East conflict, or at least a powerful Iranian revenge attack, is coming.
Iran might wait to respond, but its allies in Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, Palestine, Yemen or elsewhere could bare their teeth now against the U.S., said Charles Lister, director of the Countering Terrorism and Extremism program at the Middle East Institute in Washington D.C.
“With Soleimani dead, war is coming — that seems certain, the only questions are where, in what form and when?” Lister told the National Post Friday.
Lister said possible targets for Iranian retribution include Israel; the Al-Udeid air base in the city of Doha, where U.S. troops are stationed; and U.S. allies in the Persian Gulf, particularly Bahrain, the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia.
“While America dominates the world in terms of conventional military force, Iran’s advantage is in the asymmetric sphere,” Lister said, “so rocket attacks, bombings, assassinations and even attacks like the missile assault on Saudi oil facilities in September 2019 are all possible responses. There really is no underestimating the geopolitical ramifications of this.”
The external wing of Iran’s Revolutionary Guard, his Quds Forces were also used to fight ISIL in Syria and in Iraq. Indeed, Soleimani was seen as the central player in securing Russian intervention in Syria — and thus as the Iranian saviour of the regime of Bashar Assad.
Lister called Soleimani’s death “one of the biggest developments in the Middle East for decades,” placing the killing ahead of those of al-Qaeda leader Osama Bin Laden and ISIL chief Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi.
“His death will be perceived as martyrdom in Iran and will undoubtedly fuel some form of retaliation — but not by a disparate terrorist organization, but one of the Middle East’s most powerful governments, with an unrivalled and formidable asymmetric tool kit,” he said of Iran’s capabilities.
“Neither ISIS nor al-Qaeda ever had the capacity to expel the U.S. from Iraq and Syria and end the counter-ISIS campaign there, but Iran and its supporters most definitely do,” Lister said, adding that “we’ve entered into very dangerous territory now.”
Michael Knights, a security expert, pointed out that Israel had previously had chances to take out Soleimani but backed off, such was the fear of Iranian blowback.
“When the Israelis had a similar opportunity on the Golan Heights a few years ago, they didn’t do it,” said Knights, a senior fellow at the Washington Institute in D.C. “They were about to kill him, then they were like, ‘holy s—t it’s Soleimani, it’s not worth it.”
A report in Haaretz on Friday, citing Kuwaiti newspaper Al-Jarida, said Washington had given Israel the all-clear to assassinate Soleimani three years ago near Damascus, Syria, but the Israelis had demurred.
Lister says in the aftermath of the strike, the U.S. position in both Iraq and Syria will come under immediate, additional pressure.
“A single attack on U.S. positions could feasibly catalyze a military withdrawal and second abandonment of the Kurds,” he said of Syria. “In Iraq, U.S. diplomatic and military facilities are almost certain to come under some form of attack and covert intimidation.”
“The death of Abu Mahdi al-Mohandis alongside Soleimani has just mobilized tens of thousands of PMU militiamen against America’s presence in Iraq like never before,” he added.
Major Iraqi Shiite parties call for unity to expel US troops
ERBIL, Kurdistan Region- Major Iraqi Shiite parties on Friday called for parliamentary unity to expel US forces following airstrikes that killed high profile Iranian targets on Friday morning.
“The time has come to put an end to American arrogance and recklessness inside Iraq. Everyday, the fakeness of their claims and underestimation of Iraqi sovereignty become clearer,” first deputy Parliament Speaker Hassan al-Kaabi said in a Friday statement.
“Saturday’s session will be dedicated to making detailed decisions that will put an end to the American presence in Iraq,” al-Kaabi added.
The US has around 5,000 troops stationed across military bases of Iraq to advise, assist, and train Iraqi forces in the fight against the Islamic State (ISIS).
The presence of the forces has long been a contentious issue, and Iraqi Shiite parties, especially those close to Iran, have always wanted to put an end to the US presence.
“We call on all national forces to unite their ranks for the purpose of expelling foreign troops, whose presence has become a burden on Iraq, and whose continued presence mean more Iraqi blood being spilled,” Hadi al-Amiri, head of the pro-Iran Fatih coalition, one of the two largest rival Shiite blocs, said in a Friday statement.
Amiri denounced the killings as a “treacherous American aggression”.
A close ally of Iran, he urged the parliament to “gather and make its bold decision to expel foreign troops in Iraq because their presence does nothing but threaten Iraqis”.
The Islamic Dawa party, of which Abu al-Muhdanis was a member, has also condemned the US, blasting America's "lack of respect for Iraqi sovereignty."
"American forces are behaving as through Iraq is still under its despicable occupation" the party said, calling on the government to review relations with the US.
The Sayiroon Alliance, the second-largest parliamentary bloc, run by Shiite Cleric Muqtada al-Sadr, has also called for a session to discuss Friday's "treacherous agression".
“We, while condemning this cowardly, treacherous aggression that constitutes a clear attack on Iraq’s and its people’s capabilities, call on all members of parliament to attend tomorrow, Saturday’s session to discuss this dangerous and flagrant assault,” Sayiroon said.
“We affirm the necessity for all national forces to come together to unite ranks, stand against American aggression, and work on ending its presence through legislating a law to evict all foreign forces from Iraqi soil,” the alliance added.
Kurdish and Sunni political parties are yet to make a stance on the contentious issue. The Kurdistan Region itself hosts some US soldiers who work closely with the Peshmerga in the fight against the Islamic State (ISIS).
_________________ Minds are like parachutes.
They only function when open.
For the United States to abandon proxy warfare and directly kill one of Iran’s most senior political figures has changed international politics in a fundamental way. It is a massive error. Its ramifications are profound and complex.
There is also a lesson to be learned here in that this morning there will be excitement and satisfaction in the palaces of Washington, Tel Aviv, Riyadh and Tehran. All of the political elites will see prospects for gain from the new fluidity. While for ordinary people in all those countries there is only the certainty of more conflict, death and economic loss, for the political elite, the arms manufacturers, the military and security services and allied interests, the hedge funds, speculators and oil companies, there are the sweet smells of cash and power.
Tehran will be pleased because the USA has just definitively lost Iraq. Iraq has a Shia majority and so naturally tends to ally with Iran. The only thing preventing that was the Arab nationalism of Saddam Hussein’s Ba’ath Socialist Party. Bush and Blair were certainly fully informed that by destroying the Ba’ath system they were creating an Iranian/Iraqi nexus, but they decided that was containable. The “containment” consisted of a deliberate and profound push across the Middle East to oppose Shia influence in proxy wars everywhere.
This is the root cause of the disastrous war in Yemen, where the Zaidi-Shia would have been victorious long ago but for the sustained brutal aerial warfare on civilians carried out by the Western powers through Saudi Arabia. This anti-Shia western policy included the unwavering support for the Sunni Bahraini autocracy in the brutal suppression of its overwhelmingly Shia population. And of course it included the sustained and disastrous attempt to overthrow the Assad regime in Syria and replace it with pro-Saudi Sunni jihadists.
This switch in US foreign policy was known in the White House of 2007 as “the redirection”. It meant that Sunni jihadists like Al-Qaida and later al-Nusra were able to switch back to being valued allies of the United States. It redoubled the slavish tying of US foreign policy to Saudi interests. The axis was completed once Mohammad Bin Salman took control of Saudi Arabia. His predecessors had been coy about their de facto alliance with Israel. MBS felt no shyness about openly promoting Israeli interests, under the cloak of mutual alliance against Iran, calculating quite correctly that Arab street hatred of the Shia outweighed any solidarity with the Palestinians. Common enemies were easy for the USA/Saudi/Israeli alliance to identify; Iran, the Houthi, Assad and of course the Shia Hezbollah, the only military force to have given the Israelis a bloody nose. The Palestinians themselves are predominantly Sunni and their own Hamas was left friendless and isolated.
The principal difficulty of this policy for the USA of course is Iraq. Having imposed a rough democracy on Iraq, the governments were always likely to be Shia dominated and highly susceptible to Iranian influence. The USA had a continuing handle through dwindling occupying forces and through control of the process which produced the government. They also provided financial resources to partially restore the physical infrastructure the US and its allies had themselves destroyed, and of course to fund a near infinite pool of corruption.
That US influence was balanced by strong Iranian aligned militia forces who were an alternative source of strength to the government of Baghdad, and of course by the fact that the centre of Sunni tribal strength, the city of Falluja, had itself been obliterated by the United States, three times, in an act of genocide of Iraqi Sunni population.
Through all this the Iraqi Prime Minister Adil Abdul-Mahdi had until now tiptoed with great care. Pro-Iranian yet a long term American client, his government maintained a form of impartiality based on an open hand to accept massive bribes from anybody. That is now over. He is pro-Iranian now.
Such precarious balance as there ever was in Iraq was upset this last two months when the US and Israelis transported more of their ISIL Sunni jihadists into Iraq, to escape the pincer of the Turkish, Russian and Syrian government forces. The Iranians were naturally not going to stand for this and Iranian militias were successfully destroying the ISIL remnants, which is why General Qassem Suleimani was in Iraq, why a US mercenary assisting ISIL was killed in an Iranian militia rocket attack, and why Syrian military representatives were being welcomed at Baghdad airport.
It is five years since I was last in the Green Zone in Baghdad, but it is extraordinarily heavily fortified with military barriers and checks every hundred yards, and there is no way the crowd could have been allowed to attack the US Embassy without active Iraqi government collusion. That profound political movement will have been set in stone by the US assassination of Suleimani. Tehran will now have a grip on Iraq that could prove to be unshakable.
Nevertheless, Tel Aviv and Riyadh will also be celebrating today at the idea that their dream of the USA destroying their regional rival Iran, as Iraq and Libya were destroyed, is coming closer. The USA could do this. The impact of technology on modern warfare should not be underestimated. There is a great deal of wishful thinking that fantasises about US military defeat, but it is simply unrealistic if the USA actually opted for full scale invasion. Technology is a far greater factor in warfare than it was in the 1960s. The USA could destroy Iran, but the cost and the ramifications would be enormous, and not only the entire Middle East but much of South Asia would be destabilised, including of course Pakistan. My reading of Trump remains that he is not a crazed Clinton type war hawk and it will not happen. We all have to pray it does not.
There will also today be rejoicing in Washington. There is nothing like an apparently successful military attack in a US re-election campaign. The Benghazi Embassy disaster left a deep scar upon the psyche of Trump’s support base in particular, and the message that Trump knows how to show the foreigners not to attack America is going down extremely well where it counts, whatever wise people on CNN may say.
So what happens now? Consolidating power in Iraq and finishing the destruction of ISIL in Iraq will be the wise advance that Iranian statesman can practically gain from these events. But that is, of course, not enough to redeem national honour. Something quick and spectacular is required for that. It is hard not to believe there must be a very real chance of action being taken against shipping in the Straits of Hormuz, which Iran can do with little prior preparation. Missile attacks on Saudi Arabia or Israel are also well within Iran’s capability, but it seems more probable that Iran will wish to strike a US target rather than a proxy. An Ambassador may be assassinated. Further missile strikes against US outposts in Iraq are also possible. All of these scenarios could very quickly lead to disastrous escalation.
In the short term, Trump in this situation needs either to pull out troops from Iraq or massively to reinforce them. The UK does not have the latter option, having neither men nor money, and should remove its 1400 troops now. Whether the “triumph” of killing Suleimani gives Trump enough political cover for an early pullout – the wise move – I am unsure. 2020 is going to be a very dangerous year indeed.
_________________ Minds are like parachutes.
They only function when open.
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