• 2020-01-03

    In short, the United States has taken a highly escalatory step in assassinating one of the most important and powerful men in the Middle East. [...] The administration of U.S. President Donald Trump argues that Soleimani was a terrorist and that assassinating him was a defensive action that stopped an imminent attack. Both of those assertions may or may not be true, but the United States would never have felt compelled to act against the Iranian general if not for the reckless policy the administration has pursued since it came into office. In May 2018, Trump left the Iran nuclear agreement and adopted a “maximum pressure” policy of economic sanctions on Iran. For a year, Iran responded with restraint in an effort to isolate the United States diplomatically and win economic concessions from other parties to the nuclear agreement.

  • 2020-01-03

    Essentially, an outgrowth of the US-Iran crisis has played out inside Iraq, which could escalate well beyond “shadow wars” and the use of proxies, with unpredictable twists that present a clear risk to the thousands of US military personnel in the region - not to mention the health of the global economy, which is tied to the free flow of oil through the Strait of Hormuz. Playing with fire to shore up his flagging presidency, undermined by the sting of impeachment, Trump is now showing all the symptoms of a trigger-happy president apt to cause another calamitous Middle East war, thus betraying his pledge to avoid getting the US entangled in another conflict. Sadly, as his misguided policies with respect to both Iran and Iraq clearly show, Trump is not only repeating the impeachment ploy of his predecessor, but he is also on the verge of recycling the errors of the Bush-era wars in the Middle East.

  • 2020-01-03

    [...] What your advisers may have avoided telling you is that Iran has not been isolated. Quite the contrary. One short week ago, for example, Iran launched its first joint naval exercises with Russia and China in the Gulf of Oman, in an unprecedented challenge to the U.S. in the region. 

  • 2020-01-03

    Retired Col. Viktor Mukrakhovsky, editor of the military journal Arsenal Otechestva (National Arsenal), said Trump's decision to kill Soleimani opens a new chapter in the confrontation between Iran and the United States. “A statesman is killed, an official representative of his country that is a member of the UN and with which the US is not officially in a state of war. He was killed on the territory of a third country. This is not an undercover struggle of intelligence services. The US has thus openly committed an act of vengeance and is taking pride in this 'achievement.' It is testing the reaction of the international community in general and Iranian leadership in particular. Following failures in Venezuela, Syria and over talks with North Korea, after losing control of the situation in Afghanistan and ceding Iraq to Iranian militias, the US leadership has moved to raise the stakes,” Mukrakhovsky said.

  • 2020-01-03

    Iran is highly unlikely to be drawn into a regional war for what happened. Most likely, it’ll respond in its own way at a time of its choosing that serves its strategic interests. Retaliation in some form is clearly warranted. It’s in Iran’s best interest to enlist international support by adhering to high standards and norms against Washington’s destructive agenda, Middle East nations and their people suffering most from its imperial rage.

  • 2020-01-03

    Under the 2008 Strategic Framework Agreement between the U.S. and Iraq, U.S. forces may only remain in Iraq at the “request and invitation” of the Iraqi government. If that invitation is withdrawn, they must leave, as they were forced to do in 2011. The U.S. presence in Iraq is now almost universally unpopular, especially in the wake of U.S. attacks on the very Iraqi armed forces they are supposedly there to support. Trump’s effort to blame Iran for this crisis is simply a ploy to divert attention from his own bungled policy. In reality, the blame for the present crisis should be placed squarely on the doorstep of the White House itself. The Trump administration’s reckless decision to withdraw from the 2015 nuclear deal with Iran and revert to the U.S. policy of threats and sanctions that never worked before is backfiring as badly as the rest of the world predicted it would, and Trump has only himself to blame for it — and maybe John Bolton. So will 2020 be the year when Donald Trump is finally forced to fulfill his endless promises to bring U.S. troops home from at least one of its endless wars and military occupations?  Or will Trump’s penchant for doubling down on brutal and counterproductive policies only lead us deeper into his pet quagmire of ever-escalating conflict with Iran, with the U.S.’s beleaguered forces in Iraq as pawns in yet another unwinnable war?

  • 2019-12-30

    ... In a statement, [former PM] Abdul-Mahdi said Secretary of Defense Mark Esper had called him about a half-hour before the U.S. strikes Sunday to tell him of U.S. intentions to hit the bases of the militia suspected of being behind Friday’s rocket attack. Abdul-Mahdi said he asked Esper to call off the U.S. plan. ...

  • 2019-12-04

    After 25 years of repeated failures, Americans want a foreign policy that preserves the security of the United States, enhances prosperity, and maintains the core U.S. commitment to individual liberty. They recognize that U.S. power can be a force for good, but only if it is employed judiciously and for realistic objectives. In short, a large and growing number of Americans want a foreign policy of restraint. But what does that mean in practice? In a sense, it’s easier to understand what restrainers don’t want. They don’t want endless wars, bloated military budgets, and security commitments that keep expanding, but are never seriously debated or approved by the public. If restrainers were suddenly put in charge of U.S. foreign and national security policy, however, what would they do differently? What do restrainers really want? 

  • 2019-12-01

    Turmoil in the Middle East and north Africa directly affects Europeans. Yet their influence in the region has never been weaker. This project maps Europe’s role across the Middle East and north Africa, making the case that Europeans can do more to leverage their influence in pursuit of core interests. [...] This project maps Europe’s influence across the Middle East and north Africa, making the case that it should take on a greater role to protect its core interests. Some European officials will likely argue that the EU and its member states have done enough to address the challenges of migration and terrorism, given the bloc’s structural deficits. Yet this would be to underestimate Europeans’ potential influence in the region and the risks that a largely hands-off approach poses.

  • 2019-11-25

    [...] China has signed a contract with Iraq to develop and complete 80 oil wells in the giant Majnoon Basra oil field at $54 million and another contract to drill 43 oil wells at $255 million to increase oil production rates to 400,000 barrels per day. It has signed a contract of $1.39 billion for housing, education and medical care for projects in Najaf, Karbalaa and Basra. The trade volume between Iraq and China surpassed $30 billion in 2017. China imports $20 billions of crude oil from Iraq every year, with a 10% increase in trade, rising every year.