• 2020-04-13

    This time – after three failed attempts to nominate a prime minister  – Al-Kazemi will be supported to form his cabinet and will have the parliamentary support needed. However, he will face severe difficulties and challenges.  The US is redeploying its forces and not showing any intention of complete withdrawal. Al-Kazemi will not be able to seek an easy US withdrawal and won’t be able to disarm Iraqi organisations as he promised to do. Moreover, he will face a real economic problem because Iraq suffers from a low oil price and external debts. The income of Iraq is just over 30 billion dollars whereas it needs 80 billion to pay salaries and maintain the infrastructure as it is. Al-Kazemi will not be able to respond to demands from the street because he simply does not have enough money.  Iran is not afraid who sits at the top of the Iraqi government; today’s friend may turn out to be tomorrow’s enemy. Tehran enjoys enough connections with political leaders and military commanders and head of organisations in Iraq. Iran has experienced an aggressive Prime Minister in the past, Haidar Abadi, and managed its way in Iraq, a country sensitive to a balance among its political leaders. The US doesn’t have enough leverage in Iraq to match the leverage of Iran.

  • 2020-04-06

    The US Central Command officially confirmed deployment of Patriot air defense systems in Iraq. However, the US military announced that it will not provide “providing status updates as those systems come online” for security reasons. At least two Patriot batteries are now located in at the US military bases of Ayn al-Assad and Erbil. Two more Patriot batteries will reportedly be deployed soon. As part of its plan to redeploy forces to larger, more fortified bases, the US evacuated its troops from the al-Taqaddum Air Base in the province of al-Anbar. It became the fourth US military facility abandoned in Iraq within the last few weeks. The previous ones were located in al-Qaim, Kirkuk and al-Qayyarah. Iraqi sources say that the US actions demonstrate that Washington is preparing for a new round of military confrontation with Iran and its allies in the region. Recently, President Donald Trump stated that the US was expecting attacks by Iranian-led forces on US troops and facilities, claiming that Iran will ‘pay price’ for this. Following the statement, Iran deployed additional anti-ship missiles and multiple rocket launchers on the Qeshm Island in the Strait of Horumz.

  • 2020-04-02

    Iran continues to escalate proxy attacks against the U.S. in Iraq, demonstrating that it remains undeterred despite the January 3 strike that killed IRGC - Quds Force Commander Qassem Soleimani and key Iraqi proxy leader Abu Mehdi al-Muhandis and subsequent U.S. strikes. Iran’s proxy network in Iraq is advancing its campaign to compel an American withdrawal by increasing the operational tempo of its attacks on U.S. and allied personnel. Iran’s proxies are responsible for at least 15 attacks on American and U.S.-led Coalition personnel since January 3. A new militia group, Usbat al-Thairen, claimed several recent attacks, indicating that the proxy network may be reorganizing in observance of the shared vision of Soleimani and Muhandis and that Iran may have reached a new phase in its campaign to expel U.S. forces form Iraq.

  • 2020-03-31

    Turkey's state news agency Anadolu said the explosion occurred near the Gurbulak border gate with Iran in Agri province. Turkish broadcaster TRT Haber also said the cause of the explosion was unknown. […] The report added that security forces are investigating the incident. Most recently the line was closed following an attack by PKK militants in July 2015, while a subsequent attack on the line in April 2018 was foiled by Turkish security forces. […] Iran is Turkey's second-biggest supplier of natural gas after Russia. Tehran sells about 10 billion cubic meters a year of gas under a 25-year supply deal to Turkey which it uses for electricity generation. The gas exports are carried out via a 2,577 km (1,601 miles) pipeline running from Tabriz to Ankara. Turkey imported 7.7 billion cubic meters of gas from Iran in 2019, or some 17% of its total gas imports. 

  • 2020-03-30

    More pressure. More escalation. This is precisely what Lt. Gen. Robert P. White seems to have been trying to warn against. Will anyone, though, heed his warning? Will Democrats in Congress be willing or able to call for hearings on the administration’s reckless and dangerous Iran policy, in the midst of our current coronavirus crisis? Trump and his underlings don’t seem to care about the domestic implications of starting a new foreign war. This is an administration that publicly announces a fresh round of punitive sanctions on Iran’s battered economy, while privately urging U.S. military commanders to escalate a conflict with the Iranians on Iraqi soil. Less than two weeks ago, in a piece about the cruelty and callousness of maintaining sanctions on Iran while a pandemic rages across that country, I described the people in charge of the U.S. government as “sociopaths.” Now we discover, courtesy of an internal memo written by a U.S. general and leaked to the New York Times, that strangling the Iranian economy isn’t enough for Trump and Co. They are bent on using the spread of a deadly disease as cover for a new war. Perhaps “sociopaths” was an understatement.

  • 2020-03-27

    The Pentagon has ordered military commanders to plan for an escalation of American combat in Iraq, issuing a directive last week to prepare a campaign to destroy an Iranian-backed militia group that has threatened more attacks against American troops. But the United States’ top commander in Iraq has warned that such a campaign could be bloody and counterproductive and risks war with Iran. In a blunt memo last week, the commander, Lt. Gen. Robert P. White, wrote that a new military campaign would also require thousands more American troops be sent to Iraq and divert resources from what has been the primary American military mission there: training Iraqi troops to combat the Islamic State.

  • 2020-03-27

    Ever since the outbreak of the current crisis in the Persian Gulf in June 2019, starting with a series of attacks on commercial shipping and culminating in the detention of the British oil tanker Stena Impero by Iran in July, Europe has been under pressure to take a stance. Although most EU member states (with the exception of the UK) opposed joining the US-led naval coalition in the Gulf, there has been general agreement in Brussels on the need to ensure some sort of military presence in the regional waters. The idea to deploy a European Maritime Situation Awareness mission in the Strait of Hormuz (EMASOH) was put forward by France in November 2019, after initial discussions between the UK, France and Germany. It finally took shape in January 2020 with the political support of eight other member states: Belgium, Denmark, Germany, Greece, Italy, the Netherlands and Portugal. 

  • 2020-03-26

    CONCLUSION: Given the increasing securitization of Iran’s anti-virus measures, information pertaining to the spread and containment of the pandemic will likely be classified going forward, even if this approach hampers the wider international effort. Moreover, in light of the Supreme Leader’s hateful tone and the IRGC’s propensity to follow his lead, the United States needs to consider the possibility of retaliatory attacks by the IRGC and prepare proper deterrent measures. Potential acts of Iranian terrorism could include conventional attacks on biological facilities that result in the release of pathogens, or even direct bioterrorism in the worst-case scenario. Finally, the pandemic’s serious effects inside Iran should not be regarded as evidence that the Iranian military threat has decreased. Washington should continue taking the IRGC threat to its regional military presence seriously, deploying a viable air and missile defense capability in Iraq and perhaps even Afghanistan in order to deter any attacks. And while it cannot maintain a two-carrier force posture in the region indefinitely, it still needs to maintain a demonstrated qualitative and quantitative advantage in Iran’s neighborhood—and, perhaps more important, credibility that it will respond at the right time and place.

  • 2020-03-25

    On March 25, 2020, researchers at the University of Alaska Fairbanks issued the final report of a four-year computer modeling study on the collapse of World Trade Center Building 7. The 47-story WTC 7 was the third skyscraper to be completely destroyed on September 11, 2001, collapsing rapidly and symmetrically into its footprint at 5:20 PM. Seven years later, investigators at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) concluded that WTC 7 was the first steel-framed high-rise ever to have collapsed solely as a result of normal office fires. Contrary to the conclusions of NIST, the UAF research team finds that the collapse of WTC 7 on 9/11 was not caused by fires but instead was caused by the near-simultaneous failure of every column in the building. Following the release of this report, AE911Truth and 10 family members of 9/11 victims submitted a formal request for correction to NIST’s report on WTC 7 based partially on the UAF findings. The request is currently pending.

  • 2020-03-22

    On a blisteringly hot summer afternoon in 2006, Reza Sadeghi ran into an old friend at the Iraqi headquarters of the Mojahedin-e Khalq, an exiled Iranian militant group better known as the MEK. The two men had not seen each other in over a decade. Sadeghi guided his friend, who had just arrived from Canada, on a stroll through the desert compound known as Camp Ashraf. He was glad to catch up with an old comrade. But he also had a burning question. Sadeghi had effectively given his life to the MEK, which means “People’s Mujahideen of Iran.” A 26-year veteran of the group, he had not left Camp Ashraf for over a decade. During that time, he’d had no contact with his family or news of them. The MEK leadership had forced him and most of the other cadres living at Camp Ashraf to abandon even their closest relationships. Most painful for Sadeghi were thoughts of his son, Paul, his only child, now 16 years old. Sadeghi hadn’t seen or spoken to Paul since he’d arrived in Iraq.

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