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June 24, 2019

Trump Seeks 'Coalition Of The Willing' Against Iran

After a somewhat quiet weekend the Trump administration today engaged in another push against Iran.

Today the Treasury Department sanctioned the leaders of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC). It also sanctioned Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei and his office! There will be no more Disney Land visits for them.

There is more to come:

Josh Rogin - @joshrogin - 16:18 utc - 24 Jun 2019

Mnuchin: "The president has instructed me that we will be designating [Iran's foreign minister Javad] Zarif later this week." cc: @JZarif

The Treasury Secretary will designate Javad Zarif as what? A terrorist? Zarif is quite effective in communicating the Iranian standpoint on Twitter and other social media. Those accounts will now be shut down.

The Trump administration's special envoy for Iran, Brian Hook, said today that Iran should respond to U.S. diplomacy with diplomacy. Sanctioning Iran's chief diplomat is probably not the way to get there.

All those who get sanctioned by the U.S. will gain in popularity in Iran. These U.S. measures will only unite the people of Iran and strengthen their resolve.

Iran will respond to this new onslaught by asymmetric means of which it has plenty.

On Saturday Trump said that all he wants is that Iran never gets nuclear weapons. But the State Department wants much more. Hook today said that the U.S. would only lift sanctions if a comprehensive deal is made that includes ballistic missile and human rights issues. Iran can not agree to that. But this is not the first time that Pompeo demanded more than Trump himself. Is it Pompeo, not Trump, who is pressing this expanded version to make any deal impossible?

Brian Hook is by the way a loon who does not even understand the meaning of what he himself says:

laurence norman @laurnorman - 10:53 utc - 24 Jun 2019

US Hook says Iran knew what getting into when struck deal with president who had 1 1/2 yr left in office. "They knew what they were getting into...They knew that there was a great possibility that the next president could come in & leave the deal." Note: US elections 17 months away

Those are two good arguments for Iran to never again agree to any deal with the 'non-agreement-capable' United States.

It seems obvious from the above that the Trump administration has no real interest in reasonable negotiations with Iran:

“The administration is not really interested in negotiations now,” said Robert Einhorn, a former senior State Department official who was involved in negotiations with Iranian officials during the Obama administration. “It wants to give sanctions more time to make the Iranians truly desperate, at which point it hopes the negotiations will be about the terms of surrender.”

That is part of the strategy. But the real issue is deeper:

Max Abrahms @MaxAbrahms - 16:41 utc - 24 Jun 2019

Pro tip: Sanctions against #Iran aren’t to retaliate for the downed drone or to punish tanker attacks or to improve the nuclear deal or to help the Iranian people but to foment revolution against the regime. The strategy is regime change with velvet gloves.

The U.S. now tries to build an international coalition against Iran. Trump invited China and Japan to protect their tankers in the Middle East:

Donald J. Trump @realDonaldTrump - 0:08 utc - 24 Jun 2019

China gets 91% of its Oil from the Straight, Japan 62%, & many other countries likewise. So why are we protecting the shipping lanes for other countries (many years) for zero compensation. All of these countries should be protecting their own ships on what has always been....
....a dangerous journey. We don’t even need to be there in that the U.S. has just become (by far) the largest producer of Energy anywhere in the world! The U.S. request for Iran is very simple - No Nuclear Weapons and No Further Sponsoring of Terror!

One wonders what the U.S. Central Command and the U.S. Navy will say when that Chinese carrier group arrives in the Gulf region.

Who else will join this?

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said Sunday he wants to build a global coalition against Iran during urgent consultations in the Middle East, following a week of crisis that saw the United States pull back from the brink of a military strike on Iran.

Pompeo spoke as he left Washington for Saudi Arabia, followed by the United Arab Emirates, ..
...
"We’ll be talking with them about how to make sure that we are all strategically aligned, and how we can build out a global coalition, a coalition not only throughout the Gulf states, but in Asia and in Europe, that understands this challenge as it is prepared to push back against the world’s largest state sponsor of terror,” Pompeo said about Iran.

Pompeo was hastily sent to Saudi Arabia and the UAE. Brian Hook is now in Oman and Bolton is in Israel. The U.S. will also pressure Europe and NATO to join a new 'coalition of the willing'. The UK will likely follow any U.S. call as it needs a trade deal to survive after Brexit.

Other countries are best advised to stay out.

Posted by b at 02:05 PM | Comments (130)

June 23, 2019

The MoA Week In Review - OT 2019-35

Last week's posts at Moon of Alabama:

The week was monothematic with a drama in the White House over the threat of a shooting war with Iran playing out. According to the Wall Street Journal it was General Dunford who saved the day:

While many of Mr. Trump’s top advisers backed a more aggressive set of strike options, Marine Gen. Joe Dunford, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, struck a more wary note, which had an outsize influence on the president.

Some predicted that:

Cont. reading: The MoA Week In Review - OT 2019-35

Posted by b at 09:55 AM | Comments (268)

June 22, 2019

As Trump Wants To Avoid A Shooting War, Iran Will Use Other Means To Pressure Him

Iran will continue to put Trump under pressure. As he wants to avoid a war that would hurt his re-election chances, Iran will use other means to pressure him.

The discussion about Trump's decision not to 'retaliate' for the shoot down of a U.S. drone by Iran is still dominating U.S. media. The accounts of the various 'sources' contradict each other. Most likely Trump saw the trap of an ever escalating military conflict and did not fell for it. The Pentagon prepared a strike plan as it always does, but Trump never approved its execution.

One new detail about the White House discussion emerged in a New York Times story on the issue. The Pentagon and the White House are not sure where the Global Hawk drone came down. They do not trust that the U.S. Central Command is telling them the whole truth:

On Friday night, the Pentagon confirmed the presence of a second surveillance aircraft, a Navy P-8A Poseidon, which officials said took photographs of the drone being shot down. But a senior Trump administration official said there was concern inside the United States government about whether the drone, or another American surveillance aircraft, or even the P-8A manned aircraft flown by a military aircrew, actually did violate Iranian airspace at some point. The official said the doubt was one of the reasons Mr. Trump called off the strike.

An earlier version of the same NYT story, quoted here, included this:

The delay by United States Central Command in publicly releasing GPS coordinates of the drone when it was shot down — hours after Iran did — and errors in the labeling of the drone’s flight path when the imagery was released, contributed to that doubt, officials said.

A lack of provable “hard evidence” about the location of the drone when it was hit, a defense official said, put the administration in an isolated position at what could easily end up being the start of yet another war with a Middle East adversary — this one with a proven ability to strike back.

Iran's Foreign Minister Javad Zarif added to the doubt when he gave the exact point where the drone was targeted:

Javad Zarif @JZarif - 18:20 utc · 20 Jun 2019

At 00:14 US drone took off from UAE in stealth mode & violated Iranian airspace. It was targeted at 04:05 at the coordinates (25°59'43"N 57°02'25"E) near Kouh-e Mobarak.

We've retrieved sections of the US military drone in OUR territorial waters where it was shot down.

Shortly before Zarif posted the above, the Iranian Fars news agency distributed a video from the shoot down and an hour later a video that showed the flight path of the U.S. drone. Yesterday Iran retrieved debris of the drone and distributed photos of it. Experts said that the material is genuine.

Today Javiad Zarif posted an even more detailed flight path of the drone:

Javad Zarif @JZarif - 14:01 utc - 22 Jun 2019

For more visual detail on the path, location, and point of impact of the U.S. military drone Iran shot down on Thursday, and of the waters over which it was flying, see these maps and coordinates.

There can be no doubt about where the vessel was when it was brought down.

LEGEND: blue=drone; yellow line=Iranian FIR; red line=Iranian territorial waters; green line=baseline internal waters; yellow dots=Iran radio warnings sent; red dot=point of impact.

(FIR is the Flight Information Region)

He attached seven pictures:


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Cont. reading: As Trump Wants To Avoid A Shooting War, Iran Will Use Other Means To Pressure Him

Posted by b at 01:48 PM | Comments (317)

June 21, 2019

White House Pushes 'Trump Pulled Back' Story - He Likely Never Approved To Strike Iran

Last night U.S President Trump allegedly pulled back from a military strike against Iran after it had already been ordered.

That is the official story but there are doubts that it is true. The Iranian campaign of "maximum pressure" against Trump's sanctions is still on. But there are first signs that it is successful.

The New York Times headlines: Trump Approves Strikes on Iran, but Then Abruptly Pulls Back

WASHINGTON — President Trump approved military strikes against Iran in retaliation for downing an American surveillance drone, but pulled back from launching them on Thursday night after a day of escalating tensions.

As late as 7 p.m., military and diplomatic officials were expecting a strike, after intense discussions and debate at the White House among the president’s top national security officials and congressional leaders, according to multiple senior administration officials involved in or briefed on the deliberations.

Officials said the president had initially approved attacks on a handful of Iranian targets, like radar and missile batteries.

The operation was underway in its early stages when it was called off, a senior administration official said. Planes were in the air and ships were in position, but no missiles had been fired when word came to stand down, the official said.
...

The NYT story blames the hawks in the Trump administration, Bolton, Pompeo and CIA torture queen Gina Haspel, for arguing for a strike. The Pentagon and some congressional leaders are said to have been against it. The NYT report includes this curious paragraph:

Asked about the plans for a strike and the decision to hold back, the White House declined to comment, as did Pentagon officials. No government officials asked The New York Times to withhold the article.

The Associated Press has a similar story: US prepped for strikes on Iran before approval was withdrawn. The Washington Post and ABCNews also report along the same line. The White House is clearly pushing this version of the story.

But not everyone is buying the claim of a planned attack that was called back. Jeffrey Lewis, a scholar on international conflicts, remarks:

Jeffrey Lewis @ArmsControlWonk - 3:43 UTC - 21 Jun 2019

I don’t buy this. Trump’s team is trying to have it both ways — acting restrained but talking tough. This is pretty much what Nixon did in 1969, too. Why not just admit that sometimes restraint is smart?

The @nytimes ran the same story Nixon in 1969. 🤷‍♂️ Nixon was not going to retaliate but he wanted people to think he almost did — and the Gray Lady obliged. ---> Aides Say Nixon Weighed Swift Korea Reprisal

Elijah Magnier, a journalist with excellent sources in Tehran, also rejects the NYT claim. Pointing to the NYT story he remarks:

Elijah J. Magnier @ejmalrai - 4:02 UTC - 21 Jun 2019

This is highly inaccurate and Iran "knew" about it yesterday: the US administration whispered this info for Trump to save his face.

I hinted to this info yesterday before it was released this morning by the US media. Iran - sources - rejected the "war-theatre scenario". More details this evening.

Elijah J. Magnier @ejmalrai - 19:41 UTC - 20 Jun 2019

I have very valuable information on US intel sending a message to the Iranians to agree on a certain scenario to happen.
This and much more information will force me to write an article tomorrow (hopefully) on #Iran and #US crisis.

After the drone shoot down the price of oil jumped 10%. Trump will have noticed that. He was also already warned by Iran that there is no room for talks and that any strike against it would have deadly consequences:

DUBAI (Reuters) - Iranian officials told Reuters on Friday that Tehran had received a message from U.S. President Donald Trump through Oman overnight warning that a U.S. attack on Iran was imminent.
...
The second official said: “We made it clear that the leader is against any talks, but the message will be conveyed to him to make a decision ... However, we told the Omani official that any attack against Iran will have regional and international consequences.”

The whole storyline of "a strike was ordered but Trump held back and saved the day" might well be fake.

When Trump spoke to the press yesterday afternoon he was already playing down the Iranian downing of a U.S. Global Hawk drone. As we wrote in the update to yesterday's drone story:

Trump just held a press conference in the Oval Office. He seemed to play down (vid) the event. He empathized that the drone was unmanned. He said he had "a big, big feeling" that "someone made a mistake", that "some Iranian general probably made a mistake". That means that he does not accuse the government of Iran of the shoot down, but some lowly grunt who "might have made a mistake."

That statement gives him room to avoid a large retaliation.

A strike in retaliation for the downed drone may have never been on the table. An alternative interpretation is that the U.S. sought agreement for a symbolic 'strike' from Iran. It would hit some empty desert place to allow Trump to save face. Iran would have disagreed with that plan.

But there are also signs that some strike was really in preparation:

Cont. reading: White House Pushes 'Trump Pulled Back' Story - He Likely Never Approved To Strike Iran

Posted by b at 05:06 AM | Comments (321)

June 20, 2019

Iran Shoots Down Strategic U.S. Drone - Is Ready For War - Puts "Maximum Pressure" On Trump - Updated

Updated below
---

Early this morning Iranian air defense shot down a U.S. high altitude reconnaissance drone:

DUBAI (Reuters) - Iran’s elite Revolutionary Guards have shot down a U.S. “spy” drone in the southern province of Hormozgan, which is on the Gulf, the Guards’ news website Sepah News said on Thursday.

State news agency IRNA carried the same report, identifying the drone as an RQ-4 Global Hawk.

“It was shot down when it entered Iran’s airspace near the Kouhmobarak district in the south,” the Guards’ website added.


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A later statement by the IRGC detailed the incident:

The American UAV took off from an US base in the south of the Persian Gulf at 00:14 am today morning and contrary to aviation laws, it shut off all of its introduction equipment and proceeded from the Strait of Hormuz to Chabahar with complete secrecy.

The unmanned aircraft while returning to the west of the region towards the Strait of Hormuz, violated the territorial integrity of the Islamic Republic of Iran, and start collecting information and spying.

At 4:55 am, when the aggressive UAV entered our country’s territory, it was targeted by the IRGC air force and was shot down.

The U.S. says that the drone was a MQ-4C Triton, the navy variant of the Global Hawk type that is specialized on Broad Area Maritime Surveillance (BAMS). It claims that the drone was in international airspace when Iran's Revolutionary Guard shot it down.

(Interestingly no MQ-4C is supposed to be in the Middle East. The deployment must have been secret. Update: This specific drone seems to have arrived in Qatar only five days ago. Additional details are discussed here. /update)


Global Hawk type drone - bigger

The incident is another piece of evidence that Trump's "maximum pressure" campaign against Iran now works against him.

Trump allegedly told his staff to stop talking up war on Iran:

Cont. reading: Iran Shoots Down Strategic U.S. Drone - Is Ready For War - Puts "Maximum Pressure" On Trump - Updated

Posted by b at 04:57 AM | Comments (275)

June 19, 2019

How John Bolton Controls The Administration And Donald Trump

Jeff Bezos' blog, the Washington Post, has some bits on the discussion and infighting in the Trump administration about the march towards war on Iran. The piece opens with news of a new redline the Trump administration set out:

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has privately delivered warnings intended for Iranian leaders that any attack by Tehran or its proxies resulting in the death of even one American service member will generate a military counterattack, U.S. officials said.
...
While such attacks were common during the Iraq War, Pompeo told Iraqi leaders in a message he knew would be relayed to Tehran that a single American fatality would prompt the United States to hit back.

That warning was sent in May when Pompeo visited Baghdad. The issue may soon become critical. Throughout the last days there were rocket attacks in Iraq against targets where U.S. personnel are present. The AFP correspondent in Baghdad lists six of them:

Maya Gebeily - @GebeilyM - 10:20 UTC - 19 Jun 2019

Timeline of attacks on US interests in #Iraq
Fri: Mortars hit Balad base, where US troops based
Sun: Projectiles hit #Baghdad mil airport
Mon: Rockets on Taji, where coalition forces based
Tues: Mortars on #Mosul ops HQ
Wed: Rockets on housing/ops center used by IOCs near #Basra

#IRAQ: @AFP learns there were at least *two* attacks near US oil interests in #Basra in last 24 hours - ExxonMobil + Baker Hughes, a GE Company Their senior staff are being evacuated.

At least some of these attacks came from areas where Islamic State underground groups are still active. The weapons used were improvised and imprecise.

That shows how stupid the red line is that Pompeo set out. He would attack Iran if an errant ISIS rocket by chance kills some U.S. soldier? That is nuts.

Back to the WaPo piece:

Speaking during a visit to U.S. Central Command headquarters in Tampa on Tuesday, Pompeo said Trump “does not want war” but stressed the United States would act if assaulted. “We are there to deter aggression,” he said.

The U.S. violated the nuclear agreement and is waging an economic war on Iran. That was the aggression that started the conflict. Anything that follows from that was caused by the Trump administration.

Colonel Pat Lang thinks that Pompeo was in Tampa to bring the military in line with his aggressive policies:

Ole First in his Class is down in Tampaland today jawboning the leaders of CENTCOM (Mideast), and SOCOM (badass commandos worldwide). Why is he there? The Secretary of State has no constitutional or legal role in dealing with the armed forces. That being the case one can only think that there is push-back from senior commanders over the prospect of war with Iran and that Trump has been persuaded to let him do this unprecedented visit to wheedle or threaten his way into their acquiescence.

WaPo again:

Cont. reading: How John Bolton Controls The Administration And Donald Trump

Posted by b at 02:20 PM | Comments (129)

June 18, 2019

Trump Fires Shanahan. Pompeo For Sec Def? Bolton To State?

Trump just fired his acting Secretary of Defense.

Donald J. Trump @realDonaldTrump -16:59 UTC· 18 Jun 2019

Acting Secretary of Defense Patrick Shanahan, who has done a wonderful job, has decided not to go forward with his confirmation process so that he can devote more time to his family....
....I thank Pat for his outstanding service and will be naming Secretary of the Army, Mark Esper, to be the new Acting Secretary of Defense. I know Mark, and have no doubt he will do a fantastic job

On May 9 the White House announced that it would nominate Shanahan for the Secretary of Defense position. But it never sent the nomination request to Congress to have Shanahan confirmed. During the usual FBI background check before a confirmation, a 2010 domestic violence incident Shanahan was involved in came up. It seems that it now ended his short career at the Pentagon.

Shanahan had zero experience in the military. He is a former Boeing manager. A recent Politico portrait of Shanahan described him as weak leader who allowed the war hawks in National Security Council to directly talk with regional commanders without even informing him. He was no counterweight for Bolton and Pompeo who are eager to wage war on Iran.

Yesterday ABC News reported that Secretary of State Mike Pompeo would meet with talk with the Central Command and Special Operations Command leaders without Shanahan being there. It was extremely unusual:

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo will travel to Florida on Monday to meet with leaders from U.S. Central Command and Special Operations Command on Tuesday. The U.S. is considering "all options," including military force, to respond to Iran's reported attack on two oil vessels, Pompeo said on Sunday, raising concerns of a U.S. strike.
...
Pompeo will meet with CENTCOM and Special Operations Command at MacDill Air Force Base in Florida on Tuesday to "discuss regional security concerns and ongoing operations," according to Ortagus, after calling several world leaders over the weekend to discuss America's evidence that Iran was behind last week's attacks.

There is no information what plans those talks were about.

Mark Knoller @markknoller - 16:45 utc - 18 Jun 2019

At @CENTCOM at @MacDill_AFB, @SecPompeo says he conferred with military commanders to coordinate State and Defense Dept policy on Iran.
Says US is serious about deterring Iran regime from further aggression in the region.
Says Pres Trump does not want war against Iran.

[Another very unusual sign is that the old war criminal Henry Kissinger visited the Pentagon yesterday and today.]

Trump already had difficulties to find a new Secretary of Defense. Shanahan was not his first choice. To now find a new candidate will be difficult.

It is unlikely that the U.S. would launch a war without a Secretary of Defense in place.

Bolton and Pompeo obviously want a war on Iran and they try their best to instigate it. They need a new SecDef in place as soon as possible.

Pompeo served five years as an officer in the U.S. army. He has extensive political experience. Would he want to become Secretary of Defense?

That would leave the Secretary of State position open for John Bolton to move in. The confirmation would be a bit difficult but the Senate is in Republican hands and might go with it.

One of Bolton's cronies could then take over the National Security Advisor position.

From the war-hawks' point of view it would be the ideal configuration to launch a big one.

Posted by b at 02:03 PM | Comments (136)

June 17, 2019

Iran To Exceed Some Nuclear Deal Limits - EU Under Pressure To Fulfill Its Commitments

The conflict U.S. President Donald Trump ignited by leaving the nuclear deal with Iran is escalating at multiple fronts. U.S. sanctions on Iranian im- and exports are devastating its economy. A new tanker war is brewing. Iran will soon exceed limits set under the nuclear agreement. While this is not a legal breach of the deal, the Trump administration will loudly denounce it as such.  Iran is also pushing European countries to fulfill their commitment as signatories of the nuclear deal. It today announced what steps it might take should the EU be unwilling to do its part.


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The deal, the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action or JCPOA, acknowledged Iran's right to enrich uranium for nuclear fuel and to produce heavy water, a moderator needed for certain types of nuclear reactors. The deal limits the amounts of these products Iran is allowed to stockpile.

As Iran wanted to continue the production it was clear that the stockpiles for both products would grow above the limit. It was therefore agreed that Iran would export everything above the set limits as well as all newly produced enriched Uranium and heavy water.

Part of Iran's stockpile of heavy water, which is also used in other industrial processes, was sold to the United States. Additionally produced heavy water was regularly either sold or sent to Oman to be stockpiled there until the conversion of Iran's nuclear reactor in Arak, which will use that heavy water, is completed.

The excess enriched uranium was exported to Russia. In exchange Iran received natural Uranium for future enrichment.

When the Trump administration left the nuclear agreement a year ago it renewed sanctions on Iran's nuclear program. But it also issued waivers for the export of heavy water and enriched uranium. Iran continued to sell these products or to stockpile them outside of the country.

On May 3 2019 the State Department announced that it would no longer issue these waivers:

[A]ny involvement in transferring enriched uranium out of Iran in exchange for natural uranium will now be exposed to sanctions. The United States has been clear that Iran must stop all proliferation-sensitive activities, including uranium enrichment, and we will not accept actions that support the continuation of such enrichment.

We will also no longer permit the storage for Iran of heavy water it has produced in excess of current limits; any such heavy water must not be made available to Iran in any fashion.

This step by the Trump administration was obviously designed to bring Iran into breach of the nuclear agreement.

Cont. reading: Iran To Exceed Some Nuclear Deal Limits - EU Under Pressure To Fulfill Its Commitments

Posted by b at 01:47 PM | Comments (165)

June 16, 2019

The MoA Week In Review - OT 2019-34

Sorry for posting only four pieces this week. There was family visiting here who deserved a bit of attention.

Last week's posts at Moon of Alabama:

Your host is quite proud about the above scoop on Iran's new strategy. I developed the idea that Iran runs a "strategy of tension" by putting myself into Iran's role. What were my options?

After I wrote that up in the update of the first post, I became convinced that it was the right idea. Iran had gained escalation dominance. I contacted Elijah Magnier on Twitter and asked what he thought about it. He rejected the idea. He thought, like I earlier did, that Friday's attack would hurt Iran.

A few hours later Elijah came along with my idea. He later contacted his sources in Tehran who confirmed that it is indeed Iran's current strategy. Each tanker incident in the Middle East will now become, as Bernd writes, another version of the "Murder on the Orient Express". Everyone will ask "Who's done it?" No one believes the U.S. when it points towards Iran. Such U.S. claims are only good for silly jokes:

    John Bolton: ‘An Attack On Two Saudi Oil Tankers Is An Attack On All Americans’ - The Onion
    Chief of Naval Operations lauds return to tradition of ‘false flag’ operations - Duffelblog

Even the otherwise docile Japan is mightily pissed that the attack on a Japanese tanker during Prime Minister Abe's visit in Tehran is blamed on Iran. Its government officially demands an explanation:

    Japan demands more proof from U.S. that Iran attacked tankers

---
Other issues

Venezuela:

Cont. reading: The MoA Week In Review - OT 2019-34

Posted by b at 12:56 PM | Comments (155)

How Trump's "Maximum Pressure" Campaign Against Iran Now Works Against Him

There is no evidence that Iran was behind Friday's attack on tankers in the Gulf of Oman.

There are many parties in the Middle East and in the United States who are interested in goading the U.S. into a military confrontation with Iran. Most of these parties have the capability to launch clandestine attacks on civilian vessels. That the U.S. government would blame Iran for any such attack is obvious. But even Israeli analysts doubt that Iran is responsible for the recent incidents. The German government doubts that video the U.S. presented shows anything of significance. Others point at the suspicious timing of the incident.


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Israel is of course the foremost candidate for such a false flag attack. Prime Minister Netanyahoo agitated against Iran for the last 25 years. He multiple times threatened to directly attack the country but would prefer that the U.S. would do so. The Israeli clandestine service Mossad is capable of far reaching operations. Israel's submarines are known to have operated in the Arab Sea.

The Saudis are under pressure from Houthi forces at their southern borders. The Houthi receive some material support from Iran. If the U.S. would attack Iran, the Saudis would be relieved. The Saudis need oil prices way above the current $60 per barrel to finance their state. Anything that drives up the price, like the tanker attacks, is obviously in their interest. The murder of Jamal Khashoggi in Turkey demonstrated that the Saudis developed extensive clandestine capabilities and have no qualms to use them. 

The Saudi partner in crime in Yemen are the United Arab Emirates under the ruthless control of Mohammad bin Zayed. Bin Zayed is a major instigator of the anti-Iranian U.S. policies. Bin Zayed hired Eric Prince of Blackwater fame to build him a mercenary army. Prince is a former U.S. Navy SEAL, a military operator trained in clandestine operations at sea. Secretly putting a sticky bomb onto some ship is exactly what SEALs learn to do.

U.S. President Donald Trump hired several Iran haters into his administration. His National Security Advisor John Bolton has for years agitated for regime change in Tehran. Bolton is known for circumventing the Secretary of Defense and the Joint Chiefs of Staff. He directly communicates with lower levels in the U.S. military and with its regional commanders. The U.S. Central Command now claims that:

"a modified Iranian SA-7 surface-to-air missile attempted to shoot down a US MQ-9, at 6:45am local time, June 13, over the Gulf of Oman, to disrupt surveillance of the (Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps) attack on the M/T Kokuka Courageous...”

Sure - that must be right. Just like the CENTCOM claim that the tankers were damaged by limpet mines, which are ineffective when used above the waterline of a ship. The Japanese owner of the Kokuka Courageous says that CENTCOM lies, and that the ship was attacked by "flying objects". The MQ9 Reaper drone is a surveillance platform but it is also capable of firing missiles. If the new CENTCOM claim is true where is the drone video of the "Iranian attack"? How can we be sure that it wasn't a U.S. drone that fired missiles at the Japanese ship?

There is of course also the CIA. Two years ago it formed a new mission center to attack Iran:

Cont. reading: How Trump's "Maximum Pressure" Campaign Against Iran Now Works Against Him

Posted by b at 08:57 AM | Comments (156)