• 2020-05-20

    As five Iranian oil tankers steam toward Venezuela in defiance of U.S. sanctions on both states, President Donald Trump is being presented with options for stopping the delivery of the petroleum fuel they carry. The prospect of killing two “rogue state” birds with one stone must be attractive to Trump. His policy against both countries is “maximum pressure,” after all. But what could the U.S. do, would it be legal, and would it make any sense?

  • 2020-05-20

    The April cyberattack on Israel’s water system and a May attack on an Iranian port might be the opening salvoes of a cyber war between Israel and Iran.

  • 2020-05-20

    The bottom line is this: if Uncle Shmuel decides to seize/attack the Iranian tankers, there is not only a quasi certitude of a war between the US and Iran (or, at the very least, an exchange of strikes), but there is also a non-trivial possibility that Maduro and his government might actually decide to provoke the USA into a war they really can’t win. Is Trump capable of starting a process which will result in not one, but two wars? You betcha he is!  A guy who thinks in categories like “my button is bigger than yours” or “super-dooper weapons” obviously understands exactly *nothing* about warfare, while the climate of messianic narcissism prevailing among the US ruling classes gives them a sense of total impunity. Let’s hope that cooler heads, possibly in the military, will prevail.  The last thing the world needs today is another needless war of choice, never mind two more.

  • 2020-05-19

    The U.S. assassination of Qassem Soleimani in January touched off a new wave of disinformation about the top Iranian major general, with Trump administration allies branding him a global terrorist while painting Iran as the world’s worst state sponsor of terrorism. Much of the propaganda about Soleimani related to his alleged responsibility for the killing of American troops in Iraq, along with Iran’s role in Syria, Lebanon, and Yemen. But a second theme in the disinformation campaign, which has been picked up by mainstream outlets like the Wall Street Journal and National Public Radio, was the claim that Soleimani deliberately unleashed al-Qaeda terrorist Abu Musab al-Zarqawi’s campaign to kill Shiites in Iraq. That element of the propaganda offensive was the result of the 2017 publication of “The Exile,” a book by British journalists Adrian Levy and Cathy Scott-Clark, which spun a new version of the familiar U.S. propaganda line of a supposed Iranian terror alliance with al-Qaeda.

  • 2020-05-17

    Iran's foreign minister on Sunday warned the US against deploying its navy in the Caribbean to disrupt Iranian fuel shipments to Venezuela. In a letter to United Nations chief Antonio Guterres, Mohammad Javad Zarif warned against "America's movements in deploying its navy to the Caribbean in order to intervene and create disruption in the transfer of Iran's fuel to Venezuela," AFP reported.

  • 2020-05-15

    Al-Kadhimi’s first meetings were with the US and Iranian ambassadors in Iraq. He spoke to Presidents Trump and Rouhani where he confirmed that “Iran is a dear friend and Iraq will never forget the support Tehran has offered to the country”. In 2014, Iran was the first to provide Iraq with weapons, training and advisors, when the US failed to deliver weapons Iraq had already purchased. The US preferred to look on as ISIS occupied a third of Iraq. Iran transformed the US threat into an opportunity by imposing itself as a regional power. The US can no longer isolate an Iran that enjoys regional influence in so many countries in the Middle East. Russia and China need to consider Iranian influence when dealing with many Middle Eastern countries. Hashd al-Shaabi and other groups loyal to Iran are a force that can’t be dissolved or ignored in Iraq. Over 41 years Iran has painstakingly built a chain of faithful and dedicated allies in the region, whereas the US has maintained business-type relations based on the coercing of frightened Middle Eastern leaders. These US “clients” understandably cannot be relied upon to support US interests in the region.

  • 2020-05-08

    Importantly, America’s traditional regional partners should not feel abandoned by improved U.S.-Iran relations. To the contrary, a diplomacy-first U.S. Middle East policy can lead to regional cooperation and long-term stability. The U.S. can use its enhanced leverage to help realize a long imagined regional cooperation system between Iran, Iraq, and the six states of the Gulf Cooperation Council. This can be modeled after the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, which originated out of a diplomatic process that reduced tensions between the Warsaw Pact and NATO states. Institutionalized dialogue among the Persian Gulf countries will ease the U.S. security burden in the region. Saudi Arabia and Iran will have a forum to communicate their grievances and engage in reciprocal confidence-building measures. Over time, such dialogue can expand to cooperation to resolve various regional conflicts, such as the war in Yemen, and on regionalizing the cost of securing the Persian Gulf. 

  • 2020-05-08

    The United States is adrift in the Middle East. Its actions do not reflect coherent goals or strategies to attain them. The centerpiece of the Trump administration’s approach to the region is its so-called “maximum pressure” campaign against Iran, a failed policy that has ceded ground to Russia and China and put the U.S. at risk. At the same time, the response from hawkish Democrats is equally problematic. Instead of these two paths, the next U.S. administration should consider an approach that focuses on sustained engagement with all regional powers.

  • 2020-05-07

    The joint resolution passed with bipartisan support, with a 55-45 vote in the senate in February, and a 227-186 vote in the House in March. After gathering cobwebs for nearly two months, it finally reached the resolute desk on Wednesday, where it was promptly vetoed. This is the second war powers resolution that Donald Trump has vetoed, following the one on Yemen from March of last year. 

  • 2020-05-07

    The drawdown of U.S. military presence in the Middle East, and especially from Saudi Arabia, is a welcome development. However, given this administration’s track record of belligerence towards Iran and its transaction approach towards even its closest security partners, it is hardly surprising that the timing of the move is provoking considerable speculation.

Pages